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Welcome to episode 256 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork interviews career coach, Wendy Braitman about the importance of breaking big goals into small, actionable steps.
Last week on the podcast, Bjork chatted with Jake Poses from Jumprope about this new video-sharing app. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.
Do you have a specific career goal in mind? Maybe it’s a certain number of pageviews or working with a specific brand or making a full-time income from blogging.
They’re all huge goals, and when goals are this big, it’s sometimes tough to figure out how you can get there.
A lot needs to happen between now and the point where we achieve those goals, and that’s what Wendy is here to discuss today.
This episode is all about the importance of accountability, setting up systems, and breaking those big goals into small, actionable, achievable steps.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- How Wendy changed careers
- How coaching works
- Why accountability is important
- Why you should break goals into achievable steps
- How to establish a mastermind and why connection is important
- How to make the most out of growth opportunities
- International Coaching Federation
- The 20-Minute Networking Meeting
- WP Tasty
- Pinch of Yum
- Check out Wendy’s website
If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].
Transcript (click to expand):
Alexa Peduzzi: Hello, wonderful listener. Alexa, here from team FBP, welcoming you back to yet another episode of the Food Blogger Pro podcast. In today’s episode, we’re focusing on building a career that you love, and typically that starts with a goal. So we’re curious, do you have a specific career goal in mind? Maybe it’s getting a certain number of page views or working with a specific brand or maybe it’s making a full time income from blogging.
Alexa Peduzzi: Those are all huge goals. And when goals are that big, it’s sometimes tough to figure out exactly how you can get there. So a lot needs to happen between now and the point where you achieve those goals. And that’s what Wendy is here to discuss today. This episode is all about the importance of accountability, setting up systems and breaking those big goals into small achievable steps. It’s a really neat interview, complete with a career coaching demo with Bjork, and we hope it helps you view your goals in a different actionable light. So without any further ado, Bjork, take it away.
Bjork Ostrom: Wendy, welcome to the podcast.
Wendy Braitman: It’s great to be here.
Bjork Ostrom: We’re going to be talking about something if you boil it down for everybody who listens to this podcast, it’s something that we are all thinking about, which is our careers and distilling that down at the core. What we want to do is we want to find something that we love, that we enjoy. I watched Warren Buffett’s annual address. I didn’t watch all of it, but the little clips of it. And he always talks about how he over his career has skipped to work as kind of an analogy of just how much he loved the work that he did.
Bjork Ostrom: I think we all want to get to that place. And we’re going to talk to you about that. But before we do, let’s rewind the tape. I want to hear a little bit about your story. Were you always the person who is skipping to work and then you got into this because you were like, “Hey, this is something I’ve always known.” Or did you have to get to a point where you kind of learned, maybe this isn’t a good fit for me and I myself need to figure out how to evolve my career?
Wendy Braitman: Well, skipping to work every day would be an awesome dream. So I’m not sure that that happened to me even in my best of times. But I did work in a sexy industry. I worked in the film industry for 20 years and really loved that job. I was a producer and then I launched a media organization that helped filmmakers and financiers connect. And after that, I was recruited by the Discovery Channel and the American Film Institute to launch a big project for them. And that was really exciting.
Bjork Ostrom: Interesting. And when you say producer, I’m so curious to dig into some of that. I have a friend who was executive producer on a documentary, and as I was talking to him, he was like, “Well, essentially I kind of financed a part of it and so I was executive producer.” And I was like, executive producer is different than producer. There’s director, there’s all these different roles. What is producer just out of curiosity?
Wendy Braitman: Producer, as your friend indicated can be a variety of things. In my case, I was more often the person who raised money. So I wasn’t the hands on day to day production, that’s not a thing that I love. So I was behind the scenes and raising money for projects.
Bjork Ostrom: And that was so interesting for me to learn. The documentary that he was a part of is called Legend of Cocaine Island. So for any listeners, if you want to watch really interesting documentary. Also interesting because I think Will Ferrell bought the rights to produce it so we can keep an eye on that coming down the line.
Bjork Ostrom: But it was interesting for me as a business person to learn there are people who invest in a movie and then that movie gets sold and then they get a return on that investment. And it sounds like that was kind of the space that you were focusing on. And even for this period of time, you were the producer raising money for these films, and then you realize, “Hey, I have an expertise in this.” So the next step for you was kind of sitting in the middle and helping people who had an idea connect to people who had money to actually make that happen. Is that a fair synopsis?
