[00:00:06.4] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Science of Success with your host, Matt Bodnar.
[00:00:12.4] MB: Welcome to The Science of Success. I’m your host, Matt Bodnar. I’m an entrepreneur and investor in Nashville, Tennessee and I’m obsessed with the mindset of success and the psychology of performance. I’ve read hundreds of books, conducted countless hours of research and study and I am going to take you on a journey into the human mind in what makes peak performance tick, with the focus on always having our discussion rooted in psychological research and scientific fact, not opinion.
In this episode, we discuss what to do if you feel like you’re having a midlife crisis every two years. The importance of staying grounded while you make big changes in your life. How to pivot your career and take smart risks, how to discover your strengths and the right way to make big, exciting changes in your career with Jenny Blake.
The science of success continues to grow with more with more than 800,000 downloads. Listeners in over 100 countries, hitting number one in New and Noteworthy and more. I get listener comments and emails all the time asking me, “Matt, how do you organize and remember all this incredible information?” A lot of our listeners are curious about how I keep track of all the incredible knowledge you get from reading hundreds of books, interviewing amazing experts, listening to podcast and more.
Because of that, we created an epic resource just for you. A detailed guide called How to Organize and Remember Everything. You can get it completely free by texting the word “smarter” to the number 44222. Again, It’s a guide we created called How to Organize and Remember Everything All you have to do to get it is to text the word “smarter” to the number 44222 or go to scienceofsuccess.co and put in your email.
In our previous episode, we talked about emotional intelligence. What is emotional intelligence and why does it matter so much? We looked at how science demonstrates that emotional intelligence matters far more than your IQ and what you can do to develop and improve your EQ as well as how to build the muscle of focus, and much more with Dr. Daniel Goldman. If you want to improve your emotional intelligence, which is highly important, listen to that episode.
[0:02:24.4] MB: Today, we have another amazing guest on the show, Jenny Blake. Jenny is a bestselling author, career and business strategist, she began in the startup world and went on to work in training and career development at Google before pivoting to pursue her own projects full-time. She’s the author of pivot, the only move that matters is your next one and has been featured on Ted, CNBC, Forbes, US world and News and much more.
Jenny, welcome to the science of success.
[0:02:49.0] JB: Matt, thank you so much for having me, it’s great to be here.
[0:02:52.7] MB: Well we’re very excited to have you on here. For listeners who may not be familiar with you and the book, tell us a little bit about kind of your background and your story?
[0:02:59.8] JB: Although I have worked in various forms of career development for the last 10 years, the book really came from feeling like I was going through a quarter life or midlife crises every two years. I remember leaving college early to work at a startup, as you mentioned, after two years, hit a plateau, moved over to Google, almost left Google within two years and ended up pivoting internally to coaching and career development and when I left Google, this is now almost six years ago, but I remember thinking, that was the hardest career decision I probably ever have to make.
People thought I was crazy. I joked that it was like breaking up with Brad Pitt. “You really think can do better than Google? Why on earth would you try and start your own business let alone moving from san Francisco to New York, the most expensive city in the country at that time? I thought that was tough and I rode the adrenaline of trying to do my own thing for the first year and a half and then once again, hit this pivot point where I wasn’t sure what was next. This time I didn’t have a steady paycheck to fund that exploration.
As my bank account balance dwindled, pretty much down to zero. I felt like there has got to be a better way and there’s either something really wrong with me that I am destined to never be happy. I mean, if I wasn’t happy at Google where would I be? If I couldn’t make it on my own, what’s left? The other hypothesis was that this midlife, quarter life crisis feeling is actually accelerating and that because of all the changes in our economy with technology and automation and outsourcing, we’re all going to have to get better at it.
As I started to do research and try and solve this for myself, I realized that the latter is really the case. It was only when I started to double down on what had been working for me that I kind of pulled myself out of the business, whirlwind of what’s next and I ended up tripling my income that year and hit six figures I have since.
I kind of saw close-up the mistake that so many of us make when it comes to our career and we put pressure on ourselves. We feel bad, we often take it personally when we hit pivot points but so often a product of our success more than anything else.
