Can you tell us a little of your personal work/life balance journey?
This is an interesting question, as my perception of work/life balance has evolved over time. As a corporate employee it meant leaving the office by a certain hour to go home and start doing the things I enjoyed, such as spending time with my family, socializing with friends, and engaging in sporting activities. If I was required to work beyond a certain time to complete a job assignment, I’d often feel resentment because it encroached on my ‘personal time’, denying me the opportunity to do what I actually wanted to do. I remember once asking to leave early for a special dinner, but a domineering manager and the all-important deadline took priority, so I was late to my own birthday party. Years later I was surprised to see more and more work colleagues take leave on their birthday, something which had never occurred to me – they’d obviously learned not to let work interfere with important life events. As a ‘loyal’ wage slave I would go to sleep each night filled with dread about the next day, forcing myself out of bed in the morning to face the drudgery of yet another round of stifling routine where someone else dictated my actions, and eventually the negatives so far outweighed the positives that I knew it was time to leave.
Once I left corporate life behind to run my own business, I developed a totally different perspective on work/life balance based on my own priorities, and strangely enough I don’t mind working longer hours when I choose to do so. Today I love what I do, so that even when I’m working harder than ever, I have more energy at the end of the day than I ever experienced in the past.
As Richard Branson wisely said, “My general attitude to life is to enjoy every minute of every day. I never do anything with a feeling of, ‘Oh God, I’ve got to do this today’.”
These are important messages I share with my coaching clients because when you do what you love and love what you do, you spontaneously achieve the perfect work life balance.
How hard was it to ‘let go’ of expectations and reinvent yourself?
I actually found it very challenging to let go of my parents’ expectations. Having left their own country to give their children a better life in Australia, and investing heavily in my education, I was left under no illusions about what they wanted and expected from me in return. They strongly ‘guided’ me toward a professional career, insisting that I lacked the capacity for physically demanding work that would place a heavy toll on my body. Looking back on my journey I’m grateful they steered me toward pen, paper and eventually computers rather than the backbreaking pick and shovel labour they had endured as children. However, I wanted more than they’d ever imagined, which involved at least temporarily disappointing them in my quest for self-fulfilment. Like life itself, no career is without difficulties, but we can at least choose the nature of those challenges for ourselves. I found the monotony of monthly accounting cycles mentally and emotionally draining, and ultimately unfulfilling, so with that stimulus it was relatively easy to reinvent myself into more commercial roles within the company – even pain can help us grow, if we maintain our vision of the future we intend to create. When I finally left the illusory ‘security’ of the corporate world to start my own business (something that would have frightened my parents), I again reinvented myself as a Career Transformation Coach and took another step closer to my ideal
life. In that pursuit I’ve been compelled to learn marketing, public speaking, self-motivation… and even writing – things I never imagined for myself, but have embraced as invaluable tools for reaching a wider audience, and a bigger stage. The difference is that these skills are aligned to my highest values and vision for
myself, so the reinvention process (which is actually growth) becomes not a painful ordeal but an inspired quest – all it takes is vision and discipline. It’s not easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is, and the result is being able to look forward eagerly to what might be rather than ruefully back to what might have been. The pain of regret far outweighs the pain of discipline, so I advise my clients
that the first thing to embrace is change itself, because without change there is no life.
Is living in Australia a factor in how you view the world and its opportunities?
Like anywhere on Earth, living in Australia has both advantages and disadvantages in the opportunities and challenges it offers, and the worldview it imparts. Being on the other side of the planet from almost everyone else (with different time zones) has meant some very early starts and late night finishes to connect with new people or attend educational and networking events online. This can be
uncomfortable, but the benefit is that it’s also given me an unusual mix of discipline and flexibility – both of which are invaluable qualities in business, and in life. It’s an old saying that a prophet has no honour in his own land, but the reverse positive is that the further away you come from, the more people tend to listen to and respect you. To my surprise, I’m often referred to as Australia’s Own or “The Man From Down Under” which has a special ring to it, and has been a definite asset in spreading my message. Also, even though every nation is made up of individuals, they tend to have national characteristics in common, and the Australian archetype is that of someone open, honest, down-to-earth, egalitarian, as well as a little wild and rough around the edges – all charming and useful qualities when applied appropriately, so I have no complaints there either.
Do you have a hobby?
