564: Using Career Experiments to Pinpoint Your Ideal Career

Is your career change on the right track? Do you have an idea of a role or industry you're interested in? Find out if it would fit you by conducting career experiments!



Bob Kalish, Consulting Chef

After working as a concept chef for 24+ years, Bob decided to experiment with consulting to see if that would be a fulfilling next chapter of his career journey.

on this episode

What if you could try out a new career before committing?

Turns out… you can!

You wouldn’t buy a house without a full house tour and inspection, you wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive, so why would you commit yourself to a career without trying it out?

Many people believe you have to take huge risks to figure out what career is right for you, but that’s not the case. Career experiments are the answer! 

Similar to a science experiment, milestones 1 and 2 (of the Happy High Achiever Milestones from the Happen To Your Career book) have allowed you to come up with a hypothesis for what you believe would make up your ideal career. We like to call that hypothesis your Ideal Career Profile.


With your ICP, you have a hypothesis about what you want, now you need to design some career experiments to find out if you’re on the right track!

During these experiments, you might also learn what you don’t want in a new role, which will involve tweaking the hypothesis of your ideal career.

Important to note: The point of a career experiment is not to land a job, it’s to validate if you’re moving in the right direction!

The real point career experiments? Create structured trials or tests to explore what you believe your ideal career is to validate you’re moving in the right direction

They are the best way we’ve found to explore different organizations and roles. Essentially, you can can “try before you buy,” and make sure a new organization or a new role will truly be a fit before you commit to it.

We detail out six different types of career experiments in this blog, but today we’re going to be discussing Bob’s story, and he used two types of experiments, The Social Goldilocks and The Paid Researcher.


Before we dive into those experiments, let’s get a little background on Bob 👨‍🍳

Bob was working as a Concept Chef, and had been at the same company for 24 years. He was approaching the last 10-15 years of his career, and he decided he wanted to do something different for that chapter.

He worked through milestones 1 and 2 with one of our career coaches and by digging into his strengths and really drilling into what he wanted out of that next phase, Bob figured out that the thing that was rising to the top for him was his eagerness to give back.

“I got to a point where that that giving back piece was super important to me. I have life experiences, I have work experiences, how do I give them back in a way that’s different than what I was doing? How can I help organizations? How can I help people?”


And just with that knowledge, Bob began his first career experiment… The Social Goldilocks.

This type of experiment works similar to when Goldilocks tried all the chairs and all the beds and tasted the porridge in all the bowls.

Bob began reaching out to people in his network and to people who worked at organizations, or in roles, that interested him. He had many different conversations with many different people, learning about their work.

The point? To figure out what’s not too hot, no too cold, but what is just right for him and the next chapter of his career. Ahhh yes now you get the Goldilocks reference. 😊

During these conversations, Bob’s goal was to get a feel for how a consulting chef worked, and if it seemed like something that would make him happy, fill him up, fit his strengths, and align with his ideal career profile.

“I think what I liked about it was not being emotionally attached to one thing for too long. You go in there, get the job done, move on to the next thing. There’s a certain freedom about that, in my mind, that I enjoyed. I thought if I could make a positive influence in the dynamics in the kitchen while consulting… if I could remove frustrations from the team, then that might be something that would actually fulfill me, one job at a time.”


One of these conversations eventually led to an opportunity to help out an organization on a short-term basis as a consulting chef.

This began the Paid Research chapter of Bob’s career experiments.

The paid research approach is exactly what it sounds like: You actually do the work or a portion of the work and …[dramatic music inserted here] get paid for it… but typically in a short term format like a project or contract so you’re not locked into it if you find that it’s not for you!

This experiment’s purpose was to help Bob understand if consulting was something he wanted to dive further into.

“I wanted to see how I could influence an organization, because consultants generally aren’t liked. They’re coming in and they’re telling everybody what they did wrong. That’s the perception, and the reality is I want to come in and help. I’ve been in their shoes before, and I want to relate to them. I want to build their trust and I want them to feel the victory. Part of the experiment was to see if I could accomplish that return on investment.”


Bob is still in active experimentation, but these conversations and consulting gigs have already opened up many doors for him and many people have started discussing next steps with him!

