Returning to the Workforce? How to Overcome 3 Obstacles to Success
There’s a lot going on now that rightfully requires our action and attention. Layered into our current situation is a topic that cuts across societal lines, stands to affect multiple generations, and affects the odds of sustaining our livelihoods ahead: women’s participation in the workforce.
It’s no secret that the coronavirus pandemic is affecting women’s career opportunities and thus impacting half the population, their families, and society at large.
The NYT just covered it extensively, quoting a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan who says that due to the virus, “(Women) may spend a significant amount of time out of the workforce, or their careers could just peter out in terms of promotions.” Add to that a recent UN report warning that “Even the limited gains made in the past decades are at risk of being rolled back.”
So the question is, what can we do about it?
This post aims to help as many people as possible seeking employment, given this crazy world we live in at the moment. What you’ll find here are insights from Diane who has helped thousands to find connection, confidence, and new roles.
What is ReBoot Accel?
ReBoot Accel is an organization offering an impressive array of opportunities and resources like career coaching, online workshops, and a job board connecting employers to women returning to work — with appealing roles ranging in duty, time commitment, industry, and location.
As CEO and Co-founder, Diane has deep insights rooted in advancing women’s careers. She’s garnered experience through an impressive professional path that includes 10 years at Electronic Arts, consultancy work at BCG, time spent volunteering, and launching ReBoot Accel, an organization that has helped thousands of women return to the workforce.
A framework to start
I recently watched as Diane led 110 women, along with Lesley Jane Seymore of Covey Club, during a Zoom meeting called “Reinvention.” The alignment of these two organizations on this call made sense: Covey Club serves as a think tank to help women leverage adjacent skills, repackage skills, and provide a community that meets their needs. (Fun fact: A covey means a small flock of birds.) During this Zoom meeting, Diane and Jane encouraged participants with ways to creatively emerge from this coronavirus situation.
The biggest takeaways to share are: know your value, keep an entrepreneurial journal for your ideas, double track (i.e. side hustle) when needed, and build up your skills — try Udemy or Coursera.
Also noted: “silvertech” is a thing: it’s about VCs investing in innovation for older people. Finally, the current climate is vastly affecting small business owners, healthcare, education, and marketing — many of whose roles are occupied by women.
Later, in listening to a talk Diane gave last year at UC Santa Barbara, I gathered more of her reminders. Use these as a good lens to start evaluating your own career:
- Take time to sort your values. She did this 6 years ago upon reentering the workforce after a 16-year pause to raise 3 kids and recommends continuing to sort your values frequently. Values change; what’s important to you shifts as you go through life and handle new priorities.
- Keep a list: Ask yourself: What fills my tank? What drains me? Keep asking yourself what topics are you excited about and what do you love to do?
- Find your flow: Among those things you love to do, take notice of what brings you into the state of being where you lose track of time because you’re immersed in a project.
- Consider a long-term career view. There are multiple ways to navigate your career and very likely, you’ll need to try a few ways out before you know what fits you best.
- Find a mentor. Or they might find you! In her case, she offered to help a family friend during his illness and ended up on weekend walks with Bill Campbell.
Find ways to manage your time
Diane was well-prepared to talk to those UCSB college students having raised three kids of her own and guest-lectured at a Work and Family class at Stanford.
Here are three of her time management nuggets of wisdom:
- When you get up each day, jot down 3 things that you need to do today. Then prioritize everything against that. For instance, don’t go down the rabbit hole of social media when you have other work to accomplish.
- Know your energy. Nope, it’s not exactly aligning chakras. It’s about identifying your productivity zone and patterns. For her, it’s the 5 -10 a.m. time slot which she carves out for writing and exercise. She also respects the fact that she’s not a night owl and prioritizes refueling with rest.
- Enable what’s known as deep work, a concept advanced by Cal Newport. It means cultivating your intellectual capital; writing your story and getting into the flow. Time-block chunks of time when you can get the important “deep work” done.
What instigated the desire to start her company?
Throughout her own experience and during a 16-year hiatus from paid work, Diane spoke with many women, identifying three common denominators they face when attempting to return to work.
These reflections reiterated 3 main obstacles; this was partly what sparked her to launch ReBoot Accel:
She repeatedly heard: “1) I don’t feel current; 2) I don’t feel professionally connected; 3) I lack confidence.” So ReBoot Accel addresses those three issues head-on.
But it wasn’t only that. Diane is a survivor of breast cancer which led to plenty of time for self-reflection and profound thoughts: What impact do I want to have? What brings me joy?
She’s authentic in her determination to change lives and help women. She was working as a CMO for a tech company and running ReBoot Accel as a program on the side until the CEO of her own company encouraged her to pursue what was clearly her passion.
Good press helps
Having an advisory board of directors, she handpicked people from brand marketing who could help tell her story and offer feedback.
Diane believes you have to have a unique idea, a good story, package it, and keep putting it and yourself out there. Keep saying yes. Have a growth mindset. Sell the things you know you can do, then figure it out!
Stay tuned for my upcoming interview with Diane. We’ll talk about where women are headed professionally relative to the coronavirus pandemic, plus insights from her new book, The Upside.
I’ll post that in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, follow my page Elisheva Marcus to read about more founders, innovative startups, and impactful organizations.
Please feel free to 👏🏽 for this piece so others see it and benefit from it. Broadening the reach of this information should help more people explore the potential for their careers. Thanks for reading and sharing! Stay well.