Overcoming carrer setbacks
Episode 122 - How successfull professionals found the strength and wisdom to turn things around when they had to recover from setbacks, with Sacha Koffman.
I have always been fascinated by professionals that recover from career setbacks and achieve great things. There is a great deal of effort into their recovery, from working on their mental health, remaining on course towards their goals, and ensuring they have the best team to provide the proper support and advice. I often wonder how they found the strength and wisdom to turn things around.
This is why I invited my friend Sacha Koffman to chat with me for this episode. Sacha is an executive with over twenty-five years of commercial experience. He's worked at some of the best-known global consulting firms and corporate brands, always in learning and leadership development roles. More recently, Sacha has also embraced this entrepreneurial side and is the co-founder of two startups that have grown successfully.
Early in his career, Sacha faced enormous challenges. His situation, which he will explain in our interview, made him feel lonely, and it was difficult to talk about it with anyone, let alone open up about it at work. This, in turn, led to further troubles in both his career and personal life.
But this story has a happy ending. And this is why I really wanted to interview Sacha. Today, Sacha is an influential leadership and well-being coach, consultant, and facilitator with a passion for helping individuals, teams, and organizations be the best they can be.
He leads a life of purpose, follows his passions, and is one of the most generous, humble, and giving persons I know. In this episode of The Job Hunting Podcast, he opens up about these challenges and shares how being authentically vulnerable saved his career and ultimately led him on his crusade to help others navigate life obstacles.
It's a long episode, folks, so grab your coffee and your tea because it's 100% worth listening. We start by Sacha explaining the link between listening and empathy. We go on from there, moving slowly but surely from his narrative as the excellent leadership expert to him, telling more and more about his journey.
An executive career spans many decades, so it's essential to understand that you may encounter a setback at some stage. Listen to this episode to realize that setbacks can be an opportunity to discover great things about yourself and that there are amazing opportunities on the other side of failure.
About our guest Sacha Koffman
Sacha Koffman is an executive with over twenty-five years of commercial experience. He's worked at some of the best-known global consulting firms and corporate brands, always in learning and leadership development roles. More more, Sacha embraced this entrepreneurial side, starting two startups that have grown successfully. You can follow Sacha Koffman on LinkedIn.
Resources mentioned in this episode
Transcript of this episode
[00:00:00] Sacha: Think of them and let them know you've thought of them. It's such an easy thing to do. And it's such a great way to maintain relevance with your networks in a genuine, authentic way.
[00:00:21] Renata: hi, I’m Renata Bernarde, and this is The Job Hunting Podcast, where I interview experts and professionals and discuss issues that are important for those who are working to advance their careers. So, make sure that you subscribe and follow and let's dive right in.
[00:00:42] Renata: I've always been fascinated by professionals that recover from career setbacks and achieve great things in their lives. Not just the secretaries, but also athletes, artists, politicians. And I often wonder how they were able to turn things around the effort that they must have put into place to [00:01:00] take care of their mental health and ensuring they remain on course, and also the team around him, the coaches supporting them and providing them with the right advice.
[00:01:10] Renata: And this is why I invited my friend Sasha Kaufman to have a check with me for this episode. The first time I heard Sasha speak at an event that I organized, I admit that I didn't check what he was going to talk about. It was a panel discussion. I was mesmerized, and frankly, I was frozen just listening to him speak. You could hear a pin drop. Everybody was. Absolute silence. We think that there were about 150 people in the room and the repercussion of that conversation with Sasha at that event at Monash university just went on and on and on for months. We were still talking about what he had said, and I'm not going to anticipate what it was because we're going to address it in the episode.
[00:01:56] Renata: Sasha Kauffman is an executive with over 25 years [00:02:00] of commercial experience, his work that some of the. Best global consulting firms in the world, always in learning and leadership development roles. Sasha embraced his entrepreneurial side, uh, most recently and started two startups that have grown successfully, but Sasha's Korea was not without challenges in his mid-twenties.
[00:02:21] Renata: He was fired from a top-tier consulting firm following some difficult personal circumstances, which negatively impacted his behavior at work and his situation. Which he will explain in our interview made him feel lonely, and it was difficult to talk about it with anyone, let alone open up about it at work.
[00:02:40] Renata: This intern led to further troubles in both his work and personal life, but this story has a happy ending, of course. And this is why I wanted to interview Sasha today. Sasha is an influential leadership and well-being coach, consultant, and facilitator with a passion for helping individuals and [00:03:00] organizations be the best they can be.
[00:03:01] Renata: He leads a life of purpose, follows his passions, and is one of the most generous, humble, and giving persons. In this episode of The Job Hunting Podcast, Sasha opens up about these challenges and shares how being authentically vulnerable saved his career and ultimately led him on his crusade to help others navigate.
[00:03:22] Renata: Obstacles in their lives. Look, it's a long episode, folks. So please grab a coffee or your tea, or go for a long walk because it's a hundred percent worth of or listening to. We start with Sasha explaining the link between. And empathy. And we go on from there, moving slowly but surely from his narrative as an excellent leadership expert that he is telling more and more about his journey.
[00:03:49] Renata: So here we go, diving straight into the deep end. Please enjoy
[00:03:54] Sacha: How do I understand some of the challenges someone with young kids has [00:04:00] without me sitting and listening. So it's the first or the core thing about empathy is the ability to listen and try and see and understand the other person's perspective.
[00:04:14] Sacha: That's key to empathy
[00:04:15] Renata: and empathy, being such a significant strength. And muscle that you're trying to build as part of your leadership coaching. Is it one of your top strengths? Sasha, what are your top strengths? I always ask this to, you know, all of my podcast guests, but I think in this episode more than ever, I'm curious to know, what do you believe or have you tested it using like via
[00:04:39] Sacha: strengths?
[00:04:41] Sacha: Empathy is one of my key strengths. And I know that through both my work and personal lives, you know, so I guess I'm often described as the friend that people would go to when they have an issue, they have a challenge. They’re trying to work through something that is typically quite vulnerable. You know, they would, they [00:05:00] would seek me out and kind of say, I know that you'll be able to help me through that. Now that doesn't mean that I can help them solve their problem. It means that I will give them my time back to what I said before. And I will listen. I'm giving them that opportunity just to vent and tell their story for me to sit and listen that's sometimes is just so critically important.
