422: Alistair Marshall, HTYC Director of Community Success, Career Coach

Meet the newest addition to our Team, Alistair Marshall!



Alistair Marshall, Director of Community Success and Career Coach

Alistair was born in the UK and moved to the USA in 2011. He has lived in LA, NYC and now back in LA! Prior to starting his own Leadership and Career coaching practice in 2018 he had various executive leadership positions within the fashion industry including Ted Baker, Dior and Hugo Boss.

on this episode

HTYC coach Alistair talks about how he started in retail in the UK, moved to the US and eventually rose to VP of the company. After making a career change within the industry, he realized that executive leadership wasn’t a fit anymore. He received regarding his strengths and reflected on what he enjoyed, leading him to pivot to become an executive career coach, and most recently, a coach here at Happen To Your Career.

What you’ll learn

  • Why he had to pivot while at the top of his industry
  • How he leveraged his experience so he didn’t have to start at the bottom of another career path.
  • The answers to some very real questions from our listeners like how to overcome self-limiting beliefs and figuring out if the grass is really greener on the other side.

Alistair Marshall 00:01

And decisions that were being made really conflicted with my sense of morality and my value system and in really deep, deep ways. And that was very challenging for me. And I felt very complicit to decisions being made. I didn't agree with that was a struggle. For me, I wasn't being authentic to myself or to my values with what I believe in.

Introduction 00:28

This is the Happen To Your Career podcast, with Scott Anthony Barlow. We help you stop doing work that doesn't fit you, figure out what does and make it happen. We help you define the work that's unapologetically you, and then go get it. If you're ready to make a change, keep listening. Here's Scott. Here's Scott. Here's Scott.

Scott Anthony Barlow 00:52

Since I started this podcasting company, way back in 2013[a], we've worked with so many people that have spent years or even decades climbing to the top of the corporate ladder, only to realize it's not what they really want, or that they have, you know, checked off all their goals, been promoted very fast, taking all of the jobs that have been put in front of them, done an amazing job, and it's no longer what they want. And they're faced with a decision, stay in a role they worked so hard for or leave it and start over. Now, if you're like me, that sounds like a terrible choice. Fortunately, there are so many other options that actually work far better than either of these two that I just presented.

Alistair Marshall 01:39

And people in the organization agreed with it and one bored with it, but I really wasn't. So I kind of was like, I don't want to do this anymore. And I also think I was at a point at that went 15 years[b] of retail, where maybe need to do something different.

Scott Anthony Barlow 01:52

That's Alistair Marshall. He started in retail in the UK at age of 16, ripe old age of 16. And then he moved to the US after a while. Eventually, he rose to the VP level of a well known brand and fashion. After making a career change within the industry, he realized that executive leadership just wasn't a fit anymore. He thought about his strengths, thought about his values, reflected on what he enjoyed, and years later, that led him to pivot to become an executive career coach, and now he's part of the Happen To Your Career team. You're gonna get to hear his story, why he had to pivot well at the top of his industry, and more importantly, how he leveraged his experience we didn't have to start at the bottom of another career path, which is the question that we get so often, again, and again, how do I do this without starting over? You're also, this is gonna be a fun one, because you're also going to hear him answer some very real questions from our listeners, like, how do I overcome self limiting beliefs? And how do I figure out if the grass is really greener on the other side? Here's Alistair, taking us back to where his career started out.

Scott Anthony Barlow 03:01

Tell me a little bit about where your career journey started. Let's go way back for just a minute, Alistair.

Alistair Marshall 03:07

So my first ever job was working in what we call a "newsagents" or a corner store in New York, you'd call it a "bodega", you call it in LA. But the shop in the corner, your local shop where you can get, you know, milk, newspapers, magazines, candies, or as I like to call sweets. So my friend's parents owned it, so I worked on a Saturday[c] for four hours. And I thought that using the register was the most exciting thing in the world ever, and took great pride from just punching those numbers and telling people how much they gave, they owed me and as you get super serious, I was 16, I was like when above and beyond like, I'd be there by myself which looking back over reaches an idea of leaving a 16 year old in a corner shop by themselves but whatever and I'd stocked the shelves that sort of stock room, I would just be juggling everything and there's also other stores where you could buy candy nearby like 100 grams, so like sherbet lemons or chocolate raisins or a plethora of other candy, so as on the way to the football ground on Saturday you get people going to a football game that come in to get their candies, I'd be there working to till I was like loving it. And that was really my first foray into retail and I definitely enjoyed it more than the other people that were my age that were working there for them. It was definitely just money for me it was like I want to be the best at this.

Scott Anthony Barlow 04:26

I will punch all the numbers and it will pick your end.

Alistair Marshall 04:29

I remember this place, and there's also just a good kid at school so that means a general kind of demeanor was like definitely a bit of a teacher's pet, definitely always put my hand up first answer questions, definitely wanted to be acknowledged for just being like a good student. I just think that kind of was the way in which I operated in that first job that I had. I was like I want to be the best, most efficient person they have.

Scott Anthony Barlow 04:51

And this was back in Norwich in England, right?

Alistair Marshall 04:54

Which is two hours sort of East and a little bit north of London , it's a very old, there's a cathedral, there's a castle, that at one point there was a church and a pub for every day of the year, probably 150,000 people maybe, although I could be wrong, really very picturesque and lovely and English and all the things you can sort of imagine, but an English city. So that's where I grew up until I was 18.

Scott Anthony Barlow 05:19

So when you originally were, when we met a while back, and when you were telling me about it, I think you were trying to convince me that I wouldn't want to go there necessarily, however you described it. And now I want to go there.

Alistair Marshall 05:33

Hold on. That's not, I just think it's my mother was listening to this, very offended. Now what I said was.

Scott Anthony Barlow 05:40

Let's get the record straight here.