We’ll leave you with some great advice from him “I think the most important thing they can do through experimentation is open up their mind to therefore open up doors. That’s the biggest thing that’ll come from it. I think the toughest part is getting ahead of yourself and saying, “Oh, wow this might lead to a job.” That leads to disappointment and you have a false sense of building. Ultimately you want a career that you’re going to be happy with, but you can’t build that out of something that’s not there, and that experiment — getting rid of the noise so you can experiment and then get to the “Yes” — can be a long process.”


Do you have an idea of what you want the next iteration of your career to look like? If you’ve created your Ideal Career Profile (your hypothesis), it’s time to put it to the test!

You can create your very own career experiment!

Identify the people you need to have conversations with this week (Social Goldilocks) or identify where you can get a small project started – list your services on Upwork or Fiverr. Where is the low-hanging fruit? Who do you know that could benefit from what you’re interested in pursuing? (Paid Researcher)

Be sure to check out our blog with six more examples of career experiments, and kickstart yours today! 💼👨‍🔬🧪🔬🚀

What you’ll learn

  • How to design career experiments to validate your presumed ideal career and job search direction
  • The importance of testing out what you believe you want out of your next role before committing
  • Strategies for conducting paid research to explore potential career paths
  • Tips for leveraging your network and test driving conversations to clarify your career change goals

Success Stories

That's one of the things I learned about in CCB is just the importance of, where are you coming from? Are you more trying to escape from or are you going to, but before that all before CCB, I was thinking very much in terms of I want to escape from. OR Starting with career change boot camp, I think one of the big things that realized is that you can't think your way there. You've got to kind of get out of yourself and, you know, go out and take action. And that definitely came through in terms of the experiments and just kind of the action steps are part of a career change boot camp.

Kevin McDevitt, Senior Research Analyst & Investment Analyst, United States/Canada

I just remember from that visioning exercise, being able to say no to something, even if it's a great opportunity or a great experience. It shows that as we moved through these journeys, whether it's life or even business that we… we have to stay true to what we're really searching for and wanting to create.

Matthew Toy, Yoga Instructor, United States/Canada

Bob Kalish 00:01

When you look at a timeline of your career, let alone your life, but let's just say your career, you know, as I'm reaching my 50s now, what did I want to do with the last 10 years?

Introduction 00:20

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

Scott Anthony Barlow 00:45

Why is it that so many career changes don't work out? You make the decision to move from one role to another, but a few weeks or months go by, and you find yourself just as unsatisfied as you were in your last job. No good, right? Over and over again, we've heard from people who made unsuccessful career changes before reaching out to us. And it turns out, that when we break down what caused that lack of success is that they didn't necessarily experiment, or put in the time to experiment before jumping into a new role, a new company, a new industry, or something else. They just took a job at face value and expected it to be better than the last without a lot of evidence that it would fit them. This is why we recommend designing career experiments. Not only do they allow you to figure out what you really want without having to commit years to staying with another company or another role that potentially is not a fit. But this process, as it turns out, is far different from just showing up to a new role and expecting it to be rainbows and butterflies.

Bob Kalish 01:50

So as you're going through this experimental phase, you're going to see a lot of that transparency if you keep your eyes open, and say, "You know what, I wouldn't fit in that organization. I'm going to probably move on and glad to know them" respectful of their time, but it's just not what gonna serve me right now.

Scott Anthony Barlow 02:10

That's Bob Kalish. Bob had been a concept chef. And he'd been in the same organization for 24 years, but he had begun to feel unfulfilled. And like, he just wanted to do something different. But he wasn't sure what that was. We got to work with Bob, and he did a lot of self-development work. He began learning about himself, what he really wanted, while simultaneously, learning about what could be next for his career by designing career experiments. In just a moment, you're gonna get to hear my conversation with Bob about some of the experimentation he's done. And I want you to know that there are infinite possibilities for what types of experiments to conduct or how to conduct different experiments. Also, we've observed that there are four types of experiments that we recommend most commonly because they're highly effective for more people. We dig into these four particular types in our book: Happen to Your Career: An Unconventional Approach to Career Change and Meaningful Work. But in this conversation with Bob, you're mostly going to hear about two specific types of these experiments. First, the social goldilocks. This type of experiment works similar to when Goldilocks tried all the chairs and all the beds and tasted all the porridge and all the balls. You're going to hear how Bob had a ton of different conversations with different people in different organizations in different roles, so he could learn about those organizations, and quickly find what's too hot, too cold, and just write for him for that next chapter of his career. He's also in the process of conducting what we would call a paid research experiment– where he's testing out a role on a temporary basis and getting compensated, well-compensated, for his work. So here's my conversation with Bob. He's telling me a little bit about his initial decision to make a career change.

