Here is my year in review: 5..4..3..2..1 Go!

If you want to find a career coach that you can trust, first you really need to get to know and understand one. In this article, I will share a bit of who I am, what makes me tick and the highs and lows of the year. 

  • How to build a digital brand (without all the bullshit mumbo jumbo)
  • What it really means to manage a successful career coaching business
  • Making money from real estate investing and some of the secrets no one tells you about
  • How to start a family when the odds are against you
  • How to lose weight and adopt a healthy lifestyle

At the end of each year, I like to take stock. Look back at the highs and lows, how much went according to plan, how much was totally off-piste. I set goals at the start of each year, that I use to focus my attention on what needs to happen next and help me keep score.

I find this a really useful exercise. To take a chance to step back, celebrate our achievements here at ESHQ as a team, mark the key turning points and acknowledge the surprises. By taking stock I can learn from what has passed and prep for what is to come.

2017 Goals

 

Goal Nr. 1: Switch ericasosna.com from a business that makes money exclusively through face-to-face consulting and coaching, to a business that makes money at a distance, through the digital world.

 

What this meant

Phew, a lot of work and learning here. To build a digital brand requires way more work than the ‘sell a million places on your coaching course’ bloggers would have you believe. There are no shortcuts to avoid the hard work.

The first key element of this was to hire an expert. When Oana came on board, with ten years of experience in building digital brands, she really challenged me to go pro. To think strategically about our audience, what they need, where they hang out and how to share what we offer in a compelling way.

This meant keyword research and painstaking SEO so you can find us online. It meant new branding and identity. And spending our weekends filming interviews with successful career change clients and editing down the stories. Also, launching a whole new website and social media campaign.

I also relaunched Your Breakthrough – our online programme for career changers. A modest 20 people went through the programme this year and 14 of them now have new jobs. What was nice was also to have clients from all over the world, going through the process together.

 

How we did

After about 3 months of research, writing and planning, the website and new brand went live on 26th September 2017. It looks fantastic. Engagement and time spent on the website have gone up 400% from last year. The same is true for our re-launch campaign on Facebook. Getting the word out there about who we are and what we do has been tough but we are making headway.

 

Things that went wrong

Ok, so I massively underestimated the work it would take to go digital. This meant that: 

a. I needed to re-focus on our in-person work to keep the business afloat and

b. that I had to revisit the timeline for when I expected that digital income would become our main revenue source. I would add another 12 months on there… and that isn’t counting the 3 years previously where I was conducting smaller, more ‘hacker style’ experiments with webinars, web classes and online courses. I do think there is huge potential with digital but I had no idea how much content, time, ad spend and number crunching would sit behind being trusted, valued and known online.

 

Things that went right

Really pleased with the opportunity to man up and learn how to build a real business. Also, very pleased with the team we are building. They are true experts in their field which frees me up to be a true expert in mine. We have lots of nice synergies, a lot of laughs and rather unconventional working arrangements as we fit our meetings and face time around childcare commitments.

 

Things I learned

Sheesh – where to begin?

  1. Brand – matters.
  2. It is no good being busy, busy but not being impactful.
  3. Timing is everything – from when you release something onto Facebook or LinkedIn to your estimates of the time required to execute on a strategy.
  4. Anyone who says it easy to make money online is just full of it.

 

Total score7/10 – huge learning curve and still a long road to travel before we get to being a fully fledged digital business. And, like all life plans, I have to accept that we might do our best and spend a lot of cash and time and still not get to where we hoped.

 

 

Goal Nr. 2: Build my reputation as a key thought leader in the careers and employability space around the world.

 

What this meant

Getting out there and getting known as a thinker, speaker and expert in career change and career navigation.

 

How did I do?

I don’t think this was a good piece of goal setting as it really wasn’t specific enough to measure. Also, I didn’t define an audience – was this for the public or for companies or for the media or what? Who knows! Consequently, results are a bit vague. I, of all people, know better than this!

Anyway, I did do some speaking – and I found that in particular, other coaches and HR experts tend to find my work of interest. The engagement we have worked on with Facebook and these regular 2000 word blogs have made a difference to general visibility. I also started posting on LinkedIn once a day and studying how to use LinkedIn to maximum benefit. More on this next year!

 

Things that went wrong

See above. It would have been better to have said: Get published in 3 journals including the Harvard Business Review or ‘have your proposal for your second book accepted by a major publisher’.

 

Things that went right

Two interesting strands that have emerged from this work. The first is conversations with other businesses about how to work in partnership with them as a thought leader, writer and speaker. There are some opportunities in the pipeline to share my knowledge alongside some expert, larger firms that could do with snazzing up their ‘perspective’ on careers and work.

I so enjoyed the interviews and filming for our short documentaries. I definitely want to do more of this. We are considering how best to pitch my skill set as a presenter in the field of career change. I shall keep you posted! In the meantime, you can read, watch & get inspired by the last one of the series here

Lastly, I finally managed to secure two TEDx talks on my favourite subject matters – this has been on the list for years so I think that counts as a good success! Click here to read a full-lenght article on that. Or watch here the video of me in action. 

 

Things I learned

Be specific.

 

Total score: 6.5/10

 

 

Goal Nr. 3: Invest in a property portfolio and learn about multi-lets, remote management of property and property restoration.

 

What this meant

My parents are in property. I have always been a bit obsessed with houses. I am good at spotting trends and I have no pension. So I decided this would be the year that I would learn about property management and dip my toe in the water.

