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ET Project \ Podcasts

ET-025: Coming to Terms With the New Way of Earning a Living

With Dr. Chaz Austin

ET-025: Coming to Terms With the New Way of Earning a Living

and your host Wayne Brown on December 13, 2022

Episode notes:      A conversation with Dr. Chaz Austin

In our episode today, we’re off to Hollywood and the broader LA district to chat with our special guest, Dr. Chaz Austin. Dr. Charles Michael Austin, aka Dr. Chaz, holds a doctorate in organizational leadership from Pepperdine University in Malibu, California

What I really like about this conversation today with Dr. Chaz Austin is that he’s a realist. Through his work and his training, he is delivering concrete, actionable steps that enable you to keep moving forward and finding ways to reinvent yourself and the work that you’re doing.

So, if you’re like one of the millions worldwide trying to come to terms with this new era of freelance working, which is growing at a rapid pace, and you’re struggling to understand how best to market yourself, then this is an episode not to miss.

Here’s an extract from our conversation where Dr Chaz gives us an example of just how difficult it can be for some people.

“About five years ago, when I really got into high gear in teaching my courses, which are based on my books, I had a student in a course who really shifted things for me. I introduced the course and showed a PowerPoint, which framed it and laid the foundation for it. And when it was done, he raised his hand from the back of the room, basically challenging me.  

And he said, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I heard what you had to say. Let’s see if you can help me. I was a Marine for five years and then I was in prison for 35 years for murder. Find me work.” And we did. That’s the toughest case I’ve ever had. ….” 

Today’s Guest:      DR. CHAZ AUSTIN

For the past 20 years, has worked with clients all over the world advising leaders and managers on how to be more effective and how to use social media to reach their target audiences. He also trains workers how to market themselves in the gig economy and has published two books on self-marketing and learning to treat yourself like a business and behave like an entrepreneur.

Dr. Austin has been a college professor for over 20 years, teaching in a wide range of courses in business, leadership, and communication. Additionally, he offers a series of three courses on LinkedIn Learning around career planning and transitioning out of one job and into another.

Back in 2020, Dr. Chaz delivered his first TED talk and over a period of years, he’s presented papers to institutions such as the National Association of Women MBAs, the Association of Business Communication, the National Council for Workforce Education, the Society of Educators and Scholars, the International College Teaching and Learning Conference, and the Global Conference on Leadership and Management.

Final words from Dr. Chaz:   WB: If I just lost my job yesterday, any final words of wisdom you would offer me?

DC: Yeah. Take a week or two off, clear your head, okay. And then when you’re back, call me and we’ll talk and let’s see if I can help you or give you resources on how to help yourself.

I would say if people were interested in the work I’m doing, they can reach me through LinkedIn. They can buy my books which are very inexpensive. I do coach people all over the world. If they’re local to Los Angeles, I teach free courses through Pierce College which is part of the LA Community College District and they get a grant from the state. We offer free courses for people on a regular basis. And I’m happy to help them in that way, give them resources. So they can… Whether it’s working directly with me or my giving them some push or some key or clue as to move forward, I’m happy to do that for them so they can move forward and have hope and know that they can have a life after they got laid off or once they get out of school and have no idea how to get a job.

WB: LinkedIn would be the best place to initially connect with you?

DC: Yes. I want to be open for people as a resource. I also have, I forgot to mention, I have three courses on LinkedIn Learning. People like to learn that way on how to find, keep and leave a job, which have been enormously popular. So, if you like distance learning, that’s a way to access me as a resource.

0:00:01.8 Wayne Brown: Hello, I’m Wayne Brown, and welcome to the ET Project. We’re delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world whom we’re affectionately referring to as Team ET. In our episode today, we’re off to Hollywood and the broader LA district to chat with our special guest, Dr. Chaz Austin. Dr. Charles Michael Austin, aka Dr. Chaz, holds a doctorate in organizational leadership from Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. And for the past 20 years, has worked with clients all over the world advising leaders and managers on how to be more effective and how to use social media to reach their target audiences. He also trains workers how to market themselves in the gig economy and has published two books on self-marketing and learning to treat yourself like a business and behave like an entrepreneur. Dr. Austin has been a college professor for over 20 years, teaching in a wide range of courses in business, leadership, and communication. Additionally, he offers a series of three courses on LinkedIn Learning around career planning and transitioning out of one job and into another. 

