If you’re reading this right now, I’d be willing to bet that somewhere along the way in your career you had a realization.

It came like an epiphany, the light bulb flipped on and you’re like wow! [Putting my fingers to my temple so that I can read your mind]

What was that big realization (usually following a job or role that you thought was going to be fulfilling but honestly wasn’t)

“If only I could be in a career helping people” You feel like that could be it, that could be really fulfilling and meaningful.

You: OMG how did you you know Scott?

Ok, maybe it didn’t sound exactly like this for you, but EVERYONE goes through this realization in one way or another. Sometimes it’s the Doctor who realizes that she’s not helping people in the way she wants to be after being kicked around by insurance companies. Other times you’re helping your friends out or maybe you’re at a volunteer event and you realize, “this feels really good. If only I could do more of this”

It’s a basic human need in our work to feel fulfilled for any length of time.

In the case of Jackie Yerby, from Portland OR, she had this realization after leaving one an unfulfilling job in sustainability (she thought would be meaningful) and getting recruited to work on a campaign for climate change where it was her job to work directly with people who were in the Catholic faith (same as her own faith)  

“It felt meaningful and important. That was also the summer that the pope came out with his people on climate change”

 

She loved it. It was great! The only problem? The pay wasn’t as great! frown

But it gave her a taste of what meaningful work could really feel like. And she knew that there had to be a way to have both, meaningful work ( careers helping people ) that also paid well.

 

How Do You Help people In a Meaningful Way That Also Pays Well?

 

If you do an analysis what people search for on google (which is a treasure trove for great insights and data into how we think) we find that hundreds of thousands of people each year are searching for “careers involving helping others” or “best jobs for helping people” or “jobs where you help others”. Here’s what you get when you search.

 

 

These search results sound great, But they produce misleading results.

Notice how they’re all focused on the job itself. The problem is that when you’re talking about meaning, fulfillment and helping people, everyone wants to help people in different ways.

This means that a list of careers helping others is actually completely worthless.

Wait what?

 

Why Lists Of Careers That Help People Are Worthless

 

Ok, they’re not entirely but for most of us they will lead you in the wrong direction and do more damage than good.

Why? Because It turns out that all of us need to be helping others in different ways. So a list that includes all the things society considers helping others (Doctor, Teacher, Fireman, Minister, etc) may not include anything that would truly feel helpful for you.

What’s meaningful for me to help others might have very little impact on what’s most meaningful to you. I get a lot of meaning from spending my time creating new ways to look at career topics and then getting feedback from people. The average person might think “Wow I need to be helping people more directly”

This is because as human beings we need to be able to directly see and connect how the work we’re doing helps others. If we don’t see the connection then it does.

Remember Jackie Yerby? Remember how one role in reaching out to the community for climate change felt like she was helping people in a meaningful way but her role in sustainability didn’t?

Helping others creates meaning in our lives, But Will it be fulfilling for your Career?

Both of those are helping others (actually if you think about it every job in the world is helping people in one way or another) but if you don’t see or connect HOW it’s helping others then that doesn’t matter at all. It won’t feel like it is.

This of course means that you need to figure out for yourself the ways that you feel like you are helping others

“Helping” doesn’t have to happen in the traditional ways we think.

Everyone wants to help in a different way: mentoring, coaching, teaching, managing, the list goes on and on. Helping can also function at different levels: 1-on-1, groups, companies, communities, states, nations, etc.

The important part is that you’re figuring out what type of helping is right for you!

 

 

 

How Do You Figure Out What Type Of Helping Others Is Right For You?

 

We’ve put together a couple of questions to get you started. The answers to these questions won’t be magic bullets but they will give you clues on where and what types of roles to look for that make you truly feel like you’re helping.

What ways do you *most* enjoy OR feel meaning from helping others (Pick the ones that most apply to you) These will help you get started.

 

  • Facilitating
  • Mentoring
  • Delivering Expertise
  • Providing Counsel
  • Teaching
  • Providing Services
  • Creating/Making for others
  • Giving (Time/Money/Goods)
  • One on One
  • Small Groups
  • Large Groups
  • Regional/Area/State/Nation Level
  • Helping Specific Segments of the population (Ex. In Need)
  • Global Level

 

Describe the types of Helping People that have been most meaningful to you in the past: For some people this may be coding video games and others helping underprivileged youth  *NOTE there is no “correct” answer here except the ones that feel most meaningful to you.

Now look back over that list, what made it most meaningful for you, what was the context? What types of people were they? Did it have anything to do with the cause?

For Jackie Yerby who we mentioned earlier, she loves helping people most when she’s involved in causes she is excited and moved by. She also has to be working collaboratively with people she respects and making visible change for people she feels like she connects with.

If she doesn’t have some of these pieces, it won’t feel meaningful for her.

After realizing that being at the top in an executive director role wasn’t helping others in the way she wanted, she found a role that combined the ways she enjoys helping others.

She now is the Policy Director for the Urban League of Portland. You can listen to her entire story here.

 

 

 

What are the ways that roles feel most meaningful to you? What types of helping others is truly right for you?

Use the questions above to get started.

If you want even more help getting started figuring out the ideal career for you, join our free 8 Day Mini-Course to help you figure out the life and work you love or talk to our team about our coaching programs.

