Episode 119: Career Evolution with Angela Yeh

Angela Yeh IDeology


Have you grown out of your job? Angela Yeh specializes in strategic career placements and evolutions, both for companies filling a role and for individuals looking to change their career trajectory.

Angela is on both sides of the fence in the creative industry, helping companies understand how to identify and attract the right talent to grow their business and culture, but also coaching individuals on how to take their careers to the next level and evolve both personally and professionally.

She is the founder and chief talent strategist at Thrive by Design and Yeh IDeology. Yeh IDeology is a talent strategies consultancy specializing in executive coaching and recruitment in the design, strategy, and innovation space. Thrive by Design is a coaching program focused on helping creative professionals navigate their career path and reach their highest potential.

Reach out to Angela Yeh for freebies and giveaways on her site thrivebydesign.today

Check out this episode!

Angela Yeh (00:00):

What am I missing? And for people to have that self-awareness when they’re starting to notice whatever they’re developing- if that’s not fueling them on an intrinsic level, then there’s something that they’ve grown out of.

Introduction (00:13):

Welcome to Learning Life, where top experts share their business knowledge and personal journeys each week. “And The thing that I realized from the CEO to the NFL football player, to the janitor – we’re our toughest critics, and we’re hardest on ourselves.” – James Lawrence And wanted to bring education to the market. I wake up in the morning and I am constantly learning.” “The only way to grab somebody’s attention is with a story” – Cal Fussman. Happy learning! And now your host, Jon Tota,

Jon Tota (00:41):

Welcome to another episode of Learning Life with Jon Tota. My guest today is Angela Yeh. Angela is the founder and chief talent strategist at Thrive by Design and Yeh Ideology. Yeh Ideology is a talent strategies consultancy specializing in executive coaching and recruitment in the design, strategy, and innovation space. Thrive by Design is a coaching program focused on helping creative professionals navigate their career path and reach their highest potential. So Angela is on both sides of the fence in the creative industry, helping companies understand how to identify and attract the right talent to grow their business and culture, but also coaching individuals on how to take their careers to the next level and evolve both personally and professionally. This is a very interesting topic right now with all the changes in our workforce. So I’m happy to have Angela with us today. Angela Yeh, welcome to Learning Life.

Angela Yeh (01:29):

Jon, thank you first off for having me on your show. Absolutely impressed with the different content and the speakers that you’ve had on here. So honored to be a part of the conversation.

Jon Tota (01:39):

Well thank you for being here. And so for all of our listeners, Angela, and I know each other from my EO New York days. So you are a true entrepreneur, obviously with running two businesses now. So just tell our audience a little bit about your background, how you got into launching I think it was Yeh Ideology was your first business and what the experience has been like growing both of these companies.

Angela Yeh (02:02):

Absolutely. I have been in the space of design. Design, specifically more industrial design, design research, science strategy user experience. These are very progressive categories. As a creative professional myself moved into recruitment because we started to notice this kind of expertise is so unusual. It’s hard for businesses to say, what kind of chief innovation officer do I need? What kind of, you know, strategists do I need and helping them understand what this kind of talent is about and what kind of individual can help move and shift a company in the right way. And when I talk about that, what I mean is people in the space are change agents; they’re really called upon by employers, from massive corporations to small startups to really analyze a business and to say, how is this business structured? What’s the next goal? How do we need to evolve this company and change that company? Right? So it’s a big task. It’s a very big ask, you know.

Jon Tota (03:11):

The professionals that you’re dealing with, the space that you’re in specifically, it’s such an interesting set of skillsets that companies are looking for. I would imagine it’s another challenge of how do you really determine that a chief innovation officer has the right skill set or the right character to fit your company. It’s not just the resume in that type of role. It’s more a cultural fit too. Right?

Angela Yeh (03:37):

You got it right on the nose. So, you know, it’s funny because when you work in this space, one of the things for instance, is a job description. I mean, it’s really hard sometimes even for the employer to say, how do I frame this? Do you frame it on the task? Do you frame it on the business goals? Do you frame it on, what is the company built for? Is it built to, you know, are we developing a platform or is it about what stage of the company’s at? Cause we’re a startup we need to now scale the business, right? It’s a combination of all of those elements, right? Let’s say for instance, we had one company that was a, you know, well-known one of the top CBG companies, right? Consumer product companies and thinking that they had to understand their product.

