April 2009

I had to share the following column my friend Jean Chatzky wrote yesterday that was distributed across the country…I could not agree more.  You’ve it hear from me before…but as Jean outlines…it’s about following the career passion…or creating some sense of passion in your current job.  And it’s all dependent upon, yep, you guessed it – mentorship, mentorship and more mentorship.  A career transition or a tweak to an existing job doesn’t happen over night.  And as I tell all my career coaching clients, you have to find a mentor either at your current workplace or in your desire new vocation in order to successfully transition.  YOU CAN DO IT!  Now, here’s Jean’s wonderful article…..  


Brian Kurth



Published: April 9, 2009

My college friend Susan went through a stretch where she couldn’t stand her job, and she had this saying, “That’s why they have to pay you. If it was fun, you’d do it for free.” I’d nod and egg her on. We’ve certainly all had our bad days. Some of us have had bad months and bad years.

After immersing myself in the research for my new book, “The Difference,” however, I think Susan and I were wrong. We are paid for our jobs because what we do is of value. However, that doesn’t mean our work can’t be fun, stimulating, energizing or satisfying.

I believe that people who are passionate about what they do reach financial comfort and wealth more often than those who are not. This presents us with two options: Finding your passion and pursuing it or becoming passionate about what you’re already pursuing.

In a troubling economy like this one, the latter option may be wiser, but let’s take a look at the first option.



  • How to do what you love.The first step is to identify those passions that may be on your list and those that most definitely are not. Asking yourself these following questions can help you figure that out:

1) If money were not an issue, what would you be doing with your life?

2) When you go to the magazine racks or the library, what do you most like to read about? (What do you find yourself searching for on the Internet?)

3) Think about the last few times you said to yourself, “I’d like to try that sometime.” What was “that”?

4) What do other people say you do particularly well?

5) Think back to when you were 10 or 12 and try to recall how it felt to be really excited about some possibility. What could you do today that might make you feel the same way?

Once you’ve nailed down what your passion is, can you envision yourself building a livelihood from it? What lengths will you go to to make your endeavor a success? To figure this out, don’t quit your day job just yet. Instead, work on the new business on the side until you know that it’s realistic and profitable. And in the interim, get the word out and see if you can gather any proceeds for your new venture to supplement an actual launch.



  • How to love what you do.

If following your dreams isn’t quite feasible, the alternative is to find some happiness, some fresh interest, in the work you’re doing right now. It’s certainly possible.

So the question becomes: How do you find the calling in your job? First, forge a personal connection with your boss. If you’re working for someone you feel is charismatic or inspirational, you’ll likely want to perform better in that person’s eyes.

Learn to embrace autonomy while you work. Making decisions for yourself throughout the day is key to feeling good about the work you do, no matter what kind of work it is. Research has shown you’ll be happier at work if you can make your own mark.

Last, while you’re going through this process of finding the satisfaction in your work, it truly helps if you stay uplifted. If you act like you’re having fun, you’ll find you are having fun.

Jean Chatzky is an editor-at-large at Money magazine and serves as AOL’s official Money Coach. She is the personal finance editor for NBC’s “Today” show. Her Web site is http://www.jeanchatzky.com.


Hi Everyone!

I am spending time working through the nuts and bolts of what I consider the EIGHT most important components of a successful career transition with my career transitioning clients.  I am sharing a top-level overview of these eight components with you.  Obviously, as we “peel back the onion” together in one-on-one career consultation, there’s a lot more hard work to be done for EACH component.  That goes without saying, I suppose.  But, this gives you an initial feel for the eight key components. As always, I’m here to assist you in your career transition.   Additionally, if your company, alumni association or club/organization would like to organize a teleclass based on these eight key components,  I am happy to host such a teleclass.  


1.  Define What a “Great Job” Is

What are your passions and interests? What activities give you a sense of purpose and satisfaction?  The career transition process gives you the opportunity to explore, experiment and discover what a “great job” means and how to pursue it.

2.  Address Fear

Financial instability, family disruption, giving up an identity, failing at something new.  These are all fears that may stand in your way of successful career transition. The biggest thing you can do to get past these fears is to meet them head-on. Bring these deepest fears to light and examine them with reason; talk about them; play each one out to its most irrational end. What is the worst thing that could happen?

3.  Create an Action Plan with a Timeline and Goals

Pursuing the ideal career is less a leap than a series of incremental steps that move you closer to your goal. What is critical to reaching that goal is making sure the steps you follow are the right ones. An action plan is needed.  If you make a list of all the things you need to learn and do in order to realize a great new job, you will have mapped out a plan for moving ahead.  A knowledgeable action plan provides you with the power to forge ahead.

4.  Find a Mentor

Inspirational, experienced, realistic, forthcoming and optimistic.  A good mentor is all of these things and eager to help someone else get started.  Recruiting a mentor who is a good match for you requires following a plan of action, asking the right questions and building a mutually satisfying relationship.  Having a mentor is at the crux to a successful career transition.  Whether you are 20-something, 30-something, 40-something, 50-something or even 60-something, you need a mentor in your desired career.   

5.  Test-Drive A New Job or Career

There’s no better way to learn than by doing. Test-driving a new job with a mentor provides a hands-on experience that has the potential to change your life. This is the opportunity to learn as much as possible about the job, how you feel about the day-to-day activities and what it takes to succeed.  The volunteer mentorship experience gives you the required personal and professional due diligence you need prior to making a career transition.

6.  Create Your Professional Brand

Your professional brand (including a professional biography, in addition to your resume) separates you from your competitors and colleagues. Professional branding is not about building a persona.  Instead, it is a way for you to maximize your key passions, attributes, skills, strengths and values – and use them to differentiate yourself in the workplace.

7.  Network, Network, Network

You need to reach out to people with similar interests and goals. Additionally, you need to do your homework and access resources ranging from LinkedIn, Yahoo!Groups, Twitter, etc. within the online social networking world, to the good, old-fashioned one-on-one interaction with people in the field you are exploring, as well as business and university alumni associations.  

8.  Establish Thresholds

The biggest benefit to a successful career transition is increased life satisfaction. It is important to understand how much risk, challenge and uncertainty one can tolerate before the life satisfaction goal becomes blurred by the process.  The career transition process is as much about what you learn on the journey as the rewards when you reach your destination.




My Career Transition book:  Test-Drive Your Dream Job:  A Step-By-Step Guide To Finding And Creating The Work You Love (Hachette, 2008)

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