Allison Cheston: Career Advice for Getting a Job in Your 20’s (#316)
Our Guest Today: Allison Cheston
Few students graduate from college knowing what they want to do with their lives. If you are struggling with choosing a career path, or linking your chosen major to a potential field, Allison Cheston is a seasoned career advisor who has been helping young adults to identify their strengths and interests, and find internships and early jobs that are valuable and meaningful to them.
Allison is joining me today in answering some of the frequently asked questions related to exploring careers in your 20s.
Watch Our Interview (Part 1)
Allison Cheston’s Course
Check out Allison Cheston’s latest course – The Ultimate Guide to Getting a Job in Your 20s
Connect with Allison directly: https://www.allisoncheston.com/
Livestream with Allison Cheston (Part 1 of 2): Career Advice for Getting a Job in Your 20’s – powered by Happy Scribe
Alright. Hi everyone. This is Fei from FeisWorld Media and here with me today for my podcast is Allison Cheston.
Hello. Hello. So good to be here.
So good to have you here, Allison. And for my audience who don’t know yet, you know you’ve well, I want to just do a brief intro and we’re going to take the conversations to many different corners of topics, careers and beyond careers. So here we go. For those of you who are meeting Allison for the first time. In the past 16 years, allison Chestnut have served as a trusted advisor and guide to thousands of executives and young adults as they navigate the course of their careers. Employing a marketing framework and a deep course of inquiry, allison helps clients define their longterm goals and framework for success, translating spirit ideas into powerful narratives that grounds them as they venture forth into new careers, new businesses and new life plans. She works with them to identify their unique value in the marketplace and the right direction, provides the tools they need to promote themselves effectively, either internally at their current organization or with prospective employers or partners. And then helps them pivot to the next phase and most importantly, with Alison’s vision. Allison has just launched an online course called the Ultimate Course for Getting a Job in Your 20s.
That’s very, very exciting. And we have included links for you to explore Allison’s website and also the new course in the description, so make sure to check it out. Welcome, Allison. So throw you’re here.
Thank you, Faye. Thank you for that introduction. Sounds very familiar.
You are very welcome. I feel like the way that I’ve been talking about you, Allison, which is very different than your bio is that number one? It’s funny, I always tell people how much I enjoy working with you and thank you. Absolutely. It’s hard. I feel like that sounds like an easy and kind of plain statement, but it really means a lot. I feel like we’ve gotten to know each other since we’re doing the Pandemic in 2020 and in the past few months since we started working together, I really got to know you and I feel like I trust you the same way you trust me. We can be so transparent with each other about feedback, how to grow someone else’s career, and that has been fantastic. So I’m going to shut up for a moment and ask you a question first.
Love it. Thank you. And thank you for saying that, Faye. It means a lot to me too. I’ve really enjoyed the process that we’ve gone through to develop this course. And as you know, it’s my first one. Couldn’t have done it without you. Seriously, as I’ve told you many times.
I’ve told other people many times, they’ve helped you reach your first because together we’re so excited about the content, but please, maybe share with us first about why after 16 years and you’re very successful at your career. You have ongoing clients and a number of them. But why creating this course? And what was the motivation to do this actual work?
It’s a great question. So back in 2008 when I had, I had been practicing, I had my business for a couple of years. I went out full throttle on my own. I left my job and I just hung out my shingle and the financial crisis hit. And so I had a lot of work, but I couldn’t find any paying clients. So I really decided I was going to devote. That sort of year turned out to be a little longer, but around a year, to focusing on younger people and their career trajectories and how they got their start. And the impetus for me was really I’ve always sort of followed my own kids. You know, they’re now in their mid and late twenty s at the time. My first child was just, I think he was in 9th grade and he was just sort of thinking about the kinds of things he was interested in. And I found that very exciting, very stimulating. I was surrounded by so many people who were struggling with what they would do next. People who for example, have been working for 25 years in print magazines, and the whole industry was cratering because the internet had become the main thing and they were totally unprepared for the turndown in the crisis.
