How Freedom to Rest Became Chronic Profit

How Freedom to Rest Became Chronic Profit

A green background with the text "How Freedom to Rest Became Chronic Profit with Alison Tedford" and Alison's headshot

How Freedom to Rest Became Chronic Profit with Alison Tedford

We feel like there’s just so much put on productivity and that rest is the opposite of that. When in reality, it’s part of that, right? That is the time where you can innovate. That is a time where you get new ideas. That’s when you’re breaking away from your routine and stepping outside of yourself and letting new things come in.

If you had the freedom to rest, what would you do? What could you do? Could you take the freedom to rest and create Chronic Profit?

That’s just what today’s guest did. She launched a marketing business alongside her 9 to 5, and after 4 months, left for her own business where she worked from her couch. She created a life where she could give her body the rest she needed, and I think you’ll be in awe of where she is now. #nospoilers

This week’s episode interview is with author, marketer, and mom Alison Tedford. Alison is an Indigenous entrepreneur and author from Abbotsford, BC, Canada. Her experiences building a business while managing chronic pain led her to write her first book, Chronic Profit.

Alison and I endeavored to talk about rest from both a disability perspective as well as a mompreneur lens and the revolutionary idea that self-care as a business investment is your most valuable asset.

In specifics, we talk about:

  • how Alison started her own business,
  • how working for herself allows Alison to work when and how and where she works best,
  • the story of Alison’s publishing deal for Chronic Profit,
  • how asking for what she wants and needs leads Alison in launching her creative projects,
  • the ways we hope the pandemic changes the world,
  • how the freedom to rest leads to greater creativity,
  • the communication Alison shares with her would-be clients so they respect her mode of operation,
  • why you need to think of your own rest as an investment in your most valuable business asset, and
  • memes, of course.

Click here to listen on a dozen different platforms!

Important links from the episode (affiliate links included):


[00:00:00] Cristin: Hello, Notable Women. Thank you so much for joining me today. I know you will loved today’s guest. This is actually the first time that I’m speaking to her though  I have been reading all of her social media posts for a very, long time. So if it seems like I have an encyclopedic knowledge of Alison Tedford that is why.

She is an indigenous entrepreneur and author from Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada. Her experiences building a business while managing chronic pain have led her to write her first book, Chronic Profit. Allison. Thank you so much for being here today.

Alison: Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited.

Cristin: It’s so, wonderful. So we’re doing a series on rest right now. And so I had mentioned in Julie Neale’s group, who, I’m pretty sure that is how I know you is through Julie. That’s entirely possible.

Alison: We, Julie and I worked together and and I love her. I was a fan of her podcast before I worked with her and yeah, it’s just, [00:01:00] it’s exciting.

Cristin: Yes. I think she’s delightful. And often I feel like oftentimes on this podcast, I’m like, I think Julie introduced us, it just seems like that’s her superpower. So that I’m pretty sure is how I know you and how I’ve started to follow your work and read everything about what you’re doing.

And I had mentioned that I wanted to do a series on rest. And you mentioned that this was totally in your wheelhouse. So I thank you for coming in to talk about this particular topic. And I think it very much connects with your book that you wrote about chronic profit because obviously chronic illness and. working is particularly, I feel like in COVID-19 land, people are starting to get much more clarity around the complexities of, work while you’re dealing with an illness, any kind, let alone a chronic illness. And so do you mind sharing a little bit of your story with us.

Alison: For sure. I started my career working in government. [00:02:00] And but I had chronic health complaints and I wasn’t really sure what was going on that made it a bit harder to get accommodated in the workplace. And I just knew I needed to be living life differently. So I ended up sub-contracting as a social media manager and fell in love with it. And basically ran away and joined the circus.

So within four months I had a full-time business and I waved goodbye to my friends at the Canadian government and started working from my sofa and building a marketing practice. And it was really, cool experience. And after that, I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which explained all of the things that were wrong before.

And it’s not necessarily the most treatable, definitely not curable condition. There’s lifestyle changes that you can make that can make it more manageable. So [00:03:00] I have been navigating that journey for a few years now.

Cristin: Thank you so much for sharing that. And I can definitely see that.

Again I do not have chronic illness. I’ve interviewed many people on the podcast and had many people in my group who have talked about the complexities of chronic illness and work, which is in general absolutely not accommodating whatsoever. You have to actually cut yourself open and be like, I bleed for this job.

They had possibly admit that there’s anything else in life you care about. Let alone be sick. Let alone not be able to do certain things. I remember when I first went back to work after having my tiny human and I had been very much taught that you do not eat in meetings that was very inappropriate at the executive level. And I have my tiny human and I was making milk. I was eating everything. I was Brad Pitt in Ocean’s 11. I’ll eat that like that under the sun. [00:04:00] And I just could not possibly care. I could not care how you felt about me eating in this meeting. I need to eat this to  not pass out and die.

And I just it, really helped clarify for me, something I had never really understood, which is if there are things that you have to do for your physical well-being and the workplace frowns upon it, whether it’s coming in to work at different times or leaving at certain times, not coming in, in certain conditions certain workplace accommodations.

I really, I’m an empathetic person. So I won’t say I ever said no, you don’t get whatever it is that you need. But I really started to understand how complicated it must be. And in my episode with Julie Morgenlender, we talked a lot about how, so much of what we’ve been taught is a sham, essentially, that you couldn’t work from home, that you couldn’t have these accommodations.

And so COVID-19 is really blowing all of that up. I think in so many ways. So for you about, as [00:05:00] you started to make that transition into working for yourself, how have you incorporated the rest that you need into your personal schedule and found that fit for yourself?

Alison: For me working for myself meant that I could work when I’m like most able to do things.

So I woke up at five o’clock this morning and I was in the zone. So I worked through some things and and then I stopped and had some breakfast. And so I’m able to slot work in where I have the energy to do it as long as they meet the deadlines. The other thing that I did was I significantly invested in Sleep related things like I have an adjustable bed that elevates my head and my feet, so that, and that really good mattress and a C-PAP machine.

And like all of the things so that my rest is optimized because without it, I am not very useful. So those are, [00:06:00] some of the pieces and really looking at my mental capacity and looking at what. Changes I need to make in my business in order to make sure that I’m not mentally exhausted by the end of the day, and finding strategies to stay really organized, to streamline things so that it’s not such a battle to stay awake and to do the things.

Cristin: That’s excellent. It’s so great to hear that you’re. That it’s a combination of things, right? It is investing in yourself and then also responding to your, own needs, your own physical needs. So working when you should be and not working when you shouldn’t be, I’ve often thought in the nine to five life, that the whole idea of you will sit in this office chair, whether you are being productive or not, whether it would be better suited for you to go take a walk in the park or something like that.

But no, you must sit in this chair and be productive.

Alison: Yeah. And even positioning like some, I my [00:07:00] joints do weird things and sometimes I’ll have to sit in awkward positions that might look uncomfortable and maybe not very workplace appropriate, but it’s how I need to feel comfortable.

And just being able to control my environment, like I’m somebody who gets really easily overstimulated. So working in an open concept office, It was really challenging. And I was working in a role that did a lot of statistical analysis and I was working directly beside a really emotionally charged customer service department.

So that was a lot of input to be taking in while also trying to do the things. So having an optimized environment is really important for me in order to be successful.

Cristin: Those are amazing points. I definitely first time. So I’m, a theater person by training and senior people. We do our actual work wherever we want to.

And then we do our shows, obviously in our [00:08:00] rehearsals, in our theater spaces, but actors don’t learn lines three feet away from a customer service rep and stage managers don’t work on complicated queuing sequences next to. I don’t know a finance person, if I’m going to go they’re not like if you talk to yourself one more time, I’m you in the eye.

