“A career maven is someone who really takes ownership of her career story and is charting her own path” - Tiffany Waddell Tate
In this episode Tiffany Waddell Tate, founder of Career Maven consulting, talks about her advice for job seekers and her ambitious goal to help one million women find careers they love. She also shares her advice for standing out on social media and how to stay connected in a virtual world, as well as her best working-from-home tips.
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Topics discussed in this episode:
Standing out on social media
Working from home
Transcription - Ep 6 Tiffany Waddell Tate
Portia Mount 1:00
So Tiffany, I have been waiting for this conversation, it is a little bit of a strange time, right to be talking because let's set the stage for everybody so they know what we're dealing with. It's early November, we are three days after the election. And we still don't know who the President is. We are stress eating, stress drinking, rage tweeting, at least enraged tweeting. And it's a little bit of a mess. But more important, more than 850,000 women have left the workforce due to the pandemic. And you know, maybe the better way to say it is pushed out actually due to homeschooling and lack of childcare options, and the general collapse of, you know, social safety net that has caught women in the dragnet. So I want to dig into that with you, because you've got a really good perspective on the impact of this time on women. But I want to start with something simple. And talk about how you came to found a startup Career Maven focused on helping women and helping people find meaningful careers. So talk a little bit about that. And maybe to start, talk a little bit about how you think about success?
Tiffany Waddell 1:33
The definition of success, for me has changed so much over the arc of my career. If you'd asked me 10-15 years ago, I would have said, Oh, well, success is getting the awesome kick ass corner office, you have a really sexy title, you're being paid a good chunk of money to do something that you love. Now, my definition of success really is. I mean, it'd be nice to be paid a good chunk of money, I don't want to minimize that plant.
Portia Mount 2:08
We don't want to block our blessings. We don't want to block our blessings. Let's just get, let's put that out there in the universe.
Tiffany Waddell 2:14
Right. But you know, I think now for me, success is the whole picture. It's truly work life integration, it is the opportunity to do work or have your hands on work and projects and communities that have deep meaning to you, where you see yourself making an impact, but you still have time to do things that you want to do outside of your work, right. So whether that's spending time with family, or having time to volunteer and really dig into the community around you or do nothing, stare at the wall, doesn't matter. Work-life integration to me is having time and space to have energy leftover for all of the things that you care about. And that's really how I view success. Now, it's not a place, it's not a destination. It really is a well rounded vibe.
Portia Mount 3:06
I really like that. So how did the Career Maven come about?
Tiffany Waddell 6:10
Sure. So Career Maven was not something I had in my mind. I five years ago, I spent the better part of the last 10 years working in the context of college career development for a couple of private liberal arts institutions in the southeast. So my day job has largely been focused on preparing the future workforce for the landscape of work. So anything from figuring out who you are, how you're going to connect what you're studying to what you want to do after graduation or not, to helping students and early career professionals, really uplevel their skill set and talk about it with confidence and poise to land positions of interest, right. And so during that time, I spent a lot of time working closely with recruiters and getting a better understanding of what companies and organizations are looking for at the early career stage. And people started calling me and asking me to do things like write their resume, present here and there at a conference and talk a little bit about work and what I'm seeing in the college space and the early career grad. And it sort of snowballed. So a couple of search firms in Charlotte, North Carolina, where I was based, before I moved back to Winston asked me if I'd be a trusted referral partner and help their top clients who were very attractive candidates for different positions, but had never had to create a LinkedIn profile or write a resume or interview quite frankly, right, you reach a certain level of stardom, and and you're not going around the job search process in the way that we teach college students, you're just not. And so I started lately coaching, I was working on career branding portfolios for executive level professionals. And it really took off from there. So two years ago, I was still doing that type of project work and looking at myself, as a freelancer still not thinking about building a company. And in the last year and a half, I've gotten much more serious about creating something that has scalability, and the prospect of leaving a legacy for my daughter. So I think a lot about not just career readiness, and how can people land in jobs that they love. But for women specifically, I found that common themes that come up in our conversations, whether it's one on one and coaching or in a workshop are really anchored around self confidence, self advocacy, understanding how to not just be really good at your work, but talk about it. And be okay with that. You know, I think we're...
Portia Mount 8:52
Promoting, you may or you're talking about the whole idea of promoting oneself, which is really, yeah, so hard for so many of us, right. And there's been a lot of data that shows that women tend to not do it as much, but also, we tend to get sort of punished when we do if we don't do it the right, the quote unquote, right way.
