"It is when we are in transition that we are most completely alive."

William Bridges, Early Pioneer in Transition Management

The transitions in my life started when I was just three weeks old. Born into a US Foreign Service family, I moved from place to place and changed schools often throughout my childhood. Some transitions were hilarious, some were painful. All were instructive. And they didn’t stop there.

My Journey of Transitions

After college in the Midwest and stints at the divinity and business schools at Harvard, I arrived in Washington, DC and spent the next 12 years working in federal government. I sensed another transition coming when it became clear to me that I was out of place in an Administration with which I did not entirely share a worldview.

Ironically, I transitioned to a job in the White House as the Deputy Director of The President’s Commission on Executive Exchange. This job played a pivotal role in shaping my own career transition story. The Executive Exchange created one-year “exchange” assignments that allowed senior executives from both the public and private sectors to experience one-year assignments working in the other sector. I was responsible for finding one-year assignments in the private sector for senior federal executives. It turned out that I loved career counseling and helping the senior feds to identify work that was both useful to their future federal career and personally satisfying.

Peter Sherer, CEO and Founder, Experience Matters

Over the next 20 years, I served in various senior executive positions within the nonprofit sector, never losing my passion for understanding and facilitating the human experience of transition. I did meaningful work with The National AIDS Fund, the Washington National Cathedral, and The Make-A-Wish Foundation of America. But it was at Experience Corps, the mission of which was to create volunteer opportunities for Boomers in retirement, that I started thinking even more deeply, again, about what I wanted to do next….

“In a remarkably short time, Peter helped me distill what for me had been very complicated and confused thinking into a clear vision –- and then provided me both the pep talk and the pragmatic tools necessary to turn that vision into reality.  I left feeling empowered and excited about a future that I had not before thought possible.Peter has a unique ability to compassionately listen and think creatively with clients about exciting futures, while at the same time offering frank and pragmatic advice grounded in the realities of today’s market. My two days with Peter were among the most productive and empowering time I’ve ever spent on career development.”

— Senior Executive, Washington, DC

What I Really Wanted To Do

I started to rethink each of my professional transitions and how I was forced to rethink “what I really wanted to do.” The process was both very exciting and somewhat uncomfortable. I knew that I wanted to transition but was unsure of the details of the direction I wanted to take. Over time I learned that creating a new professional identity was well worth the hard work because ultimately it would be very satisfying to combine my skills and experience with my new interest.

After completing a number of assessments that I had created to help me discover my next step I decided to become a professional career coach. I started by interviewing the best executive career coaches in the world and asking for advice about my next steps. They all said three things; read extensively, go to an accredited coach training program and get a mentor coach yourself. I took their advice and after an intensive course, I became certified by the International Coach Federation.

Experience Matters

In 2006 I created “Experience Matters – providing clarity, confidence and concrete tools for executives in transition.”

During this amazing period of transition into the work I love I have learned three things:

  1. Transitions are challenging because they cause us to reevaluate who we are at a fundamental level. Transition is a challenge to either our personal or professional identity or both.
  2. Most people encounter a time in their career where they know that they want to change jobs but are so unsure of what they would love to do next that they remain stuck in unsatisfying work. They are paralyzed when someone asks, “I would like to be helpful so please tell me what are you looking for”?
  3. Even if they know what they might like to do many people are so unsure of a safe way to research their interest that they don’t venture out to pursue a new direction.

Through Experience Matters, I have helped over 550 people answer each of these challenges and move on to meaningful work that they love.