The Dan Smolen Experience Newsletter
Winter 2019-20 Edition
Editor's Note: What Hasn't Killed Me Has Made Me Stronger

Greetings from 30,000 feet above Central Pennsylvania. And welcome to the Winter 2019 edition of The Dan Smolen Experience Newsletter.
As I write this Editor's Note (on December 7, 2019), I’m aboard a flight from Ithaca, New York headed back to Washington, D.C. Earlier today, at my Alma Mater, Ithaca College, I discussed my meaningful work journey with about 100 attendees of the IC Student Leadership Conference. I’m so impressed by IC’s thoughtfully envisioned leadership program, and just blown away by my audience members’ passion for doing well, but also doing good in the world as new members of the American workforce. Our future is in very good hands, indeed.

As I write this note, I have also completed production of the Fall 2019 Tightrope Podcast season. Streamed thus far, we have interviewed:

Concluding the season, on Friday December 27, 2019, we offer up a truly inspiring episode of The Tightrope, with attorney turned “ending student lunch debt” nonprofit organization founder Adelle Settle. You don’t want to miss it!

The effort that we invest into producing these highly curated episodes is resource-intensive and often physically and emotionally punishing. Such is the price we pay to bring you a great and unique podcasting experience. With Fall 2019 season production complete, we have begun producing new episodes to stream in early March 2020. And, we’re aiming high!
Looking back, we recognized that our Fall 2018 season was equally ambitious and at the end left us with “nothing in the tank.” To produce new episodes for 2019, we went "radio-silent" between late December 2018 and the beginning of our current season in early October 2019. And when that happened, we lost touch with you, our audience. 
We won't make that mistake, again.
After our Fall 2019 season concludes, we will introduce Tightrope Between the Seasons. The format will be, well, a tad less formal and structured than you have experienced in past episodes. And where our seasonal content is typically “evergreen” or timeless, our Tightrope Between the Seasons episodes—beginning on Friday, January 3, 2020—will offer real-time perspectives and insight designed to help you get more out of The Dan Smolen Experience and your personal journey to meaningful work. We encourage you to join us, then. It’s going to be a lot of fun!
My work to help you do the meaningful work of your dreams is my passion. Like all passions, they tend to propel us past our physical and emotional tolerances. But, what hasn’t killed me has made me stronger. Together, let’s turn work meaningful, for meaningful work is the future of work. And let’s make sure to connect up on the Tightrope podcast, every week. 
Now, let’s get started!
Dan Smolen
Founder and Executive Producer

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What Makes My Work Meaningful? The Luxury of Having Less

Three years ago, when we sold our home I lost my luxurious home office. I remember, when we built it in 1999, how we created a sanctuary for me to work, work, work. My home office was impressively designed and decorated, and, included what a lot of home-based offices back then had: a monstrous whiteboard. For any given point in the calendar year, that whiteboard told the production and revenue story for my recruiting business. And I updated it so often that one of my biggest out-of-pocket expenses was dry markers.

I know that when we got our home ready for sale, the first thing to drop from my office walls was that whiteboard. And, I couldn’t give it away.

Ever since, we have lived in an “experiential” rental community and I could not be happier. I don’t miss the house or the ample square footage. Instead, I’ve found that the one thing that now makes my work meaningful is the luxury of having less.

Read the Full Story
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Let’s Do Away with the 5-Day Work Week

The 5-day work week has been a thing since the early 1900s when manufacturing facilities in New England adopted it, to allow Jewish laborers the opportunity to observe Shabbat (their Saturday sabbath) unimpeded. Eventually, it became the accepted American labor standard.

As a former executive recruiter, I can count many instances in which my clients (hiring managers) required that their new hires be face-to-face present at the workplace, 5 days a week. However, technological disruption has made it so that people who work can be easily engaged and productive working just 4 days a week wherever they happen to be. One of those innovations, Zoom, allows people who work the flexibility to video-conference anywhere at any time. I’ve participated on several Zoom sessions and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, most especially for how little time out of my workday it took for me to use it, and then move onto doing something else.

I believe that there is intersectionality between the continued adherence to the 5-day work week and more workers calling the work that they do meaningless. According to the Gallup Organization, an astounding 66 percent of the American workforce feels some level of disengagement on the job. And that’s not right.

Read the Full Story
Close Your Eyes and Discover Beautiful Dreams

Frequent listeners of the Tightrope Podcast have discovered that most of our episodes begin with us asking guests about their childhood dreams. Some of the childhood dreams that they describe are funny, others profound. In one case, our guest’s lack of a childhood [work] dream shocked us.
The “what do you want to be when you grow up?” dreams of children are indeed origin stories that can for adults inform a lifetime of work. When we follow our beautiful dreams, we tend to find an easier path to meaningful work. When we deviate from those dreams, often because of stressful outside factors and people opposing us, we may struggle in the workplace, sometimes settling for work turned meaningless. 
An internet search of “work dreams” led us to online discussions about anxiety, depression, and even workplace toxicity. But as adults, we must go to our happy place, to discover beautiful dreams of doing meaningful work.
Read the Full Story
Stuck? Consider a Mid-Career Internship

So, let us disabuse ourselves of the belief that work internships are just for college students. It is true, college internships are perhaps the-most instructive experiences for guiding an establishing a burgeoning career. I learned many of the skills that I use today as a podcaster during my third-year-of-college TV talk-show production internship
But with so much specialization, and skill requirement, thrust upon working people, a mid-career internship may help many to un-stick a stuck and turned-meaningless career.
Read the Full Story
Think at Least 3 Steps Ahead When Considering a Job or Career Change to Meaningful Work 

Oftentimes, people make work changes reactively. It’s feels to them like going to the supermarket on an empty stomach, bound to make decisions with their stomachs and not their heads. 
It’s never a smart move.
When, making changes to a career—or pivoting to an entirely new and meaningful one—it is best to playbook your decisioning at least 3 steps ahead.
Read the Full Story
Develop Your Personal Brand for Doing Meaningful Work 

One of our amazing guests on The Tightrope Podcast is Connecticut-based workforce consultant, Natalie Pryce. She will appear in a new podcast episode that will stream in early March 2020.
Natalie is a dynamo who helps displaced workers reengage with meaningful work at an astounding 90 percent success rate. How does she do it? Well, one way is in getting her talent to embrace their personal brand.
Read the Full Story
Staying Engaged with The Tightrope Podcast
Subscribing and listening to The Tightrope is easy. Find us on Apple Podcast, Google PodcastsPandora, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you listen. By subscribing to us on any of these services, you will be notified immediately when new episodes are available.
You can listen to us on the way to or from work, at home, or on the run. 
Further, you can also find us on the podcast episode page of our website. There, you’ll find show notes—and audio players—for each episode. It is a fun and easy way to engage with us, especially on your mobile device!
Again, we’re not going silent. So, please make sure to listen to our new Tightrope Between the Seasons episodes running in January and February 2020. It’s going to be a lot of fun!
And do remember to engage with The Dan Smolen Experience via our social media channels:
That’s it for now. And do remember this: our best days lie ahead.
Happy Holidays, everyone!
Dan Smolen
Founder of The Dan Smolen Experience, LLC

Photo credits: Man with Tablet, iStockPhoto; Portrait, The Dan Smolen Experience, LLC; Woman Dreaming, iStock Photo; Clean Energy Intern, The GREEN PROGRAM; Calendar, iStock Photo; Natalie Pryce Portrait, Olivier Kpognon; Podcast Mixer Dashboard, Dan Smolen.

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