EPISODE 118 INTERVIEW WITH LINDSAY GORDON: MAKING THE RIGHT DECISIONS FOR YOURSELF

cropped-cyb_tiger_final_full_color

EPISODE 118 INTERVIEW WITH LINDSAY GORDON: MAKING THE RIGHT DECISIONS FOR YOURSELF

making the right decisions for yourself

I’m excited to introduce you to today’s guest, Lindsay Gordon, who is a career coach for analytically-minded people.  She helps individuals to get off the fence and make decisions that can propel their careers and lives forward.  Many of us deal with decision-making pressures from a variety of sources, so having a coach to help tune out that noise and focus on what is best for ourselves, can be invaluable.  I’m excited for you to hear Lindsay’s story, and to check out her new book all about this subject.

Resources

Transcript

Erin Marcus:

Hi! I’m Erin Marcus, former corporate executive turned entrepreneur and founder and CEO of Conquer Your Business. Welcome to the Ready Yet?! Podcast. We’re excited to bring you more than a hundred episodes of interviews and insights designed to help entrepreneurs get the financial and emotional freedom they need in order to build a business and a life they’re proud of.

Hello and welcome to this episode of the Ready Yet?! Podcast, where I get to have so much fun interviewing people, hearing their stories, hearing how they got to where they are. And I’m particularly excited about today because I had known this amazing person. We started a journey at the same time, right? I met today’s guest, Lindsay Gordon at when I started working with my mindset coach and she was there also. So, she was there at the beginning. She’s sworn to secrecy or you can ask her about the hot mess stories. I’m sure she’ll share a couple. So, I’ve gotten to watch her/you on your journey, right? To be close up as you have pushed yourself, what you have fought through and I think there’s some truth to the fact that every successful entrepreneur has that journey, right? The entrepreneurial journey, forget business, it’s the biggest self-discovery journey you could possibly go on in a way that corporate just doesn’t have that same experience. But I’m so glad you’re here today to not just share your story, but to share your big news. You have a book launching in just a couple of days. I love your topic and how you refer to what you do. So, now, that I’ve talked in seven different circles. Why don’t you give people a little bit of a more formal introduction to yourself and we can get into it?

 

Lindsay Gordon:

Sounds great. Well, I am happy to be here too. Thank you for having me. And I call myself a career coach for analytically minded people. And I do that because I have a very unusual engineering degree. When I think about my work, I am bringing my engineering brain to this question of how do we know what job is going to be a good fit for us? How do we make decisions that we know we are going to be happy with and how do we do that in the most practical and structured way? So, there are exercises, there are frameworks, there are spreadsheets so that we can bring in that kind of engineering mindset. I mostly work with senior leaders who have been in a company for 10 or more years and are at that point where they’re like, ‘Ugh, have I stayed too long? Do I need to quit? Is there anything here for me?’ Usually there’s a lot of pressure in that decision. So, I help people make that decision with agency and confidence so that they feel really good about it.

Erin Marcus:

That’s awesome because one of the things I know, having been through that myself, right? I was at a C-suite level position when I left a 12-year career that was going magnificently, jumped off the cliff to start my own thing, right? And it is a high-pressure decision because you don’t have any way of knowing what’s going to happen.

 

Lindsay Gordon:

Yup.

 

Erin Marcus:

Right? How do you make a high pressure, high emotional decision when you can’t actually a hundred percent predict the outcome?

 

Lindsay Gordon:

Yeah. And if you’re already waffling about that decision when you’re making the decision, you don’t know exactly if it’s the right one for you, it gets really rough. So, that’s why I like to get people as clear as possible. We still don’t know exactly where it’s going to go, but if you feel confident about your choice, it makes a big difference.

