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Episode 193: Volunteering, Networking & Relaunching in HR After a Health Diagnosis, with Natasha Slaughter

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Episode Description

Natasha Slaughter relaunched initially after a four-year career break due to health issues by starting her own professional services consulting firm NEx Chapter Media Group. A year later, she added a part time role in Human Resources at Dynamic Corporate Solutions, Inc. (DCSI). Natasha is the immediate past president of the Jacksonville chapter of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) professional association and was also the recipient of the HR Florida State Council 2020 President’s Award. Natasha discusses how she approached her health and work goals after her diagnosis, how she developed her leadership skills through volunteer work, why your network is your cheerleader, and how professional associations and LinkedIn are important components of your network.

Note: this interview runs a little longer than our typical episode. It is full of great advice for relaunchers!

Read Transcript

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, CEO and co-founder of iRelaunch and your host. Today we welcome Natasha Slaughter. Natasha relaunched initially after a four year career break by starting her own professional services consulting firm, Next Chapter Media Group, specializing in nonprofit consulting, marketing consulting, and professional association management. A year later, she added a part-time role in human resources, first as a senior consultant and now training coordinator at human resources consulting firm Dynamic Corporate Solutions, or DCSI for short. Natasha is the immediate past president of the Jacksonville Chapter of the Society for Human Resources Management Professional Association, where she's now on the executive board, and oversees the marketing and public relations activities of the chapter. She was also the recipient of the HR Florida State Council 2020 President's Award, the state affiliate of the Society for Human Resources Management, which is also known as SHRM.

And we don't see too many relaunches that include a substantive part-time role, let alone in a jar, combined with an entrepreneurial venture. So we have a lot to learn from Natasha's example. Finally, we'll discuss how the power of social media resulted in Natasha being interviewed for this podcast, the 3,2,1 iRelaunch podcast today. So we're very excited to have this conversation.

Natasha, welcome to 3,2,1 iRelaunch.

Natasha Slaughter: Thank you so much, Carol. I greatly appreciate that you invited me to be here today, thank you.

Carol Fishman Cohen: We're going to talk about how that happened in a little bit. But first, we want to focus on your relaunch itself, and I want to know if you can start by telling our audience about your career leading up to your career break and what precipitated your career break?

Natasha Slaughter: Sounds good. So my history is all in human resources and training and development. Prior to my career break, I had about fifteen or so years in human resources and training and development, and really all aspects of human resources: staffing and talent acquisition, employee relations, benefits, risk management, anything associated with human resources, I've probably done it. And I also worked in several industries. I worked in healthcare and hospitality at an IT firm, as well as retail distribution. In about 2005, I actually suffered a major illness.

I had just relocated back home from Atlanta to Jacksonville, Florida. So I had just started a new job and of course,, therefore had no leave or any type of FMLA. I was out for seven months. And it just so happens, I was fortunate enough to call my previous employer within the hotel industry and they were able to put me back to work immediately afterwards, when I was able to go back to work.

I became a task force human resources manager, which basically is a fancy word for “there's an opening somewhere.” Whether somebody was on leave or there was an opening in an HR department within that particular hotel, and they were waiting to fill it, they couldn't leave that seat empty and no one to be there. So I would go in and fill in until that person came back from maternity leave, or I hired someone to fill that spot. So it allowed me to travel a little bit, go to various cities and states, and really enjoy that time of travel until an open position came available as a regional training consultant with the hotel company.

So that is where the history of my human resources experience came from, but it was originally in 2009 when I was officially diagnosed with lupus. And so I had to really make a decision of whether I could continue to work full time in a human resources position, which in some ways can be very stressful and consider my health first, or me going up the career ladder.

And I actually chose option two, going up the career ladder. But my health chose option one, of course. And in 2013, I really had to make a decision with the support of my healthcare team and say, "You know what? I need to make this ultimate decision to stop working."

Carol Fishman Cohen: Natasha, can you go into a little bit more detail on the mental and emotional part of starting a career break because you've just received a diagnosis, and now you have a health issue that's keeping you from working?

Natasha Slaughter: Absolutely. One of the things that happens first when you're diagnosed with a health concern that's going to eventually make you stop working, for lupus patients there's usually about five years, at about a five-year mark it's time to shut it down from that nine to five and have something more flexible that will be agreeable to your health concerns.

