Welcome to the latest installment of “I’m a Business, Woman,” a series of conversations with cool, entrepreneurial women I love, doing cool shit. Today’s conversation is with Bryn Johnson, owner and chief career mobility and management officer of the eponymous Bryn Johnson Group. Her executive career coaching business activates both sides of the career matchmaking process, helping individuals put the best version of themselves out into the marketplace to identify the next right career move. At the same time, she also offers recruiting services, engaging with many uniquely-inspired brands to hone in on the very specific challenges of their talent acquisition strategy.
You work with a lot of professionals at a time of transition in their careers. How does your own journey from a corporate role to entrepreneurship inform your work?
It’s funny; I am a firm believer in the possibility that what you would be most happy and effective doing in your career is already present. I see it again and again with my career coaching clients and it certainly was definitely true for me. The message is always delivered to me by a “little voice” in my head… Like the time I decided to start my own business in 2009 amidst a very successful corporate career. For decades I had been the person in the corporation who built and managed high potential training programs, championed performance development goals, evangelized about making the recruiting process more personalized and culturally rich. I loved shepherding people through career decisions. Seeing the patterns in their life (sometimes beneficial, sometimes detrimental) and lovingly pointing them out. Ummm… do you think I might make a go of it consulting with corporations who want to recruit and retain more effectively or career coaching those same professionals? See. Already present.
What are one or two pieces of advice you give your clients regularly that you find yourself applying to your own business?
Don’t Quit Before the Miracle: The next conversation, email, phone call, LinkedIn message, or idea in the shower could be THE ONE that shifts everything. That gets you “unstuck.” That feels like a fantastic, yet scary dive off the Olympic diving platform. Have faith. Find a cheerleader. Look for inspiration in your life.
Operate from Where You Want to Be, Not Where You Are: Step into the “new you” rather than carrying around old stories, resentments, missteps and out-dated patterns that would best serve you by letting go of them entirely. This applies to anything: resumes, wardrobe, networking, business collaborators, and even the art and pictures on your wall at home.
I so admire how confident you are in who is the right match for your services and who is not. You’ve mentioned to me that you know pretty early on if someone is going to be a good fit for you… Or not. What are some red flags?
I finally listen to my instincts. To that “little voice.” There are so many people the “Brain of Bryn” can help, but when these red flags show up, I usually send the person away with some assignments and things to think about rather than agreeing to work with them.
- No support network already active in their life: we all need a team
- Unable to listen and incorporate feedback: if someone invests in expert advice, I need that professional to be able to incorporate it
- Unwilling to prioritize our work together: if someone is not accountable, the work and forward movement will not happen resulting in frustration
You operated your business—very successfully!—for years on word of mouth alone; you didn’t even have a basic website before we worked together! How did you know it was time to make the change? And has it changed your business in any way that’s surprised you?
My business and business development was always built on connection, my vast network, social media and community. Matter of fact, it still is. But a few years ago, I recognized that if the prospective client could “research” me a little bit before we spoke (my ideal client loves to research), the conversation is easier for me and far more empowering for them. As you know, Cody, that was the aim in creating a website: to get that ”who’s Bryn?” conversation out of the way before our initial conversation.
What really surprised me? Well, two things come to mind right away:
- How much you “got me” and infused my personality throughout the new visual brand. Professional, yet still “woman comfortably chatting with you in a coffee shop” feel.
- The short questionnaire you suggested we add to the “schedule a consultation” link has revolutionized the initial conversation even further. The prospect has an opportunity to think through their motivations for reaching out and I come to understand some of their pain points before we hop on the phone.
What kind of professional should be working with you but maybe doesn’t know it yet?
In its simplest form: Highly accomplished professionals often in complicated and/or bureaucratic organizations (I kind of love that world). They believe their resume and LinkedIn profile are not true reflection of who they want to be.
In addition, they may realize that their network has become stagnant or stale; they keep making a New Year’s resolution to take on their own career interests but by Spring, the idea has fizzled; they crave a career strategy for the 1, 5 or 10 years; or they are always prioritizing everything else before their own career. They need some career TLC.
