071: Being the CEO of Your Own Career with Angela Copeland

By October 12, 2016Podcasts

 

Career coach Angela Copeland shows how to take charge and proactively, intentionally manage your career.

You’ll Learn:

  1. Warning signs that you’re under appreciated at your job and how to deal
  2. A simple, powerful way to highlight your progress and set yourself apart at work
  3. Effective interview tactics

About Angela
Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at her firm, Copeland Coaching. She is host of the Copeland Coaching Podcast, columnist for the Career Corner newspaper column, and author of career e-book Breaking The Rules & Getting The Job. Angela’s personal career background gives her the breadth to help job seekers with a variety of different needs, including finding the right job, interviewing, and offer negotiation.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Angela Copeland Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Angela, thanks so much for joining us here on the How to Be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Angela Copeland
Thanks for having me.

Pete Mockaitis
I love that you’ve really taken the Copeland Coaching brand and metaphor far, with the imagery, the varsity letters on your logo, and then photos of you on the basketball court. So I’ve got to ask, were you a big sports player in high school, college? Or what’s the story?

Angela Copeland
So I’ll be honest. I was not. I do happen to be naturally athletic, but I spent most of my time in high school and college studying so that I could get scholarships and I could get a great job. The one sport that I did do was actually horseback riding. So that’s one that you won’t see on my website.

Pete Mockaitis
Yeah. And I guess I don’t really think of a horseback riding coach per se, even though someone’s got to be teaching people how to horseback ride, but maybe they have a different title.

Angela Copeland
No. They’re typically referred to as a trainer.

Pete Mockaitis
A trainer. Okay. I was thinking a docent perhaps, it just sounds so regal. Horseback riding. So cool. I know you have so much good stuff to share. So you’ve got the Copeland Coaching podcast. Boy, over a hundred episodes with so many good folks there. And so I’d like to learn a little bit. So you’ve got a philosophy when it comes to managing your career part of life, about being CEO of your own career. And that sounds cool and catchy, but could you kind of lay out a little bit of what does that philosophy mean and what are some of its implications that you find helpful?

Angela Copeland
It’s a really good question. And it’s not just something that I sort of say on the site. It’s really truly how I feel. I think being the CEO of your own career is really not waiting for someone to give you a chance, not waiting for someone else to train you, and just kind of going after what it is that you want to do and giving it a shot, without waiting for your company to pay for training or for someone else to sort of give you permission to do something . It’s just really digging in and kind of finding out on your own what you want to do and going after it.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. I like that. And the word CEO really does conjure up an image of the buck stops with you. It’s your life, your career, your decisions, and so you take control and ownership there. So maybe could you share an example or two from some of your clients who adopted that mindset and they found it helpful?

Angela Copeland
You know, I have a really fantastic client. He actually gave me permission to record a podcast with him, and so I talk about him pretty often. And his name is Isaac. And Isaac, when he came to me, he was working for a university, in a very administrative kind of role. And he had always worked in that kind of role. His educational background was in higher ed. And he said, “I want to do something different. I just don’t know what it is or how to get there.”
And of course, we worked on his personal brand first and how he was presenting himself, but then he started doing informational interviews with people in different fields. And in the end, he actually transitioned to working for a major hotel, Hilton. He works in their corporate office, and he actually works more on strategy and coaching franchise owners on how to do their very best. So Isaac was able to truly transform his career.
And it was really interesting. I talked to him recently and I asked him, “What was the number one thing that you took away, looking back?” because it was a few years ago that we worked together. And he said, “You know, it was honestly forgetting about rules.” He said, “I always kind of followed the rules.” People said, “Well, you have to meet these minimum requirements,” or “You have to have this certain education.” And he said, “Until we worked together, it never occurred to me that I didn’t always have to follow the rules .”

Pete Mockaitis
That’s powerful. Yes. And I hear it kind of often that folks believe you need a certain kind of a credential or a degree or a certificate. And what’s been kind of surprising for me, because I used to kind of play by that as well because I was good at getting them… I like school and tests and having people tell me I’m great. That was fun for me in high school and college.
But so often, the certificates or whatever don’t even matter to folks in terms of they are kind of more interested in “Can you do the job? Do you make my life easier? Do you produce results?”

