May 28, 2024

ABCs of CAREER SUCCESS | Lenore Kantor '93BUS


Lenore Kantor, Growth Warrior

Here’s some inspiration as you look to position yourself for professional growth.  This summary is a compilation of coaching guidance and advice that I shared recently during the Columbia Career Coaching Network office hours for a diverse gathering of Columbia University graduates. While the participants came from many different programs, backgrounds and levels of experience with their own unique situations, I see many common themes that all growth-oriented professionals must address.


Whether you are trying to change careers or re-enter the workforce after an extended period of unemployment (whether by your choice or not), you will likely need to explain where you came from, where you want to focus now and why. Let’s say you want to move into a leadership position from where you are now, many of the challenges are similar around how to position yourself and communicate your value.  Use these suggestions to guide you in moving forward.  Consider reaching out for additional input from trusted friends, mentors, bosses or peers who know you well and have your best interests at heart or a coach, particularly if you want a neutral and unbiased perspective.


Focus on these ABCs to get more clarity around what you want and need and how to put your best foot forward.


  • AWARENESS: Know yourself! Do the inner exploratory work to understand where you stand.
    • What do you care about?
    • What are you good at?
    • Where do you struggle?
    • Which environments do you excel in?

Get clear on what is truly important to you and how you will operate best, then use these insights to your advantage. Being honest with yourself is important and will help you find the right fit faster. Fantasy, illusion or comparing yourself to others can become a distraction from finding your truth.


  • ASK: Get input from others (also known as having a “call to action”). You need to put yourself out there to gather information. Most people learn about new possibilities through referrals because it’s a powerful way to uncover opportunities and get directed towards things that align with your interests.
    • If you don’t know something, ask someone for help to understand it better.
    • Want to learn more about a company? Reach out to someone working there or a friend who knows someone at the company.
    • Feel you deserve more pay, you may not get it until you ask for it. Once you know what you want, start asking around to do your research.
    • Check out this Networking Guidebook I prepared to give you some guidelines for how to engage and build your professional using LinkedIn along with outreach templates to simplify your process.


  • ATTITUDE: Stay positive and upbeat to the extent possible. Managing your mindset is critical to any job search and frankly essential for most of us to make it through the stresses of the week. You have to be in the game and let the petty stuff pass you by. People want to work with people they like, so be likable and engaging. Obviously having a strong resume helps too, but for those with over 10 years of experience, opportunities often become available through your network, so maintain warm connections with others.


  • ACT: You have to start somewhere and do something. Getting caught up in your head won’t help you progress. If you need skills, start learning and building them. Uncertain what a specific job entails, have some conversations (see “Ask” above) or do research to learn more. If you’re shy or introverted and uncomfortable reaching out, the internet is your friend. Leverage Chat GPT, scour YouTube for videos, find podcasts or articles on what you want to learn more about. Everything starts with your choosing to move forward with intention.


  • BELIEVE: Have faith that you will find something and where there’s a will, there’s a way. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will and that won’t help you get where you want to go. Take a stand for what you’re interested in and do the work (research, learning, training, connecting). Know that eventually your efforts will pay off and be patient with the process. It often takes 3 to 6 months to see the fruits of our labors (while this may be much longer than you expect, know that your outreach will produce results in time). Things don’t always work out exactly as we expect, but with persistence we can create successful outcomes.


  • BUILD: Develop relationships and cultivate your network.  Strengthen your skills. Gain experience whatever way you can - take courses or certification training, volunteer, get involved with projects, start freelance consulting, begin your side hustle or take on more responsibilities where you work now. You will get better as you continue to expand on what you already know. This is where practice makes perfect.


  • CHOOSE: Prioritize your focus. Don’t try to be all things to all people or you’ll end up being nothing to no one. Pick a lane and stay in it, for at least 3 months (as mentioned earlier, that’s how long it can take to start making real connections with others and in the area you’re interested in). Try to go deep by learning as much as you can and reaching out. If you decide you don’t like what you chose or aren’t getting any traction, then you can shift. Make sure you develop a level of knowledge that lets you honestly assess whether it’s not really a fit or you just haven’t done enough to break-in/break-through.
    • In many cases, lateral moves are needed to help you make a change. You can get your foot in the door of an organization you respect, build relationships and navigate to a new role over time. While moving sideways may not feel like moving forward, it is an effective strategy that can pay off in the long run!


  • COMMIT: Keep at what you are interested in. Just recognize that the timeframe may be longer than you’d like. This is where information gathering will help you learn what’s realistic. Let’s say you can’t find exactly the position you want, or you discover you need to develop more skills. That’s okay, keep that in mind for the future as you get relevant experience now and work your way towards what you want. The stepping stone approach (see “lateral move” above) is often worthwhile, particularly for career switchers or those trying to make a big change. Be persistent in following up and following through.


  • COMMUNICATE: Creating a compelling story is key.  Your goal is to help others understand these key points:
  • Who are you?
  • What have you accomplished?
  • How can you contribute?
  • Why does it matter?

Too often, we become attached to the past – our old identity and who we were - which keeps us stuck and holds us back from moving forward. Constantly referring to what you did before will continue to bring you more of the same old same old. Start moving and messaging around where you are going and what you want to do now. For instance, if you hated doing something in your last role, de-emphasize it now if you don’t want to do it any longer. It may be a fabulous skill to have, but don’t lead with it unless you’re interested in pursuing it further. Avoid rolling out all the buzz words in an effort to make yourself sound good. Far better to genuinely share what you care most about now and weave the connection between your past experiences to what you want now, so employers can see the through line.


  • CONFIDENCE: If you’ve done all of the above effectively, feeling confident should be a natural outcome - that you know yourself, your strengths and direction and the value you bring. Others will trust you if they sense you know that you can deliver on your promise. Try to find the humble brag – without over-compensating or feeling like an insecure impostor.  Remind yourself: “I have value to bring and would be a great addition to any team!”


Creating positive changes takes time. Commitment, persistence and patience will work in your favor.  Remember that if you need support, reach out to get input and start taking small doable actions now that will move you forward.


Lenore Kantor is a transformational business coach for conscious high achieving leaders, founders and soulpreneurs seeking more authenticity and impact. She guides leaders to redefine growth, seek fulfillment, navigate change and make a positive impact in the world by imagining new possibilities for a more sustainable future. Lenore’s holistic multi-disciplinary approach has evolved over 30+ years leading Growth Warrior and as a former corporate marketing executive and combines business strategy, product launch, branding and communications expertise with leadership development and intuitive insight. You can learn more about her at and book a complimentary Discovery Call here to discuss your career goals and how coaching can support you.

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  • Marui Lavinder
    published this page in Articles 2024-05-28 16:23:05 -0400