Alistair Marshall 05:41

Bless you, Scott. You're gonna get me in a lot of trouble with my family and friends. What I said was that it's not a place necessarily that people in England think about deeply. And people I'm growing up in other parts of England being like my mission in life is to relocate to Norwich. Maybe that's changed. That's just my experience. But it's lovely place to go as a tourist, I adore going back now that I've been in America for 10 years[d], because it's gorgeous, and calm, and lovely and cuddly and nostalgic, and wonderful. I probably wouldn't choose to live there, personally. But I know lots of people do it. They love it and adore it. And they think it's a wonderful place to live. The actual, when you drive in the sign that says "Welcome to Norwich", it's like monk here is a fine city. So welcome to Norwich of Fine City. And I do believe it's a fine city with fine people. But no, I probably wouldn't live there. If you went to England, I would highly suggest you go and my mother would be a great tour guide. She is a wealth of information with history of knowledge.

Scott Anthony Barlow 06:37

Well, that is one of my favorite things in the world to go places where there are built-in tour guides. So next time we go to England, then your mom is getting the call. I stand corrected. The record is corrected. You did not tell me that, I did not visit. We are now all corrected all is good.

Alistair Marshall 06:55

But I will say, when I was 18 and a batch of university, the summer before I left, my final summer before going to university, I was like counting the days as I am ready to get to a new big city and make that happen for myself. So I definitely was happy to leave but not happy to return. This one of those things that you look back and you appreciate it so much more now my wiser years than they did in my youth, for sure.

Scott Anthony Barlow 07:20

I can completely appreciate that. Because I graduated high school from Moses Lake Washington, and then swore I would never be back, not in a million years, why would I be and then now this is the place, now that I can live in any place in the world, this is the place that I choose to live. So I can very much appreciate that. So after you left, then what took place from there? You were 18, you've left, how did your professional career get off to a start?

Alistair Marshall 07:47

Yeah, so I went to University of Leeds which is in the north of England, and after my first year[e] I needed a job and so I got a job at Topshop. Now, unfortunately, doesn't exist. It was huge in the UK, came to the US in the few cities but didn't really make it work. But in the US, it was a huge brand is like a J.Crew. Everyone knows about J.Crew pretty much right, or Banana Republic or whatever, Forever 21 and we have Topshop. So went to Topshop, and the funny thing was, I fought, this is so crazy, for one semester, I joined the Ultimate Frisbee team and I don't know if you're familiar with Ultimate Frisbee, but...

Scott Anthony Barlow 08:22

Oh, I am.

Alistair Marshall 08:23

I thought you would be. It is a sport, it's kind of like semester one, I was like, I just couldn't say yes to everything. My friend was joining this frisbee team. I was like, "Sure, I'll do that." I mean was not a great fit for me. I'm not particularly sporty, but it was cute and I enjoyed it. But on my resume in like interests, I put Ultimate Frisbee. And when she went through like the 2 or 300 resumes that she'd got for, you know, part time sales associate at Topshop, she said the thing that was different about mine was the fact that I had this Ultimate Frisbee thing on the resume, as we know can look really similar. Right? And this is before LinkedIn, you can't really go into any more detail than other than this A4 piece of paper that had basically nothing on because I was 18, right? So she saw that, thought she was interested, wanted to get me in to understand that. And then we just clicked, she definitely took a liking to me I got the job. And so that I was part time sales associate at a really small Topshop in Leeds and that honestly, I remember my first day there so vividly. I remember the conversations I had with her. And she taught me so much about retail. I went in there thinking like whatever what's retail, which is not a career, it's just selling stuff, and probably realistically like a sort of young, ignorant kind of judgy, kind of perspective on people that work in retail like, hands up. And really quickly I fell in love with it, completely and utterly fell in love with retail. I would take on extra shifts. I would work as much as I could. I mean, some weeks I was working 30 hours a week there while at college taking classes, loved, loved, loved it.

Scott Anthony Barlow 09:57

What did you love about it at the time?

Alistair Marshall 09:59

Well, it's what I love about it really to this day, I love the fact that it is a generalist while you are customer service, its people, its team, its development, its sales, its business, its inventory, its stock, its security. I love the competitive nature of retail, you're chasing a goal. I love the fact that as a team dynamic, I love the fact that it's just fashion and it's cool. And you're wearing like beautiful clothing, the visual element of it, the creativity of it. I just think retail is a wonderful, wonderful industry, for people that want to do a bit of everything. It's not a job, you work tough hours, holidays, you're dealing lots of crazy people. But if you can kind of reconcile that for the good, it's a really wonderful thing. And I just took to it really easily. And I kind of was like, I was good at it. I kind of was, I had that point, you know, I know how to do this. And I was like top sales associate and open all these when we used to have store in store credit cards. I mean, they seem to be over now. But that was such a thing back then I opened the most in store credit cards and just loved it and got noticed as well. So I think it was a bit of an ego thing, you know, the hiring manager would have, "I heard about you." Okay, good. That's what I wanted to happen. It just really connected with me on so many levels. Yeah.

Scott Anthony Barlow 11:10

So you got this introduction into retail, you're getting amazing feedback, because you found that, hey, I'm really pretty great at a lot of the pieces that someone needs to be successful in this type of environment. So you're getting all of this positive feedback, the district managers had heard your name, and it was appealing to your ego. What happened next?

Alistair Marshall 11:32

Then I found out, as I thought she was part of a wider group called Arcadia, which had, I think, eight different brands underneath it. So very big conglomerate owned Topshop. And they had a graduate, a retail management training scheme. So my manager was like you should we look at this. And I did and I had to get a certain way to my degree and so forth. And, so I applied for that as kind of the next step after university. And I went to London for the open day and group assessments and all that good stuff. And yeah, and they offered it to me, and I'm really sounding very braggy. But whatever I'm going to lead into my successes. So not only did I get on it, I was the first kind of graduate trainee that they put into the London flagship, so they never had anybody in the London flagship before and I was in a brand called Miss Selfridge, which was just another one of the Arcadia brands. So they put me in the flagship on Oxford Street Oxford Circus, which is, you know, the equivalent of you know, Fifth Avenue, or IDEO, Michigan Avenue, and so forth in London. And yeah, and I kind of straight from Leeds moved to London with a friend and kind of started this year long graduate scheme. And within about six months[f] of being on that scheme, they gave me my own store. So I moved up to be a store manager at 22, in North London and a small myself version, I was a store manager. And that was interesting. I mean, I definitely was over jogged, and I dealt with some insane things that definitely shaped me and weren't easy, but I kind of confronted them face on.

