I love seeing the underdog come up victorious. Brooke Woods' story will inspire you because she overcame several challenges and came up victorious to fulfill her goal of learning grant writing and securing a job in this industry in just a few months. I've placed a table of content below to make it easier for you to skip to the section that interest you most.
Rodney Walker This is Rodney Walker, and I'm so excited today to have a very special guest, actually a grant rising rock star who's coming to us all the way from Arizona. I'm happy to have none other than Brooke Woods. Brooke, welcome today. How are you?
Brooke Woods Hi, everyone. I'm doing well. How are you doing, Rodney?
Rodney Walker I'm doing great. I've been so excited about this opportunity for us to connect because those are some great things that have been happening with you. And I could not wait to share with everybody. So let's just dive on in. And why don't you just share a little bit about who you are and how long you've been on this quest to learn about grant writing?
Brooke Woods Well, I graduated from college in 2013 and I knew that I wanted to be a grant writer. However, I was getting married in a couple of months, so I didn't put a ton of effort into it. I applied for one internship that I didn't get. So I just wasn't sure how to get my foot in the door. And then a couple of kids later, I decided that I was just going to go for it. So I was doing some research and I came across Rodney on LinkedIn and it just felt like the right time to just dive in headfirst.
Rodney Walker Wow. Well, I'm glad you told me so back from 2013. You know, I talked to a lot of people and they oftentimes wanted to learn grant writing. And sometimes it's been at least five years that they didn't want to do it. But you eventually took the plunge. And what was the impetus? What gave you the motivation to, you know, what enough way to go into?
Brooke Woods I needed a career because what I've been doing, I didn't feel like the career that was suited to me, I was teaching and tutoring and it's not what I wanted to be doing. And so I was going through a separation with my husband and I needed to be financially independent. So I was like, OK, well, I need flexibility in my job. I can be a waitress. Maybe I can do that. They're flexible. They get off early. But that doesn't really work for me because that's not where I wanted to go. I decided that grant writers may have some more flexibility in their career and that I was just going to put all my effort into that.
Rodney Walker Wow, I remember that, I remember you like, hey, I need to land a job really quickly. And then you went down there, wrote. One thing I love about working with you, Brooke, was that you were like a take-charge person. You already had this map that once you and you were like, and so let me give you a big high five on that just fact alone. I mean, I was I really love I love work with people like this. And so you hit the ground running and what was experience like? What was it like? I know you had maybe had some nerves when you just kind of getting started. But what was experience like when you first started going down this road?
Brooke Woods I think it was pretty simple because I had already read a book, actually, I read a grant writing book and then I reached out to you. So when I was working with you, I was able to just kind of dig deeper than the foundation that I already knew and just kind of was ready with some questions that I needed some more understanding on. And I was working with an internship at the same time to do the grant proposal that I was working on with you. And I think it went really smoothly.
Rodney Walker That's great. How long did it take for you to land that internship that you in the land and which organization you worked on?
Brooke Woods I worked with Inter Tribal Council of Arizona and it was only like an hour drive for me. So I was able to actually meet with the executive director there. It was a really great experience working with them. It didn't take me long to get an internship. I used the template that you helped me out with in order to communicate with them. And I would say it took maybe a week or two to find someone.
Rodney Walker Wow. So then you landed it. And I know that you landed. I remember you coming back and you're like, I am doing work on a grant proposal. But it wasn't what normal people most people normally start out with. It wasn't a small foundation. Right. You started out toward a government grant. What was that experience like for you?
Brooke Woods I mean, I was actually excited about that because I would rather get experience working on the hardest thing possible, especially with resources such as yourself to help me with it. I was like, OK, give me the hardest thing, because then I'll learn the most from it. So I was really happy about it.
Rodney Walker Yeah. Yeah. And then you go right in and started doing it. What was the most challenging part for you while you were going through this whole process?
Brooke Woods The most challenging part was that there were different things on the request for proposal for the government grant that needed to be talked about. And I didn't know all the answers to those questions. So I needed to work as a team with other people in the nonprofit agency in order to answer those questions. And they're pretty busy people. So it was a little difficult trying to maneuver, getting all the information in at once, but it all pulled together really nicely in the end.
Rodney Walker God, it's good. So so you go right into it. And our remember, you read the book, as you mentioned, then you started going through the grant writing course that only that portion that was before we even got a chance to start hanging out with our love cohort. Tell me what that experience was like for you.
Brooke Woods It was a really simple process going through all of the different content on the online grant writing courses. I think that everything was really comprehensive and well put together. So it was really easy to walk myself through that content.
