Ashley Stahl is a counterterrorism professional turned career coach and she’s the author of the bestselling book, You Turn: Get Unstuck, Discover Your Direction, Design Your Dream Career. She’s joining me today to talk about how to have a career that’s aligned with your purpose and the ten different skill sets that will direct you to your dream career. This is a loaded episode, so let’s dive in!
In this episode, Allie and Ashley discuss:
- The difference between an interest and a passion
- The three lily pads of finding your career
- 10 Core Skill Sets
- How to give an Elevator Pitch
Mentioned in this Episode:
Courses (Use the code PURPOSESHOW for 10% off!)
the roadmap that’ll walk you through exactly what to do with the little time you have
This program is designed to carry you for years, not just start.
It’s about being a human, being a business leader in all stages of your business.
This is for women growing their families and their businesses at the same time. I’ve been there and done it, and I’ll help you do it too.
BEING A BUSINESS OWNER DOESN’T HAVE TO FEEL OVERWHELMING
Mom life. We’re surrounded by the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. We’re supposed to get through it. Survive. Cling on by the last little thread. And at the same time, Carpe Diem—enjoy every moment because it’s going to go by so fast. The typical mom culture that sends us all kinds of mixed, typically negative messages. We shouldn’t take care of ourselves; it’s selfish. The more ragged you run yourself, the bigger your badge of honor. But also, ditch your mom bod and work out. Don’t yell. Make more money. Show up. Be better, but not at the expense of time with your kids. I am putting a hard stop to all of this. While being a mom, running a business, and whatever else you might have going on is hard, it is a lot and there’s lots of giving of yourself, the idea that motherhood means living a joyless, nonstop-hustle-with-zero-balance kind of life, where you give and give and give and never take, needs to stop.
I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime (at least most days). Stop the mom guilt and shame game. Stop cleaning up after your kids’ childhood and start being present for it. I want to help you thrive in work, home and life. I believe in John 10:10 that we are called to living an abundant life and I know moms are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, some business and life hacks, spirituality and lots of other good stuff that leads to a life of less for the sake of enjoying more in your motherhood. I’m Allie Casazza and this is The Purpose Show.
Hi friends! Welcome to The Purpose Show podcast. I’m Allie and I’m so excited to have you here with me. We have an incredible guest on the show today. Her name is Ashley Stahl.
Ashley is a counterterrorism professional turned career coach. She’s brilliant, experienced, and amazing. She’s the author of the bestselling book, You Turn: Get Unstuck, Discover Your Direction, Design Your Dream Career, and she’s on a mission to help you step into a career that you’re excited about and aligned with.
I asked Ashley on the show because I get so many messages from women who are unsure what their purpose is, unsure about their career, and dissatisfied with the way that they’re spending their lives. Not just with their motherhood, but with their work. They’re wondering if it’s really worth their time.
We spend so much time at our jobs, and it’s overwhelming when it feels like you’re unaligned. Ashley helps you get really clear and get aligned. She is such an empowerer!
Through her two viral TEDx speeches, her online courses, her email list of half a million, and her show, You Turn podcast, she has been able to support clients in 31 countries in discovering their best career path, upgrading their confidence, and landing more and better job offers.
She maintains a monthly career column in Forbes, and her work has been featured in outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, CBS, Self, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and more. She’s incredible!
Go to Ashleystahl.com. She’s got a free quiz to help you get clarity on your best career path options. But first listen to this incredibly empowering conversation. It’s going to bring you so much clarity.
She’s going to talk about having a career that’s aligned with your purpose, getting really clear on what that is, what it looks like, and 10 different skill sets that can help direct you to your dream career. This is a loaded episode, so enjoy my friends.
ALLIE: Hi Ashley! Thank you so much for sitting down with me. I’m super excited for this conversation with you!
ASHLEY: You’re so much fun! I’m so excited. This is such a treat for me to sit down with you and connect about clarity and purpose.
ALLIE: I would just love for you to go over your career. Your career and your life is just amazing. You’ve been in a lot of places. You’ve done a lot of things.
You’ve tried a lot of things. You’ve walked away from things and stepped into new things. I would just love for you to tell us your story.
ASHLEY: One of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned and principles that I hold about career is: who you are changes. Your purpose moves.
If you’re a new mother and your purpose is just being there for your new child, that’s your purpose right now. If you’re in your career and you’re about to grow, that might be your purpose right now. Maybe you’re an entrepreneur with a mission.
For me, purpose moves. Who you are moves. We are these growing organisms and that’s not really something I understood.
I was making career decisions at a young age from just wanting to survive like everybody does. I remember going into a Career Services office and asking what I should major in. She gave me all the bland directives that we’ve all heard: Do what you love and the money is going to follow. Find your passion.
I felt more lost when I left than when I came in. So, I majored in three subjects, out of indecision more than anything else. But what I went back to was that I grew up in a house where the news was always on.
From a really young age, I knew what was happening in the world. My dad would argue with my uncles about politics. I had an opinion for better or for worse.
Growing up in 9/11, I watched my mom scramble to grab her phone and make sure her relatives were safe. So for me, it was these high-impact moments in my memory that made a career decision for me.
I think a lot of us make career decisions in these high-impact moments and we don’t realize that we’re making them. It’s so important to look back and ask ourselves why we chose this. What was the conversation or the moment that led us to where we are?
I graduated. I put everything into national security. I learned multiple languages. I thought I would be carrying Homeland and catching Osama bin Laden.
I was so committed to it. But what I was missing was the fact that that was an interest for me. I was interested in politics. I gave it an undue promotion into being a passion.
