paNASH blog


Never Say Never: How to Know When You Should Let a Bridge Burn

“Never burn a bridge.”

We’ve all been told by mentors, career experts and well-meaning friends and co-workers to “never burn a bridge.”

It’s the number one rule of networking. Or is it?

There’s always an exception to the rule. And this rule is no different.

Never Say Never

Whenever I hear someone say, “never burn a bridge,” I always respond with,

“But don’t continue standing on a bridge someone else has lit a match to.”

I said that recently to someone who’s dealing with the loss of a job. She’s doing all the right things, she’s being professional about the situation, and she’s trying her best to not burn any bridges despite how she’s been treated in her job loss.

I think she was a little relieved to hear my response. It’s like it gave her permission to just move on from the negative aspects of the situation.

And just last week one of my clients told me she’s taken my advice and decided not to renew one of her client’s contracts because of how badly she’s been treated by her client. She realized since she’d never allow someone to treat her that way in her own personal life she doesn’t have to allow anyone to treat her that way in her business.

She said it’s the most freeing feeling she’s had in a long time.

Think about it. You don’t hear “never burn a bridge” advice given in any 12-step recovery program.

In fact, it’s the opposite. Twelve-step members are told to cut out the relationships that are contributing to or enabling their unhealthy addictions.

If someone is doing something to ruin your working relationship or make it toxic and unhealthy for you, that’s on them.

They’re the one burning the bridge. Not you.

Your job is to do what it takes to escape getting burned before it’s too late.

This is also true if someone is doing something that by association would give you a bad name among all your other good contacts.

Common Traits of Bridge Burners

It’s important though to first recognize the common traits of bridge burners.

Speaking generally, they typically are people who:

  • Only take and never give.
  • Behave unprofessionally on a regular basis.
  • Often operate in an unethical (and even sometimes illegal) manner.
  • Always expect something for nothing.
  • Are so power hungry they’ll step on anyone to get to the top.
  • You can tell are being fake in their interest in you or their praise of you.
  • Care way too much about their job title (I’ve worked with several people like this and they’ve all exhibited the above signs of bridge burners).
  • Don’t have your back when they say they do.
  • Continually give your gut a bad vibe.

Please understand the above is based on consistent behavior.

No one is perfect and we’re all guilty of doing some of the above on occasion.

But if you find yourself being abused on a regular basis by people exhibiting these behaviors, it’s time to smell the smoke and run for safety!

How to Stay Safe When a Bridge is Burning

So how do you stay safe, especially if you have to continue working with a bridge burner until the embers die down?

First, stay calm. Try your best not to react to the bad behavior, especially when you’re emotional. You may not be able to control the other person’s behavior, but you can control your own.

Keep your distance. Don’t ignore the person when you know you shouldn’t, but keep any necessary interactions with the person as short and limited as possible.

When having discussions with the other person, always state facts and facts only. Avoid expressing your emotions to someone who can’t be trusted with your emotions.

Remain professional in your limited interactions even when the other person doesn’t.

Establish boundaries. If the person keeps trying to cross those boundaries, keep repeating your boundaries over and over. If the behavior continues despite your repeated requests for it to stop, report it.

Keep Networking!

Networking is the most crucial element of the job search! Maintaining and nurturing good professional relationships is key to your success.

So is protecting yourself from toxic relationships that can only hinder you in your efforts.

Seek wisdom and discernment to recognize the difference between the good and the bad contacts.

And get off the bridge when you smell smoke!

Related Resources:

never burn a bridge

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

What do you want to be when you grow up? It’s a question we all got when we were children.

My own answers to that question were all over the place and would change pretty frequently.

In trying to remember what my answers were, I’m sure I probably said any of the following on any given day: a teacher, an author, a businesswoman, an artist, etc.

But the only one I distinctly remember being the most sure about was a fashion designer. That was after my grandmother gave me some Fashion Plates for Christmas one year.

