Find Your Dream Job, Episode 201:
Why Mindset Matters When You Pivot Careers, with Angela Yeh
Airdate: July 24, 2019
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 people find fulfilling careers.
Every Wednesday on this show, I interview a career expert. We discuss the tools you need to find the work you want.
This week, I’m talking to Angela Yeh about why mindset matters when you pivot careers.
Angela, welcome to the show.
Let’s get right into it; why does mindset matter when making a career pivot?
Mac, first just let me quickly say, thank you so much for having me today. Your podcast is invaluable for professionals and we recommend it all the time.
Why does mindset matter? And it’s interesting, it’s one of those new buzz words. More than 15 years in this space, working between employers and talent, we’ve started to notice that there’s a distinction between what certain professionals know what’s right for them, where they thrive, you know, how they’re going to evolve, what’s right for the employer.
Over time we started to realize, it’s professionals who really get it, who have a clear mindset about themselves, a certain, healthy awareness of where they’re growing, that affects their careers. People don’t talk about it; people relegate mindset to lifestyle, to health, to finding someone that you love, right? But what they don’t understand is, because career is a business, people segregate that and they think it’s something all together different but absolutely when we talk to our clients, you find out that your mindset affects how people see you, it affects how you see your own goals.
Well, can you tell us more, Angela, about what you mean when you say mindset?
Right, so, when we work with people, we understand when people come to us and they say, “Well, I don’t know what career path is right for me. I know if that next step…”
The first question people tend to have for us is, “What’s the next place that I can pivot to?”
Today, you know, this is not decades ago where you couldn’t choose; now we have a plethora of choices. It’s almost the paradox of choice, so we have people who wonder, “Where do I go next in my career? What if I want to pivot to a different industry? How do I do that?”
If you don’t have the right mindset about what your strengths are, what your weaknesses are, what you’re going to thrive on, a lot of times we find people make decisions too prematurely, on some very circus level attributes, whether it’s a famous company name or it’s a lot of money, but are they really listening to themselves to say, “How do I want to grow my career? What kind of gifts and abilities do I have? Do I want to build a career path where I’m thriving, using the things I enjoy doing?” We find that people don’t delve into these questions deep enough and mindset, we find, is a big piece of this.
Well, I’m sure you see this, too…I do as well with people who want to make career pivots, sometimes they struggle because they’re unclear about their goals, and where they want to go, and what they have to offer but mindset is different than goal setting, isn’t it?
It’s an interesting overlay. So, you know, I’ve mentioned mindset but it’s an interesting phenomenon, people say, “Okay, great, now I have mindset so I’m going to know what I’m doing.” Right?
So mindset is an overlay of an attitude, an understanding of yourself, your potential, where you’re going next, but you also need the right optics about whatever industry profession you’re going into but mindset to me is, first it’s understanding where…let’s say we meet any design executive today, or professional, and you’re talking to them and you’re asking them, “What have you accomplished?”
It’s interesting, depending on your mindset and a bit of that is self-awareness, about what you can accomplish, we find that people end up telling themselves and talking about stories about where they are career-wise, stories that are not necessarily up to date. Stories that are a bit more yesterday, stories that talk about what they’ve accomplished throughout the history of their career, but not necessarily realizing what their potential is. And this is one thing that, I’m not going to tell you that when we’re working in the space of recruitment, let me just say that when we listen to employers and what they resonate with when they’re talking about talent, I will tell you that when we know candidates that have a clear sense of themselves, they come across differently.
We hear…when we step away from our conversations with employers, my team and I will go back and reflect and it’s interesting, they’ll articulate something about that individual, the candidate, that they resonate most with, and more often than not, the candidate has a much clearer sense of themselves, their own growth, their own development, and then understanding beyond that, how are they going to connect to opportunity? How are they going to bring value to employers?
Yeah, and, Angela, it is fascinating, and I’m curious about self-awareness. Why do you think people find it hard to fully understand their talents, their skills, and other accomplishments?
What are the barriers that stop people from being able, both to understand that and then explain it to employers and others?
Yeah, well, just like in any space in our lives, there are experiences that we’ve had. There are great, amazing experiences that we grow from, that we evolve from but then there are also experiences that are not so positive. It’s amazing how we attach meaning to experiences, meaning that sometimes isn’t necessarily related to that moment.