Where I was really missing the mark was evaluating my skill set. In my book, I talk about 10 core skill sets that I think exist in the workforce. It’s so important to know what those are.
There are two dynamics in your career. There’s The What, which is your skillset, what you’re doing all day, and what your responsibilities are. And then there’s The How, which is how you’re doing it.
Given that 50% of people leave their job because they don’t like their boss, what we know is how your job looks matters. What your core values are matters. In my case, those are things I wasn’t really considering. I just looked at what I was interested in, whether I had a gift in it or not didn’t matter. I think that’s what a lot of people are doing.
I graduated during the recession. I was an Admin Assistant. I was making minimum wage with all of these degrees and all of these foreign language skills. I was taking Arabic at UCLA at night.
I had this moment where this elegant idea just snuck into my mind and I thought, What if my college has a list of everyone who’s graduated and moved to Washington DC? I’m going to contact the Government Department.
There was some part of me that didn’t think government was my end goal in life. I didn’t think I was going to be a CIA operative forever, but there was some part of me that wanted to check it out now and see where it would take me.
It was like something I needed to cross off as part of who I was in my journey. I think a lot of people are pulled into something they don’t necessarily see as their “forever career” and they don’t give themselves permission to go there.
I ended up emailing my university. I got a list of 2000 names and email addresses and I spent over four months cold-calling everybody in government, in DC, that went to my college. Obviously, I fell on my face, but I did learn how to talk about myself.
One thing I write about a lot in my book is your ‘Elevator Pitch’ and how to talk about yourself. It’s the most asked interview and networking question, and yet we think it’s so obvious that we don’t give it due time to really think about how we’re talking about ourselves.
ALLIE: I relate to this so much. After we move through this we should do an elevator pitch together so they can hear you coaching someone through that. It is hard to explain what you do, especially when it’s a lot of things.
ASHLEY: Yeah, we could! I think that’s perfect for later. I’m really confident that by the end of this episode, anyone listening is going to be a lot more clear about who they are and what they want out of their career. Then you can talk about yourself from that place.
Fontacting people, not knowing how to talk about myself, falling on my face, that was the cost of admission to learning how to network for me. Failure is on the same block as success, right? We’ve gotta be willing to endure it.
Now, whenever I see someone who is successful, I just think, Wow, they have an amazing conversation going on in their head with themselves. When failure hits, they’re not making it mean anything about whether they should keep going or not.
I must have had a great conversation going because I just fell on my face with people. Eventually, out of those 2000 names and email addresses, I got about 100 people to help me. That gave me the confidence to move to Washington DC. People were so nice to me.
One tip for anybody who’s networking, whether you’re a business owner or not, is that any newbie energy you have—if you’re new to a city, a new graduate, a new mother, newly returning to the workforce—makes people more receptive to you. People are more receptive to help you when you have new bird energy. Sharing that when you’re networking is so powerful.
People really responded to that with me. I told them that I was a recent graduate trying to figure this out, and people really met up with me and sat down with me. I had a resume to back me up. It’s not to say I had so much experience, but you could look at my resume and see that I am somebody who’s motivated.
I think there are so many different ways to show that. Volunteering is a great way to rebrand your skills if you’ve been out of the workforce for a while, or you haven’t been in business, or you’re an entrepreneur. Offering your time for free, maybe 5 or 10 hours a week in an area that you want to hone in on, is so powerful.
I ended up moving to DC, leaving my Administrative job after six months of networking, getting three job offers and accepting a position running a program for the Pentagon. I tripled my salary. I was 23/24 years old and I was so excited.
And on the periphery of that, people were giving me feedback, telling me things like, “Whoa, you’re getting so many job offers. You’re so good at talking to people.”
I wasn’t good at talking to them on the 1st or 2nd or 3rd phone call, but by the 300th phone call, I was crushing it. And people would ask me to show them how I was doing this. I ended up getting kicked out of Starbucks on DuPont Circle in DC because too many people started showing up for help and resume advice.
What I’ve seen through this is that there are really three lily pads. The first one is you don’t know what you’re meant to do. You’re not really sure who you are and how it fits your career. And you don’t really want to go find out what it is because it’s too inconvenient to you. You are afraid. Whatever it is.
The second lily pad is knowing what your gifts are. I wasn’t there yet. I was willing to go on the quest. I was willing to swim in the waters to get here, but I really didn’t know.
Going to the Pentagon, I thought, I don’t know if this is for me, but I’m feeling good about finding out. Most people don’t give themselves that experimental permission to go figure out their career.
As a society, we’re almost saying the equivalent of, “The first person you have a crush on, you should marry.” That’s what we’re doing in our career. We say, “Your first job, you better grow it.” And we get so stuck and so lost.
On that second lily pad are your gifts. This is really where my work is. I help people see where they’re gifted and where they’re skilled.
You can only get to this lily pad by following your intuition, connecting to where you have gifts, reflecting on yourself, and getting feedback from people. When you can hang out on that lily pad, you start to attract opportunities on the periphery.
What’s happening is you’re working in a zone of genius, even if you’re not in the right job for you. Maybe you’re a really good writer, so even if you don’t want to stay in your job, your writing skills are getting noticed because that’s where you’re gifted. People are going to start to notice where you’re great and will start to give you opportunities. In a way you’re kind of calibrating with the universe from that point.
You have all these opportunities coming and that gives you the opportunity to eventually make it over to the third lily pad, which I honestly don’t see that many people operating from, which is Dharma. It’s Purpose.
