Teena Evert (00:05): You're listening to the Confident Careerist podcast, providing inspiration and guidance for career-minded professionals who want to break free from their limitations and step into a life of more personal power, positivity, prosperity.
Teena Evert (00:29): Welcome back to the Confident Careerist podcast today, my featured guest is Mark Herschberg. Mark has been teaching at MIT's Career Success Accelerator for 20 years and the author of The Career Toolkit: Essential Skills for Success That No One Taught You. Mark, you have a passion for helping people with their professional efficacy. You've created new ventures at start-ups, Fortune 500s, and academia authored over a dozen patents and you were a former ballroom champion. I am thrilled to have you on The Confident Careerist podcast.
Mark Herschberg (01:12): Thanks for having me. It's a pleasure to be here today.
Teena Evert (01:16): I am wondering where to start with. You have such an interesting background. I want to know about so many things. I want to know about these essential skills for success that no one taught you and I bet the audience does as well. And I, I can't help, but ask about former ballroom champion...
Mark Herschberg (01:37): Ballroom dancing is actually a very big sport at MIT where I went to school and I started social dancing my senior year. Then I started dating a girl who I got involved in dancing as well. She decided she wanted to compete, which apparently meant I also decided I wanted to compete. And so I spent most of my twenties on the competitive ballroom circuit, went to a national championship for seven years and just had a really wonderful time, ballroom dancing, great activity, great for meeting people. It actually helped my career as well because I always used to be a terrible public speaker. And while I did the debate club and some other things dealt with my public speaking, it was the confidence that I got ballroom dancing because as a competitive dancer, you're out there literally being judged and you're screwing up and getting through it and living through that gives you the confidence that when you go up on stage, you know what, I'm going to screw up here too, but it's okay. I think that's what really accelerated me to the next level of public speaking.
Teena Evert (02:44): That's fascinating. I can totally see how that would help you with your presence, your presentation, your ability to improvise, right?
Mark Herschberg (02:56): Even if you're not a ballroom dancer, if you're doing some type of sport or improv or acting music, anything where you're performing, being up there, you can build that confidence as well. And that will translate back into your public speaking.
Teena Evert (03:13): I think movement is really important too, to help with the energy that can often be termed anxiety, right? When we start to be in a, I guess, a performance mode, whether that's dancing or public speaking, or presenting something in our career.
Teena Evert (03:33): Yeah. Well, that's fun, thanks for sharing that. So you have quite a background. I I didn't even share a half of it. I always like to ask my guests a little bit more about their career journey.
Mark Herschberg (03:49): I think of myself as having two parallel careers. Now my primary career, I came out of MIT during the dot com era in the nineties. And I started as a Software Developer and early on, I realized I wanted to become a CTO chief technology officer to be the CTO. It didn't simply mean I had to be the best software developer being the head of marketing doesn't mean you're the best marketer. There's all these other skills you need to lead a department, a division a company. This includes things like leadership, communication negotiation, knowing how to hire, and team building and they never taught us these skills. So I said, okay, if I want to get to this role, I need to develop these skills. Now today, 20 plus years ago, we didn't have as many resources online as we do today. So I really had to dig deep and figure out how to develop this in myself.
Mark Herschberg (04:41): And as I began to work on these skills, I realized they're not just for the executives. These are skills that help all of us. So I began looking for them in the people I was trying to hire, but lo and behold, they didn't have the skills either because they had the same class as I did, which didn't cover any of it. So I started to train up the people I was hiring. I knew I couldn't hire for the skills I had to develop it and I created some training programs. Now, shortly after I was doing this, MIT was doing something similar. They had gotten feedback from corporate America saying we want to find workers with these skills. And by the way, this is not unique to MIT. I've seen the feedback given to multiple universities and it's consistent - corporate America, big companies, small companies. And even if you're a solopreneur, this applies to you too.
Mark Herschberg (05:31): These are the skills that will help you be successful, but they are not being taught and there are various historical reasons why. So MIT said, we need to develop a class around this. When I heard that through some mutual connections, I said, you know, I've been working on this. Can I help you out? Because yes, I've been building start-up companies and fortune 500s, but it's always been about these skills no matter where I go, I've got some content can I help out? And they said, yes, please. So I helped the course. They said, you know what? We have all these great professors great at the theory, but they spend their lives on the ivory tower. There's a benefit to getting a practitioner like yourself, to help provide some input to the class, to help illustrate things for the students, teach some lessons. So they asked me to teach and now myself and other folks like me, who are practitioners come back and I've been lucky to teach there for the past 20 years. Yeah.