I don’t know if it strictly qualifies as a ‘hobby’, but my most enjoyable activity is walking and simply being in nature – something I find endlessly pleasurable, invigorating, and calming. Over the years I’ve deepened my appreciation for growing plants, the beauty and freedom of birds and butterflies, clear crisp air, and the warmth of sunshine on my face. Nature also provides constant metaphors,
messages, and ideas that further enrich my writing and coaching work.
Is the book a culmination of your coaching and life experiences?
Yes. “The Phoenix Career Principles” was inspired by my own life journey, the lessons I learned by observing the paths of others, and an awareness of the life-changing power and potential of a book.
My career had many ups and downs – from the heights of financial reward and professional recognition to the depths of tediously repetitive work and nearly losing my job despite exceptional dedication and loyalty. I went from being an integral player delivering an important project one day to nearly being sacrificed the next, merely to serve the company’s staff reduction policy, and the shock of almost losing my job was a key turning-point for me.
From that moment on I resolved to no longer be a pawn on my employer’s chessboard, and began by shedding my jack-of-all-trades status to specialize in risk management. The move from generalist to expert authority secured my employment tenure by strengthening my “irreplaceability factor”. In the final phase of my career as an employee I was drawn to coaching and mentoring the next generation of leaders coming up in the organization. This was
highly encouraged by management and provided the clue for my next career move – becoming self-employed as a coach. I now work every day helping others negotiate the difficult changes I faced alone, and it is extremely satisfying to pass on my hard-earned knowledge and make a genuine difference in the lives of those following in my footsteps. Without the company’s ingratitude for my contributions to their success I would not be here now, so I thank them in retrospect for their great ‘gift’ – of freedom.
Why did you feel it was important to write the book?
Well, for the greater part of my life I’d actually seen myself as more of a reader than a writer, but that changed back in the 1990s. At the time I was looking to break into the investment property market and would read a business magazine aimed at property investors. It provided expert advice on the property market outlook, economic and financial trends, and hot spots with the greatest capital
growth. Each month the magazine also shared stories of people who had acquired investment portfolios of multiple properties while still in their late twenties and early thirties. When these enterprising young individuals were asked how they’d managed to achieve such financial success so young, they spoke of being disciplined with their money, having several jobs, following a plan, and making
wise money decisions. But what caught my attention was that when they were asked if there had been a key person in their life who’d influenced their achievements, the most common response was that they’d read a particular book, and an incredible 80% of the time that book was Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”.
By applying its principles they developed the financial intelligence to invest their money in assets that generated additional sources of income, allowing their money to work for them instead of always working for it. In reading the stories of these young entrepreneurs, I was amazed that one man with one book could have such an
impact on so many lives. This was the catalyst, the Aha! moment that led to eventually writing my own book. I was inspired to show others how to get their career working for their life, not just trading their life for an income – which is why I’m talking to you (and
What obstacles did you overcome in your writing?
I think the biggest obstacles to writing are the significant amount of time it requires, and the disciplined effort and commitment it takes to last the distance. My editors tell me that an astonishingly high percentage of those who begin writing a book don’t make it beyond the first chapter, and there is a reason for this failure rate. Aspiring authors often talk themselves out of completing their books by
listening to the negative monologue of the internal critic: “Who am you to write a book? You’re not a writer! It’s all been written before,” and the perennial favourite, “This is much too hard, why don’t you just quit?!” are only a few of the many excuses that end their authorship journey. When I was deeply immersed in the writing phase, during some research I came across a quotation from one of the greatest minds in human history, Albert Einstein, who said, “It is not that I’m so smart, but I stay with the questions much longer,” and that is certainly true for me as well. Although I’m by no means stupid, the key to overcoming the obstacles in writing my books was persistence more than raw intelligence.
A final key factor is accountability. I hired an editor who knew her craft, was passionate about writing as she’d written her own books, and was a real disciplinarian. We met once a fortnight and kept in regular email contact to ensure that I remained focused on the task, and that I met her delivery schedules for each chapter. Just as my clients rely on me as a guide through what is for them unknown territory, I called on seasoned experts in their fields to assist me in my learning process here.
So to repeat, for anyone wishing to follow this path, it comes down to commitment, discipline, accountability, and clarity about an important message that expresses who you are. If you have these four qualities, you will write your book, and it will change you in surprising and welcome ways.
