On this week’s episode, I have AJ Mizes, who left his job at Facebook in San Francisco as a Global People & HR Leader to start his company The Human Reach in the middle of the pandemic (talk about taking risks).

AJ is a Career & Leadership Coach & HR Consultant and reached out to me as he loved some of the episodes on the Burn From Within show and he shared so many practical tips from real experience in his own career (the good stuff he gives to his own clients), I had to share them with you all.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How to land jobs that on paper you are not fully qualified or have the experience for
  • 3 solid tips to prepare for your interview to get hired
  • Top ideas to consider for a career change
  • How to improve fulfillment in your current job before having to quit
  • Improving your chances of promotion dramatically by deciding on one of three buckets for your career growth
  • How can people at smaller organisations get their managers to take their career progression more seriously rather than just keeping their head down and getting tasks done?
  • How can you work more effectively when remote working and make it actually work?
  • How can you communicate with your employer to create more balance when you feel you need more time for your family or other things in your life?
  • What’s the one thing that’s made AJ Mizes burn from within?

Resources:

  1. Register for AJ Mizes’ awesome free weekly web class here
  2. Connect with AJ via his company at The Human Reach here and his LinkedIn profile here
  3. Check out the Burn From Within episode I discussed at the end called The Guide To Making Big Decision With No Regrets if you want to learn about taking regrets with no regrets here

Transciption:

[00:02:00] Matt Garrow-Fisher: [00:02:00] I read about your journey of applying for a general manager position in a company where you didn’t on paper, have the skills for that role, how did you actually prove to that employer? Even though you didn’t have the qualifications or the experience on paper, that you were the right person for the job,

[00:02:20]AJ Mizes: [00:02:20] That was a wild story. And essentially I graduated in literally the worst time that you could ever graduate in the recession of 2009.

[00:02:30] It doesn’t make the mess in time. So there weren’t too many jobs out there for new college grads like myself. Yeah, it was rough. And I had a degree in organizational communication, so I was working, I wanted to work in HR or, internal comms, something along those lines. And there were no jobs for new grads at that point.

[00:02:49] So I went into my first job out of college was a sales job working in a hospitality company. And my job was to sell really high priced memberships to the wealthy, on to these different luxury. What we call sports resorts. And I’m not a very athletic person, but I do enjoy, I enjoy the social elements of the different properties.

[00:03:14] And I had also worked in sales during college as well. So I went into this role and I started working in sales and it just didn’t click with me. I was at the top of the leader board. I was making sales. I was getting recognized for. Having great skills and, in this area, but it just wasn’t fulfilling.

[00:03:33] Like I would start every week, every month, really. With this pit in my stomach that I had to start at zero every month and just this, the sales mentality just wasn’t my jam. It wasn’t motivating, it was anxiety inducing. And so I knew something had to change. And so about six months into that role.

[00:03:51] The assistant general manager of the property that I worked at left. He went to go work for a finance company. And so it was open. And so I went to the VP of the property and I applied for the role and I had zero experience. I’d never run this. This property is like a multi-million dollar a year revenue, 500 associates had been there since the seventies.

[00:04:14] Like I had no experience doing any of that stuff, but. What I did have was passion and leadership experience. And so in my pitch or in my interview to the VP, I put together a whole, here’s what I would do in my first 30 days. Here’s what I would do in my first 60 days. And here’s what I would do in my first 90 days.

[00:04:36] And I had creative ideas that the property had never seen before. I talked about a leadership development program. I talked about how I eventually want it to be known for. Having the best service out of the nine properties on the Western seaboard. And here’s how I was going to do it. And she said, you know what, I’m taking a really big gamble, really big risk right now, but you got the job and do it, but let’s see you do it.

[00:05:00] And so I I left the office. I remember like going downstairs and like going outside and like crying tears of joy that I had gotten this opportunity. And also this realization that here’s where the work starts. You’ve got to actually do what you said you’re gonna do. And I did it and I started in this new job.

[00:05:20] I was responsible for hundreds of associates both in front of the house and back of the house. And we put on fashion shows for our guests. And we turned our front desk into the model of what then the company wanted to emulate across all nine properties. So then from that role, I moved into a training and development role where I traveled to all nine properties, teaching those properties to do exactly what I did in the first and then I guess in the next year.

[00:05:48]It was. Oh, huge learning curve. I worked my butt off I’m in hospitality. You work every day, right? Especially on weekends and things like that. All my friends were working in nine to five, Monday through Friday jobs. But it taught me a lot about creativity, perseverance. It also taught me a lot about leadership and that VP that I met with that gave me a shot.

[00:06:08] So the big kind of ethos that I’ve built my career around and now the human reach is. Yes. Experience is important, but what’s more important are experiences. And how do you parlay those experiences in your career to be relevant to the job that you’re applying for to give people confidence?

[00:06:29] Matt Garrow-Fisher: [00:06:29] I love that.

[00:06:30] Yeah. And I really, I relate to it. I, I. When I got out of college, the job market, as well as a similar time to you and I, the job market, wasn’t great. And I really wanted to be a conference producer, actually, that was one of my dream jobs. And there was a certain company that I really wanted to work for when I went through these graduate recruitment fairs.