[00:05:22] Sacha: So absolutely that is a strength, and it's something that I've used in my career, but. Personally, as well as some of my other main forces, I’m a people connector. So when I build relationships with people, I try to gauge a good breadth of what's important to them what’s relevant for them outside of what I can just provide so that I can bring.
[00:05:45] Sacha: People connect with people outside of my skillset. And there'll be various conversations that I'm having with people where it'll trigger. Okay. So based on what you've just told me, I think you should connect with this person because [00:06:00] there'll be some value for you to have. So connecting has been.
[00:06:03] Sacha: Big part of my career to date and something that I love to do. And I would describe a, as a key strength. And so similar to the connecting is, is building relationships. So I've had relationships over the years; you and I are a classic example. We don't need to talk every day, but the fact that you know, we can reach out, reconnect with each other almost at any point in time, and see a piece of content that we know might be relevant or interesting for each other.
[00:06:31] Sacha: I build lasting relationships with people. And that has helped me in my career navigate some of the more challenging times and also helped me in terms of, you know, the decisions, you know, knowing whom to go to have that sounding board, good people that I trust who have a vested interest, love, and care for me and would, would equally look out for me.
[00:06:52] Sacha: I would do so for them in the same way. So there's this mutual caring network I would do. I
[00:06:58] Renata: love that. And as an [00:07:00] example for the listeners, if they, if this is too theoretical for them, it warms my heart when it's like a Sunday afternoon and I get a text from you because you've listened to something or you're watching something, or you're reading something. You thought of me, and you sent it.
[00:07:14] Renata: And it says so lovely. You know, it would have been, I don't know, weeks or months since we've last spoken. Yep. Th something, you know, there's something think of me, and then you sent it to me, and he said, you have to watch these, you have to read this. You're going to love it. And it is something nice that you can do for somebody that is part of your network.
[00:07:34] Renata: It doesn't matter how long ago you've seen them; if you thought of them, reach out.
[00:07:39] Sacha: And I think, I think that's the thing, you know, there's nothing else. There's no sort of ulterior motive. It's just so pure and authentic that I listened to a podcast. Oh, Renata would love this. Or, you know, James would, would, would appreciate this piece of content or something, because I know that that's a value to them.
[00:07:57] Sacha: And if I've listened to it or I'm not just going to [00:08:00] assume that, you know, you've got your hands on it, so think of them and let them know you've thought of them and send them a little message and say, Hey, I thought of you listened to this podcast. I think you'd really. I watched this video on YouTube, which reminds me of some of you, and what I talked about.
[00:08:13] Sacha: It's such an easy thing to do, and it's such a great way to maintain relevance with your networks in a genuine, authentic
[00:08:21] Renata: way. And before the need to build empathy, to reinforce loyalty. And with great resignation and people leaving the jobs, voting with their feet. There's that lack of loyalty, which I'm assuming you believe it's to do with the lack of empathy from employers to their employees.
[00:08:41] Renata: I mean, you've been talking to people you've been coaching have been, uh, consulting. How are employers looking at this issue of great resignation? The exit of the staff.
[00:08:55] Sacha: It's tough to lump all employers into one box [00:09:00] and the same thing with, you know, all workers or employees, you know, um, every employer is different.
[00:09:06] Sacha: Um, there are differences across industries. There are differences across, you know, organizations within the industry. Just like, there are differences in, you know, focus, passion, attention for, for lots of workers. So, you know, there is no doubt that many employers are doing this well and who have recognized that.
[00:09:28] Sacha: As I said earlier, this is the year of the employee, that employee wellbeing and value. Absolutely at the forefront to maintain that loyalty. So some are doing it well; they’re putting things in place. They're placing well-being in place. They've adopted hybrid working models.
[00:09:44] Sacha: They've adopted flexible working models that are not only now short-term but are here to stay. For example, some of the big four consulting firms were very proactive in announcing. Hey, hybrid working is here to stay. You no [00:10:00] longer need to be here in the office. We've focused much more on outcomes.
[00:10:04] Sacha: How you get the work done is far less important than the outcomes we strive for. So if that means that you need to work more, you know, late, because you've got kids to drop off in the morning, or you just want to spend more time sleeping in because you're not a morning person, we're much more focused on let's get the work done.
[00:10:25] Sacha: End on time, but the manner and the time in which you do it on where you do it from is, is far less critical. So there are those companies that are doing it. Well, there are still some companies that aren't, there are still some companies that, for whatever reason, kind of thing that it's one size and that, you know, the whole COVID thing was a short-term thing.
[00:10:46] Sacha: And the only way to manage work effectively. Is to revert to the standard system of, Hey, there are fixed hours, and you come into the office, and this is work time, and work time is separate to, to home time. And [00:11:00] then there are specific jobs and careers where flexible working arrangements and, you know, the ability to work from anywhere simply don't exist.
[00:11:08] Sacha: You know, if you work in construction, Actually building houses or hotels or hospitals or carparks or whatever, that is not a thing for you. So what I'm also hearing is that there are some frustrations. For example, if we take construction to present this example, there are the white-collar workers in construction or those who work in the office.
[00:11:30] Sacha: You know, the project managers and the salespeople, et cetera, who then get the luxury of working flexibly and working for me. The guys and the girls who onsite literally have to be on site. So in some industries that it's causing this kind of divide, well, if these guys are getting these perks, what perks can we get?
[00:11:49] Sacha: And that's something that I think is still an unresolvable issue. And there are some, you know, several other industries similar to that long answer to your question. Some organizations are doing it really [00:12:00] well and proactively and see it as long-term sustainability. Measuring productivity and focusing on productivity rather than input others aren't, and then others are kind of in this difficult situation of, Hey, you know, we don't have that luxury.
[00:12:14] Sacha: Yeah.
[00:12:14] Renata: It's a fascinating conundrum because up until 2019, so many organizations, those of good organizations that we look up to in terms of, you know, how they treat their employees and whatnot, we're investing so much in their campus. Office location with all the perks is you come to work, and we have food for you.
