Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Don't Wait Too Long to Follow Your Dreams

This weekend I sang my heart out off-Broadway in NYC. The show, entitled "Follow Your Dreams" included me singing jazz classics - each with an inspirational message, as well as a mini-workshop where the emcee took the audience through a fun, interactive dream building session. All of this backed up by a fabulous trio of musicians on bass, piano and trumpet. To check out the bass and trumpet player, visit The Jazz Conceptions Orchestra.

As part of my "walk the talk" philosophy, it's been important to not only tell others to go after their dreams but to be an example myself. I am happy to report that many said it was my best performance yet! I've also made it a point to have others in the show who are walking examples of living the dream. This includes the band as well as the emcee for the show, Craig.

A former financial services consultant, Craig was laid-off in January. For some, losing a job is a negative but for Craig it has been a blessing in disguise. (It was for me too - read my layoff into a positive story.) Resident travel writer for RealHoboken.com for the past 3 years, Craig traveled the world with consulting and published many of his travel adventures. Now with 20 stories in his portfolio, Craig is taking a chance on his dream of becoming a full-time writer.

First he started by taking a Vocation Vacation where he spent two intense days being mentored by a professional travel writer. Next he put himself "out there" as a writer by appearing on Fox & Friends for a career change segment. He also took me up on an offer of career coaching, writing out his day-in-the-life vision as a professional writer. Now four months later, Craig's dream career is becoming reality. He is writing for travel and cultural blogs as well as pursuing several ghost writing opportunities. He has room to grow to get back to his Wall Street level salary but he's excited to use this time to invest in his dream career.

One of the songs I sang in the show was made famous by Madeleine Peyroux, called Don't Wait Too Long. It says, "Take a chance, play your part!" Well Craig is not only taking a chance on his career, he is also playing his part in inspiring others. Thank you for walking the talk Craig!

If you've taken a chance on a new career, share it here. How did you do it? It's okay if you're not there yet. Just share what part you would most like to play in life and career. Don't Wait Too Long because "time can slip away."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

It's Never Too Late to Follow Your Dreams

Have you ever felt uninspired? Have you ever thought about passion and purpose only to feel as if you don't really have much of either? If so, you are definitely not alone. Many of my clients come to me for help uncovering their true aspirations. (To read my article on Finding Your Purpose, click here.)

The key is to recognize that 1) you DEFINITELY do have passion and purpose. It may only be a a little burning pilot light but deep within you there is a knowing of who you are and what you're in this life to become. And 2) sometimes you need a spark to fan that flame into a beautiful, blazing fire.

For me that pilot light was burning for my desire to sing. I love helping people with careers but part of me always dreamt of being a singer. I never thought it was something I could make a living at so I didn't sing at all. Until recently.

About 2 years ago, a colleague was coaching me about writing and said, "You should take a writing class." Immediately a thought sprang to mind from deep within, "If you're going to take a writing class, you have to take a singing class FIRST. You want to be a singer not a writer." It was an epiphany!

I immediately started surfing the web to find a singing coach but there were so many options, I didn't know which to choose. I emailed a contact I had met at SIRIUS XM who was a career opera singer for recommendations. Coincidentally, she gave voice lessons and also needed some career coaching, so we set up a barter.

It was as if my little pilot light of a dream had sparked into a flame! I started taking lessons and after about a year and a half of building my skills and confidence, I was ready for my first cabaret show. That was last July. To see a clip, click here.

That show was one of the scariest and most rewarding things I've ever done. I'm also convinced it sparked many other great opportunities in my career. After my first cabaret show I was asked to do more career talk radio on SIRIUS XM. To tune into for free to my weekly radio show, click here. And after my second show in October of last year, I was asked to make my first appearance on CNN as a career expert. To see a clip, click here.

Now this coming Saturday, April 25th from 4-5pm I'm putting on my Follow Your Dreams cabaret once again. I've been blessed with a fabulous trio of musicians trained at none other than Juilliard! All the songs I sing have an inspirational message and you even get the chance to think about and share your own dreams as part of the show. To learn more, click here.

I recently saw an off-Broadway show on the life of the "first lady of song" Ella Fitzgerald. Seeing that show inspired me and fanned the flames even more. It's my hope that if you're in need of a little inspiration, that you'll join me next Saturday at Don't Tell Mama in NYC from 4-5pm. Life don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Government Career Advice Q & A

My radio interview this week with Stewart Liff, author of Managing Your Government Career sparked some great listener emails. Stewart was kind enough to respond to the additional questions with the inside scoop on landing a government job!

