Neal provides his advice that he recently gave LinkedIn on career change and learning to adapt to - and thrive on - the constant change that is part of our everyday life.
[00:57] Career Curveball Series
[04:06] How Life Prepare Us to Run the Bases
[06:29] Planning on Starting My Career in China
[08:35] Nothing Is Static
[09:17] Starting My Career with Sales and Marketing
[11:35] Becoming the China Sales Pioneer
[16:32] Facing A New Reality
- It gave me a chance to really look back into my past into my entire career, and analyze not the one curveball but the many curveballs and how it has affected the way that I look at social media in the way that I hope you look at social media as well.
- The only constant in your career is change, learn to embrace it.
- I love to talk about social media as being an experiment. You always need to be doing different things and changing things. Because it's always changing. I think a career is the exact same, but I learned to embrace it.
- Life will always throw you curves, just keep fouling them off, the right pitch will come. But when it does, be prepared to run the bases.
- The more of that experience and all the varied experiences that we have, the better it prepares us to run the bases.
- As my father said, business is really about learning how to communicate with people and learning how to communicate your own ideas to other people from various cultural and historical backgrounds.
- When I talk with other people in social media, I tell them or you know, small business owners, entrepreneurs, self employed professionals, like myself, make internal deadlines almost on a quarterly basis and try to stick to them.
- Now, hopefully, you'll agree with me that sometimes we go through life so quick, that we forget to take a break, and smell the roses.
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Welcome to maximize your social actionable 10 minute advice on how your business can maximize your social media presence. Now, the host of maximize your social social media author, speaker, consultant, and founder of maximize social business, Neal Schaffer. Hey, this is Neal Schaffer. This is maximize your social Welcome to my world of social media. Today I'm at my home office here in Irvine, California, been doing a lot of traveling lately, but for the next few weeks have a lot of downtime. And I'm actually preparing for my next project, really excited to announce that hopefully over the next few weeks, but until then, I wanted today to get very personal on this podcast, and share with you what I recently shared with LinkedIn, if we are friends on Facebook, or if you follow me on Google Plus, you probably saw recently that I posted that I was invited by LinkedIn, to blog as part of what they call a career curveball series. What are the curveballs that you've had in your career? And how did you handle them? And when they asked me, I was obviously honored, and definitely wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. But it also gave me a chance to really look back into my past into my entire career, and analyze not the one curveball but the many curveballs and how it has affected the way that I look at social media in the way that I hope you look at social media as well. And even though this may not be directly on target, as far as social media for business advice, I do believe and you've probably heard from many others, that those that are successful in social have a certain mindset, and this is what I teach as well. And I'm hoping that once you understand more about my world and my mindset, it's going to help you develop a much keener mindset for social media. So this blog post was already published on LinkedIn already published on my own personal LinkedIn publishing page by the time you hear this, but just like many of you who have written back to me saying that you enjoyed my audible audio book for maximize your social because I was the one reading it. I also wanted to do the same thing with this blog post and read it in my own words in my own voice, and give you some background on things that might not be in that blog post. So here we go, the only constant in your career is change, learn to embrace it. And I didn't talk about it in this post. But indeed, those of you that have read maximize your social or see me speak know that I love to talk about social media as being an experiment. And that you always need to be doing different things and changing things. Because it's always changing. I think a career is the exact same, but I learned to embrace it. And I hope you do as well and embrace change in social media. So because, you know, curveball and baseball, I begin with a really, really famous baseball quote, by a gentleman named Rick Maxene. Funny thing is, I did a little digging for who this person was online, I really couldn't find it. So if you can tell me the history of Rick, Maxine, and in what context and when he said this, I'd really appreciate the feedback. But anyway, regardless, it's a really famous quote, life will always throw you curves, just keep fouling them off, the right pitch will come. But when it does, be prepared to run the bases. I often talk about one's career, even in social media, when you are reaching out to people engaging with people blogging, publishing content, it's a marathon. And every time you do it, you may not see immediate feedback. But it's all part of if we were in a role playing game of building up that experience, meter to get to that next level. And I think life is like that as well. The more of that experience and all the varied experiences that we have, the better it prepares us to run the bases. So I begin and you all know that I don't really talk about my children or my wife and social media, but I actually bring them into the story. Because as you know, family is an integral