In this episode, Rikke Hansen explains how lawyers should think about career change—including when to leave the profession or start their own firm. She also explains the ways in which lawyers tend to overthink their career paths and self-sabotage, and how to overcome those blockers.
Rikke Hansen helps smart professionals in their 30s and 40s change careers or start their own business by sharing her proven framework for figuring out what you really want to do next.
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This transcript was prepared by Rev.com.
Announcer: Welcome to the Lawyerist Podcast with Sam Glover and Aaron Street. Each week, Lawyerist brings you advice and interviews to help you build a more successful law practice in today’s challenging and constantly-changing legal market. And now, here are Sam and Aaron.
Sam Glover: Hi, I’m Sam Glover.
Aaron Street: And I’m Aaron Street, and this is episode 137 of the Lawyerist Podcast, part of the Legal Talk Network. Today we’re talking with career-change advisor Rikke Hansen about how to figure out when it’s time for a change.
Sam Glover: Today’s podcast is sponsored by Ruby Receptionists and its smart, charming receptionists who are perfect for small firms. Visit callruby.com/lawyerist to get a risk-free trial with Ruby.
Aaron Street: Today’s podcast is sponsored by Clio legal practice management software. Clio makes running your law firm easier. Try it for free today at clio.com. Sam, we’re talking with a career-change expert, my friend Rikke Hansen, today. I think we have a reputation as a place people go when they want an alternative legal career.
Sam Glover: Or they’re disgruntled, maybe.
Aaron Street: Yeah, and I guess I can own our role in having had versions of that conversation for a number of years, but what I’m really excited about with this conversation is Rikke has lots of tips and tools and things to think about if you’re dissatisfied in your career and looking for a change. But I’m really interested in how we frame this, not just as a how people can get out of the practice of law if they hate it, but more about how to step back and realign your practice of law with a career plan for yourself that doesn’t keep you stuck in the college-to-law-school-to-associate-to-partner track where you’re just tracked the whole time and then you end up unhappy.
And instead, is to step back and figure out what are your goals in life, both for your career and for a change you want to make in the world, and potentially, how can you then recommit to the practice of law to achieve those goals, whether it’s in a traditional practice or not? That’s what I’m really interested in thinking about this career-change topic.
Sam Glover: Yeah, I think there is abundant evidence that the practice of law, as it has been traditionally practiced, has some unhealthy aspects for lawyers and it isn’t necessarily a great way to have a career. It’s not great for clients, who we all know public opinion of lawyers is not at super high levels. That kind of combines to make people feel like they need to get out. We’re going to have a great podcast about what to do with those feelings, which may be perfectly valid, but I think there’s the additional option that you’ve alluded to which is maybe you just need to change the way that you practice law so that it’s better for you, better for clients.
I think we’re at this point where we can do that stuff. We’ve seen people doing it in TBD law, and in the larger small-firm community, and it’s really exciting to see people try something new and then find out how fulfilling it can be.
Aaron Street: Yeah. The previous 136 episodes of this podcast are full of stories of lawyers who went off on a different career path, but most of them did so while still figuring out a way to “practice law”. If this talk with Rikke leads you to want to quit practicing law, we will be supportive of that, but I think you can also listen to it with the perspective of using some of the tools she has to think about step back and plan a new path for yourself within your current career.
Sam Glover: Yeah. If you are working for another lawyer, and Rikke will talk about this, too … Sometimes it’s time to go and start your own thing. What I think is kind of interesting is what if you’re working for yourself and you’re not happy about it? Sometimes it’s still time to go to work for a different firm that you start yourself, and it’s just time to reboot it.
Aaron Street: Yep.
Sam Glover: This is a really cool podcast. I had a lot of fun with Rikke. Check the show notes. She’s going to include a free giveaway there, if you want to know more about what she can offer and about career change, and I think you’ll want to check that out. But here is my conversation with her.
Rikke Hansen: Hi, I’m Rikke Hansen. I’m a transition advisor and I help smart professionals in their 30s and 40s change careers or start their ideal business.
Sam Glover: Hi, Rikke. Thank you so much for being with us. Say more about a transition advisor. What sorts of clients do you have, and what does that mean? What is it that you actually do for them?
Rikke Hansen: One of the things that’s really great about the world that we live in is that jobs, and businesses, that never existed before can exist now. I just happen to call myself a transition advisor to put emphasis on the fact that I’ve got a lot of experience in my field, so I on-purpose don’t call myself a coach, because anybody can do a weekend course in New Jersey and call themself a coach. I prefer the word advisor because I have over 10 years of experience, having worked with over 600 private clients, so very much where my sweet spot is in terms of where I help people is helping them nail down what they really want to do next. Exactly how much a change do they need? Is it a change within their career? Is it a total career change? Do they need to become entrepreneurs? Or is it something completely different? That is very much the area that I’m an expert in.
Sam Glover: It’s really hard, right? You’re tired of what you’re doing or you’re feeling like it’s time for a change, but there’s no path set out before you. It’s really actually hard to know what you ought to do next and how to make that decision, isn’t it?
Rikke Hansen: It is, and also it’s really interesting. When I first started out with my transition consultancy back in 2005, it wasn’t really that normal back then to change career or to start your own business. But what’s interesting is now it’s becoming more normal, but there are so many different books and so many different approaches, and one person says one thing and the other says another. I think a lot of people are very confused as to what kind of framework to follow or where to start.