So we don’t, we get to go in our own places and I can do things at night or in the morning. And so when I switched over to nine to five life, I just was astounded. No one is actually getting any work done here. Is it totally a myth that we’re all just sitting here pretending work when really these are absolutely the most terrible conditions to get anything done whatsoever.

And I just think about, I used to, when I used to share an office with people, I always thought they were so loud. And now that I’ve been home, my husband said. No, you are loud. You are actually the [00:09:00] loud one. You are so obnoxious when you were on the phone. And I said, Oh no, one’s ever told me that, but I bet you’re very right.

A revelation and this new COVID times. So now how had, you’ve had this experience for work working for the government, going into business yourself, and then how did all of this lead to a book?

Alison: So I always wanted to write a book and I just never really knew how to make it happen.

And I thought I was inspired one day and I decided that I was going to pitch the publisher of somebody that I really admire. And I posted on Facebook and I was like, Hey guys, can you please put some good GGR onto the world for me, because I’ve pitched this publisher and they’re probably going to ignore me, but I would, it would be so cool if this, a thing.

And then one of my friends commented and she was like, would you like me to talk about your books? [00:10:00] My editor at the publisher that I.

It published by. And I was like, yes, please. If it’s not okay, please change my life. Or you may be my fairy godmother if you so choose. And she did.

And she can, they were initially interested in the concept.

They invited me to send them an email about it. They asked for more clarification about the scope of the problem. They were like, we’re having trouble visualizing it. Could you maybe give us like a draft book jacket? So I sent them a Google doc of this draft book jacket, and they came back and they’re like, yeah, we shared it with the buyers.

They’re really interested. Let’s send you a contract. And I was like, people traditionally do like these things called book proposals. And they swear about them and they’re long and they cry and sometimes they hire people to write them. They usually don’t get a book deal because you send an email and a Google doc and a couple of statistics, but that’s how it happened.

And yeah, it was very unlikely, but [00:11:00] it worked. And so I’m very delighted because there are really amazing publisher to work with.

Cristin: That’s awesome. That is a phenomenal story that I did not read on your social media because clearly I haven’t stalked to you to the level that I thought that I had done.

So that, that is so amazing. And I really think that’s something I, often tell people, which is, if you want something just saying it out loud, other people will often carry it forward into the world because. The thing that you need, like that contact would have not known that was something that you wanted to do.

Alison: So it’s amazing that, yeah, that’s something, that’s definitely been the case. When I, my sister and I decided that we wanted to launch this clothing line, I shared that. And all of a sudden, one of my friends reached out and was like, Hey, I’ve got a factory. I have a pattern designer. I have a trademark agent.

I have a fabric person. Like I’m going to connect you with all these people. Like everybody we needed was all lined up. So like definitely putting it out [00:12:00] there and asking for support is, has been really one of the best ways because people want to help.

Cristin: They absolutely do. And that makes me want to talk about the other thing that I stopped you about on social media, which is your absolutely wonderful taste in a tire that is both beautiful, lovely, and comfortable.

So I don’t know what other people call them. I call them onesies. But you have often suggested, is that what you call them? What do you call them?

Alison: They call them rompers or jumpsuits, but onesies also, I tend to call like my jammy type ones more like onesies, they’re like, they’re my favorite.

I probably have one for every day of the week. And they just bring me so much joy because I am like, I believe in being aggressively comfortable. Because life is too short to be wearing things that make you hate. No breathing.

Cristin: Yes, absolutely. And that’s what I love about everything that you talk about when you come, when you talk about [00:13:00] fashion, when you talk about clothing, is that it can look good and you can feel great.

And that’s something that I had to really transition out of, particularly being a New York city person, right? New York city, people feel the way they feel about clothes, which is, Oh, they’ve got opinions. And I had decided. I want to say it was like late 20, 19 into the beginning of 2020 that I had decided I was only going to wear shoes.

Now that made me feel grounded, but I was tired of being in shoes that. No squish my toes or felt like they were weapons. I just want it to feel like very grounded in everything that I did and in all the spaces that I move. And I’m glad I made that decision before heading into the pandemic where I think I wear seekers slippers, essentially having more, a real shoe.

And I consider this, those are real shoes, but I did, I do wear snow boots because it’s been snowing [00:14:00] quite a bit. That’s really easy.

Alison: My favorite thing about shoes is that my feet are child sized. Like I can literally wear a size four and children’s shoes. So I have shoes that light up because I believe that shoes should be fun.

And in terms of the comfort, like when you think about the ratty, like sweat pants or like the oversights. T-shirts that like have last Tuesday’s soup stains on them or whatever. Like you talk about why you hang on to them sick, but it’s so comfortable and it’s it can also look amazing and be comfortable.

Like they don’t have comfortable clothes. Don’t have to look terrible and that’s. That’s my fashion perspective.

Cristin: I love it. I think it’s, I think it’s so true. And I think that it’ll be interesting to see. I have no, no clairvoyance on the pandemic and what’s going to happen with it when it’s going to end or whatever, hopefully it does. But [00:15:00] I have a feeling that people are not going to be running back to put on painful clothes. They’re going to say, okay, I do want to go to a bookstore. I do want to go to a bar. I want to see live music, but I’m not going to put that painful, whatever it is on ever again, at least that’s my hope.

Alison: Yeah. Yeah. I hope we don’t go back to uncomfortable clothes.

I hope we don’t go back to a world where admitting you’re lonely is an awkward thing. And I hope. We don’t go back to going to work when sick. Because culturally, that was just something that you like soldiered on. And that was something that was like admired. And now it’s, you did what you were saying, like way to infect the world. It’s become like less cool to just go in there while you’re hacking your face out, stay home. So I hope we, we stick with that because it’s important.

Cristin: Yes, it absolutely is. And I think that [00:16:00] there’s, still much around our societies push for just constantly going and not taking any of these opportunities to stop and pause, which is what rest and the series is all about, which is that when you’re tired, you should sleep.

When you’re sick, you should stay home. When you need to take a break, you should take a break and not do this pushing forward, soldiering on. And it, comes in two waves, which is both the one that you mentioned, which is that please don’t come to work. If you’re sick, please take care of yourself and don’t spread it around the office.

When I made the decision to close my office, which was before New York city closed down, I had multiple emails from staff members that were sick. And so we were in your city. So we’re in the epicenter of the epicenter. And I, told people [00:17:00] okay, I have so many emails from people right now that are sick.

That it’s just, time to close down. We should just not even try to be open anymore. And that was at the time considered incredibly drastic to not to say you have a sniffle I’m concerned, I don’t know enough about this virus. You should stay home. But then also this idea of, taking care of yourself, which is outlandish now for so many people that you would for us when you need to, and that you would stop and that you don’t have to.

No, I it’s probably extreme to say, be a martyr for the cause, but having worked in nine to five corporate America, higher ed nonprofits and theater, that’s the, that’s really the belief system, which is that you get a star for, this kind of thing.

Alison: Yeah. And and the reality is, that we feel like [00:18:00] there’s just so much put on productivity and that rest is the opposite of that. When in reality, it’s part of that, right? That is the time where you can innovate. That is a time where you get new ideas. That’s when you’re breaking away from your routine and stepping outside of yourself and letting new things come in. So that rest is not it’s part of the program. It’s not stepping out of it. If you need to justify it from a productivity perspective, it is key to productivity to take rests, but I don’t think that it needs to be productive in order to be valuable. And I think it’s how we recognize ourselves as valuable even factories with machinery have to like, let them cool down a bit.

Like you can’t be running everything all the time and your body isn’t really any different you wouldn’t like to take it really expensive piece of integral [00:19:00] equipment, your business, tie it to the back of a bumper, go for a joy ride. That would be crazy. Why would you drag your investment around like that?

