ATD Blog

Become the Rainmaker of your Training Career

Monday, December 1, 2014

Do you ever daydream about being a consultant? Or training director at a glamorous high-tech company? Or having a long line of hiring managers wooing you to be their training guru? If you want more options, more choices, or even a completely different training career, there is one surefire way to get it—become your own rainmaker. 

Early in my career, I was laid off three times in 12 months (I refer to it as the “3-bang lay-off” in my book, The Bounce Back). I realized that the universe was trying to tell me something BIG, and that I needed to take control of my career. I needed to stop being so reactive and become more proactive.  

Back then, I applied for every job opening I heard about within a 100 mile radius. If someone wanted to hire me, then I’d go work for him. If my manager said, “Go lead this team,” I would go lead that team. But being complacent and compliant wasn’t getting me anywhere.  

Fast forward to today. I’m working full time at a Fortune 100 company (14 years and counting…) as a leadership coach and training program manager, as well as having a side gig as a leading career coach, international speaker, and award-winning author.    

How did it happen? I became my own rainmaker. I found and created my own career opportunities by following three simple strategies. 

Take your career into your own hands 

I no longer felt “safe” working inside a company.  With all of the downsizing, mergers, and re-organizations, I was in a constant state of worrying about “what if’s.”  So I decided to follow my heart, my passion, and my intuition, and mitigated my full-time job with starting my own side gig as a career coach. 

I never dreamed of being an entrepreneur, but I did have a strong desire to be the master of my own career domain. I decided to write about something I knew about: career re-branding. Because I had successfully worked in several industries, including radio, television, finance, and high-tech, as well as various job roles such as DJ, advertising producer, and marketing manager, I invested three months to writing my first book, Career Smart. When I took my career into my own hands, doors started to open. 

The book led to media interviews, consulting contracts, and a few clients. What that experience taught me is that the universe will provide us with opportunities when we 1) move in the right direction and 2) step up. The point is to share your expertise. Bottom line: When you create your own content, teach, mentor, and coach on a topic you are passionate about, opportunities will find you. 


Find your balance 

I’ve learned that doing work that I enjoy gives me energy, and doing work that I dislike drains me. I’m now able to do more of the work that I love by having rich, meaningful conversations with my manager about how and where I can be a high contributor and add value to the department. It didn’t happen overnight, but once I was able to articulate what I enjoyed doing, he was able to re-assign some of my draining work and give me more of those projects and assignments that fill me with energy.  

I’m also able to pick and choose the opportunities from my side gig that energize me. If a client seems particularly picky or fussy, then I don’t take them on. If a speaking opportunity isn’t worth taking a vacation day for, then I decline it. If there’s work I don’t enjoy doing (website maintenance, email communications, and so on), then I contract it out. If my day job is too demanding, then I put on hold all of my side gig activities.

What I know for sure is that I’m the architect of finding my own balance. Every day, we make decisions regarding when and how we spend our time. It’s been a learning process (and still is), but I’m now able to identify and prioritize the kind of work that fulfills and energizes me.

Create a pipeline of opportunities  

I’ve had a full-time training job and my own side gig for the past five years, and I’ve realized that some of things I do (writing, training, coaching) will create opportunities for me. However, I never know exactly which activities will create those opportunities. For example, after I speak at some events I’ll receive an invitation to speak at a bigger, higher paying event, but I never know which events will bring me those lucrative opportunities.


I’ve learned, though, that the key is to follow what I love doing. For me that includes training, coaching, writing, and speaking. When I’m doing any of those activities, I’m fully present, passionate, and excited to be helping others find their best career. I don’t do them because they bring opportunities, I do them because they fulfill me. And as a result, some bring opportunities. My desire outweighs any expectations.

I’ve found that the more opportunities I have, the more empowered I feel. I don’t accept every opportunity that comes my way, but it’s empowering to know that I have choices and that I am the driver in my own career. 

I’m not saying that everyone should have a full-time job and start their own company. What I’m saying is that if you’re feeling under-challenged or under-valued in your career, then don’t accept that’s just the way it is. Try freelancing, consulting, or even volunteering. Or, if you’re a contractor, try getting a full-time training position. It’s okay to be stuck in your career, but it’s not okay to stay stuck. 

Moving forward

Whether you want to make one small change or completely overhaul your career, start today to make it happen. Become the rainmaker in your own career so that you can do meaningful, purposeful work and feel valued, appreciated, and energized. I’m here to cheer you on and say that you really can create a career that you love—you just have to get in the driver’s seat and make it happen!

Join Sherri for a free webcast on Dec. 12 at 11 am EST Career Empowerment: How to Change Reinvent or Advance Your Training Career.

About the Author

Sherri Thomas is a career strategist. As the founder/president of Career Coaching 360, Sherri teaches training professionals, managers, and executives how to change, reinvent, or advance their careers. She teaches others how to think differently and more proactively in their career. Her book, The Bounce Back –Personal Stories of Bouncing Back Higher and Faster After a Layoff, Re-Org or Career Setback  was named “2013 Best Career Book” by the Indie Book Awards. Her first book, C areer Smart – 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand has been #3 on AMAZON’s TOP 10 LIST for personal branding books. 

Be the first to comment
Sign In to Post a Comment
Sorry! Something went wrong on our end. Please try again later.