Photo courtesy of danielmoyle

So this is the year — you’re ready to launch out into a new career, start a business, get back into the workplace after taking time off to raise the kids.  Rebecca “Kiki” Weingarten, M.Sc.Ed, MFA knows all about these big decisions.  As an executive, corporate and career coach, she’s worked with lots of folks who want to make successful career changes with no regrets.  As the cofounder of Atypical Coaching, Kiki works with corporations and individuals.  She says she once hated math, but today she uses math to help her clients make solid decisions that ease their way into uncharted professional territory.

Can you explain what you do for a living?

Short answer? I work with corporations and individuals  in the US and internationally to set and reach their goals, maximize their potential and fend off anything that gets in the way of their achieving that. Or as my tag line says: Motivating & Guiding Clients to Achieve Success, Focus, Productivity, Stress Management, Balance & Transitions.

Long answer? As an executive, corporate and career coach I’ve worked with people and corporations/institutions in just about every industry on the planet from education, government, finance, business, technology, science, health care, psychology/mental health to numerous industries in the entertainment and creative arts fields including theater, film and writing.

When do you use basic math in your job?  

I’m a firm believer that math is part of just about everything we do. That means that I use math in my job all the time. If I’m working with clients on an business, start-up, corporation or entertainment or creative project we work with budgets, time, financial parameters of a project.

If I’m working with clients on making a career transition we work on the mathematics of finances. How much more or less money will I be making? What kinds of financial sacrifices or changes will I make? If I’m going to be making more money, how will I manage that? Will I need a financial planner?

The math is pretty important when I’m working with clients on life-work balance. How many hours are in your day? How many hours do you need to work? How many leisure hours are there?

Do you use any technology to help with this math?

I use it if necessary. When working with corporations or projects, I’ll work with the people who do the math and they use whatever tools they normally use. If it’s an individual the math part usually comes in the form of coaching tasks that I assign them to do and then we discuss the results and strategize next steps during our sessions.

How do you think math helps you do your job better?

I’m aware that math is part of everything, and I embrace it as much as possible. Math is the language of time, budgets, finances and financial decisions.

How comfortable with math do you feel?

I have an interesting relationship with math. In high school I was a whiz at English and history, but I didn’t apply myself when it came to math. The year I took geometry I totally bombed one semester and decided there was no way I was going to take the Regents exam twice.  So I sat down with the class math whiz and then alone for three days and studied. I totally aced the exam. That let me know that I could do it if I just applied myself.  But I really didn’t love math best, so it still wasn’t my favorite subject.

An amazing thing happened in college when I was studying for my Bachelor’s of Science in Education. I had to take a course on teaching early childhood math and my professor (whose name escapes me now – sadly, because she was wonderful!) LOVED her subject and was such an amazing teacher. I came to understand math in a new way. Turns out I loved teaching it. I wish I’d loved it as much in elementary and high school.

Did you have to learn new skills in order to do the math you use in your job?

I learn a new math language with all the different industries I’ve been in and coach. For example for multi-billion dollar and over one-million person target-group government projects that I’ve directed, I use one kind of math. Venture capital and business plan math is another kind. Entertainment budgeting is another kind of math, and when I’m coaching individuals on negotiating salary and compensation, that’s yet another kind of math.

Talking about money is an entirely different language, and I wish women were more comfortable speaking it. When working with women I find it’s a language they’re not as comfortable with as the men I work with. Even women in the corner offices, C-level, business owners, leaders in the corporate and other industries just aren’t as comfortable as they should be doing the math of the worth of their work and contributions. I work with them to do the math of who they are, what value they bring to their work (whatever it is), how to measure that in dollars and how to assert their value in order to get the financial rewards that they should get. Whether it’s during a job interview or asking for a raise.

One’s knowledge of math should be an evolving knowledge. School provides the basics and you keep your ears, mind and abilities ready and willing to learn new knowledge and incorporate new skills.

I often kid around that I learned a lot about coaching  by being an early childhood teacher which was my very first job. Math is no exception. I learned that math is part of every single day and most activities — shopping and spending, time, money, baking and cooking. If you pay attention to how much math is part of your daily life you’ll be amazed.

I love that Kiki talks about the language of math, because that’s what most folks are afraid of — and very good at.  You’re probably an expert in your own field, whether that’s being a mom or a speech therapist or a corporate executive.  That’s half the battle in using math to further (or launch) your career.

If you have questions for Kiki, ask them in the comments section.  I’ll make sure she knows they’re here!

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