Tiffany Waddell 9:10
Exactly, exactly. And so that's really where Career Maven came from, you know, I want women to feel a sense of self advocacy agency and support for themselves and others as they're walking through whatever career door that looks like. And I also want people to understand that, you know, one thing we talk to students a lot about is that unless you want to be a CPA or an MD, your career is not a straight line. That's not what work looks like anymore. And I think somewhere along the way, people who are already in the workforce, sometimes forget that as well and get stuck in this idea that you're on a ladder. And so for me a career maven is someone who really takes ownership of their career story and is charting their own path. not waiting for something to happen not waiting for someone to tap you on the shoulder. I mean, that's great when it happens. But we don't have to wait to be invited to the party, we can create the room that we want to live and be in.
Portia Mount 10:11
That resonates with me so deeply on a couple of levels, when I think, you talk about agency, which is something that Jennifer and I talk about in Kick Some Glass, it's one of the core pillars of helping women own their destiny versus waiting for things to happen to them. And so the other thing that really resonates for me is around the fact that your career is not a straight line. And I think that many professionals forget that and think that well, that there's some magic time block that happens that you go from, you know, director to senior director to whatever. And when in reality, sometimes you go up, sometimes you go laterally, sometimes you take a step down in order to make a different kind of move. So I like that you are thinking about that. And are working with your clients on that. So I have to ask you this question because you've set this really...
So you've set this unambiguously bad ass ambitious goal for your business, talk about that.
Tiffany Waddell 11:48
I am on a mission to help 1 million women own their career.
Portia Mount 11:55
So ambitious. I love it.
Tiffany Waddell 12:01
Thank you, it's I you know, I think it's huge. But I really believe it's possible. And when you look at just how many women are being pushed and sucked out of the workforce right now. And you think about how women band together and work together in so many other areas of society, I deeply believe that it's possible. And I want women to really feel that agency that we just talked about, I want women to create workplaces that value us, I also want women to, you know, frankly, support each other. Right. My background is in education, which is largely overrun with women. And yet there is this patriarchy sort of dust, let's call it the patriarchal dust that is sprinkled over everything. There's only for one or two people. Yeah. You know. So it's like we need to shake that dust off and really create the workplace and the work community that we want to see and be.
Portia Mount 13:10
Well, I'm raising my praise hands. Right now for that, because I'm all about flicking off the patriarchal dust. Let's take a step back, actually, because I think this concept of agency is, I think, a really important one. Oftentimes, it can sound like an academic term. And I really want listeners to understand what it means. So from your standpoint, talk about what agency means.
Tiffany Waddell 13:35
Sure. So somewhat depends on the context, but largely, I think it is the essence of asking for what you need. And wanting to feel comfortable soliciting and giving feedback, creating an action plan around what you want your work life to look like, rather than waiting for a position to open, for example, it is pushing back at salary negotiation. And just, you know, I think it again, depends on the context, but largely it is being a full participant in your career story. So I think a lot of the way that traditional professional development and career coaching research was really based on this very vanilla white male centric space. And it doesn't account for all of the different roles that working women often wear, right? I know when I was young my family definitely encouraged me to separate personal and professional and I think that's totally fine if that's what you want to do. But it's not realistic, so many times...
Portia Mount 14:43
Not right now.
Tiffany Waddell 14:44
Portia Mount 14:47
We're forced to blend the personal and professional every time you know, one of our kids toddles into the frame and you're on a conference call or any number of things so that I, that's maybe one of the small gifts of 2020. Is that third, that third wall of, hey, you can't talk about your family. People can know you have one, but you can't talk about it, at least I feel has largely gone away. I don't know if you have a similar opinion about that?
Tiffany Waddell 15:18
I think it's gone away, because we don't have an option to sort of hide them or compartmentalize them. But there's still this like, silent oh, she has a family. Oh, I'm not sure if I can ask her to do this thing. Or, oh, she might have a deficit, you know, and it's well intended, I think most times, but it presents a new barrier for us. You know, it's almost as if you're being forced to choose between being all in for your family or all in for your career. And I believe that real agency is having the option to have both rather than choose.
Portia Mount 15:57
Amen, amen. Well so, we started this conversation talking about the number of women who have been forced out of the workplace, and I'm using that language very deliberately, because I do think it's not that they're just willy nilly opting out, they feel like they have no choice. I'm curious if you have thoughts for women who have not left the workforce yet, but are thinking about it because of childcare? Or because of virtual schooling, homeschooling? What advice or perspective can you bring for women? You know, families who are considering making that choice?
