What Author Sara Bliss Learned From Highlighting The Stories of People Who Have Taken The Leap to New Careers
Ep. 88
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Sara Bliss

Follow Along:

    Clearly, we’re on the same page as our guest this week, Sara Bliss. Sara is the author of Take the Leap where she provides both inspiration and advice for transforming your life. Sara features the stories of over 65 people who have taken the jump to completely new careers. She proves that it’s not too late to chase your dreams, change up your life, hit it big, and go for it.
    Sara has made countless leaps of her own going from short-order cook to auction house assistant to magazine scribe to branding and content advisor, to a ghostwriter, to a book author. She has covered a wide range of topics including design, travel, profiles, celebrities, hotels, beauty, health and business.
    She is now the author/co-author/or ghostwriter of 11 books including Hotel Chic at Home. She is also a Forbes Contributor covering career pivots.
    In this episode, we cover:
    – The importance of stepping outside of your comfort zone.
    – Why timing isn’t everything
    – And so much more…

Show Transcript
Goli: Hi Sarah. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Sara: Hey, I'm so glad to be on.

Goli: I'm so excited to have you. We're going to jump into the incredibleness that is your book. I love it so much, but before we get to that, why don't you tell us a little bit about your own career and how you got to the point where you're publishing books.

Sara: I always wanted to be a writer and I kind of, you know, had this idea from a young age but just was a lot harder than you think. And it required so many pivots and switches to make it all work. But the short story is I basically, I went to college and I kind of fell in love with art history classes and had this idea that I wanted to be in the art world and I did every internship under the sun and I landed a job at Christie's, which is this really prestigious auction house. And I got there and what I imagined it to be and what it was were like two totally different things. Even with all the research and interning that I had done, I was writing all the time on the side and I just felt like I needed to pursue that.

And I took some classes at NYU at night and called writing for magazines and landed a job at House Beautiful. Which was amazing because I wanted to be in magazines but it wasn't necessarily where I wanted to be. I had this idea kind of early on though that I could just, you know, land at one type of magazine and somehow switch to Glamour or Vogue or whatever. I want it to be one of the women's magazines. But then I got there and realized it kind of didn't work that way. Once you're on one track, you get kind of pigeonholed. So I ended up, you know, starting out. I did eventually write books. A few years later I started out, but I started out writing a design book cause that was my space. And that was the easiest way for me to get published because that was what I was considered an expert in. And then as my career has done a bunch of leaps and my writing had evolved and I'd taken on a lot of new topics, my books have kind of reflected that which has been great.
Goli: That's wonderful. And I know that you also ghostwrite for other people. Is that a typical path for people that end up being writers? Do a lot of people do this or how do you kind of… It seems to me that would be a much different skill set. So how do you get into that?
Sara: It's actually interesting. I feel like if you're good at writing profiles was something I did early on and that's been the one constant throughout my career is I've always written profiles. I think if you're good at interviewing people and kind of finding out what makes them tick and understanding their voice and having to capture it on the page and you know, translate an interview into something that reads well and is impactful and insightful... I think if you can do that then you actually can be a great ghostwriter. I never wanted to be a ghostwriter though. It was kind of a career path. The crazy thing was that for a long time it was really where I found my biggest success and it was hard because I didn't really want that for a lot of people.
I think right now in publishing if you have a really compelling story or a big social platform or a big business platform or really any kind of thing that kind of puts you in the public eye, your chances of getting a book deal are a lot higher than someone who's just a great writer with a good idea. Publishing,it is a business. And they want, they're putting most of their bets on more high profile people. So what's happened with that is the more famous people you see books from, the more ghostwriters are needed to write those books because most of those people are not writers. So they need to team up with somebody. So especially in 2008, the publishing world stopped making bets on unknown writers. This whole other market for ghostwriters really opened up. And I actually pitched this idea to my agent at the time and she was like, look, you're not famous enough and you're not going to get another book deal on your own. (Cause my last book hadn't done that well) But she said, Hey, you could be a ghostwriter and there is a big market for it. And so I kind of stepped into that and wrote seven books as a ghostwriter.
Goli: That's incredible. And how does one get those types of jobs? Do you have an agent? If somebody wanted to get into, let's say ghostwriting, they're a good writer and that's kind of the market they want to get into. Do you do that as a freelancer or do you do that with a company?
