Reclaiming Your Career During a Pandemic

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Reclaiming your career with Anna Oakes

Many of us are interested in reclaiming our careers so joining me on the podcast today is Anna Oakes. The intersection of her love for humanity and her love and understanding of corporate is what she’s going to share with us today. She’s not talking about something that she’s read about, or something that she saw on TV, or an article that she read in an airplane magazine while she was on a flight. What she’s bringing today is what she knows because she has walked it and talked it. In this episode she tells you how to visualize what your next best step is, how you move from where you are to where you want to be, and most importantly, how reclaiming your career lights you on fire. 

In this episode we discussed:

  • How COVID has affected our spirits, family and work dynamics
  • How to determine what you should keep doing and what you should change
  • Why now is the perfect time for organizations to change
  • How we’ve lost control of our own careers
  • How the pandemic has changed the way we view work
  • How we can reclaim ownership, direction, energy for our careers?
  • The number one cause of burnout right now in the world of work
  • How to bridge the gap between self awareness and self advocacy
  • The difference between being managed and being led

What is the Passion Patchwork?

“I’m going to give myself permission to build a passion patchwork, that fits me with the passions and the hobbies, and the friends and the family and the job and the side projects or the side hustles or whatever you want to call it, it’s your quilt. They can be whatever textures, whatever colors you want. And guess what? When one no longer serves you, you can remove that square, and swap it out with a different one. That’s the bridge between moving from self-awareness to self-advocacy, in starting to feel how good it feels when you’re in alignment with who you are and you’re taking action.”

Who is Anna Oakes?

Reclaiming Your Career During a PandemicAnna Oakes is a consultant, coach and caretaker of humanity.  She combines her love for humanity with her 20+years of corporate experience and over 4 years as an entrepreneur, as a leader, coach and strategic business advisor.  Anna and her team is currently focusing their work on INTRApreneurs, those change makers/innovators who choose to work within organizations.

She’s currently writing a book to help INTRApreneurs maximize their impact in their role and organization, while helping organizations lead and leverage this valuable resource well.  Anna gave her first TEDx in April of 2019 to help you leverage your current role to get to your best next.

You can catch her on social media, their team site and her weekly podcast, Build High Performing Teams.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Anna’s website, The Oakes Co

Anna on Instagram,

Anna on Facebook,


I understand we need rules and regulations and systems and policies and procedures. But I do not want to sacrifice humanity for that. ~ Anna Oakes Click to Tweet I'm going to choose to work in the best way, on the best types of things, that align to my highest and best use because I know me better than anyone. ~ Anna Oakes Click to Tweet I think when we're ready, we actually make our next opportunity happen versus waiting for someone to hand it to us. ~ Anna Oakes Click to Tweet

Episode Transcript

Allegra Sinclair 0:05

Welcome to the Your Confident Self Podcast with Allegra Sinclair. Get ready to punch fear in the throat and gain confidence like never before. I help corporate women get the confidence to ask for the job they want, and do the work they love. Isn't it time you got unstuck and showed the world how fabulous you are?

Hey, this is Allegra. Welcome to this week's episode of the podcast. I am just telling you right now, you need to go get a piece of paper, you need to sit down, you need to get your sweet tea, or whatever it is that you need to get to be productive and ready to receive. Go get it, we will wait because this week's episode is like none we have ever had before. My guest today is fire, just pure fire.

Anna Oakes is a consultant coach and caretaker of humanity. She combines her love for humanity with her 20 plus years of corporate experience. Now the magic, the intersection of her love for humanity and her love and understanding of corporate is what she's going to share with us today. She's not talking about something that she's read about, or something that she saw on TV, or an article that she read in an airplane magazine while she was on a flight. What she's bringing today is what she knows because she has walked it, she has been on the ground. and she's walked it and talked it. And she's going to pour into us how we visualize what our next best step is, how we move from where we are, to where we want to be, and most importantly, how we reclaim ownership of our career in a way that lights us on fire. Please help me welcome Anna Oakes.

Anna Oakes 1:54

Hi, Allegra, thank you so much for having me. I'm super stoked.

Allegra Sinclair 1:57

I am so excited. I took so many pages of notes even before we sat down. I took so many pages of notes because I was like, Oh my gosh, I just want to pick her brain about so many different things. But let's jump in and talk a little bit about the pandemic that is going on right now. And how we kind of wrestle with it, or how we wrap our arms around how COVID is changing how we need to build our careers. What is COVID doing?