 

 

Transcript from Episode
Scott: Welcome to the Happen to Your Career podcast. I'm Scott Anthony Barlow and this is the show where we share stories of how high achievers find career happiness and meaning. And I've got a question for you. What happens when you've been there you've done that you've had success in other areas your life, your past roles, but now you're questioning what it is that you really want to do next?   Jackie: So I will be the policy director for the Urban League of Portland. And you know we work for civil rights issues for folks of color with a particular emphasis on the African-American community. My heart is singing at the prospect of doing mission driven work that feels really important especially right now.   Scott: OK. That's Jackie Yerby and I got to meet her after she was burnt out from an executive director role who was trying to find out what she really loved and wanted to do as a next role and the cool thing is if we fast forward a little bit she did manage to find it and that's part of the reason why we're having her on the show today. But the real reason behind the reason is it was quite a journey to be able to get there in the first place. And like most of us who've made that journey happen. Well it didn't happen how she thought it would.   Jackie: So I have a Master's in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. And I studied Health Care Policy Center. To the extent, there are minors by her minor concentration was in international affairs and security. But I knew that I really wanted to focus on domestic policy. And I went to grad school in the 90s. And so that was when Hillary Clinton was working on health care reform. And I've always really been concerned about the lack of access to health care especially for folks who have been marginalized which includes lots of color. So that's been something I've always really cared about and I you know I tried to do other things but I kept being called back to health care policy. And as you can imagine I mean even in the 90s going to grad school is expensive. And you know even with scholarships I took out a lot of loans. And so when the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association said, “hey we want to interview you.” And I'll just pause and say like you know they post in our career center. I looked at the job posting. I'm like no no way that's not me. I'm not qualified to do that. And they said, “no we actually want to talk to you.” And so I was flattered. So I went to that on-campus interview and they invited me to Chicago to interview. And several folks within our organization had actually gone to the Kennedy School. I got my degree each of them. And we hit it off and it was amazing. And then to underpinning being a horrible experience.   Scott: In what way?   Jackie: The work culture was truly toxic and it was the kind of thing where I did form friendships within my department. But it was kind of like in spite of all the energies trying to keep us apart. And I had this one really good friend who we would have lunch together on a regular basis. We were sneaking out you know like with me by the elevator or be down there and we think that we were conducting like a clandestine affair because like we didn't want the boss to know that we were becoming such good friends as we might be talking about that you know. And I would say my first best day. Let me just say to you I didn't feel good about the work. I didn't feel like I could stand behind the work.   Scott: What was the work at that time?   Jackie: Yeah. And you know it was a consulting type work. And it didn't feel good about what we were selling. I also wasn't forming deep connections in Chicago. And like for the 14 months I lived there I did spend a single three day weekend there. At that point I had the ability to just kind of like hop on a plane at a moment's notice and used to be able to do that. And so I would fly to Washington D.C. where most of my friends were. I would fly to New York where my sister and brother in law live. And every time I went to D.C. I also traveled to D.C. once a month on business I always felt like I was flying back into my life. And so really striking. So my first best was the day that I decided I needed to do that job. And that was about seven months in. And it was like this huge weight was taken off my shoulders. So then I started looking for a job in Washington D.C. And so this is 1995. There's no Internet. There are no cell phones. This is back in the day when a friend of my friend of a friend who has since became my friend had two Rolodexes. And I sat in her office in D.C. and she went through her Rolodexes and she said get in touch with these people use my name. And then I read the letters that I have printed on that really nice paper that they used to buy.   Scott: Yeah..   Jackie: And I nailed them. And then you know then I called them on my landline to make appointments and then I set up all these appointments and then I took time off of work. I forget what I said, I was doing really detailed clandestine meetings in Chicago because there was the possibility that I actually might see my boss in Washington D.C.. But it was amazing actually how much being able to use my friend's name opened a lot of doors for me and this is my first experience with doing informational interviewing.   Jackie: And I was really struck by how generous people were with their time even in Washington D.C. through that experience of networking looking for a job. I actually interviewed for a job as a legislative assistant to then candidate Senator Joseph Lieberman and other finalists. And they hired somebody had so much more experience than me. That's fine. But I asked a colleague at the BlueCross BlueShield Association if she would be a reference for me and she was McColley based in D.C. and I didn't get that job. But then she called me and she said I have a job for you. Do you want to come work for me. And the answer was absolutely yes. And so I ended up going to work for her. And it was night and day from my experience of having worked with the folks and she liked the leadership in Chicago.   Scott: The culture in one section was completely different than the other section.   Jackie: And also I mean just I felt like the boss I had with D.C. was warm, comfortable in her own skin. But I remembered what my office was right next to hers. And had that been the case in Chicago. Like I it just it would have been untenable. Scott: Yeah. Jackie: And my new boss would say Hey we haven't talked in a while it's across the street and get coffee and I'm having this moment of like an “oh this is a different boss it's OK” . Scott: Oh dear, bad boss flashbacks. Jackie: Oh my gosh. Yeah. And I felt like this kind of you know like a wounded puppy for a while. So I was in that job for four years doing legislative policy work focused on what was going on the state legislatures got to travel around the country got to meet lots of interesting people. But I got tired of living in Washington D.C. And I also felt like I was plateauing and not that I have this like this huge aspirations to be important and famous and whatever. And I feel like on the East Coast where I spent a lot of time like status counts for a lot of them and I remember watching TV. So I was 30 and were watching TV on a Sunday watching the Sunday news programs with The Washington Post spread around. And George Stephanopoulos he was 37 at the time was on TV and he was counselor to the president. And he has Jamie Rubin was an adviser to Madeleine Albright also 37 and are thinking in seven years is that what I'm going to be doing. I don't think so. Not much less. My life takes a really different. And I just you know get a turbo charge. But I was also like that's a lot I don't actually want that life. It felt like unless I go down that path I'm not going to be seen as successful in this environment. Also I'm originally from the West Coast originally from California. I live in Portland Oregon now and I really missed treat. And it's not like I'm somebody who goes hiking and camping you know all the time. But like when I worked in downtown Portland I could look out my window and I could see three park blocks in downtown that have dove birds. You know in Washington D.C. There was rock creek park which I would occasionally ride my bike through on my way somewhere or walk with a friend. But as a woman it didn't feel safe to be in that space by myself. I remember I was also talking with friends like hey, let’s go camping this summer. And I think I did that for three summers in a row. We never went camping. I wanted to move to a place where like nature felt a lot more present and also where people valued things other than work. And so back in 97 I just was starting to feel really bored in Washington D.C. and also at that time the whole Monica Lewinsky scandal. I actually feel bad for you the Monica Lewinsky scandal. She's actually turned into this really amazing and graceful person. But that was going on.   