 

Erin Marcus:

Well, and you can’t make good decisions under duress. It’s so interesting to, you know, I’m putting words in your mouth the way that I’m describing it, but in my background, in my work with families with aging parents, it was the same problem. Completely different decisions, but the same problem. People didn’t get clear on what they want. They didn’t have the conversation before there was a problem. And now, you’re left making big, huge, scary decisions under emotional duress, which is about the worst time to make those decisions.

 

Lindsay Gordon:

Yeah, yeah. Agree.

 

Erin Marcus:

It’s brutal. So, how did you find your way into that as a thing, as a line of business, as work? 

 

Lindsay Gordon:

As all good transitions, I completely fell into it. 

 

Erin Marcus:

Next then, I don’t know how it happened. I just got moving. Here we are.

 

Lindsay Gordon:

Yeah. No plan, no intention towards this. But I was working as an engineer to start and then I completely fell into working in technical support at Google and I discovered that I am one of the strange humans that loves customer service, like really love it, like go to customer service conferences for fun, that kind of thing. And then while I was at Google, I was helping out with onboarding and training and everybody who joined our team was stressed about their career and they were like, ‘Oh, I don’t know how to talk to my manager. What if I get stuck in support for the rest of time? How do I think about my long-term career?’ So, I was having all these conversations on the side and people started saying, “You would be a good coach.” Didn’t know what that meant, but decided to go test it out because enough people had said it. And so, I took one class and was like, ‘Oh, there are skills that you can learn instead of this thing that I’m trying to do.’ And so, I ended up doing this year and a half long program. My purpose was to move to a career focused role at Google, which I also ended up doing, but people started popping up out of nowhere and saying, “Hey, are you taking clients yet?” Or “I have people to refer to you. Are you open?” And I was like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, everybody, I’m not running my own business.” Like this is not the plan. But I said yes. I ran it on the side for about a year. And after that year, I was like, ‘You know what? I think I have something really interesting here and a unique perspective and I like it,’ and I’ve de-risked it in all the ways that I know possible. So, let’s do it. And that was in 2016. So, we’re 6 years down the road.

 

Erin Marcus:

Well, a couple of things that I think people incorporate especially in large companies, forget or it becomes a glaringly obvious problem, there’s not really career coaches in the corporate world the way that would probably serve them, right? Because those people, the HR department, for example, works for the company. They’re to protect the company, not necessarily looking out for your best interest. And truthfully, you’re not going to want to expose your worries and weaknesses to the person that may or may not decide if you get a raise and a promotion. I mean, how are you supposed to even maneuver that? So, what do we do? We talk to our friends either at the company or in other companies, which okay, but they’re your friends. So, they’re looking at you for your best interest and misery loves company, so it usually turns into a bitch pass, not like a problem-solving session.

 

Lindsay Gordon:

Obviously, the most productive, yeah.

 

Erin Marcus:

You got to get it off out of your system, get it off your chest, but not really a problem-solving situation. And the other thing that you did that I love is, one of my mentors described it to me this way, find what you’re good at and exploit it in the service to others. And you found what you were naturally good at and you responded to a need in the marketplace instead of sitting in a bubble deciding what you wanted to do, not knowing if there was a need for it. 

 

Lindsay Gordon:

Right. Because in that scenario, I wouldn’t even have known that this existed. So, that’s why I love taking in data from other people and exposing yourself to different situations and following threads that are interesting because I’ve discovered all kinds of things that I wouldn’t have known if I was just sitting by myself like “Oh, what contribution do I want to have in this world?”

 

Erin Marcus:

Right. And I think that’s the same problem when you stick to the conversation about careers. I think that’s the same problem in picking a major at 18 years old. You have no idea. Do you know what I was doing at 18 years old? I mean, Chicago public schools in the 80s, people, I had no idea what was out there and I had no business making important decisions. Right? And so, one of the pieces of advice, you can tell me what you think about this, that I give people all the time is if you’re not sure what to do, go to a networking event. Go to one of those networking events where people get 30 seconds to introduce themselves and listen to what 50 people are doing for a living. Because I guarantee, I didn’t know what 40 of those things were before I was about 45 years old.

