Ever wondered who's behind the voice guiding your mid-career journey? Well, this episode takes a delightful detour as I, John Neral, open the curtains to reveal some personal truths. I paint a colorful picture of my life by sharing ten lesser-known facts about myself - from my fiery driving language to a short-lived adventure at a party rental company. With a childhood dream of becoming a meteorologist and a fulfilling 25-year tenure in education, my life journey has been a fascinating ride.
The intrigue doesn't end there; take a walk with me as I share seven more intriguing facets of my life. I open up about my unwavering passion for teaching, and I express my conscious decision to go childless. Relive the electrifying thrill I felt singing the national anthem to a sea of faces and clinching victory at a bowling tournament. And did you know? My life has been colored by a rich musical background that still vibrates through me.
We wrap up this episode with yet another set of ten fascinating facts about my life. From my fervor for bowling, my cameo on the TV show "Make My Day," to being a proud cat parent to our hefty rescue cat, Amy - I bare it all. We also tackle the prickly issue of perfectionism, a struggle I've battled and lessons learned from it. We cap it off with a reaffirmation that our careers thrive when we show up, listen, give and receive feedback, and maintain an upbeat mindset. So, join us on this surprising journey, and remember to connect with me, John Narrow, on LinkedIn and social media.
Watch John on Make My Day here. (Jump to the 9:00 mark.)
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As I get ready to wrap up season three of the mid-career GPS podcast, I want to do something with you I've never done before. Well, brace yourself, because I think it's time you and I get a little personal. I've been planning this episode for a while and, admittedly, I've gone back and forth about whether or not I should do this, but I've seen other people do it. I've enjoyed those episodes as well. So get ready because I'm going to share with you 10 things you probably don't know about me and how they've all helped me build my mid-career GPS to what's gotten me to this point right here. Let's get started. Hello, my friends, this is episode 207 of the Mid-Career GPS podcast. I'm your host, John Nerrell. 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. Well, as I mentioned, this is a very personal episode, and I'm doing this because, after over 200 episodes and three years of this podcast, I realized there are probably some things you don't know about me. You might be a little surprised to learn, but admittedly, these are all things that have helped me build my mid-career GPS to get me where I'm at, and so, in no particular order, here's number one. I have a colorful mouth. This is not something I'm particularly proud of and I will say that I use it with a lot of discretion. It typically comes out when I'm driving. So bad drivers really tick me off, especially drivers who are overly aggressive. They weave in and out, they run stop signs, run traffic lights. They're just being really careless as a whole. Here's where that comes from. So growing up I went to a private boys Catholic high school and I'll never forget my junior year English teacher, mr Lollicy, who sadly passed away within the last couple of years, and every time one of us turned 17 in the state of New Jersey, that's when you got your driver's license and he would come up to our desk and he would stare us in the eye and he would say remember, you have a license to kill somebody. We never knew where that was coming from or what the story was behind it, but I got to tell you. It scared the heck out of me and it put that in the context that one wrong move, one mistake, could have some fatal consequences. So while I believe that I'm an assertive driver if I see somebody who's tailgating me or they're being, like I said before, overly aggressive. I get very uptight and I may call them a name as they pass up, like I said, not something I'm proud of, but I firmly believe that you get behind the wheel. You want to do the least amount of harm. Get from point A to point B and don't make an immiscible experience for everybody else. Okay, number two I don't know how much I've really shared this a whole lot in the past on the podcast. I think there was one episode very early on when I did. But the worst job I have ever held in my life was working for a party rental company where I put up party tents. I lasted six days on that job and the only reason why I lasted six days was because my father made a bet with me that I wouldn't make it past five. He goes you're not even going to make it to the end of that week. I am not someone who's handy likes those kind of manual, physical labor intensive type jobs. I hated that job. I didn't like the people I worked with. They were very patient and kind and understanding, but we just didn't like get along or gel in that regard and admittedly, it was a really hard work. I had to drive about 30 minutes every day to get to work and I just didn't like it at all. I remember going into my boss's office on Monday morning. I wasn't even going to wait till the end of the day. I walked in on Monday I said look, this is not working out. I do not like this job, I quit and I'm