What you are surrounded by influences your understanding of what is normal as well as what is possible.
Chrissy Macken is the Founder of Blueprintgreen Career Coaching & Consulting, based in Washington, DC. As a Career Coach, she specializes in helping people break free from toxic work environments and transition into positions they love.
Chrissy is a passionate, lifelong learner, and all too familiar with holding jobs that are demoralizing and draining, that stymied her professional growth. Once she discovered how to rise above the the challenges within her work environment–by setting healthy boundaries and prioritizing herself–she was able to build a career that is the best expression of her strengths and talents. Today, Chrissy is the go-to coach for learning to build resiliency in toxic work environments and reclaim a career of meaning and purpose. She is also an American Association of University Women Salary Negotiation Workshop Facilitator.
In her spare time, Chrissy is an advocate for social and environmental justice. Chrissy provides pro bono coaching to recently resettled refugees through the Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area and is a volunteer coach through The Posse Foundation. Chrissy is currently President of the Friends of Noyes Park Board of Directors, dedicated to ensuring equitable access to a safe and beautiful park, playground, and community garden in Washington, DC’s Ward 5. Chrissy has led the organization’s fundraising initiatives, and has raised thousands of dollars for FoNP to advance its mission. On a national level, Chrissy is a staunch advocate for progressive healthcare legislation. She has been a featured speaker at healthcare advocacy events on Capitol Hill, and continues to advocate for legislative options to advance universal healthcare.
Chrissy holds a Master of Arts in Urban and Environmental Policy & Planning from Tufts University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Environmental Studies from Allegheny College. She lives in Washington, DC with her family.
Where did the idea for Blueprintgreen Career Coaching & Consulting come from?
I’ve always been passionate about global sustainability, as well as building a meaningful career for myself. As I entered the professional world after graduate school, I found that many of the organizations at the leading edge of issues I cared about were terrible places to work. We were all overworked, underpaid, yelled at constantly, and conditioned to distrust our coworkers. As a young professional, I assumed all workplaces were like this. On the brink of total burnout, I started Blueprintgreen Career Coaching & Consulting. I was inspired to contribute to the purpose-driven professional community by helping employees set healthy professional boundaries, be their own best advocates, and reclaim their career potential.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day is highly prioritized and focused on meeting my clients’ needs and creating a sense of balance for myself. I’ll often schedule my coaching sessions for the morning, when my mind is freshest and I’m most creative. My afternoons tend to be best served doing writing-based activities, such as resume and cover letter reviews, responding to emails, or blogging. I take a break mid-day for an activity just for me, be it swimming, yoga, leisure reading, or doing some of my own personal journaling. Evenings and weekend are for family time with my husband and daughter.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I love brainstorming with other people. I’ve been in work environments where having your own ideas is dangerous, you run the risk of looking “too ambitious,” or someone is waiting to steal your thunder; it is so freeing to surround myself with colleagues, confidants, and mentors who encourage me to freely ideate. I’ve found that having a trusted network to consider ideas and gather meaningful, candid feedback is truly generative for me.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I am so excited by employers who increasingly recognize that their employees are human beings, not cogs in a wheel. Creative approaches to benefits, such as increased remote work, unlimited PTO, and instituting paternity leave are just a few examples of this broader trend.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I disconnected email from my phone. I find that the less I check my email, the more productive I am. Additionally, when it is time to check email, I am FOCUSED on that task, and can respond to messages with a clearer mind.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Your experience is valid, and you can only compartmentalize a terrible experience for so long before your authentic self begins to fall away. What you are surrounded by influences your understanding of what is normal as well as what is possible. If you’re in an environment that’s slowly shrinking what you believe is possible, it’s probably time to leave.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
You don’t need to wait for someone else’s version of the ‘perfect time’ to negotiate for a better salary, compensation, or work arrangements. If you’re ready to advocate for improving your professional wellbeing, then it’s the perfect time to do so.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Give back! I am always looking for ways to contribute to my community through my business. These days, my volunteer activities include partnerships with the following organizations:
– Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area – I have partnered with LSS/NCA to provide pro bono career coaching services to recently resettled Afghani refugees in the greater Washington, DC area. I meet with refugees and their families shortly after they arrive to the US, introduce them to the culture and norms of job searching in America, help them write a resume and cover letter, practice interviews, and provide tips for successful networking.
– The Posse Foundation – I am a pro bono coach through The Posse Foundation, which works for both students and college campuses and is rooted in the belief that a small, diverse group of talented students—a Posse—carefully selected and trained, can serve as a catalyst for individual and community development. I am partnered with a college student in this program for 2 years, and provide pro bono coaching aimed at helping her prepare for the post-collegiate professional world.
– American Association of University Women – As a Salary Negotiation Workshop Facilitator, I am able to provide pro bono workshops in the DC area focused on helping women close the wage gap and create a successful compensation negotiation strategy.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
When I was ready to really take my business to the next level, I invested in my own Coach, who helped me get intentional and strategic about service lines, pricing, delegation and outsourcing, and how to organize my days. Her name is Amanda Crowell, and working with her has been a really transformative experience.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
When I first started my business, I brought over a few of the bad habits I had learned from working in a series of toxic environments. I had trouble saying no, and unnecessarily made myself available to handle things late in the evenings and on weekends, when they just as easily could have waited until the next business day. It has taken lots of intention and discipline to prioritize myself, but it’s now an active choice I make every day. Setting clear boundaries makes me better at the work that I do, and sets the right example for my clients in stressful work environments, so this approach is doubly important to me.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I would pay someone to make weekly meal plans and shopping lists for my family, especially in light of our various dietary preferences and restriction. A more nuanced and tailored Blue Apron, and for every meal. I’m sure I’m not the only one who would pay for this!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
In August, I bought my 2-year-old daughter a water table and water toys. It provided us great entertainment in the DC heat, and something fun we could enjoy together.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
A fellow entrepreneur recently told me about Zapier, an automation software that I am now obsessed with. In the last week, the program has run 112 automations for me. It’s already saving me 3-4 hours per week, and I’ve only just gotten started!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The way we develop relationships affects us at home, at work, and in every other aspect of our lives. As entrepreneurs, relationships are critical to building and growing our businesses and relating to the clients we serve. This book provides incredible insight into what drives our individual approach to relationships, and practical strategies for using mindfulness to enhance our ability to create thriving, authentic relationships with those around us.
What is your favorite quote?
“All of you is worth something, if only you will own it.” –Sheldon Kopp
• Trust your intuition. If your environment doesn’t feel right, enlist support and try to make a change.
• Restorative time is critical to living a life of purpose and meaning. Without taking time to focus on yourself and relax, it’s difficult to be as impactful as your potential would otherwise allow.
• Resist the urge to control everything and delegate and outsource wherever you can! It’s so freeing to let go of the tasks that drain your mental energy, and it gives someone else the opportunity to offer their talents to you.
• We’re never done learning, and we always have the opportunity to grow. We just have to give ourselves the chance.
• Your story is not written in stone. There’s always an opportunity to change your path for the better.