Career Crashers Podcast: Finding Work that Matters to You with Julia Wuench

It’s possible to love your job

If you feel stuck in your career, know it’s still possible to love your job and start finding work that matters.

This time on Career Crashers, Joel is joined by Julia Wuench to talk about setting a course for your career!

Julia is a recovering perfectionist, leadership and career coach, and founder of The Authenticity Guide.  

Julia started her career working in finance in New York City, but after waking up day after day not wanting to go to work, she realized it was time for a change to start finding work that matters to her. In this episode, she’s sharing what she learned from that change and how she works with others to help them find work that matters. It’s always possible to create a job you love.

Special Promo: use code AUTHENTICITY for 20% off Crash Pro and the Job Hunt Crash Course.

Related: Career Crashers 58: Joel Bein on Showing Up For Your Dreams

Also Related: Career Crashers 62: Invest in Your Growth Mindset and Growth Mindset Benefits

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Show Notes – Finding Work that Matters to You

  • Julia’s story realizing she was not lined with her values professionally
  • How Julia sent cold-emails to build professional connections to start finding work that matters
  • Listening to your inner gut on what makes you happy
  • Finding work get to do, not have to do
  • Action steps to get out of stuckness
  • Leveraging the world wide web, and cultivating gratitude
  • Engage in low stakes activity to learn about companies
  • Build warm intros
  • Stop forcing yourself to do things. Do what makes you come alive and be finding work that matters to you.

Full Transcript: – Finding Work that Matters to You

Welcome to Career Crashers, where we tell the stories of those who are not content to wait around following rules and hoping for good things to happen. Great careers are found. They’re forged.

It’s time to crash the party.

I am excited to be joined by Julia Wuench, who is a recovering perfectionist, leadership and career coach and founder of the authenticity guide. She’s on a mission to empower emerging leaders to thrive. In each job she’s held, she has realized that most business problems are people problems. And she was named in 2020 of the most innovative career coaches by Business Insider. So welcome, Julia.

Thank you, Joel, thank you so much for having me. And thanks to the whole team. Appreciate you having me on.

My pleasure, I was really drawn to your work in terms of this concept of authenticity that’s been a value of mine and in my own career journey. And I’m curious to hear about your backstory, and where this concept of authenticity plays in.

Yeah, so the beginning of kind of my journey. And my interest in the idea of authenticity was born from a long career spent in the space of inauthenticity. And what I mean by that is I started my career in corporate finance in New York, I had been an economics major and undergrad and becoming a financial analyst just felt like a really responsible, lucrative choice.

It was a great first job in many ways, I met some really amazing people, I learned a lot and I got to innovate. But ultimately, the work wasn’t speaking to my soul. It wasn’t tied to really what I was passionate about. And so there was a lot of myself that I couldn’t bring to work or express, and I needed to be finding work that matters. Following that experience, I went to business school, and I went to a top business school.

And I think a lot of people find at competitive business schools there sort of several career tracks that are sort of blessed or accepted as impressive or normal. It’s really easy to get caught up on those paths, even when those paths aren’t authentically speaking to you. And so, I’ve had lots of experiences pursuing careers and graduate school education out of sort of perceived impressiveness, which you know, equated to inauthenticity, right, not really pursuing activities that were filling up my heart or soul and finding work that matters.

My interest in that word, stems from how hard it was to not live my true self. So now what I do is I empower clients to really get in touch with what they authentically want, who they are, and what their values are, and how to align that to finding work that matters.

Yeah, I love that. And we are often taught to kind of pursue that status, that impressive job and have that title. And I’m reminded of like a Facebook meme. I saw one point, which was a satisfied life is better than a successful life.


You know, if you know, if you define success in that maybe typical connotation of what I just said status and prestige and being impressive, and people think you’re great. It’s like, you’re the only one who’s going to live with yourself. So which one do you really want?

