Money and Career Is Not Just About Salary

Our latest career coaching radio show talked about money and career. While I talked about salary negotiation, of course, I also covered 2 other ways that money impacts your career:

  1. A strong financial foundation helps you take risks, so good finance habits matter even to people not in finance; and
  2. Your career is often your biggest asset, so invest accordingly to reap the rewards.

Listen to internet radio with SixFigureStart on Blog Talk Radio

In addition, I answered your career questions:

  1. Maria and Camille asked about catching up on salary after taking a lower paying job for stop-gap reasons;
  2. Sophie asked about transitioning to full-time entrepreneurship — grow her own business, partner with an established firm, or go back to her traditional career and build on the side;
  3. Stefano asked: Passion or money? Which should we pursue to have a better career?


Executive women who make the most of work-life balance

I am so excited to be cited in Molly Cain’s piece for as an executive woman with an interesting side passion:

Fellow Forbes Contributor, CNBC Career Expert and founder of Six Figure Start, Caroline Ceniza-Levine spends her weekends immersed in comedy. You can even catch her some nights performing in shows with a group called Comic Diversity. She finds that having a three-dimensional background is a great networking tool and conversation starter. And really, who doesn’t wish more business-savvy comediennes made it to networking events (that would make them so much better!)?

Read many other examples (I love the beekeeper one!) in Molly Cain’s piece for Executive women who make the most of work-life balance

What Does Love Have To Do With Career – Radio Show

Our February 7 episode focused on love and career. I talked about:

  • How do you find a job you love?
  • How can you organize your day so you do more of what you enjoy?
  • How do you negotiate for the project/ team/ role you really want?

I also answered audience questions:

From Jeanine: I am an extremely proactive professional that results in more and more people demanding my time and stretched very thin, with literally no increase in salary over the past 4-5 years and bonuses are getting smaller and smaller (and may not exist this year) due to economy and the company profitability (or lack thereof). However, I am deserving and feel that I should be entitled to a salary increase, title increase etc. for what I accomplish for the company, but every time I try to approach, I am told that the company isn’t doing well, it is not a good time to ask, etc. Yet, others around me (of course they are all men) are being promoted and find it hard to justify in mind why some are entitled and others maybe more deserving are not. How do I approach to obtain a more positive response?

From Tara: How best to switch careers from very different industries, undergraduate education and job functions with an MBA? What are some of the steps to take to leverage existing skills sets and network effectively?

From Paul: I would like to start a new career with what I know.  I am close to retirement and my current career has stalled.

From Sam: My most pressing question(s) deals with networking. What is the most effective way to get in touch with senior executives who you don’t know? Do you recommend ‘cold-calling’ and do you suggest leaving voice mail messages when doing this? If you have time, I would also like to know the following. How do you effectively stay in touch with executives with whom you have had an ‘informational meeting’ with?

From Maya: How to deal with curve-ball or difficult interview questions on the spot?

You can hear my responses to these questions and my musings on Love and Career in our February 7 episode of the SixFigureStart career coaching radio show on BlogTalkRadio:

Listen to internet radio with SixFigureStart on Blog Talk Radio



Follow Your Passion Is Bad Career Advice For Most People

I recently spoke on a panel on “How to Advance At Every Stage in Your Career” generously hosted by Google for diversity professionals in advertising. Topics ranged from job search to career progression to mentorship and giving back, and at every turn, most of the advice centered around passion. How do you distinguish yourself from the competition? Show your PASSION! How do you change careers? Win naysayers over with your PASSION! How do you get a promotion? Be more PASSIONATE!


I have to say that I too contributed to the passion parade because I said (and I still stand by this) that if you ask 10 recruiters who they would choose between the average skilled but much more passionate candidate v. the highly skilled but lukewarm candidate, all 10 would pick the passionate one.


But a focus on passion is dangerous and outright bad advice for most people.


The recruiting observation I made about how passion wins in the end is based on comparing two candidates that both meet the skill requirements BEFORE passion plays into the equation. If you don’t have the skills, expertise or background for the job, you can jump up and down with all the passion in the world and it won’t make a difference.


In fact, people will get annoyed and will question your passion if you don’t have the skills, expertise or background to back it up. It’s a case of style without substance. How can you say you’re passionate about a job or company or industry that you know nothing about? How can you say you’re passionate about something you’ve never tried before? If you’re so passionate, why do you have to keep telling people you are (instead of just showing them)?


This isn’t to say that you need to have years of traditional, full-time, paid work experience in an area to demonstrate passion for that area. But you have to have something tangible, actionable or measurable as evidence that your passion manifests in something real. Volunteer work in your passion, a side business in your passion, an encyclopedic knowledge of your passion, and an extensive network of contacts active and influential in your passion are examples of ways to tangibly demonstrate your passion. Yes, it will take time, energy and focus to accumulate any of these – that’s the point!


Don’t just say you’re passionate. Demonstrate your passion. If you’re too busy or tired or frustrated to do anything more than you what you’re currently doing, then you haven’t found something you’re passionate enough about. Encouraging people like this to get more passionate is like encouraging people to practice more wishful thinking. Fantasizing does not get you jobs.