Angela Copeland
You know, I completely agree. It’s funny. When I graduated from college, I was going to college in upstate New York and I flew to Memphis, Tennessee to interview at the FedEx corporate headquarters, and they actually flew in two other people, other interview candidates, and we had to interview against each other head to head for one position. And of course, I was like maybe 20 years old, and these people that I interviewed against must have been 40.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, wow.

Angela Copeland
And they used all this lingo that I’d never heard before that had to do with things like revenue and marketing. And the night before, when I got to the hotel, I started reviewing the job description to sort of refresh my memory and I realized that it said, “MBA required.” And I was like, mortified. I felt embarrassed. I felt like, “Are they going to bring me in tomorrow and laugh at me? Why have they even wasted their money to fly me to Memphis?”
And it was so crazy because after the job interview, I was in the airport flying back to New York and I got a phone call from FedEx, and they picked me, which was really surprising. I think at the end of the day, I was probably culturally a better fit. The other people were from Boston and they were a little harsher. I grew up in Oklahoma, so I think I had the more sort of southern friendly vibe. I was probably cheaper because I was straight out of school. And the interesting thing was they asked us all math problems during the panel interview, and you had to work out math problems in front of people. And it turned out I was the only one who got the math problems right.

Pete Mockaitis
Hot dog.

Angela Copeland
So you don’t always have to meet the minimum requirements. That’s for sure.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that’s cool. That’s inspiring. So then tell us a little bit, when you’ve got these podcast guests and you’ve got these coaching clients, I’d love to hear some of your best takeaway principles and tactics when it comes for sort of you’re on the job and you want to flourish in the sense of receiving promotions, opportunities for new exciting roles and challenges and initiatives. What are some of your best practice tidbits along those lines?

Angela Copeland
It’s a great question. I mean, I think the number one thing that I’ve taken away from both clients and podcast guests is something really similar to what I took away from working with Isaac. And that is, my clients and the guests that I talk to who are the most open about trying new things, they seem to be the ones who actually do the best. So they may not always be the most qualified. They may not always have gone to the best school. Or they may be a little bit of an underdog in some way, but they are open to new experiences. They’re open to failure. They’re open to being in an uncomfortable situation. That seems to me to be one of the biggest sort of differentiators .
And I think also being able to think outside the box, being able to focus a lot on personal relationships. So often, we think that success is going to come just from working really hard and putting our nose down. But it’s not just that. It’s about building those relationships, trying new things, being willing to suggest new opportunities to your boss, and again, sort of taking charge of your career, as opposed to waiting for it to happen to you .

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that’s great. And so that openness, I imagine that that boils down to, in many ways, courage. Like most people don’t have as much openness just because they’re afraid they’re going to screw it up. It’s going to disrupt their kind of flow or groove or habits. What do you think is the difference maker in terms of why some people are open and some people are not as open?

Angela Copeland
You know, I think courage is a good one. I don’t know if it’s just courage, though. I think there is sometimes different people can see an ability to translate skills between different areas or they can see other kinds of connections. And I think it’s sometimes those folks that are able to sort of observe and make sense of some of these differences that may be able to see, “Oh, I have skills in this area that would work well in that area .” Or it may also be, say for example, in Isaac’s case, he had a great job, and so he had nothing to lose if he didn’t get an interview or a job with a certain company. He had time to wait and he could be riskier.
I also think there are situations like for me, for example, I graduated with basically a computer programming degree right after the dot com crash happened. And so I became very creative. And that’s actually where sort of my love for job searching started, was that I had to look for other kinds of jobs because I had to create an opportunity that really no longer existed.

Pete Mockaitis
Yes. Wow. That’s exciting and you pulled it off and it’s been going in some really cool directions as a result. And I think it’s handy. You identify those commonalities or those bridges and how those skills can apply into other spots. I’d also like to get a sense for when you’re in the work environment, what are some of your perspectives on documenting your achievements or coming out looking fantastic during the performance review time of the year?

