Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Monday, July 20, 2015

"Test drive your retirement career"/ leadership skills

May 30 "Test drive your retirement career": I cut out this article by Eileen Chadnick in the Globe and Mail on Nov. 28, 2014.  This is a good article that provides helpful tips for trying out a second career.  It's not just for people who retired, but for people of any age who wants a change in a career, but not sure where to start.  Some tips are like take a couple of classes to see if you like.  Read on:

Today’s so-called retirees aren’t settling for the quiet life. Many are starting new businesses, trying out new vocations or taking on consulting roles in fields where they were once employed full-time.

Shifting gears at any age takes courage, planning and, in many cases, some trial and error. Investing in a new career can be costly – in terms of time, effort and emotional equity. So before changing lanes, here are some suggestions about how to kick the tires and possibly even test drive a potential career change.

Shadow someone

Find someone who is already doing the work you would like to do who would be willing to let you shadow them for a day – or ideally, longer. Observe, ask questions and see what a real “day in the life” of your potential new career might look like. If you can find more than one person to shadow, you will get a fuller picture. If you don’t have the contacts yourself, ask others in your network whether they would introduce you to someone they know.

Take a course

If your new career would require some retraining but you are not yet sure whether this is a good choice for you, see whether you can sign up for just a class or two to start. If it feels right, then continue with the program. I did this with my coaching education many years ago. I started off with a few courses, then went the whole nine yards once I knew it was something I wanted to invest in more fully.

Talk to those in the know

Also on the retraining front, make sure you talk to admissions officers to see whether they can put you in touch with people already in the field, such as professors and graduates. It’s important to connect with such people to hear different perspectives before you dive into something that may not be a good fit for you.

Start small

There can be great merit to trying out a miniature version of a new career. If feasible, try working at it part-time, freelancing or pursuing your interest as a side venture. This will give you a chance to get a feel for the work and learn the ropes without committing fully from the get-go. See more in my article: How to develop that dream job without losing focus on the day job.

Volunteer strategically

Try out your new career with a strategic volunteer assignment that will expose you to the field you are considering. This will provide an opportunity to try on the work, learn about your field of interest and potentially build up some experience, contacts and confidence in a new area.

Create your own internship

If you have the time and resources, you can offer to work either for free or a modest fee to a startup organization or charity for a set period of time. This might lead to something bigger. At a minimum, it will give you a feel for the work and some experience.

Attend a conference

If you have the resources to attend a professional conference in the field, do so. This will help orient you to the issues and, if you network strategically, you can make some valuable contacts.

Network, network, network

The more people you can talk to in the field, the more likely you are to learn whether this is the right fit for you. Make sure you are creating and seizing all meaningful opportunities to connect with people who can help you explore your potential career further.

Ask the tough questions

Think hard about the questions you would like to ask – including the tough ones – to determine whether this will indeed be a fruitful career choice for you.

For instance: What are the biggest challenges someone like myself might face? What is the biggest surprise – good or bad – about this field you wish you knew when you started? How feasible is it to get meaningful work in this field if you are new and at my stage of life?

If you put your mind to it, you should be able to come up with 20 more questions.
By investing some time and effort now, you’re more likely to end up with a fulfilling second career than a nightmare retirement.

"Can you accept criticism of your leadership skills?": I cut out this article by Bill Howatt  in the Globe and Mail on Nov. 28, 2014.  It lists some programs where you can get free anonymous feedback of your work.

It can be difficult for leaders to get honest feedback on their effectiveness. Many developing leaders are uncomfortable asking their peers – and certainly not their staff or boss – to evaluate their skills. So how can they get the feedback necessary to help them grow?

The most effective leaders, whether on Wall Street or Bay Street, have one thing in common: they are comfortable in their own skin and project confidence.

Here’s a new process that can help leaders mature their executive walk: the degree of confidence they have in their ability to lead. Leaders who have developed their executive walk consistently show onlookers their confidence, control and drive.

This new process is called 360 In Vivo. It challenges leaders to put themselves into situations where they ask for feedback on their skills from their colleagues.

The leader completes a confidential self-evaluation similar to a 360-degree process – where employees or leaders receive anonymous feedback from the people who work with them. The twist is that they can activate this free tool on their own time and reap the benefits without wading through any administrative steps. The 360 In Vivo process has been designed to be simple.

The 360 In Vivo provides leaders an opportunity to discover insights on their core competencies as well as to self-evaluate their confidence to interact, influence and communicate with others.

Here’s how the process works:

1. Review the 360 In Vivo PowerPoint document. It outlines gives background on leadership reviews, what you need to do to complete the 360 In Vivo, how to set up meetings and track your feedback.

2. Go online and complete your confidential 360 In Vivo self-evaluation. This tool has been developed based on a validated leadership core competency profile created by the University of New Brunswick.

3. Pick four or five raters from people who work with you – those whom you think will be honest and forthright in your 360 In Vivo feedback conversations.

4. Follow the detailed instructions in the 360 In Vivo PowerPoint for setting up the feedback conversations.

5. Book your feedback conversations and have your raters provide their feedback. Use the Executive Walk Measure form to help keep track of your conversations.

6. Evaluate your own responses compared to those of your raters.

7. Act on the key learnings from your study.

Leaders who use the 360 In Vivo challenge themselves to get feedback that can help them advance their careers. It takes a commitment and effort for a leader to mature to their full potential. A significant percentage of leaders fail because they are not aware of the areas where they need to improve, aren’t open to feedback or motivated to challenge themselves to learn and grow.

If in this process you uncover leadership core competency gaps and you are unsure what to do, consider interviewing an executive coach to discover what a coach may be able to do for you. Coaching is a powerful tool for one-on-one leadership development. To learn more about coaching and how coaching can help leaders, go to the International Coaching Federation website.


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