Joa Ahern-Seronde

Joa Ahern-Seronde

Joa Ahern-Seronde

“In order to retain good people, you need to give them growth opportunities

“In order to retain good people, you need to give them growth opportunities. They’re going to find them elsewhere if you don’t provide them. When you keep people so siloed, so bubbled, and just focusing on the task in front of them, that gives them just too much latitude to get engaged and interested in other things.”
– Joa Ahern Serrand

Episode Summary:
In this episode, I had an insightful conversation with Joa Ahern-Seronde, a founding member of the Catalyst and a career strategist. We explored the importance of finding meaning in one’s career, setting meaningful goals, and creating supportive work environments. Joa shared her experiences as an activist in the career development and employment industry and emphasized the significance of community in shaping our professional journeys. We also discussed the value of mentorship and the interconnectedness of personal and professional growth. Joa highlighted the importance of self-care and service, as well as the need for individuals to strengthen their “asking for help” muscle. Our conversation emphasized collaboration over competition and the positive impact that collaborative environments can have on both personal and professional growth. Join us as we delve into these fascinating topics and learn how to nourish risk-takers in the workplace and beyond.


(0:00:00) – Nourishing Risk Takers
(0:03:34) – Exploring Meaningful Career Development Goals
(0:09:33) – Creating Meaningful Workplace
(0:19:32) – The Importance of Nourishing Career Development
(0:32:21) – Self-Care and Service
(0:37:01) – Collaboration Over Competition

Chapter Summaries:

(0:00:00) – Nourishing Risk Takers (4 Minutes)
In this podcast episode, we explore the journey of Joa Ahern-Seronde, a founding member of the Catalyst and a career strategist. Joa shares her background in psychology and therapy, leading her to work in graduate admissions and eventually establish a company in that field. As a career strategist, Joa helps people align their passions and skills to create meaningful and impactful careers. We discuss the importance of community and how Joa’s experiences have shaped her role as an activist within the career development and employment industry.

(0:03:34) – Exploring Meaningful Career Development Goals (6 Minutes)
In this part of the conversation, we delve into the importance of finding meaning in one’s career and understanding the reasons behind our professional choices. Joa discusses how she is passionate about helping people answer the crucial question of why they are doing what they do, especially for those who have been doing the same job for five to ten years. We also explore how career development can happen within the same company and the significance of setting meaningful goals. Furthermore, we touch on the balance between focusing on outcomes and enjoying the process along the way’

(0:09:33) – Creating Meaningful Workplace (10 Minutes)
In this section of the conversation, we discuss the impact of meaningful goals and processes in one’s career, as well as the importance of internal growth within a company. We explore the value of mentorship and cross-mentorship, as well as the potential benefits and challenges for both employees and corporations in fostering better communication and collaboration. Additionally, we address the potential consequences of losing talented employees and the importance of nourishing and developing resources to create a thriving work environment.

(0:19:32) – The Importance of Nourishing Career Development (13 Minutes)
In this portion of the episode, we explore the recognition that nourishment comes from external sources and should be incorporated into our lives in various ways. We discuss the importance of seeking support before reaching burnout and the significance of personal and career development after landing a job. The conversation also touches on the interconnectedness of personal and professional growth, the impact of alternative business models on creativity, and the value of community support in maintaining nourishment in our lives’

(0:32:21) – Self-Care and Service (5 Minutes)
In this part of the episode, we examine the significance of integrating personal growth and support in business communities. We discuss the importance of allowing individuals to be their whole selves in professional settings and the benefits of open communication about personal struggles. We also touch on the necessity of self-care for service providers and the potential ripple effects of burnout on the lives and careers of those around us. Overall, fostering a supportive environment where individuals can share their challenges and receive assistance can be life-changing and beneficial for everyone involved’

(0:37:01) – Collaboration Over Competition (10 Minutes)
In this part of the episode, we discuss the importance of asking for help and receiving support from others. Joa Ahern-Seronde emphasizes the need for individuals to strengthen their “asking for help” muscle and create a community of support around them. We also touch on the challenges of maintaining control while asking for help and the relief that comes from letting go of that control. The conversation highlights the value of decentralizing responsibilities and the positive impact that collaborative environments can have on both personal and professional growth.

Today, I am joined by Joa Ahern Seronde, that’s perfect. Excellent. Now Joa is an incredible member of the catalyst. Actually, Like, the founding member, it was like your number two. You were in the door. You were like, yes. I have no idea what the catalyst is, but it sounds cool. Let me in. And now you’re in your second year. I can’t believe we’re in our second year of the catalyst. But you are an incredible member. I know that you showed up and you I will never forget it. You’re like, listen, I’m probably not even gonna start my business until, like, April. And then January, you were like, oh my god. We we have a business and it is like and then now you just continued to rise and keep going. And I love having you in there, and I know the other members are just they get it so excited when you come in the room. You can tell everyone’s like, and then the the chat box show up. And I think that’s a testament to not only how you show up in your personal life, your career, but just how you show up in community and how you really just give just openly and your generous with your, you know, your experience, your skills, your love, and you’re definitely an incredible member of the catalyst but we are talking here today about nourishing the risk takers. Now give us a little spiel of what you do in your career. Yeah.