So when you stop completely, it's almost like change management and the phases of change management, and one of those phases is grief. You grieve the life that you had. You grieve the career that you had, especially somebody like me, who was on a trajectory to go up the career ladder. I wanted to go up the career ladder. And so you grieve all those things that you aren't able to do anymore, or the fact that you're sitting and doing nothing and you just don't know what to do with yourself. That's grief. And so you have to determine how you're going to get over that. Now for me, I was volunteering already. So my grief wasn't as significant because I knew that I still had responsibilities to SHERM Jacksonville. And I was also on the advisory council of another non-profit. So I knew I had responsibilities to others that I couldn't be down for a long period of time.

That grief sometimes still exists, because I do miss human resources and I do miss the day to day of training and developing individuals and the employee relations aspect of human resources. But I also know that I also have this fulfillment when it comes to owning my own company and helping out nonprofits. And I know that, should I have to stop tomorrow, I've really made a significant impact on my community and on the human resources community in particular.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Thank you. All right. And so you then entered your career break with this diagnosis and this health condition, and where you were looking at, did you really know what was going to happen after that? And so what happened during the next few years? And then how did you decide that you were ready to start working again?

Natasha Slaughter: Well, my personality is that I didn't want to stop. So I thought about, okay I could maybe use this time to brush up on any type of skills that I may be lacking in or don't want to lose.

So I thought about, of course, going back to get my master's degree. And of course I took two classes in and had to stop for health reasons. Then I still really wanted to do something. I didn't know what I would be capable of doing long-term, but I really wanted to do something, after I had sat out about three years, two or three years.

So I started to think about what I could do virtually and not impact my health. And when you have a chronic health condition, you really need to talk everything over with your healthcare provider, because they're going to be the ones that kind of put the foot down and say, "Hey, this is something you should not be doing," or "Yes, you can do that and we will monitor you. And at the first sign that something bad is happening, then you need to be able to get out of it." We talked about me creating my own company and what that would entail and what my boundaries were regarding my health concerns.

And I also had to look at what I wanted to do, because you automatically think, "Oh she's got a background in human resources, she's going to go into human resources consulting." But I wanted to really take a different path because I truly enjoyed marketing, and I enjoyed graphic design. I enjoyed the business development aspect and the networking and really promoting nonprofits. I had volunteered for many years with nonprofits prior to my career break. So I wanted to utilize that experience and help nonprofits to attain their goals and be successful. I chose that avenue and developed my company, but also it was personal satisfaction of helping nonprofits, and that's kind of my way of giving back to the community.

Carol Fishman Cohen: So there are a few things here I just want to focus on and reinforce for the audience. I think it's fascinating that when you're going through this thought process of what your company was going to focus on, how important your volunteer experiences were with nonprofits, and we can go into some detail in terms of what you did, not only to just focus on nonprofits per se, but also some of these other functional areas that you realized that you really liked, so I just think it's important to highlight that to our audience.

In addition, we don't have very many conversations with relaunchers who will talk about relaunching after a health issue. First of all, thank you for your generosity in sharing your story, because I think it can be helpful to so many people who are in that situation for their career break, but also this advice that you're giving to be making these decisions about what happens with your career path, and what does a relaunch look like in conjunction with your healthcare professional.

Natasha Slaughter: Absolutely.

Carol Fishman Cohen: All right. So let's talk a little more about the volunteer work that you did. I just have to acknowledge that the volunteer work that you did was significant. You had significant leadership roles in the Jacksonville SHRM chapter. You've been a consistent leader there in a range of roles, and now you're on the executive board for a long time. So can you talk a little bit about the evolution of that and where you started with Jacksonville SHRM, and how your role changed and became more senior and more of a leadership role? And then, what happened to that work during your career break?

Natasha Slaughter: One of the things that I have always been passionate about is workforce development. And when I was living in Atlanta, I volunteered with several nonprofits with interviewing skills, dress for success and resume review, to help people who are in transition get back to work. When I relocated back to Jacksonville, one thing I learned was that the human resources industry and the community is very tight-knit.

And in order for you to really form relationships with people, you really need to network and go where human resources professionals are. So when I relocated back to Jacksonville, when I got back into the human resources position after ending the regional training position and going back into a human resources seat, I decided to join the national organization the Society for Human Resources Management and obtain my certification as well.

Once I received and obtained my certification, I realized, not only do I need to network, but I need to attend meetings and make sure that my continuing education is important as well. So I joined the local chapter for networking. And I just met some amazing people at the time. I just highly respected the president of the organization at the time, because I knew that these were all volunteer leaders. And to run an organization with close to 800 members, it was just amazing to me, and it being volunteer. So I made the ultimate decision that in order to maximize my membership, I needed to volunteer.

