August 2008

Starting one’s own business is a dream of many of our customers (“vocationers”) at VocationVacations.  The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well with many folks — whether they’re in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and even 60’s.

Our mentors at V-V provide a wealth of knowledge each and every day to our vocationers.  Not too long ago I asked Louie Richmond, one of our PR Firm Owner mentors if he had any words of advice about starting a business…boy did he!  And here they are:

1.  Be ready to get out of your comfort zone

2.  Get support from a spouse, partner or friend.

3.  Find a support mechanism in your new career.

4.  Allow yourself to make mistakes.

5.  Get a good lawyer, a good financial planner, and a CPA.

6.  Invest in technology.

7.  Get a line of credit for emergencies.

8.  Don’t work in your pajamas if you’re working from home.

9.  Don’t automatically assume you’re going to take a salary.

If I were to add a tenth bit of advice, it’d be:  Expect the unexpected.  Just when you think you’re on track….there’ll be a curve ball like there’s no tomorrow.  But it’ll be your task to hit it out of the ballpark.

Anyway, I thought it’d be fun to share Louie’s advice.  Onward, all fellow entrepreneurs!

While on my book tour for Test-Drive Your Dream Job some months ago, a well-dressed, cynical-but-spirited woman in her early-50s came up to me after I gave a speech in NYC.  I’ll call her Mary.  She asked me the following:

Brian, you talk about being happy in one’s career….being fulfilled…being satisfied.  But why bother?  What are the benefits of actually being happy in a job?   I mean, really.  It’s meant to be work.  Why bother taking the time to be happy in it?  Why should I really go to so much effort to create or find a job that makes me “happy” unless I somehow have a sense of what being happy really means for me.  I honestly don’t know if I can ever be happy working.”

I was a bit blown away by her question and comments.  Honestly, I thought to myself:  “How can you not know what makes you happy?!  In a job…in a relationship…or anything?”  I even thought in a nano-second, “Be careful answering, Brian, you’re not a psychologist, and this is really a psychological question.”

But then I realized, this woman had a good point.  How DO you define “happiness” in the job?  Not everyone defines it in the same way.  And not everyone prescribes to the mentality that work can even conjure up happiness.  Some people simply can’t get beyond that work, to them, is a four-letter word.  

Here’s how I responded to Mary:

“You know, Mary, some people may never seek fulfillment, satisfaction and happiness on the job.  It’s that simple.  But that’s a tiny percentage of the general population and something tells me that you’re NOT part of that tiny population.  You wouldn’t have come here tonight if that were the case.  You do want more.  You do want to be happy in your work as you know it’s not mutually exclusive from the rest of your life.  You have to determine what BENEFITS you want to get out of being happy in the job.  What if you were able to say some of the following in coming months or years?

– I now have more time with my kids & grandkids
– I’m a night owl and now that I have my dream job I no longer have to get up at 6:30am.  Instead, I sleep til 10am and start my day at 1pm and work along with my own sense of when I’m most productive til late at night
– I travel just enough for work without it becoming too much and I get to enjoy some add’l “me” time added on to the travel schedule – Bonus!
– By owning my own business (if that’s your dream), I have complete autonomy
– I have a boss that understands my need for work/life balance
– Have laptop, will travel — even if it’s just the coffee house down the street.  I can work ANYWHERE
– I can take my dog with me to work
– I can work from home part-time and arrange the other “life stuff” around it – haircut, laundry, kids’ soccer game, etc.
– I am able to save some money for the first time ever because I’m not commuting (gas $’s!) nor am I irrationally spending $’s (I work so hard and hate my job so I DESERVE the new dress, the $100 dinner on a Tues PM, etc)
You get the point.  Happiness is defined differently by each and every one of us.  But by thinking through potential BENEFITS of being happy on the job, you’ll eventually discover the path toward your dream job in order to secure that sense of happiness.  Or, you’ll simply be that 1% of folks who simply don’t want to be fulfilled by work and you just want to sit around and eat Godiva 70% Cocoa while watching All My Children.  But, Mary, that’s not who you are.  Figure out what benefits you want to appreciate from working your dream job, and your happiness will come.”  
I’ve often wondered if Mary has gone on to seek out the benefits of work happiness.  I’m betting she has.  In either case, I owe her for displaying to me that some folks must first peel back the onion even further to discover what defines happiness before they even go to the time and effort of exploring their dream job.

The sticker shock at the pumps, the rising costs of airline tickets, the overall struggle in today’s economy to just maintain our standard of living.  Can we really afford to take a vacation this year?  The slowing economy and fuel prices are making us think twice about how we spend our hard-earned dollars on travel.