And so there was something so hopeful and so optimistic about working with younger people and millennials who were just getting started and had sort of this wide eyed optimism about what they might want to do. So I decided to dedicate that year to a project where I would interview, and I ended up interviewing a couple of hundred people who were millennials, who were already in their late 20s, had already been in their careers. I wanted to understand what their trajectories had looked like, what their motivations had been, what kind of education and experience and background they each had, and then kind of put together a perspective and point of view about that world. And my plan originally was to write a book that didn’t end up happening for a number of reasons, but what it did was it launched me into this whole area where I developed this very specific expertise in helping people in their twenty s. And so now I get so many referrals, a lot of parents come to me for their kids. Unfortunately, I get a lot of referrals from the mental health community who are treating people in their twentys who have a lot of anxiety and depression, unfortunately, as we all know.
And so over the years this has been a real mainstay of my business. So usually I work with up to say, 20 people at a time, but usually around half of those people are in their 20s. Maybe they’re just about to graduate and they’re freaking out, and they have no idea what they want to do. Maybe they’ve tried to find a job, and they’ve been unsuccessful. Certainly during COVID. It’s been very difficult for new grads. People who graduated in 2000 and 22,021 were hit with a terrible job market. They could not find any footing. So parents will often contact me on behalf of their kids, or the kids will contact me, and their parents will help them to pay for it. One of the things that I found is that while I love doing my work, oneonone with people, and the process that we go through is very intimate, very intense, and thankfully, very successful, I also talked to a lot of people who can’t afford to work with me one on one. And so it has been my goal for, honestly, like, the last five years to develop an online course where I could bring everything that I do to bear on a course.
I can help more people. I can get the word out there it’s affordable. It certainly requires plenty of work, but if you’re willing to do the work, you will succeed. So when I found you, I was so grateful because I did try, and I’ve told you this. I did try to do this by myself, and I couldn’t. I could not. There were too many pieces that there was a comfort level that I needed help with. So I’m eternally grateful, and I’m very excited that we have this content and it’s all done and ready to go.
Absolutely. And, Allison, before my next question, I’m going to ask you to move your camera down a little bit more so you’re showing more of your upper body. Like, the way I am positioned.
Look at the lovely jacket.
It looks very like tari.
You know where it’s actually from? Boston. I bought it years ago right near you in Boston at a store that doesn’t exist anymore, sadly. It was on Brattle Street, and it closed. It was called Satebello. It was a beautiful store right next to the La Birdick store. Do you know where that is? On Brattle?
Oh, my oh, my goodness. La Verdict is literally my favorite chocolate. It’s such a you have to indulge yourself in that. It’s quite pricey, I have to admit. But whenever I want to send a special gift, literally regular there, my husband’s obsessed with it.
He still gets gifts from there. He buys it online. Yeah. We love that store. It’s a beautiful store.
What are the chances there’s specialty little chocolate mice. It’s like you don’t know.
Oh, my God.
We never talked about this.
We like the same food. Yeah. Chocolate with a little tail, and people are like, I feel beautiful for eating it, and I don’t anymore after I actually eat them.
Oh, I know. They’re so good. Their chocolate is fantastic. So anyways, that’s where I got the jacket.
Wow. It suits you. It’s like so minimum and it’s streamlined and it’s just it works out great. Oh my goodness. That was such an exciting turn that I didn’t quite expect. But look at how much fun we’re having. I actually really like to have fun. I think I sound a little serious when we first woke up. Yeah, of course.
But one thing a very serious topic.
Yeah, chocolate is very serious. But you know, careers. When it comes to careers, I still remember not being approaching my late thirty s. Oh my goodness. I remember the stress that I went through as an immigrant, as an Asian immigrant in my not just my remember the anxiety was very much accumulating when I was 1920 and I had wish at one point I was one of those cool kids just let life happen to them. I couldn’t I was very much like, give me the structure. Do I have the right internships? And you can literally drive yourself pretty crazy on some days. And I want to kind of just confront that and appreciate you for being in that space. Because there are plenty of executives who very much focus on people much later in people’s careers. So could you maybe share some of the insight that you have uncovered and realized that most parents don’t about their children? Like you get to know about what their real struggles are.
So it’s interesting. Before we did this, I was just meeting with a client of mine who’s in her 20s, who has ADHD that I have to say is a rampant problem. And even if people don’t have ADHD, which causes a lot of problems with focus, focus is an issue. And I think beyond a clinical issue, it’s one of there is so much out there. There are so many different types of opportunities that exist. And I think it’s very confusing for people at all stages. But really when they’re starting out, it’s so overwhelming to think about what the opportunities might look like. And I think that in this country we major in things. Right? And a major is essentially a small amount, of coursework, that’s established in a particular area. It doesn’t make you an expert in any particular space. Unlike, you know, in European countries when you take a course when you major, but it’s not called a major when you concentrate in an area. That’s all you do the whole time. So when people graduate, they don’t quite know how to funnel what they’ve learned, how to channel it into a career. They don’t understand the building blocks of I’ve studied this, I have a little bit of knowledge of this.
