How To Progress In Your Career: An Interview with Mary Foley
Today in my networking challenge I am speaking with Mary Foley.  Mary is the author of three books, she’s a national speaker, and the host of a radio show. I am so excited to speak with her today so thanks so much Mary for being here Mary!
We had a few issues with the sound in the beginning, but it gets better after a minute!! 🙂

In case you are reading this at work and can’t watch the video interview with Mary Foley, you can read all of the great advice below instead!


1)  What are the most important questions we can ask ourselves to progress in our careers?

The first question is, particularly for women. Do you deliberately create relationships with really important people in your organization? And the thing about women, we are all about having a good relationship at work, whether it’s your coworkers, your boss or people from other departments and all that’s really good. But, sometimes what we do is we default to those who are immediately around us instead of creating a deliberate relationship. So I’m talking about being smart about who gets to know you.

And there’s four people in particular that you should get to know:

  • People who are key positions in your company
  • People who are in charge of important projects
  • People affected by your team’s results
  • Anybody you admire
The second question I would ask is when you really grow your career is, do you thrive on a shift in change?  The thing is, we have heard the phrase “change is inevitable, growth is optional”. Things are going to be changing in your organization that you worked for, and your company, your career, and in your life. It’s not about how you’re afraid of it; it’s how you are going to respond to it. I think the big thing is just being willing to respond, willing to have a proactive strategy. There’s no silver bullet. There’s no one way that is true and works for everyone but if you can start with the mentality its OK to figure out. In the midst of all, as the change is going to happen and I’ve got to figure out how to adjust to it. It starts with belief in yourself that you can adjust to the change.
The third thing I would ask is, can you say no without jeopardizing your career? Can you say no at work? And the reason is that NO is partly about being able to prioritize and understand anything that’s coming after you.
The next I would ask is do you embrace office politics? There is a lot of evidence for politics and manipulating and conniving behavior at work. Whether it’s a girl-male politics or the organizational politics, there are some good aspects of politics too.
First off, office politics is relationships plus power. Women want to build relationships, they want to make things more pleasant, get more done, but it is a power piece we sometimes struggle with. Because we’ve seen abuse of the power, we’ve seen the negative use of the power.
The last question I think to ask is, do you have a personal career plan? Many of us get an education, go to college, go to university, some of us undergrad, some of us postgraduate, we know all this information, and we’re technically competent in our area of expertise. What we don’t get often is advice about how do I navigate my career, how do I create a career plan. So, I have found that I had to figure out creating that career plan. At least to start moving your career forward that you have something to plan you may not know what you really want to be but could you figure out what’s the next thing you’d like to do.
And then what are just a few steps to work the activities you can towards it. You’ve got to start exploring it! Having a plan is the bottom line. This is about fully taking responsibility for your career and not expecting anyone you work for to show you how to do it. They may help and if they do, great! But it’s your career and it’s your responsibility to figure out how to navigate it. I recommend writing it down.

2) How can you go back and do a check up for your career?

In my 10 years of AOL, I never expected to stay 10 years, by the way, I thought it’s my first job in college and I just thought it would be three months. I didn’t think I’d stay there ten and a half years. I continue to ask myself about every three months, how much am I really enjoying that job, how much you enjoy that organization and career satisfaction?
I would say there’s no magic formula as of how often but things are happening faster versus slower today. At a minimum, every quarter, every three months, you need to check in with yourself about your career plan to see if it is going how you want and have you done actions to help your move forward or have you investigated different opportunities.

3) What do you wish you would have known when you were a young professional woman just starting out in her career?

Confidence is what I wish I would have known. Here’s what confidence is not: confidence is not I know what to do, when to do it, how to do it, and have no doubts. Confidence is belief that I can figure it out. It’s really about belief in yourself and being proactive.
You get out of college, you get your degree and that’s an accomplishment. I got an engineering degree and the biggest thing I realized at the end of my degree was that I didn’t want to be an engineer! I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I was proud of that degree. I really thought when I first started working in an organization that everybody else knew exactly what they wanted to do. I really wish I’d understood we’re all trying to figure it out day by day

Thanks so much for joining me today, Mary.

Hi, I'm Anna!

I’ll help you create a career strategy and plan so you can finally have a job or business you love that supports the life you really want.

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