E2A 065: Play to your strengths, an interview with Charlotte Blair 

 November 14, 2023

By  Scott A. MacMillan

In this episode of The Entrepreneur to Author Podcast, your host Scott MacMillan speaks with Charlotte Blair, the Founding Partner of The Strength Partners, an International Coaching Federation Professional Certified Coach, and one of Australia's most experienced CliftonStrengths accredited coaches.

Through personal anecdotes and professional insights, Charlotte engages in a conversation about finding more joy and purpose in work and her transition from corporate to entrepreneurship. She also discusses the motivations behind writing her book Career Unstuck: How to Play to Your Strengths to Find Freedom and Purpose in Your Work Again.


Charlotte is an International Coaching Federation (ICF) Professional Certified Coach (PCC) and one of Australia's most experienced CliftonStrengths accredited coaches. She shifted her career from IT sales with Verizon 10 years ago and now works with corporates around the world helping individuals, Managers, and Teams discover and use their strengths to meet business and personal objectives. She is also known as the Coaches Coach and loves assisting others to develop and grow their coaching practices.
Having migrated from the UK to Australia 13 years ago she lives in rural Victoria with her husband Andrew, two sons, and a menagerie of animals including cats, dogs, horses, chickens and bees.


Book Website: careerunstuck.com.au

Website: charlotteblair.com.au

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/charlotteblair

Instagram: instagram.com/thestrengthspartners

Facebook: facebook.com/charlotte.blair.904108





Scott on LinkedIn (@scottmacmillan): linkedin.com/in/scottmacmillan/

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Episode Transcript

Please note: The transcript is produced by a third-party company from an audio recording and may include transcription errors.

Scott MacMillan

You're listening to the Entrepreneur to Author podcast.


Welcome to the Entrepreneur to Author podcast, the podcast that brings you practical strategies for building authority and growing your business. And now, here's your host, Scott MacMillan.

Scott (00:11.282)

Today, I'm speaking with Charlotte Blair, the founding partner of the Strength Partners, an International Coaching Federation professional certified coach, and one of Australia's most experienced CliftonStrengths accredited coaches. Charlotte works with corporates around the world, helping individuals, managers, and teams discover and use their strengths to meet business and personal objectives. She's also known as the coaches coach.

and loves helping others develop and grow their own coaching practices. Importantly, Charlotte is also the author of the newly released book, Career Unstuck, How to Play to Your Strengths to Find Freedom and Purpose in Your Work Again. Charlotte, welcome to the Entrepreneur to Author podcast.

Charlotte Blair (01:01.878)

Thanks for having me Scott, I'm really excited to be here and join you.

Scott (01:05.75)

Wonderful. To start, I'd love if you could share a little bit about you and your entrepreneurial journey for our audience.

Charlotte Blair (01:12.942)

Sure, thanks for asking. So I live in a little rural town in Victoria in Australia. I moved here from the UK about 13 years ago. I originally worked for Verizon, the big global telco in the UK and then transferred here with them.

And through my own career journey, I realized that I, I like selling IT, but it really didn't meet that kind of passion and purpose piece.

through a career exploration of getting to discover what my strengths were and how I wanted to be thought about, you know, my 80th birthday. That whole Steven Covey, begin with the end in mind and think about the legacy that you want to leave. It had me head off down the path of career transition.

and into the world of coaching and leadership and development. So I moved from a big corporate to a smaller Lenin development company and then still wasn't quite able to do what I really loved and that was about working in the Clifton strength space and then I set up my own business so never thought that I would do that. I remember my husband a number of years ago saying to me why don't you start your own business? I'm like no I'm a big corporate beast person and

partnership and then sort of out on my own and quite frankly I couldn't imagine going back now. I love being an entrepreneur and kind of have a couple of businesses now and so yeah it's fun but definitely that big transition from you know big blue chip corporate global organisation to little old me but the whole philosophy of the strengths partners is that we partner with our clients and partner with others so I still feel part of something so it's great.

Scott (03:12.654)

Wonderful. And yeah, it's funny how that very, it is very much a different experience being in a large corporate compared to working, you know, on your own business, working as an entrepreneur. And yeah, once you've done it, it's really hard to imagine going back to that corporate environment, even if you loved it when you did.

Charlotte Blair (03:33.446)

Yeah, sometimes I might see a job and I go, oh, that looks really interesting. And then I go, oh, now I won't get all the flexibility and autonomy and all the things that I love doing on my own. So I quickly changed my mind again.

Scott (03:47.286)

Yeah, 100%. Now, your book, Career Unstuck, has just been released. Could you share a little bit about it? Who is it written for, and what is your goal for your reader?

Charlotte Blair (03:59.27)

It's written for somebody who doesn't love the work that they do. In the coaching, I often ask this question on a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you love your job?

