The Mid-Career GPS Podcast

188: Mastering Mid-Career Transitions: How to Leverage What You Know with Jason Mack

September 28, 2023 John Neral Season 3
188: Mastering Mid-Career Transitions: How to Leverage What You Know with Jason Mack
The Mid-Career GPS Podcast
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The Mid-Career GPS Podcast
188: Mastering Mid-Career Transitions: How to Leverage What You Know with Jason Mack
Sep 28, 2023 Season 3
John Neral

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We're about to embark on a compelling journey with our guest, Jason Mack, who successfully transitioned from a 20-year stint in hospitality to a fulfilling role in healthcare. With an eagerness for a more meaningful career and a better work-life balance, Jason employed his skills from the hotel industry and channeled them into his new position. He shares his motivating story, underscoring the significance of understanding what you're seeking, welcoming new experiences, and articulating your worth effectively.

Jason delves into the challenges he overcame and how he bridged the gap between his expertise and the healthcare domain's expectations. He imparts valuable advice on preparation for job interviews and tackling potential objections. This episode is enriched by my personal experience, where I navigated my mid-career transition, leveraging my network and the power of staying connected. This exciting dialogue might just be the catalyst you need to plan your mid-career GPS!

Connect with Jason Mack on LinkedIn

Support the Show.

Thank you for listening to The Mid-Career GPS Podcast.
Please leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts here.

Visit https://johnneral.com to join The Mid-Career GPS Newsletter, a free, twice-weekly career and leadership resource for mid-career professionals.

Connect with John on LinkedIn here.
Follow John on Instagram @johnneralcoaching.
Subscribe to John's YouTube Channel here.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

We're about to embark on a compelling journey with our guest, Jason Mack, who successfully transitioned from a 20-year stint in hospitality to a fulfilling role in healthcare. With an eagerness for a more meaningful career and a better work-life balance, Jason employed his skills from the hotel industry and channeled them into his new position. He shares his motivating story, underscoring the significance of understanding what you're seeking, welcoming new experiences, and articulating your worth effectively.

Jason delves into the challenges he overcame and how he bridged the gap between his expertise and the healthcare domain's expectations. He imparts valuable advice on preparation for job interviews and tackling potential objections. This episode is enriched by my personal experience, where I navigated my mid-career transition, leveraging my network and the power of staying connected. This exciting dialogue might just be the catalyst you need to plan your mid-career GPS!

Connect with Jason Mack on LinkedIn

Support the Show.

Thank you for listening to The Mid-Career GPS Podcast.
Please leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts here.

Visit https://johnneral.com to join The Mid-Career GPS Newsletter, a free, twice-weekly career and leadership resource for mid-career professionals.

Connect with John on LinkedIn here.
Follow John on Instagram @johnneralcoaching.
Subscribe to John's YouTube Channel here.

John Neral:

Have you ever felt you had enough with your job and knew you needed a change, and you thought, well, what's that change going to be? Navigating a career transition does not have to be complicated and that change can happen simply by being open to a conversation or a new opportunity. Today, you will meet Jason Mack. He'll share how he took a career in hospitality and leveraged it into an even more amazing career that truly aligned with his values, and I'll share some helpful tips with you on how you can leverage your skills as well into your next advancement opportunity. Let's get started.

John Neral:

Hello, my friends, this is episode 188 of the Mid-Career GPS Podcast. I'm your host, John Neral. I help mid-career professionals who feel stuck, undervalued and underutilized show up to find a job they love, or love the job they have, using my proven four-step formula. If you've enjoyed the podcast, I would be grateful if you would share it with three friends and share why you like it and what you're learning from it. My podcast grows because of people like you and I sincerely thank you for your support. And if you're new to the podcast, I want to welcome you and thank you for being here and simply for being here.

John Neral:

I want to offer you something of free with tremendous value that I know will help you along your mid-career journey. I've got a free guide. It is called Five Mistakes Mid-Career Professionals Make and Need to Stop Doing. You can find it on my website at https://johnneral. com, or check the show notes, and when you're on the website, make sure to check out the Resources tab for other information as well. After a 20-year career in hotel management and operations, Jason Mack needed more work-life balance and wanted a job that would have a greater purpose. Earlier this year, Jason left a management position with a major hotel chain and leveraged and transitioned his skills into an exciting new position he will tell you about in a moment. In this episode, Jason will share his amazing career trajectory and the one thing he did to help him navigate his mid-career GPS to his current position. This is a conversation about knowing what you want, being open to new experiences and opportunities, clearly communicating your value and finding your greater purpose. It is my pleasure to introduce you to Jason Mack.

