I recently have been thinking about my own next step in a new light. I was shying away and actually downright against being an entrepreneur anymore due to the unsteadiness of income and the putting of self out there that must be done to be a small business owner but then the more I think about it, the more I realize that I am so far out there in terms of my life, my truth and who I am that I could not get much further out.
A new opportunity has come up for me to use some of the skills I am so good at to help an organization with their social media marketing. I rock at Twitter, Instagram and of course, the piece de resistance, blogging. It is through these methods that I still, despite NOT promoting this site beyond my Twitter feed have had over 3.2 million page views this past year (I stopped actively being an entrepreneur in July 2016) and over 100k unique visitors. I spent time today updating this site and even making some new pages and other updates throughout. I am still a college and career readiness expert, still available for resumes and cover letters and LinkedIn overhauls but I am definitely thinking my real sweet spot, my real calling is as a social media expert helping small businesses reach new customers and unlock their potential. As a writer, I can create engaging blog posts that are then shared through other social media channels all to make your small business known and followed by people who will shop with you.
I have a lot more stuff up my sleeve that I am working on for a spring rollout, what do you think? Have you noticed how hard it is for entrepreneurial spirits to die? How did you do your comeback?
For the first time in my whole professional life, I am collecting unemployment benefits. This is a first. I had lost my job back in winter 2000 and was given a severance package but moved from Boston to NY so did not even attempt to file a claim, though I guess I could have. I had a new job by January 2001, anyway, so I did not truly need the extra help unemployment could have given me.
This time around, is different. I had a full time job -my first one in a few years and then I no longer had a full time job anymore. Also, during this time, I was diagnosed with and treated for cancer - find out more about that plot twist here
When I went to the required meeting for unemployment, I was surprised at how I was treated - like a bum. I guess this is "normal" for city agencies that think of you as just a number but these were local employees to my town and they looked at me like I was dirt on their shoes. I do not at all agree with it - everyone finds themselves in tough times and, in my opinion, should always be treated with the same respect that is given, you know? So if I walk by and say, "hello" and "thank you" there should at least be a civil response given back. That is obviously neither here nor there - everyone probably has similar stories about being on the "dole" or needing help to get to their next step. There was a training on how to write a resume and interview, ironic, given I had written books about that...
I am in the shoes of countless of my clients have been before me but this time, a bit different. I had spoken about it at length regarding being a mom or having an illness here transitioning-back-to-the-workforce.html and fI can say I really never thought any of those things would apply to me.
How naive I was. After working part time and running my own semi-successful business for a few years, I was back in the game of a steady paycheck and it was good. It was also good to have a goal, to have something that was just mine. When you run a business, you belong to everyone. You want to find clients and make deals and it is downright exhausting.
I still think one day I will go back to being entrepreneurial again. But not now. For now, I am focused on finding my own next step and thinking about ways I can help others who have been in my shoes - who have had to take a leave or lost their jobs due to cancer and its effects. When your body fails you, it is not your fault. I can help others figure out how to manage their next step, after cancer. But for free.
When Worlds collide - the unvarnished truth about being an entrepreneur, social media and my resume...
My Resume - #HIREME
I have decided to no longer be ashamed and to share my story, a story that is getting to be more and more common.
I am at a crossroads in my life and the question was do I share it or do I hide it? I have spent the last year focused on another career type that got interrupted by something no one wants, ever - cancer.
It took all that I had in me to survive chemotherapy (I do not recommend it, it sucks) and balancing that with a full time job (that ultimately did not work out) and also with my family and young children. Something had to give. I gave up a lot to get through treatment but it also made me realize that I had given up a lot much earlier than just because of cancer. During my treatment, I turned down clients and opportunities all with the blanket, "I am dealing with a health issue." What was I afraid of? Why didn't I just say, "I am dealing with breast cancer." Well, here it is, my "statement" a little late but true nonetheless; I was battling and I will always, in a sense, battle but now I am no longer ashamed of it.
