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Denise KalmName: Denise P. Kalm

Book Title: Career Savvy – Keeping & Transforming Your Job

Your book’s Amazon purchase link:

What is your book about?

Though there are tons of books on how to find a job; I found few that told you how to keep the job you have. With the economic downturn causing thousands to lose their jobs, I felt it was critical that people understand there are ways to make yourself a bit more “sticky.”  Once you have demonstrated your value, you can take some time to look at what you might be doing and potentially take the job you have and transform it into one you love.  I had been doing this throughout my career, but saw too many people trapped in “lives of quiet desperation.”  I knew it could be better.

What inspired you to write your book?

I had been writing career articles for an IT magazine for a few years, first talking about more obscure tips, but over time, I realized that many people didn’t really understand the fundamentals of finding jobs and keeping a job, let alone the thing that I focus my coaching on: transforming your job. With many friends being laid off and feeling desperate, I felt a calling to write this book now and get it out there as quickly as possible so that people could survive the downturn.  Though I’ve always loved to write and felt it mattered, this feeling of a calling to do so was new.  I much prefer writing fiction, so it was a new venture. Also, the time crunch meant it had to be self-published, so I had the opportunity to learn how to do that.

Can you describe your writing process?

That’s a great question. For non-fiction, I start with outlines. Knowing what I want to write in each chapter makes it easier to just sit down and write. (Confession: as time goes on, I may add chapters or combine them, but the basic construct is laid out in advance.) Then, I work on a template. Non-fiction books work better if each chapter can somewhat stand on its own. For these books, I talk about the problem, give an example (story), give solutions, and then another story. It sounds formulaic, but people prefer that to having each chapter be very different. I know—I tried it both ways. 

How did you come to do what you’re doing today?

I’ve been writing since I was a kid and publishing as a sideline for years, but at the same time, I’ve been transforming my IT jobs into jobs that allowed me to write and speak more. By having to write every day, I can just sit down and do it—a big help. No writer’s block. After years in IT, I realized I didn’t really love it, so I went back to school and got my coaching certificate. I do this on the side as well as speak on career-coaching topics. In business for myself now, I consult for IT companies doing marketing and writing, in addition to coaching and writing books.

Can you describe a typical day in your life?

Paying clients come first, so I do my marketing work early in the morning, but this primes the pump for other things. As I am already writing, it isn’t hard to sit down and work on a chapter after finishing off a product brief or white paper. I may take a coaching client during the day, but I don’t have a full practice, so that isn’t an issue. I try to take the time to edit and rewrite on later days, not the same day. Always works better when you can give it some “air,” though when I wrote things for newspapers, of course, I never had that much time.

What do you most enjoy about what you do?

The feeling that I can make a difference to someone like me, someone who wants to love the job they do and feel empowered to continually evolve it into something they keep enjoying. Through writing, speaking, and coaching, I can make that difference.

Are there any people and/or books that have inspired you along your journey?

Loads of them. First, my husband, who, as an airline pilot, never worked a day in his life. He loved his job. That told me it was possible. My mother always pushed me to do what I loved and though my life choices scared her, she supported my exploration. Many books have guided me on my journey. A few years back, I found myself very engaged with Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind. I read 5-6 books a week, so, as you might imagine, I am constantly feeding my brain and getting daily inspiration that promotes new ideas, new approaches to writing, and kindles my energy to do the work. 

Can you share something that people may be surprised to learn about you?

I’m an editor’s worst nightmare. I get so many ideas that I don’t write just within one genre. One odd area that I played in was erotic horror—just good fun and a chance to learn how to write really good sex scenes.

Career SavvyWhat’s next for you?

I’m currently working on the second Savvy book—First Job Savvy—aimed at the young clients in my coaching practice who are struggling to find their first career job. I’m also writing some short stories. I have a few great novel ideas, but just haven’t found the time to get going on them.  My first book, Lifestorm, is a novel drawn from the stories of the Oakland Hills fire.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

If you love animals, get a pet. Getting down on the floor with my rabbit, Cisco, helps me take a new vantage point on everything. His simple life reminds me that sometimes, I can make things too complex. And petting him is incredibly calming. He has a little rug next to me where I work and his perspective provides daily support.

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