The Mid-Career GPS Podcast

232: How to Transfer Your Skills into a New Position with Lisa Friscia

March 14, 2024 John Neral Season 4
The Mid-Career GPS Podcast
232: How to Transfer Your Skills into a New Position with Lisa Friscia
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Have you ever considered reshaping your career path but felt unsure about how to translate your experience to new opportunities? If you are looking to make a career pivot and want to know how you can transfer those skills, it must start with you knowing why those skills are needed and confidently communicating why they are valuable to your current or future employer. 

If you can’t confidently sell yourself, how are you going to get companies and their hiring managers more interested in you? This is one of the reasons why I asked Lisa Friscia to join me on the podcast today. 


Lisa has successfully pivoted several times in her career, and she pivoted into these roles after a successful career as a history teacher and educational administrator. The conversation takes a deep dive into the valuable competencies that educators bring to the corporate table—strategic planning, data analysis, and more—and how these can be your ticket to new professional opportunities. 


In this episode, Lisa and I talk about how you need to approach your transferrable skills differently through backwards planning, as well as why it’s imperative you know your content and skills, and where they are valued in your current or future organization’s leadership pipeline.

Connect with Lisa Friscia
LinkedIn | Website

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:

What are your transferable skills? If you're looking to make a career pivot and wanna know how to transfer those skills, it must start with knowing why those skills are needed and confidently communicating why they are valuable to your current or future employer. Look, if you can't confidently sell yourself, how are you going to get companies and their hiring managers more interested in you? This is one of the reasons why I asked Lisa Frisha to join me on the podcast today. Lisa has successfully pivoted several times in her career and she pivoted into these roles after a successful career as a history teacher and educational administrator. In this episode, lisa and I talked to you about how you need to approach your transferable skills differently through backwards planning, as well as why it's imperative you know your content and skills and where they are valued in your current or future organization's leadership pipeline. Let's get started.

John Neral:

Hello my friends, this is the Mid Career GPS podcast. I'm your John Neral, . I help mid-career professionals find a job they love, or love the job they have, using my proven four step formula. I wanna give a special shout out to all of my teacher friends and colleagues and educational leaders out there in this episode. While I know firsthand how great a job and education can be. I also know how frustrating it can be, and if you are considering making a pivot to leaving the classroom or district position to move into a corporate role, I want you to pay particular attention to our conversation today.

John Neral:

With over 15 years of experience in education and social impact, Lisa Friscia is passionate about helping small and growing organizations go from scrappy to sustainable by aligning strategy, talent processes and equity. As the president and founder of Franca Consulting, she co-creates strategy aligned and equitable talent and leadership processes that sustain a culture of success for forward thinking leaders. Lisa knows how to leverage her expertise in people and culture change management, leadership coaching and learning and development to translate ideas into action. She also provides individual career and leadership coaching with a focus on transitions and new roles. It is time to think about your skills and where they are most needed, and I hope you enjoy my conversation with Lisa Frisha. Hey there, lisa. Welcome to the podcast. It's great to have you here.

Lisa Friscia:

Great to be here, John. Thank you for having me.

John Neral:

Well, lisa, you've got an incredible story that we're gonna talk about today, specifically around pivoting and transferring skills, but I'm wondering if we can begin by you telling our listeners what was your mid-career moment?

Lisa Friscia:

Yeah, so I think. So technically there are two, and I'm not sure if I'm done, but the first one. So I originally started out as a middle school history teacher, becoming a high school principal, and while I loved that work deeply working with students, working with teachers as I saw our organization growing I realized that there was a real need for really strong talent development. They're really strong people and smart people that we were hiring and weren't setting up for success. And so, in the same way you set up your classroom with systems and rhythms and clear expectations and let students help own it, I thought the same could be true for schools and systems. So I pivoted into leadership development, which then led to a few many pivots into taking on recruitment and then taking on HR.

Lisa Friscia:

After growing with my organization and I'd been there for 14 years, which sounds like a long time, but it felt like different jobs every year I was pretty burnt out and I had wanted to do my own thing for a while and it felt like the right time to try it out. And so I pivoted again, this time keeping with the work that I was doing, but doing it for myself as a solopriner, and so started my own consultancy, and so I essentially do the same work that I was doing prior, this time with lots of different organizations, from some K-12 organizations, nonprofits, startups and behavioral health organizations, which has been really, really fun to do that work in lots of different spaces.

John Neral:

Well, one of the reasons why I wanted to have you on was we share this common bond of being educators and making those kind of pivots, and I loved what you said a moment ago about how you're not sure if you're done yet pivoting, because I think that's such an important part of this whole mid-career journey that we think like, okay, what could be next? How do I evolve in that regard? For the people who are joining us today and they're in education and they've been there a while and they're thinking about getting out, can you walk us through what were some of the things you found to be successful in making that particular pivot, particularly in where skills are transferable?

