My Approach: Understanding and Communicating the Unique You

People may know you, and give great advice, but do you feel understood? Can you clearly communicate who you are and your personal why?

If we’re having trouble getting someone to understand an idea, the fault is generally our own. Usually, the problem is not that the person receiving my message can’t understand or just doesn’t get it, but that I’m not choosing the right words or examples. Even well-respected authors and thinkers sometimes fall short when they focus exclusively on a single metaphor or way of explaining. No matter how powerful their message or metaphor, what they say isn’t going to resonate with everyone. I’ve seen two conference speakers deliver essentially the same message, but each speaker’s perspective resonates with a different segment of the audience, simply because of the words they choose to use and how they deliver essentially the same information.

Listening – the key to understanding

My goal is to understand things from your perspective, and then help you understand your career or business journey in a way that makes the most sense to you, AND also resonates with your target audiences. There is no right way, no best practice here. We only consider what works for you and what does not.

Accordingly, while I have some favorite techniques and supporting materials that have provided terrific outcomes for certain clients, these may not fit your interests or situation. Rather than heading down a by the book path, we will explore the uniqueness of your position, direction, and interests several ways, from different perspectives.

Tools for Discovery

Here are some of the exploratory techniques and resources that I have found produce successful results, which might be relevant for you:

  • Collaging:  It’s artistic, but not exclusively and doesn’t  favor the talented. It’s a way to let your ideas organize themselves without as much interference from your conscious mind. (Thanks to: Kat Tepelyan, for this technique)
  • Looking back to childhood:  Not everyone gets to (or even wants to) have the job that they dreamed about as a child. However, there’s a good chance that you can connect the child you were – hopes, dreams, likes, dislikes and all – to the person you want to be. (I adopted this idea from Wishcraft and Chase Jarvis.
  • Mind Mapping:  My favorite brainstorming and idea organization technique, since childhood (thanks Mom!).  This is a great way to organize nonlinear ideas (ideas that don’t lend themselves to going from point A to point B), and to explain very linear ideas to a non-linear thinker.

I’d love to hear your ideas and experiences with any of these techniques, or other ways of organizing your ideas that work well for you when you’re exploring your self and desires.

It is essential to remember, we are all a little different in our thinking and experience, but our differences in perspective don’t have to trip up our communication. We can accept that we will never all see things the same way, learn what our style of thinking and acting is, and learn to communicate more effectively.

Having trouble explaining your entrepreneurial idea? to your parents? your spouse?  your boss?  Maybe their lack of support is because you haven’t yet figured out how to translate your idea into their “language,” not because they don’t understand it.

Is your non-traditional career path tough for others to understand? There may be other ways to communicate your experience and motivations that will resonate with more traditionally minded people.

We can all be better communicators… You can do this, and I’d love to help.

What are you struggling to understand or communicate?

Get in touch, let’s talk.

What do you optimize for?

Once a year, I spend a weekend with my “tribe” at the World Domination Summit in Portland Oregon. There are any number of reasons I keep coming back… community, conversations, the speakers, great parties, Portland itself… perhaps the most valuable are the occasional ideas that force me to reconsider my life and priorities.

This year it wasn’t until the closing speaker that such an idea seized my mind and wouldn’t let go. Derek Sivers was talking about his experience building CD Baby and came to the point in the story where he sold the company. He told us that it was an easy decision, because he always defaults to freedom… whenever faced with a decision, freedom is what he optimizes his life for.

I decided I should write down the obvious question: What am I optimizing my life for? Continue reading

Crossing the Chasm

“Don’t be afraid to take a big step. You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.”
— David Lloyd George


Grand Canyon, Mather Point Rainbow. NPS, Public Domain.

I completely agree… sometimes you just have to take a big leap of faith and trust that things will work out.


What if you could build yourself a 30 foot bridge? What if there’s another part of that chasm that’s only 10’ across? What if you can train yourself to be a better jumper? Rent an airplane?

You still might fall, but the odds just got a lot better.

Continue reading

WDS — Career Design Meetup

WDS is one of my favorite moments of the year… and this year I want to give something back to the community.

I’m hosting a Career Design Meetup with Amber Smith of Climb Out of the Cubicle, and hope to jumpstart some great conversations about career and life.

I’m also offering a beta test of my newest service, the Career Changing Resume and Career Narrative One-on-One, free to the first five people who complete the workbook from the meetup and send me a copy along with their current resume. Participants will get two one-on-one phone calls, and develop a resume, elevator speech, and an enhanced ability to describe their career and goals.

Didn’t make it to the meetup? Download a copy of the worksheet we used and the 4 Step Workbook we gave to attendees.

Let us know what you think! This is a new product and we would love to hear what you think of it and how you think we could make it better!

Contact me here to apply for the Career Changing Resume and Career Narrative program, or to give us feedback.

Purpose, Method, End State (Part 2): Your Career Plan

In  Purpose, Method, End State (Part 1), I talked about modern military orders and their three core sections.  We saw how this method of planning works,in an example for the NGO Leadership Initiatives.

This simple Why-How-Result template is a powerful way to think about your career as well.

Here’s what my own career plan looked like a few years ago:

  • Purpose (Why): I want my work to be focused on making the world a better place. I want to broaden and deepen my expertise, leverage my experience into new opportunities to learn and grow, and continue to develop my career narrative.
  • Method (How): I do paid and unpaid disaster relief and international humanitarian work, gaining experience, developing my skills, and building a network. I’m building a business and the team to help manage it, while continuing to develop my skills and reputation as a military officer.
  • End State (Result): I am established as an entrepreneur, a respected humanitarian professional and military leader, able to pick and choose the opportunities that are right for me.

Continue reading

Freedom, Structure and Creativity

Something I’ve learned from 15 years of work, lots of years of school and a host of other personal and professional experiences…

Creativity requires time & space but, at least in my case, it also benefits from some structure, drive, and collaboration. Taking off a day or a week, a month, or even a year is great for me – BUT if I don’t keep coming back and doing the work, I won’t have problems worth thinking about or solving.  Challenges are a massive driver of creativity, within the pressures of a set structure.

I think that life shouldn’t be too easy, and we are at our best when we’re a little uncomfortable… Continue reading

Side Hustle: Success Across Pursuits

Planning your time as a “side hustling” entrepreneur…

I’ve seen a ton of templates and scheduling plans to help “maximize your creativity.” They are all interesting and potentially valuable. Unfortunately for anyone trying to build something while they’re still employed full-time, however, they’re mostly written for people who control the majority of their time.

What if you have to spend 8-10 hours a day, 5 days a week doing a job unconnected to your creative drive, or the business you’re trying to build? How do you structure your time around your “real job”?

Tough question. Continue reading

Do you feel bigger than your dream job, or does your dream job seem bigger than you?

Change is hard and uncomfortable, but it’s the only way to get to something better than what we have now, even if it means changing our idea of a dream job. There’s also no shame in admitting that we aren’t happy where we are. Even a “dream job” can lose its lustre. What was perfect for someone else, or even a slightly younger version of yourself, might be perfectly awful for you now.

Continue reading