Angela Copeland
You know, this is such a good question. And honestly, it’s such an easy thing to do well at, and I think just so few people put energy into this particular area, so it’s not too hard to excel. There are a couple of things.
First of all, as you go through the year, it’s really kind of maybe having a spreadsheet or some way where you document your results. And not just that you’ve finished a project, but did you generate more revenue? Did you generate incrementally more sales? Did you beat your goals? Did you finish sooner than you had expected? Documenting those things as you go along, and maybe even keeping them in a place that’s not just on your work computer . So if you ever decide to leave, you still have access to that information.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s very smart. You might overlook that. “Oh, whoops. It’s gone.”

Angela Copeland
No, I work with people all the time who are trying to update their résumés, and they just don’t have that information available anymore. But what I really love to encourage people to do when they do go in for that review is actually, instead of just showing up… So very, very often, I’ve seen even top performers who think, “Oh, whatever. I did a great job this year. I’m going to go in and have a conversation with my boss. It will be fine,” and they go in, and they have done very little preparation, but you spend so much more time on the projects that you work on throughout the year. You should be spending a little bit of time at least on yourself and on promoting yourself because it makes a difference in terms of your salary, your title, the way that people look at you .
And so I really recommend to my clients that they prepare a PowerPoint, for example, or some kind of a slide presentation that not only shows they’ve done a self-evaluation that’s typically required on the internal sort of computer system, but that they break those things out, maybe even having some screenshots, demonstrations of how their projects made a difference within the company. And I think you’ll find if you go in with even just a few slides that have some visual representation of what you did, first of all, you’ll be the only person on your team who thought to do it, and second of all, you’ll really impress your manager .

Pete Mockaitis
That’s so cool. And I like it because I imagine you want to frame that in a smart way. Not so much like “I want to show you how amazing I am,” but rather like “Hey, you know, it’s been a while since we’ve caught up, and we’ve done a ton of things. So I just thought it would be helpful to do a quick summary of some of the things that we’ve done, just so that we’re on the same page.” And I imagine as a busy manager with a lot of responsibilities and people, that would be actually pretty helpful and appreciated.
I also like what you said there in terms of drawing kind of very obviously or inexplicably the linkage between the competency or knowledge scalability thing that’s being assessed, maybe a 1 to 5 scale or whatever, and in particular, things that you did. And so it’s not so vague anymore. It’s suddenly very specific with examples.

Angela Copeland
Right. I mean, honestly, your manager probably hates that internal system that you use also. So when you show up with something interesting to look at and talk about that reflects the same thing that’s on the internal computer system, I mean, it’s great. It gives a great impression. And then you can keep a copy for yourself that you could potentially take with you to an interview or to show an employer at a future time.

Pete Mockaitis
Excellent. I’d also like to get your take here. I’m a little bit jumping around, but excuse me. These are what I want to know the most.

Angela Copeland
Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
What I’m most interested in hearing from the master career coach here is when it comes to… A lot of folks, they come to you and they are ready, maybe past ready-slash-desperate for a change in their career world. Could you, reflecting upon those clients’ experiences, share with us what are some maybe early indicators, a canary in a coal mine, if you will, for maybe it’s time to reshape my role or change roles because there are kind of signals of deep internal dissatisfaction that maybe you don’t even recognize as that deep just yet?

