With summer in full swing, we’d like our readers to take a step back in their lives and think about their careers. To that end, we’ve invited career coach Kim Meninger to talk to Funsherpa about her experience provide career counseling, and some tips on maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Don’t get us wrong, we think work is definitely important, but we’d love our readers to think about achieving their full potential at the office and at home!
What was your transition from the corporate world like, to running your own coaching business?
I had a highly successful corporate career that spanned more than 10 years. I had risen steadily within my organizations and had a great career path ahead of me. Quite frankly, though, I found the experience very unrewarding. When I had a baby in 2010, I just couldn’t bring myself to put him in full-time daycare to return to an unsatisfying job. So I left my job and, for the first time in my adult life, gave some serious thought to what would bring me the fulfillment and satisfaction I had been missing. After a great deal of soul searching, I found that career coaching was the perfect intersection of my passions, skills, and experience. For years, I had been informally helping people develop their careers without realizing it was a legitimate career option. I started my own coaching business in early 2011 and have been focused on helping professionals find greater career success and satisfaction across the career lifecycle.
As a career coach, what are some of the unexpected discoveries you’ve made from coaching?
Sadly, one of the biggest themes I’ve noticed is that most people are not doing work that aligns with their strengths, values, or interests. At one point, they chose a particular career path and then followed that path wherever it took them without any regard for whether or not it was the right fit for them. They now either don’t realize that they have other options available to them, or are too afraid to make a change. I’ve also noticed that there are a lot of very talented people out there, but many lack the self-confidence to “sell” themselves and their value to others. It’s amazing how quickly people can articulate their weaknesses, but when asked what makes them special, they have a really tough time communicating their unique value proposition.
Are there any common themes as to why people want to switch careers?
Most of the people I meet fall into one of the following scenarios:
1) They lost their jobs and since they now need to make a change anyway, they are using this opportunity to explore more rewarding options. Losing a job is a highly stressful life event, but it’s remarkable how many people look back on the experience and consider it a blessing, as they never would have made a change without that push.
2) They are miserable in their current careers and it’s affecting their quality of life. They want to feel better about the work they do, spend more time with their families, and quite simply, not dread getting out of bed every morning.
3) They want to try something new. Maybe they’ve always fantasized about starting their own business, or doing something completely outside their current scope of work. They reach a point where they would rather take that risk and fail, than look back with regret at the lost opportunity.
How can young startups find and retain good talent?
There is a lot of great talent out there, but, particularly in start-ups, the right fit is critical! I would say the key to finding great talent is networking. The start-up culture tends to attract a particular type of person – innovative, driven, willing to take risks. Since most people tend to surround themselves with people that are similar to them, ask for referrals from people that represent the qualities you’re looking for.
Now more than ever, it’s difficult to retain good talent. Young people in particular are likely to make a number of changes in order to maximize their careers. Here are some great ways to retain talent: 1) offer opportunities for advancement, 2) engage them in decisions that influence their work, and 3) keep them emotionally connected to the company’s mission.
Off the clock, what are some of your favorite hobbies/activities?
I love to read! I’ve always loved to learn so I have a constant stream of books on politics, business, history, etc. I also love visiting new places with my family. I’ve lived in Massachusetts for 20 years, but until recently, had never seen most of the “hot spots” and tourist attractions. We love to just get in the car and randomly choose a new spot to explore.
What good tricks do you have to create a manageable/favorable work life balance?
One of the keys to good work/life balance is enjoying the work you do. If you’re miserable in your job, it’s very difficult to leave that at the office. How you feel about your job has a ripple effect across your life. Also, these days, we are all surrounded by technology that allows us (or forces us) to stay plugged into our work 24/7. It’s really important to set boundaries and condition yourself to “shut down” during non-business hours. There will always be emergencies and exceptions, but most of us are not saving lives, so we don’t need to be on call all the time.
What’s in your bucket list and which ones are you going to cross off soon?
Most of the items on my list are travel related. There are so many places I want to see – Hawaii, Italy, Australia, etc. It’s unlikely we’ll do any major traveling until our kids are older, but I love to think about it. I would also love to write a book (not a novel, but perhaps a career management guide). At this rate, I think I’m more likely to finish the book than I am to go to Australia! I’ve also always wanted to learn to play the piano. I’ve been slowly teaching myself and am hoping to take formal lessons someday.