Is Your Career Ready for Fall?

12017593_10206875504221872_8360884219408029451_oMy leadership development career has always been on the school cycle, rather than the calendar year. So to me, September is the start of a new year. So, it’s only natural to see September as the beginning of new things.

We’re in the last month of Summer 2017. While most of us are still enjoying some needed down time, vacationing with family or friends, or in my case, getting away alone to regroup, that nagging thought about how to grow our career in the coming year also starts to filter into our minds. Admit it, you’ve heard that little voice all Summer long, but have been pushing it aside so you can just enjoy yourself. Well, September is less than a month away now. It’s time to start putting some thought and effort into planning how you’re going to achieve your goals in the coming year.

Here are some questions to ask to see how ready you are:

  1. What is it you want to achieve in your career in the coming year?
  2. How about the next 5 years?
  3. Do you even know what you want to be doing? Has the current career lost its appeal?
  4. Are you looking for a new job?
  5. Are you thinking about taking a sabbatical and wondering how to make the most of it to ensure a smooth re-entry?
  6. Did you recently graduate from college, took the Summer off and now ready to start your career?

All of these are typical questions people come to me with as they seek guidance in advancing their careers. And they are good questions; questions you SHOULD be asking yourself. There are many places to go for help.

  1. If you’re employed and seeking advancement, talk to your manager. Establish a development plan with a goal in mind so you both can be calibrating against the plan regularly.
  2. If you’re ready for a new career, you’ll need to do some work assessing your skills, interests and passions. What is it you were meant to do in life? There are many places you can go for this work. You can do your own self-assessment like I did when I made a career change years ago. You can buy a good book like Designing Your Life and work your way through it. Or you can work with a career coach. I love helping people along on the discovery of the work they’ll truly love and making that a reality.
  3. If you’re looking for a new job. Read up on current trends in career searching. It’s a brave new world full of new tools and techniques. Resumes are no longer laundry lists of responsibilities. LinkedIn is critical to your job search, and Networking is the golden ticket to a successful search. Again, there are lots of online resources and books you can use to self-navigate this process. Or you can work with a career coach. One of the key elements of my work with job seekers is providing support. As a former job seeker who made every mistake possible, and now a cheerleader and confidence booster, I help my clients reclaim their lost confidence and through my personal coaching, help you stay upbeat and positive throughout the very difficult, and sometimes disheartening, process of seeking a new job.
  4. If you recently graduated from college, well, you have a lot to learn about the professional world. It’s not all about you! Too many young people that I work with approach the job search with only their own needs and goals in mind. They forget why companies hire them. Learn to ask questions about the company, show interest in working with them and contributing to their goals. There’s much to learn about professional dress and communication. You can’t speak to a prospective boss the way you speak to your college buddies. Again, there is online information and books galore on this topic. Or seek out someone you know who is a seasoned professional. Maybe a parent, aunt or uncle, or family friend. And, yes, this is something a career coach will help you with as well. One of my favorite aspects of the work I do is helping prepare young people for the job search and watching them accelerate their career launch.

So, as you continue to enjoy your last days of Summer and your mind begins to occasionally look ahead, start planning. Don’t wait. Fall is a great time to land new work. Everyone’s back from Summer vacation, the kids are back in school, and recruiters are eager to fill those open positions before the end of October and the busy Winter holiday season. My advice is to start now, even if you start slowly, so you can have all the prep work done before the hiring starts.  So, go out now. Buy a book, find online resources, or contact a career coach to see how they can help. And yes, enjoy the rest of your Summer! It only comes once a year.

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Dating and the Job Search are Not That Different!


Whether teaching a class about the job search, or working with a client individually, I frequently compare the job search to finding that right relationship. People laugh initially, but start to pay attention as I continue to explain.

