Side Hustles: A Career Consultant’s Perspective

When Suzy Lawson with The Entrepreneuress Within reached out to me this week to ask me to submit a guest post about different types of businesses and how to choose a side hustle from my perspective as a career consultant, client stories began rushing back to me as I reminisced on my time with each one. I also thought of how interesting her request was to have fallen on Easter weekend as millions will pause for a brief moment to celebrate resurrection and life.

To date Career Direct, a division of Crown Financial (the company I’m certified with) has helped over a quarter million people find direction in line with their personalities, interests, skills, and values. We’ve been featured in Relevant Magazine and Fox News, and universities you may have heard of (Lee in Cleveland, TN and Liberty in Virginia, to name a few) are using our assessments among their student bodies.

It’s the assessment that helped me move forward with my MBA, which in turn made me eligible to teach in a local college. It also helped me realize my passions and gave me “permission” to expand The Referrals Group into the Southeast. We’ve started three new groups since June 2017 and will be starting a fourth in a few more weeks with more on the horizon.

While I’m building my passion, being certified has allowed me to make extra income by helping others who are struggling with what they either want to do as a side hustle or a complete career change. It cost me several hundred dollars to be certified, but I made that back the first week. If someone offers you a side hustle opportunity without some sort of investment (whether it be time, money, or other resources), be wary. There’s always an opportunity cost if it’s legitimate. In addition, don’t overprice your side hustle. But don’t underprice it either. Research. Know the ins and out. Become an expert at it.

I haven’t had people balk at my pricing for the assessment process as it sets people up for future success. I know it works and have witnessed transformation, so I never apologize for my pricing. It’s worth every penny and then some.

I’m sure some of you might be thinking, “Yeah, I’ve taken those personality tests, and they’re pretty much all the same. They tell me I need to be a _____________, and I don’t want to be a _____________.” Or maybe you don’t want to go back to school or maybe you feel too old and you’ve missed your chance. This is why it’s important to have someone who has been trained and is skilled in reading people, interpreting results, asking the right questions, etc to help you delve deep and pull out those dreams that may have gotten buried long ago. Or if your son or daughter is on their way to college, it helps to have an unbiased person who has no agenda whatsoever help them peel back the layers of who they are and give them some tools for future decision making.

I’m honored to have worked with the kid who couldn’t decide between studying to be an orthopaedic surgeon or a financial advisor. I was able to help him work through those two scenarios, and for him it came down to his personal values of time, family, friends, and travel. He’s now a student at the University of GA working on his MBA in finance.

And the woman who was in mid career transition who started a non profit based on her passion for animals.

And the former addict who needed to be reminded he has been given so many gifts and talents and that his passion for sales was legitimate despite what his father wanted.

And the beautiful young woman who suffered from severe depression who now has a wide open beautiful world of opportunity in her future.

I tell you these stories because at the end of the day, if our work isn’t contributing to people’s lives in a positive manner, perhaps we need to rethink what we are doing.

What is your life work doing to help other people? Are you working in your passion? If not, this week The Entrepreneuress Within has provided some great tools to help you get unstuck and to give you ideas and choices to do something different.

If I can ever be of service to you to help you in the first step of discovering yourself again so you can have some fresh wind in your sails to pursue a new adventure, I’m always a click away.

Thanks again Suzy for seeking my perspective. Happy Easter weekend everyone. May the resurrection of our Lord remind you He makes all things new, including our side hustles.

#PeopleMatter

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Transformation Through Loss

So good to see my good friends John and Pam last night. It’s a rare treat to see them these days only because our lives are changing and morphing and taking us in a myriad of directions. We have all experienced so much loss over the last several years and John always asks really good questions.

He was curious if the most recent loss of Laura somehow weaved its way into the overall theme of loss I’ve experienced over the last decade, or if this was more of “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” I think that’s a GREAT question because loss is something we all endure over time, and we all react differently to it. While we can relate somewhat to other people’s feelings, we can’t really ever know the depth of what another person is feeling because we are not them.