Like when your, the most important piece, like you, you can’t just be running it into the ground, but not resting either. Cause that’s, the same thing.

Cristin: Absolutely. And I agree with all those points that if, you need to think about it from a productivity standard, then you can do that and know that rest is integral to being productive.

And in fact, it will improve your productivity and that also you don’t need to be productive. You’re amazing and valuable just as you are as a person. And that person deserves care and attention. And that that things that matter to us then have value that they should be treated that way. I think those are all great points.

Now it does make me think, because we’re talking about your, we’re talking about your book and your business, and then of course you mentioned your clothing line. I know that you also have a [00:20:00] coffee company that you’re starting.

Alison: Yeah. So  that’s an exciting process that I’m working with a friend who has a coffee company and we’re launching a really fun line of coffee for International Women’s Day.

And coffee is part of my love language. And I, love a good latte and it just really made sense in terms of a collaboration. So we’re going to be doing that for March and it’s going to be really awesome.

Cristin: I’m stoked. That is amazing. So now we’ve got clothing company, coffee company. I’m going to need that link by the way.

So I just want to be clear about that international women’s day coffee MI perfection. It’s a match made in heaven and then of course your book. And it certainly makes me think that all of these things that you’re doing, they’re very, creative. And so do you feel like by being able to be in control of your own schedule and [00:21:00] to take care of yourself the way you need to has that really helped expand your creativity?

Alison: Definitely. Cause I’m not, I’m able to think about things from different perspectives. And the people that I interact with tend to be people who support that level of balance. I’m very transparent about my health concerns. So people who work with me are aware of. What’s going on and they we work together to make sure that things happen and that I’m able to take care of myself and they can take care of themselves.

So being in that kind of supportive professional relationship means that I have the freedom to, to rest and get creative and that it doesn’t have to be like an in the middle, like quick come up with this brilliant idea. It’s okay to say I need to percolate on this for a minute and take the time and space. Like I get the most brilliant ideas in the bathtub. I spend one to two hours a day in the [00:22:00] bathtub with my bath bombs because one of my besties has a bath bomb company. And yeah, that’s where I get some of my greatest ideas is being able to chill out and just let things simmer.

Cristin: I love that. And now. Is that something you’d like to do at a certain time of the day? Or is it based on how you feel in a certain moment or do you have a routine?

Alison: I tend to like it in the evening, but sometimes if I’m in discomfort, I will take a break or if I’m really overloaded and super stressed out. Then I will just be like, it needs to be in the day bubble bath. And, then obviously like my local post office seems to be aware. Cause that’s the only time the postman comes with a package. So he’s never seen me, like not in a towel, I’m always like scrambling out of the bathtub. But yeah usually it’s evening, but sometimes it’s afternoon if I’m just like at my max and it’s funny cause my my son’s grandmother, her, the running, [00:23:00] whenever she was upset about something. Or like you’re in trouble or whatever. She would be like, go take a bath. It was the solution for everything, like Windex on my Big Fat Greek Wedding. It’s like a bath we’ll fix that.

Cristin: I definitely feel similarly. That’s how my mom feels about baths, almost everything. And so I to really enjoy my bath time and it is I would say a sacred mom activity.

Alison: I have a client who was a midwife and she refers to it as mother nature’s epidural, which I find to be very accurate.

Cristin: Yes. I love that. That is such a good way to describe it. So now I do want to, I think I have three more questions off the top of my head from just what you just said, which is first of all, from a business perspective, how do you start the conversation with folks that, who are new to you about the fact that you [00:24:00] do work in this way and you do take care of yourself?

Alison: Usually people come to me actually through either, they’re either on my Facebook, in my world already, or they know somebody who is and usually I explain this is what I navigating with. As and I am very transparent about it because I’ve published a lot about it.

So if they Google me, they’re gonna find out. So I may as well tell them and just say this is what I deal with. This is what that can look like.

This is how I work in order to accommodate things. And this is, how I need to function and let’s find a way to make sure that I get to do the things I need to do, and then you get the things that you need and that together, we can make some marketing magic.

[00:25:00] Cristin: So then my next question, and it’s gonna be. Follow into the third one, which is that. So your book, his first book is coming out April, 2021, but you already have a second book also. Is that, how did that come about?

Alison: When I ha I handed my book in and then I was like, Super vulnerable. And I was like, a useless puddle for a month laying there. Like maybe they won’t like it. Maybe nothing I’ve written is ever been good.

It’s just like the most useless writer for a whole month. That was like, I wrote them. I was like, how does cause they optioned my next two projects in, the contract. So it was like, how do we go about talking about the next project?

Do you wait to see if the book does well, or do we talk about that now or how do you want to work it? And he said either, or we want to finish off this one before we get too serious [00:26:00] about anything. But if you have an idea and I was like as a matter of fact, like the summer, I ran this course to teach business owners how to talk about social justice.

And I was going to make it into an evergreen course and launch it. But if you want it as a book, I won’t, we can just do the book. And I sent them a testimonial from someone who took the course and my experience in that area and they were, they expressed an interest and then all the more, and then they were like one can get it. And then I had a contract.

Cristin: So that’s one, a phenomenal topic and I, again, I thought I was doing good in my stalking of you and I totally missed that course.

So I’m, sad as myself, but. I’ll I will go find it. And I’m excited that it’ll be a book that I can buy also. So that leads me into my third [00:27:00] question, which is that. So you have a business, a clothing company, coffee company, book one book two. How do you, find a balance to all of that?

Alison: There’s a lot of things that I don’t do. Like I do a lot of things, but like I don’t cook or clean. I have a housekeeper who’s amazing. And she, I give myself permission to do as much or as little housework as I please. And she comes and fixes the aftermath or whatever life choice. I don’t even basis. And then she’d be like fire things, sticky, like good question. She’s actually on my Facebook. So if I like I’m baking, she’s and so she helps me out that way. I order in like pre-made meals that so I don’t have to spend time standing cooking, which is tiring and unpleasant. So I just don’t. And I have a child who’s very independent. He knows how to work the microwave.

He’s good. [00:28:00] Yeah, and just really very being very focused on prioritizing things, time management and making sure things make sense and just ruthlessly editing in terms of like business. Like I shut down two business lines a few months into the pandemic and I’m still going to be shutting down another one or two coming up. So definitely just looking at what fits, what works with my bandwidth or what my projected bandwidth is going to be. And just doing like air traffic control around what can land when and what makes sense and what needs to be pushed and what, still fits and what doesn’t fit me more. And just having time away to look at that and just assess what’s really working what feels good and really listening to me your body in terms of,  I used to do a lot of work supporting film, and I found that really [00:29:00] heavy launch based marketing where I’m like in the launch moment to moment is really hard on my body.

And as much as I love that work and it was really important to me cause I worked on some really important projects. My body was just like, you cannot do this again. And and, everybody worked really hard to accommodate me. But it just the reality, like sometimes some things, some industries need different things that our bodies just are not onboard with.

And that just had to be how it went. Definitely was some interesting opportunities.

Cristin: I love that description about air traffic control and things landing at different times. I could see that with. All of these projects that you’ve got have going on. They’re probably in different phases at different times. And so just working through that.

Alison: Sure. And also I don’t do it all by myself either. Like I actually hired my mom to help [00:30:00] me because that is the first person I go to when I need something. So I could do that professionally also because she’s really good at admin. So she like lovingly transcribed every interview in my book.

And she supports me in so many different ways in my business. So that’s been really helpful. And I also work with a writer out of California who is really aligned with what I do so that I can get some extra support in lining things up for me to be able to do what I need to do.

