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Hey Steph, thank you so much for your, you know, joining this podcast and being here with us. For our fellow listeners that haven’t had the privilege of getting to know you, would love for you to give us a little background on yourself, kind of where you grew up, went to school and just your current role at Adobe and like the career shifts you’ve had internally.
Yeah, totally. Um, so I am from Almaden. It’s like a town in San Jose. Um, and I went to, I did a short stint at Chico. I was only there for a year cause I realized I just wasn’t cool enough to hang out with those people. Um, so after that I transferred to San Jose State and I was much, much happier, way more my vibe. Um, and I studied psychology and business and that’s when I really like fell in love with people and why people do the things that they do. Um, and straight out of San Jose state, I got hired at Adobe first running the background check program for North America. And then I moved into more of an ERC generalist type role. Um, and then after that I became a performance consultant and I’m currently in an experience business partner role. So it’s been quite the journey at Adobe. It’s been seven, seven years actually in August. So it’s crazy how fast time flies.
Oh my gosh. And I feel like that’s also like rare to hear too, like where, you know, like your first job out of college, like sticking there for even more, I feel like more than like two years people are like, wow, that’s actually a long time.
That’s a really, I mean, I only lasted a year. Great job Steph!
And then some, a year and then some.
Speaker 2: (01:39)
I think it’s all the changes. Like if I was in one role for that amount of time, I probably would have been miserable, but I think constantly learning new things and taking on new challenges has just kind of kept me, kept me there. And now I feel like I’m in like a safe Adobe bubble.
A good bubble to be in. Curious though, like with your shifts, like, okay, so first you did background checks. How did you navigate that growth? Like was it always like a clear path? Oh, this is the immediate next step. Like how did you navigate that?
It was not clear at all, but this is so funny you guys, so when I started doing the background or when I was in the background check role, it was fun cause it was like my first job at Adobe. Um, but I was craving human connection so much that I found myself like throughout the day, riding the elevator up and down for like no reason at all. I had nowhere to go, but I was just trying to have conversations with people. And so I was like, well Steph, that’s kind of a weird thing that you’re doing. You might want to like pay attention to those clues. And so that kind of helped spark the idea of, I want to be in front of employees. I want to be talking to people rather than just behind a computer constantly. So it was just kind of picking up cues along the way. And most, mostly like when I started, I started, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I started creating a list of all the things I knew I hated doing. So that kind of helped me move closer in the direction of kind of where I am today.
And then I know like you chat about it a little in your, on like your blog page. Um, but a question I feel like we’ve all kind of been asking ourselves is what you mentioned, where it’s like, you know, you go to college, you graduate, you get like a respectable job. And then you’re asking like, okay, now what, like everything I’ve been working towards. So I guess like, was there ever a moment and it sounds like now with the coaching and also your work at Adobe is like, fulfilling, was there ever a moment where you had like a, oh, like I’ve made it or like I’ve really made it kind of moment?
To be honest? No. I think it’s because I didn’t outline what this career progression would look like. Like it was not, I didn’t have it in my head that I was going to take all these different roles and have this experience at Adobe. So I haven’t, I haven’t really had that feeling of oh wow. Like I’ve made it, I mean, looking at my LinkedIn and seeing the career progression and how long I’ve been at Adobe, that definitely does feel cool to reflect on that. But I think in terms of like, uh, “I made it” like saying, I feel like that’s more of a feeling to me. Um, it doesn’t really matter what level or what the title is or what the job is. But when I have a balance of just life feels good, my soul feels happy. And um, I’m energized by the work that I’m doing and I don’t have those Sunday scaries anymore. And the feelings that I have Monday through Friday are the same feelings I have Saturday and Sunday. Like that’s more of a feeling where I think I would say, wow, I totally made it. Yeah.
Yeah. The Sunday scaries are real.
So real. I, how did you get there? Cause I was like reading your blog and then you were like, oh, like the dreadful feeling of — like you’re just waiting for Friday at 5:00 PM and then like Sunday hits and you’re like looking at your calendar. So I agree. Like I think when you first start a job, you made it as like, okay, I’m at a certain salary bracket. I’m at this, these like tangible takeaways, no one understands like what you just said, like that feeling of calmness throughout the week is like, oh, I’ve made it like, this is good. How did you get there? What can we do now? Like early in our career to kind of mentally get there. Do you have any tips? Anything? Please help.
