These past few years, we have all experienced major changes in our lives due to the pandemic. People lost their jobs, businesses, and even loved ones. Now, we are living in a world of transition. Catherine Morgan emphasizes that it’s an opportunity to reinvent and rebuild yourself in whatever way you want. Catherine is the founder of Point A to Point B Transitions Inc., which helps people, specifically professionals in financial services, professional services, and technology, with their career transitions by identifying the great opportunities available to them. In this episode, she shares a guide to help you evolve and live a better life! Listen to keep up with the transition!
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Reinventing Yourself In A World Of Transition With Catherine Morgan
[00:01:12] Thank you for coming back and for emailing me at Ben@YourBrandMarketing.com, for finding me on LinkedIn, and for telling me what you like, what you don’t like, who you want to hear and what you are interested in. I good have a friend on the show. Catherine Morgan and I have known each other for years. She’s my editor. I write for her on a monthly basis and for the Carol Roth Blog. We have a lot of fun. We are going to get on and talk about a world in transition. Catherine, welcome to the show.
[00:01:53] Thank you so much for having me, Ben.
[00:01:57] You get younger every time I see you.
[00:01:57] Except that we both know I had a big birthday. I called it the 6-0.
[00:02:03] I figured every day over 50 is you are on the right side of the world. That is my goal. I turned 50 a couple of years ago. I looked at it like, “Life is getting better. I don’t have the hang-ups anymore. I prioritize all the right things. I’m enjoying life far better now than I probably did in my 30s and 40s.”
[00:02:24] That’s predictable. It’s called the bell curve of happiness. You get good with yourself, “Here’s who I am. Here’s what I want. Here’s how I’m living my life. Here are my values.” If you align with them, great. If not, we’re probably not going to talk that much.
[0 0:02:39] “Here I am, works and all. If you like me, great. If you come on in, I’ll give you a great big hug. If not, that is okay too.” Everybody likes who they like and they sit there and goes, “That person is just not my cup of tea.” If I wanted everybody to love me, I’d sell ice cream.2022, going forward, tabula rasa, you have a blank slate upon which you can create whatever you want. Click To Tweet
[00:02:54] It is a visceral response. It’s a gut response. It’s not here in the head.
[00:03:00] We’ve got to get out of our heads and get into our hearts. That’s probably the best thing to do. You have been my editor for years for Carol’s Blog. That’s how we first met. Let’s get into a little bit about who is Catherine before we start getting into a world of transition because I’m excited about this conversation.
[00:03:17] I’m excited about it too. I am a career transition expert and business consultant to consultants. I’ve had my own company, Point A to Point B Transitions, Inc. 2010 was when we were founded. I’ve learned a lot in transition, as did everyone in 2020 and 2021.
[00:03:41] The world changed a little bit in 2021. I don’t know what happened, but there were some minor changes that happened in the world. People’s priorities and thought processes changed. I was looking at a map of the State of California. It showed the exodus of people leaving Northern to Southern California. You sit there going, “That’s indicative of something. Where are people going? Why are they leaving? What does this transition mean not only for people personally, but for the economy and also for business moving forward?” Let’s talk about this world and transition. What’s your thought process? Where are you with this world of transition? What do you see over the last few years? What are the insights that you’ve gained out of it?
[00:04:33] Everyone hit Control All, Delete, that’s if you’re a PC user in 2020 or 2021, for whatever reasons. We had health issues, someone else with health issues, job insecurity. We are trying to educate our kids on Zoom school. Everything went up in the air. I assume that there is zero correlation between 2019 prior and 2022 going forward. Tabula rasa, you have a blank slate upon which you can create whatever you want, but it also threw a lot of people into existential angst because they’re like, “I don’t want that, but I don’t know what the new this is.” They’re bouncing off what they don’t want without a clear goal and what they want to move forward to. I know you’re the big goal guy.
[00:05:25] People are running from not running to. That’s a dangerous place to be that everybody says it goes, “I don’t want this. I don’t want that. I don’t want to work for this type of leader. I don’t want to be part of this organization. I don’t want to have these hours. I don’t want to have to go to the office five days a week.” Few people are stopping to sit there and say, “What do I really want? What is the bucket list?”