 

I loved my fashion plates and enjoyed the creativity of them. They made me want to learn how to really sketch clothing designs by hand. 

Ask yourself:

What did you want to be when you grew up? What do you still want to be?


So when I got to high school I decided to take art all four years to learn how to sketch. 

That is until I got into my first year of art where I ditched the idea of becoming a fashion designer (or an artist) after my art teacher made my life a living a hell. 

She was such a rigid woman, too rigid to be teaching anything that’s supposed to be creative. Her teaching methods and personality made me never want to take another art class again.

Ask yourself:

Has there ever been a person or an experience in your life that was so negative it turned you off from what you wanted to be when you grew up? How did that affect you?


So next I looked to the subject I was enjoying the most at the time…beginner-level Spanish. I really loved it and thought I’d like to eventually major in foreign languages once I got to college. 

But then came Spanish II, which was really difficult for me, much more than Spanish 1 where I was making all A’s.

Ask yourself:

Have you ever lacked the skill or ability to be the thing you wanted to be when you grew up? How did you shift your focus?


Finally, I discovered psychology…which changed everything for me.

I found psychology so interesting, and my understanding of it came naturally to me. It was becoming my passion.

Ask yourself:

What comes naturally to you? What are you passionate about?


But when I announced to my family I was going to study psychology as my college major, they weren’t as enthusiastic about it as I was.

I kept hearing, 

“Oh, how in the world are you going to make any money with THAT kind of degree?”

My dad said I should major in business (his passion)…because I’d make more money.

My mother said I should be a nurse…because I’d make more money.

Even my brother chimed in and said I should be an accountant because, again,… I’d make more money.

Ask yourself:

Did anyone ever try to discourage you from becoming what you wanted to grow up to be? How did you respond?


So why didn’t I listen to any of my family members? Several reasons:

  1. I can’t stand the site of blood. And I can’t stand the smell of a hospital. Hearing people talk about their surgeries or ailments literally makes my skin crawl.
  2. I’m completely bored with math and number crunching. While other people find numbers fun and fascinating, I do not.
  3. Business didn’t interest me at the time. At least not enough for me to have done well in business classes.
  4. I get good grades when I’m studying something I find interesting. If I’m the one who has to take the classes and do the homework, the material has to keep me awake.
  5. Loving what I do is more important to me than making a lot of money.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand why choosing a career path that paid well over choosing one I loved was important to my parents. 

They were both born in the late 1930s, still early enough to have felt some of the long-term effects of the Great Depression. 

Their parents drilled into them the importance of being financially secure in the event of another depression, so they were just doing what they thought was best for me by trying to encourage me into fields considered more lucrative.

My brother is a lot older than me. In fact, he’s closer in age to my dad’s generation than he is to mine. Therefore, his mentality has also been “get a job that pays well regardless of whether you like it.”

Ask yourself:

Is there something you’re passionate about even though it may not make you a lot of money? Which is more important to you?


I stood firm in my decision to major in psychology (and minor in sociology), did well in all my psychology classes, and made the dean’s list several times.

It wasn’t until the summer between my junior and senior year that I knew what I wanted to do with my degree.

That summer I had been an orientation leader at my alma mater and had also been working the previous two years in the Provost’s office as a student worker.

I loved the college atmosphere, loved working with incoming students, and had developed a strong understanding of the organizational structure of a university.

I decided to ask my Dean of Students how do I get a job like his? (This was my first time conducing an informational interview and had no idea at the time that was what it was called.)

He explained I would need a master’s degree in a field I had no previous idea existed. I started researching graduate programs in higher education administration and student personnel services. 

Ask yourself:

Have you explored a career path that was previously unknown to you? What is it? What have you learned about it? What else do you want to learn about it?

The more I found out, the more I realized my psychology degree was the best foundation for what I would study in graduate school. 

In fact, much of what I learned in grad school was just an extension from undergrad.

