How feeling lost helped author Maxie McCoy find her way

Maxie McCoy is an acclaimed author, blogger, speaker and career expert — and she never saw it coming.

Growing up, McCoy worked tirelessly toward a very different dream: sports broadcasting. As a Division I volleyball player at Lehigh University, she served on the Student-Athlete Executive Board, wrote for her school newspaper and website, and interned for ESPN.

Fresh out of college, all that hard work paid off and she landed a coveted spot as host of Fox Sports Net’s High School Road Tour, covering football games in her home state of Texas on air and online. But McCoy was more lost than she’d ever felt, and she came to the hard realization that her dream job just wasn’t her dream anymore.

She turned in her notice and moved to San Francisco in search of a fresh start, but she still felt lost, so she impulsively signed up for a writing class, remembering how much she’d loved to write for her college newspaper. Not only did the class spark her creativity again, but a classmate recommended a startup she thought McCoy would be interested in.

That startup was Levo League, an organization dedicated to empowering women in their careers and personal lives. McCoy landed a job as one of their first employees and traveled the world setting up local Levo chapters. She also started a blog focused on female empowerment, career development and leadership, and eventually left Levo to focus on writing.

Today, her blog inspires and empowers women around the world, and her work has been featured on Good Morning America, Fortune, Bustle and more. She was also the spokesperson for Microsoft’s Land Your Dream Job campaign in 2016, sharing career expertise and inspiration with millennial professionals.

McCoy just celebrated the launch of her book, “You’re Not Lost,” a practical guide to figuring out your next steps when you feel directionless. We talked with her recently about inspiration, career advice and how technology has been an important part of her writing career.

TRANSFORM: Your book, “You’re Not Lost,” just launched, and it offers a fresh perspective on the daunting prospect of discovering your passion. What inspired you to write it?

MCCOY: It really was from years building the global communities at Levo — I spent about five years on the road talking to women around the world, and the one thing that I heard over and over again was, “I feel so lost.” The idea for the book was given to me through all those conversations. You can only hear that so many times before realizing there’s no resource or guide to deal with that feeling of “lost.”

TRANSFORM: What are the popular myths or misconceptions about finding, “what you’re meant to do”?

MCCOY: There are two big ones. First, we have this cultural pressure to have our passion and our purpose figured out exactly. Another myth is that we need the big picture figured out, like the five-year or 10-year plan, in order to begin and be successful with that passion.

That’s where a lot of that feeling of lost comes from: “Well, I have no idea what I want to do long-term! So what am I supposed to be doing right now?”

You don’t need everything figured out in order to begin.

TRANSFORM: Over the last few decades, technology has transformed how we communicate. In your own career as a writer and blogger, how has technology played a role?

MCCOY: As someone who runs a business and who is only in any given city for a few days at a time, [tech] tools have allowed me to create from anywhere. They allow me to create what matters most to me and to create things that allow women to know that they’re not alone, to be inspired. That’s been really powerful for me.

Office 365 is how I wrote my book, period, the end. Everything was written on Word, and then I went back and forth with my editors at Penguin doing about six months of editing. When you looked at any page, there was no space on the right because there were so many comments between us back and forth.

The ability to be able to hold full conversations over what we were creating with people who weren’t even with me is incredibly powerful. The ability to collaborate, the ability to write my book — none of that would be possible without Office.

TRANSFORM: How did you end up in your own dream job of being an author?

MCCOY: When I was trying to get the book deal, there was a moment when my agent basically said, “Look, there’s a lot more growth you need in terms of press and exposure.” I knew it was going to take me a long time to get those press hits, so I was like, “OK, I’m going to try my best.”

But then I got pulled in to be the spokesperson of the Microsoft Land Your Dream Job campaign, and because of the press tour, I got every press hit under the sun.  A few months later, I went back to my agent, and she was impressed that I had gotten all this exposure so quickly. It was because of Microsoft and that campaign. That dream job campaign literally helped me get my dream job.

TRANSFORM: You’ve also written extensively about inspiration and motivation, but do you ever run into your own creative blocks? How do you overcome them?

MCCOY: I have bad days, I have bad mornings, I have weeks of complete lack of inspiration. It happens to me just like it happens to everyone else. But you can’t wait for the inspiration to create. You create, then the inspiration and motivation will come.

For example, people will say, “I only want to write when I’m inspired.” That just doesn’t work for me — I have to write regardless. Sometimes I’ll find the inspiration one sentence in, sometimes the inspiration will never come, but at least I showed up. I feel uninspired often, but it’s a matter of just creating anyway.

TRANSFORM: What’s your best career advice?

MCCOY: Be the highest possible expression of yourself. That’s really about, “How can we be the most of ourselves?” because when we are, all the right opportunities, people and experiences will be drawn to us. It’s easy to get lost when you’re busy blending in; it’s not easy to be different and stand on your own, but it really matters.