Wendy Braitman: Well, here’s an interesting story about this that I think in part in the spirit of launching your own business and having an idea. I was at a market, a European co-production market where I raised money for a project and I loved the market. I just loved the forum so much. It really made sense to me. And it took place in Rotterdam every year. It was called CineMart and it was a really important event.
Wendy Braitman: And as I was flying home on the plane, I thought, “This thing is so awesome, I want to do something like this in the States.” There was nothing like it. And so I got the idea on the plane and within 11 months I had launched a forum that I took sort of the best practices from that event and we did it in San Francisco. We would invite filmmakers who had projects in development would apply. And we invited a certain amount of filmmakers every year, producers who had projects in development. And then we would invite executives who were financing films and put them all together. And it was just thrilling. And I got to connect, which I think is sort of part of the essence of what I do well. And I really loved it.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s interesting. It’s almost like I think of startups. And a lot of times startups will have demo days where they’ll say, “Hey, we’ve been working on this startup for three months and if you want to invest in it,” and there’s this big pool of wealthy investors who say, “Yes, we will invest in it,” or, “No we won’t.” And it’s interesting to think about the different industries that exist in like movies and producing movies and those need money as well, and can also get a return. And so it makes sense that that would exist. So how long was that period of time? How long were you working in that? And at what point did you know, hey, I want to myself think about taking the next step into a different career and different focus?
Wendy Braitman: Well, what got me into a different career was sort of a sad journey along the way. And I think that that’s important because we all go through challenging times and just knowing and not just a platitude that there could be light at the end of the tunnel. So I was recruited to do this project for the Discovery Channel and the American Film Institute to start this big initiative for them. And somewhere along the line, within the first year, they decided to relocate the position from Los Angeles to Discovery headquarters in Maryland.
Wendy Braitman: And I wasn’t able to move and so I was suddenly without work. And I hadn’t looked for a job in 20 years, I didn’t have a resume. I just botched it. I really didn’t know what I was doing and flailing around. And as I was going through this very difficult experience, I was a senior executive. I was what I thought was at the top of my career. And I was having a lot of difficulty connecting with a new job at my level. I started wishing that there was someone who could help guide me through the experience. And in those moments, the seeds were sown for me to become a coach. It took a couple of years and a random lunch when someone described coaching to me that I just had my light bulb moment.
Bjork Ostrom: Can you talk about that lunch?
Wendy Braitman: Yeah.
Bjork Ostrom: What was it that was that light bulb moment?
Wendy Braitman: I was in Santa Monica, California. We were having pasta bolognese, or at least I was. And part of my journey in looking for new opportunities was I had set a quota to have at least three meetings a week to explore and possibly make connections. And on this particular week, I was really struggling getting to the third meeting. And so I ended up just having a meeting with someone who couldn’t really get me a job, but he was a connector kind of person, and I just needed to meet my quota. And then he was doing some coaching training. It was just casual. It was random. And my heart started racing and I thought, “This is it.” And drove home from that lunch and my life changed.
Bjork Ostrom: So it’s interesting coaching is kind of this broad word that we can use. We had coaches in high school, if you ever were a part of sports or maybe theater, there’s a director, but they’re kind of coaching you on how to perform. If you’re a band nerd, choir nerd, like I was, you’ll have directors who are kind of coaching you. But it’s interesting in life where we have this season where we have coaches in very specific areas.
Bjork Ostrom: And we almost kind of age out of that to a point where we still need it, but we don’t have the structure for whatever reason to have those people in our lives. And coaching from a career perspective becomes really important because that’s one of the main focuses for us as adults, but we don’t have a coach. So lots of different types of coaches. Can you talk about when you’re referring to the word coaching, what does that mean in regards to how you work with people?
Wendy Braitman: Yeah. And I will say that when I first heard about coaching years before I became a coach, it sort of felt like smoke and mirrors to me and I wasn’t very drawn to it. And then once I started investigating it, I understood that it’s a very rigorous bit of core competencies. I’m a coach with the International Coaching Federation. I’m an accredited coach and it’s very specific.
Wendy Braitman: And it’s just a way of working with people to either optimize their performance or help them reach their goals and doing it by breaking kind of a morphous, vague goals into pieces that are achievable, actionable, then can get done. Really helping people clarify their vision. Not telling them what to do, but facilitating a process where they get to really maximize their goals and their performance.