Unlike my fellow grad students who came from other majors like finance and business, I already had familiarity with a lot of the theories and material.


Once I had decided on higher education as a career path, I still had to narrow down what area of higher ed I wanted to go into. 

My degree was readying me for so many possibilities.

I could go into financial aid, housing/residential living, Greek life, admissions, orientation, career services, academic advising, first-year programs, student activities, study abroad, international student services, and on and on.

Ask yourself:

Do you sometimes have so many career options or career interests you find it hard to narrow down your choices? 

I narrowed my choices down into three areas based on the ones that interested me most: orientation programs, freshman year experience programs, and career services. 

I delved into those three areas by gaining practical experience through internships, volunteer work and special projects while finishing my degree.

It was while volunteering in the university’s career center I knew I wanted to help students figure out what they wanted to be “when they grew up” based on their own interests and passions instead of their parents’ wishes.

Ask yourself:

Has a previous personal experience inspired you to a career helping others facing the same experience?


After earning my masters, I went on to be a college career adviser at various universities and even held the title of director of career services at one time. 

I also got to teach some college level courses.

I loved what I did. 

My job even allowed me to use my creative side in developing career-related programs for my students.

But when my creativity began to be stifled, I decided to make a bit of a career change and started my own image consulting business (click here to read the story on how that happened).

Ask yourself:

Have you ever felt so stifled or burned out in your career you knew you were ready for a change?


For 8 years I worked independently as an image consultant but in that time I also continued to do career coaching on the side. 

The image consulting fed my childhood interest in fashion since it included some wardrobe styling work. 

And I even became an author when I released my first book, an Amazon #1 bestseller about image and style.

Then, after 8 years of image consulting, I was ready for another career change, but also a bit of a return to my roots.

I became an independent career coach with a focus on helping people discover and pursue their passions.

Ask yourself:

Have you ever had a yearning to go back to something you once did before?


It’s an interesting story how I shifted my image consulting business back to a career coaching focus (click here to read that story).

I knew I wanted to go back to career coaching but I had two requirements for myself:

  1. I still wanted to work for myself, so I avoided applying for jobs at college career centers. Instead I re-structured my business’s mission.
  2. I wanted to work with people going through mid-career transitions with a focus on helping them pursue their passions and the things they once wanted to be when they grew up.

My background and own personal experiences have served me well in accomplishing those two goals. 

Ask yourself:

What are some of your career goals? What are some of your “must haves” for your work? How has your background prepared you for your goals?


Unlike most other career coaches, I didn’t just decide to be a career coach after having worked in another industry. Career coaching has been part of my entire career.

It has evolved out of a combination of childhood interests, natural gifts and talents, and passion. 

And it has taken some exciting twists and turns along the way.

I’m thankful there’s been more than just one way to pursue my passion. 

I’m also thankful my current situation allows me to combine some of my other passions like writing and stand up paddle boarding with my work as a career coach. 

And I love helping others find unique and creative ways to pursue and combine all the passions they have, helping them become some of the things they always wanted to be when they grew up.

Ask yourself:

What are some ways you can pursue your own passions? How can you combine your passions? What steps will you take next to do so?

Subscribe to my newsletter and receive a complimentary 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan to help you start taking the next steps to becoming what you want to be when you grow up (again)!

 grow up

Sunday Inspiration: Position Yourself to Receive

Welcome to “Sunday Inspiration,” a bi-weekly devotional for those seeking spiritual encouragement in the pursuit of their passions. Each post comes from an outside resource (as referenced). I hope these posts will inspire and motivate you in your life and career in addition to our weekly original blog posts. Enjoy!

“The wise listen to others.”   Pr 12:15 NLT

Positioning yourself to receive—makes all the difference!

For example, as you read this, if you position yourself to receive by saying to the Lord, “I will take action on what You show me,” you’ll benefit more than if you read it just to be motivated or inspired.

