Leaving a secure job to start a business during a recession. Buying a business that required a larger investment than the cost of her house. Marie Zimenoff has not taken the easy path to get ahead in her career. But taking a gamble on herself paid off and helped her grow more than even she anticipated.
In 2008, the United States was in a deep recession. When most companies were struggling to keep afloat and people were desperately holding onto their jobs, the thought of leaving permanent employment seemed ludicrous.
This didn’t deter Marie Zimenoff, who is now the CEO of Career Thought Leaders. While working at Colorado State University as an advisor she fell in love with the impact advisors, coaches, counselors, and resume writers have on clients’ lives. Even though people advised her that the risk was great as the recession was just beginning, and her inherent analytical tendencies didn’t lend to risk-taking, her desire to help people with their careers was stronger and she took the leap.
Leaving her position at the institution, she began career coaching, resume writing, and presenting training at workforce centers. She continually ventured out of her comfort zone to build her business and volunteer in leadership roles for state and national careers organizations.
In 2015, she purchased Career Thought Leaders Consortium and Resume Writing Academy —investing more than the cost of her home to step into her dream of training career services providers. After tasting success in these organizations, in 2017 she acquired the Reach Personal Branding training and certification programs. Under Zimenoff’s leadership, the company grew from strength to strength and now trains and certifies career services providers—resume writers and career coaches—around the world.
Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone
Stepping out of the box can be the best option to grow your business and income. As uncomfortable as this may make you feel, it can mean the difference between remaining stagnant or achieving more.
Zimenoff shares, “I see entrepreneurs that have this nice, neat little box. They never take on something that stretches them and then they wonder why their income isn’t growing. It’s frustrating to me that as career coaches, we teach people to get out of their comfort zones, yet I find a lot of people in my industry stay there and wonder why they aren’t having any growth.”
She passionately believes that entrepreneurs and people wanting to grow in their careers need to step into unknown territory more often. “We get too carried away with saying ‘no’,” she says. “To be a successful entrepreneur and business person, at some point you have to be overwhelmed, at some point you have to take risks.” Zimenoff asserts that you need to say ‘no’ to create space for saying ‘yes’ to the opportunities that move you in the right direction—even if this leaves you feeling pressured.
Marie Zimenoff knows that for satisfying success, establishing what earns your ‘yes’ needs to align with your values and goals. She trains her clients in this area and pushes them to move beyond their current thinking. “When you contemplate what you want to achieve and what it’s going to take to get there, your goals can feel scary,” she says. “But the answers to ‘Where do I want to be? What do I want to accomplish?’ will inform the risks you need to take.”
You Choose To Be Confident
Zimenoff is not only an entrepreneur and leader, she is also a sought-after keynote speaker at industry events and conferences. She shares proven and leading-edge career management, branding, job search, resume development, social media, and leadership expertise with professionals worldwide.
While her expertise is impressive, Zimenoff does not rest on her laurels. She works hard to ensure that each address is carefully considered and crafted to engage the audience in a transformational experience. She delivers her addresses with authority and disarming authenticity, after years spent honing her craft and finding her unique voice.
Despite her outward success, like so many of us, Zimenoff still experiences what is termed ‘imposter syndrome’—that gnawing feeling of doubt in our abilities that creeps in when a task is approaching. “Defeating imposter syndrome is a daily battle,” posits Zimenoff.
She often shares (and trains others in) techniques she uses to counter feelings of inadequacy. “First, get feedback from others and look at it,” she advises. “Remind yourself that people are benefiting from what you’re doing.”
Zimenoff suggests asking yourself, “Am I doing something I shouldn’t be doing?” Many times the answer is no, but this form of questioning is more objective. She continues, “For example, if you’re feeling like you don’t belong, question that. ‘Do I truly not belong here? What are the facts and evidence?’ That is a more objective way to look at it.”
While the facts-based answer usually affirms your ability, sometimes there can be a gap. Zimenoff says that this reframing of imposter syndrome is helpful because you can learn how to do it, or you can bring someone in to do it with you.
“Confidence is a choice and a decision you make. Just like happiness is a choice,” asserts Zimenoff. “People say: ‘I don’t feel confident.’ The definition of confidence is that you have the skills and experience for the task. When you’re doing something new, you are not going to feel confident—at that point it is a false expectation to feel confident.”
“Yet,” says Zimenoff, “I can choose to feel confident and self-assured, knowing that I can do it even though I haven’t done it before. I try to remind myself of this often and I teach about confidence frequently because the best way to learn is to teach.”
Marie Zimenoff’s drive to help people and to be a person of influence is clear. She is focused not on the “glory” of leadership but on its purpose—to build a thriving and evolving careers business, to train coaches and writers to best assist people with furthering their careers and fulfilling their life goals, to build an innovation hub that cultivates community and moves the career industry into the future, and to support—with love and gratitude—the dedicated professionals who change lives every day.
As Zimenoff states on her website and passionately shares when she speaks with coaches and career writers, “You are a world-changer. You transform lives. You deserve the best career training and support available.”
She is determined that you will have it.