Bjork Ostrom: I would love to focus in on that. It’s one of the things that is fascinating to me and I think a lot of people who follow along with the podcast can relate to this. I feel like a lot of times we’ll have these nebulous ambiguous goals where it’s like, we want to work for ourselves, or we want to have freedom and time, a job that doesn’t require us to go to the office from 8:00 to 5:00.
Bjork Ostrom: But actually breaking that down, moving towards that and achieving that becomes kind of hard because it’s hard for us to really pinpoint what that is. I think that’s one example of it. I think the other area is a lot of times we have a super specific goal. I want to get to, in our industry it’d be something like, 1 million page views a month. But that goal isn’t actually attached to anything meaningful. And so then we get there and then we just set another goal for no real reason and then we’re kind of on this goal treadmill.
Bjork Ostrom: With the clients that you work with, would you be able to fit people into like… as you’re starting out are different buckets that you see? Like people have really clear goals, but they can’t achieve them. People have goals, but they’re not the right goals or people just don’t have any goals at all. Or is it just a spectrum in terms of what you see?
Wendy Braitman: Well, I would say that not a right or a wrong goal and that’s certainly not my place to figure out. But when most people come to me, there’s some yearning, whether it’s they’re in a job that they hate and they want to move into another job or another field, or they’re in a business and they want to grow it and they have some specific ideas around that and want some guidance and accountability.
Wendy Braitman: When you talked about, if a goal was I wanted to get a million views per month, I mean I would put that on a Post-it and it would really intimidate me because what do I do with that? Where’s the actionable steps here? So part of what we do is I start with asking someone what’s the reason they picked up the phone or sent me an email that began this journey with me and clarifying again and again, getting more granular and more granular in terms of what they want to achieve and what are the steps, inch by inch by inch by inch by inch that get there.
Bjork Ostrom: Do you have an example of what that looks like? Because I’d imagine a little bit is peeling back the layers. Somebody will come with something and it’s like, okay, let’s get after that a little bit and kind of look at it from all the different angles. Any examples, real or real modified that you could share of what that process looks like when you first start working with somebody?
Wendy Braitman: Well, I’m tempted and you’ll have to be game for this is that we could do a little coaching demo and you could give me a scenario that’s real or you could pretend.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Wendy Braitman: And I could kind of show you.
Bjork Ostrom: Let’s do it. I love a live demo like this. And I think it’s most interesting if it’s real, so let’s do that.
Wendy Braitman: So you’re telling me what inspired you to… We’re play acting here a little bit. So tell me something that you really want to achieve that’s been a little challenging for you.
Bjork Ostrom: So one of the things I’m really excited about, an area that I love is when I get to play the role of advisor, brainstormer, ideator around ideas in businesses. And this is maybe a little bit longer than you would ask for, but I track that all the way back in middle school. It wasn’t a requirement, but every year I’d enter the inventor’s fair. I just loved coming up with ideas and thinking about how those might exist in the world. And the place that I found that best to invest in right now is things that exist online. I just really love that space. And whether that’d be a podcast or a membership site like Food Blogger Pro.
Bjork Ostrom: So one of the goals that I’m trying to figure out is how do I do that for other companies as an advisor, which has been really fun, and also with our own team to work together to create and implement new ideas and to find the right balance of seeing an idea and implementing and getting it to a point where it would grow and succeed with not getting too bogged down with the implementation of that idea on a detail level? I found the best place for me to live is at the idea and kind of zero to one stage versus the 60 miles an hour to 70 miles an hour, once the car is going full speed. That’s the fun part for me, zero to 60, getting an idea up and running. Does that answer the question?
Wendy Braitman: Well, I think you gave me a lot of information right there. And it seems like there are two aspects that you were talking about. And one was moving into working with different companies. And then the other was clarifying what phase that you like to get involved in projects and those seem like two different goals. And we want to take one first.
Bjork Ostrom: Got it.
Wendy Braitman: If I got a right.
Bjork Ostrom: You did. And I think that those two concepts which you summarized perfectly are kind of cousins in terms of how they’re related. So there’s one category where I’ve had the honor of being able to advise and be a part of some startups, but that’s from a distance. So that’s an hour every three weeks or trading emails back and forth to talk about what it looks like to implement a certain idea they’re doing or just providing feedback. So it scratches the same itch, but in a different way.