Anna Oakes 2:27

I think, you know, I look at COVID and it's such a dramatic shift. And although it's tragic in its essence, right? Because you know, we've had this global pandemic that's affected our economy, it's affected our individual spirits, our family dynamics, or work dynamics, so much has changed. Not all to the positive, right? We can sort of make that list. But what I look at times of change for Allegra, is as a catalyst. How do we look at the situation that's happened and use it to say, Alright, what has changed? And then therefore, what do I need to do differently? And what should I keep doing the same? Like, what is it that I need to fiercely protect and keep doing? And what is it that I could be doing better or differently, and I think this time of change is so epically large, that we're going to have a collective push in the world of work, in terms of not just where we're working right now, right, while everybody's trying to figure out how to work remotely, but also how and when and what we are working on.

Allegra Sinclair 3:31

That is all sorts of juicy. I think there are a couple of things in that. So yes, it's funny, COVID touches everyone, right, I think there have been some other revolutions in our world of work, but they affected maybe smaller subsets of the population. This is the first one I remember, in my decades on the planet, that affects everybody, everybody, everybody. But I also love that you pointed out that within this huge shift there's community in that and that we're all needing to shift. And there's opportunity in it. In that perhaps we would have loved to have been able to take some time to figure out, hey, what things are working for me and what things aren't. But before COVID forced a slow down and more introspection, we weren't taking the opportunity to do any of that work.

Anna Oakes 4:25

Yeah, we really weren't because as aware, and I can say this with 100% certainty, guys, because I've worked with so many organizations, both as an employee for 20 plus years in corporate America and now out of my own, that when an organization says they want to change something, let's say they say we have a performance issue or we want to increase our culture or we really want to start doing things differently for our employees, whatever their desire is, they start to have those conversations with me and I explained to them what change will actually look like and they get a little nervous,

Allegra Sinclair 5:00

Only a little?!

Anna Oakes 5:01

They're like, oooo you know what that cost benefit is like, I think we're gonna stay where we're at, we're okay. If it's not broke, don't fix it. Like I've heard all the reasoning behind why they don't want to change or shift what they actually said they wanted to. But this means that right now we have an opportunity to change because they don't have a choice but to change. And we're not just talking about the dynamic of having to think about remote work, we're talking about an uprising of the people, of humanity in the workplace, from the hourly employees at stores to the salaried employees in these, you know, ivory towers, the spectrum runs deep, but what we have in common is humanity that says, life is fundamentally shifted. For the majority of us, if not everyone, like you said, Everybody, everybody,

It has shifted. Therefore, we now have awareness, which is the first step in change, Allegra, I'm certified in change management. Awareness, if you don't have awareness of why you have to change or why things should change, it will never happen. And so now that collective awareness, I mean, I'm leaking a little bit here having been raised by hippie so I, like, I get really big about this, but like the collective awareness and ability to be awake about it now, that momentum is going to mean something in the world of work, because it isn't just now in the employers hands to say, oh, we're going to go back to 50% back in the office, or 60%, or 20%, whatever it is, okay, you make your rules. But now talent has a new taste of empowerment that says, maybe I don't like this. Maybe that situation, maybe that employer, maybe that role, maybe that type of work, no longer serves me. And for that I get excited, because I think for too long, we've given away ownership of our career and of our impact that we can be having on a day to day and year to year basis, purely because the system sort of calls for us to.

Allegra Sinclair 7:15

Oh my goodness, that is like the best frosting on the best cupcake ever. But wait, you were raised by hippies, they have hippies in Wisconsin?

Anna Oakes 7:23

You know what I grew up in Illinois and they have them in the Midwest, they really do.

Allegra Sinclair 7:30

I was like hippies. Ah, come on. Okay, so that's good to know. See, I'm learning already. I think you touched on something that's so important when you talked about awareness. And I can speak to this because I spent, gosh, it's painful to even think about, more years than I want to remember, not being particularly aware of what was going on in my career, or in my life, for that matter. Now, I'm not saying that I was in some sort of fugue state. What I mean is, I was doing the things that were expected. Like I was following the path that somebody else wrote down. And it took kind of a hard moment at probably the pinnacle of my corporate career, when I suddenly looked around and said, I am miserable. I feel like this career is not mine. And I know there's a ton of people who would be, I mean, they would kill to be sitting in this spot, but I want to give it to them. I want to take this jacket off and give it away because there hadn't been a lot of time or space or energy around, being aware, being self aware, specifically.