But I also think, especially smart people, whether they’re lawyers or finance people, whatever background they come form, they also have the whole issue that they tend to overthink and they tend to be very risk-averse. That brings a whole different flavor to the transition process as well. I have some very specific frameworks that I have found to be very helpful of my clients that I take them through. It’s a three-step framework that literally I have tested on 600 people, so I know what works. But I also think, especially for smart people, one of the first things they come up against is that their transition rarely gets any further than their own heads because they literally overthink it rather than trying to engage with the real world outside of their current profession.
Sam Glover: Say more about that because I was almost coming in with the expectation that lawyers, in particular, tend to underthink in that they can’t get their heads around leaving law practice because it’s what we’ve been trained to do. It’s the track that we’re on. So the only options that we consider sometimes are just a different firm doing pretty much the same thing. But say more about overthinking, which sounds like maybe a little bit of a different problem.
Rikke Hansen: Basically, I’m sure maybe if I use the word getting into a overthinking loop … I’ll give an example. I recently had a legal client who had loads of great ideas and were really excited about things she could do in terms of her own business, but her head was kind of like a slaughterhouse of dreams. Does that make sense?
Sam Glover: That’s an excellent image. Yes.
Rikke Hansen: I’m sorry for vegetarians listening, but if you think about it, it is generally not that lawyers like ideas, though some do, and we can talk about the issue around too many ideas and no ideas at all. But generally, lawyers … and actually this is back to something you just said. A lot of people who’ve been in the same profession for 5, 10, 15, 20+ years have this idea that the alternative options are very limited. Then if they, on the odd occasion, allow themselves to think about what they really would love to do or what they could do, whether that’s a business or totally different career, then they overthink it and think, “Oh, it’s too good to be true and it’s never going to happen. I would love to do this, but that’s a stupid idea.” That’s what I mean by the overthinking.
Sam Glover: You kill your own ideas before they even have a chance.
Rikke Hansen: [inaudible 00:08:32] slaughterhouse of your head. It’s like, you kill your dreams before they even get a chance to get oxygen. You kill them with your overthinking rather than taking action on them and that’s what I mean.
Sam Glover: Then the flip side of that is the lack of imagination where you don’t have any ideas beyond just doing the same thing for different people.
Rikke Hansen: Yeah, and let’s talk about that, because most of my clients have come from a corporate background, and I myself come from a background in human resources for American investment banks here in London. As you probably hear, I don’t have an American accent.
Sam Glover: Right.
Rikke Hansen: And by the way, I’m actually Danish by birth, just to spice up things in case everybody’s wondering, “What’s that strange accent?” So back to the whole thing around lack of imagination, I tend to find that smart people tend to fall into two categories as a general rule. Either the ones who have way too many ideas and don’t know which one to pick, and keep going around in this sort of start, stop, start, stop … It’s Monday. I want to be a winemaker. It’s Tuesday. I want to start my own sports company. It’s Wednesday. I want to do a paleo delivery service. It’s Thursday. Oh, my god. None of those ideas are great. Or it’s the classic lawyer who calls me and say, “Hey, Rikke. I would love to change career and maybe even start my own business, but I’ve been a lawyer for 10 years for the same firm. What else could I possibly do?”
Sam Glover: Sure, and I suppose some of it is even recognizing that initial itch in the first place. What is this discontent that’s creeping into me? And before they even discover there is such a thing as a transition advisor, or a career coach, and thinking about searching out one? Right?
Rikke Hansen: Yeah. I also think, to a very large extent, lawyers tend to have this all-or-nothing approach to career change and to entrepreneurship. A lot of them are like, “Well, unless I’m going to make a total change, there’s no point.” This might surprise the people listening, but very often, the first question I will ask somebody who gets in touch … I will ask them, “What’s really a problem? Is it really your profession? Or is it your horrible boss? Or is it the toxic work culture? Or is it because you haven’t a holiday in five years? Or what is it really?”
I think one of the surprising things that I’ve learned … Like I said, I’ve done this since 2005, 600+ private clients and thousands more that I reached online. One of the things that surprised me most is that not everybody needs that big a change. A lot of times people only need a change within their career, but people are almost afraid of opening that Pandora’s box because they think oh my god, they clearly need a complete career change. But if you’re listening, just know that that’s often not always the case. Don’t be afraid of lifting up the lid.
Sam Glover: I suppose if it’s just your boss but you love the work you do, then the solution is different than starting a completely different career.
Rikke Hansen: Yeah. I have a very specific framework that I help people with for that, and this might be helpful for those of you listening. I think there’s a big difference when I help people assess what is the degree of change needed. Literally the first step I recommend is find out what is your problem? That’s really important. What is the problem you’ve got on your hand? Is it your profession? Is it really to do with innate factors to your profession? Like the subject of law, the values that tend to be accepted by someone in that profession, your future prospects, the training … All of the kind of things that wouldn’t really change no matter how many job searches and changes you did, and even if you started your own company and that kind of things.