Jason Mack:

Hi, I'm Jason Mack. I have the pleasure of serving as Director of Patient Experience for the James Comprehensive Cancer Center at Ohio State University.

John Neral:

Yeah, we're going to get into all of that. But, jason, what was the one thing that you would say you really appreciated or enjoyed about working in the hotel industry?

Jason Mack:

It was just the general chaos of every single day. No, two days were the same. I was constantly challenged, both interpersonally and intellectually, on every day. There was always a new opportunity for me to learn something new and to file those learnings away in such a way. It was just very stimulating work. I am just naturally very much a people person. I enjoy being around and learning more about individuals. So it gave me a real broad exposure to people from a lot of different backgrounds.

John Neral:

In your experience? Did you work for one of the big hotel chains or was it more of a local boutique type hotel?

Jason Mack:

So kind of a combination of both. I have worked for Marriott, hilton and Starwood Hotels over the course of my career, starting from a 1600 room what we call a big box hotel in a downtown setting, to 135 room boutique luxury hotel.

John Neral:

Yeah, and so for all of us who have done work, travel and personal travel, we know that we go into a hotel. We want that process to be seamless. There are certain things we expect. You, as the manager, the representative at the hotel, can never have a bad day when you're in customer service, because it's a limited amount of experience you get with a customer, usually unless they're repeat customers, and so I can appreciate how the variety of things you got to do and the chaos, as you mentioned, can be very energizing and fulfilling. So here's the question what changed? No-transcript.

Jason Mack:

Well, I have three young boys at home well, not so young anymore and so life has a way of sort of helping you frame priorities, and you know, I have always wanted to pursue a graduate degree. But the industry, the hotel industry, I would say roughly half of my peers may have been just high school graduates, and so there was really no incentive there. And so I spent the better part of about 10 years sort of waffling back and forth as to, you know, is this something I could see myself doing into retirement? And the answer I kept coming back to was no. But you know, the follow up question to myself was always well then what?

Jason Mack:

Because you know there's a lot of misunderstanding about the hotel industry and the roles within. So my role as a general manager was sort of jack of all trades and master of none from an outsider recruiter standpoint, and so I was very difficult for me to get looks when I'd have a bad week and I would do like most people, do you know, jump online and see what's out there. And so I just I spent about a part of a decade sort of waffling back and forth as to okay, what am I really good at and what are the skills that I believe will be transferable and useful and appreciated by a future employer. So, all that to say, you're building, I guess, towards the catalyst or the question here. You know what was that moment Is that?

John Neral:

we're going to go there, yeah. What was that moment that kind of changed or pivoted everything for you? Yeah.

Jason Mack:

So I mean, you know, as you mentioned before, there's a lot of expectations with hotel guests.

Jason Mack:

When they come in, they expect certain things, and I, over the years, as you had pointed out, you know you have to be on stage at all times, you can't have a bad day.

Jason Mack:

And so you know, most people can't necessarily point to a moment in their lives where they made the decision to this is the moment in which I'm going to find something different, or with or on the vine. And so I vividly remember you're on a sold out weekend or an oversold Friday, and I was ahead of volleyball, mom standing in front of me waiting to check in, and this particular individual had booked a room with one bed but was screaming at me at the top of her lungs that I was going to accommodate her with a room with two beds, and I just simply couldn't do it. And it's not as if I was unwilling, I just simply couldn't do it. Sure, and so that was the moment in which I kind of walked away from the situation to try to decompress and just said to myself I just can't, I just can't get up and do this every day. My life has to have some more meaning. I have more to give.

John Neral:

And when you have that moment and that experience and you have found yourself waffling and you're kind of shopping online for jobs and looking to see what's there, talk to us a little bit about what that mental process or that thought process was for you in terms of you know, when would you find a new job? What was it going to be? Were your skills transferable? What was some of that mindset like for you at the time?