Currently, I’m a career strategist, and I help people put together all of the pieces of their wireless streams to make sure that they’re doing something that feels aligned with who they are and what impact they want to have in the world. I love working with people who are just dedicated to impact of some sort. And I’ve got a whole career history of of pieces that have come together to this moment. My training is as a psychology I worked as a therapist for a number of years. I was always fascinated by meaning making, how we make meaning of the things that are happening to us, many of which are beyond our control, some of which are within our control, fewer than we like to think usually. And from there, I I moved through a space of working predominantly in graduate admissions, and I actually still have a company that that works in graduate admissions as well, which is very hand in hand with career development and career strategy. Especially people who are applying for MBAs, professional masters, they’re often not applying straight out of undergrad. They’re often going off to the workforce, to build skills, gain experience, do more refinement about what they wanna do, and at a certain point, they come to a decision of wanting to get a higher degree in order to further that. And so all of these skills have come together. The the career strategy is what I love, and I apply that in a number of different ways. Yeah. And it’s been really interesting because in the in the workrooms of the catalyst. We we we talk about your business and the growth strategy of actually, like, running your business. But I think it’s been really interesting to see how you have really stepped into that role of activists within the career development or the employment industry.

Give me a little bit of background. Like, why did you decide to be so like, because you could just be, you know, I’m gonna help you do your resume. I’m gonna help you do it, but you really are very vocal in that industry. Walk me through why that came to be. Yeah. I think I think the the roots are in that fascination with meaning making, you know. I think that There’s, of course, always the nuts and bolts of of of an activity, whether it’s something we’re doing in our personal life, whether it’s something for career development, there’s nuts and bolts of formatting made. There’s nuts and bolts of structuring a cover letter if it’s required. There’s nuts and bolts of putting together a LinkedIn profile. But the meaning making part, the part that is really near and dear to my heart, is why are you doing it? To what end? And that the answer to that question is what I love. That’s what lights me up and that’s what allows me to bring a special kind of spark and energy to the work that I do with people because sometimes people have never answered that question for themselves or they’ve answered in a way that you can tell when it comes out of their mouth that it’s like a recording of something they’ve heard. Mhmm.

I work with a lot of people who are right in that five to eight, eight to ten year window of work experience. And people in this window are really fascinating because many times they are doing a thing that they decided to do five or eight or ten years ago, and they’re still doing it. Yeah. And they haven’t actually examined why. They they are just still doing it. And maybe the maybe the impetus to ask why has come from an external source. Maybe they just haven’t sort of been promoted or they’ve plateaued or they’ve gotten bored or they’re not inspired. You know, it can be external or it can be internal. But either way, there’s often time a question within that window of, why am I doing this? Do I love doing this? Do I want to do this for another five or eight or ten years? Yeah. And and I love coming in in that window of time to help people explore those options and to figure out, well, why are you doing it? I’m sure there was a good reason. Is it still a good reason? Do you want a different answer? What would that look like? And and that’s that’s the part that just that really, really keeps me so fascinated and interested in what I do.

And when we think about career development, I mean, I just the thought of spending, you know, eight plus hours thinking I mean, I say plus because, you know, rarely do you go home at the end of your day. Even like when I worked in customer service, I was like, so thinking, like, you know, the next my next shift, I’m probably gonna do this. So I’m spending hours. I’m giving hours to my job even when I’m not actually in the building. We think about career development, it’s like eight plus hours a day. That’s a significant part of our waking hours.

And if we’re not doing something that really, like, excites us and nourishes us and fuels us, that shortens our lifespan. Like, that’s that’s it’s just science. It’s just science when you’re miserable. Or you’re in board. Actually, board them is really interesting, especially when we start to look at some of the neurological diseases that we’re focusing like dimension or like that boredom. Right? It’s like our brain just is like, I got nothing else to do, so we’re just gonna start we don’t wanna do that. We want to keep people engaged. And also, our society requires, like, people to be giving our ideas.

And so I think about companies too that have not fully developed their employee base, their team base, to be active participants, to be you know, engaged and excited about their job, all we have is this endless cycle of burnout and exhaustion. So how can a person who is looking to develop their career? Can I say, okay? No. Wait. I I need to change I need to change this. They can either switch their job or I mean, career development also can help happen in the company that you’re currently in. How does that work? What’s that kind of process? I know you work with people to do that? To kind of explore. What does that look like even when they’re still seeing in the company they’re in. That’s right. That’s right. Yeah. It so you’re absolutely right.

It can you get to that point of sort of questioning or, you know, realizing that maybe something has to change one way or another. It can be very dramatic. It can be new into It can be new role. It can be new all the things. And it can also be very subtle. And and some of that subtlety would be, for example, staying within the same company and and figuring out what what the path is to get to a meaningful goal. You know?

I think that there’s a lot of talk about setting goals for yourself. I don’t think there’s as much talk about how to set a meaningful goal. Right? Like, you know, it’s a meaningful goal. Enjoy the process of getting to the goal too. Right? We gotta get to that goal. But, like, how do we still have fun and enjoyment along the way? That’s right. That’s right.