Sara: Well, I think there are agents that specialize in representing ghostwriters and if that's the track that you want to be on then it's really good to kind of find those people because now it actually can be pretty lucrative compared to if you're an unknown writer trying to publish your first novel. You might get let's say $20,000 if you're lucky, but as a ghostwriter, I know people who get anywhere from 40 to $80,000 depending on how high-profile the person is they're writing for and how much experience they have. But it tends to be, especially as the people get more famous who are writing books, the more money there is cause their advances are larger and all of that. I do think that that's a good way to go. For me, I just happened into it. I think it was just a word of mouth thing.
I think I put it out in the world that I was open to doing it and after I have this really depressing conversation with my agent and then it just became word of mouth. The only thing was that I didn't really want to be writing design books. But you know, when you get pigeonholed in any career, it sometimes feels easier to kind of take what's being offered to you rather than push it. I was really lucky in that the agent at the time that was representing Bobby Brown, the makeup guru, was also handling a lot of design books. So she initially found me because I had pitched a design book to an editor who said, look, this is a great idea, but I don't think we have a spot for it, but you should meet this agent that handles all these other kinds of famous designers and lifestyle people. And she's always looking for ghostwriters. And I met with her, I wrote two design books for her and then Bobby was the third one. I was able to make an argument that all of my years of profile writing worked for this particular book that Bobby was doing.
Goli: Oh incredible. I love that. It's a theme that comes up a lot on the podcast and it actually obviously comes up a lot in your book and we'll talk about where one thing leads to another that leads to another and a lot of times if you're not going out, I think we stop ourselves before we do things because we don't think it'll work or we don't know what the end result will be. And so many stories that we have on this podcast are like, Oh I was doing this thing and I’m just trying to get this book published. I was trying to do this and then that didn't work. But it led to this. And it's just kind of putting yourself out there and seeing where it takes you.
Sara: Yeah, absolutely. I think there are two things to that point. So on the one hand, I think with all the people that I interviewed, one of the biggest lessons for me as a person is just being open to new opportunities. There are so many people in the book who actually weren't even looking for the things where they kind of have found their groove, but a door opened or an opportunity presented itself or a problem needed to be solved and they just stepped in. There's something really exciting about that. I think that the idea that if you're open to new opportunities and you're not clinging to this one set path that you have in your head that your life can really lead to incredible places.
Goli: Absolutely. I love that answer. Okay. Let's just jump in to the book. So you were saying that you originally pitched this and your agent was saying you're not famous enough to do it then. So what made you hold on this? Or why did you even want to write this book?
Sara: I love this book so much. I feel like this is the book that I've been meant to write. I'm so obsessed with it. You know what I think, because before I came up with the idea for the book, I had a moderately successful career as a magazine writer. I was doing a lot of celebrity interviews and hanging out with Ed Burns and having pancakes or listening to Richard Gere play the guitar to me. I mean, it was fun. I always, I had wanted to do something bigger. I wanted to be a novelist or write screenplays and I had these other things that I wanted to do that weren't happening. And I found that I kept interviewing all these people in my profiles and I found that so many of them found success later in life or you know, had these whole other lives and careers.
And I took a lot of comfort in that idea. And I just felt like, especially at the time, this idea of jumping off the track that you're on was not something that was really kind of in the air. It wasn't something that people talked about. A lot of times, people wouldn't want me to talk about their previous careers cause they felt like somehow it made them seem like less of an expert in whatever they were currently pursuing. But I always felt the opposite and I always felt like people would relate more with those stories of people who had gone through all these startups that had totally failed or you know, been fired or whatever it was. Because that's just the reality. There's no straight line to success. So I became fascinated with that concept and I kept kind of taking those stories both for myself and as encouragement in my own career.
I remember at one point I found out that Edith Wharton hadn't written her first novel until she was 37 and she had been, were actually writing home and design books and pieces. And I took such a comfort from that. I just thought, Oh gosh, that means that my novels waiting now it's turned out that I'm really not a good novelist and that's okay. But I collected all these stories. So when I pitched it, it was around the time when everything was collapsing and all of these companies that we thought would be around forever, let's say like Bear Stearns or whatever financial companies, they just collapsed over the course of days. And if felt like I knew a lot of people who were in upheaval and wondering what they were going to do and freaking out and I felt like it was the right time.