[00:06:49] And unfortunately I didn’t get the grades that they wanted. And and so I did some temp work and I literally, I was so passionate about getting this job because I really wanted it. And I failed on all these different interviews for all the competitors, just to learn everything about the industry.

[00:07:02]And then I went to a, another recruitment fair, and I just, one of the employers there and just fold them over with my passion and said, look, I don’t have the grades, but look, this is what I do have dependent and to dim. And she, again, she was like, just like you, she was bowled over. She’s I’m going to give you an interview.

[00:07:19]And then, yeah, I think I had, there was a kind of group assessment with 50 people and I was the only one that, that, that got the job, but it was the passion. It was the determination. Even though you didn’t have the qualifications or the experience, you can do it. If you. If you speak to the right people and and you research what you need to do, and then you’re passionate as well.

[00:07:39] And sometimes that does, that wins over jobs and it also wins that if you’re starting a business, it can win over investors. It can win over partners or all that kind of stuff. Passion really does count.

[00:07:49] Let’s fast forward to Facebook, you, you were a people manager at Facebook What did you notice like applications of people that didn’t necessarily have qualifications, but they had that spark of passion that impressed people to recruit.

[00:08:06] AJ Mizes: [00:08:06] Yes, I did. And I think, there we, at big companies, we call them BQs or basic qualifications.

[00:08:14] So sometimes you have to meet those. That might be like a degree or a certain number of years of experience. But what you’ll notice on some of these jobs groups, not just Facebook, but Google, Microsoft, Amazon. I All the Fang companies is that they’ll say they’ll keep it pretty broad. So let’s say yeah, you need 10 years of.

[00:08:31] HR of leadership experience or something equivalent. So they there’s a little bit of wiggle room. And so really what the difference maker was. W was becoming a referral to those companies and, or having an optimized LinkedIn profile so that people would reach out. So Facebook in particular has a really robust recruiting team.

[00:08:54] It’s like thousands of people. And they, they. Are great at reaching out to folks. In fact, that’s how I got into Facebook. Someone reached out to me, they heard, I was looking and I I went to go interview there, but it was because I had my LinkedIn profile optimized that they were even able to find me that I was saying the right things on my profile so that they, I looked like an attractive candidate.

[00:09:14] And then it was about me, of course, nailing the interview and getting the, in, getting an offer. But what the Forbes is recently was quoted saying that 80% of the job market gets their jobs through referrals. So that means that only 20%. Are happening through applications and you probably know this too.

[00:09:31]Most people try to find work by applying and spending their time, applying to jobs over and over again. And yes, that can work, but the more effective ways becoming a referral.

[00:09:41]Matt Garrow-Fisher: [00:09:41] Yeah. And that brings me onto my question about how do you become a referral? What is the way to network?

[00:09:47]Do you just have to be lucky and maybe your dad or your best friend works for one of these companies or is there like a systematic approach that you can take and take control of that?

[00:10:00] AJ Mizes: [00:10:00] A hundred percent. Yes. There absolutely is a system that you can take advantage of. And my favorite phrase that I talked to my clients, maybe you tell your clients as to is results trail action.

[00:10:10] And so you have to spend a lot of time. Developing your network and reaching out to your network. And this does not mean what this does not mean is asking them for jobs is going out. Hey, do you know any openings or do you know any of anybody that’s hiring? Are you hiring right now, right? No. That’s not networking.

[00:10:27]And so I really think about networking is creating like a bank. And this bank is something that you deposit into multiple times so that when you need to withdraw something, you have some funds in the bank. And so by depositing a what I mean is having conversations. That are genuine, real and connected.

[00:10:49] And so asking them about what’s going on in their life for what it’s like working at their company or what advice they would give you in your career, if you’re considering making a change, but interviewing them about them. And not asking for anything in return. And then the law of reciprocity kicks in eventually.

[00:11:07] And sometimes that leads to a job more often than not, but it’s a numbers game. And so you have to have multiple of these conversations to get that bank quite full.

[00:11:17] Matt Garrow-Fisher: [00:11:17] Yeah. W I lost the last podcast though, put out with a fellow coach, if you own a reef, we talked about prototyping conversations. Particularly for people that are looking, they’re not sure of companies to work for, maybe not even sure about career.

[00:11:34]Having conversations with people that you’re interested in. So it might be, Ooh, hang on. There’s a HR manager there at Facebook. I think Facebook might be a cool company to work for. And, I’ve got some experience in HR. I don’t really know if it’s the right company for me. So before even applying actually get to know what the job is like asking what is the in your day, like I’m really interested in your job.

[00:11:57] Like what’s the typical way into that kind of career? I’m not saying I’m ready yet, and I’m definitely not looking for a job right now, but I’m really interested in your profile and, I’d just love to get some advice. If you’re in my shoes and nine times out of 10 not nine times out of 10, but the majority of the time people are flattered to be asked, for their advice and their experience.

[00:12:17]

[00:12:17] AJ Mizes: [00:12:17] Yeah. Absolutely. And if you think about it, especially for career changers out there, there’s a lot of questions that we have over changing a career. And and that’s, sometimes those questions can sometimes lead to so paralysis. We don’t actually move because we’re like, Oh, I don’t know anything about that.

