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Lynette Lewis Interview: Climbing the Corporate Ladder in Stilettos – Part 2

This week we have a world class, and often quoted, expert on career development, marketing and branding. Lynette Lewis is an author, business consultant, and keynote speaker who has been inspiring men and women on vision and purpose subjects for over 25 years. She is one of John Maxwell’s Maximum Impact speakers. Her popular book, Climbing the Corporate Ladder in Stilettos, received recognition from numerous sources including The Wall Street Journal and New York Post. She appears frequently on radio and television programs including The Today Show and Martha Stewart Living.

I recently interviewed Lynette for the Successfully Unemployed Radio Show and enjoyed immensely that she has big dreams, but she also faces the day-to-day realities. Here is Part 2 of the transcript from our interview:

Successfully Unemployed:  I assume that is your own business and you’re not working for somebody else. And I think that for many people, they can create piece work, project work, sub-contractor work, or consulting work in their area of expertise

Lynette: Well, I would agree with that, Alan, and it’s interesting when you say sort of create your own work. What happened to me as I went through my career journey was there are different seasons, of course, in any job. One of the first jobs I had, I spent 10 years doing the job. I had numerous different roles and positions through those 10 years at the one organization. But there were many seasons in my life, probably especially in my 20’s, but even into my early 30’s, where I would be either bored or frustrated. One of the chapters in my book I titled, I’m Unrecognized, Unrewarded and Underpaid, because there was a great bit of time where I would go through those seasons of being just that.

Even though there was only one time in my career where I was surprisingly let go, there were numerous other times where I was wanting something new and was really hoping for something different. Many times I felt trapped by the job description, by the boss, or just the environment or the economy. I had wanted to make a job change, but just didn’t feel at liberty to do that financially or for other reasons. A lot of people feel that. There is a whole host of people that are currently employed who have been left behind when others were unemployed and are now doing two or three jobs and are not necessarily any happier that they are just working. So I became a real proponent, and still am, of this concept of inventing your next thing even while you’re not doing the thing you really want to do.

When I found myself in this transition, there were a number of things I had already been inventing. I decided at one point that I really wanted to do more speaking, and I decided to get more proactive about it. Then I was talking to one of my connections in New York about whether this was my moment to really venture out and do that. She gave me some of the best advice that I’ve since handed to many people. She said, “Lynette, you need to get a job that is going to at least put bread on your table, because all of your creative energy, if you don’t have a job that’s paying your bills, is going to go to just worrying about your next meal. But if you get a job that will put some money on the table, even if it’s a temp job, even if it’s handiwork helping anybody, just an income stream, then take every free moment you have – nights, weekends, vacation days, whatever it is you end up with – and put those moments to work in creating this thing you really want to do. That way you have two streams happening: you’re being taken care of financially, but you’re not feeling stuck because you’re inventing your next thing.”

That’s exactly what I did. I ended up going back to Deloitte where I had left right before the PR firm, and went right back to work for a man I had worked for before I’d left. He had since moved into a new role, so I got a new title and actually went back in at a higher pay than when I had left, which was a blessing. You look back and see such a Sovereign plan in your life that’s really going on even though there are panic moments along the way. I wouldn’t say I went back to my “Dream Job” at all, but I was glad to get the job, and then I became very proactive and aggressive on inventing my next thing. I kind of created this stream simultaneously where I could do more of what I really loved.

Successfully Unemployed: Well, I think that’s an excellent point and you mentioned the word a couple of times, and it is a key word, and that is to have a successful search or build a successful career or life, you have to remain proactive. In your case you did that in inventing your next thing. I think it’s a good point for anyone who has to take a job to put food on the table. That’s important to do and that’s our responsibility to do that, but never let the dream die, and as Lynette said, keep inventing your next thing and put your creative energies toward that. Don’t stagnate, don’t accept the status quo and remain content, if indeed you are not content and it’s not the best fit for your God-given gifts and abilities.

Lynette: Oftentimes when I’m talking about this, people will raise their hand or make mention that they are so busy they can barely make it. Some people are out there working two or three jobs just to make ends meet, and believe me I relate to that and understand. I was doing a workshop in New York one day for some women executives in the banking field and we were talking about sort of inventing that next thing. I asked them, What would be your biggest hindrance to doing that? And without exception, everyone of them said, Well, it’s time. So I offered to them a suggestion that has since become a real tagline for me and something I offer in any setting I’m in. It’s what I call my One-One-One Strategy. It’s simply this: One Dream, One Step, Once a Week.

You decide one new thing you want to develop in your life, one dream, and every week you take one step toward that dream. Now it may be a 10-minute slot of time that you’re going to look up on the internet and find out what’s out there in the realm you’re interested in. It may be one phone call. It may be doing one action item to propel it down the field – getting smarter, making a connection. What’s amazing is, as you work in the One Step, Once a Week, you then get your next step for the next week and before long you’ve made room because the momentum and the energy begins to facilitate ongoing progress. It is amazing as you think that after a year you’ve made 52 steps toward your dream, even in increments that are virtually non-impacting on your schedule, and it’s worked for a lot of people.

Successfully Unemployed: Let’s repeat that, Lynette, the One-One-One Strategy.

Lynette: Sure, the One-One-One Strategy is One Dream, you make One Step, Once a Week. You may have one dream that’s going to be your focus for the next several months, but each week you’re going to make one step. You just commit to doing that, and it helps if you get a friend that wants to do the same thing. At first it’s very diligent, but before long the momentum keeps you going.

Successfully Unemployed: Well, that’s great. I love that. That’s a great simple, but significant and powerful strategy. I recall a mountain summiteer saying, we should all say to ourselves each day: If I just had more courage, what is the one thing I would do today to continue, as you said, to advance my dream?

Lynette: That is great. I love that.

Successfully Unemployed: If I just had more courage, and that’s usually what it takes – to have more courage to do it. I think when we are proactive, we tend to feel like we are in control of a situation. We are reactive when we don’t perceive we are in as much control. What I like about your strategy is that it does provide a sense of control. It also creates results because those steps, whether it’s a phone call or a letter or an exploratory interview, are all pretty measurable. So you can see progress toward that dream, as you said, in the course of a year. Fifty-two steps a year, you’re a whole lot closer than when you started.

What have you found, as you’ve visited with folks, to be the biggest challenges job-seekers are facing today?

Lynette: I would say, and there are certainly a number of different challenges on different levels, but I think one of the biggest things is just maintaining a sense of confidence. I don’t care how far advanced you go in your career. I started out feeling so insignificant and still many, many times feel so insignificant. You keep waiting for this moment in your career where you suddenly feel educated, or feel qualified is probably a better way to say it, and I don’t know if that feeling every really comes in the ways that we wish. Regardless, I think that’s when we just have to act confident, and in some cases feign confidence. If you can act confident even when you don’t feel confident – not as a fake, but projecting what you know you can be, then people will respond to your confidence and they’ll have a heart to help you. It will work much better for you than if you just sit back and sort of wait for permission.

Successfully Unemployed: That’s a great point. There’s a big difference between acting confident and acting cocky. I think confidence is the place we want to be. Acting confident is the key to moving forward, and people will respond to that confidence and to your desire to help them out.

Thank you Lynette for sharing your time and expertise. We appreciate it greatly. You can learn more about Lynette on her website: LynetteLewis.com.  For more of our interview, check out the podcast on Successfully Unemployed Radio Show.

More details on the  principles covered in this interview, as well as ways to become more successful at either finding or creating more fulfilling work, can be found in the book, Successfully Unemployed – Finding or Creating Your Dream Job. Get your copy today!

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