If you have ever been laid off from a job, this episode is for you! Sonja Keeve was laid off from 3 different jobs throughout her career in the finance and mortgage worlds. After the last time, she wondered what should she do with her career? It was then that she started posting inspirational quotes online to make herself feel better about being unemployed and that was the start of her second act. Sonja ended up writing a book and discovering podcasting. She is now a podcast coach and author, and she runs her own podcast conference called Podcasters Rock. Sonja is an inspiration and she shares her second act success journey with us on Episode #102 of the Second Act Success Career Podcast with Shannon Russell.
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Second Act Success Career Podcast
Season 1 - How Multiple Job Layoffs Led To A New Career Opportunity | Ep #102
Episode - #102
Host: Shannon Russell
Guest: Sonja Keeve
Transcription (*created by Descript and may not be perfectly accurate)
[00:00:00] Sonja Keeve: Getting the pink slip, it was like, oh, wait, I don't have a plan for this. I was planning on staying here for the next 20, 30 years and it was definitely a very pivotal shift in moment in my life because what it really let me know was one, nothing is forever.
[00:00:15] Sonja Keeve: And two, you must be prepared always for the next thing. .
[00:00:53] Shannon Russell: If you have ever been laid off from a job, this episode is for you. I am joined by Sonja [00:01:00] Keeve. Sonja was laid off from various jobs, three different times in her life. And the last time left her just wondering what should I really be doing for my career? It was then that she started posting inspirational quotes online just to make herself feel better. that led to a bigger and better project. Sonia ended up writing a book and finding podcasting. She is now a podcast coach and author, and she runs her own podcast conference. She is an inspiration and I can't wait to introduce you to Sonja Keeve.
[00:01:37] Shannon Russell: Okay. Welcome. I am here with Sonja Keeve. Sonja,
[00:01:40] Sonja Keeve: welcome. Thank you so much for having me, Shannon. Oh,
[00:01:44] Shannon Russell: I'm so excited to catch up. I was on your podcast not too long ago, so yes, we had such a great chat, and I'm so excited to have you here to talk about
[00:01:53] Sonja Keeve: your journey. Oh my goodness, Lord, where do you even wanna start with that?[00:02:00]
[00:02:00] Shannon Russell: What was your first act, maybe right out of school, all about? What did you want to be when
[00:02:06] Sonja Keeve: you grew up? I. Well, the funny thing is, my first act, I discovered it in 10th grade in high school. Get guidance counselor was like, you know, you have to take an elective 'cause your transcript has to look really good when you're applying for colleges.
And so my mother forced me to take typing my ninth grade year. And that did me well because, I would help her in the summer times and I was like the only teenager who knew how to type like 50 words a minute. So I was typing like all of her stuff, all of her coworker stuff. Then, I was trying to find another elective my sophomore year and teacher said, why don't you try accounting?
And I was like, what is that? And what really attracted me is we had a lesson on salaries and careers. And so they talked about the salaries teachers make and the salaries accountants make. And when I saw that number, I was like, [00:03:00] oh, so this is what this is about.
I can get it to some numbers. If that's the kind of salary I'm gonna earn, that's where I'm going. I went to school to study accounting and became an accountant. I. So that was kind of the first act and then I went into auditing and I really loved auditing because I got to travel around the world. But I was married at this time and I had a young family and so. Being on the road, twice or three times, a week, was a lot.
And my husband was like, listen, we have two babies and I'm trying to get to work and trying to get the kids off to daycare and I can't do this. When the economy tanked back in 2008,
I could not land a job as an accountant. so when I couldn't land a job as an accountant, a recruiter reached out to me, because one thing I loved, especially back in the early two thousands, like I loved being a temp because I got to do different jobs
so it was always something new every time, and I really enjoyed that. So she talked to me about [00:04:00] getting into the mortgage industry and I had just purchased my first home. And so I was like, I don't know a lot about it. We kind of just stumbled into buying a house.
So I was like, well, I don't know, how my experience as an accountant and auditor would do well? And she said, actually, believe it or not, it's a very transferrable skill because what you'll be is a loan processor. I was like, I need a job. Let, hey, let's make it happen. And so I went into the financial sector. really got to really understand the mortgage industry. And what I loved about it was I got to really had a chance to help people. And that's always been my thing.