going to give you two weeks notice. And my boss looked at me and he goes I'm going to make this really easy for both of us. You're done. I didn't even finish out those two weeks. He's like it's great, you don't like this. We don't really like having you here either. You're not good at it, so you're good to go. And that was it. That was the worst job I've ever held in my life. Never, ever, ever, want to do something like that again. Number three is something that comes up from my childhood, and that is I always wanted to be a meteorologist. I wanted to be the guy on TV who was giving you the weather, was standing at the map, pointing at things, talking about everything weather. It is something that has always fascinated me, and I'm going to go back to episode 119. It was the last episode in a whole interview series I did for the month of August in 2022. I think it was 22. But it was with Grant Chungo. Grant is or was, I should say a morning news anchor and meteorologist, and I got a chance to interview him and his story and how he was able to tell stories on the news in 90 seconds or less. It's episode 119. I will link it up in the show notes, but definitely go back and check that one out. But it was something about television that just absolutely fascinated me and to this day, I will still watch the local or national weather in awe about the job those talented men and women do every single day. So it's something I've always wanted to do. Never got that chance, and that's totally okay, but definitely thought there was going to be a time when I would be in front of a camera like that. Now, as many of you know and this is number four I had a 25-year career in education, but for 14 of those years I truly enjoyed my time as a middle school mathematics teacher. What a lot of you don't know and it's something I don't necessarily talk a whole lot when I talk about my education career was that right after college, I taught for two years in a private all girls Catholic high school and I taught in the religion department and I liked the job. It was great being a teacher. It was one of those situations where I was not willing to pursue a graduate degree. I also didn't have the money to really go ahead and do that, and getting a master's degree in theology was not something I was actually seeing. I was going to be using per year and so my contract wasn't renewed. And one of the biggest takeaways I take from that job and the reason why going to teach mathematics was so appealing to me was because two plus two is four and math is very factual. It's a lot of logic and scientific. But teaching religion and teaching the content that I had to do that was difficult. It was difficult because you are talking about things that are extremely personal and I'll never forget. I had a student that year. Her mom passed away from cancer and we all went to the funeral and this student looks at me with tears in her eyes and she says, mr Nero, why did God do this to me? And you've got a kid who's looking at you for the answers. And I looked at her and I said I don't have an answer for that. I felt like I failed in some way. I felt like I was the one that was supposed to have the answers and I don't. And that was okay. That was okay. I don't know why those things happen. I know in hindsight we're supposed to learn from it and we've all experienced loss on some level. We've seen a parent or loved one suffer. We've known somebody who has exited this earth, admittedly far sooner than they should have, and I just remember feeling like I don't want to do this. But I knew I wanted to teach and since I always had this love for numbers, going to teach mathematics was an easy decision. And going to teach middle school here's the thing I really want you to pick up on this, though. Middle school, those ages grades six through eight, grades 11 to 14, it's such a transitory period in our development and in our education. The skills we learn in middle school set us up for success in high school and beyond. The skills we learn at mid-career set us up for success in those senior and executive positions beyond where we are now. So I love this whole idea about this middle school mid-career because it is very transitional in how we grow and develop. So I often say one of the things I loved about teaching middle school was that there were times when the kids came into my room when they wanted to be treated like adults and there were times when they wanted to be treated like kids, and my success was I knew the difference. I knew how to meet them where they were at, not as their friend but as their teacher, and do what I needed to do to make that material and the time they were in my classroom as safe, fun, informative and something for their growth and development that I could. I will always look back on those 14 years with tremendous fondness and excitement. So, number five as many of you know, I suffered a health setback in October and I had a partially torn plantar fascia and was in a walking boot for a month and while that was going on, my retina detached twice and, thankfully feeling much better, got some follow-ups this week, expecting them all to be good and positive and everything, but what I want to share with you for number five is that I don't always do a great job of having work-life balance as a sole