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Q&A with Team Member Alisha Miranda

We are super excited to feature a question and answer post our new team member Alisha Miranda. Alisha is helping us build our business in new ways, and in particular by tapping into new young professional communities across the digital world so we can help even more people achieve their professional dreams.

For those of you who don’t know the background, Alisha and I met on Twitter through Job Hunt Chat. It’s been a social media success story for both of us! Here is Alisha’s Q&A.

Q: Why did you decide to go freelance instead of find a corporate job when you graduated from college?
A: I graduated college and quickly (and luckily) found a full-time job in the music industry, as I wanted. But a few months into that job, I realized it was not what I truly wanted. It was a typical 9-5 setting with bosses who declined open ideas from their employees and were manipulative with tasks, so after six months I quit and moved on to a new opportunity. It wasn’t until I started working in marketing for a travel start-up that I learned what was really conducive to a productive working environment for me, and that my work style is very different from what corporate America expects and demands. Having the freedom to manage my own projects, at my own pace, and pitch ideas to an enthusiastic team was what really got me excited. I was able to develop my own network from there and begin freelancing projects on the side. Once I was able to experience my own independent success, I refused to go back to a corporate job.

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Q. What do you think is the biggest challenge today’s young professionals struggle with when looking for work?
A. I find a few big challenges for young professionals on the job hunt today. Personally, I’ve seen and experienced discouraging employment opportunities due to the economy. For example, some companies are taking advantage of free labor and blaming it on a bad recession, encouraging an uber-competitive market for internships where young professionals are basically doing all the work for little or no compensation, or even credit. There’s also a sense of devalued work and confidence in young professionals these days because of a lack of full-time employment: fair salary, vacation days, benefits, etc and high turnover and downsizing among companies. So the challenge is to remain positive, know your worth, and pitch yourself as a “customized package” to fit into different employment opportunities.

Q. Can you recommend a book that everyone should read?
A. Though its related to the restaurant industry, I’d say “Medium Raw” by Anthony Bourdain. It’s a book that I think young people should read because he discusses all the highs and lows, the struggles, the drama, the crappy pay and gigs, and sometimes dream-crushing moments you’ll have to endure to become a person you’ve always wanted – but if you manage to get through all of it, the results are rewarding and priceless. It’s the same with any other profession that people dream to own – if you can put on your realism hat and get through all the bumps along the way, you’ll end up a winner.

Q. Best. Twitter. Story.
A. I don’t have one best story about my Twitter experiences but I will say that to enter a room and have people come up to me shouting “Hey, makeshiftalisha! I love your work!” on a regular basis is pretty fantastic. It’s not about the number of followers or web stats to me, it’s about the connections I’ve made and the brand I’ve been creating that keeps people remembering and supporting me.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

 

Making your Goals Happen: Living between Now and the Future

Entrepreneurship is an adventure. One month, you’re wondering why you’re stuck in place and can’t move forward, and the next month, you’re exactly where you had intended to be. How that can happen? The change happens when you start using effective goal planning and strategies.

Before opening my business, I was successful in my career, at least in part, because I was an effective goal setter and someone who worked within a vision. Three years before I became the Director of Teacher Recruitment for the New York City Public Schools, my vision reflected that I wanted to be in that role or a similar one, including that six figure salary. And because it was my vision, I set short-term and process goals so that I’d be positioned for it when it happened. If it hadn’t happened, I would have adjusted to focus on something similar or reset my timetable.

Eventually my vision included entrepreneurship. In this role, my issue has been what I call “the noise.” There are SO many things that you want to do, and you’re not quite sure that what you want is realistic. Also, your work is tied to your economic survival in a new way, so the emotional stakes are high. But if you get enveloped in that noise, you’ll just sit in that stuck place. I admit that I let myself do that about two months ago. I got stuck.. and let myself stick… and stick. I finally woke up one morning and realized that I knew what to do. I took the advice I give to clients as a coach, and used my lessons from my success making things happen as a professional for the last 10+ years.

Achieve Your Goals Workshop

One of the thing that trips up effective goal-setting is that disconnect between the future and present. You’re aiming to change something down the line, but you don’t know what to act on now.* At our workshop, Four Hour Goals: The Art and Science of Making Things Happen, this Saturday, May 7, Brett Kunsch and I will be talking about managing your daily focus and overcoming the obstacles that will appear. In the meantime, here are three questions to ask yourself about your own goal setting.