I volunteered on the Course Workforce Readiness and Diversity Committee for two years. And then when that board position became available, I applied for it. And although I say it like that, it's a little bit of a story. I was on the committee and I wrote an article for our newsletter. When the article came out in the newsletter, the then president elect gave me a call and said, "This is what we need on our board, please apply." And I said, "Oh, I'm trying to." Once again, this was 2009, recently diagnosed lupus, didn't know if I really wanted any more on my plate.

I'm sorry, this was 2011, I apologize, 2011 or sometime around there, and I was like, "Do I really want more on my plate? Do I really want this leadership position?" But I also knew and I'm a firm believer in, you own your own leadership development. Yes, you can take advantage of what your company has to offer, but ultimately it's up to you to seek out opportunities to develop yourself. So I knew that in this capacity, as a leader on a board of directors, that I would get the maximum amount of development to encourage volunteers, people who weren’t getting paid. You're engaging and encouraging them to do things that they don't have to do, and to work with other leaders within the community and really get a name out there for myself.

So I said, "You know what, I'm going to take advantage of it." So I applied for the role, interviewed for the role, and attained that position as Workforce Readiness Director. Then the following year, another position was added to my plate of diversity. So I did Workforce, Readiness and Diversity, and then went onto College Relations.

And then at the point of, “I don't know if I want to continue with SHRM. Maybe I'll hop over to the Association for Talent Development,” because of course I was passionate about training and development as well. And there weren't any positions on the board that were open that I was aware of for SHRM Jacksonville.

Then, all of a sudden, I was approached by the incoming president elect and the incoming president. They approached me and said, "Hey, would you be interested in going into the succession for presidency?" And I was like, "Oohhh." And at that point, this was 2015, and I had just really started my company. It was in the infancy stage. And I thought about it and thought about it, and I said, "You know what? Not only will this help me as a leader, but it can also be a significant impact for my company." And so I said, "Why not?"

And I applied for it and interviewed for the VP of Programs position, which is in the succession plan for the presidency. And once you're in, you're locked in so that you do two years as VP of Programs, and then you become president elect, and then you become president, and then you become past president.

So it's a multi-year commitment for our particular chapter. But once I was in, I was hooked. And I really wanted to not only make an impact on my chapter, make an impact on my community, but also help me as an individual in developing my leadership skills.

Carol Fishman Cohen: There's so much here. So a lot of the most senior level advancement happened during your career break, it sounds like, I know you were starting your company at that time. But clearly, you were a standout in the organization because you kept being asked to take these positions.

So they had obviously identified you as top leadership material really early on. But I also like how you're talking about this in terms of, and I love the quote, "you own your own leadership development" and seek out opportunities to develop yourself. And you were looking at this in so many different ways, an opportunity to give back, an opportunity potentially for your business, but also this opportunity for leadership development of your own.

I just want to underscore this for our listeners who might be thinking about what types of volunteer work to take on whether they're anticipating a future career break or in the career break already. And also the role of a professional association that Natasha is talking about when she moved and was building a new network, how one of the first things she did was to join SHRM and then the local SHRM. So lots and lots of teaching moments there for our listeners, thank you.

Natasha, can you talk a little bit more about you're building your business right now, maybe how you got your first couple of clients and also what was happening in parallel in terms of how you ended up getting the DCSI job?

Natasha Slaughter: So my first clients were really, not everybody agrees, but I am of the mindset that there's some things you may have to do for free just to get samples. So I reached out to people within my network and volunteered to create some marketing materials for them. I reached out to friends and family to see if they knew of anybody, any small business owners that were looking for marketing materials or had an upcoming event that they needed assistance with.

I tried to not limit myself to whether I was going to get paid or not in the beginning. I did that for about a year. Then there were some clients that were, for example, for website development, I took on a little bit longer because that needed to be over a period of time.

But I felt that one of the things I really wanted to do was create a name for myself within the community, and make sure I talked to people who I knew who would advance not only my name, my brand, my company, but also, who I had high respect for. I just didn't call on anybody and say, "Hey, can I do whatever?"

I said, "I appreciate your business, I want to assist you in being successful. We've worked together. We've known each other for a while. I would really love to see how we could have a mutually beneficial relationship and me providing this service for you for X amount of time."

Carol Fishman Cohen: And so you're saying that some of that was, when you were having those conversations, you might say, "And I'm willing to start out with a project pro bono," as investing in a future relationship, or how exactly did you word that?