And I was I was actually just a sort of LinkedIn chatting on a on a thread about this about outcome versus process. I’m very process oriented. And and I would love it if more people embrace a process orientation. But of course, culturally, we’re also very outcome driven, you know. And and even within resume writing, it’s like, what are your metrics? What are the outcomes? But it’s you know, the the art of it is understanding that, you know, talking about the metrics, talking about the outcome is actually a way it’s it’s an opportunity to showcase what the process was. In order to get there. Metrics and outcome are really just how you display impact. Yeah. And so helping people understand that there’s some industries that are really, you know, easy to write a resume for because you have, like, percent ROI You have you know, like, you you’ve got numbers. You’ve got actual numerics to put you very much. But we forget about the process along the way. Tell enough of these stories. We don’t talk about the whole team. I mean, like you said, on the resume, it’s really just what we got to the end.

I always like to encourage when I help people do resumes because I have a little a little hobby on the side. I help people because I love it. But it is it it was really due. Like, there’s the impact, there’s the number, but what was the experience along the way? And what was your role in that? Like, and how did you, you know, what did you discover about yourself?

And I know that seems really strange because we’re used to seeing these resumes where it’s like, you know, shuffled papers for three years at this place. And it’s like, yeah. But what was the shuffling of the paper? What was the what what did you actually do? And how did it make you feel? And what did you love about it? What did you what would you like to make it even better? Put that in your resume. Right? Because it’s different, and it actually does talk about you as a person as opposed to just the tasks that you did and we’ll talk about that more in the other podcast for being in the room because I think that’s a really great focus is like who you are as an employee outside of your tasks or the goals you achieve. Right? That’s right. Yeah.

But to to get to your your other question that you asked, which was a great one, how do you how do you look at changing and your career and being more inspired and having meaningful goals and a meaningful process? Even in the context of where you are, that internal growth within a company can be so impactful and can be so rewarding. And I think that that’s where talking with someone like me can be very helpful because I’m removed from the situation. I’m not a player in the contact but I can help you see outside of yourself to understand what strategic moves you might be able to make in order to do that. And a lot of that looks like mapping out the hierarchy within your organization. Mhmm.

Think about what the values and goals are of your organization. And then paying attention to who is who sort of has their finger on the pulse of that and who’s calling the shots about it. And then you work out ways to make yourself valuable to those people. And I don’t mean that in a transactional way. I mean that in terms of, you know, saying to yourself, alright, these are the values and goals of this organization. I care about this organization and I wanna stay in it. You know, what am I offering that’s going to make this move forward? And then how do I put myself in front of the people who are going to recognize it? Yeah. You know?

And and some of that looks like just partnering with with people in the organization. Some of it looks like seeking out really valuable mentorship. I can’t tell you how many managers make or break an employee’s experience by virtue of how well or not well they handle being managed. And and I think that finding that mentorship, whether it’s in your direct supervisor or other people within the organization is credibly important if you’re interested in staying in that organization. Yeah. I think that mentorship, the cross mentorship is really powerful.

I’ve been in a few positions in my corporate career where I asked to actually be mentored by other lines with the business lines within the organization, partly so that I could just understand even, like, I’m just learning, like, what their challenges and obstacles where I was in a marketing or communications position all the time or a web design position. So to be able to understand how to make their their operations or their their day even better was something that allowed me to really stretch my brain. But it also allowed me to see different managerial styles and different leadership styles. And I think it’s really and how their team reacts or interacts with those styles is really fascinating and being able to shadow people or to be mentored by other people across the organization. I mean, from an internal communications standpoint, dream dream. Right? And I wish more corporations would actually create structures that allow that to happen easily because I think it’s really powerful when all of your lines of business communicate with each other.

One hundred percent. One hundred percent. And and it’s valuable for the employees because it gives them more context, the more context they have for what they do, the more opportunities they have to see what impact their their piece of work has on everything else. The more meaningful they’re going to find what they’re doing, and the more interested they’re going to be in working towards a common goal. When you when you keep people so siloed, so bubbled, and just focusing on the task in front of them, that gives them just too much latitude to get engaged and interested in other things. And and maybe that’s that’s good for them. Maybe that’s what’s needed.

But if you you as a company are interested in retaining good people, you need to give them those growth opportunities. They’re gonna find them elsewhere if you don’t provide them. Yeah. I mean, we talk about nursing the risk takers and I often reference leaders and, you know, game changers and culture creators. But that isn’t just the people who are the managers and the directors, like, leaders are everybody on the team. And so being able to recognize that you are nourishing the people who are creating the ideas, who are implementing them who are refining them. That is so important. And if you’re a business owner and you’re listening to us and think, oh, I don’t have a team right now, you’re the employee, you are the team. So start, like, focusing on how you create an environment that nourishes you so that when you do add to your team, you’re able to recognize where things work and don’t work. And if you’re listening to this and you’re a major corporation really heads up. Okay, because this is game changing in the industry right now.

Like you said, if you want to retain people, if you wanna you know, if you want to actually have people be there for longer terms, which you do, you know, to a point. But you want you want to make sure that the because it costs a lot. What was it? You said nine months or something like that. It costs nine months to nine months until someone’s salary to lose them and have to hire and retrain a new person for that role. You know, I was looking at ninety hundred and twenty thousand dollars per person that you could be losing in your in non that’s just like that’s just for the recruiting and the onboarding process. That isn’t even your impact to your bottom line because everybody else is trying to shuffle and and take over a position that is suddenly vacant. So there’s a lot of impact into that. Plus, you’re missing their great ideas. Right? They’ve now gone to your competitor, and they’re bringing their great ideas there. So the there’s a ripple effect there.

