Ep. 207 – Jeff Gothelf, Author of Forever Employable, Sense & Respond, and Lean UX on business lessons for professional development

Ep. 207 – Jeff Gothelf, Author of Forever Employable, Sense & Respond, and Lean UX on business lessons for professional development

Inside Outside Innovation is the podcast that brings you the best and the brightest in the world of startups and innovation. I’m your host, Brian Ardinger founder of Insideoutside.io, a provider of research, events, and consulting services that help innovators and entrepreneurs build better products, launch new ideas, and compete in a world of change and disruption. Each week, we’ll give you a front row seat for the latest thinking, tools, tactics, and trends in collaborative innovation. Today we talk with Jeff Gothelf, Author of Forever Employable.  Let’s get started.

Interview Transcript with Jeff Gothelf, Author of Forever Employable

Jeff Gothelf, Forever EmployableBrian Ardinger:  Welcome to another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. I’m your host, Brian Ardinger. And as always, we have another amazing guest.

With us live today, we are doing our IO live series with Jeff Gothelf. He is the coauthor of a number of different books: Sense & Respond, Lean UX. He wrote the book Lean versus Agile versus Design Thinking: What You Really Need to Know to Build High-Performing Digital Product Teams. And today we have him on the show to talk about his latest new book coming out called Forever Employable. Jeff Gothelf, welcome to the show.

Jeff Gothelf: Hey Brian. Good to see you again. It’s great to be here.

Brian Ardinger: I’m excited to have you back on Jeff Gothelf. I think you’ve been on the show three times in various forms across the platform [various forms – laughing]. That’s probably three or four years ago when you were launching Sense & Respond. You and Josh came on the show to talk about that. More recently back in Episode 156, we talked a little bit about building a culture of innovation and learning, and now the world has changed, and you’ve written another book Forever Employable. You’re known as the Lean UX Agile guy. Why did you decide to write a book about career development?

Jeff Gothelf Forever EmployableJeff Gothelf: Yeah. It’s super interesting. And everything you’re saying, everything you’re bringing up is exactly sort of the thought process and concern that I’ve gone through over the last couple of years. I’ve considered this project and whether or not it was something I was going to invest in and put out there. But the reality is that as different as it may seem, by comparison to Lean UX, Sense & Respond, Lean versus Agile versus Design Thinking.

When you read it, what you’ll see is that the subject matter is different. Subject matter is you, your career, your professional development, your growth and your safety net. But a lot of the thinking is very, very similar and should be very familiar. If you’re familiar with Lean UX, Sense & Response, Lean versus Agile versus Design Thinking.

And the reason why this project even kicked off in the first place is tongue in cheek to some extent, but not really, was a response to things that I was sensing from the marketplace. For years now, for the last two, three, four years, I’ve been getting inbound requests on a semi-regular basis to talk about how I built my career and how I built this platform and how I started writing books and giving talks and teaching workshops and that type of thing. People really want to know this kind of stuff. How do you actually make it happen?

So I added an item in my backlog that said, you know, write something about this, tell this story, that type of thing. And I just maybe do a Medium piece about it or blog posts or whatever. I’ve been thinking about doing it, but then never kind of kicked off anything about it? Because again, it really felt outside of everything else that I was doing. And then, about eight months ago or so I had to give a talk for a private community of product leaders primarily. And the talk they wanted me to give was the author’s journey. That was what they called it. Again, another request, right? Another inbound piece of feedback from the market that says there’s a desire to hear the story.

And so, I wrote a 45-minute talk that told me the story. At which point I was like I have a story arc. Now I’ve got a slide deck, right? This is basically a table of contents for a book. After a conversation, and just a delay, so I dragged my feet a little bit. But after conversation with some folks finally kind of got the kick in the butt to make it happen. So really it was a lot of sensing and responding and eventually just not being able to ignore the inbound evidence.

Brian Ardinger: The timing is impeccable in a lot of different ways. Last couple of months, we’ve been thrown into a pandemic and a lot of people are questioning this whole idea of disruption and it’s a little bit more real to folks. And so, I think a lot of people are at that point where they’re starting to reevaluate, Hey, what am I doing? And the world of work is changing. I’m changing from a timing perspective. You couldn’t be better time to tell people about some of these tricks and tips and ways to go about that.

