Your Success is THIS Dietitian’s Business!


Your Success is THIS Dietitian’s Business!

template-bannerimage-article Jean Caton copy

PROLOGUE:
Although I haven’t met Jean in person (yet), I’ve heard about her through word of mouth, especially the NE DPG.  I also heard that her presentation at FNCE 2012 in Philly about six-figure careers in dietetics was very well received (I was disappointed that I had to miss it but I was at my booth in the Member Product MarketPlace)!  After FNCE I attended one of her free teleclasses and decided I wanted her to be MY business coach.

MELISSA:
Jean, how did you become interested in a career in nutrition, and how long have you been an RD?  Also tell me a little bit about your nutrition philosophy – what are you known for?
JEAN:
I have been an RD since 1974!  My career decision??....I loved Chemistry and could live away from home in the dorm if I picked a major that none of the Boston area schools offered.  How’s that for a career strategy.  I really didn’t know much about what an RD did. I don’t recommend this, but it worked out well for me. My RD credential paved the way to some great career opportunities.  As for my nutrition philosophy:  Practical!  Really, really practical habits.  I like to eat simple but healthy meals and offset my appreciation for fine red wine at the gym.  Right now I am into spinning at 5:30 AM three days a week and Zumba once or twice a week.

MELISSA:
Excellent – sounds like you have found some balance as well as some fun!  Well, that is quite a unique career strategy….but I believe things happen for a reason, and that you were meant to be a dietitian.  Tell us a little bit about your work history.
JEAN:
I have relocated several times for my career.  Moving around the country has been a fabulous personal and professional growth opportunity.  I was a workaholic and I loved my 22-year career in corporate America.  However, when staying on my career track meant yet another relocation, I decided it was the right time to release my inner entrepreneur.

MELISSA:
This sounds very interesting – tell us more about your work experience before starting your own biz, The Profitable Woman Coaching and Consulting.
JEAN:
After working 9 years in somewhat traditional RD roles (Clinical Dietitian, Chief Clinical, Education Coordinator, Assistant Director of the Nutrition Department and Internship Director) I began my Corporate America Career.  Armed with a MBA, RD and a whole lot of enthusiasm I accepted a job as a Product Manager in the Hospital Products Division of Baxter International and moved from Boston to Chicago.  This came with about a 50% pay raise and huge expectations.  Loved the job.  Loved Chicago.  Succeeded beyond my dreams.  And then I was lured away by a recruiter to a job in Connecticut.  The two big motivations to leave this dream job were 1) I would be starting up a brand new business in conjunction with a European Join Venture Partner and 2) I would be traveling regularly to the Netherlands as part of my job – plus another big raise and bonus.  To this day – my all-time most exciting and challenging job.  And then the company was sold.  That meant my job, that I loved so much, was now based out of St Louis, MO.  My love of my career overrode my lack of desire to move to a “foreign country” (the conservative midwestern city of Saint Louis, MO). So I took on the challenge.  I proceeded to move up the ladder and take on increasingly more responsibility as a Business Leader with P&L (Profit and Loss) responsibility for millions of dollars of products.  When I landed the “corner office” with the big leather chair, one of the women who worked for me said, “Jean that chair is too big for you.” Yes, it was too big physically, but not at all too big in terms of my ability to do the job.   When that company was sold, I was offered a job back on the East Coast, but turned it down due to the company culture and went to work for a Food Ingredient Company.  After five years as the Director of Health Benefits Communications and facing yet another relocation if I were to continue on my Corporate Career path, I decided it was time to start my own business.  (I had first thought about my own business and even wrote a business plan in graduate school in 1983.  But I was too risk-averse and instead took the more secure route.)  It was 2006 when I launched my first business at that time under the brand ‘My Food Coach’.

MELISSA:
Fascinating!  Can you tell us more about your thoughts and motivations around starting your own biz?
JEAN:
The decision to become a professional coach was based on two things: 1) coaching and mentoring women to achieve their greatest potential is who I am – it is my purpose, and 2) the business model of a coach and speaker was suited to the flexible, independent lifestyle I wanted.  So here I am, sharing my knowledge and wisdom with other women – from the stage as a speaker, and one-to-one as a Business Woman’s Coach.  Throughout my personally rewarding and financially successful career all I have done is continue to ask “what’s next?” and then seizing the opportunity (somewhat fearlessly) to grow and advance.  Hmmm.  What’s next?

MELISSA:
What an inspiring and exciting background!  No wonder you are business coaching others after all your incredible experience!   It’s so interesting to see how your career evolved over the years.  What is your current biz/client focus and what do you find most fulfilling?
JEAN:
Making a difference in the lives of others through coaching, mentoring, teaching and especially speaking is personally fulfilling as well as financially rewarding.   My first love is speaking to groups. Five, 50 or 500.  Regardless of the size of the audience or the topic my goal is always to INSPIRE; MOTIVATE; EDUCATION; CALL to ACTION/Challenge.  As a speaker I am there to make a difference in the lives of the participants.  Unlike some speakers, I am not there to be the “sage of the stage” or to entertain. I consider myself a coach who speaks. Not a speaker who coaches. The distinction is subtle but significant.

MELISSA:
Yes, this nuance is incredibly powerful.  When you and I discussed this aspect of my biz, I felt that you confirmed what I felt in my gut – that I was not aspiring to be a keynote speaker, but am using speaking as a way to spread my message, inspire other dietitians to utilize communication skills to get more out of their careers, and to hopefully attract more dietitians to my coaching services.
What other nutrition communications do you specialize in and what do you enjoy most about it?
JEAN:
I blog about once a week, write a monthly newsletter and often write articles both for online sites, DPG newsletters and other publications.  I don’t think of myself as a writer. Rather I am a communicator of inspiration and education.  Calling myself a writer holds me to higher standards of grammar than I want to be bothered with – such as ending sentences with prepositions ?  What I like about writing is once again that I get to INSPIRE; MOTIVATE; EDUCATION; CALL to ACTION/Challenge.

