Find your people and you’ll find your life.

It’s not about what, it’s about who.

Good morning! Today we’re talking about professional wayfinding as an exercise in community building.

As a reminder: we have a lovely little Slack community where you can get feedback on your outreach emails, commiserate with fellow job seekers, and share your wins and goals.

If you enjoy The Art of the Informational Interview I hope you’ll consider sharing it with your friends, colleagues, family and obligatory acquaintances.

Find your people and you’ll find your life.

Every single one of us has been asked, at one time or another, “what do you want to do (or be) when you grow up?” 

However it’s phrased, it’s the wrong question because it’s too focused on you, the individual, as if you’ll just somehow magically, automatically morph into a new creature, with new skills and attributes as you age, without reference to or input from the thousands of people you will encounter along the way.

That is not how life works. 

As photographer and Arizona State University professor Mark Klett put it, “Evolution takes place in a community. So it’s all the more important to choose and participate in the community you want to be a part of.”

So instead of asking, what do we want to do or be, we should really be asking ourselves “who do we want to be in community with?” 

Many of the most successful people in the professional world know that the company you keep is everything. Here’s LinkedIn COO Daniel Shapero, speaking to Bloomberg: 

“The best career decisions that I've ever made have been about the people I got to work with. We're all more malleable than we give ourselves credit for. We adapt to our environment. And so the best decision I've ever made was when I chose to work around people who were going to shape me into the person I wanted to be, as opposed to career decisions about the specifics of the job or the task.”

This is one of the many gifts of informational interviewing: it is a technology for finding your people. Through the simple power of intentional conversation you can figure out with whom you belong. 

As you focus less and less on the what, and more and more on the who, you may be surprised by what you find. You might think of yourself as a high achieving investment banker type, only to discover everyone in finance is insufferable. Maybe you believe that only self-sacrificial social work has meaning, but you find yourself getting excited talking to your ambitious friend who is trying to shoot the moon at a startup. Perhaps you thought you’d win a Pulitzer for investigative reporting by 30, but you find yourself feeling jealous of your friend who lives in the forest and makes herbal tinctures. 

Whoever it is that sparks your interest, when you encounter people in the world who are living and working in a way that inspires you, you know you’re on the right path. These are the people who can help you find your way towards work that works for you. It doesn’t mean that you have to do exactly what they are doing, but it does mean that they have important information that you need. Once you’ve received that information you can continue to stride “deeper and deeper into the world” as Mary Oliver put it, encountering more people and communities that will co-evolve with you. 

This is what informational interviewing is all about. And, in this way, informational interviewing is a spiritual practice and a quest. You can be very utilitarian and mercenary about the way you approach informational interviewing, of course. But if you take it up as a spiritual practice it will take you to more exciting and surprising places. 

But whether you take a spiritual or a mercenary approach, you will get where you’re going quicker if you enlist other people along the way.

Do you need more individual help?

I take on a limited number of coaching clients for individual professional development work. If you’re interested, we can explore your professional path together, and help you find your way towards a more nourishing, rewarding and ambitious professional future. Send me an email (at [email protected]) with the word “coaching” in the subject line, and I’ll share more information.

What You Can Learn About Job-Hunting From Dating Apps. Really. ~ Kelly Marie Coyne for The New York Times 
You guys, I say this all the time! Literally. I feel so seen by this article. Dating and job hunting are BASICALLY THE SAME.

The New York Times’ AI Opportunity ~ Ben Thompson, Stratechery
Okay, ignore the headline here. The reason I’m sharing this link is because Ben talks a lot about the stupidity of institutional affiliation as a source of credibility in this piece, and I like that.

You Don’t Need More Resilience. You Need Friends. And Money. ~ By Sarah Green Carmichael for Bloomberg.
I wish more people talked about this. I could write a whole book about this. Its not just that you need more friends AND more money. It’s that these two things will reinforce one another. Money will buy you the space and time to focus on your friends. And friends can help you figure out how to make a living in a way that works for you.

New to informational interviewing?

Are you new to informational interviewing? Here are a few articles and resource to get your started:

That should get you started. For more related and adjacent informational interviewing content, visit the Art of the Informational Interview!

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