Learn how to embrace your work and love your career even in the rough times. Look back at your career and find the parts that you enjoy. Relive those moments and ask what was it that made you enjoy that event? Make your work, work for you.
Join Alicia Dunams as she talks to her guest Fran Hauser about her new book, Embrace the Work, Love Your Career. Fran came up with the idea for this guided workbook when she realized that women all around her were feeling stuck, and there wasn’t a practical yet inspiring resource to help them find clarity and achieve their career goals. The pandemic has driven so many women out of the workforce and left others questioning their paths. Her hope is that her book will help women of all ages to get inspired and become unstuck so that they can thrive in their careers and ultimately live the lives they want and deserve.
Each chapter starts with practical advice and includes prompts and exercises to help readers create their own personal career action plans. Palate-cleansing meditations and coloring breaks conclude each chapter, offering chances for calming reflection. Through simple, inspiring, and actionable tools, this one-of-a-kind workbook empowers women to focus on the things that truly matter, set boundaries, and, ultimately, realize their full potential.
Listen to the podcast here
Embrace The Work, Love Your Career With Fran Hauser
I am excited about our next guest, Fran Hauser. She is a passionate woman about leveling the playing field for all women. She does this through her investing, writing and speaking. Fran has invested in over 30 female-founded companies across consumer tech, media, publishing and wellness. She is the best-selling author of The Myth of the Nice Girl, which has been translated into six languages. It was named the Best Business Book of the Year in 2018 by Audible.
Fran’s new book Embrace the Work, Love Your Career, which is a workbook that I am excited about digging into. It is becoming the go-to for women seeking more fulfillment and joy in their careers. We want more of that. Fran regularly speaks at conferences and organizations. I am excited to have her here in this episode. Fran, it is so great to have you.
Thank you so much, Alicia. It is so great to be here.
I want to talk about the book, get your thoughts about the book, share and go more into it. Embrace the Work, Love Your Career is a guided workbook. Why did you decide to write this book, Fran?
The idea came to me in the middle of COVID. I remember reading all about the millions of women that were leaving the workforce and the millions more that were questioning their career paths and purpose. Frankly, even in my network, my friends, family and colleagues were coming to me one by one saying how much they were struggling.
The pandemic did that to a lot of us. We are going through this existential crisis where we are questioning the meaning of all of the big things and little things in our lives. I wanted to do something that would be helpful. I love to write and create content. I have realized that over the years, I have done so much mentoring and so many talks where I had lots of tips, strategies, exercises, writing prompts and questions that I would ask.
I thought it would be fun to package all of that up into a guided workbook where women could go through the book and do it as opposed to just reading it but doing it, interacting with it and becoming the author of their career. It was a lot of fun to work on. It was very different than working on The Myth of the Nice Girl, which was your more typical 60,000-word narrative book. They are in very different formats. I loved working on both of them but with this one, there was more creativity involved. There is more color and lots of illustrations and design. It was such a pleasure to work on.
You are talking about The Myth of the Nice Girl being 60,000 words and creating a workbook that integrates left and right brain thinking. We can read about things and intellectually understand things but to fully integrate it, be creative, color, draw out and visualize is a more of an integrated experience. This was a great time during the pandemic to launch such a book because people are looking at life from a different perspective.
When you write, you are more likely to remember. It is more likely to stay in your memory. The physical act of writing is important and it is something that we are not doing as much as we used to. When you go through this book, you will want to write and doodle. There are coloring breaks and meditations. I also wanted it to have more of a holistic feel because work is a big part of our life.
It is hard to talk about one without the other. It is all integrated. It has been great to see the response and how women are enjoying it. They are taking it back to their workplace and doing it with their team. I have had a few women ask me if I would do a little surprise drop-in during their book club in Zoom, which has been fun. I love the idea of doing it with others so they are going through it and there is that accountability to each other. That is also a beautiful way to approach it.
It is so natural to automatically go to what is not working, that you often forget to reflect on what’s working.
Tell us more about the response from women. You shared that you are speaking at book clubs. What are people experiencing? Do you have some case studies and examples?
What is great about this book is that I am hearing from women directly but I am also doing a lot of talks at corporations and conferences. A lot of companies have their women’s ERGs. They are always looking for programming and interesting content. It has been such a pleasure to be able to go in and speak to women in all these different companies. They love the reflection part of it. There are so many exercises in the book. I would love to share one because it is a good example of the type of reflecting that is involved.
