In this month’s Creative Life episode, Katie Annice Carr speaks with recent author, coach and career activist, Carole Viaene about how to create your ideal job, whether you want to hone the one you have or find a new one. We talk sustainability, health and limiting beliefs.
Carole’s book is currently only published in Spanish by Arpa under the title “Mi trabajo ideal y como encontrarlo” if you would like to be the first to find out when it will be available in English you can join her mailing list on her website: www.caroleviaene.com
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Original music written and performed by Jonathan D. Mellor licensed to Step Up Create S.L.
Welcome to the podcast, and this week we are joined by Carol Viaene, who is a coach, author, and career activist. And recently, newly published author, she’s written a book of my ideal work. I have had the opportunity to read through it, which has been amazing and I’ve learnt a lot from it. Maybe Carol, you could just introduce yourself a little bit.
Okay, well thank you for inviting to the podcast. I’m really excited about this I love talking too much probably about the book. So a little bit about me, I’m originally from Belgium. I was born and raised there. But I’ve always had a nomadic life. I loved travelling from early age on very nerdy amazing things with the European Youth Parliament when I was younger. And so then in graduate 17 I didn’t really know what to do in my life it was like a winding road of very different things. And, but I ended up in HR, and doing a professional coaching course started working as a career advisor and then moved from Belgium to Spain. In Spain, three years, have worked for both yeses in school and now working for a side business school full time, and in my free time, like he said no. I like using the word career activists with this book, and, and yeah I’m really excited about it.
It’s not just using the word it’s also that, as you read the book you realise that there are things that you are really passionate about and that is not just helping people to find the right career path but also building a better world I think sustainability is one of the key things you talk about in the book.
Yes. So there, there, there’s, there’s multiple stories here no because I didn’t, to be honest I always felt like I wanted to do something good like deep inside you have this, maybe need of doing something meaningful, but I didn’t know what it was, so I had to kind of figure out what, what’s my mission, you know, or what’s my, what’s my battle you know some people have been very clear that I want to I want to I want to work with the CEO, and they just didn’t have that very clear for me. And then, what really helped me was the sustainable development goals from the United Nations I think they have a very clear framework, and they offer an overview of real problems in the world so that’s kind of one thing. And the second thing is I went into when I arrived in Barcelona I made to have a couple of really interesting friends that have very deep believes in the print and convincing principles around sustainability and they really inspired me I was like well this one friend said no I’m not buying a house by the coast ever, because the sea levels are going to rise and I’m already thinking about you know self sufficient, you know, places to in the countryside safe, and she was like so far ahead in that thinking and related to the climate change, as well. And then, One of the last stories was a presentation at the business school, I was working by, and they also talk about this in the book know by going to Bali, who’s a member of the Club of Rome and he presented during an Energy Conference, and he was wildly provocative, almost in his, I mean he was, he was presenting such beautiful innovative solutions that were so sustainable and not just, it was not as like zero greenwashing No, it was really truly respecting nature using nature’s principles. And so that all really made an impact on me and I felt I really wanted to do more. And I think now is the time, and we can all do so much more and companies can do so much more. And so yes I’m very passionate about and not perfect and but I’m very passionate about it, to kind of to kind of build this momentum.
And one of the things that comes out from the book is that you seem to really kind of cheering people on to make choices that are sustainable, or be aware of whether their choices are sustainable or not, and also to raise their voice if they’re inside an institution I think one of the later chapters, you’re talking about. Go and talk to HR, if you’re thinking about talking to HR go and talk to them and say what’s bothering you. So it sounds like you’re kind of walking the talk on this
is that easy. I know it’s not easy but I think there is a war on talent going on and obviously my book is not for everyone, it’s for most of us privileged enough to already have a job or to be in a situation where we, you know can reflect on this, etc, etc, but I think there’s a war on talent and we have a power as a talented individual, and especially if we look at the newer generations this is increasingly more important, what’s the purpose, what are we doing about climate change, etc. So, is that power that we can use to really change companies for women as well, or change their minds that are inspired them to do more about this so yeah, I mean, I know it’s that it’s not always easy to speak to HR depending on which institution or organisation you work in, obviously, and it takes a lot of intrapreneurship, I can talk about in my book as well. But yeah, I mean there’s also lots of eco anxiety going on like you see all these news articles and, and you see everything you know with fire and then you see the flood and I we have been flooded in Belgium for example and then, and you do you get this kind of echoey anxiety and it’s always also been describing in other essays I’ve written, and I think I just applied it to myself, Okay, I’m a career coach, I help brilliant students get brilliant jobs, and the business school, I work in, but could I do more. Right. What if I connect sustainability to my job, but I’m actually doing what would that work with the combination be, and I think this is basically walking the talk and it’s also what I explained in my book and I hope it works.