Rodney Walker Yeah, great. So now what are the grant writers are would be great writers out there and I think it's always nerve-wracking the very first step. What what did you do when you were kind of pushing forward that made it a little easier for you, Brooke. You were taking a first step into really getting wet in this area in terms of learning about grant writing.
Brooke Woods Hmmm, I think that any kind of insecurities I had about whether or not I could do this or it was something that I would be proficient at, I just kind of ignored the entire time. So every time something like that would pop into my head, I was just like, okay, well, I'm going to do it anyway and see what happens.
Rodney Walker And you kept ongoing. By the way, you did an excellent job. I was really, really proud of that. What was the most maybe eye-opening experience for you were going down this journey because you were working on a grant proposal and you were scratching off and we enhancing the grant proposal thing already done? Were there an eye-opening moments for you while you were going on this round?
Brooke Woods I think as far as pertaining to what I was learning during your course, it was eye-opening, the different ways to communicate with foundation, and they have different preferences and they're all unique and just making sure that you're really savvy in the way that you communicate with them and knowing how to speak with them in a way where they feel appreciated and you're building a relationship. I think that was really essential knowledge for me to have.
Rodney Walker Yeah, that's great. And then the other thing, you so you went through that and you did a great job with the proposal and then we got that done and it was like, OK, I've got to get the job. Because you were you had the time frame that you told me about this you were really pushing for. Do you remember the time frame that you told me first? We first connected.
Brooke Woods I don't remember what that time frame you said like 30 days, because as a tutor, there's a it's a seasonal job because kids are at school at certain times. So all of December, I basically didn't have a job. So I was able to put a lot of effort into looking for a job during that time. So for me, it was like that break was my time frame for finding a job.
Rodney Walker Yeah. Yeah. And then you were you were going at it. And every time I turn around doing something different to do to try to get that job and tell me what that experience like, you started out, you went through, I believe one of our training is to help you learn how to do that. What was the training like for you when you went through the becoming a great writer and getting a job 30 days, 30 or 60 days? I can't remember which one it was, but what was that experience like for you?
Brooke Woods The training was really eye-opening. It gave me so many tips and insights on how to grab people's attention and stand out from the crowd as somebody that seeking a job and really just present myself in a way that showed that I was the most capable person and go-getter and had unique qualities that I was qualified to work for anywhere that I was applying to.
Rodney Walker Nice. And you did you and you started going to interview them and imagining. And how did those interviews go for you?
Brooke Woods Well, I went on to interview just one of them ended up not being the right fit for me. So I actually backed out of that in the interview. It went really well. I was super nervous. So I was like, I hope that gets me there. Really nice people. And it went really well. And I got the job.
Rodney Walker Yeah, I don't forget, I would get rewarded by a year over to that, get funded in a circle meeting that we were having that for Friday. And in doing so I never would get that email back from you. So I Rodney Walker I got the job and I was like three or four, you know, really. Because you when you set a goal and not only do you set a goal, you learn how to do grant writing and then you want to grab the bull by the horns. And when and got that job, what was it like when you found out the news that you got the job? Tell us about that.
Brooke Woods I was really excited, I was really happy that I was moving forward in this. I feel like I have a path forward to an income potential that's a lot more than where I had positioned myself that prior to learning all of these things. And so it just really feels like a step in the direction for my life that I wanted to go in. And it's a little nerve-wracking because now I actually have to put everything that I've learned into action and work every day of writing. But that's can be a really exciting thing too.
Rodney Walker Yeah, that's cool. So tell us about it, because we have some people that are new there wanting to be where you are at right now and literally in less than a few months you achieve this goal. So give us paint the picture for what is it like now that you're on the inside? You're actually doing great writing for a company. You're in the world that you desire to be in. What's it like now? What do you do and what is it like so far?
Brooke Woods I actually start on Monday, so I haven't gotten that far. Yeah, I had to put in my two weeks at my other job. However, the people there are really welcoming. We talked about their organizational culture and they all seem to have just this really huge passion for helping people. And that's the kind of environment I want to be in and I want to be in a place where I feel like I'm making a difference. And that's exactly what this job would be doing.
Rodney Walker Yeah, that's cool, so you just starting out then and I got some stuff for you to help you with those first 30 days as well, which is great.
Rodney Walker So that's another thing I think a lot of people miss some time in terms of occupation, Grant, but it does provide that opportunity for you to be able to really get into some meaningful work and make a difference. So what tell me about the organization. What is it that you guys will be doing and what will you be what kind of efforts are you going to be seeking grants for?