Scott Anthony Barlow 13:04

What was an example of one of those same things?

Alistair Marshall 13:08

I was getting stolen from left, right and center, I mean, my stock loss result. So to put it in perspective, like a good stock loss result would be sort of minus 2%, which is essentially minus 2% of your stock is walking out the door, right? That's like an okay, what it's not great, but it was okay in that particular store. And I got a minus 18%. I just was all about driving sales, and being on the floor with the product, I did not have a clue what was going on around me where it has blinkers on and just was focused solely on kind of just making as much money as possible. And just getting stuff done from probably my team is stealing from me. Gangs are stealing for me, local groups are stealing from me. I mean, it was really insane. I remember that the day they came in, and my resolve not a pretty day, it was difficult cuz they're like, you're like the top performing store in like the South of England, but everyone's stealing from you.

Scott Anthony Barlow 13:55

Also, all of your merchandise is walking out the door for other reasons.

Alistair Marshall 13:59

Yeah. And you're giving it away. I think I learned then, you know that it's important to be able to have a view on everything that is going on as a store manager and a business leader, you've really got to be touching all points. And it's not great to be sort of just narrow focus. So I kind of learned that early on. And then just some really intense people issues. Just I mean, throughout my whole retail career, I have dealt with everything from in store bullying, to, you know, personal, sort of home situations, whether it be divorce or death or suicide. I've dealt with people self harming in my store. I mean, I've dealt with some really dark stuff through my 20s that, you know, definitely now I feel such an appoint experiences to be able to help those people and to be able to learn from those encounters and to partner with HR and so forth. But, you know, when you're working with people every single day, a lot of real life and real stuff comes up. And so that was definitely an interesting part of the job, especially when I became like a US district manager. The head of retail, you know, you really get exposed to lots of different things, but also wonderful things and want to make this really heavy but also tons of you know, succession planning and promotions and people getting the dream job and being able to like get buy their first house with the bonus that they just made and all these wonderful things. But yeah, so I was there till I was 22 and a half. And then I moved to Ted Baker and I was basically at Ted Baker for a decade[g]. I left for a year, sort of two years[h] in and came back. But Ted Baker was really where I became grew up, became a manager that I am, the leader that I am, it was incredibly formative to my life, my time at Ted Baker, I mean, crazy, crazy, crazy decade there. And the reason I'm in America was because of tobacco as well.

Scott Anthony Barlow 15:42

When you say the reason that you're in America, tell me about that.

Alistair Marshall 15:45

So I joined Ted Baker as part of a new leader to come in, in a new position to kind of oversee the size and she's come from gap. And Ted Baker prior to that was a kind of a little bit old school. And they bought this gap person in to kind of bring in a bit more corporate structure, and so forth. So she came in, and she hired like, eight of us all at once and various kind of different roles. So kind of it's similar energy to the kind of when they got the Arcadia position. So I kind of came in sort of shiny, new and fresh out of my sort of Arcadia graduate scheme. And then sort of assistant manager then kind of became my store manager. And then I left to join selvages, which is a big department store, kind of think of sort of Saks or Bergdorf, went there for a year. And then kind of they approached me to come back to Ted Baker to be the flagship manager on Regent Street.

Scott Anthony Barlow 16:29

What made you say yes in that?

Alistair Marshall 16:30

What I loved about Ted Baker, and what I didn't realize I loved that I left was the fact that everything was so close, that self which is was an incredibly layered corporation with a million forms and a million people you have to speak to get anything signed off. And there's an entrepreneurial element at Ted Baker, there's a real appreciation for who you are and your personality, as a brand built on kind of quirkiness and quintessentially Englishness. And they really appreciate your kind of personality and individuality and authenticity. And it was a business that was growing, and expanding and wanting talent and wanting to do things differently. And I didn't really recognize I thought the world, I thought every job was like that, you know, Tim Baker was one of my first jobs, every job must be like this and appreciate individuality and talent and create space for people just to be themselves. And as I've learned since that's not necessarily.

Scott Anthony Barlow 17:24

That's not the case everywhere. We're working on changing that, however.

Alistair Marshall 17:27

Yes, well, indeed. Sadly, that is the case. And so we just I just felt badly boxed in and just I was not myself. So when they came back with this opportunity, it was a great opportunity, a great store. Obviously, there's something wonderful about being romanced back. And I did it and I obviously don't regret it. And I did that well. But I knew really early on that I wanted to be part of the US expansion. And every time the head of the US would be in London out beeline for him, I'd always make sure to carve out time for him, always wanted to be kind of front of mind. And it took a number of years. I mean, I was store manager, and then I became an area manager in the UK for a couple of years[i] doing different parts of the UK kind of moving around. And then there's an opportunity to come to LA for three months back in 2011[j]. They were expanding in Bloomingdale's, they wanted me to come in and be part of this expansion of concession business and Bloomingdale's in the street. And while I was over here, during that time, the West Coast regional left, and so they said, "Do you want to stay and take on the West Coast region be based out of LA?" And I said "yes", obviously within seconds, and the visa happened. And there I was doing the job. And that was incredibly exciting. Then I moved to New York and the East Coast regional for a little bit. And then my final Walter Baker was head of stores US and Canada. And during that time I we expanded the business at 35% growth year on year, we opened up in Canada, which we hadn't opened up in before and Bloomingdale's and all the new stores and Fifth Avenue flagship and hiring tons of people, succession planning, developing current talent to get ready for the expansion and move into those more senior roles. It really was a wonderful, wonderful team. And it was one of those examples. I had a moment like that in Regent Street when I was a store manager when for that just that moment, you've got it all together. But the team that you want. Everyone's in a rhythm. There's trust and safety and excitement. We're all on this mission together. And just for that snapshot it's wonderful. Everyone's getting on with each other, this friendships now from the Regent Street which was you know, 13 years ago[k], I see them on Instagram and so forth. Still, they're still friends, and they still connect and love each other and have bridesmaids and so forth that people's weddings. And then over here, we had that real moment where it was just this alignment. My boss was wonderful. He really created this culture. We're all on the same page. It was this beautiful moment. And I look at those days very, very fondly, for sure. But after 10 years[l], I definitely needed to do something different.