Bob Kalish 04:01

When I remember when I had the conversation about, you know, I was going to step away from my job. And I was like, "I'm not really sure, but it might affect our work, our quality of life a little bit", and he was like, "Go for it. You're not happy. Go for it." He didn't care. He just wanted me to be happy.

Scott Anthony Barlow 04:18

That's amazing. That was your son?

Bob Kalish 04:21

That was my son.

Scott Anthony Barlow 04:23

So tell me about that. Because it seems like your son was a pretty large part of some of the catalysts in one way or another if I understood correctly.

Bob Kalish 04:34

Absolutely. In different ways on I got into thinking about a career change, I was thinking about how I could influence him, maybe in saying that it's okay to change jobs around, you know, through your career. And it turns out that he was happier for me that I was making the move because I was coming out of a job or leaving a job that I had for 24 years invested in. So after 24 years to make a change, and people be happy about it was encouraging.

Scott Anthony Barlow 05:09

That's amazing. Prior to you realizing that he and other people would be happy about you making that change, what did that feel like for you?

Bob Kalish 05:21

Well, I think there's a duality, right? And as far as my personality type goes, there's always going to be devil's advocate, right? So it's just me, that's how I prove things out. But I could have easily said, "I'm gonna just keep going. It's a steady-state thing." But there's something inside of you that you can't ignore. And when it's time, you either act or you don't act. I chose to act and see what's behind the other door.

Scott Anthony Barlow 05:53

So that's really interesting. Let me ask you about that. Because I have seen it so many times, and I have, in some cases, been the person who doesn't act or maybe ignores it too long before I act, might be more accurate. So what do you feel like when you got to that point where you realize that you needed to change? What do you feel like caused you to act or allowed you to be able to do something about it?

Bob Kalish 06:20

I would say there's a couple of different things at work. It was the steady decline of fulfillment, okay, alongside the desire to be a better employee, to be a better father, to be a better husband, be a better person, I just felt like I was ready to grow as a person. And I couldn't really do that without changing that piece of my life. Now, the reality is, I also discovered, you discover a lot along this process, and I also discovered... I wasn't a very good communicator. I didn't tell people what I needed to be successful at work, in particular. And so how would they know? So I really learned so many things from the company that I worked with for 24 years. But at the end, things change. And I realized, not at the time, I needed you and your company to point this out as to why I was unhappy. I could not figure it out. And eventually, it just came to I wasn't working with any of my strengths. And the StrengthFinder kind of was a big point, a turning point for me. Not the biggest, though, but one of the biggest.

Scott Anthony Barlow 07:43

Well, you had worked in the restaurant industry for, as you said, 24 years, right?

Bob Kalish 07:49

Well, 24 years at one company.

Scott Anthony Barlow 07:51

Oh, 24 years at the same organization.

Bob Kalish 07:54

Yes. And we went through the private-public, private equity, private... like, well, just through the wringer over the years. It was a national brand. And at my last responsibility with that, I was a corporate chef/concept chef. And so I had stores from Boston to California.

Scott Anthony Barlow 08:17

So I've been really fortunate to, over my career, get the opportunity to work with a few concept chefs. But what does a concept chef do for people who might not be familiar?

Bob Kalish 08:28

Wow, that's a big question. Yeah, I know. It's not what you might think if you're not familiar with how restaurants run, but I wasn't in the kitchen cooking every day. Let's just say that. You know, as you look at different responsibilities, food quality, food safety, purchasing, marketing, it's really cross-functional, working with facilities, developing menus, developing people, opening new stores, making sure you're hitting financial budgets, motivating people, you know, it goes on and on and on. And I was like, wait a minute, at one point I was just, not so long ago, 24 years ago, I was a sous chef, and you work your way up through and it's a wonderful thing to work through. Because you get to learn all the way through, right? And until you're in a position where you realize the people in the organization, the guests in the building and the business are all a balance that you have to, kind of like, juggling on a unicycle.