Or are your problems mainly to do that you’re in the wrong culture? Company culture. Is it the wrong kind of people you work with, or is it the wrong kind of client group? Is it the wrong kind of industry. I’ve recently had a client who worked in aviation law. When I asked her directly, “Would you care if you never heard anything about aviation ever again in your life?” and she was like, “Oh, no.” Do you know what I mean? [crosstalk 00:12:30] others, they were like, “I actually like the subject of law, but I can’t stand my bloody clients. Whereas if I had clients who wouldn’t treat me like this, I would be happy to be a lawyer.”
Nail down first of all, is your problem to do with your very profession, or is it more to do with where or how you’re choosing to practice your profession? That is step number one, because one of the biggest things for lawyers and for professionals in general is they’re highly risk-averse. The first thing you need to decide is what is your problem? What stays and what goes? If you get too far ahead thinking about what else you can do without making that decision, it’s going to keep coming back to haunt you. “Oh, is it really the right thing to leave this thing behind?” Make that decision right up front.
Sam Glover: Yeah. It starts sounding really risky once you start making bigger decisions, but if what you really need is a small change, then yeah, no big deal. That’s easy.
Rikke Hansen: Mm-hmm (affirmative), and also you can always just start there. One of the things, especially for risk-averse people … Whether you’ve been originally in a bigger firm, you move to a smaller firm … Pretty much anybody who’s been in the legal profession or classic professions for more than a couple of years, you’re all institutionalized. It’s this kind of thing-for-life, and it’s a safe bet, and all of this kind of thing. It’s taken for granted almost that you’re crazy if you’re even thinking about leaving. It is a little bit of a cult if you think about it, the legal profession. It’s like, in it for life.
Also, when you are a lawyer, you are paid to look for risk. You are paid to do due diligence about every single little detail that could go wrong in every alternative universe including this one. When you go into your career change with that very same mindset, that makes it very hard for you to think straight and to really look at the bigger picture. But that’s also why if you actually just start by looking at identifying your problem, then you are doing something you’re naturally good at, but you’re applying it to your own career-change scenario.
Sam Glover: Yeah, and I think when I hear from people who are considering a career change, and they’re starting to display either the overthinking or the risk-averseness, the flip side that I try to highlight for them sometimes is, “Yeah, but I can give you a guarantee, with zero risk attached to it whatsoever, which is that if you don’t make a change, you’re going to continue to be unhappy.”
Rikke Hansen: Yeah. I think, though, I would go even further. If you spent any amount of time looking into the influence of AI, the way the future work is going to happen, I would say the biggest risk is staying stuck. Here’s a really good example of that. I can literally have someone in law calling me. They know they need a change, but they’re so afraid, they don’t even want to start even engaging in a dialogue about it. That person has already mentally checked-out of their profession. That means they’re not keen to take on any exciting cases. They’re not keen to further develop themself in terms of professional development. They’re not really going to network that much or do any of the kind of things that you’re supposed to do if you want to do well in a legal career.
That means you’re slowly getting demotivated, [inaudible 00:15:42] yourself, and putting yourself at risk. That is why the least you could do to yourself is diagnose what is actually your problem because especially if you think about the legal profession, both in the US but also especially here in the UK, it hasn’t actually changed much since Dickens’ times in the last 200 years. Every single piece of research shows that the legal profession is going to change more in the next 10, 20 years than it has in 200 years.
Sam Glover: Of course.
Rikke Hansen: Yeah, that might be obvious to you, but a lot of people listening, they kind of know that but they don’t because everybody’s in denial to a certain extent. That’s how we all survive on a daily basis if we’re not in an ideal scenario. I would say, yeah of course they’re going to be unhappy, but even worse, they’re not actually going to be safe. They’re going to be even more at risk because staying stuck is the risky strategy, the most risky strategy of them all.
Sam Glover: Let’s say I’ve accepted that I need a change. I know someone who is currently … they’ve accepted that they need change, but the dizzying array of options is what they’re confronted with. They’re even willing to contemplate leaving law practice. They’re essentially staring at the want ads or networking and they could do anything. Once you subtract, “Okay, I can leave law,” there’s such a wide array of things. How do you even start to figure out what it is that you should do, or what would suit you to do next?
Rikke Hansen: One of the things that I like saying is start with certainty. People go, “What?” Most of my clients are in their 30s or in their 40s. Here’s the deal. Life leaves clues. One of the first things that I recommend people they think about is to build a solid foundation. Once you know your problem, then let’s look at, out of everything you’ve done in your life and in your career so far, what do you know for a fact is actually working well for you? Whether that’s a skillset, a personality trait, an interest, where do you tend to get result? Where do you really connect with people? What are those what I call ingredients that are already working well for you?
Classic example might be that you might have phenomenally good communication skills or you might be really good with IT or you might be really good at research. There might be certain things that you’re just phenomenal at, and it’s not just you who can see it. It’s the kind of thing that when you have your performance appraisal, if you’re lucky enough to still have one unless HR’s been cut out of your company, then what are the things that all of your bosses, all of the people, whether it’s your clients … What is it they say again and again that you’re really good at?
It’s both you know it, everybody else can see it, that you could actually build on? Look at, what are the red threads and the themes in your life that are already indicating the kinds of natural gifts and skills and abilities that you already have? That is a very good place to start. What do you know for sure is already working for you? Start there, because that is clearly going to cut out a lot of the many things that you could do and narrow it down a lot further.
