Success, Motherhood, and Creating Your Dream Job
Michelle Kruse of ResumeEdge interviews Women For Hire’s CEO Tory Johnson on success, motherhood and creating your dream job.
As the founder of two multi-million dollar career-focused businesses—Women For Hire and Spark & Hustle—Tory Johnson serves as an inspiration to women all over the world. It’s almost hard to believe that she was inspired to begin her entrepreneurial journey following a painful firing. Today, Tory makes regular appearances on Good Morning America, she’s a contributing editor for Success magazine, and her recently released book The Shift is a #1 New York Times bestseller. Tory recently took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to chat about her career path and how she created her own dream job.
Michelle: From your time in the corporate world, you certainly know what it’s like to becomfortable in your career rather than being fulfilled. How do you motivate people in that situation to take a brave step toward a career that they are in love with? How do you inspire women to have it all?
Tory: I had golden handcuffs. I was making a lot of money and I hated what I was doing. That’s a classic challenge that too many people face. I realized I was too young to be stuck in something that wasn’t right. I was willing to make a short-term sacrifice for long-term satisfaction. I didn’t wait until I had money saved up, because I knew that day would never come. Instead I simply took the plunge and bet on myself. I had three months to make my own business work or I’d have to go back and get another job, which was enough motivation to just figure it out. Only you know when the timing is right. But waiting to dot every i and cross every t usually means the delays will linger forever.
Michelle: When looking for a job in a new industry, where do you feel it’s most important to invest your time and effort — on who you know, or what you know?
Tory: In job searching, who you know will always be the easier path to get in front of decision makers, but what you know is why you’ll ultimately be hired. It’s the perfect combo of both that you want. Don’t assume that if you have no connections that you’re doomed, and similarly, don’t assume that if you’re lacking a key skill that your chances are shot. Use what you have — whatever it is… contacts and credentials — to get what you want.
Michelle: I’d love another perspective on a topic I recently wrote about. What are your thoughts on determining your worth? Do you think women tend to undervalue their economic worth? How do you know when you should move on from your job to be appreciated?
Tory: Don’t confuse being “appreciated” for being paid what you’re worth. Some people look for validation, pats on the back, lots of kudos and applause. Others just want a big paycheck and couldn’t care less about compliments. Define what matters most to you — we want to be compensated fairly AND appreciated… but they don’t always go hand in hand. Ask people directly what they make. Ask your HR department or your manager where you’re paid on the scale for your position. Use online salary calculators. Sometimes longevity is held against you. You need to get a competitive offer or jump around in order to get a big increase in pay. We’re usually underpaid when we don’t deliver enough value to our employer or when we don’t speak up to tout our worth.
Michelle: From being unexpectedly fired from your PR job to starting a business as a young mother of twins, you’ve overcome obstacles in your career. How were you able to remain positive and achieve your goals when others may have settled for an unfulfilling career?
Tory: I don’t waste too much time wallowing in my tears! Nobody cares… there’s too much to do. I’m the primary breadwinner in my family, by choice, so being negative isn’t an option. A negative mind will never ever lead to a positive career. Too many people count on me that being down or holding grudges simply doesn’t work. It’s really that simple.
Michelle: From your own experience, do you have any advice for working mothers trying to advance their careers and raise their children? Do you think there is a trick to finding a balance?
Tory: I’m no expert on balance. What works for me is being present wherever I am with whatever I’m doing. At dinner, that means talking to my family, not being glued to devices about work. In meetings, that means being focused on the topic in the room, not day dreaming about what I must do next or what I forgot to do earlier. It takes effort to be mindful and to be very present and give your all wherever you are. But it’s what has served me best. Also recognize that sometimes there are sacrifices. If you’re going to miss a school play because of a work commitment, ask to attend the dress rehearsals. There are tradeoffs. Guilt is useless, so keep it at bay.
Michelle: What aspects of leadership do you think are different depending on gender? Is there a difference?
Tory: Women tend to be more nurturing and caring… less black and white. Men are less emotional and more black and white. But it’s all so stereotypical. I hate identifying people with generalities based on gender. Be the very best you — even if that requires extra work.