August 2009


It’s late and I need to head to bed, but I want to let everyone know of a really cool Non-Profit Executive Director position that is currently available in BEAUTIFUL Portland, Oregon.  It’s my available dream job pick of the week!  If you are looking for a new job because you’re burned out in your current one or you’re in a career transition, APPLY HERE for the Executive Director position of the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program for children.

Good luck!

Brian

www.briankurth.com

www.vocationvacations.com

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I am a corporate refugee.  I got laid off from a corporate job in September, 2001.  I decided to take some time off to decide what my game plan was.  I flew to the Canadian Rockies from Chicago to relax a bit.  That was on Sept 10, 2001.  Luckily, I was in no way directly impacted by 9/11….but the horrible events DID confirm my desire to be an entrepreneur.  Life is indeed short, I thought.  Now was my time to really explore my passions.

Amazingly, almost eight years have passed.  I did become an entrepreneur.  And, on the most part, I truly love it.  When I get asked the question by either my VocationVacations or Brian Kurth + Company career consulting clients if I think they should become an entrepreneur, I always “answer” them with a set of questions.  I will share them with you now.

5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Becoming An Entrepreneur

1.  Can I live like a student again?

Seriously.  I’m not talking about downgrading one’s car from a Mercedes to a Suburu.  We’re talking about driving your existing car into the ground.  I’m talking about a night out on the town is a $10 Thai dinner with a $4 beer versus a high-end restaurant and an evening at the symphony or going to an NFL game.  Vacation?  Your business is now your vacation.  Rather than booking a trip to Hawaii in January, you’re going to need to simply take a day off from your business and find a wonderfully, relaxing thing to do much closer to your hometown.  The bottom line is that you need to cut back ALL expenses if you are going to become an entrepreneur.  Regardless of how much money you have in the bank.  Because you know what?  Being an entrepreneur takes a minimum of TWICE as long and TWICE as much money/savings as you will ever plan.  Trust me on that.  I know first hand.

2.  How strong is my relationship with my spouse, family and friends?

You need support.  On the days where you can feel your hair falling out, turning gray, or both, you need your cheerleading team.  If your spouse is not on board with you, you have a HUGE problem on hand (one that may require a relationship therapist versus my dime-store, non-professional assessment here).  That’s a show-stopper, in my opinion.  I don’t know a successful entrepreneur who has a nay-saying spouse.  So, get your cheerleading squad together.  I have mine.  They come and go as to who’s cheering the loudest at any given time but I know I can count on not only my partner, Wade, but also my 85-year old Dad, my siblings and friends such as Gwen, Carolyn, Glenn, Anne, Heidi and Curtis.  They have been there for me since Day One.  They don’t pretend to have the answers or solutions along the way.  They simply LISTEN and tell me that no matter what, I will succeed.  It works.

3.  Is “resiliency” my middle name?

Get ready to get slapped down.  And I mean SLAPPED in the face.  Hard.  Like when Cher slapped Nicholas Cage in “Moonstruck’.  You might be slapped down by a banker saying “no” to your loan request.  You might be told by a prospective angel investor that your ideas suck beyond belief and that you might as well go back to your Dilbert cubicle now.   You may be slapped down and rejected by a potential business partnership that could have really grown your business despite your kick-ass proposal to them.  You might be turned away from the biggest media appearance ever that could have driven a ton of business your way because there was a communications snafu (true story on my end — I’ll share with you if you buy me a beer sometime).  The point is that you MUST be resilient beyond belief to be a successful entrepreneur.  Soak in the rejection.  Take it.  Acknowledge it.  Learn any key take-aways….but MOVE ON.  I invite you to find a successful entrepreneur who hasn’t struggled through rejection.  Resiliency is key.

4.  Can I hold positions in the following “departments”?  IT.  Legal.  Accounting.  Operations.  Marketing.  Sales.  Business Development.