Sam Glover: We need to take a few moments to hear from our sponsors, and when we come back, I want to ask you what do you do with the feeling that you aren’t doing enough meaningful work in your day-to-day life? I want to take a quick break, and when we come back, I want to talk about that save-the-world complex that some of us have and how it plays into the transition.
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Sam Glover: Okay, and we’re back. Rikke, that is maybe a big question that I left us with but some of us have this idea that we need meaningfulness and we kind of need to save the world in our careers. When you’re facing a transition, I think that really comes up as, “Well, if I’m going to make a change, I need to have a greater impact on humanity.” I think that’s really true for a lot of people in the world today who feel like, wherever they are on the spectrum of politics, things aren’t going the way they want them to be going. They need to dive in and make a difference. What do you do with that impulse and how do you channel it, or quell it, or encourage it?
Rikke Hansen: First of all, I think if you’re alive right now, you have that personal responsibility to do something to make the world a better place. However, whether that’s going to be the main course or side dish is a personal choice. What I often see is that when people have worked in a highly corporate environment for most of their career or for their career so far, a little bit like I said before, they almost feel like all-or-nothing. “Well, if I’m going to change career, or if I’m going to start my own company, then I’m going to go all the way over to the other part of the world and change … Go save children in Africa, or eradicate AIDS, or something like that.”
I think at the end of the day, if you look at people who are truly successful in terms of solving the really big issues that are facing humanity, and the ones who really also love what they do, it tends to be because there is a natural match between the skillset they have and the people they’re trying to help. It’s not just a one-way street. That means that for someone to leave a law job in New York to get on a plane to Haiti, where they hang out and use their hands for a living and they know build new houses and stuff like that, might not be enough of an intellectual challenge for them. They’re just going to make up for the fact that they’re having a deep humanitarian need met.
Sam Glover: You just reminded me of … We just got back from our TBD Law retreat conference and I met a lawyer there. Her career transition was essentially quitting her job and going backpacking in sub-Saharan Africa for a year. Is that a bad idea to just say, “Screw it. I’m taking some time off to think about this.”
Rikke Hansen: Then we’re going down a totally different route.
Sam Glover: Sorry.
Rikke Hansen: I think we should just stay a little bit longer with the meaning one, and then I’ll answer the other one. Actually, I can answer that one very quickly. If you’re very clear about why you’re traveling and what you’re trying to find the answer to, then by all means do it, but don’t just go out, hope it’s going to fall in your face. Do some prep work before you go traveling.
Back to the thing around meaning. I also think at the end of the day … Think about some of the really big, successful companies that are actually spending the most money solving the biggest problems. They’re not actually designed to first and foremost solve problems in the world. If you think about someone like Richard Branson, most of his companies are not directly set up to solve big problems in the world, but through his foundations and through the work that he does, he spends a lot of the money from the profit on solving real issues.
I would argue that you don’t have to do something for a living that … The purpose of either your career or your business doesn’t have to be directly to do with solving a big problem in the world, but a lot of your profit, or at least a certain percent of your profit, should. Does that make sense?
Sam Glover: Yeah, that makes a ton of sense.
Rikke Hansen: Be very, very careful with this one, and by the way, it’s something like literally … Especially lawyers, when they call me, it’s like, “I feel like I want to do something more meaningful. I want to make a mark in my world.” That’s people in their 30s and 40s. The millennials are even more out there in terms of, “Oh, I got to feel like I’m saving the world.” Their day is not worth it. Let’s get realistic, both in terms of where can you actually have the biggest impact, and what makes sense to weigh because it has to work for you. There’s no point in you leaving a law job behind to go and be really unhappy as an administrator for Save the Children. Unless that’s right for you, and so be it.
But you’re much better off deciding what is the right career or business for you. Then decide, does your ideal job description or your ideal day match with a charity or with something that’s mainly aimed at solving big problems in the world? Or would you rather have that being the focus of where you spend some of your profits? You can have it either which way. It’s not just by going hands-on in Africa that you can solve the problems. I think this is something we see more and more examples of, are really profitable companies realize that they can actually help even more because they have a commercial side that is making more money from them than a lot of charities can by the way they’re set up. They don’t have to be mutually-exclusive.
Sam Glover: Once you’ve identified something you want to do, something you want to take part in, how do you make the decision … Do I apply for jobs? Do I try to create a job within an existing company or nonprofit? Or do I just say screw it and go out and start my own business? How do you decide which of those is going to be right for you?
Rikke Hansen: First of all, I saw this quote the other day. I thought it was fantastic. It said, “Performance equals knowledge.” I would exchange that with action equals knowledge. Again, you can’t think your way through to these things, so you need to do what I call test-driving. Also, some things you don’t even need to test-drive. For example, a lot of people might not enjoy a nonprofit culture unless it’s a very modern nonprofit that has a lot of varied IQ working in that particular nonprofit. I’m saying this from a lot of experience. A lot of times you will have lawyers going to work in nonprofits and they really miss the IQ of the people they used to hang out with to a certain extent, because it tends to be very administratively-focused, so a lot of it tends to be just admin workers or office workers.
By just thinking through what the reality of your day-to-day is going to be like if you go join a nonprofit, you can quickly see whether it’s right for you or not. Does that make sense in terms of the IQ of the people you’re going to hang out with, the kind of work you’re going to hang out with? If you’re a lawyer, you might not want to go into an administrative position, so that one you can think through to a certain extent.