0:01:19.7 WB: Back in 2020, Dr. Chaz delivered his first TED talk and over a period of years, he’s presented papers to institutions such as the National Association of Women MBAs, the Association of Business Communication, the National Council for Workforce Education, the Society of Educators and Scholars, the International College Teaching and Learning Conference, and the Global Conference on Leadership and Management. What I really like about this conversation with Dr. Chaz Austin is that he’s a realist. Through his work and his training, he is delivering concrete, actionable steps that enable you to keep moving forward and finding ways to reinvent yourself and the work that you’re doing. So if you’re like one of the millions worldwide trying to come to terms with this new era of freelance working, which is growing at a rapid pace, and you’re struggling to understand how best to market yourself, then this is an episode not to miss. So please join me now as we converse with Dr. Chaz in today’s episode titled, Coming to Terms with our New Way of Earning a Living.

0:02:34.6 Speaker 2: Welcome to the ET Project, a podcast for those executive talents determined to release their true potential and create an impact. Join our veteran coach and mentor, Wayne Brown, as we unpack an exciting future together.

0:02:51.1 WB: Well, good morning, ET. Another week has passed and again, we have an excellent guest lined up for you and a great conversation waiting to happen. I’m excited to introduce Dr. Chaz Austin to our show, to the ET Project. Welcome Dr. Chaz. It’s great to have you on the call.

0:03:11.2 Dr. Chaz Austin: Good to be here, Wayne. Thank you very much for having me.

0:03:14.6 WB: We’re going to be bouncing around careers leading in the 21st century or how you keep your job more specifically or what you can do to stay employed in the 21st century. So for all of you out there that are a little bit concerned about what that looks like, then this is gonna be a great conversation for you. So I’m very excited to get into it. Dr. Chaz, as you are affectionately known, any fun facts that you’d like to share with the audience?

0:03:46.3 DA:There’s a mood of fun in the US. I’m speaking to you from Los Angeles. There’s a mood of fun in the US given the results of the last election we just had a couple of weeks ago. A great sigh of relief and lots of smiles from people that we’ve pushed back against fascism and we can continue moving forward into the 20th century and taking care of each other. And that’s really fun to look at what’s possible in the future. The problems are still there, but some of the big ones have gone away and now we can push forward. So it makes life fun. We’re not living in anxiety anymore. We still have to work hard, but life is good.

0:04:30.6 WB: Nice to hear. And you mentioned that you’re sitting in LA. I read in one of your bios or something that you do work with Hollywood. So you’re a Hollywood celebrity.

[laughter]

0:04:44.6 DA: Very very minor celebrity. It’s like saying I look like Brad Pitt, if you close your eyes really tightly, you can see that. Otherwise no. So I wouldn’t call myself a celebrity, but I did spend a lot of time working in Hollywood, actually working in the business. And now, because this is the major industry here, a lot of my clients and my students in the courses I teach work in Hollywood. They’re used to what’s now called the gig economy. They’re used to not having jobs but going from project to project to project. So what I like to say is now every other industry is learning that that’s the way it’s going to be. The people who worked in Hollywood, they understand that in their bones ’cause they’ve always had to work like that.

0:05:30.8 WB: Yeah, I can appreciate that. Anything in the world that’s exciting you at the moment, apart from the politics?

0:05:40.1 DA: [laughter] That’s enough. One of the things that does excite me honestly is the impact I’ve had with people all over the world, primarily in the US of course. The impact I’ve had where I’ve started changing people’s thinking and behaving ’cause you alluded to the idea of finding a job and keeping a job in the 21st century. And what I say, it’s beyond that. Stop looking for a job and look for work because the old model of having one job or a series of jobs within one company for decades, that’s gone away. So I’m slowly, person by person getting people to think entrepreneurially, and think of themselves as a brand and think of what it is you offer that other people will pay for. And to see that happening is very gratifying. So many people I’ve worked with in the past come up to me and say, “You’re in my head. I hear your voice in my head reminding me what I need to do in terms of social media and networking and getting out there and pitching myself to people who would appreciate what I could help them with.” And that’s extremely gratifying to have that kind of work and impact people like that.