Now, if you work 24/7 and never take a step back to question what you should be focusing on, then you might be a candidate for more passion-centered encouragement. If you’re a hard worker AND you can tap into your passion, then that IS a magical combination to success. So passion does play an important role. Just make sure you’re doing the hard work behind it.

This post originally appears in my Work In Progress blog for

How Can I Find A Career That Gives Me Purpose?

This post also appears in my Work In Progress blog for

This is a question that a reader actually submitted (thank you, Kenny!), and with no other information, my first reaction is that it is a two-part question:

Part 1 – What gives you purpose?

Part 2 – How do you build a career that supports that purpose?

Knowing what gives you purpose is a prerequisite to building the career that supports this.  How do you define purpose? Is it serving a specific goal, such as increasing access to good food? Is it doing something never done before, such as introducing a new product? Is it helping people in some way? Keep in mind that the pursuit of purpose doesn’t imply working for a non-profit or the government. You could work for Whole Foods, Apple, or Zappos (a subsidiary of Amazon), all private sector companies and each an example of providing good food, innovating, and prioritizing people, respectively.

Many people fret about finding that perfect career that serves a higher purpose so as a coach I probe about what that purpose is. Typically, I get a vague notion along the lines of wanting to feel fulfilled. You need to define what that fulfillment actually looks like. Do you envision a specific lifestyle? What are you doing day-to-day? What does your environment look like? Who is around you – colleagues, clients? What problems are you solving? Again, this doesn’t have to mean world problems but could include business problems or an individual’s problems. When you’re reading the news, what stories do you gravitate towards?

Remember that with every career, there is always activity to do that’s outside your main purpose. My life purpose is helping people find fulfilling and financially rewarding careers, and I have done this as a recruiter and do it now as a career coach. But running my business also requires me to go on sales calls, market myself via social media (and other methods), review our financials, and update our website. Sales isn’t my purpose, and neither are social media, balancing the books or web development. But overall my career path is aligned with my purpose. Don’t let difficult, tedious, grunt work that accompanies every career to dissuade you. Focus on the overall.

Only after you have some semblance of your purpose can you determine if the career(s) you have in mind will feed this purpose. Will the target career put you with the issues, people, and environment that serve your purpose? Remember not to look for 100% overlap but majority overlap. What is the next job you should have that can put you on this career path? A career is a long-term journey built job-by-job. What in your current set of skills and experiences lends itself to this next job? With this you move into the tactical, practical side of how to get on the way to your purposeful career.

Define your purpose. Match possible careers to your purpose. Identify specific potential jobs to start you on those careers.

5 Non-Work/ Non-Family Must-Dos for Working Parents

This post also appears in my Work In Progress blog for

Ok, you probably don’t want to hear that there is something else to do, when you’re stretched thin by your job and family obligations. But everyone I know who has been happily juggling work and family, including myself with husband, 2 daughters and my own business, always spends time on other activities. Career success is more than your day-to-day job. Family success requires you to be at your best, so neglect yourself at your own peril. Even when you feel like you can’t squeeze one more thing into your schedule, here are 5 invaluable activities to add:

Keep your lunch dates. The unemployment line is littered with people who buried their nose in their computer and looked up to find their job had disappeared. All the major companies – Citigroup, GE, Time Warner – lay people off at one time or another. Then no one knew the worker bees enough to refer them elsewhere. We all know that maintaining your network is the best thing you can do for your career. Building in at least one lunch date a week ensures that you have 50 chances over the next year to take care of your network. 1 hour per week, but you need to eat anyway, so really 0 extra hours per week

Read something. Fiction could spark your creative juices. Non-fiction could provide some professional development. If a book is too much of a project, start with one article at a time. Just like you want to stretch your networking outside your day-to-day circles, you want to stretch your thinking outside of email and your daily work memos. 15 minutes per week for an article up to 3 hours for a book

Attend something. Do you want to be that person who seems to drop off the face of the earth as soon as she has kids? Are you planning to disappear for 18 years till they enter college? Whether it’s a work social, a community event or even catching a show with a friend, get out of the house for more than just your job or family. For professional purposes, remember that recruiters and prospective employers have to be able to find you. 2 hours once per month, or 30 minutes per week

Pursue something. A board seat would be ideal, but that’s not the only thing worth the wee bit of energy you have left. Having any activity other than immediate work and family duties would qualify here, as long as you love it. It could be Zumba class.  It could be a once-a-month book club. It could be spending 5 minutes once a week calling someone in your contacts book. Remind yourself with your regular non-work/ non-family pursuit that you are a multi-dimensional person that exists outside of your immediate obligations. 5 minutes once a week up to 5-10 hours average per week for board work

Hire a trainer, if you must. Some form of physical exercise will pay you back in extra energy that will feel like extra time. Yet, it’s difficult to do this (as my additional 10 pounds since baby 2 can attest). I coach people on success for a living, but I don’t have the discipline/ motivation/ etc. to work out, so I hired a trainer. That once a week boost spills over into at least 1 or usually more days I can exercise on my own. However you do it, squeeze in a workout. A trainer is far less expensive than quitting your job from burn-out. 2 hours per week if you train one day and work out on your own at least one other time