Lisa Friscia:

Yeah, I was just joking with someone who used to work with me and unfortunately was laid off on Friday about this. I think the skills that a good educator has are immensely transferable. I don't know if other organizations always recognize this, but I think educators don't give themselves enough credit for everything that we do. That's so powerful Backwards planning being able to really identify and get clear on what are the outcomes that you're looking for and then backwards planning experiences so that students can learn. That's strategic planning, that's operations, that's marketing. That's all of the things.

Lisa Friscia:

I think educators, too, know how to love data in a smart way. Students are not just test scores, but we do need to use data to inform how we're doing and how we're moving along. And there's aspects of user experience right, if people are looking into user experience, like that's essentially the thing we're looking at. Stakeholders If you're someone who is working in schools and helping with student recruitment or teacher recruitment, to me that's like that's go to market, right. You're essentially figuring out what the market is telling you and how you align your feedback. So I think the more interesting question is what doesn't align to something else within educators, because I think that strong educators, especially those who've been in this space for a while have learned so many skills from marketing to communications, to data, to user experience, to operations, and I think those skills are really transferable and they're really stark when you work with people who have never been in the education space. They're very much appreciated, but you can tell the difference between folks who've worked in schools and folks who haven't.

John Neral:

In this podcast. We have talked so much and there's so many other guests who've been on here as well to talk about this importance of how you tell your story, and one of the key indicators here is that, for people who are looking to make a pivot, it's about telling their story from a place of value and service and not coming across as feeling as if they have to convince a hiring manager that they're valuable or they're employable or that they just need to get that kind of chance. When you're working with people and you're helping them navigate a career pivot, what are some of the things you do to help them tell their story a little better from that place of value and service?

Lisa Friscia:

Yeah, I think there's a few parts to it. First, you've got to figure out what you're trying to do.

Lisa Friscia:

And that doesn't necessarily mean it has to be so granular Like I know. I want to be in marketing in this industry. That's not what it is. It could be.

Lisa Friscia:

I love telling stories that connect people, or so I think first is getting to the what is the thing that lights you up and then connecting it to the experience that they've already had in doing that work. I think those are the first few steps to get people to own all of the strengths and the assets that they're bringing. And I also think and maybe this is just the recruiter in me I really love bringing folks who are not traditionally from an industry into an industry because I think they see it with fresh eyes. I mean, a team has to be balanced right. Some industry experience is important, but fresh eyes and fresh ways of thinking about things is also important too. So reminding folks that their differences are assets to the right organization If an organization doesn't care about it, it's not going to be a fit regardless. But I think recognizing how to frame their differences as assets I think is usually pretty key for folks who are, especially if you're trying to move into different industries.

John Neral:

If somebody isn't sure about their assets or their strengths, what are some tips that you have for them to help them get better, in tune with what they are?

Lisa Friscia:

Yeah, I think that I've done a bit of career coaching and so the question I've usually asked questions along the lines of first, like what are the things that you've done? I find that early and mid-career professionals tend to read off their job description, so I then push a little harder to say what was the impact or what was your role in it. Especially as we hone into what is your role in it, people start to realize how much of an impact they had on their organization, like, oh, I led that, I didn't just do it, I led it. And getting folks to be really clear on their role and the right verb to use. I think that unlocks a lot for folks as well. Having an outside voice too.

Lisa Friscia:

I usually try to repeat like here's what I heard you say. And again, being a recruiter, I can just up a message a little bit and I'm like oh, I did that. That sounds so much better when you say it. I was like but I didn't make anything up, I just said exactly what you said. And I think you start to see them light up and realize especially for folks who've been stuck for a while and maybe aren't feeling particularly confident because of that feeling stuck, you really start to see their faces light up and say like oh my God, I did all these things, and starting to draw the parallels of like it could mean this. It could mean this Like now you have the ability to choose how you wanna take that gift.

Lisa Friscia:

I think those are some of the questions that I've asked, but I also think, if you don't have access to a career coach, one of the best pieces of advice that I received is just asking folks like what do you think my superpowers are? Or if you could use two adjectives to describe me, what would they be? You can call people, you can create a simple Google doc, but I found that even in my own pivot, because sometimes you can do for other people and talk for yourself. It was really helpful to ask other people what they thought I was good at to help craft by message. I think those are some of the yeah, I think those are some of the strategies I'd recommend and some that I've used too.

