Recently, I was asked to participate in a Women’s Rural Retreat in the Catskills area. I would lead 10 women through a 2-hour workshop titled—Getting Creative In Your Career. The rest of the weekend included an apothecary lesson with local makers, a meditative nature walk and a few other ways to connect to the beauty of the area, as well as unwind.
As I began dreaming up the structure for my time with the group, potential PowerPoint slides swam through my brain—but nothing stuck. Bullet points. Charts. Inspirational stock photos. It all felt wrong. Everything that can be powerful in a corporate conference room now seemed completely out of place in this charming spot in the woods. The theme of the weekend was unplugging, relaxing, reflecting—thinking in a new way. I knew what I had to do.
It was time for an experiment!
Having grown my career in large corporate organizations, I rarely walked into a meeting (or said hello) without a deck. And even though I’ve been on my own for a while now, I am often still tethered to this tool as a way to validate all I’m communicating. To say, I fit with you. I belong here—and here’s the data behind me to back it up. This was my moment to deliver an experience, PowerPoint-free and learn about the difference in how it lands.
With tactile cutouts of quotes, a big pad and markers, a guided visualization and honest, thoughtful, vulnerable discussion—we went there. The room was alive with energy, connection and a mutual respect for each other. We created something that wasn’t summarized in a storyline I curated prior to our meeting. And nobody was reading the slides behind me. They were present and they dove within themselves to find answers.
Then with their answers, came mine. Now, I simply need to connect them to the right questions. How can I do more experimenting with this type of format? Who are the audiences who would want it? What’s possible for my business, the women I serve and for me as I begin to make this kind of shift?
I will not use the evidence that came through in this workshop to judge the other work that I’m doing. I do enjoy it and it absolutely falls within my mission. That said, when you experiment with new opportunities and ways of leveraging your strengths—you’re in the space of collecting data for what’s possible in your career.
I find that many friends, colleagues and clients don’t allow themselves this ongoing experimentation for fear that they will fail, that they will not enjoy it—or sometimes it’s that they think they WILL enjoy it—and they will be left with questions about what’s next. Know that one experiment does not need to lead you to a wholesale career change or shift in your thinking. It can however, prompt you to make the next small step to continue your research: learning about who you are and your place in the world.