[00:12:30] I don’t know how much money I would make. I don’t know how happy I would be. And so that leads to people actually not pursuing what their strengths are and to work in their strengths. And so I, I, a lot of times when I’m working with clients, it’s like what questions do you have about, I’ve I have a client right now who is working in sales and wants to work in health and fitness.

[00:12:47] And so I was like what questions do you have? If you could ask somebody, wave a magic wand, imagine, the answers to some of these questions that you have, what would they be? What would be, how much income can I have? How did you get started? How did you, how do you build a brand? Is it better to work for yourself or to work for health and company first, before going out on your own?

[00:13:02] And I said, okay, awesome. Who are three people that you could ask that question to. And so that then helps inform and give you a really nice sense of direction. Hey, do you want to pursue it? And B do you like what you hear? And so I, yes, I totally loved the strategy.

[00:13:18] Matt Garrow-Fisher: [00:13:18] Yeah. And to answer that, obviously, you can read out about these kinds of things, these jobs, and go on online forums, but there’s something about a felt experience of actually having a human connection and, reading people’s emotions, unconsciously of ah, this guy’s really cool or Oh, I really understand what did that conversation really meant something to me.

[00:13:38]It’s a different experience to actually speaking to someone rather than reading a book about it or a blog. For sure. Let’s talk a little bit about the market right now. I You’ve, you’re in career search. And you also career coach as well at the Human  .

[00:13:52] And  you started your company. During the pandemic. Is that right? Like when you founded it,

[00:13:59] AJ Mizes: [00:13:59] call me crazy. I did crazy, man.

[00:14:04] Matt Garrow-Fisher: [00:14:04] So what were the challenges from your own personal experience in founding. Company is particularly around kind of career recruitment and career coaching during a pandemic.

[00:14:16]What have you noticed in terms of trends and demands from clients during this pandemic versus what life was like at Facebook? For example, when you’re a people manager.

[00:14:30] AJ Mizes: [00:14:30] So the first thing that I want to say is Facebook was the best place that I ever worked. It was an incredible place, the best people, incredibly intelligent and smart and kind and thoughtful.

[00:14:41] And it was the hardest decision. To make it in terms of leaving Facebook. I felt like I had quote unquote made it when I got to Facebook and I was there for four years and I would say in the last year or so, I started getting the itch to go on my own and do executive leadership team development, coaching, fractional HR stuff.

[00:15:02] So that was the original Genesis for the human reach was to focus on executive leadership coaching and. HR consulting. And I saw this huge need in March of 2020, when the coronavirus hit, people were losing their jobs left and right. Companies were still hiring. Yes, it was not maybe as much as it was pre pandemic, but companies were still hiring.

[00:15:28] And so what I was seeing is like my friends, my coworkers, what ha what have you just. Fail at finding jobs. And so I was like, there is this whole market out there. There’s this, of where I can help. I know how this is done. I know I can have people land jobs if they just knew some of these tips or tricks or these secrets that I’ve learned over the last 12 years.

[00:15:50] And so I put together another offering for career coaching. I call it career amp and it took off like wildfire. When I started in October, it was like, it was 50% or more of my. Company. And so I really saw that it was a huge need. And so that’s really what I’ve been focusing. A lot of my time, I do still do executive coaching.

[00:16:10] I have a lot of HR consulting clients as well, but the career strategy and career coaching aspect of my business is super fun. And it’s and it’s great. I will tell you though. When I started my business in October, it was the scariest f-ing decision that I had ever made. I was scared shitless.

[00:16:28]October, November and December, specifically were really scary. Because as I was leaving a nine to five, if you will, a consistent income and a company where I had generated a lot of. Rapport and notoriety. And I was a subject matter expert and going off and doing something on my own with no guarantees of anything.

[00:16:50] And I really had to do that a lot of work within myself. I’m still doing it to this day. Matter of fact, on, on mindset and focusing on the now versus looking all the way to Zed and understanding that. I’m new at this, and I need to give myself permission. I need to celebrate the small wins. And I and just celebrate period.

[00:17:13] Like I think, we have a tendency as entrepreneurs, or as business owners to focus on everything that we need to fix versus The one eating it and looking at things that, Oh my God, I can’t believe I did this. Or this is a new record that I have, or this is an, a client success story that I’m just so proud of and it’s meaningful.

[00:17:27]And then in January I started seeing a lot of my clients start to get jobs. And and I remember this one client who got a job and I just was crying because I was just so happy. I was like, wow, this is, this working and I’m so fulfilled. And and that kind of gave me the motivation to keep going.

[00:17:47] But yeah, I’m what States I’ll end in February. So I’m five months in and it’s been a wild ride.

[00:17:53]Matt Garrow-Fisher: [00:17:53] And that’s awesome that, you’ve started during a pandemic and but things are working out really well. Obviously, you’re like any business you’re learning as you’re going, but really thrilled.

[00:18:04] And you’ve got some incredible. Incredible clients as well. And you’re on your list. I think working with companies like Pixar and Adobe and Amazon as clients how, like really impressive, like how did you do that so quickly?