Scott Anthony Barlow 19:51

So that's what I'm very curious about. You and I have had some conversation about that before we brought you on to our team. However, tell me about what caused you to leave Ted Baker because literally every time I've heard you talk about Ted Baker, it's with a fondness that I can't even begin to duplicate that I can hear in your voice.

Alistair Marshall 20:12

Yeah, no people say that often. It's very true. The reason I left was a couple of things, it was, when you're somewhere for 10 years[m], you regularly or most likely aren't getting paid your market value, and I really wasn't. And so there's a little bit of like, taking for granted, he's not gonna leave, you know, he's a life. But I was not getting financially what I needed. So that definitely a component, you know, definitely like things that I did six years ago, five years ago,[n] still getting brought up, like I've moved on, I think we should move on, I've grown, there's still kind of like, you're always a little bit that 24 year old, that they hired or that 22 year old. So the little bit of that going on, I kind of was a little bit bored by this point. I was gonna like I know, everything fell apart a little bit just kind of wasn't getting as excitement about the opportunities and challenges. And then just personally, I was going through a breakup. And I just felt like I needed some freshness just in my life. And so it's kind of a real combination. I wouldn't say that any one of those was more important than the other. But it just the amalgam of that was like it's time for change.

Scott Anthony Barlow 21:11

Well it sounds like in many ways you had outgrown the role, outgrown their perceptions of you for some of the people in the company and outgrown a couple other pieces that had made it so good for so long too.

Alistair Marshall 21:25

I think that's true. I think also, there's an element of being a bit more aware and sort of challenging things in a way that hadn't done because i was growing and changing. Okay, I don't think we should be doing this. This feels really conflicting to my value system. It doesn't feel worth any more. So yes, then I got approached by a recruiter for a job at Christian Dior, which was a VP level, which at that point, I was sort of a manager level, and I was director in US eyes. But in the UK, my title was a manager, the VP level, which just blew my mind, it was in Christian Dior, which is complete other worlds and Ted Baker. I mean, we're talking like the other side of the coin. And I mean, that was a brutal recruitment process. I mean, it was crazy to the point where I actually after the seventh interview, I said to the HR manager that I had developed relationship with us, like, if you don't know by now, it is cool. I'm happy just to walk away from this. I don't know what I need to do or say, because I, this agency that's coming up feels crazy. It was a lot, but I kept persevering. They flew me to Paris. I mean, it was such a sexy experience. They flew me to Paris, my first ever been business class. I thought that was crazy. They live in this gorgeous hotel. My interview was in Christian Dior's former office with a portrait of him on the wall. I mean, crazy time crazy, crazy. And then I got the job. And I was there for only a year[o] actually, because it was not the best fit.

Scott Anthony Barlow 22:47

What made it not the best fit for you? Other than seven interviews was the line.

Alistair Marshall 22:51

I know what it was, I think the job role itself wasn't right, you know, talk about you know, ideal career path and talk about aligning strengths and values with job role. This is a great example when it did not align, you know, I have a generalist mindset, I am juggling multiple different things, but just in your job was very laser focused and very specific. And I really struggled. It also required lots of presentation making and deck making and writing as an officer law, I wasn't with people I was so used to being in stores and just out and about, and I was like, kind of much more in the office space. And that's not good for me. So there's just lots of conflict from a job perspective, I think that the culture just wasn't for me is very buttoned up and it's, you know, the epitome of luxury, I'm a bit more fluid and messy and speak my mind and have energy and I challenged things and that didn't necessarily fit the culture. So those things just kind of played out and I think I knew kind of six months[p] in as I know this is not gonna be good. And then what happened is kept me going as they then pulled me out of my wall who other things, was maternity cover for regional and other prep projects. So that kind of get me go into that year, but I definitely knew that it wasn't the one and actually when I had just been offered Dior, I'd also been reached out to the CEO of the US with Hugo Boss had heard about me for these Bloomingdale's connections wanted to meet, we met and his like, I think there's opportunity if you go both of those coming up. Because I've just taken Dior, this isn't the right timing. So a year later, we sort of kept in contact, you know, ad hoc through the year. So then when I was sort of thinking about leaving and reached out to him and said, "Hey, I'd love to connect." And he was like, "That's crazy. I just had a meeting and your name came up in there." This is you know, the Universe be kingless you know, me and we met, and he basically offered me a job. And then I went from the Dior to Hugo Boss, and that was a much better fit and much better world.

Scott Anthony Barlow 24:47

So that's really interesting and fascinating, and I'm, I think one of the things just knowing you after all of this, that makes you a great career coach and executive coach too, is you've had a variety of not so great experiences in addition to the amazing experiences too, and you get it for lack of a better phrase on not just a functional level, but an emotional level for what goes with that, too. So meant to be a compliment entirely. However, what I'm also doing is leading to a question because I am curious, what about Hugo Boss made it a much better fit, especially after you had just come off a role that, as you said, really didn't align from values, didn't align from sounds like a lifestyle perspective, too, and just how you wanted to be spending your time, some of your strengths, all the things.

Alistair Marshall 25:38

Absolutely. So first of all, just him, he was great. And we really connected. And I really felt like I was working with someone who got me and wanted and knew me, had heard of me and just wanted that he wanted me to come in. And he was very clear what he needed and wanted for me, that was absolutely aligned to what I would want to do in the role, well general role as well as VP of retail in the US. So back in the field, back with my people, back with the stores, which felt super comfortable, because had been my whole life prior to Dior. And I met a few other people along the way if I accepted the job and that all everything connected. And then just really early on it connected, you know, I was back in sorts of people that I understood, they understood me, I was able to implement things, I was able to kind of bring things to the table. And so suddenly, where does this conflict between strengths and values for this sort of 12 month period, then just sort of overnight, and it's suddenly aligned. And then I took note of the emotional and motivational impact that that gave me. It was just so clear that it was the right thing to do. And to your point, just to your point earlier. And I think you and I think the thing that's so important to me in my life generally, and especially as a leader and as a coach is, I always remember I was never born into this position. I have made every single mistake that's ever happened. I have been... I've cried in offices because I thought I couldn't do the job. I've just been told off or been in trouble, I made the mistake. And I celebrated those huge wins and felt that adoration where I've had all of it. I know that it's important to be humble, but everyone has to remember the journey. You know, remember what got you to this point today and speak into that, because it's so important. And that's how you connect with other people. And I think where leaders go wrong is when their ego takes over and they come to you and challenge you something that you did, with no transparency to the fact that they want to make that mistake and, of course they did, you know and it's insane to me that you can't find a connection opportunity by just being vulnerable with me. Like we're gonna get a lot further quicker if you can do that for me, because then I want to do that for you. So that's something that I always like to bring to the table as a coach, which is I'm never gonna act like, "What? This is crazy." I didn't know what you're talking about. It was nonsense. I'm like, yeah, I get that. I also get why people stay in jobs when they aren't happy for reasons outside and above. You know, their boss like I can't leave. I've got responsibilities. I've got, like ego attached to this, I'm struggling to understand why I can't let go. I get that too. I stayed in Dior probably for longer for reasons that in hindsight didn't really matter. But at the time, they felt really real. So yeah, I think it's really important to remember where you came from what got you to today.

