This is an interview with Michael Alan Tate, the author of “The White Shirt Book” and “Design a Life That Works”  about the choices and actions you can take to find work that has meaning for you. The advice we discuss can be used for changing careers or changing jobs.

Finding Meaningful Work |

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so my guest is Michael Allen Tate is the
founder on the same page Consulting Mike
works with successful executives
entrepreneurs and technical
professionals looking for a simple
action focused plan to effectively
manage career transition he's the author
of get this one design a life that works
and his newest which I thought was
delightful the white shirt which is
finally your peaceful and life-giving
career at any stage Mike welcome I
appreciate you making time today oh
thank you Jeff I've admired your webs
your podcast for a while good stuff
thank you Thank You Brent isn't there
there's plenty of it without question
how did the idea of the white shirt come
to you it's an interesting premise and
how did you come up with that idea oh
well I wrote my first book does not a
life that works about eight or nine
years ago and there was one chapter but
called the peaceful finding a peaceful
career that was the most popular chapter
so I took that idea and then I believe
that story is the key to learning and
remembering anything so I've had this
story about these four boys and Persia
who kind of found their way and put that
together just hopefully make the story
and the principle is more memorable and
enjoyable than just reading text about
finding work yeah and work for me I'll
just say that thanks so the book is
really about finding the right color
finding purposeful and meaningful work
that could be you know whether it's your
first job or your 41st job
yeah and finding meaning in your work
and in your life and as I said before
it's a lovely story but we're not we're
not going to tell the story here because
we want you to buy the book and in the
books only an hour and 10 minutes oh you
even like it it won't last that long
you know Alicia gets
it's not torture folks it's a it's a
it's a pleasant hour yeah it was fun
riding it yeah when someone is thinking
about let's use this as a career
transition or finding this work that has
meaning where do they start
we're not gonna do the story format from
the book but nor do they really spark in
terms of finding meaningful work for
them yeah well if someone came to me and
said I won't I'm just sick of my work
and I don't know what to do and what I
would tell them to write down every day
at the end of the day the tasks the
activities they did it work they enjoyed
the most maybe a couple of them the
things that drove them crazy and after
about a week of doing that what they
really really want it's pretty clear
because they first know what they don't
want which is all the stuff on the
right-hand side of the page so that's
and then in the book the process and
think I found very helpful it's doing a
career family career tree because we do
have in us a DNA I believe of you know
remembering to get over our parents and
and they in fact our career more than
anything so that first piece even had I
worked with a guy now we're actually
wrote the white shirt book because
executives kept sending their kids to me
and I took these drawings I have in the
book and these illustrations where I
could tell a kid in about 30 minutes how
to find their career and work and I put
it into the book and so but the first
step is actually to look at your your
family and so the kids don't did that
and they realize they had different
occupations of the background and just
help them you know get clarity on what
make a choice where they wanted to go
that way or go the other way but then I
had a guy that was 63 years old he
retired he was in a community
organization as a director and he can
decide what to do so we did his career
tree and he had bankers all in his
background so he went to some his
relatives in banking and said I want to
change I've got these community service
things so then now he's a community
relationship director for a bank so
going back to seeing what branya you
know what was it that bring you
really helps you get clarity about the
future that's the first step I would say
to this so I'm gonna use myself as the
model on this way so I'm in my late
sixties at this point if I look at my
family tree I thought you were 50 you
know they only do that when you've got
no you know so in my family my dad
originally was a bookkeeper and
eventually he bought the business that
he worked for because it was it would
have gone out and he was at a point in
his life where he understood in his late
fifties that don't look for a job was
going to be impossible he wound up
co-owning a small business and
eventually sold it was able to retire
from the south my mom was a homemaker
and as she ran the business of the house
tough as nails very firm and determined
that's the nuclear family my brother
went into financial services my my
father's family is pretty well killed
during - killed her in World War two
there was one journalist that's survived
right and the rest of the families
really of my mother's saw so there was a
scholar a a government employee a
filmmaker who was a seamstress as I
think about it in more detail folks this
is not this hasn't been pretty store
through and there was another sister I'm
drawing a blank on that one and what her
history was but that's my family tree
yeah and because I would review it I
knew I didn't want to do what my dad was
doing you know they tried to get me
involved in that family business that
really wasn't for me so I the way I've
always approached it is what don't I
wanted to write
I would because that list is pretty easy