business owner. One of the things I took away from my four weeks of being ill and recovering, was that something needed to change in my life and in my business, and that I Don't always do this great job of compartmentalizing or keeping things separate, because as a solo business owner or a solopreneur, everything falls on me. Even during that time, with a gas bubble in my eye and feeling really uncomfortable, I was like I've got to find a way to get in front of this mic and do a three-minute intro for a best of episode and load that up into my podcasting host. So I stay consistent because that was important to me. I know if I missed a week or two it would have been fine, right, but it's being driven in that way and what I'm finding now is that I'm having to play catch up on some things that I wanted to get done in October, that I couldn't because I was ill, and so now I find myself spending a little bit more time, being up a little bit later, working a little more on the weekends and stuff. So I don't always do a great job about work-life balance. I'm never going to be that kind of person to simply say, hey, this is how we get better work-life balance. Whenever I do, I'm always talking about it from a very personal experience. What I know is that we show up when we set ground rules to find that balance. But I will tell you, come right now, and especially in 2024, that is one of my goals to spend time working on, and that is just about being better when it comes to work-life balance. All right, good, take a quick break, be back in a moment. Hey there, we'll get back to the episode in a moment, but I want to give you something game-changing, a golden ticket. That is like having a roadmap to take you from career confusion to clarity in minutes, introducing the mid-career job seekers checklist. It is your secret weapon in your job search and if you feel like navigating your job search right now is like navigating a maze blindfolded, don't worry, my friend, I got your back. This checklist is a powerhouse of organization and preparation Need to make you say goodbye to feeling overwhelmed and hello to a career transition made easy. I want you to head on over to johnnarrellcom to snag your free copy of the mid-career job seekers checklist. It's not just a checklist, it is a career compass to help you find that job you're going to love. Now let's dive back into the episode Number six. I never wanted children and I don't have any. This was something I struggled with very, very early on in my life because, as many of us know, there's an expectation Grow up, you get married, you have kids, you have your family, you have grandkids, you die, you move on right. I never wanted kids, as much as I loved being a teacher and I loved my time in the classroom I, so enjoy my quiet time. At the end of the day, I have tremendous respect for parents. I mean, obviously I'm very grateful for mine. I never wanted kids because I just didn't believe I could confidently or wanted to make that incredible commitment to bring another life into this world. All of this got solidified for me when I was teaching and I remember a colleague of mine had walked out of the faculty room. She was visibly upset and I asked her what was going on and she said I can't handle the pressure when I'm about the job. She said no, in the faculty room and I said what happened? She said everybody keeps asking me when my husband and I are going to have children and I'm afraid to tell them I don't want them. And I said look, that is your choice. You don't have to apologize for your choices or decisions about how you choose to live your life. And I said look my situation. I never wanted kids either, and I still get. I still, at the time, was getting pressure. Oh, you'd be a great dad, you'd be a great father, yeah, but I don't want them, so I'm not going to be. And this was one of those things that I remember people would say to me oh, that'll change. It never did for me. Now, that being said, if I'm in a restaurant and I hear a two or a three year old go totally nuclear with a blood curdling scream, I'm not the best person in that situation either. That really really stresses me out. But I'm sure, on some level it's probably different when it's your own kid. And for you who have children that are listening out there, oh, my hat is off to you, but that's just not me. I just never wanted kids. That being said, I am blessed with two incredible God children, another one whom I absolutely consider to be my third God child, and I'm just so incredibly blessed that they are in my life. Their parents are in my life and have asked me to have that responsibility in their lives and everything. So you know, we make decisions in our life and, hopefully, the decisions we make. We have no regrets for me. No regrets on this one. All right, number seven I've sung the national anthem in front of 16,000 people. Yeah, so a little story about that. Growing up, I had a music background. One of my first jobs I ever held was as a church organist and I ended up having a career in church music for 10 years, part-time job. And when I was in college I sang in a couple of groups. One of them happened to be an acapella co-ed choral group. So shout out to the Loyola College Notables, or as we used to joke, we were called the no Tables and we used to go