Some of us are extroverted and get our energy from the outside. Others are introverted and get their energy from within. Many of us may be a mix of both.
Expand on behalf of other women” — that was the call from Dearbhail McDonald, Group Business Editor at Independent News & Media, to the audience at Planet Woman Academy. Ireland’s female leadership conference, now in its fifth year, took place at the RDS on 24 March. It was an inspirational day of stories from successful women in the fields of business, entrepreneurship, medicine, entertainment and publishing.
Dearbhail told us that we need to achieve the magic ratio of 33% female representation in politics. Indeed the entire day was a giant cry out to women to believe in themselves more.
Throughout the conference the inspiring speakers shared stories of jumping in at the deep end, not hesitating and constantly seeking help.
These were my main takeaways from the day:
- Norah Casey, broadcaster and publisher with RTE and Newstalk and Chairwoman of Harmonia, encouraged us to go back to our minds, use our own plasticity of the brain, look to a great future and set our destination carefully. She encouraged us all to realise that we have the ability to rewire our brain since “10% of success is what I learn and 90% is what I do about it.”
- During the day Lucy Gaffney, Chairperson, Communicorp, talked about the value of having a champion and people who believe in you. Julie Sinnamon, CEO, Enterprise Ireland, spoke of the value of mentors and sponsors. She described mentors as the people who talk to you and push you along while sponsors or advocates talk about you and promote you.
- Louise Phelan, Vice President of Global Operations EMEA, PayPal, told us all to “always look for feedback and to see feedback as a gift.” This was echoed by Orla Coughlan, Global HR Leader, who emphasised the value of asking the right question.
- The male speakers called on women to be more confident in the workplace, and to hold back less and lean in more. Richard Bradley, Pharmacy Director of Boots UK, spoke of the importance of relationships: the quality of relationships and building relationships. Richard spoke of the value of emotional intelligence within relationships and helping others reach the potential within themselves.
- Caroline Collins, Group Head of Communications & Engagement, Irish Life, talked about figuring out the right fit for you. It seemed that many speakers may have started in one role and diverged into another. Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald TD started as a social worker and then entered politics. Mary Byrne left the tills of Tesco to compete and win X Factor. Many of the speakers discovered their right fit through a system of trial and error. Within that strand of discussion there was an emphasis on playing to your unique strengths.
- There were themes of courage, passion and bouncebackability that permeated the whole day. We heard from opera singer Celine Byrne who failed her singing exam in DIT, suffered from depression, had two children while at college and went on to win the Maria Callas Grand Prix. She said, “My business is to work hard and music is my passion.” Rhona Mahony, Master of the National Maternity Hospital, talked of courage and of how our fear of failure holds us back. She said that the measure of our success will be about how we deal with adversity.
- Finally, the day rounded off with pitches, which ranged from Caroline Murphy in Cork who has a business with 3,000 free-range hens to a 16-year-old girl from Bundoran in Donegal who pitched for mentorship for her genderless clothes business. The energy of those making pitches was electric. The hens won out in the end! Looks like golden eggs are on their way to Caroline Murphy!
I exited Planet Woman Academy feeling excited, and with a sense of greater power and determination. I am looking forward to seeing how the insights shared on the day further empower women in Ireland to shoot for the stars.
This year, I was very struck by the book ‘Designing Your Life’ by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, which arose from the Engineering Labs of Stanford University, USA.
The authors advocate that we never finish designing our lives. They assert that life is a joyous and never-ending design project of building our way forward. What I like about their approach is that they keep humanity at the centre of design. They take a holistic view (health, family, hobbies, play, love and work) when designing their way forward.
Here are a few key steps that they suggest we take when ‘designing’ our lives:
- Be curious (embrace curiosity)
- Try stuff (create a bias towards action)
- Reframe problems (use reframing)
- Know it is a process (create awareness)
- Ask for help (lean towards radical collaboration)
In 2016, I embraced curiosity and I got to meet consultants, lawyers, musicians, artists, jugglers, retailers, librarians, trainers, baristas, accountants, chefs, Trump supporters, Trump haters, Japanese tourists, masseuses, make-up artist, A-listers, psychotherapists, janitors and taxi drivers.