to formulate sure yeah yeah in most
people don't yeah most people don't know
what they want so short you got your
dad's entrepreneurship though absolutely
absolutely and and his determination as
well yeah
my mother had that quality too but my
father has that kind of determination
has shown up in my life to persevere and
just grind it out right
yeah those you know those values that
they share with us we never lose or sure
so uh you know the uh you know I am I
first discovered the power of kind of
writing down what you want because I
have this belief if you look at my
little white my little videos on my
website that most people don't know what
they want but they're pretty sure they
don't have it and so uh and even they
knew the website address you missed the
website address now while it well it's
still fresh agree no we're gonna do it
later on but yeah Oh white shirt blue
calm is the the the book and that's the
place to go to see little video post
there so thank you here Thanks right
yeah we'll be doing that again later
okay yeah the so anyway when I was
working with a big consulting firm I got
a really bored at what I was doing I was
traveling around on the road all the
time I was managing 20 consultants when
I realized what I loved it to do is this
this help we're helping people
one-on-one so I actually wrote to wrote
a plan for myself on one sheet of paper
about what I wanted in my career I never
shared it with anybody at the company
because I really I didn't have a good
mentor there so I shared it with a
friend of mine outside and we talked
about it he helped me kind of refine it
and within three months the company
literally created that position I'd
written on that piece of paper I see so
it wasn't about leaving it's about
getting clarity you know clarity once
you get clarity then things start to
happen that are almost unexplainable so
I'm gonna do one slight detour and say
enter in an institution is designed to
be a trusted ally but they work for the
firm yeah and ultimately most mentors
are their being has to be free coaches
and they don't necessarily have your
interests at heart
because ultimately they've got this
other thing hanging over them which is
the institutional responsibility and
there were exceptions yes and I had an
exception when I was in college I was
working at UPS I loaded trucks in the
morning from 3:00 in the morning till
10:00 and I went to school the rest of
the day and I'm I was gonna I was going
to work for UPS in the industrial
engineering department about to go into
it my guy who who was my supervisor came
to me and said Mike do you really want
to push back to just for the rest of
your life and I was looked at him I said
what do you mean conde his name was
Connie Parsons and Connie said well you
know I'm going to law school and I think
you got a lot more to offer than working
here and he was the one that encouraged
that was the one mentor you know you get
a few of those in your life
they kind of changed her life just
asking one question and what did he ever
do it so so so far we've we've got this
notion of looking at the family tree of
your life professionally and in the
one-week review of tasks and functions
that should perform and the right-hand
column it's the ones you really just
like and the left-hand column it's the
ones that you like and the probability
is that dislike is going to be larger
than the like probably so and yeah so
and so that helps you focus so really if
you can do that don't do list and put it
the opposite of it it'll give you the
same outcome that's sometimes the
easiest way I call that the power of
negative thinking I think maybe the
positive so I next you would just look
at some of your accomplishments the
second step would be you know investing
a lot of books we look at
accomplishments and say I call it you
know there's three questions in the book
the first one is Who am I the second one
is where's my place in the world the
third one is how do I get
it are out I find it most people start
with how do I find it first instead of
saying so Who am I Who am I what watch
my DNA for my parents what are the
skills I just innately love to do what
are my core values that I need in the
place that I work and that kind of tells
you who you are and then where's my
place in the world comes from your
interest what are you an eight lead love
to be around some people love airplanes
some people love science some people up
but that interest tells you industry so
a a job is like wearing a hat and
standing in a field you stand in an
industry field and you wear a hat called
a job title and so you got it that's so
that's who I am where's my plate and you
can find that then the next step is once
you put that together you ride all that
on one sheet of paper and you go in and
you share that with people yet you know
and never ask for a job opening just ask
for advice on my career plan now I
guarantee if you call someone you're out
of work you're doing or I'm saying I'm
getting kind of tired of my work could I
talk with you and they sort of send me a
resume and they say well you I'm still
working on that I do have a plan I'd
like to get your advice on and people
almost drop the phone like what a plan
it's like would you start a business
with a brochure or a plan you know
so what's the deal so so you take that
plan and it has a list of organizations
you'd like to work in little synopsis of
you just real simple it's on the website
you can see samples of house coolers
always to retirement Oh simple people
put these plans together and use them
but the key to all this is to remember
ask for advice and you ask for a job
you'll get advice as for advice you
might get a job so but as for it in the
right way not as Network so many people
see networking is trying to find people
who are hiring and going to see you'll