This is near and dear to my heart.  Almost every day I want to pick up the phone and call the IT department.  Or general counsel.  Or accounting.  But, I then realize.  Damn!  I (!) am all of those.  I am my own IT on the most part with the able assistance of Melissa Townsend.  If it weren’t for Melissa over the years, this technophobe clearly would have somehow mistakenly clicked on some wrong button and would have dropped a bomb on North Korea or something.  Meanwhile, although we don’t have accounting and legal in-house at my companies, I must make phone calls to those INCREDIBLY important people in my life on a regular basis.  Honestly, I love my accountant and attorney.  As I should.  They’re expensive people to call.  Since you have to spend the big bucks on these two people to make your business run, you have to respect them and feel their advice is sound.  You do NOT want to cut corners when it comes to your accountant and attorney.  Now, it just so happens I really like both of mine.  That matters too.  You want them to be on your cheerleading team even though you are paying them to be on it.  Meanwhile, operations is something I want done and I want it done right.  But don’t make me cut payroll and vendor checks.  Well, guess what, at ANY time in the process, an entrepreneur needs to know how to cut checks, for example.  It may be the responsibility of your (future) operations manager but you too need to know how to pay your people.  They depend upon you.  My personal strengths generally lie in sales and marketing so I’ve been able to take on those on the most part.  But you get my point.  An entrepreneur wears ALL of these hats.  You need to be prepared to manage it ALL at the beginning.

5.  Is my business my child?

Yes, it is.  If you answered “no”, you’re getting your first slap as an entrepreneur.  From me.  Starting, growing and managing a business runs much like the growth of a child.  At one year, it still needs constant nurturing.  At three years old, it runs….but falls down and scrapes a knee or two and comes crying back to you.  VocationVacations, for example, is a very precocious five-year old.  It’s gaining independence but in doing so, it will at times surprise me with a need for a “time out”.  For example, this week we have been battling with our web hosting company (which will remain nameless) regarding some serious email server issues.  I want a break.  I don’t want to be dealing with it.  But, I must.  The five-year old demands it of me.  You get my point.  You MUST think of your entrepreneurial endeavor as a child and how you will raise it or, in my opinion, it won’t grow up.  But the good news here is that it DOES grow up.  And when it does, you will have earned financial security, time flexibility and overall independence.  And it’s worth it.

After asking myself these questions, would I still become an entrepreneur or does the fluorescent-lit cubicle look better to me now?  Oh, I’m still the entrepreneur.  For sure.  But I’ve had to work really hard along the way.  Entrepreneurialism is not for the faint of heart.

So, if you’re thinking about opening a bakery…becoming a free-lance writer…starting a dog-daycare center…starting your own marketing firm or whatever your passion is, I am a huge proponent and cheerleader for you.  But DO ask yourself those 5 questions before you forge down the WONDERFUL journey of entrepreneurialism!

GOOD LUCK!

Brian

www.briankurth.com

www.vocationvacations.com

Hi Friends,

Please tune into Martha Stewart Radio next Wednesday, August 26 at 4pm Eastern / 1pm Pacific and listen to career coach (and my pal), Maggie Mistal, interview me about the “8 Steps To A Successful Career Change” — and how you CAN do it on a budget.  Mark your calendar for “Making a Living with Maggie”!

Cheers!
Brian

www.briankurth.com

www.vocationvacations.com

Job search is hard.  And it can get expensive.  Times are tough enough right now so the last thing you should do is incur debt, or more debt, in your job search.

So, here are my 5 Tips To Keep Your Job Search On A Budget:

1.  Join a networking organization

Join a networking organization (or two, if your budget allows) that does not cost an arm and a leg.  Now is NOT the time to join that expensive business or athletic club in the spirit of networking.  No.  Pace yourself.  Instead, this is the time that you should join or renew membership with your university alumni association.  And/or, it’s the time to join a trade organization such as PRSA, AMA or ITAA.  Join one organization.  Two if you can afford it.  Prioritize your purchase (it IS a purchase so think of it in those terms!) based on which organization will give you the most bang for your buck.  How many members does the group have?  How often do they meet face-to-face?  How close to your home (include travel, gas, parking costs into your equation)?  What’s their online presence and level of activity?  You want to join an active organization – both “offline” face-to-face and online via the Internet.