Anna Oakes 8:47

Here's the reason, right? Because from the time we are young, we're told to stand in line, to listen to authority, to turn assignments on time, to walk this way in the street. Like there's rules everywhere. And you know, people hear me talking, thinking that I'm anti corporate, or I'm anti systems. I'm actually not, I'm just pro humanity. I want the human in there. I understand we need rules and regulations and systems and policies and procedures. But I do not want to sacrifice humanity for that. So if you look back on how we've been raised and how we've been conditioned, even if in picking our career at the age of 19, we're supposed to know what we want to do for the rest of our lives based on some input from a career counselor or a high school counselor, who maybe spent a few hours with us. That's silly, right? Look how we're, we're guided in this way that says you do this, then you do this, then you do that, then you get married, then you have kids. It's

It's so predicted and laid out for us that we've forgotten that we actually have a choice to buck the system. Right? And so I'm always telling people the attitude or the mindset of the intrapreneur that I want people to have is not to say, screw the nine to five, it's actually to say there's very there's a lot of value in the system, Allegra, but I'm going to choose to work in the best way on the best types of things that align to my highest and best use because I know me better than anyone. That puts the onus on the individual to actually know who you are. That's self awareness. And that goes back to the awareness of change we talked about. We can try to change, but if we actually don't know who we are at the root, it won't work. It won't stick.

Allegra Sinclair 10:42

Whew that is so good. People should just rewind and re-listen to that part, right there. What I was thinking in the back of my mind was because before we started talking, I was, I know that you talk a lot about how we've lost control over our own careers, right. And you talk about how we can reclaim ownership. And before we started talking, I was like, how do we lose control? Why do we lose control of our careers? And then how is that happening? And I think you just started to lay the groundwork for why and how.

Anna Oakes 11:14

Oh yeah, it starts really early on Allegra. And then it happens every time we join a new company. And look, you're talking to somebody who ran HR, right, so I gave up the Chief Human Capital Officer job to come out on my own, like I passed it up. So I got to the senior levels of HR, I understand how these decisions are made. So HR says these are the competencies, right? These are the skill sets we want for these types of roles. And then they work with a leader to write a one to two page, maybe job description, which is actually mostly legalese to cover the organizations butt. And that's not an insult to the organization, they have to have that in place. But somehow the leader who has both capacity, meaning they're doing a lot of things, and they're very, very busy. And also capability issues, right. Most of the people in people leadership positions, aren't skilled, naturally skilled in it and haven't haven't had enough training in it. So they have capacity and capability issues, then they say things like I just need somebody to hit the ground running, because they know they don't have time to train them. Or if they even do have time, they know they don't know enough about that role to really help them. So then they hand them this one to two page job description. And we expect that to be the marching orders.

And then we get a clarification of the marching orders every six months that are mid year and our year end. That's not enough clarity. And yet somehow we've acted like it is and so we are almost operating blindly through these organizations. Everybody is doing their very best but they are really, really making it up. And not in a really good way of like, I'm going to be really creative with how I'm doing this. This is what I how they want me to work, everybody's guessing, right. And so then we get off track. And we have lots of interpretations.

I mean, you talk about the power of perception, you and I could both look at a rose and see something different, a different angle, a different color, the light hits it differently, our experiences bring something to that. And given that we have such as variety of perception, and application of those perceptions. Like Of course, it's almost like chaos in these systems, because you have these humans who really, really do want to be successful. But it's really, really unclear how we can do that.

Allegra Sinclair 13:37

I think it's unclear in the beginning and to your point, I may have the best of intentions, but not be skilled enough to help you figure out what success looks like, which is one of the greatest challenges. I think for people of color inside companies. If you don't know what it looks like, how do you know that it's not what I'm doing? Right? Or if you don't know what it looks like, but you think it looks like what most of the people that you know, look like, right? Then how do I ever get past that, but I'm sticking a pin in that that's a whole other movie. Um, but it's interesting, right?

When you think about how kind of HR evolves and how we take care of the human capital, and you said that lots of people in leadership of those organizations don't necessarily have those skills. It's kind of like, I spent my career in corporate working in communications, marketing, communications, PR and stuff like that. And often people just assume that you can just throw anybody in those roles, right? So they don't necessarily taking the time to figure out okay, what skills do we need to develop in these people, because they may very well have an aptitude for that work, but you're throwing them in the puddle, and you're telling them to wing it. And then that could go on for years, and years and years.

But I think it is a fascinating time. And I agree that it's an exciting time, because there's a lot of choice and there are a lot of people really examining their lives right now. So between everything that's happening from a social justice perspective, because that's just another layer on top of this, and then everything that jumped off with COVID, when all of a sudden, companies that might have said, We are never going to have remote working now everybody is remote working, right? I remember being in charge of work from home initiatives at two different companies. And both times they kind of did it begrudgingly. I lived in Arizona the first time and it was a requirement, because of the quality of the air there six months out of the year, right, you had to do it. But the company was kind of like doing whatever was required, but nothing else. And it wasn't about, you know, productivity or, you know, work life balance. It was not, it was about, hey, we don't want to get fined for not having this percentage of our employees participating in these types of things.