So I mean, I really, really resonate that with that, and because that’s the similar backstory for me, is saying, this isn’t really I’m really good at what I’m doing here. But is this resonating with my heart? And my really feeling alive and aligned? So I’m curious to kind of dig into that a little bit more to help people in finding work that matters. I mean, was it pretty early on in that sort of corporate finance life that you realized it or was it a gradual journey?

It was absolutely gradual. I mean, I think when you’re sort of in your early 20s, and for the first time, a prescriptive path isn’t laid before you right, and in my case, where I went to a very academically rigorous High School, many of my classmates went to Ivy League’s and so it was expected that you would go to college and that you would do well in college and you would you would graduate and you would get a job but no one tells you what job right and so you are creating the path as you’re walking on it with no instructions.

And so I remember days where I would wake up and you know, my alarm clock would go off and I would pray for a snow day and it was you know, June and I just thought this is what being an adult, you know, that this is just sort of work. There is no play as an adult there is just sort of getting on with it and existing. Right, versus thriving and finding work that matters.

And I think, too many. I was gonna say young people, but I think maybe I would revise that to people in general just sort of think that existence without joy or without fun or without curiosity is what adulting is supposed to be like. And I challenged that to help people start finding work that matters.

Yeah, we kind of think that we need to be professional, right? Just Just get through the grind, show up on time, and doesn’t necessarily matter if I really want to do it, because that’s what an adult does. You just kind of force yourself through that.

And, you know, I think we kind of learn that growing up, like get get yourself through the school, the school week, right? And look forward to Friday’s, and we just kind of it’s the water in which we swim, oftentimes. But when we have the courage to ask these questions, ask, you know, why not have a sense of play? In my in my daily life?

And, and I had a friend asked me recently, Joel, which I was, I’m thinking about as we’re having this conversation, he said, if you if everyone kind of adopted your philosophy of play and curiosity, and following their heart and dreams, don’t you think everyone would go off and like be an artist and a farmer? Like, a chef? And don’t you think no one would actually like, do jobs in finance? Don’t you think no one would actually, you know, be your financial analyst.

And I said, Absolutely not. I coach, so many different types of people and the word fun, and the idea of curiosity is completely subjective. And it’s completely dependent on the person and their strengths. And I can tell you, I have clients who literally get excited and curious about finances. I do think there is enough abundance in the world. And there’s enough diverse curiosity, diverse interests, diversity of strength, that we all can be in all aligned in careers that bring us joy, and that serve the world.

I really do believe that. And I think you’ve sort of taken aback by that answer. But I can tell you, from the clients that I see, that is absolutely true. I don’t I don’t believe that everyone in the world would want to run off and like start a smoothie stand in, you know, a tropical island.

Yeah, it’s definitely there’s a possibility for abundance and win-win. And you know, maybe let’s cross that bridge, when we come to it. Like, let’s encourage people, let’s give antidotes to people, and say, today, typical path and say, go ahead and pursue what makes you happy and fulfilled and start finding work that matters.

You know, I’m reminded of actually the brother of our founder, he’s an accountant. He has a business, and he just geeks out about accounting. And most people think that, oh, that’s just a job to pay the bills, and you’re good enough. That checks the boxes? And it’s like, No, no, he actually gets joy out of it. So every human is different, right?

Yeah. Beautiful story. I love that. And it’s, it’s so true. And it applies to every kind of area that you think of right? Something that’s really, really draining for me is really energizing for someone else, right? Like I have someone who, I hate marketing, I hate putting together things that are visual, I’m not a visual, artistic person, I’m creative. I’m just not visually artistic.

And so I hire someone to do it for me, right? He loves it, he gets so much energy from it, to me is the most draining activity I could ever conceive of doing. Right? Like I would so much rather like do accounting for like four hours before I do marketing for myself, right? And so I pay someone to do that he loves it. Right? And so there’s examples of this and in every area.

Yeah, you see how this career journey is, is really about self knowledge in that way, like, getting to know yourself introspecting get into can get in tune with your gut intuitions. Oh, I don’t I don’t like marketing. That’s okay. You don’t need to like everything. You don’t need to do everything delegate, and just go where you really find that joy.