1. The Future: Are you thinking big enough? One of the things I work on consistently with my clients is having them set goals that push them. For example, we really want to find a relationship with “the one,” but we continue to date people who are never going to be a contender for that title, and in many cases, lie to ourselves to justify our “progress.” Some of that is because we have issues with self-worth, but often it’s because we have deprived ourselves for so long we think we should focus on small improvements to our situation. Success does not come from settling! There is a difference between milestones (2 dates a month with appropriate contenders) vs. audacious goals. You should have both, but don’t confuse the two. Think big.

2. The Future: Have you quantified your results? People retreat when they’re asked to quantify their goals. Some say it’s because we don’t like to hold ourselves accountable, but my experience is that it’s because people can’t see through the noise and are anxious about doing this wrong. If that’s the case, just throw out numbers you think are on the high-end of realistic. You can adjust the timetable on them once you start figuring out your milestones. Many coaches talk about the importance of visualizing and feeling your goals. This is important for visual and kinesthetic learners, but it’s not enough. You have to specifically put a stake in the ground if you want to make it happen. Just remember you can dig up the stake and put it somewhere else.

3. Now: Are you living daily with the right priorities? Once you have your vision, are the things you do every day in line with what you want? For example If you want to run a marathon in the next year, are your daily physical activities and eating habits reflecting that? If not, what tools and systems can you implement to make that happen? Personally, I look at my To Do list every day and ask if the items align to my goals, which are financial, lifestyle based, and continuing my path toward being recognized as a national education and careers expert. If my list is long and I am not sure what should have my focus, I actually put a dollar sign ($) or smiley sign ( :) ) next to each item and make decisions. If tasks don’t align to my vision, I find ways to get them off or move them down the To Do list. Sometimes, my decisions disappoint people, but I remember my audacious goals with the big numbers and reflect on the fact that I am the only person that will get me where I want to be.

What are your tips for effective goal setting?

We hope to see you at the event on Saturday in midtown NYC!

(*David Allen talks about this in his horizontal planning model, which some people treat as an after thought in Getting Things Done, but I think that it’s the most important thing he teaches. If you haven’t read the book, we’ll introduce the concept at our workshop.)

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

 

Thank You From the Bottom Of My Heart

I am getting ready to get on a train to Providence to speak at the Aspiring Teachers of Color summit at Brown University and then a plane to New Orleans to present at the American Educational Research Association conference. My scholarship contest (closing in 14.5 hours as I write this) was designed to celebrate my six month in anniversary serving clients and changing education. But it really began a year ago. As of April 2010, I’d given notice to my job and told all my staff, written the first draft of my business plan and finished the first level of my coach certification. It still seemed like a pipe dream and I some days I can’t believe I am now living my professional dream, a year later.

As of last night, I’d received over 200 Retweets and Facebook likes for all the posts I did this week about the scholarship. It brought tears to my eyes. Many of those people are strangers to me (right now), but they’re now part of my journey. Yesterday I met with four entrepreneurs who I met via Brazen Careerist and Twitter and had the most amazing conversations about changing the world. I can’t even believe that I didn’t know what Brazen Careerist was a year ago!

Since I am traveling next week, the blog will be dark except for an update on exciting events on April 19 and May 7. If you are a college student, young professional, or woman veteran and haven’t yet finished your application, I am shaking my head and giving you my best teacher look through my computer. Let’s do it, people!

Whether I know you or not, thank you so much to all of you for your support and love to me and this little start-up that could.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

 

2011 Reverb Update
: Achieving

As my readers know, I participated in the #Reverb10 blogger campaign in December 2010. During December, the campaign sent participating bloggers a daily reflection prompt in order to help you manifest more good stuff in 2011. I found the campaign mid-December and posted ten blog posts that covered 18 of the 31 prompts. I drafted posts that touched upon most of the other 13 prompts and still hope to publish those when appropriate, like today.

Reverb10manifest

In February, I re-categorized my blog to improve the overall performance of the site. The project included re-reading almost all of the 50+ posts I had written since I started blogging in fall 2010. When I re-read the Reverb posts, I felt a series of warm emotions.

– First, I was proud of myself for being so open and setting my intentions to the world.

– Second, the prompts made me do hard work on myself and think about what I needed to change for 2011. I am not sure I would have done it as effectively otherwise.