know I'm telling you sometimes it is the
executive assistant who's going to be
the best guide for you in that
organization to get you to talk to the
one person who can help you you know get
an interview so and I always encourage
people to talk to every
because you never know where it comes
from and folks if you've watched some of
my other videos you may have heard me
tell the story about the guy who was
looking for a job and his cleaning
person overheard him and asked for a
copy of the resume and this goes on for
multiple weeks until his wife eventually
says you know the resume already and he
later discovered that her husband was
the president of the local bank and she
having cleaning as an act of faith and
humility and thus you know didn't never
know and if you think you can
cherry-pick everyone you're mistaken
because you don't know the wife husband
a partner of the bookstore owner or the
other merchants that you're talking with
right if in the course of conversation
you mention your interest in something
not asking for a job just be clear
because I agree with you about this one
like without question if you ask for a
job you always get advice no one offers
no one gives you the job no the same
thing I had a guy who was in
manufacturing a process engineering
manufacturing lost his job was yeah III
him just write down a list of
organizations and put it in his pocket
or an index card that's all he carried
with him he sat down to get some tires
lady was sitting next to him what do you
do he said well I'm kind of in between
I'm with I'm a process expert and she
said he said I'm looking for some work
and she said what and he pulled out his
list and said well here's some
organizations I'm interested in do you
know anything about them and she said
well know that when my husband is the
president of guess what it was
a hospital he went from manufacturing to
do in processes inside of a hospital and
because a conversation at our store any
but but he didn't say but he had that I
had people all carry an index card with
your list of companies on it and just
talk about that and anyway that because
you know what you probably feel like
hate about HR kind of the way I do that
I am very respectful to HR professionals
however I always tell people of Houston
resume never ever submitted through an
applicant tracking system or to HR
always find someone who's involved with
fire yeah okay and I find people have a
hard time understanding this concept
that you and I are talking about Jeff
because they have a model in their head
that there's a job-hunting system out
there that if you put your resume in
it'll go through this and this and it'll
get to the right person with just the
biggest lie that ever was what there is
every company has a table like I'm
sitting here and every weeks the
managers get to use that table and they
say we have a problem
here we need to solve where we have an
opportunity we see coming you know
anybody could do that we don't want to
go it'll take us forever to get through
HR and they they don't really understand
it anyway and they'll and the recruiters
every time they're trying to sell
someone they last about a year you know
recruiters you can get a job but
typically doesn't last very long and so
that's the concept if you can realize
that the decisions are made at that
table not through a system and you walk
out and you share with your friends this
it's like you have one friend who tells
another friend yo you should talk to my
friend and all of a sudden you're
somebody at that table says you know
this guy came and talked to me this week
and he he didn't have a resume he just
asked me for advice on his plan and he
had a plan you think you ought to talk
to him and so that's how job that's the
wrong strategy when when I had lost my
job years ago and I went to a career
counselor Jeff and he said he did a test
told me I should be an HR professional
and because of my background my training
of course I was trying to change careers
and when he sent out 500 a resume that's
in the paper times you know I got one
response one I get interviewed I don't
get the job I'm thinking what's wrong
with me
there's nothing wrong with me I chose
the worst right the one strategy the
world that will keep you depressed
it's then sending out resumes and once I
figure that out actually Jeff that's
called out that's a crisis in my life
that turned into the my calling I said
to myself I'm never gonna let that
happen to anybody else begin and so
that's why I got in this world I do
that was my pivotal point there and
folks when you think about it
in the example that Mike just gave you
know the firm that he employed to help
him we're a bunch of spammers and in the
time that you were probably doing this
there were services that would talk
about email blasting your resume we've
got this selective list of 40,000 people
that we can pass your resume check the
current equivalent is we've got an email
list sources the paper list and they
have firms sign up and the data
dictionaries for these things are awful
you know its geography its industry
maybe it's a function but nothing really
specific two or three categories that's
it and then they start sending our
resume after resume I remember this from
when I was in surfing there's you know
it didn't take me long to discontinue
the receipt of these words mrs. clause
always - fine any you were paying for
that folks bus it's so much better to
start targeting organizations like Mike
is talking about here and thinking in
terms of my version of what you're
speaking about is who do you want to be
when you grow up why why do you want to
do this and you know what's the
challenge you think you might face you
can spar taking that head on as well
and start looking and taking steps on
ideally a daily basis toward moving the