Tiffany Waddell 17:45
Portia I think you often describe it as a crisis choice for many people. Yeah. It is often I mean, in the middle of a pandemic, it's 100%, a crisis choice. And I think that it is also a choice that has been on the buffet of options for women who have families since the beginning of time. And so I think right now, one thing I encourage women to think about is what resources are available at your company or organization, right, like being really clear on what resources are available? Is it that you have to take the full leap out? Can you take a short break? Are there leave options available? I know that that is not necessarily commonplace, depending on the industry that you're in, or the company that you're in? But is there an opportunity to take an extended leave and reassess at the end of that time? Is there an opportunity to take a full leap out, like completely sever the relationship, but continue to cultivate your network so that when you are ready to return you have a plan? Let's call them just connections, right? Like you have connections that you're keeping warm. And I think one interesting thing about this time in particular is that it's we all know what we're dealing with, right? It's like both a shared and disproportionately heavy experience, depending on your identity. But we are all living in a pandemic time. So it wouldn't be ridiculous, you know, to say to someone, hey, I took a step back so that I could focus on my family, childcare was a bust. All 2020.
Portia Mount 19:44
2020 has been a flaming pile of garbage, but that's a totally different podcast. What we'll record that one later
Tiffany Waddell 19:51
Yes, but it's not you can enter that into the conversation, right. I think where we might have had trepidation before to say you know I chose to take some time away and focus on my kids. Now it's like, I was forced to take time away and focus on my kids. And now I'm ready to return, I'd love to start up a conversation about what you see or who you know, in your network that might be interested in a new hire or talking about a new relationship, right. And so I think I really encourage women to first assess what resources are available that we might not have thought about. And then also think about how you can be strategic and staying plugged into your network, if you do choose to step away. And then of course, the third thing that comes to mind is sort of staying fresh on the pulse of what's happening in your respective industry, staying fresh on particular skills that you might need, especially in the tech space. I think those are things that are always helpful that might be a tall order, depending on what your family structure looks like and what the day to day needs are. But I think you can absolutely stay a little bit relevant and plugged into what's happening. So that when you are ready to kind of dip your toe back in or jump back in, it's not like you press pause and have no idea what's going on.
Portia Mount 21:14
I really like that Tiffany, and I want to underscore something you said with his first check to see what resources are available in your company. Not too long ago, I was on a panel and we and there were a number of HR executives and they were talking about all the different benefits that their particular companies had. Now, if you work for a big multinational, that's different than if you're working for a small company if you know 25 people, or they may not have lots and lots of HR resources. But I think the thing that I've heard over and over is that one is oftentimes as women, we may not feel comfortable asking for help, we may not feel comfortable asking for the time. And so this is the time to do it. I think the good news here is companies want to keep talented people. Obviously sometimes if you're in financial distress, that's different. But companies want to keep diverse employees, they want to keep women especially if you're working in industries that don't have a lot of women. And so if you are an employee, if you're a talented individual, in high regard, it behooves you to explore all the potential options that are open to you, for example, I have a colleague, who the homeschooling thing, in particular for her son, was very challenging. And she made the decision to take vacation day, one vacation day a week, for three or four months through the end of the year, so that she could help him focus on homeschooling. So that's, you know, that's one example using vacation time, if you have it, I do know another leader at a different company who just took a leave of absence, you know, to your point. And in so I think that companies are getting smart and savvy that this is a huge time of stress for their employees. You want to keep good people. And so I think that there may be I'm hoping that women who are listening to you, and listening to this, this episode, understand there may be more options out there than what they think. But it does take a little bit of exploration, and a little bit of groundwork to figure out what those options might be.
Tiffany Waddell 23:46
Absolutely. I think you have to be creative. If I've learned nothing else this year, it's like, everything I thought I knew has been turned upside down. Companies do not want to lose their best people, right? Like companies that are smart and healthy, do not want to lose their best people. And so if you can find a mutually agreeable solution, whether that is that one day off a week or an extended leave, and you come back, then everybody wins in that scenario.
Portia Mount 24:16
Exactly. So let's talk about networking, which I think in ordinary times, you might be going to conferences, we might be, you know, going to lunch and learning whatever they may be, and now, at least those of us in office environments are still largely at home working virtually. So what advice do you have for people who may not necessarily be looking for a job, but maybe they are looking for a job? But what advice do you have around virtual networking? How do you do it? So it's not what's the word smarmy?