0:06:55.4 WB: You talk a lot about freelance as a future construct and we’ll move into that shortly. But I’m wondering, we’re both senior gentlemen sitting here. So looking at your substantial career, is there anything that was pivotal in your own career that stands out to you that you can think of off the top of your head?

0:07:20.3 DA: About five years ago, when I really got into high gear in teaching my courses, which are based on my books, I had a student in a course who really shifted things for me. I introduced the course and showed a PowerPoint, which framed it and laid the foundation for it. And when it was done, he raised his hand from the back of the room, basically challenging me. And he said, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I heard what you had to say. Let’s see if you can help me. I was a Marine for five years and then I was in prison for 35 years for murder. Find me work.” And we did. That’s the toughest case I’ve ever had. When I speak to people now, I say, “Have you been in prison for 35 years for murder?” And everyone says “No.” I said, “Well, if I helped him, I can help you.” And that was a pivotal moment for me that I realized I can really help anyone. If I could help him, I can help anyone. Regardless of how tough your story is or what your circumstances have led you to, we can find a way back. So you can forge a new career, begin a career, re-career, and do some good in the world and make money.

0:08:31.1 WB: Which is a nice segue into the deeper discussion around this whole topic. I’m wondering, is there a setup that leads us into this discussion around the shift in working for an organization to working for yourself? What was the trigger? What has led us to this point?

0:08:55.2 DA: What’s led us to this point is that corporations have moved to short-term profitability. And it’s about taking care of your senior C-level executives and having them make sure that they get their bonus every quarter. So whatever they need to do to cut expenses, they will do, primarily labor, the most expensive thing in any organization. The usefulness of people has been minimized. They will replace you no matter how loyal and hardworking you are, they will replace you with a robot or someone who is from another country that works a lot cheaper or someone younger who works cheaper. At the same time, labor unions have gone away, at least in this country. So there’s no protection for workers. California is a right to work state, which means if you work for me, I have a right to fire you for any reason whatsoever. Oh, you’re too old? You’re out. Thank you very much. Don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out. What used to be safe harbors, what used to be something people can count on, which their parents, grandparents could count on, is no longer the case. So that shifted everything and people realized, Elon Musk and Twitter being a prime example, there’s no stability.

0:10:14.3 DA: So you really have to think of yourself as a business, think entrepreneurially, and what is it that you have to offer that people will pay for in the workplace and not be dependent on that one boss who, if he gets rid of you, will get a higher bonus next quarter.

0:10:32.5 WB: It sounds like a tough environment to be coming into the workforce, not only staying in the workforce, but coming into this workforce.

0:10:42.5 DA: It’s frightening for people at all ages. What do I do? What do I do now? What do I do? I just got out of college. Where do I find a job? So my first answer is you don’t look for a job, you look for work. And think of yourself as a business who has a series of clients. A business does not have one client, the client goes away, you’ve got nothing. But if you have a series of clients, and you’re constantly pitching yourself, “This is what I have to offer you,” you always have money coming in, you’re never unemployed. Which means you have to hustle all the time. That’s the downside of it, most people don’t want to do that. But at least no one’s firing you.

0:11:25.9 WB: So that opens the door to a whole raft of questions. Let’s start with who are you seeing that are the most exposed? I’m guessing I know the answer, but I’ll ask you the question. Who is struggling the most with this scenario that we find ourselves in?

0:11:43.0 DA: I would say the people struggling the most are older workers. I’ve dealt with this face to face who’ve worked with companies for 20, 30, and 40 years. And they’ve been loyal to the company, the company moved to another state, or closed, or merged with another company. And they’re completely at a loss. They’ve done all the right things for the company all those years. Now they’re at a point where they’re not really employable ’cause they’re too old. And I have to tell this to people, and they don’t like hearing it. At a certain point in your career, you get too old and too expensive. No one’s going to hire you. They’re going to hire two 20-year-olds who work for half the price that your salary was. So they’re frightened. I’ve had students and clients who said, “I’ve worked with this company for 40 years and I’ve never written a resume before. What on earth do I do now?” Younger people you would think are the most exposed, but they know social media and they’re kind of used to this now. They know what the gig economy is. They have part-time jobs, they have gigs, they have projects they’re working on. So it’s not such an adjustment for them. But it’s the older people who are very set in their ways, don’t know social media, and have no idea what do I do now. And it’s frightening for them, I understand.

