Jenny Blake is motivation personified. She is a career and business strategist and international speaker who helps people move beyond burnout and create sustainable careers they love. Listen to one of her podcasts, read her blog or watch one of her videos and you will find yourself inspired and desperate to get started on whatever project, goal or plan you've had simmering on the back burner.
Blake's background alone proves she's qualified to talk about motivation and the ability to "Pivot" in your career. She left her job in career development at Google in 2011 after five and a half years at the company to launch her first book, Life After College, and has since run her own consulting business in New York City. PIVOT is a book that will not only inspire and motivate readers to look at their careers with new eyes but to also look ahead towards building an exciting and dynamic future.
Tell us the story behind the story. How did PIVOT come to be?
I was hitting major pivot points every few years: first, taking a leave of absence from UCLA to work at a startup, pivoting to Google two years later to the Training and Development team, then a few years later pivoting internally to the career development team before leaving the company two years after that when my first book, Life After College, came out. In the five years since that I have been running my own consulting business in New York City, I've had to pivot many times to stay afloat.
At first I thought there was something wrong with me--I must be one of those wily Millennials who can't stay put--until I realized that people at every age, stage, and bank account balance were also experiencing this acceleration of pivot points and search for meaning in their work. Instead of shaming and blaming people for hitting completely natural career plateaus, or calling them a "midlife" or "quarter life" crisis, we should recognize them as the new normal, which they are.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing PIVOT?
Writing a book is a fun, complex task. Contrary to what most people think, that the hard part is figuring out how to fill 300 pages, the hardest part for me was distilling the material down to its essence; finding just the right stories, research, exercises and personal experiences to share to inspire readers and leave them with practical, tactical tips that they could take action on immediately.
What is the message you want readers to take away from your book?
Pivot is the new normal. Your career plateau is not a problem or a personal shortcoming. We're all going to be experiencing pivots and asking "what's next?" every few years, and that's a positive sign that we are leading growth-oriented lives.
Describe your writing schedule. Do you outline? Any habits?
I write sporadically, but I am capturing ideas and articles all the time while reading and on-the-go in a series of Evernote notebooks. In general, I do my most important work first thing in the morning (after about two hours of wind-up rituals such as reading with tea and meditating), then save emails and phone calls for later in the day.
What books are on your nightstand? What are you currently reading?
I read a handful of books at the same time so that I can follow my mood. Right now I'm reading Mastermind by Maria Konnikova, Amy Schumer's new book, and The Light Between Us by Laura Lynne Jackson.
Which authors and/or entrepreneurs inspire you?
Tosha Silver inspires me with her message of "Outrageous Openness," named after her first book that became a runaway hit. I love the idea of surrender and going with the flow, with a healthy dose of hustle thrown in too.
What is your best piece of business and/or life advice?
Build first, then your courage will follow--not the other way around. Take small action steps, then your confidence will build. Don't wait for courage to strike first.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Keep going and taking the one next step; you always know what to do in the moment, just like you always have in the past.
What are you working on now?
I'm noodling on future book ideas in a really open, exploratory way, I'm loving running my Pivot Podcast and getting to geek out with fascinating guests every week, teaching myself how to build a bot, revamping Momentum, my private community for side-hustlers and solopreneurs, and getting a team of Pivot Coaches launched to help support readers looking for additional 1-on-1 guidance.
What is your "secret to success?"
Be happy right where I am. Success is a day-to-day feeling for me that mostly revolves around feeling healthy, eating and sleeping well, and being grateful for what I already have, not waiting for some far-off benchmark or milestone. Working hard but also really leaning into a sense of flow and intuition about what's most important for me to be focusing on, and what my gut knows to be true. Embrace the complexity of tackling huge projects, and the delightful uncertainty of not knowing exactly what's next. That's what keeps life exciting :)
What is one mistake/failure/setback that you are actually incredibly thankful for happening?
Wiping out my bank account while unsuccessfully trying to navigate what's next, wondering if I was delusional and should fold my business. That low moment forced me to reinvent a new way forward and that became the Pivot Method and this new book!