I feel like I’m there. That’s why it’s hard for me to give tips. I think it’s like a constant evolution and I think in order to get there, and again, I’m not there. So I probably am not the best to give advice on this, but I think continue to check in with yourself and say like, what are my values? Are my values being met by this job that I have right now? And I think in today’s day of working from home, we don’t have the luxury of like going into a beautiful office, getting a latte where they’ve — like at Adobe, they have this thing where you can send a picture of yourself and they’ll print a picture on your latte. Like when you don’t have those amenities that are like, this feels so cool. It really makes you look at the work that you’re doing. You say, does this spark joy? Right. Do I feel like I’m contributing to something that’s bigger than myself?
Yeah. And earlier you talked about those like internal cues. And I feel like sometimes like, especially in that context, it’s so important to like listen to what, like how you’re feeling and like those check-ins with yourself. And then like sometimes I wonder, it’s like, why, why are we not asking ourselves more often? Like if we’re content or fulfilled, like, do you think it’s just kind of like, we fall into this routine and like, even if we’re at a job that’s maybe like not ideal or where we know we’re not happy taking a risk and moving on is also like, it’s scary. Right? So it’s like, why are we not asking ourselves, like if we are content or fulfilled?
I think you’re, I think you’re spot on. I mean, from my perspective, ever since we’re little kids, we’re told what to do from our parents, we go to school, the teachers tell us what to do. We grow up, we get a syllabus that tells us what to do. And so, I mean, I can’t speak for other people, but for me, I just was constantly on that train. And so I never was really asking myself, am I happy? I just was going through the motions. But then I, once I got introduced to coactive coaching, it was the first time where I actually took a step back and was like, I feel like my whole life I’ve just been kind of checking the boxes and I had a certain level of happiness, but I also didn’t. I knew that I was capable of being so much happier and I think we have to be conscious enough and alive enough to be able to be able to kind of veer off that syllabus. And that is so scary to your point Sydney. So I think, yeah, I mean the more alive you are, the more awake you’re going to be, the more you’re going to want to take chances outside of the path that you’re on, but it does take courage and it takes…you have to be paying attention.
Yeah. I think it is scary because like, yeah, you are given this direct path on a lot of this direct path, like it’s been given to you. And like, for me, a lot of it’s like fueled like, oh, well, like my parents have put so much into me and I want to like follow this path to make sure like they’re content and they’re happy. But then when you move away, you’re so removed from seeing them. And then it’s really just you, your computer and the dinners, you have to make. Those, those moments are when I’m like really in like self-actualization of how I’m feeling. So like you brought up coactive coaching. So at what point did you realize, okay, I’ve checked off literally all the boxes I could. What’s next for me, I’m feeling empty. Like with all of that, how were you kind of introduced to co-active coaching, like how did you know that was going to kind of like get you there?
I didn’t at all. It came about where, um, CTI, the people, the company that puts on coactive coaching, they came in, um, and I got signed up out of, I don’t even remember how I got signed up, but I just got signed up to take this three day class called Fundamentals. And in that three-day class, one of the main things that I realized is you weren’t allowed to have your phone and you weren’t allowed to have your computer for those three days, which I had never, it had been so long since a time where I didn’t have like those stimulus coming in. And so I went into the classroom and just, I realized from, I was just so present and I was forming connections with people, complete strangers that felt so substantial and so significant that it just kind of made me take inventory on my life.
And I was like, am I happy in the relationships that I’m in? Am I, how do I feel about my friendships? Like we did all of these exercises, but it just was kind of like project managing your life. Like we did this exercise that was like a wheel of life where you put money, health, relationships, friends, family, work, all of these different things. And then you had to give a percentage to each of them to see how full your circle is and how is that manifesting itself in your life and your happiness. And it was from those exercises that I realized I was so unhappy. I was so unhappy. And in those three days it just completely changed my life. Like I went home, I broke up with a boyfriend that I was living with. We were together for three years and like literally in three days I was like, no, I’m on the wrong path. This is not want. And so just seeing the radical changes that came out of that so quickly was like, okay, Stephanie, pay attention to what’s going on because something inside of you is on fire and it feels so good.
Yeah. And then for those who may not know what, like coactive coaching is, could you talk about maybe some of the like basic principles and like what that looks like?
Yeah. So it’s all about like coactive coaching is so different from therapy because the, whoever is being coached is in the driver’s seat a hundred percent of the time, but it’s all about kind of like building resonance and then building resonance so much that you have no choice, but to take action into the direction that you want to go into. Um, so it’s all about asking yourself these powerful questions of what do you want, what makes your heart happy? Um, and just being aligned with your values and making sure you’re going in that direction, um, which is such crucial work. But again, I think we’re always so heads down in the tasks that we need to complete the next meeting that we have to go to, that we’re not taking a step back to say, like, is this feeding my soul? Am I, am I doing something that is meaningful and impactful? Um, not just kind of going through the motions of the every day.
