Episode 169: "Best Piece of Advice for Relaunchers" Compilation Episode
Combining the "Best Piece of Advice" from 11 episodes of "3, 2, 1, iRelaunch," you'll hear from guests including Liz O’Donnell on relaunching after an eldercare career break, Ginny Brzezinski on her relaunch journey and “Comeback Careers,” Cynthia Stewart on relaunching as a systems engineer, Kara Goldin on building Hint into a $100 million business, Dorothy DeWitt on relaunching in financial regulatory compliance, Kendell Brown on relaunching and career transitioning, Lisa Fain on mentoring and relaunching, Selena Rezvani on being a fierce self-advocate, Kim Winsey Stevenson on relaunching in non-clinical medicine, Letitia Shen on relaunching as a hazardous substances engineer, and Salli Cobb on industry switching after a career break. Be sure to listen to the full podcast content from each of these special guests in previous episodes.
Carol Fishman Cohen: Welcome to 3,2,1 iRelaunch, the podcast where we discuss strategies, advice, and success stories about returning to work after a career break. I'm Carol Fishman Cohen, the CEO and cofounder of iRelaunch and your host. Today, we put together a special compilation episode in which we share some of the best tips and advice from previous podcast guests. We hope you enjoy this episode and have a happy and safe holiday season and new year.
Today, we welcome Liz O'Donnell, founder of Working Daughter and author of Working Daughter, A Guide to Caring for Your Aging Parents While Earning a Living. So Liz, welcome to 3,2,1 iRelaunch.
Liz O'Donnell: Thank you, Carol. I'm glad to be here.
Carol Fishman Cohen: It's great to have you. I want to know if you can answer the question we ask all of our podcast guests, and that is what is your best piece of advice for our relauncher audience even if it's something that we've already talked about today?
Liz O'Donnell: Sure. My best piece of advice for the relaunchers it's the same advice for all caregivers, is to start with acceptance. I think the sooner we can accept the positions we're in life, if all of a sudden our parents do fall ill or do need more care, or we do have to take a break from the workplace, or we are ready to return, is accepting that this is where I am right now and starting from where you are. Because caregiving is an energy game. And when we're spending our energy wishing it were differently, or why did this happen to me, then we can't put our energy towards the big task of getting it done or returning to work or whatever it might be. So acceptance to me is always the first step.
Carol Fishman Cohen: Great advice. Thank you, Liz. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Liz O'Donnell: Thank you for paying attention to this issue. I appreciate it.
Carol Fishman Cohen: We welcome Kara Goldin. Kara is the founder and CEO of Hint, a lifestyle company specializing in unsweetened flavored water that has also launched into the sunscreen space. Kara is a relauncher having taken a career break after leaving her role as vice president of shopping and e-commerce partnerships at AOL where she helped lead growth of its startup shopping business to a $1 billion enterprise, and during which the idea for what became Hint started brewing.
Kara has been named among Fortune's most powerful women entrepreneurs and Forbes 40 Women to Watch over 40. She recently launched the podcast Unstoppable where she interviews disruptors across various industries. Kara, welcome to 3,2,1 iRelaunch.
Kara Goldin: Thank you. I'm very excited to be here.
Carol Fishman Cohen: We are thrilled to have you, and I want to ask you Kara, the question that we ask all of our podcast guests, which is what is your best piece of advice for our relauncher audience, even if it's something that we've already talked about today?
Kara Goldin: I think it's really, I have a book coming out in October called Undaunted, and the story of Undaunted, we weave in some of these stories that you've heard today, but I think it's also just about recognizing that everybody has doubts, everybody has doubters that will place these doubts in your mind, but it's what you ultimately do with those doubts and how you push forward and maybe even view those things as challenges. Sometimes in my life, it's also been, I would look at the person who has doubted me and go and try and do something because I thought yes, of course I can go do it, but then recognize that maybe it's not how I thought it was going to turn out. Maybe I even hugely failed in some way, but that helped me to ultimately do the next thing and get me where I wanted to go. So don't be afraid to be undaunted.
Carol Fishman Cohen: I love that title and I love this approach to essentially naysayers, and how you respond to them. You're an incredible role model Kara, for relaunching as an entrepreneur. It's been such a privilege to have you as a guest today. And thank you so much for joining us.
Kara Goldin: Thank you. It's been a lot of fun.
Carol Fishman Cohen: Today we welcome Cynthia Stewart, director of system engineering at science and engineering services in Huntsville, Alabama. Cynthia has a bachelor's and master's degree in mechanical engineering and spent 10 years as an engineer at NASA before taking a 17 year career break home with her four children.
Cynthia, welcome to 3,2,1 iRelaunch.