Goli: Where did you find these people? Where had these been people that you are profiling for, you know, your magazine articles before or was it, did you start kind of researching for the book?
Sara: A few of them? Yes. a few of them I kept on with their stories. And then it's funny I get asked this question a lot and I don't know how to answer it because it's this weird magic that happens, right? So I told everyone. Literally from the person at the coffee shop to someone, I met at the park. I mean to, you know, other moms or other writers. I told everyone about the book that I was writing and the types of people I wanted to find and a lot of people sent suggestions my way. And then also I would get these crazy ideas like I wanted someone who would become a florist and I did some creative Googling and found this amazing woman who's in the book who was a federal prosecutor and now is a florist and she makes more money than she ever did as a lawyer. Instead of being angry and yelling all the time, she’s living this great life. So it's a mix. And I'm going to find people for my Forbes column cause I'm writing about career leaps for that.
Goli: Yeah. It's funny that you say that because I get that question a lot for the podcast too. People ask me all the time, how do you keep finding guests? And I think it's a mix of like you were just saying. I mean I think once you start looking, there are just people out there and we don't often focus on that. I think for anything, not just this topic, that scientific... The phenomenon of when you focus on something, like if you're buying a new car, you see that car everywhere, right? So when your brain is looking for something, it tends to see it more. And so I was saying, I find every conversation I have will end up being like, Oh, so and so quit and this cousin did this. Or I used to be a doctor… and before, maybe I never would have focused on that.
But now I see it all the time. So I don't actually have a shortage of guests because I feel like they're everywhere. But I love that you, I mean obviously this is right up my alley and I felt so drawn to this too and I, and I think that it is such a service because we get so inundated with these messages... We have 30 under 30 and the reality is that the vast majority of people and even those people… the thing is that you hope will change from when you're in your twenties and keep the thing as you... Even if you love the thing you're doing like you might, you know at some point want something different just because you grow as a human and you're curious about something else. We've created this story that's so false that you have to pick something at 22 and then that's it.
That's what you're going to do for the next 60 years. And I think it's such a service to show people that there are so many more people than we think because the mass majority of people do stay safe. It's really easy to think that that is the only way to do it and when you start seeing that it's not as big of a risk as I'm making it; All these people are doing it and I can figure out ways to jump or do something else. And I love that you're taking that on because I think it's such an important message to tell people at any age that there is no age that you have to just then accept it. This is it.
Sara: Totally and I just posted on Instagram - There are actually several studies, it's not just one but there's one kind of recently out of Northwestern University which focused on the tech sector and how old people were when they found their biggest success or founded their most successful company. It turns out that the average age for a startup founder and tech for the most successful, 0.1% of the most successful startups is 45. I love that. And then actually there are some more stats from that study which shows, you know, a 55-year-old founder is two and a half times more likely than a 30-year-old founder to have their business succeed. I think that is not out in the world and so many people are freaking out. I find the 40’s... there are so many women especially cause we, a lot of us have made kind of different sacrifices or pull back maybe a little bit because of kids. And I found there are so many women that I'm meeting right now who are on fire and they're just getting started and they're in their 40’s and they're in their 50’s and they're really finally feeling like, Oh my gosh, I'm doing what I really want to be doing. And they're really motivated and they're finding a lot of success. That's a really exciting message to get out in the world. And it's something I want to continue to do.
Goli: Absolutely. I mean I couldn't agree more and I think, I think it makes sense. Going back to the study that you were saying we had on episode 64 we had Paul Tasner who ended up becoming an entrepreneur at the age of 66 and now he's wildly successful in his startup and he had a Ted talk about that and about these statistics, the percentage of successful businesses are started by people in their forties and 50s and obviously that makes sense because while it's very exciting maybe to hear about a story of a 22-year-old that launches some app that becomes successful. I mean clearly with age comes wisdom and you learn things and in the end, you've been working and you know how to lead a team and you know how to maybe focus on the things that are more important.
And I think because we get sold these salacious stories of, Oh, it seems so cool that somebody is starting this risky business. You think that you can't do it later, but it's just the opposite. You know? And I agree with you that as you're getting older and you're more settled and when you’re more comfortable and you're in your own skin and being able to decide what you actually want, it's like that becomes the most exciting time to really dive into what it is you want to do as opposed to… I think we spent so much time doing what we're supposed to or what society wants and it becomes exciting because you think, wait, I can actually do whatever I want.