We’ll, for instance, when we work with people, there will be people who say, people within our industry for instance, people want to work for consultancies versus corporations and someone will say, “Oh, I’ve had bad experiences in the consultancy world so I need to go corporate now, that’s going to be my new target.”
People will find them migrating, or wanting to pivot to a different place, sometimes for viable reasons but sometimes because their association, their experiences, what they’ve accomplished, or particularly, some of their failures, realizing that people sometimes make broad scope associations to, maybe, a type of industry. They’ll say, “Well, I’ve had bad experiences there and so I’m going to move and leave and the financial industry and move into something that’s wellness-based.” Right?
It’s not always about the industry; a lot of times, it’s not always about what their roles and responsibilities are but it’s also understanding, how do they need to grow?
You found, it sounds like, if people don’t have full self-awareness, they may make choices based on bad experiences but not fully understanding why they had those bad experiences, is that right, Angela?
Absolutely and on another level there are times where we’ve been working with an individual, we’ll be able to even see their highest potential and the interesting, fascinating thing is, if they’ve got a healthier mindset about themselves, and their career, and what their capabilities are, they’ll be able to see farther and reach farther and be able to determine when those new directions that they’re looking at are viable for them, they’ll have a clear sense of how to assess that. I mean, obviously, outside of mindset and self-awareness, you have to have the tools to understand whatever industry you’re moving into so you need to have that type of additional optics.
Okay, well, let’s step back and talk a little bit more about mindset and how can people develop that when they’re considering making a career pivot? What steps do you recommend the people you work with take?
I think, the first thing that we often recommend for people to do is to take stock of your history, take stock of what you’ve accomplished, and here’s the thing, recognizing what your accomplishments are regardless. And here’s something that’s interesting, being able to make that awareness and that assessment of what you’ve accomplished in the past and past careers, even if it was a place and a time and a role that you’re not interested in anymore.
Maybe it’s something that you’ve evolved from it, you’re moving on and you’re learning new things and you’re in a new industry, you’re developing new expertise. When you’re looking back at your history, the first step is just to realize, what have you accomplished, whether you loved that task or not, all of those things. Understanding the full scope of that, that’s one of the first steps we ask people to make because based on that, we will see whether they understand their own accomplishments well.
When you work with, let’s say recruiters in any industry and hiring managers in any categories, they know, they have the eye and they know what they’re looking for but from the seat of the practitioner…how many times have you ever met somebody who was incredibly gifted, you look at them and you ask them, “How do you do that?”
And maybe a musician, for instance, and they don’t know how to articulate what it is they do and how they do it and it’s a fascinating thing when people are naturally gifted. But then if you want to evolve your career, there’s an aspect of that where if you’re able to stop and look at your life experiences and understand how you’re evolving, you’ll be able to see what’s next for yourself. It doesn’t matter what industry but you’ll be able to see how you can progress, whether it’s moving up in leadership, management, whether it’s evolving and pivoting to a different type of role or even a different industry altogether.
There’s this overlay of, how do you show up in that next place?
Well, terrific. I want to take a quick break, Angela, and talk more about that. Particularly how listeners at home who are taking stock of their accomplishments might vet those accomplishments with others.
We’ll be right back and when we return we’ll continue our conversation with Angela Yeh about why mindset matters when you pivot careers.
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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 Angela Yeh and our topic today is why mindset matters when you pivot careers.
Angela, you were making the point before the break that it’s important to know your accomplishments and I know when you work with clients, you and your colleagues help vet those accomplishments with the people you work with.
For listeners at home, how can they do that process, perhaps with a family member or colleague? What do you recommend?
I think the first step for people is to really write it down. Write down a document. There are different tools that we use. One that we ask our clients to use would be a career and project timeline, job and project timeline.
For some people, you could list the different titles that you’ve had and jobs and go back and write down and list for yourself, “What are the different accomplishments I’ve had in those roles?” For some people, each role might be very different in what your roles and responsibilities were, so you could break it down by project and really detailing out, first for themselves, the exercise of writing things down.
If you don’t write it down, how can you really understand what’s surfacing, what patterns you’re going to see? So there’s a lot of data that we look at when we look at people and how they pivot and evolve, and going back to our earlier comment, it’s fascinating for us, the people who have a clearer sense of awareness of themselves will self-identify their patterns better than those who have more limiting beliefs about themselves. Limiting beliefs about their capability or the role and responsibility.
