E5 The Unlock Moment: Micah Lorenc – You Don’t Always Have to Play Safe
In this episode, I interview Micah Lorenc, U.S.-based strengths expert, and executive coach. We talk about his journey over several years to exit the relative safety of an enjoyable and comfortable corporate role to pursue his passion for coaching and facilitation. Micah talks with great honesty and authenticity about the realities of the choices you have to face as an entrepreneur with a family to support and you will feel his warmth and energy as he brings to life his personal journey.
Connect with Micah Lorenc on LinkedIn
Visit his website at Micah Lorenc
Gary Crotaz 0:02
My name’s Dr. Gary Crotaz. And I’m a coach and author of The IDEA Mindset, a book about how to figure out what you want, and how to get it. The Unlock Moment is that flash of remarkable clarity, when you suddenly know the right path ahead. When I’m in conversation with my coaching clients, these are the breakthroughs that are so profound, that they remember vividly, where they were, who they were with, what they were thinking, when their Unlock Moment happened. In this podcast, I’ll be meeting and learning about people who have accomplished great things or brought about significant change in their life, and you will be meeting them with me. We’ll be finding out what inspired them, how they got through the hard times, and what they learned along the way that they can share with you. Thank you for joining me on this podcast to hear all about another Unlock Moment. Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of The Unlock Moment podcast. Today. I’m delighted to have Texas-based team development and leadership coach, Micah Lorenc on the show, someone I’ve enjoyed listening to and learning from this last year when we’ve been connecting on the topic of strengths. He was an obvious choice to be one of the first people to feature on The Unlock Moment. After more than six years of coaching during his free time, Micah left his full time job in strategy at a Fortune 100 company to pursue a coaching business. Most of his clients are working professionals seeking career, leadership and small business entrepreneurship coaching. However, he works regularly with teams in the workplace who are interested in creating a strengths-based culture in their organisation using Gallup CliftonStrengths. Micah is someone I’ve been listening to for a long time on various podcasts and online forums. And I love how he’s continually searching on the journey to understanding and hope. I know you’ll enjoy hearing more about his story and what he’s learned along the way. Micah, welcome to The Unlock Moment.
Micah Lorenc 1:59
Thank you, Gary, I’m so excited to talk to you today. This is going to be fun.
Gary Crotaz 2:03
Fantastic. So start out with telling us a little bit about your story. So what journey did you go on to get to where you are today?
Micah Lorenc 2:11
Yeah, I’d love to share that. So I grew up in the United States, mostly in the state of Colorado. I identified as a performer, I think this would have been considered irrelevant to my story had I not thought a lot about this. But all my life I kind of identified as a performer through high school and university. And I was interested in entrepreneurship early on in my education. And there was a moment in, in my university career, I guess you could say, or I decided I was I was even this is almost like an early Unlock Moment for me, where I realised I had two paths, I could go on an entrepreneurship path and start my own business in my early 20s. And that was kind of like following my passion. And then the other path was I was already married, and I had a baby on the way. And I knew that was important to me to to be able to provide stability for my family. And I decided to go the stable route, I thought it would be better for my family over the long term. And I was confident I could learn to enjoy anything that I did. So I took a corporate career path for a little over a decade at a Fortune 100 company. I loved my time there, it was great, I made I made good use of it. And where I am today actually started to fork from my experience in my corporate job when, in my role as a facilitator in strategy, people started asking me to facilitate team builders as a part of the facilitated workshops that I would do. And I had been exposed to the CliftonStrengths Assessment and the CliftonStrengths material from Gallup and decided that would be as good as anything to include in these workshops. And over the next five, six years, I started gaining an expertise in the CliftonStrengths, material and experience in coaching with that material as kind of a basis. And I started to, I started to get home from work. And my wife noticed that I would talk about the CliftonStrengths work that I was doing, were really the coaching and the facilitated workshops that I would do. I was more excited about that than my day job. And she she suggested that maybe that’s what I should be doing instead, or really just asking, why don’t you, why don’t you do that full time? And it occurred to me at that moment that I really should consider pursuing entrepreneurship again, after all these years, and it still took me two, two and a half years to pull the trigger and actually make that change. But eventually I took the leap, started my own coaching practice just, just over a year ago. And now I I’m a leadership and CliftonStrengths coach. I’m an ICF-certified coach, and I do coaching with startup founders. and small business owners, as well as facilitated workshops with their teams to help them with team development, work better together as a team and create high performing teams. And it’s just, it’s so different from what I did in a corporate setting. But I love it. Every, every day, I love what I do.
Gary Crotaz 5:18
That’s amazing. So we’re going to go into great detail about that day when you finally listened to your wife! So I want to come to that! So take us back to the beginning, when you say performer, unpack that for us, what what is what’s performer for you.