I love helping people. I really worked my way up, in the industry. And then, I experienced my second layoff. Mm. And that was in 2015. And I'd been with the company at this point for probably like five years. And then the industry changed.
People weren't buying houses or people weren't doing refinances. And so, I was laid off from the [00:05:00] industry and it was a shocker for me because, I had accustomed to having a job every two years because I was temping. So every two years I knew I'd have a new job. And so I went to stay in one place for five years.
It was like, maybe staying in one place is good and then. Getting the pink slip, it was like, oh, wait, I don't have a plan for this. I was planning on staying here for the next 20, 30 years and it was definitely a very pivotal shift in moment in my life because what it really let me know was one, nothing is forever.
And two, that you must be prepared always for the next thing. Never get comfortable in one spot. And so I really was going out to figure out kind of what could I do that.
Could be mine. 'cause, if you've ever experienced the layoff, it is not fun and it is never a good time for when it happens.
[00:05:53] Shannon Russell: No, it's not. And it sounds like it was a major layoff at your company. So did you have any clue that you [00:06:00] might be out of a job?
[00:06:01] Sonja Keeve: The funny thing was I was watching the layoffs happening. I mean, it was really like, a dodge ball game. Like I could duck. I was like, woo, okay. I have a job this week, you know, and I would watch my friends get laid off and I would watch other colleagues get laid off.
And then when it came around, you know, I couldn't avoid it anymore. I. No.
[00:06:18] Shannon Russell: Yeah. And then you probably were seeing it happen, but maybe weren't making that plan, that backup plan. No, because mm-hmm. You just wanted to be there. And I think that happens so often to people where they're just like, not me, not me.
I'm gonna keep going. And then it happens. And it's just that wake up call.
[00:06:35] Sonja Keeve: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:06:36] Shannon Russell: Because you were temping Yeah. Did you think when that pink slip came that maybe you could go get another job somewhere else doing mortgage loan processing?
Or were you just kind of done with the financial sector at that point? No,
[00:06:48] Sonja Keeve: I actually tried the temp industry had even changed as well. So it was like what happened from the time all of my experience from accounting and auditing [00:07:00] to mortgage, the industry changed.
Where now, Companies were looking for current relevant experience. So I couldn't even go back to getting jobs in accounting and all because too much time had lapsed. And so all of my current experience was mortgage. And so it was like nobody was hiring. We're like we were all experiencing at the same time.
[00:07:22] Shannon Russell: You were all in it together. So what was next for you at this point?
[00:07:26] Sonja Keeve: At that time I had been on social media kind of sharing inspirational posts, and a lot of times I was doing this because I was trying to just encourage myself because I was unemployed.
I. Two babies, we had one income and it was like, okay, what are we gonna do? 'cause we were accustomed to the two income household.
People were like, you know, you have to have some type of product to sell. And I was like, well, what could I possibly do? One of my colleagues, his side hustle, he did t-shirts.
He,, printed t-shirts off for like schools and organizations and I really liked his work and [00:08:00] so, I talked to my husband about it. I said, Hey, you know, what do you think about me starting a t-shirt apparel line? And he was like, well, what? Like what would you do? And so with these inspirational posts, I would always end it with hashtag walk in love.
And I really wanted to start this new conversation because at the time on social media, I mean, it was all this negative bad press and people were. speaking, ill of each other. We had just went through a presidential election and, uh, Donald Trump had become president at the time, and so there was this huge division in our country, I just didn't like what I was seeing. You know, we went from, having a, country where there was a lot of hope and expectation to now there was all this division and, so I said, well, you know what?
How can I be a catalyst for change? Hey guys, let's just walk in love. And the idea was that I wanted people to perform a simple act of kindness. Hmm. And pass it forward, and so it looks like if you were going to your local Starbucks, [00:09:00] how about that morning pay for the drink of the person behind you?
And we started to see news, stories where that was kind of catching on where people were paying forward being kind to each other. And I was like, why not let us do that? Because if we can do that, you know, we could demonstrate what it means to walk in love. And so I created the shirt.