It’s fascinating, I love talking about this because when we look at people, we all have different spaces where we have more of a fixed mindset about ourselves, fixed mindset about different industries. Everybody that we talk to, people are progressive and they talk about, “Oh, I’ve got a progressive growth mindset.” But in reality, we all have certain areas where we have limiting beliefs about ourselves and thus fixed mindsets about who we are.
I’m glad you brought up the difference between fixed and growth mindsets and I know many listeners are probably familiar with both ideas. Fixed mindset, of course, is the amount of talent or skill you have is capped and can’t change and the growth mindset believes that…or someone with a growth mindset thinks that with practice and application and learning, they can continue to improve.
You were making the point earlier about…we were talking about getting clear about accomplishments and also self-awareness. Let’s bring it back to career pivots, Angela. How can this work help you, both in getting clear about what you want to pivot to and making that switch?
I think that today, when it comes to pivoting…let’s say just the simplest stage is moving up, just progressing further up within the space that you’re in. But there are some people who not only want to feel compelled, whatever stage they’re at, there’s something that compels them to not just move up to the next level, but also evolve tangentially into a different industry or a different profession, I would say that even more so than pivoting directly up…let’s say, if we’re looking at the analogy of a chess game, you’re going to make a strategic move where you might need to step back a few steps to go forward.
Mindset allows people to understand all of the elements that are involved in analyzing. If I’m, let’s say, someone is an industrial designer and they want to pivot to use their experience they need to understand, where do they sit now? What are their capabilities today? What will qualify them in that next industry of user experience? Helping them understand, how do we analyze the companies? How do we see what kind of company would be right for you? What kind of role and responsibility for me?
The biggest challenge when it comes to pivot that everybody talks about, you think about the roadrunner that’s swinging from one cliff to another, if you don’t have the right methods, the right tools, the right strategies, you can attempt to swing to this other place, but if you don’t understand everything about that pivot, you can land, either not as high, conceptually people talk about wanting to pivot and not having to step back down again but landing as high as they can and mindset is one of the different things that people have to keep in mind to really engineer and curate a pivot that’s successful.
We know that most people today when they evolve and they want to move into a different profession and different expertise, a different industry, it’s very challenging. There are a lot of things that you have to take into account to make that pivot successful and mindset’s one of the pieces to seeing and looking at all of the data that comes up when you’re in this stage.
Well, I love the image from the Chuck Jones, Warner Brothers cartoon of the bird and I’m sure many of our listeners can identify with that but they might be struggling with, “Ok, Angela, mindset, it sounds like a black box here.” Take our listeners through that, Angela. How can understanding mindset help them make that pivot so they don’t find themselves in that dreadful spot where the bird does?
Yeah, there’s so many different aspects to analyzing yourself and your career. I would ask someone first, “What is it that…” you know, if someone’s eager to evolve their career, one of the first questions we ask them is, “What are you striving for? How do you see yourself thriving regardless of industry, regardless of the company, regardless of the compensation?
Let’s dream for a moment and let’s talk about where do you think you thrive?” And counter to that the other piece of this is then to ask people, “What are your limiting beliefs around that?” And that’s the first stage in breaking down and understanding, where do you sit today in your mindset about yourself as a professional? Through those countering questions, we’ll be able to identify how people need to evolve next.
Sometimes we pull it back where people don’t even know what industry they want to go into and it allows us to see where those possibilities are.
Okay, so you help people understand what those limiting beliefs might be. How do you help people get over those limiting beliefs, Angela?
Well, it’s interesting, let’s just say that we all have, throughout our career, we all have that lump under the rug, and I would imagine…I would ask you, Mac, when you meet people like this, as well, as we move up in our career, I think earlier in our career, it’s easier. Let’s just say that in the human pyramid of any company, let’s say, bodies of human pyramids, people, how many people do they need, let’s say, in the space of leadership and management? A smaller percentage, right?
That smaller percentage, let’s just say it’s less than 10%. Up at that level the bar is pretty high, the standards are pretty high, but also, by the time you’ve gotten to that point in your career, you’ve built up a lot more standards and rigor about what you…you have a lot more clarity about what’s right for you, and so that becomes…if you think about when you’re at that stage in your career where you’re 40, it can happen as early as 40s, 50s and 60s in your career, you’re going to start to realize that there’s…and when people don’t write this down, when we talk to them it’s a loose sense of what they don’t resonate with and there’s a looser sense of what really resonates with them.