And I was very surprised at how low the answers often were, which is pretty much why I wrote the book. And a lot of people would report feeling stuck, feeling like they have to do that job because that's what their parents wanted them to become an accountant, for instance, or somebody says, no, I have to do this job because I've got to pay the mortgage. And because I think I got unstuck pretty easily,

be able to sort of share my journey with other people, but also the tools and tips and techniques that help me get unstuck. So my aim is that people move forward away from the three or the five out of ten and the impact that has to some things that's more fulfilling and meaningful. Often people think they can't transition, but actually if they've got the mindset and the tools, they can transition and it's beautiful to be able to share.

share so many journeys and stories of other people that have been able to make that transition and find that fulfillment. So it's really to take action, Scott. If I had one goal it's to you know take some sort of action that will shift them in terms of number even if it's shifting from a five to a seven that's great. Not everybody can necessarily achieve a ten but moving the number upwards is my main goal.

Scott (05:36.378)

Wonderful. And I really love the title. I think it does a really good job of capturing that pain point that some people have around, like you say, feeling stuck in the role that they're in and feeling stuck in their life, right? The two are often so intrinsically tied. Now, you talked a little bit about why you wrote the book. Can you talk a little bit about the writing process? How did you find the writing process? Did you enjoy it? Did you find it challenging? What was your experience?

Charlotte Blair (06:06.375)

Initially I think I had limiting beliefs that I couldn't write because I'm highly dyslexic and probably over the years of school teachers would say that you're not going to amount to much and your work's not that great. So initially I had a block, people would say to me, oh you should write a book.

When I'd share my own transition journey, they'd go, oh, you should put that in a book. And it was on my list of things to do for about four years. And I'd get frustrated that every year I'd look at my goals and go, oh, I didn't achieve that writing the book. And I reached out to a friend, Donna McGeorge, who had written a number of books, and she said, oh, you need Kelly Irving.

So I joined the expert author community and being part of that community made it so much easier because we had sort of you know frameworks and a support crew. I actually learned to really enjoy the writing process, something that's quite surprised me. At first I thought yes it was that limiting belief, then it felt a little bit like a chore and then I'd enjoy it. I found the best way for me to go and write was my husband is a glider pilot and we would go away to Benela

we'd live and we'd take our caravan and when he was flying for the weekend I would just end the caravan writing and just spend the whole weekend writing and actually enjoyed that and going away this weekend again and I was like oh good I get to sort of you know write again it would probably be some blogs and some other work but I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. I was just did the launch, like a virtual launch this morning, Scott.

and I was sharing, or actually others were sharing how they really appreciated the authentic voice and like my voice, people that knew me, they was my voice. So I wanted to bring some kind of humour and stories into it and really have people imagine that I am on the journey with them and holding their hands. So I really just, I guess, spoke more from the heart as if I were talking to them as opposed to any of them.

Charlotte Blair (08:06.214)

you know, flaring language. I've never really been great at that. It's more that kind of plain speaking in my voice. So I found it fun. Probably took longer than I thought it was going to take. If you think about the Clifton-Strents language, I'm an activator, which means to say I'm quite impatient sometimes. I was like, yeah. Once I decided to write the book, I said, yeah, I'll get this done in six months. And obviously six months went by.

Probably some of the research pieces that I needed to do took longer than I thought. But once I got writing it was great. I remember listening to a number of your podcasts about the writing process and that tip about just write. And I did and I just write and then it was easier to think about the structure. And then obviously your team made that so much easier as well in the first line of the

or first-rounded at the editing process where it might be, well, you need a little bit more information here, or you need a bit more there, or tell us what you mean here. And that had me think and gave me something to sort of build upon. So, yeah, it's actually enjoyable. I remember sharing with Kelly. She said, well, I think that's two books. I'm like, no, I can't write two books. I can't write two books. Now I'm like, oh, can't actually wait to write the second book.

I'll take a little pause while we get this one kind of launched and into the hands of the right people. But yeah, it started off not so great but ended really great and fun.

Scott (09:38.206)

Yeah, yeah, and I'm so glad you shared that, both sides of that coin, because you know, I think a lot of people, if they do kind of feel a little frustrated at some point during the writing process, they can get discouraged and some people might quit. But realizing that you've got both the yin and the yang of those experiences, you know, sometimes you're high on a mountain and other times you're deep in a valley, but finding the strength to kind of work through that.

is really important for your authorship journey. So thank you for sharing that. And you shared a little bit too about aspects of the publishing process, you know, the editing portion. You talked about how your authentic voice has come through and that people have shared that was something that they really valued. Can you share a little bit more about the publishing process? What did you find was maybe surprising?

or frustrating or, you know, what was your experience throughout the publishing stage of things?