Angela Yeh (04:25):

It’s not about their product, but understanding where that company was and where they were in the market and what they needed to do to evolve their product lines. So that’s a different type of innovation, you know, a different kind of research, a different kind of strategy that needs to be implemented. It’s not a lot of times I think in this space, employers tend to think, Oh, I need someone who has been working in my space. It’s not about what they produce more about the type of challenge they’re looking for, [the type of] shift and change that they’re looking to execute.

Jon Tota (04:56):

And so the departments that you’re typically working with and for our listeners, because we’ve got a lot of people in the learning and development space, HR, so there’s a lot of overlap here. What, what department are you typically working with to place these roles and what industries specifically?

Angela Yeh (05:15):

So great question. It’s not about the industry as it is about what the company’s looking to change. So if we are, let’s say going back to CBG, there’s three different companies, let’s say one might want to come up with better products. Maybe, you know, like the Swiffer, that’s an old classic, right? What if they accompany has liquid product that they need to find a new kind of packaging for that might be a different kind of strategist than someone who says, you know what, we’ve got a great product. We need to connect with our customers in a different way. Maybe it’s a virtual platform. Maybe it’s a different way to engage with our customers. Sometimes a company could say internally, our divisions are not sharing their best case scenario, their best insights in the right way. So maybe we need a strategist that allows this company to collaborate, collaborate better internally. Right. So that could be systems.

Jon Tota (06:12):

Yeah. And so in a lot of these cases, like you say, it’s not so much that it’s any one specific industry it’s really based on where you’re at as a business and what your objectives are at this point in your life cycle. And then finding that cultural fit. How are you seeing that those roles are changing or the way that they’re identifying and attracting people are changing? Now they’re having to do this completely virtual and these are roles that are kind of must be hard to identify the fit when you, you never get to put that person in your actual physical space of your company.

Angela Yeh (06:48):

So talk about coronavirus changing this world, right. So rapidly. Immediately I think the first go-to for so many companies was the discussion. Should we go virtual? And do we, how do we connect with our customers now on a digital level? So, so much of this was user experience. It’s more logistical tactical, but then as you start to work with the company, you start to have those conversations. You realize, you know, even beyond the fact of having to now connect with our customers on a digital virtual level, now we have to think about, are your product, is your product, even what they need this, you know, the world’s value systems have changed is this product, even, you know, w what they’re looking for, right? If you’re, let’s say in the fashion world or event planning, you know, if that’s not of interest right now, and, and the goals have changed, then it’s about looking at what are you producing and is this even worth continuing to produce this? What do we need to add on and shift? Right. I think of Lulu Lemon acquiring I’m blanking on the product.

Jon Tota (07:58):

Yeah, Mirror.

Angela Yeh (07:59):

Yeah. So thinking about, what do you need to do to, to do acquire something? Do you have to look at your product line and say, what do we need to develop that will suit the new value systems of our customers? Right. So that’s a bit more of a service design strategist versus just, you know, a UX, a team of UX professionals, right.

Jon Tota (08:19):

What are you hearing from your clients? Because it’s all of these creative and innovation type roles. What are they struggling with right now where they’re having to do so much of this remotely with teams that are not able to come together and do that brainstorming collaboration meeting in person, or are your clients struggling with that? Are they finding ways to adapt to it and still encourage the creativity that they need in those, those types of roles?

Angela Yeh (08:47):

For years, creative professionals have understood that they were able to do this. Most creative professionals we talk to have always asked for some kind of quality of life you know, work-life balance, and being able to prove and validate their ability to perform and deliver results, even on a virtual level. So this I have to say this pandemic was godsend for so many professionals on a quality of life work-life balance. Certainly there’s not everybody is as adept to this and many have learned to, you know, because of what’s going on now everybody’s learning to adapt to it, but this is something I think the creative industry has been very comfortable with.

