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Aww Shift

Mar 7, 2023

In today’s episode, our guest is Tessa White. She is an expert on career and company transformation with more than 20 years of experience in human capital strategy. She helps individuals successfully navigate careers and companies reimagine their workforce potential.

[2:27] Why should I listen to you?

You should listen to me because I believe I can help you avoid decades of struggling to navigate the difficult corporate workplace. I can provide shortcuts to some of the problems I've encountered on my own journey, drawing from my unique perspective as a former head of HR who has overseen the careers of tens of thousands of people. I have had numerous backroom conversations and learned valuable lessons about how to promote smoother career growth, which can be highly beneficial and even life-changing. Overall, I'm confident that my insights can make a real difference in your life. I hope you find them as useful as I do.

[3:42] Do you mind taking us back and walking us through that?

Sure. Well, if I go back far enough, I ended up as a single mother with three children, no college degree, and the daunting task of figuring out how to provide for my family. I had no real career to speak of, so I decided to pursue a job in HR because I believed that I had good communication skills and typing ability. It just so happened that I landed a job working for Stephen R Covey, the well-known author, and speaker who was a pioneer in the field of personal development. I learned a tremendous amount from him, which set me on the path to success. Fast forward 25 years, and you would find me as the head of HR at a Fortune 50 company, working with Blackstone in New York, and driving board meetings. However, the journey from nothing to something was far from easy. When the pandemic hit, I decided that I wanted to focus on helping people navigate their careers, rather than just protecting companies. This led me to start a business called 'The Job Doctor,' which I launched from my own home. On day three, my daughter shared some of my advice on TikTok and it quickly gained popularity, with 10,000 people following me in just three days. Since then, I have been able to help thousands of people navigate their own career journeys, which has been a truly rewarding experience.

[6:16] Prior to that, what was your plan to get out into the world? 

When I worked at Vivint Solar, I had the opportunity to work with young millennials and Gen Z salespeople who were doing door-to-door sales with 4000 rows and flat build caps. I noticed that they were learning and thinking differently, and I had to quickly adapt to their unique styles. After leaving Vivint Solar, I realized there was a need for short-form learning that could be easily accessible through social media. Traditional long training sessions wouldn't work for these young people. So, I decided to meet them where they were by utilizing social media to provide quick, bite-sized learning opportunities. It wasn't a matter of being smart, it was just being wise.

[10:00] Where did you start? 

I believe that people often underestimate themselves, especially women. They sell themselves short and think they're not capable of achieving their dreams. As part of my coaching sessions, which I call "read my brain," I help people take the first step and guide them with my knowledge about different career paths to help them pick the right one. I act as a cheerleader in the background, encouraging them and telling them they can do it. It's amazing to see how capable people are when they believe in themselves. I had a client who was a single parent cleaning hotels for a living, and now she's making over $100,000 a year as a software engineer. The name "the job doctor" comes from my role as a doctor who comes in to help people with their careers.

[11:25] How would you explain your job? 

I assist individuals in various aspects of their careers, such as interview preparation and resume building to increase their chances of getting hired. I also provide support to those who are experiencing difficulties at work and help them develop a career strategy for future growth. My approach is practical and focused on actionable steps rather than theoretical concepts, and I offer specific scripts and advice on how to navigate tough conversations and situations at work. Overall, I aim to help people have smoother and more successful careers.

[12:13] Where do you think the wealth of that knowledge came from to be able to teach it?

Having worked in the HR field for many years, I have seen a wide range of situations and challenges that companies face when it comes to managing their employees. I have had to deal with everything from minor performance issues to serious ethical violations, and I have seen firsthand how these situations can impact the company as a whole. One of the things that set me apart as a consultant is my ability to draw on this vast experience and use it to help my clients navigate these issues. I can provide them with insights into how companies typically handle various situations, and I can help them develop strategies for dealing with these situations in a way that minimizes risk and protects their interests. Overall, I believe that my wealth of knowledge and experience allows me to provide valuable guidance to my clients as they seek to navigate the complex world of HR and employment law. Whether they are facing a difficult employee situation or simply looking to improve their overall HR strategy, I am confident that I can help them achieve their goals and succeed in today's competitive business environment.

[16:10] What are some key attributes that contribute to success in a career?

As someone who has observed and been frustrated by the pattern of hiring employees who seemed promising but were let go shortly thereafter, I have developed a system to help individuals progress through the five stages of career growth. By identifying essential skill sets for each stage, individuals can anticipate what is required to succeed in their current role and prepare for the next level. For example, in mid-management, conflict resolution and the ability to have difficult conversations that foster safety are crucial. Unfortunately, some individuals may not develop these traits and their career progress may be hindered. Through my system, individuals can learn how to develop these necessary attributes and enhance their overall career trajectory.

[18:10] What are these five skills? 

The first stage is all about following instructions and being a doer. You need to be able to take direction and complete tasks efficiently. In the second stage, you need to learn how to work independently. You'll be given broad guidelines, but it's up to you to figure out how to get things done. This stage is all about developing independence. Once you get to middle management, you need to learn how to work with others. Collaboration is key, and you'll need to be able to build relationships with other departments to achieve your goals. The next stage is all about being a builder. You can't just focus on completing tasks anymore; you need to be able to define strategy and get buy-in from others. This stage is all about developing your sales and communication skills. Finally, in the most senior role, you need to be able to focus on the big picture. You can't just focus on your own department; you need to spend time working with outside boards of directors and exploring new business opportunities. 

[20:58] What are some of the things that stand out to you? 

Some of the things that stand out to me from the conversation are the importance of understanding the different stages of a career and the necessary skills needed for each stage. It's also crucial to be aware of the environment you're operating in and to have a clear understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses, as well as seek feedback regularly to improve and grow. Additionally, building good partnerships and collaborating with other departments is essential for success in middle management, and having a clear strategy and the ability to pitch and gain buy-in is vital for those in a builder role. Finally, senior leaders must focus on not just their own department but also spend time with outside boards of directors and seek new business opportunities to ensure the success of the company.

[43:17] What promise did God make to the world when he created you? 

I guess the promise was that you'll meet somebody who you'll never have a dull moment around her and she's going to dream big.

Key Quotes 

[9:20-9:25] Stop waiting for things to be perfect and do it. 

[9:40-9:44] People care less than we think they do. 

How to connect with Tessa White