That’s what inspired the book and now I have to say, having launched the book, I’m at another pivot point, who knows what’s next but I feel much calmer and clearer amidst that uncertainty, which was really the goal the whole time because none of us can predict the future but I would love for everybody listening to this to feel calmer in the face of that uncertainty.
[0:05:32.5] MB: I’d love to dig into the point you made about kind of having a midlife crisis every couple of years. That’s something that I feel like a lot of millennials, especially, deal with and I’m curious kind of to hear your thoughts on it.
[0:05:44.6] JB: There’s so much shame and blame in the media on millennials. Like, “Oh those millennials, they can’t stay put, they’re job hoppers.” I think that it’s a whole generation and by the way, not just limited to millennials. It’s everybody who is looking and saying, “If I’m not engaged at my work and if I’m not making an impact and I’m not learning and growing then I’m going to be out of a job pretty soon.”
But those kinds of the jobs that are sustainable anymore. I don’t believe that it’s just one generation who Is just entitled to have whatever they want. I think that millennials have seen how tough the job market is and saw many parents and family members get laid off in 2008 and re-orged and now, both sides of the equation. Millennials are asking and again, even people turning 65 are saying, I’m not ready to retire.
You know, work, I want work to have meaning and I call them in the book, not growth individuals, these are people who money is important but it is certainly not everything and when their needs were being, for growth are being met, they turn toward making an impact and so people of all ages and all stages and all bank account balances are saying, how can I learn and grow? How can I truly make an impact? That’s what I want to spend my time doing.
We’re such a huge container for our lives, that’s such a huge part of where we spend our time. I’m all for people. Pivoting to continue learning and growing and making sure that there is a place for them in the world and so of course, there’s this tiny percentage of people who are truly entitled and I also think that can happen at any age but for the most part, I mean, companies are not so loyal anymore either.
Everybody’s having to adjust to this new landscape where yeah, every few years, by the way, not all pivots have to be huge drastic career changes. Pivot, the way that I wrote the book, this four stage method for mapping what’s next, it can even be within one’s existing role or business but it’s a way to unpack what’s already working, what success looks like and then how to run small experiments to get there.
[0:07:47.8] MB:You talked about the idea of a pivot point? What exactly is a pivot point?
[0:07:51.9] JB: I define a pivot point as that recognition that you’re ready for change. Sometimes it starts as a small whisper to something in your gut saying, “I think there’s more out there for you,” and it can be kind of scary to first hear that call. If we don’t pay attention, the signs get louder and louder and often will manifest physically.
I have a friend who is getting panic attacks every time she got off the subway on her way to work. A pivot point is, the reason I kind of hijack to the term pivot from Silicon Valley because I really wanted something that was judgment neutral and gender neutral that a pivot point is not… it doesn’t have to be a crisis you know? Up till now, that’s the only language that we’ve really had for that existential searching of who am I and what do I really want and what’s next?
I want to move it out of the crisis zone because it is happening more often and so pivot point is a way to just describe, “Okay, I’ve kind of outgrown whatever it is that I was doing previously. There’s nothing wrong with that?”There’s nothing wrong with you.
Now, it’s just a matter of looking how can you shift very methodically from that point into a new related direction or into growing again within your current role or business.
[0:09:09.0] MB: You touched on the — or you mentioned a four stage method that you described in the book, I’d love to kind of break out each of those components and talk about them.
[0:09:18.2] JB: Sure, yeah. The metaphor that came to me and this was really when I was figuring out how the heck I was going to pay rent, in two weeks, this was when all my money had kind of run dry is that of a basketball player. When a basketball player stops dribbling, they ground down in their plant foot and then they scan for passing options with their pivot foot.
The mistake I had been making was running around the basketball court like a crazy person, there was nothing grounding me, there was nothing holding me in place. I was so focused on what I didn’t want, what I didn’t know, what I didn’t have, what wasn’t working. None of that propelled me forward.
So, like the basketball player, the first stage is planned. What’s already working, what are your known variables? What are your biggest strengths, what are your values and what does success look like a year from now, even if you don‘t know exact specifics, how do you want to feel every day?
