The Mid-Career GPS Podcast

251: Three Tips to Advocate for Your Leadership & Career Development

July 02, 2024 John Neral Season 4
251: Three Tips to Advocate for Your Leadership & Career Development
The Mid-Career GPS Podcast
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The Mid-Career GPS Podcast
251: Three Tips to Advocate for Your Leadership & Career Development
Jul 02, 2024 Season 4
John Neral

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What if you could take 100% responsibility for your career and transform your leadership style in just three days? Join me on this episode of the Mid-Career GPS Podcast as I share my experience at NextUp's Rising Stars Conference, where over 250 mid-level leaders from the U.S., Canada, and the Netherlands embarked on a career development journey. Discover the three transformative takeaways that will revolutionize your approach to leadership: taking complete responsibility for your career, understanding the significance of career clarity, and harnessing the power of self-advocacy. Get valuable insights from sessions and speakers on avoiding burnout and identifying your unique leadership style, and learn why it's imperative to become your best advocate on your career journey.

In another segment, we dive into the art of networking with the principle of "give first, ask later." Learn how intuitive listening and offering help before seeking favors can make a difference in building genuine connections. I'll share a personal story about the serendipity of seizing an unexpected opportunity to connect with a busy colleague, emphasizing the importance of curiosity and impeccable timing. We also discuss the critical need for self-care and maintaining boundaries in the post-pandemic world, especially for business owners. Reflect on the importance of providing context when asking for grace, illustrated by a heartfelt story about a colleague's support during a challenging period of insomnia. Tune in for practical advice and inspiration to take your career to the next level, and consider seeking coaching support to define your goals.

Support the Show.

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

Want me to review your LinkedIn profile?
Learn more 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.

What if you could take 100% responsibility for your career and transform your leadership style in just three days? Join me on this episode of the Mid-Career GPS Podcast as I share my experience at NextUp's Rising Stars Conference, where over 250 mid-level leaders from the U.S., Canada, and the Netherlands embarked on a career development journey. Discover the three transformative takeaways that will revolutionize your approach to leadership: taking complete responsibility for your career, understanding the significance of career clarity, and harnessing the power of self-advocacy. Get valuable insights from sessions and speakers on avoiding burnout and identifying your unique leadership style, and learn why it's imperative to become your best advocate on your career journey.

In another segment, we dive into the art of networking with the principle of "give first, ask later." Learn how intuitive listening and offering help before seeking favors can make a difference in building genuine connections. I'll share a personal story about the serendipity of seizing an unexpected opportunity to connect with a busy colleague, emphasizing the importance of curiosity and impeccable timing. We also discuss the critical need for self-care and maintaining boundaries in the post-pandemic world, especially for business owners. Reflect on the importance of providing context when asking for grace, illustrated by a heartfelt story about a colleague's support during a challenging period of insomnia. Tune in for practical advice and inspiration to take your career to the next level, and consider seeking coaching support to define your goals.

Support the Show.

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

Want me to review your LinkedIn profile?
Learn more 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:

A few weeks ago, I attended NextUp's Rising Stars Conference, where I was one of over 30 coaches helping with the event. We welcomed over 250 mid-level leaders from organizations in the United States, canada and the Netherlands. They all came for this three-day event to learn how to level up their leadership and career development. What can I share with you about career development and your leadership development as we head into the last half of 2024? Lots. It's why, in this episode, I'm taking time with you to share my three big takeaways from this event that will absolutely change the way you think about your leadership and career development and how to be unapologetic as you build your mid-career GPS. Let's get started. Hello, my friends, this is the Mid-Career GPS Podcast and I'm your host, John Neral. I help mid-career professionals like you find a job they love, or love the job they have, using my proven four-step formula. It's July 2nd and, as we get ready to head into the July 4th holiday here in the United States, I just want to wish you a safe and happy holiday, make memories, be careful wherever you're traveling and, most importantly, let's remember why we celebrate our independence and how important it is Now. At the end of every episode, I say how you show up matters, and this couldn't have been more true for the 250 people I had the opportunity to meet at NextUp's Rising Stars Conference that was held in Austin, texas, just a few weeks ago. As one of the coaches for the event, I've been working with eight leaders in my cohort, and our work includes them going through a 360 assessment and debrief, serving as the table moderator for our discussions during the event, and then, after the event, they go through one group coaching call as well as one private coaching session with me. I have been with this program for five years and I can't say enough wonderful things about it, as, simply, the discussions and the conversations and the insights and takeaways that happen as a result of this event are truly transformative. Now, if you're not familiar with NextUp, they are formally known as the Network of Executive Women, and you can learn more about them on their website at nextupisnoworg. Nextup's mission is to advance all women, grow businesses and transform our workplaces through the power of community, and NextUp does an incredible job promoting allyship, as we had our largest number of men attending this year's Rising Stars Conference included Karen Jones, the Vice President of Learning and Partner Solutions for NextUp, as well as Kate Donovan, a leading expert in burnout recovery and burnout culture. If you've been listening to the podcast for a while, you know that I had my friend Kate on the podcast way back in episode 127, where we talked about avoiding career burnout. Another keynote speaker was Finke Jurkovic, who talked to us about our brilliant difference as it appears in the fascination advantage. And Jo Miller closed up our sessions, and you may remember Jo when she talked about her shift list in episode 184. But Jo did an incredible job helping us identify our leadership styles and where we want to shift them. I'm beyond honored that during the event, I had an opportunity to share the stage with Dr LaTanya Jackson and Anne Massaro to share our best networking tips with attendees to help them navigate the event, and that session was moderated by Kat Ortiz, nextup's manager of learning and organizational development.