– Third, while I try to keep my personal and business lives separate, I shared most of the Reverb posts on my personal Facebook wall and it brought me closer to friends.

– Finally, I believe that what I shared can help people I don’t know. I am thankful that Reverb prompted me to put my experiences out on the big, bad internet for that reason alone.

I’ve received emails that Reverb 2011 is starting with monthly prompts. Since I’m still going at my own pace, I’ve decided to take on the February prompt and a December 28th prompt from Tara Sophia Mohr because they go hand in hand. Tara’s also been on my mind. She is launching a Playing Big coaching program this month and it looks exactly like what I wish I’d had when I decided to start my own business. If my professional development resources and time weren’t tied up right now, I’d be enrolled and am jealous of all the wonderful women who will participate.

The Prompts

December 28 – Achieve: What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today. (Author: Tara Sophia Mohr)

February 2011: One month into 2011, what question(s) are you living? Are there any prompts/questions that arose during #reverb10 that are still resonating in your life? Are you living new questions?

Projecting: Achieving

I’ve talked a few times about a strategic change I made in 2011 to work with a time management and productivity coach. There is so much to do when launching a new business and I needed professional support to help me develop systems for making better decisions. I am always fascinated when she tells me something I told one of my own clients earlier in the day, but I just couldn’t see for myself!

After working with my coach for a little over two months, I feel that I am more productive on a day-to-day basis and when March 1 rolled around, I could see and feel growth in my business. I suddenly understood what could happen if I start thinking even bigger. “Feeling” growth is not comfortable to me- I need to express things in a very quantifiable way. So I am in the process of setting big, measurable goals for The Opportunities Project and myself between now and December 2011. It all came together once I had control of my time and focus.

With the haze cleared, I know that in 2011 I want to achieve two things – making my business its own “being”, and finding someone to share my life with. I am not sure how comfortable I am in talking about my love life on my public business blog, but it’s important to me and I need to start putting it out there. So it’s out there. On the business side, a quote that keeps resonating with me is from Michael Gerber about the difference between working ON your business and working IN it. He actually talks about business owners neglecting to work ON their businesses versus in them. At this point, I feel the opposite. I spend so much time on marketing, content and planning for the future and I want to switch so I am devoting more of my focus to client and service delivery. I want my business to be in a place where it starts working for me. Achieving this will make me feel secure and yet free. It will also allow me to devote focus to what I want to achieve in my personal life.

So what are ten things I could do or beliefs I could have to achieve my business goal?

1. Outsource and ask for help. (DONE- see an upcoming post.)
2. Be honest with people in my life about my intentions.
3. When looking at my To Do List, concentrate on the things that will bring me money ($)  or happiness ( :) ).
4. Put my current clients first before future clients.
5. Ensure that what I do everyday connects to my goal of creating a functioning business and is not a distraction.
6. End relationships that are not helping me with points 1-5.
7. Believe in the value that I bring to clients.
8. Remember that the whole is always more important than the parts.
9. Love and care for my whole self and not just my mind.
10. Understand that my personal goals are just as important as my professional goals and are often interrelated.

Reflecting: Lingering Questions

When looking at the Reverb topics I delved into, there are still some things that linger after three months. It’s good to look at them so I can re-prioritize.

The Wins…

Writing and Action: I’ve made great strides in organizing my writing, committing time to it, and producing content. I’ve created new systems for collecting ideas so I can focus on what’s open and ready to be completed.

Letters to Myself: I think that I’ve been better about intuition. I started the year off strong by not reading so much, but that’s crept back in. Interestingly, I was at a conference in February where I was confronted with people I used to hang out with in the year 2000, as well as the regrets I have about not taking the same paths they took. It was sobering, but it made me realize that it’s time to move on and pay attention to what I want in the here and now. I am meeting more people every day who have goals similar to mine.

Wisdom of Letting Go: This is a resolved. Even if entrepreneurship does not work out for me, I have no doubt that I made the right move at the right time.

11 Things to Leave Behind: To varying degrees, I’ve left grudges, procrastination, obligations, and impatience behind. The things to leave behind that I’ve been struggling with are related to personal/professional balance… which brings me to…

My challenges… Also known as my Next Wins!

Parties, Travel and Pleasures: Definitely not enough of this and when I think about how to bring this into my life, I see chaos and feel anxious. How can I have fun with such limited personal time and money? There’s a way, I’m sure. I am going to New Orleans next week with the NYU crew. It’s a work trip, but I Must. Involve. Fun. And. Beignets.

