December 2008

I just finished interviewing a prospective songwriter mentor for VocationVacations.  Great guy.  What I loved the most was how we started our conversation:

Brian:  Hi, Steve, is this still a good time to chat?

Steve:  Absolutely…I’m “working” this morning by first taking a walk in the woods while you and I chat.  I love to work while taking a walk in the woods.

We ALL should take a walk in the woods from time to time — both literally and metaphorically.  It clears the mind.  It opens up creativity.  It allows you to be grateful for what you have and enables you to create space for setting your daily, weekly, monthly…and, yes, even life-long goals and objectives.  

If you haven’t already done so, take a walk in the woods today.  Work from there.  Even if you’re reading this and you’re sitting in Manhattan, suburban LA or wherever, allow yourself to take some downtime — while still working.  Take a moment.  Take a walk in the woods…..


VocationVacations Founder, Brian Kurth, is a sought-after career planning expert, strategist, speaker and author of Test-Drive Your Dream Job: A Step-By-Step Guide to Finding And Creating The Work You Love (Hachette, 2008). He has appeared on CNBC, CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, NBC’s TODAY Show and National Public Radio (NPR), and his career advice has been featured in articles in Fortune MagazineMen’s JournalThe New York TimesO, The Oprah Magazine and The Wall Street Journal, just to name a few.

Gabby Hyman wrote about some interesting high-paying jobs.  Check them out!

See yourself becoming a Professional Hacker? Not a dream job for me….but a few of the other sure are!  What are your thoughts?


Brian Kurth

Career Consultant and Founder of VocationVacations

I awoke this morning to MORE snow here in Portland, Oregon!  🙂

This amount of snow is very unusual for us here in the Willamette Valley.  We normally get one or two little snowfalls of  an inch or two each year.  But we now have well over 12″ on the ground here in the city, even more up in the West Hills and FEET of snow up at Mt. Hood.  It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…and some amazing skiing!  It’s a wonderful dry powder.

As I awoke this Christmas Eve morning and laid in bed watching the huge flakes come down (and still coming down), I reflected back on 2008 and beyond.  Memories of my Mom who has been gone from us for nearly 19 years (unbelievable that it’s been that long) as well as memories of other loved ones who are no longer with us: my Grandma, my Uncle Jerry, my Aunt Aline and my first-cousins Larry, Cheryl and Maryjean.  I am very grateful today for some amazing memories of all of them.  

I grew up in Wisconsin in the 1970’s.  Christmas Eve was as special as Christmas Day.  My Grandma lovingly made a Norwegian Christmas Eve dinner of kumlas and lefse (and a steak for my Dad) at her cute, cottage-like house near Lake Monona.  She always had M&M’s in a bowl for me. On Christmas morning, I remember Mom and Dad smiling at my joy over what Santa left under the Christmas tree that stood in the corner of our living room,  overlooking the beautiful little valley near Pine Bluff (15 minutes west of Madison).  It always snowed on Christmas in Wisconsin.  Truly.  I can still see the tree with the view behind it — and always snow.  Christmas was also always full of laughter, love and smiles with the Kurth and Larvick families. I’m the youngest of four kids (one of five kids in 1970 when we hosted foreign exchange student, Nagash, from Ethiopia for a school year).  I was an uncle at 7 (my eldest sister is 17 years older than I am) so, the Kurth household has always been busy and wonderfully loud on Christmas.  I am very grateful for these memories.

I am also grateful that I’m spending Christmas in Portland with my partner, Wade, and good friends.  2008 has been a challenging year and I decided to “stay put” and not travel home to Wisconsin.  I made this decision with trepidation.  Would I regret not going home?  There’s no doubt I’ll miss my family (most especially the little ones, my four little great-nephews and great-niece!) but Wade and I are going to have a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Food, wine and great friends.

Although it’s all a bit different being away from my family and being here in unusually snowy Portland, I’m grateful this Christmas Eve.  Grateful that I love and am loved by Wade, my family and friends.  Grateful for my health.  Grateful for working in what I love – VocationVacations and career consulting.  I’m a lucky guy….and I don’t take it for granted.  

This holiday season is stressful for so many due to the economic downturn.  2008 has not been a fun year for many.  But if you find yourself stressing over the economy, credit card bills, a possible lay-off after the New Year or if you’ve already been laid off, I encourage you to remind yourself what you DO have in your life:  love, family, friends, a roof over your head, your health…and the list goes on and on.  Instead of focusing on what you may have lost financially in 2008 and your fears for 2009, instead, start setting your goals and desires for the New Year.  Now is the time.   Now is the time to go back to the basics and your core values.  What do you want in life?  What type of lifestyle do you want?  Now is the time to appreciate those around you.  Now is the time to be grateful for, and celebrate, your ability to CHANGE and REACT to what has occurred in 2008.  This is an opportunity despite the many hardships the world has seen.  

Go inward but move onward!  Be grateful.  Be appreciative.  Smile.  Laugh.  Dance.  Share. 

From very snowy Portland, I wish you all a very happy holiday season.  Merry Christmas!  Happy Hanukkah!  Happy Kwanzaa!  


There is some hope in this dismal economy and job market.  BusinessWeek offers a great article about how, yes, we’re in deep ka-ka BUT things are being done by both the government as well as industry to “cut to the chase” and make sure we bottom out sooner vs. later and that HOPEFULLY we’ll then see a recovery in 2009 versus further out in 2010.

Staying OPTIMISTIC is 1/2 the battle during these challenging times.  As Franklin Roosevelt said, “Only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  Amen to that.