Scott Anthony Barlow 09:34

Juggling on a unicycle. I love that. That is a perfect mental image of that. Well, let me ask you this, then. Once you realized that you needed to make a change, and you started acting, you had mentioned just a minute ago that one of the biggest keys was strengths, however, you also said it was not the biggest key. So tell me about that.

Bob Kalish 10:05

Well, I guess, when you're looking at things, I don't know, I don't want to get too deep on here, you know, with you right here, but every second counts, right? And if you pause for a second, guess what? That counted, right? And, you know, it's a combination of that. And when you look at a timeline of your career, let alone your life, but let's just say your career, what do you want to do with, you know, as I'm reaching my, into my 50s now, what did I want to do, right? With the last 10 years. Because I've already did that been there, right? What do I want to do next? What's going to fulfill me? And it just kind of keeps building momentum. Building momentum. I'm not looking for my legacy part of my career. But that's what I find myself in, not about me, but can I leave it better than what I got, right? And for the most part, I would say, we're going to try and hopefully we can influence one or two people. And I think that would be a win– one or two people. If everybody could influence one or two people in a way to make it better, you're winning.

Scott Anthony Barlow 11:22

You know what's strange about that, I find that if you really set out to strongly influence one or two people, then most of the time, if you do a great job at that, it tends to influence so many more, which is strange how that works. It's very counterintuitive. But something else that you said just a minute ago really struck me too. You talked about how, in some ways, every second counts, and I can resonate with that. I mean, I was a weird little kid. So I remember when I was seven or eight years old, basically, in tears because we only have so many years left. I know that's a strange little kid. But that's how I thought about it in many different ways. It's still how I think about it to this day. And I think that what strikes me when you're talking about that is, it seems like the questions that you were trying to figure out were about, "How do you want to spend your time, in many ways, for the upcoming years?" Is that how you thought about it? Or tell me more about all this.

Bob Kalish 12:24

Absolutely. And one of my biggest influence in my life is my wife. And I remember her saying to me at one point, and this was when we were in our 40s. She said, "Hey, let's think about where we want to retire to." And I was tired. And you know, that's so far away, right? And I was... So the response I gave, "I don't know. What do you think? In the mountains, the beach?" And she goes, "No, what country?" And I was like, "Oh my god, I'm gonna have to think about this." You know, she's that person in my life that makes me think of the bigger picture. So I've always looked at my life as kind of a timeline that you don't know when it ends, right? So you've got to, you know, I know at some point I want to retire. When I first came on, my goal was simple, Scott, when I first came on and signed on, I wanted to just get that last patch of my career to retirement. If I had to drag it across the line on my back, that's what I was gonna do. And one of your coaches changed my mindset so quick. And she said, "Well, what if you were doing the things you love to do with the people you love doing it with, why would you want to retire?" And I was like, oh boy, much like my wife thing, "What country?" I felt like, you know what, I probably wouldn't want to retire if I was having fun with the people I wanted to have fun with doing the things I wanted to do. So all of a sudden, my mind started opening up again.

Scott Anthony Barlow 13:59

That's a great takeaway. That's a wonderful takeaway. And I think that leads us down the road of something I wanted to talk to you about. It seems like part of that takeaway happens through the process of experimentation. And I know that's something that before we started recording, we said, "Hey, we want to get deep into sharing what you've done from a career design and career experimentation standpoint", because I think you've done a really nice job. So I'm curious, would you be willing to share a bit about how you started thinking about experiments and then what you did initially, and then what that has led to now?

Bob Kalish 14:37

Yeah, absolutely. Originally, I thought this was weird.

Scott Anthony Barlow 14:42

You're not the only one.

Bob Kalish 14:43

This is awkward. Not because I didn't like to talk to people or what, you know, it's not traditional, right? Nobody does that. It's something you have to learn to feel comfortable with for sure. And then you cannot forget it. You know, then it's just part of your DNA and speaking with people and experimenting. I spoke with a lot of different people in organizations through and I think my BS detector is really high. And as I spoke with people I could really figure out quickly whether I wanted to be part of an organization or not. I could really quickly determine whether they're "cultural on the wall", match their culture in the building. And I think, I don't know, the ratio was probably, I don't know, 20:1, 30:1, I don't know, before you got, "Whoa, this is really interesting." But through that, you're learning what you don't want to be so that you can learn what you do want to be. You don't know what that is, or good is until you see what that is, right? Getting out there and filtering through and seeing how people are happy or not happy, you know, reading people. And so as you're going through this experimental phase, you're going to see a lot of that, that transparency, if you keep your eyes open, and say, "You know what, I wouldn't fit in that organization. I'm going to probably move on and glad to know them, respectful of their time, but it's just not what gonna serve me right now."