For me, the loss of Laura was a breaking away of sorts. It has broken me beyond any other loss in my life – but it’s a brokenness that somehow transcends what humans equate as something negative. It’s a pouring out so to speak of who I am at the core – to not be afraid to venture into the second half of my life a more confident, vibrant woman who will not tolerate mediocrity, who is no longer afraid to establish and keep healthy boundaries, who finally believes there ARE deal breakers in relationships, and who will go to whatever lengths necessary to practice kindness to the world around her. Kindness is something I can practice to myself and others no matter what political, social, or religious upheaval abounds in the world.

Did I come to these conclusions because of Laura’s death? No, they are conclusions that have been brewing for the past decade or so, however the last 5 years of Laura’s life and her death in January were catalysts to help me realize I really do have permission (and an obligation) to not settle anymore.

John and Pam have been spiritual mentors to me for 18 years, and I’ve seen them go through their own periods of profound loss and tragedy. Through it all, their faith never wavers. It’s like a steady beacon I have always been able to look to when my own faith was dangerously shaken.

Our night ended with a question I asked them – what GOOD is happening in your life right now? Ah, what a delight to see their eyes twinkle as they stumbled over each other to elaborate on the good! Wouldn’t it be nice if we all could stumble over each other with excitement to tell each other good things?

I certainly think so.

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Mind Change #1 – Syncretism and American Christianity

I’m thrilled my friend Don Stock is writing these chronicles. I have been on this journey for the last 18 years and have come to many of the same conclusions as have some of my family, friends, and colleagues.

Several months ago I attended a networking event that is sponsored by many of the religious elite in this city. After a pledge of allegiance to our country’s flag, a prayer full of “Our Fathers” and “Lord Gods” and “Jesus name,” and much pomp and circumstance of introducing various business people, I fully expected to see the guns come out, loaded and cocked, with monster truck engines revving in the distant background (they didn’t).

The “leader” of that group personally called me afterwards and asked me not to come back because I was his “competition” (I was only attending because a trusted colleague had asked me to join her for lunch there). I gladly assured him he would never see me at his rally again.

My point in telling that story is there are some religious business men in this community who assume a great many things about those of us who are serving people as best we can with the Kingdom in mind. I would have preferred he call me to ask me for a cup of coffee to clarify my reason and intention for being at that event as he touts it as one that is inclusive of all business people in the city. As I pondered his method for “dealing with me,” I was reminded of my own church experience here in the West and the behavior of those who claim to be my “fellow christians” in ligbt of the current political landscape.

There is a dangerous religious sect who thinks all things they say and believe are right. Perhaps they are. However, I get a bone chilling shiver everytime I am in their presence or hear them rain down condemnation on their fellow humans, excluding them without ever having a decent conversation to get to know them.

It is during these moments I clearly hear Jesus saying, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in THEM you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify ABOUT ME, yet you refuse to come to ME to have life.” [John 5:39-40]

These verses always bring me back to reality because I used to be of the same camp…but the Bible says this and the Bible says that…when Jesus is clearly rebuking us that while we can repeat the Scriptures backwards and forward and beat people to a pulp with them, we better KNOW HIM because HE is the author of the Word, our salvation, and eternal life. When I found those verses so many years ago, I repented of my legalist, Pharisaical heart and went about striving to embrace the love scriptures Don mentions in his blog post (and I regularly continue to bring my legalist judgemental heart before Him as it’s easy to fall back into those behaviors).

It’s such a beautiful, free life when we finally let go of trying to be God and just let Him be who He is, and we be who we are…His image bearers.

The Mosaic Chronicles

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syn·cre·tism
ˈsiNGkrəˌtizəm
noun
  1. the amalgamation or attempted amalgamation of different religions, cultures, or schools of thought.

I first learned the word “syncretism” in my college missions class at Liberty University, some 25+ years ago. In that context, syncretism was discussed as a process that sometimes happens following the introduction of the Gospel to a culture which has its own existing beliefs and practices. In some cases, the message of Jesus and the Bible get added to or merged into the beliefs and/or practices and ideologies of the culture. The depth of the syncretism varies from slight to significant, with the latter resulting in a fundamental change in the message. In extreme cases, the syncretised message becomes what the Gospel is understood to be in that cultural context.