I have an interest in this area. So then what can I do with those things? If you’re an engineering student, if you studied software engineering, no problem. If you want to be a doctor or if you want to be a clinical psychologist, these are very welltrodden paths and everybody can advise you they know exactly like you have to do this, this, and this. But if you’re an English major or history major, or you have an interest in archeology, there are so many different possibilities, right? So I think a lot of times parents can’t be that helpful because they’re in professions. I have a lot of clients whose parents are doctors, for example. That’s all they know. They were on a path and it was just full speed ahead. So I think helping people to make the connection between what their interests are, what gets them excited, even something that they haven’t studied, but maybe they had a hobby or they were in some kind of an ensemble, or in their spare time they were volunteering on a farm. Like there are so many interests that sort of pop up. And if you really start talking to people, you can tease out the things that get them excited.
And honestly, there’s a career in everything. Like you have an interest, there’s a career attached to it. So I feel like what I’m good at is sort of getting to know my clients and really harnessing all of the bits and pieces of who they are and what they love and then helping them find a path forward to do that professionally. And sometimes it’s just about getting your first job so you can have some experience because God knows you’re not going to know anything if you don’t get that first experience. And I do see people who have struggled to get internships or they didn’t even try, and then they end up working in restaurants, and then they end up they graduate and they don’t have any job experience on their resumes. And that’s pretty tough. Like, you really do need to have that foundational internship in order to move into the more professional world.
Working with you closely on this course really helped me realize a lot of things I frankly didn’t know. Because over the years, I casually helped and advise people on their careers, whether they’re many, many of my friends, as you know, a lot of my friends are a little bit older than I am. They have kids who are teenagers and entering to college or just recently graduated, and they go talk to Fey and have a phone call. And I didn’t really have much structure until I saw your course. And to tease out a couple of modules from the very beginning, it’s about people always say, develop your vision, own your vision. But how? And you have this process of defining, designing, or defining your vision to understand what does that even mean? And then you develop that. I really like that approach of getting to know you yourself first. As trivial as it sounds, I frankly didn’t realize who exactly I was until I was in my thirties. And I, you know, I thought I had a very clear vision of who I was by the time I was 1819, I didn’t and I didn’t know, like you said, what’s actually out there.
And could you maybe talk to us a little bit about that defining and then developing the vision?
Yeah. Thank you. So to your point, I think there’s a certain amount of excavation that has to happen. And when I meet with people, I asked them to talk to me about their personal history all the way back to like, middle school. And usually they’re surprised because they just want to tell me about their recent experience. But there are kernels of interest that pop up early on. Sometimes we forget about them, sometimes we go back to them and sometimes we just say goodbye forever. Or maybe they pop up later when we’re in much later life. But those are clues. It’s a little bit like being a little bit of a detective to kind of understand who you are. Like, what do you really care about? Personal values are a huge part of how I help people to realize their vision of what they want to do. I think in today’s environment, much more than when I was growing up, there’s this idea that you should be able to have impact in your career that seems to be much more important to people than money. So when I work with someone, I really want to understand, like, is that real?
Is there a real interest in saving the environment or is that something that you kind of feel like you should be doing? There’s lots of nuance across that spectrum of interest. Whether it’s a real interest, whether it’s something that you wish you had pursued. Going back to this client today, we had already worked on her resume and she’s in the process of applying to grad school and she started talking about some volunteer experience that she had done for like a year that was really interesting and would really help in her application to business school. And I said, you never told me about that. That’s so important. So I think sometimes people forget they don’t think it’s critical. So it’s helping my clients to understand what might be important. And then little by little building, like putting together the building blocks so that there is a vision in place, whether it actually ends up being exactly as you expected, it probably won’t be that. It’s just not life. I don’t personally believe that there’s like a dream job. I think a dream job is really a misnomer. I think it’s like very trumped up. I think people really should look for a good job that ticks certain boxes and get some learning before you worry so much about whether it’s going to be a dream job.
So does that answer your question a bit on the vision piece?
