At the age of 35, my friend Mary Lee Gannon was a stay-at-home mom for her four children under the age of seven and living what seemed to be the good life. Her husband was self-employed and they were living in one of the most affluent suburbs of Pittsburgh.
When she realized that her marriage was failing, Mary Lee filed for divorce and then found herself facing an avalanche of litigation and anger. She ended up without the resources to care for her children or herself and the five of them became homeless, carless and hungry. She knew that things had to change and she had to be the catalyst for that change.
Mary Lee’s education at that point consisted of an allied health degree when she had left the workplace to stay home with her children. Today she is the President of the St. Margaret Foundation of St. Margaret Hospital, Pittsburgh, a position she worked long, hard and strategically to achieve.
She tells her story from homeless to executive in her new book titled Starting Over: 25 Rules When You’ve Bottomed Out, written in a friendly, informative style. Designed for anyone who feels they have reached the end of their rope -- whether unemployed, homeless, downsized or outsourced, Mary Lee includes realistic advice in her new guidebook on how to make successful life changes. She includes worksheets at the end of each chapter, each of which is devoted to one of her rules such as Finding a Mentor in an Offbeat Place, Make Your Elevator Speech a Problem Solving Statement, and It’s Not Who you Know, It’s Who Knows You.
One particular chapter about interviewing entitled Offer Solutions to Problems -- Name the Company’s Pain reminded me of what my friend Ken used to stress when he taught people to sell as well as he did. No matter the product, what you are really selling is a way for your customers to avoid or reduce their pain. So you don’t sell a car to a family because it’s a pretty color or a new style; you sell it because this car is the safest vehicle on the road and will keep their children safe.
Using this technique, Mary Lee says you go into a job interview having done lots of research on the company to learn what its problems are and how you are the best person to solve them. At the same time, you stress how you did exactly that in your previous positions.
In our tough economic times, Mary Lee’s book can be an inspirational guide for someone looking for a job. I felt confident handing it to my son who graduated last year from college to read and would happily consider giving it as a present to new grads -- or others who are starting over, for whatever reason -- to help them as they work on positive changes in their lives.
For more information, visit www.StartingOverNow.com.
By Teresa K. Flatley