How to Create a Career Advantage, with Monique Betty

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Find Your Dream Job, Episode 335:

How to Create a Career Advantage, with Monique Betty

Airdate: February 16, 2022

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. 

I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.

Every Wednesday, I talk to a different expert about the tools you need to get the work you want.

Find Your Dream Job is brought to you by TopResume. TopResume has helped more than 400,000 professionals land more interviews and get hired faster. 

Get a free review of your resume today. 

Go to macslist.org/topresume. 

You may compete for jobs with people who seem to have an edge over the rest of us. 

In fact, says today’s guest, they are likely following seven principles that she shares with her clients.

Monique Betty is here to talk about how to create a career advantage.

She’s an executive coach and trainer who works with professionals and teams. 

Monique earned an MBA from the University of Michigan and has held leadership jobs with Fortune 500 firms, including The Coca-Cola Company. 

She joins us from Boca Raton, Florida. 

Well, let’s jump right into it, Monique. What do you mean when you talk about a career advantage? 

Monique Betty:

One of the themes that I have found consistent over the ten-plus years that I’ve been working as an executive coach is that individuals really invest in where they currently are and just getting to the next job. But then, as we all know, what happens? Life happens. There’s some disruption, either in your personal life, your professional life, a company is being sold a company, is right-sizing. So, for any number of reasons, external events happen – a natural part of life. 

And what I’ve come to discover is that many individuals out here are so focused on what they’re currently doing in the short term and have really failed to invest in a long horizon. Really perspective on their career, which I coined the career advantage. 

Mac Prichard:

What does someone who enjoys this career advantage look like professionally compared to their peers?

Monique Betty:

Someone who is absolutely committed to their career success and a mindset of ownership. I often say to individuals, you know, think about it, how do you treat a rental car compared to treating a car that you own? One that you own, you’re gonna take care of it, you’re gonna have regular maintenance, you’re gonna take it through and have it car-washed, detailing. A rental car, not so much. 

And so, parallel that to your career, and that’s a mindset shift for many individuals. In fact, that career ownership actually was a concept I learned from a coach I had very early on by the name of Janine Moon, who coined that term of career ownership. So, I really believe that it’s that mindset that is the greatest opportunity for individuals to own their careers over the long term.

Mac Prichard:

Now, there’s seven guiding principles that you share with your clients to help create this career advantage. We’re gonna go through them one-by-one. But before we do that, talk about the benefit to someone who enjoys a career advantage when they do a job search. How does this help them get their next position, and the one after that, perhaps? 

Monique Betty:

Well, and what’s most important here, Mac is that the career advantage is something they invest in for themselves early in their journey. Because that includes self-awareness, having a really good command of the skills that you bring into the workplace, the emotions that you carry, how you learn, how you listen, having a really good grasp of who you are, and how you’re wired.

The other piece is when you are clear of owning your career, you’re deliberate in what you learn throughout the course of the year. You’re deliberate in the relationships that you’re building over time. Because what happens in getting to the next great opportunity, I’d say many people are often surprised that they’ve stepped into something that they did not see coming toward them. And how did that happen? Because of someone they knew. Someone who knew them and opened the door to a potential opportunity.

So, that’s why, with the career advantage and what I like to refer to as the seven pillars, there are elements of yourself and your journey that you continue to develop over the long term. Such that, yeah, you may be disappointed if your job is removed or eliminated out of a company, but because you have this plan in place in the long horizon, you’re more quickly gonna land into your next great opportunity.   

Mac Prichard:

What do you say, Monique, to someone who is listening and they think, well, this doesn’t apply to me? I’m mid-career, or I have perhaps ten, fifteen years left in the workplace. I didn’t do this in the beginning, so can it help me at all? 