Sara: Well it's funny cause I was telling someone that I think the new midlife crisis response - it used to be someone who goes and hooks up with their babysitter. It really blows up their life in destructive ways. It's not necessarily having an affair anymore. I mean plenty of people do, but I feel like more often people are having these crisis-like midlife reinventions around work and I think there is something about staring down 50 or hitting 40 or even 60 where you're like, Oh my God, time is running out. What is it that I really want to be doing? Where do I think I can be most successful? What do I want and how am I going to get there? And I think there is this fire that's like, you know, lit under so many people when they get to that point of feeling like, Oh my gosh, time is running out.
I really want to live the life that I want to. And I mean I do think it does affect people in a lot of areas, whether it's their marriages or other places as well. I think whether I was telling a friend, I think your relationship has to have a reset around this time as well. And, but also it's the career space. This is a time where you can either stay on the course that you're on, which, which might not be a happy one or a financially successful one or one that's talk sick or you know, there are so many reasons why people want to leave their jobs, but it's time to kind of really listen to the reality of the situation you're in and grab onto the understanding that you can change your life. You can reinvent yourself. This is really possible. It's not easy but it, but as possible.
Goli: Absolutely. Amen. I mean, who knows what the reasons are, but I think maybe the difference with midlife crisis now are these reinventions versus back in the days, there's also so much more possibility. I think before, jumping careers wasn't that possible because you couldn't just start a business unless you had hundreds of thousands of dollars to open up a brick and mortar, you know, do something like that. So people found destructive ways because we all have these natural urges of wanting change and wanting, you know, growth and stuff. Whereas now you can start a side hustle at night, you know, you can start an Instagram account and put out your art or do what the thing that it is that you want to do so much easier. And so I think that it's probably the best time to really like when you feel that urge for reinvention, it's just so accessible.
Sara: Oh yeah, no, there are possibilities that we have, you know, through the internet and the fact that you can kind of self -market and just build a brand and put it online and you know, our parents or previous generations absolutely 100% did not have that. So it is a really exciting time and I think the more that people are taking advantage of that, the more other people kind of realize like, Hey, well, you know, maybe I don't have to stick to this career that I thought I had to because they see what's possible.
Goli: Yeah, absolutely. This is why I think it's so important to have these stories out because I think we do need to see what's possible. So from this book, what was kind of your favorite one or two stories or people that you met kind of these career paths?
Sara: Oh my gosh. Well, I love all of them and I actually got very attached to so many of the people that were doing it. I think it's hard for me to kind of spotlight one or two. But I mean there were a couple that I felt like were very meaningful and their changes were very profound because one of the reasons I have the subtitle of my book is: You change your career or change your life because I was struck by how many people whose careers really were a vehicle toward more personal transformation. It wasn't just about getting a cool job but it was about changing their lives in meaningful ways. And one of them was this woman, Terry Cole, she worked as an agent for models. And she operated in very glamorous circles and Naomi Campbell was her client, but she just said to herself at one point, there was a lot of superficial stuff that went on in that business and that world.
And she said, my Dharma, my path cannot be just making Naomi Campbell more money. That's just not what I want to be doing. And she ended up going to NYU and even though she had really bad grades as an undergrad, she ended up getting accepted to NYU for psychology for a program there. And she was able to make an argument to the admissions team that so much of the work that she had been doing with models was a kid to therapy. She had been helping these women get out of toxic relationships or handling this misogynistic culture or helping people get into rehab. So she has a coaching business and she takes on private clients as a therapist. But part of it for her was even more meaningful. In the middle of all of this, she got breast cancer and she had this idea and she said, you know what, there's this Cher quote. “Life is not a dress rehearsal. This is it.” She's now in this space where she feels a lot of satisfaction from her career, but she also feels like she's really making an impact for women and her work centers around women. And you know, especially in the relationship sector and for a lot of people actually it is often that something like an illness becomes the catalyst. So one of the things that came out of after writing the book was, what if we all thought that way? If someone told you you only have X years left, what would you do with your life and how can you get to that now?