I am now done with treatment and beyond hopeful that I will be one of the lucky ones to beat this disease but you never know. No one knows - you don't know what you might be faced with in the future just as I do not know what my future will be. I do know that I had to begin to share somewhere and I started with a blog outside of The Next Step that focuses on the disease and how I handled it and my tips for survival for others whether affected themselves by cancer or someone they know is affected. That blog is www.thetimebetweenis.weebly.com.
Now, my crossroads is around what is my next step? I am still not ready to go 100% into anything and I am taking some time to recuperate and to think. I am writing, though, too. Not just the blog posts at The Time Between but also a book draft about the "c" word. It is dreaded and it is feared but most of all it is very common.
As I was planning my life, presenting my company and trying to build my career, my body had other ideas and was building the pieces to knock me down with a potentially life-threatening disease. No matter my education, my resume, my goals and plans - none of that mattered, all that mattered was that this disease had grown inside of me.
I learned more about back up plans and contingencies than I ever thought possible and most importantly I learned that you just cannot get too wrapped up in anything. If God forbid you were diagnosed with something potentially life threatening tomorrow, what would your career matter? What would you care about your big house? Your cars? You realize something with the possibility of death; you realize there is more to life than the "hustle" and I hustled for years and years. I hustled in Corporate America and then in trying to piece together an income post-childbirth and now, I just want to see where the road lies ahead of me. I need an income but I am taking the time to think and to piece together something that works for me - some hybrid of The Next Step and www.thetimebetweenis.weebly.com - something more authentic, open and raw (like the YouTube video I posted today).
I have a lot to teach people in so many ways and have to identify how that passion for sharing my message meets an income. Also, to balance that out with the pieces I have long neglected in my life - ME. As a mom, caretaker, educator, entrepreneur I have put myself last (my true self). All of the time I built into this blog is a veneer; it is the Professional Lisa the Professor Lisa. There is still so much more to me and what I need to kind of keep myself happy and focused.
I hope to take you on the journey as I build out my next step and if I can help you with either life with cancer or just filling those blank spaces on your resume due to the turns life takes, reach out and share.
Anyone who tells you they can see the future is wrong. You truly just do not know where your life with take you or how you will get there until you are there.
Your career with ebb and flow, opportunities will come and go, but the important things are universal. You want to have your life go a certain way - you want to pick the career that will make you "happiest" but sometimes that is not the career you get. You want to get married and have children but sometimes, that does not happen. You want to buy a house and be able to retire at a certain age but again, it does not always happen.
What does always happen is what is meant to happen. For me, that was working full time for this school year as a teacher while fighting breast cancer.
Yeah, did not see that one coming. At all.
That is the beauty of life. I still get so many people visiting The Next Step (over 2000 per week!) and following me on social media, although I have my social media pretty much automated at this point. I still have my books and content available and people are learning from me even though what I have learned these past 7 months has been beyond teaching.
If you know someone who is battling cancer, give them a hug for me. If you are battling cancer, keep fighting and never give up.
As you move forward in your life and your career, remember the important things. As I take my sick time and focus on getting healthy, I know I will never be the same. The things that stressed me in the past are now just a joke. The impetus I have had in my career and my small business are now just all focused on getting healthy and finding my new path, my next step. When I am no longer in treatment and ready to work again, what will that work be? I do now know what it will be or where it will be but I know I have my 4 books out there and my countless blog posts sharing my advice and tips / tools to take your next step. I will at some point figure out what that next step means for me and when I do, you know I will share it.
In the interim, check out www.thetimebetweenis.weebly.com.
I had an amazing meeting yesterday that was amazing. It made me realize how important it is to have a book on Project Management and work on my expertise about building this skill set in terms of careers and entrepreneurship.
I have in my mind the plan to create a book about project management and how to implement this career path for new and seasoned professionals, too.
My four books are published and I have two in the Entrepreneur-ING series and two in the College and Career Readiness series. I am working on another book in the College and Career Readiness Series all about how to be successful in the workplace for those new to careers, too. I think this next series will be the Project Management Series with two books - one about how to be a project manager and one about passing the PMP exam, which I did in 2004.