Scott: And the whole “Clinton scandal”. Jackie: And so the environment in D.C. just the atmosphere just felt particularly toxic and I just thought I got to get out of here. So like I said I've been traveling a lot have met a lot of people around the Blue Cross Blue Shield System and really hit it off with somebody who was the chief legal officer for the Blue Cross Blue Shield company in Oregon. And I was in Portland to do a presentation to the leadership team and he said if you're ever interested in working here let me know. I was like hey and I really liked Portland from the time that I came to visit. And so so I followed up with a Christmas card with the like. I'm actually kind of interested and got you know the like let's talk. And then he called me back in January and said I had something that you might be interested in. And I perked up and I said What is it. And he said ethics and compliance officer and I literally said, “are you nuts?” And the field was really new at the time. And my experience of interacting with the ethics farmlands officer at my company who had was the chief auditor and became that was. I mean he didn't have great social skills and so I saw him like I'd walk in the other direction and not that I had anything to hide. I just wasn't a comfortable person to talk to. Mark, the chief legal officer and I kept talking and he explained his vision for the job and that it wasn't to be that cop sort of busting people for behaving badly but it was to set a tone to help create an ethical culture within an organization. And the thing that I loved about it was that there was an opportunity to learn and grow on the job. And I specifically asked that I've never done this. And lots of people have never done this. So I have ideas but you and other people I will be interviewing with can't ask me what I have done because I haven't. And that was kind of funny. I flew to Portland for a day and a half of interviews. I was like We to have breakfast because I need to make sure that people understand again like who I am and what my background is like absolutely. And I don't know that anybody else interviewed for the job. So you know I had this like marathon day and a half of interviews and I got off the job. And they totally lived up to their commitment of letting me learn and grow on the job.   Scott: That's awesome.   Jackie: Yeah. And I got to work with a great team of people the other ethics alliance officers in the other states where this company did business at work. And so Idaho Washington side. Yeah Idaho Washington and Utah. And it was the kind of thing where we didn't know each other before but we just really clicked. And it was the kind of thing where the kind of work we were doing it was really important that we trust each other and felt that we had each other's backs and we did. And we never became cynical about people which is how I was able to do that job for 11 years. Those are some pretty stressful times or very stressful investigations. Scott: So then, Yeah that sounds great in terms of that lines up with so much more than some of the other pieces that we've talked about previously in terms of hey it's a better location that matches up with what you really want different people that aligned with what you really want a cause that in a lot of ways you could get behind that made sense at the time. So what ended up changing from that that caused you to move on?   Jackie: So I switched jobs within the company. I became the sustainability program manager and part of it was like our leadership changed. And I didn't so much care for that person. Smartest guy in the room consistently mansplaining and also I just felt like my team had changed. Jackie: So I was ready to move on. And the CEO was the person that originally were telling me to come work with the company. He had gone from the chief legal officer to CEO, he created this position the Sustainability Program Manager position and I really care about sustainability. So this idea of triple bottom line that it's not just about the environment but it's also you know make economic sense and have to be good for people. And that just really resonated with me. So actually I was the second person in that role. The first person became a really good friend of mine is still a good friend of mine. And it was an a growth opportunity for him but not a passion for him the way that it was for me. And he was just appointed to it. And I remember being really disappointed about that, that I didn't get a chance to raise my hand. And so I reached out to him and I said congratulations then you have to let me help you. So I did. And so I became part of the unofficial team. And when it came time for him to move into another role I became the most obvious person to step in. I had to interview for that. I think there was maybe one other person so I got the job. Scott: Let's go back to that what you just said for just a moment because I think that is that is something that is not the first inclination for many people. But I think it's really important. And I just heard you say that hey like you saw this sort of situation that wasn't maybe wasn't necessarily desirable because it sounds like you wanted to be able to raise your hand to be able to have an opportunity at that role at least. And what has a tendency to happen for many people is they will just write it off as. Yeah. It's that didn't have an opportunity so I'm just going to you know I'm just not going to worry about it or didn't have an opportunity. And I can't believe I got the job or any number of other things other than what you did in what you did was say OK I'm going to I'm actually going to continue to be involved in this in a really positive and productive way. And then not so long afterwards. It created an opportunity for you and that is unfortunately I think the polar opposite of what many people will do and what I've even done in the past in certain cases too. But what I've found is that when you do exactly what you did where you look at that potentially you know potentially not great situation and turn it into something that really is really positive and productive and actually really legitimately helpful for everybody, then it almost always comes out so much better in ways that you can't anticipate. So. Nicely done. First of all. Jackie: Thanks, thanks So I got that job. Scott: Yeah. Jackie: And then I realized how much harder it was than the job that I had which was actually pretty hard. Scott: Careful what you wish for, I suppose right? Jackie: Yes and my friend Dan who had had a job and then became my boss told me that it was like pushing rocks uphill that if he moved the program an inch forward in a day that that felt like success. I think him stepping into that job coincided with the start of the Great Recession. And so then it became about like like waste and. And then a productivity and you know streamlining processes which can certainly be a part of it but that's not a part of it. Scott: Yeah. Jackie: And to me it never felt like there was a heart or a vision behind it. And I tried to articulate one like hey let's get really involved around like childhood obesity. And here is how it affects the triple bottom line. You know let's talk about how we're spending so much money on drugs for kids for type 2 diabetes that we wouldn't expect to see until decades later and kids are really hard to treat because they're noncompliant right. And then you know let's talk about food deserts and neighborhoods without sidewalks and parks and places for kids lto like play in their own neighborhoods. And then there's no movement. And for that you know there's the environment he's in. And then the people he's about like again how it's impacting people. And I would tell them I would have I would have shot that around the organization and people would work in the right way. Is this about recycling? And I’m like,  I am a master recycler. I actually really care I’m a geek about this stuff but I just felt like I couldn't get traction. And when I came to realize talking to other peers in our organization is that organizations that make things that have a tangible tangible important tangible outputs like get sustainability a lot more because when you can use less material less inputs you were saving. You were obviously saving money and you can tell a great environmental story about it. But in a service company it's harder for that pencil out pair of hearts and minds to see hey this really matters to employees and the about employee retention. Scott: It's not as pressing and in front of everybody in the same way. Unless it is already deeply ingrained into all of the other leadership messages and all of the other elements. So I totally get that. So what was the breaking point that caused you to decide to move on?   