Ambition Redefined with Kathryn Sollman


Ambition Redefined with Kathryn Sollman

I always say that getting financially fit is just like getting physically fit – they both require that you do two things. To get physically fit, you need to eat less and work out more. To get financially fit, you need to spend less and make more. It sounds easy, but if it were that easy, we would have a bunch of skinny millionaires running around. We joke at The Gym,  where are the skinny millionaires at?

It is hard work to get physically and financially fit, but today we’re talking about one of those areas of financial fitness, and that’s making more money, specifically for women. Women frequently feel torn between caring for their loved ones, whether it is kids or parents, and trying to make money. Today I am talking to Kathryn Sollman, Career Coach and author of the new book Ambition Redefined, Why the Corner Office Doesn’t Work for Everyone and What to  Do Instead.

What are we drinking?

Kathryn — Lipton Tea

Shannon — Coffee, light and sweet

Podcast Notes

  • Kathryn is a career coach for women. Previously, she was a marketing communications strategist for several investment firms. After 9/11, many of the investment firms took this job in-house. Katheryn was looking for something else, and, at the time, there was a woman who was providing programs for women who wanted to get off the fast track, and she wanted Kathryn to bring those programs to Connecticut.
  • Kathryn decided to work with a partner to create programs for women who wanted to return to the workforce. The program was called Opportunity Knocks, and it became very successful and turned into a big network of women called Women at Work. After that, she worked as a recruiter, helping women find jobs, and it grew from there.
  • In 2012, Kathryn left that job and started Nine Lives for Women, which led to her writing a book, Ambition Redefined.
  • Kathryn says it’s important to always work, but in a flexible way. Most women need some kind of flexible work. Not just a part-time job, but professional, flexible work. It is possible to work, whether you have one child or ten.
  • There are six different kinds of flexible work right now, to fit work into your life:
    • Flexible full-time job: some employers are allowing flexibility in terms of hours or where you are working.
    • Part-time jobs: Every professional job, in every industry, could be part time.
    • Job shares: Less common than other forms of flex work. This works great, if you complement the other person. Kathryn recommends Work Muse, which is a job share solutions firm.
    • Telecommuting: working at home or in a shared workspace, either all or part of the time.
    • Freelance: Working on projects in a short-term way.
    • Entrepreneur: Those who decide to start their own practice.
  • How do you have the conversation to create a flexible work environment? There are a number of women who will assume there is no flexibility and won’t ask. What Kathryn sees more frequently is that women ask, but they make a simple ask. For instance, it is brought up as an afterthought at a meeting about something else. If you want to have this conversation with your boss, it needs to be a pitch.
  • Check your company handbook. If there is nothing written in the company handbook about flexibility, create a pitch.
    • What are you asking for? Be specific about the flexibility that you want. Then talk about where the work is going to be done.
    • Be clear that you have the productive, professional setup. Is there other software or equipment? Would you be willing to pay for that if the employer isn’t.
    • How are you going to communicate with the team?
    • What if you manage people? How are you planning to continue that if you are not in the office?
    • What about team meetings? Will you be able to participate in person or offsite?
    • Talk about ways this arrangement could help your employer. Don’t only show how it benefits you.
  • Shannon and Kathryn agree that women should always work in some capacity. Women who leave employment to care for family leave for an average of 12 years. Women need to think about caring for themselves for the long-term, as women live longer than men.
  • If you leave the workforce, you are giving up up to four times your salary every year that you are out. For 12 years, that is 144 paychecks that are not earned, saved, or invested, and that is really hard to recoup.
  • If, through a part-time job over 20 years, you could save and invest and end up with another $500,000, that is huge!
  • Kathryn’s book includes many helpful tips and suggestions.
  • What about the woman who doesn’t like her job? Does it make sense for her to leave her job? Or what about the woman who is out of the workforce and is thinking she wants to get back in?
    • If you don’t like your job, you could find flexible work somewhere else. It is easier to find a job while you have a job.
    • Think about small or mid-size companies. Many large, global companies are not able to offer the flexibility of small companies. As company size goes down, flexibility goes up.
    • Think about your network and get creative about the next chapter of your life. It should always include working.
  • What about women who have a fear of age and that it will dictate or limit their options?
    • Stop thinking about age. There are older and older professionals in the workforce right now. There is a talent drain, because of all the baby boomers leaving the workforce. Companies are no longer pushing older employees out the door. There is real, perceived value  in people who have more life experience and more knowledge about various industries.
    • You don’t need to get hung up on your age. You do need to get hung up on whether you are acting old, dressing old, or your hairstyle is not current. Sometimes Kathryn has to direct women to update their look, otherwise it will work against them.
    • If you are energetic and full of ideas, your age will not work against you, unless you are thinking of going into an industry that is very young. It’s all about how you act!
    • There are opportunities to pivot at any age.
  • How do women approach getting back into the workforce after 12 years?
    • Most women who have been out for a long time end up being mega volunteers in their communities. Step back and describe the activities in bottom-line, business terms. Managed, generated revenues, negotiated, etc. Talk about all of the business skills you used.
    • Don’t downplay volunteer work! If you can describe it in business terms, it should be on your resume.
  • Women owe it to themselves to create a strong financial foundation. Work doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing choice. Caring for family members is temporary during different chapters of our lives, but throughout we need to keep supporting ourselves financially and not making this an either/or decision. You don’t know what is going to happen in the future.
  • If you feel like you need to be home 24/7 with your children, if you are not financially secure down the road and run out of money, it is those very same children that you will burden.

TAKEAWAY: My biggest takeaway is the importance of continually working, for women. As a single, working mom, I know that it is difficult to balance making money and caring for your family. At some point, the family care needs will lessen, and I want to make sure you are financially set for wherever your life journey is going to take you. Consistent income is going to give you the most flexibility in that journey.

Random Three Questions 

  1. What do you do to relax?
  2. What is a book you would recommend to other people?
  3. If you were to win a million dollars, what would you do with it?

Connect with Kathryn


Book: Ambition Redefined

If you would like help getting your finances in order to find out how much you need to be making, I hope you’ll reach out to my team at the Financial Gym. My trainers coach men and women on how to make more money and improve their financial health along the way. We don’t care how you got here, we just care about where you want to go. Head over to to sign up for a free warm up call to find out more.


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Shannon is a financial planner who left a “traditional” financial services firm to start her own company, The Financial Gym, because she felt traditional financial services firms did not have the tools or resources to help people in their 20s and 30s who are starting out and trying to build assets while also managing debt. She realized that the key to long-term personal financial success is a commitment to financial fitness and making smart financial choices. Through her blog, Financially Blonde, her book, Train Your Way To Financial Fitness, her podcast, Martinis and Your Money and The Financial Gym, Shannon is committed to making financial fitness fun, easy and accessible for everyone.

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