When should we be having these like conversations or is it like one of these things that you should just kind of always be actively thinking about?
I think it’s probably something that you should keep front and center and just have these touch points with yourself. And honestly, like I will forget sometimes and I’ll get into a rut and I will be like, Stephanie, why do you feel so anxious when you feel so down? What is going on? And then it’s only at that moment where I’m like, I have not checked in with how I’m actually doing in six months. And that’s why I feel depleted in every aspect of my life. Um, so I think it’s important to keep front and center, but at the same time, I think it’s also important to balance that, like I was FaceTiming my dad last night and I was telling him that over the past couple of months, because I don’t have the distractions of my coworkers, I’m just sitting in my office in my room, I’ve been like grappling with the idea that just, I want to be so in love with my life. I just, it’s so short. There’s so much shit going on in the world that in my life compared to all of that is phenomenal. And I want to feel like it’s phenomenal, but sometimes I don’t. And I told him that I’ve been putting such a focus on wanting to be happy, wanting to be fulfilled, wanting to be in love with my life, that it has been doing the exact opposite. And it has actually been driving me crazy and it has been making me not happy. So I think there’s also, there’s just a balance of knowing that you want these things, knowing that there’s a certain feeling of coziness that you just want to feel in your body. Um, but balancing that with not overthinking about that, because then you’re kind of going backwards. If that makes sense.
That totally does. Cause it’s like to feel content, to feel happiness and fulfilled, there’s no checklist. So you can’t constantly check in about that versus like, am I on track to get a promotion? That you totally can check in on. But yeah, if you’re like over checking in, you could be like over analyzing everything and that just makes it like a path again. And that, that, oh my God. Hmm. That’s really interesting. Yeah. Finding that balance can definitely be very niche, I think. Yeah.
Yeah. It sounds like it’s definitely like a fine line between, cause I, I mean, I think that totally makes sense. And I often find myself sometimes like, I’ll check in with myself and then it sometimes becomes a focus on like, oh, these are all the things like I don’t have, but would make me happy. You know? And it’s like, well now that’s making me less happy thinking about like my current situation.
Very true. Um, so I’m really curious too with like collective coaching. So when you got into it, was there ever a point like, oh, this makes me so fulfilled and like helping people with this, should I quit my job and just pursue this? Like how are you kind of balancing that or like integrating what you’ve learned into your work?
Yeah. So there was like probably an eight month period between the time that I had done the fundamentals class, radically changed my life. Um, and then the time where I’ve actually enrolled myself in the full curriculum and wanted to dive in fully, it was just something that was constantly in the back of my mind. And I was just too scared or lazy to do it. Um, but once I started to be honest, it wasn’t, the driving factor was not my career. It wasn’t, it wasn’t even to help people. It was just to help myself. It was just like, I learned so much about myself in those first three days that I was fascinated. And I, I, I mean, we all think we’re really interesting and like understanding myself is something that I’m so passionate about. And so I went through that program and I mean, the amount of classes that I cried in, I was just like, everybody is just so transformational.
Um, so that’s what really sparked that journey was really just me wanting to learn more about myself. And what does Stephanie want? What does Stephanie, like, what, how can I improve the self-talk that Stephanie has? Um, so that’s how it started. And I did have, there were times where I was like, this feels really good. I would love for this to be my career, but I just, I felt so much safer at Adobe knowing that I didn’t have to be the CEO of my own company. I just could show up to work and then clock out. Um, and so what I tried to do was just embed the learnings that I took throughout that training and embed it in my day to day. And it’s it didn’t, it’s it helped in my conversations because I think the concepts that you learn is they’re good for just human interaction in general.
It’s not like you have to be a coach. And that’s the only thing it’s good for. It’s good for active listening for being present when people, and I think that’s what made, um, me so successful in some of the roles that I’ve had at Adobe. Um, and one of the things that it’s also helped me do is in those moments where I can be incredibly present with the person who’s right in front of me, the day goes by so quickly, I feel full and energized when I leave the office. And it does not feel like work at all. It just feels like I’m a human being, having another conversation with a human being, trying to solve whatever problem or challenge that they’ve brought forth. And that, that feels really good.