Yes, for sure. And one of the things that you always urge your students to do, whether it’s people working with you one on one or in your course I like the homework section and I don’t want it to. It’s not even called homework. It’s basically worksheets that people can pick up, and frankly, they could do any portions of it. Obviously, it would be great if they actually take the time to finish it, but the way I look at the content is like, even if I just asked myself two out of the ten questions, I will still be a number of steps ahead of where I was before. And I like the approach of thinking that. I think the way that we were brought up or the way I was brought up is, you want to go after the number one, the best of everything. And frankly, that has really didn’t need some disservice or really became a detriment of finding the best job, the dream job, the perfect partner.
Yeah, there’s no such thing. That’s exactly right. There are compromises with everything. And honestly, I think that does stymie people because they want to make sure it’s the exact perfect opportunity before they pull the trigger. It makes them so anxious to have to make that decision. But honestly, it’s really more about just getting some experience. And little by little, you iterate, you know, life is all about iterating, right? Faye, I mean, you and I have talked about this. It’s definitely not about, like, getting it right out of the box. Perfectionism is the enemy of the good. It’s so true. How do you get things done if you’re so worried about making everything perfect? So I do think that’s something I grapple with a lot. There’s a lot of fear. There’s a lot of fear and a lot of lack of confidence. Oh, my God. That is a huge piece of this work that I do with my clients, I would say every stage of the game. It’s shocking to me how many people I work with who have been working for many years, who actually still really lack confidence. And so everybody has the same issues.
You know, we all are walking around thinking that other people have it together and we don’t. And people go on LinkedIn and they worry, how do I measure up with my peers? Everybody looks like they’re doing so well. What about me?
Yeah, isn’t that interesting? LinkedIn, because I used to compare myself with someone else my age, younger, who are all now a director at age 25, and later you find out that, oh, everybody’s a director in that little exactly.
Parking agency. Exactly. Or they got fired.
They got fired, and they now have to go back to an associate level.
And it’s so true. And just like chatting with you, I’m not someone in my 20s anymore, but I can imagine you’re way more than a sounding board and someone who actually gets it, as opposed to you have to somehow sugarcoat it, or you have to read some article to say, earlier today, I read this, and therefore you should do that. And it’s very irritating to kids who are living in it. So one thing that always comes up, and it’s a challenging one, is how do people find their first job? And, you know, people have approached me whether they’re 18, whether they’re 22 out of college. There are people who ask me those questions when they have graduated from graduate school or have had work experience, but now they’re pivoting to another career. So I bet they’re probably different answers. But in general, how do you approach someone who doesn’t really feel very confident and it’s out there looking for their first job?
Yeah, actually, I think there’s an answer to both of those that’s pretty similar, and it’s go to your network. And if when you are first graduating from college, you don’t have a big network per se, but I think people discount the people who they actually know who they can build on. So, for example, again, like, LinkedIn is such a great tool for this sort of thing. Forget getting a job through LinkedIn just in terms of building a network between your friends, your classmates, people you went to high school with, your parents friends, your professors, anyone you know, you’ve dealt with over the trance. Maybe you worked in a restaurant, you had a boss. Those people are all part of a big network, and little by little, you grow a network. Now, when you’re just starting out, I believe that the most important first step is to make sure that you know what your direction is. A lot of clients come to me and they say, I’m open, I’m open. Whatever seems like a good idea. Sure. I don’t believe in being open. I believe in being directed. So you really want to be able to clue people into what your focus is, because just being open doesn’t convey any kind of passionate attachment to that area.
What does is if you research some ideas and you’re moving very specifically toward a role, an organization, or a particular role in a particular organization, those are all really important things. You’re much more liable to convince somebody that you would be able to be successful in that job. If you really care about that place and you know something about it, and you already have an idea of what the role is, you’ve looked through job descriptions, you understand what this position entails. You can pinpoint exactly how you would do that job, why you would be good at it, and you can articulate why, if you can do those things, you will get a job. At that point, it’s a numbers game. So at that point, then you go out and you start telling everybody, hey, I’m looking for these three roles at these ten organizations. Do you know anyone I can speak with? You go on LinkedIn, you see oh, a friend of mine knows someone who works at X organization. I’m wondering, can they make an introduction? Today, one of the great things is that people who employees get paid for referrals. So if I work at a tech company and I refer my friend or my friend of a friend, I get quite a nice little stipend for that.
