Neha O’Rourke and I met simply by chance towards the end of 2018, all thanks to a simple DM on the ‘gram. When we officially met in-person, as corny as it is, I felt like I was meeting my soul sister. We connected on so many levels right away and found that we had a lot in common in terms of our career path, our goals and our values. After finding out Neha’s goal to become a career coach and start her own business, I was beyond impressed. And as I have gotten to know her better over the last few months, I know in my heart that Neha becoming a coach was something she was truly destined for. Neha is hands down the most understanding and supportive person I have ever met.
Neha is now the Founder and Career Coach at Somewhere In Between Coaching, LLC. She’s incredibly passionate about helping women who feel unfulfilled or burned out in their careers and want to make that career change. She believes that each of us has a purpose in this world and she wants every woman to live it to their fullest. Her coaching encourages women to design a career they love so they can live their life on their own terms, while doing the things that make them happy.
Outside of working on her business, you can usually find Neha on a quest to discover the new local coffee shop, blogging about multicultural topics or exploring various fitness studios around Chicago. Read on for our interview to discover Neha’s story and get to know her the way I have – real, down to earth and downright inspiring.
KN: So, so happy to have you a part of this series, Neha! Can you share with my audience a bit how your journey as a professional has been and what got you into career coaching?
Neha O’Rourke: Absolutely. My journey is one I think many women can relate to, especially for those daydreaming of a career change. I started my career in advertising and loved it at first. I worked at some of the top agencies, with some of the best brands (Target, Kraft, Nestlé), got promoted quickly based on my performance, made good money and was on the path of what society deems “successful.” However, after a few years, I started to feel unhappy, unfulfilled and in “survival mode” with my career.
I was working 60-80 hour weeks, had 12 bosses in 4 years, was a slave to my email, never made it to the gym and was eating frozen meals because I didn’t make the time to cook. I rarely saw my friends and family because when I did have free time, I wanted to sit at home on the couch watching Netflix until it shamed me. Needless to say, I allowed my career to suck the life out of me. It had become my entire life and I had lost sight of who I was and what was important to me.
Although my tank was on “E,” I kept going because I loved the people I worked with, I was challenged and I thought I was doing what I was “supposed” to be doing. However, at one point my body started to shut down from this lifestyle. I hit my burnout and knew something needed to change. I quit my job with one goal in mind: prioritize my well-being and figure out how to design my life around the things that make me happy. It was a terrifying feeling because for the first time in my life, I didn’t have a path to follow.
Due to my circumstance, I had a burning desire to figure out how to design a career around the life I wanted personally and professionally. I listened to a nauseating amount of podcasts, books, attended seminars, watched YouTube videos, interviewed people, etc. During this time, I also decided to start my blog “Somewhere in Between” because I realized most of us at some point in our lives have felt in between in some aspect of our lives. More often than not, when we’re in an undefined “between” place, we are labelled as confused, in crisis or merely an outsider. I wanted to change that stigma.
I started the blog to instead celebrate the “in between.” It became a place to share unique experiences that encouraged women to embrace and help navigate the in between. From first generation experiences and multicultural relationships to career changes, it became an inclusive and supportive place for all the things in between. While blogging during my self-discovery career change journey and speaking to many of my readers, I realized there are so many amazing women who are burned out or unfulfilled in their careers. I knew I was not the only one with this feeling.
It became my mission to figure out how to design a career around the life I wanted personally and professionally. Through a lot of trial and error in my own discovery paired with getting trained by one of the best coaching programs, I finally cracked the code! I figured out how to make a career change and design a career you love, that includes personal priorities. Thus my coaching business, Somewhere In Between Coaching, LLC, was born.
If you’re interested in reading more about my career journey, I did a three part series detailing the experience here:
- Part 1: My Burnout
- Part 2: Learning the Prevalence of Career Change Dreamers
- Part 3: I Cracked the Code to Design a Career You Love
KN: I am so impressed how you just quit your corporate job and ran with your inner feeling and drive to seek out something better suited to you and your life goals. Since doing that, how have you gone about building your business as a career coach?