Let’s talk about the changing world of work. You talk about how you have to create yourself as an invincible career and this ability to the forever employable. I talk a lot about this idea of having a portfolio career. It used to be you could be a product developer for your entire life, and that was what you did, but now people have different slash jobs. I’m a podcast or I’m a newsletter writer. I’m a director of innovation at a big corporation and whatever it is, it’s never one thing. So, let’s talk about the world of work. How are you seeing it? Are you seeing this pivot to this career that’s never one career?

Jeff Gothelf: There’s a tremendous amount of volatility and unpredictability in your career. My best friend, his father worked at DuPont Chemicals for 40 years. Can you imagine? No. Right, right, right. Like the concept is so not reality anymore. And I do a lot of work in financial services and banks and that type of thing. And I meet folks who’ve been at the bank for 20 years, 25 years. Even those numbers to me are unheard of. Right.

I think the kind of volatility that we’re seeing today, hopefully not to the extent of the pandemic. But nevertheless, it’s going to become commonplace, right. This idea of evolving markets, market shifts, competitive shifts, economic shifts, geopolitical shifts. The organization that you work for, it may not be as stable as you think, or as you’d like.

And frankly, the loyalty that you might expect from that organization is probably not as stable as you’d like. I mean, right now, good people are getting laid off right now because the pandemic is challenging. These organizations to stay in business, in a way that they’ve never been challenged before. And so good people are losing their jobs. People who didn’t do anything wrong. Who did a great job? Who are not the bottom 10% like the Jack Welch, you know, let’s take this as an opportunity to cull the herd. These were good people.

Look, I know this. I spent the first decade of my career following in that standard career path. So, applying for jobs, interviewing for jobs, getting my resume in shape. And then doing it again and then doing it again for a slightly better title, a slight bit more money, like just kind of playing that game.

And every time there was a layoff, every time there was a seismic event in the market, I would start to panic, and I would see the panic in my colleagues as well. Like, Oh, I got to get my resume in shape. I start applying for jobs. Oh my God. My portfolio is out of date, all this kind of stuff.  And that is a crappy way to live. And I don’t believe that you have to live that way. I believe that you can create a situation where it’s clear to the world, what value you provide.

And it’s clear to the world when they need that service or value or skillset, where to go to get it so that you don’t have to have that panicky feeling every time something kind of changes in the marketplace. And to me, that’s huge. If I can help people build that safety net around themselves, that’s a huge win.

Brian Ardinger: So, we are live. We’ve got a number of people in the attendees. So, we are opening this up for Q and a and a bit. If you do have a question, you’d like to ask Jeff, you can go to the Q and A box at the bottom of the Zoom. Click your question in there, and we’ll start answering those in a little bit. When you are the product, effectively, nowadays. What can you do to be a better product manager for yourself? What are some of the tips and things that you’ve talked about in the book to utilize this product management expertise on your own career?

Jeff Gothelf: Yeah. And that’s exactly the foot in the previous content that is maintained in this book. Right. And to me, that’s what made me feel more comfortable writing it, frankly. It’s because there is that connection, right? It’s not just as like the sharp left turn, but there is that connection that says, treat yourself and your career and your professional development growth as a product. And use product development, product management practices, bring them to bear on that product and service that you’re building.

So, let’s think about it. Okay. In the same way that we think about solving problems with the products and services that we make. Great. What problems do you solve? Right? Let’s start it there. And again, it comes back to the value that you deliver. So, what problems do you help solve? I help people innovate more successfully. I help organizations become more agile lowercase, a right. Yeah. I help organizations focus more effectively on their customers. Whatever it is. Right. What is value? If you can boil it down, what is the core value that you provide? That’s number one.

Who do you provide it for? Right. Who’s your target audience. All right. And who are your personas? And my friend J.F. Patent is going to laugh when I say this. Yeah. Because I always fight with Jeff about, he loves to say that organizations can have a persona. You can make a persona for an organization. And I like to argue that organizations aren’t people, and that you have to make a persona for a person inside the organization.

However, in this particular case, I might side with my friend, Jeff, and say that if you’re solving problem, if you have a target audience for who you’re solving problems for, you can say, I help solve these problems for legacy financial services institutions. I help solve these problems for law firms and help solve these problems for plumbers.

I think you can create sort of a target persona of an organization here as much as a person. And what benefit will you bring that person? Reduce their time to market. I will help them be more competitive. That thing. And then how will you get there? Like what, what’s the hypothesis? How will you do that? And so you kind of break it down that way.