[00:12:36] Renata: We have a message for you. We have, uh, you know, a nap room. We have a meditation room we have. So it was enticing for them to bring stuff together. And these same organizations are all saying, stay with. And you don't have to come back to work ever again. So in a, they flipped, and they're nimble enough to be able to convert.
[00:12:56] Renata: Whereas what you're saying is some organizations either [00:13:00] are not nimble enough. They have too much of a bureaucracy of policies and protocols that doesn't allow them to adopt different cultures quickly. Structurally just camped since it's hard, you know, health sector, tourism, hospitality, infrastructure, transport, constructions, and so on.
[00:13:20] Renata: So it's a, it's a decade-long transition. Not only because we need to establish what we can and cannot do from home, but also insurance wise and, you know, traditional health and safety and globalization. Can you work from a different country and you know, how do you. Tax people differently or organizations differently.
[00:13:41] Renata: If they have the stuff, it's just a big Pandora box that we have opened, and it will be a while always to be sorted out. But that's the tyranny of distance of leaders leading from, from a distance, right. It is not being able to watch what people are doing and observe. There's a tendency to [00:14:00] micromanage. There's a tendency sometimes not to be authentic.
[00:14:05] Sacha: Absolutely. I mean, you know, in, in, in my space in leadership development, you know, leadership hasn't changed in the way that I see leadership and the skills that are so vital to leadership. So that the what in leadership. It hasn't necessarily changed. How we lead has changed because we now live in this technological world, hybrid learning people, working from remote locations, and they're not under our nose, et cetera.
[00:14:30] Sacha: You know, we still need to, to, to lead to coach, to inspire, to empower, to trust. We still need to do. But how we do it has differed through technology and remote learning. So, you know, the fundamentals are still there, but how do we do that? Do you know? So how do we check in with our employees?
[00:14:50] Sacha: How do we check-in and ensure they're okay? How do we check-in and make sure that they're contributing? How do we make sure that the check-in and feel valued? How do we make sure that [00:15:00] their voices are heard? And, you know, in terms of decision-making when they're not physically sitting here in the.
[00:15:06] Sacha: So that's something that is kind of a big focus of the work that I'm doing with leaders is again, not saying that those things were never necessary, they were always paramount. But how do you do that now in this remote situation? When you know, people aren't physically sitting in the room, that's for sure.
[00:15:21] Sacha: And
[00:15:22] Renata: this leads to a sort of the critical questions that I would love to talk to you about because we've never been so open about our personal lives. I mean, you can see my background. I can see your background where at home, sometimes there are noises. Occasionally, we are weaving in the personal sphere with the professional's fear.
[00:15:43] Renata: Every time we log in for a zoom meeting. I just completely changed. The way that we engage with our work is of so, so, so different from, from two, three years ago. And that leaves [00:16:00] us, you know, vulnerable and much more open for our colleagues and peers at work to find out about what's happening at home. And you are such a great person to talk about this because you were ahead of your time.
[00:16:15] Renata: In terms of sharing your vulnerabilities and your challenges while you were building your corporate career and having significant, massive issues to deal with at home. I wouldn't be bringing it up if I knew you you're, you know, you're comfortable talking about this. I know that this spot, you're a speaking blub and the sort of stuff that you talk about when you're training your leaders.
[00:16:39] Renata: So why don't we tell the listeners a bit of your background? Yeah, sure. How you developed your corporate career and the ups and downs.
[00:16:51] Sacha: Absolutely. You know, you and I, you and I have talked about this over the years, and it's, and it's an absolutely core part of my story are the challenges and the [00:17:00] vulnerabilities that I experienced particularly early on in my career.
[00:17:03] Sacha: So there's, there's no shying away from it. And you know, if anything, I now looking back, I love to talk about it because. It directed me in the right way, having to go through some of the learnings and challenges through my poor behaviors, uh, early on in my career. So I guess my story, the way that I tell my story is I was a bit of a, a high achiever slash nerd at school always did well, um, at school.
[00:17:31] Sacha: And, you know, I had a choice of university courses, ended up at Monash University in Melbourne, and I did arts commerce. And again, I did well at university. Um, I excelled in both trades. And I did psychology for arts choice of honors. And I ended up doing my benefits in econometrics and finance, but that was a year of procrastination to go.
[00:17:50] Sacha: I'm not ready to go out into the world. I don't know what there is there yet. And management consulting was this big buzz back then. And I thought, wow, that sounds amazing. You know, working [00:18:00] with some leading firms on unique projects across multiple industries, you know, the diversity. Bread from the team dynamics all sounded very exciting.
[00:18:09] Sacha: Back then, it was the big six firms. Now, of course, it's the big four. And I remember I was fortunate to receive offers from five out of the big six, which was terrific. And I ended up joining after. But when I joined Arthur Anderson to start my career after university was almost the same day; my mum was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.
[00:18:35] Sacha: And I lived with my mum. I'm the elder of two siblings. From my dad's first marriage, my mum and dad were divorced. My mum was a single mum, and she was a working-class mom. She was a psychiatric nurse. So her getting sick meant some, some real trouble. She was not going to be able to work. She was not kind to be able to care for herself.
[00:18:59] Sacha: [00:19:00] And I'm in my mid-twenties, kind of at the prime of my career, ready to go. And everything sort of came crashing down. You know, I had to look after my mum, but for some reason, like there was this. There was kind of this shame in that, you know, I'm so young, my mom's so young she's ill, and that was a hard thing to talk about.
[00:19:18] Sacha: And I didn't talk about it with many people, and many colleagues at work didn't know about it. It wasn't something that I shared early on. Yeah. I think it
[00:19:26] Renata: old, but there was a time when people didn't talk about these things that were
[00:19:32] Sacha: either. It's just, it's just when I talk about it now, and I say shame, like how could I be ashamed of my mum falling ill and, and, and being embarrassed to talk about it and, and so forth. And I guess what happened was, you know, I went from being child, although it was in my mid-twenties, I went from child to carer, and I think that was the thing for me.
[00:19:51] Sacha: That was probably the embarrassing thing. I had to look after my mother, um, emotionally and financially. And, and [00:20:00] I, and I didn't share that or talk about that with many people. Um, now that meant for me that not having an outlet, not being able to vent and share, and being vulnerable back then told that I was changing behaviorally at work.