Big Wonders and Ordinary Joy: One of the down sides of clearing out the haze has been being stuck on very tactical things. I guess one of the big wonders I’ve felt is beginning to realize the power of social networking and what can be accomplished with it. This floors me every day.

Make: Use Your Artistic Side: I’ve definitely been using my artistic side to write more, but haven’t painted the sign for my door that I referenced in this post. I am in the process of clearing out my home office of paper as I am moving everything online, and also reorganizing the layout of furniture. I am eager to take the sign on as part of this office project.

You Are Your Best Investment (body integration)
: Next, please.

My Word for 2011
: I chose the word Living. I don’t feel like I am honoring this commitment the way I should and the February prompt is a good reminder to me. Again, it’s about thinking big, right?

How is your 2011 going?

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Q&A with Team Member Justin Mathews

The Opportunities Project Team Member Justin Mathews

The Opportunities Project has been more than just one person the last few months! I am pleased to work with Syracuse University student Justin Mathews who is working on a number of research and marketing projects with me through the beginning of May. Since joining us almost two months ago, Justin has already co-authored our first paper, The Economic Achievement Gap.

Justin and I met because we were in the same major at Syracuse University, even if we’re 14 years apart. Just a reminder to all the students and recent graduates out there that keeping in touch with your professors is an important aspect of career management. Not only can it help you find a new position, but when you’re hiring, it can provide a great pipeline of talent.

Here’s a Q&A with Justin.

What interested you in working with The Opportunities Project?

The thing that interested me most was the prospect of working with a new business and having a fundamental role in its growth. Because of this, I knew I’d be able to apply my experience in market research to the company’s benefit but also gauge my effects and turn it into a learning experience for myself.

What will you miss about college?

For me, college is a 24/7 aggregation of resources. I’ll miss having a question and finding the answer on my doorstep; I’ll miss needing late-night study company and knowing there’d be someone nearby who’d join me; I’ll miss the free student bussing; and I’ll miss the always-delicious subs from Jimmy John’s (open until 3AM every night).

What is your biggest strength that you’ll bring to our work together?

I’d say resourcefulness. I’m a big proponent of maximizing value of the tools made available to you. When I can’t find the information or help I need, I find creative alternatives that use what information I can find.

Give me a fun website or twitter account that you consult to break up your day?

Going to Syracuse University and being a member of the athletic bands has made me a huge fan of the Syracuse Orange. Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician (@NunesMagician) is a blog dedicated to Syracuse fans. The author, Sean Keeley, has plenty of hilarious posts and even published a book, “How to Grow an Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Becoming a Syracuse Fan.”

Alright then. Let’s go Orange and win the Big East this weekend!

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

 

Today’s Housekeeping Post: Updates, Events, News

Happy Monday! I wanted to start the week with some housekeeping updates. There’s a lot happening at The Opportunities Project and you should all know the latest.

Website Updates

After almost six months in business, I took some time to look at my data, which included looking at my website analytics and my sales and lead data that I record in my Batchbook CRM (thanks to my friend Michelle Ward, the When I Grow Up Coach, for inspiring me). Based on my analysis, I am making some structural changes to my website so that certain pages convert better (damn you, About page!) and reflect The Opportunities Project’s values and new programs. Here is an overview of some of the changes I’m making.

– Changing and streamlining blog categories

– Adding new coaching programs and solidifying my pricing now that I have a better sense of the market

– Focusing back on events, my biggest sales lead

– Redesigning the home page with content being moved to new versions of the About and Services pages

– Experimenting with some color on the home page

– Increasing focus on my recruitment consulting services (just a little)

– Introducing a store with guides and e-courses for purchase (including some freebies!)

While I’m making these changes, you may see the same photo or content on more than one page while things get moved around. Thanks for understanding. Hopefully, all maintenance will be completed within the next ten days.

Promotion Updates

One of the changes that I have already made is an updated Promotions page. Here are some quick updates on our current promotions.

– Due to popular demand, I’m bringing back Pay What You Can Coaching (PWYCC) sessions on the 20th and 21st of every month. Apply for one of these slots before they fill up!

– I am officially launching my Referral Program for friends, readers and fans who know people who need a pragmatic and affordable career coach. Join to get 20% of the coaching sale back in your pocket and get your referral a discount.

