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Episode 002

Episode 2: Investing in yourself

by Gillian Fox

Listen To The Full Episode:

Gillian:
When it comes to your career, do you spend your time questioning yourself or do you spend your time investing in yourself? There’s a big difference. What I want you to know is that you are worth investing in. You deserve a brilliant career and life. Today, we’re talking about why investing in you is the best investment. It’s a fascinating topic. So I’ve invited a couple of fantastic guest speakers to join us today.

You are listening to Your Brilliant Career. I’m your host, Gillian Fox executive coach, women’s career expert, and entrepreneur. The podcast that teaches you how to get the most out of your career. We talk tactics, tools, and stories that all help incredible women like you achieve the success you deserve. If you want to learn more about how to create the brilliant career you’ve always wanted, I encourage you to check out the RISE Program. It’s my four-month career development program. Through a combination of individual executive coaching sessions and group workshops, you’ll discover how to overcome obstacles, create opportunities and reach new heights in your career.

Gillian:
Hello, and welcome back to the podcast. I hope you’re all doing well. Today, I want to open your eyes as to why investing in you is the best investment. It is an investment that will yield you a future ROI. So what does investing in you, look like? Well, from a career perspective, it could be as simple as spending quality time with a mentor. It could be attending a group or coaching program, it could be a conference. It could be downtime to reflect and consolidate your thoughts. And taking this time, I think is very important. And sometimes you’ve got to spend the money as well. And I say it’s important because staying focused can be difficult when you have so many responsibilities to manage, and most women have a lot of responsibilities to manage. And this is why a lot of people lose momentum when endeavouring to develop their careers, they want different results but they flounder.

Gillian:
So most people start and stop their career ambitions because they think they can’t find the time or they’re not worth investing in. So what I’m saying today is be different, invest in yourself. It will pay huge dividends for you throughout your career and life. I have made investing in myself a priority because from my track record, I know the more I learn and apply the better results I create. Every year I invest in books, courses, trainings. I work with coaches or mentors, I team up with colleagues. It’s just something that I do. And I love it. I spend thousands and thousands of dollars every year. At the Entrepreneurs Organization, we were told that we should invest 0.05% of our gross revenues into development. So if you have a business that brings in a million bucks, the idea is that you invest $50,000 back into development. Pretty reasonable, I think.

Gillian:
And I think the same can apply for an individual. So if you earn a hundred thousand dollars, if that’s your salary, then spend 5,000 on your own development or on something that you believe will be an investment in you. And I’m kind of curious when I was exploring this whole notion, why don’t women do it more readily? Why do they hesitate? And I do think women think differently when it comes to backing themselves. You’ve probably heard the statistic, men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet a hundred percent of them. So put, another way men just kind of go for it, very confidently, while women don’t feel confident until they’ve checked each item off the list.

Gillian:
And I want to challenge that today, simply by saying you don’t need the perfect plan. If you pause and think about it, you’ll know how to invest in yourself and you are worthy and you are accountable for your own success. When it comes to your career, it is your responsibility to know your strengths, your special talents, and nurture those capabilities, so they give you a competitive edge. Great careers require lots of things, building the right networks, building the brand, being in the right place at the right time. But in the end, a brilliant career requires a personal commitment to manage and invest in your career the right way.

Gillian:
So let me introduce you to our two guests joining us. I have to give you the heads up that they are extraordinary women in their own right. One of our guests has six kids, works four days a week, plays two sports, and found the time to attend a four-month career coaching program. Amazing. Our other guest has had a stellar career, but found herself in a bit of a career rut and didn’t know how to wiggle out of it, her words. So took matters into her own hands and pursued an opportunity single-handedly to help herself. Please welcome to the show, Aish and Cath. Hello, how are you both?

Aish:
Really well. Thank you.

Cath:
Really good. Thanks, Gillian.

Gillian:
Well, it’s wonderful to have you here. We met in March this year at the launch of the RISE Program, our four-month women’s career advancement program. You are both great examples of women who consciously invested in themselves by enrolling in this program. And we are keen to understand today why you did that and what happened as a result. So Cath, let’s start with you because you have an interesting story. Why did you pursue the program? Why did you choose to invest in yourself?

Cath:
I felt stuck was my biggest problem. I felt a bit kind of trapped. I think off the back of COVID, lockdowns, I felt very isolated and wasn’t quite sure how to move forward or wiggle my way out, as I said. I had lost those connections with people that I saw as mentors, on a daily basis or kind of role models on a daily basis. And I was looking for a way to move forward, I guess, without them while I was at home on my own. And I came across your program and this sounds perfect for me because I need a bit of a helping hand.

Gillian:
But Cath, you reached out to me to ask about the program, and then you took the opportunity to decision-makers internally to get it across the line.

Cath:
That’s correct. Yeah. So I reached out to you independently of the organisation that I worked for and then realised that maybe the timing wasn’t going to be right at that point in time for me. Then took that extra step and went to my employer and said, I’d really like to do this. I think this would be really perfect for me. And they backed me. And I think what’s really interesting out of that is that confidence in yourself is obviously a little bit contagious. I backed myself and then they backed me after that.

