Q&A with Maggie Mistal

Today, I’d like to introduce you to an amazing life purpose and career coach – and one of the coolest colleagues in my circle – the incredible Maggie Mistal! Maggie is the author of a #1 New Release in Job Hunting on Amazon, entitled, Are You Ready to Love Your Job? Make a Great Living Through Soul Search, Research and Job Search.

You only need to chat with Maggie for a few minutes to understand how she has inspired thousands of people to take tangible steps in making a positive life change – and to go after the career and lifestyle they really want.

In addition to her coaching work, Maggie hosts her own podcast (which you can listen to here) and frequently shares her expert advice via a wide range of radio, television, print, and speaking opportunities. She previously served as Martha Stewart Living Radio’s Career Coach on satellite radio – and has interviewed some of the most successful names in their fields, including Martha Stewart, Sally Field, Deepak Chopra, and Stephen Covey.

I’m thrilled that Maggie took the time out of her packed schedule to chat with me about our shared passion: the exciting path to entrepreneurship. Maggie eagerly shared details about her own journey to entrepreneurship, as well as tips for getting “unstuck” when the road gets challenging.

You seem like you were born to entrepreneurship and holding the reins of your career story. Did you know you wanted to be a life and career coach from the beginning?

Absolutely not! But figuring out where you want to go in your life and career – and taking steps to make it happen – is one of the most fulfilling parts of an entrepreneurial journey.

I was raised in a family of entrepreneurs – from my grandparents, to my aunts and uncles, to my mom, who was a physician who worked for herself. So from a very young age, I saw the autonomy of that life – and appreciated the appeal of entrepreneurship before I ever held a job. 

I started out my career in accounting and auditing, but pretty quickly realized the numbers side of things wasn’t for me. I started to move into the people side of helping businesses – and discovered I have a passion for psychology.

I expanded my experiences and expertise in corporate roles for Arthur Anderson and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, but also learned, time and time again, that the corporate world isn’t all that stable. One day, I was sitting in a spa and picked up a magazine that had an advertisement for a “Life Purpose” seminar. And I thought, I want one of those, so I went. That’s where I was exposed to coaching – and I realized two things: I had already been coaching in my corporate roles, and I really liked it! So, I started to let go of all the things that didn’t “fit” into the life I wanted for myself – and to go after all the things that make me happy.

When it comes to those career reassessments, we tend to think of the beginning of the year as a time to ponder our life and career goals, but I’ve heard you say that you think of the end of the year as a time to get your dreams in motion. What’s special about the latter part of the year?

When people come back from their summer vacations, they’re usually refreshed and reminded of what really matters most to them. So, I’ve noticed that the fall is when many people start thinking about their next chapter. The fall also reminds us of the start of school, and there’s something about the smell of fresh pencils and the crisp air that gets us thinking about new possibilities. People start asking themselves, “Do I really have the life I want? What can I adjust to feel happier and more fulfilled?”

And no matter what season it is, I’m seeing more and more people feel that sense of unrest in corporate roles. There’s a high level of churn in companies right now – from the challenges arising from the return to the office to increasing demands to do more with fewer employees and resources. More people are daydreaming about alternatives to Corporate America – and more of them are taking tangible steps to explore options.

As a franchise coach, I know that what you just described is the hardest chapter in the journey: overcoming fear with action. What’s your top advice for getting “unstuck” when you can’t seem to transform a dream in your head into something you’re actually working toward?

Make any move you can toward work you love – no matter how small. When I worked at Arthur Andersen in accounting, I kept taking steps toward the people-focused work and expanding my experience in that area. By the time I left the company, I was working toward a Masters in Psychology.

In our career discussions, we tend to focus on what’s not working. Instead, focus on what is working – and lean into it, because it creates an upward spiral. For example, if you work on a really cool project in your role, focus on that when you speak with your boss about your next professional move. Share what you liked about the work – and why you want to do more of it. Most people leaders want to help people do what makes them happy.

Do you ever find it tough to follow the advice you share with your clients in your own career?

100% yes! It can seem hard to create a dream and overcome hurdle after hurdle. It took me 13 years to write my book, even though I had the content organized in my head a long time ago. I hosted a retreat in Lisbon a while back, and at the wrap-up dinner, I had participants come dressed as the role they envisioned for themselves. I “dressed up” as a published author. I had a graphic designer create a book jacket, and I slapped it on another book as a prop.

Then, the stars aligned for me last fall – there’s that special time of year again! My husband had self-published a travel book on Amazon, and I was amazed by how supportive and easy the process was. So I went for it! It’s been incredible to go to book signings and meet with people to talk about my book. Every time, I think about how far away a “real” book seemed while I was toting around my “act-as-if” book. 

I find that another stumbling block in someone’s career comes when they hit that big milestone – like getting a sought-after corporate title – and realize they still want more. What advice do you share with clients who are ready for the next dream? 

The best thing about making a goal or dream come true is that you realize you have the strength and capacity to do so – and it makes you hungry for more.

Before my book was published, through a series of interesting connections and happenings, I created and performed in an off-Broadway cabaret show called, “Follow Your Dreams.” It was one of the coolest experiences ever, and that project has taken me down even more paths where I’ve gotten to perform in front of a crowd – something that never fails to be exhilarating for me. 

And let’s remember…I started out as an accountant! Your career and dreams do not have to be linear or connected – they just have to make you happy. 

There’s always going to be part of you that doesn’t think a vision you have for yourself is possible, but again, it comes back to the little steps you take to inch closer to that dream. Surround yourself with the people who encourage you to keep taking those steps – whether it’s friends or family or a great career coach – or all of the above. Keep talking about it. Keep it moving. And before you know it, you’ll have that chapter written – and be ready for your next one!