For the first book in Project Management, I would start off with just the same 11-12 chapter outline that I have used for my other books that are published and my word count would be the same 15k-22k that I have been doing with my other books.
I am considering the following chapter plan:
Chapter 1 What it Means to be a Project Manager
Chapter 2 Skills Needed to be a Project Manager Planning Scheduling Motivating
Chapter 3 Career Options in Project Management
Chapter 4 How to Position Yourself in Project Management
Chapter 5 Industries to use Project Management
Chapter 6 Hacks to PM Skills (such as planning scheduling motivating)
Chapter 7 Continued Learning in Project Management
Chapter 8 Why You Need to be Certified in Project Management
Chapter 9 Pitfalls in the PM Career Path
Chapter 10 Positives in the Career Path
Chapter 11 Preview of Next Book on Passing the PMP exam
What do you think? Happy Hunting!
As I prepare for a meeting today and tomorrow and Monday, I am thinking about what I do as an entrepreneur.
I spend a lot of time promoting my company, my expertise and my books. I was asked to create something to be sent out about what I do and the resources and/or recommendations I need as an entrepreneur.
I created this email newsletter:
Using constant contact to create an overview of what i do
This email really hits on who I am and what I do. I wanted to share it today as I continue to "hustle" to build my business - making contacts and presenting what The Next Step can do for this borough.
First and foremost, I am an educator. I use my books, lessons and life experiences to teach people how to be college ready, how to kick butt in college and how to be an entrepreneur (among other things). I am always available to meet new people, schools or other organizations that need an educator or speaker.
In addition to being an educator, I am someone who has spent over 20 years' helping people craft the perfect resume, cover letter and now LinkedIn profile, too. This is still a huge part of my business and my mission and is something I get to work on more one on one with people as opposed to my college and career readiness training which are more group sessions.
And of course, I am interested in speaking engagements which help me to reach more people about my company's mission and help people, too. I am focused on helping people get to the next step whether it be in careers, education or launching their own business.
I love this email newsletter because it is succinct yet powerful - it is almost another better version of my mission statement or my elevator value pitch. What do you think? If you know of anyone I should meet with, please let me know at email@example.com.
Helping a small business grow is helping the community around you - more local businesses means more opportunities for local people. For instance, if things continue to grow as they are for me, I will be hiring soon - and that creates a local job. Thank you for all of your support of my small business and for being a part of the journey as I grow into a larger business!
I was honored to speak at the Staten Island Rotary yesterday about college readiness. As a professor/educator for the past 13 years and a public speaker since uhhh 1976, I truly love having the opportunity to speak about my small business and what I am doing to help Staten Island students be ready for the next step. Find out more about my Speaking Engagements.
The audience yesterday was receptive and had amazing questions. No matter how long I have been a public speaker, I still worry before any engagement - and it kind of is what motivates me and keeps me authentic and enthused. Mr John Amodio from Score invited me to speak there and kindly introduced me to the group with amazing words about all I have been doing to help students be "ready".
I shared with the crowd how I do this using my books, lessons and life experiences and we had an amazing discussion about what is going on in the education system today and how a small business like mine is the key to helping with the essentials of being college and career ready like application essays, being involved, cover letters and resumes. I was blown away by the audience's enthusiasm and how they just "got it" - they immediately saw how a business like mine is both needed and on the verge of big successes in helping students take the next step.
Each person got copies of my college readiness book and I look so forward to getting feedback on the book. As a member of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce, a GROWSI member for the SIEDC and with my mentors and supporters, I am so looking forward to helping many more students be college and career ready.
Are you learning with me yet? Follow me daily for updates on my small business journey, college and career prep
advice, career growth tips and more. Read my books to help you be ready for the next step into being entrepreneurial for your career (The Prof's Guide to Entrepreneur-ING: How to use entrepreneurial skills to launch your own business OR be the boss of your career), going from zero to launch (The Prof’s Guide to Going from Zero to Launch – Everything You Need to Know to be an Entrepreneur Starting Today) and college (The Book on College Readiness: The Prof's Guide to Surviving High School and Kicking Butt in College) and career readiness (The Book on Career Readiness: The Prof's Guide to Graduating College with a Job Offer).