  1. You kiss a lot of toads. When you’re single and searching for that person to spend your life with, you date people. With each successive experience, you learn more about yourself, what you want in a relationship and, perhaps more importantly, what you don’t want. It’s the same with the job search. You go on a lot of interviews and learn what companies you like and which you don’t. With each successive interview, you learn more about yourself, and what is really important in a company you want to spend most of your days working at. Do you like the people you meet during interviews? Feel a connection with them, or does it feel extremely forced? Pay attention to these signs. If it doesn’t feel good during the interview (when they are courting you), then you’re most likely not going to be happy there. After all, isn’t that first date the most important?
  2. You start to learn who’s right for you and who’s not. Yes, it’s important to share interests and values, to be able to live with each other every day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. If your prospective mate is a homebody and you want to be out and about on weekends, you’re not going to fit together well for long. In a job search, it’s critical to understand the values and culture of the potential employer. If work/life balance is important to you, and the company you’re considering is known for working people 60-70 hours per week, it’s not going to be a match made in heaven. You’re going to be miserable and regret the day you took the job.
  3. You experience rejection. Ah, yes. It stings. Sometimes you know the relationship is coming to an end and have a conversation about it. Sometimes they call and dump you on the phone. And sometimes, they just stop calling and you wonder why. Yes, same thing in the job search. You have that interview you think went really well, only to learn they didn’t feel the same way. They call and dump you, or they just stop calling. I call this the ‘black whole’, others call it ghosting. It hurts, you get burned a little. Most of the time, you don’t know what went wrong. You can only move on and put it behind you.
  4. They have a flaw. Well, nobody is perfect, right? But is he/she perfect for you? Can you accept the one or two flaws and thrive in this relationship? Some call it compromising. I call it accepting that we are all human and none of us is perfect. There will always be something about our partner that we don’t love, but we learn to love and accept. Companies are the same way. They are made up of human beings, so yes, they have a human element and are not perfect. It’s best to approach the job search with eyes wide open. While you’re looking for the best of each company, acknowledge those elements that aren’t perfect so you can decide if you can live with them.
  5. Creating the perfect resume isn’t unlike creating your profile for those online dating sites. With both, you must encapsulate your life, your goals, and your personality into a single profile that will appeal to the right person, then hope it has the impact you intended and draws the right audience.
  6. Sometimes you just get lucky. That perfect job, just like that perfect-for-you person, simply appears in your life and it’s a match made in heaven! If this happens to you, consider it a gift and go for it.

So, when you’re looking for a new job, think about all the dating skills you’ve gained throughout your life and employ the same tactics and skills. You’ll be surprised how well it works! Not good with dating? Well, maybe it’s time to hire a career coach who can help you throughout your job search. I often play the role of not only coach and consultant, but cheerleader, advisor, and voice of reason. Often, a little help goes a long way.

I am a career coach with deep experience helping individuals live their career dreams; offering programs for individuals seeking a new job, those with an eye toward the future who want to develop a plan to grow professionally, and people ready to launch their own business and become an entrepreneur. Contact Andrea at, or 206.658.7919 or book a complimentary 30 minute exploratory call with her to learn more about her services:

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Finding Strength in Loss

MomandBrad (2)

I sit here today, still numb by losing my mother last month. There have been 4 people who have shaped my life and who I am. I’ve lost 3 of them and am struggling to move on without these great forces.

First, my Dad. The first man I loved, the first man I danced with, the man I looked up to and relished in being his little girl. While he was not the ‘best friend’ kind of Dad, he was always there, teaching important lessons. Whenever someone compliments me on my use of the English language, I know my Dad lives on in me through the lessons he taught so constantly. And the fact that my face is his face, keeps him close to me always. Nobody else has that ‘Charlie Cole smile’ so famous in my family.

Two years ago, I lost my beloved oldest brother. I’ve written before about his influence on me. While we weren’t close as children, him being the oldest, and I the youngest, we developed a deep relationship as adults that I treasured and had so many hopes of things we’d do in the future. His visits were more frequent in the later years. I look back now and am so grateful we had so much time alone together. Losing him shook me to my core. He was the kindest person ever, strong, brilliant and a good man, taken far too young. Even in his dying, he showed immeasurable strength and love.

