A couple of weeks ago, the national conference of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network came to Minneapolis. As a board member of the local chapter, I was thrilled to see so many young leaders from around the country in town and for them to hear Jennifer Ford Reedy of the Bush Foundation during day two’s opening keynote.
One insight from Reedy’s keynote in particular has been sticking with me and others who attended. It came during her description of her career path and how she figured out what her dream job was. A lot of her career, she said, involved doing a good job and seeing what new opportunities emerged, but there was a pivotal moment — involving deep thinking and visualizing her dream job — that got her to where she is today.
That moment came with a question from a CEO she’d been working with. The question wasn’t, “What’s your dream job?” Instead the CEO asked, “Can we fund you to be you and keep doing what you’re doing in the community?” Reedy knew that wasn’t feasible and that she’d need to have a platform and a place to belong. But it did get her thinking, “What do I want to do? Not what job do I want, but what is the verb in my life?”
She thought about what she was good at, what she enjoyed doing and the impact she wanted to have. From there she considered organizations she could be a part of that would allow her to do that. That frame of mind allowed her to make conscious choices that led her to Bush Foundation.
Reedy’s story demonstrated that the familiar question about someone’s dream job might have it backwards. The most important thing to know is what you’ll be happy doing. The best place to do it flows from there, not vice versa. So what about it, what’s your verb?
Watch Reedy’s full keynote and Q&A session from the conference below:
- Chris Oien, MCF digital communications specialist