John Neral:

So what were my takeaways? Before I get to them, I just want to say, if you've been listening to the pod for a while, they may not necessarily be anything earth shattering to you, but I can't reinforce enough the importance of how powerful this message is and why these takeaways, here we are in mid-2024, mean more than ever. So here we go. My number one takeaway is that you are 100% responsible for your career. One of the biggest mistakes I remember making early on in my career, especially in the early days of my mid-career journey, was I trusted, depended upon or counted on my leaders and management to advocate for my promotion and career growth. To advocate for my promotion and career growth, and what I learned many, many years ago was that was unfair to them. Look, at the end of the day, we are all out for ourselves, and I don't mean that to sound selfish or insincere, that we shouldn't be looking out for everybody else, but at the end of the day, if you are not your biggest advocate and champion for your career, you are doing yourself a disservice.

John Neral:

If you want the seat at the table, ask for it. If you want to being in the room, ask for it. If you want to take those two slides at a meeting and present in front of the senior leadership team that you've never had an opportunity before, ask for it. You will never know what might be if you don't ask for it. But how do you know what to ask for? That's where career clarity comes in, and it's one of the most transformative things I see with the people I work with individually, that we talk about what they want in their careers and how they can show up from that place of value and service and what it means for them to advocate for their career with still having really big hearts and caring about other people and not being perceived as being obnoxious or a braggart.

John Neral:

Where do you want your career to go If you are simply living on the hamster wheel and running in circles and feeling like you're not going anywhere? It is understandable that question is difficult for you, but when you think about what you want in your career, you absolutely must know what it is you want. You don't have to go through that alone. If you've ever been curious or wondered how I can help you as your coach, the easiest thing to do is reach out to me. You can email me at john@ johnneral. com. Easiest thing to do is reach out to me. You can email me at john at https://johnneral. com. You can find me on LinkedIn and direct message me there. We can talk about what coaching may look like for you, but sometimes we need a little support in our career development. So, however, or wherever you're getting it, just recognize you don't have to go through it alone, but you absolutely are 100% responsible for your career and you've got to be the loudest person in the room talking about you and the opportunities you want. Hey, there is your LinkedIn profile working for you 24-7?.

John Neral:

For many mid-career professionals, optimizing their LinkedIn presence isn't a priority until they start job hunting or networking and realize it's important. If you're feeling the pressure to make your LinkedIn profile stand out to recruiters and hiring managers, I'm here to help. Would you like me to review your LinkedIn profile? This is your opportunity to receive my expert feedback. I'll show you exactly what changes can attract more recruiters and hiring managers, identify areas for improvement and guide you in optimizing your profile. This will boost your professional brand and increase your chances of landing more job interviews, expanding your network and elevating your professional presence. For a limited time, spots are available for a personalized LinkedIn profile review for just $50. For more details, check the show notes undefined visit my website at

John Neral:

Now let's dive back into the episode. My second takeaway was that we should always be focusing on building relationships. Whether you refer to it as networking or connecting, whatever that is for you, you should always be focusing on building the relationships you want. But here was the other thing and it's one of the things that we talked about during this high-imp impact networking conversation, which was networking can be a little bit messy. It can be a little awkward at first, and so, as you think about how you want to build these relationships, do it authentically, do it genuinely. Who are the people in your network you've been meaning to talk to and who are the people that you want to pull into your network and you want to be able to learn more about them?

John Neral:

One of the tips I shared from the stage was give first, ask later, and by that I mean, in a culture where we're always looking for things, what would it mean for you to show up with somebody you're just meeting for the first time and listening intuitively and diagnostically, in a way that, ultimately, you're going to find a point in that conversation to say, hey, I've really enjoyed this conversation. How can I help you? Hey, I've really enjoyed this conversation, how can I help you? Watch how they react to that, watch how they change their nonverbal and their demeanor and they're like how can you help me? I'm not really sure. That's okay. Maybe there's somebody I can connect you to or there's something of a resource I may be able to share with you. Whatever that is, let me know I'd be happy to do that for you. They'll reciprocate, they'll ask you how they can help you and when you have a clear and clean ask in order to do that, they're going to be able to know how they want to help you. To do that, they're going to be able to know how they want to help you.