Jason Mack:

Well, I was able to. I worked with an individual who helped me do an assessment and I feel like we cannot remember the name of it right now. It will come to me and the assessment was basically what are you good at, what skills do you really excel at? And rather than in focusing on too often people are so concerned about, well, what are my weaknesses and how do I improve upon those and this individual helped me sort of understand. You know, your weaknesses are your weaknesses, and I'm not saying that you shouldn't continue to focus on those, but let's identify what those strengths are. So I, by nature, am very analytical and, as I mentioned before, I really enjoy people. Entertaining in my personal life is one of my favorite things to do. I'm constantly popping around the kitchen and making sure people are happy, and so just genuine hospitality, and so how can I take these two things and apply it to a future where I will feel fulfilled on a daily basis?

John Neral:

And what you just shared, jason, I just want to acknowledge is so normal for mid-career professionals who are trying to figure out what's next, and for the people who listen to this podcast. It's something very relatable, right, because they get to that point and they're like, okay, something's got to change, something needs to be different. I can't keep doing this every single day and so fast forwarding a little bit so you're recognizing that there's a change. Where did you start looking for potential opportunities in your job search? That may not have necessarily led you to the job where you are, but at least we're exploring what that career pivot might have looked like.

Jason Mack:

Yeah, so sort of a I guess longer story here. Back in 2016, I was invited by a patient experience representative at Ohio State Wexner Medical Center to come and speak to a group of physicians and clinicians about what we were doing in hospitality. The hotel I was running at the time was twice awarded Mariette's full serve hotel of the year, and this individual just happened to stay at my property over a weekend and picked up the phone and called me on a Monday, which led to this presentation. And so having that experience and challenging myself to speak to a group of individual, very smart individuals, sort of gave me or sort of planted the seed of well, my mom's in healthcare. She's a retired nurse practitioner and maybe that would have been a great opportunity for me when I was a young man, but time has passed me by and so that sort of thing, and so I went back to my hotel job and just continued to plug away.

Jason Mack:

And back in 2021, I had an employee of mine who ended up becoming over the years, a very dear friend. He passed away at age 61. And when his family came to town, I took on the role of. I'm going to be the counselor in residence here. I'm hurting myself inside, but I'm going to make these people feel so welcome here that all they remember is the experience.

Jason Mack:

And after they left and sort of the dust settled and I was doing more reflecting, I thought to myself well, I want to help people at their worst possible moment. That's what I want, that's what will fill my cup on a daily basis. And so, combining I guess, those two stories, within a month of having that experience of losing a dear friend, I received a Google alert in my email, in my inbox, and I had forgotten that back in 2016, when I gave that presentation at the medical center, I put a Google alert out on the job of the man who invited me to speak, and so I saw that as a sign. In the moment, I said you know what? I'm? Just a dumb hotel guy. I'm going to go ahead and apply for this job and see what happens and, yeah, I'll just stop there.

John Neral:

So thank you for sharing that story with us, and one of the things that came up for me as I'm listening to you is you truly never know. You never know what experience, who comes into your life, what opportunity you take, and we've talked so much on the podcast about how one of the show up six strategies is about welcoming new opportunities, putting that Google alert in there that all of a sudden, one day, out of the blue, that hits and you're like, oh, I'm going to take that as a sign. You did it with great intentionality and so what was that interview experience like for you, especially going from a hospitality background to more of a patient experience? I wonder if you can share with us a little bit about what that interview process was like for you and maybe some of the questions that might have given you a little bit of difficulty in terms of figuring out how to answer.

Jason Mack:

Yeah, certainly, and great question. The interview process itself was quite long and as I think about how I approached that, you know I friends family, I was consulting in advance of these interviews and, you know, looking for someone to just kind of pump me up a little bit. And you know I had made the comment earlier about being a dumb hotel guy and so you know, sort of shaking that mentality and embracing the concept of a cancer hospital is simply a hotel that no one wants to check into. But the same principles apply. It is about human connection and really in the patient experience world.