You start to think through all of these assumptions that you have about the service that you provide, and then start to identify hypotheses, hypotheses that you can write about value that you can bring. Most importantly, and this is where it gets really interesting. I think new for a lot of folks, we’re going to read this book outside of product and tech, is the measure of success. For a lot of folks, their measure of success is going to be well I launched my YouTube channel. I published my blog. And that’s an output. I said, we can come back to outcomes over output, right?

Again, foot in innovation and product development. What is the outcome? If the YouTube channel resonates, if the blogs that you published succeeds, if the podcasts that you’re putting out, is working for you, what is the behavior change you want to see in your target audience? Well, I want to see them listening. I want to see them sharing. I want to see them reaching out and saying, I want to hire you, right? I’m going to bring you in to give a talk or teach about this. All that stuff. Is a hundred percent applicable to you and your career and your profession development.

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Brian Ardinger: I know you outlined in the book, some of the qualities that a person who is trying to become forever employable should be nurturing and building. What are some of those qualities and what have you seen that’s worked for yourself?

Jeff Gothelf: So, the quality is I listed in the book are the qualities that I see in myself today. That is not to say that I saw those qualities in myself 10 years ago, 15 years ago. And even when I finally struck out on my own, I mean, I co-founded a company with Josh Seiden and Giff Constable in January of 2012. That was a big move, but I still had partners in that.

When I finally struck out officially on my own at the end of 2015, roughly, it wasn’t until then really, five years ago, less than five years ago that I really started to feel like an entrepreneur. So, the first quality is entrepreneurial-ism. What have you done to build entrepreneurial ventures, entrepreneurial skills in your life that I can help you invent and reinvent yourself as the world changes around you? Right?

So, for example, I talk in the book about how I used to play in bands. And a lot of people will tell you that I didn’t realize this at the time. I was just having fun, trying to be a rockstar. A lot of people will tell you, yeah, bands are startups. It’s a bunch of folks getting together with a crazy idea. Investing everything they have in it, sleeping on floors, trying to get the world to come to you and believe in your vision. Subscribe to your stuff, buy your stuff, whatever it is.

And I helped not only play music in bands, but I ran those businesses. Business is a strong word, you know, businesses would imply we were making money, but I’ve ran those ventures. Let’s just put it that way. I have that skill set. I’m sure you’ve done something entrepreneurial in your life to lean on.

Self-confidence is key, right. What have you done in the past that was risky or something that made you uncomfortable, but you persevered and succeeded in the end or learn something from it? How do you leverage that to build your self-confidence. For me the story that, again, the story that I tell the book is I joined the circus when I was 22. And then right after, I mean, literally I graduated college on a Saturday, and I put all my stuff in storage. And my stuff, just to be perfectly clear when I was 22, my stuff, if I recall consisted of, I had a motorcycle, that’s pretty cool. I had a mattress, and I had a Bob Marley poster. That was pretty much you know…

Brian Ardinger:  Hard to get that mattress on a motorcycle, but…

Jeff Gothelf: It’s tough. It’s tough. The Marley poster, you know, I can kind of roll up and throw on my shoulder. But, you know, and then Monday I was in the circus and it was a paying gig. I was doing audio production and sound and lights, and it was the gig and it paid money and real, more money than I’d ever made before, and it was miserable and weird. This subculture that no one ever talks about or knows anything about. But I learned a ton about myself, about how to survive, about how to make the best of a weird situation and, you know, leverage that self-confidence.

And then you start to get into kind of these more agile qualities. So continuous improvement, continuous learning, and then ultimately reinvention as well. Right? So, as the world changes. I don’t believe in your core value has to change. But your delivery method, your channel, your face to the world, that might have to change to correspond with whatever’s happening out in the real world.

Brian Ardinger: Entrepreneurial focus, self-confidence, continuous learning. A lot of these skills and qualities are not something that can be turned on overnight. And you talk about the fact that this is the journey and it takes a while sometimes to get these pieces in place. There’s not like a silver bullet where you say, okay, today I’m going to be forever employable. And here’s what I have. It’s really the process that you have to go through just like building a product where you have to build the product over time. And sometimes I take a while to make that happen. Are the things that have sped up that process or things that have given you guidance as you’ve built out those skillsets?