To resist or to receive—that’s a choice you make every day.

Nothing dies quicker than a new idea in a closed mind. It’s impossible to learn, if you think you already know it all.

One of the reasons Jesus reacted so strongly to the Pharisees was because they refused to receive what He had to say.

A wrongly positioned mind is like a microscope that magnifies trifling things but can’t receive great ones.

Every situation, properly viewed, is an opportunity. But opportunities can only “drop into your lap” if you position your lap where opportunities drop.

When you don’t position yourself to receive, it’s like asking for a bushel while you’re holding a cup.

Too often our minds are locked on one track. We’re looking for red so we overlook blue; we’re thinking “tomorrow” and God is saying “now.” We’re looking everywhere, and the answer is right under our nose.

When a person is positioned correctly, he or she is ready to receive all God has for them.

The Bible often uses the word simple. The original term means “thick, dull, and sluggish,” and it describes those who are insensitive and unreceptive to the thoughts of others.

God will speak to you through people, but unless you listen you won’t hear what He has to say. So today position yourself to receive.

Source: https://www.jentezenfranklin.org/daily-devotions/position-yourself-to-receive

Quiz: Do You Really Need to Spend Money On a Career Coach?

Or Do You Just Think You do?

Hiring a coach to help you improve your career can be very useful. But it can also be a big expense. Since I work as a career coach, I know what the cost can be.

Not everyone can afford it. Some can’t afford not to get coaching (since the services can help them increase their salaries). And for others it will be a complete waste of their money.

For this reason, I don’t take on every client.

I actually turn clients away if from our initial consultation it’s evident they’re not going to benefit from coaching.


When hiring a career coach is a waste of money

Signs that coaching will be a waste of money for someone include:

  • Their unwillingness to learn something new.
  • A negative attitude.
  • An expectation that I’m going to do the work for them (i.e. write their resume for them, find a job for them).
  • An inability to receive constructive feedback.
  • Only doing it because of pressure from someone else instead of doing it for themselves

(If any of the above describes you, don’t waste your money! If it doesn’t describe you, keep reading for the main quiz.)


Just to give you an idea of what I’m talking about, let me share a little story with you.

Early in my business I had a potential client reach out to me wanting my services. We’ll call him Steve.

I scheduled an initial consultation with Steve to discuss his needs and determine if he was a good fit for my services and vice versa.

When I met with Steve, I asked him,

“What’s brought you to the point that’s made you seek out a career coach?”

Steve’s response:

“Well, I haven’t been working for the past couple of years and my girlfriend is tired of me mooching off of her, so she made me call you.”

(Red flag #1: he’s doing it for someone else instead of for himself.)


While trying to uncover additional information about Steve to help me determine fit, he continued to push his resume in front of me trying to get me to give him a free resume critique on the spot.

The more I tried to reiterate the purpose of the meeting, the more it became obvious he just wanted me to “fix” his resume for him (at no cost to him).

(Red flag #2: he has an expectation of getting something for nothing and not having to do any work on his part.)


Once Steve realized I wasn’t going to critique his resume for free, he said (in a rather negative, cynical tone):

“Well, how important is a resume any way?”

(Red flag #3: he has a negative attitude and is showing another sign he’s not willing to take responsibility for his part of the process.)

The response I was thinking in my head: “In a job search? Pretty darn important!”

It was obvious from Steve’s attitude that not only would coaching have been a waste of his money, it would’ve also been a waste of his time and mine.


Luckily, I’ve had very few potential clients quite like Steve.

In fact, the clients I’ve ended up working with have brought me so much joy and vice versa.

I firmly believe that’s because I don’t take on every client. Instead, I have a vetting process in place that allows me the chance to determine if my coaching program is going to be a good experience for everyone involved.


Sneak Peak

Once I determine the potential client is a good candidate for my coaching programs, then I help him or her decide if coaching will be a good investment.