Bjork Ostrom: And then there’s the other category of the businesses that we get to work on. So we have multiple different businesses, and for people who listen to the podcasts would maybe be familiar, but to fill out the picture for you, Wendy. So there’s Food Blogger Pro, which is this group, this podcast, this audience. Pinch of Yum is a food and recipe site that my wife Lindsay runs. We have a WordPress plugins business called WP Tasty and nutrition site called Nutrifox.
Bjork Ostrom: And then we’re working on a new idea called Clarity, which is a tool to help publishers organize and understand their content. So what I’ve loved to do is work on these ideas and build these ideas and work with a team to give them life. The advising is one. The second part is kind of like advisor implementer. When I’m advising, I’m spending an hour a month or two hours a month. With these, I’m spending, let’s say 10 hours a week giving these ideas life and then working with a team to move those forward.
Bjork Ostrom: So point being, I really love standing those up, getting those running, putting a team behind them and almost like an incubator for startups. But instead of advising the startups who are unrelated, this is all kind of a family so we kind of view it as a family of startups. And we can focus on that latter piece if it’s helpful to have an area to focus on. And what I’m trying to do with our team at this point is figuring out how do we build this in a way where our team members feel confident to move forward and to implement ideas so it’s not me that’s implementing everything, but we’re working together to kind of build these things as a team.
Wendy Braitman: So I don’t know how far you want to get into the weeds in your story, because I want to make sure the audience-
Bjork Ostrom: Yes, totally.
Wendy Braitman: Just like their needs are totally being taken care of.
Bjork Ostrom: This is helpful Wendy. This is why I need a coach because it’s helpful for me to talk through this.
Wendy Braitman: And so what I would do is I would keep drilling down, down, down, down, down. And again, the more granular, the better, is to get to understand what it is that your most pressing part of this to work on first. Getting really clear on what it is. Because again, I get different things in here as you’re starting to describe it, now it seemed a little bit like delegating, just kind of drifted in there a bit. And so we would just kind of narrow it down so we could take one piece of it at a time. Understand if anything is getting in the way, what are the obstacles? And what’s one step, two steps, three steps that you could take once we really clarify what it is, one piece of it.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome. And I think that kind of gets at what I was talking about before and myself being an example where we’ve talked on the podcast before about this concept of the parent company that we formed tiny bit and tiny bit kind of being this startup incubator for this family of companies that we have. But what you’re saying is, great, you have this idea and this thing that you’re moving towards and working on.
Bjork Ostrom: But what does it look like to then understand that as the place you’re going to and building a plan against it that will help you get there? And I think a lot of people can relate to having that thing far off that they kind of understand they want to get there, but what we don’t have is the dots that connect it. And I think it was Mark Zuckerberg that talked about any complex problem can be solved by breaking it down into a thousand pieces and then taking micro action against that.
Bjork Ostrom: It ties into the name of our parent company TinyBit, which is getting a tiny bit better every day. But there’s also this idea of taking tiny action every day towards a broader goal. One of the questions that I have for you, Wendy, obviously working with a coach is super helpful to do that and facilitate it. Would you have any advice for people who are on their own, maybe they don’t have the finances to bring a coach in but they want to do something similar? How do you do that as an exercise on your own? Or do you need somebody to help facilitate it?
Wendy Braitman: Well, I am working on a book about career transition. And when I first thought about this idea, and a book is a big idea. And I knew just as a coach, okay, I have to break this idea into little small bits, tiny bits in order to make it happen because it’s way too intimidating to just say, “I want to write a book.” What does that mean?
Bjork Ostrom: Right.
Wendy Braitman: So I said to myself, “I’m a coach, just break it into small pieces and do one piece at a time.” And so the first piece that I decided for myself was that I was going to set aside 10 minutes a day to carve out. Because that felt like it wasn’t too scary, 10 minutes. I could find 10 minutes every day and work on this thing and just start spewing whatever was in my head about it. And it completely didn’t happen. And I’m a very self motivated person, but I totally couldn’t do it.
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, totally.
Wendy Braitman: And then I understood in my case, and in everyone’s case, I think, accountability is important. So whether it’s with a coach or a buddy, someone that you choose as your accountability person, I needed accountability because writing is hard and I have a very busy schedule, I was not setting the time to do it. And so ultimately I decided to take a writing workshop where I had to deliver material once a week and that completely changed the dynamic.