Jeff Gothelf: Yeah, it definitely took time and continues to take time, but I don’t think I’m done. I feel like I’m actively working on this right now. It’s at a level of success now that’s taken me a decade to get here, a decade plus really. At this point, probably about 12 years to get here.

The interesting thing here is that, you know, and this, this is going to sound cliché, but like success begets success, right? So, small wins, but you don’t have to be like, Oh, I got the book deal. You can start with, Oh, my treat went viral. Or I got a thousand people that read my blog post. I got a hundred people to read my blog posts, whatever it is. Right. So, this idea that the more you can create, the more that you can put out there. The more the success accelerates ultimately, and then eventually starts to pick up.

So, for example, I started actively pursuing this approach when I was 35 and I published Lean UX when I was 40. Not exactly early on in my career. And it took me five years from the day that I decided that I was going to pursue this to the date that Lean UX was published. So, five years. The accelerant attributes, the accelerant effect of Lean UX coming out on my career from that point forward was exponential in relation to the previous five years. The previous five years was very incremental, incremental, incremental, incremental, and then the book hit and it was like a significant step forward. I think that it takes patience and perseverance.

One thing I’ll tell just a quick aside, I’ve started a series of interviews, not on like these called Forever Employable stories and they’re all my blog there. Jeff gothelf.com. I’ve done two so far. I’ve got three, four or five of those lined up for interviews and I’m going to post them as basically as they get finished up on the blog. The first two people I interviewed; one is a guy named Joel Hoekstra. He’s the current guitarist for Whitesnake. Which made me happy to an extent that I can’t begin to convey. And certainly 16-year old me was extremely happy about that interview, especially being my first. And the second guy was a celebrity photographer and designer named Mathieu Bitton. He’s Lenny Kravitz’s personal photographer.

Really just amazing, amazing guy with a story, a career like you can’t imagine. If there’s one theme across those guys and the rest of the folks that I’m interviewing for this, it’s perseverance. Right? So, you’re going to send those tweets out. You’re going to write that blog post. You’re going to make those videos. You can make this podcast and no one’s going to listen. Right?

It’s going to be super, super rare if you come out of the gate, screaming, like screaming success, right. And no one’s going to listen, but if you persevere and you push and you’re determined and you’re consistent and respectful and contribute to the cannon and help the conversation grow, eventually people will start listening. And for me, that’s the takeaway, right? So, the takeaway is perseverance and consistency. What is it that you want to own? Right. Where are you planting your flag?  how do you consistently tell that story?

Brian Ardinger: You talk a lot about how teaching’s important to being able to not only have that particular skill set, being able to share that with others. And then I think another one of your principles was kind of give it away. So, can you talk a little bit more about that?

Jeff Gothelf: In January, but pure coincidence. I ran into give Gib Biddle, Gibson Biddle, the former VP of Product of Netflix. Super interesting guy, super nice guy, very generous. And he and I are doing roughly the same thing these days, you know, kind of the same kind of work roughly in the same space. You know, obviously he comes out from a different story and I come at it from a different story and we were talking over dinner one night and he said, what do you like best about what you do? And I had to think about it for a second. I said, I really liked teaching. It was the first time I had realized that that’s what I was doing.

It wasn’t the first time, but it was the first time I maybe, I first time I’d accepted it right. Accepted, that I’m a teacher because I’d be like, Oh, I’m a workshop facilitator. I’m a trainer, coach, consultant, and speaker. Right. I’m an author. Boil all that down. I see myself now as a teacher. And that’s something I never, ever would have expected 10 years ago, 15 years ago, even 5 years ago.

And so, A: I find it incredibly rewarding to just get out there and share what I know with folks. You know share my experience and tell my stories. And if they get something out of it, that’s a huge win. The nice thing about it is I get better at telling my stories. The more that I teach them, because you can practice, you get feedback, you get receptive audiences, you get less than receptive audiences, and you need to be able to handle yourself in those situations and be able to convince people, regardless of what’s happening there. I’m using it, not in tongue in cheek, but there’s a sense and respond loop. When you’re teaching that allows you to improve the thing that you’re teaching.

The satisfaction that I get from people telling me that I’d helped them. I’ve made them more successful in their career. And now I’m starting to get feedback from folks like, wow, you’ve really made me think about what I should do in my career with my next step forward. That kind of stuff is meaningful to me. It makes me feel like I’m making a difference and like I’m having an impact, which has always been the case. So that’s why teaching, I think is really important.