Micah Lorenc 5:35
So, especially if you’re familiar with the CliftonStrengths, material, I think, I think in strengths now, because of my exposure to it, I have strengths like communication, and woo, and activator. They’re things that are kind of influencing strengths. And I’ve never really realised the significance of that, I just assumed that performing in high school and at university were hobbies. And so I did, I grew up singing, I did musicals, and I loved being on stage. And that, I never realised how important that was to me until I stopped doing it. And I graduated and I went to my corporate job. And I started to get a peek back into that world when I was asked to be a facilitator, I was offered a job as a strategic planning facilitator. And as soon as I started facilitating workshops again, and I was in front of a room, and organising people, especially people who were paid way more than me at levels of leadership way above me, but they listened to me. And I was able to engage them and get their attention and get them involved and have them enjoy themselves. It was like I was on stage again, it was it was the performing that I experienced in my youth in a job setting where I could get paid to do something that I was really good at, and that energised me, that I loved. So that’s where I think the performing connection comes in is, even in a corporate setting, I can find I could find somewhere that felt comfortable and fun. Because performing was something that I used to think was comfortable and fun.
Gary Crotaz 7:11
And when you close your eyes and you think of yourself back on stage, which stage is it? And what role are you in or what what what production are you in when you when you think back?
Micah Lorenc 7:22
I was in… So at university I had, I was in an acapella group, so no, no instruments, there were nine of us, it was all male, an all male acapella group. And we would travel the country, doing shows and people would come from around the country to see our shows. And we recorded albums, it was such a fun experience for a college student to go through that. That’s I think, where I see myself probably because it was the highlight of my performing career, if you will, in my youth to have been a full time student working part time, but I would spend my my evenings and weekends performing on those stages. So I think that’s, that’s still where I envision myself.
Gary Crotaz 8:11
Yeah, that’s really interesting. But you’re in a group, you’re in a group of people all working together to do to do one thing. Because there are some coaches, you know I think that there are some coaches that love one to one coaching, and there’s some coaches that love group facilitation, team facilitation. So it’s interesting that the example that you pick is that yeah, no, it was gonna say is that is is you and a group on on stage working as a unified team.
Micah Lorenc 8:36
Well, and it’s interesting that you say that about coaches too, because since starting my own practice a year ago, I had to learn that too. And most of the, it was an interesting observation or learning that I had, when I realised I needed at the beginning to just take on any clients, I needed business, I needed income to provide for my family. And so I would take on a lot of one on one clients because they were easier to acquire. And as I started working with more and more teams and companies, I did feel that draw to the teams and the companies I … as a coach, and I’ve met some just like you that they prefer the one on one because it’s intimate, and it’s personal. And I like that too. But there’s nothing like working with a team of people and helping facilitate some of the takeaways, those aha moments between coworkers, when they learn something about one another that helps them realise, oh, we we can work better together and being there and being able to witness that and facilitate that. There’s nothing like it for me.
Gary Crotaz 9:42
I love that. And I hope that listeners listening to this can can pick up on the energy that you pick up when you’re imagining that moment of two people learning from one another. I think that’s amazing. So when you first left in the university and you took your first job did it feel safe then, or did you reflect over time that it was a safe thing to do?
Micah Lorenc 10:05
It felt safe then. And, yeah, I mean, I think that was, at the time lacking life experience. That was probably more a perception than reality. As I’ve learned over time, and as I’ve gotten older, and having worked with a lot of entrepreneurs and startup founders, myself, I look back at that time and actually think there wasn’t a safer time to be an entrepreneur, in my experience, than when I had nothing. I made no money. I had, I had a baby on the way, but we didn’t need a lot of money to provide for ourselves at that time. We didn’t own a house, we weren’t, we weren’t tied to, you know, large assets or debt or anything like that. I didn’t have a lot of school debt. So looking back with my own experience now, that was actually probably the safer time of my entire life, to actually have gone into starting my own business and entrepreneurship versus today, I have three kids, and they need, they need braces, and they need healthcare, and they need all these things. And yeah, so if that was the intent of your question, that was probably the best time to have started my own business!
Gary Crotaz 11:22
And what was influencing you at that time? Because I mean, that’s a very common thing for people to come out of, you know, university or school and think about what’s, what’s the sensible thing to do? What was influencing you to say, you know, safe is good?
Micah Lorenc 11:38
Now, that’s a really good question. I know, I know, an influence was the fact that I’m, I’m one of nine kids. And my dad, yeah, so that I come from a big family. And my dad had usually had a job, but he didn’t always have a great job. And so we grew up with very little, we were making ends meet most of my life growing up. And so, and I’ve heard this from other people who’ve experienced a level of poverty in their youth, that, that we go into avoidance mode sometimes, and / or risk avoidance mode, where we choose a safe path, because there’s a little bit of trauma associated with not having money early on. And so picking something where you know the money’s going to be there, even if it’s not your favourite thing, or something that brings you joy. If it’s, if it’s going to have a steady income and healthcare benefits, then maybe that’s the right choice so that you don’t experience that trauma that you remember from your childhood. So I do believe that there’s a lot of that that influenced it. But I think I was also just in, in the university setting. Most… There’s only one entrepreneurship programme, and it was tiny. Everywhere else was about traditional career paths. Every, every other department at university is telling you this is, this is a traditional career path. This is a safe career path. So even just in the environment I put myself in, it was confirming what I think I already understood, which was entrepreneurship is risky.