[00:18:19] AJ Mizes: [00:18:19] So I’ll, so those companies are both places that I work with as in HR consulting.

[00:18:24] And then also one of my clients are working so my career strategy or clients that are working I would say it’s a lot, 80% of my business so far has been referrals. So people who knew me and, knew someone who knew somebody and knew that I was going off on my own.

[00:18:38]So I think. I think the biggest lesson that I’ve learned is that you have to scream from the rooftops about what you’re doing and who you can help. And that’s where I saw a lot of, their businesses fall short is that they just weren’t saying enough of what they were doing or who they were helping.

[00:18:54]And it’s, it was really uncomfortable for me because I’m not one that like, I didn’t, despite working at Facebook, I wasn’t really super duper active on social media. I didn’t talk about myself too much unless I was like on vacation or something. And so moving from this phase of using social media for social media, too.

[00:19:15] Using it as a means to tell people what I was doing was really uncomfortable. And so I had to move to this place of being really comfortable, putting myself out there, being super-duper vulnerable and then seeing what happened. And it turns out it’s working. I’m very grateful for my network, but yeah, it’s been a ride.

[00:19:31]Matt Garrow-Fisher: [00:19:31] You mentioned earlier about your career ramp program and and you’ve really been getting real success and fulfillment   getting  people hired essentially. Without going into the inner details. Is there any Kind of top tips that our listeners could start to use from your experience, whether that’s in your career art program or just from your own experience on how to actually increase their chances of landing a job in this kind of, a lot of people would assume difficult time during COVID.

[00:20:05] AJ Mizes: [00:20:05] So one of the top things that are patterns that I’m noticing with clients right now is interview technique and how they’re showing up to interviews. Typically, there’s tons of free resources out there that help you with resumes and, your LinkedIn profiles and all that stuff. And even then sometimes you need help and guidance.

[00:20:21] And so that’s its own bucket. But interview technique is where I’m seeing a lot of candidates fall flat. And one of my top tips in terms of interviewing is making sure that when you are preparing to interview, you are prepared to answer three types of questions and prepared, meaning that you have actually written notes and practice answering these questions, not just.

[00:20:46] Thought about it, but you’re actually putting pen to paper and thinking about it. So the three types of questions are your exit statement. So your exit statement is the answer to why are you looking for a new job right now? You have to have a really well rehearsed answer. To that question in terms of, if you were laid off, how do you tell that story?

[00:21:07] If you were terminated, how you tell that story, if you’re currently working in looking to change companies, how do you tell that story? And how has that tied back to the opportunity? So not just a personal selfish reason, but how do you tie that back to the company that you want to work for? The second type of question that I see people not prepare for is.

[00:21:26] Your positioning statement. Your positioning statement is the answer to tell me about yourself, which most people fear, but tell me about yourself is actually an amazing opportunity to tell employers who you are so that they don’t come up with that for you. So you, so how do you tell people who you are, the types of companies that you’ve worked for, the type of experiences that you have in your top three skills and strengths.

[00:21:50] And then the third question that you need to have. Answers for are the behavioral interview questions, which are, tell me about a time when, or what would you do if and having a list or what I refer to as a library of those types of stories so that you’re able to pick and choose depending on what the question is.

[00:22:11] And what I tell people is that you should have at least 5 to 10 of those stories in your back pocket.

[00:22:18] Matt Garrow-Fisher: [00:22:18] Pretty solid tips. I love it. That’s a kind of pretty awesome glimpse into how some of your programs are actually pretty effective, to be honest. Okay. In terms of career change in particular you mentioned earlier that you have a client that’s going through that.

[00:22:34] I think they worked in sales, you said, and they’re looking to get into. Health and health and fitness. How, do you advise clients to approach career change?  Is there a kind of process you started to talk about the process of actual speaking to people in that sector and uncovering ideas.

[00:22:52]What are the kind of steps in the process are important? Do you think for someone that’s looking for career change?

[00:23:01] AJ Mizes: [00:23:01] So it’s important to talk about two things. One is. And then I feel like it’s such a cliche word, but one is mindset or your approach, I would say. And so mindset, meaning identifying where you might have been, paralyzed in terms of moving forward and why that has prevented you from moving forward.

[00:23:17] So really having honest conversations with you or with your coach or with your mentor or whatever about what’s preventing you from taking a step. forward And then I think it’s really easy to get caught up in a, to Z when really all you need to be thinking about is A to B. And what I mean by that is thinking about, okay.

[00:23:36] Instead of thinking about end goal, that’s great. That’s amazing to have an end goal, but what does one step closer to that end goal look like? Just one step and that way. You’re able just to chunk it up into smaller steps and accomplish things. So for instance, when we were talking about having conversations with health coaches, right?

[00:23:54] That’s one step, that’s just one step further, and then we have that step. What is one step closer look like? What does one step closer to look like? So that would be my second piece of advice. And then the third piece of advice is even if you like, you’re in a role and you it’s just not jiving, it’s not making your feet tingle.