It takes a while to get from where you’re gifted to where you’re really in a soul mission. And it’s not for everyone. Writing my book was the first experience I ever had of what I like to call The Place. It’s this dharmic soul place you get to create from.
You’re in so much flow that you lose track of time. You’re in so much mission and excellence. You just love it so much. My hope is that everyone at least gives themselves a shot at getting there. And you just can’t get there until you figure out who you are.
In my case I pursued a career in counterterrorism. I gave myself permission to be experimental. Maybe that career path was based on some misunderstandings of who I was or what I wanted.
I just pursued an interest versus a skill. Early into my job, I realized that it wasn’t for me; I wasn’t in the right place. I open up my book talking about this weird feeling of walking down the hallways of the Pentagon and realizing, Whoa, I don’t think this was actually for me.
And I’m so grateful I learned that early. I think that’s why Britney Spears shaved her head. We think we’re chasing a dream and we spend all of our time getting there, but really we’re just chasing a feeling. And then once we get there, the feeling’s not there and we have a breakdown.
ALLIE: I was thinking when you were talking about how many women listening to this are feeling what you’re saying, and your story is their story, but they don’t have the financial availability to figure out something else.
This is what happened in my story. My husband was working his job and I was a stay-at-home and we were miserable. I’m an entrepreneur and I had no “entrepreneuring” happening. We were chasing the dollar.
You get kind of stuck in this financial cycle where you need what you’ve created, but you don’t want to be there anymore and you can’t really get out because you need money. What does somebody in that situation do? What is the step to get more aligned when you have to feed your kids and you have to pay your bills?
ASHLEY: The theory of sunken cost is such a real phenomenon. But I think it’s really important to realize that retirement age is increasing. So if you’re in your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, most likely, if you’re like a lot of America at least, you’re going to be retiring in your 70’S. So unless you’re 3-5 years away from that, I would say it’s worth questioning.
The other message I would give anyone listening, and this one is painful but truthful, is this: who you are always wins. If you want to rip the bandaid off and cry over it this year, let’s do it. But if you don’t, you’re going to have to rip it off at some point and cry over it next year or the year after that.
For me, either you be who you are and you listen to that little whisper inside of you. Like Thoreau says, “Most men (or women) are living lives of silent desperation.” If you’re in that silent desperation, it’s going to catch up to you and life is going to hit you with a 2X4 at some point, whether it’s illness, divorce, lack of friends, or just serious pain. So why not start to listen to that whisper when it’s lukewarm? I think this is just part of the human experience.
Then I want to talk to you about money because I totally get that real concern. I think the human condition is two dynamics. One: Your misery in your current situation. Two: Your fear of the unknown. Some people won’t make a change until their misery is so high that they just don’t even care about the unknown anymore.
ALLIE: That’s what I got to. I said, “I don’t care. We’ll figure it out. Let’s just step off this ledge and figure out food as we go, because I can’t do this.”
ASHLEY: Exactly. It’s one step at a time. And it’s so good that you’re really an example of that for people who are listening.
But having to put food on the table is so real. So I would first invite anyone to consider the power of a part-time job. Calculate your expenses. Get honest with yourself. It’s very tempting from a mindset standpoint to exaggerate how much money you need to live.
Really calculate your expenses. Really question if you are being the best parent, partner, or friend if you’re this miserable? If you’re miserable from 9-5, it’s pretty hard to turn on a switch at 5:00 PM or whatever time you’re done and somehow be happy.
According to research, if you don’t like what you’re doing, you’re more likely to gain weight, have relationship problems, and get sick, so it’s a very real concept that it is making you sick to feel sick about what you’re doing.
I would advise anybody to just start by figuring out your monthly expenses. Where can you simplify? Not from a mindset that you will be taking a pay cut because maybe you won’t.
One of the biggest messages that I really like to get across is that the best opportunities, whether you’re a business owner or a job seeker, don’t always go to the best candidate. They go to the best communicator.
Your resume is going to get you into the interview room, your personal brand is going to get you into clients’ inboxes or get you exposure, but how you communicate once you’re there, that’s what makes you stand out. That’s what differentiates you. That’s what makes people move their finger to the buy button or to the hire button.
What our responsibility really is, is to look at the past and ask, What are the skill sets that I’ve been using? What is the number one skill set, if you’re staying in the workforce especially, that I need to make it clear I have down? What is the one thing that these recruiters or hiring managers need to see?
It’s your job to learn how to look at the pie chart of everything you’ve ever done, grab that little slice, and communicate about it in a way that really makes sense for where you’re headed. If you’re working on your resume, it’s a marketing document and it’s supposed to highlight your relevant experience.
What that means is if you spent 80% of the day filing, but 20% you were writing and you want to get a job that’s more focused on writing and communication, give more real estate on your resume to writing and less real estate on your resume to being an admin person.
It’s really about the story you tell to yourself, to the people around you, and the truth you choose to share. I think sometimes people overshare. It’s not about lying, but life is about what you focus on and so is your conversations with recruiters. Focus on where you can really move the needle from them.
Sometimes we need to take a job that’s kind of an intersection. Maybe you’ve been working in tech and you want to get into communications, do communications at a tech company. That’s your transitional layover job.
And then if you want to do communications for a makeup brand, that will be your next job after that hop. If you’re an entrepreneur, consider adding a new service and allow that cup to start to fill up before you release the other one.
I do think there can be very flippant behavior and reactivity in our businesses and our jobs. And that is one of the most damaging things.
Life is transition. We’re always in transition. If we move too quickly in transition, a lot of damage can happen. Most people move too slowly and they don’t accept where they are. Too far on either side of the pendulum is where a lot of damage can happen.
