I am passionate about many things - such as being mindful of every moment, of living life and not worrying about the what ifs and about sharing my skills and talents. I am an expert on college and career readiness - I have written books on the subject (check them out here -> College and Career Readiness Series) and have launched training about it (see testimonials from my students here College and Career Readiness Testimonials) and am scaling up to do more about sharing these lessons and my skills in the coming weeks and months.
After cancer, not much scares me - so being out there again and facing potential rejection is like "NBD" for someone who is newly "NED" (no evidence of disease - well for the past year and change already). Yesterday, at CareerCon, I met many many students and offered them all free resume help. I also offered to send them free copies of my College and Career Readiness books and over 80 filled out slips to get copies of the books sent to them (working on it; have to order more books as my stock is down to nothing). These books are for sale on Amazon for $7-8 each and my resume services start at $100 so WHY in the world did I give these things away for free?
Simple - I am starting over from scratch - I spent the last 18 months dealing with breast cancer and for a time working full time as a teacher and now it is all starting over. What is not starting over are my content, my lessons, my speaking ability - that is all as it ever was and ready to be shared with students who struggle - and it is most of them. The days when you could teach yourself (as I did) how to interview well, how to write a resume that rocks are gone. It is a "dead" skill - I am looking to resurrect it, though, one classroom at a time, or one auditorium at a time.
I wrote the books, prepared the presentations and my 15+ years experience as an executive, educator and entrepreneur are ready to jump right in. I also met potential partners yesterday and I offered them free one time presentations about college or career readiness or entrepreneurship. I have some meetings already set up over the next weeks. Giving something away for "free" might sound crazy but it is a great strategy to break back into the world of college and career readiness. I am focused, I wrote the books, I build the training and now it is just a matter of signing the clients.
What do you do to build your business? How does it work for you if you gave away "free" stuff?
I have been many different professions in my life from entry level employee to executive from college professor to K teacher to stay at home mom... and beyond. I have done many different things and learned something from each role that I took with me to the next. I have been entrepreneurial in between and during these positions for over 15 years. Right now, I am unemployed and looking at the big fork in the road ahead of me...
My unemployment insurance ends in a few weeks. I was looking full time for a job since September. I have only had a handful of interviews, despite my constant looking, networking and more. All of a sudden, this past week or two a few different opportunities have opened up for me but they will not really kick in financially until early April so I am still looking and thinking. I think a lot (this is never good for me).
I no longer fear things like I used to (such as being far away from home and my kids to manage things for my own career) and I miss, I really miss the whole environment of being in a large company and having a roll to rock and rocking it. I also no longer get so invested in the whole "WOW, I need to be doing EVERYTHING with my small business" as I had been in the past where it just consumed me to get it right.
Everything is up in the air right now but I do believe things will settle down soon and I will be able to share with you exactly where I wind up and how. I am thinking I will work a lot more than I could have pictured. I, who spent years trying to map my schedule to my kids, am now under no such constraints. I am ready to be out there, to be visible, to be out of the house. I am also thinking that for the last several years, I chopped off my earning potential with my own self imposed limitations.
Those days are over. I was able to get access to a temporary FREE office space through the SIEDC and it is amazing to have someplace to go job hunt, think about entrepreneurship and just be me LISA for a few hours a week. I am here on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons as a way to break up my week and to see where things go - I for one am very excited about the potentials.
I met with my Score adviser today, too. It was a busy day and I am rocking my new suit, my fake boob and my curly pixie hair. It is a whole new world and I hope you stick with me as I figure out what and how that is going to look!
So once upon a time, I wrote a blog post about managing "blank spaces" on your resume due to childcare or illness and I want to say now that I did not have a clue about the illness blank space. I got the parenthood one as I had taken time off to care for my children when they were super young but I had never dealt with an illness. Almost a year after I wrote this post https://www.thenextstep1234.com/blog/transitioning-back-to-the-workforce I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Watch the video below to learn what I want to do to help others who have been through hell and back with cancer get "work ready" again. Thanks so much!
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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Lisa Vento Nielsen