Jackie: Well I was laid off which is actually fantastic. It worked out perfectly. And I mean obviously it's a hard thing but I was so ready to move on. So that was at the end of 2014 and in 2015 I started looking and this is like I haven't looked for a job in a long time probably not really since ninety five when I was looking at Washington D.C. and I didn't know how to look for a job right? So I had like a one page cover letter that you know you can actually say a lot cover a lot of ground in one page. And I didn’t know  that I was supposed to parrot their words back to them in the application are the posting back to them so that their computer flagged it. And she was like, Oh she's got this because she used our words. So I didn't get interviews for things because I didn't score because I didn't understand their algorithms. so I'll just say it like I do a lot of volunteer stuff. Jackie: And I dove into volunteering to help save the LGBTQ community center which was in danger of closing. And I went there because I had the time frankly and also like a came from the board of basic rights in Oregon which is a statewide LGBTQ rights organization. And it was a great because I got my mojo back. It was like I had something unique to offer in this group. And I felt valued in a way that I hadn't for a long time. So I'm super grateful for that experience but also I mean I made some really great friends out of it and the center the LGBTQ community center is still here. It's writing. It's the kind of place that when we are going through this which was like a weekly two-hour meetings that turned into four-hour meetings for six months. It's the place that I hoped it would become. But again a really great experience for restoring my confidence in myself. And what I have to offer folks. Scott: I think that's really important though Jackie. What has a tendency to happen to a lot of people is just what you described where they're in a role that for all intents and purposes is kind of sucking the life out of them right. Yes in one way or another. And it looks a little bit different for everybody but you know I was just having this conversation with my wife last night actually because she's considering a transition from what some of the things that she's doing she's been involved in a lot of different pieces. And one of those she actually really loves what she's doing but doesn't really love the situation around it. It's sort of in the same way sucking the life out of her. And in order to really make a successful transition you kind of have to find ways in order to bring that mojo back as you're putting it. And I think that that confidence that has a tendency to come back with that is really really important. And it's one piece of the process that a lot of people I think don't think about or don't realize. And you know we see it all the time as we're working with people where we have to create a situation where they're bringing that back for and then do the rest of the steps. Jackie: Well you know it was my experience of starting to work. But before we get to that I'll say so in 2015, I did some consulting. I did some like equity work like racial equity work within the environmental movement. And I really enjoyed that and felt like this really spoke to it. It felt important and valuable. So I did that. And then I also got recruited to work in a climate change campaign called The New Oregon. And I got recruited to be a faith organizer cause I'm a person of faith. But I loved doing that, didn't pay well. I was contracted for a certain number of hours. It felt meaningful and important. There was also the summer that the pope came out with his people on climate change among other things. So you know so I got to talk about the pope a lot you know and obviously it was in the news. Jackie:  But I just it was like it just felt great to be working on something that I really cared about. And that drew on a lot of things that I had to offer including my faith. I was like I just I don't know that I ever felt that. And so it was great. And I thought I wanted to do nonprofit work and in fact I think it's really important I serve on a lot of nonprofit works. I found I wanted to be an executive director. Actually a friend somebody I have a ton of respect for said, “hey you know you should think about this one.” And I was completely flattered like that this person would think of me in connection to this role at his organization that they were working at at that time. I made it through the interview process and then I was one of two finalists. But there was this long sort of lag between the last interview and when they made the offer which kind of soured me on the experience and I just I remember joking with them that it sort of felt like junior high like I would totally date you. But you know I want to date this other person. Scott: Yeah. Jackie: And I'm not gonna state that organization. But it was an organization for which I volunteered in the early 2000s when I first arrived back in Portland. So even though I hadn't stayed connected to it, it was special and important. What I realized when I got in there was just how all consuming the job is being an executive director is 24/7. I would dream about it. I would wake up in the middle of a night like gasping about like something I was stressed out about. I would think about it when I was gardening. You know it just it was hard to turn off. So the other thing is that I did not love the job and I think I realized pretty early on that I didn't love it. Scott: What didn't you love about it? Jackie: I didn't love that being the executive director is pretty lonely and isolating. And I am somebody who likes working with the team. I like bouncing ideas off other people. Scott: You're very collaborative. Every conversation I've ever had with you. It feels more like a collaboration than it is I don't know anything else than a conversation. Jackie: Yeah Thank you. So yes I value collaboration and I value what making decisions at the lowest level that makes sense. And so you know people would ask me for permission for things and I'm like you can make this decision you know and not like hey don't involve me. It was like well actually you can handle this and I'm happy to be a sounding board. But ultimately you're the subject matter expert you get to make a decision. And I felt that that wasn't valued. And in fact there were some folks that I worked with who I felt like take advantage of that. And were actually kind of manipulative in terms of like I know more than you, would have made me or tried to make me feel like small and vulnerable. So it just didn't feel like a safe environment. I like challenges. But this was just a lot more than I wanted to deal with or something that I didn't love. I didn't feel valued and I didn't think that I could thrive in that environment. And that was reinforced by some feedback that I got that gave me permission to say, “I'm done I'm out of here.” And I still reflect on that idea of needing permission to go as opposed to just deciding this isn't working and going. I left that job almost a year to the day. And it is interesting. So I had actually interviewed for another executive director job. At that time the bicycle advocacy organization and I was a finalist. And I heard that I was the choice of the staff and I heard from a number of board members that they were really excited about me. But they went in a different direction which is probably good for me because I really don't think I want to be an executive director again. But I'm really passionate about active transportation and I had a lot of ideas for this organization. But anyway so I was already like making plans for what would come next and not coming from a place of being anxious. But just as you know there are these opportunities. And I applied for another job doing equity and inclusion work which is a passion of mine at Central City Concern which works of people in recovery from substance abuse and alcohol abuse. Great organization. And so you know there were things that were happening. And even though like I got right into that I wasn't feeling anxious about it. And I also knew that I needed some time to decompress after I was laid off in 2014. I realized how much even in Portland people identify with their work. Scott: Yes.   