I do this by asking questions and often walking the candidate through a list of statements to see which ones apply to his or her current situation.

So for the sake of this post, I’m going to give you a sneak peak to part of my vetting process.

Below I’ve turned my list of statements into a little quiz. You may want to print the list out as a hard copy so you can participate in the quiz.

Once you have a hard copy of the list of statements, mark each one that applies to you right now.


The Quiz

  • You’re dissatisfied, frustrated or unhappy with your current life or work situation and feel stuck.
  • There’s a gap between where you are and where you want to be.
  • You’re not exactly sure what you want to do next in your career and need guidance.
  • You know what you want but aren’t sure where or how to start and need direction.
  • You want a job you love and enjoy at least 60% of the time.
  • You’ve tried several things, but nothing’s worked.
  • You know if you don’t do something, things won’t change or you’ll miss out on “what could’ve been.”
  • You’ve already mastered one area of expertise and you’re bored and ready for the next challenge.
  • You want to move from talking about your passion to actively pursuing it.
  • You know what you need to do, but you lack confidence.
  • You want to avoid the same mistakes other people have made.
  • You need unbiased and objective advice your friends or family can’t provide.
  • You need someone to show you your blind spots.
  • You’re committed to improving your life and/or work.
  • You’re ready to put yourself high on your priority and values list.
  • You’re willing to make an investment in your happiness.
  • You accept that a 30-day to 90-day commitment is a small investment for long-term change.
  • You know no one else can do this for you.
  • You’re open to new ideas, new routines and new mindsets.
  • You know change starts with you.
  • You’re willing to do or try something different for a new result.
  • It’s costing you more (either financially, emotionally, or physically) to stay stuck where you are, than it’ll cost you to invest in coaching services.

How do you know coaching is for you?

If you found seven or more statements that describe you or your current situation, then coaching will likely be an investment and a benefit for you instead of a waste of money.

In fact, if you even made it to the end of this post and are still reading this, I’d say your level of readiness is pretty high.

At this point, it’s just a matter of finding a coach that is a good fit for your specific career goals and your personality.

My career coaching services focus on helping infuse passion into your work.

While this often attracts a lot of creative types (especially since I’m currently based in Nashville — a very creative town in more ways than one), I work with people with diverse passions from different industries and geographic locations.

Other career coaches will have other niches that might better fit your needs.

You just need to do a little research to find the best coach for you.


3 Calls to Action (Choose One)

I know I’m breaking all the rules of blogging by listing more than one call-to-action. But first, I’m not a blogger, I’m a career coach.

And second, only one of the following actions will apply to you. So choose the one that best fits your own level of curiosity and take that small step towards action!

You’d like more information before jumping in:

If you’d like to learn more about my career coaching services, go to my web site at yourpassioninlife.com and subscribe to get a free 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan. This resource is designed to help you get out of your current rut.

Also, my blog provides a lot of free advice and tips for you to “test-drive” for your own career.

You’d like to dip your toe in the water:

My on-demand career success videos provide an affordable option if you’re still testing the waters. You can work at your own pace and at a fraction of the cost of personalized one-on-one coaching.

You’re ready to dive in:

If you know you’re ready to take the next steps in coaching, complete the paNASH intake form and we can schedule an initial consultation to determine if you’re a candidate for my personalized coaching programs.

career coach

The Best Way to Write a Successful Elevator Speech


It’s Time to Ditch The Pitch for Something Better

Do some people’s elevator pitches make you wish you’d taken the stairs?

Does the thought of having to share your own elevator speech make you want to pitch yourself down the elevator shaft?

Most elevator speeches are very awkward. And it’s obvious when someone has over-thought their pitch when reciting it.


The Wrong Way to Write an Elevator Speech

I have a friend and colleague who, every time I get his voicemail, I have to sit through the sound of his voice reading his elevator speech word-for-word from a piece of paper.

While it’s a well-written and well-thought-out pitch, it still sounds and feels “manufactured.”

