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Lindsay Gordon on Her New Book "Right For You"

Lindsay Gordon is an award-winning career coach, author and speaker on a mission to help people stop doing what they think is "right" in their career and start doing what's right for them. Through her work, she assists leaders in making clear and confident decisions so they can move forward in their careers (and lives) with purpose. Lindsay loves baking complicated pastries, barbershop singing, and applying her engineering brain to helping people be DECIDED.

LISTEN to our complete interview with Lindsay Gordon.


[00:01:00] Lindsay Gordon on barbershop singing

[00:02:00] Lindsay Gordon on baking as a hobby

[00:04:00] Lindsay Gordon on her career path

[00:06:00] Lindsay Gordon on her book “Right for You”

[00:07:00] Lindsay Gordon on 50% of her clients not leaving their jobs

[00:10:00] Lindsay Gordon on reframing your thinking

[00:11:00] Lindsay Gordon on the first step somebody should take when making a career change

[00:12:00] Lindsay Gordon on a success story from her clients

[00:14:00] Lindsay Gordon on the process of writing the book

[00:16:00] Lindsay Gordon on creating doodles in the book

[00:18:00] Lindsay Gordon on how things shifted during COVID

[00:21:00] Lindsay Gordon on her launch party and her ball gown collection

[00:24:00] Lindsay Gordon on managers and business owners helping employees find their place

[00:26:00] Lindsay Gordon on where people can get the book

[00:27:00] Lindsay Gordon on what’s next



Passionistas: Hi. We're Amy and Nancy Harrington founders of The Passionistas Project. And today we're talking with fabulous Lindsay Gordon. Lindsay's an award winning career coach, author, and speaker on a mission to help people stop doing what they think is right in their career and start doing what's right for them. Through her work, she assists leaders in making clear and confident decisions so they can move forward in their careers and lives with purpose. Lindsay loves baking complicated pastries, barbershop singing, and applying her engineering brain to helping people be decided. So please welcome Lindsay.

Lindsay: Thank you for having me. It is always a pleasure to chat with you too. So I'm just happy to be here.

Passionistas: We feel the same way about you? I remember the baking, but I, I vaguely remember the barbershop singing. Was that something you started doing in college?

Lindsay: I, it was actually way later than that. So I did musical theater growing up through high school. I mostly chose to do dance in college, but I think it was about. Gosh. I don't know if pandemic time, I feel like it was maybe five or six years ago that I was like, I wanna get back into singing. And I discovered barbershop singing and was like, where have you been? My vocal?

Passionistas: That's so cool. And what vocal range?

Lindsay: I am a baritone. So excellent. It, it seems very fitting based on my engineering background. Yeah. Cause I feel like all the baritone are like the accountants, the lawyers, the engineers, because it's such a, it's like the leftover note in the chord. That just sounds so bad if you sing it by itself.

Passionistas: That is awesome. And is your quartet all women or is it men and women?

Lindsay: It was all women. Yeah. So that was cool.

Passionistas: That's cool. And, um, and baking is something you, you would kind of consider doing it professionally and then realize, I don't think so. Right. And that's part of your whole journey that I found fascinating. Can you talk about?

Lindsay: So the title of the book is basically everything I do in my work "Right for You". So this launched last night, I still can't believe that I'm being introduced as an author, but, you know, we'll let it sink in and. Yeah. I think everything I do in my work is to help people make choices that actually feel good to them.

And oftentimes one of those questions is, do I want to do this thing as a job? Or do I want to do this thing as a hobby? And for me, I love. Baking. And I love complicated baking. I take professional baking classes for fun, but I kind of took myself through my own framework in this book. um, how would this engage the things that are most important to me. And I found that if I were doing it as a full-time thing, it actually, wasn't going to be the things that I really need to thrive in a job. So I got to say, this is my hobby and I love it. And I actually don't need to do it at this moment in my life as a career.

Passionistas: That's so cool. And we say that to people all the time, you know, it sounds so easy to say to people like, follow your passions? Right. Um, but we're like, yeah, but you don't have to do that for a job. Mm-hmm it could just mean like, have a great hobby that you like to do on the weekends or. You know, and your passions can change.

Lindsay: Yes.

Passionistas: You all the time. You don't have to decide what you wanna do when you're 18 and do that for the rest of your life.

Lindsay: Boring. Would that be…

Passionistas: no way? No way. So the people who don't know you, and, and haven't heard our episode of the podcast with you talk a little bit. Your original career and, and your professional journey that led you to become a career coach?