and sing the national anthem for the Baltimore Orioles. That was how we got to see games in college, so we would go and we would sing the national anthem. In this one game in particular, they gave us seats about 20 rows up from home plate Best vantage point I've ever had at a baseball game and I remember we were behind center field. They had a little stand there or a platform where the people would sing and I remember I'm conducting the group and at the corner of my eye they have me on the Jumbotron, and I remember at that moment I was like that's freaking awesome, that's so cool and so yeah. And then the other time wasn't as big of an audience, but definitely a memorable story. As many of you know, I am a professional bowler. Something that I've done throughout my whole entire life was to bowl. I love the sport so so much and have met so many incredible and amazing people because of it. I sang the national anthem before a tournament in New Jersey. I ended up winning the tournament and $5,000. So that was kind of that was a cool day there in and of itself. All right. Number eight, and keeping with this whole theme about bowling, everybody always asked me John, have you ever bowled on TV? And my answer is once, and not in the way you hope. So here's the story I bowled on a television show called Make my Day. Now, this was shot, I think, around 2008. You can find it on YouTube. So if you search Make my Day, john, j-o-h-n. It will pop up, and the premise of the story, or the show rather, was they give this person the most amazing day of their life. The subject of the show is John Castellano. He is a music store owner in New York I want to say Staten Island or Long Island, I'm not sure which one, forgive me on that part. And in this particular scene he ends up going to the bowling center to return an item he was a cell phone to a money tumor from the New York Giants. And while he is there he meets Vinnie Pasteur from the Sopranos and Vinnie's working on a movie quote unquote and he hustles me and one of my best friends, ken, to bowl a match where we have to intentionally throw the match so John can make a shot for $500. Well, one of the funniest parts about this story is so we get asked to do this because Ken, myself and another friend of ours, bobby, were on the game show Chain Reaction the year before. They remembered us as bowlers. They called Ken and me up and said hey, would you guys be interested in doing the show? We were like sure, absolutely, but we had a ball bad on purpose. So it was things like can you get seven and not throw a strike? Like yeah, we can kind of fudge that as best as possible. Well, in the show when they go to like do the credits in the middle of the show, they list Ken's name as Ken, but my name is Bob and the reason why I believe, even though the third guy on Chain Reaction was named Bobby, the reason was the subject's name was John. They didn't want to confuse us, so enlisted is Bob. But I actually have an IMDB profile. Somebody set that up for me and that's my credit. So if you go to YouTube, type in Make my Day, john, j-o-h-n, go about eight or nine minutes into the episode and you will see that scene. There you go. Thank you, number nine. I love animals, absolutely love animals. Growing up had dogs, had a boxer, had a Siberian husky, loved, loved, loved them. But now I am a proud cat dad and my husband and I are the proud owners of a 21 pound rescue cat that we have named Amy and it's short for Amy Farah-Mieller, because of our love of the Big Bang Theory and she's a white, gray, black cat. We try to get her to lose weight. She gets very aggressive when she doesn't eat. It's not pretty and she is now 13 years of age and we do our best, like we try to get her to lose some weight. We're slowly making some progress this go around, which is really good, but growing up I didn't like cats. I didn't like them at all. In fact, I was scratched by a cat when I was younger and I thought, oh, there's no way I'm gonna have cats when I get older. But what I've come to learn? Richard had cats growing up, and if you have cats they certainly don't require as much care and maintenance as a dog does. But I never thought I would love a cat as much as I love Amy, and it was so funny. We have a local shelter. It's a no-kill shelter and when we've rescued or adopted cats in the past, we've always gravitated towards a more senior cat because we feel like they're not always adopted as much as others and they need a good home as well. So when we adopted Amy and we had a Sheldon, they weren't a pair, but we thought we could make them get along, because why wouldn't you think that it just didn't happen. And so we ended up having to take Sheldon back and they got really, really aggressive with each other and it just wasn't a good situation. So we brought Sheldon back. Sheldon got adopted a few weeks later, hope Sheldon's doing well and happy and everything like that. But Amy is just, she's a lover to death. Right, I work from home, I go down for lunch, we have lunch. I often joke, she's my director of HR and it's no disrespect to any HR directors that are listening and things like that. But when you work from home and you're alone and you're like, yeah, I need somebody to kind of have a title, so she gets that title kind of a thing and I am the chief can opener