Scott Anthony Barlow 28:15

What did it feel like, you mentioned Hugo Boss, and you had such a stark contrast between Dior where it was a clear non fit. And then you made a move to this other role, company, different people that you're working with that was a much, much, much clearer fit. And you mentioned sort of the emotional response that came along with that. But what was that like? What did that feel like? I've gone through that myself. And I remember it very, very, very vividly. So I'm curious, what was that like for you.

Alistair Marshall 28:47

In terms of when I felt the alignment?

Scott Anthony Barlow 28:50

Yeah. How is that different? How is life different? How did it feel different?

Alistair Marshall 28:54

It's not just incredibly enlightened, and like opening when you can be shows yourself and really feel that you can really be yourself in that meeting with those people. And you don't have to edit yourself, you don't have to worry about what you're saying or thinking or sharing. You know, whether it be that your personal life, all points of view on things. And it feels a element of safety and collaboration. And that's what I really got in those early days and an appreciation for what I was bringing to the table and the opportunity to be challenged and learn from each other. And that just felt so freeing, I guess is the word I'm looking for, like to be in that space when I hadn't had that for that past year. And I felt every time I go into a meeting I would be so buttoned up and so like in my head like overthinking, worrying about how it's coming across, feeling judgment towards others and people judging me and so complicated. So when I didn't have that it just felt good. And I think it's kind of like when you're in a relationship as well. And you get out of that relationship and you're like wow, I was really just like having to like be a version of my tough to get through this. And now I don't have to do that it just it feels so much freer. So I think that sense of freedom and authenticity felt really good. And you know, that first year and a half[q] at Boss was was fun. And that continued until it didn't.

Scott Anthony Barlow 30:15

So tell me about that, then. When you left, what caused that? How did everything shake out, at some point you decided to pursue coaching as well as a pathway for yourself. So take me through that.

Alistair Marshall 30:30

What do you what happened was, that was a huge leadership shift at the top top level in the US. So the people that hired me, you know, moved on, and new people came in, and new people came in with a very specific approach and style that was definitely in conflict to what was and it conflict to who I was. And that really took its toll. And I think I tried to get on board. And I tried to kind of get in line as best I could. But ultimately, there was a real conflict between who I was and what they wanted. And I could see that like, my highest self could be like, could recognize that I am not the person they what they want for this job, their expectations, as well as changed. What they want this world to be is what not what I want to do. And I'm seeing this play out and decisions that were being made really conflicted with my sense of morality and my value system and in really deep ways. And that was very challenging for me and I thought were complicit to decisions being made. I didn't agree with, that was a struggle for me, I wasn't being authentic to myself or to my values with what I believe in.

Scott Anthony Barlow 31:40

What's an example of that?

Alistair Marshall 31:41

I don't know, just HR decisions, you know, people decisions, hiring decisions, views on the team, views on how to treat people, and they much a heart leader, you know very much think there's a way in which you can be a business leader and make really tough decisions, and drive the P&L and achieve those top and bottom line objectives while also considering the people in it. And maybe we'll take an extra three weeks to get to that result, because we have to do our due diligence, but that's the right thing to do. And they probably were more sort of head got leaders, which was like this just got to get this done. The most important thing is the top and bottom line number. And that's just not how I am. And it's not that they ran a business, they got the business results that they wanted, life goes on. And people in the organization agreed with it and one bored with it, but I really wasn't. So I kind of was like, I don't want to do this anymore. And I also think I was at a point at that went 15 years[r] of retail, where maybe need to do something different, you know, since I've got to the US, I was traveling every week[s], I was constantly on airport being like 29 states, I've been to every mall you can imagine. And that was sexy and fun in those early years. And then it became very grueling, exhausting in the later years, and I felt like I was missing my life in New York, and relationships, and friendships and birthdays and events, and just all of those things. So it was kind of a combination of my life, just feeling like it wasn't what I wanted to be, I put on weight, I didn't feel happy. I wasn't sleeping well. Plus, I just didn't like the direction that the business was going in to confirm this conflict. So I was like, what am I going to do? And so throughout my whole career I've enjoyed and had feedback around my mentorship and coaching and passion around people. I mean, Ted Baker really instilled that into me for those 10 years[t]. I mean, we always the importance of people and and action plans and development and honestly conversations and coaching and mentoring. So it was very much inside of me. So someone's like, "you should be coaching" I was like "what's that?" And so I kind of did my coaching certification with CTI and started kind of slowly building that kind of consultancy and meeting clients. And then I decided to kind of quit my job and jump in and focus on it fully. And yet, I kind of didn't look back, I mean, definitely moments of deep imposter syndrome and fear and all that juicy stuff. But I definitely am glad that I did it. And the last sort of two and a half, three years[u] have been revealing and challenging and exciting and motivating. But I was glad to be able to pivot out of retail, it's not easy to pivot out of an industry at all. And I definitely have pride within myself being able to do that. And a real appreciation for the people that I worked with on my during my retail years that got me to this point. But yeah, it was a tough time. It was a tough sort of final six months[v] at Boss. I was sad about it. But yeah, it's full on my heart

Scott Anthony Barlow 34:17

What has kept you coaching? Because here's, I mean, I obviously hired you for our team and brought you on board. So pretty familiar with your experience. But I would say that arguably with the type of experience that you have, you could go and you could do most anything you wanted to. I'm 100% sure, you know, you didn't know you over the past few months or whatever it's been that you wouldn't want to do everything but you could pretty much probably do most things that you might want to do. So what's kept you heading in the direction of coaching? Why is that?

