LAJ ARTICLES

What It Takes to Be a Successful Author with Amy Feind Reeves

ENP 1620
Amy Feind Reeves

Amy Feind Reeves is the Founder and CEO of JobCoachAmy, where she leverages her 25+ years of experience as an executive and hiring manager to help professionals at all levels of their careers find and keep jobs that make them happy. Her corporate consulting practice focuses on career coaching for Millennials and Generation Z, as well as consulting on practical approaches to implementing improved management practices. 

As a sought-after expert, speaker and career coach, Amy works globally with clients across a wide variety of industries including finance, consulting, media, consumer products, technology, and healthcare. Her functional expertise–gained from nearly two decades of working with companies and organizations to reduce costs, increase revenue, and improve processes–is significant across all areas of business operations. 

She has been featured in countless media including the Wall Street Journal, BusinessInsider.comYahoo.com News, Upjourney.comHive.com, The Baltimore Sun, Chicago Herald Tribune, Yahoo News and Job-Hunt.org

As a speaker, Amy has spoken at City Year, Dartmouth Alumni Women’s Leadership Conference, is also a regular speaker for undergraduate and new alumni groups, as well as is a speaker at women’s conferences and Canyon Ranch.  

Prior to launching her business, Amy held a variety of positions including commercial banker, global management consultant, corporate executive and non-profit executive.

Her passion for supporting others in their careers comes from the difficult time she had found her way after college and when she needed to change careers after finding herself a single mother. She has become an author to expand her reach and passionate advocacy for people seeking to find their paths to success in the professional world.

College to Career, Explained: Tools, Skills & Confidence for Your Job Search, Amy’s first book, will debut this summer. It provides insightful strategies and common-sense tactics to help job seekers make a smooth transition from college to career. Using a proven methodology and unique insight that only someone who has sat on the other side of the interviewing table for many years can provide, College to Career, Explained is ultimately for the young professional or new grad looking for career guidance, or the more seasoned professional looking for pointers or to brush up on basics.

Currently, Amy supports the Anaya Tipnis Foundation in scaling its operations nationwide and developing its career services workshops. The Foundation offers scholarships, mentoring and support to first-generation college students as well as provides internship and networking opportunities. 

“Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?”

“Thank you for the opportunity.” Said Amy

“I had a long and winding career that allowed me to learn about a lot of jobs in a lot of industries.  As a banker, global management consultant, entrepreneur, executive and non-profit executive I was lucky to always be working in new companies and industries to catalyze revenue growth or cost reduction. Alongside that, however, I had two personal experiences that planted the seeds for wanting to build JobCoachAmy.”

“The first experience was just out of college, when failing to land the Wall Street job I wanted left me miserable, humiliated and, frankly, flummoxed.  I had done everything I was supposed to do up to that point by working hard and being successful in the classroom and out. I spent my first year out of college working as an admin and teaching myself how to interview.  The next year, I got the job and really liked it but was also good at it.  What was the difference?  There were just a lot of things I did not know the year before, and there had been no resources for me.”

“The second experience came when I unexpectedly became a single mother in the middle of my career. I had always had jobs with heavy travel, and I was the main breadwinner. I needed to find a job where I had to reduce travel but could not reduce my pay. Again, I could not find the resources I would have liked but did find a way to teach myself to find what I needed.”

“Years later when I had the opportunity to focus on something that I really wanted to do, I chose to start JobCoachAmy because I know the resources I offer are still not available today. There is a lot of free advice, and a lot of good advice from human resource professionals and trained career counselors. What I have to offer, however, is unique as I offer the perspective of a hiring manager and a professional who has been through the process personally.” Said Amy.

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you during your career?

“Wow, I’ve been lucky enough to have had a lot. I think the most fun I’ve had was being sent to Buenos Aires in the 90s immediately before Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay disallowed taxing trade between countries. This meant the National Steel Company of Argentina was in trouble because Brazil makes the cheapest steel in the world. I went down with a team of consultants to help retrofit their plants to sell more value-added steel to Asia.”

“We were treated like friends, got to see so much of the fascinating country, and in general, got to have a lot of fun while also working hard. The country’s currency had also just stabilized at this time and international performing artists were returning after a long absence. I remember taking an elevator down to breakfast with Axl Rose and his guitarist Slash. I thought they were just unshaven tourists until the ground floor elevator opened and a wall of screaming teenage girls tried to get in. All three of us got pushed back into the elevator and it was my first clue they were not normal guys.” Said Amy

What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming a writer? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writer can learn from?