Natasha Slaughter: I worded it typically if I know someone already, if they already have an existing small company, and I know that they need some marketing assistance, I'll reach out to them and offer that and say, "I will be more than happy to assist you with that, and not charge you for that, just to get the exposure and possibly, if you approve of the work and you enjoy the work, then maybe even a referral or a reference should I get a paid client."

So asking in those terms, they're getting free marketing materials and in return, I'm getting exposure.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Okay. So a couple of points here again for our audience, if you want to rewind and listen to that language, we're really big on scripts and dialogues at iRelaunch, what to actually say and what to ask. And you've just modeled a conversation that can be hard for people when they're first starting businesses. So thank you for doing that. And also, this concept of going in at the beginning of starting your business, knowing that you were going to do some work for free because you wanted to have, essentially, free samples of your work so people can see what your work looks like, but also, you said you're creating marketing materials for yourself. So once those materials are produced, even if they were done for free for a client, first of all, the client sees your work. If they love it, that potentially turns into paid work. Secondly, those marketing materials then can go on your website or be examples of what you can do for then getting a paying client.

Natasha Slaughter: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Carol Fishman Cohen: There's one other quote that you said that I wrote down that I just want to emphasize again where you said, "I didn't limit myself in terms of whether I got paid for it or not." So again, very instructive. So tell us a little bit about how the DCSI job came up.

Natasha Slaughter: So the DCSI position came up once again through the SHRM network. It just so happens that there was a transition, someone was leaving the company at DCSI, and I knew the VP of consulting. Of course, she knew me from SHRM and called me out of the blue and said, "Hey, I know you know a lot of people in the SHRM network, we have this opening coming up, do you know of anybody? And she starts explaining the role to me. And I said, "Yes, I'm very familiar with that type of role. I was a regional training consultant." She's like, "What? Are you willing to come by the office tomorrow?"

So we sat down and we talked about the role and I knew that, at the time I was not looking for a part-time role. Once again, I was starting up my company. I was volunteering at that point, going into the president elect position with SHRM and I was a little bit hesitant about starting a position. The flip side of it was, I was about to become president of an HR association and was not in human resources. So I made the conscious decision to work part time, and I mean part, part, part-time, so that, I not only stayed in the loop when it came to human resources and what's going on and what challenges human resources professionals are facing, but also it allowed me to go back into training, which I missed and I was very passionate about.

So I took on the role of just leading courses on a quarterly basis, and that allowed me to still touch bases with management teams and what they were experiencing in the workplace, and how could I bring those experiences back to SHRM when it came to selecting speakers for content, for development of HR professionals, what we can offer to supervisors and managers possibly as a revenue generator for our chapter, and so forth.

Carol Fishman Cohen: So it sounds so much of this was intertwined. You're approached by the DCSI person with an opening because of who you are in SHRM and your network, then you end up taking that job. But then in taking that job, you're thinking about, very broadly, not just doing the job itself, but thinking about how it could maybe impact what we're doing at SHRM in all those different ways.

It just sounds to me like you're a person who is always thinking very broadly across your paid work, your volunteer work, and how everything intersects.

Natasha Slaughter: I think that at the end of the day, my thought process, even from the very beginning of my career, or at least close to the beginning of my career, was about strategically planning my career path.

I didn't take roles just to take them just because it was a pay increase, just because it was at so and so company. I really wanted to take roles that would give me the knowledge, experience and exposure to have a good trajectory for my career path. And it's worked well for me, even when I became ill, and I had to stop work because of that illness.

And I tell people this story all the time. My last day at my last nine to five, if you will, was the end of March of 2013. The very next week was the SHRM Jacksonville chapter meeting, because it's the first Thursdays, typically the first Thursdays of the month. And when I walked through the door, there were three people who approached me and said, "Hey, I know so-and-so is looking for an HR professional and the position isn't posted yet, but if you give me your resume, I'll forward it to them and get you into an interview." Three people approached me in that chapter meeting and I'm like, "I'm not looking for anything, I'm okay. I'm okay. Honestly, I'm okay."

It was a week later. It was a week to that day, because my last day was a Thursday I think. And the following Thursday was the chapter meeting. So the power of networking, the power of being a part of professional association and the power of really planning your career, and being strategic about your career will net you the results that you're looking for.

Carol Fishman Cohen: And also, I love that as part of that story you just told that they're saying, "This job isn't even posted yet."