Cynthia Stewart: Hi, Carol. Great to be here.
Carol Fishman Cohen: It's great to have you, what is your best piece of advice for our relauncher audience even if it's something that we've already talked about today?
Cynthia Stewart: For a technical person going back into the career field, if you feel uncomfortable about, "Where am I technically," take a couple online classes.
There are plenty of them out there. I know, I've taken some with Ed-X since I've gone back to work. I'm currently enrolled in a systems engineering-like career type course with MIT that I'm going to get certificates for, I won't get a degree or anything, but I'll get some certificates for that, and add that stuff to your resume.
Say that you've done these things. Show that you're active, show that you're current. I know that will make a big difference.
Carol Fishman Cohen: Excellent. Excellent advice, Cynthia. Thank you so much for spending time with us today.
Cynthia Stewart: I enjoyed it. Loved it.
Carol Fishman Cohen: Today we welcome Ginny Brzezinski. Ginny is a former Capitol Hill Trust Secretary author, speaker, and she's on our iRelaunch Advisory Board. She's the coauthor with her sister-in-law and Morning Joe co-host, Mika Brzezinski of the instantly best-selling, Comeback Careers and a contributor and content developer for KnowYourValue.com.
Ginny, welcome to 3,2,1 iRelaunch.
Ginny Brzezinski: Thanks for having me, Carol.
Carol Fishman Cohen: We're so thrilled to have you and congratulations on the success of the book so far.
Ginny Brzezinski: Thank you very much. It's been very exciting.
Carol Fishman Cohen: And I want to thank you for quoting me in Comeback Careers. It was an honor to be interviewed for your book. I want to end by asking you the question that we ask all of our podcast guests, and that is what is your best piece of advice for our relauncher audience even if it's something that we've already talked about today?
Ginny Brzezinski: My best piece of advice is to say, "Yes." A lot of times, our instinct is to say, "No, I can't do something. I don't have time. I'm too rusty." Just start saying, "Yes," when somebody asks you to help with something, to do something. Get outside of your comfort zone, be willing to take a risk. I think the other thing I would advise is to take advantage of online classes. Always be learning something new.
There's so many things that you can learn online now, if you're on LinkedIn, you can do a LinkedIn monthly membership for $29, and that opens up to you like 15,000 free classes. And if you just set a metric for yourself of just doing an hour a week of classes. There are so many different things that you can learn and if you're always learning then you are always improving and you can get yourself more current with what's going on.Those are my two pieces of advice.
Carol Fishman Cohen: That's an excellent way to wrap up our conversation. Ginny, thanks for joining us today.
Ginny Brzezinski: Thank you, Carol. It was great to be with you.
Carol Fishman Cohen: Today we welcome Dorothy Dewitt, director of the division of market oversight at the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Dorothy took a five year career break and then her relaunch took place in 2014, but the process started before that as the economy was emerging from the 2008 recession. Dorothy, welcome to 3,2,1 iRelaunch.
Dorothy Dewitt: Thank you, Carol. It's a pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me as a guest.
Carol Fishman Cohen: And it's great to have you. I want to end with the question that we ask all of our podcast guests, and that is what is your best piece of advice for our relauncher audience even if it's something that we've already talked about today?
Dorothy Dewitt: If I may, I might say a couple of themes. Number one is to take what you feel confident in yourself about and build that out. So a relauncher may have built a PTA or navigated their way through incredibly difficult paperwork around caring for an ailing, loved one over the years. Whatever that is, take what you feel competent about and build that out and use it in your relaunch and in your career. You'll build other skills along with that, but always know that you do X well.
The second is to be authentic. There's no reason in this day and age to be in any way defensive about having taken time off. It's perfectly great to be yourself. Sometimes brevity is better, especially in an interview on those things, but you help me and others learn the lexicon and the ability to answer a question with confidence in brevity that's authentic.
And last one, I guess I'd say is resilience. It really does all work out in the end.
There were a few times I came home to my kids and said, "I went to the umpteenth interview and I didn't make it." And I kept going because there was no other choice. And my kids saw that and they saw the resilience I showed because I didn't have a choice. And you know what? I'm really proud of that.
And I'm proud of the lessons and the takeaways from that, and it all works out in the end. Sometimes it doesn't feel like it's going to, job searches or reentering at a temp level at the age 40 or whatever. Sometimes they can feel a little suboptimal a bit. Really they're stepping stones and sometimes when you reenter, you may have to go to two or three different jobs to go laterally and upwards, but you'll have the ability, you'll have the opportunity. And if you work hard with integrity and add value it will all work out.
Carol Fishman Cohen: Yeah. I'm also thinking about the power of modeling for your own kids that you were doing by showing resilience in the face of having yet another setback. I'm just thinking about what they learned from your example. Really powerful stuff. Dorothy, thank you so much for joining us.