Jackie: And so people like, “What do you do?” You know and I'm like “oh I'm a consultant and I'm doing this training.” And this time around people would say, “What do you do?” And I'd say, “I don't.” And I would say like with a certain amount of glee. And I think it was in November. A friend of mine said you don't work for money. And I'm like OK I don't work for money. I'm actually I actually have stayed very engaged with different nonprofits that I'm part of. Yeah I don't sit still well and so it's not been like oh I have breath and relaxed. I've definitely decompress from the last job. But I have been applying for things here and there, a number of government based equity and inclusion jobs. And get an interview because I had learned to play that game right? Of like I'm parroting your words back at you. And in some cases you know I would get a second interview. And in some cases I wouldn't which didn't feel great. And then there was a job that had a community engagement equity component to it working for the Bureau of Emergency Management. And I was actually really excited about that. And for folks not listening from Cascadia the last major earthquake was over 300 years ago and where the schedule is every 300 years and so we're trying to do and it's going to be bad. And so I care a lot about emergency preparedness. And here was an opportunity to work with communities of color around emergency preparedness. I'm really excited about it. They were excited about me. Later somebody else. And that's at the time, that's when I first connected with Happen to Your Career because there was this job that I really wanted. And then you know they were super lovely about, “hey we think you're great, but…” Scott: You're second place. Jackie: And so in Portland we have this thing called Mac's list, it comes out on Tuesdays and Thursdays in two days when you know the job listings ar. And usually I would go straight to the job listings. But on that day I happened to read. You know what else is going on. And that's when they mentioned the webinar that you did the following day. I was like OK I'll sign up for this. I'll check it out. And I was in that headspace. Not feeling confident. Like why. why can't I close the deal. Like don't you know what I have to offer. Scott: Don't you understand me. Jackie: I'm starting to feel desperate and lacking confidence and starting to go down the path of the things that you folks talk about not doing which is just like oh my gosh I need to not just look on Mac's list but I need to look on idealist and all these other places. You know I need to apply more and I need to. I was starting to feel that scramble and I should say like I have financed this year of not working. And I'll say like people ask me if I was going to do consulting. And I said No. I like working with other people. I like working in infrastructure. Organization has some infrastructure. I didn't want to be hustling for work. I have borrowed money from myself to make this happen. And so not looking forward to tax time next year. But I was fortunate in that I worked in the private sector for many years. I built up a very healthy retirement fund and I've got an amazing financial planner who has been taking care of me through my retirement resources for the last year. Scott: So let me ask you about that really quick because I think that that is important. And you and I have had conversation already about this so I know some of the behind the scenes and everything. But why did you feel like that was the right decision for you? Because it's probably not the right decision for everybody necessarily but why was that the right decision for you? Jackie: So I guess when I felt like I had the wherewithal to do it that I could afford to do it. Scott: Yeah Jackie: When I was laid off at the end of 2014 and I first started working with this financial planning group who have just taken great care of me. One of the questions I asked was, “Should I be saving for retirement this year that I'm not working?” And they said, “if you didn't save any money for the rest of your working life you would be fine.” I mean that was a huge relief to hear because even when I was working there wasn't a lot in the way of retirement benefits. And so I just I felt like really confident that I was sitting on this comfortable nest egg which I still need to be responsible. So I've been making it work and it's been fine like learning to ride the bus again and like walking around and just noticing and being present. And it also really changed my relationship with time because I have to think about how long it's going to take me to get somewhere. And so I'm actually not. I mean there's still a certain amount of rushing but there's also a certain amount of like waiting and reading and noticing. And I actually really like that and I hope I can hold on to that even after I get back into the corner. Scott: Not to go too far in that direction. But I thought that was really interesting too because when we went and we lived in Paris for a month and were using we were riding public transportation all around or when we were in London for a period of time doing the exact same thing. It was it was really really nice because I mean I live in Moses Lake Washington, and we don't have great public transportation. We don't have like if I want to go anywhere, then it's about five miles away. And it's a hike. And I kind of actually loved that. I loved not having a car and not driving anyplace along those lines because I'd become used to it. But it really does to your point change a relationship a bit with time in that way. Jackie: Well and also for me, also changed my relationship with people you know because you get all kinds of people on the bus and sometimes I'm on a bus late at night because I like to work at a brewpub. You know less than a mile away from me. And so I'll hop on the bus and you get some really interesting people on the bus at 11 o'clock at night. And it's just made me in some ways more patient with people you know like people have their own thing going on and I'm just not going to move my seat because of whatever. So the financial peace I just I felt like I had the wherewithal to do it. And I'm I'm really really grateful about that. The other thing I'll save I'm not a penny pincher and I you know probably would be better off if I were in a lot of ways but I didn't like change my standard of living a lot in the last year. Not working though. So again I felt like I could afford to do that. We'll see how I feel like I said next tax time when I'm paying no taxes and penalties on this early withdrawal that I've been taking to fund my life. But yeah and I just I mean it gave me the headspace to not just take anything and certainly not take something I hate. And I guess the other thing too was coming out of a space of just knowing how soul killing that could be, to be in a space of like i'm just doing this because I need to. You know and it's hard to find like what you want to really be doing when all of your energy is being sucked away with just sort of going through the motions. Scott: So that's a really interesting take because essentially what you were doing for all intents and purposes was you were financing your headspace and the regrowth of your soul as you were. And I think when you're looking at it like that, that really changes how you're looking it changes how I look at value. But I think that having talked to you then because I got to have a pretty early on conversation with you after you found us just as we were I can't remember totally how