Kelley Buttrick on DESIGN YOU Radio

Welcome to DESIGN YOU~                                                                                  The show about people pursuing their passions.

Photo by Pitter Goughnour, Pitter Productions

Garrison’s guest in this segment is Kelley Buttrick. When major brands like McDonald’s, Amtrak, Toys R Us, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Whirlpool, JC Penney and Michelin Tires want to tell their story they rely on Kelley to give it a voice.

A world-recognized voiceover artist, her route to becoming a successful solopreneur involved serial reinventions in singing, theater, DJ’ing, broadcast advertising, public relations, journalism and media. A Telly Awards winner, Kelleyt’s journey to the top of her industry has many lessons learned along the way that are invaluable to anyone pursuing their passion.

Photo by Shawn Coleman

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Coffee, F Chords and Career Reinvention

I cannot pronate my wrists.  Unlike most other people who can turn their arms so that their wrists completely face upwards, I can only turn mine slightly outward.  It’s why I had so much trouble growing up and trying to learn bar chords on the guitar.  The F chord was my nemesis and I always got an F on trying to bar it. When I get my early morning coffee at the drive-up window I seem to be fated by the attendant handing me the coins on top of the bills which are on top of the receipt. I simply can’t turn my wrist in such way as to grasp my change without it spilling all over the ground between my car and the drive-up window inviting the cacophony of customers blowing their horns behind me. The regular attendants know me well enough by now that I’ve got them conditioned to hand me my change first then my bills. However, there’s always that one new or fill-in person that brings back bad memories of my F chords.

Recently on a day off I filled my car with gas at the same convenience mart at which I buy my morning coffee. I decided to walk inside to get my java jolt. The gentleman who took my order didn’t look up. He just repeated, “one medium coffee with one cream and two sweet and lows.” I handed him a twenty and as I did he looked up for a brief second then down again at the register remarking, “I think we can do better than that” and suddenly the senior discount was calculated into my purchase total. There was that flash of reality that my senior status was evident to the general public. I joked and said to the attendant, “It’s pretty scary when you don’t even have to ask for the discount!” His reply doubled my self-consciousness since he looked to me as if he had at least a decade jump start on my years: “I can’t wait to be eligible for senior discounts but I’ve got a way to go.”

I pronated my experience as if I had just barred the F chord for the first time. I realized that I had just been rewarded for being nothing more than who I am! And, isn’t that what career reinvention is all about: being who we truly are with the added gift of being positively recognized and rewarded for it. When we reinvent ourselves we move from a place of doing what others expect of us and not using our true talents and abilities to becoming master of our destiny. The essence of career reinvention is authenticity; becoming fully aware of the genuine calling within us and living our life in tune with it…with the espresso kick of not only being accepted for it but admired and rewarded along the way.

Change Before You Have To

My personality and style of relating to the world is such that when I know something is right and I feel the desire to go after it I take action and figure out the details along the way. Waiting for things to be perfect only delays action. I know people who are in perpetual safe mode making sure things are perfect before diving in. The downside of having to know everything before taking action is that we live in a time when new information is constantly being produced. In a single Internet second 54,907 Google searches are made, 7,252 Tweets are posted, 125,406 YouTube videos are watched, 729 photos are put on Instagram and over 2 1/2 million emails are sent. That makes the capacity for us to know everything an absolute impossibility. For those people stuck in in information immobility, the need to know everything can be an excuse for not moving forward, either out of fear of pursuing a goal and failing (or maybe succeeding!), conflicting motivations (Freud’s id-eg-superego triangle) or insecurity as to whether the expressed desire has been well thought out and is really what they want to do. Resourcing information that helps you reinvent yourself is invaluable. Using information overload as an excuse not to, is self-defeating.

For baby boomers, that age group born between 1946 and 1964, if there was ever a timely reason  to jump start your reinvention it’s called age discrimination. If you think staying in the job you’re in now is going to bring you future security or looking for an escape from an unsatisfying job is going to be easy, think again! Age discrimination is real. Two out of three employees between ages 45 and 74 have experienced age discrimination firsthand where they work. And, job seekers over 35 (yes, as young as 35) attribute age discrimination as the reason they didn’t get hired.