Cristin: That is awesome. Now, if people are listening to this and they’re saying to themselves, Oh, my gosh. I love Alison. I want to know everything about her and follow her around. Where would we send them?

Alison: So my website is and you can find me at Alison Tedford on Facebook for my Facebook page, which is as a warning a lot of memes, a lot of [00:31:00] social justice content. And, but just a lot of memes.

Cristin: I love that you do a meme dump every Friday, right?

Alison: The Friday meme dumps. Now I’m on Instagram. I’m also at Alison Tedford. And on Twitter, I’m at Alliespins because I used to teach pole dance once upon a time. So I did actually literally spin a lot and that I didn’t have any intention on becoming publicly anything when I developed that Twitter account. And then it just like massively grew. And now I have no idea what to do with that.

Cristin: So it just is wonderful. I am a big fan of the Friday meme jump. And I’ll make sure I link to all those wonderful places in the show notes. And as each of your amazing things happen, I will update your show notes so that people who are listening can find the clothing company, the coffee company, the books, all there as well, of course, links to your current social.

So I really thank you for taking the time to talk [00:32:00] to me today. This has been so fun to finally talk to you in person and instead of just internet stalking you, I

appreciate it.

Alison: You’re wonderful. This is amazing. Yeah.

Cristin: Thank you.


The 7 Signs Layoffs Might Be Coming to You

The 7 Signs Layoffs Might Be Coming to You

Woman in a blue sports bra prepping for boxing

The 7 Signs Layoffs Might Be Coming to You

There’s no use being afraid. There is nothing you can do to keep it from happening, but there are steps to take that will help a layoff be (slightly) less painful.

If you’re on LinkedIn any day of the week, you’ve probably seen a post from someone who was laid off, maybe even that day. Since the COVID-19 pandemic laid off nearly 20 million American workers, people are much more open about being laid off, something that once was too shameful to publicly disclose. Now people share their layoff news immediately after they receive their notice and add an “Open to Work” banner on their profile picture. This is great news for the American workforce because it brings sunlight to something previously in the dark.

Perhaps you’ve never been in an organization that was preparing for layoffs. Maybe you have, but it was 20 years ago. Or perhaps your Spidey sense in tingling. Wherever your personal experience stands, there are a few common signs that layoffs may be coming to your organization. They are:

Decreased profits or revenue

If your company is experiencing financial difficulties or a drop in profits or revenue, it may be a sign that layoffs are on the horizon. It’s completely normal for organizations to have changes in revenue or profitability, but if a large amount of stress and / or frenzied attempts at making quick cash arise, it can be a sign that cash flow problems are happening or on the horizon.

Restructuring or reorganization

If your company is undergoing restructuring or reorganization, it may be a sign that layoffs are coming. Restructuring can be positive, leading to promotions and new opportunities, but it can also lead to duplicative departments and individuals.

Changes in leadership

If there are changes in leadership, such as a new CEO or management team, it may be a sign that the new leaders are planning to make changes to the workforce. This could be anything from new leaders bringing in their own people from previous organizations or their network to changes in priorities.

Hiring freeze

If your company has instituted a hiring freeze, it may be a sign that layoffs are coming. Particularly worrisome is when organizations can’t replace outgoing workers, as opposed to when they can’t create new positions for growing business needs.

Decreased morale

If you notice that your coworkers seem more stressed or worried than usual, it may be a sign that layoffs are coming. I’ve personally never seen layoffs come to a happy, well-resourced, well-treated organization.

Changes in company culture

If you notice changes in company culture, such as a shift towards cost-cutting measures or a focus on short-term goals, particularly when these changes violate previously stated company values or norms, it may be a sign that layoffs are coming.

Changes in company communication

If you notice a decrease in communication from management or a lack of transparency, it may be a sign that layoffs are coming. Most people are pretty bad at maintaining the facade that what you’re currently working on matters so they reduce their time with you.

* * *

It’s important to remember that these signs do not necessarily mean that layoffs are coming, but they may be indicators that you should be prepared for the possibility. One or two signs? It’s probably not worth being concerned about. Three or four? That’s definitely more concerning, and I would definitely have my eyes open about the possibility of impending layoffs. 5 or more? I would say they’re imminent, and you should read this blog post on how to prepare.

The fact that you’re reading this means you’re concerned, and even if you make it through this round of layoffs, the next one, or all of them, very few organizations weather layoffs and remain a pleasant place to work. Definitely consider your own mental health in how you choose to respond being in this kind of environment. You can read this post about how to survive being one of the last ones standing.

Leveraging Transferable Skills to Leave Higher Education

Leveraging Transferable Skills to Leave Higher Education

A lime green background with the text "Leveraging Transferable Skills to Leave Higher Education" and then in smaller text "with Christie Nadratowski" and then a headshot of Christie in a light purple circle

Leveraging Transferable Skills to Leave Higher Education with Christie Nadratowski

They weaponize altruism, and they take advantage of how much you care. It’s a cycle intended to keep you stuck because they need you to stay. Those two things together, plus the constant belittling of your expertise AND they stop you from being able to be successful.

Join your host Cristin Downs and today’s guest Christie Nadratowski as they discuss Christie’s journey from higher education to ed tech, and then into her current career in customer success. They explore the various paths into higher education, the skills needed to move from a manager role into a director role, and how Cristin’s coaching helped Christie realize that her skills are valuable outside of higher education. Learn how to make the most of your transferable skills and get tips on transitioning from higher ed to industry.

In specifics we talk about:

  • How Christie got started in higher education to begin with
  • What drove her departure from the industry
  • Both our thoughts on what drives the toxicity in higher education
  • How and what we identified as Christie’s transferable skills
  • How coaching can help work through some of emotions one experiences related to their own self worth and work
  • What working in customer success involved
  • The difference between customer success manager and director roles
  • Christie’s tips for how to go about pivoting

Click here to listen on a dozen different platforms!

Important links:


Cristin: [00:00:00] Hello. Hello everyone. I’m very excited for this conversation today. I am talking to Christie Nadratowski. Christie is a wonderful, wonderful human. We worked together many moons ago at a higher ed establishment, in New York City that I won’t name just to be on the safe side. And then we both went off in different directions and then Christie came back and she, I’m gonna say single-handedly launched my coaching business. She is amazing. I am absolutely her biggest fan, and she’s been such a gift to my life and I owe her so much. And so I asked her to come and talk to me today about her transition and how she moved. She took a path from higher education to ed [00:01:00] tech higher education we could say before moving into her current career in customer success where she has worked with SAS and tech companies. So I wanted to talk to her today about her journey. How she got started in higher ed, how she decided that it was time to move out of it what she currently does.

So this is a great episode for you to listen to if you too, are thinking about changing careers especially if you’re thinking about pivoting out of higher education, and also if you’re interested in customer success. Christie, thank you so much for joining me today.

Christie: Hey, Cristin. Thanks for that lovely introduction.

Cristin and I often debate who actually started her business and it’s her and she just offered the exact right thing that I needed at that moment for me to be your first official client. Is that how that happened?

Cristin: I, I would say I, I have certainly, I had been coaching people to pivot for [00:02:00] probably, I’m gonna say maybe eight to 10 years before I worked with you, but always for.

And for fun, question mark. I dunno if it’s fun, but it was just something that I did because people asked for my help. And I had done coaching sessions before with people, Christie came to me with both the need for coaching and also for the need of the process. I had never worked with someone.

In that capacity, the two together. And so I hadn’t even contemplated they couldn’t be done together until, until Christie, and then of course she had great success and she told people about it, which is very rare. A lot of times people work with me and they have success and they don’t tell anybody about how it happened.

So very, very rare for people to get wonderful brand ambassadors like Christie, who are willing to tell people about the process that they went through. So that’s why I thought she’d be so much fun to talk to today. [00:03:00] Christie, let’s start maybe. at the beginning of the beginning, which is how did you first move into higher ed?