Scott Anthony Barlow 16:26

There's so much buried in there. I want to just unpack that for just a minute. First of all, for a little bit of context, it sounds like you're referring to probably one of the most popular types of experiments that we'll often run, we call it the "Social Goldilocks", where you get to have lots of conversations relatively quickly with different people, different organizations in order to glean everything that you can and make some decisions about, "Is it the right organization for me? Is it the right set of people for me? Is this the right type of role for me? Etc." And I think something that stood out to me and just how you're talking about that is, you're saying, "Hey, it's not just about what their answers are, it's about how they answer. Am I getting the sense that they're actually happy? Am I getting the sense that they're feeding me a line of BS?"

Bob Kalish 17:17

I guess the best thing about the experimenting phase is there's really nothing to lose. And once I figured that out, it put me in the driver's seat, and I was going to be myself. I wasn't going to, I could have gone through the interview just fine. I go to interviews or conversations or an answer to any way they would have liked to hear. I chose not to. I chose to be myself and tell them the things that I was up to and what I had planned because it's a partnership. And I wouldn't want to go into any relationship with falsehoods, right?

Scott Anthony Barlow 17:58

Yeah. What advice would you give to someone who wants to be able to bring more of themselves and have more of themselves show up in those conversations? Because we all know that's important, right? Like, if I ended up getting an opportunity, if I've chosen to not be myself, then ultimately, I get hired for being somebody else, which doesn't help any, right?

Bob Kalish 18:20

Yeah, I think there's two things: identifying what is true to you, what is important, and showing discipline through the conversation. It's about weaving yourself into the conversation. It's not about going in there and demanding or telling them what you're going to be or what you're going to do. It's more of the conversation and how you weave it into the conversation. It should be natural. If you're talking to the right people, then they're asking the right questions. And that conversation isn't just, I don't know, I guess checking off boxes for them. That might be an indicator, right? I got that feeling from a few people that they immediately thought I was looking for work with them. And I was just experimenting and talking with them. And they were like, almost trying to press an interview. And I wasn't ready. And frankly, I didn't want to. After a short conversation, there's some people, you know, you don't want to waste their time, but you cut it off as soon as you can because you don't want to waste their time and you don't want to waste your time. But you leave it friendly, of course. And you're glad to meet them. It's just not a fit for you right now.

Scott Anthony Barlow 19:38

Do you remember any of those conversations that stood out? That went particularly well where you feel like you did a great job of showing what was true to you and then showing some of that discipline in the conversation to be able to, insert it where it is organic, as opposed to just telling them, hey, I don't know, whatever the opposite would be, I guess. But tell me about one of those conversations and what you remember about it and how you did that.

Bob Kalish 20:06

I guess to come to mind: one was a very large company, and I was speaking with somebody in the organization. And I spoke about some of my passions. And they said, which really surprised me, like, wow, we never really thought about that. That might be something that you could cultivate through. And this is the coaching part. I was talking about, "I'd love to be a coach at some point, you know", and they said, "Well, we have a lot of chefs. And that might be something that's really interesting to us down the road. But, you know, we don't really have that position right now." You heard that before, right? We don't have that position. And like, that's great, but maybe down the road. And knowing that I had some work to do before I was their coaching. And it's one of the things that I'm actually moving toward is, you know, how do I get myself in a coaching position? Is that teaching? Is it actual executive chef coaching? Is it that position of helping that one person, like, we spoke about earlier, how do we do that? And how do we build a business model from that? Something you would probably be one of my connectors for, right? It's not easy. A lot of work.