He did a beautiful job. And so when I went out and I'm still unemployed under at this time. And so I'm out in public and people will walk up to me of all walks of life and either say, wow, more people need to do that, or, Can you tell me what does that mean?
And so when I got a chance to tell my story, I didn't realize that it was strengthening me because I. I got to tell my story of being laid off and wanting to kind of create a new community in this ecosystem of acts of kindness. And so people were like really resonating with [00:10:00] that and they were like, wow, such a beautiful story.
And so people were buying the T-shirts and it was all great, but then it was like this call, like, well, this is good, but I feel like I could still do more. And then one day someone reached out to me and said, Hey, I've been really following your story on Facebook and I really love all your inspiration and what you have to say.
I'm starting an anthology book project and it's called Women Inspiring Nations. And I think you would be a great co-author, to be a part of a woman who is inspiring nations. And I was like, really? Now this is my first indication that wow, people are paying attention to what you do on social media.
Yeah. And so this gave me an opportunity to now become a first time published author. Here's another opportunity for me to kind of tell my story of, you know, taking something a huge loss of losing a job to now kind of venturing and trying to find my second act. [00:11:00] Right? Right. Yeah. So we, we wrote the book, it became a bestseller.
And I got to travel and do the book tours with the co-author. So this was like, Ooh, this is exciting. I'm signing autographing the book, and I'm telling my story. And so this is like opening my eyes to wow, there's more for you to do. And so in, 2017, we released Women Inspiring Nations
once again, my life goes through another shift one of the things I, I do every morning is I have a morning devotion and I talk with God and I just ask him to kind of help me, chart my path, what's my purpose, you know, what am I called to do?
In 2018, I was on social media and someone was tasking, aspiring entrepreneurs like myself, you know, to come up with a product or service. Now I had the t-shirt, I had the book. But I was like, I. I wanna be a motivational speaker. That was kind of the trajectory that I thought my life would be until my coach was like, well, [00:12:00] what are you gonna motivate the people about?
I said, well, I'm gonna get on stage and I'm gonna, you know, motivate the people like I dom social media, you know, just talk to the people. And she was like, no ma'am, that's not how this works. And I. Oh, it's why are you crushing my dreams? Yeah.
Now, the good news is from 2015 to 2018, I was able to land another role. So I was working again in those couple of years, I was able to get back into mortgage because if anybody knows about the mortgage industry, it's like ebbs and flows and so we'll have massive layoffs and then there'll be a massive hiring. 'cause now they need people that are experienced. So it is definitely an industry that is recession proof.
But it's a lot of ups and downs with it. It's ups and down and you wanna
[00:12:49] Shannon Russell: pay the bills. Yes. Okay. While you're figuring out Yes. You know, this
[00:12:53] Sonja Keeve: next chapter, this, this next thing. Right. Because, you know, it is not cute being a broke entrepreneur. It's, it's, there's [00:13:00] nothing cute about that.
So we all know that. Yeah. Yeah. So, I was cool with being a dual preneur, working and working my side hustle, in the evenings. And so when they talked to me about podcasting, I was like, well, how could I utilize my inspirational post and inspiring people to create a podcast? so I went on YouTube kind of looking to see like how to start a podcast, and so I was like, Okay.
Doesn't seem terribly hard. I said, well, what do I want the podcast to be? And I said, well, you know what? I wanna interview women, like really incredible women that have these amazing stories. But where would I find them? 'cause I was like, at the time I'm like, well, I'm on social media, but.
You know, in my head I'm like, nobody knows who I am. So if I, you know, where am I get guests from? So I just said, you know what, I'm gonna just put a question out there. And I asked on social media, Hey, if I start a podcast, would you be my guest? To my surprise, 50 women said yes. I didn't even have this topics.
[00:14:00] I had no idea what the show was gonna be called. And I went into panic mode because I was like, oh my God, I got 50 women who have said yes, I need to interview them. And little voice kind of whispered in my ear and was like, duh. Inspiring Nations. You just wrote the book, Women Inspiring Nations.