Topics for Career Readiness
Topics for Workshop on Workplace Culture (book being written)
What do you think about the combination of college AND career readiness? Have you read my books or taken my training - if yes, please share your thoughts!
Many people forget about the power of the informational interview and how using these can help you build relationships, find out important information AND potentially uncover opportunities for your next step.
As an entrepreneur, I am constantly hosting and taking part in informational interviews but it was not until one of my trainees from the Ladders for Leaders Program emailed me with the request for an informational interview that I recognized how important it is to share this lesson with you, my readers. Special thanks to Rachel Wong for being the inspiration behind this post.
You can work on building informational interviews with your first circle of contacts (I talk a lot about circle of networking and who belongs where in my book The Book on Career Readiness: The Prof's Guide to Graduating College with a Job Offer) but the quick overview is that your first circle are friends and family.
Ask, using your elevator value pitch, if you can spend some time either in person or over email with a few questions you have. So first you need your EVP AND you need to know the questions you would like to ask.
The individual you reach out to might suggest meeting in person or just answer your questions via email - either way is useful for you and can help you build out a potential next step for your career.
Your questions should be insightful and also potentially more about the other person than about you. Try to not ask “Where do you think I can find a job?” Instead ask, “What made you pick your career?” or “How did you find the culture at X company?”. These type of questions encourage the interviewee to answer things about themselves that might apply to you or help you rule out a particular career plan or company based off of their feedback.
My recent informational interview by Rachel was all about my previous corporate experiences at Marsh and McGraw-Hill and in answering the questions, I think we landed on a few potential exciting new next steps for the interviewer! Consider trying this today and if you have ever been one of my students either through The Next Step training or even just reading my blog or via actual classroom at St John’s, CSI, Wagner College and Caldwell University, ask away at Lisa@thenextstep1234.com.
Hello it's Jennifer Riddo. I'm a little late but Happy One Year Anniversary to The Next Step.It is my honor to be an intern with Lisa this summer and watch her small business grow to great success with her. I have learned so much so far and how to brand myself at just 17. Imagine what you could learn from her as a client?
Last Thursday, Lisa went back to Staten Island Technical High School. This time she paired up with Bob Wolf, founder of HOPE. Lisa and Bob had never worked together before but but you would have never known it.I have experienced a lesson from both Bob and Lisa alone before but when they worked together, I felt it was more powerful to hear from both of them at once. They worked well together to share their skills on how to succeed in the workforce with the students.
One student at Staten Island Technical High School, Emma Shen,was very insightful and asked a very powerful question. She asked Bob and Lisa what is was like to work side by side interacting with her peers as entrepreneurs and teachers. This question was very powerful and resonated in the room. She also spoke about how both of them are very inspiring individuals.
Lisa and Bob both spoke about how interviews are everywhere. When you are meeting someone new on the elevator or at the beach this summer it can be an interview because you are introducing yourself to someone new who hasn't heard about you or your stories before. Lisa spoke about learning to incorporate your elevator pitch as you meet these individuals to show who you are on a professional level.
Both Lisa and Bob are public speakers and related public speaking and interviews to everyday life. It is not just when your going to sit down with a hiring manager for a job that you need to share your stories. As well, it is not just when you have to do a presentation in class or a speech that you need to use your voice to be powerful and speak.
As a young adult, I used to assume that I only have to use my elevator pitch when I am heading to an interview with a hiring manager. Through lessons from both Bob and Lisa, I now realize that interviews are everywhere and I need to learn how to sell myself and quit being so nervous. I have no reason to be nervous - or I can learn, when I am nervous, to channel that energy into positive energy as Lisa taught me to do.
As Lisa said," Everyone is competing for these jobs now not just people at a young age, you need to get out there and make sure they know who you are." It is very important at a young age to learn how to sell yourself so you are well known and can get your dream job in the future. Lisa also spoke about how sometimes you face downs in life but shake it off like Taylor Swift and learn from it. As a teenager, every small failure can feel like the end of the world but Lisa reminded us that it's not, it's just an experience to learn from.