I observed people who loved their jobs and treated them with reverence, like the older lady in Butler’s Chocolate Café in Dublin airport who served and arranged her chocolates like precious diamonds. I met many who were looking for ‘encore’ careers and who were retraining and looking at departing from Medicine and Law to do other meaningful work. I met others who felt caught in a rat race in the City and who wanted something more. Most of the people I spoke to were driven to work and give the best start to their families. Most of all, I enjoyed hearing how people ended up in their careers and all the synchronicities that happened along the way.
In 2016, I tried new stuff. I completed 12 courses in Psychotherapy, developed new skills to complement my existing skills and learned a new language of human needs. I became more aware of the functions of the human brain and how our emotions can serve us or enslave us. I was able to apply these principles in my Executive Coaching creating greater results for my clients. This awareness helped my clients to manage their own responses and create better working relationships with their colleagues and employees. This led to better results in performance and profits. Overall, I embraced the idea of creating a ‘stretch’ within me, by saying ‘yes’ to new challenges. From action comes clarity.
In 2017, I need to reframe problems more and develop immunity to failure. In 2016, certain projects had no longevity. Some efforts to explore new avenues were in vain. In 2017, I need to develop stronger ‘bouncebackability’ and move on faster. I need to ask myself constantly, ‘where is the learning?’ Above all, this year I want to embrace radical collaboration, reach out, and ask for help.
I have learnt this year that I thrive on collaboration, on a sense of belonging and a shared purpose. That is a great place for me to start the New Year.
If you are interested in building a life that works for you or want to explore Executive Coaching within your company then consider getting in touch with me. My clients have ended 2016 on a high of exciting new job offers, promotions, career changes and improved leadership and work practices.
No matter what stage you are at – whether you are a graduate, in mid-career, in leadership, or pre/ post-retirement – it is never too late to create a better life that works for you.
Dearbhla Kelly, The Career Coach
Stress costs money. Stress costs the workplace money because it reduces access to our thinking brain and intelligence and leads to poor performance and results.
When faced with a potentially dangerous situation, mammals instinctively go into ‘fight-or-flight’ mode. In the animal kingdom for example, a rhinoceros will charge and a gazelle will run. Human physical evolution hasn’t kept pace with social evolution though, so a primitive response such as running or charging isn’t always appropriate when stuck in a traffic jam, with a client or at a board meeting. Your body, however, still reacts in a primitive way – breathing becomes faster and shallower and our ‘emotional’ brain hijacks our ‘thinking’ brain. We become less able to focus our attention, less able to plan, reflect, and use our logic, our creativity and our intuition.
At the airport in London recently, I picked up a copy of ‘The Chimp Paradox’ by Dr Steve Peters. Dr Peters brilliantly explains the need to manage the ‘inner chimp’ in our mind. He shows how our inner chimp affects our performance and output when it’s triggered by our fears, anxiety or a sense of threat. It makes sense therefore across the business world that we learn techniques to manage our chimps or emotions, to tame our rampant wild animals.
Wouldn’t it be good to make work work for you and the people around you?
Wouldn’t it be great to lower the stress responses and raise productivity?
Wouldn’t it great if your workforce were more alert, more present and better able to handle pressures and deadlines?
Wouldn’t it be good if your workforce had less sick days, less accidents, better health and better access to their inner resources?
Wouldn’t be great if everyone in work were all heading in the same direction, working towards the same vision, aims and goals of the organisation?
If you are interested in finding out how to tame your wild animals and make work work for you and your employees, then contact Dearbhla Kelly at The Career Coach email firstname.lastname@example.org
We all know someone who feels that they are on the wrong path career-wise or feels that they have more to achieve or give. That person may be you, a family member, a colleague or perhaps an employee. Your own career may have progressed to a point where many of your network come to you for advice on their own careers.
You have probably heard the term ‘Career Transition’, but what does this really mean?
- Could it be transitioning to a completely new career or new sector?
- Could it involve transitioning into a leadership role?
- Could it involve a transitioning to a new geographical area?
- Could it involve transitioning following redundancy and making the most of your redundancy package?
- Could it involve transitioning back into employment following an extended period of leave?
- Could it involve retraining and upskilling in order to transition into a new field?
- Could it entail transitioning to retirement and making retirement work for you?
It could be any of the above. The fact is that we need to be prepared for change at any time although some changes are less dramatic than others. As the era of the traditional linear career and the permanent, pensionable job is ending, we have to equip ourselves to be ready for change in our careers.