So if you’re in yeah. So if you’re in that corporation, this is it. We gotta start listening to people like Joa, who are really saying, here’s the thing. So so you’re helping people, you know, buy your activism, you’re helping people become more in control of their career, creating the work environments that that really allow them to thrive, but you’re also creating that activism in corporations, in businesses to say, okay, I gotta change the way. We have to stop exploiting our resources and actually nourishing and developing them. That’s right. That’s right.

And in fact, the ripple effect that you just scribe goes even further. You know, like, yes, you lose that one person. Yes, there’s the cost of, you know, rehiring and onboarding a new person. But there’s all and then the potential of, like, losing that person skills to a competitor, there’s also the contagion effect because if that if you have lost somebody who has had an incredible impact on the people who they interact with — Yep. — their moving can inform other people that that is an option. There is nothing like seeing someone do it to make you believe you can do it too. Yeah. And so you all of a sudden run the risk of losing all of the good people in a department, not just one good person in the partnering.

Because the number one way that people network and think about where they might go, when I ask them, what what else could you do? What else might you wanna do? The number one thing that people look to, for examples, is people they know who have made the exact change they’re thinking about doing. Absolutely. And companies are now getting wise. When they buying really great talent. They’re like, who else in your department? Should we be looking at inviting over here? Because you you know, people are like, yeah. Actually, I really worked well with this other person. We worked really well together. I would love to have them on the scene because I think they would thrive here. Boom. You know? It’s done. It’s done. It’s done. I I see it happen on a monthly basis. I see it happen on a monthly basis.

If you’re a company and you are worried about experiencing that, you need to figure out how to prevent it. You need to be proactive about preventing it. Yeah. And even now, it’s already reactive. Right? It’s already too late to be proactive. Now you can be reactive and then you have to build out really five to ten years from now because that’s the reality of corporate structure and change, is that a bigger core corporations. The bigger you are, the slower it is to turn. And but it is the higher it is to turn. So that’s you know, like, these are things that we used to say in corporations. It’s like, and communications. It was like, listen, we’re losing all of our people. We need to move and, like, it’s just so slow. In smaller businesses, I think there’s a lot more small and medium businesses. There’s a lot more opportunity to create change really quickly. So it’s like you might be looking at things that are changing in two or three years. But the reality is that’s what you’re looking at right now. So the implementation that you’re doing, even though you think it’s some big change, it’s really not going to see that result until a couple years down the road because it it’s just that’s just the way that change happens change management happens.

So let’s talk about more nourishing. So what does it actually mean to nourish yourself both as an employee, as somebody who’s working on their career development? But also, as you’re planning out your career development even farther, what does that look like to nourish? Yeah. Oftentimes, it looks like seeking out help in one form or fashion. And help can look a lot of different ways. You know? It can look like resources. It can look like community. It can look like mentorship. It can look like championship. You know, there’s a there’s a thing going around LinkedIn right now. Like, you don’t need a mentor, you need champion. You don’t need someone who’s gonna sort of passively, like, mentor, you need someone who’s gonna, like, push and push for you. Right. Into spaces where you need to be in order to to have the growth that you wanna have, to have the impact you wanna have.

So I think that it it all comes down to recognizing that you can’t do it alone. Right? Like, nourishment comes from external places. Can we have to make the choice to incorporate it into our lives. It can look like hiring someone like me. It can look like talking with peer peer groups about what they’re doing for their career growth. It can look all of these different ways. And and it should look all of these different ways. It’s it’s the best for that. It should not be just one thing. We we all need a diverse sort of spectrum of nourishment in order to be able to do what we need to do.

And one of the things that we’ve discussed that I really love on the nourishment, especially what you do with folks, is is really coming to someone like Joa before it really hurts. So I think what a lot of people do is they’ll try and hire someone to help them, you know, with the interview and the resume. But really, you need someone, like, even when you just start to feel a little comfortable or just or just a little bit, like, maybe there’s something else, because then you can really define and experiment with different industries, different pivots, bringing your skill set to maybe a completely different focus by giving yourself that time. And maybe you even do you work with people like Joa or Joa specifically, when things are really good. Because then you can also make sure that you’re always developing your career when you’re feeling good as opposed to waiting until you’re really burnt out to do so.

And then we’ve talked about the career development that happens right after you get a job. Right? So it’s like, okay. Thanks, Joa. I got the most, you know, the best job ever. Thanks. You did a good job and then goodbye. Well, no. Right? It’s that first three, six, nine months that you’re in a position that really can define your future in that in that industry, in that company. So talk to me about that, about what it’s like to work with you after you get the job. That’s right.

So I will say that this this way of of approaching it of sort of having support through the job acquisition, if you will, and then continuing with the support after is particularly important for certain groups of people. Certain groups of people are going to sound like a real broad spectrum when I say this out loud, but it’s very good for people who have been in toxic work environments in the past. And unfortunately, the nature of capitalism and our sort of the way we structure work and employment, almost everybody checks that box. Then the reason why it’s important is because the first thirty, sixty, ninety days ideally are about you weaving yourself into the fabric of what you’re doing at your job, which means you’re building all of those internal support pieces. You’re finding that that tours. You’re working with a supervisor. You’re going through the onboarding process, which hopefully is robust and does what it needs to do. Other story because many of them don’t.