Gary Crotaz 13:19
It really resonates for me, because I mean, as you know, and many of my listeners will know, I studied medicine, and did a PhD in the science lab. And I was my late 20s. I was 27/28 when I suddenly realised that I didn’t have to do that career path if I didn’t want to. And at that time, it felt like such a revelation. But I’d been doing that for eight years before really I woke up to Crikey. You know, you don’t have to, if you don’t want to.
Micah Lorenc 13:47
So, so yeah, no, I want to hear what you were about to say.
Gary Crotaz 13:52
Well, I was going to say that that sense of you are driven by, at that age, sort of perception of the right thing to do and perception of correct and perception of safety, because you don’t know what you don’t know. And I think I learned later in life to trust my own judgement, whether right or wrong. And that’s what I talk to people about. Now, I’d say, you know, you might be wrong, but at some point, you’ve got to back yourself. But when I was when I was young, I didn’t feel that I could back myself because I thought that being wrong just meant that I would be, you know, I was being naive, or I was being foolish. And you know, so back to that thing you said about avoidance. I really resonate with that, I think.
Micah Lorenc 14:32
Well, and I like what you just said about kind of like trusting yourself that that’s the hard thing I think for people to accept sometimes is we do have these external influences that tell us what’s right and wrong, or what’s safe and what’s not safe. And to, to sometimes take that with a grain of salt and say well, but I’m the boss of my life. And and to own those decisions can be really hard. I had an exchange with a client, actually a former client, over, over LinkedIn the other day And he, he’s been telling me for years, how much he wants to leave his corporate job that he’s been in for 16 years, and start his own business. He knows exactly what area he wants to. But he talks about the corporate life being golden handcuffs. It’s like, he feels handcuffed. But it’s also really nice to have the lifestyle and income that he has. And, and what I ended up telling him was like, Look, you’re gonna look back, we’ve been having this conversation for two years, you’re gonna look back in 10 years, and realise that you were sitting on the fence between a corporate job and entrepreneurship for that entire time, never really enjoying either path. Because you, you were choosing to stay. And it was your choice. But it’s almost like you were being drawn to this other path, and you never got the most out of either. And I was like, you’re making a choice. But you’re almost like putting that choice on external influences. Own your choice, it’s your decision. If you’re, if you like your lifestyle, so much that you want to stay at a corporate job, that’s okay. Own that and enjoy it and accept that that’s the way that it is. Or if you really want to start entrepreneurship, that’s your choice too. Go, go do what you love, and accept that it’s not going to be the same. I think that’s, that’s a hard lesson for people to learn, even in their … he’s in his 40s.
Gary Crotaz 16:22
I knew you were the right person to have on this podcast. And I hope that the listeners are appreciating this, like, amazing free advice that’s coming from you. I think that I think about people when they hit their 30th birthday, it’s a real moment now where people start to think, Okay, this is the decade when I’ve got to make some stuff happen, because you look ahead to your 40th birthday, and you think, if I haven’t started now, am I ever going to start? So I talk to quite a lot of people who really remember where they were, and what they were thinking on their 30th birthday, because it’s that sort of Okay I can’t drift anymore. But then it happens again on your 40th birthday. And again on your 50th I think. It never, it never leaves you. So, so, so you’re in this deliberately safe environment, you know, you knew that that’s what you were doing. But it was, it was, it was a good and positive and confident environment. And you’ve enjoyed that work. So when was the first time that you started to imagine something different?
Micah Lorenc 17:24
Well, it’s funny, I was just, I was just giving this guy a hard time that I was talking to you about, someone I formerly coached. But I was him! I was him eight years ago, for real! It was probably in 2015 that I started listening to entrepreneurship and online marketing podcasts. And I just found it so fascinating. And I would listen to … to a different episode from a different entrepreneurship podcast pretty much every weekday while I was working out. And it was from that time in 2015. And I was like, that’s what I want. I knew then that that’s what I wanted. And it took me another six years to, to finally quit my corporate job and pursue what I wanted. So I, it’s easy to give to give that advice to someone and say, Hey, make a choice. But part of that comes from experience, because I do know how hard that is. But it was, yeah, six, seven years ago, that I started to look at entrepreneurship and starting my own business as the thing that I want in my life. And I did take steps in that direction over time. It wasn’t just in 2020 I was like, Okay, I’m done. And I’m you know, this is this is the time. I was taking small incremental steps, I think, in the right direction, since 2015.
Gary Crotaz 18:46
And unpack that, That’s what I wanted. What was it of everything you were hearing, that was the common thread running through it. You you were like, That’s it. That’s the spark?
Micah Lorenc 18:56
I think. I think what it comes down to and I wouldn’t have known this at the time, but I can say in retrospect, I think what I realised I wanted was creativity. I need to create something from nothing. And up until that point in my career and truly over the, over the following five years. I was always doing what somebody else asked. And I was doing it their way. And having been in performing growing up and other, other creative endeavours like art and dance, I was involved in all of those things and those, I enjoyed those and during the the years from 2015 to 2021 when I actually started my business and went off on my own, I tried to supplement my work experience with those creative endeavours. I did start a couple of small businesses. I tried an online business, I tried, my wife and I created a leggings business using environmentally-friendly fabric, it was, it was all fun. I did it as a part of my MBA. I’ve written a children’s book, and I have another one that I just finished with the illustrator. But they were all just creative projects on the side of my job, because I knew I needed that in my life. And, and I think in 2015, it occurred to me that I can make my entire work life focused on creating, if I’m willing to put myself out there, and, and let go of what I previously thought of as safe.