Great. So, whoopee, what does that have to do with anything?

As you may remember, last time, I…

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Be Still

Start looking in expectancy for how God is fighting for us. I think maybe we’ve been seeing things in the wrong order.

We tend to think that when we experience something great it eventually all dissipates with a bombardment of oppression and negativity.

What if it’s really the other way around? What if we are bombarded with this stuff and then as we settle into the truth of Exodus 14:14, God fights for us and brings us whatever we need as a counterattack? Clarity. Truth. Justice. Peace. Answers. Support. Encouragement. Provision. Friendships. Health. A break.

I’m experiencing this in my own world, and in fact have a decorative plate from friends with Exodus 14:14 on it which I’ve placed in full view in my living room. It stares at me every single day reminding me that I don’t need to defend myself. I don’t need to spin my wheels trying to figure it all out. “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

That trauma that threw me for a loop… support and healing.
That person who harshly judged me last week… encouragement and truth.
That person who said my abilities weren’t enough… patience, consistency, and positive coaching.
That paycheck that got shorted due to circumstances outside of my control… provision.

What about you? What crazy curveballs have come your way that if you rethink those times, you can now see the truth of what was either being extended to you to help you get through it OR if you haven’t seen it yet, are you willing to be still long enough to allow the Lord to fight for you?

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Easter, Jesus, & Women

As I ponder the morning of Jesus’ resurrection, I wonder what it must have been like for Mary Magdalene to be the very first person Jesus revealed Himself to outside of the tomb. I think of her for several reasons.

1. In a patriarchal society, Jesus choosing to appear to a woman AND a former prostitute would have been scandalous. But it shows me He loves women tenderly and dearly. He restores. He isn’t bothered with the past. He’s more interested in the future. I can’t wait to hear her story firsthand one day.

2. Jesus celebrated women. Throughout history and cultures, men have always dominated in business, religion, politics, and relationships. When Jesus arrived on the scene, He made it clear through His actions that women were to be celebrated and cared for and included in roles of discipleship, leading, ruling, judging, etc. And even before He arrived in person, the Old Testament has stories pointing to the fact. It was the widow’s jar of oil that miraculously fed the prophet and her household. It was a harlot’s red cord that saved her household when the walls of Jericho fell. It was the woman’s mite in the temple that Jesus recognized as the greater offering. It was the woman’s jar of perfume anointing His feet that he accepted above and beyond the lavish meal before him in the rich man’s house. It was two sisters he loved dearly that He raised their brother from the dead.

3. Finally, it was a woman God chose to have the Holy Spirit descend upon to plant His own seed in her womb so He could be born on the earth to enter our human experience and provide a way of restoration back to Himself. Wow! The very God who created all we see around us (and don’t see) could have chosen a million other ways to show up among us. He could have blared trumpets in the skies and split them open with His first arrival. He didn’t. Instead He chose to enter like we all do, through a mother’s womb. That tells me He is more interested in the full experience of our existence, then He is about “proving” who He is. One day He will…but not that day.

To me, Easter is about resurrection, new life, new beginnings. Easter is about a Man, the God-Man who chose to do what was necessary to give me abundant life and the ability to be with Him for all eternity.

Today I will spend time with a family that is new in my world. They invited me. To me it’s yet another picture of new life in Christ and how He always seeks new relationships for anyone who will call on His name and believe.

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Created for Good Works

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Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works.”

As millions pause around the world to consider their faith and enter a day of rest today (or perhaps you did this yesterday), this verse is a great reminder of what exactly we were created for. As a career consultant, I hear the question “why am I here” all the time and regardless of what your spiritual beliefs are, I think this is a verse everyone can resonate with. We are created to do good things during our lifetime.

