When I meet new people and get into the “What do you do?” conversation, one of the first questions they have about the Your Career Homecoming mentorship program is:
“How did you come up with this?”
I’ve also gotten this question from clients, small business owners who worry about not having a “thing” when they start, entrepreneurs wanting to create a signature offer, and, admittedly, some people who think the fact that we can answer a question that they’ve been struggling with for years in the space of a few weeks sounds too good to be true.
So I thought I’d take time to tell the story, in case you’ve been wondering, too. Like most stories that involve a creative process, it does not feature a straight line, master plan, or having all the answers at the start. Perhaps you can take some encouragement from that, too.
An Expert in Failure | 2009
I’m a trained actor and had been working in that profession for almost a decade when my own career crisis hit. I loved my career…until I didn’t. And by that time, I had no Plan B. I had put all my eggs into the acting basket, which meant I had an impressive enough acting resume, but the “real” jobs I’d had were mostly low-level admin and I’d never stuck around at one place for more than a few months. Other than my acting career, I didn’t have a track record to show people, and I didn’t feel qualified to do anything else.
I was skeptical that I would ever find anything I loved as much as I had loved acting, but I had to try. And so I tried everything: career assessments, personality tests, career books, blogs, therapy, creative side hustles, becoming an acting teacher, scouring craigslist for the right fit. Some things felt close, but nothing was quite right. I became a default expert in what didn’t work.
The Ah-Ha Moment | 2010
After over a year of struggling with this, I had an ah-ha moment: it’s less about what you do, and more about why you do it.
That new realization completely changed the way I had been thinking about my career. Instead of trying to monetize my passions or suck it up and just be practical, I started exploring my sense of purpose. Why did I want to work? What mattered to me? What did I want to create, and why? That line of questioning led me to start a small business where I could support others.
The Ebook That Wasn’t | 2011
At first, I thought I’d be helping creatives with the business side of their endeavors, but people also started asking me about making a career transition. Well, I had done that! So I started working with clients. I intimately knew the common career advice that hadn’t worked for me, and I had my own discoveries that did serve to put me on the right track. I did this for about a year, and it went ok. Clients were happy.
But I was still working with creatives on business stuff, too, and thought that was where I wanted to put my attention. But these career change people kept coming out of the woodwork. I had early business owner fear of turning clients away, so my big idea was to write an ebook about career change. That way I could still have something to offer those clients that came my way without them taking up much of my time.
I started writing the ebook, and 100 pages in I realized that I had a lot to say on the subject. And not just that, but that what I had to say was more powerful and original than what I had to say about creative business. I wouldn’t be selling my little ebook at all. I’d have career change take center stage in my business.
The First Pass | 2012
I was bursting with ideas about career choice. I knew a lot of stuff, but I also knew that I’d have to translate into a repeatable process if it was going to help other people. The next person who asked me about career coaching was a friend of a friend. I told him that I had a new approach I wanted to try and asked if he would be ok testing it out. I was calling it “Your Career Homecoming,” because our goal was to discover a career that feels like home. He was in.
We agreed to have sessions every two weeks, and during those two week windows I furiously created content to address one piece of the career choice puzzle. We would meet, review and process what he’d done since we last spoke, I’d give him the new content, and then I’d set off on another two weeks of whirlwind of content creation.
In the past, I had worked with clients for 12 sessions to discover their meaningful career. When he announced in our 5th session that he knew what he wanted to do, I knew I was onto something.
Out of Questions | 2013
I had a process that worked for someone else. Next, I needed it to work for lots of people. And so I kept working with clients on this new Your Career Homecoming thing I had, each time taking notes about the things they had questions about during the process and asking for feedback once they were finished working with me. I used their input and insights to improve the curriculum.
I kept doing this over and over with clients one-on-one until a funny thing started to happen: clients didn’t have many questions on our phone calls. We’d talk for a little while, and then we’d end the session early. I had a created a curriculum so robust that we didn’t need as much talk time.
Strength in Numbers | 2013
If one person didn’t need a full hour of one-on-one support each week, what if a few people at a time shared their questions, discoveries, and challenges? I tried running small cohorts of YCH to see if it would work. It not only worked, it worked better than one-on-one. Everyone still had plenty of time to get guidance and support from me, but now they had a small, like-minded community of others to share their experience with.
I was blown away by how powerful the community aspect was. That was a big thing that had been missing from my career crisis; I felt like I had to be very selective in who I shared my doubts and fears with and had no peer group of people who were working towards a common goal. With the YCH curriculum so solid, I could now provide structure, accountability, mentorship, and community.
I had created everything I wish I’d had during my own career struggle.
Iterate and Integrate | 2014-Present
I continued to listen to clients and integrate their feedback into the program, adding things in and taking things out. I’m still doing that even now. I love “polishing the stone” so that my clients’ career change experience can be as smooth and supported as possible.
And here we are, over 150 Your Career Homecoming graduates later. I love this work, and am proud to champion others seeking their Homecoming Career.