It’s much like the endless elevator speeches I’ve had to sit through at networking events where we all have to go around the room and introduce ourselves with our elevator pitches.

I couldn’t begin to tell you what each person said in those meetings because I was probably sitting there trying to decide what exactly I wanted to say when it came my turn.

You’ve probably experience the same thing.

All I know is by the end of it, I felt like I’d had everyone’s industry jargon vomited into my ears.

And it was obvious some people took the term “speech” literally and used the very outdated advice of making their pitch one minute long.

Have you ever timed yourself for one minute?

It’s WAY TOO LONG!

In fact, 30 seconds is WAY TOO LONG!

Especially in this day and age where attention spans are shrinking.

Do you know what else?

Not one of those pitches spoke directly to me. I never felt like the person was trying to relate to me or engage me or anyone else in the group.

They just spewed out an obviously rehearsed MONOLOGUE.


How to Write a Better (and Less Annoying) Elevator Pitch

If you’re in a place where you need an elevator speech or you need to update your current elevator speech for networking purposes, you’ll want to follow these tips when drafting your pitch.

Doing so will result in more authentic and more productive networking conversations that are less awkward.

Best of all, your listener (or listeners) won’t feel like they’re being “networked.”


1. Keep it to 7 seconds or less!

Yes, you read that right. Gone are the days of long drawn-out diatribes about what you do.

Don’t give your listener’s eyes time to glaze over as you keep babbling on about something that makes no sense to someone outside your company or your industry.

You may be wondering though how you can say everything you need to say in only 7 seconds. Read on!


2. Start With a Question to Create a Dialogue

Always start your pitch first with a question. This allows you to engage your listener or audience and begin a dialogue


3. Make Your Question Relatable and Use Common Language

Think about what is a typical problem or challenge your market faces. What kind of wording do they typically use to describe their problem or challenge?

For instance, I’m a career coach who specializes in helping people make career transitions to work that’s more related to their passions.

But I don’t introduce myself that way.

Instead, I look at the types of words my clients use to describe their situation when they first come to me or when they fill out my intake form.

Many often say they “feel stuck” in their careers.

Everyone has felt stuck in their career or their life at one time or another. Therefore everyone can relate to that feeling.

So, my own elevator pitch starts out like this:

“Have you or someone you know ever felt stuck in your career?”

(Most people at least know someone who has felt stuck even if they personally haven’t, hence the phrase, “or someone you know.”)

The word “stuck” is easy-to-understand language that’s common to most people’s vocabulary, as opposed to some kind of industry jargon that only my fellow career coaches would typically understand.

Plus, the word also stirs up the listener’s emotions.


4. Pique the Listener’s Interest

Nine times out of ten, the answer to my question is “yes.” A “yes” then creates buy-in to what I say next.

“Well, I help people get unstuck.”

That’s it. That’s my whole elevator pitch.

From there, the listener’s interest is piqued and he or she now wants to know more about how I help people get unstuck. This usually leads to a question from my listener:

“How do you do that?”

Now we’ve got a dialogue going on that allows me to go into more detail about what I do, why I do it, how I do it, etc., all the while asking the listener additional questions to keep it conversational.


So when you sit down to draft your own elevator pitch, make sure you’re writing one that is so simple not only for you to remember but for the listener to understand.

Remember to keep it short, ask a question, create a dialogue, make it relatable, keep it simple, and pique the listener’s interest.

That way, once you’ve written it, you can toss your sheet of paper out because you’ll never need to read from it or use it to memorize something that’s too long and boring.


More Networking Tips

For more networking tips, check out two of my most popular articles:

7 Comfortable and Easy Networking Tips for Introverts (or Anyone Who Dislikes Networking)

and

How to Be Realistic About Networking

Subscribe to the paNASH newsletter and receive a complimentary 8-Step Goal-Achievement Plan.

elevator speech