You asked about giving it away. That part is really, that’s come late. That’s been a recent realization, relatively speaking. You build up your expertise, you build up your experience and then you spend time developing the muscles that allow you to share that experience, that expertise with people, teaching, storytelling, writing, speaking, that type of thing. And the idea that given how much time, we’re talking about years Right? Years and years and years of my life has gone into developing that. The idea of just giving it all away for free was it definitely a tough one for me to swallow? I’m not gonna lie, right? It’s like, man, I worked hard for this. I should be getting paid for this.

And the amazing thing is, again, the more that I started to give away for free, the more videos that I publish, the more articles that I published, the more came back. Which to me, it was completely unintuitive for a long time. And now I totally see it as this virtual cycle of, you’re developing the community. You’re building that following you’re giving back. And when that community needs something more specific or more targeted or more explicit to their situation, they know who to go to. It’s you, you become the person synonymous with that value and they come back to you. And that’s been a massive learning for me. That’s really transformed how I run my business today.

Brian Ardinger: Well, let’s open it up for questions from the audience. If you want to go down to the Q and A button on the bottom of your Zoom, you should be able to type in any type of question as people are looking at that. I’ll ask a couple more. Can you talk about some of the agile tools sets that you use or have used in this particular book that are applicable and that you’ve used to apply to this new realm?

Jeff Gothelf: Absolutely. I mean, you name it. It’s in there. I work in short cycles and do retrospectives typically by myself to me, I mean, my assistant and I work on the stuff together. I do a lot of work with Josh Seiden who’s been on the show as well. And so he and I do retrospectives together to understand what’s working.

There is a tremendous amount, agile-ish stuff, right. It’s kind of the broad umbrella. So, I manage everything in a Trello board. I limit work in progress. I focus on delivering value consistently and regularly, right? So there’s always something coming out for me on some kind of cadence that’s, that’s very important to me. I change course. I have hypotheses about how things should work and I changed course. I’m going to give you a perfect example. And it’s in the book, which is sort of ironic because the book, the manuscript is basically completed. As the lockdowns were kicking in.

I want to create a community that I wasn’t finding for myself yet here in Barcelona, where I live. And so I decided to go and create this particular community. I created a meetup and I invited the people who I wanted to be in that community to join me. And it was a very specific type of meetup for executives, right. Digital executives. And, and we held our first in person meeting and it was fantastic. And the hypothesis was, look, I’m going to build this meetup. I’m going to grow it to some size that was going to make me happy, but not too big. And then from that, we were going to start to generate more local work because I was getting tired of traveling and I wanted to generate local work for myself. Right. That roughly was the hypothesis.

Well, we had one meetup and then the quarantine hit, and the meetup was amazing. It really was, it was just this amazing confluence of really smart, interesting people having a great conversation. And then the quarantines hit, we couldn’t do it anymore. And everybody was like, Oh crap. My company is imploding. My company has got to reinvent itself. We’ve got to, yeah. You know, all this. And it took us a long time.

And so, like that sort of poofed for a little bit, and we’re trying to restart it now as a virtual meetup until we can get back together. In-person right. And so, there’s all this stuff is like I had a hypothesis something’s changed in the world. The first virtual attempts, we tried didn’t work as well as the in-person attempt. So, I dunno, I dunno what I’m going to do with it next. All that stuff, it’s baked in it.

Brian Ardinger: I like the concept of experimenting. I think what troubles some people probably it’s like, I don’t mind experimenting at work, but experimenting on my livelihood or my career is a little bit more threatening or whatever. But if you take the perspective of this is a mindset, mind shift of I’m doing a small project or a small experiment, it probably takes some of that burden away. Or the fact that not every decision has to be the biggest oldest decisions you’ve ever made. It’s like, how can I incrementally improve incrementally, build incrementally grow and experiment in the marketplace so that I can grow my career. It takes away that fear of I’ve got to find my next big gig cause that’s, what’s going to make my livelihood. The next thing.

Jeff Gothelf: That’s exactly right. And so that’s kind of the next step, right? So, you’ve got this hypothesis. Great. How do you do risk it? The risk it by running experiments and those experiments could be, and anything from I’m going to tweet about this topic for a while and see if I can build up some expertise and some recognition about it.