But having someone like me, again, it’s that I’m not part of the system, I’m external. I’m a safe place to be able to play out and sound board and work strategically on what is happening without feeling like you have to put it all on the line in order to seek out that help. Unfortunately, sort of this myth of, like, bootstrapping and individualism, tells us that we’re supposed to be able to do it all ourselves. I have a lot of clients who really struggle being able to ask for help even when that’s, like, literally the objective of your first thirty days is to ask for help and training and get support to learn I have I have clients who are sometimes actually terrified to do that. They they become completely paralyzed and then they’re much more likely to bottom out in the first ninety days.

It’s not because they didn’t have the skills. It’s not because they weren’t able to do the work. It’s not because they wouldn’t have been an incredible asset to the company. It’s because they cannot integrate into that system. And so working with someone like me gives an opportunity to just breathe, have the breathing space to be able to reflect on it, to hear the words out loud, to to practice and template out what it looks like to to go through these steps. Even people who are ten or twelve years into their career, sometimes have never integrated functionally into a work space before. And and it’s it’s a terrible thing because, of course, do they have incredible skills? Yes. But these skills have sort of been built dramatically. Right? And and what they need is to detoxify what has happened. A especially especially when they find the place that is not toxic. That’s usually like, it people feel like it’s the golden ticket. They’re like, oh, the place isn’t toxic, so I’ll be okay. But if you’re bringing years of learned behavior to toxicity into that, it’s still gonna be so hard. Sometimes it’s even harder because it’s interrupting all of those patterns you have.

In how you approach your work, how you think of your professionalism, how you hold your own experience. So it’s not just career development, it’s personal development as well. That’s right. That’s right. And and that really ties into my philosophy. You know, you you talked about how I sort of have an activism approach and that meaning making piece, you know, I I believe that we we bring our whole selves to work. And there’s a lot of different ways that, you know, people mask or people leave parts of their self outside of work, but your whole body is there. You know, one way or another. And even if you’re leaving parts of it, you know, sort of in the back seat, still in the car with you. Right? And so I think that it’s incredibly interconnected. And and and people who understand that interconnection are the people who I love to work with because we if we wanna have impact, if we want to make these major changes that are so critical in our world right now. I mean, our world is in pretty dire crisis in a lot of different ways. We need people who are bringing their whole selves. That means all of their creativity, all of their exploration, all of their skills, all of their experiences. We need that holistic all hands on deck if we’re gonna be able to have any hope of making making changes in these critical ways. Yeah.

I remember hearing somebody one time saying, oh, I don’t wanna give my my best ideas to that company because it’s somebody else’s company. And all this and I thought, oh, no. Like, first of all, it it sounds like, you know, we only have a certain amount of great ideas. It’s like, and I’m not giving them to you. But the other side of it was that, oh, they didn’t have a company where they felt like they could be a part of those great ideas and developing them and bringing them in and creating a difference in that industry that they were in. And I get where, you know, that comes from, again, capitalism burnout exhaustion and, like, just not being appreciated or respected or nourish within that company. But I just it was like the saddest thing. It’ll always echo in my head because I thought, oh, no. Like, that is, like, my worst fear.

As I bring people on in my team for the catalyst. I want people who are actively like, you know what would make this really good? And I was like, yeah. Yeah. Let’s hear it. I want that. Right? And I want them to have that ownership and then be able to see their idea come to life and then create impact because that’s that becomes this communal mission. It becomes a communal impact. I don’t wanna steal their ideas, and then I’d be them be like, oh, sorry, those are mine. You you develop them on company time. Like, that stuff is horrible. But it’s actually like being able to be an active participant to see your ideas, to experiment, to try them out, I think that’s the best thing for me as a company to be able to have a team that feels open to doing that. Yeah. And and, you know, that’s that’s one of the reasons why I’m I’m sort of transfixed by alternative business models.

You know, I think that what you’re talking about, that sort of, oh, I don’t wanna give my idea away. First of all, it comes from a scarcity mindset. Like you mentioned, like, that they’re the ideas will run out. You only get a certain number, and so you can’t give them away. That’s not that’s on how it works. Of course. We know that.

An abundance, you know, seeing seeing that a good idea multiplies more good ideas is, you know, that’s the that’s the aha moment that we hope to get more people to. But the other part of that is, like, within our within our capital system, within a really strictly hierarchical corporation. You know, there is that sort of idea of ownership and proprietary information and what is the dollar value of the thing that’s coming out of my mouth and who is reaping the reward of that dollar value? And alternative business models, you know, cooperatives, places where, you know, employees can feel like there’s decentralized power that that they have an ability to contribute in a way that is going to benefit them tangibly, that’s the word, tangibly at the end of the day. That just allows more of that breathing room, that space to feel free to let those ideas come out to play and and have that be something that is mutually beneficial, literally financially, all the way across the board. Absolutely.

So we’re coming to that time in the podcast and I gave you a heads up this time. But, you know, I like to know, how do you nourish yourself? You’re a business owner, you’re a mom of two businesses, a mom, a partner, you know, a person out in the world, you have family, you’re a caregiver, How does nourishment fit into that? Yeah. Boy, you know, I I wish that I had a great answer. And on the other hand, I don’t wish so they had a great idea.