John Neral:

And same. And I think one of the most powerful things of what you just described and what we know is that when we enlist the help of somebody who is outside of us, it might be that trusted colleague, that friend, but they give us their perspective because we're too close to it. Right, we're too close to ourselves. It's really hard for us to see those things that other people may recognize and may recognize very clearly about where we are so valuable in that. It's one of the powerful things in that kind of exercise to go ahead and do so.

John Neral:

Lisa, there's a chapter in your career that I wanna spend some time talking about, and that was as your work as a chief people officer. Now you served as a chief people officer for Democracy Prep, public Charter Schools, and for those people who are listening, they may not be familiar with some of the organizational structures where charter schools might be a little different from, say, a traditional public school or even a private school. So can you tell us a little bit like peel back the curtain, about what you did as a chief people officer?

Lisa Friscia:

Oh yeah. So I started off as a chief people officer with talent development and recruitment under me, and so the real rallying cry is to figure out how are we attracting, hiring and retaining really strong talent that can do great work, whether it's in our back office or in our teacher pool. So my work maybe it makes more sense how I started into the talent space. So, having been a principal and a assistant superintendent, the first task was creating an internal leadership pipeline for emerging principals. We were a growing organization and I think it is incredibly important and powerful to grow internally and to have people from you know, from external, come into the training program as well. But being able to grow our own was a really powerful experience. I was really proud of that training program and the work then just evolved over time. So then it became because our applications went through the roof, because it was an actual program and people were really excited about the coaching. We created stepping stone programs and also started to work on equipping not just our school leaders but our back office folks on how do you do some of this training and support and coaching and how do you know what is the science of adult learning and how do we do what we do for children but for adults as well? And then that evolved also into working with our back office leadership as well. No one teaches a finance manager how to run a team or create an agenda or all these things, and so that evolved into talent development.

Lisa Friscia:

Recruitment came under me, and so we did a few things. We had grown pretty fast, and so there were a lot. There wasn't really a unified way of working with school leaders in recruitment, so we really focused on bringing equity and inclusion and some level of standardization into those processes so that our hiring process was equitable, that we were mitigating bias in terms of how we were attracting and hiring. How are we using data? And then also the part of talent acquisition I really love is like, how do we employ marketing tactics as well to be able to tell our voice, since there are so many different types of schools, right, and I think one of the benefits of school choice is for families, obviously, but it's also for teachers to figure out like we all excel in different environments, right, whether it's a small school or a growing school. And so how do we tell that story? And so, and with those processes in place, we saw an increase in diversity across levels and across regions, which I was really proud of Right before the pandemic, because my timing was impeccable.

Lisa Friscia:

Hr came under me as well, and so I would say my HR leadership experience was a little nontraditional because of that, because we I mean we were doing certain things like how do we systematize a team that had been very customer centric, very like high touch, and that that way of operating is hard to do when you have over a thousand employees in 25 states, and so, really figuring out how to systematize processes, we did an HRIS transition, but also we're working on things like vaccines and where could we mandate, where couldn't we?

Lisa Friscia:

Is that the right process? And chepberting that through, because in some states it just wasn't a possibility, in some states it was more of a choice. And then, yeah, and I think all of the COVID policies, hr policies, had to come under play, like what was our remote policy? What did it look like when people moved out of state? Doing a lot of that policy work was a key part of it. So there's a lot of different components. I think in every organization it's going to look a little bit different, based on strategic plan, based on context, if you're growing, if you're stabilizing.

John Neral:

Now that you're listening to the Mid-Career GPS podcast, are you subscribed to the Mid-Career GPS newsletter? This is my twice weekly newsletter to help you get the career clarity you need to find that new job or level up your leadership as you navigate toward whatever is next for you and your career. Be the first to hear about upcoming webinars and events, along with other things to help you build your Mid-Career GPS. It's a free newsletter and you can join by visiting my website at https://johnneral. com, check the show notes or my LinkedIn.

John Neral:

Now back to the episode. You've got so many experiences and experiences that again, this is another testament to what did we all learn during the pandemic that you may not have gotten, had things not pivoted or shifted in that way. So I've got a couple of questions for you around this. So if someone's internally looking to level up, they're organizationally loyal, they're dedicated, they've been doing good work and they want that advancement what are the things they should be attentive to when an organization has an internal leadership pipeline that is going to make them stand out as a viable candidate, be it either in this moment or in the very near future?