For years, when I was employed full time, I moonlighted. I would pick up a five to eight hours a week of moonlighting work and I would do on my commutes, early mornings, late at nights, weekends, before everybody woke up. That type of thing to see if that was the next thing I wanted to do, if it was. Great. I was already building up an expertise in it and some portfolio work. And if it wasn’t well, okay. So, I lost a couple of, couple of hours of sleep and a few weeks and decide I didn’t want to do this. So, the experimentation is fantastic. Yeah.

The last thing I’m telling you to do, please, don’t misunderstand, but last thing I’m going to do is quit your job and start writing a blog, right? Cause that’s going to pay your bills. It’s not, it’s not right away. Right. And so, so figure out how to test your ideas. I don’t go spend $10,000 on a YouTube studio into your garage, right? Buy a $10 tripod and point your phone at your face. And talk about your expertise for five minutes and put it online and see what happens. Right? Those are your experiments.

Brian Ardinger: So, we’ve got a question coming in. Hi, Jeff, what is your advice to college students who may still be unsure or undecided of a future career path? How can we build our professional brand when facing uncertainty or the idea that you don’t know what that is yet that expertise that you can share?

Jeff Gothelf: So, I think you’re in a unique position in that you really, from a career perspective, you have nothing to lose. It’s not like you’re going to throw away a decade of experience doing something or 20 years of I’ve been in the bank for 20 years and I’m going to step out and join a startup. Right. I think you’ve got nothing to lose in that sense. And so really it’s writing down the things that you’re passionate about, the things that you might have, some experience or expertise in the directions that you think you might want to go in, and the building small experiments in those directions to kind of see A: what’s resonating and B: whether you like it. Because oftentimes we say, wow, I really want to be a soundman in circus, for example.

Brian Ardinger: Sounds good.

Jeff Gothelf: No one ever said, yeah, no one ever said that, but here, here I was, right. Nevertheless, right, you pick a thing, you pick a direction, you say, look, I think this is what I want to do. Like, I want to make videos about my family business of sheep farming. Before you commit like the next year of your life to doing this, right, what are some experiments that you can run? What’s already out there? Who’s doing what, how can you differentiate? What’s gonna make you better. Can you participate in the current conversations without creating your own necessarily, but just contribute now. Build a name for yourself and then branch it out on your own.

There’s a tremendous amount of opportunity for you and very little risk at this point, because if it doesn’t work, let it go and we’ll move on to the next thing. As stuff starts to land, the potential here is enormous, right? Because if you, if you can find it in your mid, early twenties, even your late twenties find that flag and you start to build up around it. By the time you’re in your thirties, you got a decade’s worth of experience and a body of work around this. That’s tremendous. It’s tremendous. Very, very few people have that kind of body of work around themselves in their thirties. Right. They have a resume, but not that content ownership that you might have.

Brian Ardinger: Switching gears a little bit. There’s a question coming in. How do you see the evolution of the product agile market in Barcelona and in extension, in extension to the world?

Jeff Gothelf: Well, it’s interesting. So, product management, I don’t think is going anywhere, anytime soon. I think product management in one form or another is going, going to be around for a long time. Right. There’s a need for this clearly. And that the variability in the position, is something that is never going to go away? Agile is interesting.

Do I think that in 20 years, we’re still going to sit here and talk them about sprints and backlogs and retrospectives. Maybe not. The principles of agility. I don’t see those going away at all. Right. Continuous learning and continuous improvement, inspect and adapt, customer centricity, you know, delivering value in short cycles. Like all of those things. Why would we not want to do that?  I don’t know why that would ever go out of style.

Will we call it something else? Probably. Will the values be pretty much the same? Probably. Which becomes a really interesting challenge. Right? So, as a product manager, I think you’ve got a tremendous opportunity to build a career, a forever employable career around yourself, especially as you figure out kind of what that niche is that you’re going to, you’re going to own for yourself. I think as an agile, I’m not going to say an agile practitioner because I don’t know what that is. Right. But I think like, as an agile coach, for example, I feel like that is increasingly becoming a commodity, which is a both difficult place in the market, but also, I think a good opportunity, but it’s difficult because okay, everybody’s doing it.