We’re talking 3 hours or less per week to get started and build a super strong foundation for you, your career, and your well-being. Surely, we’re all worth 30 minutes a day. Just 30 minutes a day can help Save-A-Mom…

The Case For Multiple Passions

This post also appeared on my Work In Progress blog for

For my husband’s 40th birthday last month he ran a marathon in Mobile, AL. He’s got a goal to run a marathon in all 50 states. This takes up a lot of his time. He also has a demanding job – CTO for a major non-profit – and is very involved with me and our kids. From my perspective, what he loses in the time crunch, he gains in energy and focus. Rather than competing for attention, each pursuit complements each other in creating a multidimensional, fulfilled person.

It’s the same reason I recommended that a client who felt stretched at his professional services job should hire a personal trainer. Or that another client who was working overtime at a draining legal job and applying for graduate school should finally watch the top 100 films of all time on the AFI list, as he always wanted. These pursuits were really meaningful to these people and would fuel everything else, not detract.

Sidebar: My above 3 examples are all of men. I really wanted to mention an example of a woman with multiple passions but I didn’t have one. It’s not that women don’t do 100 things all at once. It’s just that most that I know have pursuits for the benefit of other people. But that’s an observation for another blog….

For this blog, I just want to encourage you to pursue multiple passions guilt-free. So let’s take that phrase step-by-step:
Pursue meaning go for it. Make time. Expend the effort. Invest the money. Keep the commitments;
Multiple meaning more than one. The actual number doesn’t have to be high but multiple is the key so that each can support the other. When you plateau in one area, you can work on something else. When you win in one area, you can carry your momentum and confidence elsewhere;
Passions meaning more than just an interest. Figure out what you love to do just because you love it. You think about it, and your heart beats faster. You anticipate it with joy;
Guilt-free meaning you don’t have to apologize to anyone, especially yourself, that you’re doing this. Being fulfilled is a good thing all by itself.

There is a strong case for having multiple passions. I have 4: family, my business, real estate, and performing. What are yours?

Inspiration Friday: Thomas Adams on the cost of passion

Passion costs me too much to bestow it on every trifle. – Thomas Adams 

Passion is expensive.  It takes your mental focus, your emotional energy, your physical stamina.  Are you frittering yours away?

Are you expending precious energy worrying about small details of things that really don’t matter?

Or are you doing the opposite:  numbing yourself down, doing everything halfway, going through life defeated and apathetic?

Take back your passion.  And if you have it already, don’t waste it on trivial things.

If You Had One Shot To Seize Everything You Ever Wanted…

Warning:  the below links to an Eminem video.

A shout out to Adrian J. Cartwood and his very entertaining and thought-provoking blog ( for reminding me about 8 Mile, a gem of a movie.

I watched it at the suggestion of Judith Searcy, my improv teacher at School For Film and Television, because she said that freestyling (rappers creating lyrics on the fly and a big part of this movie) is a terrific example of improv.  Yes it is, and if you are really interested in freestyling/ improv, also watch the DVD extra where Eminem auditions the rappers for parts in the movie.

At the same time, 8 Mile is a great coaching movie:

You have to go for it.  The above music video captures the high stakes, just-one-shot message that underlies the movie;

You can never give up.  Despite the all-or-nothing subtext of the video and overall movie, Eminem’s character screws up multiple times before hitting it big in the finale (you will never hear the name Clarence quite the same again).  You will have multiple chances, as long as you keep going;

You will be scared.  When something really means something to you, you will feel as gritty as this movie looks.  Hold onto that passion. 

A lot of people have trouble with the passion part, especially when they’re caught up in the day to day and have forgotten.  So when you do get a glimpse of it (perhaps watching an inspirational movie or just doing something fun), try to remember where you feel it in your body.  For me, for example, my heart literally feels like it moves deeper into my chest.  Now, you will know the feeling you’re trying to recreate.  Experiment with activities till you get another glimpse of that feeling. 

Letting yourself get passionate about something is like exercising a muscle.   If you haven’t worked up your passion for awhile, it may be tough to get started but eventually it gets stronger.   And perhaps strong enough for you to take your shot.

Pursue Your Passion With the Help of Pursue The Passion

I had the pleasure of speaking with Brett Farmiloe, co-founder of the non-profit Pursue The Passion (

PTP was started by two 2006 grads, Brett Farmiloe and Zach Hubbell, who wanted to discover their passion and help others do the same.  What resulted is an organization that creates short videos featuring people in different careers.  Watch these videos, and you can get a flavor into different jobs, some you might not have heard of or considered.  PTP is trying to put these videos into the reach of as many students as it can.

Nice mission and luckily these videos are available online to anyone with an Internet connection.  It’s a great idea — inspire by informing.  PTP doesm’t promote any specific career; rather they enable people to expand their knowledge of what’s out there and decide for themselves.

I told Brett I’d write about PTP b/c I believe in the mission and hope that you check out the site and tell others about it.  We could all use the extra help to pursue our passions.  Thanks, Brett!