[00:05:50] That’s where someone like me can come in very handy because if you think about it, you only know your own experience or what somebody close to you, a colleague, a family member, or a partner has gone through. You can’t see all the possibilities that might be out there. You might be aware that there’s a lot of fear monitoring on the internet and a bunch of bait-clicky headlines. Even things that are possible, you may not think are possible, or they are not possible for you. There are a couple of pieces here. You may not be able to see what options are available. You might not have done the emotional and spiritual mining it takes to figure out what your right next step is and what you want to create. You might not even know how to do it or see that you can literally create almost anything you want. There are some parameters.
I’m not going to be interviewing celebs on the red carpet. I’m not 22 in a size 2. That’s real. As far as other things, pretty much anything is possible. People are telling me, “I can’t get a remote job because I’m in this job function.” I’m like, “Here’s a list of X number of companies who committed to be 100% remote going forward. They need your job function. Apply to those companies.” There’s always, “I want to reinvent myself. I have twenty years of experience in this. I know this job function. No one’s going to take me seriously in this. I’ve only been in this industry, but it’s in contraction. I hate it.”
What I am finding with my clients is they can literally create anything they want if they stop and do a ruthlessly honest inventory about what that looks like. They probably won’t be able to map their own path there, but with some outside assistance and suggestions, you can create whatever the heck you want to create at whatever age.
[00:07:51] We’re going to get into that whole age thing. Let’s dive into that because people have been doing the same job for 5, 10, 15 or 20 years.
[00:08:00] I have a client who is 26 years in her job. That’s literally pretty much the only thing she’s done.
[00:08:08] You have people that sit there and say, “I’m only qualified to do X because this is all I’ve done.” How many people are taking the time to sit there and say, “Forget and nevermind the job title.” What are the skills that you’ve learned? What are the relationships that you’ve built? What are the things that you’ve seen, done and experienced along the way of those 26 years and be able to refocus yourself to sit there and say, “It’s not the job title. It’s these experiences I’ve had and skills that I’ve built along the way. That’s what causes me to have real value.” Is that what you’re trying to say?
[00:08:49] Yes. The image I’m using with people now is we disassembled things and dumped the Lego pieces on the table, and then we reassemble them. Do we want to make a dinosaur or a windmill?The pieces are there. How are we reassemble them? We have choices and options. There are different ways to reassemble them. Given the content that you’ve been creating, I know you’ll agree that it’s also important to look at the situations in which you like to work, the type of people and the way you like to work.
If you’re an independent contributor who wants to sit there with your earbuds in and program, dive into Excel, write, create or do video editing, great. In a very collaborative group think, we do everything together. In culture, you’re going to be like, “Leave me alone.” However, if you are an extrovert and love bouncing off people, ideas, planning meetings, strategy sessions, whiteboarding and things, you’ll need people who like to work that way.Even if you do something and it's a colossal failure, you can go back and do something else. Click To Tweet
[00:09:52] I would hate being in one of those long desks with fifteen different monitors and everybody’s plugged in. People walk into the office at 8:00 in the morning and walk out at 5:00, and it’s silent. I would go nuts.
[00:10:09] Some people think that’s hell. Some people are like, “Sign me up. I could get so much work done in that situation.” It depends. There’s no one right way. Don’t vilify yourself if you like it one way or the other. The combination of that, the skills, what you’ve done, your industry expertise, Lego pieces reassemble and then figure out who the people you’d like to work with are or how you like to work. Do you want to be remote, hybrid or in the office? Do you want to travel or not want to travel? There’s no right way to work. Everybody thinks, “I’m not going to be able to get this because I want that.” It’s all possible. You have to be very honest with yourself.
[00:10:50] I love the Lego analogy. Lego has these wall art pieces. We’ve got the Mickey and Minnie ones on our wall, but there are the Elvis ones. People have come up on the internet and said, “They have given you 5,000, 10,000 pieces of Lego. Mickey and Minnie don’t have to look like this. Here’s an alternative way that Mickey and Minnie could do using those exact same pieces of Lego. You can either have it facing towards or away from you or towards each other.” There are many different things. They have done the same thing with Elvis.
