Darcy Eikenberg is a leadership and career coach who’s worked with high-performing professionals at The Coca-Cola Company, Microsoft, State Farm, Deloitte, and Hewlett-Packard, among other great companies.
She speaks inside organizations and at professional group events on career growth, personal development, and overcoming leadership challenges. Plus, Darcy’s the author of Red Cape Rescue: Save Your Career Without Leaving Your Job and blogs regularly on leadership and career issues at Red Cape Revolution.
Her ideas have been shared in the Harvard Business Review, Thrive Global, Chief, CNN.com, ABC News, The Ladders, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Forbes and elsewhere.
She graduated from Northwestern University and started her business in Atlanta, where she lived for 15 years.
She’s constantly sharing new ideas and tools, which you can get for free each week when you sign up at Red Cape Revolution.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- The biggest mistake most professionals are making when they hit a tough time in their life at work
- The biggest trap we get stuck in when we’re ready for change in our careers
- Drop Some Balls
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, it’s time for high velocity radio
Lee Kantor: [00:00:13] Lee Kantor hear another episode of High Velocity Radio, and this is going to be a fun one. We get to catch up with an old friend, Darcy Eichenberg with Red Cape Revolution. Welcome, Darcy.
Darcy Eikenberg: [00:00:23] Hey, thanks for having me.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:25] Well, I’m excited to catch up. Tell us about Red Cape. How are you serving, folks?
Darcy Eikenberg: [00:00:29] Yeah, so Red Cape Revolution is a leadership and coaching firm, but really, the idea of the Red Cape Revolution came out of thinking about when you were a kid and you grab a towel or a sheet and you throw it around your shoulders and you would feel confident you’d feel in control and asking, What do I need to do to feel that way every day in my life at work? And so a lot of the work that we do with our clients and companies is to help get that feeling back at work to make people feel they can take control again in their lives, at work so they can soar once more, no matter what’s going on in our world.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:11] Now do you find that a lot of folks are kind of just going through the motions at work like they feel like they’re maybe a cog in the machine and it doesn’t really matter what they do or don’t do, and they’re just kind of showing up and they kind of lose that spark that maybe they had right when they started.
Darcy Eikenberg: [00:01:28] You know, I think we all struggle with the battle of the brain, right, there’s a little part of our brain that is just sending us the messages to try to keep us safe and small and and like, Oh, don’t do that or don’t don’t put your, you know, keep your head down, don’t lift your head up, you know, follow the rules. But our modern workplace doesn’t work like that anymore. And I think what I’m seeing is that some of the frustration and the concern and the stresses that are happening and especially our professional workplaces, our knowledge workplaces are really what’s happening is that people are hearing a different voice. They’re hearing that voice. So they’re more heroic self, the one that says I, I want to make more of an impact. I want to have more meaning in my work or I want to work differently. I want to work with less stress or with people that I enjoy or on things that I care about. And yet we hear we listen to that lizard brain voice, that other part of our brain. And so we don’t take a step forward. We don’t take control. And a lot of my work and what I’ve been writing about in my next book is to how do you have the tools that you can take back control of your life at work and how to make it simple and practical and ways that you don’t need anybody else’s permission to do some of these things for yourself? You don’t. But it also you can look at the world and the world of your work in different ways that you might not be seeing right now. And you don’t have to be a cog in the system or just somebody you know in a cube, just pushing papers around. There’s somebody out there who needs you. There’s meaning that you need right in your own company and you can go and find that.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:18] So now what is an engagement with you look like? Are these people kind of just frustrated and they feel like they don’t know where to turn and they turn to you and your team? How do they, you know, like what’s kind of their the symptoms of this, this agenda?
Darcy Eikenberg: [00:03:34] Yeah, it’s a great question. So I sometimes say that my biggest competition in my business is my client, him or herself, because people will usually come to me after they’ve been struggling for a little bit because they’re smart. And this is even the the story that they bring to me or that, you know, they’ve share later. It’s been going on in their head. They’re like, I’m smart. I should be able to figure this out. You know, something’s not quite right, but I should have the tools to figure it out. I should if I only take the weekend or I’ll figure it out on my next vacation, or I’ll figure it out when the project’s over. The merger is done, but eventually there’s a catalyst moment. There’s something that hits where someone realizes, Hey, you know what? I’m not figuring this out. I’m I’m actually something’s not right in my life at work, and that doesn’t always mean that they’re doing anything wrong or that anything is wrong with their company. It just may be a feeling it may be prompted by hitting a birthday that has a zero on the end. It may be prompted by something else external, a merger and new leader, anything coming in. But when people come to me often they’ll think that if something’s not right at work, they only have two options. That one option is what they need to go find another job. And so like, can you help me find another job? Or they’re like, Well, finding another job is hard. I need to just suck it up and deal, and there must be something wrong with me.