Jason Mack:

I am not a clinician but I really genuinely believe that the work that I do on a day-to-day basis at present has an impact on health outcomes. And so I went into the interview process with that mentality is I am very I will outwork you and I am a sponge for new knowledge and information. So the things that I don't know I will learn. And so you know some of the difficulty with the interview process was I'm interviewing with clinicians, people that are classically trained in medicine, and so oftentimes there's a disconnect between what I'm saying and what they're hearing. Advice for us.

John Neral:

So that's really clear in terms of giving us that thought or that mindset going into the interview, knowing how you have to frame some answers or responses or how you're going to interact, knowing that you're coming from a very people and heart-centric perspective but also have a very robust background in using data and, at the same time, talking with clinicians who are coming from a completely different modality. In that, what would you say, Jason, was the biggest objection that either you thought you were going to have by them offering you the job or they might have had looking at you as an ideal candidate.

John Neral:

We circle back to that one. Yeah, absolutely yeah. So you know one of the things and this is like one of the topics on the podcast where we talk about interviews we talk about it in terms of it's all about building a relationship. You have a story, you have a background, you have what was it? Do you have like 20 years experience in hospitality before going Right? So you have 20 years of experience. That's a lot to unpack, okay, like I wish the listeners could see it, but like your eyes got like really big and you started laughing with me on that because it is.

Jason Mack:

Where do we begin?

John Neral:

Yeah, exactly, it's a lot to unpack on that, and so when we think about how we tell our story, and we tell that story from a place of value and service as the candidate, we're always coming at it as I'm the best, I'm the one that's going to be able to help you, there's what I'm going to be able to do for you. And one of the things that candidates often miss is figuring out how to address a potential objection or hurdle that might come up in the interview. So for me, with a 25 year career in education, as I was navigating out of the classroom, the objection I had to overcome was how do you take a quote, unquote classroom teacher and move them into a role, be it at the administrative level or the superintendent's office or with a nonprofit? How do they get to see you in that role? And a lot of times our brains just default to the negative and so we think, oh, they're not going to like this, or I shouldn't have answered the question that way. Right?

John Neral:

And for many people who are navigating a career transition, one of the things that they miss is what's the objection? What's the objection they might encounter from a committee member, someone on the interview panel, a hiring manager in particular, and a lot of times that objection can come from our own insecurities or biases about how well we're best suited for the job. So, to rephrase the question like for you, was there something you felt like you needed to be a little stronger at in terms of telling your story? Or perhaps another way to phrase it would be did you feel like there was an identifiable gap based on your experience that they might think was, but you knew was not?

Jason Mack:

Yeah, sure, and I appreciate you reframing that. I, as, as I sort of reflect on that, I would say the biggest objection that I encountered obviously not out loud I say obviously it wasn't as blunt as this is my objection, just underlying comments and the line of questioning around. Well, you're not a clinician and you've never worked in a healthcare setting, so what type of of things can a hotel? Yeah, you know, you understand Midwestern hospitality and you know how to be nice to people, but what can you bring to the table here? That's going to help us move the needle because, by the way, we're really smart people.

Jason Mack:

And so that's where I started to tie in some of the analytics, because, you know this, there's again similarities we survey people in the hotel industry and healthcare surveys people, you know, probably over, over saturate there's over saturation in that, but you know and so helping them understand that we also collect data, and I was particularly good at slicing and dicing that data and then developing action plans based on what the trend lines were telling me. And so that line of thinking really, really spoke to a lot of the executive leader leaders that I met with, because the volumes are, you know, 10 times what they they were in a particular hotel property, so the ability to apply that line of thinking to a broader scale.

John Neral:

There was something you said in your answer. I'm going to guess here. You probably didn't intentionally say it this way, but I'm going to call it out. So when we're interviewing for jobs, we, as the job candidate, can sometimes get intimidated if we don't feel like we're smart enough. And one of the things that you shared with us I appreciate so much, jason was that you pivoted to simply say, well, here's where I am smart, here's what I know, here's where I'm the expert in this line of work and here's how that's going to help you. So we call it bridging the gap. You know you bridge the gap between a potential concern, hesitation or objection that positions you very strategically in the interview, because now they can see you in that role, they see that skill or knowledge that you have getting transferred into their arena. Is that fair?

Jason Mack:

Well, most definitely that was sort of the reaction that I would get when I would bring up that connection to analytics was you could see in the facial expressions. Oh yes, this could be useful to us.