MELISSA:
Oh, I can relate to that – but thank goodness blogging is so conversational that we don’t have to worry as much about grammar or punctuation which really lets us share our unique personalities and “voice”.
What skills or experiences do RDs need to cultivate if they want to build their nutrition biz?  What services do you offer for RDs looking to build their biz?
JEAN:
RDs in general tend to be heavily focused on credentials and clinical expertise.  What is often lacking is the fundamental business and marketing skills and confidence.  Many RDs hang out their shingle and try to do everything on their own.  I get it! I thought my MBA and over 20 years running businesses in corporate America would make running my own business a snap  - I was wrong.  Small service based business is a very different animal.  I found that out through the school of hard knocks and eventually hired a brilliant business and marketing coach who taught me everything I needed to know to be successful.  I now coach and train RDs and other service professionals how to succeed in business. I offer private coaching and group coaching and mentoring programs.

MELISSA:
How interesting.  Based on my experience working with dietitians, I agree that, in general, RDs tend to be more timid when it comes to business.  I think it has a lot to do with our “science” focus whereas business seems more of an “art” to me.
What comes naturally for you and what do you have to work hard on when it comes to your biz?
JEAN:
I am a big picture person. I really don’t like the tedium of details.  I am a natural born leader and introvert and a terrible team player so solo-preneurship is perfect for me - I get to make all the decisions.  I like business strategy and love to think, plan, innovate and create.  I am so not into implementing (that can pose challenges as a solo entrepreneur with a small team).

MELISSA:
Hmmm – maybe that’s why you are so good at business?  I hear this a lot from my colleagues – that as RDs we may tend to get bogged down in the details and doing things “right” that we are afraid to take risks and also stick to our guns.
What is your number one tip for other RDs who want to build their nutrition biz?
JEAN:
You must be seen and be heard and not be afraid of self- promotion.  Remember as a service professional, you are your product. It is you they are buying – their confidence that you can deliver the transformation they want. Everything about you must communicate to them confident, capable expert.  Sometimes the first person you need to sell is yourself.

MELISSA:
I love that advice!  So many dietitians I’ve spoken with are so appreciative of the “permission” to speak up and to go after what they really enjoy!
Please share one story or experience that either taught you a lot or you think would help other RDs.
JEAN:
I think the true pivotal moment in my career was my first big job in the corporate world that I told you about earlier.  I landed that job through the power of networking relationships (a RD colleague in Boston was consulting for a company in Chicago and she recommended me).  For the interview they flew me to Chicago, put me in a limousine and drove me to headquarters. After I landed the job, I packed my bags, sold my condo, moved to the big city and began my job as a Product Manager in the marketing department. The year was 1983.  Who did I think I was? I grew up in the era when women got married or became secretaries, nurses or teachers.  The message: you just have to overcome those self-doubts and believe in yourself.  If you believe you can or can’t…You are right.  Henry Ford.

MELISSA:
So true – our own thoughts and beliefs and labels are so powerful and often times we don’t even think twice about what we are telling ourselves!  I just recently realized I was doing this to myself.  I had always labeled myself as “NOT a runner” – I hated running and didn’t understand how anyone could endure such torture.  Then for many reasons that I call my “midlife experiment” I started running last spring at the age of 43 and ended up completing seven 5K races last summer.  Now I’m training for a 10K this summer.  It’s been so liberating to shed that self-label and limitations I put on myself and I’m confident that it has allowed me to take other risks because I feel more empowered overall.

Stars and Bucks in Bethlehem

I also wanted to ask you about your travel and photography hobbies.  Where have you traveled?
JEAN:
I have traveled to 49 states and about 12 countries. I love serious hiking and educational travel – skip the tourist attractions.  Switzerland is a favorite destination.  I am Irish and English  Loved Ireland and London too.  But those trips were so much less adventurous.  I met a great friend who was Dutch through my work – her company was headquartered in Zoetermeer the Netherlands and I have been their countless times. Wilderness camping in Alaska and travel to Israel and Jordan are also on my top ten list of places I have visited.

Olive oil press

 

 

Oh and also, I have three spoiled cats that are the loves of my life.  Here is one of them...Lily Frecles at the Farmers Market.

EPILOGUE:
Thank you so much to Jean for sharing her story, experience and beautiful photographs!  Do you have any questions for Jean or want to know more about her business?  Please comment below and/or contact Jean through her website.  I’m enjoying working with her and I’m sure you would, too!

Check out Jean's article "If you're in business....You're a speaker"!

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    3 Responses to "Your Success is THIS Dietitian’s Business!"

    • Heidi
      April 24, 2013 - 2:25 pm

      Loved this discussion Melissa. I’m going to contact Jean. Thanks

    • Suzy
      April 25, 2013 - 2:27 am

      Wow, So glad I happened upon your site based on your post on FCP list serve re a position I was not interested in. Have just started working with a life coach to help me “graduate ” from my clinical job. I love to speak and write. My church has been my major outlet of late. Serendipity strikes again! You ladies are both doing great work. Thanks! I may enlist your help in the near future! Suzy

    • admin
      April 25, 2013 - 6:05 pm

      Thanks Heidi and Suzy! I’m so glad you posted your thoughts – that’s what makes this all worthwhile!
      Melissa

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