Is the “Grown Up” World Where Talent Goes To Die?

Image courtesy of Flickr

Image courtesy of Flickr

I am deep into a book called: No Fears, No Excuses: What You Need To Do To Have a Great Career by Larry Smith. In this book, he asserts that: “the grown-up world is where talent goes to die.” Reading this statement jolted me gratefully inside – as this is something I have come to realize in my own career journey and in the scope of coaching my clients in business.

You may be thinking that this statement is: “harsh” or “an unfair generalization”. Perhaps, you’re right, but I will wager that you are not necessarily wrong, but rather predictable. I say you are predictable rather than wrong, because you belong to a subset of thousands – if not millions of people who believe in a precept of work that is fast becoming a dinosaur. This precept of work includes: Choosing a degree field (preferably something that will allow you to support yourself upon graduation), studying hard even if you hate your field of study, finding an internship where you give your gifts away for free,  only to search for whatever job the economy will loan to you. This my friends is the age old definition of success and job security. The unfortunate outcome of all of this is: The lot of unhappy people and wasted talent living and participating in a society that appears to being conversely impacted by a perceived lack of skilled workers.

While what I just outlined is not indicative of everyone’s career; it is the reality of the majority. Very rarely do I meet someone who says: I love my job and it is allowing me to utilize my full range of talents. In my head, I know of a handful of people in both my personal and professional circles who truly love the work they do. I know that “love” makes people uncomfortable, so let me define what “love” means in this context:

The handful that “love” their work are:

1) Doing work that aligns with their natural talents, interests and passions.

2) Fulfilled by the work, interactions and daily dynamics of the job.

3) Reinforced by having their basic needs for compensation, benefits, flexibility, long-term growth, challenge and continued learning met in return for their efforts.

Most people are not “in love” let alone fulfilled in the way I just described above. Every week, I observe the sentiments about work as we inch towards Friday. Most people, appear to be happiest from Thursday through Saturday. Sunday is a reminder that work starts in 24 hours on Monday – which brings on the inevitable social shares and/or griping about the drudgery that is returning to work. Put plainly, people are miserable and feel stuck.

Coming back to the title of this article which is: Is the “grown-up” world where talent goes to die? Is it true? I think it is. We start children off conditioning them to conform to the world rather than disrupt it. This conditioning often forces them to ignore their interests, innate skills and passions in favor of the road most traveled, lucrative and accepted. In doing this, we ship them off to university to study what seems like the best option for them. Sometimes it works out and other times a pivot emerges to the dissatisfaction of the parents, because of course we are supposed to have our entire life figured out at 22 – how reasonable!

Should we be lucky enough to get a job after graduation, more advice comes our way. The advice is: “Work hard, keep your head down, follow the rules and you will be promoted and successful in no time.” In “no time” is the operative word, because in this current economy promotions seem to be rather elusive and hard or good work is no longer a silver bullet for success on the job. By the time, people look up – they have a home, 2 cars, some kids, a dog, bills and a job that is a terrible fit for their skills and lifestyle; but the bills have to be paid, so onward with more drudgery.

For every person that works a job there is a dream and creativity deferred in the journey towards personal and professional success. We have all been conditioned to believe that holding a job whether it is a passion or not is a badge of honor – your right of passage into adulthood. More money, more bills, and more material effects are just a few of the things that define your adulthood in our current society. The problem with this rat race of superficial success is that it is superficial. Success is subjective and therefore much more to having longevity in your career than the degrees, certifications and clocked years of service.

Agreeing or disagreeing with this statement of talent dying in the grown-up or corporate world doesn’t matter. What matters is that you take a moment to realize what you want your life and contributions to stand for and taking stock of where you are so you can ensure that the two align. Here’s a hint: In the coming decades, success will not be defined by your retirement package, the money in your bank account or the amount of hours you worked – it will be about how you made an impact (however small) in your part of the world.

I spoke about success and what is means to be an adult in the modern world on my Periscope show: Ask Czarina Live. You can watch it below.