Gary Crotaz 20:27
And I know that not everyone listening will necessarily be fluent in this language of CliftonStrengths, but it’s this model of understanding your natural talents and strengths and learning about yourself in your most sort of core way, like, it’s not about your skills, it’s not about your experiences, it’s about really who you are. Can, can you bring to life for the listener some of your top talents and strengths and how that plays through to this thing about you need creativity? How does that shine through?
Micah Lorenc 20:59
Well, I would say, one of the one of the primary strengths that influences my need for creativity is my number one strength is Communication. And most people don’t, if you’ve not, if you’re not familiar with the CliftonStrengths, a lot of people assume that it means you’re a good communicator. But like you said, Gary, it’s deeper than that. It’s that you need an opportunity to share your voice to be on stage, to have other people be an audience and listen to you. And it can be as simple as storytelling, having somebody to tell a story to a party or you know, one on one, or it could be presenting, performing, being on stage. It’s, it’s amazing how often I talk to people with high communication, and ask them, Do you play an instrument? Or did you ever perform growing up and it’s amazing how often there’s a correlation there, that needing to be on stage and finding joy in performing for others, comes from that Communication strength. So I think that’s a big one. I also have high Woo, and high Self Assurance, and the Woo is this desire to, to be friendly, to make friends quickly, and to get people to like you. And when you pair that with, with Communication, it’s very much it’s very much a performing combination. And so when I…
Gary Crotaz 22:17
What does Woo mean, for the uninitiated?
Micah Lorenc 22:17
Oh, yes, good. Yeah. Woo stands for Winning Others Over so very much that getting getting people to like you is almost like a fun challenge. And I always felt that, I’ll tell you, there was I remember this, this, maybe it wasn’t a moment, but it was a series of moments when I was performing in the acapella group at university, where everybody, the group would transition people in and out. Over the years, once you graduated, you couldn’t be in the group anymore, you had to be a student. So every year, some people would graduate, and we would have auditions and bring new people in. And so when I came in, the way that we did performances, where we would, we would plan out the whole show, and have song by song, what we felt like was a natural flow, some up songs, some down songs, so that it wasn’t all one energy the whole time. And I noticed that we always went straight from the end of one song to the beginning of another, we would pause for 20 seconds, and introduce the next song. And one thing I started doing that had never been done before is I was like we’ve got 1000s of people here in front of us. And we, we know nothing about them. We have no interactions with them. I’m gonna go, I’m gonna walk offstage. And I’m gonna go talk to some of these people. And so in the middle of a concert, when it was my turn to introduce the next song, sometimes I would just like wander off the stage, and crack jokes or interact with people and just learn, learn from people ask them questions like, Hey, what do you, who do you think in the group, this thing is true of? Like a little trivia. And at first, I just did it on the fly. And it was natural. And eventually, everybody started doing it too. And so our shows became this really entertaining thing that started with me just being in a moment of strength, where I let that Woo, and the Communication and, and the Self Assurance to try something that hadn’t been tried before, let that guide me to have those kinds of interactions with people … and bringing it back to the way that I work now, I use those same tactics when I facilitate a group in a team development workshop at a corporation or at a startup. It’s the same kind of joy that I got out of performing in college. I get to experience that every time I’m meeting with a team and it’s, it’s unlike … if you, if you don’t know what that’s like, or you can’t hear how fun that is for me, think of something that’s really enjoyable for you where you’re in the flow. You’re in the moment, you love every second of it. And imagine you get to do that for your job. That’s what it feels like.
Gary Crotaz 25:05
So this is what’s so fascinating for me. So this exactly what you’ve described has been there all the way through, and you can, you can weave this thread through. And yet, in your Unlock Moment, it took somebody else, your wife in this case, saying something to you, to make you wake up to it, bring it, bring us right into that moment, what was happening just before it happened, what were you thinking, what were you feeling? And then take us right through that moment and how it changed things for you?
Micah Lorenc 25:35
That is a great question. And I actually hear, I hear that same question being asked to people I’ve coached who, who have experienced what I’m about to tell you, and it’s that, I think that for whatever reason, and maybe we dig, we dig into why this is, but as a father, and as a provider, I felt like it was my responsibility to prioritise my family’s needs over my own. And that the job that I had being safe, and providing plenty of income and stability to support my growing family, that that was more important than my career joy. And I felt, I think I felt that sense of responsibility for the entire time that I was working, the 11 years that I was in a corporate role. And I think my wife asking that question, why don’t you do this full time, it created just the tiniest little opening in my brain, that allowed me to entertain the idea that maybe I can have both. And that her expectations for me, might have been different than my own expectations that I was projecting on her for me, if that makes sense. I was, I think, assuming my wife would want me to do this too, because it provides for our family. And for her to come out and say, You’re obviously happier when you do this kind of work. Why don’t you do more of that kind of work? It almost gave me permission to explore this idea that maybe I can provide for my family, and have career joy, even if, admittedly, I make much less money doing what I do now than I did ever you, you are in the medical field. So you, you would know that too. But I, I wouldn’t trade it for the world, because I am providing for my family. And I love what I do every day. I have both now.
