Uncovering The Right Career Path With The Founder Of Eyes Wide Opened

It's interview time here on the blog and today we're talking about finding a new way to uncover the right career for you. 

Around this time last year I took myself along to a two day course in London Bridge with a company called Eyes Wide Opened (EWO). As you may know one of the reasons that I started this blog was due to finding myself in something of a career rut and wondering what to do next. When I heard about the EWO Career Clarifying course, suitable for people of all ages and experiences, I thought I might as well give it a go.

You can read about my personal experience of the course here but before you do join me today as I delve more into the world of EWO, the core foundation behind it and the ways in which they are looking at career advice differently, with Founding Partner, Alastair Creamer.

Photograph: Eyes Wide Opened

Photograph: Eyes Wide Opened

How did Eyes Wide Opened (EWO) come about?

It was a mixture of personal and professional experiences. I saw my son struggle to find his direction in life and therefore his first job. This seemed to be echoed across many friends and their children. What was going on? The more we explored, the more the issue emerged.

There seemed to be a number of reasons coming together - increased competition for jobs, higher standards, greater expectation, the job market changing. This was coupled with many young people lacking ambition and motivation and, critically, confidence.

We felt there was some fresh thinking required and a new approach.

Importantly, we saw the need for our contribution to be person to person rather than online, in other words group coaching. People needed to look in a different direction, not outwards via the internet (job searches etc.), but inwards, towards themselves. Young people were focused too much on a narrow set of learnt skills from their education. Not enough was being made of the whole package - personality, passions, values, impact and experiences.

EWO Quote

What does your role at EWO involve?

Everything! I sell the programme, articulate it, deliver, shape, think and listen. We are offering a new way of helping young people prepare themselves for work and that means I need to partner with like-minded people whether they are head teachers, careers advisors, parents as well as the young people themselves.

What is it that you love about the work you do at EWO?

I love seeing someone transformed by our work. That lightbulb moment, or when someone turns a corner during a two day workshop. We can't live someone else's life for them but we often give people the energy to live their own. Equally exciting are the emails we get from past participants several months down the line. Things have landed, opportunities opened up, confidence has been regained.

What are the challenges faced by the project?

For a start we're trying to do something different and for some that can be threatening. For instance with careers advice and profile testing, well this hasn't really responded to the needs of business today. People need to think hard about themselves. No-one else can really answer that. You need to do the work and EWO gives people a process for doing that. Our positioning comes before you start matching your skills to possible jobs, before the traditional careers advice or online searches.

How does this link into your other work?

The other, related, side to my work is bringing breakthrough thinking to business. My agency, Creamer and Lloyd, is focused on helping solve business challenges. Often that means that people within business need different skills, often very creative skills, to handle and survive the pace of change. Adaptability, a fresh eye, a highly collaborative style, a sense of purpose, great listening and communication skills, are just some of the things we pass on and embed in organisations.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone considering a career change what would it be?

You have all the answers! Never doubt that for one moment.

We are all sitting on a vast array of skills, qualities, values and experiences, but we only show a proportion of these. Sometimes that's because we haven't explored them ourselves. Or perhaps, we don't think they're relevant. But, broadly speaking, we live in a world where we're encouraged to be ourselves, to be authentic. That means ensuring that the best of us is visible to others.

EWO Living Landscapes

What motivates you on a daily basis?

Changing this situation in which too many people are treading water. There is a problem around under-employment. Why have we become scared to maximise our potential? When I see young people who have no idea what they want to do, what they love doing, what their skills are, what they stand for (their values), what they've learnt from life so far, I worry that they might never explore the full extent of what they have to offer. They settle for second best. Thus the rise of the quarter-life crisis alongside the more traditional mid-life crisis.

How do you try and achieve a good work-life balance?

I'm a musician by education. Since leaving university, I've always ensured I've had a creative outlet in order to express myself. I think this is a fundamental need of everyone, to express themselves in life. It doesn't matter whether that's through the music you listen to, the team you support, the clothes you wear or make, the places you travel to, the friends you hang out with. It can be active or passive.

Right now I'm enjoying gardening and my balance in life comes through grappling with nature! With gardening you're working in the moment as well as thinking about the future. What will this sapling of a tree look like in ten years? When will these seeds germinate? I love it!

What are your tips for surviving a stressful week?

Keep things in perspective.

If you hit a problem, sleep on it. Look for inspiration everywhere. When things pile on top of you, break them down and tackle things one by one. And keep your friends close.

What does the future hold for EWO?

EWO will blossom when we find like-minded people who understand what we're trying to do. Our next course is on 18-19 April in London and I'm always excited about the next event. We've just been delivering some work at the University of Ulster and, as always, I'm inspired by the people who show that little bit of courage to gravitate towards us. 

EWO Course Notebook

Thank you to Alastair for sharing the thinking behind the unique way that EWO are bringing a new approach to traditional careers advice and personal growth. For me, the course gave me a tremendous amount of confidence and a greater understanding of myself and the direction I wanted to go in. Not only that but I was lucky to meet some really lovely people in both the other course participants as well as the EWO staff and course assistants. 

If you're struggling to understand what it is that you have to offer the working world and the right way in which to utilise and use your skills then maybe this is a course worth looking in to. You can find out a little more on The What Now Blog events page here.

Plus I hope today you can take away some inspiration for whatever path you choose in the future. Remember that you do have an awful lot to offer and you can achieve great things - but it really doesn't matter if every now and again you need to ask around for a little guidance and understanding in order to move yourself forward to the next step.