If you’re moving too quickly, you can radically pick something and hold onto a plan for the sake of having it, for the sake of having an identity and feeling safe. If you move too slowly that misery just keeps seeping in.
Your career should be a vehicle for your self expression and a vehicle for you to really figure out who you are and keep calibrating into opportunities that make sense for you. That’s why I came up with these 10 Core Skill Sets in my book. I think I go through them in Chapter Two. I go through them early on because I think they’re the foundation for your career path.
ALLIE: Everything you’re saying—marketing yourself and really painting a picture of what it is you’ve figured out and what you bring to the table—applies to so much. This is how you sell courses. This is how you fill your coaching program or your mastermind, whether you’re writing your own resume or you’re running your own business.
This is how we tell stories about ourselves to other people to connect with them, to paint the picture that I already figured this out and if you pay me, I will do this for you.
What you’re saying is so basic and so perfectly said that it feels so new level. This is the foundation of how we convince people and communicate to them what we bring to the table in everything. I guess it can just be applied to anything.
ASHLEY: Yeah. I think we live in a world that’s increasingly complicated and I’m really impressed with people who can be simple, who can communicate simply, who can get things across. I think for me, that’s really a part of the game with job hunting or changing your business.
Where have you been? Where have you used this skill? What skill is needed next? How can you talk about it?
And that’s why talking about elevator pitch would probably be super helpful for anybody listening. When you’re able to talk about yourself, that’s when you’re able to dodge the pay cut, because people will pay for clarity. If you don’t have clarity, it’s one of the most expensive things you can put yourself through because it turns your career into this graveyard of trial and error.
That’s why I’m so excited about my work that I’m putting out there. It really just came to me through some sort of divine channel, having worked with people for the past decade. Really going back to what is your skillset, what are your values, and how do you need to be using them?
ALLIE: Take us through all 10 Core Skill Sets. I’m so excited for this. I’m so grateful to you for giving this to us. I just want to acknowledge the generosity that you’re bringing to this interview for these women who are grabbing for their notepads right now, freaking out because they’re stuck and they’re not happy.
Most of the day is spent working, and if that’s unaligned, you’re miserable. I’m talking to stay-at-home moms too. Even in that, if it’s unaligned and you’re miserable, what message is that sending to your family and to yourself that you’re not worthy of more than that?
ASHLEY: Thank you for saying that. I’m honestly so grateful to share it. I know what this stuff can do. I’ve seen it change so many people’s career choices. I just want people to listen to the podcast episode or buy the book and just take in this information.
I know what it feels like to be on your knees in your career. It’s a special type of depression. It’s one thing to hate your job or your business. It’s a whole other thing to not know where to go next. A lot of people listening are smart, capable people, but if they don’t know where to go next, it’s like you’re a workhorse with nowhere to go.
Here are the 10 Core Skill Sets.
Number One: Innovation. This is the creative self-starter. This is the intrapreneur within a company, or the entrepreneur. And usually the question to really ask is, Are you supposed to be an entrepreneur?
I think we live in an age that glamorizes entrepreneurship and it can be such a bust for the wrong fit. You are not less or more than anyone for being in the workforce or not. Really ask yourself.
To me, it comes down to a couple of key factors of whether you’re the intrapreneur within the company that’s solving problems and adding so much value, or you’re the entrepreneur who created the whole vision. Both are visionary, but I would say it’s your relationship to freedom.
I find that entrepreneurs need all-out freedom. They need creative freedom. They need to pursue their ideas. They need vision freedom. They need time freedom. They need to work when they want to work, workflow freedom. It’s just all levels of freedom.
I find that intrapreneurs just need flexibility. And with COVID and having the option to work from home, I think we’re going to actually see a lot of people who also appreciate the simplicity of their jobs because they were granted with that basic flexibility.
And then I would also say your relationship to financial risk. What is the story in your head about putting your money where your mouth is and taking a risk? With some people, financial security is such a deep core value that they will not go into that transitional period where things are not totally secure, predictable, clarified, and the business needs you.
I think those are the two key factors for innovators.
Number Two: Builders. You want to think about these skill sets as energies as well and not just the tactical. The builder is somebody who could be a construction worker. It can also be a website designer, somebody who’s piecing together something.
Number Three: Words People. One question that comes up for this one is, Are you an introvert or are you an extrovert? Because Words People can be speakers, writers, authors, business developers, sales, talent, agent, real estate agents. There are so many different ways to use words to put money in your bank account, right? That’s what all these core skill sets are. It’s which one helps you make money and be you.
If you’re an introvert, you are going to express your core skill set on a more internal level. I’m more introverted. That’s why you don’t see me on stages all the time. I do book a lot of keynotes, but I book them very carefully because I sleep the next day. I’m an introvert and you see me kind of nerding out by myself at a coffee shop in normal times.
Extroverts are going to be externally using their skill sets. I think this is a very key distinction throughout this entire list.
Number Four: Motion. Believe it or not, being on your feet all day is a skill and some people prefer it and have a gift for it. These people could be a tour guides, a fitness trainers, even maybe hairdressers.
People can also have the same job title under different skill sets. For example, my skill set is Words. For a lot of therapists and psychologists, their skillset is probably Words.
They use words to be a healing force. How they express themselves, how they listen to people, and how they use their words helps people understand themselves and the world around them and that’s what’s healing for people.
There are some psychologists who actually reside in a different core skill set, which is Analysis. They’re able to analyze somebody and say, “Here’s the pattern I’m seeing in who you are.” Maybe their expression isn’t poetic and creative, but what they’re catching is so analytical that it moves the needle forward for their clients.