Charlotte Blair (10:41.714)

Surprising was probably how flexible, in particular your team were. We always, you know, you gave a timeline and we stuck to the timeline, but you were, the team were always very flexible in terms of, well I want to be able to add this in here, or you know, the layout, can we think about the layout so that this bit sectioned up from that bit. So I think the bit that surprised me probably was the, how flexible.

What I liked was the different sort of lines. Obviously I worked with Michelle initially and she was great and just quite matter of fact. I remember her saying something about, she said, I just want to kind of let you know I don't become like a best friend or a pen pal type of thing with you. I'm here to do a job and I actually quite liked that. It was just like, okay good I get to deliver my manuscript. You look at it, you come at it from the lens of a independent reader not clouded by you know anything of maybe knowing the author.

and then returned it and then I would look at it, add my edits to it and return it back again. I liked where sometimes she'd go, well I'm not sure about this language and I'd be like, well I want to keep that language and she's like, yeah okay. So I liked having the flexibility, which is I think also why Kelly probably recommended you guys to publish through as opposed to, you know, a big publishing house who may well have more of a say of what the book looks like.

so I like that and then obviously it went to sort of Carolyn. I have to say I feel so sorry for your team, all my dyslexic spelling and grammatical errors and trying to decipher some of the words that I probably you know put in there sometimes spell check doesn't even understand what I'm trying to say so I really appreciate they definitely you know sort of earn their money there. So I enjoyed the different steps.

Scott (12:19.63)

No, no, no.

We love it. We love it.

Charlotte Blair (12:34.21)

Probably the most frustrating bit was the book cover, as you probably know. I think I felt like I articulated what I wanted, but I had a couple of ideas in my head. And what Julia came up with, she came up with some really beautiful designs, but they were not quite what I kind of wanted. You know, it was one with a kind of paper chain of sort of women stepping out from unstuck. She really got the metaphor of unstuck.

on pretty much all of them, but then I didn't want to alienate men, you know, by only having a woman on. So that felt frustrating and at one point I was like, oh, I'm never going to get there, I'm going to have to engage something kind of different here or maybe I'm just going to have to make do and then I, you know, looked at the different aspects that I did like and then said, like, I think I'm kind of looking for this blue.

And then the final round, I was like, oh, that's perfect. And there were two designs and I love both of them. And then it was really, I went from not being able to choose any of them to, oh, I love both of these. I wanna go with both. So that was probably a frustrating process, but what I learned from that is you have to trust the process. Julia's an expert in what she does. And she was sort of really good of saying, you might want this, Charlotte, but we've got to think about what's...

most likely to get picked up and what's going to appeal to that as opposed to me being fixated on that. It's a little bit like, you know, my working title initially was Don't Stop Me Now, and you know, in the editing process and even Kelly's support and your support is thinking about who's your ideal reader. So it was quite a journey, but I found it a really enjoyable journey. Like you say earlier, some people do get discouraged and stop it.

I don't think there was ever a point for me where I went, oh, I want to give up, I don't like this. But I think that's because there was so many encouraging voices around me. And I think that's why becoming part of a community, say, your book really helped, the podcast really helped. And it actually inspires you to kind of keep going and get over those mountains. If you get a blockage, well, what do you do? Just.

Charlotte Blair (14:48.171)

write some crap on the paper and that will turn into something else.

Scott (14:53.442)

Yeah, yeah, and you know, it's you're not alone when it comes to cover design. It's one of the trickiest parts of the process in my experience. Sometimes it just clicks. And I tell people this when when, you know, I'm first talking with them about their book. Sometimes the first concepts that you see, one really jumps out and you're like, that's it. You know, we just have to tweak a few things around the edges. And other times it takes multiple rounds and, you know, it can feel really frustrating at times. But, you know, you you.

I think your persistence and Julia's persistence, all of that together really shows in the end product because you've got a really engaging cover that really stands out when you look at it on the shelf with other books, it really, really does stand out. So well done there. What are you?

Charlotte Blair (15:38.066)

It was fun as well to engage some, you know, audience, I guess. You know, I posted both covers on LinkedIn and said, which one do you like? And most people went for the one that we landed on, you know, option A. That was the resounding love that. But, you know, the other one had an anchor and I kind of liked that too. But it was really fun to engage people in the journey and the cover design as well.

Scott (15:44.667)


Scott (16:05.986)

Yeah, wonderful. Now, what are your business goals for your book and how are you using it to support your business?