[00:20:15] Sacha: In fact, I was becoming an actual ratbag. I was doing all sorts of pesty, nuisance, annoying things. I was sending inappropriate emails. I was misbehaving. Failing. And it was very, very unlike me, as I said, I've been a bit of a, a goody-two-shoes at school, and I kind of knew that I wasn't going to make a change myself.
[00:20:36] Sacha: And I was about two years in. I was going to be kicked out. There was no doubt. I'd had that many warnings from HR and all sorts of things. And fortunately, at the time, I'd been tapped on the shoulder by one of the strategy consulting firms. And I went, you know what? This is a great outlet. And I'll mention the firm.
[00:20:52] Sacha: It was 80 county. Now they are a top-tier strategy global consulting firm. And if you want it to work in consulting, you would [00:21:00] love to work for one of them. And I ended up getting the job with them, and I think I lasted about a year, and there I broke every kind of moral and ethical rule that you could do.
[00:21:13] Sacha: I'm not, I'm not casual about that as, as I sound, but for me, it was just, the workplace was somewhere that was, I needed for a paycheck. I needed to support my mother financially, and because of the emotional burden that I guess it was having on me and looking after it, I just rebelled. And I did all sorts of; I was venting.
[00:21:38] Sacha: I was venting. I was breaking. I was breaking the rules around expense policy. I was flying business class to things that when I should have been any economy, I was staying in hotels over weekends when I should've been coming home. But it was just easier rather than having to recheck in, et cetera.
[00:21:57] Sacha: I was looking for all these. [00:22:00] Creature comforts in my working life, materialistic things that made my life easier because my life was crumbling at home and it was incredibly challenging. And please note, listers, I'm not using this as an excuse for my behavior. I got fired. I deserved to be fired. It was entirely on me, and it was huge.
[00:22:23] Sacha: What this is, is the explanation. And the explanation has only come through years of therapy and counseling afterward as to why I acted out in this way? Because at the time I didn't, I didn't know what I was doing, but not having that network, not having the vent, the workplace became that vent.
[00:22:39] Sacha: So I lost my job at 80 Carney. That was devastating. I told my dad, who I'm not close to or wasn't close to at the time. And my then-girlfriend. And they were the only two people, but to everyone else I created. Different narrative and I, and that narrative became almost the truth for me, that, and that was, Hey, I was, I was traveling too much [00:23:00] for work.
[00:23:00] Sacha: It was getting too much; I needed to be home, more mums re recently fallen ill. I need to be around her. So I made a choice so effectively a substantial big lie, which I thought would shield me. And yeah. Anything, but it just, it, uh, you know, it was this false armor and I, I was never vulnerable in that process. Still, at that time, I was very fortunate to find the reach foundation run by the late great Jim Stein's, former AFL footballer slash youth ambassador inspirational leader.
[00:23:32] Sacha: And Jim ran this organization that was to empower teenagers, to sort of finding their self-esteem, build empathy, show vulnerability, et cetera. And I was supposedly there as a leader, my friend. Ben Gilbert was a doctor. He’d been there as a leader, and he was leaving to travel the world for a year. And he said, Sasha, why don't you come in?
[00:23:49] Sacha: You'd be great. Now I went there going, oh yeah, I can, I can show these teenagers a good thing. Well, let me tell you, I became the student, and what I saw in these young people going [00:24:00] through incredibly troubled lives, in whatever aspect it was going through a divorce, going through bullying, some of them going through physical or emotional violence and talking about.
[00:24:10] Sacha: And sharing that with a network was such a huge eye-opener to me. And that was where I went, oh my God. Look at the power in sharing, being open, talking about your challenges through that process. Uh, I met a great lady, Sue Bannatyne. She was a partner at PWC, and she said, Sasha, we've got a role that I think you'd be perfect for.
[00:24:31] Sacha: It's in coaching, our young graduates at the firm. I think you'd be amazing. I'd love to champion you. So. I went for the role, got the part. I was in the position for about a year and a half. And still today, I say it was one of the best roles and the best environments that I've ever worked in. I just loved it. I loved the people.
[00:24:49] Sacha: I loved what I was. Um, it was facilitating; it was consulting. It was presenting. It was working to inspire these young, enthusiastic graduates and help shape them early on in their careers. And [00:25:00] I loved it, but that's when we met. Correct. But my world came crashing down again, and it was about 2006 or 2007.
[00:25:09] Sacha: Uh, the head of HR called me when I was in Sydney. One day, she called me into her office, and she said, Sasha, did you ever work at 80 Carney? And I think I felt the blood rush from my face to my feet. I must have just got it. White. And I was like, oh my God. Yes, because this was now four years on.
[00:25:30] Sacha: Yes. And she said, were you fired? And I said, yes. And I kind of went through this whole story again. And she said, okay, well, someone brought that terror to our attention. We looked at your CV, and 80 Carney was left out of your CV. So. Uh, effectively are, you know, they saw it as I'd manipulated my way, or I'd been dishonest in providing the information to get me in the door then and get me the job at PWC.
[00:25:57] Sacha: So this was like the [00:26:00] second time I'm being fired for the sort of roughly the same incident. Only this time, I had partners, HR managers, you know, graduates all coming to. Rally around me, support me, and say, Hey, you know, he is fantastic. And what he's done here is excellent and so forth, you know, behaviourally, I was in such a different place.
[00:26:20] Sacha: The big difference for me was had, so I ended up losing my job. It took them about five days to make the decision. And they went with a natural hard line of despite the fact, you know, Uh, writing one performer and everything you've done here has been so, so brilliant. We have to take the hard-line and say, you know, you were dishonest in how you came to us and the information you provided.
[00:26:41] Sacha: And that was a bitter pill to swallow. It was devastating for me, but the difference was. My mum was no longer around, sadly. She was no longer my priority, and the person I needed to protect it was now about me. And so for the first time, and again, through reach and seeing the [00:27:00] power of vulnerability, I was able to say, I'm not okay.
[00:27:04] Sacha: I was able to put up my hand and say, I need help. I'm crashing here. I can't; I can't go through life like this. I need, I need to change. And in doing that, it was the most liberating and empowering thing that I've ever done because of industry networks and people around me, friends, family, et cetera, who didn't know really what I was going through because I had never been, be honest and forthcoming.