It’s sitting there going, “We have the same pieces. We are the same people that we’ve always been.” What we can do is we can refocus those skills, that conversation and how people perceive us based on how we communicate and present ourselves. How do you help people do that? That’s challenging for a lot of people. They are like, “I’m scared to make this move.” Change is scary for people. How do you get people beyond that scary, “I’m not sure,” stage to the point to say, “Maybe I can?”
[00:12:06] Change is scary. First, I acknowledge it because it’ll poke its head up. In general, humans don’t love change, but we are good with it. We adapt fairly well once you get the initial shove in the butt to move forward. It’s a gentle nudge. If something’s putting a little fire under that butt, you tend to move forward and you are okay. Once you’re in motion, it’s a little easier. It’s the initial inertia of not getting into motion. I’d talk about that.
It’s also important as we’re talking about the fear of moving forward to tell people that very few decisions are necessarily the end game. Meaning even if you do something and it’s a colossal failure, you can go back and do something else. You can talk to it. You probably won’t die. When you take that off, will you maybe embarrass yourself? Okay. Have you embarrassed yourself in the past? Yes. Once or twice. People make it too precious like, “I have to find my right job. I’m going to stay there for five years until I retire,” or whatever your thing is. That makes the decision heavy and shuts down creative thinking and exploration, which is crucially important if you are looking to do something new.
The people who don’t have a good result are often ones, “I’ve done this. I guess I have to do that,” and they don’t want to. We’re putting all this information out there, the resume is good. Their LinkedIn profile is good. Their talking points are good, but they don’t want it. They self-sabotage in some way. They send out stuff with typos. They don’t follow up with a recruiter. They are like, “Why aren’t we making any progress?” It’s because they don’t actually want that. What they really want is to try this other thing that’s exciting or interesting or scary. I have to make sure that what people tell me is what they want.
When those two are in alignment, “I want this. It needs to look like that. I’m a little flexible with this,” we can find that. If you are telling me you want that and you really don’t, it’s because your partner’s risk-averse or you lack the imagination that you don’t think it’s possible. The long-winded answer to your question is exploring the possibility, acknowledging fear or not trying to squash it down, but saying, “Nice fear. We’re going to move on.”
Looking for your curiosity or enthusiasm, what gets you excited? I had this great candidate who was a great fit for what he was looking for. He’s like, “We’re not making any progress.” He’s highly motivated. He’s making the calls and stuff like, “Why do you waste time on the internet doing?” He’s like, “I am psyched about how AI is going to revolutionize the customer support process.” I’m like, “Why don’t we just get you a job with that and stop wasting our time?” Now he’s a director of marketing and operations for some AI. It’s a VP role.
You write about this all the time. I’m just going to give you a shout-out about the importance of affinity, which is hard to quantify. I tell people, “After your minimum money has been met, money doesn’t really help that much. It’s great. We should all get paid as much as we can, but that’s not what makes for happiness. It’s affinity. Do you more or less like the people you work with? Do you more or less think that your boss has your back? Do you more or less agree with the way your company goes to market and treats customers? Anything that’s out of alignment there, it doesn’t matter how much they’re paying you. It’s not going to be enough. You’re going to be miserable.”
[00:16:32] Let’s talk about blue sky in alignment because the one thing you came up with and the thought that got me thinking is blue sky thinking, the what if instead of the why not, instead of the why, because there are many people that don’t take the time to sit there and say, “I’m passionate about going in and looking at stuff on AI.” You’re never going to be an AI programmer because maybe you just don’t have the skillset to be an AI programmer. If you’re a marketer and passionate about AI, there’s a role for you within AI firms.
AI firms desperately need people who can communicate. They need accountants and logistics people. There are all sorts of people that support these absolutely brilliant AI engineers that they desperately need to make these companies roll. How do you get people to think in the blue sky what if realm to get them beyond thinking about, “I’m an accountant. I should go work for KPMG?” There’s nothing wrong with KPMG.