Christie: So I have two degrees. One is an opera and the other is an African-American literature. And what do you do with those things was what I was being asked by everyone, my parents, my family, my friends, and I happened to be doing a local theater show with someone who worked in higher education. and she was just like, everything about you screams higher ed.

So I know that you’re like temping right now, figuring out what you wanna do because I had been in sales cuz that’s typically, I think what happens is people get caught up in sales because sales recruiters target people who are just out of college like extensively. So I had been targeted and I had been in two different sales roles and I wasn’t really thrilled about them.

It’s really. Not my thing to be direct sales. I had been talking [00:04:00] to this woman, her name’s Bridget, and she was working at St. Thomas Aquinas and she was just like, everything about you screams higher ed. And I was like, oh cool. So I was working for a temp agency and I was like, Hey, can I look at temp a, like temporals in higher ed?

And I ended up getting invited to interview for the institution that Cristin and I ended up working at together. And I really liked the area I was put in, which was student success. And I ended up getting a job there about six months later as a student success advisor.

And that was great because I didn’t need to have a master’s degree for that position. For like academic advisor roles. You needed a master’s degree. But I also didn’t have to start in a. cause that’s typically where people start and that is a sales role, admissions. So I got to skip that low entry salary sales gig and jump right to a middle-ish education role that also did not require a master’s degree.

I loved what I was doing. I was [00:05:00] getting students coming to me who had issues with staying at the university. They were struggling financially or academically, and I was helping direct them to resources like an ombudsman would. But we had no official ombudsman at that institution that I knew about or that anyone else knew about.

So students would get sent to me and then I would interview them often. and we would talk about what was going on, what problems they were having, and I was helping them find resources. I was also collecting a lot of data because I do really like data. I’m a data nerd. And over the course of four years, I think in the end I had talked to 600 students and had made two or three pretty substantial policy changes within the institution.

Two of those being in the financial aid realm. And that was something I was like really, really proud. . I did end up eventually getting promoted to an online academic advisor role again without a master’s degree, even though I was enrolled [00:06:00] in a master’s program which was very unusual. But I did not love the structure of how that program was set up.

There were too many cooks in the kitchen at the executive level. and the way that they had wanted me to perform the job was just not practical. So I started looking around. Still wanted to stay in education because, and I still believe this education really is, in my opinion, one of the great equalizers.

As we’ve grown through a pandemic and all of these other, , I don’t think formal education is necessarily the root anymore, but at the time I did wanna stay in education. So I ended up applying to jobs in Europe and I did get hired to work at a company that did education partnerships.

It was called Into University Partnerships. And I was over there for two years as a director of student support. And the reason that was a unique role was. In the UK they have [00:07:00] about 460 institutions and they are no more than 20 miles from like any town center. So they have a ton of of colleges to pick from.

And online ed was like really new. This was 20 15, 20 16. So not that long ago. Online education was still very new for the uk and they did not know what they were doing unless you worked at the Open University. So Intu was trying to expand into this online learning space, and they needed to understand how to manage students remotely.

So that’s where I came in because I had been, my master’s degree was in online learning, was work that I was working on. And then I had also been running an online program at that institution in the US as an academic advisor. So then I came back after Brexit, worked at a for-profit institu. and that is when I needed, I learned I needed to break up with education because I had never worked at a for-profit institution before and [00:08:00] it was not for me.

It was very expensive for the quality of education that those students were receiving. And it’s in the name, it was for-profit. There was a focus on making. Off of them at every turn. And that to me was not what education was about. That remains not what education is about for me. I firmly believe education should be public and free.

We pay taxes, so there you go. But that was the impetus for me changing to ed tech and I did that for a couple of years. . And then that was also a for-profit business though. And so ultimately that the business I had started working for got acquired by a larger ed tech company that is known in the space and that I did not like the way they worked.

They just were not in my opinion and solely my opinion, they were not the education leader that they made themselves out to. and it was still solely [00:09:00] driven by profit. So I couldn’t stay in education because again, I don’t believe that education should be for profit. So I was like I might as well go and look at other options.

And this is where Cristin enters my life again, as the person who literally rescued me from this terrible, awful situation that I had found myself in. I had been promised a promotion three times at this job, and that never came through. That was two times too money. I should have left after the first time.

That didn’t happen. But I needed someone like Cristin to help empower me in my own thought process about it. And I was also just frustrated with the mindset of the majority of the people that I worked with. So I was ready to go and I was complaining and Cristin was like, Hey, let’s talk about it.

And then we did. And I was like, I wanna hire you. and Kristen was like, I need a minute to work up a package. Hang on. Minute . So that’s how, that’s sort of the, the [00:10:00] brief story about how I came to where I, I came to be, to working with Cristin in a very successful and very helpful way.

Cristin: So for listeners, I just wanna draw on some threads or maybe pull some threads together.

Christie mentioned working at Student Success, and I believe that was with more traditional students, is that. .

Christie: Yes. I was working in the ed tech space with non-traditional as well. Yeah. But I also did work with traditional students.

Cristin: So when you started student success, traditional, then you did academic.

And I know advisors often do emotional addition to academic as well as more traditional student success. But that was with non-traditional students also.


Christie: And then, into in the uk Traditional and non-traditional or actually, yeah, both. It was a lot of e ESL students, so people who [00:11:00] wanted to go and take, get their university degrees in the uk but didn’t have high enough language skills.

That was one population we focused on. And then the other population was master’s degree students, traditional master’s degree students at the University of Newcastle. , the London School of Economics and a few other places.

Cristin: Got it. And that role was student support. Then you worked at your first for-profit and and the reason I, I’m trying to draw all these together is because I would say the most common, there’s two common paths in higher ed in my experience, which is either one, I have been at the same place for 150 years, right?

So people who. Clearly not, but I definitely talk to people on the regular who have been at their institutions for 23, 25, 27 years and, work their way up. Their graduate degrees are in whatever it is their specialty is, right? That they work on in their institution. Typically they’ve hit the [00:12:00] highest role that they can have with in their field.

So there isn’t a VP of international education or something like that, or student success usually comes under enrollment. And those people, they’ve usually had their positions for a long time and they’re not going anywhere. And if you were gonna get them, usually you have to eventually get a PhD.

And a lot of roles in higher ed that are in the administration side come from faculty. So faculty descend up the ranks to become a higher level administrator rather than administrators becoming administrators, right? Yes. They, they kind reach a point where they can’t get any higher. Or the other side is similar to Christie, which is they’ve done a lot of stuff.

They’ve worked at different types of institutions at different types of programs different types of students. and they, they’ve been, they’ve been doing this for a bit, right? So Christie clearly has a plethora of higher education experience in the [00:13:00] academic and student success avenues, and she talked about support.

she talked about interviewing them and just highlighting these things, right? She interviewed the students to find out what was going on with them so she could help solve their problems so she could make large scale improvements to the institution that would help the customer. The student who is a customer, right?

Although of course

Christie: that’s the c word of higher ed. Yes. Customer.

Cristin: Customer, and clearly. Both Christie and I are in agreement that education is life changing and that it should not be monetized . That it is highly valuable, but it is not something that people should be building empires through and on the backs of, of people who can.

Move ahead unless they have this education. So I just [00:14:00] wanted to say all that because it, those are the sort of skills that make most people in higher education really pivotable. because you do everything . You do so much, and it’s so hard because higher education, so much of the ability for these institutions to keep their staff is to act like they don’t do anything.

You’re lucky to have a job. You’re lucky we keep you because

Christie: altruism also.

Cristin: Yes, absolutely.