 

Lindsay Gordon:

Yeah, I love that. Yeah. It’s just like a quick infusion of creativity, new ideas, jobs you’ve never heard of done. 

 

Erin Marcus:

Who knows? Who knows? So, tell me what has it been like growing? You jumped off the cliff, you weren’t pushed, you jumped off the cliff, you got your ball rolling. What has this entrepreneurial journey been like for you?

 

Lindsay Gordon:

Just an easy breeze of–

 

Erin Marcus:

Why like no big deal. It’s easy. Randomly think of unicorns, right. Exactly. 

 

Lindsay Gordon:

Yeah. That’s what entrepreneurship is, everybody. So, yeah, I like to say kind of like you started the chat with entrepreneurship has been the highest highs for me and the lowest lows. 

 

Erin Marcus:

Often in a quick day. 

 

Lindsay Gordon:

That’s so true. Yeah. It’s been the most challenging. It’s been the most creative. It’s been just like the crises of confidence, especially in the beginning. I think one of the things I didn’t realize is how different it is to sell yourself versus being at a company and being like, ‘Oh, okay. This is my company, this is the product, this is what I do.’ Whereas when you are doing your own thing, especially in the beginning, I’m better about this now, but in the beginning, it was like, this is me.

 

Erin Marcus:

We don’t have that separation between our product and ourselves. Like you said in the discussion in the beginning. I remember I was speaking in corporate. It was part of what I did at my corporate job. It was part of what I did as a franchise owner. And when I moved to coaching and speaking as a brand part of personal brand development, I always thought it was really weird that so many of my mentors and the big speakers, big name speakers that I would work with and meet refer to themselves in the third person. And then what I realized, it’s a way to separate your Erin, the business from Erin, the person.

 

Lindsay Gordon:

Right, right.

 

Erin Marcus:

So, that you can go do the scary things and that took me a while as well.

 

Lindsay Gordon:

Yeah. And also, business is just a series of scary things. Hopefully things that you choose to challenge yourself. For me, belief in myself as a business owner is probably the biggest struggle for me. So, I’m just continually doing big things to prove to myself, like what do I want to be up to? What am I capable of? How big and visible can I be in the world? And it definitely terrifies me, but it also is like super rewarding and meaningful. So, both at the same time. 

 

Erin Marcus:

Both at the same time. I call it buzzy rollercoaster. When I feel buzzy rollercoaster feeling, that’s when I know I’m on the right path. Right? It’s not dread. Dread is something I don’t want to do. Dread is my subconscious’s indication this is a bad idea, right? 

 

Lindsay Gordon:

It’s not the right direction.

 

Erin Marcus:

But if I’ve got buzzy rollercoaster going on, that’s be scared and do it anyway,

 

Lindsay Gordon:

Going in the right direction.

 

Erin Marcus:

You’re going in the right direction. When I’m physically vibrating and can’t concentrate and you want to throw up just a little bit, that’s great direction.

Loving what you’re learning here and interested in more? Check out our free Facebook group and join us at Conquer Your Business Community to find even more tips and tools designed to help you get out of reaction mode and into conquering your own business.

So, what do you recommend? I mean, I hundred percent agree. I’ve been there with you on your journey. You’ve seen me learn these same things. If you had to give somebody a tangible tool that they could use to be scared and keep going, what has worked the best for you? Nothing. It’s a constant battle.