Charlotte Blair (16:12.726)

Business goals, primarily I would love to be able to get it into the hands of the readers that are stuck. But if I think about, you know, kind of business goals, it's also helping create some workshops for corporates where how might they engage their employees to love what they do. Because we know that if they're disengaged in their work, they're not going to be fully productive and therefore managers are...

are not getting somebody in the role that loves what they do. So I'm really excited to think about what that can look like at that corporate level. I already do a lot of workshops helping people discover and use their strengths, in particular at a team level at a corporate setting. So thinking about individuals, how might they get unstuck, how might the managers help their teams get unstuck is really useful. And then thinking about...

other coaches that I work with, how might they use it in their work as well is going to be exciting.

Scott (17:17.187)

What impact has it had so far? I know it's early days, but what are you hearing from people? What are you experiencing?

Charlotte Blair (17:23.626)

Yeah, it was really lovely this morning to hear on this virtual launch that we had how many people have already been recommending it to people that they work with, other coaches that they coach. They were sharing how even one wonderful woman was sharing how she's got three sons and a number of them are kind of stuck in their careers, even early doors. And she said, look, I want to buy this as a Christmas present for them. It's like...

not your mum, but somebody else that's going to help give you some tools, but also a little bit of a nudge along. So I think what I've heard the most so far is other coaches that have been able to recommend it and suggest it. But there have been some people as well that say, yeah, I picked this up because I am stuck in my career, and already I can see how I can practically...

put into practice some of these tips. Because in the book I've got at the back of each chapter other suggested reading, questions to ask yourself, tools that have been useful to me, like the Simon Sinek's Know Your Why, or Discovering Your Values, or the sections on job crafting. There's a piece on whether you're gonna dip your toe and test something out or jump right into something new. So resounding feedback has been how practical.

it is and that there are a number of different strategies that you could use. And I wanted it to be like, you know, you can pick it up and put it back down again. You know, it's like going on this journey where you might start off at the starting point and there's the end point over here, but you might get off at, you know, junction three, go and do some research, go and do some testing, go and have some conversations with some mentors, and then come back on and carry on your journey. So.

It's aimed as a book that you can kind of pick up, put down. And something else somebody shared this morning, they said, oh, look, this is not just about getting stuck in your career. This could actually even be, you know, you might be stuck in a relationship and some of these questions that you are asking, Charlotte, will help people get unstuck from a multitude of different situations. So it was really encouraging and wonderful to hear how people are using it already and say it's only.

Charlotte Blair (19:41.33)

only been out in a matter of weeks really.

Scott (19:44.85)

Yeah, that's fantastic. It's really great to hear that level of feedback coming back and how useful people are finding it. And I'm not surprised, right? It really is a practical book that really helps guide people through their journey. Charlotte, how can people get in touch with you to learn more about what you do?

Charlotte Blair (20:04.362)

LinkedIn is always the best. I love connecting with people so I'm always happy to connect with anybody unless there's a sale. I think I even put in the boot, unless they're sleazy and trying to kind of, you know, take you on a date. But I love connecting with people, people that are trying to say something. There's also the website careerunstuck.com.au which also has resources on it. There's a workbook on there that people can download.

there's links to be able to go and take the Clifton Strengths Assessment if they don't already know their strengths because obviously that's a big aspect of the book, you know, how to play to your strengths. If you don't know what your strengths are then it's a little bit harder to play to them. So I have three websites but if they go to careerunstuck.com.au it will take them also to the Strengths Partners which is the corporate work that I do of helping people discover and use their strengths and then the charlotteblair.com.au which is where I coach and support and mentor other coaches.

Scott (21:01.734)

Perfect, and we'll put all of those links in the show notes for easy access. Charlotte, thank you so much for being with us today on the podcast and for sharing your insights about getting one's career unstuck, and also for sharing your authorship experience with us. It's been tremendously interesting and inspiring.

Charlotte Blair (21:17.918)

Well, thank you for asking me. And yeah, if any of your listeners have any questions, I'd be more than happy to have a chat with them. I'm hi-woo, which means I love talking to strangers. Strangers are just friends I haven't met yet. So really happy to answer any questions. And if anybody is in that writing journey and feels they're a little bit stuck, then happy to have that conversation with them. But I also recommend that they listen more to other episodes of your podcast.

Buy your own book, Scott, which is sitting here on my desk, the entrepreneur to author. You also have a lot of practical tools to help people in their writing journey. Yeah, never thought I would be an author, and here I am. I'm very excited to say that I'm now an author.

Scott (22:04.474)

Wonderful. Thanks so much.

As we wrap up this episode of Entrepreneur to Author, remember this. Now is the time. Time to write, time to publish, and time to grow. I'm Scott McMillan. Until next time.

Scott A. MacMillan

Scott A. MacMillan is a speaker, international best-selling author, entrepreneur, and the President and Executive Publisher at Grammar Factory Publishing. He and his team help expert entrepreneurs write and publish books that build their authority and grow their business.

Scott A. MacMillan Signature

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