Tiffany Waddell 25:03
Well, there are a few things that come to mind. So one is that networking can be a very formal or pointed engagement where you reach out to someone directly in the online environment, right? Like you can reach out to someone on LinkedIn, you can reach out to your personal network and say, Hey, I would love to chat with someone who works in user experience. I don't know why that's top of mind. But let's just go with it. And someone can make any introduction, and you can have a quick virtual coffee chat. So that's one way to do it. And it doesn't have to be all, you know, weird and smarmy, because you just ask for 15 or 20 minutes of that person's time, and you anchor the conversation with the key question or two, so they know what you're coming to chat about. And I imagine you'll walk away with way more than you imagined. So that's one way. I think another opportunity for online networking, is to participate in events that you find valuable, right? Like so many different organizations are hosting these meetups. They're hosting webinars, they're hosting panels, and the people who are really doing it well are creating spaces for these virtual hallways, so to speak. So attendees can really connect, right? Like I've made some really interesting connections in the last few months, that were really unexpected. And it's been really nice to stay connected with those people through other social media platforms after the event so you can get to know them a little bit better. But you can absolutely build community and camaraderie and learn from people without being kind of seen as this weird leechy person.
Portia Mount 26:46
Well, and I think you're so right. I've been surprised at how productive I've been connecting with people, virtually I started out at the beginning of the pandemic, feeling a little skeptical, like we would all have just Zoom fatigue. And there is a little bit of that, right, especially for lots and lots of meetings, you know, that are sort of very work related. I've also been part of some really incredible online panels and conferences and meetups. And the other thing I find, people are remarkably accessible right now because they're at home. So I've been reaching out to people, where I think well, this person's not gonna respond to me because they’re super duper bestselling author. And I'm amazed that people write back. And I think, to your earlier point, though, what is important when you're networking, and you're reaching out to people is, do your homework about the person like me, now, there's no reason to not look at look at someone's LinkedIn profile, and see and just do a quick Google search and see if they have a personal website, because so many people do now and that way, you can reach out to them and not sound like you're spamming them from, hi, I'm trying to, sell you some weird, unrelated widget, but you sound thoughtful and informed and that makes people want to respond to you.
Tiffany Waddell 28:29
Absolutely. And, you can also engage with people before you make an ask, I have made quite a few connections on Twitter. That's definitely my place.
Portia Mount 28:40
That is, you know, you and me both. We love Twitter.
Tiffany Waddell 28:43
We do. I think we were following each other before we met, you know, so...
Portia Mount 28:48
People like Twitter, Tiffany, like, I don't take a pic. But like I love Twitter
Tiffany Waddell 28:53
I think, you know, when Instagram came on the scene, people were like, oh, Twitter is old hat. But I'm telling you, I've made some really strong professional connections with that panel. And you can, it's just, you know, it's just enough content to not feel overwhelmed when you're reading. But it's enough to really know where someone is really coming from and what they care about and how they're engaging. And I just, I really love it. So I think Twitter is a great place. I think it's a great complement to LinkedIn. Instagram can be as well.
Portia Mount 29:25
We both love Instagram. We love the Twitter. So, thinking of networking. What's your feeling about a lot of professionals especially if they're not marketing savvy, don't like social media and I have been someone who has said, I think everyone should be on social media now. Do I think you should be lighting people up on social media with crazy political rants? Okay, sometimes I do that. But it's so much fun. But for someone who doesn't like social media, they're trying to make connections, they're trying to network? What's the one platform that they absolutely need to be on? Or do they need to be on any platform?
Tiffany Waddell 30:37
I think people absolutely need to be on LinkedIn. Because that is where professional people are, professional people are on all these other channels. But if you are not going to be extremely active on a channel, then have the options out there. I think LinkedIn does at least half of the heavy lifting for you. If you're savvy about what your profile looks like, what keywords you have there, and what types of companies or keywords you're following, like you can quite literally curate your experience when you log in, and see what's happening in in big tech, or see what's happening in the nonprofit world or, you know, see what hashtag is trending today. LinkedIn has pulled in some of the UX pieces from other social media platforms. And so you can see what people are saying and people are going live there. So even if you're not contributing a lot of content, I think LinkedIn can absolutely be your place. But at a bare minimum, you can build a really strong profile that gives a quick snapshot of not only what you do for work, but why you do those things, what you care about in the community, you can put little snippets, that kind of function as a portfolio on your profile. And you can weave a narrative in your summary, right, like, and you have more characters than 140. So you can really say, hey, here's what I've spent, you know, the last umpteen years working on, here's what I care about. And here's where I see myself next. And if you're, if you at least have that done, you may get messages from other people who are interested in chatting with you and learning more about what you do and care about. And if you, you know, put 30 minutes on your calendar once a week or every couple of weeks to at least go on and post an idea, share an article that you're reading, then you can really start to drum up engagement. And it's a really nice kind of organic way to build connections. If you're not comfortable doing direct outreach, or having other social media channels.
