Remote Career Development: Janet Zaretsky Of Impact Speaking Lab On How To Advance and Enhance Your Career When You Are Working Remotely
An Interview With David Liu
…Communication. Without being able to meet, in person, with others, often communication is incomplete, which can result in extra work, miscommunication, tension, and dissatisfaction.
Career development is the ongoing process of choosing, improving, developing, and advancing your career. This involves learning, making decisions, collaboration with others and knowing yourself well enough to be able to continually assess your strengths and weaknesses. This can be challenging enough when you work in an office, but what if you work remotely? How does remote work affect your career development? How do you nurture and advance your career when you are working from home and away from other colleagues? How can you help your employees do this? To address these questions, we started an interview series called “How To Advance and Enhance Your Career When You Are Working Remotely”. As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Janet Zaretsky.
Janet Zaretsky is co-founder of Impact Speaking Lab, providing corporate training in elevating people’s influence, dynamic presentation skills, communication, leadership and sales. She is a Master Executive Coach, author and 2-time TEDX speaker who has worked with over 32,000 people in the past two decades.
Janet is an International Coach Federation member, certified in Conversational Intelligence, Behavioral Sciences, and Executive Coaching known for her no-nonsense practical approach that has people confidently express themselves as the unique and powerful professional they are.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. What is your “backstory”?
I have always been a supporter of people. My first career (21 years) was as an RN who took care of tiny preemies and gravely ill newborns. I was also always doing something ‘on the side’ when, in 1995, in the infancy of the coaching industry, I got interested and enrolled myself in one of the original coach training programs. I loved it, it fed my soul and I left nursing to be a full-time executive coach. Then I came to know the originator of the entire professional and personal development industry, Landmark Worldwide and ended up leading programs for them for 18 years. I felt like I found my calling where I could make a big difference and be fulfilled. Since then, I have enhanced my skills by getting trained and certified in sciences that support coaching and training- neuroscience and behavioral sciences. Three years ago, a colleague and a friend and I launched a corporate training company which is like the delightful collision of all my training and skills giving me a wonderful experience and a profound opportunity in which to impact people positively. I went from a nurse to a powerhouse coach and trainer empowering other powerhouses to be their best selves!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
In a course I was doing for my own professional development, I realized that I became a nurse because my mom was a nurse- in fact, medicine was big in my family. My sister was a nurse, my brother a physical therapist, my brother-in-law, a doctor and my parents’ best friend was also a doctor — I realized it was the way to go. In this course, I realized I wanted to leave nursing, but I thought my father would be upset. I called him and told him. He acted confused and said “Ok, Do you want me to pay for your training?” The point is- he did not care; it was all in my mind. I left nursing and have never looked back! The major point of sharing that is — Do what you want that fulfills you, not anyone else!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
In my first business outside of coaching, I worked with another former nurse. We were doing great in our business and had a brilliant idea, but it required a significant investment. We found people to invest but they said, “You don’t know what you are doing in business so we will run it, you will retain some ownership and be advisors”. I was fine with that, but my business partner was not. It was not fun- we ended up in court. Then when I won, I hated the whole process and let the idea go. That idea is now a billion-dollar business for someone else which we found out they were already working on and were super well-funded. My partner- the fight we went through was nasty and tragic. Later, we talked and got it all behind us. She and I are friends now and she has been my client for years.
The mistake I made- listening to these business ‘guys’ and being willing to fight in court. The lesson I learned: relationships are not worth sacrificing.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Be authentic and have integrity. Be who you say you are, do what you say you will do, don’t step over anything. You train people how to interact with you.
There was a time in my life when I tried to please others, but it was extremely dissatisfying. I show up exactly the same, no matter the circumstance- I tell it like it is, I am true to who I am and am known for that. Knowing myself as reliable for doing what I say has given me the internal fortitude to start businesses, train people, do 2 TEDX talks, coach executives, travel the world. I know if I say it, I can have it happen. That is ultimate power.
What advice would you give to other business leaders to help their employees thrive and avoid burnout?
Listen. Really listen to your employees.
Be on their side. How can you support them in their success?
If you take the point of view that their success is the key to your success, you will have a team of people who are fulfilled, produce results and are loyal to you and your company.
Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Working remotely can be very different than working with a team that is in front of you. This provides great opportunities but it can also create unique challenges. To begin, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main benefits and opportunities of working remotely?
From what I have observed and discussed with people who have been in office and working remotely, the ability to focus without the distraction of interruptions of people coming by your office space to ask this or that has allowed people to be more productive in their work time. People that love the autonomy of being on their own are thriving in the remote work environment and are experiencing a phenomenon of knowing they can do more than they thought they could.
Lastly, the flexibility of being in a remote environment has allowed people to take care of their whole lives with more ease including errands, household chores, kid duties, etc. If they are available for colleagues as agreed or meetings, being flexible means, they can complete tasks on their own schedule, which is very helpful for many people.