It’s not about saying, I’m in this skill set, so these are the job titles or the types of businesses I’m going to have. This is how my gift is going to play out. This is what I’m going to lead with. There are many different ways to do it, so it’s really just knowing that zone for you.
Number Five: Service. These are the supporters, the humanitarians, the helpers, the nurturers, the nurses. It’s really important to ask yourself if you are a service person or if you are just a people-pleaser who learned how to be that way in your family of origin. All of our coping skills in our traumas from our upbringing, small or big, whatever they are, influence us. And I think this is across the board with all of these core skill sets.
You want to ask yourself with service, and really with any of the skills, Is this a skill set that comes from a wound? Or is this inspired? Is this coming from who I am?
And maybe your answer is that it’s both. That’s totally okay. I just think it’s helpful to know.
Friends, I need to take a second and tell you about Startup School. Startup School is my signature business program.
If you don’t already know my story, I started a business with a $50 laptop that I got off Craigslist and turned it into a multimillion dollar empire that supports me and my family, about 20 other families, and you guys—the world, women of the world being lighter.
It is the best feeling in the entire world to know that when you wake up every day and you go to work and make money, it is doing something that is deeply seated in you, and you know, confidently what to do strategy-wise and practically to move the needle forward in your business, really make things happen, know that you’re making an impact, know that the money will come and know exactly how it will come.
This is about becoming a CEO.
Startup School has been completely redone into this massive program that will walk you through what you need to know and exactly what to do with the little time that you have in your business, because I know you guys also have families and that is something that’s unique and not a lot of people get—raising a family and a business at the same time.
Whether you just have a business idea and you haven’t started, or if you’ve had a business for years but it’s not making the impact or money that you want, this is going to massively transform you.
Seriously, I do not do things small. When I make a program, I go all in on it. I pour everything I know and everything I’ve got into it. This is such a huge, empowering, and powerful investment.
Running a business can feel extremely overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to learn and do everything and all the different voices are telling you, “Funnels are really important. Social media is really important. You have to do reels every day.”
I’m going to cut down the noise and tell you I know what to do. I know what’s really going to make your goals happen.
I know what’s actually worth your time because you have to practice essentialism here. You can’t be throwing noodles at the wall and trying a million different things.
You have to have a lot of clarity, be super focused, and make the time you spend on your business really count.
And that is what I’m really good at. Minimalism, essentialism in your business.
Startup School is so unique because not only does it help you get a solid foundation to your business, it’s going to carry you for years. This is how you get to five-figure months, six-figure months, six-figure years, seven-figure years. This is going to carry you for a long time. And that is how I designed it.
I want to help you have minimalism in the types of things that you need to buy to support you in your business. Not that this is it, but it’s definitely going to carry you for a good long while and give you some key things, principles and practical things to do that are unbeatable, absolutely unbeatable that you need to know for forever.
This is what I’m doing in my business now. And what I did to get to this point.
It’s also a mix of what I call strategy and spirit. Strategy being the more practical, “what do I do?” and those types of things. Spirit being the more limiting beliefs, your mindset, all the things that without that strategy isn’t going to do anything because you have to have both, right?
So visit alliecasazza.com/startupschool to learn more about this program.
If you enroll, please share on social and tag me. I want to celebrate the crap out of you. This is a big deal.
Decluttering your home, changing your family, changing the trajectory of the legacy you’re leaving as a mom is also a really huge deal. And that’s what I started with. That’s what I do.
But investing big time in your business and deciding, “This is going to be big. This is going to be what I want it to be. And I’m all in,” is a really, really huge deal as well and I want to celebrate that with you.
ALLIE: I’m thinking about my husband, because he has experienced that past trauma where you are only loved if you’re people-pleasing. At the same time, and I’ve thought a lot about this for him as he’s been navigating the last couple of years of his life and asking, What am I going to build next? What am I going to do next?”
He comes alive when he’s behind the scenes. Knowing that he’s supporting somebody that’s going out and actually doing the thing, he gets alive and awake. His soul is lit up.
So, I’m glad you said that because it’s nice to hear that it can be both. We talk about that often. He’s been kind of stuck and wondering if he’s going back to those old stories and that old need to please. But he’s also so lit up right now.
It’s so good that you mentioned it that way. I think a lot of people relate to Brian and relate to where he’s been. I can feel them listening to this and thinking, Okay, I think that’s it and I’m going to feel into that.
ASHLEY: We all have to remember that boundaries are what allow us to love people. There’s such a difference between boundaries and barriers. Sometimes with people there’s a wounded rigidity to how you’re showing up because you don’t know yet how to set that healthier boundary around yourself. You put these walls up and this rigidity versus this boundary of this where you start and I end, and knowing that line, being able to make requests from that.
Really knowing these boundaries is key I for any of the skill sets. For example, my partner’s family immigrated here from the middle east and they have innovation in their blood. But is that because that was what they had to have to survive when they came here with no money in their pocket?
Is this from trauma? Is this from who I am? Maybe it’s from both. And if it’s from both, set some boundaries so that you’re not working in trauma.
ALLIE: Is there anything else here that you feel would need to be explained to them before we move into describing what you do in the elevator pitch? I’ve been reading your book, so I get this, I see this. I feel like people, first of all, just need to get the book. It’s thick, amazing, and so loaded with details. Is there anything else with the skill sets?
ASHLEY: The final few. We did Innovation, Building, Words, Motion, Service.
Number Six: Coordinating. This is the project manager or the operations person. The detail people.