[00:17:34] I’ve worked for KPMG. All job functions are needed at all types of companies. When people tell me, “I don’t have a background in AI. I don’t know it. I’m excited about the blockchain, but I’m not a programmer. I’m not techy,” I say, “That’s a great place to throw your hat in the ring because you can’t get aced out by somebody who you need to have somebody with 5 or 10 years of experience in this. It hasn’t been around that long. It has, but it hasn’t been a front and center big thing. Anything that’s a Wild Wild West situation where it’s evolving, the industry is changing, and they are looking for investments, talking points and go-to-market, there are one million places to play within that.”
If you’re interested in that, nobody’s that much further ahead for you, but you have to like ambiguity. You have to be honest with yourself and say, “Am I comfortable in constantly evolving situations? Am I okay building the plane as I fly it or do I like to walk into something that is fixed and systems, processes and checklists?” No one right way to work. How do you like to work? If you’re comfortable in ambiguity, fast growth and pivoting, awesome. Throw your hat in the ring. Nobody’s that much further ahead of you. If you don’t like change, it is maybe not the right industry for you.Make sure what you’re telling yourself that you want is what you really want. Click To Tweet
[00:19:05] How do you get people to be honest with themselves, to realize, “This is what I really am passionate about. This is what I like. This is what I don’t like.” People go, “I can live with that.” “I don’t want you to live with something. I want you to be passionate about it. I want you to wake up every single morning and this is what you want to do. Be able to allow them to create these checklists of saying. ‘These are the non-negotiables that need to be in place before I’m going to go work for a certain company.’” How do you get people to put their feet to the fire and be honest with themselves to sit there and say, “No, if this is what goes on in this company, I don’t want to be within 100 miles of this place.”
[00:19:47] Let me do the prequel to that. Sometimes passion isn’t the issue. Sometimes somebody just needs a job to pay the bills. Their passion gets served with their nonprofit board membership or the work with their spiritual community. We bludgeon people with, “You have to be passionate about your work thing.” No, you have bills to pay. If you want to be passionate, have a career track and invest in it, awesome. If you just want to have a job that pays the bills and you do some other thing on the side that juices you, that is fine too. We’ll start there.
[00:20:30] I was more of the caveat of the type of leader that you want to work for, whether there is health care benefits, this type of opportunity for growth. I understand that not every day is going to be ice cream and lollipops. There’s no job in the world that’s all ice cream and lollipops.
[00:20:47] That’s why they call it work, and not play. I set people’s expectations. Let’s say you’re in your genius zone. You are more or less doing stuff you like 75% to 80% of the time. The other is 20% to 25% nonsense, because people, companies. You are mostly in your genius zone doing something that you more or less like. You’ll be a fairly happy camper. How do I get people to get real? They have to stream of consciousness and then I listen for patterns. At first, they’ll say what they think they should say or what they’ve done in the past, and then we’ll start getting to the juicy stuff about, “I really liked this. In this company, I got to do this way. In this company, I have this kind of a boss. That was amazing. That changed the trajectory of my life.”
I listen to them tell their story. I pull out the pieces where the energy is excited or grounded, like confident. It’s a visceral feeling as much as the words they are using. They might tell the same stories within our conversation. I know those are important stories and there’s something that we should pull apart. For the analytical types, I also have a bunch of worksheets, videos and structured process for the people who want more structured versus a stream of consciousness. A combination of both gets us to the right building blocks.
[00:22:19] What’s going to work for some clients of yours is not going to work for others. Everybody is going to get to where they need to be in a different way. The more you can be flexible, sit there and say, “Here are some different things that have worked for different people. Let’s try this. Does it work for you? Great. If it doesn’t work for you, let’s try something else.”
[00:22:37] Here’s one thing I will caution people. Do not immediately drop your price or think you have to go for a title level lower or get into a scarcity lack mentality. What I found over the years is that it’s harder to get a job at a lower level than it is to get a job at an equivalent level or higher level because that requires no explanation. Everybody more or less knows why you would make a lateral move or I want to go up. They don’t understand why you step back. If there is some compelling reason why you would step back, meaning you don’t want to manage people anymore. You want to be an individual contributor. It might require a step back or you can get an aside of the org chart strategy job. That’s one place where people are like, “I can’t manage people anymore.”