And as a and I, I oh. Yeah. I want, I, we could get to that. We should get to that separat. But cause of that, a lot of times when people come to me, they say, I really wanna leave, but I just have no other skills. No other talents.


Christie: said that to you. I literally said to you, Cristin, I don’t know what else I can do with my master’s degree in online education. I also did have the benefit of it having the word leadership thrown in there and that title, [00:15:00] but that’s not Leadership degrees are bull. And so my degree was higher education, leadership and administration with a concentration in online learning.

So it was like bullshit on top of bullshit, on top of bullshit . So I was like, Cristin, what do I do with this triplicate of bullshit degrees? And you were like let’s not talk about just the degree, because that’s not the only thing you’ve done was get a degree. You have done all of these other things and you have all of these other skillset. that I think are really pivotable, and I was like, tell me more, please. .

Cristin: Yes, exactly. This is a conversation I have with so many people. And so for, for Christie, she had worked with the entities client, a k A, the people that pay the entity to continue to exist. So she had worked with those people, she had helped ’em with their problems. The way the higher ed thinks about it is it, it has academic success is how are you doing in your classes? And [00:16:00] then student success is everything else. Financially, emotionally, psychologically. Do you have support systems as a first generation student? , racially and ethnically and religiously.

All of those sort of things can co come into the whole realm of student success. So basically it’s academic and everything else. Student success. So Chrissy had experiences both of those sides of the house, if you will, with the client. She had instituted processes to help these folks. She had. implemented large scaled change management within the organization to better serve the folks that pay to keep the organization afloat.

And all of those skills are highly pivotable to other types of industries. And so those are the things that we focused on to make the switch. , [00:17:00] the first thing we mentioned was that higher education institutions are often, I often describe it as an abusive relationship where you know the abusers like, you’re not pretty, nobody else is gonna like you, not gonna deal with your weird of the laugh or whatever.

Obviously it’s way more horrible than that. But essentially higher education, that’s what they do. They tell their staff. You’re lucky to have a job. You should feel lucky that we let you be here, there’s a, a joke , in higher ed you get a, a staffer teaching award in May and told your possible layoff is coming in June. That’s just like the regular thing that happens. So there’s a lot of feedback that you’re getting from your institution that says you don’t matter.

And then there’s the weaponized altruism, which is the idea the work that you do for these students is so important. [00:18:00] You matter so much. Everything is such a big deal that you can’t take vacation. You have to be in on Saturday. We can’t pay you more because we would be taking money from the children if we did pay you more, right?

And all of those things. And so they, they weaponize altruism and they take advantage of how much you. and it’s it’s a cycle intended to keep you stuck. Yeah. Because they need you to stay. So those two things together, the constant belittling of your expertise and, they stop you from being able to be successful. They’ll say, gosh, we have this great new project we’d like you to take on, but we’re also gonna lay off three of your staff. We’re gonna cut your budget by half and we’re gonna double the goals you have to hit for this project. Good luck.

Christie: Right. And then when you, it gets to your performance review where you’ve actually accomplished all of those [00:19:00] things, they refuse to give you anything above met expectations because that’s how they belittle the work that you have done and the work, the extra work you’ve put in to make sure that things went well for the people you do care about, who are your students. Yes.

So everything that you’ve put into that one project that was intended to help students only meets expectations after all of your resources have been taken away from you. Yes. And that is so ultimately damaging. to you as not only like an employee but a person. And when you get, when you end up on top of it, working for a place that only values money like the for-profit institution I ended up at that was just like, oh my God, I can’t emotionally deal with this.

It’s, this violates all my morals, all of my ethics. . I am a person who’s a people pleaser and I can’t please these people. [00:20:00] Mm-hmm. , by the way, if you have a people pleaser personality in higher ed, this is probably you.

Cristin: Yeah. And I think other types that I tend to attract higher ed is the Type A, mm-hmm. Folks people with poor boundaries. You and I have talked about this before, extensively. Yes. Yeah. I don’t, I don’t know why , we both hide under our desks. But you could see how people who really, really want to please, who can’t say no. and need everything to be right, have a really hard time in higher education, but also why higher education wouldn’t want them so much.

Now of course we’re talking about a system, higher education as a system. We’re not talking about individual schools, we’re not talking about individual people. We’re talking about a system that unfortunately has reached a point where as the norm, it takes advantage of and abuses its employees.

Christie: And I [00:21:00] can say that because I’ve worked at multiple different places so that I can confirm to be correct systemically and in all different kinds of environments and not-for-profit and non-profit, and a few different for-profit entities all behaved the same way to varying degrees of abusiveness, but it was all toxic and abusive and that’s.

I think if you’re thinking about talking to Cristin about pivoting, you should absolutely do it because there’s also a wool over your eyes effect that’s completely intentional, where they are manipulating you into feeling badly about the good work you are, the actually good work that you are doing. And then they are rewarding the sort of shady, crummy things that people are doing retain higher profit margins for their institution. Mm-hmm. . So you might be having [00:22:00] conflicting feelings because you love education and you love the the positive things that you’ve gotten to do for people that you know in your heart are positive, but that have been diminished by your administration or by the system you’re working in.

And you can do those things elsewhere. You don’t have to do them just in higher education. It really is just a perspective change, and I think probably the most effective part of the coaching combo that I got out of Cristin was that we had these real conversations and she was able to reinforce that yes, my feelings are correct.

The gas lighting that higher ed does about the actual positive things you’ve contributed is wrong. The fact that you’ve helped people is not to be diminished because helping people is a skill that’s not just something that anyone can do caring enough to go that extra mile is a skillset, and it’s something that unfortunately [00:23:00] is historically associated with women in educational roles, and I’m talking K through 12. all the way up through, higher ed and executive education, non-traditional ed. All of this is, very historically denigrated as a female skill, but it is still a skill and it’s, the culture is changing around those skill sets. One of the things that Cristin and I talked about was that soft skills are actually something education not education, but business leaders are looking for, because there’s too many people who don’t have the ability to get along with or care about the jobs that they are doing. And so those skills that you get from higher ed, that higher ed inherently diminishes are actually very necessary and profitable skills outside of that sphere.

And she’s turned out to be extremely correct. . That’s something that what , who knew that Cristin would be right about that. But it’s something that, [00:24:00] when I first started talking to her was something I did not feel at all. I did not believe that I had a, a skillset. I kept saying things like I’m just a nice person and yes.

And now I describe myself as a professionally nice person. But there’s a career path there. And it’s not, it’s, it’s not just being a nice person, but it is you. . That’s the inherent role that a lot of people play in higher ed, that they’re doing all these extra things, that they’re caring so much about their students and their institution and they’re not getting rewarded financially or otherwise for, and there is a, there is a skillset there that you can shift into other industries that other industries desperately.

Cristin: And I just wanna say that not only are they not rewarded, but they’re often penalized, right? So if you if you hit your targets with the, they say, oh, if you hit your targets, then we’ll give you a staff person back, or, we’ll, we will give you some budget back, or whatever. We just need [00:25:00] you to hit the targets this year.

And so you hit your targets and they say, that’s great. We’re gonna double ’em, . And then you don’t get that person back and you don’t get the money. , they want you to do twice as much with less people and money. So now what have you, what’s the reward? A k A, the penalty more work, right? Yeah. You haven’t more work, so you, you worked until you didn’t see your family.

They don’t remember who you are. You haven’t been to one of your child’s events, you haven’t gone to some people’s birthday parties or whatever, and you did all that in the hopes that you. do well for your students and hit the goals they set out for you. And then, oh, guess what? You get to do it again next year, but twice as much, right? So you get penalized, more work, less money, less help over and over and over again.