Can you articulate for our readers what the five main challenges are regarding working remotely?
The main challenges in working remotely include:
- Communication. Without being able to meet, in person, with others, often communication is incomplete, which can result in extra work, miscommunication, tension, and dissatisfaction.
- Stunted career growth due to the lack of visibility and ability to network.
- Distractions. While you don’t have the distraction of having people ‘stop by’ your office and interrupt you, your home has plenty of distractions- from children to pets, to the kitchen “calling you”.
- Productivity. When you are remote and you need questions answered, you may not know who to go to or how to get things resolved when things go awry, which results in delays and extra time impacting your productivity and quality of work. Connectivity and physical space can interfere with productivity. Many people are working from home that does not have dedicated space for an office which can be uncomfortable as well as ineffective. Depending on where you live and your internet plan, connectivity is frequently an issue for people interfering with both meetings and presentations.
- Boundaries. When you are home, but work is home, when do you say the workday is done? People ask things of you and since work is at home, people fail to say no, resulting in burnout and resentment.
Based on your experience, what can one do to address or redress each of those challenges? Can you give a story or example for each?
- Communication: there must be some training, either sponsored by the company or initiated by the individual. The outcome is that they must learn how to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing- including thinking how the receiving party may interpret what they are saying, so they must learn to be thoughtful in written communication. I have had numerous times when a client has read me an email from a coworker that upset them- but it was not the actual content of the email that upset them, it was the assumption they made about what the person said- adding a negative interpretation. People need to check out what was said and the meaning. They also never should try to resolve things by text, email or slack- pick up the phone or videoconference so you can actually communicate!
- Stunted career growth: Employees need to make deliberate meetings with others in the company to get known and get guidance. Get out of the normal flow and find someone of influence or someone you admire and set up a one on one. Find out what a position that you are interested in requires and make time to interview people in that position and work with others on gaining the experience and skill you need. Make what you want known. Take on new assignments that challenge you and have you go outside your comfort zone and reach out to get help. Get a mentor and/or hire a business coach to help guide you and support your growth. I have worked with clients who took on getting known and going for positions with more accountability and more money than they currently had. They learned to be confident in their abilities, ask questions, reach out to others and most often, got promoted or hired by another company in that new elevated position. Also, elevate your skills, especially your presentation skills. Since every conversation both informal and formal is essentially how you are showing up and getting known, you must learn how to be effective in presenting. And when you are going to do a presentation or speak in a meeting, make sure you are not distracted and prepared. People generally are not trained to present and there are specific skills and contexts that make a great presenter. Get yourself trained by an expert.
- Productivity including physical space issues: Set up an area in your home that is dedicated workspace wherever possible. If you must share space, like you have to use the kitchen table, make sure to remove any distractions during the workday and put away your work at the end of the day. Regarding connectivity, use a direct connection when possible. I was working remotely for 6 weeks not in my home office, so I got a 100-foot cord to direct connect so I would be able to run a zoom meeting! Regarding getting what you need: utilize your co-workers to find out who has the knowledge you need and reach out. This serves a dual purpose of getting you to complete what you need to and to have you get known.
- Boundaries: Be a yes but have boundaries. When one is advancing your career, the temptation is to say yes to everything, so you look good. However, a failure to create boundaries will backfire, you will get overwhelmed, burnt out and not do your best work. The reality is that you say no, gives someone else an opportunity to say yes, so it is a win/win. I have had several clients who were so afraid to say no, they worked long hours and were exhausted. They were afraid they would lose their jobs or get passed over. However, when they really looked at the quality of their life, they started saying no appropriately… and it did not negatively impact their career.
Let’s talk about Career Development. Can you share a few ideas about how you can nurture and advance your career when you are working from home and away from other colleagues?
First, what do you want? You must know what you want in your career. Then, find out what your strengths are, what your areas of growth are, what training or development you are missing and go to work on developing yourself. I find that when you interview people about your strengths, areas of growth and what you need to work on and then do some independent work, work with a coach, get a mentor you will develop yourself.
As I had mentioned before, if you know what you want, make time in people who occupy those positions and interview them. Get to know them and how they developed themselves and their career path. Get yourself known by elevating your visibility this way. Take on new opportunities that will get you more exposure.
Can you share a few ideas about how employers or managers can help their team with career development?
Managers can help their employees by having conversations that allow their team members to tell them what they want, where they see themselves and help them get developed in what they need to in order to achieve their goals. As we know, presentation skills, communication and leadership skills are critical skills to people’s advancement so managers and employers should make sure they are providing ongoing training and development in these areas.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would end the gender gap, both in pay and in influence. Women came into the workforce in the largest numbers in the 1970’s into a male-dominated workforce and, for the most part, have either tried to emulate a male-dominant style or tried to be soft and get along. This has resulted in a lack of confidence and of influence, which is reflected in the wage gap. I would love to see both men and women look at their implicit biases and learned behaviors and start contributing in equal measures.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you for these great insights! We wish you continued success.