Gary Crotaz 27:32
And I mean, I completely resonate with that, not, not that UK doctors are paid anything like US doctors, but certainly my corporate career. And I’ve talked to a lot of coaches who, who say the same thing. And it blows the mind to people that are not coaches that you would take a massive pay cut to go do your thing that you love to do every day. But that, it’s, it’s something that coaches kind of, you know, gather on the corner in the rain and love about each other, yeah. So, so why did that conversation come up at that moment? And not any other time? What was happening at that time that triggered the But why don’t you do this?
Micah Lorenc 28:14
Yeah, I’m trying to remember when that was, where we were, what was going on in our life. I imagine, I imagine it was probably just a stressful time, there was probably a lot going on, a lot expected of me. And I would guess that my wife could feel that most days that I would bring home work. And that it was heavy. And, and when I would talk about those days, when I got to do workshops, or coach people, it was probably just the juxtaposition, the contrast, between the day before and the day after, where everything was heavy, and I was coming home stressed, and maybe even a little down or, you know, weighed down or de-energised that, that contrast of seeing me really excited and enthusiastic about what I was doing when I was coaching and facilitating. It probably was just an observation on her part. Well, obviously you need to be doing what’s making you behave and feel the way that you feel right now. So that’s, I’ve never thought about that, I can’t I can’t really pinpoint exactly what was going on at that time. But, but that’s likely I think what happened is she saw that difference. And it was so apparent that she couldn’t help but mention it.
Gary Crotaz 29:37
And I love how you you tell that story about imagining feeling heavy. I think that’s a really great visualisation of, and something that a lot of people I think will resonate with right now. And I have a lot of conversations with people who look at, you know, the great reset, the great resignation, we’re going through at the moment, and see people thinking about leaving, or leaving to do something that feels like a high risk thing. And sometimes people who are watching that going on are thinking, you know, this is, this is a sort of temporary problem and you’re making a permanent change, or you don’t, you’re making a reckless decision. What you’re describing, I think is, and this won’t be everybody, but there’ll be a lot of people going through change at this time where the, the, the pressure, you know, the stress, bringing work home, may, you know, being fully burned out. It’s actually a trigger that brings you clarity, it’s not a trigger that makes you go do something reckles, it’s a trigger that gives you clarity, because you’ve gone into what you’re doing now with your eyes wide open, you knew perfectly well how much money you make in your new career compared with your old career.
Micah Lorenc 30:51
Gary Crotaz 30:52
So, and in that point of transition, how how long did it take you to know that that was the right answer?
Micah Lorenc 31:05
How long did it take me to know?
Gary Crotaz 31:06
Was it like, was it instantaneous? Was it something that you sort of thought about for a time? You know, did you live with it for a few weeks? And then go Ok I’m comfortable, I’m certain? Or did you just know?
Micah Lorenc 31:18
I think, I think I knew, I think I knew that it was the right decision back in 2015, when I knew that this was where I wanted to be at some point. But the when was hard. That was the moment that I needed. It wasn’t if it was when for me. And I reached a point in late 2020. Where, and this, this was where it became clear. I had, I had great bosses, my entire career at this company. But in 2020, I got just the worst boss I’ve ever had. And, and it was so easy to finally think about, about this is the time where it would be easier for me to leave a job that I did enjoy with people I did enjoy. And up to that point bosses that I really enjoyed working for. But at that moment, I was like, Okay, this, this could be real. And I started having these conversations with my wife. What if I quit my job in six months? And what would that look like? And that’s where she started to be the to be a little bit scared, a little bit more scared, like, Okay, wait, how is this gonna work? And what’s our, what’s our contingency plan? But at that moment, I started talking to mentors within the company. And without about, this is what I’m thinking. Some of my mentors within the same company were like, Oh, you don’t have to go start your own business, you can come work for me, like, I’ll offer you a job in my department next week. And I actually said, No, I was like, No, I don’t, I don’t think I want to do that. I’ve wanted to do this for six years. And if I don’t do it now, I think I’ll regret it. I, and, and as I talked to my wife, and we, we thought through those contingencies, I told her, I’ve been at this company for 11 years. And I’ve had offers to go to other teams, even before I finally I even quit my job altogether. If this coaching and starting my own business doesn’t work out. I’m 90% sure I can go right back to my network in this company, and get a job. And I think that was what she needed to hear. And I think I did too, to know that I had a backup plan. But I could pursue this thing that was really important to me, recognise that the timing was as good as it’s ever going to be. And finally, take the leap and try, try it, so that, as I mentioned, I think I just needed, I needed to know. And if I looked back and never tried, I would regret not having tried. So I went for it.