Dorothy Dewitt: It's really a pleasure. So thank you.
Carol Fishman Cohen: Today we welcome Kendell Brown. Kendell is a career and executive coach at her firm, Ascension Careers, and the resume specialist on our iRelaunch coaching team. She started her post MBA career in brand management, and then relaunched as Associate Director at the Kelley School of Business before founding Ascension Careers.
Kendell, welcome to 3,2,1 iRelaunch.
Kendell Brown: Thanks so much for having me, Carol. I'm happy to be here.
Carol Fishman Cohen: It's great to have you, what is your best piece of advice for our relauncher audience?
Kendell Brown: I would say as a relauncher the best advice that I want to give is for relaunchers to stop apologizing. Stop apologizing for taking the break, stop apologizing for the length of time you were away, stop apologizing for wanting to do something different from what you were doing before the break. I just feel like all that apologizing gets you nowhere and it locks you into a negative mindset. And, any relauncher myself included, needs confidence wherever it can be found. And so I feel relaunchers are much better served by owning our decisions.
When networking, interviewing, or writing about a career break state, or writing a career break statement on your resume. You come across as more confident and capable when you can present the decisions that you've made and the actions that you've taken without any type of hesitation or trepidation or apology attached.
So it's necessary to figure out a way to talk about what you've done. Talk about the break, the decision to step away in a way that says, "Yes, I own this. It's done. It's good. And here I am ready for the next step."
Carol Fishman Cohen: So important, and thanks for joining us today.
Kendell Brown: Thank you. It's been good. I'm happy to be here.
Carol Fishman Cohen: Today, we welcome Lisa Fain. Lisa is the CEO at the Center for Mentoring Excellence. We are going to talk all about mentoring and the role mentoring can have in a relaunch. Lisa, welcome to 3,2,1 iRelaunch.
Lisa Fain: Hi, Carol, thrilled to be here.
Carol Fishman Cohen: It's great to have you, what is your best piece of advice for our relauncher audience?
Lisa Fain: Yeah. I love that question. I would say the best piece of advice in this context is really one of the things that I say is the best piece of advice in any context; and it's advice that I got on the eve of my wedding, at the rehearsal dinner of my wedding from my sister-in-law and I've never forgotten it.
And it's so important in the mentoring context as well. And it is, the main thing is to keep, the main thing is to keep it the main thing, right? Yeah. And as true as it is in the context of a marriage, it's also true in the context of mentoring, which is what is it that you want to achieve in a mentoring relationship?
What is it you want to achieve in your own career, what is the objective that you're looking for and then continue to evaluate and operate towards that objective? And if you keep that end in mind, and by the way, make sure to share that with your mentoring partner, you will be much more likely to achieve results because you're really driven by that vision and that goal.
Carol Fishman Cohen: Excellent advice. Thank you so much. Lisa, this was an incredible conversation. I've learned so much and thank you so much for joining us.
Lisa Fain: Thanks so much for having me, Carol.
Carol Fishman Cohen: Today we welcome Selena Rezvani. Selena is a popular leadership speaker and inclusion consultant, as well as a LinkedIn learning instructor. She writes a column for Philadelphia Magazine on how to make work work, and hosts a weekly show on LinkedIn Live, an invite only platform all about ways to elevate women at work.
Selena, welcome to 3,2,1 iRelaunch.
Selena Rezvani: Thank you, Carol. It's really awesome to be here and I love your message.
Carol Fishman Cohen: Thank you. We're very privileged to have you on the show. What is your best piece of advice for our relauncher audience even if it's something we've already talked about today?
Selena Rezvani: I would say this, as you're putting yourself forward, if your presence doesn't make an impact, then your absence won't make a difference. And I say that as someone, I once lost a really important spokesperson opportunity that I was interviewing for, because when I went for the interview, I gave a really watered down kind of Diet Sprite version of who I am. The way I dressed the ideas I put in front of them, I really lost my “me-ness”, and as great as it is to research the employer or to think all about them and what they want, I would just encourage you all listening to honor your kind of unique value proposition, parts of your personality. If you're funny, it's okay to be a little funny, if you're colorful, it's okay to be a little bit colorful. People who hire you generally want someone to bring something to the party that is a little bit new or a little bit different.
So I would encourage you to think about your “you-ness”, and make sure you're bringing that to these situations.
Carol Fishman Cohen: I love that. Selena, thank you so much for joining us today.
Selena Rezvani: It's been such a pleasure, Carol. Thank you.
Carol Fishman Cohen: Today we welcome Kim Winsey Stevenson, MD. Kim is medical director at Aetna, which she moved to after her initial relaunch at Optum360 following an extended career break after leaving her clinical general surgery practice. Kim, welcome to 3,2,1 iRelaunch.