needle forward in that direction and the
book has some lovely will Turner's that
was about to get back into you've got
them carrying around the lit a plan on
the land of what they want to be doing
and their resumes at home yeah the
resumes are relevant folks at this page
stage if you're doing a career
what's the resume going to tell them
anyone seriously no HR I use it to
spring you out though right
exactly right there's no experience
through in this what she done along
these lines nothing but people
organizations hi - human beings they
don't hire pieces of paper and the ideas
to be magnificent and one of individuals
who can influence decisions or provide
introductions so they know like trust
and respect you right so we've got them
walking around doing conversations
informational interviews where they're
not asking for a job where you're
looking for advice right what happens
next when they start dating
well the what happens in this process is
you'll make more friends and you've ever
made in your life because nobody
everybody loves to give advice everybody
and you start asking about how they got
in their career and how does that led to
this and you'll just so after you do
that then you go to see someone the key
to that is if I were drawing here I
would say you know when if this is a
hundred and this to zero and you're
talking to them you're their memories at
a hundred percent and they're gonna say
I'm gonna think about you and remember
you and you are there 30 minutes later
it's down here so what you have all
those lies people tell us well no they
just get busy they're all intending to
do that but the bit the best thing you
can do is like advertising every week
send them an email call give them a call
don't ask just let them know you're
still alive because if after two weeks
haven't heard for you they assume you
have a job so just like every every week
just send them an email attacks a
voicemail just to say I just wanted to
know what I'm doing out here kind of
keep people in the loop and the other
thing is when you meet with folks and
they're so yeah let me call oh oh
Jerry over here and let him know about
you and you'll and it's a just when they
say that they think you can see in their
eyes they went oh my gosh what did I
just do it I know have time to do that
so you say to them well Jim I know
you're awfully busy if you know if it
would help you I'll just call Jerry and
mention your name and would that be okay
with you that way it kind of takes
if you want to contact him fine but let
me just help you out and do that in
people you can almost hear the oh right
because they know they're gonna do that
30 minute thing later and forget about
you so exactly right now I'm gonna be
playful with you here if I may I go and
I recognize that accent of yours is not
from New York or California and so what
an insightful guy yeah I'm very
perceptive like yeah yeah and with that
I'm wondering how some individuals will
think you know who are you know the
urban non-urban because this is the way
it's going to be perceived Yankee which
is the waiting people in the South refer
to you northern urban folks versus
southern so if you think this is purely
a southern thing or a rural thing and by
the way it might doesn't live in a rural
area but we're just gonna play the
stereotypes that some of you have we
hear right accent pay attention because
I will tell you how I filled a lot of
jobs when I did recruiting doing exactly
this thing and now as a coach this is
exactly the strategy I work with people
to do is network with people that ask
for advice input who do you know who
might you know it's all the same kind of
stuff if you think this is purely
something that you know doesn't work in
your area I'm looking at the camera now
you are wrong yeah yeah it works
everywhere yeah you know it's uh well
it's it's always worth that weight if
you ask anyone the last ten people in
seven of them will tell you how they
found their job and they say through a
friend or somebody I talk to and still
the resumes are out there because people
I have a hard time it's difficult
especially if you lose your job and you
and I believe I worked an outplacement
years ago I don't work net anymore but
man you know when you lose your job it
is emotional especially for men
there's identities loss you're a kind of
a shame to walk out and talk to people
and so you always tell people take a pee
we kind of and write down one things
that helps people who lose their job in
my opinion more than anything is is to
write down how they feel about this job
loss every day for about a week it kind
of helped you get that out because and
you got to find a friend to talk to
about it because if not when you get in
an interview guess what's going to come
out your anger towards those people
before so find somebody you can unload
on prey whatever you need to you know to
get that those feelings which are
natural out of your system yeah
and folks you know I'm an MSW I did
psychoanalytic training Mike is
absolutely right you've got to discharge
this before you walk into the first
interview even your first networking
meeting so that it's it's diminished in
your system I can't say it's out but you
want to diminish its power so it doesn't
leak out and people say boys guys really
sharing a lot he's got a chip on his
shoulder now these are all the
stereotypes that show up when you know
people walk in and interviews in this
kind of stuff leaks out it's very
painful so by all means and I know in
the book you talk about pairing up in
effect creating accountability partners
as you start working toward moving the
needle forward grinding out everything
in your in your meetings here networking
and such would you speak more to that
please yeah you know this the white
shirts the only career book ever