Gary Crotaz 33:54
I love how you described 2015, because it’s a, it’s a perfect articulation of something that I sometimes talk about in coaching as a ‘post-it note moment’. And this is a personal story for my own career journey where, at some point, I was in a role where I knew that I was done with that role. And I walked past my colleague’s desk, and I picked up a post-it note and I just wrote on it. I’m leaving and put the post-it note back on the desk and carried on walking. And they went, you know, when are you going? Where are you going? I was like I don’t know. You know, all I know is that at some point, I will leave and it was a moment of clarity that didn’t require a destination or a timeline and there was a freedom in that. But what it did do is it completely clarified my, my priorities in that role. So I was like I’m coming to work to do the best job I can. I’m just not worried about the politics and I’m not worried about trying to climb the career ladder. I’m just here to do the best job I can. Now about six months later I did, did leave but I talked to some of my clients now about this idea of when’s your post-it note moment when you go, I know at some point, in the right circumstances, this is what I’m going to do. And that’s your 2015. That’s your clarity. And it just took you six years to find the right time.
Micah Lorenc 35:10
Absolutely. And that, and I never thought of it that way. I will from now on! But I love that you kept walking, like this was, you realised it, put it down there, almost like this isn’t for my colleague that was for me, I needed to write that, you just happened to be where I was. And then I can move on knowing like that, I needed to know.
Gary Crotaz 35:30
That’s exactly right! I’m still very good friends with that, with that colleague. And we’ve worked together over many years since then. And she still is a little bit shocked that I did it. But you know, we talk about that, that clarity, and I found that clarity between leaving the meeting room and walking past, probably three desks, like that was the moment I was just like I know, that that’s the right answer.
Micah Lorenc 35:54
I started having some of those in, like you said, you were leaving a meeting. There, I had more and more of those near the end, where I would sit, I would be in a meeting. And I was great at meetings. I was, I think my same Communication, Self Assurance, those things are at their best in a meeting setting. But sometimes I would sit there and I’d be listening to the conversation. And almost mentally, I would kind of sit back in my chair and look around and be like, we’re talking about insurance. This is so unfulfilling, like I do not care. I don’t care about what we’re doing here. And those moments, repeatedly were enough for me to have that that post-it note moment where I knew something had to change. It was really about paying attention for when.
Gary Crotaz 36:46
And you know, in that moment, and I imagine, like the fog of confusion or complexity around everybody’s heads. And I visualise you in your chair going, I’m not happy, like you’re not feeling you know, overwhelmed with purpose and desire and passion in that moment. But you are absolutely clear in where you are.
Micah Lorenc 37:09
I know what I want. I just need to figure out when. I gotta ask you, Gary, have you ever had, have you had people from your corporate job from your experience like that coworker, have they come to you after you left, and expressed, I wish I could do that?
Gary Crotaz 37:28
Many, many times, many times.
Micah Lorenc 37:32
Gary Crotaz 37:32
And I’ve coached a number of people that I used to work with. I’ve coached a number of people who used to work for me. And it’s interesting, because it’s interesting coaching people that you also know quite well. And we talk a lot about, in my coaching, we talk a lot about the search for clarity, because in my mind I’m a very structured, logical kind of person very, you know, my number two is Strategic. And so, in CliftonStrengths terms, so, so my brain works in a very, How can we make this exceptionally simple, sort of way, and my Empathy is 32, which means I’m not too much in the softly, softly conversation.
Micah Lorenc 38:12
Let’s get let’s get to the heart of it!
Gary Crotaz 38:15
Right! And what’s what’s fascinating is seeing people get to that moment of clarity maybe on something that they’ve been struggling with for years or for a decade or longer. And then you ask them a question that is, in one sense, a very simple question. But in another sense, a question they’ve literally never asked themselves. I was working with a coachee a year or two ago, and we were talking about opportunities ahead. And they went through the various opportunities that were available to them, and they were great. And they then went through and thought about what was good and bad about each of them. And then I said, And what do you want to do? And they went, Well of the three, maybe this one? And I went No, but what do you want to do? And they went I never, I never asked myself that question. And I went, Well, why don’t you? And I was like, and that, for me is like, what’s so cool about coaching. That you get to be in that conversation.
Micah Lorenc 39:19
What’s what’s discouraging, hearing you say that you’ve had co-workers do that. And I’ve done the same, I’ve coached a handful of former co-workers. And it’s, it’s sad and discouraging to hear how many of those came out of the work, the woodwork when I left the corporate, corporate world to start my own business. How many people are secretly unhappy with their careers and not pursuing what brings them joy? And that, that is hard to swallow sometimes, that there are that many people that are just doing what’s, what’s safe or maybe what’s expected of them and not pursuing what would make them happy.
Gary Crotaz 40:01
And I want the people listening to really tune into what you just said and think about, Is that me? And you know, that could be a really, really powerful thing to come out with this kind of conversation, and you put it so well. So, what did you learn about yourself? In that moment, when you switched from, At some point I was going to, I knew I was gonna do this. And now I know, it’s this moment, and you decided to back yourself?