Everybody thinks they can do it and there’s a lot of noise. How do I stand out in that? So, you’re gonna, people largely equate one agile coach with another. However, the opportunity is standing out in that crowd. If you could figure out how to become the person, everybody goes to first, what’s unique about you. What’s different about you, right? Why is your style of coaching better than everybody else’s, that’s a tremendous opportunity, right? To kind of lead the pack behind. But that’s the thing that always is interesting to me is that when people have hitched their wagon to a methodology, I don’t know that that’s a long-term plan for success. Hitching your wagon to a philosophy. Yeah, I think that has staying power.

Brian Ardinger: What are some of the tools or resources that you’ve used that are out there that are very valuable to helping think through these career changes.

Jeff Gothelf: I’m building some of those now, so that’d be great. So that’s going to be something that’s going to come out and it’s kind of a value add for the book. For people who bought the book and that type of thing. So, I’m putting together a workbook that has canvases in it. Forgive me for putting more canvases into the world. I’m sorry about that, but really thinking through, I think the tools for me are Lean UX, lean startup, scrum, business model, generation. Those are the tools that you can repurpose and apply into your career development. I think I look, initially it’s really taking a personal look and saying…one of the questions that I asked…on the day that I decided that I wasn’t going to chase jobs anymore, the jobs were going to find me.

One of the questions that I asked myself was why would people look for me? Talked about this a little bit earlier. Like, what problem do I solve? What’s my core value. I think if you can ask yourself that question and really boil it down to a core value, not tied to a specific methodology, maybe not tied to a specific technology, right. What is the core value that you provide? I think that’s a great place to start. If you can get to that, then it’s a question of, okay, well, what are the various channels that I can use to deploy that value.

I did a Sense & Respond book club, actually, not too long ago with some restauranteurs, which was super interesting, and they’d read Sense & Respond. Super interesting. It’s like, why are you guys reading this book, but they’re entrepreneurs. And so, they read the book and the quarantine had just hit when we did this. And a lot of them are like, I hosed, right? There’s nothing I can do. I run a restaurant and if people can’t go to the restaurant then I’m screwed. Yeah.

I had the same conversation with them. I said, okay, great, I get it. Right. Like I, the physical place is the thing. Well, what is the core value of the physical place? Like what is the vibe of the place? What is the unique value proposition of the place? Right. Is it tropical vibes and delicious food? Is it beautiful people mingling with other beautiful people to lounge music?

I don’t know. Like now you can’t recreate it in a physical space for the foreseeable future. How do you create it in another space? And to me, that’s, that’s entrepreneurial ism that’s creativity, that’s design, that’s product management, that’s development. That’s fun for me. Right? Some of those ideas are going to suck. Don’t send your life savings into them, incrementally, test them and figure out which ones are actually gonna be the next way for you to either recreate what you did before. Or at least to survive until you can get back to doing what you did before.

For More Information on Jeff Gothelf, Author of Forever Employable

Brian Ardinger: Excellent. Yeah. Great stuff, Jeff Gothelf, thank you so much for coming on Inside Outside Innovation again, to tell us a little bit more about, some the new stuff you’re working on. If people want to find out more about yourself or the new book, what’s the best way to do that?

Jeff Gothelf: Foreveremployable.com which will take you to my website, which is Jeffgothelf.com. So, everything’s there. If you go to Jeffgothelf.com. Everything you need is there to get in touch with me. See all the books, everything’s there.

Brian Ardinger: Well thanks again Jeff Gothelf for being on the show for other folks that want to continue the conversation about innovation, technology, talent and the new world of work, please tune into insideoutside.io. We are having a couple of new opportunities for folks to have these IO Live events. So, on May 22nd, we’ve got Fernando Garibay, the DJ entrepreneur, person who ran the Lady Gaga Born This Way Tour is was going to be on live with us.

And then the following week we have Henrick Werdelin, who is the founder of BarkBox and a new book called the Acorn Method. So those are a couple new ones out. Check out our podcast, Episode 200 just dropped today. So, appreciate everybody being part of the community. Thank you, Jeff Gothelf, again for being on Inside Outside Innovation live here and look forward to seeing everybody the next time. Take care.

Jeff Gothelf: Thanks, Brian.

Brian Ardinger:  That’s it for another episode of Inside Outside Innovation. If you want to learn more about our team, our content, our services, check out InsideOutside.io or follow us on Twitter @theIOpodcast or @Ardinger. Until next time, go out and innovate.


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Episode 207

Ep. 207 – Jeff Gothelf, ...