Teena Evert (06:23): Wow. That sounds like a dream job actually.
Mark Herschberg (06:27): Wonderful. It is. It's obviously only part-timebut those are some of my favorite periods throughout my year is where I get to engage in those, for those students and really see how I can make an impact.
Teena Evert (06:42): Yeah. Wow. That's great. There's so many questions I have for you. I definitely want to dive a bit deeper into essential skills. Perhaps this is part of that, but what I want to first ask you about is career planning. A lot of the clients that I work with, I'm helping them with their career planning. And you mentioned in your book that everyone has a dream job. And one of the big questions that people have is how do you get there? How do you figure that out? And you you wrote, starting with inputs and key questions, learn how to define your goals and chart a path to get you where you want to go. That's a lot of what I do with the coaching and the process can help you at any stage of your career. So true. So true. What are your thoughts around like the essentials of career planning? Maybe they're the questions that you list, but people get, I know that some of the clients I work with get so hung up on, they feel like they have to figure it out. Like they have to find that dream job and they put so much pressure on themselves and it' an evolution. It evolves, right? It's it's not going to be one job. It's it's going to be, what are you going to do to continue to develop and grow and learn these essential skills?
Mark Herschberg (08:08): Yeah. I do list in the book 20 starting questions. These are by no means the only 20 to think about. They're just getting started and they're available for free for download on the website. A couple of things to think about first, you don't just ask yourself about your job or your career, ask about your life. Now, if you're like me, you love what you do and that's a big part of your life, but it is not the only thing in your life. So don't just answer career questions, ask about your life, ask about where you want to be in the future, where you want to live the lifestyle you want, because that factors into your job.
Teena Evert (08:43): Absolutely.
Mark Herschberg (08:44): Remember as well there are some people who at age five knew they wanted to be a doctor and this has been their dream and then there are people who at age 35 still don't know what they want to do.
Mark Herschberg (08:55): So don't feel you have to be in the first category. We're all different for most people, when you think about your future, if you think about what you're going to do this weekend, you probably have a pretty good idea. If you're thinking about what you're doing in three years, that's going to be a bit fuzzier. And the same is true with our jobs who don't worry if it's fuzzy or further out, have some idea where you're trying to go, but don't worry if it's not as clear in the methodology that I talk about in chapter one, of the book it really has. Okay, you've got some long-term sense. That's going to be fuzzy. It might even change. But then you back into in the near future, what are the concrete steps to take you in that path? And you want to keep adjusting this.
Mark Herschberg (09:41): When we do a project at work - we know anyone who's done a project that's more than a few months - You know, the project is going to change and the goals will change and things will come up. You didn't plan our virtual years, decades long. So that's going to happen to us too. So don't be afraid of having all this change. That is totally normal. The last thing I'll say is for many of us, if you don't know what you want to do, you can start to feel it out, talk to everyone you can and ask them about their jobs, ask them what they find interesting, what they like, what they don't like, what they do day to day. What someone interested in that field would need to have as the experience to get there and start to listen for clues. What sounds interesting? What doesn't okay.
Mark Herschberg (10:29): These people, they spend their days working with spreadsheets. Oh my God. That is a nightmare. Okay. Let's not find you a job where you're sitting at a computer all day working on lots of numbers. Oh, these people - sales and business development, even some marketing folks, it sounds like they get to travel a lot. I hear at consultants as well. Okay. Sounds like you're getting attracted to something with travel. Okay. So that's one component as you start to narrow it down jobs, look for jobs that have that component. So don't think about the job think about the components and then look for jobs that have that.
Teena Evert (11:03): Yeah. That's great advice. Thanks mark. Two things stand out to me. It's like, I think it's important to be curious and approach the career planning or a career path like we're experimenting, right? When we're first starting out. So many experiences are new. And I, I really think it's important. I wish that someone told me this to have some sort of a process to reflect on what is it that I enjoy and what is it that I don't enjoy. And just because you're good at something doesn't necessarily mean you should be doing it if you don't like doing it. Right. And so it's like when you're trying out different foods for the first time, you know, you have a sense of whether you like it or you don't like it. And so being able to evaluate that along the way and experiment with things and be open to new opportunities, I think that's the best way to learn and then, like you said, to keep asking questions again, it's like be curious and approach it as, as an opportunity to experience or experiment, a life experiment.