But as we look at how COVID has changed us, and we're going to talk a little bit in a minute about how people can develop themselves, and what types of things they'll want to do to position themselves inside companies. Because I'll say this, there are some amazing companies out there. Are there problems within all of them? Yeah, cuz we're in there, right? Companies are not like static things, they're full of us. And we bring all of our stuff with us everywhere we go. But um, I think that as we're looking at how we're reclaiming our career, or how we're going to restart our careers, COVID does have some lasting effects. So how are we going to reclaim ownership, direction, energy, all of that for our careers? Now, based on what COVID has changed?

Anna Oakes 16:35

Yeah, you know, it has to be what it comes down to me, Allegra is that it's about self awareness. It's about self application. Right. And I mean, like how you are applying who you are to the things that you choose to do. Right. So once we gain that self awareness, and I think this, you know, times of chaos, times of change like this, you really do learn a lot about yourself and about other people. And it may not all be things that you love, you know, I mean, I've recently learned that, like stress eating is a real thing. I never had that before, right? So, but you could just say like, Oh, it's no big deal. Like, I should be aware of that not to shame myself, not to overly like, become fixated on that. But to be aware, and understand how that choice, that habit over here, may be affecting things over there.

Right. So we just sort of use this time of reflection, of the pause, right, a lot of people are talking about the power of the pause. So we use that to get to know ourselves better. And then we start to say, like, Okay, I'm getting to know me better, which is the ideal. And either you're choosing to do that on your own, you're using a life coach, a career coach, performance coach, a business coach, wherever coach, highly recommend, I tell everybody, look, if we all had a coach and a therapist, this world would be so much better.

And that is not just because I'm a coach, but because I've watched the positive effects of that on my own personal life. And in people that I've worked with, either personally, or seen them with a different coach, I've seen that. And then I've also seen, you know, the scarcity that comes from when you don't have a leader who has capacity or capability in your day to day, and then you don't have a therapist, or you don't have a coach on the outside, it's a very, very lonely world. So you go back to thinking about this COVID right, and how are we changing?

Okay, so we're gonna increase self awareness. Now we're going to start advocating for ourselves and practicing what does it look like to speak up or ask questions about things that are important to us? Right? I mean, everything from should we really be on 10 hours of back to back zoom calls with no breaks. Like that's a real thing that's happening, right? For senior-level people, even mid-career. Like, but they didn't ask that before. Because what happened is, even though we're all working remote, that company and many companies like that picked up their work, and put it all online. Well, now we see really what we saw before, but we didn't think about it, which is I'm GO GO GO going. I don't have time to go to the bathroom. I don't have time to feed myself. I can't talk to my kids unless I'm on mute. I'm forced to be on this video screen with be on right in front of people's face all day long. Now we're starting to feel the effects of that, right, the number one cause right now, Allegra of burnout is the blend between work and home life.

And that's not just because we're at home, but that's because we have these huge loads on our plates at work. So we have to start asking different questions. Right? It's not just about like, what am I going to say? It's about how can I ask better questions to help my organization understand, this is my highest and best use. Here's the types of things that I'm curious about, here's the ways that I can add value. So I think it's just a time I believe of, of that personal empowerment, to say, I didn't really like how things are going before. I don't love how things are now. But we sort of recognize we're in this weird Bermuda Triangle part of it.

But now is the time folks do not let this go too long. Because habits are quickly created. I gave a workshop at the beginning of COVID for the first two months to organizations, and it was about this like scrappy versus sustainable. We're making very scrappy decisions at the beginning of COVID. But be careful because after 66 days it's a habit. Amd we are beyond 66 days. We are in habit now. And so how do we undo some of these things? Well, we undo it individually by starting to push and declare boundaries in new ways that we never have before.

Allegra Sinclair 21:10

Who, okay, Anna you can go ahead and pass the plate. That was a sermon in and of itself.

Anna Oakes 21:21

Well, you can tell I grew up in the church, you could tell.

Allegra Sinclair 21:24

Oh, hippies go to church too? You are rocking my socks, okay.Hippies in the Midwest and hippies go to church. But oh, there was so much deliciousness in that, but what I think I heard, so let me summarize pretty quickly. So how do I reclaim ownership of my career, in the midst of this pandemic? One, I get real self aware, right, I understand what I'm working with. Right? So then I understand if there are changes that I need to be made that need to be made, because if I don't get that, then I will make the changes, and it has repercussions down the line. Right. So what I need to get self aware to was I need to apply what I learned that is the magic piece, right?