it happened but you and I, we found ourselves on the phone. You were telling me a little bit about this and it really did sound like it was the right thing for you based on everything else that you just shared with us. Like I don't think you would have gone down the same path in the same way had you not created that space for yourself. Jackie: Yeah, You and I like the first after I signed up after I decided I wanted to do it. I was supposed to have a coaching call with somebody else. And then hopped in and you're like OK I'm like yeah it's totally OK. And I really appreciated that first conversation and it really set a very positive tone for my interactions with all the Happen to Your Career Career Change Bootcamp folks said that they you're real you're warm your human, you listen amazingly well. Like I was talking to Caroline. She got like, “Hey so I heard you say that.” And it was like listening sort of below like behind the message behind the words in ways that was almost spooky. So when you and Caroline asked me like what did I need from you, and what I needed was a confidence boost because at that time my confidence was flagging. And so going through Career Change Bootcamp and you know doing the different exercises like the strength thing which I kind of got bogged down in that. But I loved the piece about asking people like when you have us reach out and ask people to comment on our strengths. Scott: Yeah. Jackie: And I reached out to a bunch of people. And you know I figure they have good things to say about me but the consistency of those messages was great. Scott: What did that do for you? Jackie: Well it's also for me again made me feel like hey I actually have something to offer here. And just like reconnected with that I'm at a time when I'm like nobody is wearing me. So that was that piece. And I said the other thing that was really really valuable was what you had is doing module one of creating a support network which you know I had once informally. I mean I have one. But the formality of it, the this is what I'm doing, would you be part of that. I almost didn't do that part and I'm glad that I did. And what having that support team made me do was I checked in with them at least every week to week and a half and said, “Here's who I am.” And you know some days it was I'm excited about this interview. And hey I'm really getting a lot out of this Career Change Bootcamp and some days it was like, Oh my God. I didn't get a second interview. I'm super stressed and it was really great to have these folks like offer encouragement and support. So whether you're participating in a Career Change Bootcamp or not to have that and to have more than one person as part of that and doing it in a really safe formulaic way. But a more formal way I found incredibly helpful today. So another thing that happened was in mid March I started working with you in January and in mid March. I think I was working on two job applications and the way that I applied for jobs and there were government jobs, the way I apply for jobs as I do a ton of research and you know go all over like this organization Website. And I had a coaching call with Caroline and she said, “don't apply for it and I was like, OK.” And I didn't apply and I felt great. I also stopped looking at Mac's list and I focused on the career Change Bootcamp and other things. And tt just felt like this huge weight came off of my shoulders and it was interesting like at first it was hard to not look right? Because we're so programmed to like oh my gosh this email showed up in my inbox and got all these things I should be looking for this. And so I made myself not look. And so there was a job that I'd applied for the Oregon Food Bank that I'm super excited about. Didn't I get a second interview. So again still not in the I'm not looking stage. We're also still starting to have that going back to where I was in January of like looking everywhere should be like scanning all these lists because something's not happening. And in Portland and other cities as well there's a group called a civic organization called the City of Portland. I was a member a long time ago recently a friend of mine as the executive director. Another good friend of mine was the chair of the board and the programming is really great. And so I was at the City Club and it was the state of the city. So another good friend of mine is Portland's small two degrees of separation was interviewing the mayor as the second part of a two part state of the city. And at that thing afterwards I went up and was talking to people and saying hello to friends. I talked to the woman who will be my boss who was the CEO of the Urban League of Portland. And we've known each other for years where finally we hug each other when we see each other. And she asked me how I was doing at the job I used to hold. And I'm pretty sure that I told her that I'd left. But I reminded her that I'd left and she asked me what I was doing and I said I'm not again with that like you know what you do I don't. And she said why didn't you come work for me. I could use you. You should have come work for me, Come work for me.   Scott: Why are you here already? Jackie: Yeah. It was basically like that and I was like “Hey.” And she said, “we should talk.” And I said, “well I've applied to this other job” and she's like “don't go work for them come work for me.” And so you know really flattered by that. I think she is amazing. Like ever since she's originally and an Oregonian. So native Oregonians are a big deal. You know most of us are not native. So she's a native Oregonian which was working on the East Coast working politics, came back to Oregon a few years ago. And so I've followed her career. Her predecessor in the Urban League is a good friend of mine. And every time I've heard her name, Nknge Harmon Johnson. Every time I heard her speak I thought wow this woman is amazing. She says what's on her mind. She doesn't dance around, she holds people accountable. She's a strong strong woman, strong voice, and a really great and important voice for the African-American community. So just nothing but admiration for her. So anyway there's the whole ‘come work for me' thing. And about just as I was thinking ‘oh I should follow up with her.' So this was 10 days after we had talked. And I think I was working on some other stuff. She emailed me to say, “hey you know legislative session is coming up well next year and our state of Oregon report and we could really use you as a policy director. Come work for me.” And it was more like elegantly stated than that. That was the gist of it. And I was like Wow. And felt good and excited about it. Like it was around that time that I also realized that I wasn't moving forward with the food bank. And actually felt OK about that. That job would have been largely an H.R. job which were they were pulling equity people in culture. And I definitely could have done it. But it's not like my sweet spot. And you know the food bank is great. It was amazing and important work. But the thought of being a public policy space working on racial justice issues for especially the African-American community just feels really resonant right now. The other thing is Nknge and I follow each other on Twitter. And on Twitter most of my tweets are pretty political. So you can get a good sense of what I care about and what I think about. Before I started at the non-profit, it was right around the time that a group of people occupied the Malheur Wildlife Refuge bird refuge in eastern Oregon. I had a lot of feelings about that. And I was vocal about them on Facebook. And one of my friends, an old friend, wrote me a note and said that she was worried about me being able to find a job because I was so political. And we're not friends anymore because that me being true is really important to me. And I'm fortunate in that I don't come from a family where it's awkward to have to converse. Like we care about the same things. Right? So I don't have to worry about not making Mom or Dad bad. Or you know. Actually I do have one aunt who's you know. Scott: There's always that one aunt. Jackie: Yeah, you know. And so it was just it was like you're telling me that I need to check myself in order to be palatable to other people. And I was like, that's bad. Scott: Exactly the wakeup call that could be needed. But in the opposite way. Jackie: Yeah. And so the fact that like one