Mark Herschberg (12:06): Absolutely. You know, I was good at ballroom dancing, but when I looked at what it would mean to do this professionally for my whole life, the dancing part was fun, but the other aspects of it, the teaching, the level of income, a lifestyle - that was not a fit for me. So we often tell children, oh, you're good at this. You should, you know, think about this type of job based on one particular skill, but really understand that job. Is it just doing that one thing you enjoy all the time? Would you enjoy doing that one thing all the time? I also used to want to be an academic, but as I understand myself now and what it meant to be an academic, that would have been a terrible choice for me, the nature of those jobs would not have kept me interested into my forties. So we do want to think about not just okay, the job by title aligns to this particular task, but what is a job, really? What are the challenges? What's the grind and will that align to what you want to be doing?
Teena Evert (13:10): Yeah. Keep asking questions. Right? Keep learning always. Yeah. I remember when I was younger, I was very much into sports and I had a natural sort of, I guess, snap when I was playing softball. So I got pegged as the pitcher. So I was the pitcher for fastpitch girls softball through high school, and then even in college for a few years and I have to tell you, I never really liked it. I just was told over and over again that I was a natural and I was good at it and that felt really good. So I did it and it took me years to go, I, why am I doing this? I don't like it. So that is powerful. I think it's really important to really, you know, check yourself as you're having different experiences,
Mark Herschberg (14:09): That concept of being a natural. I think, unfortunately it leaves some folks in the wrong direction. Now I was not a natural ballroom dancer. I was so bad. I used to dance off time to Techno. You basically have two beats you can choose from. And I picked the wrong one.
Teena Evert (14:29): Oh my goodness.
Mark Herschberg (14:30): But I said, all right, I want to do this. And kind of through the experience, got better at dancing learned to find the beat and then became a great dancer because I put the effort in, and this is true of most skills. And so a lot of the skills we're going to talk about like leadership or communication or negotiation. Yes. There are people who are more naturally good at just like, there are people who are naturally good at dancing or math or any other skill. Some of us are not, but through working at, through learning through practice, we can become better at these skills. And so to your point, just because you're good at something doesn't mean you necessarily enjoy it and and to do it. And just because you're not good at something, don't think, well, that's it, I'm not as good as these other folks, because if it matters to you and this is true for, for knowledge and domains, but also for the skills we're going to talk about, you can develop them and get better at them and achieve while using them.
Teena Evert (15:31): Oh, that is so important. A lot of clients that I've worked with have this idea that all of a sudden they should be able to master a skill overnight. And I remind them that skills are what we develop when you're clear about the skills that you want to develop, you create a plan and you develop them and it can become very motivating and inspiring to work towards mastering a skill or continually improving it. And so I'd love to dive more into these essential skills that you mentioned and that you wrote about in the career toolkit. I do believe that skill development, the essential skills, right. Is really key for our success and you're absolutely right. They are not things that anyone taught us or told us, perhaps we should learn in order to advance in our career.
Mark Herschberg (16:29): Yeah. So let's talk about what are the skills in the book and there are 10 skills based again, on feedback that universities have gotten about what jobs need, what skills are needed, whether it is a corporate job, a startup job, or even doing your own startup or your own venture. These are the skills. So the book is in three sections. The first career, we begin with how to create a career plan and execute on it. Then there's working effectively how to manage your manager and coworkers, understanding corporate culture, understanding the value that you deliver and how to create more value. Chapter three, interviewing. Now here I focus most on interviewing from the hiring manager side. I talk about a little from the candidate side, but there's so much other content out there. It's interesting - most people, at some point in white collar jobs will be hiring other people.
Mark Herschberg (17:23): You'll be part of the interview process, but we give folks zero training. I've met many executives who have had zero training in how to hire people. Then the second section leadership and management skills and management I breakdown into the people side of it and the process side of it. And these skills are not just for executives, they are not just for people with certain titles. These are skills that you're going to be using from one on the job to be more effective. Then the third section is fundamental skills that underpin all of this and that includes negotiation, networking, communication, and ethics.
Teena Evert (18:04): So I'm wondering which one we might want to dive into. There's two that I know career planning is really important. They're all really important. I've recently been talking with a lot of clients about the importance of networking. I know that people who are often looking for work often wait, right until they're kind of in a pinch where they wish they had a new job yesterday. And all of a sudden they're trying to figure out their network. Gosh, and that does so much tie into interviewing communication negotiation. What are you most passionate about talking about Mark?