Career Coach, Dearbhla Kelly deals on a daily basis with people who want to derive more satisfaction from their work and their overall careers. Through the coaching process, she helps her clients become a self-expert, to become aware of their talents, strengths, values, and needs. She also helps them to identify how they can these align with future needs and needs in the economy. Clients develop the confidence to embrace their perfect job, experience or future and become the best version of themselves.
For more information on the process of career coaching, email email@example.com
A marketing specialist who became a florist. A fitter who gave up his trade to become a Hairdresser. An English major who traded poetry for making wine. A Commis Chef who replaced his kitchen knives for a gardening trowel. Those are a few stories of major career changes I interviewed in my book, Career Coach by Gill and Co. Each one had different beginnings. However, their stories reveal common threads.
Many of these men and women were spurred to discover what really matters to them and transform their work into a passion and masterful craft. No one jumped off a cliff. They reflected. They planned. They sought an apprenticeship or a mentor. They didn’t blindly take a leap. Rather they pursued well-researched moves.
Here’s what I noticed in the people who made successful career transitions:
- They were true to themselves. In order to be true to themselves, they experimented. They took part time jobs in the field they were interested in. One worked in a plant shop for three years before doing an apprenticeship in Horticulture. In that way, he tested the waters and confirmed within himself his desire to become a landscape gardener. They all conducted research. They all listened to their inner selves and watched their interactions with the outside world while sampling their field of interest. In doing so, they stayed true to their interests, values, strengths and needs.
- They had courage. They stepped out of their comfort zone. They did not postpone but rather embraced change. They were willing to start from scratch in a Hairdressers, Winery, Botanic Gardens, or company and learn their craft. They didn’t expect mastery at the start. They were willing to take risks and that is where the learning lies. They said “yes” to opportunities for growth. Some went abroad for an internship in the Wineries of Australia, others entered into competitions in Chelsea that allowed them stretch and grow. None of them stayed on the couch in the comfort of their living rooms.
- They went will their flow. They remained in their element. These people were immersed in their flow. As Ken Robinson says flow is “ the place where the things that you love and are good at come together” These people had the passion. They followed their natural talents. They had the hunger and the drive. They knew that there was a need for their product, talent or service. For some their flow was in making money. For others their flow was in baking. For others it was in medical innovation.
- They did what matters to them. These people who made successful transitions all followed their needs. Some of them wanted the freedom and autonomy to be entrepreneurs. Others wanted the recognition and achievement associated with winning world competitions or being recognised as the UK’s best wine retailers. Others followed their need to be creative and to create a family business that met their sense of belonging. When they stayed true to their highest needs the career destiny and transition fell into place. Others were interested in the needs of the world. That might have been health and safety, cutting edge technology, medical interventions or creating a unique customer service.
- So often, these people when starting out sought a mentor or learned from a role model. They sought feedback for areas that they could improve and grow. Ken Blanchard said,” Feedback is the breakfast of champions”. By modelling themselves on the masters they learned from their mind sets, habits and skills. They weren’t afraid of criticism. They weren’t afraid of getting it wrong. This allowed them up their game and play at a higher league.
Are you postponing life by waiting on a better future? Are you postponing satisfaction by wishing for a better job? Are you postponing getting advice by looking for the perfect mentor? Are you postponing stepping out by seeking the perfect opportunity?
If so, then consider taking action. Consider doing research. Consider using career coaching as a key to unlock your potentiality.
Colm Lynch is General Service Supervisor in Monaghan County Council. Colm began his career by doing an apprenticeship in Cork Institute of Technology through the Education and Training Board. He says, “I loved my apprenticeship and unlike at school, the learning was second nature to me.”
Colm entered Monaghan Co. Council as a plumber and progressed through the organisation. He is a very well-rounded person and gleaned a lot of his skills from outside agencies. He cites these organisations as great vehicles of growth and inspiration.
“I have had so many inspirations. My first inspiration was the Scouts. As a teenager, I thrived on being given a task in a group, for example setting up a campsite. My second source of inspiration was the Civil Defence. I gained a lot of knowledge there, such as emergency exercise planning, which I apply to my working life today. More importantly, I made good friends in the Scouts and Civil Defence. One of my highlights in the Civil Defence was when I walked shoulder to shoulder with Arnold Schwarzenegger onto the pitch at Croke Park for the Special Olympics in 1992. I got to meet Andrea Corr and Bono there too”.