Micah Lorenc 40:32
Yeah, the, the thing that comes to mind first, I don’t know that this is the most important thing I learned about myself. But for some reason, it’s important enough that it came to mind, is that I, it was almost comforting to know that I was able to sacrifice myself for over 10 years to, to align with my values, I never gave up my values. While I was in a job that I didn’t like, I made the best of it. And I did what I felt like was the best thing for my family, I put other people above myself. And I think some of that comes from experiences I had in high school, in my, just in my youth, when I put myself above others only, and to be able to look back on, on the 11 years that I was in the corporate world and say, you know what, I, I spent over a decade putting others first in alignment with my values, it’s time to do both. I’m going to attempt both, I’m not going to sacrifice my values. But I’m going to put myself up there too. And I’m going to meet my own needs. So looking back, it was still kind of cool to know, I was able to, to exhibit that kind of selfless sacrifice in a lot of ways. But, but it was still, I don’t know, maybe I needed that for my own personal growth. But that’s, I guess that’s what what comes to mind more than anything.
Gary Crotaz 42:08
I love that idea of, by looking after yourself, you’re looking after everyone around you. Because you’re bringing your best self to your life, too. And I think there are a lot of people who a little bit sort of hair-shirt kind of mentality where they’re like, Well, I’m suffering to make everybody else happy. Yeah, what if you weren’t suffering, and they were, they were living in the same house, as you, imagine how much more fun that would be?!
Micah Lorenc 42:33
Isn’t that interesting?! And I’ve experienced that too. I mean, having three kids and my wife and I’m at home, almost all day, every day, now, unless I’m travelling to do a workshop, which isn’t that often, I’m not gone nearly as much as I was during my corporate job. And I’m happier while I’m here. So it is interesting that I say that as if that was an assumption I was making all along. I’m sacrificing myself, or my own wants and needs, for the benefit of my family. But in reality, as I have taken more, put more effort into meeting my own needs, and pursuing what brings me joy in my career, I’m better for them. And they are benefiting more as well, because they get a better me. Which means that the last 11 years of my corporate experience was sacrifice under false assumptions compared to what I’m actually providing for them today, which is better. That’s interesting.
Gary Crotaz 43:33
I love that. And you certainly know it’s not all, you know, it’s not all sweetness and light, all champagne and roses, you know, you’re not earning the money that you used to, so you’re having to make compromises, you’re having to make sacrifices. So it’s a shift in priorities. And I think this is very important, because it’s easy to listen to people on podcasts who say, Well, you know, I made this incredibly risky move. And, you know, I made millions out of that, and therefore everybody else should quit their job. And of course, that’s not great advice for 99% of people in the workplace. But you know, when when you made the choice that you did, you made it in a very rational way, you know, you thought very carefully about it, you ran your spreadsheets, you thought about your budgets, you thought about all those things, and you talked to the people around you. So what advice would you give to other people who are feeling like you did in that moment, based on the experience that you’ve had?
Micah Lorenc 44:33
I, I think that some people are going to… There are plenty of people, and they’re probably not listening to this podcast, who are perfectly happy with what they’re doing. And sometimes I hear people talk about being able to compartmentalise their life and say, I don’t like what I do at work, but I don’t mind because I just go home and I do what I like after work, and the stability and the income is exactly, it’s the exact situation that they want. And I love that, I love that there, there’s some balance in, in society, that not all of us want to go be entrepreneurs. But for those of you who do feel that draw, like I’m not doing what I need to be doing, and I need to be pursuing what brings me joy, I would say for one, take your, take your time, understanding what, what needs to be in place for you to quit your job. I definitely don’t recommend that people go out today and be like, I’m starting my business and, and you’re out of here, and you say I quit to my boss, you are probably not prepared unless you’re independently wealthy, to ramp up a business. I hear from most of the people I’ve worked with, entrepreneurs who, and small business practice owners, that it takes two years to stay in the black to actually make money consistently. That’s been my experience, too. I have as many good months as I do bad months. And in one year of doing this, it’s, I’m, I’m levelling out, but it’s still not 100% in the black months. So we had a year’s worth of savings, at a bare minimum budget, meaning if I didn’t make any money, we would last for a year, of course, I started making money in month two, month three and beyond. And so I’ve extended that timeline to two years, as I’ve grown my business and built it up. What I wish I had done differently is I could have, I could have been building my practice and building my business and building my network. In nights, on nights and weekends, for much longer than I did. I was pre-, I think premature quitting my job, I could have kept building my business and had a full time income without cheating, either way, I think, to keep my integrity and not be using my work hours to build my own business, I didn’t need to do that, I had time on nights and weekends, to build up my business, know that there’s a market, and even start building a clientele until I had some revenue and the demand to justify, hey, I can quit my job now – I created this opportunity for myself. So I think, I think, I hope people notice, it’s not just a flip of switch, I’m doing this or I’m doing that. You can, it takes work, and it’s hard. But you can do both, as a transition into doing what you love and starting your own whatever it is that you want to do.