So it's funny when you talk about coaching and therapy, because I'm like, yes, everybody should have both, right? Because the awareness is one thing but awareness without application is useless, right? All that does is make you stress eat, right? So we need to get aware, we need to apply that. And then we need to commit to the change. And then we need to speak up. I think there was a fourth step in there of how we reclaim our career. So awareness application speaking up. I think the other piece of that though, is it's funny when you talked about 10 hours of meetings on zoom, because you're right, that happens all day long. And corporate and I'm not anti corporate, you're not anti corporate. So let's just go ahead and say that, nobody's hating on corporate, we love corporate, right? All my clients are still inside corporations. I'm not telling them to leave, I just want them to be so fantastic while they're in there, that they just can't stand themselves. Um, we do that, though, in corporations, right? We are in meetings from the minute you get there until the minute you've raced your car, to run and pick up something that somebody else cooked on the way home to eat for dinner, right? We do that, we have been doing that for years. It's funny now that we realize that's untenable, because we have been doing that forever? But now without the commute in between, or the fact that your family is witnessing it. There's a number of different reasons why it's so much of a bigger deal now. Or we're just layering the stress of what's going on in the world on top of that. But we've been doing that for a long time being in back to back meetings for 10 hours, and then wondering why we don't get any work done.

Anna Oakes 23:36

Exactly. And so those steps, guys, that Allegra is talking about, those are great. But if you want to chunk it down even further, there's two things self awareness and self advocacy. This is like Who am I? What's important to me? What do I know about me? And how do I work right? Love the phrase, what's my highest and best use, and then I need to go to work because nobody is going to do that for me. Expecting our leader or job to fulfill us or guide us is is just as ineffective as expecting our life partner to do that for us. Thats not their job.

Allegra Sinclair 24:07

So, that's what we're doing today? You're just going to show up on my podcast and tell the truth?!

Anna Oakes 24:12

Yes. All day, all day. That's what we're doing.

Allegra Sinclair 24:19

Fine! Oh, that was great. You're absolutely right. But I think that we weren't taught that. So I wasn't taught when I was growing up that I needed to be my own advocate. And that I needed to be fully aware of what my magic powers were. And then I needed to actively choose to use them at work. Nobody told me that. They told me to go to college. And then they told me to get a job. They had no idea what the college or the job would be. But I supposed to go to college, I suppose to get a job and I was supposed to be wildly successful, and then that would make me happy. Nobody said to me that any of those things, college, work, family that any of those things might not make me happy, right? We don't learn about developing ourselves, we learn about, like tricks and tips, like who you should eat lunch with or who you should you know who you should follow their career, right? You should take somebody else's template and like, put it on you. We never, I'm gonna speak for me, but I know I'm not alone because people talk to me all the time. We are not told to develop ourselves. So when we're getting to that place between self awareness and self advocacy, how do we bridge that gap? What do I do? What do I focus on? To develop myself to be a better advocate?

Anna Oakes 25:36

Yeah, well, look, one tool is all about permission, right? It's that permission. And so I talk about a concept that is the patchwork of passion, right? Or the passion patchwork. So I want you to envision a quilt, right? Like I have a quilt that my grandma zula made, she unfortunately passed away before I was born. But I have the quilt, it's one of my most prized possessions, and I look at it often. It's got all this beautiful vintage fabric on it, squares of different sizes, some that are way more tattered, some that are still in good condition. I want us to look at our lives in the same way that says, I'm going to give myself permission to build a patchwork, a passion patchwork, that fits me. With the passions and the hobbies, and the friends and the family and the job and the side projects or the side hustles or whatever you want to call, it's your quilt. They can be whatever textures, whatever colors. And guess what when one no longer serves you, you can remove that square, and swap it out with a different one. That's the bridge between moving from self awareness to self advocacy is starting to feel how good it feels when you're in alignment with who you are. And you're taking action.

So let's get really tactical, because I think people hear this and they're like, okay, yeah, but whatever. And talk about some of these conversations with your leader, how could we possibly push back with our leader? Given that I've worked for them for X number of months or X number of years? How do I start today?

I get that that feels very big, right? And hairy like, oh, gosh, no, I'm asking for this. A whole new ballgame.

Allegra Sinclair 27:13

I don't mean to interrupt your flow, but it feels hairy. It feels scary. And layered on top of what's going on the world, it feels like it could be career ending.