part of everything we do. So looking at my young children, I have two children that are actually elementary school age. If you are curious, I realized that we also all grew up with dreams of what we wanted to accomplish in our future careers. Whether it be becoming an astronaut fighting fires, making cupcakes, or becoming a teacher. My daughter wants to be the next Gabby Douglas. My son wants to be the next Christian Rinaldo. Either way, we seem like we were in control of our own destiny, right? And no one could hold us back. And we were going to create our own In the future, so when I entered the workforce, it was no different. I had the master plan. I was going to start my career in Japan, where after learning Chinese in college, I was going to master five Asian languages by the time I was 30. For what purpose? Well, I thought it'd be cool, in all honesty, but that was sort of the path that I was on. When I graduate from college, believe it or not, Mandarin Chinese. I learned in college Japanese I was learning at the time and eventually mastered Korean I got as far as Korean, I did take three months of introductory lessons of Korea, while living in Japan had a chance to do some business there. Unfortunately, outside of being able to take a taxi to the airport, say the food was delicious. And how much is the meal, there wasn't much more Korean, that I learned, but it's a beautiful language and wonderful people. And I hope I have a chance to learn it someday. And then Cantonese because Cantonese just seemed like one of the hardest languages to learn very different than Mandarin Chinese. And then Thai, which once again was just another completely different language. So I only ended up studying two more out of Mandarin Chinese and mastering one more out of Mandarin Chinese. But the very reason my career began in Japan was from the first career curveball that I was thrown. And this is when I was still a college student, political unrest in China. Now, this is where I talk about the China retreat. I majored in Asian studies at Amherst College, which is a small liberal arts college in Massachusetts. And I plan on starting my career in China, I was going to be one of those Americans who was going to go out there, become a pioneer, do amazing things out there for business. And I went there for my junior year abroad, right, I was in Beijing. And the problem is that when I was in Beijing, it was 1989, the Berlin Wall was collapsing. And there were incredible student demonstrations and political unrest that resulted in what we call the Tiananmen den demonstrations in the aftermath, and I could do a separate podcast about what I experienced during the Tiananmen demonstrations, which I won't for now. But needless to say that right after that, foreign companies really just pulled away from China stayed away, really afraid to invest any more there. And my dream of sort of graduating a year later, and working in China was going to be very, very hard to accomplish. So when I came back from Beijing's my senior year, I realized I had to alter my course. Because I knew that finding a job in China would be nearly impossible. It's it's rolling with the punches, right? It's falling off some balls, knowing that when your time comes, you're going to do something, but it's also creating your own career. While this happens while you get these curveballs of readjusting your batting stance, right. Fortunately, I had a Japanese roommate while in Beijing and befriended a number of Japanese foreign exchange students. It was also a time when the Japanese economy if you remember, 1989 1990, was peaking at at strain. And many American companies were trying to learn more about how Japanese companies were becoming successful in the global market. So this just goes to show, you know, when I was at Amherst College, the Japanese class had like five times more students in the Chinese class. And it's probably you know, flipped around now in terms of numbers. But during our lifetimes, there are ebbs and flows in the strength of economies, industries, companies, you know, Google now is sort of like everyone wanted to work at America Online, or Microsoft back in the day, right? Nothing is static. And I learned this fortunately, at a very early age as a senior in college, to accept the reality to embrace a long term approach, and subsequently, plan to temporarily start my career in Japan, where after working there for two years, I was going to move on to China and achieve what I wanted to do. They're moving on to my next chapter of my life, which is called accounting for a job. I interviewed with the Japanese company that ended up hiring me during winter break in my senior year. company's name is Rome semiconductor ROA CEMB, headquartered in Kyoto, Japan, which is really how I started this whole Japanese experience. Now, I wanted to start my career in sales and marketing, I love business. I did some things during junior high school in high school that gave me a flavor of business. And I love to meet people and I was very outward going. So that's where I wanted to be within a company. But I had one little problem was that Amherst College being a liberal arts school didn't really offer any business curriculum. As my father said, business is really about learning how to communicate with people and learning how to communicate your own ideas to other people from various cultural and historical backgrounds. And I think Amherst College did very well in preparing me for that. And you can imagine how that's really helped me in social media and really to speak internationally as well. But you know, serendipitously and there's all With these serendipitous curveballs that come at us as well, for reasons still on unknown in my senior year, they did begin to offer a class in accounting. Now, I knew that having knowledge