Scott Anthony Barlow 21:23

It is. Yes. It is a many year project for sure. So that's interesting, too, even just that one conversation that you're describing to where you are... I heard you say that you presented your passion or something that you were excited about rather, and in this case, someday doing coaching for chefs, or for that industry. And I think what's kind of cool that you described is that they responded to that, sounds like, emotionally, like, "Oh, wow. There could be something there." And then that's a level of feedback for you. Well, at the same time, it sounds like you also took away from that conversation, too, "Hey, I'm gonna need to collect some more experiences in order to do this in the way that I want." Both are really valuable pieces of feedback even though it sounds like for that organization, like nothing panned out beyond just exploring, right? One of the things that I wanted to ask you about too, is, you have done a really nice job, not just with some of the, what we might call "initial level experiments", like the social Goldilocks, what we just talked about as an idea of being able to connect with lots of people for short periods of time, and then be able to gather lots of information to make decisions about "Is this organization right for me? Is this role right for me?" That's a really common one that we do. And it's really valuable for many people. But it's not the only one. And I think that you've done a really nice job also doing other types of experiments where you're going into a role, what we might call "paid research" in one way or another if you're not completely sure this is something you want to do for a very long period of time. Can you tell us a little bit about what led up to these other types of experiments for you, and how they worked? And how you got to them?

Bob Kalish 23:14

Sure. Well, as you go through the process, you just start trying to think of everything possible that you could possibly do, and then scratch them off the list, right? And consulting came up. And I was like, "You know, that might be a great opportunity for me to look at things in a different light." I think what I liked about it was not being emotionally attached to one thing for too long. And, you know, go in there, get the job done, move on to the next thing, there's a certain freedom about that in my mind that I enjoyed. I thought if, while I was consulting, I could make a positive influence in the dynamics in the kitchen, if I could get the conversation going, if I could remove frustrations from the team, then maybe that might be something that would actually fulfill me– one case at a time, one job at a time. And so I kicked around the idea quite a bit. And yeah, I spoke with a larger company about consulting and just didn't get a great feel for it. Like, probably a little bit too much desk kind of stuff and not enough people. I spoke with a very successful consulting chef out of Texas, and, you know, very generous with his time. I was respectful and it was one of them five minute conversations that ended up being 35-40 minutes. Those are super, super helpful. And it got me a little closer to home and said, "Okay, that's something that interests me. But maybe not enough coaching yet." So that's kind of how I ended up where I am now in the experiment.

Scott Anthony Barlow 25:08

That's so interesting. So then what ended up leading to the opportunity that you have now? Because right now you've been experimenting for roughly the last six months in a consulting role, right? How did that happen, Bob?

Bob Kalish 25:23

Yeah. Tight-knit community. I was fortunate enough that I connected with a regional restaurant tour. And I went and talked to him. And he's like, "What's going on?" And I've known him for 20 years. And I'm like, "Hey, well, this is kind of the..." you know, he goes, "Well, that's really interesting." And I was like, "Yeah, you know, it's tough to get started." And he's like, "Well, I started..." He said to me, "I started my career consulting. And we have a nice little portfolio now of restaurants, six concepts." And he said, "Why don't you start consulting for me?" And I was like, "What a wonderful idea to get started." And I mentioned a few other things that I was interested in as well, the transparency that we had talked about earlier. And he was interested in that. And so as I was telling you earlier about weaving things in the conversations, this is the ultimate. I not only was able to speak with somebody, which is always the best thing, just talking to somebody is always great, whether it leads somewhere or not.

Scott Anthony Barlow 26:32

It creates that connection, right?

Bob Kalish 26:33

Yeah. But not only did we find a mutual need, an opportunity with each other, he saw a vision that I had, and was willing to even extend a hand and say, "Hey, I can help you with that, with connections. I have a dream about writing a book." And he's like, "Well, I can help you with that as well." So I started putting some connectors together. And all of a sudden, I found myself in a great situation with people I respect, everything that I kind of mapped out and put, I guess, everything's a filter. And all of my super strengths are one of the filters that people have, that organizations have to pass through for me to accept them, right? And we're not, you know, there's the bare minimum stuff that we talked about– the money, the benefits, whatever, you know, whatever the bare minimum is, all that needs to be there, it is important, right? But for me, it's not the entire package. It's just, that's just what needs to happen. And I think most people when they're looking for a new job, and air quotes, they're looking at just that package, and then hoping everything else is going to fall into place, the culture and being a valued employee and working within their strengths. But guess what, chances are, they didn't set themselves up for success. And what are they going to do next time? They're going to look for more money, right? How much is enough, Scott, right? Like, there's a balance act is all I'm trying to say. There doesn't have to be a cap on happiness, and salary or benefits. They're not mutually exclusive but they're all part of a package that you have to get together in your mind.

