Geraldine Hogan on Career Moves

Geraldine Hogan - Career Moves

Geraldine Hogan, Esq., retired judge, mediator, and the author of “Career Moves for Teachers and Other Professionals: Strategies for a Successful Job Change,” is a friend and former client of mine. In this episode, she tells her fascinating and inspiring story how she made a major mid-career change and later decided to become a published author.

In this episode you'll learn:

  • what made Geraldine Hogan decide to make a major career change after 11 years
  • how she overcame obstacles and resistance along the way
  • what made her decide to write and publish her book
  • her advice to those who are thinking about making a career change
  • what it really takes to write and publish a book
  • how her life has changed as a result

Sites mentioned in this episode:

“Career Moves for Teachers and Other Professionals: Strategies for a Successful Job Change” by Geraldine Hogan, Esq.

“See You at the Top” by Zig Ziglar

Geraldine's website: https://geraldinehogan.com

“Write Your Book in a Weekend” https://coachcandaceduff.com/bookwritingweekend

Master Your Book Program. Apply for book coaching with Candace Duff https://candaceduff.as.me/apply

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Episode 20 Transcript: Geraldine Hogan on Career Moves

Candace:

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

Geraldine:

I like you said, I'm an attorney. I was a judge and I currently work as a private mediator, primarily mediating workers' compensation cases. Prior to law school. I worked as a public school teacher for about 11 years in Gainesville, Florida, and then I decided to make a career move. And I went to law school at the University of Florida. U\O ultimately moved to Miami, Florida where I currently live to start my legal career. That's kind of my life in a nutshell, my work life.

Candace:

Got it. So what made you decide to change from being a school teacher of 11 years to becoming a lawyer?

Geraldine:

After teaching for about nine years? I started to, maybe even before that, I realized that I did not want to continue to teach as I got older and I started to consider making a career move. I was talking to the custodian at our school one day and he made a car. He asked how long I had to work until I could retire. And when I realized that it would be approximately three more decades, I knew that I would not physically have the physical or emotional energy to continue teaching. So I started to consider making a career move. I talked to people who were doing different things. I also applied for and received a position as a resource teacher, working with the pre-K program in Alachua County. And during that whole process, I was called to jury duty.  As a juror, I started to watch with the attorneys were doing and I thought: “I could do that.” And the longer I watched them, the more I thought I could really do that. So after serving on jury duty, I started talking to a few people that I knew who were in law school or who were practicing attorneys and I said I wanted to try it and just see how it turns out. And that's what I did.

Candace:

So you're married, right?

Geraldine:

Yes. I've been married for 40 years.

Candace:

Oh, that's amazing. So how did he take your decision to go ahead and make such a radical change in careers?

Geraldine:

Yeah, let me see. I can't say that he was excited. He was wondering, how are we going to do it? How could I stop working? And, you know, at that point we had been married for, I can't remember probably, well over 10 years, maybe 11 or 12 years, we had been married. So I knew that financially we had already incurred financial expenses. So he was concerned how we were going to make it financially. And I just said, don't worry, I'll apply. I probably won't get in. You just apply first. And then after I was accepted, I thought, well, I must've been accepted for a reason. So let's just take it one step at a time. And that's how I kind of approached it with him because he was always worrying, okay, what if we don't make money? What if we don't have enough money to pay our bills? And it worked out. We were able to meet our financial obligations and I was able to make the career change.

Candace:

How did you decide which law school to go to, where to apply and things like that?

Geraldine:

When I decided to apply to law school, I applied to the university of Florida. That was it. I knew that if I did not get accepted into the University of Florida, I probably would not attend law school because I did not want to relocate. At the time I had been living there for a while. We had bought a townhouse there where we were living and I just did not want to make that big of a move. So for me, it was the University of Florida or I would not attend.

Candace:

How did you end up in South Florida?