in the subject would help me in my business career, even sales. It's about numbers, marketing, you're crunching numbers. Accounting is sort of the basis of business right? Little did I know that taking that class would determine what department I would start my career in. Because when I graduated from Amherst in 1990, Japan had become this global economic power. And it started to establish build sales, as well as manufacturing operations in foreign countries. This drove Japanese businesses to push for internationalizing. And I put that in quotes internationalizing their companies internally. So it turned out that I was to become part of the internationalizing plans for Rome semiconductor, my first employer, the man who turned out to be my first boss had just come back as director of finance for their American operations, which happened to be in Irvine, California, where I live as well Amazing how things happen in life. But anyway, he had the needs to both internationalize his own department, as well as keep better tabs on the accounting of their foreign subsidiaries. So just as with this retreat from China, this beginning of my career in finance and accounting, I learned to take a long term look at my career, and took the position in finance in the belief that it would be a temporary stepping stone and valuable education that would help me get to the place and the position that I wanted. So moving on to the next chapter, becoming the China sales pioneer, I had already created that roadmap for my career that would push me towards both sales and China. Despite the changes in my career that I'd accepted until then, I was still focused on reaching these goals as part of my long term strategy. But how long can you or should you wait for these same changes to work in your favor, I created my own internal deadlines. And I do this now. And when I talk with other people in social media, I tell them or you know, small business owners, entrepreneurs, self employed professionals, like myself, make internal deadlines almost on a quarterly basis and try to stick to them. And in both cases, I dealt with more change that would eventually help lead me to my goal. So the very same day, and I sort of put myself out there in the job market, in order to hit an internal deadline, if it wasn't going to happen at the company I was working at, I was forced to move elsewhere, but the very same day, and I'll never forget this, that I received an offer from a trading firm specializing in metals. To pursue my career in China sales was also the very same day that an executive at Rome Semiconductor had transferred back to Japanese headquarters to begin a new business development department, which I was going to become a member of. I was thrown to career curveballs in the same day. And just like the fork in the road, seen that the Business Development Department was going to be in charge of our future China strategy, I decided to make an investment in my current employer, similar to how they had made an investment in me, if you go through some of my LinkedIn recommendations, you will find that one executive really wanted to hire me away from another company. And the fact that I did not join him actually made him feel even higher esteem for me, because of the loyalty. I don't know what it is. But I have an emotional bond with people and things and companies that invest in me, I want to reciprocate that investment. And at the end of the day, I think we're all human. And I think a lot of us share that. And it's always greener on the other side. But I wanted to give this company another chance. So hopefully that better explains that mindset. And maybe you're not in and you have felt the same way. Or maybe you're in a similar position right now. So this new position, led me closer to both doing business in China, as I was part of the team, which decided both where we would invest in China, as well as actually negotiate with Chinese officials, a joint venture partner to potentially build a jointly owned factory in Shanghai. Well, we ended up not doing the JV although we ended up investing in a 100% owned factory in Dalian, China, but I also had the opportunity to work at our sales subsidiary in Singapore for six months, and get to understand what our foreign sales offices doing, what is the work they have, what are their challenges, and how as a company, we as a Japanese company, we are engaging with our customers there. That was a great experience and the friends I made in Singapore I still meet I got to meet them last March when I was in Kuala Lumpur, and I hope to meet them again in the near future. But anyway, after returning from Singapore, my boss was put in charge of our overseas sales department. And once again, I was getting closer to realizing my goal despite all these constant changes in my job. But unfortunately, while I was getting closer to my career goals, I failed to hit the new deadline I had established For myself, to start doing sales inside China, I decided that I had to be the instigator of change this time. And while last time I decided to stay with the company, this time, I decided to resign from the company. Now, things happen for all sorts of different reasons. We never know the master plan that we all have when we're born. But when the CEO found out, and this is, you know, $3 billion 12,000 global employee company at the time, when he found out that I wanted to quit solar to be able to focus on China, he decided to make it a reality for me if I was that passionate about China, and I was so bent on generating success there, that the CEO up until now, or the people working for him to not see, he was going to give me a chance. And to this day, I'm still very fortunate for that. So a few days before the day, that was supposed to be my last day, I think it was literally, you