It was great to watch two experts work together to show young adults how to become successful in their future and the workforce. If you are a young adult I recommend checking out both of their websites to learn from Lisa and Bob.
I also suggest reading Lisa's blogs with free advice and following her on Twitter and Instagram @thenext_step123.
You can also find me on Twitter @nextstepintern to learn more about what great things Lisa has to offer. I might see you, also, as I will be hanging flyers at local libraries, college campuses and parks to inform local Staten Islanders about Lisa's small business and what she has to offer.
Everyone needs to learn from failure but most people shy away from failure or taking risks. In fact, many people would prefer to stay miserable somewhere than try to do something new. It is the old “frying pan vs flame” analogy. Most careers involve trial and error and with that there is always the opportunity to learn from said failure and/or mistakes.
It is important to challenge yourself and to keep learning to be ahead of the curve. I tell stories to my students and clients about the failures I have experienced because the only way I learned was through trial and error. Learning is how you grow and sometimes you need to have been exposed to mistakes and failures to get ready for the next step.
It is important to know how to handle failure though if and when it happens. As much as you want to say, “ I will not ever fail” that is just absurd - failure is inevitable. Anyone who says they never failed is lying. However, some people do not learn from their failure which makes them doomed to fail again and also makes them believe they truly never failed.
You do not want to be that type of person – not recognizing failure and what you can learn from it is one of the worst things you can do to yourself.
How do you learn from failure?
Remember the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. You must realize where you are struggling to ever be able to get better at your job, business or studies. Always work on your goals and create your own learning plan - consider learning with me how to be ready for your next step via my blog, YouTube Channel, books and on Twitter & Instagram @thenext_step123.
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Do you have goals in mind for your next step? I have some very specific goals for my small business but I also know that these goals have changed and grown over time. This post is a quick reminder about how important goal setting is and a quick how to for you to start today to evaluate and set up your goals.
Goals are necessary but they must also be measurable and achievable. I have written before about the performance reviews before; this post though is not about the goals you set for your employer but the goals you set for yourself. I want these goals to be about your FUTURE about where you want to be and what makes you happy.
I start my college, career readiness workshops and my one on one work with clients with the adage about identifying your plan – what you want to do and for those who do not have as much experience as others it is about what you like to do or what you would like to learn.
In my books I give actual lessons on how to set your plan and what goes into your plan. These are my quick how-to's to start (or review) your goal setting today:
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Today is one year since the launch of my company, The Next Step.
As someone who has been entrepreneurial since 2004, having had tons of failures (and some successes) seeing this company grow and grow and grow beyond my wildest expectations has been amazing.
What brings success? I have said many times before that this iteration of my entrepreneurial journey is so different because I have just now with this business branded with me – my ideas, insights, lessons and words. This probably could NOT have been done too much earlier in my professional entrepreneurial career because how much did I have to share in 2004? Not as much as I have now with 13+ years of teaching on the college level, 15+ years in Corporate America and 12+ years as an entrepreneur. I have found my voice and my voice is helping people take the next step.
Over 2000 people a week are on my site and my conversions are healthy (in my opinion) – some of these folks hire me to help them take the next step (thanks!) and others just promote me and connect me with others who decide to hire me.
On Entrepreneurship & Teaching:
I took my concepts and ideas around entrepreneurship and how it helped me in my corporate career to be entrepreneurial and wrote a book about it and then expanded to the next book in the series on going from zero to launch so you too can learn how to execute on your own business OR decide to be the boss of your career. You can learn more about that here Entrepreneur-ING.
I have a limited time entrepreneurship course offered through Wagner College Department for Lifelong Learning
on this topic and have continue to speak and teach others on how to execute on their dream of starting their own business.
Also, I am a skilled and experienced educator available to teach online and in-person at universities, programs and through my own online learning classroom - find out more about that here Educator Expertise.