 

Lindsay Gordon:

I’ve got nothing. One thing that I experimented with recently to really good results is this concept that I’m making for myself of borrowing others’ belief in me. And I go do a hard thing because as I said, belief in myself is the hardest thing. But when I succeed, no one else is surprised. And I’m like, “Really? I did it?” So, I was like, “Okay. This is a theme in my life.” So, as I was writing the first draft of my book, I had this quick idea of what if I asked a couple of friends and I call them colleagues, like other business owners, what if I ask them to write me a little note of support and I could print them out and any time I’m like freaking out or not taking action, I could read one of these notes. And when I had that thought, I was like, “I need to send an email right now because otherwise, I’m going to chicken out.” Right? I’m going to let it go and then be like, “That’s a dumb thing. I would never ask for help in that way.” So, I sent an email and was like, “Friends, I am sending this right now so I don’t chicken out. Would you be willing to send me a note of support because I’m about to write my first draft?” I got eight incredibly loving, thoughtful like ‘You got this notes’ and it made all the difference in the world to me when I was in that moment of like, I don’t know, can I really do this? And I’m like, nope. Borrowing somebody else’s belief. 

 

Erin Marcus:

And it also speaks to how important it is who you surround yourself with. Especially women when we have close relationships from childhood with family and you want them to be part of your world because they’ve been part of your world all along and then you go do something like quit an executive job at Google to start your own business, they don’t understand that. And they love you and want to protect you. And I’ve learned not to be a jerk about it, but I have learned go to my entrepreneur friends for my support. And when my non-entrepreneur friends ask me how everything’s going, I just say, ‘Oh my God, it’s busy. It’s so exciting,’ which is not a lie. It might be horrifying also, but it’s still busy and exciting. And who do you surround yourself with?

 

Lindsay Gordon:

Right. It reminds me of the story that I just read recently in the book Risk Forward about the guy who started Blue Man Group. And he was like, ‘I think tomorrow, I’m going to shave my head and paint my head blue and just walk around town and see what people’s reactions are.’ And his friend was like, ‘Awesome. That sounds great.’ And it’s like in that moment, if that friend had said, “That’s really weird, dude, I don’t think you should do that.” Blue Man Group would not exist. And so, it’s like in business when we’re like, “I’m going to do this big scary thing.” And if people were like, “Well, I don’t know if you can really achieve that, like you might want to set your sight lower.” That has a big impact on my courage. So, I think it’s absolutely right. Like having the people around that are like, “Awesome, let’s go after the big thing” makes a big difference.

 

Erin Marcus:

And I think the reason that so many of us have problems with that, if you go back to this idea of a corporate job, there’s inherent competition in the corporate world that doesn’t have to exist in the entrepreneurial world. Right? Like if you want to work your way up in your company, there might only be five of the next position and two of the one above that and one of the one above that just because there is. So, there’s inherent competition that creates frenemies. I mean, it really does unfortunately. Where in the entrepreneurial world, you don’t have that. So, again, surrounding yourselves with entrepreneurs who understand abundance and think differently about collaboration than what we often see, and I come out of a very collaborative corporate experience, however, we were still the big fish and we wanted to stay the big fish.

 

Lindsay Gordon:

Right. Yup, and it’s a different environment.

 

Erin Marcus:

Yes. So, tell me about the book. Tell me about the book.

 

Lindsay Gordon:

Oh my gosh, it’s real.

 

Erin Marcus:

It’s a real book.

 

Lindsay Gordon:

It’s real. So, it is launching Monday.

 

Erin Marcus:

Monday and it’s called Right For You.

 

Lindsay Gordon:

Right For You. And it is all about structuring your thinking, making a decision, getting off the fence about whatever you are waffling about so that you can actually move forward with your career but also your life. Because what I have found in the six years that I’ve been doing this is that when you are dissatisfied with your career, your life is on hold and it leaks into all of the rest of the areas of the energy that you have, how you’re showing up with your family. And so, I am really dedicated towards getting people decided and helping people make choices that feel right to them, so.

 

Erin Marcus:

Love it. I absolutely love it. One of the things that surprised me as I grew up and I don’t know where it comes from for me so I’m not really sure, I was surprised by how many adults don’t make decisions. They don’t make decisions. I never thought that that was a big thing because I make quick decisions, I take quick action. I’m wrong lots of times, which is fine. But that indecision is like completely what you described is what creates the horrible stuck feeling. In all of your research for your book and your experience, do you find themes as to why people don’t make decisions?