NO: I was fortunate that I came from an advertising background, so I was able to start my business with the right questions and business plan. However, I had never been a business owner so there were still many things I had no clue about. How do I legally setup my business? How do I approach my taxes? What are the tools I need? Google became my best friend! Outside of the formal business side of things, I spent hours pouring my passion into the creative side, networking with like-minded women and continuing to learn. Although I was spending a lot of time on my business, it didn’t feel like work because it was something I was really passionate about.
One thing that I think really helped my in the setup was being selective in everything I did. Rather than chasing the sexier or quick paying opportunities, I made sure every event, financial decision, partnership and piece of content was serving my larger purpose. I turned down multiple paid opportunities because I felt they did not align with what I was trying to accomplish. Although it was a tough decision in the moment, looking back, I’m so glad I stayed true to my brand.
If you’re building a business, my biggest piece of advice would be not to get distracted by shiny opportunities. Always stick to your mission and do what’s right for what you’re trying to accomplish, not just the easy or sexy thing.
KN: Sooo true! It’s easy to get caught up in all of that. Through everything, what has been the most rewarding and most challenging part of starting and running your own business?
NO: There have been so many rewarding things, but the one that stands out the most is being able to directly impact the women I work with by creating a safe space and empowering them to design a life and career they adore! And I would say the most challenging part of running my own business is being responsible for every aspect of it. If I don’t do something, it doesn’t get done. But I also love being able to touch every aspect of the business, so it’s a great challenge to have.
KN: I agree! And what do you love most about what you do?
NO: My absolute favorite thing is being able to help women uncover their purpose and potential. The “aha” moments when they realize they can design their life around the things they love and make money doing it – that’s the best feeling in the world to me! Life is too short to ignore the things you love!
KN: You said it! I’d love to know too – what keeps you motivated?
NO: The idea that at any moment we can make choices to better ourselves and our lives really motivates me. Outside of my career, I’ve been through some personal hardships and thinking about how I made a choice to have a happy ending to my story – that’s what keeps me going. My life could be completely different, but I chose not to be a victim of my adversity.
KN: I love that. It’s all about having that perspective and having an active choice in how you react to certain aspects of your life. With everything you have going on in your life, how do you handle work/life balance?
NO: In my opinion, work life balance is a scam and I actually really dislike that term. It inherently means that work is something bad and that life resumes when you’re done working. We are not one person at work and another in our personal lives. We live in an era where technology has blurred the lines and thus we have to start thinking about how we manage our energy and align our lives in both aspects. I call it “work/life alignment.”
Aligning to me means giving support to your life and bringing all aspects of your life together in agreement. When you align, you are working towards something you love and you make time for rest, relationships and a healthy lifestyle. It means if I’m feeling tired from a long day of work, I give myself permission to rest and resume work once I’ve done so. It’s not a clear 50/50 split, but rather be in tune with what our mind/body needs for sustainable success. Aligning gives you the room to enjoy the journey, not just the destination. If you want to learn more about my view on alignment, you can read more here.
KN: I can really appreciate that and agree on the whole ‘alignment’ versus balance. Can I ask what you would credit your success to?
NO: Oh man, so many things and people! If I had to narrow it down, I would say: my community, perseverance, faith and understanding my worth.
- My community: I would not be where I am today without certain people in my life cheering me on when I was vulnerable, supporting me in my leap of faith, taking a chance on me with my business and rallying as a kickass community to support one another (including you, Kelly)! I’m a huge believer in the idea that we rise by lifting others and cultivating community over competition.
- Perseverance: As I alluded to earlier, I’ve had some serious hardships in my life, but they’ve taught me the power of perseverance. No one on this earth goes unscathed and it’s important to make your adversity your fuel. Growing up, my dad always told me, “someone has it worse than you” and that has always stuck with me. The second I find myself feeling defeated, I remember there are people who have it so much worse. One thing that helped me with this perspective was being fortunate enough to visit India a lot growing up. At a young age, I saw children living in slums, without food or running water – all of that puts life into perspective. We have so much to be grateful for. Never let your adversity become your inhibitor.