 

From Panera Bread to the Boardroom: Two Moms Collaborate to Empower Women

WLAM-Talent Think Partnership promo

Three years ago, I was a part of a small social media team that was covering the NY Business Expo Summit in New York City. After several hours of busily typing soundbites of some of the brightest minds in Social Media, I sauntered to the nearest lavatory where I was approached by Dr. Hilary S. Berger, Ed.D of Work Like a Mother®. She was fascinated with the speed at which I was typing and covering the event and asked me if I could help her hone her skills.

Not too long after the event we met in a Panera Bread in New York City to discuss the possibility of working with one another. As we were sharing our backgrounds and journeys as mothers, we realized we both had a passion for seeing women thrive. We spent most of our time talking about what we might be able to accomplish together someday. These lofty wishes were wrapped up in us being able to provide programs, events, and workshops that could assist women who have lost their way with a way to become relevant again through unique learning opportunities- an academy of sorts.

Some three years later, I am happy to say that academy was launched in 2015 as the Work Like a Mother® Career Academy for Social Media and Job Search Training. I came aboard as a social media and personal branding instructor. In 2016, we are collaborating in a more formal fashion to create new programming and provide the next iteration of the Work Like a Mother® Career Academy for Social Media and Job Search Training.

Our first collaboration is a program that was one of my proudest achievements for 2015- my Talent Think Social Circle Virtual Mentorship Teleclass ™. I launched this program with an idea, shoestring budget and blind faith from October through December of 2015 following the conclusion of the academy and it was a success.

Class “Usie” after my Art of Personal Branding and Social Media Workshop.

 

With the interest and support of Work Like a Mother®, my program has an extended lifeline and has grown into a multi-level program serving two separate needs for the women we serve:

1) Some women just want to re-enter the workforce. As such, their primary interest is in enhancing their skills and building the confidence needed to become a marketable candidate in an ever-difficult and selective job market.

2) In complete contrast to the previous example, there are women who have ideas for businesses they want to launch and need a place where they can incubate and grow those ideas into businesses. They too require some up-skilling and coaching to get there and we want to serve that need as well.

Who better to nurture women who have either of these needs than two mothers/business women that understand and empathize with their journeys. Corporate America isn’t checking for them and certainly hasn’t made much progress in ensuring the career mobility and flexibility of women, so we are tackling it in the only way we know- through education and coaching.

WLAM Open House

Work Like a Mother Open House (1.15.16)

 

You may be thinking what does this have to do with Human Resources?

On the surface, probably not anything. Let’s dive a little deeper though. When I worked in HR, I recognized that people could skip along all day creating policies and procedures without any care or concern for how it impacts the workforce. We were keeping the organization compliant and that is necessary. However, I often wondered if things would be different if Human Resources could function in a truly altruistic manner. My HR buddy, Dave Ryan shared something rather profound in a recent blog post. The post titled: “A Utopian Workplace”drove home an important consideration which is: “it is hard for HR to create a utopian society in the way everyone expects when society has yet to right certain human wrongs. I have to agree and I believe one of the things we have screwed up left and right is how women are regarded and treated in the workplace. More disturbingly is how women who choose to become mothers are often displaced and forgotten. While my collaboration has really nothing to do with HR directly, indirectly Hilary and I are attempting to triage the ills of society from the outside-in-with the hope that these women can thrive and succeed in the way that is most meaningful for them.

If you are interested in learning more about our programs, go to: http://worklikeamother.com/Mentorship.html.  In addition, if you are interested in featuring us on your blog, publication, podcast etc. to discuss our work we would welcome the opportunity to collaborate with you.

Here’s a little more insight on Dr. Hilary S. Berger, Ed.d and Work Like a Mother® worth knowing:

Dr. Hilary S. Berger, Ed.D. is the founder of Work Like a Mother®  and is a Career Counselor and Board Certified Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor who earned her Doctoral Degree from Columbia University’s Teachers College. With office locations in Fairfield County Connecticut, Dr. Berger has pioneered a solution oriented career counseling system designed exclusively for educated mothers at home raising their families. She has counseled women in transition both in university settings and in private practice for over twenty years.  Work Like a Mother®, a thriving and dynamic community for mothers, is a one stop shop for mothers rebuilding their professional relevance and marketability during and after their parenting years.