Angela Yeh (09:32):

This was more of a notion that employers, I think really needed to wrap their heads around. But obviously there’s different things you’re going to need to do if we’re going to be working collaboratively online, you know, there’s a lot more, you need to dedicate time to ensure that you’re connecting with your teams. You know, you don’t have that impromptu moment at the water cooler, right. Proverbial water cooler. So you need to bake that time in and to connect right. To connect with people. Yeah, so that’s really on an employer side, but on the talent side, there’s, you know, you get to now balance your time a little bit more. It’s really fascinating – the data and the research actually showing that people can actually be more productive if they can, if you give them that flexibility to say, look, there is an initiative and an objective, here’s the deadline. You execute this the way you need to.

Jon Tota (10:27):

Yeah. It’s interesting. It’s a really interesting perspective on it because you see it from both sides, is that particularly in the creative industries, it’s like we wanted this all along. Do most of your best work when you’re alone. And now it’s like companies finally realize, Oh, okay. We can let them ideate on their own and figure out, and then bring them together virtually and everyone, everyone could still get the job done. So, and that brings up an interesting topic, because I know from knowing you for a while, I know you’ve made a lot of your business and grown your, your entrepreneurial side of your business by working for these large companies. But I think your passion has always been working with the individuals, the professionals, the talent, and helping them to navigate their career. And that’s what you really focused on with Thrive by Design. Tell us a little bit about that. That’s really been where you’ve been heading all along is to actually work with the individuals and evolve their career both personally and professionally, right?

Angela Yeh (11:27):

Yeah. And, you know, it’s, it’s interesting how it’s come full circle, you know, being in this space and having a very unique expertise around change agents, let’s say. And let me talk about working with creatives. Let me clarify that when we talk about working with creatives, we’re talking about anyone who is aware of their ability, their gift, their expertise, and being aware of how they’re adjusting it you know, transforming their capability, whether you are, you know, whether it’s in design, which is where we started. But beyond design, we’ve worked with people who’ve been in the startup world, law business are counting it’s someone who’s ready to shift their expertise, you know, shifting your expertise to say, just moving up to the next level from, let’s say the design VP to a SVP is a simple thing because it’s just the next step up, but let’s say you’re, you’ve been working in your industry for so long, and you’re just realizing for some reason, you’re no longer, it’s not fulfilling you anymore.

Angela Yeh (12:32):

So there’s a massive shift that shift that needs to happen. Is it shifting to a different industry and even harder, it would be shifting to an altogether different profession. You know, what of your skills are viable in that new space? Which new world do you pivot into? The fascinating thing is that this began when we started working with employers working with employers, let’s say there’s a, you know, a story where we have one John, one corporation where the number two within this division of design and innovation, they love this gentlemen. He loved the con the corporation. He wanted to stay, but they could already tell that something was slowly amiss, you know, something wasn’t connecting and working with this individual, for this corporation, we help them realize that this individual, it was time for him to shift on to building something altogether different.

Angela Yeh (13:26):

Could we find something for him within the company, a new initiative to stretch his wings, let’s say, right. And they realized together the company and the individual that what he needed to build was something that the company didn’t have. Right? So that kind of transparent clarity that an employer can have with, you know, a senior executive being able to work with him and move him onto the next step, that kind of transparency and mutual win-win is just something that not a lot of companies have that kind of clarity to have that conversation and go through that process. But by them doing this, everybody else in the company started to see this company in a different way. You know what I mean, word got out. People started saying this kind of company, not only are, they’re asking for the best from us, but they’re being cognizant of our shifts are where if we’re wanting to evolve some of the most high potential lights, multi potential, it’s highly talented individuals that move rapidly. If you want to capture that top talent, you’ve got to be cognizant of their shift and being open to that.

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Jon Tota (15:26):

I think that’s one of the things, and I would imagine it’s in all roles, but particularly for a creative professional to know that the company that you’re at is looking to put you in different positions, where you’re going to thrive professionally, where you’re going to learn more, where you’re going to move your unique talents to a new level, because as soon as you feel like you’ve hit a creative wall and you’re not creating anything great or anything of impact, right. That must be one of the hardest things for some of the people you’re working with the deal with when they find like they’ve hit a wall like that.