Lindsay: Yeah, I am on my third career so far, and I like to say that I have fallen into all of them as we, as we do with career transitions. Right. No plan over here. But I started my working life as an engineer. And that's actually why I call myself a career coach for analytically minded people, because this engineering background is quite unusual, did engineering for a little bit.

I was working in recycled water in Australia. Then I completely fell into technical support at Google and discovered that I am a human who love. Customer service. I love it. I love it. I love it. So that is a weird, delightful fact about me. and then as I was doing technical support, I. Was doing onboarding and training and all of our new hires were so stressed about their career.

And they were like, how do I talk to my manager? And what if I get stuck on this support team for forever? So I accidentally was having all these conversations about career. And, you know, people said you would be a coach. I didn't know what that meant. So I went and experimented and, and ended up doing a year and a half long program.

And then people started popping up and saying, are you taking clients? We have people to refer to you. So I ran the business on the side for a little bit, took it full time in 2016. And here we are six years later.

Passionistas: Amazing. So talk about your approach to working with your clients now.

Lindsay: Yeah. That's so much fun. I get to bring my engineering brain to a career. And what we do is we create a tailored framework of what matters to you in a couple different areas. So that you basically have a cheat sheet to say, okay, these are the things that are important to me. How does that relate to any opportunities that come my direction?

So the framework is in the book and it has four pieces. So first we look at values. What is important to you in life? And how does career fit into that? Next, we look at your fulfillment in different areas of your career. So things like results, relationships, career development, creative self-expression so that we can start to articulate what are the actual areas that I need for fulfillment.

Then we move into strengths and what I find with my clients, um, the, the strengths chapter starts with a client who said, Why did it take me until my forties to know what my strengths were and I think often, you know, people have that experience of nobody really teaches us how to discover that. We'll get you clear on strengths, the contribution you wanna make.

And then the fourth part of the framework is about environment. So what are the working conditions that you need in order to thrive? And then you've got this framework of, okay, this is me and who I am and what I need out of a career. And I'm gonna say yeses in this direction.

Passionistas: That's so cool. And one of the things I love about you. Well, I think you said like 50% of the people that you work with actually stay yeah. In their current job. You're not like encouraging everybody to just kind of like go up and try something new. You're helping them decide whether they are actually in the right place for them, which I think is really interesting.

Lindsay: Yeah. It, it has been such a fascinating finding over the six years because I mean, I like to honor. People's risk averseness because I think sometimes we say, you know, I'm risk averse with this like negative connotation because we get these messages of like, oh, well you should be taking these big leaps and just quit and do your passion.

But for most people that is not a. Thing that they really wanna be doing. It disrupts your stability. You know, if you are providing for a family or care taking for parents or whatever it is, quitting is not going to be the right thing for you necessarily. So that's always been kind of the way that I work with people, but I, yeah, I like to joke that I'm running a employee retention program because so many people come to me convinced that they need to quit.

What I find is that when you don't know what you're looking for and what's right for you, quitting is really the only option that you can see. So I help people get clear about what is actually right for them. Then they get to step back and say, oh, okay. I, I might actually choose this job. Even if it's not perfect, even if I don't choose it for the long term, but I know why it is right for me in this moment.

And yeah, as you said, over 50% of my clients do not end up quitting. So I feel like people have more chance of quitting if they don't work with me.

Passionistas: I also think people have this. Fantasy that the next thing is gonna be perfect and devoid of any issues. It's like every job has its pluses and minuses. Yeah. And. Is what you're going. Like, why are you going to where you're going and what you gonna find there. Yeah. So I think it's really great that you have them look at. Yeah. And it's sort of re reframing how you think about your current situation. Right?

Lindsay: Right cause it's always trade-offs. Right. And so if you can articulate, these are the things that are in alignment or out of alignment here and I either choose that or I don't choose that. And if I'm choosing to make a move, these are the trade-offs. I will be accepting over here. I am choosing it for these reasons. And I know that these reasons might not be the perfect alignment. So I think there's just so much calmness when we know why we are making the choice we are making.

Passionistas: Yeah. Agree. Yeah. So what's the first step somebody should take. If they're thinking about a career change?

Lindsay: Yeah, the first step I always love to have people start with is an unusual one. So it is to identify all of the pressure that you feel about your career, because if we don't identify it, then it is just long for the ride and it might even be motivating.

