Allison Task is a career and life coach who helps clients reveal their best selves, moving from insight to action. She has coached thousands of clients over the last 15 years, and sees local clients in her Montclair, NJ office and global clients virtually. She is a speaker, best-selling author and on-camera host.
What Purchase Of $100 Or Less Has Most Positively Impacted Your Life In The Last Six Months?
Mini screwdriver. We moved into a new apartment and my children (6, 7 and 7) love to have fun with the locks on the doors (bedroom, bathroom). It’s the only way I can avoid scaling the walls outside my house.
When You Feel Overwhelmed Or Unfocused, Or Have Lost Your Focus Temporarily, What Do You Do?
Breathe. Where is the breath, follow the breath. Remember, you’re an organism who lives and breathes. Feel my heart beat. Where is the stress in the body? Remember, you’re a person, like other people. This will pass. For now, regain your humanity and life essence.
What Are Bad Recommendations You Hear In Your Profession Or Area Of Expertise?
Worst (and quite common advice): don’t quit your job without a job. Oy! If I had a dime for every well intentioned parent or friend who gave this “age old” wisdom. No, no, no! Some of my clients are in exhausting, dead end jobs. Sadly, we spend most of our time in session talking about how much they hate their job…and their job is yesterday’s news. But unfortunately time and energy that could be spent on the next thing is spent on fighting the debilitating nature of the current thing. Think about this — if your friend was in a bad relationship, would you counsel them not to leave until they had their new love interest? I know, I know — there’s money. And I get that. So take an inventory, figure out how much money you need to get through this period. Admittedly, this is tough if you have responsibility for a family or mortgage, but in most instances, we can do with less than we think. And if dropping that dead end job frees up mental space without creating untenable fiscal stress, then do it.
In The Last Five Years, What New Belief, Behavior, Or Habit Has Most Improved Your Life?
Prioritizing my family. I’ve always been a high achiever, did well in school, published cookbooks, even hosted a couple of TV shows. I started my family about 8 years ago, in my 40s. Having children later in life let me have the perspective that THIS is exactly what I want to be doing now. This is the most important thing. My work, is wonderful, and I want more balance between my family life and career. To this point, there was no family, so I could wholly focus on career. I really reoriented when I had children. For the first few years I kind of tried to balance an accelerated career with children and then I yielded. I run my own business, I absolutely love it, and weekends are sacrosanct as family time. You won’t see me too much on social media. My energy goes to my clients and my family. It’s simple, clean and clear, and I think makes me a better parent and a better professional.
What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?
Getting great office space. Ironically, I moved into a new fabulous, large office on March 1, 2020, just 2 weeks before the US shut down for the pandemic. Many coaches operate virtually, on the phone or in coffee shops. This is serious business; not a flakey Starbucks chat. By investing in my office, and designing a space that would foster thinking and creativity, my clients know I mean business. I don’t know any other coaches who have invested in a premium space for their clients; my space was designed a cerebral playground that supports innovation and creativity.
Do That Thing You've Always Wanted To Do.
What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”?
You can definitely ignore that you need to have it all figured out as you enter the real world. Bullocks! Spend your 20s experimenting, traveling, couch surfing. If you need proof that this works, look no further than Steve Jobs. Don’t live off your parents; pay your own way, but don’t think you can possibly know what you want after 16 years of straight school. Go out in the world and live a little. Figure out how you want to contribute to the world, and go easy on the booze and drugs. Get your highs from the choices you make in life — the people you help, the relationships you have, the moments you choose to focus on.
What Careers Advice Would You Give To Your 21-Year Old Self?
See above. Have adventures in your 20s. Say yes, travel. Recognize you’re in a pretty misogynistic culture (hey, this was 30 years ago), and don’t let the execs objectify you. Know your capabilities, and trust your gut. You have great instincts for the impact you can make on this world; and impact you shall.
What is the most common mistake you see people make when applying for a job?
The most common mistake is when people make it about themselves. “What I’m looking for…at your company I could…” Oy! To much navel gazing, even in the cover letters. Remember, you’re selling yourself. You’re the waiter, not the diner. They are determining if they want to hire you. I know, it goes both ways, but when you are trying to woo a company, try to make it about them and the way you can serve THEM.
What is the most surprising thing you've ever seen in a resume?
A sexy photo for a business job. Sometimes people put photos on resumes; it can be inviting, help someone look/feel like a person, not a page. But this is NOT the place for sexy (unless that’s the job). And in this case, it wasn’t.
Can you give us your most important formatting tips?
Leave white space.
How does your resume advice change from a 20 year old to a 50 year old?
20 year olds tend to overstate while 50 year olds tend to understate. I think it’s important to flip that. Also, whenever possible (across the board). show IMPACT. Show NUMBERS, show your measurable accomplishments.