Number Seven: Analysis. We talked about the intelligence analyst. That was what I was working in when I worked at the Pentagon. That’s a perfect example of misunderstanding your skill set.
I’m a creative writer and I didn’t really have this body of work to rely on, so I thought, Oh, I love writing. I’ll be great with intelligence reports. But no, those are analysis. That was a misunderstanding of my core skill set.
Number Eight: Number Crunchers.
Number Nine: Technology People—artificial intelligence, creators.
Number Ten: Beauty. These are the makeup artists, interior designers, and musicians. People who make art.
With any of these, these questions apply. And people will probably be relating to two or three of these. What’s most important is knowing your number one. I really believe that about 60%, if not more, of your day should be focused with responsibilities in your core skill set.
Remember that your interest is a backdrop. I’m interested in film and fashion, but I would be a horrible filmmaker and a horrible fashion buyer or designer. There’s a big difference between consumption and production.
ALLIE: I feel like I’m really interested in style and interior design, but I would be a terrible interior designer because I want full freedom. And I also care more about words. I always have the next right thing that the person needs to hear in my throat and I’m ready to give that to them and help them and support them. All of those light me up, but I’m very interested in making spaces beautiful.
ASHLEY: This is the misunderstanding that I think people have. They’ll stop there. They won’t get as far as you just did with it. They’ll just say, “I love decorating; I’m going to be a decorator.” Or, “I love films; I’m going to be a filmmaker.”
What you love doesn’t mean you have a gift in it. 90% of your day is around your skillset. That’s what your tasks are from 9-5.
I love traveling in five star hotels, but if you put me in the kitchen to be the chef, I’m not supposed to be there.
Your interest is a backdrop to your skill set. If you love sports and you are a words person, do communications at a sports company. That’s fine. But lead with communications, don’t just take anything.
ALLIE: What great boundaries to have around what you do. Because what I do for women is very lifestyle and although it covers a lot, really it’s pretty niche. Women that follow me are always asking, “Could you show us how to decorate? Can you show us how to do it?”
They want me to branch out. I’ll literally think about it but I feel like I don’t know how. I just do it. I don’t know how to teach it. I can feel something in me telling me that that’s not what I’m here to do.
ASHLEY: I don’t think people have trained themselves to notice when their body is telling them that. Our gut has more than 200 million neurons, that’s why it’s called our second brain. There’s such an intelligence to when your stomach sinks or when you get butterflies in your stomach.
I think anybody who’s feeling depleted or not sure about whether they should stay or they should go, should really ask themselves, Am I depleted? Is my energy low all the time? Because that’s just your body telling you that something’s not working.
A lot of the time people aren’t low in energy; they’re low on purpose. And then suddenly when they find something, they lock in and they’re so alive.
I think the second thing to ask is, Am I working outside of your core skill set? Because if you are, then it’s so important that you get back into that zone. If you have to leave your job, you have to leave your job. If you have to change teams, you have to change teams. But that’s really going to take away a lot of your life force.
The second dynamic on top of your skill set is how your job looks and what your values are. Obviously, if you value integrity and you’re selling something you don’t believe in, you’re going to feel really upset in your job. I think your skills and your values are really what dictate a good career.
ALLIE: I’m such a big picture person. I see the vision. I can feel it and then I can make it happen, but explaining it and getting down to like what it’s made out of, I literally just will stare at someone and I don’t know what to say. You are breaking this down so tangibly for us.
ASHLEY: I hate to distill a human into a few boxes and that’s a little bit harder for the entrepreneurs, but for the workforce, it’s a transaction. These are the jobs out there. These are the skills the jobs need. What’s your skill?
When people tell me they need clarity, I tell them that they don’t need clarity, they just need to connect with themselves. Because when you’re connected to yourself, when you know where you’re talented, it becomes really easy to notice where you’re at and what jobs make sense for that.
You can start having conversations. These are my skills. What jobs make sense? It’s a matchmaking game. It’s a sifting game.
For people who are struggling to connect to themselves and really notice what their skills are, ask people in your life where they’ve seen you at your best. This is a research backed question.
Ask colleagues. Ask friends. Ask your parents. You’ll be surprised. And then take a look at what skill set you’re using. Ask yourself which one of these 10 core skill sets you’re using that people are seeing you gifted in. There’s so much and so little to it, all at the same time, when we really simplify.
ALLIE: Let’s talk about the Elevator Pitch. Let me just use myself as an example and then we can carry through with this. Or you can bring in someone that you’ve coached in the past or something.
ASHLEY: Ok, Allie, tell me about yourself.
ALLIE: I have struggled when someone asks me what I do. I’ll say, “I have an online business.”
And they’ll ask, “Well, what is it?”
And then I’ll say something like, “Well, I help women. There’s a podcast. Just Google it.”
I literally struggle with this. You know when you go on TV media and they oversimplify and they’re like, “Allie Casazza organizes your house for you.” And I’m like, “I’ve never organized anyone’s house for them.”
It’s so frustrating. They asked me and I gave them this overcomplicated long explanation, and that’s what they slapped on the screen when I went on. It’s so hard as an entrepreneur to describe what you do.
I think even for stay-at-home moms that are listening, I struggled to say what I did then, “Oh, I’m just a mom.” I was degrading myself. It’s just hard to describe what you do, especially if it feels a little complicated or it’s a wide range of things.
ASHLEY: I think the beginning of this game is to realize when you’re being invited into an Elevator Pitch, because most people haven’t trained their ear to register when something is some version of the question, Tell me about yourself.
Sometimes it’ll sound like, “What got you to apply for this?” Or, “Why are you here? Why did you leave your job? Why are you changing your business?”