[00:24:08] When you wake up in the morning, there’s lots of things that you can do to identify. A general direction or start to think about other ideas. So the first thing is to think about where D where does time get lost? Where do you stop looking at the clock in your current job? That is a really good clue as to what you love doing another, and this is one of my favorite things to do with clients is to go back and talk about what you’d love to doing as a kid.

[00:24:35]What brought you joy? What did you do with your friends? What did you do when you weren’t doing school or maybe it was school, maybe that was something that you love doing and seeing how that. Clue ties into what you get lost in doing now. And so for instance I’ll give you one of mine.

[00:24:50] So I was a a big guy when I was in my younger years. So I loved performing on stage and singing and putting on shows. That’s what I love doing and in my job as let’s just we’ll take my people HR leader role at Facebook, I loved putting together. Training programs, workshops li one of the things that I developed at Facebook was this thing called leader launch, which was this whole thing where we bring managers through, and it was in person training and onboarding and a whole bunch of other cool stuff.

[00:25:22] Speaking skills. And that’s where I got myself less. So if you look at the clue, being on stage, being in front of people, putting on a program, very similar to what I loved doing as a kid. And that’s really was the jumping off point for why I decided I wanted to go do this full time because I wanted to be more in that, play more in that space.

[00:25:42] And and yeah, that’s another thing that I recommend doing too.

[00:25:45]Matt Garrow-Fisher: [00:25:45] I love it. Yeah. I advise similar advice to my clients. And also I’ve taken that advice on myself as well in terms of connecting the dots in the past. And that there is. If in the past you’ve let up in doing an activity, there’s a pattern in that activity that you can transfer into very different areas of life, you’ve done it from acting to workshops for leaders.

[00:26:08]A lot of people would find that. That hard to connect, but actually the essence of your, the activity that you do and the process of it is very much there. So I totally get that. Yeah.  A lot of people there, they might be frustrated in their job and actually kind of career change is not necessarily the.

[00:26:26]The best solution before they explore other options. When you think about people that are. Unhappy in their job, what steps can they take within their own organization that they’re in right now to improve the situation? For example, how could they communicate this with their employer?

[00:26:45]How could they maybe explore routes within an organization before actually, doing quite dramatic step of actually leaving.

[00:26:53] AJ Mizes: [00:26:53] So awesome that you asked that because sometimes that is reality. Sometimes we have to be in our jobs for a little bit before we can explore things outside of before we get, get that opportunity.

[00:27:04]So th the first is. Looking at your financial situation. So is it something that you can, could you, can, you, can you afford to quit, maybe you can or maybe you need to stay employed to make it work. So that’s the very first thing, especially if things are super duper toxic, where you are, right.

[00:27:21] Maybe quitting is going to actually save you more in mental spend then then you can really take if otherwise. And then I think I have people think about a couple of other things. So are there things that you could volunteer or put your name in the hat for, with your current supervisor, with your coworkers or cross-functional teams to help learn new skills?

[00:27:41] So once you identify what you want to do, are there things in your current role where you could start getting that experience? Now? The second is what are things that. Do you that tend to like, hold you, like identifying the things that tend to hold you back. So like difficulty accepting, constructive criticism or discomfort, expressing yourself or speaking up in meetings.

[00:28:06] Are there things that you can start to practice now in your job that will serve you in your next role? The other things my third kind of tip would be, are there things that you need from an education or from a like skill, cert perspective that you might be able to do now while you’re getting a consistent paycheck to prepare you for that next move.

[00:28:28] So is there a class you’ve always wanted to take, is there a certification or is there education reimbursement fund at your current company that you haven’t taken advantage of? Yeah, those would probably be my top three tips there.

[00:28:39] Matt Garrow-Fisher: [00:28:39] So a solid tips again. So you mentioned like looking at your financial situation of course, and your mental health as well, and evaluating, is it really the right time to leave?

[00:28:48]Looking at things that you can get experiencing now in your current role? What actually working out what things are actually holding you back and working on them, from a mindset perspective and from practically, how can you improve? And then. Training, training and development, like what areas, going into your next role or your business, like as you have a paycheck, how can you up-skill and up-skill manage that transition more smoothly.

[00:29:12]Yeah. In terms of career development, people that are for us, some people are frustrated because they just can’t quite get that promotion. And they don’t know maybe some people think, Oh, my boss just doesn’t like me. I’m never going to get a promotion. What can people do?

[00:29:27] And part of it is a mindset thing. Of course, part of it’s communication. What can. What can people do to actually alleviate that issue if they feel stuck in terms of where they are in a career level.

[00:29:39]AJ Mizes: [00:29:39] Yeah. So it’s very cool common to have this conundrum, if you will, or to does this situation appear right in our lives.

[00:29:49] So first, the first is to recognize you’re not alone. Th like this happens to all of us. And typically what I see is there are a couple of reasons why you may not be moving as fast as you want. The first is. Expectation setting between you and your manager. And so oftentimes, especially, when I was in HR and HR not just at Facebook, but anywhere.

[00:30:11]I would ask people like they would come to me and say, Hey, Jay I want to get promoted. And I’m doing all these things. I just don’t know where what I’m not doing. And so one of the first questions I would ask is when’s the last time you talked to your manager about this? Oh, it’s six months ago.