Now, you talked a little bit about this, but I would love for you to think back on the time when you had made the decision. [00:26:00] that something had to give, that you had to make a different choice. So can you reflect back on that and what, what was going on with you at that point where you said, okay, it’s time.

Christie: So I think what, when, when we first started talking, had the pandemic hit at that point yet? It had, it had hit, okay, so the pandemic hit and then my dog passed away. and then I was like I don’t, nothing about this feels good anymore. Nothing felt good though. So I was like, is this just the grief of, of losing things, like the pandemic, we all lost our social lives.

The only thing we were allowed to do was work. So when your whole focus is work, it’s gonna feel. and then my dog died. So that was a different kind of grief and I was like, okay, maybe, [00:27:00] maybe this is, just grief. But as time wore on and as I was able to, reevaluate those feelings, it wasn’t just those things, it was that those things made the work stress and the work feelings intolerable.

And there was, while my colleagues were compassionate about those, those two things, the business wasn’t, the business was not compassionate and that felt really bad because I was a top performer at my job. I was the best armchair therapist you could ask for. I protect. My institution and the business that they were partnered with, and I wasn’t being taken seriously at work.

Now, actually, it turns out I was being taken so seriously that they were keeping me in a position where I was in their mind, effortlessly running [00:28:00] everything. So this is over performance locking me in a role that there was no escape from. , but I didn’t realize that until much, much later when I ended up, when I did end up leaving and they had to hire multiple people to cover for me.

So it ended up being a situation where my, the work outside of work was feeling very overwhelming and distressing, and it allowed me to reevaluate what was a tolerable feeling. and work was the top intolerable feeling in my life, unfortunately. It was really depressing. It was really, really depressing because I, I loved higher ed.

I loved what I did for students. I loved all of that altruism that they punish you for. I really loved doing so. This was a really challenging thing for me, and I was very lucky and grateful to have someone who understood it in that very [00:29:00] specific way that Cristin has lived through herself that you don’t often get from people who don’t understand the industry.

So that was a very, very helpful thing. And I am someone who has no boundaries as we’ve mentioned before already. And so it was, it was excellent. I needed that valid. From someone at the time who had lived through similar things at in for, in my case, the same institution. So I was a little, I was ungaslit by Cristin, which was very, very helpful and was necessary for me to make this transition that I ended up making and to clarify the skillset that I bring to the table to help me see my value outside of education. So I came to that point though through some really unfortunate things happening in my life. And I think a lot of people end up wanting to pivot [00:30:00] when it’s not just about work. When it’s about other things and work becomes toler.

Yeah, I think that that is very true for a lot of folks.

Cristin: And “I was ungaslit by Cristin” is definitely a t-shirt. I’m gonna design and definitely put in my new online shop, which by the way, everyone listening, I do not have an online shop. I’m just joking. But I think that would be delightful now when Christie and I worked together based on her amazing skillset. I felt like she had many transferrable skills that could work across different role types in different industries. And we did test several ideas before we found that we seem to be having the most success with customer success. So can you tell us a little bit about once someone in customer Success does?

Christie: Sure. So customer. Uh, Is a little [00:31:00] amorphous when you’re just looking at it from the outside. But it has been around as an and as an official industry for probably 10 to 20 years, although it is finally gaining the popularity and recognition it deserves in the business sphere. Someone who is in customer success needs to be a caring just from the get go. You’re not gonna be successful in this role if you don’t care about other people. There are plenty of other things you can do if you don’t care about other people. Customer success is definitely not one of them. You have to be very emotionally intelligent about yourself, about other people.

If you can read a room when you walk in it and you can interact with people in a way that makes them feel. That is definitely a good skillset to have and that’s something that I think almost everyone who has worked in higher ed has had the opportunity to, to work on because you’re de it’s demanded of you that you do that.

So coming from higher ed in general, you’re probably a good fit for those two things. The other thing, is being able to [00:32:00] deescalate situations. That’s an important skillset because no matter what industry you’re in, if you’re working with clients, you will occasionally have be having to deal with angry people.

And in higher ed, that’s all the time. Students are mad about things all the time. You’re probably dealing with them angry a lot. That’s okay. That’s actually a good thing to build upon. Like I said, in in any industry, you’re gonna run into people who are mad about things. And then the hard skills you need are sort of organization follow through, follow up skills, communication skills, that you should be a, a decent writer and you should be a decent communicator using your words verbally or otherwise.

And it helps if you have a background in any way. So if you have done any kind of research, which if you’re coming from higher ed and you have a master’s degree, you’ve had to do synthesization of different sort of seemingly [00:33:00] unrelated ideas is very common in higher ed. That’s another thing that businesses really need out of their customer success manager because you represent the customer in conversations in.

So you need to be able to synthesize what the customer experience is, where the roadblocks are, how frequently something is happening and theoretically, hypothetically have a solution in mind that can be a jumping off point for. The, the institution that you’re working for to build off of. So if that sounds like you, you would make a great customer success manager.

Former teachers are great at this. Former bartenders are great at this. Anyone who’s worked in food service. Is probably going to be a good fit for something like this. And especially I love, especially hiring people who came from that success side of the house or even academic advisor side of the house in a traditional education environment.

But anyone who’s had to manage a student caseload would be an excellent fit because [00:34:00] you are noticing all of those things and working toward making those changes in higher education, all the excellent.

Cristin: Really well said and described. Now, there are one of the role types that I’ve worked with within customer success is getting people to become customer success managers. But with you, we went to the director side, director of customer success. So what are your thoughts about anyone who’s listening, what would make them a good fit to pivot into a director role instead of a C S M?

Christie: So the director role requires a little bit more of that research analysis and data categorization skillset. So if you are good at, especially qualitative data and taking qualitative data and turning it into something quantitative, you’re gonna be a good fit for a director. You need management skills. Management skills are always helpful when you’re in a director role because you should. [00:35:00] Directing people that’s in the, inherently in the title.

Being willing to see and take on projects that the institution or the business does not even know that it needs, that is something that will make you an excellent director. So if you’re a customer success manager or a student success manager and you wanna move into a director role, being able to demonst.

That you have done things that were not directed of you for the benefit of the business just because you saw the inherent need, that’s an extremely valuable skill. And then thinking outside of the box I think is one thing that’s really underrated. But coming from a different industry and then moving into business customer success, I think higher ed folks are definitely gonna be adding a different perspective that the industry needs because.

In higher ed, you always have to be thoughtful about how and why you’re doing things. Because of the aforementioned staff and budgeting cuts you have to be very intentional in a way that [00:36:00] businesses with money don’t always have to be. So you’re going to bring that skillset anyway. But I would say definitely the analytical and communication skills and management skills of a director set you apart from a, from a working member of a customer success manager.

Cristin: Awesome. Thank you. You made me think of one thing that I do wanna remember to say before we continue on, which is that for the most part, when business folks are interviewing, My clients who are coming from nonprofits or higher ed and then getting them onboarded. They they do this whole sort of, are you ready for this?

This is so different than what you have ever done, and you are going to be mind blown and you have to be really committed. And the higher ed people are okay, okay. Ready to see what’s gonna happen. And then they get the easiest day of their lives and they say, yes. Is any, is someone else sweating because there’s no sweating? It’s easy, right? Because [00:37:00] the amount of work that is required of you in higher ed is so much work that it will feel like you’ve taken on a part-time job. In comparison.

Christie: Literally, I don’t tell my boss, my current boss this, but I can on a weekly basis manage my client load in about 20 to 25 hours because. The also let me just, the one thing about switching over to business that everyone in higher ed is gonna love is that no one is screaming at you or crying at you. These are business me men generally I’m working with at the director level, but business people understand that even if they’re frustrated, they have to behave professionally.