Goli: I love that. We've talked about that a number of times and it's really interesting that intellectually we know things - we've all heard that story, and yet for some reason, we can't apply it to our lives. We all know life is short. We all know we're not guaranteed tomorrow and yet we don't act like that. We just keep doing things because of fear and we don't want to take the risk and I don't know what the secret is, like how to get us to really be able to embrace that kind of philosophy without having to go through this traumatic event. But yeah, I mean we would all do much better if we could kind of adopt that mentality that you should have if you're not doing the thing that you would want to do if it was your last couple of years on earth and you should change something.
Sara: It's interesting to me because I felt like the happiest people that I interviewed were hands down the people that had gone through the most struggle, whether it was Stacy Bear who was this amazing guy who is a former veteran who, you know, suffered terrible PTSD and he, you know, came out and fell under the military and felt very directionless and became an alcoholic. I think there were some issues with drugs and he was suicidal. I mean, everything he discovered climbing and a friend took him on an outdoor climbing adventure basically. And he said it was the most transformative, powerful experience of his life and he's kind of dedicated his life toward helping other veterans and other people suffering and understand the power of healing that's in the outdoors. And when I met him in person, he's someone who projects so much optimism and confidence and he's just this joyful man. It's hard for me to look at him with how I know him now and imagine him in that space. But there are so many people who really had to go through really tough times and somehow I think that's given them this kind of extra appreciation. So again, I mean wouldn't it be great if we could all know, think like that without having that tough times, but for people who are facing those challenges there, there is hope and, and seeing kind of what's on the other side.
Goli: Absolutely. The hardest part is sort of knowing that when you're maybe going through a lot of these challenges... If we're willing to sort of listen and then take that risk and push ourselves... I find now when I talk to people who have gone through those, it's like a lot of times whatever you're trying to do to keep yourself in a place that you are unhappy, your entire body and life is protesting against it, you know you and I think it's, it really is trying to scream at you to like make a change. And then when you do and when people go, and that's not easy, but as you go through it and you find this the thing that lights you up and you realize like, Oh I was kind of being led to this, and we resist it so much.
And so you come out of it and you find these people in this really beautiful light because they are doing something that's so true to them. That really is lighting them up from the inside and you can see it. You can tell, it's crazy. When you talk to them and you're like, wow, you're really doing what you should be doing. And I dunno. I mean I wish there was a formula for figuring out how to do that because it really is going through that hard stuff and figuring out how do I have the courage to push against what everybody else is telling me and really go towards the thing that it feels transformative?
Sara: Well, that's the thing. I think that's really hard and really common for a lot of people. If you don't have a partner or parents or friends who understand what it is that you want to do and support you in that, it’s very hard to go against that and follow your own path and it takes a real, certain resilience and strength to do that. It's not like your parents or partner or whoever it is, your tribe. It's not like they're trying to hold you back. It's not like they want to make you unhappy when they're coming to you from a place of love and caring when they're saying, Hey, maybe after all that money you put into law school or business school or maybe the fact that you've landed at Google, that should be enough.
You're so lucky, so many people don't have those options and you do and you've made it and this is everybody's dream and you have this career stability, like don't get up. That's the message that they're getting. And again, it comes from a place of love. I mean, it's not, but the, the problem is happiness is really undervalued. And I am someone who really believes you don't have to make this choice between happiness and monetary success. And that's why 70% of the people in my book actually are making more money now than at jobs that they didn't like. I really think there's, you know, you can align both of those, but I think our society, you know, the conditioning is, it's one or the other. And I just don't think it has to be. And I think breaking out of those voices, whether it's just like the general consensus or you know, your husband, even your wife and kind of finding your own path. If you can do that, that seems to be the best way to go. I mean, obviously it's ideal if you have everyone in alignment with you, but that's not always the case.
Goli: No, I mean, we all, we've all been conditioned in the same society and it's very hard. Like sometimes if they are not the ones living through like the unhappiness and from the outside, it's like, well, you know, they just want you to be safe. I think as humans, we're wired that way too. Stick with certainty. But it's really hard when you're the one, I remember when I was quitting law and I was terrified to leave and I was really terrified of what everybody was going to say, especially in my family. And I remember my husband saying, okay, but you're the one that has to go into that office every day and work 15 hours a day. You're the one, you're gonna do that for 40 years so that other people don't think anything of you or other people don't say anything mean. You know?