 

Lindsay Gordon:

Yeah, there are many. I feel like one of the biggest ones is the pressure that we feel. And that can come from a million different directions: our family, our culture, society. 

 

Erin Marcus:

Was it pressure to make decisions in a certain direction or a pressure to be worried about making the wrong decision?

 

Lindsay Gordon:

I think it’s a little of everything. We got pressure in all the directions.

 

Erin Marcus:

All sorts of pressure. 

 

Lindsay Gordon:

Yeah. I think there’s pressure about how we should think about our work. I think there’s pressure about what work should mean to us. I think there’s pressure about right decision, wrong decision. I think there’s pressure about listening to what other people think that you should do in this decision. I think there’s pressure about the next logical step or like it makes no sense for me to XYZ. I play a game with my clients called Pressure is Bingo because basically, I don’t know if you have this experience, but with all my clients, they tell me all their secrets about like the pressures they feel and they’re like, “Everyone else has it figured out. I’m the only one that’s behind.” And I’m like, “Okay. You’re all telling me this? I am going to say it out loud so that everybody can be talking about it out here.” And so, I go through my list of top 10 pressures that I hear over and over and over and over again and everybody thinks it’s just them so that they can see like, ‘Oh, we are just swimming in this societal soup that is having a lot of pressure on your career. And it’s not personal, but it was given to you and that’s why it’s so important for us to figure out what is actually right for you minus all of this noise that you have been given.’

 

Erin Marcus:

Yeah. I put that under the label, “Not your fault, but it is your problem.”

 

Lindsay Gordon:

Yeah.

 

Erin Marcus:

Right?

 

Lindsay Gordon:

Yeah. Because otherwise, it’s just going to keep showing up and keep having you make decisions that you think are right, but are actually based on what other people want.

 

Erin Marcus:

Awesome. So, shifting gears a little bit again, because I love asking this question and we’ve been joking around about, ‘Oh, it’s easy, you know, obviously it’s not.’ If you had to lessen someone’s learning curve by sharing something you tried and that was wrong. Bad idea, right? What would you share in terms of some of the failures that helped you learn the most from a learn from our mistakes type of?

 

Lindsay Gordon:

The biggest one that comes to mind is last year, I’m trying to think about scaling my business, right? Got to the point where I was doing one-on-one all the time. It’s like, ‘Wow, this is no longer sustainable.’ And I feel like there are a certain menu of choices that you get to choose from when you think about scaling. And I got really excited about course. And I was like, my business is very practical and structured. Like I think it would lend itself really well to course and I went all in. I was like, “This is going to be awesome. This is fully the direction.” Spent a year, not making the course. I like did that kind of quickly just like, you know, being in this direction and really putting my all into it. And then I got to almost the end of the year and they were like, ‘And now the way you succeed with a course is you put $60 million into Facebook Ads and then get a conversion back.’ And I was like, ‘Wait, what? That doesn’t actually feel good to me. I don’t want to put $60 million into Facebook. That’s not what I’m up to in the world. That’s not the contribution I want to make.’ And they were like that’s how you’ll get it. 

 

Erin Marcus:

Right. And I totally agree because one of the things I have found, and part of it is because there’s so much messaging out there about, ‘Oh, you’re an entrepreneur, make a course,’ but if you don’t have a humongous following and a personal brand or a community brand or a place where you are so well known by a large, large, large group of people, you don’t have the numbers you need to make the money on the course.

 

Lindsay Gordon:

A numbers’ game. 

 

Erin Marcus:

Right. It’s a numbers game and it’s not that courses are bad, but I do see a lot of people kind of go down that path as well. 

 

Lindsay Gordon:

So, I got a great meltdown out of it. I was like, ‘Ugh, why did I spend so much time? I should have known this earlier,” you know, all of that.