Your desire to make a change. So you might have family telling you that you need to do a particular thing. You may feel a lot of pressures from society of what work should mean to you or, um, where your passion and purpose should come from. And so if we can get really clear about that, sometimes even from that moment, people are like, wow, somebody else wants something different for me.

But actually for me, this might be right. I remember a phone call I had with somebody many years ago, who had no intention of working with me. He was actually very satisfied in his job, but he did a phone call with me to get people in his life, off his back, because they were telling him like, you should have a job.

That's more, this, that, and the other. And you need to go talk to a career coach to, to figure out how to make that change. And he was just like, yep. I'm actually quite happy. I know why I'm choosing it for me. Um, so thanks for this conversation, but I'm good. So I, I think really looking at why are you making that choice? Is it a true desire from you? If so, awesome. But if it's coming from somebody else, let's like set that aside so that you can be really happy where you are .

Passionistas: Is there a success story from people you've worked with that stands out to you as one of your?

Lindsay: I think the one that stands out to me at the moment is the courage it takes to not do the traditional path. So I worked with a woman who is a VP of finance at a large multinational company. And she came to me saying, You know, for a VP of finance, the next logical step is CFO, but I actually don't think I want CFO and I'm getting all this feedback and pressure and noise that well.

You should want CFO and how do we get you to CFO? And you're on the CFO track. And so throughout working together, she was able to really solidify that insight that she had in the beginning, that she was pretty sure was true, but felt a little shaky. So she really solidified that. And just seeing the courage of somebody say, you know what, I'm not.

Choose the thing that everybody thinks is the logical next step for me, she ended up staying at the company and moving to a different part of the organization and doing something she loves now. But that takes a lot of courage. And I have story after story, after story, after story, after story of that kind of courage in the book.

And, you know, really that's, what I wanted to do is share the stories of what does it really look like when people choose to do what's right for them. Yeah.

Passionistas: So tell us about writing the book. Tell us about the process, why you started it, how it went.

Lindsay: Oh my gosh. This has been a wild process. And thank you for that question. I'm so excited to share, cuz I, I want more people to know that it is possible to write a book. And you can, you know, I chose to self-publish and that's been a fun adventure, but I think the more voices that we get to hear from the better. So for me, I chose to work with a program called the inspirational book writers, and they're actually based out of Australia and challenge.

This is not gonna work for everybody. I, I like to, you know, not glamorize anything about running a business or writing a book. Their challenge is to write your book in a week. And that felt really fun for me because. I had a business coach say, I think, I think you need to write your book this year. I think it's time for that.

And I said, really, are you sure? Like already, no, no. That's far in the future. So I had to be challenged and then sit with it. But once I was on board, it's really fun for me to set an ambitious challenge and what my business coach has said was. Listen, you've been writing this book in your head for the last six years, right?

Like I know you, you have your framework, you say similar things to clients. You've been writing blog posts for six years. And so I really got the courage to say like, okay, if, if I believe that it's all in here and it's also been written down and at some other places, how long is it gonna take me to put it all together?

And so I ended up doing that process in a week. And then I decided that I wanted to do the, the fast track publishing in three months. And so I think my coach challenged me on February 22nd of this year to write a book and book is now in my hands in physical copy as of yesterday, September 5th. So that's incredible.

Passionistas: That's amazing. My new hero and. And you did the, the doodles, right?

Lindsay: I did. Can you show some of the doodle? I love the doodles. So here's, here's the cover doodle and I'll show you one of my favorite ones and I don't consider myself an artist,

Passionistas: But, but they're so cute. They totally express. Like they're so perfect. Blown the way back. Yeah.

Lindsay: I, you know, I want the, the joy and the levity and the not taking myself too seriously. And the, we are not about perfection around here. Here's one of my favorites. Um, there's a lot of them are also like really sad and, you know, having a challenging time. So some of them make me feel a little bit sad. This is one of the guys, like so much pressure. So yes.

Passionistas: But I love that cuz it is such a, like, It feels at the end of the world sometimes mm-hmm it does when you're making that kind of decision. It it's just so stressful. Mm-hmm the fact that you can add levity to it.

Lindsay: Yeah. Yeah. It can be super lonely, super isolating, you know, why is this only happening to me? And so I like to balance, you know, really just honoring how. Much it sucks, honestly, to be unhappy in your job. I have been there. And so I, I want to give a lot of love and support for that. And I want people to know that we actually do get to have fun in this process and that we get to add levity and we get to add grace. And then at some point, people are, you know, fired up about. Now that I know my strengths and I have this framework, you know, I gotta get out there and be the contribution that I wanna be in my job or in my life. So I, I feel like the doodles kind of ease the way to the fun .