– I’ve given away three scholarships since I started my business, all to initiatives for charity, and they’ve all been great experiences. I’ve decided I wanted to do my own scholarship program and am launching three of my own on Valentines Day…. because I love you. Awww. Details coming next Monday.

Speaking of scholarships, I also want to take a moment to give a shout-out to the client I’ve been working with through the Hired for the Holidays scholarship, Alexandra Patterson. Alexandra is an aspiring writer and is going to knock the socks off the organization that is lucky enough to land her as a summer intern. Her article Everything You Need to Know about Virtual Internships was published last week in USA TODAY College. Go Alexandra!

Events, Events, Events

I’ve posted some great events on our News and Events page. I’ll write blog posts on each as they get closer, but here are some very quick highlights.

– Two events I’m attending: NYC Social Media Week, Teach for America 20th Anniversary Summit

– Three Events I’m actively participating in: Second Brazen Careerist Speed Mentoring Event, Reach Out Job Search Radio, American Educational Research Association Conference

– Six (!) Events I’m hosting: #TFA20 Tweetup at the Teach for America 20th Anniversary Summit, 12 Career Assessment Steps for 2011 (webinar), a NYC Cocktails and Careers Networking event, a LinkedIn workshop, a Building Soft Skills/Interviews workshop, a social media webinar for schools and school districts

I expect to add three more virtual events and two possible in-person events in March.

Press Appearances

I updated our Press page to include a shiny media kit I’ve been working on since November. You can view it on SlideShare or download a PDF version. I also added two really great January 2011 press mentions that made me very proud and happy about the career choices I’ve made this year.

– I was named one of the top five career coaches for serious job seekers by YouTern, a company that commits to matching organizations with talented interns. I was honored to be in such good company.

– The Ladders ran a story on best practices for using Applicant Tracking Systems to improve quality of hire and the system I developed as the Director of Teacher Recruitment for the NYC Public Schools was featured. Kind of awesome.

Questions about these changes and updates? Leave them in the comments.

 

Are you in New York City and want to be the first to hear about our events? Join our Strategic Career Starts Meetup group!

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Writing and Action: #Reverb2010

During the holiday break, I watched the movie Julie & Julia with my mom. The movie is about the woman who blogged about making all the recipes in Julia Child’s cookbook in a year. I actually liked the movie a lot, but it made me think about my new role as a “blogger” that I took on when I started The Opportunities Project. While Julie Powell seemed to experience all love, it’s been equal parts love and hate for me.

Before I actually started blogging, I thought I always wanted to be a blogger and had very romantic fantasies about it. For someone working in a relatively high-level position in a government bureaucracy, writing what you wanted on the Internet for the entire world to see was not an option. But because I couldn’t, it made me really want to do it! Now that I am blogging for my business, it’s not all unicorns and liberation. I can’t keep up with my ideas! In addition to blogging, I am working on other writing projects that I am not making great progress on, including e-courses, workbooks, invited guest posts and articles, my well-outlined book on teacher recruitment with a pitiful 30 pages completed, my dissertation proposal and an academic paper for a conference in April.

It’s enough to say AGH! I am glad for these Reverb10 prompts to get me focused.

#Reverb10 Prompts 

December 2 – Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it? (Author: Leo Babauta)

December 13 – Action. When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step? (Author: Scott Belsky)

December 25 – Photo. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and and what it best reveals about you. (Author: Tracey Clark)

Writing

The number one thing I can eliminate that doesn’t contribute to my writing is procrastination. While there is some fear involved as to whether what I have to say is worth it, a major struggle I have is switching from task to task- meaning it’s very hard for me to switch from writing my book to answering emails at a designated time. I have a hard time letting go of a task in-progress when I am in a groove, even if there is a more pressing (um, clients) issue to tackle. I also seem to face difficulty going back to unfinished writing projects because other demands come up. Both habits often prevent me from really starting writing projects at all. The only way I am going to make it as a solo-preneur with income streams based on writing is to establish the focus this task switching requires.

Action

I need to take action to get my writing to the next level. I’ve hired a time management coach for the first three months of March and addressing my issues with procrastination and writing is my first priority. Even without her guidance, I am writing all my ideas for blog posts on index cards with notes, putting them in some order, and making sense of them so they become doable.

