Monday, June 28, 2010

Interview with Nicole Williams: Career Expert, Author, and Entrepreneur

If you have been reading this blog, then you already know about my fascination with career development and finding one's niche. Well, a few years ago, I stumbled across this book that had a woman with a great pair of legs on the cover. Naturally, I picked it up and started thumbing through the pages. I eventually stopped on page 104 when I saw the heading All Goals are Not Created Equal. The more I read, the more I was hooked. Filled with a wealth of information and entertaining witticisms, it was the first career development book that spoke to my spirit. The title: Wildly Sophisticated.

That was the author's first book, and she has gone on to write two more. Fellow career enthusiasts, meet Nicole Williams.

Will: Who is Nicole Williams? Did you know you always wanted to be a career expert?

Nicole: As a young girl I realized that work is a critical part of life. My mother was so smart, with so much potential, but by the end of her career she hated work so much that she became depressed. Watching her, I became infinitely curious about what other people did from nine to five, and why. So, to answer your question, I didn’t always know it was my calling—but I always had an interest.

Will: What was your career defining moment?

Nicole: About fifteen years ago I was looking for a career change. I started scouring resources in bookstores to help me manage my switch, and I couldn’t find anything truly meaningful. That’s when I realized the need for honest, relevant career advice for women (and men) who want fulfilling well-rounded lives. And so WORKS by Nicole Williams was born.

Will: Your latest book is titled: Girl on Top. What would you say is the essential pain point of the book? How is this book different from your other two books – Wildly Sophisticated and Earn What You’re Worth.

Nicole: The chapter “Don’t Waste the Pretty” sums it up nicely. It’s all about owning your career—you can’t sit back and let others manage it for you. It’s up to you to make your goals and dreams come to fruition, and in order to do so you need to do continual checks and balances and make sure you’re surrounding yourself by an environment and people who will help you, not hold you back. This book is edgier and more honest than my last two, and focuses on the softer career skills that are so often crucial to success.

Will: What inspired you to become an author? When did you realize that you had ideas for a book? And what is the most surprising thing you have learned about yourself during the writing process?

Nicole: I’ve always loved to write, and when I decided to create a media company around career, writing books was a natural fit. I hear from so many people on a daily basis who are struggling in their jobs and benefit from hearing an outside opinion. The books are an answer to these people, and the millions of others who don’t take the time to write in. The ideas come through them. Through writing them, I’ve learned/ taught myself over and over again that if you have a vision and the drive to see it through, anything is possible.

Will: There are hundreds of thousands career books out there. How did the idea of taking dating tips/rules and comparing them to career development come about? One does not usually associate the two.

Nicole: I was divorced a few years back and a friend came to me with a “get out of your funk” bag filled with all sorts of goodies, including some of the bestselling dating books. As I flipped through them I couldn’t help but notice the parallels to career, and that’s when the light bulb went off… I also love dating just as much as I love the subject of career, so it was fun to put my theories to the test!

Will: Switching gears… People have seen you on the Today Show, TLC’s Real Simple, Donny Deutsch, and a lot of other TV shows. What challenges did you face in becoming such a well know brand? What did you do to overcome them?

Nicole: Self-promotion is not easy, but it’s necessary to any blossoming business. You can’t be shy about putting your name out there and asking others to help you. Utilize your network to its fullest.

Will: What was the genesis for you founding Works by Nicole Williams? For those unaware of what Works is, would you give them a rundown?

Nicole: WORKS is a multi-media company (books, websites, TV, newsletters, a film in the works) that serves to provide career advice to young professional women. As I mentioned, I noticed the need for a company like this when struggling with my own career several years ago.

Will: With the internet being the great equalizer, how is new media guiding your message and how you deliver your message?

Nicole: Twitter and Facebook have been very helpful in allowing us to engage with our existing audience, and also in reaching out to new people who are having discussions about resumes, bosses, jobs, etc, but who haven’t yet heard about my site or books as a resource. It’s allowing us to expand our audience from just young professional women to people of all ages in all career stages.

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