 

How did I do?

Not too bad actually. I had a training in January to make sure I knew the ropes and I took the plunge in the Spring, purchasing, one by one, three small properties which have been refurbed and rented out.

 

Things that went wrong

Locations. I bought two lovely flats that were above commercial premises. Turns out mortgage companies don’t like that. So, my plan to remortgage them turned out not to be viable. This is a pain.

We also experimented with a multi-let house. This means a home where each room is let out on a separate tenancy. This causes four times the hassle, plus tenants are likely to turn over with greater frequency. And yes, they have done that. This is a real pain and definitely not worth the hassle factor. I prefer to find great tenants and take good care of them for the long term. This constant turnover has been a real energy drain.

 

Things that went right

All properties were rented out successfully to lovely tenants. We have refurbished and restored some lovely old homes. I’ve learned a huge amount about what works and doesn’t and built a network of maintenance and building teams in the location we bought in.

 

Things I learned

Be very careful where you buy, mind out for shops below!

Don’t assume a mortgage will be possible!

Multi-lets are hard work – they would be fine if this was your job and not your hobby.

 

Total score: 8/10

 

 

Goal Nr. 4: Get pregnant and have a child

 

What this meant

Fairly self-explanatory. For us as a couple, Peter and I have some challenges that mean we need a little medical help. This was the year! And it seemed to be the year for many of my friends, who have also left it a little later. Some were trying as couples, some with outside help and some as singletons.

 

How I did

Well, I managed to get pregnant. But not to have a child. We miscarried in May and it completely threw me. I lost myself for a little while there. The quest continues.

 

Things that went wrong

It was very hard to lose a much-wanted child. It was very hard to accept that I am not in control of what happens – I am a life planner after all! It has been so challenging to hold on to hope when your friends manage to produce a healthy human being and you haven’t yet and may not. The uncertainty has been really difficult to handle. It has been important to me to keep celebrating every new birth and not to turn against myself.

 

Things that went right

As people are fond of saying ‘At least you know you can get pregnant’. That aside, we bonded as a couple in a way that I hadn’t expected. It made us more vulnerable and open to each other and has strengthened our commitment.

 

Things I learned

The most important aspects of life are largely beyond our control.

 

Total score: 3/10

 

 

 

Goal Nr. 5: Lose 3 stone and keep it off

 

What this meant

Ever since I hit puberty, I have been a yo-yo dieter. For me, it is salty, carby things that I just can’t resist, rice and toast and yummy potatoes! In the last few years, the constant 20lbs I struggled with ballooned to over 60lbs. I started to feel very self-conscious and unhappy. My body ached. Nothing fit. And I wanted to be in a good position to give my body a chance to create a new life.

 

How I did

My strategy when I know I cannot do something alone is to throw money at the problem. I joined Weight Watchers. Then, I hired a nutritionist. Yeah, I even got myself a coach. No good.

 

Things that went wrong

Spent lots of money to externalise the problem.

 

Things that went right

Two books made a huge difference to me. Never Binge Again helped me separate out the voice inside me that didn’t want me to control my behavior and to learn to feel in charge of it. Michael Moseley’s Blood Sugar Diet had me eliminate binge triggering carbs and stick to a very strict plan. I posted every day in the forum on his website and really benefitted from the community support there. Through our time in Italy, I managed to stick to the plan completely, dodging wine and pizza and all sorts. In total this year, I lost 2 stone and am on course to lose 2 more before next Spring.

Although exercise is only 20% of the solution, it really helped me to find a great gym teacher who runs lots of classes locally. Sam’s classes at Tandridge are always fun and informative and have a great sense of community. I learned how to lift some proper weights with her and this improved my fitness and my confidence.

 

Things I learned

Community matters. You really have to find the right plan for you. Know what your triggers are and avoid them completely. Track everything you eat.

 

Total score: 8/10

 

 

Things that were not on the list that happened anyway.

And then there are the things you don’t plan. That matter. Here they are:

  1. Got engaged! When we were out in Costa Rica Peter proposed and I said ‘Yeah, go on then!’ so that meant 2017 was also about…
  2. Planning a wedding – This was quite a project! The venue, invites, table plans, entertainment, the dress….
  3. Passed my Grade 2 jazz piano – don’t laugh! This was important to me!
  4. Bought a house in Italy – So there we were on holiday. Thinking about moving to a larger home. It just turns out to be in Italy. Read the wonderful story here
  5. Developed a whole new strand of work that I love to do – While I thought this year would be mainly about going digital to reach career-changers worldwide, I was wrong! More and more, companies started to ask me how to help them think about keeping their best people and how to create career models that energized and excited their talent. So, unexpectedly, the biggest growth in my company has come from this direction!

How about You?

What were your goals? How did you do? What did you learn? What was unexpected this year, what will you stop-start and continue?

 

What’s up for 2018?

  1. Get married
  2. Have a healthy child
  3. Get to a healthy BMI and stay there
  4. Take turnover of the business to £500,000 with a healthy profit margin of at least 25%
  5. Secure two new opportunities to be visible and useful as a specialist in career change e.g. Harvard Business Review, a broadcasting contract, a partnership with a major recruiter.

Here are mine. What are yours?

 

Do they include: find a career coach that I can trust to turn my life around? Well, now you know me. I am here to help and be a friend. Write to me here and let’s get talking about making your career goals a reality.