And I think that really kind of put it in perspective. And I was lucky enough to have that support system in my husband, but I think a lot of times where are the ones that are suffering silently while you're doing it in other people because they don't have to go through the day to day or maybe don't understand what it's doing to you. You know, maybe other people are great at that job, but for you it just is not in alignment. It's a sticky point. So how did the people, I mean I'm sure that with everybody that you talk to though, there is an element of fear. It's not like people, you know, I think taking any risks, like deciding to upend your life or start a business or go sail around the world. I mean you have so many such a variety of stories in the book and a lot of it, it could be it's starting a business, it could be quitting to become a librarian or whatever. But within all of this, there's uncertainty and as humans we hate uncertainty and it causes fear. So did you learn any overarching thing from each person? Like how they dealt with the fear or with the taking the risk?
Sara: I think that ultimately you have to be comfortable with this idea of risk. So that's the biggest lesson that I took from it is because if you're not comfortable with the idea that it might not work, if you're so focused on the fact that it might not work, you're not going to do it. You're not going to, you're not going to jump. But if you focus more, just train your mind to think about what the possibilities are for if it does. What if, what if it works? What will my life look like? What will my life look like financially? What will it look like personally? What will it look like day today? What if it works and how do I make it work?
Rather than spending all your energy on this, you know what, if it doesn't work, you're more likely to succeed and you're more likely to actually do it. I mean, how many people do you know that are constantly telling you their big ideas and they're not doing it? They're not doing it because they're afraid of projection. They're not doing it because they're afraid that there'll be out of a job and they'll feel stupid. And you know, and I understand all that. I'm certainly not suggesting that you walk into your boss's office and just say, I'm done. And I'm moving to Brazil without some sort of really well mapped out plan and thought, you know, figuring out what the skills are, what the plan is, and how you can make it work.
There are a lot of steps to making it a reality. But I do think it's so easy to hold yourself back, but you'll never know the possibilities for your life unless you, unless you just kind of step through these doors. And with anything - with marriage or you know, babies or whatever, you know, with, with relationships. I think we're often in this period of like, Oh, I'm so sure. I'm so sure before I get married. I mean I'm in my mid forties now and I'm, you know, I'm, I'm seeing people that were so sure and they're getting divorced and you never know how life is going to turn out. And same with certain careers. What you think might be the stable path might not be anymore. I mean there, there are entire industries that were really stable, like look at the, you know, retail or the magazine industry or wall street trading are so many things that are about to be kind of lost to automation. There are so many careers that seem like a stable choice, but I'm not sure if that really even exists anymore. So I think we're ultimately in a way we're all going to have to become risk takers as things start to shift and change.
Goli: Absolutely. We've had a number of guests. Like I said, Paul Tasner who started at 66 was because he was laid off at 64, and so many people that think they have this safety net, it's not really as safe as you think it is. And unfortunately, a lot of people wait to find out the hard way wholeheartedly. I agree. And I always actually liken it in my group programs when you were just talking about marriage, I think it's such a good analogy just dating because I always say that a lot of people are waiting to find something where they are certain that it's gonna work out. You know? And I'm always like, there's nothing like that. And they say, I say that, you know? And I think a marriage is a good analogy cause if somebody was saying like, okay, I only want a date if I know I'm going to marry this person.
I don't even want to go on a first date and less, I know that there, you know that that would never happen. It's the same thing. You know? And I think we just, but actually what you were just saying about risk in your book, you have a couple of tips from Barbara Corcoran who's from Shark Tank. Everybody knows her and loves her, but it really hit me, and I don't know why actually, but one of the tips about cultivating risks, she said, like I worked with kids who are super bright and went to the best schools and no business. They always have ideas for business, but they take consulting jobs instead of making their ideas a reality. They're afraid of the risk. That's what gets in the way over and over again. I think that being comfortable with risk is essential for anybody starting a business. And I don't know why that hit me and it sorta made me so sad when I read it and I was thinking like, yeah, there are so many brilliant people out there that have these incredible ideas and those ideas are just going to die with them because they're so afraid of just trying something. And you know, whether that's just the uncertainty or the fear of failure or not wanting to be embarrassed or losing money or whatever it is. You just never try. And I dunno. I mean I know...