There is one exercise where I ask you to go through your calendar for the last month, 2 months, 3 months, whatever works for you. Pick out the meetings or the events that put a smile on your face and then take the time to think about what about that experience was so fulfilling. Was it the type of problem that you were solving? Was it the people that you were working with? Was it the type of skills that you were using? It’s to do the work and understand what was it about that experience that you enjoyed so much and then figure out, can you bring more of that type of work into your career? It is so natural to go to what is not working automatically. “I hate this. I do not like this. This is a burden.”
This exercise unblocks you and allows you to reflect on what are the things that are working for you? When I was at Time Inc., and I had been there for many years, I was starting to feel that itch. I did that exercise. I remember realizing that I loved meeting the startup founders from outside the company. That was something that brought me joy. I was able to figure out a way to do more of that at the company by launching an innovation lab that I ran. That kept me at the company for a couple more years because it was something that I enjoyed doing.
Ultimately, I ended up leaving the company and doing startup investing and advising full-time, which is what I have been doing for eight years. I remember being in that moment of like, “I am not loving my job.” I felt like the bigger my job got, the more administrative it got. When I was able to take a step back, think about it and do the reflection, it occurred to me, “There is this one part that I do love. How can I do more of that?” I love and appreciate that exercise. I am hearing a lot of good things about that one.
I love that you shared that with us because we do get to focus on the positive things and re-engineer and redesign our life to have more of that. Whatever is misaligned, we get to release that because mental health and self-care are so important for us to create sustainability. Whatever we are doing or whatever career we have, it gets to be sustainable. I want to go into a few more exercises and lessons from your book but before that, is this book for career women and small business owners or business owners or all of the above?
When I started working on the book, I was trying to make it be for everyone. I am a startup investor and I also have a long career in corporate. It was not working. I realized that I had to choose. I chose more career women, women who are working in a professional environment, either in big companies or small companies. You know this because this is what you do. You help people write books. It is so important to know who it is that you are writing the book for and to be very targeted. I have heard from founders that they also have gotten quite a bit out of the book.
Whereas the entire book is relevant for career women, there are certain parts of the book that are not as relevant for founders. That was a big thing for me in the beginning. I was writing and was like, “This is not working.” I am trying to make it all things to all people. I was not able to get specific enough and tactical enough. Once I made that choice of getting clear on who my target reader was, it became so much easier to write.
One thing I always say is, “When you appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one.” Even though some of the exercises are helpful, focusing on career women is a gift to them. Perhaps down the road, you will write another book for startup founders since that is a sweet spot of yours as well. For the career women out there who are feeling in a rut, stressed with their job and burnt out, especially with Zoom and everything that has changed so quickly, please share another exercise that will bring joy to them.
We are living in an employee’s market. Millions of jobs are open. We can redefine work on our terms. This is not in the book but this is something that I want to share with you because it is something that is very top of mind. It is something I am talking a lot about with women. Get clear on how you can make work work for you, whatever that means. If it is that you need more flexibility, the hybrid work environment is not working for you or whatever it is, write it down and talk to your manager because you do have so much power. We all do.
As an author, it’s so important to know who you’re writing your book for.
Companies are doing a better job of listening. They want to create cultures and environments that work for their employees. Do not be afraid to ask. That starts with being very mindful and thoughtful about what you need, your asks and then having the conversation. There are a couple of other exercises that I will share. One that I love is around, “What do you want to be known for?” It is important that we talk a lot about personal branding when it comes to entrepreneurs and founders but it is just as important if you are working for someone else. What do you want to be known for? What do you want to be the go-to for? When you are the go-to for something, it makes you indispensable.
I remember very early on in my career, when I was in my twenties, I became known for being able to take complicated information and simplify it. I did this one project that I won a corporate award for when I was at Coca-Cola. Everybody knew me as that person. It was amazing because it ended up helping me get promoted to a big job. That was a big stretch for me but I know that it came back to that. Throughout my career, what I became known for changed. I became known for more about my leadership style, being compassionate and the idea of you can be both kind and strong when you are a leader.
Think about what is that for you? What is your zone of genius? What is your superpower? If you do not know what it is, a great exercise is to text a few of your colleagues and ask them. What is the first word that comes to mind when they think of you? That is your brand. How do you feel about that? Is it something that you feel good about and you want to double down on or is this something that you want to change? Being known for something is an important part of being successful.
That is a great exercise. I want to encourage everyone to go over to Amazon.com and purchase Embrace the Work, Love Your Career. It is a beautifully laid-out formatted book. It is a workbook. It is a book to integrate creativity, writing, doodling, drawing and visioning your work and career goals, creating joy and asking for what you want. We are in a place where you can design your work and have power.