know, four to five working days before that. My boss called me and told me what was going to happen. I was promoted to launch our China sales operations, and at 27 years old, would become the youngest cutting Joe, or assistant manager in company history, it was quite an honor. And I was finally able to do what I wanted to do. And this is really where my career Excel to a new level. In a few years after starting from scratch, I was generating business for more than 60 Chinese, Japanese American and European manufacturers. And while the sales continued to grow, the region had become our company's most profitable in terms of profit margin percentage, I had 15 people reporting to me across three sales offices, and our team in Japan headquarters, I had achieved everything I wanted. When I was faced with a new reality. And this new curveball came from my success. In order to elevate our sales to new levels, I realized that I would have to move to our Shanghai office and work there on a full time basis. Now, hopefully, you'll agree with me that sometimes we go through life so quick, that we forget to take a break, and smell the roses, the constant curveballs in my career combined with my long term perspective, and the short term deadlines that I had had brought me the success that I yearn for. But one day, I realized that as a sales professional living in Japan, I had no track record of actually selling inside Japan. I had lived there for what, eight, nine years. And yet, Wow, I did not have that track record that I wanted. And that I should have, if I was going to be an international sales executive. It was at that point, where I closed the chapter on my success in China, I did everything I wanted to do, I achieved what I wanted to do, I wanted to reach a new level. And in order to reach that new level, I firmly believe that I had to do that in Japan. So I focus now on the big picture of replicating my China's success in Japan, because if I can do it in two very, very different cultures, two very, very different business environments, I can do it anywhere in the world. So to do this, I would end up leaving my company. And although I gave the company a chance to offer me a job, that would be satisfying. We agreed that it just did not exist. So ended up leaving on very, very friendly terms. I still keep in touch with a lot of people from that company. I'll be seeing some of them in July when I'm back in Japan. So there were a few job offers that actually came my way and I don't really go into this in in the blog post. But this is really another fork. In my career, I was actually offered a job at Procter and Gamble in product marketing. They had their Asian headquarters in Kobe, Japan. And I was actually interviewing also with Dell and FedEx to do enterprise sales there in western Japan, but ended up working with a small Well, I won't call them a startup because they were listed on the NASDAQ at the time, but they were one of these.com startups actually had been around for decades. But they were involved in what we now I think called the Internet of Things. They provided the embedded operating system for that before we had something called Linux or Android. They provided something called VX works company called Wind River ended up getting bought out by Intel. When river had some success in Japan. They were looking to build out a western Japan sales office in Osaka. I was looking for a job with foreign equity companies in Osaka. And I wanted to help them launch that and be successful at it. So I took that opportunity made it successful. Shortly thereafter, I was offered the opportunity to establish an Asian sales operations for a startup out of Ottawa Canada company called SPL, a challenge that I ended up taking and thriving at despite a near disaster in my first few weeks. Well, what was that disaster that disaster and the name of this next chapter of my career is called losing the big customer. Wow. You know, it's funny because this blog post ended up being more than 3000 words and I had a conversation with someone on my Facebook wall? Who said, Why don't you cut it up into two parts? And? And I answered that, as I'll answer you now I really don't like to artificially slice and dice my stories. The stories have an intentional beginning and an intentional ending. But I did make a brand promise on this podcast that every podcast would be approximately Well, I began with eight minutes, because that was recorded on an iPhone. And then when I moved to an Android, I said 10 minutes. So I do like to keep these short and sweet. I do believe they're more effective, when they're a little bit shorter understanding attention spans, and just how busy we all are as professionals in our careers and our families. So I'm going to do something that I wouldn't do in the written form, but I'm going to do it on the podcast, which is, I'm going to take a pause here. And I'm going to sign up for today. And we're going to continue the story next week. Don't wait until next week to send me your feedback. I really enjoy hearing from you. It's what gives me the fuel to keep sharing content and to keep this podcast as well as everything else I do going. So looking forward to hearing from you. I hope this already provided you some insight. Next week, we're going to close off on part two, and some specific takeaways for you if you haven't read the post. If you haven't you like it. I hope that you'll share with your friends. But for today, that's it everybody. It's a wrap. I hope wherever you are in the world, you make it a social Day. Bye Bye, everybody. Thanks for listening to maximize your social. We appreciate your iTunes subscriptions, ratings and comments. If you'd like to appear on this show or recommend content, please contact Neal Schaffer at Neal at maximize your social.com make it a social day.