I found one of my coaching niches by the kinds of issues clients presented to me.
In the past few years, most have wanted help with career challenges. This inspired Career Savvy. Over time, I began seeing a large number of young job-seekers, people just beginning their careers. Many were far more fluent with social media and the Internet than I was, yet this edge didn’t translate to job success. As we worked together, I began to understand in more detail the traps the internet can present and what works better. First Job Savvy is inspired by those clients and written to help the many who can’t work with me directly.
As much as the lure of fiction writing draws me, it is the challenges I see in my coaching practice that tell me I need to keep writing this kind of book. After it came out, I discovered that mid-life career changers were getting good help from it as well. It delights me to hear that someone has gotten a job because the tips and techniques I provided gave them an ‘edge.’
Linda Donovan, a colleague of mine, approached me with a proposition – would I like to co-author a book with her? Her volunteer work as a grief counselor had made her consider how people in the tech industry deal with grief…badly. A book on this subject, first acknowledging the difficulty and then offering practical advice on moving past the grief, became a focus for her. Linda knew I could write, but she also knew I had experience with career coaching. She thought this would add a great deal to the book.
I found the idea irresistible, though was nervous at the idea of collaborating. How would it work? Would we still be friends at the end? As it turned out, the relationship worked so well that we can’t wait to start another book. I added the Maslow material as well as the idea that recovering from grief wasn’t the end. Instead, the experience really offered one the chance to take a level-check and figure out if they were doing something they cared passionately about. The book moved along quickly and we found that not only did we have very similar styles, we also brought such varied skill sets that almost anything we needed to do, one of us was exactly the right person to handle it. Working on the book also helped us deal with the losses we had experienced in our careers. We hope you will find it helps you too.
Career Savvy began as a series of articles for an IT magazine. Initially, I only wrote a few, thinking that only my most esoteric ideas for managing your career were of value. But the feedback told me that after years of plentiful jobs in the market, people had forgotten how to craft a good resume, interview well and simply do the things you need to do to make yourself sticky in your job. So I kept writing and it began to shape up into a book. Now, some people might just jam a bunch of articles together and call it a book, but it didn’t read right to me. So I rewrote every one (and had to write a few where there were gaps), including more stories and examples. As I wrote, I learned a lot too. That always happens. I got it out to the market fast simply because I heard too many stories of people getting laid off, hating their jobs and not knowing what to do next.
In October, 1991, a horrible fire devastated the Oakland and Berkeley hills and cost many their houses and in some cases, their lives. My mother’s apartment at Parkwoods was one of the first to burn. I began to realize that I had no plan for this kind of disaster. Insurance doesn’t replace memories, nor does it help you recover your hard drive or your printed writing or other creative work. The question I asked myself was, If you had only five minutes, time to just make one trip to gather your belongings, what would you take? That question and the experiences of people affected by the ‘Firestorm’ inspired this book, though the work is entirely fictional. Writing it helped me understand that the only thing that really mattered was to get the living out. Still, I now have automated backup for my writing and a place to store my pictures.
I got an email offering me a chance to write a short piece for the annual Gratitude anthology. At the time, I was still recovering from a REALLY bad year and struggled to feel grateful about anything. And then it hit me. We don’t learn or grow or get better except from dragging ourselves out of the failures, accidents and horrible experiences of our lives. I knew I was on the road to something better, so I decided to contribute. At least my piece doesn’t sound like a toast at a Thanksgiving dinner.