Wendy Braitman: So I do think that some of the basic tenants of what we’re talking about and sort of in that demo that you and I did together is clarifying what it is the first thing. And someone does it by sitting down and just doing bullets, just getting deeper and deeper and deeper into the granular. Because if it’s big and vague and amorphous, it’s hopeless, you don’t have enough guidance in terms of knowing what to do. Like, I want a million views on my site. That’s just not going to happen, how do you get there? What are different ways to get there and what would be the very first step to increasing your audience?
Bjork Ostrom: When you’re working with a client, how do you know that you’ve gotten to the place that you can stop? As you’re trying to peel back the layers, how do you know when you get to the place where it’s like, okay, now we’re there to understand at a specific level what that looks like?
Wendy Braitman: Well, when I work with people, by the end of every session, we have a series of action steps. So there you walk away with something very specific that you know are achievable, that you think are achievable, actionable steps that aren’t vague. It could be, I need to reach out to five people today. And in fact, when I talked earlier Bjork, about when I was looking in my job search that went so badly, I did know though one of the things to do was set a quota of how many people I wanted to reach out to, how many meetings I wanted to have in a week. And that kind of stuff is really important to help frame it so you don’t feel like you have to conquer the universe because we know we can’t do that. That you have to just conquer the next week by reaching out to 10 people, for example. So-
Bjork Ostrom: Or the next day sometimes. If you can break that down into, what am I going to do today, that’s so much more achievable than, how do I get to this overwhelming, huge goal? And you feel like you make no progress. Whereas if you break it down into those achievable steps, you can take those as little tasks, you can cross them off, you can move forward on it. And it almost shifts from, I need to get to this goal to, I’m working towards this goal, but what I need to do is the things that I’ve outlined for this week or this day. And that being, there’s a sense of relief, I would assume, that comes with setting achievable goals like that.
Wendy Braitman: And I work with people and particularly in this moment of difficulty where people have lost their jobs and looking for work, it’s just a painful process a lot of the time. It’s very out of control because there are a lot of pieces of it that you can’t control.
Bjork Ostrom: Right.
Wendy Braitman: And so the one thing that you can control in this process is you set goals for yourself every week. The big kahuna, the big goal, the big marker for success is landing a job. But if that was how we had the whole thing set up, it would be just heartbreaking week after week as you’re waiting for that thing to happen.
Bjork Ostrom: Right.
Wendy Braitman: So what you do instead, and this is the case with any big thing you’re trying to achieve, is you set it up, okay, what do I want to get done this week? I mean, maybe you can break it down into this day, it just depends on the framework that works best for you.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Wendy Braitman: But break it down and have the success. Be, “Okay. I did these steps this week, I had a good week. Now I get to take a day off.” And create some boundaries around your goals and your tasks so you get to celebrate your successes along the way.
Bjork Ostrom: One of the things that you talk about is that idea of accountability. And we hear that within the members that we work with like, I have these things that I’m working towards and I feel like I’m tripping up along the way, I wish that I had some accountability. How do you go about setting up systems to keep you accountable? Because it’s almost like sometimes we have an accountability group, but I feel like you need a person within an accountability group who doesn’t need an accountability group to keep the group accountable, to continue to meet. How do you successfully set up a system of accountability if you’re on your own and you’re working towards a big goal and setting up some of these daily or weekly goals?
Wendy Braitman: Well, you talked about… I run a couple of mastermind groups and we do metrics in each group. And yeah, they commit to doing this group for six weeks, an hour a week. And part of each one of these sessions is we’re talking about… And I’m just facilitating, I’m not coaching.
Bjork Ostrom: Sure.
Wendy Braitman: So they’re working with each other, I’m just making sure the trains run on time. Is we ask at the end of every group, how many hours they want to commit to doing whatever it is that they said they’re working on and how many people they want to reach out to, because that’s so critical in a job search. And then the third would be a stretch goal of something that maybe isn’t exactly they know is achievable, but they’re going to kind of work towards it. And so anyone can set that up. I mean, I think it works if you can have a little bit of energy, two people maybe isn’t enough. But yeah, you can… And that’s free. Everyone’s got to make a commitment to do it for a certain amount of time. It’s not a one off because you have to say, “Okay, did I get this done? I’m going to have to talk about it with the group.” So and-
Bjork Ostrom: It’s been a while, but we’ve talked about this concept of masterminds in a group of people that you can meet with that are you’re all working towards a goal. If somebody is not familiar with that, could you give kind of spark notes overview of what that looks like and how you can do those successfully, if you do find group of people that you want to meet with and have a mastermind group?