John Neral:

I didn't share this from the stage, but I do want to share this story with you that in a previous organization where I worked, there was somebody who oversaw a particular division and special project that I was naturally curious about knowing, was naturally curious about knowing, and I remember that I would frequently bump into this person in the restroom and of course, that's not the place where you want to have a networking conversation and I thought, oh, when am I going to get my chance to actually ask him this question I'm really curious about? So, lo and behold, a few weeks later I see him at the coffee machine and I walked up and I introduced myself and I said I've learned that you oversee this particular project and I was wondering if you might have five to 10 minutes at some point in the next couple of weeks, no pressure, but I'd love to learn more about and I had two particular talking points. Do you know? He looked at me at the coffee machine and he said I've got 15 minutes right now before my next meeting. Come on into my office. I got time with this person when nobody usually got time with this person and when I went back and I started talking about it, I had a conversation with this person. People were like how in the heck did you do that? And I said oh, I happened to see him at the coffee machine and I simply asked for five minutes of his time. You never know when you may catch somebody at the right moment at the right time.

John Neral:

Be curious, be a diagnostic listener in those networking conversations. Figure out a way that you can serve them or help them in some capacity. Give first. There'll be plenty of time to ask for what it is that you want. And if you're currently listening to this and you are unemployed or actively job-seeking and desperate to get out of your job situation, I can't emphasize this more than enough Give first, ask later. It can be so difficult to be like who do you know who's hiring? Who do you know who's looking for somebody as a project manager, accountant, pr rep, whomever that might be. Slow it down, build a relationship. Give first, ask later.

John Neral:

My third takeaway and this was something that I will tell you personally hit me very, very hard at this event Self-care is more important than ever Post-pandemic. We have seen boundaries get skewed between how much we work and why we work so much, and what I have learned through all of this was that I was letting some of my boundaries get skewed. I wasn't holding them with the same level of fidelity I had been. So how do you set boundaries in your personal and professional life? They are far different than requests, but where I'm focusing on this is looking at my business and looking at how I'm doing certain things, where I'm spending time on and things that I feel like I should be spending time on versus I want to be spending time on, and how much time that's going to take. I'm looking at my calendar and figuring out where do I get to protect my time protect my time as a sole business owner that not only allows me to, first and foremost, take care of the private coaching clients that I have, but to do things like this podcast and my weekly newsletter that I send out twice a week. The other thing is is that what I'm also learning is that giving somebody grace is much easier when they give you context. Kate Donovan spoke about this so eloquently from the stage that we can't just expect people to blindly give us grace on things. But if we give them a little context, if we give them some understanding about what it is that's going on and we do it in a way that is safe and is trusted, that they'll be able to give us grace a little easier.

John Neral:

I thought about this during the event and I remember there was a time in my career where I had horrible bouts of insomnia. If you have ever struggled with insomnia, my friends, I feel you, I hear you, I see you. It was one of the worst times in my life and I was late for work on two occasions. Now you may say you know, john, that's not that big of a deal, but when you're a school teacher and you're responsible for being in front of 25 students in your classroom at 8.20 in the morning and you live an hour away from school live an hour away from school that's not a good look, and I'll never forget how some people joked with me about it. I got a very stern talking by one administrator and they were absolutely right in doing it.

John Neral:

There was a woman whom I co-taught with I lovingly refer to Linda as my Jewish mama and for a year a year Linda called me every morning at 6 am to make sure I was awake. She said hey, I'm going to be on the treadmill. I can easily pick up the phone and call you just to make sure you're okay and you're up and you get to be on the treadmill. I can easily pick up the phone and call you just to make sure you're okay and you're up and you get to work on time. And I knew that I needed to be awake to get Linda's phone call. I was like I'm up, thank you so much. It was at one of the lowest points in my life when somebody showed me such incredible grace and love and I am honored to say we're still in touch. I see her every year and she is one of my nearest and dearest colleagues I've ever had the opportunity to work with.

John Neral:

Sometimes we need people to help us with our self-care. We need a little accountability. So I'm putting some things in place in my work life right now to make sure that I'm taking better care of myself so I can take better care of all of you. That was probably the biggest takeaway from the whole event. How do I protect my time and what does that look like for me? But what does that look like for you? Where are you allowing people to freely put time on your calendar or tell you to move meetings around that you really don't want to, really don't want to? I encourage and invite you to think about where and how does self-care look like for you and your work, even if it means setting the timer for two minutes to do some quiet meditation or stand up and stretch. I will tell you I've got time on my calendar that as soon as I'm done recording this podcast, I'm taking three minutes to stretch. Find those little things and let them add up to ensuring that you are taking the best care for yourself as possible.

John Neral:

So, as we wrap up, my first takeaway was you are 100% responsible for your career. My second takeaway was to always be building relationships and to network authentically and genuinely. And my third takeaway was self-care is more important than ever. If you're great at doing it, I admire you. If you are struggling with it, like me at times I am right there with you, but we'll figure it out. We'll absolutely figure it out because we're worth it, and that's how we build our mid-career GPS.

John Neral:

It is definitely how we prepare, we position, we promote and how we show up, and the most important thing is how we show up and the most important thing is how we show up. So until next time, 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. Happy July 4th. 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 johnnerrellcom 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 John Darrell coaching. I look forward to being back with you next week. Until then, take care and remember how we show up matters. Thank you.

Mid-Career GPS Conference Recap
Networking, Boundaries, and Self-Care