But also in terms of, if you’re thinking about starting your own business, what can you start on the side even whilst you’re already working in your law job? Whether that’s a blog, whether that’s a popup shop, whether it’s doing events or experiences on the side to test-drive whether you actually like it or not, because that is something you need to feel on your own body and have a fully-body experience of, so to say. That’s one of the things when it comes to the final step, which is all around designing and launching that ideal business, you’ve got to look at what are the ways in which you can actually test-drive it before you make the jump?
The reason why most people, they end up staying stuck in jobs and professions they hate, is because again, like I said to you, they overthink. Their ideas never get further than their own head so what I recommend that you find a way of test-driving the idea for the business or the profession you’re going into. Whether it’s even things like volunteering or networking with people in a certain profession. It’s really important that you test-drive it in the real world.
Sam Glover: Yeah, don’t kill it yourself, give it a test drive and let somebody else tell you it’s a bad idea or let it fail on its own. I just said the big word which is maybe motivating a lot of it, which is failure. What if I try to make this transition and I can’t make the income I want? Or what if I start a business and it fails? That’s a huge fear for a lot of people, right?
Rikke Hansen: Yeah. To be honest, let’s be fair. Every morning, [inaudible 00:28:25] Every morning you get out of bed, there’s a real risk that your day is going to be a failure, but the thing that I always say to my clients, there’s a difference between a failure that’s worth it and a failure that’s not. What I would say to everybody listening, if right now you are in a career or profession that’s not worth failing at or failing for, you’re barking up the wrong tree.
I’ve had my own business now since 2005 and like I said, I left a very successful career in HR for American investment banks behind to start this. Having had that for ten years is quite a massive success, but it doesn’t mean that next year I’m not going to have a crap year and I’m going to fail somehow. But it’s worth it. I absolutely love what I do. It’s a little bit like … think ab out it like marriage. I always give that analogy. If you want to fail in love, you’re going to have to risk rejection. You’re going to have to risk failure. But all the best things in life come with that. You got to risk some to get some.
It’s one of those things. What I would say instead is, well, what’s really worth the risk? Is it where you are right now, or is it going for what you really want?
Sam Glover: We touched on step one, I think. Did we get to step three?
Rikke Hansen: You literally fast-track, which is what most people do.
Sam Glover: Oh, did we skip step two?
Rikke Hansen: Yeah, we did, but that’s okay.
Sam Glover: Let’s go back to it, then.
Rikke Hansen: But the thing is, that will generally sort itself out because if you haven’t done step one and two properly, you’ll fail in step three because you haven’t done the proper groundwork. Just to remind that where you really start is by first of all nailing down what is actually your problem, and then you build a solid foundation in terms of what stays and what goes, and what are the ingredients in the skillset you already have? Because you obviously don’t want to go empty-handed because whether you want to start your own business or whether you want to find a job, you’re going to have to sell yourself to someone, whether it’s your clients or your employers.
You’ve got to decide, out of everything you’ve done so far, what do you still want to keep? And that you can then turn into a selling point for going forward. Obviously, for some people, that’s step one. They might actually realize that they just need a change within their career, or that they don’t need a change, but for some people, they’ll get to the stage. They’re like, “Okay, I’m clear about what I need to leave behind, what I want to keep, but it’s not enough. I need something else. I want to do something different.”
Then step two is actually to curate your missing ingredients. What are the missing ingredients that you still could be looking for? And also, what are actually your options? One of the biggest things, and you touched upon this at the beginning, is that most professionals, they literally don’t think they have any options because they’ve been in the same industry for so long. That’s really where you need to … I almost call it think like an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur doesn’t think that their past has to dictate their future.
That’s when I really recommend everybody listening right now … Just because you’ve been in a profession for 5, 10, 15 years, doesn’t mean that there is only a limited amount of options available to you going forward, even though it’s still going to take a while for this to change in people’s head. If you look at it, the era of the profession is kind of over. Think about the amount of new job paths, career paths, [inaudible 00:31:39] path that are literally being created every day. Just something crazy like social media manager, or all of these crazy AI jobs coming out, or YouTube videos. All these crazy things that 5, 10 years ago, nobody could’ve predicted, 15 years ago.
What we’re looking at now is more what I call the curating your ideal career, curating your ideal business. That’s a matter of looking at, okay. Now I’ve built a solid foundation. I’ve already got a number of ingredients, but what’s still missing? Do I need an ingredient that’s around more meaning? Do I need an ingredient that’s around a different subject? Do I need an ingredient that’s around a different client group? Think about what are actually the ingredients that I’m missing and then specifically go hunt that down.
One thing that I often find with people who are looking for more meaning or more connection, often what’s wrong is that it’s the interaction with the client group that’s the problem. Many lawyers, it’s like they don’t actually have a very close relationship or a very warm relationship with their clients because they’re paid to keep them safe and away from harm, and often it’s a very professional relationship. They’re not really allowed to connect further, whereas actually a lot of people who have more of a humanitarian need, they would rather actually help their clients with more personal stuff, whether that’s health, or psychologically, or more emotional stuff.
Maybe that’s a thing you could look at, one of the ingredients that you need to go out and find is how can you actually either find a job or build a company that’s more around actually connecting … For example what I’m doing, which is really helping people nail down what the career or business is for them, that was one of the ingredients that I didn’t have in my other company when I was in HR that I knew I wanted in my ideal business. Does that make sense?