In spite of the fact that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) makes it illegal to discriminate against workers age 40 and up, what takes place on the job is anything but age acceptance. While most people believe that age discrimination in the workplace begins to rear its ugly head around age 50, baby boomers’ own children are experiencing it. And, it’s cruelly ironic because 65% of employees age 55 and up are “engaged,” compared to 58% to 60% of younger employees. In spite of the fact that older workers bring more experience to the table, age discrimination comes in the form of their being labeled technologically averse, unable to get along with younger workers, stuck in their ways and not good for the bottom line. The United States obsession with youth is reflected in the Golden Age Index, a weighted average of seven indicators which reflect the labour market impact of workers aged over 55 in the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development)  countries. Iceland, New Zealand, Israel and Sweden take the top four spots, well over our own United States. In spite of the fact that we would be well-advised to have baby boomers active in the economy, this country appears blind to the facts that every month the more than a quarter-million Americans who open the golden parachute don’t contribute as much to the economy as workers do, they don’t spend as much as the average consumer and they’re much more likely to depend on others such as the  government or their own children versus supporting themselves.

For baby boomers, reinvention is the most sure way they have to be vital and contributing members of the business economy while giving themselves the meaning in life they so desperately crave and need. Being handed your pink slip is NOT the time to begin reinventing yourself. The time is NOW. Simply looking for a new job where the grass appears to be greener will only relocate the essential reasons you’re not finding career fulfillment now.

14% of millennials and 15% of gen x’ers have not yet outlined their career goals compared to 30% of baby boomers (similar to the 30% of baby boomers who haven’t planned for their retirement income).  Not defining your career goals based upon what you truly want to do and how you want to use your unique skills and abilities is the major reason that lack of meaning in your life follows you around like a dark shadow. Getting clarity on what you absolutely want to achieve in this life is key to personal happiness and fulfillment. Jobs don’t bring meaning. Doing meaningful work brings happiness. For baby boomers, the time is especially upon you to be brutally honest about what you want your legacy to be so that you can convert your dreams into your reality…NOW.

 

A Career Coach Can Be Your Reinvention Differentiator

My personal career reinvention road has taken me to many fabulous experiential locations but the destination that has had the most influence on me as a Certified Professional Career Coach is the music business, especially my 10-years as a record producer, engineer and A&R talent scout for industry giant London Records, Inc.

I grew up in a musical family that made playing an instrument non-negotiable. But, once the calluses of learning to play guitar on high-set steel strings wore off, I excitedly let myself become indoctrinated into the world of Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Duane Eddy, The Ventures and so many others who became my vinyl best friends. After working my way through three years of college performing on the coffee house circuit on alternating evenings with fellow Ionian Don McLean and opening on the steps of Spellman Hall for the likes of The Beach Boys and The Four Tops, proximity to New York City brought with it an invitation to become a regular performer at Malachy’s II on the east side. It was there that A&R Vice-President Walt Maguire of London Records, Inc., which was riding the crest of the British wave of music, made repeated visits to hear me perform and ultimately offered me a songwriting contract with London’s Burlington-Felsted publishing division. Within weeks I had sufficiently networked myself through the company to land a full-time A&R gig in addition to a songwriting contract and thereby avoiding my liberal arts quandary of what I was going to do with my life after senior year.

Once onboard, I listened to countless demo tapes submitted by hopeful performers from around the world and recommended to Walt those I felt worthy of a contract. I studied engineering under John Woram at the Institute of Audio Research and became Director of Recording Studio Operations and a producer on the London label. Not bad for a college dropout (though I fulfilled my commitment to my parents to complete my education at night all the way up to my PhD).

My multiple roles at London Records, Inc. enabled me to work in different capacities with some incredible artists on our family of labels like The Moody Blues, Dave Edmunds, Thin Lizzy, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers featuring Eric Clapton, Al Green, Tom Jones, The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison with Them and ZZ Top. As I began producing for London Records, my guiding principal was to bring out the best in the artist. My self-assigned role was to make the recording studio a musical “place” that brought out the unique abilities of the artist so that the music created was the best that it could possibly be. In addition to working creatively with the artist, I had the balancing act of managing the recording budget and being sure that the “final vinyl” was a commercial success. Decades later, this would become the bedrock of working with my career coaching clients: making sure that their life was on track with their natural talents and abilities while making sure that they could earn a living doing what came most naturally to them.

Every coaching client, like every recording artist, is unique. My approach to producing Erroll Garner’s “Magician” LP was to create a final sound that spoke to his unique four-in-the-bar left hand with single-note passages from his right hand accompanied by his trademark grunts. Not long before his death, Erroll and I talked and he shared with me an important facet of his performance: “Every time I go to the piano I try and give the audience my absolute best. What I say through my hands is different every time. Jazz is about improvising. I never play anything the same way twice. But, I always make it my best.”