What is your ideal average day look like? Who would you love to be surrounded by? What kind of impact do you want to be making? These are questions that you can start to unravel. Again, even if you don’t know all the specifics, now, from that grounded place, it’s much more effective and efficient when you move into scanning.
The scan stage is about people’s skills and projects that are based on what you already identified and planned, what’s already working. From then, from there, the third stage, pilot is like passing the ball around the court, seeing where you have the best opportunity to make a shot and a good career pilot will help you answer three E’s.
One, do I enjoy this new area, two, can I become an expert at it? And three, is there room to expand in the market? A pilot is a Google people often hear about the 10 and 20% projects. There really 110, 120%, they’re kind of tacked on to whatever we were already doing but those were things that we were passionate about, have an interest in wanted to experiment with and if those pilots were successful, they often for many people turned into full time roles within the company.
You can repeat that plot process, plant skin pilot over and over for months if not years, be perfectly satisfied and then every now and then, there’s the fourth stage launch which is about going all in on a new direction.
If you’re going to move teams at work or quit your job and move to a new company or start your own business, that’s the launch moment and ideally, pivot is about reducing risk until you get to that pint. Nowhere in the book do I say take great leaps, leap of faith, this isn’t about that, pivot is for people who are more pragmatic and it’s not to say that people haven’t done great things when making what I call 180’s like if I had quit Google to become a full time yoga teacher, that’s more of a 180.
The pivot method is really a way to reduce risk and learn through those small experiments, doubling back on your strengths, continuing that loop until you feel really clear and clear enough in your launch decision. Because we can never remove all uncertainty and that’s what makes those big moves very exciting. We can feel more clear and confident going into them.
[0:12:26.1] MB: I think the mistake that so many people make is taking this giant leaps or thinking that it’s necessary to kind of take this huge leap without you risking it first.
[0:12:37.4] JB: Yeah, absolutely. In the book, every time I use the word risk, I put the word “smart” in front of it, smart risks. Because, when we try and pivot too sharply, too drastically from where we are right now, that’s what tends to send us in to what I call the panic zone.
We have our comfort zone, stretch zone and panic zone and if we’re really not making any change, stagnation zone. Where people tend to get tripped up is they pick moves or next steps that are in their panic zone. They end up feeling paralyzed and it’s a feeling of a lot of compare and despair or not taking action, analysis paralysis, these terms you’ve probably all heard before.
That’s the signal that there’s too much risk. How can you break your next steps down — even exploratory steps — much smaller so that you actually feel, even if there’s still little edgy, they’re within your stretch zones. They feel doable and so keep breaking them down until yeah, it’s no longer that untested risk, like you mentioned.
[0:13:39.4] MB: All the different stages obviously has a lot to kind of unpack, I’d love to start maybe some of the early stages. One of the ideas you talk about is starting from your strengths, I’d love to explore that.
[0:13:51.5] JB: This is the foundation of so much positive psychology movement, there’s the book, Strength Finder 2.0 and assessment that goes with it. I can only just say for me that as a solopreneur, self-employed, it just didn’t work when I was looking too far outside myself or too far down the road.
At projects that would have taken six months to get off the ground. I needed to, in order to get myself out of the pickle I was in, I needed to really look at what was already working in that moment and what my strengths were.
This is my second book, my first book, Life After College, came out in 2011. I had a book, I had speaking engagements, I had a coaching clients and I had been ignoring a lot of those strengths because I was not wanting to talk about life after college for the rest of my career or life after Google, I become known on podcast as the girl who left things. I didn’t know what I was going toward.
It wasn’t until I started to call my former coaching clients and say, what are you looking for help with? What can I create for you? I had an idea for a program called Brilliance Barter, which was kind of a group private community mastermind, giving and receiving feedback and those previous clients who had already hired me in the past were instrumental in giving feedback.
Now it’s the program called Momentum, it has shifted, but launching that is what helped me regain traction. That came from people who had already hired me and things I was already good at. That then gave me the freedom and the pivot runway to take on longer term projects like writing a book, which took three years from start to finish.
[0:15:33.5] MB: For somebody who is listening and may not have a good idea. How do we find our strengths?
