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This year has brought numerous unforeseen roadblocks to professional advancement and just daily life. Some have been easy to navigate around. Others have struggled to make sense of their lives and careers in the midst of such chaos. While facing obstacles in any regard never feels good, it can often yield better results than we originally imagined if we think creatively and strategically about how to pivot.

No one knows this better than CEO of Seek Wisdom Find Wealth, Patrice Washington, and Associate Vice President of Nationwide Financial, Monika Johnson. In a recent sponsored UnBossed Podcast interview, the two business powerhouses shared their experience with reimagining their career paths when life pushed pause on their plans.

“There may be times when you have to broaden your experience a little bit. Because understanding that your plan A may not be your plan B, and you need to have multiple plans,” advises Johnson whose career at Nationwide began over 20 years ago.

Her trajectory afforded her the opportunity to grow within an organization whose “caring culture” as she describes it allowed her to try her hand at multiple sides of the business from an early age.

“I started out as a high school intern with the company. I actually started in our mailroom, and it was really fun,” Johnson recalls. “Then I received a full-time job after graduating and attended college as well. But I became a manager at the age of 18 with this company, so I was fulfilling that leadership passion that I had, and I’ve been a leader ever since in progressive roles. But I have had a chance to expand and grow throughout my career. Nationwide has an insurance side, and they also have a financial side. So I’ve had a chance to work on both, which are completely different career paths and different learning opportunities. So I had a chance to grow. I’ve been in roles like sales, I’ve been in operations and technology support roles.”

Washington’s story rings a bit differently. The speaker, author, and coach knew what she wanted to be from childhood, thanks to her father’s shining example and guide.

“I remember by second grade realizing that my dad was an entrepreneur,” Washington tells UnBossed host Marquita Harris. “He would come to the school and he would come to the spelling bee, and my mom who worked about 30 miles away from where we lived could never really be present. And I remember asking my dad one day, ‘What do you do? Do you have a job?‘ I thought he was unemployed. And he’s like, ‘I’m an entrepreneur.‘ And it just stuck, and he told me entrepreneurs solve problems. And literally I never wanted to do anything else but be an entrepreneur. I didn’t know specifically what I would do, but I knew that as somebody who wanted to be a mother one day, that I just craved for the flexibility that I felt entrepreneurship could offer, because I wanted to be present for my children.”

Her entrepreneurial spirit kicked into high gear this year as a global pandemic forced her to consider how to pivot and generate her own opportunity when in-person speaking engagements were canceled for safety. She knew she couldn’t come to a halt.

“I’m primarily a speaker,” Washington continues. “And so before the pandemic hit, I literally had 17 speaking engagements for the year, I had taken deposits, right? And one by one, people started saying, ‘We have to postpone, we have to delay, we have to push it.’ And I really started to proactively talk to my partners about, what are we going to do virtually? Because people still need this content, they still need the information. And so because we can’t gather in large spaces anymore, or because you can’t maybe do some of the things you’re used to doing in your business, it’s not the time to just sit down and go, ‘Well, I’ll wait for it to be done.‘ When is that? We don’t know exactly when that is, right?”

The Seek Wisdom Find Wealth founder is a believer in changing course to meet the moment. Washington is so much a believer in that method of entrepreneurship that she is teaching her 13-year-old daughter the same principles that have allowed her to prosper as an entrepreneur.

“You have to look for opportunities,” Patrice says. “I taught my 13-year-old daughter how to do a SWOT analysis on her snow cone business in the neighborhood,” she explains, calling out the popular personality test. “She knows to look at every time she has an idea, strength, weakness, opportunities, and threats [editor’s note: SWOT]. And it’s the same thing that I go through with my clients, that we have to be ready to pivot when these things happen, and we can’t be so attached to how it’s always been.”

You can hear the full interview on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere you listen to podcasts and watch the video on Facebook.

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