Gary Crotaz 47:31
That’s fantastic. And now, if you do have some money in the bank, and you want to spend it all then you can do what I did and then write a book and try and self-publish, which takes you from a, I’ve got a reasonable runway ahead of me to, I got to some point where I, and I did write about this on LinkedIn, I was like, I, in my in my corporate career, I got to a place where I could never have imagined that I was like I can’t afford to replace my shoes. But actually coming up to publishing the book. I was like, I literally can’t afford to replace my shoes. And for the first time in 25 years, since I was a student, I took the laces out of a pair of shoes with a hole in the bottom, and put the laces in the shoes where the laces are broken, but the rest of the shoe was fine. And I was like, but I’m on Zoom, so nobody needs to see. And people that I’ve worked with, were like, What do you mean you did that. I mean, like, you know, I was in quite a high profile, you know, corporate jobs before, and I said not but it’s because I’m doing the thing that I love to do. And so I’ve absolutely chosen to not be able to afford new shoes.
Micah Lorenc 48:26
And we’ve done the same thing. Just, just so that people aren’t under the illusion that we’re, we’re rolling in money in your first couple of years of business. And I know you make, you make incredible sacrifices, especially if you’re coming from a well-paying job, that it does help to have eyes wide open about what to expect. We haven’t purchased new clothes in the last, not for us, our kids, our kids are growing, they need new clothes. But my wife and I haven’t, haven’t purchased any new clothes for ourselves, in the last 12 months, we sold one of our cars, and we are down to one car in, in a rural town. We live in a rural town where the nearest store is a 10 minute drive from here. And most things like church and other, other stores that we need to go to are a 20 minute drive. So we, we have definitely sacrificed a lot of the spending that we were used to to keep a bare bones budget and make this last long enough for my business to grow and cover all of our expenses. And then, and then hopefully over time, more. But yeah, it takes sacrifice.
Gary Crotaz 49:29
And that’s important for people to hear, because it’s not only that, it’s not, as you say that only the people that are independently wealthy who can, who can do something like this, but you do have to be prepared to shift your expectations from where you were living before.
Micah Lorenc 49:41
Yeah, great. I was just gonna say, there’s a great quote, I don’t remember who said this, and I’m going to paraphrase it because I don’t remember the exact words but it’s something like, Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now. And that’s always resonated with me that we live in a world where instant gratification has been made the social norm, and we, we get packages quickly, we can go to the store for whatever we need in most first world countries, and, and we’ve gotten so used to meeting our now needs that learning to sacrifice can be extremely challenging for some people. But keeping that mindset of what do I want most and have, anchoring to that helps it, helps make it a little bit easier to sacrifice what I want now.
Gary Crotaz 50:30
Fantastic. So, you know, we’re coming up to the sort of quarter way through 2022. What does this year hold for you? And what, what have you got coming up? What are you looking forward to?
Micah Lorenc 50:43
Yeah, I’ve got I mean, there are a couple of things that I’m working on. Some of them are coaching-related, some of them aren’t – part of the the fun that I’ve had, starting my own businesses that I’m not restricted to one lane, I can try multiple things. So I’ve just recently launched a, an online course that uses strengths-based development principles from the CliftonStrengths assessment. But it’s applied to new leaders. And that’s at my website at micahlorenc.com, if anybody’s interested in that. And, so I just released that. I’m working on, because I work with so many startup founders and startups. I’m about to launch a one-year programme for new startup founders to take them through a programme where they’re matched with a mentor, matched with a coach. They’re given a community of other startup founders, and facilitated workshops with their startup leadership teams so that they can kind of grow into being a startup founder when all of a sudden they have a lot of money to run a business by being funded by venture capital companies, and don’t really know what to do with it. So that’s something I’m really excited about personally, kind of doing research right now. And then I’m also about to launch a second children’s book that I 100% do for fun, I have not made any money, I bought my first, my first children’s book, and don’t expect to make any money on my second children’s book. But it’s another one of those creative outlets that I make time for and have time for now, as I have my own business, to just pursue things that bring me joy. And that’s one of them.
Gary Crotaz 52:21
Fantastic. And where can people find out more about you?
Micah Lorenc 52:24
I am so active on LinkedIn. So find me on LinkedIn. My last name is spelled odd. So take a look at the show notes and make sure you get my last name right but Micah Lorenc at LinkedIn or MicahLorenc.com. That’s those are the two best places to find me.
Gary Crotaz 52:42
Fantastic. The Unlock Moment is that flash of remarkable clarity when you suddenly know the right path ahead. What Micah demonstrates is a clarity of purpose, to bring understanding and hope to others through understanding your strengths and through the power of the coaching partnership. He is a brilliant coach and a constant force of positive energy. As you’ve heard him tell his story, you’ve listened to someone making meaning of their journey to finding passion and purpose and joy in the career they’ve chosen. I hope you’ve enjoyed listening to him as much as I have. Micah, thank you so much for joining me on The Unlock Moment, sharing your stories and lessons so vividly. And best of luck with your future endeavours.
Micah Lorenc 53:22
Thank you, Gary. It was truly my pleasure.
Gary Crotaz 53:25
Thank you. This has been The Unlock Moment, a podcast with me Dr. Gary Crotaz. Thank you for listening in. You can find out more about how to figure out what you want and how to get it in my book, The IDEA Mindset, available in physical book, ebook and audiobook format. Follow me on Instagram, and subscribe to this podcast to get notified about future episodes. Join me again soon!