0:12:56.6 WB: Yeah, I can imagine that as well. I myself have just stepped away from the corporate world after 45 years in corporate life and I can really feel the difference in what I’m doing now to what I’ve… I’ve always been the entrepreneur. So it’s not as challenging, but I can really understand those people that haven’t had that exposure. So we’ll come on to social media in a moment. But I’m wondering, you have a couple of books out and the latest one I think is five or so years ago called 101 Ways to Find Work and to Stay Employed or to Stay in Work?

0:13:37.8 DA: To Keep Finding Work.

0:13:40.1 WB: To Keep Finding Work, right, apologies. So 101 Ways, it sounds like a lot of avenues that people can pursue. How do you recommend people start when they look at such a broad base to work from?

0:13:58.5 DA: My courses are based on the book. How you start is you have to look soberly at the working world nowadays, that it’s changed dramatically. The way I put it, they move the goalposts but no one told you. So all the rules that you followed don’t apply anymore because we have a whole new set of rules, and a whole new playing field, and a whole new way to navigate that playing field. This is very upsetting for people, “I’ve been doing all the right things and now I… Forget finding a job, I can’t even get an interview.” So there’s a lot of shame behind it and I have to push that away. That it’s not you. Things have changed and I’m the bearer of bad news that this is how it is. But you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’re at. So let me explain the new setup and how this works and this will be upsetting to you and bear with me. But once they get that, then I have to pick them up off the ground [chuckle] and then explain, okay, here’s the alternative. Here’s the new way to navigate things. Here’s how to start thinking of yourself as an entrepreneur.

0:15:05.0 DA: What is it you have to sell? What will people pay for? Who is it in your industry that needs to know what you can do? Or who can say, yes, I will buy that, I will pay for that. We’re not looking for fans, we’re looking for money. Yes, and slowly the light starts to brighten and they, “Oh, I don’t like this much. I don’t like the idea of being an entrepreneur. I don’t like having to hustle. But this is much better than being dependent on a company that is not going to take care of me the way I took care of them.” And I call myself a career trainer because it’s training. You have to shift how you think and then you have to shift how you behave.

0:15:45.1 WB: And I can imagine this reality really hits home when they start to think, “Well, I don’t have medical insurance through the companies anymore. I don’t have all those 401s or 401ks”, or whatever it’s called in America. All of those benefits that used to go with the corporate life are suddenly gone. And you have to find a mechanism that provides as much as what you had, but now you’re working pretty much as a freelancer.

0:16:13.3 DA: Yeah, but like any business, there’s two ways to make money. You either generate more revenue or cut expenses. So you’re going to have to cut expenses. It’s essentially, you’re creating a startup, you. That’s a startup. So how can I save money? Can I get on my spouse’s insurance? Can I get insurance through some sort of group? A lot of freelance organizations are doing that. That’s a huge factor you mentioned, the health insurance. And you may have to dip into savings. So that’s the downside. The upside is you’re never gonna be dependent on anyone again. And you’re always gonna find income from somewhere related to your skills. And you’re always upskilling so that you always have more to offer. And you’re always reminding people in your network, “Look what I can do. Look what I’ve done. Look what’s available. I’ve learned this. Oh, we can use that. We’ve heard about that. That’s new. You know how to do that? Can you start tomorrow?” Great. So we have about three months of income. And they will like your work, they will refer you to other people. And suddenly you look around like I never expected to be an entrepreneur, but here I am, and my life too, I never expected to do this, but I got too old and too expensive. I love what I’m doing. I backed into it. So I’m a good example for them to say I’m not entrepreneurial by nature, but I’m addicted to eating.

0:17:40.9 WB: [chuckle] Eating and survival. Yeah.

0:17:43.3 DA: Yes. This is what I do and I’ve made a great career out of it. And you can too, because you have something to offer to your market that people need and your job is to get out of your own way, whatever fears you may have, and be there for them. So they can say, “I’m so glad you contacted me. We really can use you.” Everybody wins.

0:18:04.7 WB: Yeah, I can imagine how anxious people must be at that initial phase of changing their mindset. They’ve had that comfort zone and now they’re cast out into reality almost and they have to find a way forward. So I can imagine there’s a great demand for the service you’re offering.

