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By Denise M. Michaels
Your business is cranking out record numbers this year. It’s demanding and you’ve built an American success story from the ground up. But you dream of being a Management Consultant to Fortune 500 companies.
Or, you continued moving up the ladder and now you’re at a senior or “C” level with all the perks. But you yearn for the opportunity to be much more independent, hang out your own shingle and call the shots as a Speaker and Author, more specifically a person who sells their wisdom and knowledge. I call that a “Wisdom Professional.”
Here’s the paradox: after a certain age change becomes more challenging. If you decide to make a change, you’re walking away from more. You may be leaving a significant paycheck and a life that’s been flowing in a comfortable rhythm for years. You have responsibilities. You realize friends may change and your day-to-day surroundings may change. Just as thoughts of retirement start growing, you feel you have one big burst of ambition and drive. There’s a new adventure for you to chart before tossing your suits in the closet for good and grabbing your golf clubs or passport.
In the same breath as you consider your responsibilities, the passion to change and transform becomes more urgent than ever. No more does it seem like a good idea to keep your desired change out beyond your reach. Plus the energy and stamina you once had to work endless hours to put you on top isn’t quite what it was a decade ago.
So, how do you gradually transition and change for this second career or business without upsetting the applecart of your life? In this article I’ll share some of the strategies I give my clients who are eager to transition from what they’ve done for years into a new endeavor.
If your desired change includes becoming a “Wisdom Professional” I can help. Wisdom professionals are consultants, trainers, speakers, book authors, therapists and healers. If you’re over the moon about becoming an artist or cultivating prize-winning roses there are probably better resources than me to help you out.
To make a change in this direction and do it gradually start by becoming a better public speaker. Speaking is a powerful way to get your message and expertise out to others. You can work on gaining or improving this skill set during your down time. Visit www.ToastMastersInternational.org – a worldwide, non-profit organization who’s goal is helping it’s members with public speaking and leadership skills.
If you live in a decent-sized metro area there are probably dozens of ToastMasters groups. They meet at schools, churches and businesses usually once a week for 90-minutes. Each meeting will give off a slightly different vibe. Some are for speaking newbies, others are more demanding and attract people higher up the food chain of speaking. Because ToastMasters is non-profit it’s inexpensive, about $150-200 for a one year membership. Attend three meetings in a week, decide which one will work best for you and join.
The only way to improve your speaking skills is with “platform time.” That means get up in front of people. When I was in college and didn’t know about ToastMasters I volunteered to do the announcements in church every week. It wasn’t creative or highly expressive, but I got a bit of my personality out and started to get those butterflies in my stomach flying in formation.
Even if you don’t see yourself becoming a professional speaker, the skills you’ll learn will help you anytime you need to stand up in front of a room and present, even if it’s a conference room with just a few people.
If your goal is to be a Consultant and you’re working with another corporation you may or may not have the flexibility to go out and start getting clients while still in your job. If flexibility is lacking there may be a need for your services at the offices of a few notable local non-profits for your expertise. Your employer need only know you’re doing pro-bono work for this non-profit. You gain and your company looks good for giving back to the community.
Also, a wonderful benefit in many non-profits is the pillars of the community, top business leaders are often hanging around just because they like to help. So it’s a great networking opportunity. Most of all you get to do a good turn for an organization in need in your community.
What else can you do if you want to get your ducks in a row before making the big leap?
Go to networking events where you can schmooze with business owners in other industries and media influencers. Develop a data base of names, connect on LinkedIn and stay connected. Nurture those relationships.
Consider working with a few individual clients. They may not be able to pay as much as a corporation but you actually start getting a sense of what people and small business owners want and need. Where will your skills fit best?
Develop a web presence. A simple website using the WordPress platform is fine and usually inexpensive. If you’re not online today you don’t exist as a business owner. Write a blog. An article every week to two weeks starts building your street cred and people start noticing. I post mine here on my blog and on LinkedIn almost every week. Have a Facebook fan page. Post tips, post what you’re doing that enhances you and engage with the people who start to follow.
Get professional headshots. If the last picture of you is a black and white shot from a couple decades ago, it won’t pass muster. Your picture should look like the best representation of you as you want to be seen in your new endeavor. Yes, you can have them Photoshop out the circles beneath your eyes, crows feet or flyaway hair. It’ll still look like you.
Most importantly, author a book. When I left my last position a few months after my book came out I was ready to fly. I had a clear message and knew how I was different from others. I had a vehicle (my book), I had speaking and training skills and a platform of fans I’d built up eager to buy. Putting these pieces in place helped me have a soft landing. I built my income back up to where I was before leaving my comfortable perch in about six months. There’s no way I could’ve accomplished that without a book.
If your aim is to step away from your business – even if it’s on a part-time basis, or, say goodbye to the company you’ve given a lot of your life and passion to, you can do this. It doesn’t have to remain faraway or “a dream.” Let’s talk about it and see how you can get on the path to accomplishing your definition of success at this stage of your life.
Denise M. Michaels is a ghostwriter and book coach. She helps CEOs, entrepreneurs, consultants, therapists, speakers and aspiring book authors become more recognizable, influential and in-demand. Using the leverage a book provides – you can become the go-to expert in your niche. To contact Denise click here now.