From Root to STEM: Why I’m Raising My Daughter To Appreciate Coding and All Things STEM

FTC Disclosure: I participated in Dice’s Hour of Code event on December 9th, 2014. I have been compensated to discuss my experiences and thoughts in relation to this event. In accordance with my blog disclosure statement, I will only work with and showcase products and/or companies I believe my readers will benefit from. All views contained in this article are mine. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

DiceCode1294

Representing women in technology and science begins with raising girls to become a part of those fields. ~ Lexi Herrick, Marketer for Global Technology Company

You may not know this, but I am a sucker for science and technology. Before I started down the road of studying behaviors in the workplace and my career in HR, I was biochemistry major with aspirations of becoming a forensic pathologist. As a teen, I took science classes long after it was still required for me to do so. I often went to county finals with my science fair projects and participated in my high school’s Intel program. It is fair to say that I had a natural affinity for science early on in life. However, I am sure that my fascination and curiosity may not have been as robust- if I was not introduced to science and technology at an early age; while also being given the chance to explore my abilities in this area.

I ultimately gave up the hard science for a soft science discipline, but have never lost my scientific edge. Now that I have two little girls and a boy, I will not miss the opportunity to spark that same wonder for science that I possessed at a young age. This is why I was so excited to work with Dice on their Hour of Code event in NYC earlier this week.

Dice in conjunction with Code.org put on an event in support of coding called a #HourofCode. The idea is to get kids to spend at least an hour coding in hopes that it will spark an interest and appreciation for the Computer Science field. With Computer Science slated to inspire some of the most essential jobs of the 21st century, it is clear that we must get kids engaged earlier and on a consistent basis in STEM learning. Code.org has made the learning part easy and fun by creating free coding exercises on their website that not only exhibit beloved characters that kids are already familiar with, but encourages them to code simply.

Did you know?

Only 4.9% of all Bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science in 2010 were awarded to women?  More importantly, less than 2.4% of college students overall graduate with a degree in Computer Science, and the numbers have dropped since last decade. There will be 1.4 million computing jobs to be filled by 2020 according to Code.org. We have a STEM shortage and crisis on our hands.

Courtesy of Dice.com

Courtesy of Dice.com

It was an amazing experience to be able to learn with and champion my daughter as she progressed through the Frozen™coding exercise. It starts off simple enough to grab their attention but also presents the right amount of challenge as you get to higher level puzzles to allow the child to critically think through creating the proposed scenario. In case you hadn’t heard, a lack of critical thinking is a common complaint from primary school through post-graduation- our kids are being starved of creative and critical thinking so much so-that it is nearly non-existent by the time they are looking for jobs.

In November, Dice reported that job postings seeking candidates with Hadoop experience are up 43%. There are currently 2,192 Hadoop-related job postings on Dice. Further proof that we need to be inspiring next generation STEM Enthusiasts.

It’s clear that we need a bigger push for STEM learning in our schools. However, I’m also a firm believer that you cannot force a child to be what you want them to be. That said, I think it is my job as a parent to provide a varied enough sampling of activities to allow my daughter to find her strengths, weaknesses, and passions. Dice is passionate about inspiring future leaders in STEM which is why they asked me and all of their employees to participate in this event with their children. How smart and cool!

DiceCode1293

Event Swag Alert: For those of you that have attended other Dice events- you know they usually spare no expense when it comes to their gifts. Guests received a cool, sling backpack full of fun Dice-branded goodies.

I encourage each of you to try an hour of code and share it with the young people in your life. You will be surprised at what you can do. Who knows you may even find a new hobby while you’re at it.

Need some more convincing? Check out the video below from some familiar faces in support of the “Hour of Code.

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