Darcy Eikenberg: [00:05:11] So can you help me figure out what’s wrong with me? And the truth is that neither of those options are true. Very often you don’t have to totally leave where you are to create a situation that works better for you and whatever you want right now, or you don’t have to suck it up and sacrifice, you don’t have to say, Well, I must not be good enough. This is the best that I can do. I’m just going to have to deal or or I have to be fixed. There’s something wrong with me. So a lot of our work here is around how to help you help people get clear about what they want, which we often don’t take time to do. Build the confidence and trust themselves again, that those things are possible. That they can have those and then take the actions to take back control. Whether that means having different conversations inside their company, whether it means making different choices about where they’re spending their time, what they’re doing, or sometimes it’s as simple as just changing a thought instead of making an assumption that this situation is broken. Maybe it’s it’s changing the assumption that these this group of people, this team I’m working with doesn’t. No, any better, they don’t have another alternative, so maybe I’m the one that they’re waiting for that I could bring the alternative. So it’s a mix of things, but it’s always about finding new possibilities that work for you.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:42] Now, I’ve been reading a lot lately, and the word stuck has been showing up, I’ve seen books called Unstuck. I see the word stuck. Do do people feel sometimes that they’re stuck, that there isn’t any options and that they’re kind of they don’t feel like they’re they have any control over their situation?
Darcy Eikenberg: [00:07:03] Oh, we we all feel stuck right? And this is, I think something we don’t recognize is actually a normal part of any career. I talk to people all the time that I use the term. They look good on paper, right? They’re a senior VP of digital marketing at XYZ Company. And from the outside, it’s like, Oh, wow, you know, that person has it all together, but they don’t feel like it. This is just human beings. This is how we are. We all get into places where we feel stuck, and I think we have to normalize that. We have to almost anticipate the fact that at some point in your beautiful and long career, you are going to hit a speed bump, you’re going to hit the wall. Something’s not going to go right. So what do you do then? And that’s really why I wrote my next book, Red Cape Rescue. Save your career without leaving your job because I wanted to give people the tools for when that happens, not if because it’s going to happen when that happens. This is what you can do that you control.
Lee Kantor: [00:08:18] And then when you have that awareness that it’s going to happen, it should take some of the surprise and the unexpectedness out of it. And I would imagine that you’re better equipped to deal with it when you know it’s ahead. Like I read a book that’s called the obstacle is the way obstacles aren’t there to sabotage you. They’re just part of the journey. And when you know that and you know the big rocks in the road in front of you, you now go, Oh, that’s here’s the point when the Big Rock comes in front of me, and now this is where I go over it, I go around it or I go under it, I go through it. I just, I know it’s coming. It’s not like, Oh, wow, woe is me. Why did this happen to me? It’s just part of the journey. And it sounds like you’re saying kind of a similar thing that there is a point where you’re just going to feel this way and when you know that ahead of time, you can plan accordingly.
Darcy Eikenberg: [00:09:13] Mm hmm. Or you can not be surprised and get into what I call the swirl right when when things happen. First of all, I think we forget a lot of times that our work is organic, that our work changes all the time and we change what we need, changes the environment around us changes. And just because we might have been in one particular job or role for a period of time, a stretch of time doesn’t mean it looks the same. And so recognizing that, yeah, you know, something is going to happen at some point and that’s going to be OK. Instead, when the thing happens, when that boulder drops in the road or that you know, you wake up to the announcement that your company is being bought by your worst competitor, which just happened to a client of mine, it’s it’s like, Oh, OK, new data. New information. You know what? Now what’s next for me right now, what right and and not? You know, not being in the mind space where I’m always worrying about when the next shoe will drop because that’s no fun, right? That’s that swirl of worry. Worry never wins. But the expecting that there’s always a messy middle, that there’s always something that happens and when that happens, great. Ok? Do I have the tools? Do I have the confidence in myself that if it’s not clear, I’ll figure it out. You know, how do I create? How do I be creative when there’s chaos instead of succumbing to the chaos? And those are things that we can plan for and prep and build our skills for now?