Anna Oakes 27:21

Yeah, I know, I hear that fear. And I and I see it, I've been there. And as somebody who was always a rebel, just kind of Born This Way, right? I was the one who was always rogue, who got repeatedly told, like, you're kind of hard to manage. I don't think I need to be managed, I think I need to be led. And to me the difference is leaders provide the resources, support, and encouragement to help me be successful. I don't need them to do my job. And I think that's what made me such a good people leader all those years and even now is that it's not my job to do what you do. It's my job to have your back to give you those resources, support and encouragement.

And so here's the sandwich that I'm talking about the top layer is now starting to see that through COVID, the business has to operate differently. The power to the people, the bottom half of that sandwich, is that that that humans are sort of reconnecting with themselves and what's most important to them. So how do we take that? We take that and we say, All right, let's have conversations, right? Everybody wants me to give them the silver bullet guys, it starts with communication. If you are not having regular one on ones with your leader, then you schedule them, you schedule them. And if you can't get away with weekly, go bi-weekly, and if you can't do that, then go every three weeks, but like you should be meeting at least weekly or bi weekly with your leader. Because that consistent communication is going to make sure that not only do we know what's going on with the work, but that I actually have breathing room to think about the work that I'm doing. And get your coaching your mentorship, your sponsorship on how I should be doing that better.

So here's how you should initiate this conversation with your leader in your own voice guys, but but I'm going to try to give you this example. So I would ask for a meeting with your leader if you don't already meet regularly. Ask for the meeting. If you do meet regularly, give them a heads up. You can say something like, I'd really like to talk about how much has changed in the organization, on our team and in my role. And here's the ticket guys. This is not like how you can serve me. No, no, the human, the individual, the employee has to talk about the value that they can bring to the organization. So I want to talk about how things have changed in the organization on our team in my role. And I want to collaborate with you on how I can add even more value into the organization. Who's going to be mad at that? Nobody. It's all about how I can add more value

I look back guys, and I had conversations with leaders about the time of day I worked, how I worked, how many breaks, I had, like, I was always having these conversations. But they existed because I talked about if I can change this piece, if I can have more exposure over here, if I can do less of this, it will help me add value in the following ways. So that goes back to the self awareness. Guys, if you don't know how you're gonna add value, then you do need to pause, you have to have that ready, before you go have that conversation. And I'm not talking about a 20 page PowerPoint. I'm not. But generally, here's the type of work I love to do. Here's how I think it adds value to the organization now. And here's how I want to do that even better, or differently than I did before or even better differently than I'm doing right now.

Allegra Sinclair 30:54

That's really good stuff. Because the pause. So if I'm listening to this right now, and I'm thinking, I don't know what the value is, there's nothing wrong with that. So first of all, know that you are not alone. There are a lot of people who have just been being fantastic employees going along doing what is expected, but not thinking, how does this affect me? Or I think about it this way? What are they leaving on the table, by me not being fully me? Think back to many of the roles I had in corporate and I was really successful. But I think to myself now, I was never full Allegra. So I think, wow, what would they have gotten? Right? They don't even know what they missed. Because I wasn't showing up completely ready to advocate for myself and what it is that I could do inside that organization.

I think when we start to think about what that value is, and maybe Hello, women have this all the time, women of color even more, but we think that we're not being able, there, we're not being given the opportunity to bring all of the skills that we want to be able to leverage. So that pause also gives you an opportunity to think about times when you've done that, maybe not in your career at this moment. So either you did it in another position at a different company, you did it in a leadership role in your community, right, we often just think of ourselves in such a skinny, narrow little way that we might have some trouble coming up with the story for what the value is that we're adding. So not worrying so much about whether I worked at eight, or whether I worked at nine really. But hey, I am magical in this area. This is how I can bring this to the company so that we all benefit.

Anna Oakes 32:36

And right now I know we're in an overwhelming time, Allegra. So let's get very real that says, like if you guys are in a place where you're thinking, and honestly, I'm here right now as an individual, where I'm just sort of pausing on that increased self development, because it's overwhelming, right? I have twin nine year olds at home while I'm trying to run a company, while my husband's working full time. It's big stuff, right? So like giving, you don't have to be push, push pushing. This is not about working harder, or longer hours. It's just about being smart with who you are and starting to advocate for yourself. And so use the resources you have. There's books about this topic. There's tools, right like I love Clifton strengths. Oh, Strengths Finder, you like it?