[00:27:33] Sacha: Suddenly came to me and said, I want to help. I want to help you. Let me help you. Let's get you out of this mess. You know, a huge shout-out to mark Jankelson, one of the senior HR figures at ANZ bank, who listened to my story. And who said, Sasha, I love your story. I appreciate your honesty.
[00:27:53] Sacha: We've got a role for you. I think it would be a great fit. And, and from there, that's what sent me on my [00:28:00] quest to go. I'm not the only one who goes through these challenges in life, but the most significant learning here, I want to share this with anyone and everyone I encounter. And that's really how I embarked on this, this pathway of wanting to work with people, understanding the impact.
[00:28:16] Sacha: And the power of vulnerability, um, building empathy. Um, and as I said, it is the foundation for who I am and, therefore, what I love to teach. So
[00:28:26] Renata: this was when I met you. I met you when you were in a, on set, not PWC, because you had already had this by then. Your mother had already passed away. I'm so sorry about that.
[00:28:39] Renata: I've said this to you before. She must have been an amazing woman. And our friend John Burgess, who was working with me, was hiring him to help me with the Monash MBA work that I was doing back then. He said you have to bring Sasha to speak to your students. Those were MBA students or master’s students.
[00:28:58] Renata: We had breakfast [00:29:00] for them every three weeks. I can't remember exactly, but we used to invite alumni and. Where Monash alumni. So John said ask Sasha, and I had no idea what you would talk about. And then here comes this very well dressed. Very well-groomed, looking incredibly successful. Young men.
[00:29:21] Renata: 8:00 AM telling a hundred students how crappy is, you know, the young year is a graduate, and you know how he blew a couple of jobs. And that was so, so vulnerable at a time. Back in 2008, 2009, when that was still not invoked, there was no Brenau brown back then; no one else talked like that to anyone so unusual and unique.
[00:29:53] Renata: And I think people were just blown away by you back then. Right. And then from that point onwards, wherever [00:30:00] I went, I took you. Yeah.
[00:30:04] Sacha: I remember I remember the session so incredibly well because while I might've looked calm and so forth, you know, it was one of the first times that I was still going to stand in front of a group and tell the story, you know, whilstwhilewhilst while I'd sat down, and I talked, you know, in one-on-one or in a tiny intimate group, standing up and presenting amongst other presenters as well, and, and making the conscious decision in advance to say, I'm going to talk about my shitty experience and how bad I was and all the wrongs that I did as you know, the truth to my career and how I am, where I am today.
[00:30:43] Sacha: I was shaking inside. So if I didn't show it externally, I certainly felt I could still go back and feel it, but you're right. Look at the response that I got from; I think they would have been probably more than a hundred students in the room. I think there was there; 150 odd students were waiting.
[00:30:58] Sacha: One-on-one. Line [00:31:00] up and talk to me and, you know, a couple of them kind of want it even just instantly to relay the challenges they were facing at the time. And, um, they felt the comfort to do so. And, and again, even just that response kind of went well, look at the difference you can make.
[00:31:14] Sacha: We all go through challenges. We are all incredibly imperfect species. We are all imperfect. It's about. You know, to use Ben Crow, who is an absolute mentor of mine, his words. And he, he orders the much more articulately than me, but as imperfect species, that is about embracing our imperfections, learning to accept what they are, that we are going to make mistakes.
[00:31:37] Sacha: And we're all going to trip up and, and there are tolerances and limits to what we can achieve, but being okay in accepting that. And that's where I think I got to where. I don't know that I could have done anything differently. I didn't know what it was like to be a full-time carer at 25 years. I didn't see the impact it would have on me.
[00:31:58] Sacha: And then not being able to [00:32:00] share that load with other people. None of my friends at the same age were going; we were losing a parent so that they couldn't empathize. Absolutely. I told them more and more, and they could see, you know, my mum's demise, and they could sympathize, but they couldn't empathize.
[00:32:16] Sacha: So I still felt very alone. And I still think that I don't know that I would've been able to do anything differently back then. Now I tell people you can; you’ve got to share. Got it. You got to open up, and you've got to talk about it. People have an inherent want to help when an authentic vulnerability is present.
[00:32:35] Renata: I think for people listening and, you know, I see this a lot with my clients and people that ask me questions on social media, you know, how do I explain that? I have been without work for two years. And I often say tell them the truth. Don't try to make something up or run out, or I can't get a job. But also I have been caring for my mum.
[00:32:59] Renata: I [00:33:00] mean that so many people became carers during COVID times. You know, they have to self isolate because they, their parents, were not people that could get COVID and had to, you know, be very cautious. Or they had children that had some autoimmune diseases. It couldn’t work, and people feel like they can't share that with recruiters.
[00:33:22] Renata: And I am all for you sharing that with recruiters because it's not about even being imperfect. It's just being human. There's more to life than work. If you can’t work, that's fine. We are in a privileged country here where if you can't work, you're not, you know, There; there is a safety net around you or Centrelink and government support.
[00:33:44] Renata: So, you know, this podcast, this podcast girl, uh, worldwide. So not every country has this fantastic support that we have here. I mean, people don't think it's amazing, but you have to understand that I'm from Brazil. So, um, you know, [00:34:00] in comparison, we do have quite a sound welfare system here, but we have to make the most out of it.
[00:34:05] Renata: I remember doing COVID Sasha. Some people were calling me and saying, okay, Age or help. I need your support. I haven't, I haven't accessed centrally, cat, and I'm like, why not? What are you waiting for? You know, if you need the support, just reach out. People are so ashamed. Yeah.
[00:34:22] Sacha: Yeah. And I, and I, and that's what I read.
[00:34:24] Sacha: That's what I can relate to. I, I, I relate to that shame. So in the story that I told of, you know, having to be a carer at 25 of my mother, none of my friends had to care for my foot. You know, so it was, it was shameful. I look back now, and I go, what's wrong with me? How is that shameful? The support that I could have had was the encouragement that the shoulders it's just it's, it's astounding, but I just want to touch on two things that you said just briefly while I remember.