[00:30:24] And that’s a problem. If you’re only talking about it, twice a year, about your progression on your. Career journey. Yes, not enough. These stories, these should be regular conversations and shared conversation between you and your manager about what exists in your current performance and what needs to exist in your performance in order for you to get to the next level.

[00:30:43] So whether that’s a promotion or a title change, or a job change, whatever, what have you, but it should be crystal clear to your manager about what you want out of your job. And so the way that you make this easy is to bucket your growth into one of three things. You either, and your career growth, you either want to be promoted in your current role.

[00:31:03] So maybe your, I don’t know a data engineer and you want to be a senior data engineer. So you’re staying as an IC, but just moving to that next level. The second bucket is to move from an IC to a people manager. And when I say I see an independent contributor to a people manager and self-explanatory, and then the third bucket is I actually want to change jobs.

[00:31:23] So I’m a data engineer and I actually want to be in sales. So when you can bucket your career growth into one of those three things, it makes it really easy. To then chart a course on what that looks like for your growth. And sometimes we think about career growth, but I don’t really know what I want to do.

[00:31:39] I, maybe I want to be people manager. Maybe I want to grow my career. Maybe I want to change jobs, but if you can first put yourself in one of those three buckets, then you can start charting a course to what that looks like with your manager, to have those succinct conversations and those direct conversations with what you want and have your manager be your advocate.

[00:31:56]Matt Garrow-Fisher: [00:31:56] Too. Put these categories around your career direction, like what category is next for you? And then starting to plan action steps around that, communicating with your manager, maybe with your team as well. Like how do we make this happen in practice?

[00:32:13] You’re actually able to track your progress and see like what. You’re doing from that list of things that your manager said you need to do in that bucket to to actually move forward and have it have more of a chance of promotion rather than being in the dark. And actually saying, Oh, I’m never going to get promoted.

[00:32:31] Like my manager just hates me. And I think a lot of people, they, maybe in kind of bigger organizations like Facebook, there are. Regular reviews from managers, smaller to midsize organizations. Sometimes that’s not common practice to have regular reviews. How do you think people can approach management to change policy around that and actually get their career taken more seriously, rather than just having to do their job and  making profits,

[00:32:59]AJ Mizes: [00:32:59] Matt, I freaking love this question and I’m loving this conversation.

[00:33:03] I just want to say you’re asking like, Th there’s things I love talking about. So the biggest piece of advice someone wants told me, and that I tell everybody now is no one should care more about your career than you do. And so what that means is. You as the person who wants to grow in your career, it need to be the instigator to these conversations.

[00:33:26] You should not wait for your manager to ask you what do you want next in your career? Thinking about this. No, you need to be the one telling your manager what you want. And so in order to know what you want, you need again, think about those three buckets first and think about what direction you want and then have.

[00:33:41]The plan to put time on your manager’s calendar and say, Hey manager, I’d love to spend, I’d love to repurpose our next one-on-one to talk about my career growth. I have some ideas that I want to share with you, and I’d love to get your thoughts and that. Puts the ball in their court. You’re going to go in there with you with your thoughts and how you want to grow.

[00:34:00] And then it allows that person to one, receive what you’re saying, and then to help you put a plan together and what that looks like. And if you can take the reins and start to drive the conversation, you will get there faster than people who just get there because they’re, their manager is looking out for them.

[00:34:14] And there are those managers do that. Don’t get me wrong. There are managers who. Are upfront and direct. And having those comes and putting that maybe on their Drex calendar, those are really great managers, by the way, if you’re a manager that does that kudos to you but more often than not, it doesn’t happen.

[00:34:29] And so you have to take charge of your career.

[00:34:31] Matt Garrow-Fisher: [00:34:31] . And taking control is super important. And and communicating with your managers is important as well. What, like at what point do people come to you for when should people start considering career?

[00:34:46] Counseling career coaching to help their career. What are the kind of typical challenges that you see with some of the clients that, that, that come to you and that you work with? Now?

[00:34:56]AJ Mizes: [00:34:56] People come to me with in one or two ways. The first is if they’re currently in a role, they’re not happy with what they’re doing and they don’t quite know what it is, or maybe they have an inkling, but they don’t know exactly how to get there.

[00:35:09] And they want soup to nuts, support everywhere from finding what that dream job is all the way to landing that job, negotiating the offer. And then the second type of person that comes to me are people who are, they know exactly what they want, but they’re not getting anywhere. So perhaps they’re applying to jobs, not getting interviews that are getting interviews and not getting offers.

[00:35:30] And they’re starting to see a pattern and they’re not sure how to break that pattern. So they need someone to help guide them to help tweak and fix and coach things. And the way that I explain this is every great musician, every great actor, every great sports person has a coach. Every single every one of them throughout their entire career.

[00:35:48] And why don’t we as working professionals outside of that entertainment and sports arenas, why don’t we have coaches? And so sometimes it’s not a sign of weakness to get a coach. It’s actually a sign of strength. It’s a sign of growth. That’s a sign of development. Some of the greatest learnings I’ve ever had in my career have been a result of coaching.