2.  Upgrade your LinkedIn account for $50

Upgrade your LinkedIn account for $50 (yes, their prices have gone up…but I still feel it’s worth it).  In doing so, you will be able to directly contact ten people you have targeted in your desired field regarding networking, meeting for an informational coffee and/or establishing a mentorship relationship with them.  These are people you’ve found via researching on LinkedIn by company name, city or vocation type…but to whom you have no direct linkage.  The $50 gives you that direct connection to them.  You know me, I stress the value of mentorship every chance I get and this is an ample time to stress MTR: Mentorship > Transition > Reinvention!  That extra $50 may change your life by linking you with exactly the right person who may help you network and may mentor you – all the way to the point you land your dream job.  MTR is the crux to the proven 8-Step Process for a Successful Career Transition I use day-in and day-out with my clients.

3.  Go to the library.

Sorry, Barnes & Noble, Borders and my beloved Powell’s here in Portland and Strand Books in NYC (let alone, my own publisher).  But you’ll be back shopping there when you’ve landed the job and have more money!  For now, check out the latest career search and business-related books from your local library.  They’ll be happy to see you and you’ll be happy to have just saved some money.  That being said, IF you find a book or two of great value after checking them out at the library, then go to the bookstore and buy them so you have them for long-term reference and you can mark it up all you want.

4.  Write Your Personal Biography

In addition to updating your resume, write a biography of where you’ve been, where you are today and most importantly where you want to go.  This is YOUR brand you’re creating.  It tells a story that a resume simply cannot.  Then have a graphics person create a nicely formatted one-page PDF for you including the content you’ve written.  The formatted PDF should not cost more than $50.  For more on how this fits into the mix of your career search, checking out Step #6, Branding, in the 8-Step Process.

5.  Negotiate Your Terms.

Get a career coach or consultant.  BUT….negotiate with them.  They may not negotiate on their price, but they will (should) work with you on establishing a payment plan.  To be honest, I find it frustrating to hear that some of my career-consulting colleagues insist upon a client signing a one-year agreement and/or a minimum of ten or twelve sessions.  That’s overkill.  A lot can be accomplished in as little as five sessions, in my not-so-humble opinion.

Once you’ve found the right consultant or coach, ask them to establish a payment plan.  For example, I offer my clients the ability to split their payments in two.  They also can either pay by check or by debit card (Avoid using your credit card unless you know you can pay it off in the next payment cycle).

One last point:

Talk to an accountant and save your receipts for everything mentioned in all five tips.  Most, if not all, should be tax deductible.

Now, get out there and find that job….AND STAY ON BUDGET!

Cheers,

Brian

Career Consultations:  www.briankurth.com

Career Mentorship Programs:  www.vocationvacations.com

Test-Drive Your Dream Job:  A Step-by-Step Process To Finding And Creating The Work You Love – Hachette, 2008

I have to share a great story about a wonderful dinner I had this week.  Here’s the scene:

A former career consulting client of mine, his wife and kids are on vacation in Oregon this week. My partner, Wade, and I had dinner with them and some other friends on Tuesday PM.  In between beers, pizza and mac & cheese (for the kids), we got to talking about how we react when things just don’t go our way.  I’m not sure how we got on the topic…but we did.

We can all “lose it” at times.  On the job.  At home.  Heck, it can even be on vacation.  You know what I mean.

Well, my former client’s wife suddenly said that she is “soup” and that her husband is a “TV Dinner”.  UH!?   WHAT!?

She went on.  She said that when something doesn’t go right for her, EVERYTHING gets mixed together and now EVERYTHING has gone wrong in her mind.  She mixes work, family, vacation…whatever….all together into one concoction once one thing goes wrong.  She is soup when things don’t go her way (no offense to the soup lovers out there).  In her mind, everything in her life is falling apart at that very moment.