Question: How do you get around the system? No doubt there are many of us with great credentials but otherwise shouldn't waste our time due to gaps in our employment, bad employers or firms that have been merged, purged, bought and sold so that we can't provide references. Is this a lost cause? If so, are there still opportunities to work for the government without the paperwork? Consulting? Appointments by elected officials?

Answer: There are several ways to work for the government. The most direct way is to become a government employee. If you do not have references to cover the immediate past, this will not disqualify you for government employment, as they are not really taken into account until the end of of the selection process. At that point, if they like you well enough to tentatively select you, the odds are that a gap in your employment will not be a concern, particularly if it is driven by the economy, which everyone understands has had an adverse impact on many people. Consulting opportunities certainly exist with the government, but there are a wide variety of rules and regulations that govern this process. You can 1) try and consult directly with the government, which often involves having to either bid for government contracts that are announced to the public; 2) get on a GSA schedule as an approved vendor; or 3) work for a company that consults with with the government. Political appointments are generally at a high level and often, but not always go to people who were involved in the most recent Presidential campaign.

Question: Are there professionals we can hire to do the paperwork for us? How much? For the working person, it may well be worth $500 to $1,000 when we don't have the time to do it ourselves.

Answer: I'm sure there are, especially retired Human Resources experts. However, the most important part of the application process is your resume, which you should develop on your own. Once that is completed you can use that for every job announcement you are interested in (although you should customize it for different jobs.) Beyond that, all you would have to do is either answer several questions designed to identify your knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA's) or respond to a series of multiple choice questions. Once you have applied for a few jobs, the process will pretty much be the same and the amount of work involved in submitting your application should drop precipitously.

Question: Does the government use recruiters/headhunters?

Answer: Not that I am aware. The people who get the best jobs with the government follow the strategies I've laid out in "Managing your Government Career." They apply only for the jobs that are a good fit for them, they submit a first-class application that distinguishes themselves from the competition and they come to the interview on time and well prepared.

Thanks to Stewart Liff for sharing his insights. If you have a career or industry you'd like to learn more about, share your comments here. Life's too short not to do work you love! Here's to us all Making a Great Living.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ready to work for Uncle Sam? Government Careers and How to Land Them

Interested in one of the 48000 job openings with Uncle Sam and almost 26000 employment opportunities for students?

Tune in today for my special "Where the Government Jobs Are" segment on Making a Living with Maggie at 4pm EST/1pm PST on Martha Stewart Living Radio SIRIUS 112/XM 157. My guest will be Stewart Liff, author of Managing Your Government Career.

According to Stewart who began his government career in 1974, you need to put together a solid package of information to land a government job - from detailed work history, to education transcripts, to salary information. It's this information that the hiring manager will use to decide which government level you fit into and if you have the necessary experience.

Also most challenging for people not used to applying for government careers are the additional questions you need to answer as part of the application. Supplemental Qualification Statements (SQS) can contain over 100 detailed questions about your skills and experience.

It may take patience to apply for a government job but once you land one, you can make a difference. As evidenced by my guest later today Stewart Liff - winner of the President's Rank Award for Meritorious Service. Join me today and learn more about how you can make a great living working for Uncle Sam!

Have you applied for a government job or been in a government career? What tips have worked for you in landing a job and building a fulfilling career within federal, state or local government? What are the pros and cons of this path? Share your advice!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Real Life Success Story - Using the Downturn to Springboard into a New Career

When times are uncertain, it can feel safest to hunker down and wait out the storm. It's an approach many are taking, just being thankful for having a job at all. My concern with this approach are the missed opportunities. People who were never really happy in their careers to begin with, are now settling for a less than rewarding career path.

Perhaps its time to take a different approach. Perhaps it's time to see opportunity in change. In my webinar earlier this week, this was the central message and for my clients, many are now seeing this as the perfect time to reinvent themselves and their careers.

If you feel the same, join me this Wednesday, April 8th for a very special Making a Living with Maggie on Martha Stewart Living Radio SIRIUS 112 and XM 157 (listen free here). One of my very own clients. Laura Rolands of myattentioncoach.com will be on hand to share her very real story of successful career change, using the economic downturn as a springboard.

Together Laura and I will share tips and advice to help you move your career forward in new and interesting ways. Tune in and join the conversation during this live radio broadcast and call in with your specific career questions at 1-866-675-6675.

You'll not only learn something new when it comes to managing your career but also get the inspiration and motivation you need to make your ideal career a reality now!

What success story would you like to see happen in your career? Already made a career change and want to share your story - comment here, now!