[0:15:40.0] JB: I do recommend that book, Strength Finder 2.0, I would also look at, it sounds cliché and you probably all heard it before but truly, what you like to do as a kid and in the book, I have an exercise that breaks it down into a table of if you can remember or ask your parents, let’s say, preschool to five or six or seven years old. Then let’s say eight years old to middle school. Okay, then what did you like in high school?
Because the games and projects will probably have shifted and obviously grown in sophistication but there are common threads throughout. For example, I used to play business a lot as a kid and I used to play school. My poor younger brother, I would make him worksheets and wanted him to teach him what I was learning and want him to feel like get ahead of his class based on what I was learning.
That’s not much different than what I do now. Speaking, I read a ton of books and then I make worksheets and templates that I post online and make it in to the book to help people figure things out and I think everybody can reverse engineer their own strengths and also, when do you feel the most in the zone? Within your current work, even if it’s only 10% of the time, when does time fly? What do people most often come to you for advice on? That’s often very instructive too, whether personally or professionally. That’s just what they come to you for but what they end up leaving with beyond what they sought you out for.
Sometimes let’s say people will come to me for advice and I give advice but then they’ll often say, “Thank you, I always feel so optimistic after I talk to you.” Or they’ll says some adjective that I might not have thought of was a strength and so, be an observer in your own life over this next weeks and months and it will start to come together. It’s not that you have to know everything but you can start to take those clues and then figure out, “Okay, what would feel really exciting? What experiments could I setup that don’t involve betting the farm, that don’t involve me trying to make a drastic move but it’s just maybe even taking a class that’s interesting?”
[0:17:52.3] MB: I love the advice to talk to other people and kind of get their perspective because the thing that I found and I’ve taken a lot of these strength finders and all the stuff. I feel like self-assessments always kind of miss a piece of the puzzle and when you get the perspective of someone else or maybe multiple other people, they can shine a light on things that you don’t even realize that you’re good at.
[0:18:13.0] JB: Yeah, absolutely. Definitely.
[0:18:14.7] MB: Another concept that you touch on is the idea of bolstering your bench. Tell me a little bit about that?
[0:18:19.9] JB: This is the people side of the equation and even the term networking kind of gives people hives. I know people don’t like it and so, what the bolster your bench section of the book is really about, how can you create a supportive network that feels good, it’s not about networking but what are the people’s strategies that have worked for me and for others?
A bit one is debunking the idea that you need to have a mentor. I find that very awkward but try and ask a stranger, “Will you be my mentor?” Often people will offer, if they want to play that role for you. I’m a big proponent of “friendtors”, people who are at your level, who you can setup shared accountability with and shared support. It’s okay if they don’t know more than you, it’s about checking in, sharing wins, setting up regular calls.
A friend and I do 30, 30, 30 calls. We catch up for 30 minutes and then we’ll do 30 minutes of brainstorming for his business and then 30 minutes for mine. Another friend and I have, accountability email threads. We just start an email threat at the beginning of the month and we check in about what our goals are and what we’re getting done as we go.
Then there’s another technique I talked about in the book drafting, which is about finding people who are a few steps ahead in whatever it is that you want to do. Either shadowing or apprenticing or if your skills are at such a level, you can say, “If you have any overflow work that you can’t handle, I’d be happy to help out.”
Finding people who you can learn from, think about the Tour de France or birds flying in formation where they’re kind of in the lead and so you get reduced tail wind but you can still — there’s still benefit to both of you, it’s not about leeching off of another person but there’s benefit to both of you about being in the same ecosystem. You can draft behind people you’ve never met.
Everybody who is listening to your podcast, Matt, it’s a form of drafting, of learning from other people even from afar. Through podcast and books and I’ve learned so much from people who I may never meet in real life and some of that is very brass tax, tactical business stuff and other’s people I admire who it doesn’t seem like their work relates to mine but then there are clues.
For example, Amy Schumer. You know, I don’t ever see myself being a standup comedian but there are things about her and her style and her work ethic and her projects that really resonate. What can I learn? What can I unpack from that?
[0:20:52.8] MB: I’m curious, what did you learn from Amy Schumer?