[00:36:07] And so sometimes you just need some help and someone to walk side by side with you and to see things from another lens. And so if you’re one of those two buckets, that’s typically where I recommend calling a coach and getting some help.

[00:36:18]Matt Garrow-Fisher: [00:36:18] For people that are maybe starting to do remote work, now there’s a lot of that, most, a lot of the world is now doing that.

[00:36:26]How do you how do you manage your own teams or even con communicate effectively during this kind of remote working period? It’s tough for teams to do that. And I know you work a lot with kind of team culture and organizational development. How can companies approach this and how can individuals kind of work better with these, I guess in inverted commerce constraints of remote working,

[00:36:53]AJ Mizes: [00:36:53] it’s really tough out there right now. There’s a couple of things that I’m seeing companies do really well that contributes to having a really strong culture as we’re moving through these times, I’d say the first thing is that they’ve adopted ways to touch base with our team more frequently.

[00:37:10] And this doesn’t mean that you need to have team meetings every single day. But what I say is that you just have to increase the proximity that you’re spending to your teams. And I’m talking specifically to leaders now. So leaders need to increase the amount of times that they’re touching base with their team.

[00:37:25] It could be through Slack message every day. It could be through a stand-up meeting. It could be through increased one-on-ones. It could be, those lots of different ways to do it. But just having more times to just check in and see how things are going on a human level. And I’m not saying Oh, how’s that project going?

[00:37:39] Are you going to meet that deadline? That’s not what I mean. But if you think about the office you’re running into people at the refrigerator, you’re running into people in the elevator, you’re catching up on what you did that weekend. You’re catching up on how people’s, how people are feeling or you’re sharing a funny joke, you have to replace that we’re human beings, we’re social creatures. And so if we’re just expected to be in this transactional environment where we’re, on videos all day and just updating people on what’s happening in our work and not having those social moments, you’re going to see a decrease in engagement and in a decrease in happiness and your team.

[00:38:11]Creating those, the proximity is super important. And then I think Being respectful of the hardships that come with working from home, especially those with small children those that perhaps have depression working from home and not seeing people, there’s like the realities that come with this reality that we’re in.

[00:38:30] And so I S in the beginning of the pandemic, we saw a lot of people putting on happy hours that like five o’clock like virtual zoom, happy hours, or team dinners and things like that. And I just want you to just ask yourself a question after being on a zoom calls for eight hours a day, do you really think that people want to stay on.

[00:38:50] Into the nighttime hours on more zoom calls, nine times out of 10. It’s probably a no right. Exactly. Agree with you on that. Yeah. And I get it the intent is awesome. Like we want to spend time together. We want we would have gone out to the bar and go to drinks, but it’s just not the same people.

[00:39:08] And what I would say is, are there things that you can do in the working day? That still have a break to the work that you’re still providing levity and fun. And to the work that you do so that you’re not taking time away from people who need that break after, five o’clock hits.

[00:39:23]So how can you shift your team building stuff to the middle of the day versus the end? Yeah.

[00:39:28] Matt Garrow-Fisher: [00:39:28] Yeah. I love it. In terms of balance, There’s increasing workloads for some people and stresses building with working from home. Some people, as you said have to manage like homeschooling and families and that kind of stuff.

[00:39:41]When you need, when you feel like you need more balance in your life, because maybe there’s just too much going on. How do you communicate that with your employer without Kind of losing respect and kind of chances of promotion. Is there a way of doing that? Or do you just do you just do it and just hope they don’t notice?

[00:40:01]AJ Mizes: [00:40:01] And I I know that there are companies out there. In fact, my sister was interviewing at a company who like was not. Cognizant that there are people like that. There were people who had kids at home and they needed to go pick up their kids and leave and they couldn’t work, straight eight to five, like they needed to be flexible and this company was not flexible at all.

[00:40:20]So she declined the offer because they were so terrible. The advice that I would give is that you absolutely want to be upfront about what you need to be supported. This is, these are unprecedented times. This is the worst pandemic that we’ve ever had in. Recent history. And there are realities given where we are socially in terms of, schooling and technology that allow us to keep working, which is awesome, but that comes with a trade-off.

[00:40:46] And so I think it’s unrealistic for companies to think that people are going to be operating the same way that they would pre March, 2020. Yes, you absolutely should be approaching your manager and talking about some agreements that you can make around what you need to be successful in your role.

[00:41:02] So having a conversation,  Matt said, say that you’re a manager. Hey Matt I just wanted to talk with you a little bit about some situations that I have going on with my daughter. She has to be in school at nine o’clock. I can’t make that eight 30 meeting live, but I promise I’m going to watch the recording.

[00:41:16]I’ll ask. Joe to take some notes for me. And then I do have to go pick her up at three o’clock, but I am going to stay on until six so that I can get all my work done for the day is not going to be a problem. And then just have it, have a conversation to have a negotiation between you and your manager.

[00:41:31] You have a human thing. And if your manager can’t understand some of those things that are going on at home, there’s probably a bigger. Thing that’s going on there in terms of culture, in terms of leadership that maybe you need make a pivot. But for the most part, my clients both on the company side and on the career coaching side, they’re working at companies that really understand that it is an anomaly to find companies that aren’t okay.