Mark Herschberg (18:42): All of them in different ways. It's hard to choose. Let's talk about networking for a bit and we can jump around and cover different ones. And really what's important why I wrote the book this way, because there are books just on networking, just on communication, just on leadership. But these skills all intertwine with each other good leader knows how to negotiate. A good negotiator knows how to communicate. These skills really do build upon one another. So you have to look at them holistically, but let's take networking. And you named one of the biggest mistakes people make when they're thinking about networking, which is they look at networking transactionally. Let me go find - hi stranger. Hey look, I'm looking for this job. Do you have one? No. Okay. You're not useful to me - done.
Teena Evert (19:32): Yeah.
Mark Herschberg (19:34): Let's think about who do we turn to when we have a need, whether it's you need to borrow money, you need to pack up your apartment and move. You need a favor. Who are you asking? Is it the person you met at some conference happy hour last week? Or is it the person you've known for 10 years? Right? It's going to be the latter because you've built a relationship you've built trust and the stronger the relationship, the more you can ask for right now, we don't want to think about networking is just about me, me, me, and needs. In fact, I often think about how can I help others about giving, but when we do need something, it's those folks we can turn to where we have the relationship. And so when it's time to find a new job, the people you should be turning to are the ones who you've known for years. Now yes someone you met last week, Okay - they can pass along your resume, but what will that look like?
Mark Herschberg (20:30): They're going to say, oh yeah, I met this guy. He's got a resume. You know, maybe he's a fit. Here you go. Take a look. Alright, your resume will get glimpsed at on the other hand, if you're passing along to someone who you've known for years, this person says, Hey, I've known this woman since we graduated college. She is fantastic. Hard worker really knows her stuff and even though there's a few things, not on the resume that you might be looking for, I know she knows it. She is worth bringing in. You automatically get the interview and that comes from that relationship.
Teena Evert (21:05): Yeah, that is essential and I often will remind myself and my clients to think about how they want to show up and how, how they can be a value. How can they serve? It's not always about trying to fit your need. I mean, it goes both ways and it can feel, it can really boost your confidence. I feel when you,when you feel like you have a strong network, when your network is connected, right. When there's people that you feel you can go to, to partner with to collaborate with, that's powerful. That's a really essential career skill. For sure.
Mark Herschberg (21:47): Let's talk actually about another aspect of networking, which is internal networking. This is a mistake people make as well because they think, well, I network when I need a job. So why would I talk to my coworkers? Because I'm looking for a job elsewhere, but it's equally important that we build up internal networks, that we get to know people throughout our organization. This will help us be more effective in the organization, but it will also be helpful when we're looking for new jobs in the future. These are more people who clearly work in our industry and they're ones who are more likely to have opportunities for us. So don't just think about external - about people and get me the next job - think about people inside your company as well, and build up those relationships. Yeah.
Teena Evert (22:32): And maybe even thinking about just the different organizations or communities that you're a part of, and that's also networking - relationship building - whether it's considered professionally or personally, it's just thinking about all the different communities or tribes that you're a part of and have that intention to add value and have an intention of how you want to show up. How do you want to be perceived? I think that's important.
Mark Herschberg (23:07): I have a lot of friends from the ballroom world. Not all of them are in my profession and that's actually a great thing because it helps diversify my network. I meet the same types of people, every conference I go to because, well, they're tech conferences. So through ballroom dancing, I'm meeting lots of different folks. And that's wonderful so remember as you point out that it's not just our professional organizations in our personal lives, we can build up relationships some of whom will wind up in our network.
Teena Evert (23:36): Yeah. Yep. That is key. Let's talk about working effectively. How do you get the most out of your job? That question comes up a lot with my clients. And we talk a lot about job crafting people are often thinking about, do I need a new job because I'm not a hundred percent satisfied in the one that I'm at, right? Or do I need to figure out how to make it work? Or maybe I want to change my career? So I think this is an important topic of how do you work more effectively, perhaps so that it's working more for you?
Mark Herschberg (24:18): Unfortunately, many people show up on the first day of their job and think, okay, I am supposed to do X. So I'm going to do X as well as I can - create these reports, put the cover on the TPS ones, create software, marketing campaigns, whatever it is that you're supposed to do. And they focus very narrowly and you should do a good job at whatever your job is, but don't keep the blinders on. You have to think about other ways you can deliver value. Unfortunately, too many people just focus on their job. Now, first that's a mistake because as your company changes, as your industry changes, the value contribution of your job will change and if you're not aware of it, you might not be contributing as much value in the future as you do today. And that means you're less important to the company.