Natasha Slaughter: Absolutely. The power of that, because that's the power of networking, quite a few of the positions that there are quite a few positions that are never posted. Unfortunately, sometimes it's not externally posted, maybe it's just internally posted. Sometimes it's someone who's just put in their notice or is talking about leaving and putting in their notice, and it may be a couple of months before they officially leave, or we know somebody is coming up on retirement in six months. Those positions aren't posted, but they're keeping an eye out too, for the potential next, or that next great employee, or that next great manager or executive.

When a CEO such as yourself, if you leave, it's a major plan. It's not something where you can put in your two weeks notice and just walk away. It's something that needs to be planned, possibly over a year. And you're going to be looking for a year to find that right next person. You definitely have to have the network, the ability to put yourself out there and have your eyes and ears open, and encourage people, because they're your cheerleaders. At the end of the day, your network becomes your cheerleader and they will find things for you, without you having to do much trying.

Carol Fishman Cohen: I'm just taking notes here. "Your network becomes your cheerleader," okay, I just wrote that down too. Natasha, can we fast forward to today? And can you tell us, what does your work life look like right now? Is this something that you think is pretty good for the status for a while? Or are you thinking something else will change in the short or long term?

Natasha Slaughter: For my company that will change in that it will grow. One of the things that I was told when I first started from the marketing perspective, I was told there was no end of clients for marketing, everybody's looking for marketing. It's one, whether they can pay for it, and two, whether you have the time. So I actually changed the focus, I guess if you will, and my client base, because I knew that as a solopreneur, as well as someone with a health concern, I knew that I had to pace myself. So I chose nonprofits specifically, and the ability to help manage nonprofits whether they need a management team or someone to come in and be their online business manager.

And then the second piece is to provide education for nonprofit leaders, because that's usually the biggest challenge. So that is going to be phase two of my company, to add that educational component and have those virtual classes.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Got it.

Natasha Slaughter: From a part-time perspective, you have to determine which one of those you can do and do effectively and satisfactorily. Sometimes as you start your new company, you may have a part-time role or even a full-time role, and you do your company part-time. But once you get your company up to a certain point, you do have to scale back on all those other activities.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Exactly. We're going to be wrapping up now, Natasha, and this has been so illuminating, but before we do, I just want to go off on a side note for a minute.

I want to talk about the power of social media and how that brought us together. And I'll just tell our audience for background that last month at iRelaunch, we ran a joint program with Mocha Moms, the national organization for mothers of color on the black relaunchers' perspective. And so I posted about it on LinkedIn and Natasha commented on it.

And when she did, I just wanted to see if she was a relauncher. So I clicked through to her profile. I saw that she was, and that is what led me to contact her and led to this conversation we're having today. So I just also want to highlight for our audience that when we say, "Be active on LinkedIn.” It doesn't mean that you need to have a succession of releases of original content that you spent hours and hours creating. Commenting on other people's posts can be a big part of the mix.

So I just wanted to ask you, Natasha, how much do you use LinkedIn? Was this an unusual thing that you happen to comment on, or is that part of a regular way that you interact with people on LinkedIn? What's your approach to it?

Natasha Slaughter: I will say that I am pretty passive on all of my social media networks, except LinkedIn. I try to be engaged on a daily basis. And to your point, it's not about putting these lucrative posts or doing blogs and posting it out there, although that is all there, those are all helpful. My focus is really to maintain connection with my network. Those people who, especially around this time when we are in this pandemic and we're not seeing people on a regular basis, stay in touch with people through LinkedIn. Staying in touch with those connections is powerful, because one, it will help with maintaining your career path, maintaining those connections.

If you are launching your own company, it will be helpful, but also, things like this. We connected because of that. And LinkedIn becomes powerful only if you use it, and only if you use it effectively. If you just go on, put up a little minor profile and then never look at it again, then it will not do anything for you.

But if you stay engaged, if nothing else, when somebody's birthday comes up, just say, "Happy Birthday" or, "Congratulations on the new promotion" or what have you, then you start a dialogue with people. I often guide people when they say, "Hey, how do I get into human resources," or "How do I or find my next job," utilize the power of LinkedIn. It's not about connecting with someone as soon as you connect to say, "I need a job, can you hire me," which we get all the time, or, as soon as you connect with someone, "Oh, can I advance your business? We can help you."