“My third source of inspiration was my involvement in Mountain Rescue. As a second officer, I learned to coordinate rescue operations. I developed planning skills and learned techniques to rescue people from ravines and cliffs. Now I bring all these practical skills to my work, life and hobby (canoeing). They have really boosted my confidence.
Today Colm is motivated by meeting and addressing problems related to water and electricity in Monaghan and in the implementation of health and safety processes that can save lives.
To find out more about Colm, read his interview in Career Coach – a step-by-step guide to help your teen find their life’s purpose by Dearbhla Kelly, published by Gill and Co and available in all leading bookshops and on Amazon. It highlights examples of people who chose the non-academic route as well as those who took the academic route and achieved great success.
Peter McAlindon is the Director of Direct Wine Shipments (DWS), Belfast’s oldest independent wine merchant. The McAlindon family has produced their own wine, Creu Celta and DWS was awarded UK’s Best Independent Wine Retailer in 2013.
Peter didn’t always know that he wanted to work in the wine trade. He says, “I think I gradually grew into it and the more it took a grip on me and as time passed, the better I become at the job. Wine is a very interesting subject. It encompasses, history, geography, science, travel, culture, food and it’s very pleasurable (in moderation of course)!”
Peter’s motto is, “don’t be precious. Do whatever it takes to build your CV – from filling shelves to mopping the floor if required. Be keen and show initiative. It will eventually get noticed.”
Here’s his advice on getting started or to people wanting to get into the same field:
“If you really want to go into the wine business, work in retail first. Study for WSET qualifications, either by yourself or maybe with a company that encourages you. Travel and visit wine-growing regions. Try to get a job working in a winery. During ‘vintage time’ is best, as they need a large influx of people to help at this busy time.”
Peter advocates serving an apprenticeship, “to learn the ropes from older, more experienced people. Watch and listen.”
Peter’s approaches life with tenacity, he doesn’t give up, he does his best and he tries to have a laugh along the way!
To learn more about Peter, you can read his full interview in, Career Coach – a step-by-step guide to help your teen find their life’s purpose by Dearbhla Kelly, published by Gill and Co and available in all leading bookshops and on Amazon.
Ian Power is Executive Director at Spun Out. SpunOut.ie is a not-for-profit website created by young people, for young people. SpunOut promotes healthy living and wellbeing for young people.
Ian didn’t always know what he wanted to do. He never had a plan and took every interesting opportunity that came his way. He has never regretted it.
Here’s his advice to people who want a career in the same field, “Volunteer. Get out there, help where you can and most importantly,, learn”
Ian says that his biggest career lesson to date has been, “the importance of networking and being able to build relationships with people. Building relationships and influencing others are probably two of the most valuable things you can learn.”
His motto is, “work hard, but play hard too. It’s so important to have a balance in your life.”
Ian has a lovely philosophy of ‘going with the flow’ and absorbing everything around him. As a very young director, Ian’s outlook is working for him as his hard work ethic and relaxed nature make him open to opportunities.
Ian Power features in Career Coach – a step-by-step guide to help your teen find their life’s purpose by Dearbhla Kelly, published by Gill and Co and available in all leading bookshops and on Amazon.
Marie-Thérèse de Blacam and her husband set up the Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites on the Aran Islands. They established a unique hospitality setting, which has received extensive critical acclaim in the international press.
Marie-Thérèse studied Entrepreneurship and Irish at DCU, and this helped her gain the skills and confidence she needed to set up her own business. She married chef, Ruairí De Blacam and together they created the dream.
Her motto is, “be active and take up any opportunity of interest that comes your way.”
Right now, Marie enjoys, “the job satisfaction I get from giving people pleasure and the control I have over my own life (to an extent) in working for myself.”
The biggest lesson she has learnt in her career to date is to, “be prepared, front load work so that you have the capability to deal with the unexpected – which will happen!”
Marie believes in living life to the full and making sure she enjoys the journey. Shealways seems to be on call to respond to challenges and to uphold The world is now finding out about this unique, culinary and cultural experience; aluxury retreat in the heart of the Aran Islands.
Marie-Thérèse features in Career Coach – a step-by-step guide to help your teen find their life’s purpose by Dearbhla Kelly, published by Gill and Co and available in all leading bookshops and on Amazon.