Can anyone overcome their limitations to be their best self?
Yes, I genuinely believe so. There are countless stories of famous, successful people who overcame the limiting labels imposed by others and went on to astonish and change the world. Elon Musk’s father said he would never do anything important in life. When Oscar winner Sidney Poitier auditioned for his first role, he was told to go away and not waste people’s time. The great Walt Disney was advised that he lacked creativity, and Elvis Presley was confidently informed that he wasn’t going anywhere in the music industry. And my favourite: Albert Einstein didn’t speak until the age of four, was academically backward, and due to his habit of whispering everything to himself before daring to speak aloud, the family nickname for him was “the mumbler”. When his concerned father, Hermann, asked Albert’s headmaster for advice about the boy’s future career he was told it didn’t matter because, “The boy will never amount to anything.” I remember a school friend saying I shouldn’t bother pursuing higher education because I wasn’t smart enough. Rather than crushing my dreams, his words merely
strengthened my resolve to succeed and prove him wrong. Also, like most people of a certain generation I’m not the most tech-savvy person on the planet, but I haven’t allowed it to stop me. I’ve driven myself to learn the essentials so that I’m at least competent, and delegate the more complex activity to those who are gifted
with computers – they make an income, and I get the best people working for me in a win-win resolution.
If we look carefully, a deficiency in one area is always compensated for in another, such as the senses of hearing, touch, and smell in the blind becoming much more sensitive and acute. Not only that, our ‘limitations’ can be closed doors guiding us in the direction of our true capacities and destiny, if we just stop focusing on them
and look with a clearer vision at what our mind and heart are calling us to do in the world.
From a wider and deeper perspective, our limitations or incapacitates are either there to be overcome, making us stronger, or are actually hidden strengths directing our attention to our true gifts and desires. When dealing with so-called limitations there are two ways we can go – we can buy into the illusion, using them
as excuses to settle for playing small, or we can use them as fuel to fire our determination to succeed.
There are many ways to overcome or manage any limitations on the path to greatness, to becoming the best self we can be, and we’d be wise to embrace and understand rather than fear them.
Do you have a guiding statement for your readers?
Yes, I do. The essence of my book, and of my message, is that every single person has been given unique gifts and abilities that perfectly equip them for success in the world, in every area of life, if they can only discover, develop, and express them. A career need not be just a job, it can be the expression of who we are on the
deepest level, and when we bring together our inner and outer selves in a way that provides value to the world, our ultimate success is assured.
If I were to put it into one word, it would be this – purpose! Find your purpose, what you were put on this earth to do, and obstacles will dissolve and doors will open that you cannot even imagine at the present time. My fulfillment comes from helping people make this discovery, this connection. In a very real sense, your purpose is my purpose, and I’d love to help you find it, and grow it into a
Are you working on a current project you can share with us?
There is a trend in recent years away from reading print to listening to spoken books, so rather than seeing it as a limitation to the spread of my work I’ve engaged a narrator to produce an audio version of “The Phoenix Career Principles”. I’m quite excited about this project because he will not just be reading words on a page, he’ll provide expression and nuance, and also be adding subtle
sound effects to enhance the reader’s/listener’s experience. Along with its content, this will further differentiate my book in the marketplace (the power of uniqueness), and facilitate its success.
Tony Pisanelli is a career transformation coach, author and speaker who knows that an entrepreneurial mindset strategy is your best career protection. Tony is the creator of a unique coaching method that expands people’s careers beyond a job for an income to a life worth living. He is also the author of “The Phoenix Career Principles” guiding employees to confidently step into an entrepreneurial path and lead a more satisfying life.
Employees whose careers are threatened by change or are drowning in deep dissatisfaction turn to Tony Pisanelli to advance confidently to a more secure and satisfying working life. Observing numerous work colleagues experience deep career dissatisfaction and who were unprepared for an unexpected job loss was the catalyst to become a Career Transformation Coach and Thought Leader. He is the creator of the E3 Career Transformation Method a coaching framework that charts an entrepreneurial path by recombining existing core capabilities to create a career that rises above a vulnerable job for an income to a life worth living. He is also the author of The Phoenix Career Principles that shows employees how become the driving force of their career. The book provides a blueprint to help its readers, keep their job while others are losing theirs, leave the job they hate and step into a new world of employment opportunities.