Kathleen Brady, PCC is a career/life transition and well-being coach and professional writer. She is the Managing Director and Head of Coaching at Preferred Transition Resources, a boutique firm providing career/life transition and wellness services with a specialty in the legal and compliance sectors. Kathleen provides transition/outplacement services, professional development, wellness, and leadership coaching and offers support to help individuals clarify their goals, mobilize their energy through effective self-care and develop action plans to achieve career/life objectives to live life as they choose.
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
My childhood was extraordinarily ordinary. I grew up in a middle-class Irish/Italian neighborhood in New Jersey, surrounded by lots of kids from similar backgrounds. I was a good student, reasonably “popular” and happy. No real trauma to speak of. My parents were close to their siblings so my 2 sisters and I grew up with our cousins and big family parties, events, and vacations. We were mostly girls, so I never experienced any gender issues growing up. I’ve often wondered if that would have been different if I had brothers. We were not rich but any standards, but we never wanted for anything.
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
I wish I would have lived my faith more consciously. I feel like I was always on the periphery…curious and intrigued, by always questioning and doubting. It wasn’t until my mid-40’s that it became more integrated into my life.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
I try not to be too judgmental because what’s bad for someone but be exactly right for someone else. Any advice that begins with ‘you should always’, or ‘you must never’ is probably bad advice. Always consider the source before you accept the recommendations of any purported ‘expert.’ The truth is, we are all just trying to figure it out.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
Attending Social Work School was a very dark period of my life, primarily because I think I went to the wrong school. Social work is more emotional than intellectual; it requires reflecting on own ideas and values…which were very different from those held by some of my classmates and professors. None of it resonated with me. I remember feeling the weight of the world being lifted from my shoulders when I decided to quit halfway through the program. Oddly enough, it didn’t feel like a failure… it felt quite freeing because it allowed me to explore the unknown possibilities and led me down the path to ultimately become a career/life management coach. Sometimes you have to allow yourself to fail in order to succeed.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
Attending Fordham University. Pretty much everything good in my career can find its roots in my tenure at Fordham and my ongoing relationship with the University. My education, my friends, my career at Fordham Law School… all continue to impact my (mostly!) positive approach to life.
What is your morning routine?
I typically get up around 6 am and, weather permitting, go for a walk on the beach. Watching the sunrise, when the world is still, helps sets the tone for the day. I then come home, grab a cup of coffee and read the Gospel in my Daily Roman Missal. I also listen to the 3-minute video on Formed each day to hear Dr. Tim Gray’s reflections on the readings and read Bishop Barron’s email reflection. I then open my Bible to a random page and practice a quick and dirty version of Lectio Divina to hear God’s message for the day. I then make a second cup of coffee, have breakfast, and watch the news for 30 minutes or so before beginning my workday.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
I think attending Mass regularly and my morning prayer ritual has most improved my life. It sets the tone and allows me to feel God’s presence as I tackle some of the issues of the secular world.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
As I learned from Matthew Kelly, your life needs to have a rhythm to it. I have “transition points” throughout the day that keep my life running smoothly. I get up the same time every day…I eat meals at the same time…I go to bed at the same time. These anchors provide a framework for accomplishing a variety of tasks, while at the same offering a great deal of flexibility. I also am a big believer in to-do lists and calendars. You also have to know when to stop working. Sometimes the most productive thing to do is turn off your computer, get a good night’s sleep and, God willing, pick up again tomorrow.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
The Rhythm of Life by Matthew Kelly had a profound impact on me. There are so many nuggets of wisdom in there about how to live your best life. I also love his newest book The Culture Solution. It offers similar wisdom for corporations to help them become the best versions of themselves too. I also love the Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. It’s a great reminder that we only know what people show us. There is always so much more going on under the surface. Switch by Chip and Dan Heath and Mindset by Carol Dweck also influenced how I approach my work. And, I read Scriptures on a daily basis.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
I have 7! I call them my life rules and use them to live intentionally.
Be kind to others (and myself).
Be honest and direct – even when it is uncomfortable.
Remember there are 3 sides to every story/situation.
Always go for the laugh.
If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Everything is possible…if you are willing to pay the price.
I can honestly say, when I honor my rules, I am at peace. But, like most rules, it is easy to be tempted to break them. For example, it can be really hard to be kind to some people! And, it is usually easier to avoid an uncomfortable conversation with a friend or colleague than it is to be honest and direct. Yet I have learned, when I break one of my rules, I experience greater discomfort. It means I have allowed an external person or event to control my behavior. These rules keep me grounded.