Alistair Marshall 34:52

Yeah, and thank you, appreciate that compliment. I think ultimately what I like is the diversity of this world, you know, I work with people who are diverse, and instead theirselves and their backgrounds and the way that they exist to walk through life and their journeys. And that's fascinating to me. I'm incredibly curious. Some may call it say nosy, but I'm very curious about people. And I like to find out what people journey and where they came from what they're looking for. So the diversity people they work with, the industries and dealing with different challenges, being able to be able to impact people, if I can, or just help them look at things differently, help them get out of their way, help them find the leadership voice that they're looking for, help them find the career that they're looking for, help them to find the alignment, you know, I know what it's like, when you don't feel that, you feel really stuck, you don't know where to start, and how good it feels when you get unstuck and you make that shift. So I like the fact that every day is different, and the people I work with are different. And you can build really beautiful relationships with people, I have some clients that I would consider friends, I hope they feel the same way, you know that we're really integral into each other's lives. And that's lovely. Not saying every relationship has to be like that. But it's nice if you get to that point. And I've met some incredibly generous people who helped me with my business and grow my business. And I've learned a lot about myself through the people that I coach and being an entrepreneur and building something is super exciting. And the work life balance is wonderful. You know, the fact that I can do this remotely is great. So if I have to go back to the UK for two months[w], I can do it, I have to ever want to move to LA like I just did recently from New York, I can do that, you know that flexibility is nice. And what I also really enjoy from the leadership executive side is helping leaders be better leaders and make their people stronger and create better cultures, you know, help somebody find a job, that is their dream job. And they go in and they want all their team to find their dream jobs and help you know, internal mobility and all those things are just very fulfilling and rewarding.

Scott Anthony Barlow 36:46

Very cool. I am wondering how you feel about answering a few questions from real people here. You gain for it. I know we talked a little bit about it beforehand. And we just spent a bunch of time on your story. And I also want to spend a few minutes here. How's that sound?

Alistair Marshall 37:07

Always I wanted to be in agony on. So maybe this can be my moment. Ready onto the US, I don't have agony on.

Scott Anthony Barlow 37:14

No, I don't even know what that is.

Alistair Marshall 37:17

The agony I get, way into the newspaper. And you'd like dear whoever the economist was, and you'd be like, and it's a place where you'd ask questions, you get your questions answered.

Scott Anthony Barlow 37:26

Oh yes! We are totally doing that. This is happening right here. Yes.

Alistair Marshall 37:30

I think it make sense, I guess when you hear our context. So but yes, that's what it is.

Scott Anthony Barlow 37:35

Okay. All right. We are doing this then. So this question comes from Brian. And Brian says, "I've been wondering this for a while. Thinking big seems to be a part of making an effective career change. For instance, I hear the advice to ask positively framed questions to help get past some of the self limiting beliefs that people have about what's possible for them. But I imagine people can sometimes take it too far. So when you're working with someone, how do you help them differentiate between bold positive career goals and things that are just naive or presumptive? Or maybe even ridiculous to give one practical example, how do you help someone arrive at a reasonable range for salary expectations?" There's a few questions rolled up into one. But tell me a little bit about your thoughts. How do we differentiate between those bold and positive those things that are really positive versus the ridiculous?

Alistair Marshall 38:26

So I mean, my first sort of response to this is, I think it's really interesting to discuss the naive assumptions and ridiculous. So I don't think that any dream or goal should never be called ridiculous. So I think the minute we start limiting and editing ourselves, like, "Oh, I shouldn't ask that. That's ridiculous. I shouldn't put on my brainstorm, because people are gonna think that's silly" then we're really limiting ourselves. So I always encourage clients, just go crazy, it is absolutely about quantity. I want you to fill that paper with as many things that are important to you as possible, however crazy, I want to have a job where I only fly on a private jet, and I want a driver, and I want gold stocks. Okay, fine. Because then what you can do is what is working. What does that really mean? So when we similar that down that thing that you think is ridiculou, what is the thing that's coming from there? So for example, if you said, I want to be a billionaire, that's my goal to be a billionaire, right? Maybe a little bit ridiculous. Hope you can do it. Good luck. What you're really saying to me, we're saying maybe that financial security is actually really important to you. All you're saying you want the ability to be able to make choices in your life and money, not be the thing that holds you back, and so forth. So the first thing Brian, is I would never call anything you say naive or ridiculous or assumptions. So go crazy, think big. And together, we can kind of simulate that and figure out exactly what that represents for you.

Scott Anthony Barlow 39:49

I'm also curious from your perspective, I can only think of one situation that I've ever had somebody put something out there that maybe I might consider to be impossible. But I would say almost everyone, like with the exception of that type of situation, this was like we are going to manufacture unicorns and you know, bring them to life. And who knows, maybe that's not even impossible too, but rarely is something actually impossible. Usually I find that it's on the other side of the coin. And actually, we did a three part series a while back called "The Wildly Unrealistic" episodes is a three part series on the podcast maybe two years ago[x]. And we actually went through and we had over 30,000 people tell us what they wanted to do. And we had them list out things that they considered to be wildly unrealistic. And out of all of those answers, we didn't get anything. 30,000 people, we didn't get anything that was wildly unrealistic. So what we learned from that is that it's most of the time, us doing exactly what you said Alistair, which is editing ourselves, versus actually putting something out there that is you're too bold or naive or actually unrealistic. I love your perspective on that.

Alistair Marshall 41:05

Yeah, for sure. And I think, you know, in a business perspective, I always say to people come up with 100 ideas, and crazy they are because I did seven plus idea 29 mixed with a little bit of idea 50, mix that all together, maybe that is the idea. If we give ourselves two ideas, and we're not going to have ever got to those other ideas. So it's just like, keep it going, keep it going. And then there's a step in terms of the filtering and the extraction of what it really means.

