Search & Replace Episode S01E22: Robert Isaacson

Is The Great Resignation a result of people in the workforce looking for meaning in their work post-pandemic? Executive Coach and leadership consultant Bob Isaacson explores why meaning in our work is important and why we need it to thrive and motivate us to succeed. Many went back to graduate school during the pandemic and need to connect to a more profound sense of meaning as they’re looking to rejoin the workforce. Join us on this episode as Search and Replace looks at what happens when people take radical action aligning their careers with their passions. 

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[00:00:00] Announcer: Support for the following podcast is provided by the user experience specialist at Johns and Taylor. More information follows this episode. 
[00:00:11] Joe Taylor, Jr: What if changing your career was as simple as changing the story you tell about yourself. I'm Joe Taylor, Jr. This is Search and Replace.
We're in the middle of an upheaval in the world of work. Some folks are calling it the great resignation. Bureau of Labor statistics reported that more than 4 million Americans quit their jobs just in July of 2021. With resignation rates, highest among employees in the middle of their careers, most of them between the ages of 30 and 45.
And yet, it's not always that easy to find a new job, especially if you're making the leap from one profession into another. Robert Isaacson is an executive coach and the co-founder of Full Circle Solutions. And he's observed that a wave of professionals headed back to graduate school at the outset of the pandemic are getting ready to rejoin the workforce with new skills. However, skills alone aren't always enough to get on the radar of your dream job's hiring manager. Robert reflected on an experience he had with one of his clients a few years ago. 
[00:01:24] Robert Isaacson: He was working in a particular industry, very satisfied about both his position and the money he was making. But more importantly, he didn't have a sense of being creative, part of a team, that sort of thing.
And he began to look at graduate school, particularly MBA programs, Masters in Business Administration. I am an executive coach and I focus my work on leader development and on building cooperative and collaborative teams. So, I know a lot about MBA programs. I've coached in one. 
And he approached me and, you know, he was trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. One of the challenges for him is really developing confidence in himself that he could do that. He was a young man at that point, he was probably mid-twenties, who really shined when he set goals for himself. Running goals, he was in a couple of marathons. And a triathlon and stuff like that. He was in really great physical shape.
And so when he set goals for himself, he really was able to plan and execute on that. So we took what he was good at, what his strengths were, and began to think about how he might get into a top-notch graduate school, because that's what he wanted. 
[00:02:46] Joe Taylor, Jr: Bob notes that getting good feedback from an unsuccessful application cycle can help candidates earn a second look, even after being turned down.
[00:02:55] Robert Isaacson: So the first year he applied and he didn't get into any of them, frankly. And he was pretty disappointed. But he decided to reapply. He talked to as many people as possible about why he was turned down. He went back to some of those schools and decided to reapply the second year. He actually got into a top-notch MBA program and he's doing really well. 
He's in his second year at this point. The way these schools work is that in the first year you may get interviews by companies that come to campus. And ideally you get hired after your second year by one of these companies. And as you can imagine, it's a pretty tense time. 
He had to present a case studies. And he also had to create, a sort of story or a sort of brand for himself. You know, who he was and why he wanted to work in business and how he was different and perhaps in some ways better, or other ways not, but why the company should hire him. 
[00:04:05] Joe Taylor, Jr: It's not enough, Bob says, to just be known as a high potential candidate or to ride on just your grade point average. Employers want to know what you'll really bring to your new job.
[00:04:16] Robert Isaacson: What would we think about as, kind of, high potential people- a lot's on the line. And you succeed, you fail, you get the job, you don't get the job. And emotionally that's very difficult in terms of one self-esteem and self-confidence. But also, it's very anxiety making. 
This young man had two interviews a day for several days, and it was both anxiety making and exhausting. And he got hired by a very well-known strategy consulting firm. And he was very happy with that. What's also interesting about folks, high potential people, what some sort of think about is world-class performers, the physician, for example. The cardiac surgeon who does four or five hundred heart surgeries a year. Those kinds of people, that performance of course is very important. But it's also important to have a sense of how to put this passion about what you do in a really very deep internal motivation. 
The research says that the most important one is meaning. And meaning or purpose that what you do has meaning to make the world a better place, even in small ways. Everybody can tap into that. 
[00:05:27] Joe Taylor, Jr: That's Executive Coach and leadership consultant Bob Isaacson. You can find links to more of Bob's career advice on our show notes page at 
Also in today's show notes, looking for meaning in your work isn't something folks are just realizing in the wake of the pandemic. It's just that circumstances have changed enough in the past 18 months for many of us to take radical action about aligning our careers with our passions. 
We've got a link to John Coleman's article for the Harvard Business Review about what it takes to craft a career full of positive intention. And the article includes lots of detail about the sludge Olympics, proving that folks can find meaning even in the messiest work environments.
Of course you don't have to wait until you're deeply unhappy to change jobs, and you may not even need to change careers to find a good professional fit. That's advice from New Zealand career coach Rachel Hill, who says it's important to understand whether a sense of dissatisfaction is coming from your work or from someplace else in your life before you take any drastic measures.
And if you're thinking about hiring your career coach like Rachel or Bob, we've got the link to a Harvard Business Review profile about what career coaches really do and why some of them earn a whopping $3,500 per hour. All those stories and more are in today's show notes available on our website at 
Today's episode was produced by Nicole Hubbard with help from the entire Podcast Taxi team. I'm Joe Taylor, Jr. 
[00:07:05] Announcer: This has been a Podcast Taxi radio production. 
Support for Search and Replace is provided by Johns and Taylor. User experience specialist serving media and technology companies that want their websites to work. Learn more about how top performing businesses eliminate barriers between customers and their goals at

Joe Taylor Jr. has produced stories about media, technology, entertainment, and personal finance for over 25 years. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, and ABC News. After launching one of public radio's first successful digital platforms, Joe helped dozens of client companies launch or migrate their online content libraries. Today, Joe serves as a user experience consultant for a variety of Fortune 500 and Inc. 5000 businesses. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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