Last month, I lost the third and most significant rock in my life, my mother. Again, life gave me a special gift when she moved in with me in November, giving us 5 months together. They were hard months. I had a hip replacement, she fell and need rehabilitation for 6 weeks, was increasingly sick and finally her heart failed. I think her heart was just worn out. She’d given so much of it throughout her 92 years.

My final pillar of the 4 is my sister, my first best friend, my confidant, my go-to person in nearly all situations. Realizing there are just 3 of the original 6 people in our family, has brought us closer, more cognizant of the importance of family. The two of us, and my other brother live far apart, but in our hearts, we are close and speak often.

So, as I go through Mom’s things and find touching reminders of our lives, I have periods of deep, deep pain and loss. This morning, I discovered an email between my sister and me at the time of my brother’s passing. With it was a tribute I wrote to him that Mom had saved. I also found a letter from her youngest sister, written in 1959, just months before she was taken too young. Mom saved so many treasures!

I also find myself with a deepening sense of resolve to live my life with more meaning. While I’ll never be the person my brother was, or the mother my Mom was, I can take what they gave me and be the best me I’m capable of being. That is my vow to them. I’ve been on a journey of living a happy life, making conscious choices about it: who to include, who to exclude, what is best for me so that I can be the best for others, how I can give back and live a life of meaning. The awareness of the shortness of life has now heightened this desire in me.

I don’t yet know how this will all play out. I’m eager to see how I can take these immense tragedies and turn them into something that will honor the people we’ve lost. I hope to be kind like my brother, reliable like my father, and loving and supportive like my mother. If I can accomplish that in my life, I think I’ll die with few regrets.

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A Final Gift for Mom

I lost my mother this week. It’s a loss that cuts deep, that I know I haven’t truly processed. However, among all the loss and grief, I have an immense amount of gratitude. Gratitude for a mother who loved her children fiercely, raised them to be independent and to stand on their own. There were never any favorites. She treated each one of us as individuals, somehow intuitively knowing what each of us needed. I spent most of my adult life away from her, but she was never far. Weekly letters or phone calls, visits as often as possible. She had a big personality that reached across the miles.17761005_10211349629112198_820693337345543875_o

Five months ago, Mom moved across the country, from Maryland to Washington, to live with me. At any age, much less 91, that’s quite an undertaking. It was both wonderful and difficult for us to learn to live with one another. You see, we are very much alike, something I only came to appreciate in the last 5 months. But we loved each other deeply and relished spending time together. She loved sitting in our living room and watching all the activity out on Elliott Bay, boats, kayakers, and ferries. As the weather improved, she enjoyed watching all the people walking by on waterside path.

Her time with me was short, and filled with challenges. She fell one month after arriving, and spent time in a nursing facility recovering. Only recently, was she starting to return to health. We were looking forward to so many things this spring, gardening together, ferry rides, even a trip to Hawaii. In what ended up being her final days, she was tired and weak, and I was worried. I cared for her, gave her everything she asked, and just tried to help her return to health. We had some lovely time together, where she shared stories from her youth. It was a special time.

On her final night, she was weak and couldn’t make it to bed without assistance. I helped her to bed, tucked her in and told her I love her. Those were my final words. I found her the next morning when I went to wake her. There are no words for that moment, no way to prepare.

But in death, as in life, my mother taught me so much. She helped me see how strong I can be, how deeply I can love, how I can rise to any occasion. I am the woman I am because of her. And the greatest gift she gave me was these last 5 months. During this time, not only did we share so much, but I learned just how much I am like her. We’ve both come over adversity, neither of us suffer fools, and we share so many of the little daily quirks – loved a clean house, but hated emptying the dishwasher.