Angela Yeh (15:58):

Yes. Yes. So let me just say that right now, the irony of this situation right now, we’re looking at millions of millions of people who are unemployed. First off, the assumption is that it’s buyer’s market- Employers or have their pick, but what happens during, you know, and this has happened in 2008 and 2000, when there is a massive drop in an economic you know, downfall, fewer people are going to be able to evolve their skill and their talent. So employers are going to now compete for the best of the best, and it’s going to be hard for them to retain. So the shift of conversation in the companies that we’re working with that have seen that pattern already are saying, wow, what do we, you know, it’s, it’s interesting many companies right now are cutting down on culture oriented initiatives. And yet the companies that are fully aware of these trends from before are saying, where do we double down on culture so that the best of the best want to stay here? And we attract the best.

Jon Tota (17:03):

It’s interesting. So you’re saying right now, because it’s almost like the, the workforce is tightening up a little bit. So you need to be the best of the best, because the best companies are only looking for the top talent out there, and then to retain that talent and keep them from moving, the differentiator in a lot of cases, it’s not going to be money. It’s not going to be, you know, w you know, career advancement at that level. It’s really, do you have the right culture? Do you have that environment people want to be a part of?

Angela Yeh (17:36):

Yes, absolutely. And by the way you said keep right. You can’t keep someone anymore, right? There are no fences. This is about community. This is about culture as a community, that talent to stay there because they know the corporation has the same value systems. Talk about a shift. I mean, right now, more than ever, it’s been going on for the last 10 years. But if you’ve noticed people now care about, you know, as consumers people pay where, you know, they, they prove what they support by what they buy. But as talent, people are now, I mean, I’ve had so many talented you know, change agents, executives, where corporations will say, why don’t they come here? And the, this is where the talent will turn around and say, they don’t have, they say they have, you know, beer and ping pong tables. That’s not enough. Right.

Jon Tota (18:32):

That used to be it, right.

Angela Yeh (18:33):

Yeah. That used to be it, but the bar has risen, right? So there’s a lot of people where they are now going to, they’re gonna step away and saying, you know what, I’m going to save my time to support a company that has the same value systems that I have. And it’s so many times I’ve seen, you know, corporate executive team saying, wait, he was at this famous company, you know, and why is he now choosing to work with a startup instead of this massive conglomerate? We can offer more money. It’s not about money. It, you know what I mean? It’s, it is about, there’s a higher level of awareness. And on the inverse, what we started to realize, you know, you’re right. And when we talk about Yeh Ideology, we work with employers and understanding talent and how to develop that culture, where the top talent want to be a part of that conversation and lead at all levels. Right? The other side of that conversation is where we meet people who are change agents, and they’re evolving so rapidly. How do we help them validate which opportunities are going to help them shift their career and evolve them even faster?

Jon Tota (19:41):

I feel like it was one of the things you talk about is helping people figure out these career pivots, and maybe you’re a creative that could fit in a different industry or a different role in your industry. What’s the first step for you, with the individuals, the professionals you work with to identify I’m ready for a change, or I’m ready to at least look at something different, whether it’s changing their role, changing their industry, whatever it might be? How do you, how do you start that process with someone?

Angela Yeh (20:11):

I think the first step for people is to start to realize if they’re, you know, regardless of being successful, whether it’s financial, whether it’s status, whether it’s building a body of expertise, if you’re starting to notice, I mean, this is, I think this is where our clients start to come to us and, and start to engage with us on this conversation where they’re saying I’m successful on a variety of these levels. And, you know, I keep bringing value. I’ve brought, you know, shifted a company, millions, billions of dollars. And yet for me doing this again is not feeling me, what am I missing? And for people to have that self-awareness, when they’re to notice whatever they’re developing, if that’s not fueling them on an intrinsic level, then there’s something that they’ve grown out of. Right. you know, it’s funny because we’ve been working with professionals who have this level of clarity for years, and it’s incredible how, w we’re now so well positioned to understand all the millions of people who are pivoting today.