Portia Mount 32:38
I want to underscore something you said, which is engagement. I especially see this on LinkedIn, probably less so than on Twitter and Instagram, which sort of lend themselves to very, very active engagement. It's really important for people to know that when you're on any of these platforms, but LinkedIn, in particular, you don't want to just post and post and not respond to people. Like when people comment on your post comment back, like their post. And I know I talked to a lot of executives, where I work and they say, oh my gosh, you know, I'm posting 50 things a week. And it's just so much and I always say okay, let's step back and see what you're posting. Because LinkedIn is a powerful, it is a powerful channel. But I also see a lot of people not using it very well. And so I'm wondering, from your perspective, since you do advise clients on this, what are the three things that people do really badly on LinkedIn? And what are the three things you think are really key to in particular having a standout profile? So three things people do you see, like mistakes you see people make all the time on LinkedIn, and maybe three things that you think are essential for a standout profile?
Tiffany Waddell 34:06
Sure, so three things that people often do that are horrible. One, they have a horrible photo, it's like poorly lit or they're like, or some it's like unclear where they are.
Portia Mount 34:17
A random vacation photo. Really weird way.
Tiffany Waddell 34:23
Yes. It's like what's happening there, like you can totally have a selfie if you need to, and it can be casual, but it needs to be intentional, you know. So the photo flub is one thing that I often see.
Portia Mount 34:35
No photo can do.
Tiffany Waddell 34:38
Two is not having your work history up to date. Like it's really unclear. If this person is like, when's the last time you logged in, like if you look at someone's profile, you're not clear when is the last time they logged in because their profile is really out of date. Then you wonder if you start to think it's not right but I think people will make assumptions about how well you navigate technology. And they make a good point about your employment history, right? Because LinkedIn’s SEO is so strong that if someone Googles you, then it tends to come up in the top five results unless you have a really common name. So if your profile is questionable, then whatever you're telling people about yourself, sometimes people if you don't have a mutual connection, they may be leery of connecting with you or responding to your messages.
Portia Mount 35:30
Okay, so no photo flub, no questionable work history, like having an up to date profile, make sure your work history is up to date, like those two a lot.
Tiffany Waddell 35:39
Yes. And then third, I think people sometimes make the mistake of posting too much. So no, I think now in the days of automation, you may have things set up to auto push to multiple platforms. But if you're not careful, you might, it's okay to post the same thing on multiple channels, I don't want people to walk away thinking, oh, I shouldn't do that. But I have to think about the platform in the audience. So if you're, if you're just quickly copy pasting from every profile, and you don't maybe switch up the hashtags, or look and see, okay, what hashtags are relevant in this space compared to this other platform, or optimize the photo graphic or whatever you're using, then it starts to look very spammy, and unintentional. So if you're posting all of me when I say all of the time, I mean, like five plus times a day, I think that social media moves quickly. But LinkedIn tends to be content that people might spend a little bit more time with, and they would on a Twitter or an Instagram. And so if you're posting at the same, same pace, as those other platforms, you might get you might turn people off, because you're flooding their timeline
Portia Mount 37:01
I think that's really good advice. Can I add one more thing? I have noticed increasingly a lot of very politically toned content on LinkedIn. And it's super polarizing, in a way that kind of tends to bring out all of the trolls and, and because LinkedIn doesn't seem to do as much curation as, say, other platforms, I've just noticed some really nasty engagement. And so I don't know if LinkedIn is going to try to get a hold on that. But I always wonder, because it's a professional platform. It's not Facebook, for example. But do you have a different perspective on that? And maybe the bigger question Tiffany is, there's each platform, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, the tonality of what you post across those three plus Twitter can be quite different because the audiences are slightly different. How personal should things be on LinkedIn, thinking about tonality and how you use all of those platforms in the right way?
Tiffany Waddell 39:07
Sure. So I think something that's really interesting, to your point about LinkedIn is one they're still catching up to how other platforms are policing for good or, or better about how Facebook does that? But LinkedIn is still catching up, right. And they're trying to infuse some of the features that other platforms use. And so for, what stories for example, I think they have stories now. You can go live if you apply and get approved and all that business. User experience aside, I think something that really differentiates LinkedIn from the other platforms is that like Twitter or Instagram, and maybe even Facebook, because you can be the gatekeeper of how people see you there, right, like if you know where I work on on Twitter, but it's not pointed, it's not part of my bio, it's not part of my brand there. But when I post something on LinkedIn, it's automatically tied to the work history that you can see. So even though I might be representing my company, which is still very much a side hustle, I also represent the institution that I work for. So you have to be a lot more thoughtful about how, even though, you know, I am going to fly the agency flag all day, you still have to be mindful of the company, or companies that you represent. And on LinkedIn, you know, to your point with people posting all of this, like really polarizing political content. I mean, I absolutely think people should show up and be their full selves. But if you look at some of the comments that people make, it's terrifying. I mean, I've seen, gosh, this looks like the comment section on a news article, what's happening here?