Mark Herschberg (25:10): You might miss opportunities to create more value and this is another reason you want network internally is because you can start to get a larger perspective of the company and start to understand different parts of the company and where you fit in and how you create value to the company and your customer. You also want to understand how to best engage with your coworkers. We've probably heard this term manager your manager. Well, let's take a really simple aspect to it. If I was your manager and you want to pitch me a new idea - showing up at nine in the morning and saying, oh, mark, glad you're in. I want to tell you about this great new idea I have. Okay. Mistake, number one, I am barely conscious at nine in the morning. I am a night person and so if you know that about me, yeah -catch me in the afternoon.
Mark Herschberg (26:00): But then also if you know me, it's not just catch me and say, I'm going to pitch you this big idea. I am very much a process person. I'm very organized and so when you want pitch me an idea, I'm going to want to see project plans. I'm going to want to see a budget. I'm going to want to see what the ROI might look like and so there's a certain way you need to communicate with me to be effective. Now there are other people who are different. They don't want to see the numbers and the details they want to get sold on that big idea. And you get them hooked and get them excited and that's how you sell to that person. Right. But if you don't know what your manager's like, or even coworkers, you might not be using the right communication style and not really selling your ideas effectively. And so we want to understand how do we engage with our coworkers or manager or department or company based on personal attributes as well as culture and norms within the organization.
Teena Evert (26:58): Yeah. I think that that requires some social intelligence and a desire to be curious, and to really learn about others and understand that not everybody learns the same way and people are potentially different than we are. And so to be open and curious, to learn how we can best communicate with them - when we communicate, we want our message to be heard and to be understood, right? So that we're effective. And so I think it's really, really key to if you're not being effective, to be able to evaluate well, what is getting in the way of being effective?
Mark Herschberg (27:43): And if you're doing a great job at whatever widget you're building, but a poor job of deeling with your coworkers and manager and company, you're not going to last long, right? And you have all this great potential that really is going to waste. If you're doing a mediocre job, I've seen people who are not so great at what they do, but they're really good at fitting into the company and organization. They tend to be more successful. Now, ideally you're good at both. And many people focus on building that widget on doing whatever their functional job is and doing it well. So don't undercut yourself. You know, I'll use a ballroom analogy just cause we spoke about ballroom. If I did hours and hours of practice and training, but then I were to show up to a competition and I'm not wearing the right type of outfit and in ballroom dancing we of course have special outfits that dressed, right. I could be the best dancer out there, but the judges are just kind of look and say, this looks off, right. This doesn't feel right. And I missed out on that final, you know, half a percent because I didn't dress myself correctly that day. And that's what's happening in our jobs if you're not fitting in understanding these other aspects of engaging with other people, that emotional intelligence it's going to set you back, no matter how good you are at doing your job.
Teena Evert (29:06): Yeah. That's a great point. And I also want to add that like back to ballroom dancing. So once you get the memo and you know, what type of outfit to wear so that it's appropriate and you blend in, you also get to have it be your own style. So when you are understanding the culture of the company and the people that you're wanting to communicate with also bringing your own style, your own personality, right. Aligned with that. So you're not trying to be a rebel and like break all the rules, but you want to be authentic and genuine and be yourself. And I think that that naturally adds a lot of value and can set you apart from your competition, or maybe even open up opportunities that weren't even on your radar because you're shining in your own. You're flourishing, right? You're, you're shining in your own way because you're being who you are.
Mark Herschberg (30:11): Now on the ballroom floor, I'll cite the example of a friend of mine, Michael Posner, who dressed in the same black latin and outfit we all did, but he put rhinestones down his pants. Everyone knew on the competition circuit. Yep. That's Mike and you can spot them across the floor. Cause there are the rhinestones. Now within the corporate world, it's the same thing. Suppose you are at a company that is very process oriented, but you're the type of person who's just much more out of the box Creative thinker. Now recognizing you're in a process company, you do need to make sure when you engage with others, that you can communicate in that way and you can think through processes and that's how they like to approach projects. But when you're known as that creative person, that outside the box thinker, that's great. Because within this company they say, you know, we really need some creative thinking, oh, you know what? Let's get Sarah in she's always good at this. So you've established yourself as fitting in, but then you've got your unique branding to help you stand out and be recognized. Just like having rhinestones on your pants.
Teena Evert (31:18): I love that. That's a great visual mark. Thank you. Let's shift gears and talk about interviewing for a moment. I'm curious if you have any tips, I'm sure you do. What are some of your favorite tips to become a better candidate while interviewing, especially during COVID?