[00:34:51] Sacha: So one is, you said you tell your listeners to tell the truth. I 100% endorse it. All the time, [00:35:00] tell the truth. You must notify the fact. What is your narrative? And mean it, tell it in a meaningful way if you've had issues, challenges, et cetera. And I have; what did you learn from them? What's been your learning now.
[00:35:16] Sacha: I talked about how it opened up for me. Uh, I was vulnerable, so that in itself drew people around me, and then it created. Gift. And this wants to instill this skill and way of thinking in everyone, uh, who I, whom I made. Right. So it sent me on this positive journey, but what was the learning for you during your challenging time?
[00:35:38] Sacha: That's, that's what you should be focused on rather than what the issue was that, that, um, that you may have done or your dark past, if you had one. And the other thing that you, you touched on briefly was, you know, not necessarily being imperfect, but being human for me being here. Is being imperfect. There is no such thing as perfection.[00:36:00]
[00:36:00] Sacha: In my view, we all have cracks and crevices in, indifferent, in different areas or in other times of our lives that he's. How we, how we, how we cope, and how we deal with them is what's, what's critical and critically important. Um, and again, that's why, you know, lots of leadership skills and learning and, and courses and things like this, your podcast provides such suitable mechanisms to kind of go.
[00:36:25] Sacha: You're not on your own here. Believe me. When I say everyone has had some conduct issue, challenge, difficult time or times in their lives that they've had to navigate that might look like stains in their career, but something was going on. Feel free and be brave to share what was going on for you.
[00:36:47] Sacha: You know, whether you had to be a carer for someone who is ill or you just, you know, you, you lost motivation, and you were, you were having doubts about, you know, life and living. We all have these moments and [00:37:00] no more time than now, is it safe and okay. To recognize and talk about our challenges, but hopefully what we've learned from them and how we can move.
[00:37:10] Sacha: More positively. We can't do it on our own. We all need people. We all need to connect. Um, and connectedness is, is critically important. And it reminds me of Renada if I may just go back to the strengths that we talked about earlier on two other forces that I think are incredibly connected to our time; I love to be generous with my time where I can.
[00:37:33] Sacha: B. So when people reach out, people are referred, or they reach out cold so long as I, I get a sense of what they're asking for and that's clear and overt, then I'll try and be generous with my time. And the most amazing people I've learned along the way are people who've reached out to me. And that goes hand in hand then with curiosity, Curiosity.
[00:37:57] Sacha: It is such an essential thing from a career [00:38:00] point of view. Whereas if you're close-minded to something that you perhaps don't know about, or you think you're not even interested in, but you haven't given it a go, you're potentially missing some incredible. Opportunities. So my two strengths that I like to focus on and two things that I would tell your listeners to do are be curious and generous with your time.
[00:38:25] Sacha: People who reach out to you, if you can accommodate them by all means, ask what after that, try and know what their intentions are. But if you can, if you can fit them in, um, meet with them because. In the great words of John Burgess, who matters, everybody matters. And you just don't know whom you're going to come across.
[00:38:46] Sacha: And I have met some incredibly inspiring people that I would never have met with if I wasn't curious, uh, or, or that I just simply said no. And
[00:38:56] Renata: that listening, John Burgess is a common familiar friend of ours [00:39:00] and a very well-known executive coaching, Melbourne, who won't come on this podcast. I've invited him several times.
[00:39:06] Renata: That's a real thing. It's not that he doesn't want to come because. John is one of my oldest friends here in Australia, but he wants me to invite all the people he's like, I'm not coming back. You have to ask such and such people in such and such. He gets it, he is such a great connector, and he wants the soapbox to be given to someone else, which I think is such a lovely thing to do.
[00:39:27] Renata: So maybe one day I'll convince him, John, if you're listening. You know, you're still on my list. I would like to discuss one thing with you, and I want to see how you've done. Even though you say, when I invited you to speak at that Monash alumni event, was that the first time you spoke publicly about what was going on.
[00:39:47] Renata: Because you sounded confident, and here is what I want to say. It's essential. And it's important to tell your story, uh, as it anticipates any white elephants in the room. [00:40:00] For example, from that story you told about PWC, you know, you shouldn't, um, keep things because. They will come to bite you, but it's also essential to come to terms with it before you step up and tell your truth.
[00:40:16] Renata: You know, if there is a grieving process that needs to happen, if there is some resolution that you need to, uh, or reflections that you need to do. And you mentioned narrative, you know, if you have to work on your report, it's essential to do. Before you go and talk to, let's say, a recruiter or a future employer, or, you know, a necessary person in your network, because those are not opportunities for you to go through therapy with them.
[00:40:40] Renata: You know, I think that needs to happen prior and, and that's, that's a different conversation. So I wanted to ask you how you prepared yourself for that public speaking? Cause it was so impressive and I, and impressed
[00:40:53] Sacha: some people. Thank you. You're very kind. Uh, so I think so; as I said earlier, that was the first [00:41:00] time that I shared the story in a big group presentation.
[00:41:04] Sacha: I had not done that before that day. And also alongside other guest speakers. I, you know, I was, I was one of a few guest speakers that day, and I can't remember the topic, but it was something about, you know, networking or, or, or you know, how to get a job or how to be S you know, start your career successfully.
[00:41:19] Sacha: And I was, I
[00:41:20] Renata: I don't remember the other guest speakers at all. I just remember.
[00:41:26] Renata: We used to invite a lot of fancy people
[00:41:29] Sacha: here. Yeah.
[00:41:31] Renata: But I,
[00:41:33] Sacha: it looks so, so, so I made the conscious decision that if I was going to come and present that I was not going to stand up there and bullshit, I had a story to tell. And thankfully, now I had spoken that story time and time and time again, albeit in much more intimate one-on-one sessions, sitting down with friends or friends' parents or.
[00:41:55] Sacha: Um, former work colleagues or my networks, you know, I had done it. And each [00:42:00] time I did, it got more accessible and more manageable, you know, people were willing to listen. Um, I got all sorts of different reactions. You know, some people were incredibly empathetic and, and, and, and very supportive. Some people, you know, still sort of took a pretty hard line.