Gillian:
Aish, you had a similar scenario in that no one tapped you on the shoulder. You had to earn your place on the program. So share with us your motivation to invest in yourself.

Aish:
So I was working in a team focused on changing culture and transforming the way that the organisation has historically worked and moving us forward into that sort of VUCA world that we find ourselves in now. So for those that may not know, VUCA is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. And it sort of encapsulates the last 24 months for a lot of us with the COVID uncertainties, we’ve faced bush fires, floods, and just the uncertainty of everyday life. So in amongst my busy day-to-day work, I came across a post. It was in a teams page in a women’s ERG that I’m part of through work. And there was a few keywords that when I looked through the program and what it was all about that really stuck with me, some of those words were around growing your resilience, key growth areas, and building a career plan.

Aish:
And it was only then that I’d realised that I was so busy doing the work that I hadn’t actually taken a breath and stopped and actually reevaluated where I was, where I wanted to go, and what my next steps were going to be. I was so caught on the hamster wheel of just churning through the work, the normal mundane realities of life of getting kids ready. Doing the school sports and school activities and all of the other bits and pieces that I found it really interesting and I wanted to put my name forward to be considered so that I could have that opportunity to take some time for myself in amongst all of that. And yeah, just have a bit of a pause and a rethink of where I was and where I really wanted to go.

Gillian:
Cath, what was the most challenging thing about the program experience? Something that required more grit than you thought.

Cath:
The brand surveys were a bit of a challenge for me in that they were quite intimidating, the idea of asking a person to give you some really honest and possibly critical feedback about you. But I found the program was really, like I’m not necessarily the best person at accepting feedback. So that was a challenge in and of itself. You gave us some really useful advice about how to manage that. And I think one of the funniest things that I did was I made sure I had a post-it note on my desk that said, feedback is a gift when I took the opportunity to speak to people.

Cath:
And I glanced at that constantly. But I think often in life, the things that are the most challenging are often the most rewarding as well. And I think the brand surveys were the scariest part of the program but were also the most rewarding part of the program for me. It was really interesting to hear other people articulate where they thought I was and where they saw me going. Because I think that was one of the things that I had struggled with, was being able to articulate it and hearing it in their language helped me really shape that way forward.

Gillian:
Well, that’s an interesting reflection Cath. So our listeners know, the brand surveys are an assignment participants work on before their first coaching session. It’s a way of understanding where they are today, how they’re tracking, how people are experiencing them, and a few other very powerful insights. Aish, tell us about your brand survey experience. How did that go for you? What did it reveal?

Aish:
I agree with Cath. I too was a little bit nervous and slightly reluctant and anxious about how it was all going to play out. There was some questions there that whilst I was keen to hear what they were, I wasn’t sure if I was quite ready. In all honesty, it was a bit more positive than I expected, which told me that my confidence was probably a bit lower than what I thought and what I was portraying. And some of the feedback, there was a bit of a trend around energy and emotions and passion. And that was really obvious to me around how important that is and how transferable that stuff is, particularly in the relationships we have personally and professionally. And that if you are coming in with a really positive energy, that as long as you hit the right mark, that that is something that you can carry through and that can be quite a skill in itself.

Aish:
So I guess coming away from the brand survey, it really improved my confidence. It reminded me of who I am and the way I’m being currently perceived does line up with my values and morals and my ethical work standard. And that made me really happy and re-energized me a little bit. It was a bit of a boost for my confidence and reminded me that I’m on the right path and there’s a bit of work to do and what those areas are. But a bit like Cath too, I think when you’re ready and you’re open to hearing things that aren’t going to necessarily line up with what you expect, or that might challenge you and may be different to what you are thinking or hoping that’s where you’ve got your biggest opportunity for growth. And so I was really open to hearing where my blind spots were and where I could do more of that work.

Gillian:
Aish, once you did the hard work you were accepted, then nominated for the RISE Program, but this isn’t the first time you’ve been nominated for something and took a risk. Can you tell us about another time in your career where you took a chance and backed yourself and what was the outcome?

Aish:
Yeah, so a particular example that comes to mind was when I first started with the company I’m working with now, there was an opportunity that presented itself a little bit similar to the RISE Program, but slightly different. It was a scholarship with SOCAP and it was the John Wood scholarship. So that was aimed at people in the consumer affairs industry that were fairly new to that particular industry. And it was a 12-month mentoring program, but it also included a bit of formal certification and quals as well. I remember seeing the application thinking, “Oh, I don’t know.” But then sort of backing myself and going, “You know, what’s the worst that can happen.” And so I put some of the details forward, answered a few of the questions. And it was around the end of 2018, I got a call and I remember being in the lunchroom at work and I was just so excited.

Aish:
I’m sure that my colleagues thought I won the lottery or something, but it was that I got this great news that I was the successful person for this 12-month scholarship. And it was a real turning point in my career and I would say my life and it’s opened up so many opportunities and avenues and it all came off the back of taking a risk and backing myself and investing in myself. And I think when you asked me a little bit about why do you do that, and what’s the value in it and why is it important? I think it stems back to, you need to help yourself first in order to help others. It’s a bit like the safety talk they give you on the aeroplane, put your own oxygen mask on first, and then you can help a lot more people. If you do it the other way around, you’re not as beneficially useful to anyone really.