It’s all the same. It’s all a version of, “Tell me about yourself.”
ASHLEY: The Elevator Pitch that I really focus on, and we can focus on many different ones, is the one that is powerful to turn conversations into opportunities. This is the kind where you are at coffee or on zoom with somebody, and they’re like, “Tell me about you.”
I don’t use the Elevator Pitch for networking events. I also don’t advise you to put an elevator pitch into an email. You can put a bio in an email. I think your mission statement or who you are as a business owner is really helpful, which I see as kind of separate.
If somebody asked me as a career expert, “What do you do?” I would say, “I help people step into careers that they’re excited about and really aligned with. And I do that through online courses, my book, coaching, and my podcast.” I help people with this and this is where I do it. I think that can be quite simple.
But when it comes to somebody who is evaluating you, if you’re a job seeker in an interview and a hiring manager says, “Tell me about you,” I think this is where this Elevator Pitch lives.
There are four steps to my formula for it. Number One is your story. The worst thing we could do is just tell something to someone that they already can easily find. This is where there’s some soul.
There are two different approaches to start this off. You can either tell your story with a defining moment in your life, This is the moment that made me want to do this…Or you can tell your story based on who you’ve always been since you were a kid.
I actually did it earlier on in this interview. I said, “I grew up in a house where the news was always on and from a young age, I cared about what was happening in the world.” That is an opening of a childhood based story.
When I was sitting in the Pentagon and they were interviewing me to work in national security and they said, “Why here?” Outside of my master’s degree and my three languages that I’m fluent in, I could say, “I grew up in a house where the news was always on and from a young age, I really cared about the world.” That differentiates you in such a big way, because everybody else who went to Harvard is regurgitating their resume.
We have to remember our resume gets us into the room. Our business success gets us the conversation that can get us to our next level with a producer for a TV show or whatever we’re striving for. But this conversation is what makes you a human and what makes people remember you.
So let’s say what you’re doing right now isn’t rooted in your childhood. Let’s say you work in PR. Is there a place in your childhood where you were chatty or social or bubbly?
How can you paint a picture of that, so that when you’re in a PR interview and they say, “Tell me about yourself,” you can say, “Ever since I was a kid, I was always chatting people up in the grocery store line. My mom couldn’t get me to quiet down.” You can be funny, but you’ve got to be true to who you always have been.
If you don’t have something like that, you can talk about a defining moment. For me, with my career coaching business, I could open up an Elevator Pitch and say, “I was working at the Pentagon and 90% of the time, I was the only woman in the room. I remember feeling a glass ceiling ahead of me and wanting to make a difference with that, knowing that I had these amazing skills to help people.”
First Step: A defining moment or childhood story.
The Second Step: The Cuff. I call it a cuff because it’s quick. Nobody wants to talk about something for too long. There’s a very fine line between shining a spotlight on an insecurity and addressing a weakness.
I would say with the cuff, if you’ve been out of the workforce for a while, you want to think to yourself, Do I have something to explain for myself? Is there something that’s not adding up about who I am or what I’m offering?
If so, it’s your job to address it. If it’s a business and you’re doing a webinar, it’s your job in your cuff statement to address a weakness that people are probably perceiving about you.
If there’s no weakness and let’s say you’re applying for a job and your resume is a pretty clear candidate for that job, then use the cuff for a humble brag. Come from a place of gratitude. For me at the Pentagon, it could have been, “I’m so grateful that I’m fluent in all of these languages and I took the time to do that. I know that I can bring this to this job.”
Maybe you’ve been out of the workforce for a while. You can say something like, “I faced a health issue a couple of years back, and I’m so grateful to be healthy now and able to fully give my 100% to my career.”
Maybe you traveled, you could say, “I spent some time traveling and really reflecting. I’m just so clear about this next move and so excited to be talking to you about it.”
ALLIE: It’s like you’re spinning it in such a positive way, which is true, but just not focusing on a perceived negativity.
Ashley: Exactly. It could be for the negative or the positive. Imagine if I said, “I went to breakfast with Carol Baskin and I just made this whole podcast about it.” That would be weird.
And that’s the same thing with a cuff. You just don’t want to focus on something. If I say it quickly and I move on, it’s interesting. It peaks people’s interest and it’s memorable.
If you asked, “How was your day?” And I said, “I went to breakfast with Carole Baskin, and now I’m here. Let’s get this interview started.” That’s interesting.
But if I continue with, “And she was wearing this leopard print…” It gets interesting until it doesn’t, and that’s why it’s quick.
You want to do a humble brag quickly. You want to address a weakness quickly. You don’t want to hang out and linger on either of those.
I know there’s a lot of talk around how to brag, how to be humble, and how to share your accomplishments. We’re still humans and humans do get weird if you’ve been going on about how great you are for a little too long.
The Third Step: The Skill. If you’re a bowl of cherries, what is the cherry that they want to eat? What is the one skill they need to know you have?
This comes back to our conversation earlier about career pivots. You want to look at the pie chart of all the skills you’ve ever used, and you want to be able to talk about the one that they really need. Bonus points if you can put it in testimonial format.
If you can say, “My boss always commented on my way of finding patterns in the data, and that’s why I’m so excited for this research role.” If it’s not your boss, maybe it’s a colleague, maybe you have to use a friend or a professor.
Obviously a boss is pretty powerful. If you’re a business owner you could say, “A couple of things my clients really have given me feedback on is my ability to do this.
ALLIE: I see it all the time, which is why it’s such a bummer when you don’t have it down.
ASHLEY: It really doesn’t need to be long.
