85 - Finding a Passion By Following an Interest With Joanie Connell

Starting out a career in the engineering field is where Joanie's life and journey started.  However, she used her knowledge talents and passion to figure out what the journey became. Passion has driven  Joanie to all that she has accomplished in the last ten years of being a consultant but loving what she does is who she really is.

Can you share with us a little bit about yourself and what made you decide once you got the PhD in Psychology to start your own business. The path did not start out with the intention of being an entrepreneur in fact Joanie started her career as an electrical engineer and was much more interested in the people interaction than the electrical ones. She went back to graduate school to make a huge shift in her career and getting the education was the way to not make herself an engineer anymore. During graduate school she incorporated her two interests of her past interest in engineering and her present interest in psychology. One of the things that peaked her interest as an engineer was how people communicated with one another. In the past most companies had offices instead of cubical but she shared an office with another employee. And they communicated via e-mail instead of just having the common conversation. This brought up a lot of questions, which lead to looking into the psychology of virtual communication.

She was fascinated with why we choose the medium of communication that we do and how we differ on these mediums. Her dissertation in grad school became the three different modes of communication: face-to-face, telephone and email / computer chat. After graduate school she took a safe job with Cisco Systems as a consultant and found that she was traveling 80% of the time doing interview and research. But life was just evolving for her and her husband and they decided that they wanted to start a family. They needed to make a change to their lifestyle and be able to still provide for their family, so they ended up moving to San Diego. With the changes the flexible work became more of an appeal to her and the lifestyle that she was trying to work towards with having a family. After the move and adjusting she started teaching and could balance work and family without the travel.

However, she still was not finding satisfaction in what she was doing. She wanted to apply her research and consult with others, but there was just not enough time in the day to do both. Although consulting was encouraged while she was also teaching she just did not feel that there was enough time in the day to do both. With changes to the structure of the teaching model she decided that it was going in a different direction and she left the University. Flexibility is what she was striving to implement into her lifestyle as well as others around her. However, flexibility took a while to catch on in different parts of the world. This bought out the creativity of the business and looping the flexibility and the psychology part together so that business was possible to sustain.

Where did you begin your business? Due to the fact that most consultants spend most of their time traveling, she had to be very creative in the way she went about getting business since she was a new mom. She relied on networking and working around her personal networking circle. From finding the client to establishing the personal relationship with each client that she had. It is most important for her to find the right clientele that allows her to work with large corporations that allow her to come in and consult and develop leaders. But working the personal relationships and the building the foundation of a great network.

In the last ten years is there anything that you look back and say, “I wish I would have learned that sooner”? The partnership was a really good learning tool because while starting the business she found someone who was really good on the sales side of business due to that not being a strong quality that she had. However, you have to be really knowledgeable about how everything works in the profession that you are selling because it can become very frustrating. The best way to really sell the service and what you do it to sell it yourself but then work in collaboration with others and contract out work when help was needed.

Tell us about your book and how do you incorporate that with your business? The name of the book is “Flying without a Helicopter: How to Prepare Young People for Work and Life”. The book emerged out of the consulting work that she was doing by the fact that she was getting complaints about the new generation of workers coming in. Leaders were asking how to work with the younger generation when it came to really establishing a good foundation to a company. She was seeing the foundation of where the complaints were coming from in her surroundings with bring up her own child, in the fact that children were being more protected and structured. The creative and social aspects have been covered up by electronics and the busy lifestyle that so many kids are used to. When young adults go into the work place they do not know how to be independent on their own since they have been so sheltered. With these questions being brought up so many times in her consulting work the need and the passion was right to really explore and write the book. She wanted to help young people really be ready for the next stage in life as well as a marketing tool for herself.

You can find Joanie at www.flexibleworksolutions.com or www.flyingwithout.com

More about Joanie: Dr. Joanie B. Connell is an organizational consultant and leadership coach who specializes in maximizing leadership potential. She works with companies to attract, develop, and retain top talent. She works with individuals to improve their success and happiness in their careers. She is also the author of Flying without a Helicopter: How to Prepare Young People for Work and Life.

As a consultant, Joanie develops leaders across generations. She coaches executives and youth at Flexible Work Solutions. She consults with organizations in a variety of areas, including executive leadership development, diversity, generations, flexible work arrangements, work-life balance, life transitions, character and ethics, team building, and virtual teams. Her clients are from Fortune 500 companies, not-for-profit, and government agencies and high tech, biotech, healthcare, finance, legal and other industries.
As a professor, she has taught business and psychology students of all ages at the Rady School of Management at the University of California San Diego, the Marshall Goldsmith School of Management at Alliant International University, and in the Masters
in Human Behavior program at National University. Joanie earned a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, and a
B.A. in Engineering from Harvard University.


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