Sam Glover: Yeah, it does. Yeah, a lot of sense.
Rikke Hansen: Yeah. That’s really important. One of the biggest issues is also that often people are like, “Oh, my god. There are so many things I could do,” but if you just think about ingredients in terms of buckets like one bucket is who do you want to work with? Another one might be where do you want to do work and under what circumstances? Is it freelancing? Do you want your own business?
And also, here’s a deal. A lot of people are very afraid of the word entrepreneur, because what do you think about when you think the word entrepreneur? You think really intimidating people like Steve Jobs, and Elon Musk, and Arianna Huffington, and Richard Branson. How does that make you feel? It makes you feel like a nobody, right? I think it’s really important, one of the things I’m really big on, is let’s make entrepreneurship a little bit more relatable. People almost like put entrepreneurs on a pedestal, and as everybody know, we’re nobody special, but what we do is special because we just take action. Even when nobody tells us to get up in the morning, we still get out of bed.
When I do webinars for one of my online courses, I often put up this slide with this miniature person. They’re small people. It’s like an Instagram account with this guy who goes all over the world and puts small people in all kinds of different scenarios. There’s miniature figurines. I’m like, “Is this is how you feel when you hear the word entrepreneur?” and everybody goes mad. “Oh, yeah! I thought it was just me.” I really want everybody listening … I promise you, you do not have to be anybody special or anybody gifted or genius, and you don’t even have to do anything disruptive or something that never happened before in the history of humankind. You just have to do something that solves a real problem in the real world that people want to pay to have solved.
Sam Glover: I feel like I increasingly talk to people about what they want to do next, because this comes up at our retreat. It comes up when I talk to other lawyers. They talk about what they want to do next, but there’s no job, there’s no application that they can send. You just have to go out and do it yourself. If there’s something that needs doing and it meets your skillset, maybe you do just have to go out and do it yourself. There’s a scene … Maybe this is too obscure for current culture, but in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, where he’s trying to cross this chasm and he closes his eyes and takes a step as if he’s about to fall off the cliff. Instead, all of a sudden there’s a bridge there.
Rikke Hansen: Oh, dude. I’m a child of the ’70s. I know what you’re talking about.
Sam Glover: Yeah, and I feel like that is actually a good image of what it’s like to start a business. It feels like jumping off a cliff but there’s a bridge there. It’s not so bad.
Rikke Hansen: No, and also what I would say, if you don’t have the skill, hire it. One of the things that holds a lot of people back from starting their own business is they think they have to be so self-sufficient, but fact is, we have a global marketplace now. Just think about it. You and I could literally start a company right now where none of us have any experience or skill because we’ve gone to fiverr.com or we could find somewhere someone in the world who has that skill and pay them to do that for us, and also at a really good price potentially.
This is also why you should worry if you don’t like what you do, because your skillset might be cheaper somewhere else. If you have an idea for something but you think, “I’ve got no experience and I don’t have the exact skill,” don’t naturally think that you have to go back and retrain for that skill. You can hire it straight away, or you can hire your first employee. A lot of times what I see happening is that people decide to gang up with their best friend, who’s also a lawyer, to start their own company. Then they both have the same skill.
Why don’t you, instead of ganging up with someone who has the same skillset than you, just hire your first employee who’s got none of the skills that you have but has all the skills that you need in addition to yours?
Sam Glover: Let me jump forward again, and let’s say starting a business isn’t for you. It’s not the right decision. There’s a job that you want, a job description that suits you. How do you go about that job search, especially when you’re in the second or third stage of your career when you’re in your 30s and 40s?
Rikke Hansen: First of all, and I’m speaking as a, in my former life, HR manager, remember that job ads are human resources wishlist for Father Christmas. When you write a job ad, you know very well that you are not going to get all of that. And also, by the way, this is where we still have the issues between men and women. This is proven. A man will read a job ad, and if he can sort of do most of it, if he can do half of it, he’ll apply. Women won’t. It’s probably [inaudible 00:38:01] statistic. It’s probably even worse than that. What I will say is remember job ads will make you feel really deflated but that’s just because it’s, like I say, HR’s wishlist to Father Christmas. Don’t let that put you off.
When most people fall down in the career transition process, when it comes to looking for another job, it’s that they, the career-changer, don’t take the time and doesn’t make the effort to translate the skills that they have in the light of where they want to go next.
Sam Glover: Overthinking again.
Rikke Hansen: Yeah, so what happens is, you’ll get a CV that has law language. It doesn’t have the language of the profession that they want to move into. That is your problem, not the new employer’s. I’ve got to get on my high horse here because it really bothers me, and I really want to help the people listening.
Remember: You really need to … if we’re talking about the legal profession right now as an example … de-legalese your resume, as you call it in the US. You really need to do that. That’s so important.
Think about what is the lingo that is used in the industry you want to get into, and how can you give them concrete examples of achievements or things you’ve done that’s related to that? I know what a lawyer does. What I’m interested in knowing is what kind of achievements have you actually had, and what have you done that’s relatable to where you want to go next? Make sure that that you rewrite your CV in the light of the future. Most people have a CV that’s almost like a Catholic confessions box, where it’s everything they ever done in the exact language it was done and the exact time.