0:18:23.4 DA: Yeah, it’s like anything else you take on that’s new. “I wanna get back in shape. I haven’t been to the gym in years. I need to go to the gym,” and you go to the gym, I actually have to do the work. I don’t wanna. We get passed so I don’t wanna. And you do what you have to do to get to where you want to go. And if you want financial freedom and freedom from being at the mercy of an Elon Musk or people like that, you learn to do this. You wanna get in shape physically, you go to the gym. You don’t have to like it. And I always say this to people, “I don’t care if you like it. I want you to be able to be working and making money and sleeping at night. So this is what you have to learn to do.” And I’ll hold up an iPhone and say “You’re welcome to use this. It’s only 15 years old. They didn’t exist before 2007. You’ll learn to use this, you’ll learn to use a laptop, you could learn to be an entrepreneur and learn how to market yourself.” They still don’t like it and I tell them, “I don’t care if you like it”, but after a while they go, “You know what, this works. This works. I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna embrace it. I’m never gonna like it. I don’t care. But this is the way forward for me.”

0:19:38.6 WB: Yeah, you know, the one thing they agree on in neuroscience is the fact that we don’t like uncertainty. And I guess this whole change syndrome is creating this uncertainty. So it’s not surprising. But as you say, the message is, well, it’s the reality. You need to move on with it. Whether you are liking it or you’re not liking it, you still need to move on with it.

0:19:58.1 DA: Yes, that’s… You’re absolutely right. Human nature, I don’t… Listen, I went to college, I got my degree, I know how to interview, I got a job, I work hard and I stay late, and I do all the things I have to do, so I’ll be safe and okay. And then they pull the rug out from you and it’s, “Oh my god, what do I do now? Please, so many people job… I just want a job. Just get me a job. That’s not my job, that’s your job.” [laughter] So I have to deal with that uncertainty. And a lot of what I offer, it’s not in the job description, [chuckle] but I offer help to people, again, to see a way forward. And it’s just a new way of thinking and being. And it works for them. Over and over again, I’ve been successful with this and they so appreciate it. I never thought I’d be doing this but look at me, I have a former student of mine who was a video editor for many years and then kind of aged out of the field. I said, it’d be tough for you to find work ’cause video editing facilities, the old ones don’t exist anymore ’cause people can get very inexpensive equipment and do it all at home.

0:21:12.9 DA: So the need for that is gone, like taxi drivers or parking lot attendants. It’s just it’s automated. So what are you gonna do? He said, “Well, I have this nonprofit called Teens for Teens Help, which is teenagers with addiction problems of all sorts, just having conversations all over the world with other teens because it means more if one of your peers is talking to you”, and he’s now built this into a real business and he’s gotten grants and is expanding it. And he’s hiring staff. And this is something he never would have considered before until I gave him that little push. And I get to do that a lot and people are really gratified. He’s working really hard, not a free ride, but he’s created a new future for himself.

0:22:05.9 WB: And it sounds like in many instances I can imagine that people are gravitating to what they’re more passionate about rather than the job that they might have been stuck in. So there could be an upside in that regard as well I can imagine.

0:22:22.6 DA: Yeah. One of the terms I coined, I guess, is monetizable passion. So you may be passionate about something, doesn’t mean you can make a living at it. So he’s… This is something he’s passionate about and he’s starting to make a living at it. But you need to combine the two and you need to know, understand the distinction between, I love doing this but no one’s gonna pay you for it. You’ll have to… So that’ll be a hobby for you. Yes, you enjoy skydiving, no one will pay you to skydive but your business will allow you to go skydiving three weeks out of every year somewhere in the world. That’s as good as it’s gonna get with the skydiving. Meanwhile, you have something that you are passionate about, perhaps not as much but that you can derive revenue from. So when people understand that concept, that starts to switch things for them. You’re not gonna be married to this, you weren’t married to your company although you thought you were. Okay. And you may not be married to your career in that sense but it is something that you enjoy, perhaps love, and it’s a source of regular income for you. So you don’t have to worry about that and you don’t have to worry about losing a job because you don’t have one.

0:23:36.2 WB: Yeah. And I saw a quote or a statistic on your site somewhere, predicting by 2027, I believe it was, whether it was ’28, ’29, whatever, but 50% of the workforce if I can frame it that way, is likely to be freelance.