They want to take a detour or they don’t want the 24/7 connectivity because they have a health issue, an elder care issue or a special needs child or something, and they need a little more autonomy and flexibility. They can’t be the on-demand thing. It’s fine, but know why you’re doing it. When people go into a transition or start thinking about it, they’re like, “I’m not going to be able to get as much money as I was making here. I’m not going to be able to get a remote.” They always go to the, “I’m not,” catastrophic. That’s not usually true. Don’t immediately go to the, “I have to make less money. I’m not going to be taken seriously.” That’s not helpful, either mostly not true.
[00:24:10] Let’s switch gears a little bit and go back to where we start at the very beginning. You and I are on the right side of 50. We’re wrapping up a word game to go. Ageism is not always seen as a positive thing within the hiring community. I was at a workshop. It was a fireside check before COVID. There were HR people talking about D and I, all about inclusivity, this, that, their thing, and it was three women under the age of probably 28 each.
They were all blonde, size zeros sitting on a bench together, having this conversation, and they are all talking about diversity and inclusion. I said, “No offense. You all look exactly the same. You’re all of the same generations. You’re all females. How are we dealing with diversity and inclusion? Let’s be honest about it, older people, if you all look and think the same.” How do we get people beyond this thought that you reach a certain age and all of a sudden you’re useless anymore because it’s nonsense?
[00:25:22] It is completely nonsense and not held out in the statistics. We have an aging workforce. It’s not going away anytime soon. I have seen statistics where there is going to be a 55% boost of people 65 and older in the corporate workforce by 2029 because of the way the numbers of the different generations work, there isn’t the replacement in the younger generation. Also, remember people are living much longer. My stepmother’s mom died at 103 with all her marbles. Her body gave out a little bit at 100 because she got lazy, but she was fine.
Now talk to your financial planner and see if you can retire at 65. What are you going to do with another 40 years? This is what I’m telling people, “You have 40 years. That’s how much of my career I’ve had so far. I can have another whole career.” My grandmother sold real estate until she was 87. That kept her young and out of doctor’s offices. We’ve got to blow up this whole thing.
I have had clients come through my practice in their 60s. One got hired by a young and fun “picture me” consulting company. He’s working with people half his age. He absolutely loves it. He’s having the time of his life, getting paid well with world-class benefits. He is super happy. Another person got a contract job as marketing director for a company. Age is an issue if you make it an issue. If you want to work for Facebook or something like that, maybe it’s problematic, but mostly it’s in your own mind.
You have to pull the out piece, “Is it an age issue or a wage issue?” Meaning, “Is your 10 or 20 years of experience worth $10,000, $20,000 or $50,000 more in that position? Is there some value you bring that makes it worth the company paying you that much more?” If a junior person could adequately do the role, it is a money decision and not an ageism decision. You would make the same decision in their place.Everybody has to prove themselves. Click To Tweet
Applying for the jobs where your gray hair of experience is valuable, years in the industry and outside perspective having worked in multiple industries, negotiation skills, judgment skills, ability to keep a cool head under pressure, knowledge of confidentiality or whatever it is, especially with organizations running Lean saying that you can contribute in multiple roles and oversee different things as one person can be the reason that you get picked.
I see a lot of people shoot themselves in the foot. It makes me sad because it’s avoidable. At our experienced side of the spectrum, we have to know that our boss, the CEO of the company, or our colleague might be twenty years younger than we are. I had that happen to me at Deloitte. We ended up being great friends for years, even after we both left the company. If you go in and you’re not okay with five generations in the workforce, that’s on you. It’s fixable, but you better be okay with it. You can’t come back from an interview and tell me, “I met with the hiring manager.” “How was it?” “Nice person and really young.” I know how that interview went. I know you aren’t getting a call back because you were okay with it, deal.
[00:29:20] The perception has to go both ways. If you think, “I’m going to be working with a bunch of 30-year-olds. My kids are 30 and I can’t stand my kids,” you’re not going to get that job, but if you sit there and say, “These are a bunch of young, incredibly smart, amazing people where I can sit there and be that uncle figure or almost like a father figure that sits there and says, ‘I’ve been down that rabbit hole.’”