Allegra Sinclair 33:19

I do. And I'm laughing so hard right now. But I have a session scheduled for coaching around strengths that I started thinking about, like about a month ago, because I have done. I don't know how many times I've done that Gallup thing maybe three different times, it doesn't necessarily move a lot from one test to the next. But I am different in between. So I'm very excited about stepping back into that one more time to figure out okay, so how do I leverage the strengths now, right, as the universe has changed, I want to change along with it. But I get your point that we don't need to layer suck salad on top of suck salad, right. But I think that we are being given an opportunity to do a couple of things. So whether it's, hey, I'm gonna eat differently, right? Because I'm not going out to eat, all the time, none of us are. So hey, I'm going to eat a little bit differently. So that's like a small, important daily step I can take that as part of me developing me a healthier me, a stronger immune version of me. So I think there are baby steps that we can take as far as developing ourselves while we have the space to do it. Before we get back to that overall business where we didn't realize we were in meetings 10 hours a day. We have the time and the space now to realize, hey, we've been doing this and it's not great. So while we have a little bit of room, there are a couple things that we can work on, look at. You don't have to go get a degree in yourself, right but it can be conversations, it can be working through a worksheet. There are a lot of ways ways that you can get that insight so that you can advocate for yourself more effectively.

Anna Oakes 35:05

There really are because let's go through quickly, quickly the change management process, I talked about awareness, after you're aware, then you have to have desire, right? Like you actually do want some part of this change, then you build knowledge, right? This is like, what how am I going to change, then you have abilities, which is practicing how you're going to change, then you're reinforcing. What I'm asking you to do by using something that's already available, like a Clifton strengths or book or worksheet or coach is get data, you need data, you have been hearing, and feeling and even telling yourself the same thing for so many years, you need to start looking at yourself differently. And so have that report, have that worksheet, meditate, journal, whatever you need to do, but then use that data to say, what does this tell me? WHat does this tell me about who I am and how I add value. Because that is what it has to come down to you guys, whether you're an entrepreneur, an intrapreneur, you can be problem solving all day, but if your ideas don't add value, then they won't go anywhere. Right. So it's got to come back to the value.

Allegra Sinclair 36:12

I also love earlier, you talked about permission. So one of the shifts is that employees previously might not have felt like they had permission to speak up on all sorts of different issues that, hey, the world has shift. So you do have permission, everybody has different permission slips now than they had last December.

Anna Oakes 36:35

Give yourself that permission. Yes, it happens with you. Because if we are waiting for our leader or organization, that is completely unreasonable. They have 10 employees, they have 1000 employees, they have 10,000 plus whatever it is, they're they're thinking about the totality of it, to expect them to know each individual is very, very hard, even on I will be honest, even hard for me as an entrepreneur leading 4 people versus being in corporate when I had 40. Things can shift and change. So you have to give that permission to yourself and have to have these conversations. If they're not bringing them to you, then you initiate it. And even if you get a no, let's go back to that conversation, and the leader says like, this is not a priority for me right now or I can't do that. Okay, when can we talk about that? And if they come back to you and say in six months, you have a decision to make. Now you have data on you, now you have data on how your leader is going to approach this conversation through self advocacy, you make a decision on if that's good enough or not.

And then we go back to the leader, and say, I'm sorry, six months feels like too long for me. I really want to talk about how I could be working better or differently right now. When can we do that? How can we do that? Or is there someone else in the organization that I could do that with? Maybe they'll get you a mentor, maybe they'll tell you to talk to HR. Maybe they'll give you no suggestions and you and you go on with that and you come up with those suggestions for yourself, right? I'm going to seek out a mentor, I'm going to seek out a sponsor. Take the initiative yourself. So you're giving them the opportunity to meet you where you're at. Knowing that they're imperfect, right we talked about earlier, no matter what organization you are in, the grass is not greener on the other side, it's a different color. And there will always be dog poop in the yard to watch out for. For someone who loves to walk barefoot, must be aware of that, you knomw what I mean?

Allegra Sinclair 38:41

That may need to be the name of this podcast, there will always be dog poop in the next yard.

Anna Oakes 38:48

That's why I'm so passionate honestly, even if somebody tells me how unhappy they are, I say stay put, start where you're at. That is the easiest place you already have a job there. Shake off the dust, pull off the cobwebs of your rose colored glasses. Start to meet new people, start to talk to HR, have new conversations with your leader, have new conversations with your team. None of us are giving our all, I promise you. You know, it's like 35% of people are engaged in their jobs.

Allegra Sinclair 39:20

That's a sobering statistic.

Anna Oakes 39:23

So don't tell me that you're doing everything you can guys, you are not, I am not we can give better and I'm not saying more, I'm saying different. Think differently about how you can reclaim that time, talents, and your voice which are our only yours.