So it’s really worth contacting those people. They’ll be thrilled to talk to you because they might get paid. I mean, honestly, if you just think about it from just a very basic standpoint, they’ll be motivated to talk to you. But your classmates people, the alums from your college, they are ready and waiting to be helpful. You are a young person who’s recently graduated. That’s great currency. Everyone wants to help you, so take advantage of it.
Very true. Alison on that note, I just have a sense of one of the many things you enjoy your career and what you have accomplished so far is that I think you very much enjoy helping these people who like, in their 20s, some are finding their way, some may be desperate and really struggling at the moment. And I think you nailed it. Most of us, yeah, not every single one of us want to be a contribution to someone else. And I have to say, as someone who has received, whether emails or calls to say, fay or Can, I need help. My kids need help. And now I know who to direct them to, which is really convenient. But even back then, I always felt like a sense of, you know, like, for people who are listening to be like, I don’t want to trouble anyone. I’m actually tending. Right. It’s really not true that people will hate it if you ask them. It’s not true they want to help you. They want to direct you to somewhere else and someone else who could be more resourceful, more experienced. But I’ve never felt bothered once. Not just me.
I know a lot of people in my network have received similar requests, and everybody’s very willing to help, so don’t worry.
Not only willing, but they welcome it. Just think about like, going through your day. Somebody taps you and says, could you help? My son’s friend really is interested in content production. He has this education and whatever. I mean, it’s a great joy for someone like you to be able to help that person. And I think most adults feel that we all can relate to new grads and what it felt like not knowing our direction. And everybody wants to be helpful. So this is a great moment, especially. And when you’re so young, it’s a great moment to take advantage of that goodwill. It really does exist pretty universally. But as a younger person, you can be helpful to those people. You can reciprocate. One of the nice sort of leveling of the playing field that’s occurred in the last 20 years is you’re a tech native, you’re a digital native, and you can help people in, say, my generation, you could help them to create a spreadsheet for a thing that they were working on or help them set up their iPad. I mean, seriously, a lot of people need tech help. Those young people can be helpful.
And you can offer I mean, even if nobody ever takes you up on it, you can offer to do something for that person. So it’s not that you don’t have anything to share or to give just because you’re starting out. You do have a lot of expertise that older people might not have.
Exactly. Just something that’s so native seems easy to you doesn’t necessarily mean they’re easy to someone else. I remember at the beginning of the Pandemic, our whole family was very into Zumba to stay active and belong to a lifetime at a gym that very quickly closed. And the first thing, as we’re following the founder of Zumba on Beto, it was interesting. This guy oh, very fit and everything. I think he was only 50 years old at the time, and he said, Well, I’m trying to navigate zoom and teaching. And my nephew or niece, who’s 13, taught me how to do this, and here I am. And that reminded me of that’s huge.
Totally millions of people set up his business.
Yeah, it’s wonderful. I have to ask, with your permission, about your origin story. Alison, I feel like sometimes we jump right in into the things, your career, what makes you so known. But the moment you said, oh, you know, the question is about when you’re in middle school, when you’re even younger than that, what were you into? I wonder, at this point of your career, at this point of the interview, what comes to mind when it comes to your younger self that may have dropped some M and Ms back then that led you into this career? Maybe some the way that you live your life or your belief systems.
Oh, yeah, I love that. Just to sort of piece it together. When you look at my background, it looks like I had this all figured out, but I really didn’t. Way back when I was in middle school and beyond, I was obsessed with languages. So I’m a linguist by training, and I majored in international relations and Romance languages and college, and I have a master’s in international education, and I’ve lived abroad a fair amount as a younger person. So my early career, I was basically working in international branding and marketing for a whole series of branding and design companies, using my languages and my Crosscultural experience and working for international clients. And I loved it so much. It was really exciting. But the problem for me was always that I wanted to be an expert in something. And when you’re a marketer, you can sometimes get into a trap where you’re representing other things and other people, but you don’t actually have expertise yourself. And that’s what a long time frustration of mine, what I was also. Really interested in. I was always fascinated by what people did in their jobs from a pretty young age.