0:24:00.3 DA: Yep, that’s the way it’s going. Everyone I know as they get older uses this model. Whether it’s consciously or not, for a number of reasons, the company doesn’t care anymore or you don’t care anymore. I don’t wanna commute anymore. I don’t want the stupid meetings. I don’t need the aggravation. I don’t need to kiss up to people. I’m just, I’m too old for this nonsense. There must be a better way. So many of them do back into it. And part of my job is to show them, this is not purgatory for you, this is a whole new opening, a whole new future for you that you never even considered before, as I didn’t. And life can be great from here on out. It’s not, you’re retired and close to death. It’s your re-career as a colleague of mine coined that term.

0:24:48.1 DA: It’s, “I’ve got a whole new career. I’m doing something I always wanted to do and making a living at it. And I spent my 40 years in the salt mines at this company. And I got maybe a little pension or something, although those are going away. And now I’m doing what I really love. And I’ve got a reason to live. And I’m doing some real good for people and making a lot of money. Yay.”

0:25:12.9 WB: Alright. So let’s go into the actual process a little bit without unraveling everything. But we know that we need to start with shifting our mindset. We have to get clear about the fact that the past is not going to equal the future most likely in terms of how you earned your income. So what do we do? How do we get the process underway to transition into this new era?

0:25:41.6 DA: Okay. So you’re my client. Okay?

0:25:42.1 WB: Right.

0:25:44.2 DA: So my first two questions are, what do you wanna do? That’s number one. And in some cases, you may say, “I have no idea.” And that’s perfectly valid. It’s okay. I never expected to be in this situation, I have no idea what I wanted to do. So in that case, and again, this is work with students or clients who have been students to adults who are close to retiring. Pick three industries you think you might like to work in and do some research. And at our second meeting let me know what you learned. Talk to people. I’m interested in working in the entertainment business, for example. I’ve never done that. But it sounds interesting. Good. Who do you know who might know someone who could tell you about the entertainment industry and get you a little more focused on to which area you could take your skill set into which part of the entertainment industry and then come back and report to me and start having coffee with people, meeting people, lunches, whatever, and having them explain to you what it’s like on the ground working in the entertainment industry or whatever. Finance doesn’t matter the same process.

0:26:53.1 DA: And like dating, you’ll see what excites you and what doesn’t. If it’s a bad date, you can’t wait to get out of there. If it’s a good day, I can’t wait till the next meeting. I’m going to go to this networking meeting with people in the entertainment business. And I met all these interesting people. I learned about this and I learned about a program where I could study this and get a certificate or a degree and I could become a blank in that field. And that’s something that’s exciting to me. That’s the first question. And that’s when people don’t know what they wanna do. If they do know what they wanna do my second question is who do you know? Because it’s always about relationships. That will never change no matter how much people use social media. It’s still the face-to-face and knowing and trusting other people. So who can help you or be that bridge from what you’ve done before for the last 40 years, for example, and your new field or your new job in entertainment. Who can help you get there, who can introduce you?

0:27:53.1 DA: Who can open doors to people who would say, “Ah, with your skill set and the fact that you’re getting this degree, we can use you in our movie studio.” So those are the first steps. They have homework to do. They need to talk to people and chat them up. As they do that, they will meet new people and help refine what it is that they offer in this new field that they wanna go into.

0:28:18.2 WB: Great advice. We always think the grass looks greener on the other side. When we’re looking from afar, and I like the idea of setting up a deeper understanding of what you think is the area you wanna move into, while talking with other people in the industry itself to get a real feeling for it and doing your own research. So I think that’s a great forward step.

0:28:44.2 DA: Yeah. And as you talk to new people you’ve been introduced to through contacts you already had in your network, you’re gonna discover jobs you didn’t even know existed. “You can do that? I didn’t know… I’ve always wanted to do… I could be a graphic designer. I could do CGI. I didn’t even know what that was until yesterday. I looked it up on Wikipedia. I could do that. I have a background in drawing and graphic design. That would be real… I didn’t know there was such a thing.” Then you can study for that. And suddenly, so you meet people five years later and how’s it going in the financial company? “Oh, I’m gone with that. I have a whole new career. I opened my own shop.” You’re a graphic designer, Really? Yeah, me too, it’s amazing to me too that I got here but I embraced the change and I’ve got a whole new life.