Passionistas: Oh, great. Did, did you find that during COVID things got heightened with people wanting to make a shift and how did that impact?

Lindsay: Yeah, it's been interesting. Cause I think there's been ebbs and flows that I, you know, couldn't have seen coming in the very beginning. I think there was a very clarifying moment of we only have one life and I need to think about, is this the contribution that I want to be is this job where I want to spend. However many hours of my life I am spending. And so there was just a very clear, like, I want to know more about my own contribution and where I wanna be.

So that was one of the phases. We've also gone through phases where, you know, it's been really rough and people are saying, you know what? I'm just going to stick it out where I am, do the best that I can take care of the family and manage my mental health. And a change is not right for me at the moment.

And then more recently I've had many leaders come to me saying I'm being asked to go back into the workplace X days a week, and that might not actually be right for me. Anymore. Um, I've found a lot of flexibility. I'm able to pick up my kids. Um, it really supports my health. So I think that's kind of the phase that we're in, of going back to the office really is not the right thing for some people and for others. They're excited about that. So that's been an interesting thing that I've seen.

Passionistas: Yeah. That's amazing. It's been such a crazy time for all of us.

Lindsay: Oh my goodness. Yeah. Oh my goodness.

Passionistas: But there's the word? Joy. Which is your watch word. Yeah. So why tell us about that.

Lindsay: Joy? Joy's just so important to me. I feel like it's one of my values. The other word that that occurs to me is delight. And I think that actually is what ties in the customer service. You know, I think of, of companies like Ritz, Carlton, and Zappos who are trying to really create delight in their. People and in the world and in their, in the human interactions and something about that.

I think also because it's such a hard time and career, you know, I do wanna bring the delight, the joy, and part of that, that was really edgy for me. So I like to say, if you think I just wrote this book for everyone else, you'd be wrong because I also get really challenged by. How I feel I am supposed to be as a business owner.

And especially because I work with senior leaders, I'm like, do I need to be more professional? And you know, do I, I almost didn't have a doodle on the cover until my community was like, where's, where's the doodle love you. But like, we need the fun. That is part of who you are. And so for my launch party, that was last night, I basically dialed up the joy and delight, like in the realm of business as far up as I could go.

Um, the, the one liner is that I, I, I modeled the launch party after like a PBS inspired pledge drive and we had people calling in to pledge to do what was right for them in their career. and I would change ball gowns every time we got 50 pledges, because I love dress up. I own a lot of ball gowns. That's like one of the things that's really fun for me.

And so I got to experience, you know, bringing the. Full delight of me into the business realm, which actually felt very vulnerable and needed a lot of courage. And, you know, had a, had some tears in the process, even though I know I wanted to do it, it was actually quite challenging for me. So I, I just love delight.

Passionistas: So how many gowns did you get to put on last night?

Lindsay: We got to 13.

Passionistas: Oh God. you have that many gowns?

Lindsay: I might have more than that, so.

Passionistas: Well, if we do the Emmys again, next year, we know where to go.

Lindsay: Oh my gosh. Yes.

Passionistas: But what I need to know more about this. Why do you have so many. Why do we not have so many question?

Lindsay: I think I was telling my friend the other day, for some reason. You know how sometimes you see an outfit and you're, and you say, when would I ever have the chance to wear this? And then you don't buy it. Mm-hmm, there's something that is missing in like the synapses of my brain with that message. So I, and most of my dresses are, you know, From second hand stores from thrift stores, um, from Ross dress for less.

Like, I just, I love them. And whenever I see a dress to me, it's just like, oh my gosh, like this wants to be on a stage somewhere. This wants to be in a photo shoot. Like of course I would. Own this dress and then I will find the opportunity to wear them. So I think it's, it, it kind of goes back to my musical theater background.

I love dressing up. I love photo shoots. There's something so playful about being a character. And I like to call myself an introverted ham because I do. I do feel I'm introverted. I need a lot of alone time for recharging but put me on a stage and I am a ham. So I think the dresses really support the hamminess.

Passionistas: Well costumes. I love it. I love that. And you're always ready for Halloween worst case. Yeah, go was a bachelor.

Lindsay: And if anyone, yeah. If anyone needs like a, a professional bridesmaid or like a black tie wedding attendee, I am ready at any moment.

Passionistas: the perfect extra. That's great. That is awesome. That's so awesome. Um, you know, one of the things that you talk about is that managers and business owners should be helping the employee kind of find their place in the organization. Right. So talk about that. The people who are listening, who are on the other side of it and they have employees and they wanna help them settle in or be in the right spot.