Monique Betty:

Absolutely, because it is never too late. I really wish we had a magic ball, Mac, I really do. But since we don’t, the next best thing is to have a career advantage, which means start where you are. You start where you are in owning your career. Being deliberate about the skills you want to build, the people you want to meet, the experiences that you want to have, the awareness you want to gain, and here’s the beauty, when you are mid-career, you have a nice portfolio of experience by which to, let’s say, investigate, or research, and determine for yourself what worked and what not so much. 

Mac Prichard:

I do want to start on the seven guiding principles, but one last question before we do that. What stops people from practicing the ideas you’re about to share with us?

Monique Betty:

One is a low degree of confidence. One is fear, fear of the unknown. And another is competing priorities. Once we enter into significant relationships with others, and/or we become caretakers for our aging parents, and/or we become parents, and you know, the list goes on and on. Once we start to mature, start to have competing priorities, the one thing that’s constant? There’s only twenty-four hours in a day, and so how you use your time to think about a plan holistically about your career is really kind of the wind beneath the wings of the career advantage. 

Mac Prichard:

Well, let’s walk through those seven guiding principles. The first one that you recommend people adopt is kindness. How does practicing kindness help you obtain a career advantage, Monique?

Monique Betty:

And kindness is just the example. That module is really about understanding your emotions at work, and oftentimes, in organizations, because of hierarchical structure, and I believe the research is there, that suggests that in hierarchical structures, the higher one goes into an organization, the less inclined they are to be empathetic to those around them. Because now we’re stepping into higher ranking of power. 

And so, one thing all of us can remind ourselves of is that, yes, the pressure, the stress, and the workplace can become great, but there’s never a replacement for being kind to a fellow human. 

So, yes, the challenges will be steep. And guess what? Those challenges are gonna be here today, gone tomorrow. But being kind on the journey is going to leave a favorable footprint in the mind of those who have an opportunity to work with you. And so, don’t you want that to be the kind of word on the street? That you were a kind, a pleasurable person to work with, although faced with challenges. 

So, whether it’s kindness, because how it looks for each of us is different. In module one of the career advantage, I invite individuals to take a look at what are their character strengths. And so, kindness is just kind of a placeholder for inviting someone to explore; what are your natural strengths? And how do you lean into those natural talents and abilities in such a way that supports you in being effective in the workplace? 

Mac Prichard:

I’m curious when you work with clients, particularly those who might come from cutthroat workplaces, are they surprised to learn that kindness can actually be a sign of strength? 

Monique Betty:

Absolutely, absolutely. And that’s something that we actually talk about a good deal in coaching, is one’s perspective of kindness, like, oh. But I’m seeing and hearing a lot more rhetoric around kindness by senior leaders of major organizations in stepping out front saying that it may be kind of this false belief that kindness doesn’t exist at the top ranks of an organization, but there’s value there, and it’s important.

And so, understanding what one’s current belief is around kindness and then pivoting it in such a way that supports their advancement professionally. 

Mac Prichard:

This is terrific, Monique. We’re gonna take a break, and when we come back, Monique Betty will continue to share her advice on how to create a career advantage. 

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Now, let’s get back to the show.

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Monique Betty.

She’s an executive coach and trainer who works with professionals and teams. 

Monique earned an MBA from the University of Michigan and has held leadership jobs with Fortune 500 firms,  including The Coca-Cola Company. 

She joins us from Boca Raton, Florida. 

Monique, before the break, we were talking about how to create a career advantage, and you took us through the first of your seven principles or pillars that you use with your clients. Let’s talk about number two of your seven principles for creating a career advantage and it’s inner circle. What do you mean by that, Monique? 

Monique Betty:

In the workplace, you will find that there are individuals who have access to the formal, as well as the informal, channels of communication. And so, how will you gain some access to that information channel that’s happening within the inner circle? There’s research that even shows that, oftentimes, people from underrepresented groups are not part of the inner circle. And so, you have to be deliberate in thinking about, well, how do I get access to that? 

One of the things I invite individuals to consider is building a relationship with one person who you know does have access to that information. For example, invite them to lunch. Build a bridge with the individual, and be deliberate in how you approach that. 