So I kind of just went with the theme and said, inspiring nations. And so we started on March 10th, 2018. March 10th is my mother's birthday, so I wanted to honor her as the first woman in my life and creating. platform where I could interview women from around the world that have stories of how they inspire others every day, feeding off the hills of the act of kindness.
Three months into the show. We were heard in three countries and across the United States, and by July I had sold out my entire guest spots that year in 2018 and 2019, I partnered with a company called Broadcast Radio [00:15:00] LLP. They had heard my show and was like, we really love what you're doing.
We love to take your show even higher. They took me to 164 countries and five years later, We're still inspiring nations. It has been this culmination of journey and had no idea that another shift was coming because in January of 2022, I got laid off the third time in the mortgage industry but it was my third and final time because, Through the support of my husband.
My kids at this point are now full grown adults. And so he said to me, Hey, you have worked so hard and I've seen you.
Give it at your all and get laid off and you, and you never, wavered in still wanting to help other people. He said, why don't you go ahead and do your business full-time? And.[00:16:00] I now teach and train women to launch their own podcast shows.
Once again, that teaching element here it comes again. Yeah. And then I didn't realize that that was really my gift. you know, it took me literally 40 years of my life to finally realize that teaching was the thing that I was supposed to do. I started my business very late in life. In my forties, I just celebrated my 51st birthday and I'm telling you, my life. I feel like it's truly the epitome of what it means to have that second act in life. And now I just encourage and not get to speak on stages and talk about the joy of podcasting, how it can build your business, but more importantly, People really resonate with the story that three layoffs.
In that whole journey, I became an international bestselling author. I became a international podcaster. I'm a master podcast coach, and if you had told me in 2000. And 15, when I got laid off the first time [00:17:00] that this would be my life today, I probably would've laughed and said There's absolutely no way.
But the thing that I know for sure is that when you really tap into your greatest gift, the possibilities are endless. Hmm. So
[00:17:17] Shannon Russell: beautifully said Sonya.
[00:17:48] Shannon Russell: I love that you brought back the education teaching piece. Yeah. From your family. Yeah. Back to it, like how amazing for your family to see you becoming a teacher.[00:18:00]
[00:18:00] Sonja Keeve: At this stage. Yes. Yes. and so now I teach, and then part-time I teach at a university. It's so crazy and like, you know, the other day I was talking to my parents and I called them each separately different times, just checking on them and my mom has always been proud of me.
She's watching me, but my dad, I always never knew, like if he was always proud of me. And And my life, went through different turns, so I never really was sure. He told me, he got an Instagram account, last year, and it was like, I've been following you on Instagram, and he said, I'm proud of you, kiddo.
He said, you're really doing this podcasting thing. And I swear tears were like rolling outta my eyes because I was like, I said, he said, yeah. He said I, he said, keep up the good work. He said, I'm really proud of you. I said, you are really doing it. And I was like, okay. I, you know, I'm, I'm, I'm good now.
Now for me, I just want to continue to do this amazing work and as my kids are growing and they're watching me [00:19:00] do this thing, and it's hard because I've never been a full-time entrepreneur. I just celebrated one year in as a full-time entrepreneur in July.
So it's like , one day, I said, have you ever been so broke, but so happy at the same time? And that's when I realized, okay, like it has to be the thing that you live, breathe, it is your very existence.
And when I wake up every morning, I'm grateful for this life. The opportunity to pursue something that I never even thought was possible. I didn't know I would become a podcaster. I never knew I would become an author. And the relationships that I've made, I mean, that's how I met you, Shannon.
You know, you came onto my show. and so it's definitely full circle moments and sometimes I have to like journal it to write it all down sometimes and go back and go. Wow. I've been through so much and I will tell you, there have been tears. There's been worry, there's been fear.
I've had all [00:20:00] of the emotions you can think of, but at the end of the day, I come back to the same answer. Is this, What I'm called to do and the answer still remains. Yes. So yes. I can't imagine doing anything else. No. And
[00:20:14] Shannon Russell: you're, continuing to inspire people, you're inspiring people by what you're putting out on your podcast Yeah.
And how you're teaching others to Yeah. Live this life that they want to. And that's so inspiring to you, right? Like that must fill you
[00:20:28] Sonja Keeve: up. Yes. Yes. It's so funny that you just brought that up because just yesterday a former client of mine.