Wendy Braitman: Well, I just think these days we’re so now used to having these Zoom calls and it makes it really easy to connect with disparate people, no matter where you live. We’re sort of really set up now, we have our tools ready to go for doing this. And you bring together a group of people. I think six is a good number, it just has kind of enough dynamic energy to it, six to eight, more than that, there’s too many people to try to talk.
Wendy Braitman: I think under six just maybe could be a little flat. But commit to a timeframe of same time every week. I think six weeks is good amount to say you can commit to, it’s not too much. And bring people together. Their goals don’t have to be exactly the same, but they want to work on something. And they want to be able to have to talk about it, present what they’ve done during the week. And it is just a huge difference and it doesn’t cost any money.
Bjork Ostrom: Do you have a set schedule that you follow for each one and one that you’d recommend if people want to get started?
Wendy Braitman: Set schedule in terms of what happens in each session?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah. Or an outline of things that you do each time. My guess is it’s not just like everybody shows up and they just chat. There’s probably some type of like everybody does an update and then everybody does a goal or what are the things that you cover in a meeting that you’d recommend covering?
Wendy Braitman: I think challenges and highlights. That’s what I like to start with, something that went really well this week. And it can be related to the goal or not, but I like to start with something particularly these days, these challenging times, I like to hear some good stories. But then challenges, and it always ends with a metric of what you’re going to commit you for the following week. But yeah, there’s a report back. And people who are having a challenging time with something that they’re trying to get to and wanting the group’s masterminds, the brain trust of the crew really helping them sort through with maybe some ideas, best practices.
Bjork Ostrom: It’s interesting. One of the things that you’ve mentioned a few different times is how important it is to connect with other people. And whether that be in a group setting like this or individually, but just setting goals or building a system around consistently connecting with other people. And I was reflecting on that this week and the week before as I was looking at some of the calls that I had, some of the opportunities that would potentially come from those calls and also just realistically the friendships and connections, which I think when you distill everything down at its core, it’s who we get to be with and our connection to those people, business or not related to that.
Bjork Ostrom: But speaking strictly in the business sense, I think as I was looking at my calendar, it’s like, a lot of these are people that I’ve either intentionally reached out to them and connected or they’ve reached out to me and connected. I think of a friend here in the Twin Cities who runs a company called Quiet Light Brokerage. I saw he was in the Twin Cities and he brokers deals for businesses.
Bjork Ostrom: So I reached out and I said, “Hey, I noticed you’re in the Twin Cities. I would love to connect.” And just how valuable, personally and professionally, those connections are. For people who are kind of intimidated by the idea of reaching out to people, what would your advice be in order to ease that burden or that fear that they have in trying to connect? I think the eye roll word would be networking, but I think at its core, it’s just connecting with people. How do people do that?
Wendy Braitman: So I work with a lot of people who call themselves introverts. And when I say the N word of networking, they really freak out.
Bjork Ostrom: Totally.
Wendy Braitman: And so yeah, I mean maybe the word is just such a kind of… it’s so tainted.
Bjork Ostrom: Worn out or used out.
Wendy Braitman: So it’s connecting with people and you do it one person at a time. And you do it, I know this is kind of corny, but like exercise programs. You got to do an exercise program, you’re going to do as opposed to one that maybe is a good idea but you’re not going to go near. And just as an example, I’m someone who’s kind of a natural connector. It comes easily to me. However, I have my limits and the idea of, for example, walking into a room where everyone has name tags, and I don’t know anyone, I hate that.
Wendy Braitman: So I don’t put myself in that situation very often. And if I did, I would set a very tangible goal for that situation. For example, if I was in that setting, which is not my favorite, I would say, I’m going to hand out two business cards and then I get to leave, then I get to go home, or I’m going to talk to two people and then I’m out of here. So we’ve talked about metrics before and the importance of metrics again is because you don’t have to feel like you have to conquer the universe, but just one small piece.
Wendy Braitman: And networking or whatever we want to call it, connecting with other people is, depending on what you want to do, often a really important aspect. And so it can start with just one person and it can start with a person that you feel relatively safe with. So you can tell your story and you don’t have to worry if you get it right where you’re comfortable and then you build from there. And from that person, maybe you get another person.