Scott Anthony Barlow 28:25

What did you hope to learn from this particular experiment that you're... and I know, you actually have multiple experiments going on at the same time, which I think is super fun. That's very much how I live my life. Like its continuous experimentation, all the time, and that creates the variety that I need personally. But for you, when you set out in this and said, "Look, I'm going to accept this consulting role with this group. And it really sounds like a great opportunity for me", what did you hope to learn from that?

Bob Kalish 28:53

I wanted to, first of all, I wanted to see how I could influence an organization that consultants generally aren't like. They're coming in and they're telling everybody what they did wrong, right? And that's the perception. The reality is for myself. I want to come in and help. And I want to... I've been in their shoes before, and I want to relate to them. By the way, one of my signature strengths is relators.

Scott Anthony Barlow 29:25

I am not surprised at all, Bob.

Bob Kalish 29:28

Yeah, I want to build their trust. And I want them to feel the victory. It's not my victory. I want them to feel victory. And I wanted to, part of the experiment was, to see if I could accomplish that. And the return on investment, frankly, that was super important to me early on in the experiment. I feel like I've covered that return on investment over time and over again. So that's not as much of a pressure for me right now. Even though I'm looking for opportunities to help the business in monetary ways, I know that what I've brought is enough that it wasn't a mistake bringing me on, let's just say that. And there's plenty of other opportunities for us to work in the future together too. And you can take it off in chunks, as people can handle it. Too much too fast, it's gonna lead to failure. But a steady line of that, of a strong foundation, is what I hope to provide for this group.

Scott Anthony Barlow 30:32

That's interesting. So it sounds like part of your goal was to be able to prove to yourself as well, that you could deliver this type of value and do so in the way that you want it to show up. You and I sound like you've met some of the same consultants over the years. These are my expectations, which is amazing. And so what did, you know, now that you're six months into this, what do you feel like you have actually learned compared to what you hoped, or what surprised you?

Bob Kalish 31:04

I think what surprised me was needing to develop the self-discipline not to drive the initiative myself. And trying to create an awareness and a foundation of how you roll something out in a way that's going to last. It's not a quick email to the team and saying, "Hey, we're doing this now." It's the reasons why and what it really takes to have a successful rollout. And to take ownership and accountability to a rollout. That's something that was natural to me, and the follow through. And now I'm whispering in the background to somebody saying, "Hey, you might want to do this." "Hey, follow up with this" and let them take the responsibility and accountability.

Scott Anthony Barlow 31:55

That's really interesting to you, for yourself. Part of it is, it sounds like, been developing self-awareness that you need to work differently than what you have in the past. So that's pretty amazing when you think about it because you're actively getting to contribute, while, at the same time, that you're getting these learnings, as well as developing how you want to do this in the future too. You're very much building the airplane as you're flying it, which is kind of wonderful.

Bob Kalish 32:25

That's fair. Yeah, I like it. The second thing I really wanted to get out of it was the interpersonal relationships with coaching people on how to be better bosses, leaders, whether it's suggesting a culture book to them at the appropriate time. I remember one of the chefs saying, "I'm frustrated. I can't seem to get these guys to listen to me right now. It's like, we're scattered" and I was able to suggest the book to them. And hopefully, we're in process of in reading that and what accountability looks like and why people struggle with getting their work done. And just taking another view, and evaluating leadership. One of the things that Megan and I talk about a lot is being a trail guide. It's something I stole from her unapologetically, I think she's stolen from somebody else. But, you know, if we could be a trail guide, I don't really know about mentorship anymore. It's a very long process, mentorship, but if we could be trail guides to each other for short term, for short time, maybe it's a long time, who knows. I think that fits better for what the way I look at things. If I could help trail guide somebody, and by all means, use resources around me to help get the things. I think there's a synergy in the community about that, that I like the way that feels, better than mentorship.