Photo

One of my favorite blog posts that I did write this year involved a picture, the headshot I am using for The Opportunities Project. During the summer, I was interviewed for The Los Angeles Times about my experiences with curly hair and my thoughts about how you present your identity in the business world. I wrote about my experience taking the picture on my blog and facilitated a great discussion about it in the LinkedIn Career Explorer group. I love how my headshot truly reflects me and the love that my friend Wendy Glickman used to take the pictures that day, as well as do all the necessary editing. If you’d like to read how the picture was taken, please read the post and let me know what you think. Here are other fun pictures from that day, too.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Believing in Yourself: Wisdom and Letting Go for #Reverb10

I spent most of #snowmageddon writing my posts for the Reverb10 campaign. I’ve done one post so far, but as a recap, Reverb10 is an online initiative to get people to reflect upon what happened in 2010 as part of their effort to manifest the best in 2011. I am all aboard the Reverb10 train personally, and as a career coach, I think everyone else should participate in it, too! As a coach, one of the best gifts I can give is to bring people toward greater self-awareness. Self-awareness can show you how others may perceive you in your career, but more importantly, show you what you really want in life and how to get it. Taking personal time to reflect and write about your experiences and goals is a great way to jumpstart the process.

Because I am late to the game, I am grouping many of the prompts into themes that make sense to me. I am also posting multiple times a day to publish as many as possible before the new year. Today’s first post is about my decision to start my company, and the realization that was a decision to also let something go. Since my company is relatively new, I still run into people in the city who have no idea that I am now a career coach. Usually they ask me “When did you decide you wanted to be a career coach?” or “Why did you leave your job at the New York City Department of Education?” Most people see them as the same question, but one is about adding and the other is about subtracting. Sometimes you need to do both to move forwards. My greatest lesson learned is that these decisions reflected conscious choices and I had abdicated my power to make choices for a very long time. This post also addresses one more reason behind Why I Do What I Do, another blog post series.

#Reverb10 Prompts
December 10 – Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out? (Author: Susannah Conway)

December 5 – Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?(Author: Alice Bradley)

December 17 – Lesson Learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward? (Author: Tara Weaver)

The Wisdom in Knowing You Want More

My wisest decision in 2010 was a two-part one: (1) to recognize that I had a dream and the talent to become a successful coach, and (2) to act on my belief and start my practice.

The first part took place in very late 2009 when multiple people in my life asked me for my advice on their job search. When I worked with friends and colleagues to review their resumes and help with interviews, I saw my strengths in a new light and recognized how much I enjoyed working with job-seekers. I am not a huge “the universe is speaking to you” person, but I don’t think it’s random that people were coming to me in a moment where I was wondering what I wanted to accomplish in the next year, especially a milestone year since I’d be turning 35. I also had a lifelong dream to be an entrepreneur that I had put on hold countless times. Going back for my PhD in 2006 was part of my plan to become an independent consultant, but I came to realize that I didn’t need my PhD to own a mission-driven business, especially with ten years of experience in recruitment.

In January 2010, I started talking to coaches and attending business classes and knew that I could do it. In March, I started telling people in my life about my plans and asking opinions from people I trusted. By the end of the month, I told my boss on a Friday evening, feeling liberated… but walking out in tears.

Leaving A Role Behind

In the excitement of launching my new vision, I didn’t quite realize that leaving my role as “The Director of Teacher Recruitment” for the New York City public schools would be a separate hard and painful process. I was leaving something that I had poured all of my emotional labor into for almost a decade and the title had become as much a part of my identity as the color of my eyes. Even though time has passed, there is still a part of me that is in mourning for the team that worked with me, and the good things that came from being a member of an established institution and tribe. But ultimately, the role was not serving me anymore. It was not giving me intellectual and personal freedom, room to grow, or space to honor my own feelings about what it takes to improve our nation’s education problems, K-16. By ignoring those feelings, I was giving away control over my life and I had to let it go to grow, even if it meant leaving behind some good things.

As I fight the day-to-day battles of getting things off the ground, I forget the amount of courage and power both of these decisions took. It was easy to stay where I was rewarded with an excellent paycheck and benefits. But I desired to be an entrepreneur and coach and no one was going to start my business for me. The lesson learned is that if we want something enough, we must recognize our power to do it with conscious and deliberate action, and an understanding that success requires risk and at least a moderate tolerance for failure. No matter what happens, that I pursued it is its own accomplishment.

Are you ready to make a conscious choice today to make a difficult decision and/or let something go?