Geraldine:

My first job was at the State Attorney's office in Miami, Florida at the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office. I applied while during my senior year and they accepted me before I took the bar exam. And I thought in studying for the bar, you're an attorney too. So you, I don't know if you can relate to this, but while studying for the bar, I was thinking I may not pass this thing. So, and they offered me a job before I, before I got my results. I had taken the bar. They offered it before I took the bar. Then I was studying one night and I said, you know, I might better just accept this because at least I'll have a few months to practice before the results come in. And that's kind of what I made the decision to do because I was thinking, this is really hard. I don't know about you, but for me, studying for the bar and going through that preparation was not easy. Fortunately, I did pass the first time and I was able to stay in South Florida and continue working as an attorney. But basically, I could not believe that they were making me that offer before I even took the exam. So that's kind of like started,

Candace:

I can totally relate. I remember when the bar results came in and most people had like husbands or wives or mothers and fathers at home – I lived on my own, you know – who could open up the envelope and tell them whether or not they had passed. I drove home like a maniac. I don't even know how fast just to be able to open that envelope. And I was really happy to see the results believe me.

Geraldine:

Definitely. Definitely.

Candace:

Yeah. All right. So then you eventually moved from the state attorney's office because you became a judge at some point. So how did that happen?

Geraldine:

I worked at the state attorney's office for a year and then I decided to leave practice as a prosecutor. And I started looking for other options. And I, I was thinking actually at the time about what area of law could I practice where there would always be work. That kind of was my process in doing criminal law. And I thought about employment law and workers' compensation. And I decided to join the workers' comp section of the Florida bar and the employment law section of the Florida bar. And I started attending a few CLE’s and getting the nutshell books in those two areas. And I started sending applications to firms that practice workers' comp and employment law. And I said, whichever one I get the job with first is the area that I will specialize in. And after getting a job in workers' comp, I really, really loved it. Oh my goodness, I really enjoyed it. And so I just kind of decided to make that my niche and it's been my niche. I practiced first, I practiced with an insurance defense firm. I spent several years working with a sole practitioner who represented injured workers. And then I spent three years with the City of Miami litigating their workers' compensation. That was before I became a judge.

Candace:

Wow. That's amazing. You know, when you talk about your career path and when you talk about all the changes that you've made in your life, one of the things I'm really struck by is your confidence. Your confidence and also how methodical you were in the choices that you made.  I think that's something a lot of us can learn from you.  What helped you to be so confident that you could become a lawyer and that you could switch over to a different area of law and then ultimately become a judge. What helped you with that?

Geraldine:

One of the things that helped me – I never thought of it that way. It's interesting that you mentioned it as confidence. I don't feel confident. Everything that I do, every change that I make, I do it – I'm afraid. I know that there's a possibility that I may not succeed, that I may fail. And that's okay. I think one of the things I started doing was reading personal growth books. I remember the first book. I think the first one I read was six. Ziglar's “See You at the Top.” It was actually a book that someone had given my husband and I, you know, at the time I was reading romance novels or books, I would read books for entertainment. And once I read, “See You at the Top,” I just started reading one personal growth and development book after the other. And I started, I started to realize that if I set a goal, create a plan and I take steps to reach that particular goal, then my chances of succeeding would be great. And even if I don't succeed, I think once I got over the feeling of being okay with failure, knowing that if I don't succeed, I'm not going to die. It's not going to kill me. It's not like I'm making choices where I'm going to do something that will physically injure me. I'm just trying to move forward in my profession and whatever I decide to do as a profession, I don't have to have that fear. I don't have to have that. I mean, I have the fear, but I don't have to give into the fear. You just try. And that, that's what I try to tell people.

Candace:

Excellent. All right. So what made you decide to write a book?

Geraldine:

I had so many people ask me the question: “How did you change careers? Like how did you go from being a teacher to a lawyer?” And I taught elementary school. I didn't teach high school. A lot of people, when I tell people I taught public school, they're like: “Oh, did you teach government, you know, American history or, you know, something in high school?” And I said: “No. I taught kindergarten and first grade and second grade and then preschool.” So, no, I did not. I, I heard so many people tell me that they really wanted to change careers, but they were, they didn't know what to do. And I thought, you know, let me just try to write a book that is kind of not a lengthy book, but something that people could read quickly in hopes of motivating them to know that if it's time for you to make a career move, make a decision to change and do it.