[0:20:55.7] JB: Well, humor is important to me. When I’m speaking, I do always like to make people life and I realize that I feel the best when I can come down from a talk and I’ve like, not just inspired people and hopefully empower them and given them practical tips but made them laugh a little bit.
I love Amy Schumer’s honesty. I love how just authentic she is of telling it like it is and kind of revealing herself for the service of shared laughter and understanding. Even though I’m not a comedian, it’s also important to me to just be open, be vulnerable, really say what’s up.
I think Truth with a capital T is very helpful for people to hear and it’s the people that I’m the most drawn to. Then I just respect her work ethic, she is a hustler, she’s producing so much, so it’s been really fun to see her career just rise and thrive.
[0:21:54.5] MB: On the subject of learning, which you touched on a little bit, one of the things you mentioned is the idea of learning how to learn and we talked a little bit about kind of the importance of reading and I think everybody listening to the show knows how important it is to read widely and study and learn from other people but I’m curious when you kind of talk about the idea of learning how to learn, what does that mean to you?
[0:22:15.5] JB: This is about what Kevin Kelly, he’s the cofounder of Wired and I interviewed him for my Pivot podcast. He calls it the “perpetual newbie state” that there’s no end to learning. Some would say are purpose on this planet is to learn and grow that’s why we’re here.
Especially now with how rapidly the economy is changing in technology, we do best to be in a perpetual newbie state where we don’t know what’s coming down the pike and so to learn how to learn, to really be open to learning new things and be willing to apply yourself to learning new things, to be willing to be bad at something for a while until you get the hang of it is really critical. This is a key skill to stay relevant and to stay engaged.
He shares the example of even our phones when new update gets pushed, we don’t always know exactly how to use it and we have to relearn, even we think we know, “Oh yeah, I know how to use my phone.” But the apps change their interface very regularly with the OS upgrades pretty regularly. Even that is a dynamic entity now. Much more so than it ever has been in the past.
[0:23:25.7] MB: One of the interesting things about kind of the idea of focusing on learning new things, I think this is actually something Kevin might have talked about in the past is kind of how do you strike that balance between focusing in on what you're already good at and really leveraging that to thrive versus carving out time and energy to improve in areas or learn new things. How do you balance those two things?
[0:23:50.5] JB: I think just like you said, it’s not all or nothing and doesn’t have to be one or the other. I’m really big on thinking of your career like a smart phone, not a ladder. It’s not this linear thing where you just climb from step to step. Your smart phone, your education and your upbringing is your out of the box model and then it’s up to you to download apps for different skills, experiences, interests.
Some of our apps are big ones like our day job or running my own business but then within that, there are all this smaller apps, things I’m learning and doing, podcasting for me was an app that I thought, “Oh okay, I’ll just do this as a side project to make the book more dynamic so when the book comes out, people can also hear audio interviews.”
It turned out, I started in a really scrappy way, just recording using my iPhone headphones and uploading to Sound Cloud. It wasn’t an iTunes for a year that I was doing it. Then I realized, “I really love this.” It’s so joyful to get to talk to some of my author heroes and experiment with this format and going back to something I love to do as a kid, I was always making video broadcasts, I liked doing things like that and so it was so joyful and I taught myself Garage Band, I taught myself audio editing.
By no means is it perfect but that’s not the goal, I really try and just get things out even if it’s an 80% good enough state and because of how much fun I was having, I started investing more and more into it. That’s part of how to know, how to spend one’s time is you don’t upfront but if you think about pilots to switch metaphors for a moment like race horses at the Kentucky derby, you just kind of say go and you see which one of your pilots pulls out ahead.
Podcasting was one that pulled out ahead for me and I had no idea but then once you see that, you feel it happening with that sense of joy and excitement and motivation, then you can look, “Okay, well how can I grow even further in this area?”
[0:25:46.8] MB: I think that’s really the fundamental genius of this whole framework is kind of the idea that instead of taking this massive leaps of faith, you can put out a lot of feelers and kind of small projects and from there, really find which ones are working the best and then double down on those or triple down on those and really invest in them.
[0:26:07.9] JB: Yeah, exactly. Then again, taking the pressure off that we’re supposed to know this upfront. I think a lot of people feel hesitant that, “Oh no, I’m looking for something new,” and you don’t know what it is and then we immediately beat ourselves up. I know I did.