Producing hit singer-songwriter Leslie Pearl was about capturing her flair for the story line and her captivating hook which was the key ingredient for her successful jingle writing career. She had already written jingles for the likes of Pepsi, Folgers Coffee, Ford and Gillette when I signed her to London so the studio was a natural place for her talents to shine.

The challenge with Texas band Greezy Wheels was to make sure that the excitement of their “live” performances on the Armadillo World Headquarters stage in Austin was brought out in the more sterile recording studio environment.

In this digital era of artists being able to record their own album in the basement and then package, market and sell it on their own comes at the DIY risk of not being open to a second set of more experienced ears so as to be sure they’re on the right music track. The same goes for so many people who keep doing the same work year after year knowing that it makes them miserable but not knowing that a career coach can help them get off the hamster wheel and onto a meaningful career path. The same reason that so many musical artists with little or no recording experience don’t seek out the guidance of an experienced record producer is similar to the aversion so many people have to using a career coach. The “I can do it on my own” mindset is why so many people continue to be stuck in unfulfilling jobs that prevent them from doing what they truly should be doing with their lives.

Whether it’s in the recording studio or in the career market, everyone can benefit from experienced guidance. General career advice from family and friends may, in fact, be the same stuff that got people stuck in the first place. Individuals looking to reinvent themselves are well-served by an objective career coach who has the client’s best and most authentic interests as the process focus; a professional who has experienced reinvention firsthand, not just from books, and who can convert those experiences into solid guidance for the client.

A coach, just like a record producer, can be a strong motivator who will pump you up when you make achievements along the way and who can present advice in a supportive manner. And, a good career coach, like a producer with a track record, knows the importance of experimentation and trying things out during the process of creativity before putting the final music tracks down or going to the first interview. Both the artist and client benefit from the outside perspective on new ideas and suggestions posed in a safe, non-threatening setting that enables each to “try it out.” The real-time feedback playing a tape back to an artist who recorded a different approach to a song has the same value as conducting a mock interview with a coaching client followed by exchanging feedback and suggestions.

Record producers and career coaches have amazing commonalities. Both can understand the behavioral styles of the people they’re working with and provide objective feedback that converts into leveraging one’s talents and abilities. Whether it’s rehearsing a song before recording it or role-playing an interview before the “big day,” record producers and career coaches don’t let things happen by chance. They plan for success.

I’ve had so many experiences with newly-signed bands who have tried to bring everything into the studio with them from girlfriends and boyfriends, pets of every conceivable genus, foods of unimaginable aromas and even an inebriated fortune teller. Learning to set firm boundaries was a session prerequisite I learned very early on to apply. Similarly, career coaches eliminate clutter and distractions career building by utilizing tools and assessments to help clients achieve greater clarity and focus on what matters most.

Record producers and career coaches always take the side of the persons they work with. They are their clients’ single greatest advocates. Whether you’re a seasoned recording artist looking to remake your musical brand or a veteran executive looking to transition into becoming a sculptor, your producer or coach is there to help you build a plan to get you where you want to go and to provide guidance along the way. Whether it’s a jazz artist transitioning to a higher key or a lawyer transitioning to a career in art, the producer or coach provides the support and structured guidance to help you mark your map and arrive at your destination.

In my work with a human resources executive for a major corporation looking to create her own consulting practice I was asked by her if there were career coaches I particularly admired and who had an influence on me. It took but a few seconds to come up with names: American music producer and technical engineer for The Eagles William Frank “Bill” Szymczyk,  “Wall of Sound” producer Phil Spector, The 5th Beatle George Martin and Beach Boy Brian Wilson.

“A good producer brings out the best in the artist he’s working with. You shouldn’t be able to listen to something and say, ‘So-and-so produced this album.'” Eddie Van Halen

It’s Friday…thanks for reminding me

Friday is often greeted with relief as the “end” of the week; that somehow we “made it through” and can now enjoy the weekend. Except for appointments, I rarely look at my calendar for the simple reason that living my life with passion makes every day of the week special. So, it doesn’t matter what letters precede ‘day.’ The same with watches. Peter Fonda told the bikers in Wild Hogs to ‘lose the watches’ and there’s a lot to be said about that. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve never missed a meeting. In fact, I’m characteristically early. Probably because any meeting important enough for me to attend has got to have value. But, the only time that matters to me is the moment I’m in and what am I doing in that moment to take me further on my journey. If Monday isn’t as exciting as Saturday and Wednesday is nothing more that the hump to get past than check your passion gauge. Fuel up your life on hi-test and lose the ’87.’ Life is a ride and we should all be heading for an outrageously wonderful destination.