“Finding the time to sit down and write-totally typical–and the answer is not magic–you just need to do it. What helped me was organizing my book from start to finish in an outline and then filling in the content chunks that I wanted to write most. Outlining was much easier for me than writing.  Inevitably, I would scrap the outline but keep the content chunks I had written. I must have had at least 20 outlines.  But little by little, I got my content and was able to weave them together in a way that made sense.” Said Amy.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

“I remember going back to graduate school and thinking that I could start doing nice academic writing again after years of just sparse business writing. Our first paper, a marketing paper, I remember writing a beautiful sentence–probably on customer segmentation–and then another, that basically said the same thing. I couldn’t decide which one I liked better, so I left them both in. When the paper came back, I had not done great!  My second beautiful sentence had been called out by the grader,”You just said that!!!” They did not appreciate my beautifully constructed, albeit duplicative sentences. Kind of a big wakeup call!” Said Amy.

In your opinion, were you a “natural born writer” or did you develop that aptitude later? Can you explain what you mean?

“I have always fancied myself a writer. Being alone a lot as a kid turned me into an “observer,” and being an avid reader made me feel as though my observations should have a “voice.” Translating that onto paper (or screen) is a whole different story–it forces you to take a hunch or feeling and use all the patience, fortitude and persistence you have to take it to the “hobby plus” level and then it is an uphill battle from there.” Said Amy.

“My first book feels like an enormous accomplishment, and I wrote it because I really had a lot to say that was meaningful to me and because I believe it will have an impact on people. I feel as though being interested in writing is more of a gift to me, so that I can enjoy it whether anyone reads it. Although obviously I hope that people do!” Said Amy.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

“I am excited about taking some of the work I’ve been doing for career newbies and applying the same principles to coursework and writing for managers. I think a lot of the major issues that are being forced to the forefront now in corporations as the result of “The Great Resignation” relate to the fact that for years corporate America has only paid lip-service to actual management.” Said Amy.

“I believe I can make a difference for companies who want to train managers in the trenches to make some fast but high impact changes to the way they treat their people, and in turn improve employee retention. I am very glad that is going to be a focus, because employee turnover hides so many unseen costs of productivity and frustration.” Said Amy.

Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience, what are the “5 Things You Need To Be A Successful Author or Writer”? Please share a story or example for each.

1. Don’t edit yourself while you are writing. There’s plenty of time to do that later. And you’ll need a lot of time because you will do a lot of editing, but for now, just write.

2. Don’t throw anything away. If you write yourself into a place you didn’t mean to go, there may be a time later or earlier where it makes sense to go to that place. Keep everything! 

3. Don’t listen to anyone who is going to give you constructive criticism unless you know them as a reviewer ONLY. With anyone else–regardless of their intentions–you may read something into it other than purely supportive coaching. Why take the risk of losing time perseverating about a comment or edit?

4. Don’t get tunnel vision. Working on one section, chapter, or project for too long can make the work stagnant.  Set a personal deadline for your piece and stick to it. It may not feel like time to let it go, but you must release it and move on.

5. Writer’s write. They don’t talk about writing or wait for inspiration to hit or only write within the confines of their project.  Writer’s write every day, about everything.  And everything you write makes you a better writer.  You don’t need to write a complete thought or even a sentence. You can write something analytic, impressionistic, ruminative or journalistic.  Whatever it is, write it. Keep a journal and a pen, or a device handy.

What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e., perseverance, discipline, play, craft study). Can you share a story or example?

“Reading great writers, not-so-great writers and every kind of writing in between. Being a reader is the best practice there is for writing.  There are writers that completely knock your socks off and aspire to be like. Then there are writers that you find quite ordinary.  I find I respond most to writers who put their voices into their work very strongly, so that at the end of their work, I feel as though I know them personally. That is what I emulated in my book. Who knew that was even a style? I had to do a lot of reading to figure that out, and that I was not the only one who liked it.” Said Amy.

Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?

“Adam Grant, Daniel Pink and Malcolm Gladwell—these experts present their work so simply, but the implication of their research is so profound. If we can integrate their findings into our daily lives and habits, we can learn how to improve our quality of life both in the office and out.” Said Amy.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

“OK, I love that!  In general, I would like the fact of whether someone is a Republican or a Democrat to go back to being as important as their shoe size. You never knew and hardly thought to ask when I was a kid and now it (allegedly) defines everything about you.

Closer to my own area of expertise, I wish that the general population understood how much of business is just common sense.  Not just new grads, but highly respected medical professionals, academics, authors, chefs, athletes, and other incredibly accomplished people feel business is a black box for “the numbers people.” Said Amy.

“Even CEOs in one field can feel incompetent understanding another. The truth is all businesses run on the same principles and they are much more alike than different. All people who are successful in life (trustworthy, hardworking, fair, and kind) have a good shot at doing well in business. This gets lost, and it annoys me no end. A lot of business talent is wasted out of fear of trying or fear of understanding. It’s a terrible waste.” Said Amy.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

“All my contact information is on www.jobcoachamy.com.  I’m also Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @jobcoachamyf”.

Leave a Reply