Angela Yeh (21:14):

There are a lot of people who have to pivot, but there are even people who, even before the pandemic, they sense that what they were working on, wasn’t feeling them enough. And that does start to affect a person’s career. It starts at putting, you know, your re your satisfaction in what you do affects, or, and particularly the first sign where what you’re doing right now, let’s say if it’s a job, if you’re in a role, let’s say let’s talk about this individual that we were talking about before, you know, a high SVP role, if it’s no longer fueling you intrinsically, and then there’s something else that you need to build on. Some people we can, it’s about looking at that role in a different way, seeing a new skill that you need to learn and master, but in, for some, it might be, you know, taking a completely different departure, right. And the first step is realizing it. So for everybody in anyone who’s listening, if someone has a question with that we have different freebies and tools that, you know, handouts that we give up on our website, you can go to thrivebydesign.today, and you’ll see our different blog articles and the self questionnaires that you can take. So that those are the first steps.

Jon Tota (22:26):

Yeah. I love, I love what you have up on the website. So https://www.thrivebydesign.today. And then in the episode notes, we’ll also put some links in there to some of the resources that Angela offers free to the people she works with, because I think it’s what you’re talking about is so important. It’s that self-awareness of just understanding, you know, like, am I okay with this? Am I being challenged creatively and professionally, or, you know, or is this, or is it something that I just need to go in and talk to the leadership team about and create it here? And right. So there’s always those different paths. And now for the people that you’re working with, how one, what do you have available on the website? I think when they start working with it, you’ve got some online courses and things like that at this point now, too, right?

Angela Yeh (23:10):

Yep. We do. We have online programs where the Thrive By Design program walks an individual through understanding where they thrive, what their innate capabilities are. You know, for us, our logo is a thumbprint because your creativity is so unique to you. We could have, you know literally hundreds of people in the same space, you know, we were talking about UX, but yet each individual, their combination of their gifts are so unique to who they are. And that also means that, you know, all these individuals at the same job opportunities, they would want to look at those in a different perspective, by the way, there is a handout that we have on our site right now, that’s particularly for COVID, because this is not just about listening to intrinsically what fuels your need. You have to look at reality.

Angela Yeh (24:02):

You know, if we’re looking at our interpretation of the Maslow hierarchy, for instance, let’s talk about, you know, the highest level of thinking is to say, what kind of job is going to fuel me intrinsically. But if you’ve got to look at paying the rent, you know, if the, if the industry that you’re in, let’s say entertainment, live entertainment, and that world no longer exists, which of your transferable skills are going to help you have a natural shoe in somewhere else, right? Or what skills do you need to develop in this new world? And we’re talking right now, this is not just for individuals, both on an individual level, but also on the business level. So much is shifting. And you don’t want to, you know, leave it at, Oh yes, we have to change. You know, there are frameworks that we have tools that we have both for talent through our Thrive By Design program, where they can look at themselves individually to say, what of my capabilities are viable for this new world as the world shifts. In fact, the tools that we have, allow them to qualify every type of opportunity, regardless of how this world changes. Same thing for the employer.

Jon Tota (25:12):

That’s so important now, right? Because what you said kind of hits the nail on the head is that you have these creative goals and professional goals, and you want to be able to achieve that, but you also have to be realistic with the world we’re living in now, and what’s available to you and, and make sure you shape your career path around that. So I think that’s, that’s excellent advice. And so for our audience, if they love what you’re saying, they want to keep tabs on you and what you’re talking about, what’s the best social media channels to follow you on?

Angela Yeh (25:39):

Mm we’re. On Instagram and we’re on Facebook. We’re also on LinkedIn, obviously, because LinkedIn is where all the professionals are thinking about not just opportunities, but looking at how do they pivot their career successfully and employers the same thing. Our conversations are there as well on LinkedIn.

Jon Tota (25:57):

Got it. Got it. So look for it, Angela Yeh on Instagram and on LinkedIn. And then is it Thrive By Design? Is that what to look for on Instagram?

Angela Yeh (26:07):

Yes. Yeh Ideology as well, covers both of those topics.

Jon Tota (26:10):

Oh, that’s awesome. Well, Angela, thank you so much for being with us here today because it’s such an important topic. I think there’s so many people in our audience who are going through evolutions in the workforce and in their roles. So super advice today. Thank you for coming on the show.

Angela Yeh (26:25):

You’re welcome. It was an absolute pleasure

Jon Tota (26:28):

For all of our listeners. Thank you for being here each week. As you know, we have a new episode that comes out every Tuesday, so wherever you’re listening, be sure to subscribe, rate us and leave us comments. We’d love to hear from you guys and until our next episode, happy learning!