I felt I wasted a lot of time wondering, “Am I delusional, is the jig up? Am I done with entrepreneurship, were all the people who told me I was crazy, were they right and was my inner critic right that because I don’t know what’s next, I shouldn’t be doing this?” Really, it was just a matter of separating those two things.
It’s okay that you’re at a pivot point and then not to know what’s next. To be in the phase of setting up several experiments and then looking, okay, which one’s going to circle back to and double down on?
[0:26:56.1] MB: You talk about kind of carving out a portion of your time for this new test projects. I’d love to explore that idea a little bit more.
[0:27:04.5] JB: Yeah, what would be most helpful?
[0:27:06.4] MB: I guess just kind of digging in to the concept of for somebody let’s say that’s in a full-time job right now, how much time should they be spending or how are they going to figure out how to allocate their time in terms of this kind of test projects versus their existing day job?
[0:27:24.4] JB: Yeah, well within a day job is two options. One is you start experimenting with something on the side or two, as you pitch a 10% project at work. When I was at Google, when I was very fairly in the company, I started an office book club. Once again, I love books and I love interesting conversation about this books, that was really fun and it had nothing to do with my job. Kind of, I was on a training team so it was helpful for us to be well read. That was really fun and I didn’t need it to be anything more than that.
Sometimes we expect our “day job” to provide this ultimate fulfillment and self-actualization and maybe it’s good enough and if you just add one little app or 10% sort of team or interest thing that you do at work, that’s good enough. I also did coach training on nights and weekends in 2008. Later, when a career development team was formed, there was not one at the time that I did that. My manager didn’t want to approve it at first and I really fought for it.
But a year later when a career development team was formed, I was perfectly positioned to move on to it because I had downloaded that app of coach training. On my own time. I had also started a 10% team with a group of other people wanting to make drop in coaching as widely available to Googlers as on the side. Drop in coaching to talk about thing that are really important.
Now, that program, Career Guru, is still around 10 years later, it grew into something where there’s a full time person managing it, my friend Becky and it’s on the cover of my book. Who could have known that that 10% project would have evolved into what it is now. For people who don’t want to do something like that at work then it’s about just not making it all or nothing, once again, as far as your time.
I’ve been really amazed by the progress I can make when I dedicate 15 minutes today to something or one hour a week. When I was working full-time and working on my blog and book on the side, I was often only able to carve out about three to four hours every Sunday afternoon because I was too tired during the week and that was it. I started the Life After College blog in 2005 and it’s still around today.
It’s now 11 years later just from making it work on the side and I’ve done writing the second book, Pivot, you would think it’s easier on being self-employed. But actually it was a challenge because I still had to pay the bills. This time I didn’t — although I technically had more time and more freedom to allocate my time. I really had to stay focused on earning income.
It’s not like I had just free reign that gloriously sit and drink tea and write all day. Actually, in the end, I think those creative constraints help us be more motivated and more productive with the time that we do have. My book really got done — I use Rescue Time, the extension for the computer and when I looked backwards, really, on average, it got done with about an hour a day of work.
Now a lot of days I wasn’t able to touch it at all. Some days it was just 20 minutes in the morning and then in some weekends I would power through and do two 10 hour days. But those weren’t as often as one might think. So I would encourage everybody listening, do your own 15 — I call it 15 for 30 challenge. 15 minutes a day for 30 days and you will be so shocked at how much you actually end up accomplishing at the end of that time.
[0:30:52.8] MB: I think that’s a great piece of advice, and again, it doesn’t have to be something major. It can be really simple just 15 minutes a day and, you know, after a month’s work, you can really put together something fascinating.
One of the things you touched on is the concept of reveling and what other reject. I’d love to explore that.
[0:31:10.7] JB: Yeah, this is about the story, someone named Amy who was doing social media and PR in her company. No, she wasn’t doing social media but it was a public relations company and nobody wanted the social media accounts, working with bloggers and so she said, “I’ll do it.”