is what I often describe that as. So for those of you who have pets right there with you, and if you are a proud cat owner, happy to be part of that club with you, all right, my last one, number 10, is growing up. I never thought I was enough. I wrote about this in my book Show Up Six strategies to lead a more energetic and impactful career. But, like all families, we have drama, we have circumstances and I firmly believe that people do their best with what they have in the moment. There is no fault, there is no blame. It's a lot of how I internalize things. It was a big part of where my perfectionism came into play. I always had to get A's, always had to play a piece perfectly, could never disappoint anybody. God forbid you got angry over anything, just wasn't allowed to be angry, and it was a lot of how I internalized a lot of those things and, as I've gotten older and started unpacking some of those thoughts and beliefs, the fact that I have such a strong work ethic and a very strong attention to detail. That's important to me. But done is better than perfect. As a bowler, I've shot over 3,300 games. They say it's a perfect game. It's not. There's always one shot in a quote unquote perfect game where it doesn't come off your hand the way you want, or you get a quote unquote lucky break, or you just got lucky on a certain shot. You just got lucky on a certain shot. They're never all perfect, but score wise they are, and so now I take that and I fuel that in a way of saying, okay, how do I learn from it? How do I make this better? How do I do this in a way that serves me and doesn't cripple me or stop me from getting ahead? This is 207 episodes of this podcast. I will tell you this is the first episode I am doing without an overly written script. I have my list of my 10 things, so I didn't forget them, but there was no scripted intro or anything like that, because I'm like I need to get this out there and I need this to be done. Done is better than perfect. So all of these 10 things that I've shared with you, I promised you I was gonna tell you how they helped me build my mid-career GPS. So what I know is this my colorful mouth. I keep and check when I need to and sometimes, when I need to use it for an emphasis, it can be really impactful. I know I'm never going to be pitching party tents, and whenever I'm at a function, I always make it a point to thank the people who put that 10 up. Wanting to be a meteorologist told me that, yeah, I like certain things, and being able to like something and do it well is something I admire in my clients, in the people I meet, and it's also something I make sure I emulate every single day. The time I spent as a middle school mathematics teacher was some of the best parts of my career. Crafting and delivering lessons, managing a room full of 30 students and getting better and better at my craft every single year was a lesson I will always take through my career and extend to my clients as well. I will always work on having better work-life balance, because that is important for my own health and well-being, while I never wanted children. That's just part of how my life played out. So I do what I can every single day to make sure that I live my life as fully as possible. Seeing the national anthem in front of 16,000 people, when I got up on a stage and delivered a keynote in front of 1,600 people, I was hardly nervous. Loving our cat is just another way of having that kind of balance and realizing that. You know what, when I get really stressed out a cat yeah, they don't really care too much. They're like make sure there's food in the bowl and scratch my head when I want it. When I'm done with you, I'm done with you. It's a great reminder about keeping things in perspective. And finally, yeah, being a perfectionist. That's something I'm grateful for. I'm glad that I have a strong work ethic. I'm glad that I pay attention to details, but not everything's going to be perfect and I need to always keep that in perspective. The email might have a typo or a grammar error. The post I make on LinkedIn may not be worded as best as possible, but in the end, what I talk to you about every single day is showing up from a place of value and service. And when I left my job six years ago. I did that so I could help more people outside of that organization than I could in it, and so that is the way I show up. I show up consistently as best as I can every single week to be here with you. My challenge or takeaway with you for this episode is this Find something that a lot of people don't know about you and share that with one person, whether it be your spouse, your parent, your children, your colleagues, somebody you talk to on social media, whoever that might be. Open yourself up and share one thing you feel safe about sharing with them and see what you learn from it. See what that lesson is for you as you continue to build your mid-career GPS and show up to whatever is next for you in your career. Thank you for letting me share. Thank you for listening. It would do me a huge favor if you kindly would leave a rating and review for this podcast and share with somebody you know and encourage them to listen to this podcast as well. But 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. 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.