Yes, it is a challenging time, but we still need a break.  We still need some time to rejuvenate, explore, kick back and disconnect – time to hit the “off” button on that laptop!  So, maybe we consider a different type of vacation this year.  One that doesn’t have an extra luggage fee, require a passport or a roadmap…..a “staycation”, as you’ve probably heard it described in the press.  People are cutting the expanse of their travels to afford the expense of them.

Here at VocationVacations we have seen an increasing number of “vocationers” who are taking advantage of their staycation time to spend a few days test-driving their dream job with a VocationVacations mentor in their own town or city.  Their staycation offers a chance for self-exploration, discovery and becomes an investment in a possible new career.

So here are some pointers on how to make the most out of your staycation:

  • Treat it like a REAL vacation.  Don’t just wing it, make plans. Decide upfront what you want out of this vacation. At the same time, block out some “down time”.  I know that may sound oxymoronic.  And it is.  But it works.  I love to plan but also love spontaneity (go figure, I’m a Gemini).  So make the time to simply be spontaneous and do whatever strikes your fancy at that moment. 
  • Don’t fall victim to the “painting the house” syndrome.  Just because you are at home, don’t think you have to do all those household chores you have been putting off.  They can wait!  This is YOUR vacation, so have fun.  Live as if you really were away from home.
  • EXPERIENCE something new!  Take a cooking class.  Go kayaking for the first time.   Volunteer for your favorite presidential candidate, the humane society or your favorite children’s or 50+  not-for-profit organization.  Rent that eco/hybrid car you’ve been watching on the highway for a day. And, of course, I’m going to encourage you to test-drive your dream job.
  • Pretend to be a tourist.  It’s okay to buy a postcard, eat a corndog, take a Gray Line bus tour, wear a Hawaiian shirt or sport your favorite team’s baseball cap.  Do you know how many New Yorkers I know who have never been to the Statue of Liberty?  LA’ers who have never walked Venice Beach?  A lot.  Now’s the time to visit that place in your hometown that tourists enjoy but you haven’t been to yet.  Go!
  • Disconnect.  I suspect you may be attached at the hip to your iPhone (don’t ya’ love it!?), Blackberry and/or laptop.  So am I.  But, don’t fear withdrawal.  You can do it.  If you were on a remote island somewhere, no one would be expecting to hear from you.  Put auto-responders on and let people know you’re on a staycation, provide a back-up for emergencies and say when you’ll be able to get back to them. If you’re really an addict (like me), at least limit checking your email and voice-mail to just once a day.

Happy Staycationing!


The Ladders, online career placement company focusing on $100K+ jobs, conducted a survey of over 1,500 executives and guess what?!  JOB FULFILLMENT, versus compensation, is the #1 item on their wish list.  37% said job fulfillment is the most important factor when considering a new job followed by 32% responded that the compensation package is the most important factor.  

I’m not at all surprised.

Our clients (“vocationers”) come from all walks of life, all vocations (technology, legal, healthcare, education, the list is endless), some making huge amounts of bank while others struggle and had to save for their VocationVacation. But at the end of the day, they all have some common goals:  They want more passion for their work….they want more fulfillment at the end of the day….they want more satisfaction in the job….they simply want to be happier in their work lives — that inherently directly impact their home life.

So The Ladders’ survey is spot on.  Yes, money is important.  No doubt.  But it doesn’t buy happiness or fulfillment.  And guess what?  If you follow your passions, then fulfillment AND money will follow.  You CAN have your cake and eat it too.  It may not happen over night but it can all come together quite nicely.  So the executives surveyed, for example, will appreciate both job fulfillment and higher compensation if they simply follow their hearts and work in fields in which they truly enjoy.

Now, I have to say that I could be persuaded to think that Annabel has more of a dream job than I have at VocationVacations.  Taste-testing beer all day long?  That could be dangerous….check out the brief story in the UK’s The Mirror.

I saw T. Boone Pickens on Larry Kind Live last night.  I’ll tell ya’ what, the oil man has it going on.  Then I thought:  I bet there are some people who really would love to have a job w/in the energy sector.  How cool would it be to be part of the movement to find other means of energy than oil from the Middle East?  T. Boone is big into wind & solar.

Check out this article on his support of Obama, et al:

Should I try to get T. Boone on as a mentor?  Ha.  I think he has bigger fish to fry…..and we want him to have time to fry them.  But we should get some more eco/energy-related mentors on board VV.  Know of anyone?  Send them our way…..

I found this interesting article from the Harvard Business School: How Female Stars Succeed in New Jobs:

Ladies, your thoughts?  Gentlemen, your thoughts?

Did I just open up a can of worms?  Ha…..

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