We all remember that defining in moment in our childhood when first confronted with the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” While my classmates were touting notable careers like fireman, lawyer and doctor to my fourth grade teacher Mrs. Miller, I remember passionately declaring, “I want to be Madonna!” While I would soon come to realize that my dreams of voguing in a cone bra were nothing more than a gay boy’s fantasy, it wasn’t a surprise to my family when I shared my passion for the stage a few years later.
I worked hard to make this dream a reality. I studied acting in a classical theatre conservatory program, successfully landing an agent in my final year of university. I quickly entered the rat race of the audition circuit while balancing several part time jobs. I had some success along the way; performing with some of Canada’s most respected theatre companies, having Canadian theatre legend Sky Gilbert direct me in my own one man show, not to mention being featured on six season’s of the groundbreaking MTV Canada talk show 1 GIRL 5 GAYS. Though like many performers I quickly became familiar with the dry patches along the way.
Throughout my career as an actor I worked part time for an athletic lifestyle brand where I worked in sales. As my time as a “reality star” came to an end and craving financial stability and professional fulfillment, I made the decision to jump head first into the job that had been supporting me during all my years as an actor.
I now work for the same brand as part of the management team leading regional brand training and onboarding. My current role not only requires me to lay the foundations of product knowledge, it has me coaching our teams with invaluable skills like goal coaching, communication techniques and the framework of self-leadership.
As someone who is curious and excited by their own self-development I was thrilled to get my hands on What Next? (DK Publishing, 2017). Written by Canada’s leading career guru Barbara Moses, What Next? is a comprehensive guide filled with self-assessment and development tools to help even the most veteran worker find clarity and fulfillment within their career.
Showcasing the latest trends in the Canadian career marketplace, Moses gives the reader the tools to assess their passions, values and goals. She looks at two key ideas in her book; be who you are and express your authentic self through your work. Secondly, become a career activist by finding or creating work that plays to your talents and values. While the book features five chapters of extensive career counseling, these three concepts highlight why What Next? Is essential reading for anyone embarking on a new career.
KNOW YOURSELF – WHAT ARE YOUR CAREER ASSETS?
After the first day of leading brand training my manager approached me and proclaimed, “I don’t know how you do it. You just talked for 8 hours straight and still have the same amount of enthusiasm and energy as when you started. Everyone was engaged in the conversation the entire day!” While I was flattered by this compliment I wasn’t surprised by her observation. Having worked in theatre, labouring though long rehearsal days present and energized wasn’t unusual, it was expected.
That simple compliment awakened me to the idea that my talents from my former profession were serving me in ways I hadn’t considered. As Moses suggests, many people sell themselves short because they are not aware of the full range of skills they possess and are unsure of how to relay them over into other areas of work.
BOOST YOUR CAREER INTELLIGENCE – BECOMING A CAREER ACTIVIST
“Be who you are. It’s important to remember that your work is an intimate expression of your needs, values and talents,” says Moses. “Refuse to hang up your personality at the door for your employer.
I’m lucky to work in a space where authenticity is a key value of who we are. Leading interviews and hiring, I always ask my applicants “what could our brand be doing better?” I want to see that they can address areas of opportunity, take risks and feel comfortable sharing their perspective, while staying true to themselves. Too often I’m confronted with applicants who shift their values and life commitments to show me what they think I want. Surprise me; show me who you really are!
FIND YOUR PERFECT PATH – FINDING THE RIGHT WORK MATCH
Moses shares in her book that it’s not what you do; it’s where you do it that determines a great work match. What is the personality of the organization you wish to be with?
I work within a corporate culture that celebrates authenticity, irreverence and self-development, which also happen to be personal values. Possessing an actor’s spirit has always placed me in a constant state of curiosity about those around me. This is why my job is such a great fit. I’m able to use my passion for people to inspire and coach others.