What if You’re Not the Obvious Choice?

“Did you always know that this was what you wanted to do for a living?”


“Sweetheart, I didn’t even know what I do now was ‘a thing’ until someone offered to pay me to do it!”


The conversation was with my older son a few years ago when he was a senior in high school, trying to figure out where to apply for college, what to major in, and what he wanted to be – you know, for the rest of his life.


I wasn’t trying to be flippant with my answer; it was the simple truth. Did my undergrad major (or master’s degree… or PhD… or the various jobs in between) each contribute a unique set of skills, knowledge and experiences that evolved into my current role and niche?




Did any of them make me the obvious choice to take a leadership role in the world of executive coaching?


Not that *I* ever would have predicted.


But while in the corporate world I may not be a fit as CEO, it does allow me to offer a unique value that’s – to use a West Wing analogy (totally worth binge watching if you never saw the series) – around three parts Annabeth (media advisor), two parts each Toby (communications director) and Sam (speechwriter), and one part each Josh (political advisor) and CJ (press secretary), all working together to elevate the reputation and success rate of you as President Bartlett.


It may not have been the obvious choice from a career planning angle, but it couldn’t have worked out more perfectly.


It just goes to show – just because someone doesn’t appear to be the best fit, that doesn’t mean they aren’t exactly what was needed.


Who’s a prime example of that? My guest on this week’s episode of the Speaking to Influence podcast, Chrissy McGarry, COO of Second Front Systems, a national security software company.


Now, as you might well guess, the defense tech world is full of people who are long-time security industry professionals, with backgrounds in programming/development or other computer-related skills, and are, well, male.


Chrissy is exactly none of those.


But as a millennial woman with a background in sales and marketing, she has learned to translate her skills and experience to the role, and is killing it as an executive in the industry.



In this conversation you’ll hear how Chrissy tackles all this and more head-on with a dose of humor to keep it all real as she shares:


  • The value you bring to the table when there may not be someone like you present.
  • The power in having your peers speak to who you are, what you do, and why you are here.
  • Her secrets for redirecting challenging conversations when she has been underestimated
  • How true leaders “pay it forward” and seek to influence beyond their sphere.
  • The inherent strength in always asking how to get even better
  • And her personal philosophy of always striving to “leave it better than you found it.”


Listen to the full conversation here or watch it on Youtube here.


And speaking of “paying it forward” and having an even greater sphere of influence, if you know that speaking engagements like podcasts are key to expanding that sphere of influence and impact, whether for yourself or your clients, join me Friday for my next LinkedIn Live event:


“Podcast Ready: Prepare Your Clients To Be Awesome Interview Guests.” June 23, 2023, 12:00 PM- 1:00 PM ET. Register here.


After three years of being a podcast host, and a decade of being on other people’s shows, I can tell you what hosts LOVE and what is most frustrating when interviewing guests.


Want to be the best-of-the-best guest, with amazing experiences, mesmerizing stories, fabulous rapport, and the optimal partnership attitude?


(In other words, want to be the kind of guest that hosts invite back again and introduce to other podcast hosts?)


Join us Friday to find out!