If I was giving you an Elevator Pitch at the beginning of this podcast and you said, “Tell me about yourself.” I could have done the defining moment approach of my story and said, “I remember this moment in the Pentagon, and there were no women, which is why I’m here.”
Then I would move into my cuff. I do this in advance. I recommend people reflect on this in advance to quiet anxiety and to remember the four steps in conversation. And I think there’s something actually very authentic about deciding your Elevator Pitch versus being in this default mode.
I think there’s a Latin root with authentic and author. Creating what you have to say, being intentional, that’s authentic. Defaulting into whatever blobs out of your mouth, that’s not authentic for your career. I think there’s something authentic about practicing and writing it down.
So for my cuff, I would check in with myself and ask, Is there a shortcoming about me on this podcast? Is this a technology podcast and I’m a career expert? Maybe I need to bridge that gap.
So I’ll say, “I’ve been helping people in their careers. One thing that I’ve always had a strength in my business is technology and that’s why I’m here to help everybody learn how to leverage technology in their career. These are five hacks for your job hunt.”
Then I would say my skill. I could say something like, “I’m so grateful that my clients have just talked to me so much.”
Let’s use my book. That’s my biggest passion right now, what I’m coming the most alive about. So if I want to just sell more books, which of course I always want more people to read this book because it’s so meaningful, I could say something like, “I’ve been getting nonstop feedback from so many clients and readers about how my book has helped them figure out who they are and what career is best for them. I’m so honored to be able to share that here.” That’s a really good skill statement, especially if I’m interviewing to get another book deal.
The Fourth Step: The Goal. It’s different depending on where you are. If you’re an entrepreneur and you’re at a networking event, you’ve got to think what is the goal that you have in your business right now? If you want to add a new service to your business, then you need to let other entrepreneurs know the one thing you’re really excited to transition into or the one thing you’re looking for.
If you’re looking for more PR at a networking event or you’re at a conference for PR, you can say, “What I’m really excited about being here is hopefully meeting more people in the PR world. I really want to secure more press for my business.”
You let it land what you’re wanting and you allow people the option right then and there to help you or not, without having to ask them. You’re asking, without asking, which is the best.
ALLIE: That’s so good and it can apply to any conversation.
ASHLEY: When I’m networking, I’m always using a goal statement. I hate for people to judge themselves as having an agenda. Everybody always has something that they want more of in their life.
I think you can build real relationships when you say, “Here’s what I’m transitioning into, focusing on, looking to meet more people about, looking to connect about.”
If you’re in a job interview, then the goal is to get the job. So from there, you can say, “I’m particularly excited about this opportunity because of the press that the company has, the client roster that they have, the people that work there, or the mission that they have.”
Whatever it is about them in particular would be your goal statement, letting them know that the goal is to get to the job, so what do you care about with that company?
Those are the four steps of an Elevator Pitch. I would say they are a lot simpler than people think. If you have a long Elevator Pitch, then it’s going to get weird. Keep it to the point. Keep these four steps intact.
Reflect on it in advance and practice until you’re a little bit blue in the face. Nothing’s worse for your Elevator Pitch than having anxiety as you give it. It should just be in the cells of your body. You should say it’s so easily.
ALLIE: Well, especially when it’s a situation where there’s a lot at stake and you feel like you should know this. Then you just look like an idiot, you start to talk like an idiot, and it’s just an idiot cycle.
ASHLEY: I’ve done that. I just kind of look and I could literally hear crickets behind me.
ALLIE: Yeah, me too.
Can you give us a one-liner or something about your book. I feel like you gave us a huge preview here. Where can people go and buy it? I really feel like this needs to be in the hands of everyone listening.
ASHLEY: Thank you so much. The book is called You Turn. It’s two words because I think in life, all of us make a U-turn. It’s an 11-step roadmap for you to get clarity on your next career move and your best career fit.
The working subtitle is Get Unstuck, Discover Your Direction, Design Your Dream Career. And that’s really what I stand for in the book. That’s the kind of information you’re going to see from me anywhere in my podcast.
I’m so grateful to be here with you. The book is available on Amazon in a lot of countries, especially the U.S. Book Depository is a good site if you’re international. You can get it at YouTurnbook.com. There are a lot of different places you can get it.
ALLIE: It is a massive book, but very digestible. I keep having to go and look for it because Brian keeps taking it. I find it on his side of the bed or on his table and I say, “I’m reading this and you took my dog ear off.”
He’s really figuring a lot out for himself and it’s really helping him. He was really excited that I was talking to you today too.
ASHLEY: That makes me so happy. It’s so funny, I’ve had a lot of readers reach out and say, “I’ve been fighting with my partner because they’re really stressed about their career, and I just handed them this book and said, ‘Read this, and you’re going to figure it out.’”
That feels really good to hear.
ALLIE: You’re doing such amazing work. Again, just thank you so much for coming here and taking time out of your day to share that with us for free. It’s beautiful. I really appreciate it.
Thanks so much for hanging out with me! In case you didn’t know, there’s actually an exclusive community that’s been created solely for the purpose of continuing discussions around The Purpose Show episodes. It’s designed to get you to actually take action and make the positive changes that we talk about here. I want you to go and be a part of it. To do that, go to alliecasazza.com/facebookgroup.
Thank you so much for tuning in! If you’d like to learn more about me, how I can help you, how you can implement all these things and more into your life to make it simpler, better, and more abundant, head to alliecasazza.com. There are free downloads, online courses, programs, and other resources to help you create the life you really want.
I am always rooting for you, friend! See you next time! I’m Allie Casazza and this is The Purpose Show.
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