12 Pieces of Advice For Those Who Are Trying to Figure it Out
As we reflect on 2020 and brace ourselves for what is to come in 2021, some words of wisdom from those who seem to have it all figured out
What a year! While trying to “figure it out” in any given year is an endeavor in itself, the new reality of 2020 hardly allowed for such a pursuit. Chasing passions or making the big career pivot wasn’t likely in the cards this year, as we reshuffled our priorities and our lives in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.
As I wrap the first season of “What Should I Do With My Life?” Figuring It Out From Those Who Seem To Have It All Figured Out” I wanted to share 12 pieces of advice from each of my podcast guests that I have found extremely useful as I go through the process of finding my own path. As we head into 2021, I hope these words of wisdom energize you to explore untapped interests and passions. Cheers to figuring it out in the new year!
ON HONING IN ON YOUR PASSION
“I have all of this science background in chemistry and biology, and now I know about programming. Do I feel like I am an expert in either of those? No. You just have to do what you feel is making you happy. If I were to sit and watch programming tutorials, it should be because I am curious about that subject and I want to dive into it more, instead of feeling like I ‘should’ know this. My biggest advice and what I tell myself is to be curious. If I’m doing something at work, and I don’t know the answer or the word they are talking about, I Google it, if I am curious to learn more, I look into it. Keep learning the things you want to learn because you are interested, not because you think you should know it or have to know it.”
Eden Adler, pre-med to programmer, software engineer, creator of What the Tech. Listen to Eden’s episode on Apple Podcasts here!
ON PUSHING YOURSELF
“ I think about it like going out to a bar on a Saturday night. Many of the times you go out, it’s the same routine; you chat with your friends, have a few drinks, and go home. But every once in a while, you go on a crazy adventure, and find yourself on the back of a moped at 3am going to a secret taco stand. And maybe that’s one out of every three times you go out. But, if you don’t push yourself, and decide to stay in and watch Netflix because it’s just an average night at the bar, you are going to miss out on the chance that you have this type of an adventure where you’re on the back of the moped. I try to take that attitude to my professional life and working life in general. You miss out on the opportunities that you don’t put yourself out there for. It may end up being a dud and a bad decision, but it might be the best decision you ever made, and you really can’t know in advance.”
-Danny Devries, Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State. Listen to Danny’s episode on Apple podcasts here!
“You never know what those detours will bring you. I worked in customer experience, now I know how to work better with customers. I worked in a jewelry factory, which taught me how to ship things. You never know what those detours will do for your career further down the line. It is good to vary your work sometimes; you will always pull something from a job, no matter what.”
-Mia Schon, mosaicist, visual artist, entrepreneur, graphic designer, and Founder of mosaicwithmia.com. Listen to Mia’s episode on Apple Podcasts here.
“Trust in your passions. Trust in what you can bring to the world. Everyone has something going for them. It’s something they could probably build even more, and practice, and grow in. I think everyone has something innately in them that they have to offer. I felt that way with Yiddish — when I first started learning Yiddish formally, it all went so easily, because I felt that it was already a part of me somehow. I think that everyone has that with something- something that they feel is a part of them that they can bring out. So I say, trust with what you feel inside, and what you feel you can bring.”
Mikhl Yashinsky, Yiddishist, actor, teacher, playwright, producer. Listen to Mikhl’s episode on Apple Podcasts here!
“It’s also a pressure we have, asking ourselves ‘What am I passionate about?What should I be doing?’ We are all searching for something that may not exist. So, it’s taking time out to find out what makes us happy. And if you get to that position where you are working your job but you have something else and you are starting to make more money, think about when you can make that switch, make your list, make your finances, don’t do anything crazy, and don’t be afraid. And always ask: ‘What is the worst case scenario?’ It doesn’t work out? Do something else. Sometimes you just have to have a little bit of faith.”
-Lee’at Gentely, lawyer-turned-cake lady, entrepreneur, Founder of Caked and Baked, Co-Founder of Baker Street TLV. Listen to Lee’at’s episode on Apple Podcasts here!
ON ALTERNATIVE CAREER CHOICES
“I’ve had a lot of weird reactions to my career choices and my choices in general. Some have been extremely negative, some have been extremely positive. You have to be true to yourself. You need to know yourself in a deep way to understand that some things might be relevant to you, and some things might be relevant to other people. So, if you want to do something alternative or take a different career path, the first thing you need to do is get there in your head, that you know that this is the right choice for you, and you’re going to make it work, on your own terms.”