Mark Herschberg (31:38): Remember that interviews are sales, you are selling yourself. Don't think about what you bring to the table. Don't think about what you have to offer. Think about what the hiring manager and company needs, because that's all that matters. And so put yourself in the shoes of the person and think, what is it that they're looking for? Also remember there's a whole bunch of unwritten things. Unfortunately, we suffer from the streetlamp effect. And let me sidebar to that. There's an old story. A joke about a drunk guy who's staggered around on the street. And a police officer sees him, says, what are you doing? So I'm trying to find my house keys. She says, okay, you know, give you a hand. They spend half an hour looking for the keys. Officer finally says, listen, we're not finding it. Are you sure you lost your keys here?
Mark Herschberg (32:33): He says, no, I lost them over on maple street. Officer says, well, what are you doing here? So if there aren't any streetlamps on maple street, I'll never find them there. People focus on what's easy. And when you look at job descriptions, what do they do? They list out here are the skills that you need. Here's the knowledge that you need. I hate in my field of technology, I see these job listings for software developer. You will write code, you will participate in QA and the code, you will attend meetings. You will do this. It's like, you know what? I knew all that with the title software developer, right? So manyy jobs, you're just reiterating what is obvious and well-known now there's a bunch of other things that are not necessarily listed and this is especially true as you get to that middle and senior level.
Mark Herschberg (33:30): So let's take my job as a CTO. Okay. You need a CTO. I'm going to oversee the engineering team. Do a bunch of other stuff. Budgets. Yes. I know all of that. You didn't have to list them out. What I don't know is do you need someone who is going to turn around a demoralized team versus help with high growth versus create innovation within the organization? And you're probably going to say all of the above, but not in equal amounts. I don't know. Are there difficult coworkers? And it's important that I show I can get along with difficult people. You don't list them the job description. There's a whole bunch of these unwritten attributes that the entry, or probably hasn't even considered. But during the process, he or she is starting to think, oh, that's important or not even there are companies where everyone is friends with each other, right. And being part of the company means you fit in and you're going to be their friend too. And if you're the type of person who says great saying your nine to five, but then I've got a life and you're not in it. You don't fit in that company. Right. Or vice versa. And so that's not in the job description, you have to figure out what are these unwritten requirements during the process and then sell yourself into it.
Teena Evert (34:46): Yeah, absolutely. And also make sure that it's something you do want to sell yourself into - making sure that the company culture, all those details are going to meet your requirements.
Mark Herschberg (35:01): I realized I might not have drawn the line. So the reason the streetlamp effect is relevant is because it's very easy for companies to say X, years of experience, Y knowledge of this and just list those out. It's a lot harder for them to think about what are the other attributes we want in someone they haven't been trained to do it. They don't think about so they don't bother listing it. So they're just sticking to under the street lamp. Even if the thing they're looking for is probably further away.
Teena Evert (35:29): On maple street. Got it. Thank you for clarifying. I'm curious, I want to talk about COVID a little bit since it's still present for many of us as we're navigating our careers, whether we're looking for work or advancing in our career. I'm curious what you've learned from COVID maybe personally and professionally - How do you think perhaps it's changed the landscape of career development or for even just careerists?
Mark Herschberg (36:08): I think some of it's a little overblown. People are talking about how the world's going to be totally different. It's not. Now it will start to change in certain ways, but these will be more incremental rather than revolutionary. The biggest change we're going to see of course is shift to further remote work - before COVID the question may companies was, can this really work? Will people be productive at home? What problems will we face? And now the answer is, okay, we know this can work. What's the right balance. I think we're going to see as a norm, people moving more to part-time in the office. And actually one of my prior companies I've done remote. I've done semi remote. My last company prior to COVID, we actually did semi remote. We said, you know what? We need to be in the office a couple days a week because the nature of our work, it just helps to be next to each other and have those quick conversations.
Mark Herschberg (37:08): But we don't need to do it five days a week. So this is going to create some interesting shifts. First, it's going to change our hiring landscape because if you are thinking, I live in New York city. If you're thinking of commuting to New York, lots of people have an hour long commute. Some people, it can be an hour and a half. Oh, that's painful. I would not want to commute an hour and a half, five days a week. But if I only have to be there maybe two days a week, okay. I come in one morning, I stay overnight in a hotel. I go back the next night, hour and a half on the train. I do a little work. Okay. I can live with that. That job becomes more viable. So I think we're going to expand the geographic regions from which we hire. Now, there's going to be a really important secondary effect that most people aren't talking about yet. When people are saying, I want to be further remote, I want to work from a beach on the other side of the world.