I would call this taking a creative approach to sustainable issues in that, if we start to think about everything we could possibly do and everything that needs to be resolved, it’s so overwhelming that we get stuck and we can’t do anything. And yet, if we just think about what can I do, where is my biggest impact in this. I can’t do everything I can recycle I can use, you know, solid soaps, I can use bags like, you know, we do all of that most of us I think. But beyond that, the biggest impact is where you’re spending most of your time, so I thought it was really interesting this kind of approach to okay, it’s down to you it’s not kind of putting it on the company that you work for or the other recruiters and saying you know this is what you should be doing, it’s more, okay, what can I do to be part of that,
I really do feel like it’s a shared responsibility and of course I mean we will talk about impact, this is something that we can do that we have control over, obviously it’s also share responsibility pontics indication, and companies and that’s a whole other debate, I would say no, but I just focus on what can I do at work if I do a project, can I go and see if I can add something to it. I mean, a stupid example but I organise a conference earlier this year and I specifically chose sustainability as a topic, and I didn’t have to do that but I did it because that’s how I want to make a difference. So yeah, that’s how
I quite often forced my design thinking students to work on sustainability. I mean, if they start with that there’s absolutely loads of opportunities for innovation
are definitely. And I think I just maybe just some last point on this, maybe because I think it’s really important is that, I’m just talking about on the European level, all the funds and the decisions that are being made on a European level, are going to that direction, they’re doing really amazing things to degree deal to circular economy. So all the funds and regulations are going that way, is going to have an impact on businesses as well so I think it’s had a really nice reading your book is on guard your book is out on guard. It’s really nice to say that, but I do feel like this is where we’re going so we better get ready and prepared if you want to be successful in the future. This is going to be the way so it’s, it’s also kind of shaping the future as
well. Yeah, so it’s not necessarily altruistic, it’s also like, if you want a good job in the future you want to earn money and have a nice life. You’re going to need to know about this stuff, and care about it.
Exactly, exactly, and not just be a sustainability consultant, it could be that you within your job, you just upskill and rescale, whatever you want to call it, with, with topics on sustainability right to kind of shape your your current job, it doesn’t mean you have to radically change your job.
We’ll come back to the book in a little bit it’s the moment where you’ve been skirting around creativity but we haven’t actually mentioned it, what is creativity for you because I think it’s quite a lot of things.
Yes. It’s hard to define, I mean, obviously the whole thing about creativity, like it’s so hard to define. But I think what it means for me more than anything is curiosity, in a way. I am a very curious person, whether it’s i There’s so many things I could name though interested in, you know, and, but it’s also about shaping and making something I’ve been a big part of my life very receptive, very in the listening part in the very reading part, and I feel like creativity, it’s also the productive parts also related to language skills when you have the receptive skills and any other productive skills, which is more writing and speaking and I feel like I’m trying to think more as like the writing and speaking version I’m really enjoying that creative space. It’s just shaping I think when you shape and make something I think you’re being creative and I think we’re all creative and it doesn’t have to be Wow or or art or, you know this, these things we kind of define or not defined with maybe view as art more in a traditional way. But yeah, trying new things being curious, I think it’s also, I think, the last two things I thought about when it comes to creativity with connecting with nature and doing nothing in return, or maybe that leads to creativity, but there’s lots of interesting stuff there
are two, what tips would you have for someone who feels they’re not creative because I know you’ve, I mean you could say the whole book is for those. What would be the main ones that sort of come out of that.
