I was recently asked to sit on a panel to answer questions about job transition. Given my move from the corporate project manager to full-time speaker last year, people were interested in how I handled the move.
Here are some of the questions I was asked along with my answers:
What steps did you take to clarify your career goals?
For me it was a discovery process. I tried a little bit of everything it seemed, looking to see what stuck out the most. I’m not the type of person that can just visualize how something might look or feel, instead I have to just go out and do it.
To expand on that research, I also talked with people in the field. I asked them what their day-to-day schedule was like, what they liked about the job, what they disliked about it. Over the course of a few years, there was something that I kept coming back to from all the things I tried: teaching people about humor.
Was there a defining moment in your search?
There was. I had already created the humor in the workplace blog, but I hadn’t fully decided if that’s what I wanted to do long-term. And then I talked with Sarah.
Sarah was a coworker of mine at P&G. We worked together on a couple of projects, and one night, before a big project was due, she came up to me and said,
You know, Drewsito, before Project Awesomization, I was feeling burned out from my job and not liking what I was doing. And then I joined your project, and right away I could see it was different. The project wasn’t named a typical boring name, it was Awesomization. We each had unique nicknames for our meetings. And you started each meeting with an interesting question, like “what’s the first thing you remember spending money on?” Or “what was the last movie that made you tear up?”
And I realized that you made the choice to make your work more fun. Your manager didn’t pull you aside and say “Use more humor.” The CEO didn’t come down with a directive that said “Have more fun.” You made a choice to have fun with your work, and that’s now starting to rub off on me. Now, when something frustrating happens, I think “What would Andrew do? How would he find the humor in this?” And it’s helped. I’m not as stressed or frustrated as I was before, and I’m actually enjoying some of my work. Thank you.
It was in that moment that I realized there are thousands, probably millions, possibly billions of people that are in the old mindset that Sarah had–going to work everyday stressed, frustrated, and dejected. I wanted to find as many of those people as possible and tell them there’s a better, more enjoyable, will-actually-make-you-a-better-employee way to work. That’s when I knew that growing Humor That Works was what I wanted to do.
How did you keep your energy up during the process?
There have been a few things I’ve done that really helped with the process. One was “finding my tribe,” a group of people that were like-minded and working to accomplish something similar. They proved to be a great resource for bouncing ideas off of and encouraging me through the process.
I tried to develop habits for long-term productivity that included tracking my time and success. I also added gamification elements to my process–a system with points and rewards that helped motivate me to get some of the more mundane tasks completed. That all supported my overriding philosophy of “Be better today than I was yesterday.”
And finally I tried to find something everyday to be grateful for. I live in the greatest city in the world and just walking the streets of NYC would remind me that despite any challenges I have, I’m happy to be where I am right now.
What advice would give to others?
I would say most important is to keep searching and trying things until you find one that you are passionate about. Once you find it, create a weekly plan (every week) that includes steps towards building up that passion. I’d also make sure you schedule other things and get out there and do some type of work to avoid Parkinson’s Law.
And finally, I’d say have fun. All of life is a journey (even the job search process), so it might as well be a fun one.