Portia Mount 41:05
Exactly. And it's like, do these people know that like you, you're showing up there as the professional who works for XYZ company. So it's not like you're just posting as yourself and you're on Facebook, which, by the way, I think is getting people in trouble too, in their day jobs, right? People are posting things as private citizens on other channels. And then somebody sees it, a customer sees it. Actually, I have a real life example of this. Customers all associate post something pretty polarizing and inflammatory on Facebook, and it was reported. So those barriers are increasingly not there anymore, right. So you have to really think about how you want to show up.
Tiffany Waddell 41:50
Yeah, I mean, you have to think about how you want to show up. And, you know, I always say, I tend to show up fairly transparently on social media platforms, but I don't think that I would be uncomfortable with someone screenshotting because it has happened to me before. And, you know, I think people on LinkedIn, who are just kind of going all out, and not really thinking about the implications of what they're saying and what they're doing, might not be ready for, you know, that screenshot to be escalated in their workplace. And, you know, that's the worst case scenario. There are other things that can happen. I think, you know, what do they call it, in sort of an in college life being blackballed, you could be blackballed, and have a job, still. And you might miss out on opportunities, because you've now been sort of categorized as this rabble rouser for the sake of rabble rousing and not creating change. And I think people often confuse the two. And it's really easy to just go off on a social media platform, but not have any sort of work, or community building or actual advocacy to show for it. And really, you don't just become sort of seen as this person that's just like posting inflammatory stuff.
Portia Mount 43:09
Popping, you're just popping off. I think it's a really good point, you want to be very mindful of your brand, right, your personal brand and how you show up. You may or may not get quote reported, but people are looking at what you do. They see what you do, and they're making judgments about who you are. Okay, so we've talked about all the bad things that can happen. So we've sort of gone down that road. Tell me about three good things. What does a great LinkedIn profile look like when you're doing it? Well, what does it look like?
Tiffany Waddell 43:47
Yeah, I think when you're doing it, well, I just want to go back to that photo. You have a photo, okay.
Portia Mount 43:54
Okay, no blurry vacation photo, like you in Turks and Caicos. Like don't put out there.
Tiffany Waddell 43:59
Don't put that there, please. You know. Some thought and intention around your headline and your summary, right? Like, often just put whatever their job title is, and that's totally fine. But if you want your LinkedIn profile, and I think your LinkedIn profile very much should be a snapshot of who you are as a professional. And I would like to think that we are a lot more than whatever our day job may be at the time. So I like to think of that as an opportunity to really weave a quick narrative around like, what are your signature skills? What are the causes that you're deeply passionate about? How are you spending your time? What's the problem in the world that you want to solve? Right, like I think there are a few different ways that you could go about it. But a really strong LinkedIn profile, I think is just a really like someone before they chat with you or talk with you. They can get a sense of what you're about in terms of the work, right like, and work can be sort of a nine to five, it can be board experience, it could be ad hoc projects, whatever, they get a really good sense of who you are and what you're going to bring to the table when you show up. And then I think a third area that people who have really strong LinkedIn profiles are capturing, again, is just that engagement. You know, I'm guilty, I'll fall off the map for chunks of time. But when you're, when you're working at your most optimal point, you are carving out time to at least check in and respond to messages, respond to comments on threads, and be socially generous, to respond and amplify the work of others. Because it's going to come back to you.
Portia Mount 45:53
I like that term socially generous.
Tiffany Waddell 45:56
Yeah, because that I mean, that's what it is, right? It's totally free to repost someone's content, totally free to write a quick, hey, that's a really cool article, because then they are going to get more reach, because the folks that follow you are going to see it. So those are really easy ways to both support the work and thought capital of others, and then also get yours out there.
Portia Mount 46:18
I love that because the key to social media is the social part. Right and when and when you're, but I love the concept of being socially generous. I love amplifying people's content. I will say, though, I feel a little ashamed that I'm terrible about the messages that I get on LinkedIn. Like I have to remind myself, because sometimes I just get so many. And I have to remind myself to look at those messages more often. I used to get them into my inbox. It just flooded my inbox. tBut now that I've talked to you, I'm going to rethink my intentionality around responding to messages, even if it's just to say no, thank you.
Tiffany Waddell 47:08
Yeah, I think it's gotten a little odd too, I think it went from people actually wanting to chat with you to vendors selling you things to now I've gotten some very bizarre messages there. And I'm like, what are people doing?
Portia Mount 47:24
Can we just talk for a second, I had to respond to someone I was like, this is not Tinder. LinkedIn is not a dating site. Like, I appreciate that you like my photo and you think that I'm very accomplished. Not a dating site.