And that was the reason I basically decided to write the book. And since writing the book, I've had people contact me and actually say they really want to make a career change. I've talked to teachers who have actually broken down and cried because they wanted to make a career move, but they just were afraid to take the first step. So I know reading is what helped me get over that hurdle. Not that I was, I didn't think it was as big a hurdle for me as it is for some people, especially today, but it's what helped me. And I want it to help other people to do the same.

Candace:

All right. So how did you go about writing a book? I mean, a lot of people want to write a book and nobody knows where to start. How did you figure out where to start?

Geraldine:

Well, I actually started by making notes. Like I would have an idea and then I would think: ”Oh, I might write a book one day. I want to put this in there.” And at some point I realized I had notes and sheets of paper everywhere. I had no structure. I had no, it was like a designer, but I had no plan. And so someone introduced me to you Candace, and they suggested that you might be a person who can help me with writing a book. And so having a book coach help not only gave me structure for writing the book, but you gave me some tips of things that I didn't really consider, like looking on Amazon to see what books have been written in my particular field or my particular interests. And then coming up with a plan and holding me accountable for actually following through with that plan and talking with you and helping me to stay on track.

So I don't want to say that you kind of held my feet to the fire, but for lack of a better way of explaining it, it actually helped me to get the book done. So I would say for me, having someone hold me accountable, helping me to create a plan and then making sure that I followed through on what I said that I'm going to do and then actually doing it. I think that was biggest help because I did. I think a lot of people say they want to write a book and they will start, like I did just, making notes. And then one day I'm cleaning out a box of papers and I said: “oh, I remember making these notes for my book.” and you know, no order, no structure, nothing. And so having someone help provide structure was perhaps the best thing that happened to actually help me, to help me get the book done.

Candace:

Oh, thank you. And now you get to hold your book in your hands. Let's see it.  How did you pick the cover?

Geraldine:

I actually had someone work with me on the cover. I had a friend who knew someone who did book design covers, and she gave me a few samples to look at. And I really liked the colors of the book. And I just, I thought I’ll go with that.

Candace:

They're really nice colors. So, since writing the book, how has your life changed? Has it changed in any way?

Geraldine:

My life has been changing over the past year anyway. I've gone through a lot of changes. I retired. I started a mediation practice and I think one of the things that that has happened since I've written the book, I've had the opportunity to talk to people who are interested in making a career move and just try to encourage them to take that step and to do that.

Candace:

So, what's next on the horizon for you?

Geraldine:

The next one I'm working on now is trying to develop a course. Hopefully, it will be an online course to coincide with the book. I want to expand my target audience to include more than just teachers. The book is not only for teachers. I was focusing on teachers as I wrote the book, but I've had the opportunity to talk to several people who are considering making a career move. And the interesting thing is, as a mediator, I have an opportunity to, I only mediate cases where people have been injured at work, and oftentimes they cannot return to the job that they were performing at the time of their work-related accident. So I have an opportunity to share. I never say buy my book, but I do share those concepts with them during the mediation process, because oftentimes people will tell me I've been doing this for 10 years or 15 years, and I don't know what else to do. And I encourage them. You know, there are other things that you can do. So I want to broaden my audience to help people who are in the midst of making a career move and helping them to do something.

Candace:

Now, what advice would you give to someone who wants to write and publish a book?

Geraldine:

I would find someone who's done what you want to do and ask for help. I would recommend a coach. I will say the first thing that a person needs to realize is that it's easier if you have help along the way. Trying to do it on your own, I would not suggest it because you – someone said to me one time: “You know what? You don't know what you don't know.” And I think, in the publishing industry, especially if you decide to self-publish a book, I think that there are just so many things that you don't know and you're not aware of. And it helps to have someone to provide you with that information and to try to guide you along the way. I think a lot of people think that it’s doesn’t seem like such a big deal. When you look at a book that's actually been written and published and you look at it and it's like: “Oh, I could do that.” But going through the process is different. It's not as easy as it seems. And having someone help you along the way. It's definitely better.

Candace:

All right. Now, where can we find you and your book?

Geraldine:

You can find my book on Amazon. You can find me at https://geraldinehogan.com.  

Candace:

Alright. Thank you so much for being here with us today. I really appreciate it.

Geraldine:

Thank you. My pleasure.

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