[00:42:15] Sacha: Well, look, you know, those actions, they're going to stick with you for a long time. And, you know, people have long memories, and you know, it wasn't, it wasn't all, you know, Hey, everyone just wrapped. It wrapped me up in cotton wool by any means. Um, I had multiple different, uh, different reactions, but what was important was that it was my story, and it was the truth.
[00:42:34] Sacha: So going, as I say, going to that session, whatever the topic was, I was like, well, I got to tell the truth here. And. I was crapping myself inside. Thankfully, maybe I'd done much presenting and much public speaking, it might not have shown. Still, I was shaking inside, looking to a group of probably 150 masters students or looking at me for [00:43:00] inspiration on how to succeed in their careers when I had, I had failed miserably twice.
[00:43:06] Sacha: So yeah, long answer to your question. I knew what I was. I knew I was going to say it. I didn't know how it was going to come out.
[00:43:14] Renata: Well, you made a significant impact, and you still do. And after that, you may not remember this, but I invited you to speak a couple more times.
[00:43:24] Sacha: I've enjoyed all your speaking.
[00:43:25] Sacha: Yes.
[00:43:26] Renata: That's because I am fascinated by how people understand success and failure and how. Tandy people are about their career trajectories and, you know, sometimes you're super successful, and you still feel like shit. And sometimes you fail miserably, and that is such a vast awakening, and it becomes so essential to who you are and how your career progresses your personal life.
[00:43:54] Renata: And I think people need to give failure more of a, you know, a hand because [00:44:00] some great learnings and opportunities can come from. The ups and the downs, more so even from the downs, you know, people say that over and over again. And we often see people in the public high going through those ups and downs, and we forgive them most times now there are things that we, we won't ignore, but I think that we, uh, opened.
[00:44:25] Renata: Listening and open to people saying who they are and for us to saying, okay, yeah, let's give you a chance. And I think that I would much rather be coached by someone like you than by someone who has had an extremely linear career. So the other day, I was talking to someone who was going to be recruited to be a head hunter for one of them.
[00:44:49] Renata: Big global headhunting companies. And this person had, such a linear career, had never changed. Companies have had worked for the same company their entire life. And I'm [00:45:00] thinking, are you the right person to be a headhunter? And so the analogy goes to you and what you do; I’d much rather have a coach, a leadership consultant, and a coach like you, who can show.
[00:45:16] Renata: All your scars and your badges and help people go through good times and bad times. And we focus on some of the shitty stuff that has, has happened to you, but you've had an, you, you still had a fantastic career, and that's what inspires hope right. Has flown through shitty
[00:45:33] Sacha: times. I mean, the opportunities that I've had since the, I guess the second sacking, uh, if we want to be us directly.
[00:45:41] Sacha: As, like that, um, have been phenomenal and the growth and, and everything has been, uh, incredible, but I just want to touch on before I go there and talk about some of the successes I want to touch on. Again, something you brought up, you know, success versus failure, and there is no doubt as I look back on now, my 25th year [00:46:00] or 25 years of, of my commercial, uh, working life that the majority of my learning has come through failure.
[00:46:07] Sacha: And although I've had huge successes since that horrible second sacking, I still have had massive failures and massive challenges in both personal and professional, my professional life. So it's not like, Hey, I got it out of the way. I've only had those two issues, and it's been smooth. That hasn’t happened either.
[00:46:27] Sacha: I have had plenty of challenges along the way, but thankfully I've had some fantastic successes. I've found passion and purpose in what I'm doing. And that's the most important thing I would say to anyone is, is to, to, to derive fulfillment beyond a paycheck for what it is that you do.
[00:46:47] Sacha: And that doesn't mean you have to do that thing forever. You may change, but passion and purpose plays a RealPlayer, really crucial role in fulfillment and to, uh, to, uh, you know, a life, a life worth [00:47:00] living. So, yeah, I just wanted to highlight that for me. Most of my learning has come through failures. If I didn't have the losses that I'd had, I think I'd be quite entirely stifled as a human being in terms of a lot of my learning.
[00:47:12] Sacha: And to touch on some of the successes. I worked in a significant role as sort of head of talented at, at a and Z in the institutional bank change in CEO. And the new CEO was not really about talent leadership and high-performing teams. So when I left there and joined talent too, an opportunity came for me to start my venture called upskill learning.
[00:47:35] Sacha: Um, and that was helping people navigate this and challenging thing of finding courses and careers to help them upskill or re-skill to take them on to a new, better-improved career path. Um, and that's what we did for them. We took a lot of the work, effort, and research out and did that for people.
[00:47:55] Sacha: God, I mean the, in the right direction for courses and skills, and again, that ran [00:48:00] successfully for several years and then suddenly it dropped off again, and the government kept changing lots of issues, and we had to keep pivoting, as they say, and I had a relationship breakup at the time. The relationship breakup also happened to be my business partner.
[00:48:13] Sacha: Now, while we are incredibly applicable, it was a very, very challenging time. So, you know, again, another, another time of really needing support, um, um, from, from people around me and being able to share and talk about the challenges that I was facing helped me avoid some of the pitfalls that I'd heard earlier on you are
[00:48:32] Renata: used to it.
[00:48:33] Renata: Right. But I was so used to it that I did this
[00:48:36] Sacha: so used to it, you know, Talking about shitty times. And then, you know, with, with one of my other classmates forming an, a tech startup build labor, which I'm sort of in my third year of, and, and sort of the challenges in growing a tech startup in a crazy competitive landscape, that's been super challenging, super challenging on ours.
[00:48:58] Sacha: Super challenging on our [00:49:00] time, super challenging on our mind, on our wellbeing, on our financial resources. And it's been a real slog to get the business just to where it's at now, which is we've got a, we've got a sort of prototype product. Um, it's in the market, it's slowly being tested, but now what the company needs is to step aside and focus on what I love doing, which is the business coaching leadership development, et cetera, and bring in a.
[00:49:51] Sacha: Amazing business opportunity, but you know, I'm not a tech startup, sorry. I'm not a tech CEO. I don't want to be a tech CEO. I've [00:50:00] inherited that position to this point, but now it needs someone with the skills, passion, and talent to grow what we've already created into something magnificent.