Tiffany Waddell 47:41
That's what I was alluding to. But yes, I'm like, what's happening out there?
Portia Mount 47:44
I'm putting it all out there, Tiffany, because I want people to understand, I'm all about people having rich and full lives, both personally and professionally. Don't look for dates on LinkedIn. That's our other piece of advice that we should put on there.
Tiffany Waddell 48:01
Yeah, it's hard to be a woman on social media. It is. I mean, it is.
Portia Mount 48:07
It is. And it's actually, yes, and I have not received some of the really sort of nasty, abusive things that many women I knew have read. And I also I'd like to think that I've curated my feeds enough. I really checked myself in terms of also how I respond to things, especially on Twitter, because Twitter is definitely one of those formats that things spiraled down really, really quickly. You and I see each other there all the time. I follow a lot of journalists, a lot of academics, a lot of tech people. I'm like a geek on Twitter. That's it. I'm a blurd. I'm a Black nerd on Twitter.
Tiffany Waddell 49:04
Nothing wrong with that. I love it.
Portia Mount 49:06
Yeah, there's nothing wrong with being a blurd. Okay, so let's, I love that advice. And let's get back to you, because we've been talking about all of this amazing work that you're doing to help other women fulfill their professional goals, and you are a working mom. And so I'm curious what adjustments you've made to work and life since the pandemic? You've got, you have a little, and so what have you been doing to just adjust to this crazy time we're living in?
Tiffany Waddell 49:45
Well, I've been lucky the last few months. Between March and August it was a little crazy trying to entertain a four year old and work full time.
Portia Mount 50:03
Let's just put it out there the whole homeschooling thing broke me, like, almost it nearly broke me. It actually did break me. Okay, enough about me.
Tiffany Waddell 50:13
Well, I was really lucky during this season because my daughter's father is a teacher and was at home. And so we, we just made the agreement like, hey, during the day, you know, I'll handle Zoom school for the first 30 minutes to an hour of the day. And then I've got to work because my work is much more synchronous. And as a high school teacher, he, you know, was just doing well to have anyone sign in if I'm honest. Right. So he was able to just hang out with her and, and facilitate most of her day. And so that worked for us the first few months. And after that, she, you know, eventually went back to preschool which has been a gift for all of us.
Portia Mount 50:55
Yes, yes. Because, yes, that was amazing. Right to send those kids back to school.
Tiffany Waddell 51:10
Well, everyone's attitude got so much better immediately. It's like, she's talking to me about her friends and all her little friend relationships are great. But for me, it's like, I feel like I've become a new person every two months. Like the first two months, I was like, I've got this. I'm pulling my 40 hours. I'm on Zoom. I have a routine. I was writing all this content about working from home tips if you've never done it before.
Portia Mount 51:32
I remember I was like, oh, she's so productive.
Tiffany Waddell 51:37
I hit a wall. Okay. I was like, I, what I didn't see coming was like the Zoom fatigue. That was my blind spot.
Portia Mount 51:45
It's real. Zoom fatigue is real.
Tiffany Waddell 51:47
Yeah, I mean, I was like, oh, I'm on top of it. I've got my little morning routine. We're going to do Zoom school. I'm online. We're going to play outside after that. And it was all great. And then the House of Cards just totally crashed. And I was like, well, what am I doing here? I'm super burned out. Who am I? I also you know, I'll, I'll just say, Portia. I felt the deepest level of mom guilt that I've ever felt. And we were in the same place. Like, you know, before the pandemic, I traveled about 25% of the time for my work. And I never felt, you know, I always felt it was that we have this routine. If I'm gone, that's my me time when I'm here. I'm all in. Yeah, but it is something to be locked in a room in your house and online for eight, nine hours. And then when you come out, you've missed all the fun of the day.
Portia Mount 52:41
Tiffany Waddell 52:42
And I did not like that feeling. It hit me pretty hard. And so I made a few adjustments to, you know, let the pressure off of myself and let go of this false ideal of being online all the time as the right way to be when in reality, I can still hit my deliverables and not hold up a desk chair for eight hours. It's just not, like, no one needs to do that.
Portia Mount 53:10
And it's also just super unhealthy too like, I don't know about you, but I just there was a point where I was like, oh my god, I am literally sitting eight hours a day, five days a week and drinking coffee.Not drinking enough water. Like I just had this period where I was like, I'm going to turn into Jabba the Hutt. If I did not do something I'm or I'm sorry. That's like a really old reference. A manatee. Manatee except for a manatee that's not in water. But sitting at a desk. That's what was gonna, that was what was happening to me.