Had gone through my program, but she hadn't launched her podcast. She'd gone through a lot of life changes. And so yesterday she's like talking to me through Facebook Messenger. It's like, Hey coach, can you listen to my intro? I wanna see what you think. And, you know, we had to make some tweaks. , but we got it to where she felt good about it. And I, and I asked her, I said, how does this make you feel? And she was like, Coach. You know, I just have to say I'm so proud of myself [00:21:00] that I didn't give up, that I kept going, and that I'm getting ready to launch my very first podcast, and I'm so excited.
And I'm telling you like the goosebumps just rose up in me because I was like, that's. What makes this work that I do matter because it's women like her that are like, I'm creating my own platform. I'm creating my own podcast.
We have so many. Incredible stories that need to be told and experiences that need to be shared, that it is this evolution that I'm seeing. We've now got over 2 million podcasts in the world.
It's like, this is just changing. And then with the addition now of AI entering the market, it's really helping creatives and visionaries create the kind of shows that they really want and tell the stories they wanna tell without being censored. And that's good.
[00:21:54] Shannon Russell: That's good. And it's getting people out of their comfort zone.
Yes. Feel that confidence that they're doing it. [00:22:00] And I have to bring back the fact that. Your transitions, your changes were brought about by other people reaching out to you and saying, you should start speaking. You should put things out there, or, yeah. Can you write in this book with me?
Yes. You didn't get that? Encouragement. Yeah. You wouldn't have taken those steps?
[00:22:18] Sonja Keeve: Never. Because I've always been someone that has played it safe. My mom raised me to say, Hey, you, you know, you go to school, you get a good job. You stay there 30, 40 years and you retire. But when I got laid off, it was like, well, what do I do now?
And, and so I value. The beauty of relationships. , I've met so many good girlfriends through social media, through collaborations and partnerships. And without this podcast, I would not have talked to women in Australia, women in the uk, and women in Spain so this [00:23:00] opens up such a beautiful tapestry of what our country is all about. And I really try to hone in on the message that we have more in common than we have our differences. Mm-hmm.
[00:23:12] Shannon Russell: You also have a speaking event that you, you produce it
[00:23:15] Sonja Keeve: yourself, is that right? Yes. And so the event is called Podcasters Rock. And it's for aspiring and season podcasters alike. Podcasters rocked this year is being held October 27th and 28th.
In Fredericksburg, Virginia at the Holiday Inn Conference Center, and so we have tickets on sale. We have a dynamic, and when I tell you dynamic, dynamic lineup of industry experts, from branding to marketing, To monetizing, your podcast. This year it's called The Experience. And what I will tell you is that it is a conference like no other, when you come, you're not sure what to expect, but when you leave, you leave with a new family.
And so, it's like the backyard cookout, event type type of [00:24:00] thing, family reunion, that we, just create this amazing community of, Podcasters who rock. And so even if you have a podcast, come, if you don't have a podcast, come, because there's something that you can walk away with, and have some really actionable, tangible tools for you to help.
Start a podcast, grow a podcast, and monetize a podcast. The
[00:24:22] Shannon Russell: connections. Yes. The connections of just meeting people. Priceless, right? Yes. It really is.
[00:24:26] Sonja Keeve: Absolutely. Yes.
[00:24:34] Shannon Russell: Name one thing that these different chapters in your life have taught you
[00:24:38] Sonja Keeve: that I'm stronger than I think that I'm stronger. Yep.
[00:24:42] Shannon Russell: So would you recommend taking a leap into a big life change to your best friend?
[00:24:46] Sonja Keeve: I absolutely would. Only because we only get one life to live and we only have so much time here on earth. Why not spend it doing things that really serve you, that really bring you [00:25:00] joy?
Because honestly, I used to feel like I wasted. 30 years of my life, in corporate America. But being a full-time entrepreneur, I learned, no, it wasn't wasted time. There were skillset that I learned from each of those jobs that made me be a better entrepreneur. And so I feel like if you're going to make a big life change, have a plan.
