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Meet Trailblazer María Tomás-Keegan

Today we’d like to introduce you to María Tomás-Keegan.

María, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
After spending 30+ years in corporate, management roles, it was time to do something different.

When IBM chose to downsize our global marketing department, after nearly 20 years with the company, at first I was devastated and wondering what to do next. I was worried, stuck in one place and feeling overwhelmed by all the new decisions I would have to make. When one day a friend called, listened to my litany of concerns, and said, “Maria, what if it was your idea? What would you do then?”

That shift in perspective was just the butt-kick I needed to get me out of the rut and start think about my choices differently.

As I took stock of my life’s work and experiences, I focused on what I loved most. I coached and mentored people in career and life choices for 20+ years and found it enormously satisfying to help others clear away the roadblocks and blaze a new trail to something they were passionate about.

I also thought back to the times in my life when I was turned upside down by life-changing events–like divorce, loss of loved ones, relocation, layoff, early retirement–and considered carefully what it was that helped me turn right side up again.

It felt right for me to combine those two things as I reinvented myself as a Certified Life & Career Coach for Women, specializing in transitions — what I call the Upside Downs of Life.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’ve learned many times over that life’s road is rarely smooth. There are twists and turns, mountains to climb and white-water rapids to navigate.

Making the decision to leave a lucrative and steady corporate gig to jump into the uncertain world of entrepreneurship is scary.

No more senior management setting the agenda, and micro-managing — I instantly became my own CEO (Chief Everything Officer). Scary.

No more paycheck every two weeks automatically deposited — I was responsible for marketing my services and bringing in paying clients. Scary.

Here’s one thing I’ve learned: to be is open to new ideas and flexible to try them. This allows me to grow into the new me as a small businesswoman, and let go of the corporate persona I held onto for years.

Being a successful entrepreneur requires learning from others who have walked this path before and are doing what I want to do, successfully. I then take what they teach and adapt it to my vision for my business so it feels right to me. Once I’ve adapted something new, I implement it and test it out to be sure I get the results I want. Then, with those good results, I integrate it into my business model and repeat the process. If something doesn’t work for me, I made adjustments and experiment again.

Most importantly, I’ve learned to never do this life-changing stuff alone. Whether it is a career move or a life move, surrounding yourself with the right people who will support you, hold you accountable and celebrate your wins is a critical element of a successful transition.

I learned that the hard way. I’m on a mission to spare other women the same hard lesson.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Transition & Thrive with Maria – what should we know?
Transition & Thrive with María is growing into a multi-faceted business, and I’m excited to be on this ride. I’m inspired each day by the women I meet and I love being a resource for them in different ways.

As a certified life and career coach, I specialize in working with women who are facing major changes in their lives, yet still need to show up every day being focused and strong for their families, their careers, their friends, and community. It’s not easy to do some days. They often find themselves wearing a mask that says, “I’m fine,” when they are falling apart inside.

As a workshop and program facilitator, I share my transformative series called, “5 Petals of Power.” For women who are ready to take off the mask, they will discover within these modules how to find their footing again, clear the path of what stands in their way, create a unique roadmap for their next chapter, and uncover their authentic voice so they can take a flight to make the dream happen.

As an interviewer, I talk with women from many walks of life who have inspiring stories to share about their own upside-down moments. In my video podcast series called “Tips for the Transition,” I provide women resources to help in their own situations, as well as ideas and inspiration from other women who have been in their shoes. It’s my way of giving back and letting women know they are never alone.

As a writer, my stories have been published in a number of magazines online and I’ve been a collaborating author in five books. And in October 2018, I will publish my first solo project called, “Upside Down to Right Side Up: Turning Transition into Triumph.” This book was inspired by one of my workshop attendees and I’ve been passionately working on it for the past six months.

In this book, I share my own life-changing experiences as I describe the seven phases of transition in Part One. Part Two relays the stories of other women as they have walked a different path, yet ended in a similar place. Part Three shares the “5 Petals of Power” system I created, to help women move beyond coping and surviving those upside-down times in her life.

As a speaker, my mini-workshops offer easy takeaways that women can put into practice immediately, so they can stop going through the motions and start moving out of the rut they may be in.

Motivating women to do something different for themselves, so they can expect a different result, is one of the most satisfying parts of my work. Whether it’s in their career or life or both, I’m on a mission to inspire women to thrive.

What’s the most important piece of advice you could give to a young woman just starting her career?
I am so grateful for the mentors in my life. They are women who have inspired me to be better, who have shown me how to hold my hand out to lift others as I reach up to climb higher.

I’ve received sage advice along the way and I love to share what I’ve learned with young women. Here are probably my top two pieces of advice.

1) They don’t give gold stars for being a lone wolf. This actually covers two pieces of advice: don’t do the hard stuff alone and collaborating with others is much more fun and productive than competing. I could go on forever about these two. Suffice to say, surround yourself with people who have your back so they can help to light your way.

2) Never underestimate the value of your personal values. Whether in a professional setting or in life situations, honoring your beliefs and values will always serve you well and support you in making decisions and choices. When you use your top five values as your checkpoint for any decision, you’ll never make a bad one.

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