Scott Anthony Barlow 33:53

Yeah, I agree. Mentorship is really interesting... It's an interesting word in itself. But I think it brings a lot of connotations for what people think of mentorship, and not all of them are useful is what I found out over the years. So I resonate more with the trail guide mentality as well, even though I've had many very wonderful mentors in a variety of different ways. But yeah, I can totally appreciate that. The one other question that I really wanted to ask you, we've got many people who have listened to this and we'll be listening to this that have made the decision to make a career change. But you and I both know that you don't just necessarily do all the work on paper, and then find some level of fulfillment in your next step. That's a rarity. Often it's where, I don't know, we'll throw in some analogies here. Like it's where the rubber meets the road is going to be the where you get out and get to interact with people and get various different types of experiments going so that you can have inputs coming in and recognize that, "Oh, hey, the type of culture that I thought I wanted isn't exactly what I wanted. I can now refine that. I now have a different level of knowledge and input to be able to do that." So my actual question for you as someone who has really changed a lot of their thinking around experiments is, what advice would you have for other people that really do want to find some level of fulfillment with their work and decide how they spend their time in a way that's good for them? And what can they do through experimentation?

Bob Kalish 35:34

Well, I think what they can do through experimentation is open up their mind to therefore open up doors, right? That's what they can do. That's the biggest thing that will come from it. I think the toughest part, maybe through is, getting yourself ahead of where you really are and saying, "Oh, wow, this might lead to a job", you know, and before you set out everything because that leads to disappointment, right? You have a false sense of building into something. Ultimately, yeah, you want a career that you're going to be happy with. But you can't make that out of something that's not there. And that experiment, getting rid of the "no's", so you can get to the "yes" can be a long process. It could be a short process. The first one might be the one, right? And you hit the fastball. The first pitch fastball, you have to hit it, right? But that chances are, that's not going to happen. And I wouldn't recommend that because you're probably going to miss. The timepiece is important. You can't put a time on it but the timepiece is important because you learn so much overtime– you evolve, your mind changes, at some point, it's going to lock in. And then filters are going to be established, and the process gets quicker, the more times you do it, and it becomes easier. And the first time it's so awkward, it just feels weird. That's all I can tell you– get over it. Just get over it, get to the next one, and that'll feel less weird. And it'll feel less weird after that. And then it'll be natural, and you'll be able to represent yourself in a way. And probably get closer to that, yes, every time you're doing it.

Scott Anthony Barlow 37:27

Walking. Learning to walk probably felt weird when we were one or two, but we just don't remember it. So every time do something new, worthwhile or not, it's gonna get to feel weird. So I really appreciate that advice.

Bob Kalish 37:42

My sister told me along the way, like, real change is real hard.

Scott Anthony Barlow 37:48

Yes, as it turns out.

Bob Kalish 37:49

Yeah, there was times that resonated, for sure. But it's so worth it at the end. For me, it unlocked everything. I'm the best version of me I've ever been in my life right now. And I have a ton more to grow, for sure. But just knowing that I'm the best version of me, that's a big win, Scott.

Scott Anthony Barlow 38:15

Most of the episodes you've heard on Happen To Your Career showcase stories of people that have taken the steps to identify and land careers that they are absolutely enamored with, that match their strengths and are really what they want in their lives. If that's something that you're ready to begin taking steps towards, that's awesome. And we want to figure out how we can help. So here's what I would suggest. Take the next five seconds to open up your email app and email me directly. I'm gonna give you my personal email address, scott@happentoyourcareer.com. Just email me and put conversation in the subject line. And when you do that, I'll introduce you to someone on our team who can have a super informal conversation with and we'll figure out the very best type of health for you, whatever that looks like. And the very best way that we can support you to make it happen. So send me an email right now with conversation in the subject line.

Scott Anthony Barlow 39:07

Here's a sneak peek into what we have coming up in store for you next week.

Speaker 3 39:13

I was stuck in that mindset of, "But I have a degree. I really should be working in my degrees." I thought I couldn't make the connection. So the imposter syndrome kicked in that you don't have the skill set to do it.

Scott Anthony Barlow 39:25

What happens when everything you thought that you wanted to do for a career isn't? You go to school, you get an education, maybe even a master's degree, and then realize immediately upon graduation that what you got your education in it just isn't going to be your ideal career fit. So then what? Was it all a waste of time? How do we move into a new field? So many questions.

Scott Anthony Barlow 39:52

All that and plenty more next week 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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