And when you’re working with students, especially traditional aged students, their prefrontal cortex is absolutely not done growing. They are not good at making choices, and their choices are often emotional. So you’re doing all of this emotional labor on top of the actual work that you are being asked to do in higher ed.[00:38:00]

And when you get to a business setting, the majority of that emotional labor goes away, and it is great. Have never had a client scream at me. Are they mad? Sure. Do I have to deescalate situations sometimes? Yeah, absolutely. But are they yelling at me while they’re mad? No. Are they crying? Absolutely not.

Are all of those things that are really for an empathetic person, really challenging to manage in a higher education workspace? Gone? Yeah, for the most part. It’s pretty great. And when you are used to emotionally regulating other people, and you don’t have to do that anymore. Your workload goes from 60 hours a week to 25.

So it, it definitely has been much healthier for me to be not in a higher education space from a mental health perspective as well. Oh, that’s wonderful.

Cristin: So then the [00:39:00] question that kind of ties into both the idea of activity and the idea of the emotional labor is how would you say your life, and it can be your work life and your personal life changed. Like what’s the difference between what it was like before and what it’s like now?

Christie: During the pandemic and after my dog died, I didn’t really wanna talk to or see pretty much anybody. I was also, far away from my friends because it was closer to my job, and then I got a primarily remote job.

Every once in a while I do have to go in to see clients or to the office. But it’s not that frequent, thankfully. And I was able to move closer to my friends and family, and now I, it’s the holiday season, but for the past three weeks I have been doing something almost every. with my friends and family, that has nothing to do with my job.

Very rarely do I have to get on a late night call. Very rarely do I have to work weekends. So I’ve gotten a significant amount of my [00:40:00] personal time back because I’m not having to chaperone a dance or do an activity late night with my students.

Cristin: An info session or a class presentation or something like that.

Christie: Yeah. Or a faculty presentation. Mm-hmm. , where you’re presenting on why ADA is important and you can’t violate it because it’s illegal. . Yeah. Just as a, for example, that didn’t happen, right? You’re not having to go to conferences all weekend because conferences are during the week when you’re being asked to go to business Offsites.

That’s a pain. You’re asked to do that in higher education as well. Sometimes you have to go to these things and it takes up your whole weekend. So you’re working for 14 or 21 days straight, and that is not happening in my life anymore. So you get your personal time back you get the ability to [00:41:00] have your emotional labor spent on people who matter to you.

Overall, my life has improved tremendously from switching careers from higher ed to tech, which is what I’m in now.

Cristin: Amazing. That’s it makes me so warm and fuzzy to hear all of this. So now for folks who are listening and they want, they wanna do it too, they’re pretty excited. Say, all right, Christie, this sounds fun. What tips would you have for folks who want to make a pivot?

Christie: So this is gonna sound very much like Cristin paid me to say this, but I’m not being paid to say this. I just, as Cristin mentioned, I firmly believe in what she’s doing and how she’s doing it, and I will tout her services anywhere and everywhere I have an opportunity to.

But Cristin has a bunch of different packages, and I encourage you when she has space to book the highest package that she [00:42:00] has, because that’s what I did. Part of what had happened was like we had been working together and Cristin was asking me to do things like write my everything resume. And that took me, I think, what, like four weeks to get to you because it was such an emotional, like I was so burned out emotionally that I couldn’t even do anything positive for myself.

And I knew that this was gonna be positive, but I was like dreading sitting at my computer for any extra time and spending time on myself. , I spent everything I had on other people. So I, when I did finally get that together, then it was time for me to work with Kristen on my resume. So we did that, and then it was time for me to apply to jobs, and I was like, I can’t.

So every other meeting we’d have, Cristin would be like, how many jobs did you apply for? And I’d be like, none. None. I couldn’t do it. So we would sit on a session together and apply [00:43:00] for jobs together. And then one day Cristin was like, what if I did all of that for you? And I said, what is, what is, what does that look like?

Tell me what that looks like. And she was like, you have a resume. And as long as you don’t care what jobs I’m applying to for you, because I, we’ve done personality assessments, we’ve done skill assessments, we’ve done all of these things, and I have this beautiful document for you about you. What if you let me evaluate jobs for you and apply for them?

What if you let me write your cover? And it’s like a pretty generic one that I can give you. So if you see something you wanna apply for, you can. But what if I did all of that and I was like, what are you offering me, ? This is amazing. So I immediately jumped at that and honestly, Cristin carried me to safety on her back as she has done for many other people.

But she took all of that emotional labor for myself off my plate. And so I will say, could I afford? No, because I had bought a dating service that was $10,000. That was by the way, garbage. And when I [00:44:00] got a refund, I gave it all to Cristin . That was the whole thing. I took all of my money that I was supposed to send spend on a dating service that I could not have emotionally participated in any way and spent it on putting myself in a much better situation with Cristin.

It’s worth it. Everyone who has has done that high, highest package that Cristin has who I’ve talked has said it’s 100% worth it. So that’s my actually best advice is let Cristin do it for you. Also, I think it makes her life a little bit easier sometimes when you just let her do the applications for you and she just lets you know when you have an interview.

But if that’s not something you can afford, I would say the things that you need to do. Are, you have to put the work in you. It’s, it is work though, and you have to treat it like work. So if you have the luxury of carving out any time in your, in your actual workday to spend on yourself, even if it’s your lunch break, do it.

Spend that lunch break working on the tasks that Cristin [00:45:00] has set out for you and her very organized programs and her memberships. And just do what she tells you to do. If Cristin tells you to do something, it’s not because she wants to make your life harder, it’s cuz she wants to make your life easier.

So do that. Spending the time is worth it. Even when I had to do it and it was excruciating, it got Cristin and I to a place where she could just take everything off my plate and run with it. When she offers you a session to meet for interview, Also do that. That’s very necessary because sometimes, even if you’re great at interviewing, like I am great at interviewing, I will give myself that credit.

It is different. It’s a different interview than you’re used to in higher ed. It’s, it’s not as touchy-feely. As you’re used to, you do have to adjust some of your language so that it matches the, the industry you’re moving into. Take advantage of all of those services that Kristen does offer. Again, I know I sound [00:46:00] like a paid ad, but this is really what I went through with Cristin.

And at first I was a little resistant to the idea that I needed interview prep. And I did a couple of interviews and they went well, but they were. It’s the right fit for me anyway. And then I got this interview for the job that I ended up taking, which is the one I’m in right now. And I did the interview prep with Kristen because I knew I really wanted it and they were gonna pay me what I was worth.

And I ended up getting a $60,000 raise. So that was awesome. Could I have gotten the job without the interview prep? Maybe did I feel so much more secure going into that interview? Because I had done that with Cristin. Absolutely. So that’s another thing, do interview, prep study your industry that you’re looking to go into.

If you’re interviewing for customer success jobs there’s a Success Hacker customer success certificate. It’s $250. I would say it’s worth it. I don’t recommend random certifications very often, but that is one that I have. [00:47:00] Help people pivot as well. And actually in my industry, in my current job, we are going through that customer success success hacker certification ourselves because my boss sees the value in it as well.

So you can get ahead of that and do that one. But generally speaking, just learning how to talk about the pivoting skillsets that you’re bringing through. Either listening to podcasts or something along those lines, listening to more business related things and adjusting your vocabulary to that.

And then working with Cristin on interview prep and, and your resume and all that fun stuff. That’s, that is what I would say was the most helpful to.

Cristin: Amazing. Christie, thank you so much for coming today to tell me all about this and for our wonderful listeners to hear more about your journey in and then out of higher [00:48:00] education and what customer success is like.

So maybe if they’re interested in it, they can go and follow up because of all the wonderful information you’ve given. And I just thank you so much and again, you have changed my life and I adore.

Christie: Aw, you changed mine and I adore you.