of the ways that Nknge knew me was through like how I engage on Twitter like that told her something about me. And also I think through that and other avenues like one of the things that she taught me about was she's like I need somebody who can help me hold people accountable, hold people in the community accountable, for their commitments to the people we serve. And I love that I can be tough I can be fierce. I mean I want to be collaborative. Right? But I'm also just like yeah. We're not doing that or you said you need to do this. I need you to do this. And so I'm really excited to be in a role that values that and where I will get to use that. So yeah it was one of the things where there wasn't a formal interview process. And it's interesting because another good friend of mine, who was actually the board of the food bank, asked me about the Urban League's process. And I started telling her. And her response was, “Well that doesn't feel very equitable.” And I was like a guppy and like “um…” And what I said was the equitable process is, I think I told you this Scott, the equitable processes that I participated and felt almost dehumanizing like we're making it so fair. Like we were scoring you. We were not responding to you like there's no asset in the room. Scott: It's gonna be so equitable we're going to take all the humanness out of it. Jackie: Yeah yeah it was horrible. And I'm trying to figure out how to give them that feedback and I think it's based on the false premise that we're going to strip relationship out of this. Right? And I was talking to another friend and I would say my really good, both of these women are white, which feels important to say. And the second point I was talking to said, “you know the Urban League's equity journey looks very different than the food bank's equity journey or most organizations equity journey. Like they don't have to work as hard to hire folks of color as an organization that isn't that diverse and doesn't have that history. I was like I wish I had those words when I was talking to my friend. And the other thing that comes to mind is, I was at a friend's high school graduation a couple weekends ago. And this is a young friend who I've met him when he was four years old when his family arrived from Democratic Republic of Congo as refugees. And my church was part of the group that sponsored them. And so I've, you know I've known this kid for 14 years, and he is amazing. He's going to Georgetown in the fall. So I went to his graduation. And their keynote speaker was a graduate, I think she graduated four or five years ago, and she's giving advice to the graduating class. And I felt like she could have been giving advice to me you know someone a lot older than her. And one of the things she said was take advantages of opportunities that present themselves. So if the elevator door opens. Get in. Don't feel like you have to go find a ladder and climb that ladder, get in the elevator. And I was like, “ugh! That is what I needed to hear.” Because I feel like you know again out of this idea of equity and fairness. Like oh no no no we need to make this hard. We need to go this way to create these you know perceptions of fairness. Anyway it'll be interesting to see. Like once I'm in that role how that's perceived internally as well as externally. So I'm still trying to figure out how to navigate that. But most people have shared the story with her, like oh my god that's amazing and you're going to be great. You know? Scott: I agree. As it turns out. Let me ask you this though because here's here's what I know from our team being involved with your your journey is that this. This wasn't always easy and there was a lot going on behind the scenes. And even though it felt like in the end, if people were just looking at the end result it felt like this happened very organically. There is a lot that took place in between in order to actually get to hear. So I'm curious from your perspective now that you're looking back, what do you feel like was the hardest part of going through that. Because it had you accepted or had you at anything you know occurred differently had you not. Does it made the decision to not apply for some of these roles and not worry about some of all the minutiae that was out there that probably wasn't a great fit for you. Then potentially you could have ended up accepting something completely different in a different place that might not have been a great fit. So what do you feel like looking back was some of the most difficult parts for you? Jackie: Sorry, like most difficult about like being part of the bootcamp or just in general? Scott: No, on this process? Jackie: I mean, you know, there were definitely times that felt anxious. Right? There were definitely times that again like I would get excited about something. You know it's like you fall in love with the possibility of a job. And then you know you go into that interview and this is why you want me. Until you talk yourself into something even if there might be reservations about it. And then to not have that. So there was know questions about my own judgement. And you know what am I lacking. And I'm talking to friends who are also looking and you know not being hired for things and that feels like a common thread. And so trying to like weather that. You know and it again my support system helped, how Caroline helped. And you know like kind of staying connected to Happen to Your Career help. I was listening to a podcast. And I would just kind of like take a deep breath and be like oh yeah that's right. OK. Yeah. Cause it can feel overwhelming and kind of lonely you know and then to hear about other people's experiences like oh that's right that's right. This is what this feels like. And there's another side right. Yeah. So I mean so I think that emotional roller coaster felt very hard. And also and I kept having to remind myself to find something that I really wanted to do and not just something that I could do. And Caroline kept like parroting that back to me like you said this. So you know remember this. Because there were definitely times when like, I could do that. And you know when I think about about the different government jobs that I applied for and you know easy to say on this side of it when I didn't get it and I've gotten something else. But I don't have an idea of a good bureaucrat. I don't know how I would function well in that system and I you know it works for a very large bureaucratic organization for a very long time and was successful most of that time so I can navigate that but I think I'm done. Scott: You don't want to in the same way. Jackie: Yeah I think I'm sort of done, like toning it down for somebody else. And you know having to navigate like big systems and silos and stuff. And I'd say every organization has their idiosyncrasies and their dysfunctions and so I'm not you know I'm not expecting everything in Urban League is amazing. But hopefully a lot more nimble. And I feel like I'm going to get a lot I have a lot of space to be myself to bring like my best whole self and my connections built up over 18 years of living, 19 years of living in this community services work. And that it's work that I really care about. I feel like it's work that needs to be done and I'm excited that I get to do it. So yes. So I am one of the things that I feel like you guys do really well is to keep us focused on what's right for us and the way that I told that to friends to whom I recommended Happen to Your Career is a lot of times applying for a job is, ‘Here's a round hole, you're square peg so let's get out the sandpaper.' Scott: I feel like your next tweet should be what you said earlier. ” I'm completely done toning myself down for everyone else.” Jackie: And yeah. So I feel like you know Happen to Your Career is all about like what fits you, what you need, what do you want. And I love, I love that piece of it because a lot of times I feel like what we want like that we're being we're asking for too much. We'll say I want this. And you guys are like no that's actually really important. So can you find that thing that you want. Because if you don't then you might be in a place like it's. It's a slog again. So it was helpful to have that that sort of Vegas North Star of what do I want. And I should say this was I mean they definitely you know crawled all over the Urban League website. I'd rather see a black