Scott Anthony Barlow 41:29

That is so great. You up for another question? Yes, do it. Okay, so this one comes from Maureen. And she said, "Hey, here's a hypothetical that may or may not be hypothetical, your former company called you to see if you're interested in coming back." Hey, by the way, does it sound familiar? "How do you determine if it is a case of the grass was not greener on the other side, or the career was the wrong fit? During the last two weeks[y], the company announced some organizational changes, I stayed in contact with the former colleagues, they are much happier with the changes. I don't necessarily know what changed are all the details of what had changed." So some of our other questions here are, "How do you know if you made a mistake leaving the last company?" And she says, "I'm struggling to find something that excites me and pays extremely well." So it sounds like there's a few different elements rolled into this.

Alistair Marshall 42:20

Yes, Maureen. I can understand this. I mean, the first thing I would definitely encourage you to think about is 'why you left'. So I think there's some reflection really on that decision. Because we can really look back at the timeline, when it wasn't even when somebody left their chart, why you left. We can look back on these things with rose tinted glasses. And you know, and look at my example of why I left Ted Baker, which is honestly, the reason I left was for money. That was the only reason I left I was unhappy, I just was going to get a significant pay bump by moving. And that's the reason why I did it. So when they came back to me, I knew that was the reason and so I was happy to jump back in. It wasn't anything deeper than that. But you know, if you left for the reasons, for example, I left Hugo Boss where there was conflict in values or leadership direction. That's real, right. And that's something that you have to be really mindful of has that shifted? And has that changed? So I think first of all, doing some reflection on kind of the reason why you left, I think it's really important. I think it's really interesting why that there's these organizational changes, but it's super, super fresh, and super new. So I think as much as there might be belief that these changes are going to make these big impacts, you've kind of got to be comfortable to be like, well, what is today does that work, not what it could be in three to six months[z], the things that they're saying is gonna be cool if we get there, but what does the job today exactly how it is feel good, and connect with what you're looking for. So I think that also is important. And then I think the work around strengths and values, right? So it would be super interesting to look at your ideal career path and understand exactly what you're looking for from a strength and value perspective, and then do some work around seeing that alignment with the wall that is today. So I think they're the kind of things I would consider.

Scott Anthony Barlow 43:59

I think those are really great points, starting out with what you said about go back to the reasons why you've left. And depending on what those are, you might have the answer right there. Then the other thing she said at the very end where she said, "I'm struggling to find something that excites me and pays me extremely well." If that is one of the big reasons why you're considering going back to this organization, in this hypothetical here, then that might give you some clues right there about whether or not that that is it right. If that's the primary reason why you're in the hard parts of career change. And because you're in the struggles, then this other thing where you were is beginning to look better and better and better, then I would encourage you to stay the course as opposed to do that, but only your hard work on what creates that ideal career strengths and values, all the things that you mentioned Alistair are going to help provide the answers for that.

Alistair Marshall 44:56

And here's a really good point, when we start looking at things as we're feeling like, we don't know where we're going, you're right, then things start looking much more interesting. That's something we should challenge ourselves. Where are we at from a motivational headspace perspective and a mindset perspective when we're considering things. And yeah, I agree with you maybe stay the course.

Scott Anthony Barlow 45:14

There's a moment actually, sometimes many, many moments, sometimes spread over a long period of time with literally every single person that we have helped as an organization where they go through what Seth Godin might call 'The Dip', what we will call, you know, hitting the wall, and they go through a period where they are struggling, sometimes multiple periods where they are struggling. And that is right before they get to the breakthroughs. Sometimes that lasts for a while, but I have yet to see a situation where that doesn't happen in some variation or another. So Maureen, you might be right in the middle of that, too, which is the hardest place to be.

Alistair Marshall 45:53

It's like going food shopping at the supermarket when you're hungry. It's never a good idea people. We end up filling our carts with crazy things that we absolutely don't need, because we're hungry. And I think it's sometimes it's similar analogy to this.

Scott Anthony Barlow 46:06

Oh, yeah. Let's do one more here. This one comes from Daniel. Daniel asks, "What are some tools you guys suggest for identifying roles or companies that would interest you?" Daniel goes on to say, "I continue to struggle answering this question. Also, if you find roles or side projects you're interested in, how many would you suggest pursuing all at once?" And he gives a little bit more context, he says, "I find myself uncomfortable looking at just one role or industry out of fear that it won't be what I'm looking for, but also find myself stretched for time." So there's a lot of different things going on.

Alistair Marshall 46:40

Sure. I mean, I think looking at the identifying well of the companies is really important, the way I would start looking at is very macro and very large levels. It's just start thinking about what brands and companies just overall excite you, right, the big ones, you know, the apples of the world, and so forth. So what are the big ones that excite you, or brands you buy into, and so forth? And then I think kind of dig a little bit, what is it about that brand, what is it they do, is their mission, is it their values, and tart trying to understand a little bit about why you're so kind of attached and interested in these brands, you know, that's a good starting point. And then I think once you start seeing some patterns, I think then it's about digging a little bit deeper, and trying to kind of find other, they say Apple was the one, find other tech brands maybe so then we start looking at, you know, Twitter, and Facebook and Spotify and so forth. And maybe that's that starts forming a pattern that the work that they do, or the sort of how modern they are, the ways of working like interesting to you. So that's how I really start. And once you start doing that, then it's about kind of superimposing your own values on to those companies and seeing if there is that alignment, because there can be brands that you love, and you have to want to work there. But I think trying to find that kind of comparison is a good starting point, I mean, then was really great. If you really want to go, the extra step is kind of get into LinkedIn stuff, seeing who works there, maybe you have some connections, reaching out, maybe try to organized, let someone to have a coffee with you, or jump on zoom and just trying to find out what actually is like inside is a great additional piece or looking at job roles that are posted, looking at the job descriptions, understanding what they're looking for, does that make sense to you in line with their strengths and values. But that's kind of the next step. But I think just that broad overarching look is a good starting point. And then you're talking side hustles, the more of our side hustle, I think side hustles are great, side projects are great. But I think it's about being really mindful about what that side project is giving you. So for example, I know people that do side projects that fulfill a value that their job doesn't give them. So if you're someone that's an artist, or really creative, and you're in a role that doesn't allow you to express that your side project can be the thing that allows you to do that. So I have a friend, for example, that's starting the production company. So she's creating kind of content that she's really excited about. Right. And that fulfills the creative side of her. So that's one thing I think understanding why you're doing it, if it's financial or learning a new skill etcetera, and then I think is about understanding truthfully, how much time you have and how much time you want to dedicate to this. Because it can get very tiring very quickly working five days a week, suddenly, you've got a whole weekend of these side projects, you've got to get done, then it's Monday again, and someone's got to give. So I think it's about trying to understand the ROI. How important is this side hustle to me, and why do I need it? And ultimately, how much time do I want to allocate to this that feels right to me? And they're the kind of questions that I would have asked myself, you know, and we have the tool, the Masters, forgotten the name of it.