Wendy Braitman: The very act of telling our story, I mean, and this is, I think part of where networking is useful in a way that would be surprising is just saying who we are is clarifying. We learn stuff just from saying out loud, telling our story to people. So you just do it one person at a time. And there are just many ways to really build a network even if the idea that right now sounds horrifying.
Bjork Ostrom: One of the things that I’ve found to be really helpful as I go into connecting with somebody is the easiest way for me to do that, and it’s probably different for everybody is I just love asking questions about other people. So it’s almost a flip of learning somebody else’s story, learning what their needs are. And a lot of times, one of my favorite things to do is as I’m connecting with somebody then to connect them with other people. And it’s a Malcolm Gladwell book, I forget which one it is, Tipping Point, or… it was years and years ago that I read but he had a name for people who do this.
Bjork Ostrom: And that’s where I started to think about like, hey, what a cool skill to be able to not only connect with other people, but then connect those people that you’ve connected together? And it’s kind of been an unlock for me as I think about meeting with people is to not lead with any of the things that I need, but to do whatever I can to learn somebody else’s story and to figure out how I can help them even proactively if I’m not searching out some solution.
Bjork Ostrom: Do you have a thought on that in terms of the balance between ask versus give in those initial connections? Because it seems like sometimes the people you’re working with might be in a position where they’re actively moving towards something and do kind of have a need that they need to accomplish. So what does it look like to balance that when you are making these connections?
Wendy Braitman: Such a great question. There’s a book called The 20‑Minute Networking Meeting and you want to tell your story but people love to talk about themselves. And actually for people who are really sort of anxious about getting out there, that’s the thing to always have in your back pocket, is that if you can get people talking about themselves, they usually really appreciate it. But you do want it to be a give and take and you do want to make sure that in these kinds of connections that you’re seeing what you can do for them. And a lot of that is really listening and being as present as you can, even if maybe you’re anxious about it, but trying to listen to see what are the ways that you could be helpful for them. And that would be a part of it so it’s a two way street.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. My wife, Lindsay, and I just moved into a new neighborhood and so we’re starting to learn all the neighbors and their stories. And one of the things that I’m trying to do is to keep track of those. And even with my friends, close friends or tier two friends, whatever that means, friends I don’t see as often, I found it really helpful to have a little log of their stories.
Bjork Ostrom: I have started to use a tool called Notion, which is kind of a tracking tool that’s kind of the hot tool of the minute. But do you have any recommendations for people in terms of you go out, you make these connections, you are starting to learn about people and inevitably you’re going to forget some of that stuff. Should you be documenting it? What does that look like after in order to kind of build on that to make sure that you retain some of the notes and the information that you have? Do you have a favorite tool for it?
Wendy Braitman: No one’s going to like my tool. I’m so old fashioned. And so it’s just…
Bjork Ostrom: I think that’s the best thing sometimes.
Wendy Braitman: I’m into a 3-ring binder.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s what I’m getting at. Even for that, I think 50% of the people here are going to be like, “Thank you for not recommending another software tool that I need to use.” But is that something that you do or you will keep track of, like you’ll jot down some notes? Do you refer back to those next time you meet with that person? How do you intentionally approach those connections, I guess is part of it? Whether that be an analog, digital, or mindset when you are connecting with people.
Wendy Braitman: I want to just circle back. I’m going to answer your question and I want to circle back to something that we talked about earlier, which is at the beginning, it’s the idea of, just say you want to get a million page views. And so when I first started, when I was still in my coaching training and I was so focused once I finally figured out this is what I wanted to do and I got my hours really quickly, I got my accreditation really quickly. And part of how I did it was I had a Post-it and I broke it into goals.
Wendy Braitman: I knew how many hours I needed to get my first level of accreditation. And I broke it into, just let’s say I needed a hundred hours, how many hours I needed to get every month for the next four months in order to achieve that as I was in my training. And I had it on a Post-it. And just say, I needed to get 20 the first month, which in the beginning was really a lot, how was I going to achieve that 20?
Wendy Braitman: And so I had a book where I wrote down all the possible clients that I could get. And then I had a separate group for what I think you’re referring to, or the connector people. I mean, a separate tab for people who are not only someone I could connect to, but someone who were those people who know lots of people. And I would just keep track of it. But people create spreadsheets, there is kind of an online tool that you use.
Wendy Braitman: But I wanted to bring it back to just this idea of how to take these big things, and I repeat this again and again, and make it into small pieces. I knew if I was going to hit my hours of coaching in order to get my accreditation, I had to take this big thing of how many, which seemed like so huge when I first started, but saying, “Okay, well, what do I need to get to this month?” And if I need to get to 20, who are the people that are going to help me get there?