Sara: Part of that I think also comes, and this is something else I've been talking about kind of recently and I don't discuss it in the book as much as I really think I should, is that we're all raising our kids and the parenting kind of right before us. There's this idea that there's this one track to success and you know, even though the world is changing, the career landscape is radically changing. We're trying to set up kids for perfection starting at age seven it's like okay you need to learn how to be like the tennis phenom now so that you can get into college and then you can get into this brand name college and then that's going to lead you to Harvard business school and then that's going to lead you to this. And I think it is leaving kind of younger people with this idea, with this inherent fear of risk and this inherent fear of trying new things and getting off of that, you know, whatever track they're on. Cause the idea is, you know, stay the course. I think that that is why she's seeing so many kids who are you know, young people that are superstars and have graduated from the top business schools. But they do want to do the safer thing. And some of it might be the messaging from their parents like, Hey, we've invested in your education and this is for you. This is for you and we expect you to do this. I'm not surprised she's saying that. I'm really not. And I think that that message that risk is and being comfortable with it is like the ultimate in a way that's going to lead you to success. Even if you have a whole bunch of failures. It's a really powerful message.
Goli: Absolutely. And I think being somebody that did that, that always kind of went to, you know, tried to get to the best law school and you know, and I think a lot of the audience that listened is listening. [inaudible] Was raised the same way. I think an additional thing beyond that, besides being programmed to just kind of get to the best of the best and have the security, what happens when we're doing this to children from a young age is you instill that fear of failure. Like you can't just try things. You have to only be good. So you only do the things you're good at because failing is the worst thing that you could do. And so by the time you're in college and you're an adult, that fear seems insurmountable, right? And so I think for so many people I talk to and work with and now have on communicate through with, because of the podcast, I think a lot of times people talk about finances or they don't want to leave the salary.
But I always find that the biggest hurdle is just like, what if I try this and I fail? And it's like, okay, what if - so what does that mean about you? You know, I think we make it mean like I've always only gotten praise. I've always only been a 4.0 student. I've always only, and so how can I even deal with failing? And I think that's the biggest disservice we're doing to children is that like, we're not in PR, we're, we're saying like, okay, you're good. Oh you have some aptitude for tennis, you're only going to do tennis so that you can be the best at tennis instead of like, maybe you should try a bunch of other sports and see what you like.
Sara: I agree. And there is a little more in the world now about teaching people to be comfortable with failure. I think it comes from a good place to think that way. But I don't think you should ever really be comfortable with failure. Right? I think you should expect it, right? You should expect that it's going to happen to you and that you're going to move on from it. It's not a place you want to be comfortable, but I do think you should expect it. And just seeing that it's part of life and it is hard and who you are really coming from those moments where life hits you in really unexpected ways and you either choose to play the victim or you choose to figure a way out of it. The people that tend to do well are the ones that are scrappy and kind of looking for solutions. That's really a key component.
Goli: Absolutely. Well, this has been wonderful, do you have any other kind of takeaways or anything else from the book that you would want to leave the listeners with?
Sara: Oh my goodness. Well, there's so much. So the first is I really think you have to put yourself out there. I think if you have an idea for something that you want to do, you need to network wildly and find people who are in those roles and in those careers whether they pivoted to them or not. And really see if you can shadow someone for a day or talk to them over coffee or even volunteer. Whatever it is to have a little taste of what it is that you want to do. I think that that's really, really helpful towards kind of figuring out your next step. And then the other thing I think that really is kind of parallel to some of the things that we've been talking about and that issue of certainty is the other thing that holds people back is this idea like, well, I don't know what my passion is.
I don't know what I want to do next. I just know that I'm unhappy now. And there is so much pressure to have the next thing be that perfect thing. Especially if they feel like, Oh, I've made a mistake. I invested so much time and money and energy into this career, that's a horrible fit for me. Like what if I make that mistake again and wanting that double certainty for that next step. I think that that leads to such paralysis. But I do think that putting yourself, you know, one of the people in the book says you have to see it to be it. And I think to put yourselves in, in these kinds of new types of positions and talking to new people and getting on of your circle and going to conferences and going to networking events and trying all these, you know, trying new things. I mean, that's what's gonna lead you to that new place. And then at some point you just have to say, all right, I'm going to, I'm going to try this. And if you take out the pressure of feeling like, okay, this next step has to be for the rest of my life, but like, let me try this for the next five years and see where I get, then it feels a lot more approachable and a lot more of a possibility.