And have a roadmap for how you're going to get there. Like just don't jump out there going, okay, I want more joy and have no direction, have some direction for me. I had some ideas of what I wanted and when I got very clear about my yeses and my nos, the universe kind of opened itself up and. People ask like, if you became an entrepreneur 20 years ago, do you think you would be successful?
And I would say the answer would be no, because I wasn't mentally prepared because going through all of the layoffs, it showed me that I. I know how to be resilient. I [00:26:00] know how to pivot. I know how to come up with ideas. And when one thing doesn't work, it's not the end of the story. You just start and go in a different direction and try something new.
And so if you've got that, somebody who wants that big idea, I would say absolutely go for it. But understand, have a plan, and then know where you're going. Yeah.
[00:26:16] Shannon Russell: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone who's trying to start their second act today?
[00:26:21] Sonja Keeve: I'm a big believer in writing your vision down. I want you to put at the top of the piece of paper, what do you want? And then list out all the things that you want, , because usually in the things that you really want, Is usually where you'll find what your second act will be., I kind of fumbled my way through things because people said I should do this, I should do that.
And so even when I'm teaching people about podcasts, and the first thing I tell people, don't get into podcasts 'cause somebody told you to do it. Have a reason why. 'cause there should be an end goal. Because if you get into this industry for strictly for the money, [00:27:00] You won't last long, , because it is not, a money maker.
It's just a tool that can be utilized to create other branches on your tree. And so it's like, answer the question, what is it that you want? Because we asked that question as a little kid, like, what do you wanna be when you grow up?
I wanna be a president. I wanna be a policeman. but then as we're going through life, people stop asking that question and we feel like when it comes around, a lot of us don't know what we want because no one has ever asked us. So if you are in, at a place in your life right now where you're like, you know what?
I feel like I'm created for doing something more. What is it that you want? Paint that picture, write it down, and then go execute. Mm-hmm. That's
[00:27:45] Shannon Russell: great. So what does your next act look like for you?
[00:27:50] Sonja Keeve: My next act for me is, actually, my very first solo book coming out. Congrats. Yes. It's called Beyond the Mic, [00:28:00] the Game Changing Guide to Podcasting.
And then what it also looks like for me is having more podcast shows under my network. Because my mission for Sisters With The Voice Podcast Network is to teach and train a hundred thousand plus women to build, launch, and monetize their own podcast shows in 30 days.
And so, I really wanna see in 2024, a hundred new podcast shows developed, so that's kind of what I see on the horizon, wow.
[00:28:36] Shannon Russell: And yeah. And you have your own network to cultivate Yeah.
And bring these shows under. Ugh. You're a busy woman. So where can my audience connect with you? Where are all of the places?
[00:28:47] Sonja Keeve: Yep. So you can actually find me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram @sonjakeeve or you could visit my website at sonjakeeve.com. But of course I wanna just [00:29:00] thank you, Shannon, for first allowing me to be here on your show and to talk to your audience.
And I hope that they walk away with, some inspiration, but more importantly, understanding that where you are in life. If you're not happy, you can. Always choose to be different and move and be in spaces that really serve you, that really bring you joy because at the end of your life, I want you to be able to say, and it's one of my favorite quotes by West Moore that says, I would rather flirt with failure.
Than to never have danced in my joy. And so I want each of you to dance in more joy because when this life is over, I want you to say that I lived my life the way that I wanted to, and I'm good with that. Oh,
[00:29:55] Shannon Russell: Sonja, I love you so much. I feel like our mission, our message, it's so [00:30:00] similarly aligned, and I agree.
I just hope that whoever is listening, if you want to start a podcast, reach out to Sonja. Just join her program. She can have you do it within 30 days, and just such a wonderful leader and inspiration. So thank you so much for being here. I have just loved chatting with you once again.
[00:30:20] Sonja Keeve: Yes, thank you so much.
[00:30:23] Shannon Russell: Thank you for joining us. I hope you found some gems of inspiration and some takeaways to help you on your path to Second Act Success. To view show notes from this episode, visit secondactsuccess.Co. Before you go, don't forget to subscribe to the podcast so you don't miss a single episode. Reviews only take a few moments and they really do mean so much.
Thank you again for listening. I'm Shannon Russell and this is Second Act Success.