Just make anything, anything, really, it doesn’t have to be good or bad. It doesn’t have to be, whatever, if it’s collage if it’s making something out of clay, or if it’s reading a coil or it’s just anything really that you can create, or it’s a podcast right it’s an Instagram post so maybe a little bit different. I don’t know, it’s I think there’s so many ways of creating I think it’s just doing it, getting yourself out there and it’s scary, but I think that’s definitely a tip that don’t overthink it, right, you have this tendency to also to be very perfectionistic when we make something there’s lots of pressure and oh it’s when you make something there tend to run out of excuses, They’re making it over and over, and I think the tip would be don’t overthink it, just do and then experiment. And that,
that kind of connects quite nicely to quite a big part of the book which is dedicated to limiting beliefs, and I really like the way you do this because you, you sort of give us a limiting belief which I’ll let you explain what it is in a minute, and then explain it a little bit more explain how you’ve how it happened to you and how you’ve overcome it, or some, some other anecdotes and then finished with a really nice quote, that could be a literary quote, it could be a business, quote, just seems. I don’t know, it’s really creative in itself the way you’ve written it, limiting beliefs, tell us a little bit about that and why it’s important we work with them.
I think also limiting beliefs I hadn’t really been cautious about that until
I started coaching. I had a one, the strong experience with a woman and this was about 15 years old, and she had never gotten her university degree, so she was kind of working jobs here and there, feel sounds like I’m smarter than this but I know it can be boring, but I’ve never gone to university. I’ve never gone to university and she kept saying that and I was like, what if you would go to university I was just like challenging, a little bit. And she looked at me like big eyes like wide open and said can’t do that and I was like I don’t know. Can you do that. So she started out figuring this figure out this plan, and kind of fundamentally worked out like she found out a way to make it work and she’s like Carolyn, I can go back to university, and then but she’s still very scared and not excited and say, I can see that you’re not feeling excited Have you kind of scared right and she’s like, Jeremy because I’ve always been told that intelligent people are arrogant people, and my mother always kind of said, you know, you can’t go to university, and I feel like that’s why I cannot go to university and I said, What if you would give yourself permission to be intelligent, to go to university. She just started crying. And so for me that was like a beautiful example and afterwards she did go to university and she’s super happy like that’s the happy ending to this story right. So that really opened up my eyes like well, These little voices in our head can limit us so much in our life choices, and, and it has limited has limited us well in many ways, like, I would think like, I’m not an expert to write this book. It’s a very strong limiting belief, or I don’t have enough experience yet, or there’s so many other people that are better doing this and there’s lots of imposter syndrome also involved in this, but, or, regarding sustainability. I think I had the limiting belief of who am I to do anything regarding sustainability like I don’t have this background I don’t have the right studies or degrees. There are countless opportunities to be honest. But I think it’s interesting to be conscious of them and to see is this protecting me, or is it is it is it an obstacle at this point to grow and learn and to go to the next step. Basically,
it’s interesting to see how you’ve overcome them because you obviously have, it must be challenging to be within an institution to write the book just to get the book published to write it on its own, but also to have the confidence or to develop that confidence to raise your voice from within an institution, your personal voice not the institutional one I worked for years in in corporate communication where I was, you know, basically the voice of the institution but it was never my voice, it’s really interesting to see how you’ve been able to do that, and I congratulate you on that I think it’s a great achievement, just that on its own without considering the contents.