[00:29:47] You are the stage. You can be the go-to person. You can be the one who comes with ruffled feathers, but you have to be fine with it. If you’re not fine with it, everybody can read your body language. Another thing older workers do is go in entitled thinking that they don’t have to prove themselves like everybody else. They should be grandfathered out of the evaluation stage. That doesn’t happen. Everybody has to prove themselves.
[00:30:12] Everybody has got to add value. A lot of it comes down to how do you communicate the value of who you are at whatever stage you are in your world and own it? You need to own who you are, what you do, why you do it and be able to say, “This is how I add value.” People who can do that, whether they’re 22 or 62 are going to be the people that are going to transition well. It’s all about adaptability, resilience and creativity. Those are the keywords that I’m seeing over in Inc Magazine, Forbes Magazine and HBR. Every magazine I’m reading is talking about, “We need a workforce that is resilient, creative and adaptable.” Those are skills that are beyond age.
[00:31:04] I’ll do a callback to older workers. We’ve seen a lot. We’ve had to reinvent ourselves multiple times. Few people are doing better with these things that are getting hurled at us than the more experienced side of the workforce. The younger people who haven’t ever been through crazy times, pandemic aside, but the ups and downs of the job market and the economy were like, “Cyclical. What goes up, goes down, and goes up again.” We were a little more even keel about it. Some people can be running around going, “The sky is falling.”
[00:31:40] We’ve seen five major crises in our lifetime. We’ve seen the ‘80s, ‘90s, when the towers went down in 2000, 2008 and the dot-com bubble. We’ve seen and lived through all these things. We have the scars, t-shirt and video to go with it. That tapestry enables people to be able to sit there and say, “There is something to this. There is something that we are missing within our organization that this person can bring to us.” That is a real big thing that people need to think about when they are applying for jobs when they are looking for that next opportunity, whether it’s coming in as a part-time chief marketing officer, a CFO, or whether you’re doing it on a fractional basis or going to go in-house.
It’s being able to sit there and say, “These are the talents that I bring to the table. This is why I’m worth you having within your quiver.” There are not enough people out there that are doing that self-evaluation and say, “This truly is my superpower. Forget about the things I do lousy. There are one million things I do horribly well. You don’t want me painting your house. You certainly don’t want me doing your taxes for you, but that’s not what you’re hiring me before. You’re hiring me to be the person who comes in, aligns your teams and develops that internal strategic communication. That’s the superpower that I bring to the table.” It’s helping people transition. It’s owning who you are, owning your strengths and realizing that this is what makes you valuable and knowing who you’re valuable to.
[00:33:24] We’ll add in what situation you want to work with, what types of people you want to work with, what kind of manager structure you like. All of those are the pieces that make for a happy person. I know you’re a big proponent of people owning their messaging and telling people or knowing their why, tapping into the organization’s why, and being able to really talk about it to have a stronger organization.
[00:33:52] This has been absolutely phenomenal. I got two last questions I want to ask you before I let you out the door. The first is, how can people get in touch with you?
[00:34:00] My website is PointAToPointBTransitions.com. They’re welcome to check it out. I have unlimited videos and content available on that. I’m also very active on LinkedIn. Feel free to connect or follow, and let me know if I can help in any way. They are also welcome to download a free copy of my eBook, which is titled Relaunch You: Discovering Your Point B and Embracing Possibility, which gives the details, worksheets and questions that somebody can go through all the things we talked about. It’s a free download. They’re welcome to take a look.
[00:34:47] The last question I ask everybody is, when you leave a meeting, get in your car and drive away, or you turn off the Zoom meeting, what’s the one thing you want people to think about you when you’re not in the room?
[00:34:58] My why is all about possibility. Did I spark some a new way of thinking about something or some new thought completely? If I did, my job is done.
[00:35:12] You’ve sparked a great conversation. Thank you for being an amazing guest and for being a great friend. I look forward to lots of conversations moving forward.
[0:35:23] Thank you.
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