-Sara Klaben Avrahami, entrepreneur, organizational consultant, project manager, remote work expert, Founder of Flexlifer. Listen to Sara’s episode on Apple Podcasts here!
ON SPREADING THE WEALTH
“I’m not the type of person who hides what I learn and where I succeed. I always tell people — I want you to create a Perfect 10 brand — don’t use the same name and logo, but do the same thing we are doing. I will give you all of the company documents. You can shadow me. All of the partnerships we have, I’ll give them to you. I want to continue spreading that type of energy.”
-Phatry Derek Pan, entrepreneur, activist, Founder of Perfect 10 modeling agency, Founder of Khmerican Inc. Listen to Derek’s episode on Apple Podcasts here!
ON PERSONAL BRANDING
“Many people work on personal branding in a fairly superficial manner. Quite often, it is, ‘What Linkedin picture should I choose?’ or, ‘How can I make my job title more attractive?’ I think it’s the other way around. It really should build on who people are- on our identities, our behaviors, the communication patterns that we have anyways. There is a lot of uniqueness and value in who we are already, and it’s more about emphasizing these elements and strengthening them, building confidence to carry them out there, rather than artificially creating this personal brand which is hard to own and doesn’t feel authentic.”
-Katja Kolmetz, entrepreneur, Co-Founder of Human Deluxe Design Studio. Listen to Katja’s episode on Apple Podcasts here!
“We always say that the success of our business was because we were like the “Cheers!” of men’s retail. We knew everybody’s name. We knew their likes, their dislikes, we knew when they last came in. And, let’s face it, people want to be noticed, and people want to be recognized. That advice I would give to any small business. How many places know your name when you walk in the door? You can’t even put the dollar on it.”
-Ron Elkus, Founder & Owner of The Shirt Box. Listen to Ron’s episode on Apple Podcasts here!
ON PLAYING UP STRENGTHS
“I like being able to do what I need to do, how I need to do it, for my patients. I’m not that organized, to be honest. I am more the emotional. So, I’m not the one putting all of my patients in a spreadsheet; I do the personal thing. New patient? I write them a “great meeting you today! Looking forward to helping you in your care” note and I mail it. I’m still a little old school with that stuff, but it’s worked for me, I never needed to advertise.”
-Beth Kohn Converse, Registered Acupuncturist, Diplomate of Oriental Medicine, and Diplomate in Chinese Herbology. Listen to Beth’s episode on Apple Podcasts here!
ON KEEPING IT REAL
“You don’t always have the privilege to ask yourself what is it that you’re passionate about, and go follow that path. At this point in my life, I have the opportunity to say, ‘OK the sky is the limit, where do I want to go with this?’ But that’s because I also made some decisions along the way to be able to do that. Things change. If I just need a job, i’m going to get a job, because that is what I am going to need to do. I might not be able to anchor myself in my values. It would be naive for anybody to think ‘OK I am going to get whatever it is that I’m passionate about.’ The reality is, at times, you can do that. But, we aren’t always in those positions. So it’s really important to understand- ‘what do I need right now at this moment in time?’ So if I need to get a job, I might need put my values or my passion aside, and see how I can fulfill them in a different way.”
-Dr. Maya Ozery, PhD Organizational Leadership, Executive Director of the Cooper Athletics Leadership Program at Georgetown. Listen to Maya’s episode on Apple Podcasts here!
ON MOVING ON
“It’s important to recognize when it’s time to move on. You can be passionate or care about what you do, but up to a point, you have to make sure you aren’t being selfish about it. There are people who might say, ‘Well, as long as I care, as long as I’m passionate, I’m not taking my hands off the steering wheel. I don’t care where the car is heading, I don’t care if I can even drive anymore. I want my hands on the steering wheel because that’s my passion.’ A lot of times what’s important is that even if you are passionate, you have to overlay it with what are the benefits of your passion to those around you, and to the organization or business you are in. If they don’t align, you need to get your hands off the wheel.”
-Arthur Horwitz, Publisher Emeritus, Detroit Jewish News, Founder of The Detroit Jewish News Foundation. Listen to Arthur’s episode on Apple Podcasts here!