Mark Herschberg (38:04): Okay. Some kind of say, yeah, well you can do that. We know how to make that work, but you're going to miss out on a few things. One is within the organization that socialization and the network building that happens at the water cooler, at the spontaneous conversations, at the happy hour after work, formal or informal, you're missing out on that. And I think that will be somewhat limiting. Second, when you look for a new job, there is that networking that happens within the city at just events, professional or social. And if you're sitting on a beach halfway around the world, you're probably not going to be as engaged. Yes. Now they might start broadcasting an online version, but you're just not going to be meeting people the same way. And so we have to be careful about the long term effects in the short term. Yes, we can work just as effectively for some people more effectively when remote, but there are aspects of relationship building and personal branding that happened better in person. If you're not doing that, that can be a longer-term setback.
Teena Evert (39:10): Yeah. Really great points. I agree with all that. And although we are becoming more efficient, perhaps, it is really important to stay engaged. So for me, as I've been working 100% online with everything, meaning all conferences have been virtual. You know, my level of engagement has definitely changed. I've had to approach networking differently online, and it feels different than if I were actually spending the time to travel to a different city and be amongst my colleagues and enjoying happy hour and stories and just that, that time together, that's so different when you're in person.
Mark Herschberg (40:05): You know, if you think about conferences, I remember going to conferences back in the nineties and this was great and you learn all this new stuff because where else are you going to learn it? Now you're going to learn it from podcasts, from blogs, from YouTube videos. The information is rarely unique to that conference and the value of many conferences - It is that networking and interaction and the small conversations where a lot of value comes out. And so we have to remember, this will apply more concretely within a conference, but more generally within our organizations.
Teena Evert (40:46): Yeah. Great. Thanks Mark. Now I want to shift into the Career Confidence Round. These are a series of question questions that I ask all of my featured guests. And I just want you to share what the first thing is that comes to mind. They are certainly not trick questions. So the first one is just imagine Mark, that you were your younger self, and if you could have received one piece of critical advice or inspiration, when you were just starting your education or your career journey, what would it be?
Mark Herschberg (41:20): To focus on the skills I talk about in the book? I was very much a highly left-brain person, very low EQ. Great at STEM skills. I thought this is what it takes to win. And I've been winning, doing it. I gone to MIT and I get these great jobs just by being really good at doing certain types of tasks. But then I started to stumble because my EQ (emotional intelligence) was so weak because I didn't have these other skills. And it took me a while to start to recognize the importance of them. So I would definitely go back and tell myself, no, no, you have to work on these other skills.
Teena Evert (41:58): Yeah. So in The Career Toolkit that Mark is referring to, I would say first identify what these skills are and then begin to focus on this information to develop those skills. That's great. I mean, emotional intelligence, social intelligence is important too. And I think that those things get developed as you're working on these essential skills because many of them have to do with building dynamic relationships interpersonal relationships.
Mark Herschberg (42:28): Yeah. I always thought just get the right answer, but communicating that answer is just as important.
Teena Evert (42:35): Yeah. Well, I imagine your ballroom dancing really helped you come alive as well. Like that is such an amazing way that you probably expressed yourself and you didn't realize that that was balancing out your left brain and your right brain.
Mark Herschberg (42:51): It did definitely help.
Teena Evert (42:53): Yeah. All right. Second question. In order to gain confidence and build a meaningful career, what would be the one thing that you would recommend our listeners to do?
Mark Herschberg (43:06): Think about where you want to wind up? Think about where you want to be in 20, 30 years or even 10 - to many people think about optimizing for their next job, which job is going to pay me the most. Right? Which job maybe is the coolest company, but they're not thinking long-term, they're not thinking about maybe if I take this step to the side or back, it could be more interesting in the long run. So really you want to think about your steps in terms of your long-term goal and where you want to wind up, even if that's not a very well-defined area, but make sure you know, the direction in your head and don't just think, what is the right next step for just optimizing for today?
Teena Evert (43:57): Yeah, both sound important, but I like that longer-term vision. And I'll also add, think about how you want to feel, you know, how do you, that comes from my therapy background, right? When I used to coach people in relationships and things, it was like they have this checklist, but it's how do you want to feel in your career? How do you want to feel in your relationship? And that can bring up a lot of different things in terms of gaining some clarity around how do you want your life to be, you know, if you want to feel, let's say a sense of peace at the end, the day that's maybe you, maybe you're not commuting two hours or whatever, having peace at the end of the day means to you. Right. How do you have to set that up in terms of your work day and also your transition from work to the rest of your life? Exactly. Yeah. All right. And then in order to help people who feel stuck in their career or their job search process, what would be the one tip or strategy for them to get on stuck?
