Take Your Passion, Make It Happen: Your Expertise Can Work For You

What are you good at doing?  What is your expertise?“I definitely think when someone challenges you to think about what you’re good at in a different way it’s an ‘Aha!’ But it also ignites that passion that is already within,” says Dr. Angie Williams, dean of Multicultural Affairs and Diversity of University of Phoenix.Herself a first generation college student who earned her doctorate in Higher Education Leadership from Argosy University, her M.Ed. with an emphasis in curriculum and instruction from National Louis University, and a BA in English with dual concentrations in Cultural Anthropology and African American Studies from Millersville University of Pennsylvania, Williams ays that most all of the students she encounters at University of Phoenix have overcome obstacles. She adds that 60 percent of the student population of the 130,000 students at the online university is female.[bctt tweet=“On #LaborDay, ask yourself, What are you good at doing?  What are you an expert in? DrA_Willi UOPX  advises how to begin monetizing your passion project.” username=“takeleadwomen”]Many working Americans are searching for their “passion project” and how to monetize it.A recent University of Phoenix survey found that men and women differ slightly on the feeling they are able to pursue passion projects and also that they are paid fairly.More than 78 percent of women said they strongly or somewhat agreed that that they would be more encouraged to pursue their passion project if they knew they could re-enter the workforce without pay being penalized. Seventy-six percent of men gave the same response.The study also shows that men and women differ slightly on responses that they strongly agree that life experience such as raising children, traveling and volunteer work as well as pursuing passion projects are valued as much as work experience, with 35 percent of the men agreeing, and 38 percent of the women agreeing.To the question addressing when men and women have equal pay opportunities “at my workplace,” half the men surveyed strongly agreed, with only 32 percent of the women. Age matters here as well, with 60 percent of the men ages 55-64 strongly agreeing, and only 34 percent of the women saying the same.On whether an employee feels his or her current salary reflects his or her worth to the employer, 25 percent of men strongly agreed, with 22 percent of the women strongly agreeing.“Having the grit to begin your side gig is already a major step in the #bossbabe direction. But once your biz starts to take off, how do you know—like, for sure—that you’re ready to put in your two weeks and commit to your passion project full-time?” writes Kells McPhillips in Well and Good.McPhillips writes, “According to Susie Moore—coach, rockstar writer, and author of What if It Does Work Out? How a Side Hustle Can Change Your Lifeyou should start by following a bit of tried-and-true advice: Listen to your heart and you’ll probably just know. She says the most important question you can ask yourself is, ‘If I got the outcome I wanted, does it feel expansive? Does it feel big? Does it feel good?’”University of Phoenix career expert Williams says for both men and women finding how to use your passion project to augment your career or how to make it your career is key to a sense of balance and success.“Adults tend to look for flexibility to pursue their passion projects and to have the ability to do that and not to choose” between what you love to do and what you do for work, Williams says.Williams uses her own life as an example. Before coming to University of Phoenix in 2015, she was a dean at a medical school. “I was interested in diversity and inclusion, so I took on roles in my community that I was passionate about because I did not do it in my everyday job.” Now she is a in a role where she can apply those interests.Discovering what your passion project is requires you to do some self-examination and to deconstruct the skills necessary in what you enjoy doing. If you are passionate about skateboarding, it might not be possible for you to have a skateboard park built at your workplace, but you can advocate for physical activity and wellness and activity programs and policies.[bctt tweet=“Discovering your #passionproject requires you to do some self-examination and to deconstruct the skills necessary in what you enjoy doing. What do you love and how can you make it part of your regular life?” username=“takeleadwomen”]In the University of Phoenix study, more than 79 percent of the men responded they strongly or somewhat agreed that the overall experience outside the workforce should equate to a salary increase when returning to corporate America, while 82 percent of the women surveyed either strongly or somewhat agreed.Here are 7 steps Williams advises you take to identify and put into place your passion project, from turning a side gig into a full-time business, to using the skills and insights you have from your outside project to amplify your leadership skills.Self-Advocate. “Take on stretch assignments and get out of your comfort zone, telling  your manager what you would like to work on. Have conscious conversations about what you like to do. Ask your manager how you might pursue an advance degree or certificate.”Research how your skillset is not for you alone. “How do you see yourself lending your skills and translating them into a career. What is it that you like to do and how will it impact others?”Do the legwork. “Find a supportive institution that offers the skills you need. Begin with a basic google search to find individuals in your area and introduce yourself.”Believe in yourself. “Know what you have is valuable to offer.” As a mother of two sons, ages 7 and 13, Williams says, “I do not have to choose if I am a mom or a leader, I can be amazing at both of them. When you look at it from that perspective, there is nothing you can’t do.”Realize you have the power. “Whether you are re-careering or trying to advance in a different way, if you have this mindset you can put this into practice after realizing your value. You can look at your life and think what am I good at and how can I translate these skills to be a better leader.”[bctt tweet=“Self-advocate. Do your research. Do the legwork. Believe in yourself. Realize your power. UOPX DrA_Willi’s 7 steps to make your #passionproject happen. Amen to that.” username=“takeleadwomen”]According to NASDAQ, “Unbeknownst to many people, some of the world’s biggest and most famous companies were born out of a wonderful mix of serendipity—happy accidents that turn what looked like disasters to resounding successes.” Those side gigs or passion projects include Coca-Cola, Facebook, Slack, Lego Group and Ferrari.Williams says she recently met a female entrepreneur who had been working a day job and on the side making bows.  She shared them on social media and then turned her passion into a small business.“It’s an expertise and she makes more money now on that than she did on her day job,” Williams says. ‘I definitely think this happens when someone challenges you to about what you are good at in a different way that the sparks happen.”