- What inspired him to write his latest book Forever Employable
- His story of why he left corporate life to become an entrepreneur
- Why the first step in his 5-step process is so important
- The benefits – and risks – of creating an independent path
- What it takes to be successful on an independent career path
- The strategies that help people differentiate themselves in their space
- How he become a Recognized Expert – and how it helps his business
- His advice on where to start to create a second career as a consultant or freelancer that’s future proof
Jeff joins us from Barcelona.
On His Career Pivot
“And I was seeing some colleagues and friends of mine who were a few years older than me struggle to continue that upward mobility and that climb. And so I decided to get ahead of that. I decided that I wasn’t going to find myself at 40 years old, at 45, at 50, or beyond in a position where I’d hit a ceiling and there was nowhere else to go. And so at the age of 35, I made an explicit decision to change my career trajectory. Instead of following this path where I’m chasing jobs and opportunities, I was going to create a situation where those jobs and opportunities were chasing me. But it’s really ‘what’s the fear of not being able to stay employable and feed my family, pay the bills, pay the mortgage’ that type of thing.”
Why You Should Plant Your Flag
“So the ideas in Forever Employable are designed for folks who want to break out on their own and use their experience and their expertise to build a network and professional reputation and an audience around it. But it’s also for those who want to stay employed in-house and increase their value to their current employer. And the way that you do that, in either case, is Step One of the process – which is Planting Your Flag. And planting a flag is essentially deciding what you’re going to be known for. It’s deciding what you’d like to base that reputation on that you’re going to build. Typically in most cases, that’s going to come from your professional experience and expertise. Although there certainly have been folks who have kind of branched into a second career who have leaned on their personal passions.”
On Building Career Insurance
“But it’s really supporting your current practice so that you are future-proofing your career. So what you’re doing is you’re building a safety net. You’re building career insurance really by building up this body of knowledge and this expertise that you’re sharing back with your communities. You’re creating content – whether that’s speeches or articles, blog posts, videos, presentations, infographics – whatever works for you. And you’re building up this reputation around yourself. So that when change inevitably happens, you’re extremely valuable to the organization. And they say, ‘Well, we’re not going to let Jeff go because he’s the guy who really knows this stuff and brings us great hires’ or you’re creating a situation where there’s a steady stream of inbound opportunities because people have gotten to know you and they recognize you as an expert in this particular field.”
On Being Proactive Mid-to-Late Career
“So if you’re perfectly happily employed and your organization’s doing well, everything’s fine. There is a steady inbound flow of opportunities so that you can make proactive decisions about how you want to move your career forward. And so it’s one thing to think about it because, look, especially if you’re kind of mid-career into the second half of your career, you have a tremendous amount of experience. You have a tremendous amount of expertise that you can share. And for those people to do that successfully, generally speaking, they struggle less to stay forever employable.”
Jeff Gothelf helps organizations build better products and executives build the cultures that build better products. He is the author of Forever Employable, co-author of the award-winning book Lean UX and the Harvard Business Review Press book Sense & Respond. Starting off as a software designer, Jeff now works as a coach, consultant and keynote speaker helping companies bridge the gaps between business agility, digital transformation, product management and human-centered design. Most recently Jeff co-founded Sense & Respond Press, a publishing house for practical business books for busy executives.
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