Lee Kantor: [00:10:54] Now, some of the recommendations in the book are counterintuitive. Can you talk a little bit about your advice of dropping some balls? What does that mean and how can someone do that in a way that makes sense to them?
Darcy Eikenberg: [00:11:09] Yes, so often today where I’m hearing from people and you probably hearing this too of when people say they’re stuck, a lot of times it’s they’re overwhelmed or feeling burnt out, or they just have they feel like they’ve just got too many things to do and they’re not feeling successful at any of them. But I had a mentor who once said Overwhelm isn’t about having too much to do. Overwhelm is about not choosing what to do. And when we recognize that it’s a choice and that we can actually take a step back and assess the things that we’re doing, we can find the balls that we should drop. We can find the things that might be being pitched at us because, you know, and we’ve been maybe trying to catch them and throw them all back because we want to be a team player or we don’t want to show up as lazy or any of those labels that we put on ourselves. But the truth is that the things you might be doing now that take time and that also are not in what I call your superpower space, the place where you’re at your best and highest use that by looking at those and saying, maybe there’s another option here. I often find working with clients when we look through clients as they are overwhelmed or close to burnout.
Darcy Eikenberg: [00:12:32] When we look through the things they’re spending their time on, we can find 20 to 30 percent of things they’re doing that they can drop and nobody will notice. There are always things that we organically added into our jobs. Things like meetings that maybe a year ago when the team was new were essential. But now the team has its rhythm and they don’t really need that time on the calendar every week. Maybe you can drop that. Maybe you can just not go to those meetings, reports things where systems have replaced access to data. I am constantly seeing people spend tons of time on PowerPoints and things for meetings where once when you talk to the person they’re meeting with or the executive, like, I didn’t read it. What’s the headline? So did they need to spend that time to begin with? But really assessing that and dropping some balls is counterintuitive. But it’s the way to magnify how you are making the best contribution in your superpower space and the things that also feed you and make you feel like you’re the hero in your life at work. Not that you’re doing everybody’s grunt work, that you’re actually contributing to the company in the way that they need you to contribute.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:54] Now are your clients, typically these seasoned executives that are maybe frustrated and want to get to a new level? Or do you sometimes work with recent grads that are just starting out on their journey or is a combination?
Darcy Eikenberg: [00:14:08] So I mostly work with a mid to upper level professional, right? Somebody who already has what again, paper looks like a successful career. They they have, they work at a good company. They have a good job, they work with good people. They maybe make good money, but there’s something that’s going awry for them and they’re. They’re questioning themselves. They’re saying, what’s wrong with me? I do volunteer work with ads, and I think some of the differences in somebody who’s new in the workforce is really recognizing that what from the outside world of work looks like, it’s very buttoned up and structured. And this is how we do things in a Google world. We’re looking for the magic answer, but they don’t exist. It’s all made up and recent grads. I’ve always advised need to spend more time connecting with people and understanding, you know, building relationships and seeing things through other people’s eyes in different parts of the world of work, as opposed to spending too much time behind the screen, trying to figure out what’s the perfect way that my résumé should be, or what’s the perfect way that I need to show up. But yet we still keep teaching some of these things, and I will tell you people don’t hire resumes anymore. People hire people. So whether you’re recent grad, whether you’re an experienced person, all change comes through connection with others and also the connection with ourselves. What we want.
Lee Kantor: [00:15:49] Good stuff, Darcy. If somebody wants to learn more about your practice, maybe get on your calendar or get a hold of your book. What is the coordinates? What’s a website?
Darcy Eikenberg: [00:16:00] Yeah, I’m at Red Cape Revolution and the book is at Red Cape Rescue. You can find me both ways, but the new book comes out soon. And looking forward to sharing it with more of the world.
Lee Kantor: [00:16:14] Well, thank you for sharing your story. You’re doing important work, and we appreciate you.
Darcy Eikenberg: [00:16:18] Thank you. Appreciate being here.
Lee Kantor: [00:16:20] All right, this is Lee Kantor. We’ll see you all next time on high velocity radio.