Oregon report. Talked to my friend who was the previous CEO but I didn't I haven't researched it the way that I did the other ones. So how does this feels like a leap of faith? But again I have a ton of respect for the Urban League CEO. I'm excited that I get to work. And I'm excited that she sees things in me based on having known me for years and observe me for years that I can benefit the organization. So again I feel like I get to be who I am, to bring like my best full self to this work in service of an important social justice effort. So yeah. I'm super excited about that. Scott: That is amazing. And congratulations by the way. Jackie: Yeah, thanks. Scott: And you know one of the things that runs through my mind as hearing you say all this and talking through the entire thing here and now is, it almost feels like in some way that you're going to such great lengths to do so much research. And I would never discourage people from preparing or would never discourage people from going in with no no prep no research not understanding whether something is likely to be a fit necessarily. But it almost feels like a lot of those cases the more that you go into it the more that you'd find ways to justify that this could be a fit for me. And I almost feel like afterwards you know having seen the full circle that I think it is less of a leap of faith would it regardless of how it feels like outside looking at it it seems like it is actually less of a leap of faith based on all of the really important things are very bylined. Jackie: Yeah, yeah. Scott: You have to like go find those things on a website someplace. That it was said so that you could say them back to them or whatever else right.     Jackie: Right. Scott: And I think that that in itself is real. That is the important thing. Jackie:Yeah Scott: So nicely done. Because that's not easy.   Jackie: Thank you. You know though, I think about I don't necessarily want to say serendipity. You know I think about it like having gone to that city club and you know not surprising that both of us would be at a Mayor's like State of the city address. But one of the things that like the coaching that I've offered to other people is about being present. And you know about I mean I don't like the word networking because it's I think it implies like something that's transactional. And over the years like I have built a lot of relationships across a lot of different sectors and issues. And so I had my 50th birthday party last year. I invited ton of friends over. And one of my friends whom I knew from past project where they used to work and I was on the board, in their first encounter they said, “wow this crowd like is truly intersectional.” I had church friends and I had LGBTQ friends and I had friends from the different nonprofit, friends from like my biking circle. And yeah it was just a really interesting fun mix of people. And so I've developed a lot of relationships and friendships over the years. And it's not quite came from a transactional space but it feels like it has served me well in getting to this point. And I say this was someone who was an introvert. But introvert means I'd rather talk to someone one on one or in small groups than you know to be like interacting with larger people. So for example at my birthday party I didn't actually want to talk to anybody I wanted them to talk to each other or that I would party to them for like 2 minutes at a time. But I don't know. I just I you know I put myself out there. I talk to people. I got to know people I think Nknge also talked to like her predecessor about me and imagine she talked to other people about me. And yeah and I feel like that played an important role here. And so I've tried to encourage people to find the things like the city club that feel comfortable that aren't just about i'm looking for a job. But hey we have here shared interests. What did you think about that panel? You know. And not just like I'm looking for a job and you work there. Although you know that works too. PBt that feels different. Scott: It does feel different and I think the different feeling is a big part of it. Jackie: Yeah. Scott: I've got one more big question for you. No pressure or anything. But you know you've gone through this entire change, it's been quite a journey over the last year. And there's been so many elements of it that we've just talked through. What advice would you give to people who are kind of on the beginning of that, where they have realized that hey I'm in the equivalent role where I know that I don't want to do this anymore and I am thinking about making this change and the right on the precipice. What advice would you give them when they're back there? Jackie: Yeah. So I you know I see, I usually reads comments in a Facebook group of Career Change Bootcamp and I realize people are in lots of different spaces and have well different situations right. And I would say, “get out of the situation before it crushes you.” And that's really strong language. But I think about the situation I was in before I was laid off where I felt like I couldn't hold my head up in terms of like how I talked about the work that I was doing. And I wasn't excited about the work that I was doing, excited about like the kinds of contributions that I made which doesn't make for a great leg. Hey you want to interview me for this job. I just I felt low energy or not. And so I'd say it's really hard. I mean certainly for me it was hard to be in that headspace to think about what I wanted to do next. And I guess it also goes back to confidence and so I'd say if you can get out of the situation before your confidence is gone and before you feel desperate about finding that next thing. Well that's number one. And you know I think about like a bit earlier the climate change campaign that I worked on, and it was like wow this is what this feels like when you believe in and love what you're doing. And I'll say I mean I worked for a large corporation for 16 years. And I believed in what I was doing on the time that I was there. And you know believed in a lot of what the organization was doing. But body and soul we're kind of integrated. And so when I had that experience of working on the climate change campaign i was like wow that's what feels like. It's hard to go back after that. And I think it was probably in the back of my mind when I was working when I was running a non-profit. But it was really clear early on that I did not love that job. And so you know I get it. Like there's some people who a job provides them the resources to do the rest of their life and to do things that they love and that's not where they want to put their energy. I get it. This people who are listening to Happen to Your Career podcast and going through the Career Change boot camp are those people who are looking for meaning in work. And so I think to hold out for a place where that meaning feels like it's there and then the other thing too is that definitely been in situations. And I felt like this about sustainability job is, I'm going to make it meaningful. And it was certainly meaningful to me. But I struggled to make it meaningful for the organization. And I wish I had realized that earlier and had decided to move on earlier. When I still felt like my head was, I was holding my head high. Scott: Hope you enjoyed Jackie's story, I know that I did. And for everything that we talked about here and even transcripts show notes resources all of those things go over to HappentoYourCareer.com/237. That's 237. And find everything on the Happen to Your Career website as well as much much more including our guide to using your strengths and many other things that will help you along the way. Next week though, we got something. We're trying brand new just for you. We've taken many of the people that we've worked with. And we put together an advice episode. An advice episode from people that have been there and done that got the T-shirt. And they share with you exactly what they learned just having made the journey.   Scott: It's almost like crossing the marathon for a finish line and right at the end. Being able to ask people hey what did you learn from everything that led up to this not just the race itself but everything that led up to it. So they share all of that. Some incredibly valuable advice and much more next week right here on Happen to Your Career. Until next week, I am out. Adios.