What you want to do instead is … I always give this analogy. Think first state, not confession chair. First state is all the highlights. It’s in a language the lady understands. You make yourself look really good. That’s really what you need to do with a career-change CV.
Sam Glover: Mm-hmm (affirmative). What about the jobs that aren’t really advertised? Especially when it comes to small companies … and when you’re aiming, lots of lawyers are not aiming for entry-level jobs or even mid-level jobs. They want to skip up to the top and help run a company or take a C-level position at a small company. Those jobs aren’t always advertised. How do you go about networking for a job?
Rikke Hansen: First of all, I know it’s a massive issue in the UK … it’s also an issue, I Know, in the US … the word networking is just horrific.
Sam Glover: Yeah, it is.
Rikke Hansen: It sort of make people think like, “American Sign Co. Here’s my business card,” kind of thing. You know the reference there. What I need for you to think about is one of the main reasons why you want to change career is because you want to work with people you actually enjoy working with, and you actually want to be around people like yourself. That means if you are going into an industry or trying [inaudible 00:40:48] companies where that’s not the case, you’re probably barking up the wrong tree. What you should want to think about is making friends. That’s what I think about instead of networking.
Sam Glover: I love … That’s what I tell people too. It’s just making friends is the best.
Rikke Hansen: Yeah, but think about it from the position of, you should not want to go somewhere and hang out if you wouldn’t actually want them to be your friends in the first place. Does that make sense?
Sam Glover: Yeah.
Rikke Hansen: [crosstalk 00:41:10] in addition to that. You should definitely not rely just on job ads because you can wait a mighty long time, especially in the current economy. What you want to look at is, let’s say you want to move into a certain industry. Where do the kind of decision-makers, when it comes to hiring, hang out? Do they tend to hang out in certain conferences, or even certain bars and restaurants, or events? Or even better, where do they tend to volunteer for good causes, where you can go and meet them because you’re volunteering too?
You’re really big on that. That’s one of the things I love about Americans. You guys really have charity built-in to so many of your businesses, a lot more than, funny enough, we have here. Often what I find in the US with a lot of companies, no matter how small they are, they always do some kind of charitable or community work, so find out where is it? When is it happening? Because they’re always looking for volunteers for that kind of thing. That’s a lot better.
Also, think about it. I can’t remember the exact stats now, but the degree of separation is just going down by the minute. Let’s say you want to move into … What can I think of? I’ve just got a pair of glasses in front of me. Let’s say you want to move into the eyewear industry. That’s a massive world, but let’s say you decide to move into eyewear that is only sold online. That’s already narrowing it down further. Let’s say it’s eyewear like … You know the kind of glasses you can wear when you’re at your computer? The sort of light-blocking eyeglasses?
Sam Glover: Yeah.
Rikke Hansen: Let’s say you nail it down to that niche. Then that’s a lot easier to find out where do those people hang out? What kind of online groups do they have? Offline groups? Who are the influencers in that field that I can connect with, get in front of? Try to niche down as much as you can, and also remember that often, smaller companies that might not have sexy, well-known products or names yet are easier to get in front of and might give you more of a chance.
Often, one of the things I see, and this is especially the case if people have a big name on their CV, either now or before, is that they tend to be a little bit snobby as in, “Oh, but that’s like so-and-so. Nobody’s heard about them.” That doesn’t matter. You already have stuff on your resume that shows you work with the big guys or the big ladies, so now it’s okay to actually go to a smaller firm to get your feet in the ground, and it’s a win/win scenario.
Don’t be a snob when it comes to the how famous or well-known or well-respected is the company because it might actually not be a good thing, because that’s what everybody is going to go look for first.
Sam Glover: If somebody’s listening to this podcast and this is all resonating, and something is moving, and they’re going, “Okay, so I think I need a change. I’m starting to think through my skillset.” What’s the next action that someone can take to move themselves along the path. I guess maybe the next thing to do is decide whether or not to go and hire a transition coach or advisor. How do you make that decision? Can you do it yourself, or do you need help?
Rikke Hansen: Here’s the deal. Everything that is possible to do in the world, you can do by yourself potentially. But it’s a matter of how long is it going to take you to figure out, and how many issues have you got with self-sabotage? Where are you going to get information? How do you know what order to do it in? By all means you can try and have a stab at it, but if you want to fast-track the process … If you think about it, it is such a big thing to think about with so many risks involved and so much uncertainty, so you might want to speak to someone who does this stuff for a living.
Sam Glover: I suppose if you are feeling overwhelmed, or you just aren’t sure how to take the next step, then that’s probably the ideal time to talk to somebody.
Rikke Hansen: What I would say is a lot of people waste so much time, like I said, overthinking. A lot of people, it can literally take them many months and years from the kind of, “Aww, I’m really unhappy,” to actually do something about it. What I would say is if you are having an inkling, that little nagging voice inside of your head saying, “Oh, I wondering whether I should change,” that is the best time to start speaking to someone, to start educating yourself, or even get access to a proven framework. Because fact is, if not, you’re going to potentially start talking yourself out of it, like will happen, and before you know, it’s 5, 10 years down the line and you’re even more unhappy. You might be stressed out.