So when you were kind of in this early mid 20s range, and you’re realizing this is not it, this is not authentic to who you are, what was one of the first steps to moving the needle forward towards something that was more aligned with you and finding work that matters? Because I think oftentimes people might have those intuitions, but then so life gets the best of them. And there’s not necessarily an action plan that gets into place. So what was some? Or some of the concrete steps you took?

Great question. Yes, feeling stuck is so real and so powerful and so paralyzing. And when we’re sitting in a feeling of being stuck, we lack objectivity, right? It doesn’t matter how self aware, we think we are, or, you know, how sort of in touch we think we’ve been, we lack objectivity. And when we feel stuck, oftentimes, we need more information. We need more data, we need more inputs.

Our history hasn’t been enough to inform our next steps. And so what I advise my clients to do and in fact, what I did around this time was I engaged in a Large scale, informational, interviewing and informational conversations spree. I didn’t know what to do. I had a couple of theories. But I just wanted to talk to human beings in the jobs and types of work that I thought I wanted to pursue.

And so I had this hunch that I wanted to go to graduate school, I had this hunch that I wanted my second career to be in the social impact space, to get a lot more intentional about pursuing that. And I didn’t really know the right way to do it, or the right type of grads, or if I could be, you know, a little bit agnostic in social impact, right? Do I have to pick a subject area, right? Like, you know, incarceration or homelessness or domestic violence? Or can I be a generalist, right? Like, I had so many questions.

And so I just cold emailed people and said, just curious about your work in your life and how you arrived there. Would you give me 15 minutes of your time, thinking of applying to graduate school, but I find myself in this pivot, and anything you could give me, just on a listening spree and in sponge mode, and just soak would be so grateful for your time. It would surprise you how many people responded.

I literally got a response from Deborah Brooks of the who runs the Michael J. Fox foundation. Yeah, she I wrote her I was going to visit UK, which is the Dartmouth Business School. And I said, Do you want to talk? I think I want to work in a foundation or philanthropy, right? That was my like flavor of the week at that point, like, would you talk to me about why an MBA is the right choice? Or working in a foundation?

We got on the phone, she emailed me back in five minutes, we had the most lovely conversation. Like if I thought twice about pressing send or thought about status, or how dare I, that wouldn’t have happened. And so I think the pursuit of knowledge is always a worthwhile task, right? Particularly when you’re working on these conversations without really asking for anything other than Tell me about your human lived experience? And how can I incorporate your wisdom into my mathematical equation of my next steps? That’s what I did.

Yeah, I love that you took action, right? Because oftentimes, in those feelings of stuckness, you don’t have to have the exact answer, but just do something to be finding work that matters.

And then you’re going to get a little feedback from reality, then you’ll know what the next step is, and, and that’s a great place to start is reaching out to people of the way you did, and figuring out what are people’s lives like, you know, being curious about their stories in and framing the email that way about with curiosity is a great way to entice them to respond, right people, people like to be to talk about themselves, so they’d love it, and people love to share and help people, I think we all have that inside of us as well.

So oftentimes, it’s just leveraging the power of the worldwide web. And and like recognize that like, we’re recording this in the week of Thanksgiving. And I was just thinking about this a few minutes ago, actually, that we can be thankful for the worldwide web, and how you can access almost anyone, you can find almost anyone’s email address, you can pitch almost anyone.

So it’s just a matter of like taking that time and having that intention to say, all right, I don’t know what my exact plan is going to be necessarily, but let’s build some momentum. And let’s start reaching out to people and see what happens, right?

Yeah. Well said and that you know, a big fan of like the gratitude for these things that we sometimes take for granted. And joy, I know you did this too, right? When you were like in your last job transition, you and I chatted about this on a prior conversation, you just sort of reached out and you actually leveraged the Crash platform to reach out which I thought was was really cool. But there’s something that I do want to say here, which is that sometimes when you feel stuck, and you have the universe of choices in front of you, it can be really hard to take action.