Didn’t say I had vegetables yesterday and I drank water because that was We did celebrate that night. That’s true. We did celebrate that in the workroom last night. I did so many healthy things yesterday. I exercise. I talk to my therapist. I drink water. I ate vegetables. And like, at eight thirty after the four year old got put to bed. I was like, I’m screaming across the finish line. Everything’s amazing. Right?

And so, like, there are those days that that feel like, oh, yeah, I checked the boxes. I did the thing. And there are days where I don’t ask for help. You know, I I’ve had major family crises where I have just not talked to anybody about it for weeks because I just sort of can’t go there. And I get paralyzed. So, you know, I’m I’m modeling because I think that’s really important that, you know, it’s a work in progress. We oftentimes figure out how to nourish our when we’ve already hit male nourishment. And what I what I hope for myself and for the people who I interact with is that I’m creating a space for it not to get to that point to be more proactive about it and to have grace for ourselves when we don’t nail it. When it isn’t like the water exercise therapy, vegetable. Right? You know, like, not all days are like that. That’s that’s unfortunately the reality. But that doesn’t mean that tomorrow isn’t another opportunity for it.

So the other thing too, you mentioned that I was, like, number two into the catalyst. I think, you know, I’ve always felt very strongly that community is one of the number one ways to be supported just across the board. And that that It probably even predates my psychology training, but I was lucky enough to attend a master’s program that was very community oriented. And I had great community support. It was model to me. It was, you know, accessible to me. I part you know, I participated in creating it. With other people. I had an amazing peer support group that I joined immediately after graduation. People in my cohort, we were all going to different agencies to do therapeutic work and we recognize the value of that community space, that sound board space, that holding container outside of our professional selves. And we met we met monthly for for years. And it was one of the most pivotal pieces of my career development, even aside from the fact that I’m not an active therapist now, it still is something that really formed who I am professionally. And and when I saw when I saw you start posting about this idea of the community court. For the catalyst, it felt like it was gonna be the the sort of level up version of that that I needed for what I was doing with my business growth? Yeah. I mean, we we really do kinda blend this, like, growth, you know, strategy with the whole support.

I think one of the things that I the reason why I started was because we took book psychology, but we I was in Facebook groups, and I could see where people weren’t allowed to be their whole selves. Showing up. So it’s like you’re in a business group. I’m sorry you’re going through something, but that’s it’s not really appropriate here. And it’s like, what? Like, I’m a business owner. This pays my bills. Everything that happens in my life can, like, impact my success as a business owner.

When we start to fractal, like, bringing people apart, and it’s like, you can only show up here like this. And I can see this in corporations too. Right? It’s like you you you you’re having personal issues, you’re not allowed to bring them. As opposed to having this open conversation, like, this week, I’m not gonna be my best self. I’m going through a major, you know, some of these passed away, the three day the three day bereavement of a closed personal, like, your child, your spouse, died, and they give you three days. What? Like, that doesn’t even how do you come back and be, you know, a productive member, but we don’t have those conversations. We don’t say Listen, right now, my energy I haven’t slept in a week. We I have I’m not gonna be my best self. While when you’re running a business, it’s really hard to do that. Because you really do have these instances.

I remember during the panorama that a colleague of mine called me from the hospital She’s like but she’s like, I’m about to go on events later. I I have some clients that are I she’s like, can you just help me with a script? I can’t focus, and I need to tell them that there is the potential that I don’t come off the ventilator, but that their accounts will still be taken care of. And I was like, is this happening? Right? Yes. Absolute and I was like, yes. Absolutely. I will write this for you. Like, we’ll get this out. And then I was like, do I need to do you need give me your account access. Like, I’ll make sure that they’re all running. But this is a this is a reality. She’s from the hospital — Right. — the doctors standing there waiting to put on the ventilate and that and she’s just getting these last minute things going.

And I thought, wow. Like, we need communities where we can actually step in and and say, okay, you’re going through something. Here’s how we can help. Here’s how we can do this. And that’s what we’re trying to foster in there. And you’ve seen that. Like, how you see that? Where people are just like, I’m in I’m in the moment. I I don’t know what to do. I can’t even write an email, and it’s like, no problem. Let’s do it. Like, let’s just do that. That’s right. That’s right. And it’s it’s literally life changing, and I’ve seen it be life changing. And it’s it’s life changing in those moments where you’ve, like, hit the wall and you’re, like, I can’t. And I need But also, I was just I was in the workroom right before I popped onto this interview, and I was talking with BBA.

And, you know, we were talking about how critical it is when you are a service provider, when you are literally providing a service, you are being in service of someone else. The absolute essential prerequisite of filling yourself up, making sure that you are whole and present when you are in service with someone else because the depletion is real. Yeah. You know? Like, I yeah. I format resumes. Right? But I am also there in service of someone else to hear the stories of their last workplace trauma of the toxicity to celebrate the successes, to help them even put words to things that they have accomplished, that they have never put words to before. Mhmm. Right? It’s a full energetic interaction. And if you aren’t drinking your water or any of your vegetables and exercising and talking to your therapist. Now, if you’re not doing the things to support yourself going into that, you are doing a disservice to yourself and to the person who has come to you. Yeah. And doing it when things are when times are good.