Lindsay: Yeah. I think managers are sometimes really trying to help people get into the right spot. So I want to acknowledge the managers that are really like, Hey, I can tell that you're not quite in the right spot or you're not satisfied. How can we help? Where can we put you? What do you want? And from my experience, what I see on the employee side is that people actually get very. Embarrassed and ashamed that they don't know the answer to that question.

And so it goes into the spiral of like, oh my gosh, my manager's even trying to support me. I don't know where I wanna be. Why can't I answer this question? So basically my hope is that this is a resource that a manager can say, look, I definitely wanna get you into the right place and make sure you're feeling fulfilled.

Here's the framework. Read this book, and then we can have the best conversation about the contribution that you want to make, and what's gonna enable you to thrive so that everybody wins. So I really, the, the hope for this book is that I am enabling conversations between employees and employers to have actual conversations about.

Where people fit in. And also if you discover it is not the right fit for somebody to be in your company, that's actually lose, lose for everyone. So can we have more clear and open conversations about. I realize that this might not be the right spot for me. Let's, you know, get me to the next spot. And then the, the company gets to put a person in who's really excited to be there.

So I think it's pretty edgy to be having those conversations, but I really want to connect with companies who believe that it is in their best interest and they actually want to support their employees to be in the right place for them.

Passionistas: Excellent. That's amazing. So where can people get the book?

Lindsay: Yes. So it is on Amazon and there is ebook. There is paperback. There is hard cover. If that is for you, you can go for, to write for you book. Dot com and that will take you directly to the Amazon link. And if you are seeing this now, you might actually be able to still sneak in and get the ebook for 99 cents. It is a launch price sale, and, um, Amazon is gonna be updating that soon. So if it hasn't updated, we don't know how long it takes. So jump in and get a copy. Get copies for your friends, anyone who is like really struggling in their career, anyone who is complaining to you, um, if you wanna have different conversations at the Thanksgiving table about what actually is right for you rather than, you know yep. I'm still unhappy in my job.

Passionistas: Um, and then make great holiday gifts. Not too early holiday gifts. Yes.

Lindsay: Yes. Um, and then if you wanna learn more about my work, my website is

Passionistas: So at some point, do you think you'll take another week off and write another book?

Lindsay: I have already been asked about my future books. And apparently this is something that sometimes happens. Like once you write the first book, then you're free to think about like what could come next. Interestingly, I have been asked to write my next book on adult female friendship. and how, like my viewpoint and I have frameworks for everything again, engineer.

So I have a, an interesting kind of like framework and thoughts about friendship and it kind of fits in the right for you. Right. It's like, what is right for you in career? Okay. We've written the book on that now. Maybe it's like, what is right for you in friendship and how do you build friendships that really feel fulfilling based on what you know about yourself. So stay tuned. That could be a fun.

Passionistas: Love that love that idea. Mm-hmm excellent. Wow. That sounds great. All right. Well, so anything else that you wanna talk about that we, any other fun hobbies? I mean, I'm, I'm baking with you. I'm going and buying ball gowns.

Lindsay: Yep. Definitely do the baking. Do the ball gowns. Yeah. Whenever you see something next and you're like, when would I have the opportunity to wear that? Just think of me. Get the outfit, whatever it is, and then create your own opportunity to wear it. Um, I think the, the only thing I would say is just to have a lot of kindness and grace for yourself, wherever you are in your career, know that there is so much pressure out there. It is hard to do what's right for you. And also there are a lot of systemic barriers that can get in the way of that. So, you know, racism, sexism, ageism, ableism. So we talk about that in the book and how to find your agency, but if you can give yourself more kindness and compassion, that is my hope and my gift for you.

Passionistas: You're the best. Excellent. So glad we did this.

Lindsay: So nice to see you again so much fun. Thank you so much. You two are fantastic. And I just wanna acknowledge you for all of the, the joy and passion and love that you are putting in the world. So thank you for being you.

Passionistas: Thank you. Thank you. Appreciate that. Really do. And uh, hopefully we'll see you in person soon. Yes, yes. And, um, we're gonna post the winners of the tickets in the chat so everybody can check there. And, thank you so much, Lindsay. We really appreciate you being here. Everybody go by Lindsay's book right now, before you miss the special.

Lindsay: Get it quick.

Passionistas: Thank you. Good night everyone. Thank you so much.


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