If anyone reading this fits the bill, what are their options for working with you?
Complete Career Approach: Reengineered Resume and LinkedIn Profile, Cover Letter template created for you, plus 2 additional career strategy calls at the close of the 8-10 week process beyond all the calls needed to develop the resume, LinkedIn profile and cover letter.
Career Coaching: Monthly career coaching on a “retainer” model–allowing for phone calls (scheduled and emergency), emails, coaching assignments, texts and document review (resume, cover letter, notes for introduction, networking) on a “within reason unlimited” plan. Covers topics such as networking strategy, building career visibility, difficult employment situations, interview preparation, career exploration and job search strategies. Commitment is 3 months initially and then can be engaged on a month-to-month basis after that.
Does this sound like you? Schedule a consultation today!
It’s no secret that you love coffee. What do you love about coffee shops/coffee culture? What are your top three favorite NYC coffee shops? What’s your order? And, finally, what coffee shops do I need to check out immediately?
There is SO much I love about coffee shops and coffee shop culture that I could go on and on and on… Instead, I have made few Top 3 Lists in response to your questions.
Oh! But first, my order: americano or espresso over ice (straight up black with no sweetener)—unless I am starving and then an almond milk latte.
- I meet the most interesting people/characters. Potential clients, collaborators, tourists, other entrepreneurs, celebrities, novelists, screenwriters, and the list goes on…
- Nothing happening in the coffee shop requires my attention or distracts me (unless you are watching videos with no headphones—don’t do this!). As someone who works at home, my #coffeeshopoffice does not have any dishes to do, laundry piling up, comfy beds to nap in… I stay focused.
- There is a community “understanding” of freelancers, entrepreneurs, and students. Helping each other out. You need the plug? Need a restaurant recommendation? Need a referral for a great accountant? You need more room to spread out your things? Want a better chair? Is that book you are reading as fascinating as they say? You looking for better positioning so the sun isn’t in your eyes? I call it #coffeeshopkindness.
Top 3 NYC Coffee Shops Where I Work (Uptown Near Me) (this list changes every couple of months):
- Filtered North: The space is huge, great baristas and literally 1 block from my house. I could even wear my PJs and slippers, because it’s so close. Hmmm…
- Harlem Coffee: A new favorite right near my kickboxing class. Great owner who is making a name for himself on the coffee scene in NYC. Incredible art by Harlem artists.
- Manhattanville: Love the vibe and staff. Used to be my go-to-place until Filtered opened. They serve Intelligentsia, my favorite commercially distributed coffee brand.
Top 3 NYC Coffee Shops that Feel Like My Secret Happiness (this list also changes every couple of months):
- Highline Hotel: Only true Intelligentsia coffee spot currently in NYC. Tucked away in the back of this beautiful Chelsea boutique hotel. Lovely couches, hidden outdoor space and dogs (because it is a dog-friendly hotel). #PuppiesandCoffee
- Grounded: Crunchy granola spot in the West Village with the most delicious cardamom iced coffee in the summer. Great spot to meet friends.
- Toby’s Estate: Specifically the Flatiron location on 5th Avenue—serving as the front for a Strand bookstore hidden in the back. By far the best cold brew in the city. Plus, I can browse books in a beautiful, feminine environment with gorgeous flowers while I enjoy my coffee.
But you can be certain that you could name a neighborhood in most major US cities and I could tell you a cool coffee shop to check out… #coffeeshopaddict!
Anything else you’d like to include or share (I promise I didn’t pay Bryn to say this!):
Bringing you on to “Team Bryn” to offer a fresh perspective to my expanding brand was invaluable, Cody. Your visual brand development, suggestions for areas of engagement, belief in my big dreams, and your ideas for the word I dreaded (“automation”) were everything I needed to help me shine. It’s funny. You helped me shine, so I could help others shine. #ahamoment