Goli: I love all those. I think that's brilliant. I love that you when you're talking about putting yourself in new positions, I think that's so underrated. Just even trying new things or hobbies. And I think so many times, I've heard from the podcast, people that have just gone to take a calligraphy class and then that becomes this... They never knew they had a love for it. But how would you know unless you're actually trying stuff and talk to new people? I love all of that. So what is next for you? I know that you've written all these books, you've now, I mean, I know you're promoting this book and so how does it work for a writer? Do you think of the next book now or do you wait?
Sara: No. So I’m in this amazing period of growth for my own career and it's actually exciting. And in terms of books, I do have another book idea, which I just sent out to my publisher and some editors and we'll just see what happens with that. And I have fingers crossed and it's kind of in this whole reinvention space, which is a space I'm kind of loving, exploring and being a part of. So that's first but then the reality of being a writer. It's funny, I have so many people who come to my talks and there's always the person who says like, how do I become a writer? And it's so hard because the reality of being a writer, it's not as financially lucrative isn't even the right word. It's the money aspect of it - It’s very different than it was 10 years ago.
What came out of that for me is around the time that I originally came up with this book, I started doing a lot of work for brands doing content marketing and I'm helping them with brand strategy and how to present their story to clients and buyers and engage with customers. It's interesting cause it's a lot of the same work that I did when I was, you know, writing a profile or you know, work writing for a different company or a different founder. It's that way of like, let me, deep dive, into your story. Let me see the places we should be highlighting, you know, what are the places that you kind of haven't even uncovered yet? And how can we explore that and presenting them in a way that is relatable. That's a similar work that I'm doing with brands and I actually, I've been doing it for 10 years and I've worked with Bobby Brown and Aaron Lauder and as you know, the Estee Lauder companies and Rosewood hotels and resorts and a bunch of different amazing clients. But now I'm actually partnering up with a friend who's an expert in digital audience growth, like the whole, you know, SEO and getting numbers up and engagement and all of that stuff. That's her expertise. So kind of together we, you know, really bring a lot to accompany and more than I could have brought on my own. So we've teamed up and I'm going to be announcing that soon and we're going to be launching this business together. So I'm excited about it.
How exciting. I love that. Again, and that's just such a Testament to… First of all, with a lot of this digital branding and stuff, which is wasn't around 10 years ago. And so I think so often people are trying to figure out what the rest of their life is and it's like, who knows how much the landscape's going to change in the next five or 10 years. And the things you're doing now may set you up for a business that you have no idea will be there. And so that's so exciting that all of this stuff that you've done has now prepared you for something that you clearly have an act for and sounds very exciting.
Sara: Yeah. Well the book, you know, the book really made me braver. I mean it really did. It made me think about my own career in very, very different ways. And I just thought like I, the monetization piece, like there's no reason I have to accept this idea. Like as a writer, I don't make a lot of money. Right. I just, that's just not needed and you don't have to, you know, choose happiness over success and also just highlighting what I'm doing. I mean, it's technically the same thing that I've been doing for 10 years. Right. But, but I'm putting a different spotlight on it and by taking a partner and putting it out in the world in a big way, rather than being like, Oh, this is just my side business. And saying like, this is really, you know, I, when I'm speaking, I'm saying, you know what? This is the reality. This is how I make my money. I make my money through my brand work. I make a little money through editorial, but it's not enough. I hope at some point will make a lot more through editorial. That'd be great. But I'm not holding out for one or the other. I think that I can do both and I'm really, really thrilled about this, this kind of new chapter.
Goli: Right. I love that. That's very exciting. And we'll have to have you back on when you're running that business so we can talk about that as well. But thank you so much, Sarah, for being here. Where can people find you if they want to follow along or reach out?
Sara: On Instagram? I'm @sarablissnyc. I have a website sarabliss.com and all my books are sold on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and indie bound and all those great spots. And I just launched a paperback a couple of months ago, which actually I love and I have a new intro in, which I think really captures what the book is about.
Goli: Wonderful. Everybody should definitely pick up the book. I mean, anybody that's listening to this podcast, you're going to love it, the book. So definitely pick it up. I will linked to all of that in the show notes in case you can't write it down. Say thank you so much again for joining me. It's been so fun.
Sara: Yes, I've loved it. Thank you.