What exactly can “good works” look like? I’m sure it’s the medical professionals putting in countless, tiring hours to ensure their patients are well cared for. Legal professionals who fight to ensure their clients are represented well as they look for justice and peace. Parents who work hard to provide for their children. Spiritual teachers who do their best to rightly divide the myriad of soul issues we all struggle with. Business professionals who do a myriad of good work to bring market awareness, to coach and train, to keep our economy running smoothly. And yes, even our politicians (they happen to be human beings as well) who have a huge responsibility to figure out how to maintain law and order (don’t judge them until you’re ready to put your opinions and words into action).

And what about those who try to do good by their friends and partners and spouses? Good works can abound in our relationships with each other.

It can also be the cashiers in our stores and food establishments who often put up with our hurried impatience and self-righteous attitudes at times (don’t act like you’ve never done it) or the waiters who endure our bad tipping habits after church on Sunday (preach!).

You see, everyone has the capacity to decide to do the right thing no matter what their profession, religion, and circumstances are.

What GOOD are you doing in your corner of the world these days?

 

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We Fall Apart: Tragically Beautiful Tribe

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One of my favorite songs is “We Fall Apart” by We as Human. The song is so melodic and hauntingly beautiful as it weaves the story of our human condition stating,

“But isn’t it beautiful
The way we fall apart
It’s magical and tragic all the ways we break our hearts…”

As I spent the entire afternoon yesterday with one my tribal partners, Whitney (we are both lovers of the written word, and both agree “tribe” is what describes certain friendships best), I was elated to hear her refer to our grief journey as “tragically beautiful.”

Some of you know parts of my story and know I’ve talked about the “healing tribe” God has surrounded me with over the last few years. So it should come as no surprise that the tribe is ever expanding and is starting to bring me even greater joy and solace as I begin to settle into the reality of what my life is now.

Laura and I had a vision to provide expanded services to our community in a way that would address the whole person, and I intend to see that vision become reality in the form of The Laura Berrier Foundation as well as a for-profit center that will address the need we both saw in our city. Laura brought a unique perspective because she had been gone for 25 years and came back with fresh eyes and experience in multi-cultural settings. I don’t know what it all looks like yet, but there are pieces that are coming together so quickly I find myself a little overwhelmed.

So when Whitney said this process of grieving was tragically beautiful, I had to agree because I have been reminded of some of the most amazing people that I have the privilege of knowing, and I have been reminded that I am certainly not alone. Grief does have its own beauty because it’s in the grief that sometimes we see the best of the people around us as they genuinely want to help and want to connect, even when/if they don’t know exactly what to say or do.

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The irony of tragically beautiful is so profound, it leaves one wondering if it’s even ok to notice the beauty around you at the exact same time you weep the loss of your beloved. The things they loved seem to jump out at every corner and turn, and you find yourself wanting to experience a bit more of “that” even if it wasn’t your own personal favorite. The lesson I think is, experience the things they love now while you have them just because it brings them joy. In doing so you get to see your person in their happy state and that alone is a beautiful moment you get to share with them. Laura and I were good at that…finding moments to try new things, to try things the other person enjoyed, to say we at least tried something once.

It’s precisely why we experienced the monstrous rush of Niagara Falls and the serene, colorful Vermont countryside… a New York Broadway and the stretched out ocean on the Outer Banks. We both received great joy from watching the first blooms of daffodils in the yard and the delight of Laura’s eyes dancing when a tiny tree frog landed on her shirt. From crashing waves to the faintest meow of a kitten wanting love, we both found these moments incredibly beautiful.

Today I’m going to meet yet another business person in the community whom I’ve never met before. He does acquisitions and mergers and loves working with entrepreneurs and small businesses. I’m saddened because he probably could have provided insight for Laura and been someone she would have referred to over time, but I’m also excited as I get to lean in and hear his story and perhaps find a way to connect him. Laura and I shared this passion…hearing people’s stories and figuring out a way to weave them into other people’s stories. I am sad that I can’t introduce him to her, but I know she would be cheering me on as I find ways to bring him into my own tragically beautiful life.

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