It's not about that dogged approach. It's more about, "I want to establish a mutually beneficial relationship with you, or I would love to learn more about what you do. Can we set aside some time to chat and talk more about what you do? It sounds very interesting." Or, "You work for a company that I have been interested in learning more about. Can we set up some time so I can do an informational interview with you and ask you about the culture of the company and what you like and what you don't like about the company?" And then that could lead to, "Oh, now I know this person in human resources, they have my resume now, I can follow up with them once that open position comes up." Utilizing your network to help you once again, they're your cheerleader, they become your cheerleaders, and they stay in touch.

Matter of fact, somebody reached out to me on LinkedIn I think I wished her a happy birthday and she responded, "Oh, we haven't spoken in a while, let's connect." So now in a couple of days, we're having a chat. That was somebody I hadn't spoken to in months. So it is helpful, because maybe I can recruit her for the board,

Carol Fishman Cohen: Again, some excellent scripts there for people in terms of how to reach out and exactly what to say. And I also wanted to mention, Natasha, that your LinkedIn profile is extremely well done, probably reflecting your marketing background, and our listeners should take a look at it. It's a great example, and you can see one approach that Natasha is taking when she is profiling her career path. She does not include the years that she was on career break and we see some people do this.

Some people call out their career breaks, some people don't. So I'm just curious, has anyone ever asked you what happened between 2013 and 2018? Because it's not accounted for on your LinkedIn profile?

Natasha Slaughter: That question never comes up. And I do believe it's because of how I have SHRM Jacksonville listed.

During my career break, I still was very active with SHRM as much as I could be. I was still on the board, I was still interacting and performing my duties to the best of my abilities. So what people see is the fact that I have this longevity with SHRM and what they gloss over is the fact that between 2013 and my starting with DCSI or me forming my company, there is, to your point, a four year gap there. That was a large part because my health team said, "Okay, you need to stop. Just do what you can, work is probably not in the foreseeable future."

Carol Fishman Cohen: Natasha, this has been a wonderful interview and I want to wrap up 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 we've already talked about today?

Natasha Slaughter: I think one, is the power of networking. Even if you are unemployed, you need to be networking. If you have the ability to join a professional association, or utilize your LinkedIn to reach out to people within your network and have conversations with them, make sure that you're on their radar at some point. Because when you decide to go back or when you have the ability to go back to work, you have those connections. So the power of networking is phenomenal.

On those same lines, use resources that are available. And, I don't know whether you have such resources listed on your website or what have you, but there are several resources that will assist you in going back to work or starting your own company. I took advantage of those resources, and they’ve helped with my business plan, keeping me on track to make sure that I'm not going off on a tangent, that I'm really focused on my company with all these ideas that I have for my company, "Okay, Natasha, you need to focus on these ones right here, these products and services." So that is also helpful for anybody who is a relauncher. Utilize those resources.

And I think the third thing that was most powerful for me was volunteerism, and having a board position has allowed me to achieve so much more personal satisfaction and personal success, in addition to professional success, that I couldn't even measure it.

When I won the president's award with HR Florida, it was a shock because it was something that yes, any president would want. But, in a year of a pandemic, in a year of lack of resources, if you will, in a year of maybe not be making as much money for your nonprofit as you would have liked, in a year that volunteers may be scarce because they're so focused on their company or they're focused on the mental health associated with dealing with COVID and pandemic, and all of those things that were just culminating into, "Oh my gosh, it's going to be my worst year, and it's my second year of presidency." Everybody's calling it the lame duck year, and I win the president's award.

Utilize that network to find volunteer positions, whether it's a board position, whether it's an enhanced leadership role within a volunteer organization, use that to your ability. Be strategic about it, don't just take anything and don't commit to just anything. Research that board and research that board position to ensure that it's the right fit for you, just like you would with any full-time employment. And treat it as if you're getting paid, because at the end of the day, you're going to be evaluated that way as well.

Quite often, I'm put down as a professional reference for folks when they've worked in a volunteer role. And so,if you're going to do that, then your work ethic needs to be the same as if you were getting paid.

Carol Fishman Cohen: There's so much excellent advice there. And I can say just based on this conversation, I can see why you won that award.

Natasha Slaughter: Thank you, thank you!

Carol Fishman Cohen: Before we conclude Natasha, can you tell our audience how they can find out more about your work?

Natasha Slaughter: Absolutely. So my website is nexchapter It's They can always find me there, my phone number, my email address, all that is there. And of course you can always find me on LinkedIn.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Exactly, Natasha Slaughter on LinkedIn. All right, it's been a pleasure. Thanks Natasha, for joining us today.

Natasha Slaughter: Thank you.

Carol Fishman Cohen: And 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

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