Meanwhile, she went on, her husband is able to separate whatever is going wrong in life.  He isolates it.  Almost like the parts of a  TV dinner.  Things are compartmentalized and separated by aluminum foil.  His tasty (is that possible?) turkey dinner isn’t going to be impacted by the fact his “peas” went awry and burned beyond belief.  He enjoys his turkey dinner and the dessert surprise.  He is a TV dinner.

After Wade and I stopped laughing, we began to assess ourselves.  Are we soup or TV dinners? As much as I’d love to say I’m a TV dinner, I’m soup.  But I’m proud to say that I’m soup for only a short period of time before morphing into a TV dinner.

For example, last Saturday, Wade and I went to see Julie & Julia starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams (NOTE:  Great movie by the way.  Yes, out of disclosure, I’m biased as we are doing a wonderful VocationVacations promotion with them in conjunction with the movie’s release — sign-up to win a free career mentorship before August 17!). There’s a great scene where things are not going well for Julie in the kitchen and she has a meltdown.  She was soup.  Her husband, Eric, was a TV dinner and tried to support her in saying not all was lost on what she was making.

Well the next night, I was making dinner.  I had gone to the farmer’s market on Saturday AM with my friend Roey and was very proud of what I had brought home.  I was prepared to make cilantro pesto chicken, tomoto/cucumber salad and fingerling, multi-colored potatoes.  All was going well until I used the Cuisinart to make the salad dressing.  It exploded all over me.

Yes, the F-bomb was said (shouted?) several times.

With that, I became soup for about 10 minutes.  The world was coming to an end.  Why did we have such a small kitchen?  Why did I bother going to the farmer’s market anyway?  Why can’t Democrats and Republicans agree on a healthcare initiative?  You get my point.  I ran the gamut for 10 minutes.

Wade, on the other hand, became an instant TV Dinner and compartmentalized it and reminded me that, yes, oil & vinegar salad dressing may be difficult to get out of my shorts and t-shirt but they’re only a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.  “Right, Stan Sunshine”, I thought to myself. I was still in soup mode.

After 10 minutes, I then decided that it wasn’t all that bad….and I finished cooking dinner.   In my underwear…after taking off my vinegar and oil soiled t-shirt and shorts.  That “vision in the kitchen” was Wade’s dessert in his TV dinner.  And it was my way of turning my soup into a TV dinner.  With laughter.

So.  Are you SOUP or a TV DINNER?

Cheers!
Brian

Need mentorship-based career consultation?  Check out my proven 8-Steps To A Successful Career Change!  I’d love to help you through the process.

Hey folks,

Running fast so I’m just putting this out here for all to see real quick.  I just got word from Dream Job Informer Alan of these really cool job opportunities with STAND FOR CHILDREN all across the US.  If you’re looking to get a new job in the wonderful not-for-profit world helping children, this is THE opportunity for you.  And, again, they have openings all across America!

Go get ’em….apply here:

http://www.stand.org/Page.aspx?pid=331

Cheers!

Brian

www.briankurth.com

www.vocationvacations.com

Test-Drive Your Dream Job — The Book

This is a quick blog post today as I’m having a great time working with some career consulting clients’ biographies with our phenomenal new bio writers at Brian Kurth + Company.

I was walking down the street yesterday after (finally!) getting my haircut during lunch and walked past Plaza Cleaners in the Pearl District here in Portland.  And I saw a sign in the window saying:

IF YOU ARE UNEMPLOYED AND NEED AN OUTFIT CLEAN FOR AN INTERVIEW, WE WILL CLEAN IT FOR FREE!

I love it.  OK…so it’s not a free lunch….but who ever said there’s no such thing as free dry cleaning!?  Kudos to Plaza owners, Anne and Steve Young.  Way to help out folks during this Great Recession.

Just had to share.  Now it’s back to having fun working through the 8-Steps of a Successful Career Transition with my clients…

Cheers!
Brian

www.briankurth.com

www.vocationvacations.com

Test-Drive Your Dream Job: A Step-By-Step Guide To Finding And Creating The Work You Love – Hachette, 2008

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