Allegra Sinclair 39:41

I think that as we think about how to get to your best next the key is moving from a place where you feel like you don't have options and you're a victim to moving to the place where you feel like you are everything. Because to your point, you might, pause, you get your data together, you go speak with your leader, and they might not come back with the answer that you'd hoped for. Right? They might say six months, they might say a year. Hello, I'm just saying it could happen. Right? So then what? So much of the work I do, because I focus a lot on communication, is being prepared for those situations before you're in them. Because if you walk into them cold, and you haven't thought to yourself, Well, what if I don't get what I want? Like? Do people really not think about that? Yes, they don't, they assume that they'll get what they want. And then when they don't, they don't know what to say next. They don't know what to do next. So I think the way we get to our best next is the growth that we need to do on ourselves. Because if you don't and you go to the next situation, as the same person, with the same lack of awareness and knowledge and advocacy skills the exact same thing will happen, Because wherever you go, you are there.

Anna Oakes 41:11

And that comes back to you guys just saying, I'm going to own it. Right, I am taking ownership of this. And I'm going to figure out what that next step is. And that's why I tell people guys, sometimes you'll surprise yourself and your best next is actually the role you're already in. Because you've looked at it differently, you started to approach things differently, you got more efficient over here so that takes you less time, now you're able to add something new to your plate, or you get a side project or something right, it isn't just about like, go back to that patchwork that we talked about earlier. You can have more than one square on your quilt, even if it's about the career. I was always the one who like, oh, we're a community involvement event, I'm there. A board meeting? I'm there. Avolunteer event? I'm there. I just wanted to be involved. And I understand I have that energy. And not everybody leads with the extroverted energy. But you can, what I call, shake the tree. You're waiting for somebody to hand you a coconut, I'm asking you to go shake the trees in your organization.

Why don't you know people outside of your department? Why don't you know people in every department? Right? Why aren't you looking at those side projects to say, how can I learn and grow? It's like a training ground. That's why I say start where you're at, it's the training ground for whatever your best next is. And if you're anything like me, you can think you know what your best next is, but it's hard to predict. I would not have told you five years ago that this is where I would be. I did not even know I would go out on my own. So sometimes we can't predict it. But it's about that self awareness, self advocacy, continuing to move forward so that you are ready to your point, Allegra. It's like be ready when it happens. And I think when we're ready, we actually make it happen versus waiting for someone to hand it to us.

Allegra Sinclair 42:59

Right. I believe that to you draw the opportunity to you. When you're so focused on what it is. You have been so awesome. I am just sitting here with my mouth hanging open like I can't wait to hear this myself. My editor better hurry up because I need to re listen to this, like right now. Thank you so much for coming and pouring all that juiciness out for my audience. Tell me when they fall in love with you and want to get more, where should they go get it?

Anna Oakes 43:31

Oh, my goodness. Well, thank you that it's just been a delight to be with you and have this energy. It's so great. So you can check me out our website has a lot of information on it. So that's build high performing I know it's long. But listen, guys, my company's actually called we restore humanity. Because my my whole goal is to restore humanity into our work in our workplaces. But when I was doing business as that everybody thought I was like running a nonprofit or doing something different, so we had to call it what it is.

Allegra Sinclair 44:02

People thought it was something to do with oat milk.

Anna Oakes 44:04

Yes, which I like, but I'm not selling that, I'm not there yet. So I'm calling it what it is.

Allegra Sinclair 44:11

That's the crunchiest thing I could think of, oat milk.

Anna Oakes 44:15

We're talking about building high performing teams, both as individuals as teams and as leaders, right? So join us on the website. We're on social media, Instagram, Facebook, we've got a private Facebook community that we'll share the link with about owning your career and how you can learn about that intrapreneur right, because that's the idea. That's the change maker inside an organization that is completely capable of being an entrepreneur, an individual business owner, but has chosen to be within the organization. So come hang out with us there. Hopefully we'll see like on Instagram, I love me some Instagram sometimes, but we have two accounts there that we'll share the links for.

Allegra Sinclair 44:53

Awesome. Thank you so so much. Everyone, check out Anna in any of those places but I would suggest you start with Instagram. That's my suggestion Do as you like. I'm just making suggestions. But I would suggest you start there and then we will include all of those other links that you just mentioned very quickly in the show notes. Thank you again so much.

Anna Oakes 45:13

Of course.

Allegra Sinclair 45:15

Hey, thanks for listening. I hope you enjoyed this episode of the podcast. If you did, please share it with a friend and let them know how they can subscribe so they won't miss a single episode. I hope you have a powerful week and I'll catch you next time.

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