- Faith: I actually don’t identify with a religion, but I have a strong sense of faith. You can call it God, the universe or energy, but I have faith in something higher than myself. This has helped me through some of the hardest times in my life and has also manifested in incredible ways as I’ve started my business.
- Understanding my worth: As a recovering people pleaser, this one is huge. A large part of my journey has been learning my worth the hard way. I spent so much of my life putting other people ahead of myself and the second I learned my worth, everything changed. I am still able to help people, but now I understand what I deserve and I will not settle for less.
KN: Love, love, love!!! These are all amazing examples – thank you for sharing! Who would you say inspires you and why?
NO: This is going to sound so corny, but I really mean it: rather than a person, I am more inspired by a mindset – tenacity. I believe each and every one of us faces struggles in our lives and the people who have turned their adversity into their fuel are my biggest inspiration. There is nothing more powerful to me than someone overcoming a hardship and making it part of their story.
KN: It’s truly incredible what some people have gone through and how they use that as fuel to motivate them. I see you have undoubtedly done the same! What does the future of Somewhere In Between Coaching ultimately look like?
NO: That’s a great question. My ultimate goal is to continue to help women uncover their passion and mobilize them to make money, doing what they love. I also would like to have a family someday, so I plan to design my business around the lifestyle that best serves my ideal state of motherhood.
KN: That’s great. I’m so excited to see your business keep blossoming! If someone was potentially interested in career coaching but were a bit unsure, what would you tell them?
NO: Don’t be afraid to ask about it. Reach out to a coach that appeals to you and ask them about what they do! Many times, coaches offer a free first consultation, which is a great way to learn more about coaching and see if it’s a good fit for you.
I may be biased, but I think every single one of us could use a career coach. Having a career coach allows you to have a professional who has no other motive than getting you to where you want to go! They help you identify your goals, gain confidence, overcome the struggles and ultimately help you achieve your career goals. Great coaches end up being your trusted ally, accountability buddy and biggest cheerleader. If you want to learn more about what coaching is, read more here or schedule a free consult with me!
KN: Awesome, thanks for sharing that! So, switching gears a bit, Lipstick & Ink is all about encouraging women to make their mark on their lives, the lives of others and on the world. What does “making your mark” mean to you?
NO: I love that so much. To me, making your mark means showing up in your life as unapologetically you. It means leading your life with your purpose at the forefront and showing up uniquely you. I think we all have something to learn from one other and when you make your mark, you create a space for others to be inspired and encouraged by your mark. When we learn from one other, we become better individuals and communities around the world.
KN: I love that interpretation! If you had one piece of advice for women trying to make their mark today, what would it be?
NO: Don’t worry about what others think or are doing (I know, I know, easier said than done). But here’s the thing – you offer this world a unique point of view. No one is you and that is your super power. Show up in your life authentically as yourself and when you find yourself starting to compare – PUT THOSE BLINDERS ON, GIRLFRIEND! There are 8 billion people on this planet and there is room for everyone. You’re not going to be everything to everyone, but you are going to be something incredible to someone. Always remind yourself of that.
KN: And do you have any parting thoughts or advice?
NO: I encourage you to ask yourself if you’re living your life with your passions and purpose at the forefront. If not, decide what kind of life you truly want, then say “no” to everything that isn’t it. You deserve to show up to your life doing the things you care about.
I am so inspired, Neha! Thank you!! If you want to get in touch with Neha or follow along with her, you can find her contact info below:
Kelly Nash is a Chicago-based writer, career coach, speaker and founder of Lipstick & Ink®. She also works full-time in technology as a Success Manager at Salesforce and has over 10 years of digital marketing experience. Kelly has been featured in Thrive Global, Chicago Tribune, International Association of Women, General Assembly, Salesforce, and SheFactor. She’s fueled by black coffee, sunshine, a good ink pen, and a bold lip.