That’s really nice. And to be honest I did a lot in my free time and I didn’t involve my cooperation in many of these things he was already like in the end, right, because I’ve been working on this for many years. And then I kind of got them involved. I think what really definitely helped in this regard is finding people and this is something that a lot of people intrapreneurship, League of Intrapreneurs talks about this is what is finding finding your allies, finding a professor that was deep into sustainability I’m grateful to him because he gave me excellent feedback, and then finding these people I have call we’re going to Polly during the pandemia I mean the man who inspired me that that conference, I gathered up the nerve to kind of send him an email and say you know I’m working on this. Can I give you a call and he allowed me to do that and that was for me like so inspiring that, that having like minded people or people to talk to about your ideas and having that soundboard that’s really powerful. I don’t think I would have been able to do it without them. Would have been definitely much much harder
getting connected back to limiting beliefs, how did you get over them because I’m sure you had some where you mentioned some there. Did you just kind of screw them up and throw them away or
some of them are still there in a row, we’ll go. Everyone I’m doing interviews in positive so like Carol. Who are you to say oh these things so they’re still there, but I think, I think I had this moment I also got COVID, really bad in last year. And, but also before that I think the one thing that kind of liberates me from the renting believes and it’s gonna sound really stupid but it’s I’d rather fail now, right. I didn’t know 10 years ago 20 years later look back and say, Oh, that was just a young me trying out stuff, then waiting to do what I really want to do and then, you know, being older and saying, I still have to do all these silly things, and it’s this weird mind thing where I’m like, Just do it now, so later you don’t regret it or make it part of your life that you’ll get up and you’ll stand up and it’s the typical cliche of there’s no there’s no failure, there’s only learning and lessons, I think for me, I’ve just formulated in a different way to,
just do it just whatever with
anything creative I totally agree with you for me as well, it’s it’s about starting it, like, when I started this podcast, I knew it was not going to be perfect, I’m learning how to interview people I’m learning how the technology works. But if you don’t start exactly do it. You’re not gonna learn I think you say this and one of the, one of the limiting beliefs, you’re like, just do it, it doesn’t matter. Exactly, doesn’t matter if it, if it doesn’t quite work out how you want. I think there’s one you talk quite a lot about perfectionism and that’s, that’s where it is, isn’t it.
Yeah, definitely. We’re in especially with social media right and then and so increasingly everything has to be perfect and good and there’s so many other people that do it in such a perfect way. Just, just do it for the heck of doing it and you’ll find you’ll find out I find allies, and I do think that will be important, more than, trying out stuff, because I’ve tried out stuff and I was really down afterwards if it didn’t come out right or, or if it wasn’t, if it didn’t receive the feedback that I expected you know that’s tough. But if you have a partner or friends or people like minded people. So remember I had a call with someone who used to work at Facebook, and a few in, in, in, in Silicon Valley and she just quit her job and she kind of reinvented her career and it was completely aligned with my book in a way because she’s now doing something that’s way more healthy for her, it’s more like a human sustainability approach, and, and it gave me so much strength to see someone. How they you know, in an insane company like Facebook, you know that it’s considered prestigious or like a big tech company and well, right, making that step. So somehow that also gave me strength to kind of finding your allies or people that support your, your, your work definitely definitely helps,
And what you’ve just said makes me think about two things one thing is that at the end of your book, you’ve got the thank you page, and there are loads of people mentioned on there from all different walks of life, and it just, it was just nice to see it’s such a obviously a creative project that you’ve put so much passion and I guess love into and using all of these different networks that you have, which is exactly what you’re telling people to do in the book, but you could just see that from the thank you page. Now you think I’m a bit of a stalker for reading
a page that nobody reads know definitely I mean these are all kind of mentors to label so no I think the importance of mentors and reaching out and being vulnerable about what you’re working on and what you’re doing is so valuable and it connects us to other people so this is this is broken when impossible also without an author support group for example, which which I participated in with, it was an author from the US were self published but also published by Penguin Random House and gave us so many tips on how to publish a book and how to approach literary agents and stuff like that. So, again, the power of the network, the power of your peers of allies, it’s, it’s called a really it’s
the other thing that came up from what you were just saying was that you mentioned, health, and I think you called it self sustainability or something like that. That’s also a key issue in the book tell us more about that. Yes, So
