Most frequently unspoken thought while talking to a therapist: Just fucking tell me what to do! A good therapist is a sounding board but a good career coach tells you your best career path. The best career coaches know the right answers because they see patterns, and autistic people are the best at seeing patterns. That’s right. When you look for a career coach, look for someone autistic.Here are some patterns I’ve seen.
What someone wants to do is the barrier to doing what they’d like doing. Personality type is patterns of personal motivators. Thinking of it as 16 types feels overwhelming. Thank goodness — I make a lot of money because of that. But if you think of personality type as four types, it’s easier: SJ, SP, NT, NF. Everyone is primarily motivated by one of these four things:
Once you know what motivates a person you can rule out almost everything they say they want to do. The more someone wants what’s not aligned with their motivator, the more difficulty they will have hearing the right answer.
Most people in finance are failing. The job’s too hard for almost everyone. So, for example, people in finance who start in London or New York and go to Asia were desperate for a promotion and couldn’t get it without going to another country. They think people will only notice the promotion and not the outlandish relocation they had to do to get it.
It’s not a relocation problem though. It’s a problem across the industry. People who invest money struggle to be innovative enough, or consistent enough, or raise enough money. Everyone who is not investing wants to be.
Great careers don’t happen at a single company. Think about people who are developers at the same big company for 15 years. These people are like car mechanics: the only thing they know how to do is fix stuff that breaks. The company keeps them around because they’re the Millennial equivalent of a COBOL programmer. They tell people they’re working on really cool ideas, which is probably true, because they can do whatever they want while they wait for something to break.
People who are always learning and love a challenge change companies because the learning curve goes up each time. Blind is the network where those people hone their company-changing skills.
Most glamorous careers require a pile of money. That’s why it’s glamorous. For example, people who are art dealers or horse breeders. How could you ever start to sell your own inventory without having a pile of money?
So these careers are really a job in money laundering. Instead of having to talk about how you got your pile of money you can talk to people about your new career you bought with your pile of money and imply the pile emerged from that career.
Social media stars had a hook to get their traffic. A hairstylist told me she wanted to be an Instagram influencer like Heather Chapman. I had to dig down to the beginning of Heather Chapman’s career to find her hook. But I knew I’d find it.
She traveled every weekend doing in-person training and had people post their braids on Instagram with her hashtag. After a few years she got workshop sponsorships, and a few years later her primary income was from Instagram sponsorships. The lesson: If you can devote your whole life to travel and hashtags before you have money you can be Internet famous.
People who work for themselves are good at selling themselves. If you work for yourself you have to do everything. If you’re great at working for yourself you can hire people to do what you’re not good at. The question to ask someone who works for themselves is how many full-time employees do you have? If the person has no full-time employees working for them then something is very wrong — their job is more like a side gig.
People like where they are in their career just fine, but they’re scared to see it.To check that I ask the person who they want to be like. People say there is no one doing what they want to do, and then I tell them that’s because it’s a dream not a reality. Or they will tell me someone absurd. Like, seriously, someone told me they want to do what Sophia Bush is doing.
I said, “What is she doing?”
The person said, “She’s a philanthropist supporting her favorite charities.”
“Are you kidding me? She’s an actress and a poster girl for harassment in Hollywood. Do you want to be an actress for 20 years so you can support your favorite charity? Because that’s what she did.”
We’re all like the people I coach. We just see them more clearly than we see ourselves. In hindsight I hoped my frequent moves hid the dwindling headcount supporting my website but some days my site was so small I felt like I was running an online hobby farm. Now my kids are grown and I ask myself who do I want to be like? There’s no mother in the world with as few assets as I have at my age launching a startup. But still. Here I go. No more clear-headed than the person who wanted to be Sophia Bush.