I always tell the story of, like, the friend was going through massage therapy and they basically said that the life span, a career span of massage therapist about twelve years because it’s just such a physical impact on body. And I’m like, oh my god. That’s because we only go to massage therapist when we are sore and our muscles are all locked up. Imagine if we go to massage therapist when our muscles are limber and we keep going, that’s going to be less wear and tear on their body. So we think about these ripple effects of burning ourselves out and exhausting ourselves out has impact, not just on our own lives, but anybody that we work with, our service our our support system, it has an effect. So it’s like we wait until we’re totally burnt out to go see the therapist. Guess what? The therapist then has to like, it’s, like, really, like, we’re here again. I mean, they’re not gonna say that, but you know that. It takes a toll on them. We see a lot of burnout with therapists because they’re only hearing the bad shit. What if we actually came and brought them like good stuff and said, hey, how can we make this even better? Well, that’s gonna have a ripple effect. On their own career. So it’s really thinking about that. Absolutely.

And, you know, I think that that’s really in line with one of the things that I that I work with, you know, for clients, oftentimes people are running from a burning building. Right? They’re like, I gotta get out of this job. I gotta get out of this organization like this is terrible, but you often run the risk of running into another burning building if what you’re doing is running out of a burning building. Right? So, like, rather than running from something, what are you running towards? And and I think that it’s a whole lot easier to envision that when you’re not when you haven’t just come out of the flames. Right. Sure. So so doing it, you know, doing it when times are good, thinking about, like, what would make this even better. Right? It’s okay to get support for that, you know.

And I think that culturally, we’re not good enough about owning our successes and achievements and sell celebrating it, but, like, the celebration looks like, how do you make it even better? Right? Like, Bask in it? For sure Bask in it. It’s not like it’s not a churn, churn, churn kind of pressure, but, like, basket it and grow it, like, make it be even better. Yeah. So is it easy for you to ask for help? No. No. It’s not. It’s not, you know, and I there’s a lot of reasons for that, which, you know, I’m not gonna talk about here. But, no, it’s not it’s not easy to ask for help. But here’s what I’ll say about it.

It’s a muscle that you strengthen. And so you have to arrive at the moment of being, like, oh, I have that muscle group. I could strengthen it. Like, you have to get there first. And then you can build out the plan to strengthen it. Right? And that looks like leaning into community. That looks like watching what other people are doing. That looks like when you’re, you know, to a point where you can start sharing it out loud. It looks like modeling it for other people. Yeah. So that that way, there’s not this illusion. I mean, I I talk with other business owners about this.

There’s a solution that, like, solar panels are, like, these mythical beings who have done all the things by themselves. Like, meanwhile, they have, like, higher ghost writers and, like, I mean, like, the list goes on of, like, the support that they’ve actually, you know, used in order to get there, which is great. But they don’t know how about it. So it it promotes this idea to everybody from the outside looking in that, like, you should just be able to do it yourself. Like, that’s what solar procuring is. No. It’s not like soloprenurring is. Yeah. Yeah. So along those lines too, the other muscle you mentioned, so we strengthen our muscle, but the other muscle that supports that is our ability to receive nourishment, to receive help. What’s that like for you when you leaving nourishment. Yeah. I mean, the thing about it is, you know, I think I’ll I’ll speak for my personal experience.

You know, my resistance to asking for help is often a control issue. It’s because I wanna be in control. And if I ask for help, I have this misassumption. That I am no longer in control. Mhmm. But conversely, when I do ask for help, it actually feels like an incredible, like, relaxation of that tension. Because even though part of me wants to be in control, the opportunity to not have to be in control is like like, it’s ten massages. Right? It’s like, oh my god. I don’t have to be in control. And I don’t know if it’s, like, life stage or just time that has passed or age. But I something has shifted in me where I don’t feel like, I even want to hold all that control. The pressure is too high.

And and, you know, when we look at this in a parallel process. Right? Like, no one person should have to be the whole thing. Right? Like, we need to we need to decentralize. No one person should be holding all the things. That client that you had who was gonna be put on the ventilator, like, there there needs to be people who can step into that role seamlessly if something happens to her because if we can’t take vacation if we can’t have a family emergency, if we can’t be missing for a day, and then it all falls apart when we’re not there, then what are we even doing? Right? Like, no one person needs that. So understanding that, seeing that through the eyes of people I work with as well has really helped me understand and feel differently about asking for help and both and then receiving help. Yeah.

One of the best things I think I did early on when I started to see the oh oh, the catalyst is something that is pretty valuable. Was doing some continuity planning so that something were to happen to me that the space keeps going on. And it it’s it was one of those things where it took a lot of weight off of my shoulders knowing that the plan was in place and that I had the legal requirements and all that kind of stuff to happen in that I, you know, it it was like that was also being nourished. That was also supporting myself in a way that, you know, allows what I’m building here to keep going. Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely.

I remember hearing you talk about that, and it was it’s like it felt like a categorical shift for you. And and I think that that’s a a beautiful example of how even though we want to be, like, many of us want to be sort of like, you know, the unique one, the special one, the one who keeps it all together, like, no. Because if you fall down on that job for any reason, Like, then what? Nobody wants the then what? Right? It’s easy to want it when it’s all sunshine, but the then what is what you have to consider and and cooperatives, collectives, decentralizing is really where it’s at for us to all be healthier and more whole. I love it. Well, we’re coming to the end of our podcast time.