Scott Anthony Barlow 49:36

The master schedule. It is modern great tool. Yes.

Alistair Marshall 49:39

Master schedule.

Scott Anthony Barlow 49:40

There's a lot of names for that, master schedule is one of them that I've heard over the years. But yeah, that's a great tool for... you can almost think about it as time budgeting.

Alistair Marshall 49:49

Yes. And I think that would be a great starting point. Get that master schedule, plot in everything that you've got going on. Look at how that visually looks on that one page and then decide how much time you got to dedicate to this side project, but I support side projects. But I think it's about balance.

Scott Anthony Barlow 50:04

And if you haven't heard of a master schedule before, just think about it as, it's not serving the same function as a calendar. Calendar is where you need to be at an exact time instead is trying to look at, hey, if I have 24 hours a day for a period of an entire week, where do I want to spend my time? And how does the ideal way that I spend my time look for me based on my priorities, and then going through the exercise to try and allocate literally every minute for that, recognizing that real life is going to impact it, but if you don't start out, knowing where you want to go with how you spend your time, it's gonna be really difficult to be able to make that happen. It's not gonna happen by accident, certainly. So master schedule is a great, easy tool that anyone can use just on a sheet of paper drawing out an entire week.

Alistair Marshall 50:52

The health plan, I think, don't underestimate time just to sit and just to be, you know, I think that's also really important. And when I did it, I was like, I just need I actually do need like an hour a day just to sit and have nothing scheduled that's important to me, there's a great way of kind of hold yourself accountable to that.

Scott Anthony Barlow 51:06

I think you mentioned a really important piece, actually mentioned a lot of important pieces. But what I'm going to key in on here, when you're talking about the side projects, you mentioned, hey, you've got to focus on where your priority lies. I can't remember exactly how you termed it. But that's what I took from it. And I think that can help you get clues as to what's going to be right for you. So it may not be a certain number. I know, Daniel, you asked about, you know, how many is the right number, how many would you suggest pursuing at once? And there's other ways to look at it too, rather than saying, I'm going to pursue a limit of two side projects, it might be time limiting it. This is a trick that I use all the time where I'm saying, you know, I'm going to pursue this for 60 days. And if it doesn't meet this criteria, and this other criteria that I've decided that in advance, at the end of those 60 days, and I'm just going to stop. And I'm going to be okay with that. And I'm going to feel better about it because I decided that in advance. So it's not just me reacting to it. And that's actually something I did really, really recently when I started a hockey coaching online business as a side project and ran it for I think it was 90 days that it projected out and decided at the end of that you know what, this is fun. You can make it really successful. But I don't want to do this.

Alistair Marshall 52:16

Right. Yeah, a side project that we're taking on in our own personal time has got to be additive. Now how is additive can be done to you whether it's financial, whether it's just fun, whether you're learning a new skill, learning a new skill and expressing a value that you don't get in your life. It's got to be additive. And so it's not additive that you've got to really ask yourself why you're saying yes to it.

Scott Anthony Barlow 52:37

Alistair, thank you very much for the really great feedback to these questions. And then also, thanks for coming on and sharing your story. And you told me that this is the first podcast you had ever been on. I couldn't tell. And also, I appreciate we get to be your first.

Alistair Marshall 52:55

And I said to my friend, I was like now on, I can say I've been on a podcast the rest of my life.

Scott Anthony Barlow 53:00

The rest of your life.

Alistair Marshall 53:03

Yes. And as like, enjoy doing off hours to sentence anytime you want to bring in and ask Alistair, feel free. I'm always available, Scott.

Scott Anthony Barlow 53:10

Nice. I love it. Appreciate it.

Alistair Marshall 53:12

Thank you so much.

Scott Anthony Barlow 53:13

Hey, many of the stories that you've heard on the podcast are from listeners that have decided that they wanted to take action, and taking the first step of having a conversation with our team to try and figure out how we can help. And if you want to implement what you have heard, and you want to completely change your life and your career, then let's figure out how we can help. So here's what I would suggest. Just open your phone right now and open your email app. And I'm going to give you my personal email address: scott@happentoyourcareer.com just email me and put 'Conversation' in the subject line. And then when you do that, I'll introduce you to the right person on our team. And you can have a conversation with us. We'll try and understand your goals and what you want to accomplish in your career no matter where you're at. And we can figure out the very best way that we can help you and your situation. So open up right now and send me an email with 'Conversation' in the subject line. scott@happentoyourcareer.com

Scott Anthony Barlow 54:24

Negotiation is one of my very favorite things. I know that makes me weird. I'm totally okay with that. However, what I found is the difference between an average career change and a very, very successful career change often lies in the negotiation.

David Sally 54:41

Part of that is just the way our minds are wired for important decisions and negotiation. You know, negotiating a job offers is somehow no different than retirement savings and that level but it's also people don't know what to do to prepare.

Scott Anthony Barlow 54:57

That's David Sally. He's an award winning teacher of negotiations with many years of business experience, but he's also an author of a really wonderful book on negotiation called "One Step Ahead". He shares what makes someone a really great negotiator. And guess what? It's probably not what you think. All that and plenty more next week[aa] right here on Happen To Your Career, make sure that you don't miss it. And if you haven't already, click Subscribe on your podcast player, so that you can download this podcast in your sleep, and you get it automatically. Even the bonus episodes every single week, sometimes multiple times a week. Until, next week. Adios! I'm out.

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