Mac Prichard:

I love that example you share about identifying the people who have that knowledge inside an organization, and that’s a nice segue to your next principle to creating a career advantage. 

Which is, speaking up. And clearly, in that instance, you did speak up. You invited yourself to the game. What are you thinking of, in general, though, Monique, about speaking up and how it can help create a career advantage? 

Monique Betty:

I hear it so often in coaching sessions, well, I was sitting in that meeting, or I was taking part in that meeting, and I had an idea, and I just didn’t say anything. And what held you back from saying anything? And one thing is for certain – no organization is going to succeed in a future environment if they don’t evolve and change. 

And so, evolve and change comes from people who have new and different ideas. And so, how can you develop that capability to speak up? Before a meeting, run it by a colleague or two, bounce it off of them, hear what they say, and then, someone may speak up on your behalf in the meeting to bring that forward. But at least now you’ve kind of given a little experiment and test drove your contribution in a way that you garnered some support before even going into a meeting. 

Mac Prichard:

I like that suggestion very much. Number four on your list of guiding principles, and you talked about this in the first segment, is career ownership. What does someone who owns their career do differently from someone who doesn’t take ownership of their career? 

Monique Betty:

They try new things. They’re willing to experiment, maybe things that didn’t work so well, and instead of casting it in a light of, oh, that was a failure – looking at, what did I gain as a result of having done that activity? 

And so, it’s about changing the mindset, again. I think it was Susan Jeffers in her book, you know, Face the Fear and Do It Anyway, and that instead of everything – your decisions, your choices – being on a win, lose framework, approach your choices your decisions as a win-win. So, no matter what option or door you choose to pursue, you will still gain in that experience. That’s ownership. 

Mac Prichard:

Number five on your list is to be a salesperson. Tell us more about this. How does being a salesperson help your career advantage?  

Monique Betty:

One of the most powerful conversations any employee can have is having a conversation with the customer. Because in that conversation, you’re learning about your product either meeting the needs of a client or falling short. When you have the voice of the customer in your conversations, when you’re in-house, it keeps your information relevant. It keeps it authentic. It keeps it real. 

My first corporate job was with the Eastman Kodak company. One of our most prized corporations is a fraction of its size today. Why? Kodak started believing its own press. It was so insular, and all the conversations were happening inside the organization, as opposed to outside, and looking out, what was happening with our customers. A salesperson starts selling when the customer says no. That same line of thinking is going to help you no matter what job you have, internal or external to an organization.

And so, how will you bring that person around? Being a salesperson is about having the muscle to influence others. 

Mac Prichard:

And I think, for job seekers, as well, Monique, it is so valuable to talk to employers and find out what their concerns are and to test the ideas that you think you might have that make you a valuable candidate. But those conversations can help you confirm or discover that maybe you need to go into a different direction.

Now, number six on your list of guiding principles is to remain a student. You talked earlier about the power of curiosity. Why is it important to be a student throughout your career? And how does that help you create an advantage? 

Monique Betty:

I often find that individuals sit and want to benefit from their degrees. They get a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, or this degree, that degree, what have you, and feel that that’s to carry you throughout your career, and it does not. It simply opens a door to an opportunity. But one thing is true; in the twenty-four hours we’re given every day, the world is going around and the world is changing. And so, how are you staying on top of changing as well? 

And when you engage in activities, and you’re learning, whether personally or professionally, that’s fulfillment. When you have fulfillment, you’re happier. You are then more inclined to be engaged, and when you carry that curiosity mindset with you, to want to be curious and learn something new, that is an asset of you that no one can take away from you. 

Mac Prichard:

The final item on your list of seven guiding principles is to know your purpose. I was actually surprised this wasn’t number one. Maybe you could talk about that and talk about the difference that knowing your purpose makes in a career. 