Like, starting probably when I was in my late teens, I had a lot of different kinds of jobs. I got laid off a few times and I had to look for jobs. And I was a fantastic job seeker. Like, I had this airtight system where I would get like, 85% of my targets, and this is all for the newspaper and stuff, you know, or just by meeting people and networking. About 85% of the time, I would get an interview. And I had a really high hit rate with job offers, and I knew I was on to something, but there wasn’t any sort of any place to sort of take that. And so after I left the branding world, I became head of marketing for the trade association for executive search firms. And so I learned a lot about the executive search business, and I thought for a while I wanted to be a search consultant. But while I was there, I realized I was really interested in helping people figure out what they wanted to do and then help them find jobs.
I have a quick question saying that 85% closing rate is very high, and I like to believe that somehow as an immigrant Chinese woman that I was somehow had my little formula. But I would like to hear yours first on what do you think that may have contributed to your success back then? You might not even know it back then.
Oh, I do know. I do know. I can tell you.
I can tell now.
So I can tell you how I got the interview, and I can tell you how I got the job. These are both things that you would never do today. Like, they’re kind of old, they’re ancient. Sorry.
That’s fine. We can translate to some new behaviors.
Exactly the way I got the interview. So I had started my career in PR, and I moved into marketing and branding. I wrote a press release about myself in the third person and to translate this into, like, what you would do today. The idea was to show people, not to tell them that I knew how to write and promote something through that medium. So I wrote a press release. I described myself with a byline like New York Allison at the time. My last name was Farber. Alison Farber is currently on the job market, most recently with Dah Dah Dah. So I went through this whole thing as though I were writing about any kind of product or service, and all I did was write a cover letter. And in addition to the cover letter, I would include this copy of my press release. And I can’t even tell you how many people I interviewed with. But then when I went into the interview at the time, we used to make presentations using slides.
What are slides.
Like little two by two.
Do you know what I’m talking about? So it’s film. Film within a little frame that you would project.
Yeah, I remember those.
Right. And you would have a slide tray where you would put the slides. I put together a presentation of the work that I had done for my last employer, but in the slide tray, and I would go and I would say, do you have a projector? I can share what I’ve been doing. And I would present it.
It was like a portfolio. They didn’t even ask for it, and boom, you got your binder and everything’s ready to go.
Yeah. So, again, the idea is to show and not tell. Just show people what you can do. Because as soon as they saw me present, they said, oh, she’s a good presenter. The way she put it together, she’s articulate. She’s very cohesive in how she was able to create the presentation. And I got many job offers that way.
Wow. So when you mentioned slides okay, I want to point out to people who are literally in their toys, these are.
My top secret techniques. I never talk about this.
We have a special bonus section added to your course.
Literally. Because that leads into a couple of next questions. Very well. But I have to say that when I remember slides being used when I was in elementary and middle school many years ago, our teachers had to write with a permanent marker or something. You have to draw and articulate it. So is that how you created was that how you created those slides? What did you do to, like no.
They were slides that I had put together at my previous company, so they were under the umbrella of this other company. So I was explaining what I had been working on, but it was through that company, so I had already worked on the presentation. So it was a combination of visuals that we had put together, the designers have put together, the marketing team had put together, like, a picture of PowerPoint. So some of the wording and the descriptions of what we did, and I would just take them through the whole thought process and how the projects went.
That’s so fascinating to me because there’s one area we really wanted to talk about. And I can’t believe in the past 40 minutes, somehow I’ve learned all new things about you that we didn’t get to.
I can’t believe I’m talking about this.
But I think, again, this leads to something, guys, if you’re listening, which is motivation and effort and hard work. And when I say motivation, I don’t want people to think of it as I don’t mean that by you need to be successful and measured by money and all that, who are you willing to relentlessly convince? That’s not what I mean. But it’s more like for you, Alice, at a young age, you found a way of something that frankly just seemed like to be too much work. No freaking way for someone else to prepare something like that. And needless to say, to stand up and present it. That’s probably something else people want to avoid on top of preparing something. Now you have to speak to it. What do you mean by this? But you saw this an opportunity and through your excitement I believe you also enjoyed that process. So could you talk a bit about motivation? And a lot of people say, does it help people? When is it too much? When is it too low? How can I? Can I motivate myself?
Yeah, it’s a good question. So I always had this intrinsic motivation. First of all, I need to pay my rent, right? Because I didn’t want to move back with my parents.