 

Erin Marcus:

Well, you don’t know what you don’t know. Right? And I will tell you, in 2020, I created a course that was going to be–I don’t know where. I don’t remember what it was going to be, but I will tell you that the effort I put into that course to create it, and like you, it didn’t take me a huge amount of time, really did turn into the foundation for several things that have been successful. So, you don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

 

Lindsay Gordon:

Yeah. And my course is awesome and I’m so glad that I have it and it’s a great resource for people who need it. And it’s not going to be the entire future of my business, but that’s okay.

 

Erin Marcus:

Right. Again, I’m not against courses, I have them myself. It’s just about doing your best at what’s next, what’s next, what’s next from a financial perspective.

 

Lindsay Gordon:

Yeah. yeah. And book wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t gone through a meltdown of like, ‘Okay. That direction is not right for me. What am I doing now?’ And it did not feel good in the moment, and–

Erin Marcus:

It seldom does.

 

Lindsay Gordon:

Yeah. It’s just like part of it. I learned from it and now, I’m really, really excited and grateful that I’m on book journey. That feels so good to me and so exciting. So, definitely learned from it.

 

Erin Marcus:

Cool. So, the lesson in that is beware of tactics and not that they’re wrong, but just make sure that your business is in the right stage for whatever tactic you’re looking at. And one of the questions, and you alluded to this, but I had the same lesson through a very weird LinkedIn coach who wanted me to be basically turn into an email scam artist, which don’t ask. It’s shocking to me because she really was a, her and her husband were really nice people. So, they truly believed, “Well that’s just how you do it,” really weird. But what I learned to ask at the beginning of any tactic approach was what else do I need to have in place in order for this tactic to be successful? I would not have learned that had I not made more than one mistake. I did more than one mistake where I’m finally like, “What’s the theme of this problem? The theme of the problem is I’m not asking the right questions at the beginning.” That’s the thing. So, yeah, totally agree. Totally agree. So, the book is Right For You. It launches in on Monday.

 

Lindsay Gordon:

On Monday.

 

Erin Marcus:

I’m a big fan of authors and thought leader marketing. So, what is the best way for people to get a copy of your book or get a hold of you?

 

Lindsay Gordon:

Yeah. So, it’s going to be available on Amazon and there will be e-book and paperback. And then website is alifeofoptions.com or if you are on LinkedIn, I love LinkedIn and I share a lot of stories about what it actually looks like to do what’s right for you in your career, so I would love to connect there too.

 

Erin Marcus:

Awesome. I absolutely love it. My tagline of Be in Charge, it’s just a different version of your same story. I don’t think enough people realize they’re allowed to be in charge of their lives and that there’s other options. So, a life of options.

 

Lindsay Gordon:

Life of options.

 

Erin Marcus:

Well done.

 

Lindsay Gordon:

Thank you.

 

Erin Marcus:

Well, thank you for sharing your story with me, sharing your insights with me, your successes, the horrible truth of the entrepreneurial world that we face. Absolutely. It’s a journey. It’s a journey. Awesome. Thank you so, so much, Lindsay.

 

Lindsay Gordon:

Oh my gosh. Thanks for having me.

 

Erin Marcus:

I hope you enjoyed this episode of the Ready Yet?! Podcast. I truly enjoy bringing these stories of success and inspiration to you. Please join us in our mission to empower entrepreneurs to be in charge of their businesses and in charge of their lives by sharing this with anyone you know who would benefit from our tactical and motivating advice, leaving us a review and letting us know if there are any particular topics you would really appreciate hearing about. See you next time.

Spread the word

Erin Marcus

Permission to be you with erin marcus

Erin Marcus is an author, speaker and communications specialist helping organizations to “Conquer the Conversation,” and creating improvement in sales, customer service and team dynamics. To bring Erin to your event or business:

Get In Touch