The first thing we ask people to do is write it down. Write down in words what matters to you, what do you thrive on, what do you believe in, but also what are you not interested in? That already starts to create some polar opposites and this is where people can start to distinguish, whatever industry you move into, whatever expertise you want to segue into, these are the things that you want to hold onto and realize, the ideal next pivot, the next career moves, those opportunities that I’m evaluating, it’s got to have those things that I care about most that I thrive on and it’s cultural, it’s lifestyle, it’s the way you work, it’s the way you…what resonates with you culturally, expertise, how do you want to work? Some people work best through leadership, some people work best in isolation or managing their own time.
All that ties into understanding your self and that comes in with mindset.
Be self-aware, understand your accomplishments, identify your limiting beliefs, and be clear about what you want and who offers it. And I see your larger point here about mindset because limiting beliefs, I see it in job seekers, I’ve definitely seen it personally in my own career, we all carry around these objections in our heads about why something isn’t going to happen and every sentence starts with the word, “Because I’m this.” “Because I’m that this won’t happen.”
Exactly, you got it, and so I talked about that analogy, lump under the rug, when we’re younger, I think that the standards from employers and even, let’s say even outside of working with employers, let’s say just creating your career, you’re going to build more clarity about what’s right for you and yet there are certain things that are going to keep tripping us up and resurface again and again. There’s a point where you refine your career to a point where that lump under the rug is still there and everything you do, wherever you go, whatever job you go to, those same issues may be tripping you up again and again.
Understanding your fixed mindset, your limiting beliefs as well as your growth, a combination of those things, being able to analyze it. When you write this down, you’re going to be able to start to piece apart what matters to you. What do you want versus what do you not want? What are you going to thrive on doing? And today, more and more people care about not just having a job where you check-in for a paycheck. Most people we work with, they start off saying, “I don’t care how much money I make.” In essence, yes, you want to keep making more money but the people that we end up talking to, they really want to identify, “What is it that I can do? Which of my talents are the most effective to help this world and where can I thrive utilizing my best gifts?”
Terrific, well, it’s been a great conversation, Angela. Now, tell us, what’s next for you?
Well, I run two businesses. I run Yeh IDeology which is a design recruitment firm and I’m also the founder of Thrive by Design which is an executive coaching program and what’s amazing about that is we’ve helped tons of people already, evolve and develop a solid methodology using our tools to create a customized career strategy plan. This plan that they develop allows them to analyze any direction they want to go into, whether it’s, not just progressive, and straight-up but pivoting to a different industry or even a different profession. This is what we love doing.
Terrific, well, I know people can learn more about you and your services and your programs by visiting thrivebydesign.today.
Angela, you’ve shared a lot of great tips here. What’s the one thing, however, that you want our audience to remember when thinking about why mindset matters when pivoting careers?
I would say that the most important thing is to believe in your gifts, to believe and look for that Nexxus, that space, where you can build a profession around doing things that you love. That’s how people thrive and that’s what we find people look for consistently throughout their career.
I’d say, listen to yourself, listen to what matters to you, listen to what you thrive on.
Terrific, well, Angela, thank you for being on the show today.
Thank you, Mac, for having me. I appreciate it.
Mindset is one of my favorite subjects. I am a big fan of the book by Carol Dwek. She’s a teacher at Stanford; it’s called Simply Mindset, but it lays out in-depth the principle that we talked about today with Angela and I love her advice about the importance of understanding your accomplishments, being self-aware, and identifying your limiting beliefs, and being clear about where you want to go.
I think her point about limiting beliefs is especially important because as I mentioned in the conversation, I talk to a lot of job seekers who carry around these internal objections. We’ve all had them, including me, about why we might not be able to do certain things and I think what Angela’s done today, is shared a process where you can share those limiting beliefs with others and explore them and find out how you might overcome them.
When you do that, you find a way to put your best self forward.
We’ve also got a video course that can help you do that. It’s called How to Wow and Woo Employers Online.
You can get a free copy of it today. It’s a three-part video class and it’s at macslist.com/wow and it shows you how to improve your digital footprint so that when employers do Google you they will see your best self.
Well, thank you for listening to this week’s episode of Find Your Dream Job.
Join us next Wednesday. Our guest will be Lisa Rangel. She’ll explain how to find a job (without using a job board).
Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.