[00:41:54] And if it’s not okay, it’s probably, they’re probably not going to last very long, but I’m

[00:41:57] Matt Garrow-Fisher: [00:41:57] being quite honest. Yeah, no, that makes total sense. And I think from my experiences having empathy for, your colleagues for your manager and putting yourself in their shoes when you communicate and also.

[00:42:09] Having a kind of a solution focused attitude and approach when you actually explain your situation, like you said, if you’re not able to do the standard hours and what you’re fulfilled to do in a contract, having some flexibility in offering alternative solutions and just.

[00:42:26] Just showing your manager and your team that actually, you do, you are conscious about their own demands, you’ve got solutions for it. And I think most of the time we’re human aren’t we, and people can understand, but totally, if like your sister, if they just don’t have.

[00:42:44] If their policy is no, you’ve got to work these hours and that set and that doesn’t fit with your life and your values and what you need what’s most important to you, which might be your family, then it might not be for you. So totally get that. Before I asked my last question, I J where can people find, you get to know more about the human reach and learn more about some of the career coaching services and career set services that you offer.

[00:43:10] AJ Mizes: [00:43:10] Absolutely. So if you are interested in career amp, you can check out www dot, find my dream career.com and I offer a free. Web class every Thursday it’s live that you can check out. And I go into further detail about career at my top three tips about handling how to land a job without applying online.

[00:43:29] And if you’re interested in one-on-one private coaching, both leadership, coaching, or HR consulting you can check out WW dot the human reach.com and find out more there.

[00:43:41] Matt Garrow-Fisher: [00:43:41] Awesome. I love it. And I love that you’re doing some free classes for people to get to know you more. And, they’ve got to know you in this interview and some pretty awesome tips, like practical tips to actually help with career career search, career change all of that kind of stuff.

[00:43:56] I will include all of these links in the show notes as well. Everyone so AAJ. My final question. Now I see, now I can, I’m looking at you now. You’re smiling, you’re quite passionate about what you do. Not many people would leave Facebook to start something on their own.

[00:44:11] You’ve done it. I’m guessing because you really want to serve people. You have something valuable to offer. And there’s a certain level of purpose, you said yourself that, when you placed a candidate early on and you were crying, you genuinely were fulfilled.

[00:44:25]So there’s this level of fulfillment. There’s a level of passion in what you do purpose. And also, you, it seems like you have a balance in life, you’re healthy and you’re doing what you want to do. Passion purpose and balance. I call that to burn from within what’s the one thing AAJ that’s made the biggest difference for you in your life to burn from within.

[00:44:48] AJ Mizes: [00:44:48] Ooh, that makes me kind of emotional thinking about that’s a really great question. I think the biggest thing that’s provided or that’s inspired this burning from within has been to honor. Honor risks and honor. Risk-taking and I think. I specifically in this last transition, moving from Facebook to this there were quite a lot of risks that I was taking and I needed to believe in myself.

[00:45:16] I needed to also have the support of my spouse and supportive by close friends and family to know that I had that support. And to just believe in yourself and trust that, yeah. If you are going into something with great intentions and with something that you’re really passionate about you have to try, if you don’t try, then you’re going to have regret.

[00:45:39] And so regret to me was maybe that other thing I was thinking about if I was six years old, sitting at a bar somewhere someday, one of the biggest things that I would have regretted is not starting my own company. And so taking this risk, eliminating that potential for regret was more important to me than a security and safety.

[00:46:02] And so that’s has been a really big shift that has fueled this fire. I

[00:46:09] Matt Garrow-Fisher: [00:46:09] absolutely love that answer, ADA. Honestly, I do Cote totally resonate with it myself. And You talk about I go on many episodes, I talk about the top five regrets of the dying and how do you minimize regrets?

[00:46:20] And one, one of the episodes I have actually I’ll send it to you is an episode called big decision, no regrets. And I actually included quotes from Jeff basis and Steve jobs. Jeff Bezos has a framework called regret minimization theory. And it basically, it’s if you’re gonna make this decision to start your business, this is exactly the framework you use for Amazon.

[00:46:41]Would you, would he regret casting himself forward to when he was 80 and looking back and thinking, would I regret. Not starting that business or would I regret taking the, not taking the safe option and when the answer is obvious to you in your gut about that, then you’ve just got to go for it because, where is your, where, how low can you go?

[00:47:02]It doesn’t work and then you might go get unemployment benefit and. You might live at your friend’s house on the couch for a bit, and then you get another job and that’s it. But to not even try, as you said, and actually take a risk you’re not going to regret that. So I totally understand that and really good advice actually that you’ve particularly, I think it’s important for everyone to hear that in these times where.

[00:47:25] People that feel like they can’t take risk and you’ve taken a quite big risks. And it’s paying off during the pandemic and going into this area to have to have that advice from someone. And also support is really important as well. Having the right support from your family, from your friends and your spouse from a coach really makes all the difference.

[00:47:44]Hey, Jay, this has been an awesome interview. And thank you so much once again for being on the show. No,

[00:47:50] AJ Mizes: [00:47:50] Matt, thank you for having me. This has been super fun. I’ve really enjoyed it.

 

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