Angela Copeland
Yeah. It’s such a big deal. It’s funny. I actually write a newspaper column and I wrote about this topic this morning, so it’s fresh on my mind. It’s unfortunate. Sometimes, we wait too long to decide to switch jobs. And sometimes, I’ll have clients come in and they are ready to quit their job . And it’s so much easier to find a job when you’re still employed. Many people don’t think about it, but if you quit, even if it’s your choice and your decision, a future employer may wonder, “What happened?” or “Did you really quit, or were you fired?” That kind of thing. So I think it’s really important to pay attention to these signs ahead of time before you feel that way.
And some of the things that I would look for. One is if you feel underappreciated, if you feel micromanaged, if you’re noticing that you’re not actually getting promotions or raises at all. Or for example, if you apply for a promotion and you’re being told that you’re given a courtesy interview. Or just generally, if you’re being overlooked, because unfortunately, what I see with a lot of clients is that at least initially, they think, “I can make this better. I can fix this. I can sign up for more classes,” or “I can learn to be a better leader,” or whatever it is.
And in reality, sometimes, those same clients are really doing a great job. And maybe they’ve just gotten under a manager that didn’t hire them and doesn’t really appreciate their strengths, or maybe there’s some other organizational issue . I once had a client whose boss had an anger problem and was throwing things at the wall. And this client had really been putting up with it to the point where this person would cry when they would talk about this situation at work because the boss was so aggressive. And it was a corporate professional environment.
And so when you start to see signals like that, it’s time to go. I mean, you want to start making a plan at least so that you’d give yourself options, because if you wait until the point that you can’t get out of bed in the morning, you’re crying, you’re so upset, that’s not the time that you’re going to put your best foot forward interviewing . It’s not going to make the best story about why you want to leave. It’s going to cause a lot more problems than it would if you would be a little more proactive and look a little sooner. And honestly, my recommendation would be to always be networking and always be looking because you just never know what you might find.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. So some of those warning signs are being overlooked, told it’s a courtesy interview, not quite getting the respect, credit, etc. So it seems like the warning signs are not so much about what you’re feeling inside, but rather what you’re observing in your environment about your level of desirability or appreciatedness, respect from your manager and others around them.

Angela Copeland
I would agree. I think also in this time of change, it’s important to watch for signs that maybe your organization is struggling financially or that they’ve been reorganizing quite a few times, because I’ve talked to a number of people lately. I talked to someone just last week. Their entire company randomly, with no notice, shut the doors and just said, “Everyone, we’re done here.” So again, don’t wait until the company locks you out of the building. Pay attention to those signs. You’re the one in the driver’s seat, and you can make decisions based on what works for you, not because you have to pay your rent and you just have to have something .

Pete Mockaitis
Perfect. To wrap up, I would just love to, I guess conclude more scatteredness. If you could share, what are some of the most amazing or unexpected or brilliant kind of tactics that you’ve picked up along the way from your podcast guests or your clients that they really seem to find effective? When it comes to just anything in the job hunting or career flourishing world, from résumé bullets to interview questions to means of doing the networking, I’m imagining that there may be a couple secret weapons in the Copeland Coaching arsenal. And if you’re comfortable sharing any of those, we’d love to hear them.

Angela Copeland
You know, I think one of my very favorite tactics is to not necessarily apply online, and instead, to try to find that hiring manager. And sometimes, that means searching them out on LinkedIn. Sometimes, it means trying to figure out what their company email address is. Or sometimes, it even means going and being a guest in the audience at someplace that they’re presenting so that you can introduce yourself to that person. So it’s not sitting back, again, and waiting for someone to hand-select you out of a big pile of résumés that came in online, but it’s instead making yourself look a little different and a little more special, a little more excited .

Pete Mockaitis
That’s good. Any more?

Angela Copeland
You know, I think the best are things that are really creative. Like for example, if someone is interviewing at an advertising agency, for example, making a little portfolio of your work that you could leave behind as you leave the interview, or making an online portfolio of your work that you could send to people. One that I really like but is a little tricky for those who are currently employed is actually making a video résumé a video sort of introduction of yourself and tweeting it, for example, out to the company. Finding a way to sort of get yourself in front of the company in a nontraditional way that separates you from everyone else .

Pete Mockaitis
Lovely. Well, Angela, you tell me, is there anything else you want to make sure you put out there? Or should we shift gears right now into the fast faves?

Angela Copeland
That sounds great. Let’s shift gears.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Lovely. Well, could you start us off by sharing a favorite quote of yours?

Angela Copeland
Probably my favorite quote is by Eleanor Roosevelt. It actually sits on my desk every day, and it says, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Pete Mockaitis
All right. And a favorite study or experiment?

Angela Copeland
Gosh. Favorite study. You know, there are so many great studies that glassdoor.com puts out. And they recently had one that was excellent, on sort of the divide in pay between men and women that I really liked and I definitely recommend everyone check out.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. And a favorite book?