Is there anything you would like people to know about how to work with you where they can find you. I’ll put your LinkedIn link up here, but just tell us a little bit about how they can work with you and find you. Yeah. Absolutely. Definitely find me on LinkedIn. I love connecting with people. Feel free to follow if you’re shy and you don’t wanna connect, but I I say yes to connect Send me a note, tell me about yourself. If you’d like to work with me, you can book a discovery call. The work that I do, you may have come to understand through this conversation is is pretty deeply personal, and I think that it’s very important to do this with someone who’s a good fit. So I I always do discovery calls, free of charge, to start with so that we can really get to know each other a little bit and and understand what I might be able to do to help support and whether it’s a good fit And from there, I do one on one consultations with people that can look like one offs and it can also look like longer term packages.

To support job search, job growth, career development, and even after the job acquisition into the the getting to know you phase of the thirty six ninety days. I love it. And I just wanna recognize you, Jo, this often makes me cry. I just I really think you’re a fantastic person. Of course, you did a huge thing for me because I didn’t know you and it was like the second person that bought into the Catalyst. I’m like, who is this person? I don’t know. Oh my gosh. They believe in me. And to have that person, like, to not have such a strong connection beforehand, and then to see you go through some incredible obstacles and opportunities in growing your business and building the ideas and the connections and the colleagues.

I often will tell people about the incredible relationship that you built with another catalyst member and how you work together and create these opportunities, even though you’re in the same niche, is to be able to say, we don’t believe in in competition. We’re in collaboration. We’re in Kahoots. We’re creating a movement, a change in the industry. And I think, you know, you as a person the way you show up and you do that and you just give yourself so fully and you give, like I said earlier, so much love that you bring into that room that you can definitely see the impact on people even when they don’t work with you directly in their career, you definitely are a ripple maker. The stuff that you create, the how you show up, how you love is definitely creating these impacts that we won’t even be able to measure because it’s going out and it’s being reflected in all the people that you So I wanna thank you so much for being a part of the catalyst.

You are a fantastic member, and I’m so glad you’re here. Thank you for being in that space. You’re making me a better person. You’re making me a better, you know, business owner. And even I always think about my career now. I think about it. You know, it’s not just a business owner. It’s career. It’s really career development. I’m continuing my career development even though I’m not an employee. I am an employee in my business, and I’m I’m looking at those practices, and that’s because of you and your influence. So thank you for being that person in my life, and I just really appreciate you. And I’m so glad you’re here. I’m so glad you’re in the world. And I get to get to know you. So thank you very much for being there. Rosa, thank you so much. It means so much to me to hear you say that, and I’m I’m so delighted to be part of this community with you.

You’re listening to Nourish the Risktakers. The idea is that we start to explore not only the ways that people are creating for Nourish the Risktakers in the world through their careers, but also how we can maybe learn from other people, how to ask for help, how to then receive that help, how to be nourished both for ourselves, like what we do are for ourselves, and then how others can help nourish this well. So thank you again, Joa, for being here, and we’ll see you next time.

Joa Ahern-Seronde

As a multi-passionate individual who has lived in 3 states and 3 countries over the past 8 years, Joa Ahern-Seronde knows about weaving a career tapestry.

She brings her training in Counseling Psychology and her experience as an Admissions Consultant and Career Advisor together to provide expert guidance and exceptional growth opportunities for her clients.

Her favorite part of career consulting work: witnessing the transformation of her clients as they embark on their own brave journeys.

Her personal career goal: to contribute to a global community that is passionate about empowering people to succeed through the strength of connection. And to smash the kyriarchy.

Where To Find Joa

Be In the Room With Us

Discover what you can do in Create the Rules Catalyst

Discover if this is Right For you

In a recent podcast episode, Joa Ahern Serrand, a founding member of the Catalyst and a career strategist, shared her insights on the significance of finding meaning in one’s career, setting meaningful goals, and creating supportive work environments. Joa’s experiences as an activist in the career development and employment industry emphasize the importance of community in shaping our professional journeys.

The Importance of Meaning Making

Joa’s fascination with meaning making is at the core of her career strategy work. She believes that understanding the “why” behind our careers can help us make better decisions and create more impactful goals. This is especially important for those who find themselves doing the same job for years without truly examining their purpose or motivation. By helping individuals explore their reasons for pursuing a particular career path, Joa helps them create more meaningful and fulfilling professional lives.

Creating Supportive Work Environments

According to Joa, one of the key aspects of a healthy work environment is mentorship. Managers and supervisors can make or break an employee’s experience based on their ability to effectively manage and mentor their team members. Finding valuable mentorship within an organization can greatly improve an employee’s experience, leading to increased job satisfaction and retention.

Additionally, fostering collaboration and communication between different departments within a company can lead to a stronger sense of community and belonging. This not only benefits individual employees but also the company as a whole, as it can lead to better decision-making and problem-solving.

Nourishing Risk-Takers and Encouraging Growth

For companies to retain their best talent, they must create environments that nourish risk-takers and support their growth. This includes providing opportunities for employees to learn from one another, pursue meaningful goals, and develop new skills. By investing in the development and well-being of their employees, companies can reduce turnover and create a more engaged and productive workforce.

In a world where job satisfaction and employee retention are more important than ever, it’s crucial for both individuals and companies to prioritize meaning making, set meaningful goals, and create supportive work environments. By doing so, they can foster a culture of collaboration, growth, and personal and professional fulfillment.

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