0:29:32.9 WB: And you open up a very interesting point there that people are often misguided about what they think excites them. And I’m wondering, is there any way that we can look at really understanding what it is we would like to do as opposed to the hit and miss approach? So is there any way we can uncover our genuine areas of interest?

0:30:00.4 DA: There are a lot of books, competitors of mine that have you do tests and tests and tests and tests. I’m not a big fan of that Myers-Briggs and so on. I’m not a big fan of that. I’m more go do the work and see what excites you. Go on the date, date the industry, date the company, shadow people, do an externship with a company, volunteer to see if you like it, see what it feels like, see what you read about or maybe people talked about not quite the same as actually doing it and be open to the fact that I always wanted to do this, but I tried it and I don’t wanna do it anymore. I worked in television production, network television production for a number of years. After a while, it’s like, well, I did that, but it’s not exciting me anymore. It’s not really what I got my master’s degree for. So I moved on from there. So my idea is go do it. Go do the work in some way, volunteer at the very least. That’s the easiest thing. No one says no to free labor. I’d like to volunteer.

0:31:01.7 DA: You get to see what it’s like to meet people and see if it’s right for you. And if it’s not be open to that. You don’t marry everyone you date. Yeah. Same idea. You’re not going to necessarily join the field. But you know what I always thought I wanted to do this and I’m glad I checked it out. I did some volunteer work. I did a little internship for a couple of months. That’s not it. Good. So then in 10 years, you go, “I should have tried that. Well, I did and I found that that wasn’t what I wanted to do which opened other things up for me.”

0:31:29.5 WB: Yeah, it’s good advice. I’m guessing the social media becomes a big component of who you need to become in the future.

0:31:38.5 DA: Absolutely. It’s a huge part of what I teach. I have so many people, older people particularly, just fix my resume and get me a job. First of all, people aren’t reading resumes. You need one, but it’s insufficient. But it’s social media you need to focus on. And this again, you run into a problem with the older people. I’m concerned about privacy and my answer is there’s no such thing anymore. Knock it off. [chuckle] Okay, you need to embrace it and you need to find which social media platforms your audience lives on. Mine lives on LinkedIn. I have almost 34,000 followers on LinkedIn. Katy Perry, her audience is tweeners and they live on Twitter and she’s got 108 million followers as of this count. So you wanna learn that this is the first step. It’s not the answer. It doesn’t replace face-to-face, but you wanna embrace it and use it. This is where companies post jobs. This is where you join groups and meet people in the field you’re interested in working with who can guide you and mentor you and open doors for you once they get to know you. So it’s that first step.

0:32:44.0 DA: So it’s a big part, that’s life now. And I don’t care again, whether you like it or not, you wanna learn to use it because it’s a wonderful tool, not the answer, a tool, another tool that will help you. They’re just like your education or your resume those are tools. This is a new tool and a wonderful one.

0:33:04.0 WB: How do you get to stand out in social media? How do you build that presence or that profile that differentiates you and people find you?

0:33:14.2 DA: That’s a whole coaching conversation.

[chuckle]

0:33:16.5 DA: Let me see. Briefly, what’s the brand? What is it you’re selling? How do we define that? So, for me, it’s career trainer, leadership coach, slash leadership coach. Yes, that will also be if you have a resume, that’s the objective on the resume. And more or less, a couple of words change here or there. That’s also when you do a sound bite or elevator pitch with maybe one or two changes in wording, that’s the same thing as your elevator pitch. That defines who you are in the workplace not as a human being but in the workplace. The headline on your profile, let’s say LinkedIn in my case, that tells you who your audience is. So who would be interested in a career trainer or a leadership coach? What group should I join? It tells you right there. Yes. So I’m a member of like 90 groups and they’re all leadership, education, since I’m a professor, and career related. So if you’re a yoga teacher that’s your yoga teacher. That’s your brand. Who would be interested in what it is you offer as a yoga teacher? You’re not gonna go after people who are looking for jobs, [chuckle] obviously.

0:34:26.9 DA: So it’s customized for whatever you do that connects to the people who would need you and who would need your services. So your yoga teacher like students or clients who are yoga teachers, who would be interested in a yoga teacher? Gyms would be, yoga studios would be, individuals would be, that’s who you go after. Those are the people who say, “Oh, so glad you contacted me.” So you start thinking like an entrepreneur. You start thinking in terms of marketing. What is it you’re offering and who would pay for it?