Angela Copeland
Gosh. I think my favorite book would probably be Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s fun. And a favorite tool or hardware, software, something you use often?

Angela Copeland
Gosh. Favorite tool. This pertains more to my business. I use Sprout Social to help me with scheduling a lot of my social media. I really love that. But for jobseekers, I think probably my favorite tool is just the plain old LinkedIn. You could really connect to a lot of new people that way.

Pete Mockaitis
I’ve been loving LinkedIn more and more. I’m a gold member now.

Angela Copeland
Oh, you are?

Pete Mockaitis
They got me. And it’s been worth it. No regrets. And how about a favorite sort of resonant nugget either in your book or podcast or with your coaching clients? Like something you share that just really gets them nodding their head, taking notes, and saying, “Oh yeah. Angela, that’s brilliant.”

Angela Copeland
Well, there’s one that’s really simple but kind of a little unexpected that I’ve written about and gotten a ton of feedback on, which is… I don’t know if you know this, but sometime in the past, we went from everyone typing two spaces after a period to just one space. And that’s something I didn’t know, but apparently, those who do know assume that the double spacers are ignorant, I guess you could say.
And so, as you’re applying for jobs and things, it’s really important that you always, as you write sentences, that you just put one space after a period as opposed to two . And I know that’s so random, but it got my attention after two different sets of editors pulled me aside and said, “While you’re writing is great, this is atrocious.” And I couldn’t believe it. And so I work with a lot of clients who have never heard that and have no idea.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, you know, it’s so funny because I was always a double spacer, and I don’t even remember consciously making a choice. But now I’m a single spacer. The transformation happened somewhere along the lines, without any drama. But I guess you had the editor bring it front and center.

Angela Copeland
Well, yeah. It’s interesting because growing up, my typing teacher was very emphatic that it had to be two spaces. It was very, very important. And that’s how other people I know, that was their experience, too. But I have an eBook. And when my editor reviewed the eBook, that was her feedback initially. And I’ll be honest. I ignored her because I thought it’s just a difference of opinion.
And then I started writing my column, and I went in and met with the editors and the publisher where I write my newspaper column, and I said, “I’d love any tips you could give me.” And they said, “Oh, your writing is great, but the way that you do the periods and the two spaces is horrible. We have to get rid of it every time.”
And I couldn’t believe it that that was a real thing. But if you look online, there are entire articles and things written on this topic, where the single spacers are really looking down at the double spacers. So it’s surprising that it’s like such a big deal.

Pete Mockaitis
I don’t know if you’ve watched the TV series “Silicon Valley.”

Angela Copeland
I have. Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
Tabs versus spaces. Oh, man. Okay. Well, I didn’t know. Thank you. Any double spacers out there will quickly abandon that practice, thanks to that.

Angela Copeland
Believe it. Don’t make everyone tell you.

Pete Mockaitis
And what would you say is the best way to find you, if folks want to learn more about you and what you’re up to?

Angela Copeland
They should visit my website, which is www.copelandcoaching.com. I have a free newsletter there, a free podcast. And I do also free weekly career advice columns. So there’s a lot of great information that you can find there, as well as my eBook.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. And maybe a favorite challenge or parting call to action for those seeking to be more awesome at their jobs?

Angela Copeland
Gosh. I think a really great challenge would be to start to identify what your strengths are. Strengths that are unrelated to your particular job function. And those are strengths that may translate between different industries, different job functions. Things that make you really good at your job. I would start to think about what those strengths are.
And if you have never looked at it before, a great book to check out is the StrengthsFinder 2.0. I think you can get it on Amazon. But inside of the book, there is a code so that you can take a quiz online, and it helps you to identify those strengths. I think they’re really helpful to think of, whether you’re thinking of doing better at your current job or transitioning into something new.

Pete Mockaitis
Perfect. Well, Angela, thank you for this. It’s been a lot of fun. And I wish you tons of luck with the Copeland Coaching empire.

Angela Copeland
Oh, Pete. Thank you so much. I appreciate you having me.

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