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Success Online- Blogging and Social Media

It’s here! Tonight is our event on Achieving Career Success through Blogging at 7PM at SLC Conference Centers (352 Seventh Avenue, 30th Street). If you still haven’t registered, use the discount code “Blogging 101” to get the $10 ticket price.

If you’re not convinced that spending time on online activities like blogging and social media can help you with your career or business, here are two quick stories before I go back to the finishing touches for tonight.

Just an example of how blogging can help… Last week, I wrote a guest blog post for my colleague Keith Petri’s eBranding.me blog about my thoughts on the Marie Claire blogging controversy- a writer wrote a blog post on obese people on TV and the public was outraged by the author’s take. Keith featured my content on Networked Blogs and on Friday, I got an email from someone I didn’t recognize. It was someone who had read my post because she was interested in the Marie Claire issue, but then got clicking around my business website and read that I do recruitment and leadership consulting, specializing in Gen Y, and her company needs that expertise. I now have a call scheduled to talk business. Sweet!

And just another example of how Twitter can help… Every Monday, I participate in a Tweet Chat called #jobhuntchat. Last week, someone in the chat posted that they were looking for a Community Manager position and based in Maryland. Some of my former colleagues started a MD based company and were looking for a Community Manager so I told her about the job. Last night, that person said she had an interview based on my lead. Even more sweet!

My lessons: Do new things. Learn and write about interesting things. Ask for help. Expand your networks. What are yours?

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog

Careers and Curly Hair- What Do You Think?

A few months ago, a sorority sister who now works for the Los Angeles Times posted a question on Facebook- is anyone with curly hair willing to talk about their struggles with curly hair to one of her colleagues? I immediately volunteered. The request was posted a few weeks after I had shot my first pictures for my website. I had chosen to wear my hair natural and it had not been an easy decision for many reasons.

First, I have struggled with thick, coarse hair my entire life, just like I’ve struggled with my weight and my curves. They go together in my mind, something that sometimes makes me lack confidence in my appearance.  In my late twenties, I would drag myself to salons in Chinatown and Bay Ridge and get it blown out pin straight every weekend. In my early thirties, I decided it was a huge waste of money and time. I liked curly hair and I had never dated anyone who preferred my hair straight so what I was doing it for? If I was now leading my business and selling myself to people who wanted authenticity from their career coach, I thought I should show people who I truly am- an independent women of a certain ethnic heritage who embraces the look she feels is right for her. Right?

Second, even though I generally like my hair curly, it’s not easy to style. I rarely get it right. I either don’t use enough product, or I use too much. If I have a little more disposable cash when the next Groupon or Living Social Deal for Keratin treatments comes out, I am there, but until that time comes, I am on my own. The night before the photo shoot I washed my hair with DevaCurl, used a ton of leave-in conditioner and combed through every inch with Miss Jessie’s (expensive) Curl Crème. I put it up in clips and took them down every 30 minutes to scrunch. And then I went to bed and hoped for the best. Luckily, my hours of preparation worked and my curls survived the next day’s humidity.

(What my photographer and I should have really worried about was makeup- nothing stopped that from melting every 10 minutes. Thank God for iPhoto’s retoucher.)

Third, when I occasionally do get a blowout because straight hair is easy for a few days, I get compliments from women, especially in the workplace. I always roll my eyes in my head when these women tell me how beautiful I look because I feel like they’re projecting their own issues with their hair onto me. But maybe they were onto something. Maybe none of the strong females that I wanted to attract as a career coach would be attracted to my services because of how I wore my hair in my pictures. Maybe they wouldn’t think I was “professional” and that I had made the wrong decision after all. I believe that fear was really what prompted me to want to talk to the reporter.

A few months have passed, but the article finally came out this Sunday. After reading it, I was so pleased to be part of it and seriously impressed with the diversity of sources that Whitney Friedlander used. The research shows that I am not alone in my issues with my hair, or my belief that curly hair is great in both personal and professional situations if you wear it confidently. And over the last few months, the fear about my photo choice has also passed after I had my first paying clients. I know that my instincts were right- being myself and wearing my hair the way I wanted has been an asset. People want career coaches who are comfortable in their own skin because it makes them trustworthy and approachable.

Do you question your style decisions in your professional dress? I’d love to hear?
Tracy Brisson talks about appearance in career situations.

Posted via email from The Opportunities Project Blog