And so I just wanted, like big shout out to the word accountability, right. Having a partner to help you structure a plan for networking and what your next steps are, it can be really overwhelming to go this alone. And again, we lack objectivity about what we need in terms of next steps. So that’s why hiring a coach can be a really great investment to help hold you accountable and chart a path and create a plan for you. or working with a friend or accountability buddy, right just so that you’re not so alone with it.

Particularly in this time, right when we’re in COVID and things are so isolating and lonely. Getting the help you need, I think is really impressive. I think it’s really sort of noble and courageous for someone to feel stuck and say, You know what, I need help. I’m going to engage someone else in this.

I think that’s incredibly courageous. And I too work with a coach right as a coach. I think that’s an important thing to say. Just because I think the pursuit of learning is really never ending.

Love that. Yeah. Yeah. And how The courage to invest in yourself and say, like, Hey, I’m worth investing in, like, I have one life. So let’s, maybe it’s gonna cost a little bit of money, and maybe not maybe I’m gonna be short on money right now. But if you think about the the return that you can get on having that support system in place, and that could really could really expedite your career journey and your job hunting, whether it’s a career coach, whether it’s, you know, hopping on and getting, getting your pitching, going and investing in that in finding these tools and these support systems.

So tell us more about your career coaching. And in sort of, what do you tell, in addition to what you’ve already explained, what else do you tell people who are kind of early on in their journeys, and trying to get that job that they’re excited about? I know, you’ve talked about like experimentation. And, again, don’t try to find the perfect thing. But just test things out. And you can always change and change down the road, right?

Yeah. Yeah. So a couple of things, I would say, um, when I work with younger clients, to the extent that I can get them to engage in low stakes, trial and error, I always encourage that. And what I mean by that is, if you can volunteer, join a board, do an internship with an organization or in an area that you suspect you might be interested in, but aren’t sure do that, do all of the mentored studies, you can right touch all of the organizations you possibly can to get a feel for the culture to get a feel for what it’s like to work there before committing.

So if you can do that, definitely. And then the other piece of advice I give is warm connections are gold. You know, this is another reason why I like your being a partner of Crash is because this is a statistic that I cite so much, that I’m blue in the face, the average, you know, HR recruiter will look at your resume for 15 seconds. And so the idea that we because so obsessed on resume and resume alone and cold submission of resumes, I don’t believe that that’s a good use of anybody’s time.

And so when I work with clients, I say, Stop, stop cold submitting resumes. If you feel like it’s a tick, and you need to do it to fall asleep at night, fine, but just know that it’s a waste of your time. Right? You’re the statistics show that you’re not going to get very far with it. There’s a couple of exceptions.

By the way, the medical profession is one exception. When you’ve already worked in a job, that’s going to be exact job description, that’s another exception. But far and away, it’s a waste of time. And so the goal is to make a human connection, whether that’s a common person that you and someone at the company know whether you know someone in the company, whether you need to network, two or three degrees of separation to find that person, humanizing yourself is the best tool in your toolkit, and video applications and video communication.

Take that to the next level, right in terms of humanization and thoughtfulness, right, you’re now not just a piece of paper, you’re actually human being. And so that’s the goal.

Yeah, I just thought of an idea for a project to add to one’s portfolio and that process, which we’re always preaching, like, if you have an informational interview with somebody, then right, do a little blog post about what you learned from this person and send it to that person, they’re gonna say, oh, someone wrote about me, that’s great.

And then, and then you show the world like, this is what you’re thinking about. This is what you’re learning, it’s going to help you clarify what you’re learning and clarify that self knowledge journey. So yeah, the basic tips were, we’re both sharing and preaching here, don’t do what most people do, or what’s been traditionally taught.

I love that idea. By the way, all three right now. I mean, you just talked about the internet, right? We all have a platform, we all have a voice. We all could create a blog, we all could record a quick interview, right? There’s so many ways to be a generator of content, or someone who compiles content and kind of presents it out to an audience, right?