That is so heartwarming. And I know you said you’re like, oh, I don’t think I’ve like made it or I’m still working towards that. But I think like making it, there’s no like final making it. I think, you know, each point in life, you make it in a certain way. And I think, I don’t know about you Sydney, but just hearing Steph talk, it’s like really refreshing and nice to hear someone who we both feel that emptiness like her and I sometimes, I mean, there’s good days and bad days and we’re super open about it because we’ve learned a lot of people feel the same things. Like people are hiding behind… like they’re perfectly, you know. Um, but to us, to me right now, it’s just like really refreshing knowing like you’ve put so much energy into yourself and then seeing like the little moments of making it that are out there. It’s, it’s heartwarming because like I too want to feel a spark of joy and feel fulfilled and like, it’s just nice knowing, like you’ll get there. It just really having to like, think about things and put yourself first more, which can be really hard.
It can be hard and it is helpful. It’s all, everything is so much clearer when you’re giving someone else advice about what they could do with their life. So what I’ve found to be so helpful, and especially in those moments of going through fundamentals and breaking up with my boyfriend and changing the course and the direction of my life, it’s kind of like you, you want to create space between you and the situation you’re dealing with. So if, if you can’t do the — make the decision for yourself, what if you had a kid and you love this kid more than anything in the entire world, and they came to you and they said, this is what lights my world on fire, but this is what my day to day job looks like, what advice would you give to them? And what changes would you make for their life? And then do that for yourself. Because so, so many times it’s so much easier to, to see it for, for somebody else or to want something for somebody else. But even when it feels so scary, I think I try to turn off that part of my brain. And I just let the other part take control that says, I know that this is scary, but this is actually what you need to do and you’re going to do it.
Right. Yeah. That’s a really, I feel like that’s really interesting, like perspective and way to like approach it. And earlier, like on this whole vein of like fulfillment, it’s just crazy to me too. How, like, I think one of the reasons too, like why in talking with you, it is really empowering and inspiring it’s because like, for one, like these conversations weren’t talked about in college, I feel like either, you know, and we were talking about the whole, the syllabus, the, this is your life, this is what’s next. And like, we feel in a way it’s like college didn’t prepare us for all of these, you know, more like about your identity and what makes you truly happy outside of these like societal expectations. So, um, yeah, I think it’s great that like, you are able to like share this with others. And now you’re a co-active coach as well. Um, because it was just, I think it’s so important for young people coming out of college to hear this, you know? Yeah.
Yeah. And I mean, I give advice sometimes for people with their careers and everybody’s so worried about the next step. And I think if you take a step back and look at the entire thing, like you’re going to most likely be working for so many years that it’s like, it’s not a race. It’s not a race to like who can get to the top the fastest. It’s okay, I’m here now. How do I enjoy the hell out of this journey? And how do I make it? So every day I feel excited and happy to be where I am for the time being, not to say, it’s the end all be all. But for today, do I feel productive? Do I feel like I’ve had an impact. Does my heart feel happy? Um, we don’t have to see or move forward to each step automatically.
Right, right. Yeah. It’s definitely a journey. And I feel like it’s also, you know, it’s not linear to what you were saying. Sometimes it might feel like a step back, but it’s at the end of the day, like in the longterm, it is pushing you forward too.
It is. And I think being present focused is a hard thing. Cause again, like the syllabus, like you’re always thinking about how to progress. So you have to like unclassically condition, your brain. And also I think when you are in school, like you have this like immediate path, but then like when you’re out of it, everyone does so many different things, like different jobs, different industries. Like they go to grad school and like, you could also compare yourself, but then like comparison is like the thief of joy. And then you’re in this constant like unhappiness cycle. So it’s been like, this post-grad journey is tumultuous. Like, let me tell you.
It really is. It is, it’s such an interesting time, but you guys it’s also so, so exciting. And even the fear, like, like the possibilities are endless, you know, there isn’t a syllabus. Like you, you write the syllabus, what do you want on it? You write it down.
Yeah. Wait, I love that. I love that. And I think, yeah, being also like being okay, one of the things like writing your own syllabus, like one of the things that like had a shift in me, um, like the middle of my like work life, I was like, you know, I really am not fulfilled in this role. Like, I don’t like what I’m doing. And I actively like, was telling people about it, like, Hey, I don’t. Yeah. Like I don’t like my job, but here’s some things that I do want. And then I got a new roommate who actually I’m living with an old Adobe intern right now actually. Um, yeah, Megan Kaufman if you remember her, but she had a sublet. She was here. And I was telling her like, yeah like I’m looking for like these types of roles. And her new roommate happened to work for Walmart Connect.