Lisa Friscia:

I think there's a few pieces to this. One obviously know your content, whatever that is finance, whatever, be sure that you really know your content deeply. I think, though, that the mistake that mid-level folks make is that they think that that's where it stops and wonders sometimes why they're not getting recognized, and I think the difference is excuse me between someone who really knows their stuff to who's going to be able to level up is how are you strategically leveraging your content knowledge to be able to meet the moment, because there's not one size solution for everything that's happening. If I, during the pandemic, had proposed this is the time to do this really massive change management clunky thing, that would not be meeting the moment, even if it was a need, right, even if it was something that, yeah, of course that is a thing, but is it the high leverage thing? To do that, you need to be able to look outside of yourself. You need to be able to really listen and build relationships across an organization to understand the context in which you're operating. You need to be able to really look at data and not just to confirm what you want, but to really think about what is the data? How is the data pushing? On my original hypothesis as well. And then I think the last piece which I definitely would say is and how do you communicate it to managers and leaders in C-suite who are operating at a million miles an hour?

Lisa Friscia:

There are so many times where I hear people say like, well, my leader just didn't understand or doesn't agree, and I said, well, let me talk to me about how you said that. And then a lot of the time I have to say like, honestly, if you were telling me that at a check-in, I would have missed it. Like you didn't make it to the point clear enough about. Here's the issue, here are the potential issues, here's how I think we should solve it, and not stopping there. When someone says no, saying well, talk to me about no, what would make it a yes? Can I do a pilot?

Lisa Friscia:

Right, like figuring out what are not that you're necessarily disagreeing, but trying to find the sort of middle ground in a way that's differential, but also saying like I really see this thing happening and I think it is an issue, but I appreciate there's other forces that are happening outside. How do we move forward in a way that makes sense? Those are the pieces I feel like really smart people miss as they're trying to level up with an organization and look, that doesn't mean right, you're necessarily wrong. It could mean if that organization doesn't have an appetite to do the type of work that you're doing, then at least you have clarity that you won't be able to as much as you might love these folks and love the work. Don't get me wrong. This may be a time where the organization just doesn't have an appetite to do the type of work that you want to do either.

Lisa Friscia:

I think both are hard part about self development. Right Like, feedback is important, but also listening to your gut is important, and so I can't. There's no one right way, but I think those are the things you've got to balance.

John Neral:

So let's take this scenario and flip it a little bit. So now we're looking at somebody who is looking to join a new organization. They have their skills, they have demonstrated results and they're now sitting in a final round interview and it's between them and two internal candidates. From your experience, what would you say that external candidate needs to do in order to, let's just say, make the decision really difficult? You know, for them to be considered and ultimately offer the job? Because you and I both know we hear from people very often where they get to this final round and they go oh, they went with somebody internally and they're like oh well, if that was just going to happen, then why did I even go through this whole process? They got there for a particular reason. What are some of your tips or guidance to help an external candidate show up a little more impactfully in the interview?

Lisa Friscia:

Yeah, I mean, I think you know recruiting is a lot like dating you can only be the best version of yourself and then you know whether it was the right fit. I might answer the question a little bit differently. When is an external candidate, somebody who's going to shine so that you know, say these things and then you know if they're actually open, Someone who brings a wide variety of experience? So sometimes and I see this whether it's HR or some other teams homegrown talent knows the organization really well, but they don't always understand all of the tools or content and how to apply it in a variety of contexts. So that, to me, is usually the differentiator for a external candidate. If we were about to do a search with a client right now and they really need strong data analytics skills, that just doesn't exist internally. So I think, being able to speak to those things, speaking about how you've solved problems in multiple contexts, while also remaining curious and respectful, I think that you are coming into an organization that has done some good things to be successful. So when you're proposing doing something different, recognizing that sometimes there are some folks who will have some feelings about that, and that's okay. So you want to be respectful and you want to be able to frame some of your ideas and suggestions is building on what has already been done. I think those are two of the pieces Now.

Lisa Friscia:

That being said, if we can rewind to the very beginning of the process I think I try to do this in recruitment, but if someone doesn't, you should ask these questions is what is the profile of the person? What are the problems of this person's trying to solve? What are the metrics that this person will be held accountable for in the first 30 days, 60 days, 90 days a year? Who are the type of people who are successful in this organization? Who doesn't work out in this organization? Asking those questions on the front end helps you to also understand the organization in a deeper way than the website can necessarily give you. Then one that'll tell you also if this is a fit for you, right, but also then you can use that language to help craft your story.

John Neral:

Sure, I loved what you said there, that it is about being the best version of yourself, showcasing your skills and abilities as much as possible. If it's the right fit and you're the right person, you'll get the offer. If you're not the right fit, for whatever reason, hopefully there is something you can glean from the interview process that lets you inform any decisions for next time.

Lisa Friscia:

Yeah.

John Neral:

Stuff yeah.