Brooke Woods So it's called a New Leaf and Mesa, Arizona. And they work with domestic violence, homelessness, behavioral health, foster care programs. It's kind of an all-inclusive organization where they're just really trying to help people that are at a low point in their lives and trying to give a broad range of assistance, even help with budgeting in people's finances, things like that.
Rodney Walker Excellent. Excellent. I mean, I'm sure you make a big difference in those areas. And those are some important, important areas in our society that need to really be addressed. So, like I said, I'm thrilled. You are a rock star. You've already, you know, just pushed forward. And there may be some others of you that are looking to get some more inspiration from other people like Brooke, Brooke. The reason I called Brooke a rock star is because Brooke had a goal at ]huzzahs to make it into a goal. And then she moved beyond any fear that she had to accomplish that goal. And I think, you know, let me ask you this.
Rodney Walker Brooke, when you were first starting out, did you have any fear at the very beginning stages of this?
Brooke Woods Well, I actually have mental health challenges. And I wanted to say that because of the platform that you're using to speak to people. So I thought that was a fear for me that those challenges would come up throughout my career. However, I value myself and I know that I'm worth it. So it's worth going out there and accomplishing the dream that I only have.
Rodney Walker Wow. So let me hear you right. You said that you had some challenges to mental health challenges and you still, in spite of those mental health challenges, press forward. And you told us one thing little. You just got too much. What else did you do? Or was that to move forward that challenge?
Brooke Woods Yeah, it really is basically that just doing my best to not get caught in negative thinking and knowing that those challenges may appear again in my future or they may not. And it's worth it to move forward past those fears because there could be beautiful things that way ahead of you, too, not just some scary things.
Rodney Walker Yeah, that's excellent. I'm so happy for you. Tell me this, what's the most proudest moment for you? I mean, like you had a lot of mountains that you climb along this journey to get where you're at now. And this has become the money to start your new job. What was the proudest moment? What part did you what point do you go back and give you a step back and see what I did? What was that moment for you?
Brooke Woods I think after I wrote those articles about Grant writing, that was a proud moment for me because I worked really hard on them. And it's not it was something that seemed a little scary, like, oh, well, I've only been doing this for a few months. How can I be an expert on writing about Grant writing that I pulled all of the things that I learned together and I was like, well, that was actually pretty simple to figure out how to do because I did learn all of these things that I can share with other people.
Rodney Walker Yeah, and I love it. You wrote articles to go to different places and sharing her knowledge that she just I think sometimes we don't realize that in the kingdom of the blind, the one person is king or queen. And in this case, you wrote those articles. Did you think the articles helped at all? Because you use those articles in some of your interviews, what did you tell us what you did with it so others can learn from it? And then do you think they help it all?
Brooke Woods All right. I gave the articles to the two people who are interviewing me, and they actually seem like a little taken aback, like, oh, like, why are you handing this to us? And I think that they're kind of trying to read it while they were sitting there like they're half into the conversation. And so it seemed really pleased with getting that. And it's just an extra writing piece to show the skills that I have.
Rodney Walker Yeah, what can you tell us about any of it out of the box thinking you might have done to help land the job that may be helpful for some of our listeners.
Brooke Woods Writing the thank you notes. So I wrote a thank you email after the interview, and then I wrote a thank you note through the mail, through snail mail. Right. Is that what is called?
Rodney Walker Yes, that's what it calls.
Brooke Woods And I sent those right away the day afterwards. And I did that for the phone interview and the interview in person. And I think that helped too.
Rodney Walker Great, so a good follow up, you know, that's good right now you can be hitting some home runs, especially take those principles that you've already learned there. And to your credit rating efforts, Brooke, I can't say it enough. I'm so proud of you. Will you do me a favor? Will you come back and let us know once you've gotten funded? Because I know you got that government. Get this out there we're waiting for to hear about. And then we also have these new opportunities that you're going to be applying for grants part. And I'm sure success is right around the corner. Right around the corner. So will you do us a favor and come back and once you want to get funded?
Brooke Woods I'll let you know right away.
Rodney Walker Alright. Great. All right, guys, we're going to bring Brooke back to you later on. Such an inspiring story.
Rodney Walker Make sure that if you're interested in learning some other inspiring stories, go over to Grant Central USA dot com forward slash rockstar. You'll see Brooke over there and you'll see other people just like you who overcame their challenges in order to learn great writing so that they could fulfill the goals they have. Again, Brooke. Congratulations. Talk to you real soon and we'll be catching up. Be brave, guys. Be bold, be brilliant and make sure that you do go take charge.
Rodney Walker is today’s leading expert in Grant Development Systems™ and President of Grant Central USA - Grant Writers Association. Learn more about his online grant writing courses today.