That was motivation number one. And I think you’re in your 20s, you’re living pretty hand to mouth. You feel like you have a lot of extra laying around. So I definitely have a lot of motivation to stay in my apartment with my roommate, living in the living room, just all I could afford at the time. So I think one of the things I see so much today is that a lot of people get a lot of help from their parents in their twenty s. That wasn’t really the norm for my generation. Our parents were pretty much like figure it out and you know, we helped you with college and we’re done. And I think that the attitude which does not, it’s not good for people in their 20s necessarily. But I think the parents help sometimes too much. They’re a little too involved in kind of covering for their kids and saying don’t worry, don’t worry, we’ll help you. We’ll pay for it. Don’t worry. So I definitely think that having some intrinsic motivation also I do think that most people are motivated. They do want, they want to work. It’s very depressing to think that all your friends are out there with jobs in your home and you don’t know what you’re doing.
It’s very upsetting to people. So I think motivation is important. But direction, direction is the gift. So you might be motivated, but if you don’t have direction, if you haven’t figured out how to get from point A to point B, like, you know, you want a job, but you keep sending resumes and cover letters through LinkedIn and you don’t get a response because you don’t realize that you’re hitting the applicant tracking system. No person is actually seeing your stuff. It’s so demoralizing. And so having somebody guide you through that process and help you to understand exactly what’s happening when you’re applying and how to get through and not just assume that nobody thinks you’re good, that you’re terrible, you don’t know what you’re doing, you don’t have enough experience and you suck. Which is what most people think when they’re applying online. I mean, what else would they think that will help motivate them and push them forward? I was with the client yesterday, and she said, I feel so much better now because I know we have a plan. I know what I’m doing. I wasn’t sure where I was going, and now I have a direction.
So I don’t think I’m going to have trouble, you know, getting the homework done for next week, because now I really know what I have to do. And it’s so much about that. Our whole mentality were built around assignments. Assignments are a big part of life from a very young age. Like, somebody gives us homework, we have to do the homework, and we have to get to the next stage. And if that motivation, that homework isn’t coming from anybody. It’s sometimes it’s hard for young people to figure out what to do next.
What an interesting conversation. Because as I’m asking the question and sometimes I feel like. Oh. I’m asking this question because I sort of have answered it myself. Or. This is really interesting. But the moment you start talking about this. I realize that I may not know a very straightforward answer for how I motivate myself. Or where did I have a direction. Where did that direction come from? And as someone now approaching my late 30s, it’s easy to look back to the past 1020 years to say, See here, here are the data points. But then it’s hard to prewrite that story, you know, looking into the future. And sometimes we’re afraid to tell one story television and have it be changed or having to pivot. And so for me, I was just wondering, Alison, what was it also for you as well, like, not having to move back with your parents? I think that’s very motivational for me to like, oh, my parents invested so much money in my private school, going to a US college. You know, I’m not originally from here. I sculpted weight on my shoulders to not have to go back so that I can get a job or at least do something here for a few years so that I can be better off when I do return back to Beijing, China.
And obviously, I didn’t end up going back and ended up continuing my career here, is that I think, to me, someone I hate to admit this, but I definitely used to be instilled, a little bit of a high people, you’re high achievers, but I’m more higher anxiety. I’m more sometimes excitable person that managing my energy, my time is a big piece of it. But also, as a result of that, being older now and being more selfaware, I tell myself, you know what? I want to learn something new every day. And it used to be this profound thing, this article, this and that. Now. I said, you know what? I’m going to try to learn how to use a liquid eyeliner or learn what HVAC means. Now I have a house. I had no idea what that meant. I’m just like, what is HVAC? What is a heat pump? To me, it’s like every baby step over learning and bettering myself. And to be able to teach that through creating YouTube videos, through working with you, Allison, like, to me, that is a tremendous amount of successes at various levels that I celebrate still. So, I don’t know, it helps me to continue to motivate me as opposed to, yeah, that wasn’t nothing, you know.
I don’t totally no, I think being a continuous learner and being curious, it’s so important, but it’s clearly so much a part of who you are. And, you know, Faye, you have so many interests. I mean, as I pointed out to you the other day, like, looking at what you have behind you, you have this incredible artistic vision, and it’s very unique that you bring that to your work. So you’ve got so many facets to what you do, and you are such a hard worker. You work all the time. From what I can tell, you seem like you work all the time.
That’s so funny.
But you clearly love it. You clearly love it. So there’s that intrinsic motivation that you have. And as you said, I think coming from another country and wanting to have everybody be proud of the progress that you’ve made and make the most of what you’ve been given, that’s such a big part for a lot of people. And I think that sometimes that gets lost for those who have a lot of means and whose parents throw money at things when they don’t know what else to do. They want to save their kids from heartbreak. And you really can’t save your kids. You’ve got to help them launch and give them the tools. But you want to be more of a consultant as opposed to a driver in their lives at a certain point.