Lisa Friscia:

I would also say the times where someone goes with someone internally. I appreciate how frustrating it can be, but I will say also as an organization, that also means that they really want an equitable system, that they're not just assuming that someone internal is going to be the right person. They really want to open it up. I don't think it's just the dog and pony issue at least it wasn't with us, right but I think what I'd also say is I have been this person and friends have been this person where it was. Honestly, if we just needed someone to like, who really like, we realized through this process we really needed to prioritize knowledge of the organization. But let's keep in touch. I think that's a moment where you can, if you did appreciate and like the organization, explore other opportunities to be able to get in and then figure things out from there. I think there is an opportunity there that you can explore as well If you like the organization and the people that you were talking to.

John Neral:

I will never forget leaving a Board of Education interview for a department chair position and 60 minutes went around the table. I was the external candidate. I walked out of that. The board president walks me out of the meeting and looks at me and says you just made this really hard for us Because they were. They were looking to level up somebody internally and I was very fortunate that when I got the notification that I was not selected, I was told why. I was also told where I impressed and what I did right and to keep in touch and things like that. I appreciate your point there as well, because you're right, this can be pretty frustrating for people, and especially when they're looking to get out of a situation and level up, because that's important to them. Yeah, definitely, yeah. So, lisa, you have given us so many wonderful things to think about, especially in terms of how we can transfer our skills and what pivoting looks like, but we do need to start wrapping up. So, as we do, what advice would you give someone to help them build their mid-career GPS?

Lisa Friscia:

I think two things, and I need to shout out a book I'm reading by a friend, randy Braun the new playbook. I think two things are. One is get clear on what you're trying to do. Gps only works if you know where you're going. Sometimes we use titles as proxies for something else.

Lisa Friscia:

Thinking about what is important to you is it flexibility, is it money? Is it the title? Is it the work? Because we can't have all of it all the time but thinking about the chapter. That's right. What's right for you? Obviously there's a certain amount of money that I need to make, but for me, impact matters more than being a seven-figure business. That's my answer. Everyone has their own answer Because that will allow you to pivot more strategically, the more concrete you can get.

Lisa Friscia:

The other piece I would say is I think we fall into these all-or-nothing categories. The example in the book that I loved is from Robin Arzon, who I just took a workout class with today on Pelletune. The story is she was trying to pivot out of her lawyer career and she took a year, year and a half, with just 10-15 minutes a day, doing informational interviews about what fitness education looked like. The reason I tell that story is you don't have to start off big, it can be as simple. As I'm interested in this career, let me set up some informational interviews over the next three months, or and that could lead to skills that you need to build, which you can do through LinkedIn, learning or what have you.

Lisa Friscia:

But I think it's abolishing the all-or-nothing way of thinking about it and recognizing that you always have an opportunity to build skills, even in an organization that you're stuck in. What else can you? Is there a committee that you can join? Is there a project that you can even just observe and listen to? I think what PD money can you get out of the organization? Yes, I think that being open to learning opportunities, nonprofit boards there's a lot of work, because even when you're in that I don't know the right word is active recovery, low battery I think there are things that you can still pick up to help you to figure out, so that you're not still stuck a year later, you'll have more clarity on direction or the things that light you up. I think those are the two things I would suggest.

John Neral:

Thank you for that. Well, I want to turn the mic over to you right now so you can share with us where people can find you and connect with you, and so the mic's yours.

Lisa Friscia:

Yeah, so I think the best way to professionally connect is just through LinkedIn. I'm pretty active there, and so I think that's I mean you'll have the spelling of my name and then from there I think it's relatively easy to find. And then Franca Consulting is my organization, and so you can also look at my website.

John Neral:

Right, I will make sure all of that are in the show notes. Lisa Frisha, thank you so much for being a great guest on the Mid Career GPS podcast. Thank you All right. My friends, if there is one takeaway I want you to think about with my conversation with Lisa, it is this If you're thinking about transferring skills or thinking about making a career pivot, it is your responsibility to meet the moment. What is the moment for you? What is your why? Why is this pivot important for you? But also, what is the moment for this organization you want to go to, whether it be the one where you're working or the one where you want to land? That's going to allow you to meet that moment because of the skills and the expertise and the talent and the value that you get to bring. That helps you craft your story from that place of value and service. That gets more people interested in who you are and what you do. Rather than simply finding you interesting, because we're all interesting people. We have to get more people interested in us.

John Neral:

That's your challenge for this week. In the meantime, my friends, remember this you will build your Mid Career GPS one mile or one step at a time, and how you 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 and 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.

Navigating Career Pivots With Transferable Skills
Educational Leadership and Career Development
Navigating Career Growth and Change