As we all no know, blogging, Instagram, Twitter, these things have become so huge as far as media strategy and so she was then quickly promoted because she took on this work that nobody wanted. I think it can be really interesting to know that somebody else’s grunt work is your zone of genius.
I’ll give an example. My coworker Becky, anyone who has done Myers Briggs, you’ll know the last letter of a Myers Briggs profiles either a J or a P. P’s tend to be more spontaneous, free roaming, they thrive on deadlines, J’s are super organized, they love to do lists, they are very structured. It’s usually really good if a J and a P can partner up. Because the P’s can be a pretty creative and far ranging and the J’s help create structures.
My coworker Becky and I, we’ve worked together since the one who is still at Google and she just calls me her J, and I say in the back of the book, I love being the J to her P. When we were doing projects together, I love being the one to create the notes or create the work, the model that we’re going to use. Ways in my brain works about conceptualizing complex things, her just doesn’t do. The work that she doesn’t like, I love and it’s like candy to me to get to do. If you can find those things that other people reject but you’re secretly great at. That’s a really good thing.
Yeah, for me, I love spreadsheets and templates, who knew? I create spreadsheets for complex things kind of life questions and I’ll create models. That’s a really nuanced way to think about strengths, but I encourage you to kind of look for those hidden pockets and just even on a macro level to know that the works someone else hates is going to be the work you love. Keep looking or those pockets.
[0:33:24.9] MB: Let’s dig into the concept of the three E’s that you talked about earlier. You touched on it briefly, but I’m curious, what are those and how did those apply to what we’ve been talking about?
[0:33:35.1] JB: The three E’s are linear testing a new direction or a pilot, do you enjoy it, can you become an expert at it and is there room to expand either within your company or within the marketplace? Think about a pilot, it’s like a test episode of a TV show. It’s one episode meant to help a network assess whether they should pick it up for the full series or not.
In order for you to know what these experiments, if they’re working or not, it’s the three E’s that are going to help you assess. When I did coach training, did I enjoy it? 100%. I loved it. Nothing made me become more alive. I had been doing AdWords product training and I really enjoyed the aspect of working with people but I didn’t want to talk about how to place analytics tracking code for the rest of my career. I loved it.
Could I become an expert at it? We never really know but is this something you’re naturally good at and drawn to and how is it going so far? It took me years to really find my sea legs as a coach, but it was always felt worth doing and worth investing in. Then expansion; is there room to expand? Again, it’s not that you have to know 100% but yes, there were opportunities for me to do coaching and pitch coaching and create coaching programs within Google and then when I pivoted, when I left Google, I was doing coaching and career development within the company and then pivoted to do it in my own business.
Coaching has been the most steady “bridge income” that I’ve had since. So in almost six years of running my business, the one thing that has most consistently paid the bills is one-on-one coaching. Clearly there was room, both within the broader marketplace but me personally in my career in my business, to do even more of that. It’s not to say that I only want to do coaching. It’s one of many apps on my phone amidst speaking and my private Momentum community and the podcast and the books. It’s certainly a fulfilling one.
That’s always what I’m trying to understand and if you’re an entrepreneur or even a side hustler, it’s fun to just be piloting different streams of income or pricing models. For so long I tried to run my business like an online marketer. This people had seen really successful doing online courses and programs and while I love facilitating, I hated the launch process. I changed my business model because of it, because of how I felt running those experiments.
[0:36:03.0] MB: You talk about the idea and the book of flipping failure. I’d love to dig into that.
[0:36:07.9] JB: Yeah, a lot of people are afraid to pivot because there is this fear of failure, “What if I fail?” Really. Ask yourself, “What does failure mean to you?” I’m not saying that like a rhetorical question, there’s no such thing. What does it mean? For some people failure is, “I make the wrong move and I regret it.” Or, “I make a move or I quit my job and then I run out of money and then I have to go find another job.”
If you follow most failure scenarios, they’re never a failure. Decisions are data, they always move us forward, nobody I interviewed regretted their launch decision, regretted their pivot even when it didn’t work out as planned, even when they had to pivot again a year or two later.