Kim Winsey Stevenson: Thank you, Carol. I'm really excited to be here.
Carol Fishman Cohen: We're thrilled to have you, what is your best piece of advice for our relauncher audience even if it's something we've already talked about today?
Kim Winsey Stevenson: I think my best piece of advice is to call, although I got it very fast, call anyone and everyone you can think of that you might've known. Sit down and make a list of people who may be doing things, ask your friends about it because, it was actually, I did not think of calling the person I called myself, it was a friend of mine who knew me and knew about my journey that suggested I call her. And be willing to even, I picked up the phone after not seeing her for 15 years or 20 years and saying, "Hey, can we talk, I'd like to talk to you about what you're doing and maybe, would it be suitable?" And, she could have said, "I haven't heard from you in 20 years, don't talk to me." But I think the most important thing is to also have confidence in yourself. I have to say that, even taking the job, there was a part of me that thought, "Whoa, I don't know if I can do this.They seem to think I can, so let's see.”
I think you have to be willing to be prepared for a lot of on the job training and not necessarily knowing what you're doing right away, but being willing to learn.
Carol Fishman Cohen: And those are two really important points. I just want to remind anyone in the audience who has been hesitating to get in touch with someone who they've not been in touch with for the last 14 years, because A, they're worried that the person won't remember them, and B, they're worried the person's going to be mad at them because they have been out of touch. And hear exactly what Kim said, that there was a fleeting moment where she thinks, "Is she going to just say no, because you've been out of touch?" But no, and this is huge. Invariably, what we hear, not only are people thrilled to hear from you again, and they're not at all mad, but they're really interested in reconnecting and helping. So that is really important.
And then this other piece is this fearless learning piece and having this stance about, "I'm always, I always want to learn new things." And that is really a helpful stance to have as a relauncher, and if you can convey that to a potential employer, employers are very interested in seeing that quality.
Kim, thank you so much for joining us.
Kim Winsey Stevenson: Thank you, Carol. I really enjoyed it. And I feel proud that you asked me.
Carol Fishman Cohen: Today we welcome Letitia Shen. Letitia is a hazardous substances engineer at the California Department of Toxic Substances Control. a role she got after a career break over 20 years. She has been very active in our private Facebook group, the iRelaunch Return to Work Forum, and told us a great story about how she got her job, which we will talk about shortly.
Letitia, welcome to 3,2,1 iRelaunch.
Letitia Shen: Thank you. It's great to be here.
Carol Fishman Cohen: And it's great to have you, so I want to ask you the question that we ask all of our podcast guests, and that is what is your best piece of advice for our relauncher audience even if it's something we've already talked about today?
Letitia Shen: Basically be open to learning, open to the journey. I've had 30 interviews and each one of them was as a hazardous substance engineer or environmental engineer in all sorts of different industries. And it's fascinating, the things that you can learn, like some of my interviews involve the cannabis industries and all the toxins involved in that.
So that was very interesting. And another one was in safer consumer products. I had no idea that the state of California was making sure that the thing I bought off the shelf was safe.
Carol Fishman Cohen: I love that advice. It's really having this curiosity mindset. So great advice to leave our relauncher audience with. Thanks for joining us today, Letitia.
Letitia Shen: Thank you very much for having me.
Carol Fishman Cohen: Today we welcome Salli Cobb. Salli is a product manager for a major HVAC manufacturer and a mechanical engineer who left her plant engineer role to move with her family when her husband got an overseas assignment. She relaunched after an eight year career break. Salli, welcome to 3,2,1 iRelaunch.
Salli Cobb: Thanks for having me.
Carol Fishman Cohen: We're so thrilled to have you and have this conversation. So can you give us one piece of advice for a relauncher audience?
Salli Cobb: Yes. What I have to say is work hard, be ready for an opportunity. It's possible that it will fall in your lap, but if it doesn't, you have to get out there and make things happen as long as it takes. Do not give up. You're in charge of your path, no one else.
Carol Fishman Cohen: Excellent experience. And especially coming from someone who was looking to relaunch at a time when there was a significant unemployment, like there is today. Especially glad to get your advice and have this conversation.
Salli, thank you so much for joining us.
Salli Cobb: Thank you.
Carol Fishman Cohen: Thanks for listening to 3,2,1 iRelaunch, the podcast where we discuss strategies, advice, and success stories about returning to work after a career break. I'm Carol Fishman Cohen, the CEO and co-founder of iRelaunch and your host. For more information on iRelaunch conferences and events to sign up for, our job board, and access our return to work tools and resources, go to iRelaunch.com.
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