I miss her desperately, I kept wanting her to come back to me, but she lives on, in my heart, in my siblings’s hearts and in the bold spirit that I shared with her. How lucky am I to have had such an amazing woman as my mother and guide through life! I’m grateful for the final gift I was able to give her, the gift of love and caregiving at the most sensitive time of life.



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Reminding, Renewing, Revising

20170314_090117.jpgI’ve been spending this week in the California high desert near Joshua Tree National Park. This landscape changes you. Its raw beauty, silence, and rugged peacefulness make an incredible respite from life in the city. You can think here. You can escape the worries you left behind. You can renew.

My wish, when committing to this trip, was to do just that; to leave behind the worries that had built up in my head, making me ‘messy’, to put things straight and set a new path forward. And, that is exactly what has happened.

What I’d left behind in the city was a life that needed order, control, and space to enjoy my life. I’d stopped doing that. Every minute was spent on my business. I’m not sure why I felt compelled to do that, but I did. I am aware there is always more I can do, but didn’t know how to stop the merry-go-round.

Fortunately, here in the desert, I was able to slow down, get some perspective and be open to the sage advice of a wise colleague here with me. As the picture from our retreat site says, ‘Remember to breathe”. And that I did here.

I did a bit of unpacking and repacking and have a renewed energy for my business. Right along with that, I have new priorities. The top two are time for myself to enjoy this life I’ve created, and time to spend with my mother who recently moved across country to live with me. I’m excited for this new future, this new focus, the new life!

I’ve recently expanded the services I offered by joining my background in professional development with my career coaching experience to offer a full suite of career development services. I see one’s career similar to the wheel of life. You start your career, you change jobs, you might change careers. At some point, you might pause your career, whether to raise a family or simply take a well-deserved sabbatical. You then wrap up your career with further advancement, and eventually some semblance of retirement, which is more and more looking very different from that which our parents and grandparents took.

My goal is to be your partner through all these phases, helping you to advance your career, as well as helping you plan your pause, so when you return to the workforce, you don’t feel left behind. And yes, when it’s time to ‘retire’, however that looks for you, I can help plan that as well. Do you want to start a business and follow a passion? Maybe you want to pare down your work, work part time and enjoy life. Or perhaps, yes, you plan to travel the world, spend time with family and simply enjoy all that you’ve worked for all these years. Life is a cycle and I’m here to guide you through them all.

So, as the sign says, “Remember to breathe”, then be open to inviting a sherpa along to help you find your way. I opened myself and am finding a beautiful way of helping others to live their dreams.

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What a roller coaster week!

I know a lot has happened emotionally in my life when I’m compelled to sit and write. And what a week it has been!

Like the majority who live in this country, I was shocked, saddened, hurt, betrayed by the election results. Agree with me or not, I own my opinions and feelings and respect those who disagree. I am not one of the league of people threatening to leave the country or who say “He’s not my president”. Like it or not, the system that provides our democracy ran as it was designed to do and I have to accept it, even if my candidate didn’t. Should we reassess our election process? Yes, by all means. But, I will stay here, love this country and fight to ensure our voices are heard. Waking the next day only to learn it hadn’t been a bad dream left me with fear only surpassed by what I felt on 9/11. The biggest difference this time is that I felt attacked and threatened by my own countrymen. But, that is the process and they have their reasons for voting the way they did. I can’t understand their reasoning anymore than they can accept mine.

So, with this major blow and the still lingering feelings I’m coping with; being a woman who now feels vulnerable, sad that if as an educated white woman I can feel this way, those of other faiths, ethnicities and lifestyles must be feeling fear beyond what any citizen of our country should be feeling.