Aish:
And so if you’re pouring from an empty cup, there’s not much to give. Whereas if you fill your own cup, you’ve got a lot more to offer others. Particularly for me, with my family, my children, and even the generation coming through. I want to role model the behavior that I want to see and break that stigma and that culture that investing in yourself is selfish because really it’s not. The happier and more balanced and positive we are, the happier our relationships are. And in turn our professional outcomes, our customer experiences, and all the other outcomes and inputs that we are providing to others.

Gillian:
Beautifully put Aish, thank you. And you are right. We just have so much more to offer others when we invest in ourselves.

Gillian:
Cath, you’ve had an excellent career, but what’s hard about navigating your career today.

Cath:
I think for me personally, I struggle with patience. I think as a mother who works full time, as everyone else here will appreciate. The moments that you find for yourself to focus purely on yourself are so few and far between, that when I have those moments, I feel pressure to achieve something really big, really quick and that’s not always possible. And so I think that having the patience to trust that a little bit of effort over a long period of time will get me that great result as well is a real challenge for me personally. That investing in myself a little bit today and a little bit more tomorrow and a little bit more the day after of that will probably get me further in the end than diving in headfirst to something without truly thinking about it in that five-minute gap between bath time and bedtime.

Gillian:
Aish, are you more likely to put your hand up for something after that experience?

Aish:
Yeah, I think so. I say that with reluctance, but I’m going to say yes. I am kind of known as the one that will jump off the deep end and figure it out as I go. And I definitely have colleagues and friends that always are asking questions like, “How do you put yourself out there and how are you so comfortable getting outside of your comfort bubble and comfort zone?” And the answer is I’m totally not. And even just today, I had a conversation with a colleague about something that I was presenting in a meeting off the cuff very last minute, wasn’t prepared. And I did it and I was a ball of nerves and I felt very scripted and robotic in the meeting. And I called my colleague this morning and I said, “Was it really obvious?” And they said, “No.” And I said, “Well, deep down underneath the surface of what you saw, I was really freaking out and it didn’t meet my expectations. And I feel like I failed in someway. I didn’t deliver as best as I could have.”

Aish:
And they said, “It’s really nice to hear that you’re human.” And I was like, “Wow, there’s something to that.” Sometimes I think we put so much pressure on ourselves and we’re so concerned about our perception and how people are going to perceive what we’re doing, saying, wearing, acting, our behaviour, and things. But I think underlying all that, as long as we’re true and we understand who we are, and what our values are, and what we stand for. It doesn’t really matter what happens because you can always sort of rectify something if it goes off course. And if somebody misunderstands you, there’s always an opportunity at some point to resolve that and talk it through and get back on track. So as much as I’ve been set back and I think my resilience has grown epically and that’s probably why I’m more willing to put myself out there and face possible rejection.

Aish:
I know that every hurdle is just that and it’s something to get over. And every pushback is just a step forward that I take in a different direction and that’s okay. It doesn’t have to be everything I dreamt of or expected. And my life as it is now is not what I expected when I was younger. I am married for the second time. I have three beautiful children and three beautiful stepchildren. I have two dogs and a cat, a seven-bedroom house. I live by the beach, which is amazing and beautiful. And I’m so blessed and lucky. But if you told me as a child, this is what my life would look like at this point, I would’ve thought, “No way, absolutely no way.”

Gillian:
Yeah.

Aish:
Plus a job that I love in a really supportive, inclusive culture. I couldn’t have asked for more, but it’s absolutely not what … If you pitched me when I was in high school or going to university that I would’ve gone, “Yeah, that’s where I see myself.”

Gillian:
Cath, based on your own experience, what advice would you give to other women about investing in themselves?

Cath:
Do it. Find the time, trust the process. I’m very sceptical about these processes, but on reflection, looking back on it, they’ve made such a difference to me in the long run. As I say my confidence has grown, my opinion of myself, my understanding of myself, the appreciation of my journey has grown so significantly. And how can that ever be a bad thing?

Gillian:
So true, Cath. And I hope you continue to invest in yourself as I know great things are ahead for both of you. It has been an absolute pleasure having you both on the show today. Thank you for sharing your stories and ideas. It’s been wonderful catching up with you and hearing about your successes.

Cath:
Thank you.

Aish:
Thank you.

Gillian:
To close today. Here are two questions to consider. I hope they will give you the clarity as to why you should make investing in you a priority. And here’s the first one, where will I be in five years, if I just wait for growth to happen? And the second question is, how will I get where I want to go if I choose not to invest in myself? Okay, well that’s a wrap today. Thank you for joining us. I’m excited to see what you create. Have a great few weeks. And I’ll see you next time.

Thanks so much for listening to today’s podcast. If you’re loving what you’re learning on the podcast, sign up for our free training session on, How to Land your Next Promotion. This course is going to give you a close look at the three reasons why people don’t land their next promotion and what you can do differently to ensure you succeed. I think you’ll love it. Head over to yourbrilliantcareer/freetraining. I look forward to seeing you soon.

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