On College and Career Readiness:
In the course of this business launch, I moved quite naturally into College and Career Readiness workshops, training and more. I have branded myself as an expert in this field for the Staten Island area schools.
I have written two books in the college and career readiness series, too and have been hired already at local schools and by city agencies to bring my unique blend of lessons, real talk and experiences to motivate and prepare students for their big next step into college and career. Just some of the feedback from my students are showcased in my Testimonials Page.
On using books to be an “expert”
I started writing books in January 2016 and by May 2016, I had 4 published. I am definitely working on more books as I think this sets me apart as a local expert. I will share more about how I wrote the books in that timeline and how people who read them are amazed at what they learn soon in a coming blog post. Also, I am considering creating audiobook format for my books, too. You can learn more about my publications at The Next Step Publishing.
On helping people take the next step
My core business is and always has been around helping people take the next step and along with that amazing client base via my social media, LinkedIn and more I continue to help people and create new product offerings for them around branding themselves. With my amazing, insightful and creative techniques, each person who hires me gets astounding marketing materials about them to use to get hired, noticed and more. Learn more about my Branding Expertise.
My Next Step
I will continue to grow this business and potentially be hiring some help within the next few months. I have a robust pipeline and more to come with my true focus around college and career readiness, helping people take the next step, and entrepreneurship and teaching.
Gift for you:
I am running a limited time coupon for my branding specializations with 25% off for my new and loyal clients! This offer is only good until 8/2 so act fast! Sign up here for my special One Year Anniversary Savings for YOU.
Special thank you to everyone who reads my content, shares it, learns from me, follows me and hires me! Happy Hunting!
Continue to learn with me via this blog, YouTube Channel, books and on Twitter & Instagram @thenext_step123.
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My interns have been doing an amazing job sharing, from their perspective, my career readiness training held at Staten Island Technical High School’s Summer College Head Start Program. You can read about what they learned here (7/12 event by Jalynn), here (7/12 event by Jennifer), and here (7/14 event by Jennifer).
From my perspective, I can tell you exactly what I told my students who got to take part in this training – no matter how well I know the lessons I want to share (and hello, I have been creating, sharing and documenting these lessons to students since 2003 oh and wrote 2 books about it - The Book on College Readiness and The Book on Career Readiness) I still get nervous before any presentation/class.
This is a powerful thing to share – imho. I do not know if enough people are comfortable sharing that sometimes executing on your dream, your passion can be scary. By sharing this, it helps me really bring home the lesson that everyone is nervous about public speaking, about following their dreams, about putting themselves out there but the key is in using that nervous energy to help yourself be more present in the moment and not to pull you out of the moment.
When I have the opportunity to share my lessons, advice, books and passion for college and career readiness for students, that is what is the most exciting thing for this small business owner. In teaching others, I learn as well.
the next step teaching career readiness on 7/12
On Tuesday 7/12, it was a long day of “lessons” – I had a lot of information to share about
There was also some give and take (more in the afternoon session than the early morning start) and I was beyond impressed with what the students had to share.
After giving them the tools to be ready for careers and even college – it was time to break and I gave some “homework” assignments for the next session on 7/14. I decided to go with a "low-tech" session for that Thursday.
The next step "low-tech" learning session on 7/14
On Thursday, 7/14, it was time for the students to demonstrate what I taught them. We began with the 3 skills -> everyone was able to tell their skills in stories and then move forward and execute on their elevator value pitch. This is not an easy thing to do for anyone – these students made it look easy. Everyone wrote down their pitch and shared it and I had only to make minor edits for their execution strategies.
Getting the chance to go back on 7/21 was amazing too – focusing on the interview skills boot camp and having a co-presenter was so powerful. As an educator, I am used to sharing the spotlight at times and having a co-teacher but as an solopreneur, I am more used to doing my work on my own. That being said, having a co-presenter for this was amazingly powerful for the students. I am going to wait until my interns share about what they thought about this training before I add more.
I hope to be presenting at more and more schools in the New York City area with my College Readiness and Career Readiness. I hope to be at your school soon! If you are interested in learning more about my training programs, click here.
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Lisa Vento Nielsen