designed literally to be done with a
friend because it you know two are
better than one because if one fall down
to be knows that picked them up and that
old proverb that we've heard but it is
true and if you look at all the you look
at Steve Jobs who's by everybody has
another person there that's and when
you're going through this kind of thing
you get discouraged pretty easily so uh
that's what we try to pair people up
find a friend to do the book with it'll
work you know a lot of people want me to
do it but you know I'm pretty expensive
so but you know get up
yeah I find a friend to work with you
you have someone who can the goods and
the bads and kind of keeps you and all
of us know that I mean just we're
working together with the friends always
better and for those of you who feel
like it's embarrassing
I want to be clear about the kind of
frame because I have an opinion about
this there are a lot of people who will
attempt especially if you're trying to
career transition there are a lot of
people who are going to try and
discourage you at the sign of the first
hiccup that oh I told you he couldn't do
that and yeah rome wasn't built in a day
neither was New York or LA it takes the
time to do a transition and if you think
this is a one-week process with a
miracle by Friday afternoon at five
o'clock no yes is a process that's going
to take some time where you'll have to
do some things over prolonged period of
time to keep moving the football down
the field I'm doing this before the
Super Bowl or throwing the football
analogy you keep or anything you had
three yards and a cloud of dust and next
place four yards and then four and a
half and you've got a first thing start
all over again and you keep moving and
moving and moving and grinding it out
until you cross the goal line I know in
sales training there used to be this
story about the person how many sales
people give up three yards from the goal
line you know it's just gotten to be too
tough unless they quit and they have no
idea that they're so close to getting
the order and for those of you
particularly in transition you just have
to keep working and working yeah yep the
process works but it works a lot better
with somebody beside you that you can
trust yeah he'll be there so and even
though in my book in the white shirt we
put together a workbook that you can get
a group of people together with and and
kind of work through that as well so
it's available on the website as I
recall yeah it's actually yeah right now
is complementary with the book now for
while especially to your guests we've
you guys coming up use I told my well
does not leave it up there because I'm
talking to Jeff I don't offer it to his
you know his out debts thank you and I'm
going to come back to that in just one
second and asked is there anything I
haven't asked you about as of yet that
we really should cover in the course of
this conversation that through my lack
of skill I haven't addressed as of yet
you know I'm trying to think we've
covered a lot of things but I mean I
can't emphasize more than anything the
importance of looking inside before you
start looking outside taking that time
to really look at you know what you have
to offer because I you know there's no
saying if you want something with all
your heart you'll search for it with all
your heart and to do that the other
thing is my book is designed to help you
put together a plan in seven days that's
not the end of it but you actually will
have a plan and my my encouragement
would be have a plan before you go out
there because you'll stand out in the
crowd and it'll open up doors and
actually you'll have a lot of fun doing
a job search if you do it this way and
everybody needs a little joy when
they're going through this kind of
misery and right you know this crisis
that they're in stuff writing job
nothing doesn't have to be hard
difficult painful or take a long time
it's a different skill set to find a job
than to do a job and the statistics are
very clear 70 percent of positions are
filled as a result of networking and of
that 70% 70% of them are forty nine
percent or people that your network
knows who you don't write you know say
you've always got to be out there
talking to folks that's right Mike this
has been delightful how can people find
out more about you in your work well I
two websites with my first one is
Michael Allen Tate dot-com a LAN and I
know you'll have it up there and then
the white shirt white shirt it's all the resources there
there's whiteboard videos it takes you
step-by-step how to put together your
they're sample plans there's all kind of
resources you can se over either book in
three minutes by seeing the video when
you first come on and take a little one
minute quiz to find out what kind of
career you might be good for you so I'd
encourage you to do that the quiz is
really sweet it takes less than five
minutes oh yeah Mike thank you and
thanks I'll be back soon with more I'm
Jeff Hoffman the big game hunter and if
you're interested in my coaching you
reach out to me the easiest way is
through LinkedIn is LinkedIn calm /yn
/the big game hunter make sure that you
saw the video because I just like
knowing I'm helping some folks and worth
it where they found out about me once
we're connected send the message to the
challenge for student coaching we'll set
up a time for a free discovery cool last
thing I'll just mention for today is my
website the big game hunter on us has
thousands of blog entries that you can
watch listen to read it's going to help
you find work hope you have a great day
and I hope to help you soon take care


Jeff Altman, The Big Game HunterJeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2200 episodes.

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