Tiffany Waddell 53:48
Same, okay, same. It was like a totally hot mess. So I completely rewired the way that I built my time during the day. And also, well, I just, you know, I created like at least three breaks in my day to make sure I was actually eating. I started putting water breaks on my calendar. It sounds ridiculous now...
Portia Mount 54:10
No it does not sound ridiculous at all.
Tiffany Waddell 54:12
I had to because you miss the organic breaks when you're walking to a meeting, because I didn't work remotely most of the time before this. You miss the oh, wow, my water bottle is empty. I'll just go fill that up and have a little chat with a colleague you know, so I had to add it to my calendar to make myself physically get up because if I'm not careful, I will be totally like sucked into my work and it's something that I value but it also can be a really unhealthy habit. And I also made an adjustment to be off when I was off. So no checking email after a certain hour. My weekend.
Portia Mount 54:50
I mean a matter again.
Tiffany Waddell 54:51
It's bad. I mean, you know, I was like if I'm going to sit here and be sad about feeling like I'm a terrible mom because I'm locked in this room. I’m not paying attention, then I have to actually unplug when it's time to unplug and be fully present. So my weekends became my weekends, my evenings became my evenings if I didn't have a virtual event. And, you know, I think that we got back on track. And now of course, because I do juggle kind of two hats of running a business and working, I've had to recalibrate what that looks like a bit. But I've time blocked. So I'm only working on side projects certain hours during the week. And it's usually after the little goes to bed. And part of my day on Saturday, and then Sunday's are dark days for me, like I can't, I'm not 22, I wish I was 22 and could work all night and just work all the time. But I'm not, I have to sleep. And I have to laugh and I have to build forts and whatever else she wants to do, so that I don't miss this time. And the work will be there when I get back. You know.
Portia Mount 55:56
I love that you've built really healthy boundaries into your life. And I think that day of rest is super important. I have started doing that more, because I found that like my weekends were turning into, let me use these two days to do all the stuff that I didn't get a chance to do during the week. And I would start the week just exhausted. Right. And so you have to and I think especially for working mothers, all mothers or working mothers. You have to give yourself that rest time because if you don't it won't happen like I've just kept, I keep relearning that lesson.
Tiffany Waddell 56:40
You have to, I mean, your body will shut you down if you don't.
Portia Mount 56:45
Your body will shut you down, for sure. Sol I like to finish up every interview with a few questions that are super fun. So the first is what are you reading or listening to right now?
Tiffany Waddell 57:03
My podcast library is a little ridiculous. I've been listening to The Manifista, I've also been listening to Brené Brown’s podcast lately. I love her content.
Portia Mount 57:16
Her podcast is fantastic.
Portia Mount 57:18
So good. And I'm finishing up I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown right now as well. It really speak to me...
Portia Mount 57:30
I have not listened to that.
Tiffany Waddell 57:32
It's really resonating with me, because she really shares quite a few personal stories about what it's like to be a Black girl and then Black woman and in predominantly white spaces, and how that identity development has been for her over the course of her life.
Portia Mount 57:56
We will for sure put a link to that in the notes. Do you have a favorite motto or saying that you live by?
Tiffany Waddell 58:10
Ah, gosh, so many sayings. Lately, some friends and colleagues have pointed out to me that I say let's take a beat often. And I think it's a theater reference. I was a theater and psychology major in college. And when you're, you know, sort of working on your directing practice, you encourage your actors to just take a beat, like, take a moment. And I guess I say that a lot. And what I mean with that is just take a moment before you react, before you respond, before you, you know, blow things up, so to speak. Just take a beat and make sure that your next step is your best step.
Portia Mount 58:52
I like that. What is your superpower?
Tiffany Waddell 58:57
Focus, my superpower is also sometimes a curse, because I can if I'm focused on something, I can drown everything else out. And at times that has made me miss some really good moments. But, you know, I mean, it's really saved me during 2020 because, you know, I just sort of muster up this. Alright, I'm going to laser focus on this. We'll get it done and move on to the next thing. So I'd call that my superpower.
Portia Mount 59:25
I love that. Finally, what advice would you give to 20 year old Tiffany?
Tiffany Waddell 59:33
Oh my gosh, I would tell 20 year old Tiffany to not wait. When I was 20 I thought I had to have a certain level of credentialing or experience to own my voice. I'm grateful that I got over that in my mid to late 20s. But I wish that when I was 20 I didn't. That I had to wait to sort of grow up or come into myself that I was already there.
Portia Mount 1:00:08
I think that's the perfect place to end Tiffany. So great to be with you today.
Tiffany Waddell 1:00:13
Thanks for having me. Portia.