John Neral:

Yeah, really, really good, and so you do this work today. Kind of sum up for us a little bit about what your current position and your current work looks like today.

Jason Mack:

Sure. So I support a team of about 130 full time associates and really falls into four different buckets of work, one being the public space components of the friendly faces that you see when you enter a hospital through the front doors. You know the arrival experience. I also support a group of individuals called patient advocates. Those folks round floor to floor and make connections with patients and families and try to bridge the gap between clinical speak and human speak, if that's probably the best, most concise way I can put that. I also support volunteer services and then we have a housing program with the medical center that we partner with a local hotel, and so that obviously was a very natural fit for me that that bucket in particular.

John Neral:

Jason, there's no question that the work you get to do today is meaningful and needed and you certainly feel like and sound like you found your sweet spot right now at mid career, which is a very envious position in that regard. So it's nice to be able to talk to somebody who truly kind of has found really fulfilling work for them at mid career, and I know the people who are listening are picking up on that as well. For the person who's listening that is feeling a little frustrated or disconcerted in their job search, in making their career pivot, what tip or advice would you have for them to help them successfully navigate to whatever is next in their career?

Jason Mack:

Well, it sounds super cliche but like, don't ignore the signs, as we've noted here. You know the Google Alert and forgetting about that, and then you know that, coming at a very serendipitous time in my life, you know, trust the signs. And then the other thing that I learned over the you know the 10 years of sort of putting out feelers here and there and everywhere is, you know, if you see a job and it looks appealing to you, really stop and consider 10 years from now Could you see yourself doing that that job? And I think that's where I was very fortunate to have been selective. It took me 10 years, but I was very selective, and so just trust the process. I guess would be net, net the best advice.

John Neral:

You've given us some great tips and suggestions today, and I appreciate you so much about sharing your story. At the end of the day, what's the one thing that you're most grateful for about the work you get to do?

Jason Mack:

So a day of the, there's a phrase on my wall, that work that I borrowed from someone and I've had plastered on the wall now and it's a good reminder for me that a day of work for you is a life event for our guests. And so, thinking I've just it's had a way of framing perspective on life that when you know when I'm walking in and I'm upset about what's happened over the course of the morning because I've got three boys at home and so you know, six days a week there's always something that jumps off in the morning, but as I'm walking in I'm able to shake whatever it is. That's that's troubling me, because the majority of the people that I will interact with that day have it much worse than I have it.

John Neral:

I appreciate you sharing that. That's truly heartfelt and meaningful. So thank you, Jason. I want to thank you so much for spending some time with us today and sharing with us about how you've been able to transfer skills and navigate your career. Pivot. If somebody is interested in connecting with you further or learning more about the work that you specifically do, where's a great place for people to connect with you?

Jason Mack:

I can be reached on LinkedIn, jason Mack. Search me up and send me a message. I'd be delighted to connect and lend my help on wherever I can.

John Neral:

Great, I will make sure that link is in the show notes. Jason Mack, thank you so very much for spending some time with us today on the mid-career GPS podcast.

Jason Mack:

My pleasure, John. Thank you.

John Neral:

All right, everybody. You got an opportunity today to hear an amazing career transformation story from somebody who had a 20-year experience in one industry and leveraged their talents and expertise into something else. What does that look like for you when you think about whatever is next for you and your career in navigating your mid-career GPS to whatever is next? What we want to leave with you today is this Think about your skills. Think about the things you do on a daily basis that you are exceptional at doing. See if there is a way to take that skill set and transfer that to another organization or industry so you can find a job you love or pivot somewhere internally and redefine the job you already have. So until next time, my friends, remember this we build our mid-career GPS one mile or one step at a time, and how we show up matters. Make it a great rest of your day.

John Neral:

Thank you for listening to the Mid-Career GPS podcast. Make sure to follow on your favorite listening platform and, if you have a moment, I'd love to hear your comments on Apple podcasts. Visit JohnNarrowcom for more information about how I can help you build your mid-career GPS or how I can help you in your organization with your next workshop or public speaking event. Don't forget to connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me on social at JohnNarrowCoaching. I look forward to being back with you next week. Until then, take care and remember how we show up matters you.

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