Monique Betty:

I find that the line of discussion around one’s life purpose seems to catch up with individuals as we approach mid-life. Because now we’ve kind of gone around the sun a few times, you know, we’re starting to say, is this it? And it’s like, wow. Is this really purpose-driven and fulfilling for me? I’m burnt out, and next thing I know, I have clients saying, oh, I picked up Viktor Frankl’s work around life purpose, and people then become kind of curious and think of there being more to life. 

Whereas early on in our career, it’s go to school or get some advanced degree, and it seems very linear and rote in terms of the pursuit of the American dream. When we know, that’s only one way to pursue a professional path. So many years later, you’ve awakened and go, I’m just not getting joy from this. And so, how will pursuing your life purpose support you in increased fulfillment and satisfaction? 

So, that’s why it’s like it’s number seven, but none of these are in a order of priority, and I would even say, in particular in the e-course, it’s about making a plan. Maybe you want to lean in a little more. 

Here’s the thing, Mac, with clarity of one’s life purpose, and if you think of your life like as a dartboard, and in the center of the dartboard is that red center, right, that we’re aiming for. That center is representative of your core. At your core is your life purpose. When you are working from that place, it suspends time. It suspends money, like you can’t even believe you’re getting paid to do what it is you’re doing because of the degree of fulfillment and satisfaction.

It takes a while to get clear on one’s life purpose. But you want to at least start directionally moving closer to that and asking questions along the way. That’s why it’s important that it is in consideration of one of those seven pillars in creating that career advantage for yourself. What are those one or two things that you’re gonna commit to in the discovery and the pursuit of your life purpose this year?    

Mac Prichard:

Terrific. Well, it’s been a great conversation, Monique. Now, tell us what’s next for you? 

Monique Betty:

Absolutely. Well, I’m excited to share with your listeners that for the first time, I will be making the Career Advantage e-course available to the general public this year. Up until now, it has just been with select groups, and so, that will become available. 

Mac Prichard:

Terrific. We’ll be sure to include news about that in the show notes for this episode, and I know that listeners can learn more about you and your work by visiting your website moniquebetty.com, and that you also invite listeners to connect with you on LinkedIn.

Now, Monique, given all the great advice you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want a listener to remember about how to create a career advantage?

Monique Betty:

It’s around the notion of career ownership. No one else is responsible for your career journey but you. So, starting to own it, and with that mindset, what is it that you want to know for yourself that will help solidify the ownership of your career? 

Mac Prichard:

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Next week, our guest will be Megan Leatherman. 

She’s a coach, writer, and the founder of A Wild New Work. It’s an ecological career development agency in the Pacific Northwest. 

You’re ready to change jobs. And you want something better. But finding that better job feels impossible. 

How does this happen, and what can you do about it?

Join us next Wednesday when Megan Leatherman and I talk about what to do when getting a better job feels impossible.

Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.

This show is produced by Mac’s List. 

Susan Thornton-Hough schedules our guests and writes our newsletter. Lisa Kislingbury Anderson manages our social media.

Our sound engineer is Jeni Wren Stottrup. Ryan Morrison at Podfly Productions edits the show. Dawn Mole creates our transcripts. And our music is by Freddy Trujillo.

This is Mac Prichard. See you next week. 

If you’re investing all of your focus into your current job, you are not setting yourself up for future success. Taking ownership of your career gives you an advantage that sets you up for success in future positions. How do you take ownership of your career? Find Your Dream Job guest Monique Betty says you begin by being deliberate – in your skills, your relationships, and your education. Monique suggests focusing less on your purpose early on, and more on finding fulfillment. That, she says, will ultimately lead to you discovering and pursuing your purpose. 

About Our Guest:

Monique Betty is an executive coach and trainer who works with professionals and teams.

Resources in This Episode:

  • Head over to Monique’s website at moniquebetty.com to be notified when her e-course, The Career Advantage, goes live to the public.
  • Don’t miss your chance to sign up today for Your Professional Development Plan to Move Your Career Forward
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