What is your voice? What are your opinions? Why do those matter? What do they have to do with work? How can you share them with the world? And I think we all have an opportunity to engage in some personal branding, right, and it doesn’t cost any money to do it. And so think about that. What is your What is your brand that you’re projecting out to the world?

100%. All right. So I’m curious to hear you just riff a little bit on this new book that you’ve got coming out soon, called Breaking Up with Should. Yeah, and I’m intrigued by that title, because that relates to what we were talking about earlier. It’s just, you don’t need to just push through the grind.

And you can actually let go of some of that psychology of kind of forcing yourself to do things, rather like getting in touch with your true self and what you’re curious to do. So tell us more about like, What the What inspired you to write the book, the book and what’s what’s in there.

Yeah, so Breaking Up with Should is a book that’s been in my heart for a very long time, probably ever since I was working in in finance, and perhaps even before that, when I decided to declare an economics major, because it was so practical, right? Mmm hmm. Should, in my experience, and in my clients experiences can be a very dirty word, right? It’s this idea that we’re pursuing a path again out of perceived obligation or perceived impressiveness. And that that is somehow divorced from our true desires.

And so I began the book, writing about my own story quickly got bored, and decided, once again, to employ that that age old tool that had worked so well for me in the past, conducting interviews with a lot of people, right. To get their experiences on breaking up with should. I looked specifically for people who had a large career in it. And I looked to explore the factors that went in to that pivot, what led up to the pivot.

Why do they need to change? What help do they need to get to see the light for the change? What was the change? So I had the most amazing conversation I’m so I’m still doing the research for the book. And we’re still having some incredible conversations. I’ll just name one that’s my favorite is my friend John, who had a long career on Wall Street on the trading floor. And he’s now a successful voiceover actor.

And interestingly, he and I took some acting classes together back when I was younger, and we’re good friends, He always was just the best and has an amazing voice. But he was working on wall street when we were taking the classes together. And so we had an amazing conversation about what it took for him to make that gigantic pivot and why and, and his soul and his mind and body in his wallet, right, and all of these decisions that go into that.

But the book essentially breaks down and codifies the six key ideas, the six key components that it takes to break up with should that I have seen as corollaries in everyone I interviewed and and really, you go into these interview processes, and you don’t know what you’re going to find you don’t know if there will be trends.

And in fact, there were, there were six. And so I’m really excited for folks to pre purchase the book and and get the book and learn what those six are, but I believe that they’re they’re the keys to unlocking your sort of true happiness potential and ending your toxic relationship with should when it comes to your career.

Well, that’s so aligned with our mission, which is to help people discover and do what makes them come alive.

Ah, I love that so much, Joel!

If you are in a should psychology that’s just not going to be congruent with alive in this right alive. This is intrinsic motivation and excitement and curiosity. So there’s so much overlap in what we’re doing and and now what we’re talking about with pitching companies.

Like choose just those three to five companies, folks, that you’re really excited about that maybe you you network, you got some some some meeting setup, and you met some employees at those companies, or whatever the case may be, find something that’s interesting, and just pitch those companies because you’re going to have that smile on that in your video pitch that’s going to be authentic, right?

And so you have one life go go towards what makes you come alive and let go of the shoulds. So thanks so much for your time Julia on we have your site is Twitter is @JuliaWuench, and anything else you’d like to offer our audience? Where can they find the book.

So you can find the book on my website, just click on the book tab, you can pre order it. And I’m also taking new client consultations right now for 2021. So I’m not sure when this podcast will air but I have some openings now for q1 of 2021. So we’d love to chat with anyone who’s feeling New Year new me and ready to start having some of these conversations. And I partner with the Crash platform and so excited to be able to offer that to my clients at a discounted rate as well.

Sweet. Yeah, this is coming out in early 2021. So great timing for everyone who wants that fresh start.

Alright, thanks so much, Julia.

Thank you, Joel. Take care.

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