Where will your career story lead you?
Updated: Sep 19
Sharing my career story recently on several podcasts, I have been reminded how our career journeys take shape and how skills and interests intersect with opportunities. I love to share my story because it clearly illustrates that when we are open to opportunities they most certainly appear. I have noticed this is a common theme in the stories of other nutrition communicators featured on my community page.
Have you reflected on YOUR career story recently? Maybe it's time to step back and look at where you’ve been and where you’re going.
It has been a couple of years since I shared my story in a blog. I think it’s time to do it again and describe why creating a professional community is so important to me. When I launched NutritionCommunicator.com three years ago, my goal was to guide and encourage other nutrition professionals on their journeys. I wanted the focus to be on all of us as nutrition communicators rather than create brand “Barb Mayfield.” I wanted to create a community of nutrition communicators, providing a platform to share our stories and inspire other nutrition professionals to communicate effectively.
Through nutritioncommunicator.com (weekly blogs, speaking, writing, and coaching), I lead nutrition professionals in effectively communicating using their signature style… a style characterized by their unique experiences and interests.
Consider your answers to these questions: What has shaped you into the professional you are? What audiences do you want to reach? What is your message? What creative approaches do you want to use to communicate?
I’ll tell you my story and invite you to write yours…
I have enjoyed teaching and creating educational resources since I was a teenager. My first audience was preschool-age children in my neighborhood in Ithaca, NY. I created a program called “Playschool” and each summer our backyard became a learning playground. Years later, I built on that experience to create nutrition classes for children in my local WIC program that grew to a national program. Teaching nutrition to children became part of my signature style and my professional expertise. Through resources and workshops I taught other nutrition professionals effective communication strategies with children. On this Resources page you can find several free downloadable lessons for teaching children. I enjoy teaching a variety of audiences, but children are a favorite. Which audiences do you want to reach?
Like many young professionals, I became active in my local dietetic association, now the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. I gravitated to roles that involved nutrition communication like volunteering to be on television or the radio. Promoting National Nutrition Month was a personal favorite and my signature style was to write a song that fit the annual theme. I was nicknamed “the singing dietitian” by my peers for this unusual, but effective approach to teach others. Songs were an integral part of my lessons for children and you can find some favorites on this Resources page. How might you creatively deliver your messages?
The subject matter that we gravitate to is part of our signature style. My 20 years at WIC and raising three children were instrumental in forming interests in building positive feeding relationships, supporting breastfeeding, and promoting family meals. Many of the presentations and resources I created focus on these areas. The Resources page has several you are welcome to use. What topic areas are you drawn to learn about and communicate to others? What personal and professional experiences have led to these interests?
An underlying theme to my signature style has been a keen interest in becoming a better communicator. As both an undergraduate at Purdue University and then as a graduate student at Cornell University, I minored in communication. My continuing education choices have focused on building my communication knowledge and skills. I joined Toastmasters in 2001 and continue to participate in a local club, working to become a better communicator. Building our professional skills is an ongoing journey. How are you interested in building your communication knowledge, skills, and confidence?
For 16 years I taught Nutrition Communications to undergraduate students as a faculty member in Purdue University’s department of Nutrition Science. It was here I identified and developed my signature style for helping others become more confident and effective nutrition communicators. I studied and taught the art and science of effective nutrition communication...
... assessing audience needs, ... creating clear, evidence-based, life-changing messages, and ... selecting and creatively utilizing a wide variety of communication channels – speaking, writing, video and audio production, demonstrations, and more.
After retiring from Purdue I took on the challenge of serving as Editor-in–Chief for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ newest book: Communicating Nutrition: The Authoritative Guide. This book is my legacy for current and future nutrition professionals. It is an honor to use my expertise in such an impactful way.
What is your story? Who is your audience? What is your message? What strategies and channels can you use to creatively share your signature style with the world?
Read the stories posted on the community page, then write YOUR story. The Write Your Story tool with helpful prompts is easy to follow. Let’s see how many more stories we can add to our Community page!
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” ― Mother Teresa
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