Mark Herschberg (45:09): I would see those as slightly different questions, because if you're stuck in your job search, it's coming up with very different strategies, probably for most people, it means going out and meeting different types of people and looking for new avenues, into finding a job. For the career, this is a lot more strategic and here is where it means talking to lots of different people, including people outside of your field, to start to look for those patterns about what not jobs, but what aspect of jobs, what type of activities or skill usage excites you. And then from there start to construct that job based on what combination of activities would be. Interesting.
Teena Evert (45:55): Nice, thank you. Great tips, great strategies. I do work with a lot of people who feel stuck and they're stuck on being stuck. And I think that when we have some tools and some good questions to ask ourselves, we can start to take some action, maybe even inspired action and perhaps not feel so stuck. All right. So Mark, I would love for you to share with the audience, how they can learn more about you and how they can get in touch with you.
Mark Herschberg (46:29): Okay. You can go to my website, thecareertoolkit,book.com. There, you can learn more about the book you can get in touch with me. There's also a free companion app to the book. So I've got links from the website to the apple and Android stores. Were you can download it that will help reinforce on the lessons in the book. You don't even have to open the app. It just pops up one of the tips each day on your phone at a time that you set. There's also a resources page where I linked to a whole bunch of other books and other great free online resources. There's a bunch of downloads, including the career questions we talked about and ways you can create development programs inside your own organizations, all this for free. And it's all found on thecareertoolkitbook.com.
Teena Evert (47:16): This is a fabulous resource. I will be certain to put that link in the show notes and I encourage everyone to go check it out. I have it up here right now and it is just so many incredible resources. Thank you so much, mark. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and for providing, you know, being such a leader in the career space and providing not just your wisdom, but like practical tools and strategies that are so essential for professionals to continue growing.
Mark Herschberg (47:50): Well, thank you for having me on the show and thank you to the audience for giving me your time.
Teena Evert (47:54): And one last thing, mark, is there maybe one golden nugget left that you'd like our listeners to know,
Mark Herschberg (48:03): I'd say, here's an important way to approach this. We have traditionally learned our prior skills through a broadcast method because our prior skills are really knowledge. When you think about how you learn math or history or English, someone said, here are the rules. Here's the formula. Here are the dates, memorize them. You're good. These skills are not quite the same. These skills are best learned through a peer learning group. It's how we teach at MIT. It's how top business schools teach this because there's no formula for leadership, no three steps to magically communicate. Instead, what you want to do is speak with other people, speak with your peers and look at situations and discuss. And when we talk about we discover, well, here's what I did. And then you say, oh, well I would have done differently. And here's how, oh, that's brilliant.
Mark Herschberg (48:58): I never would've thought of that. And that's how you're really going to develop these skills because they are so subtle and multifaceted. And so you want to create these peer learning groups. And I mentioned on the website, thecareertoolkit book.com on the resources page is a free download for how you can create these groups and know, yes, you can use my book and I also show how I can chop up the book and pieces, but you don't have to use my book. You can use any of the other great books. I list there. You can use articles, videos, a great podcast like this one. So create that reading group each week, listen to this podcast and then discuss the topics in the podcast together. So use whatever content you want, the podcast, my book, anything else, but create these peer learning groups because that's how you're really going to develop these skills.
Teena Evert (49:45): Oh, that is powerful. Thank you, mark. Thank you for sharing that. That is a golden nugget and I again want to encourage the listeners to head over to thecareertoolkitbook.com and check out all those amazing resources. And I myself, I'm going to check that out to peer learning groups. That is definitely something that I can encourage my clients to get involved in and maybe there's something there where I can help create that help facilitate that for people. I certainly have a passion for helping people learn, develop themselves both personally and professionally. So thanks again, Mark. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy day. I'm sure -and schedule to share your knowledge with our listeners. Thanks for being on The Confident Careerist podcast.
Mark Herschberg (50:33): Thanks for having me.
Teena Evert (50:38): This episode of The Confident Careerist podcast has ended, but be sure to share subscribe, rate, and review so that we can continue to bring you the best content and head over to teenaevert.com For additional information and resources.
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Mark Herschberg is the author of The Career Toolkit, Essential Skills for Success That No One Taught You.
From tracking criminals and terrorists on the dark web to creating marketplaces and new authentication systems, Mark has spent his career launching and developing new ventures at startups and Fortune 500s and in academia.
In this free audio training, you’ll learn three strategies that’ll give you the clarity and confidence to build a career and life you love.