[00:50:11] Sacha: And for me to, to get back to the roots of, of what I do and what I do much better and what gives me the fulfillment and the wellbeing and the mental health that I so desire
[00:50:21] Renata: come on. People don't realize that when there's a steep learning curve for, uh, for startups, the CEO. Change accordingly.
[00:50:29] Renata: And you know, as a founder, you have to be humble enough to step down as you you're doing. And it's yeah, no,
[00:50:36] Sacha: it's not, it's not easy, and it's, and it's not, and it's not for everyone. You know, I know something, some incredible founders who, you know, took the idea and are now running, you know, multi-million dollar organizations and doing so very successfully.
[00:50:49] Sacha: When I came into this business, I kind of went, maybe this is something that I. Um, it was ten times harder than a hundred times harder than I thought it was going to [00:51:00] be. And that was with some success, you know, we got into a very elite accelerator program. We got some VC funding from doing that program.
[00:51:09] Sacha: So we had some help, and still it's, it's incredibly challenging, but it has made me realize again how important passion and purpose is while I leave the business of build late. Phenomenal end and has a substantial potential impact on the construction sector. I know that I am not the right person with the right skills to lead this organization to where it needs to go capably.
[00:51:36] Sacha: And thus, yes, I need to find someone who can do that. And at the same time, I focus on what is critically important for me.
[00:51:44] Renata: Sasha, what is essential for you in 2022? What are you hoping for.?
[00:51:49] Sacha: Oh, look, it's going to sound very cliche, but, really for me, first and foremost is good health. This global pandemic, while some, it might've just been a [00:52:00] coffin and itchy throat for some days for others, you know, it was, it was debilitating.
[00:52:05] Sacha: And whether you were indirectly or directly affected, it's just been horrible. So first and foremost, good health. And, you know, I started the year with COVID. I, I had it over new year's and, and it knocked me for this. Thankfully, I had it with a very close group of friends, and we all hung out together and isolated together, and that made a world of difference.
[00:52:24] Sacha: But eight days I was struck down by it. So, uh, I feel for those who are affected somehow, not just with COVID with anything, health-related so good health first and foremost, second thing for me is this transition. You know, I want to see build label successfully. Climb to the next tier in, in, in its evolution, that's with someone good leading the organization with the right skills, capability, and passion.
[00:52:49] Sacha: And also for me in stepping into, you know, back into my leadership, coaching leadership development pathway, that's exciting for me, thirdly. Is [00:53:00] getting a couple of holidays in getting on a plane and leaving the shores of Australia. You know, travel is an essential thing for me. I love it.
[00:53:09] Sacha: It's my sanctuary. Like I'm sure it is for many people. We've, we've all been denied it. So it's not just on me, but I'm looking forward to, um, to, to get on a plane and, and, and doing a little bit of travel or being well later in. This
[00:53:22] Renata: sounds like a fantastic plan for 2022. I'm going to steal some of your ideas.
[00:53:26] Renata: I haven't made my plans yet. I'm going to do them on Australia day. So I'll S I'll incorporate some of that into my
[00:53:34] Sacha: planning. Yeah. Look, I mean, health is something that unfortunately is very, you know, largely out of, out of my control, you know, there are certain things that I can control to do with.
[00:53:44] Sacha: Certain things that are just unavoidable. And then when it comes to travel, who knows what our governments decide to do, take a
[00:53:52] Renata: leaf out of my mind because Andre and I want to do some travel around Australia with a camp event. Great idea. So, you [00:54:00] know, something you can
[00:54:00] Sacha: think of as well. Well, you've just made, you've just reminded me.
[00:54:03] Sacha: I'm. I bought a. And yeah, I bought a van and I am going to meet with a guy on Thursday, who is the one that I've chosen to do the fit-out because similar to you, I want a self-sufficient van that, Hey, if they're going to lock up our borders, then I got my van. Um, I got my bed. I got all the things I needed myself and my baby girl, Jada.
[00:54:28] Sacha: My little Kelpie can, um, can go. Yeah, hit the road and, um, travel and, also travel, and work from anywhere. YouDo you know? I mean, very fortunate that to some, to some degree, yeah. I can work from anywhere. So yeah,
[00:54:41] Renata: the requisite that I've told Andra, you can do the fit-out. You can decide whatever you want. As long as I have a place to work from,
[00:54:49] Sacha: I'm fine.
[00:54:50] Sacha: Yeah. That's the fourth one. All right,
[00:54:55] Renata: my friend, thank you so much for your time for sharing [00:55:00] your story with us. I know it will make a significant impact on many people's lives, and I will get lots of feedback. As I often do. And I'll let you know what people say because this will be a big one in this episode.
[00:55:14] Renata: I'm sure if it helps one person, that's, that's great.
[00:55:19] Sacha: Exactly it doesn't, you know, it, it just, just one is great if it helps more fantastic. But thank you so much for having me. It's always a pleasure to work with you. I wish you good health for the rest of 2022.
[00:55:31] Renata: Have coffee soon. Bye. An executive career spans many, many decades.
[00:55:36] Renata: So it's essential to understand that at some stage, you may encounter a setback or two choruses listening to this episode; I am hoping that you will be able to realize that setbacks can be an opportunity to discover great things about yourself and that there are excellent opportunities on the other side of failure.
[00:55:57] Renata: So happy that you're here listening to it with [00:56:00] me. And I hope to see you next time at the next episode. Bye for now.
About the Host
Hello, I’m Renata Bernarde, the Host of The Job Hunting Podcast. I’m also an executive coach, job hunting expert, and career strategist. I teach professionals (corporate, non-profit, and public) the steps and frameworks to help them find great jobs, change, and advance their careers with confidence and less stress.
If you are an ambitious professional who is keen to develop a robust career plan, if you are looking to find your next job or promotion, or if you want to keep a finger on the pulse of the job market so that when you are ready, and an opportunity arises, you can hit the ground running, then this podcast is for you.
In addition to The Job Hunting Podcast, , on my website, I have developed a range of courses and services for professionals in career or job transition. And, of course, I also coach private clients.
Contact Renata Bernarde
I’m determined to help you! I want you to feel empowered, nail your next job, and have the career you want.
My free resources for job hunters: The Optimized Job Search: Weekly Schedule & Masterclass.
Learn more about my services, courses, and group coaching: RenataBernarde.com