Bjork Ostrom: Yeah, that’s great. And I think that takeaway there is whether it be a career change, whether it be a goal that you have within your business, naming that, understanding it, breaking that down. And then the other key piece that you talked about is building in some accountability to that to make sure that you’re actually moving on those on a week to week basis, which I think is great.
Bjork Ostrom: One of the last questions that I have for you as we wrap up is we’re in a very unique season of life, very unique season of business, very unique season for careers. Some of us have lost jobs, maybe have been cut back, furloughed. Maybe we’ve built a business and we’re seeing that kind of recess back a little bit. What would your advice be for people who are cautious and nervous, and maybe there’s a little bit of fear as it relates to career and they want to pursue this job that they love, but just thankful to have a job at this point? Do you still encourage people to move forward on it or is there a little level or a little element of cautiously moving forward in a way that maybe wouldn’t have been the same three months ago?
Wendy Braitman: Yeah. Well, there are some realities of the job market right now. A lot of people are out of work, unprecedented amount of people are out of work and that’s a gravity issue. And companies have contracted. And that’s true too. I look towards the expansion. And so I really think about where are the areas given our current situation that we’re in that maybe will last a year or whatever until things really dramatically change, where’s the growth? And then how can I tap into the growth?
Wendy Braitman: I mean, I think for example, in terms of content and in my former industry, the film industry, the entertainment industry really took a hit. But one thing that didn’t take a hit was content. Everyone at home, people are just so absorbed by content, people cooking and really wanting to get recipes. And so just having to just dial into the moment. And I think this is true, it’s so dramatic now, but whatever, of really paying attention to where the growth opportunities are and how you can fit in.
Wendy Braitman: And I do think sometimes moments like this, being an entrepreneur is a really interesting choice. It’s always difficult, but maybe getting hired in a traditional way is not going to happen. So how can I plug my idea into what the realities of the marketplace are, where the needs are? Who’s expanding, whether it’s distance learning, content, delivery of goods, virtual meetings?
Bjork Ostrom: That’s great. I love the idea of visualizing if you align. And if that’s the economy or jobs or career, it’s not the line that you’re looking at that’s running horizontal that it all goes down. There are certain areas that go down for sure. Movies being an example, not a great time to have a movie theater. But there are other areas where that line goes up and there is opportunity in, there is growth.
Bjork Ostrom: And I think that’s a great reminder, not across the board, but there are those areas of opportunity. And for a lot of people, this might be a chance for them to lean into that. We know friends and have connections who lost their job and they’re saying, “Okay, this is a reality and what do I do with this for the next few months? For the foreseeable future I’m going to pursue my career is an entrepreneur.”
Bjork Ostrom: So there is that growth opportunity and I think that’s a great note to wrap up on and to focus on. But I know that there’s going to be people, Wendy, who will have more thoughts, will have more questions, who will be interested in potentially working with you. What’s the best way to connect with you if people want to continue the conversation and potentially work together?
Wendy Braitman: My website is Love Your Next Career. So if you go to Love Your Next Career you’ll find me.
Bjork Ostrom: Awesome. Great. We’ll link to that in the show notes as well. Any last thoughts, Wendy, that you have for people who are listening? A little bit of encouragement in a tough season or anything else that you want to share as we wrap up the podcast today?
Wendy Braitman: I went through a really dark time when I lost my job and I am now the poster girl, the poster woman for reinvention is possible. And I completely changed industries and against the odds made it happen. And I did it by setting these goals, having accountability, doing it step-by-step, and most of all, believing that it’s possible.
Bjork Ostrom: That’s awesome and a great note to wrap up on. Wendy, thanks so much for coming on the podcast, really appreciate it.
Wendy Braitman: It’s my pleasure. Thank you.
Alexa Peduzzi: And that’s a wrap on this week’s episode of the Food Blogger Pro podcast. We hope this episode with Wendy was able to give you some confidence and some direction when it comes to achieving your career goals. If you have any takeaways from this episode, we would love to hear them in the comments of the show notes for this episode at foodbloggerpro.com/256. Or you can leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or email us at [email protected] Thank you so much for listening this week. We love this podcast and the Food Blogger Pro podcast community and we’re just so thankful that you are a part of it. So from all of us here at FBP HQ, make it a great week.