I strongly encourage everyone to think about a few things prior to undertaking their hobby or avocation as their vocation or to start their dream business.  Here are my top tips:

1.  Make sure you know ALL the aspects of the business, not just the part you love.

2.  Bring in experts to help with the parts you’re not the strongest in (for me, that’s legal, accounting and graphic design).

3.  Avoid the “hobby trap” by:

a. suspending disbelief that your business can be big and serious.  Think BIG and let that infect everything you do!  If you can’t conjure up that belief in yourself, bring in advisors (they don’t have to be paid, necessarily) who can help you expand your thinking;

b. making a business plan that projects growth.  If you don’t plan how you’ll reach your targets, you never will;

c.  asking for help.  Form a “board of advisors” whith no fiduciary or legal responsibility but with various areas of expertise who can ask tough questions and give sound advice about every area of your business.  They may enjoy meeting each other as much as they enjoy helping you, but a nice dinner would be a way of paying them for their time and advice.

2009 might be the PERFECT time to start your dream business.  If you can make it during these difficult economic times with your smart ideas, thinking, pragmatism and hard work, then you’ll be even more golden when the economy rebounds (and it will!).  Go get ’em!

Like so many career consultants and coaches these days, I’m hearing many clients say “there aren’t any jobs out there”.  Not true!  There ARE jobs out there….in fact, there are still DREAM jobs out there.  

I know there are hiring managers/business owners/not-for-profit directors who follow VocationVacations who may actually be in a hiring mode for some really cool dream jobs.  It could be that Development Director position at $60K or it could be a $10/hour job being a dog daycare coordinator – or anything in between.  Coming from someone who LOVED working in wine sales and marketing for a year post-corporate life, I know the value of the following:  1.  Reducing one’s $ “burn” rate;  2.  Getting back into the swing of things each morning — getting out of bed and not feeling sorry for oneself after a lay-off; and  3. Most importantly, coming back to LIFE doing something enjoyable and something that brings passion and fulfillment to one’s everyday.

So, if you are HIRING for a dream job, please let me know.  I’d love to help you post your salaried or hourly dream job(s) to our tens of thousands of subscribers all across the US.  Are you a bakery owner needing a new baker?  Let us know.  Are you a PR director needing a new coordinator?  Let us know.  Are you a fashion designer needing a new assistant?  

Please let me know the following information:

The dream job title that you currently have open, very brief dream job description – no more than 75 words (I’ll be strict about that and will just cut ya’ off so please do your own editing – smile!), estimated salary range/hourly wage, location, required qualifications, your contact information, your company or organization’s website (required) where you’d like resumes to be emailed.  

Please email me this information to:

I will daily blog these open positions and include them in weekly e-newsletters.  TOTALLY FREE.

There are FAR too many great dream jobs still out there — whatever I can do to help you find passionate and qualified individuals to fill your open positions, the better!



NOTE:  Please do NOT send me information about “get-rich-quick jobs” or 100% commissioned positions.  Sorry, those are not dream jobs, in my not-so-humble opinion.  I reserve the right to not publish any position that I feel does not fit the dream job bill or may be of question.

I’ve been working with more and more clients who are struggling to find a new job.  Of course some due to the economy and the lack of jobs out there.  But many other clients are struggling due to their multiple passions and career interests.  They are finding it difficult to put their interests into ONE “job box” that fits all.

My advice to them?

Stop trying to put it all into one box!  Stop it.  

Instead, embrace and wrap your arms around your multiple interests and passions.  In this economy, it’s the perfect time to explore multiple interests.  Especially since there may not be ONE job available, anyway.  You might now want to consider taking a job working 30 hours a week (with benefits!?) in X and another job working 15 hours in Y.  What’s that do for you?

1. You’re making a living!

2.  You’re pursuing your multiple passions and not putting things “on ice”

3.  You’re granting yourself the permission to explore and learn — and isn’t that what life is all about?

I’ve had clients whose passions are as diverse as being an investment banker Monday through Friday to floral designing at a floral store on Saturdays; being an attorney as well as designing and creating jewelry and being a marketing manager to being a stand-up comic.  What do they all share in common?  They’re COMBINING their interests, passions and skills into a KALEIDOSCOPE CAREER (I can’t take any credit for this term.  Some folks who are apparently sharing credit and copyright for the term include career coach Susan Strayer and authors Lisa Mainiero and Sherry Sullivan of the Opt-Out Revolt.  There may be others who stake claim to it, as well.  Wish I had thought of it….I love the term!).

How does one put that on a resume?  Don’t.  Yep, you heard it from me.  Don’t.  It may not translate for a traditional resume.  Instead, I encourage my clients to create a professionally-done one-page bio sheet that can be nicely printed out and/or sent in email as a PDF.  It serves several purposes:

1.  It will help you focus your interests, skills and, most importantly, what you WANT to do versus what you’ve done in the past

2.  You can use it as your “calling card” to open up doors to many real job opportunities (imagine it as a PDF you can send to people and/or print out on nice paper and provide to people in a networking setting)

3.  It can be used as a fun way to socially network online (PDF) 

And, are you ready?  Include your picture.  Again, I get in trouble with some people here because they tell me that there are still some folks in this country who discriminate against people based on age, race or gender that can be depicted through a picture.  True enough.  I don’t disagree that discrimination is still alive….and I find that very sad.  BUT…I also argue that my clients (and you!) don’t want to be hired by someone who’d make such a senseless (let alone illegal!) decision not to hire you based on your age, race or gender.  So, put that picture of yourself on your kaleidoscope bio page!   

So, if you find yourself interested in being a baker AND marketer, go for it!  Find yourself interested in working as a doggie daycare manager and an IT manager?  Go for it!  Want to teach high school, be a mechanic and travel write?  Go for it!  You get the picture….wait, no, you get the KALEIDOSCOPE!

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