0:35:01.4 WB: Very true. And there’s so many platforms out there that we can become connected to. There’s also the risk that we spend all our time on the platforms rather than looking for the actual work. What’s your suggestion in terms of which platforms should you be focused on?

0:35:21.9 DA: Depends on what you wanna do. I had a student and then a client. A lot of my students become clients. A lot of my clients become students. [chuckle] He was a… He had been a graphic designer. He took a class of mine. He had worked for Disney for 11 years. He took a class of mine. I said, “Where do we see your work?” It was not on LinkedIn. It was not on Facebook. It was on a special web platform for graphic designers. That’s why you start meeting people in your field. The site by the way is called behance.net, which I’d never heard of because I’m not a graphic designer. Not of particular interest to me. But if you’re a graphic designer that’s where you post your work. And you can have clients anywhere in the world who go to the site and your whole portfolio is on there. Who knew? So, as you meet people in your respective field as you take meetings, as you have coffees, as you go to networking events, they will tell you, “Oh, you wanna be a plumber? In the plumbing industry, it’s plumber.com. That’s where plumbers find other plumbers to work for them.” Since you’re starting out and they’re looking for apprentices, that’s where you wanna go.

0:36:30.3 DA: And you start introducing yourself to people and meeting people and meeting them in person and they’ll give you a shot. So the answer to the questions depends on where your audience lives. And it’s not one particular social media platform. It’s a combination. It’s not like I’m only on LinkedIn. I have Facebook, had a Twitter account, Instagram, et cetera et cetera. But you focus on the one that’s gonna get you the work.

0:37:00.4 WB: It’s a fascinating field and very interesting conversation. I’m conscious of the time. Is there anything specific that we haven’t touched on so far that you think is really important to share before we wrap up?

0:37:16.1 DA: I would say if people are interested in the work I’m doing, they can reach me through LinkedIn. They can buy my books which are very inexpensive. I do coach people all over the world. If they’re local to Los Angeles, I teach free courses through Pierce College which is part of the LA Community College District and they get a grant from the state. We offer free courses for people on a regular basis. And I’m happy to help them in that way, give them resources. So they can… Whether it’s working directly with me or my giving them some push or some key or clue as to move forward, I’m happy to do that for them so they can move forward and have hope and know that they can have a life after they got laid off or once they get out of school and have no idea how to get a job.

0:38:11.8 WB: So LinkedIn would be the best place to initially connect with you?

0:38:16.1 DA: Yes. I wanna be open for people as a resource. I also have, I forgot to mention, I have three courses on LinkedIn Learning. People like to learn that way on how to find, keep and leave a job, which have been enormously popular. So if you like distance learning, that’s a way to access me as a resource.

0:38:38.0 WB: So where do you spend most of your time, Dr. Chaz? Are you split between a number of things, I’m guessing, but where do you spend most of your time?

0:38:48.3 DA: As I tell my clients, I’m either working for money or marketing. I had a student once, he said, “Where do you find the time?” I said, “This is what I do now. I’m either online or in person with people.” I love what I do. It has a very positive impact on people and it’s a joy to do. It’s kind of not work for me because it’s so much fun to help people and lucrative. [chuckle]

0:39:15.7 WB: Which is important, and then we all need to be able to survive and put food on the table. If I was, let’s say, roll of the dice and I just lost my job yesterday, any final words of wisdom for that person?

0:39:29.9 DA: Yeah. Take a week or two off, clear your head, okay. And then when you’re back, call me and we’ll talk and let’s see if I can help you or give you resources on how to help yourself.

0:39:40.5 WB: Alright. Well, Dr. Chaz, it’s been wonderful to have you on the ET project. Fantastic conversation. I’m really hopeful that our listeners heed some of the advice that you’ve offered today and that they reach out and connect with you if they are in this situation. And I look forward to following the journey and keeping in contact.

0:40:04.6 DA: Thanks so much, Wayne. Wonderful to speak with you too.

0:40:09.2 Speaker 2: Thank you for joining us on the ET Project, a show for executive talent development. Until next time, check out our site for free videos, ebooks, webinars, and blogs at coaching4companies.com. 

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