I noticed, I did this course online with a bit of a geek. I did this course online from Harvard, it’s called Harvard X and it’s called improving your business with a culture of health and how it actually improves your business results. And so they talk about environmental health they talk about institutional health, but also talk about personal health, and I started thinking, you know, if we if we focused more on our health, way more on our health when we make choices, because if it applies to business, maybe it also applies to ourselves as an ecosystem, right, so I thought it was an interesting and I started exploring it and it’s something that we almost every take, I mean I do a lot of career coaching and it’s always usually about, you know salary, OSHA in a different location different function interest passion, okay, but it’s how, how is this, how’s my work affecting my health and what would be a healthy situation for me. And I think that’s kind of the ideal job as well you know where you feel like your mental health and your physical health and is kind of being optimised, so I thought that was something I really want to emphasise, and also, I call it the human sustainability field I know that if we take care of our health. We’re thinking of ourselves on the long term, not just short term and so it benefits everyone. Basically, I mean it’s a very theoretical way, but I like to think of it as if I’m thinking about my next career move, or if I’m thinking of changing internally, what’s really important for me to be productive. Right, so I the things that are missing right now in my job that I really need and I know myself, you’ve done your work i i prefer a good example of this is remote work right for one person working from home, his work life balance for another person working in the office, his work life balance. So it’s really dependent from one person to another, but then there’s many aspects that get worked in favour with your health and then if you feel healthy and on all levels. I think you’re more productive and you’re happier. It has a direct effect on your relationships and your life and your work in general. So that’s why we want to emphasise that
as well. Yeah, it comes across really clearly and in a way that you’re not as a good coach, you’re not telling people what they should be doing. You’re just saying hey, think about it, you know, this is something important, this needs to be on your list of things to think about when you’re thinking about your ideal job
definitely. And it’s also when we’re healthier we do, we do better things for for the world, in a weird way as well. There’s lots of other neuroscience based on that but yeah I think, I think it’s also a holistic way of approaching our careers in our lives, and not just thinking of careers that kind of box in our lives but really looking, taking a step back, looking at what we want for I mean it’s tough right to take this is because we’re in the rat race and there’s family and friends, work and you know all these, these things going on and taking a step back and reflecting on what do I really want. Who am I, what am I good at what makes me happy, fulfilled and healthy, what would, what does a healthy life look like these are annoying questions. But I think they’re, they’re really interesting and it enriches your life when you start finding answers to them, even if they don’t come immediately like the perfect answers at least I’m starting to explore them. I think it’s a, it’s interesting. I guess.
Yeah, totally. It’s a much more creative way of designing your life than just sort of letting people decide for you or taking something that’s ready made off the shelf that feeling like feeling like you can make a difference that you can change that and that can be in line with what you need, as well as what the world needs and what the company needs. So the nice powerful message I think from the book, though this book. It’s available in Spanish, it’s called “Mi Trabajo Ideal y cómo encontrarlo”, available in all good book retailers, I think, and when is it going to be available in English, is it available in English,
the book has been written in English, it was translated to Spanish, but so it’s ready. It’s ready in English it’s only a matter of time until I open another editor my current editor, something I’m currently working on will publish the book in English and you will be, you’ll be able to buy it in English. If you want to stay updated, you can subscribe on my, on my website, calm, and you can you can subscribe there with your email and so you’ll stay up to date to when it comes out in English.
Perfect. I will include that in the show notes as well so you can also just find out that written down in case you have some problems spelling, a surname, and I would encourage you to read it for me, what I really enjoyed about it was that you get this idea going back to the beginning when we described you as a career activist, and you say this at the end as well you’re saying, you know, this is not a book written by a typical coach who saying, just do this and everything’s okay, you admit that there’s, there’s an agenda there as well. and it’s really nice to read something with an agenda with extremely well written if you don’t mind me saying, well written well researched, also, with lots of literary quotes and a love of writing that is also practical and will help you to move forward and decide what you want to do with your career. So, for what it’s worth I really enjoyed it.
Thank you so much. Thank you for inviting me on this podcast. Thank you so much for doing this podcast, and for taking the step to do these kind of things as well I think it’s marvellous, and thank you for your feedback I really really appreciate it.
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