I think it’s important for you to decide, do you want professional advice or do you want to try going it on your own? I would also say be careful. What I’ve noticed is it is an arena that is almost like a theme park. You could spend the next 20 years reading books and going to talks and Googling blogs on people who changed careers yesterday. Really think about about how do you want to approach it? I think one of the reasons I have so many clients from a professional background is that professionals tend to seek out other professionals. That tends to be why, if you come from a professional background, you’re used to taking advice from experts. I would encourage you to do the same, but by all means, if you think you can figure it out by yourself, go have a stab at it. Then if you keep going around in circles, you keep start-stopping, start-stopping, then let’s talk.
Sam Glover: Where can our listeners hear more from you?
Rikke Hansen: I will spell that because my name is Danish. It’s rikke.me, or you can also Google intelligenttransition.com. The way I work with people for the majority of the people who come to me is through an online program. It’s a three-months online program where I usually help them nail down their whats. What’s that ideal business? What’s that ideal career? How much of a change do they need and why? I also still work with a small handful of private clients but for the majority, that online program is the best way forward for them. It also includes live Q and As with me.
One of the things I love most of all is the hot seat thing, where people [inaudible 00:46:57] we nail down what is the real issue and therefore, what kind of actions can they take right now. I don’t believe in this whole kind of Netflix-style program that people get access to everything in one go and then they gobble through it and don’t do anything. I’m very, very big on implementation because at the end of the day, for people like us who are overthinkers, smart people? Your biggest issue is not necessarily information, it’s doing something about it.
Sam Glover: What does it cost? What does it cost to do an online course like yours, versus hiring a private coach?
Rikke Hansen: It depends on what level of coach you’re looking at. You want to be more specific, because there’s so many different kind of coaches you could hire whether they’re life coaches or goddess coaches or all that kind of fluffy stuff that’s out there. So what do you mean?
Sam Glover: Well, what does your online course cost?
Rikke Hansen: In pounds, it starts around £600, so that would be around $800. That’s what it’s currently at.
Sam Glover: I suppose when you’re dealing with a coach, you’re probably paying an hourly rate most of the time.
Rikke Hansen: It depends. People are different. As an advisor, if you were to work with me, obviously one-on-one would cost a lot more than that. You’ve also got outplacement agencies. They charge 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 grand. Some people decide to do an MBA. In the US, that can be up to $200,000. It’s all over the place. You might be able to find a life coach you can hire at $10 an hour, but then you might be wondering what kind of results they can … To be honest, I think what I would recommend that people look at is how much is it worth to you to save time and to get something that works from an expert in the field, and then put down your money on calling me. I find that if people are not willing to invest in their transition … With the things that matter in life, you generally are willing to invest.
But also what I would say, if people come from a law background, then money is not generally the issue, even though a lot of times we think that it is, because we like to keep the money we made. But I would say that you would generally be looking at … If you were to get professional help, for example an online course, you’re looking at around probably $1,000.
Sam Glover: Which shouldn’t be a deal-breaker for anybody getting ready to make a transition.
Rikke Hansen: No, and also if you actually think about that, generally that’s $300-something a month, and if you think about what that would be per day … Think about it over the next, let’s say three months. You’re going to blow $800 on something else anyway that’s not going to help the transition. That’s the thing. If you look at it, think about your daily coffee, your takeout, that crazy weekend in Las Vegas because you hate your job, things add up. I would look at, wouldn’t it make more sense to invest in yourself?
Also, if you think about it, right now whether you want to transition or not, you should be investing in your own career because that’s all you’ve got. It’s not a matter of whether it’s a transition advisor you’re paying for or an online course. It’s really like, you should be looking for opportunities to invest in yourself because that is the only safe investment we got in the current environment. You are all you’ve got.
Sam Glover: Are there any questions I should’ve asked you that I didn’t?
Rikke Hansen: No, you’ve been really good actually. I’ve really enjoyed this. To be honest, as I say, I’ve been in this field since 2005 and it’s one of those things, even when I go on holiday, I still read about psychology, AI, future work and all of this. I love talking about this stuff. We could probably talking for a lot longer, so no. Also, I really like that you haven’t asked too many personal questions about my journey, because one of my biggest bugbears when I’m on a podcast is 75% of them is just, they’re a journey and there’s nothing for the listener. What I like about this is … and I’m hoping your listeners feel this … we’ve given you a lot of very concrete advice that you can start taking action on straightaway.
I also would say I have quite a lot of YouTube videos. If you want to come over to my website, I literally have videos around should I quit my job? How can I start a business without quitting my job? What if I have too many ideas? What if I don’t have any ideas? I do videos that are generally around five to seven minutes, just like this style, very direct, very practical. Definitely whether you need help or not, do come over and check out the videos because there’s a lot of practical, free videos on my website as well.
Sam Glover: Fantastic.
Rikke Hansen: I guess you’ll put a link as well on your …
Sam Glover: It’ll absolutely have a link in our show notes, but it’s rikke.me if you’re interested in learning more or watching those videos. Rikke, thank you so much for being with us today.
Rikke Hansen: You’re so welcome. Thank you so much. It’s been brilliant.
Aaron Street: Make sure to catch next week’s episode of the Lawyerist Podcast by subscribing to the show in your favorite podcast app, and please leave a rating to help other people find our show. You can find the notes for today’s episode on lawyerist.com/podcast.
Sam Glover: The views expressed by the participants are their own and are not endorsed by Legal Talk Network. Nothing said in this podcast is legal advice for you.