We have the power to create it. When you are happy at work, you’ll have more performance and the culture is going to be a culture that cultivates creativity and productivity. You can go over to Amazon.com and purchase. This is a living book, Embrace the Work, Love Your Career. Fran, I would love for you to share perhaps another one of your favorite exercises that are in the book.
There is a whole section in the book on creating time and space. This is so important because you can envision a career that you love and have your goals but if you do not have the time and the space to focus on it, nothing is going to get done. There are so many exercises around creating boundaries and finding that time in your calendar.
One exercise that I love is the idea of creating a to-don’t list. We are good at creating those to-do lists. One of the things that I encourage people to do periodically is to look at that to-do list and make some decisions. There might be a few things that you can move over to your to-don’t list. It is like, “No, for now.” It is not that you are never going to get to it but I will give you an example.
When I was working on this book, Embrace the Work, Love Your Career, it took a lot longer to design it but it took six weeks to write the first draft. During that time, I decided that I was not going to take meetings with founders who wanted to pitch me their businesses. That was on my to-don’t list. It made it so much easier for me to say no because when someone reached out, I could say, “Thank you so much for reaching out. I am heads down writing my book, so I am not taking founder meetings.”
It is not something that they take personally. It is a decision that, for this period, I will not be taking founder meetings. Think about what you can put on your to-don’t list. Sometimes, it is stuff that is not directly on your to-do list but it might be something that is a common distraction. Maybe you are the office therapist or the person that everybody always comes to for help. It is so great to be helpful and generous but you got to set boundaries around that too. Not just looking at your to-do list but thinking about, “What are the distracters, the fillers and the things that are creeping into my day that I can also put on that to-don’t list?”
Fran, we are going to jump into the lightning round. I am going to ask you some questions and you are going to say the first thing that comes to your mind. Number one, Fran, what is going to be your legacy?
When you are the go-to for something, it makes you indispensable.
Turning the nice girl notion on its head.
Tell me about her.
She is amazing. She wrote a collection of short stories called Interpreter Of Maladies. She is an immigrant from India. There are all these beautiful short stories about being an immigrant, which I am also. I fell in love with that collection. She has written novels like The Namesake, which was turned into a movie. She also wrote a book called In Other Words, which is written in both Italian and English. She took it upon herself to learn the Italian language because she was so obsessed with it. She is an interesting author. I love following her and her work.
Thank you so much for sharing her with us. What are you reading next? What is on your bookshelf or table stand next to your bed?
I finished The Paris Library, which is this beautiful work of historical fiction. I love historical fiction. It was so good. I have another historical fiction up next, The Magnolia Palace by Fiona Davis.
You are very heavy on the fiction side.
Even though I am a nonfiction author but I love my fiction too.
That is part of creativity. That is something I get to stretch into more. I am a descriptive nonfiction reader. I love these suggestions. Fran, finally, what are you writing next?
The idea of Embrace the Work, Love Your Career for founders is something that I am marinating on. That might be it but I am not sure. I am staying curious.
Fran, tell us how we can find out more about you. Where can we follow you online?
You can follow Fran on Instagram, that is where I follow her and on LinkedIn. Fran, I would love for you to share one other piece of advice from either book that you want to share with our readers.
The big thing that I would love to share is that you can be successful without sacrificing your true self. That theme runs through both books. This idea of like, “Fake it until you make it,” does not work for me and I do not think it works for most people. When you show up as your true self, whether it is at work or in your life, that is when you are going to feel the most comfortable in your skin and make the most impact.
Fran, thank you for being with us and everyone, thank you for reading this episode. See you next time.
Thanks for having me.
- The Myth of the Nice Girl
- Embrace the Work, Love Your Career
- Embrace the Work, Love Your Career – Amazon
- Charlotte’s Web
- Jhumpa Lahiri – Facebook
- Interpreter Of Maladies
- The Namesake
- In Other Words
- The Paris Library
- The Magnolia Palace
- @Fran_Hauser – Instagram
- Twitter – Fran Hauser
- LinkedIn – Fran Hauser
About Fran Hauser
Fran Hauser is passionate about leveling the playing field for women. She does this through her investing, writing, and speaking. Fran has invested in over 30 female-founded companies across consumer tech, CPG, media & publishing, and wellness. She is the best-selling author of The Myth of the Nice Girl which has been translated into six languages and was named “Best Business Book of the Year, 2018” by Audible. Fran’s new book, Embrace the Work, Love Your Career is quickly becoming the go-to for women seeking more joy and fulfillment in their careers. Fran regularly speaks at conferences and organizations to help women build careers they love. Much of her current work is informed by 15 years spent in media, where she rose through the ranks at Time Inc. to President of Digital. She lives outside of NYC with her husband and two sons.