And there’s more. My 91 year old mother is moving West to live with me next week. I’m happy and excited and thrilled to be able to share our lives now, but as I pack up things in my 2-bedroom condo and put my quilting supplies away, I am filled with remorse, loss, and panic. You see, I’m a quilter. It’s my creative outlet. And while I haven’t had time to be actively engaged in it, knowing the possibility to squirrel away even an hour in my sewing room is a comfort, I’ve come to understand, that I need in my life. But today I am packing all those things to store elsewhere, still accessible, but not easily.

Coincidentally, a 3-bedroom condo came on the market this week. I worked tirelessly all week, working every angle to try and find a way to make buying it a possibility, only to fail. As a self-employed person, banks do not look kindly on offering mortgages – shockingly even my current mortgage holder to whom I’ve been diligently (and easily) making payments to on my current home for 3 years.  After hoping all week, today I learned the asking price for the condo and it’s simply more than I’m willing to pay. Yes, it would provide my mother and I ample space to cohabitate, yes it would allow me to have my beloved quilting room and more, but it’s not to be. If I’ve learned nothing else along this journey I’ve been on, if I try to make a decision and have to force it, it’s not the right decision. So I’ve stepped away from this dream at this time. Who know what the future holds.

On top of these two very pressing concerns, I continue to deal with other issues, some medical that will be resolved soon, some professional, and again to be resolved soon, but it all adds up to a lot of anxiety, uncertainty and stress. It can wear a girl out! Even an optimistic one.

The one bright spot in the week was the honor of being on a panel of women leaders speaking to Group Health Cooperative’s Women’s Leadership Forum yesterday. Each of the panelists shared their journey. Mine spoke of this journey to happiness I’ve been on these past 3.5 years and how that informs my work as a career and entrepreneur coach guiding others to the same level of happiness. So, yes, in the midst of this temporary funk, I gave considerable time to all that I have to be happy for and where I am in life.

So, after a bit of allowing myself to grieve for missed opportunity, I’m moving on. Yes, I am excited to offer a place for my Mom to live surrounded by people, love and lots of activity. Her quality of life will improve, as will mine. She is a lively, clear headed, bright and funny woman. I can’t wait to introduce her to my friends!

Thanks to anyone for reading this. I just had to write today, sort these thoughts out and process so I can move on. Be good to yourself, be kind to others even if you disagree with them, and be the person you wish everyone would be.

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For some reason I woke up reflective this morning. In truth, it started over the weekend, but this morning, it nearly hit me on the head. So, I eased into the day slowly, as someone who is self-employed can do on occasion.

I sat with my coffee and just pondered what might be behind this feeling. The word APPRECIATION popped into my mind’s eye. Yes, appreciation. After all, I have many things to be grateful for that have helped me arrive at this place I’m at.

I had wonderful parents, particularly my mother, who ensured her daughter would be independent and able to stand on her own. Boy, did she succeed there! If I could only use one word to describe myself, Independence would be it!

I had a close family with 3 siblings who were my best friends growing up. We moved often, so the family bond was made stronger as it was the one consistent thing in our lives. The frequent moving also made me resilient. Change is not a problem for me. In fact, it’s just the opposite. I relish it. That’s what supported, or maybe drove, my move 3 years ago back across the country to Seattle. I can already feel myself dreaming of the next move. While that’s years away, my mind is already thinking about it.

I’m grateful for the education I was able to receive, and work for. An undergraduate degree in Accounting from University of Washington and a graduate degree in Human and Organizational Learning from George Washington University. Seems the name Washington has to be in any school I attend! This change in career focus is one of the things I draw upon in my work with clients seeking career changes.

The final thing I think of along these lines are the friends who have been there. The long-time friend who offered me a home to make my move because she believed in me, the friend who is also a career coach, who coached me through diligently, writing each day to provide support and sage advice, the many people I’d worked with over the years who believed in me and cheered me along.

No, one doesn’t achieve much in life alone. There are a multitude of people and experiences we need to get anywhere. So, today, I just want to express my thanks to all of them. You mean the world to me and you’ve helped me get to a very happy place.

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