So many people got pivoted, things changed that were beyond their control and still, for high net growth individuals, we pretty much almost always see this for the blessings in disguise that they are, that, “I’m actually so glad this happened, I learned so much,” and so if we start to unpack failure and then whatever remnants of your fear of failure are left and are real, you can create contingency plans and worst case scenario plans for.
If it really is that, you know, you lose all your money and your destitute and you have to move back home. Okay, well are you willing to move back home and if not, what benchmarks would you put in place to correct course before that has to happen? In doing that, we separate what are just internal concerns versus external kind of process based steps that we can actually take.
So internal concerns of I’m not cut out for this, “I’m too young, I’m too old, I’m too dumb, I’m too smart.” I mean, I’ve heard them all myself and those we can usually keep going, acknowledge the fear. Career change in general tends to bring up a lot of fear because it seems to threaten our ability to provide for our self in our most basic needs on Maslow’s hierarchy food, clothing and shelter. But if we can just say, “Okay, I guess, I’m afraid, yes I am feeling insecure, yes, I’m unsure,” and keep taking those small steps forward anyway, that’s success.
[0:38:19.4] MB: One of the things you mentioned there is the idea of people kind of getting pivoted, which I’m assuming means sort of the world changes despite the fact that you didn’t necessarily want the change. I think that’s another really important point of this whole kind of methodology is that in many cases, often yes, millennials or people who want to kind of explore new opportunities can benefit from this and being proactive about it. But oftentimes, the world is changing very rapidly and learning the skill set and this framework can be incredibly valuable in the face of so much rapid change.
[0:38:54.5] JB: Definitely. Again, just not take it personally that I saw so many people who their company got acquired and then they were fired or then the company collapsed. There is just so much going on although in those moments, if you get pivoted, it’s not a choice that you proactively made, of course, it’s very shocking. So just allowing that, having self-compassion that it’s okay that this happened and processing. But then, you know, once you have done some processing to really say okay, where can I go from here?
One of my favorite coaching exercises is, if you were the main character in a movie, why is this scene, this moment happening right now in this exact way to you? Why are this exact people involved, this exact timing? What are you meant to learn and do differently on the other side or to get to the other side?
If we see ourselves, that’s such an empowering question because it’s like life isn’t just happening to me. So many self-help gurus use this line but “life isn’t happening to me, it’s happening for me”. How can you see those moments of unexpected change as actually in your best interest and for your highest evolution and learning and growth.
[0:40:09.0] MB: For someone who is listening and wants to concretely implement some of this ideas, what’s kind of one piece of homework you would give for listeners to get started?
[0:40:16.9] JB: based on everything we talked about, what jumped out for you? What little sparks of interest are excitement were there? What are you wildly curious about? And even if it’s nothing that I specifically said, just one idea that it jogged or sparked for you.
The two questions I love to ask as far as really getting practical are what’s one small step you can take this week and what one next step would make the biggest impact? Often, those are two different things. But the one little tiny thing that you can do right after you stop listening to this podcast and then one thing that would really make a big impact.
If bonus, the vision, the one year vision is one of the most helpful parts of a pivot and the one so many people skip. Really sit with what does success look like a year from now? Get down all the known variables that you can even if there are still plenty of unknowns left. That’s going to be your guiding light and motivate you when you hit bumps in the road.
[0:41:17.3] MB: Where can people find you and the book online?
[0:41:21.0] JB: That’s at pivotmethod.com and I have a podcast called The Pivot Podcast. I also have a blog at jennyblake.me and from there, they’ll point you everywhere, Momentum from the Pivot Method website, if you go to /toolkit, there’s a ton of free resources, /momentum is the private community that I mentioned, and then for anybody who wants private one-on-one pivot coaching, I have an amazing team of six pivot coaches and we do two session jump starts. So you can sign up with any of them to just get two sessions in with email in between and really kind of light the fire under your next move.
[0:41:57.7] MB: Well Jenny, thank you so much for being on the show. I know listeners are really going to get a lot out of this and I think it’s a really important framework for anybody who is thinking about “what’s my next move, what direction do I want to go in?” This is a great methodology and one that is very worthwhile to implement.
[0:42:13.9] JB: Awesome. Thank you so much, Matt, for having me and big thanks to everybody for who’s here listening.
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