And Nia was like, oh, Epsa’s actually looking for roles like this. Got connected with Karena, got referred, went through the interview process, literally got the job. And I was scared one to open up and be like, I hate my life right now because of X, Y, Z people are listening. People are putting, like, I was putting energy out there and like being vulnerable about it. And like also changing my job after a year. Like I thought I was going to be in my first job for a while, you know, grow and get promoted. And like, that was a change, but it was a scary change, but I’m like really excited about the possibilities. And like, I changed industries. Like, it’s just like different and scary, but I don’t know, I’m riding this journey. I might hate it too. Who knows?
You might, but, but you wouldn’t have ever known that if you didn’t take the opportunity and honestly, the universe rewards us for being brave. So I think you starting the conversation, you putting yourself out there and just saying, I don’t know what, but not this, this isn’t working for me. I don’t know what will work for me, but I know this isn’t and that is a very, very helpful thing, um, to kind of just help navigate what’s next.
Right? Yeah, exactly. Just like riding this wave, seeing what fits for Epsa, seeing what doesn’t fit for Epsa and we’re just going with it.
We’re all on that journey. I have to tell you, I have the exact same feeling that both of you guys have shared. So don’t feel like, oh, once you hit this level, those feelings go away. Like, no, you’re constantly, you’re a human being. You’re constantly evolving. What fulfills you at one point may no longer fulfill you at another time. So it’s, it’s all about kind of, I mean, Adobe always talks about that growth mindset, like being agile, being able to consciously check in with yourself and say, is this, is this right for me anymore, still? Or no. And then making a change and making a choice. And I think there’s so much power in the choice. Um, but it’s, it’s terrifying. Yeah, for sure.
Yeah, absolutely. But there is power in the choice and it’s, it’s rewarding and remarkable.
Yeah. And just realizing that like you do, even when it may not feel like it, that like you have the autonomy and like you do have the control to, to make like a change. And even if it means like quitting your job and maybe not having something lined up or, you know, like taking the risks that are like really scary, but at the end of the day, it’s like, it’s, it’s you who has the power to do that. So I feel like that’s very, yeah. It’s like,
It’s just, it’s empowering. Like, even if you make the wrong choice, I feel like the fact that you put yourself out there and said, I’m going to try this or something isn’t serving me anymore. I’m going to make a change that I think, I mean, I don’t know the psychology of like what that does internally with your body, but it just, it feels, it feels good, even if it’s wrong.
Yeah. It’s just kind of making, it’s like making the decision to make that choice in a way is empowering. Totally. Okay.
Because you don’t want to, it’s a shitty feeling to just feel like you’re going through the motions of life. I mean, if you, if you make a choice, you’re being intentional about that choice and just being intentional about anything, it just feels so much better because you’re not letting life happen to you. You’re like actually making moves and like navigating through it. And it just, I don’t know, it feels cooler.
You’re in the driver’s seat.
Yeah. You’re in the driver’s seat. And like another thing that I use a lot to help me is if like, I’m the main character of my own life. If I’m watching my movie, what do I want to watch this main character do? Because a lot of times what I do is sit on the couch and watch hours of real Housewives. But like, that is not what main character should be doing. The main character should be out living their life. Not watching other people live their life on TV. And while mine has been being passed by. So that’s also an interesting concept that really, really helps me.
I love that. That actually okay. There’s times where I’m like, oh yeah, sure. That was empowering. That actually really did like yes, we are the main characters, but observing it in a way that’s so relatable. Like, yes, I spent hours watching bachelor in paradise, but if someone was watching, oh my God, this last season.
This season, too! Ugh. My god.
Brendan and Piper… Just like, anyway, if someone was watching me, they’d be like, okay, so Epsa logs on. She does some Vlookups in Excel, and then she goes on Tik Tok and then she makes dinner and in her air fryer, and then she goes to bed. Maybee she goes on a walk, if she’s lucky that day.
If she’s lucky
Is that what you want your main character to be doing?
No she’s so boring, but I’m not boring!
Like that’s not me. That’s not, that’s not who I am! Yeah.
Okay. That was really, really insightful. And I know like that hit home for the both of us. And I think, like I said, earlier, followers, subscribers, and listeners, like, I hope it hits home for all of you sitting at home. Whether it be you, you know, sitting on your laptop, sitting wherever, I hope this inspires you to kind of look at yourself a little differently and know you have the power to impact and create change within you.