And that’s going to be the quote. That’s going to be a major quote I want to pull out. You want to be a consultant and not a driver, which coming from an I don’t want to say just Asian family, Asian culture, but I’ve seen it very much in Hispanic cultures and Jewish cultures where parents are literally just they’re all helicopter parents coming in. We’re doing this because we love you. You should be the kind of person you could just go to this kind of school. You should have accomplished these things. Here’s a checklist and here’s your timeline, and we’ll be checking in with you and help you forward. And I love this direction we’re going. And I realize clearly the album we have to do is like, three, four more times, and it will feel very natural and casual.
It’s so much fun.
It’s so much fun. And you and I, the moment we started working together, there’s one thing I said well, I know that maybe this is not what the first course is about, but I was just wondering about the fact of being an immigrant, being whether you’re an Asian immigrant or any kind of immigrant living in America. We’re in competitions. I don’t like the word competitions, but we’re out there looking for jobs like all the American kids. And except that we don’t have citizenship, most of us don’t have a green card, we don’t have a lot of money, no connections with families oftentimes. And our English is clearly not native, so that’s immediately something that’s noticeable, where I think about it all the time. I’m also working at Show as a parallel called Enable Disabled, but there are certain things we talk about visible versus invisible disabilities and where how people are treated differently. But part of us being an immigrant is that the moment you open your mouth, even before you open your mouth, the way you dress, the way that you carry yourself, you can see people look down and say, okay, all right, what’s going on?
Sometimes not with everybody. Some people are just better making it I’m making it a little more subtle than before, but calculations of, does this person need a work visa? What’s going on with this person fit into our culture? Suspicion.
And it’s funny. It’s not funny, but it’s interesting. You said competition, that you’re in a competition. You’re also in a competition with people in your family, your relatives, what your mother is going to say, well, what about your cousin so and so? She’s doing this like, why aren’t you doing that? Right? So there’s a lot of I think in many families that exist, and I certainly can speak to this better than I, but it seems like certain, especially Asian families, that’s very much a part of what happens, this sort of internal competition. It’s not just about the external competition. So it’s a lot to grapple with if you’re trying to fit in and just be considered an American. And you’re right, there are so many hurdles. But when I work with people who either are first generation or maybe came here as a child, I have a pro bono client who I’ve been working with again, I’ve been helping over the years, and she’s incredible. She came here from Mexico when she was three. She ended up getting a free ride to college, helped her parents buy a house. Like, they really couldn’t speak English very well.
And she has so many talents, but her Achilles heel has been that she’s gotten very good jobs to pay very well. Now she’s 27. She has some kind of a learning issue that has gone undiagnosed. And I said to her, you’ve got to get a neuro psych evaluation to deal with this because it’s going to follow you your whole life, and you have achieved so much. I mean, she’s remarkable. There are all kinds of ways to do it. But I feel like so many people who were born here and whose parents have a lot of means, who coddle them, I mean, there’s just not that much to admire in that picture. And they know it. They don’t want to be that person who is so spoiled.
Yeah, it’s very true, because there’s a certain level of selfawareness and that we can hide it or lie about it, but ultimately it’s there. And I agree with you that I have personally witnessed in recent years of people in their well into their 20s not someone who’s 21, 22, but late 20s, who very much rely on their parents using their parents credit card. And there’s a whole movement of a lot of young kids these days also becoming coaches or experts in certain fields with no experience.
Oh, my God. Tell me about that noise. I think we’re done with our this is no longer part of the session. Right?
I think it might make sense, frankly. Alison, I love your honesty because, yes, we can make it about rainbows and unicorns, but it’s really not there’s certain there’s a fine line sometimes hard to draw. I agree. It’s like, when do you work too hard versus not enough? When should you manifest the things that you want versus you need to get off your butt and actually do the work where this isn’t working. And people are not confronting this generation anymore because everybody is, like, very fragile and, like, you know, we’re supposed to talk to each other in a very, I don’t know, like, politically correct way.
Don’t trigger don’t trigger anything.
Don’t trigger I think we’ve crossed that line a long time ago on Monday.
That was great. It was really fun.
It was so lovely. So lovely.
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