November 2009


Sometimes people will still say to me, “Oh, you’re the fantasy job guy”, referencing my work creating career mentorship programs with VocationVacations. Luckily, the number of people who see me as Ricardo Montalban of careers are declining.  Instead, people see the results of what career mentorship can accomplish:  A successful transition to an ATTAINABLE dream career.  Fantasies via Ricardo Montalblan’s Mr. Roarke are fantasies — they never truly come to fruition.  Dreams, however, do.  I work only with dreams.

Examples of unrealistic “fantasy jobs” for most of us are NFL quarterback, brain surgeon or rock star.  Examples of realistic “dream jobs” are bakery owner, stand-up comedian and fashion retailer.

All that being said, I often hear people say that they have a career in mind to pursue but they’re too scared to pursue it.  They see it as fantasy versus an attainable dream.  One that stands out in my mind is being a sailor, working on a cruise ship or owning and/or operating a vessel touring company.  There is a whole sector of folks who dream about sailing day-in and day-out but feel it’s simply too “fantasy”-based.  They’re wrong.

Whether you want to captain an ecological touring boat, be a schooner captain or sail the seven seas on a much larger commercial or leisure vessel, you CAN make your dream your reality.

VocationVacations mentor, Cindy Adams, of the Reef Roamer and QuickSilver fleet in Key Largo, FL and I were recently chatting about it.  She hears it all the time from people, “Oh, Cindy, you’re so LUCKY to be in this position.”  As Cindy will tell you, luck has almost nothing to do with it.  She and her husband, Terry, sought out a new career, leaving their corporate cubicles behind.  They were not millionaires.  They did not already own any land-based or boats in the Caribbean.  Instead, it took planning.  It took a business plan.  It takes a lot of hard work.  In the end, they have a wonderfully successful and lucrative business.  They have realized their dream and have created a fantastic work/life balance for themselves.

Only days after speaking with Cindy, I was in Hood River, Oregon which is situated right in the Columbia River Gorge along the Columbia River.  Gorgeous spot.  The Wadester and I are there all the time.  We dream (and will make it happen!) of someday “bouncing” between living in Hood River with views of Mt. Hood and the Columbia, keeping the condo in Portland and having a small place in New York.  Some day!  Well, as I was admiring the most amazing rainbow across the river, I then spotted a “tall ship” docked.  I had to check it out.  What was a tall ship doing in Hood River???  It was the LADY WASHINGTON, (owned and operated by Grays Harbor Historical Seaport in Grays Harbor, WA) a replica of the ship from the 1750’s that sailed around Cape Horn in South America and explored the west coast of North America.  Amazing.

And then I met someone as amazing as the ship:  John Paul Clark.  John Paul recently left his career as a carpenter to literally sail up and down the North American Pacific coast on the LADY WASHINGTON!  I have to say that he is quite proud of himself.  He chose the path.  He went through months of training and is now living and working his dream on the water.  He is not only part of the sailing team but is also responsible for providing the replica ship’s history to people like me.

When I asked John Paul if he indeed found his dream job sailing up and down the west coast, he simply grinned from ear to ear and said, “Oh, yes, most indeed.”   He also added that his daughter is proud of his endeavor of changing careers a bit later in life.  John Paul is proof that it is NEVER too late to work in what you truly love.

Now if sailing isn’t your thing, something else is.  Culinary?  Working with animals? Entertainment?  Sports?  Fashion?  Whatever it is, do not assume that your dream is unattainable.  It is not fantasy (unless you’re 45 and want to become that NFL quarterback).  It IS attainable if you work through a career transition program and you are diligent about your own progress.  I know.  I have seen thousands of folks work through the process since 2004.

Make your career dreams a reality.  You can do it.  Let the winds catch your sails!

Cheers,
Brian Kurth

President of mentorship-based career consultancy, Brian Kurth + Company, and VocationVacations, providing 1-3 day career mentorship experiences to adults.

When I was making my 2-3 hour roundtrip commute back in my Chicago days in 1999, I would daydream about what I would rather do for a living.  I was “Dilbert” working as a product manager in a cubical for the phone company at the time.  But I dreamed of testing out other careers:  Tour guide…wine sales/marketing….and….dog training.

I gave dog training a try by creating my own dog training mentorship while still living in Chicago in late 2001.  It was the first-ever VocationVacation in a sense.  I love dogs and have to say that if it weren’t for my love of VocationVacations and working with my clients with Brian Kurth + Company, I probably would let my career go to the dogs and become a dog trainer.  And I sure will have some great mentors to help me become a dog trainer if I were to ever go down that path.  One is our newest mentor, Niki Trudge, of The DogSmith in Bonifay, Florida, located between Pensacola and Panama City.

Niki Tudge grew up in England and went on to pursue a career in the hospitality industry.   For 15 years, she  managed hotels in exotic and exciting locations.   But while she was building her career, Niki was looking for opportunities to follow her passion for animals.  “Since I traveled so much in my job, I couldn’t have my own pet, so I looked for other opportunities to get involved with animals,” says Niki.

Wherever Niki worked, she always became active rehabilitating abandoned and abused animals. Then, while in Africa, she began developing her skills as a family pet dog trainer working with the local police K9 unit.  When her job took her to Hawaii, Niki decided to earn her certification as a dog behaviorist, pet dog trainer, veterinarian assistant and pet groomer.  Although her position as manager of a five-star hotel was demanding, Niki found the time to follow her passion and, with a partner, opened Hawaii Dog Training Academy which thrived for two years until another move took her to Florida.

This move caused Niki to really evaluate what it was she wanted to do.  “I was tired of working in the corporate life,” she explains.  She had spent her career managing hotel staff and had gained valuable experience in business and training. Now it was time to take that experience and apply it to a new career – time to follow her passion to establish a dog training and pet care company that would completely redefine people’s relationship with their dogs.

Niki and her husband Rick Ingram bought a farm in Bonifay, Florida, and founded The DogSmith in 2004.  Initially, they provided dog training with a mantra of “do no harm” based on scientific learning principles and positive reinforcement.  “We began working with the local Humane Society and became part of the community helping to alleviate the pressure on the rescue organization,” shares Niki.

Their innovative training program was well received, and soon clients started asking about other services for their dogs.  Niki and Rick decided to go beyond training and provide a holistic approach to helping clients care for their dogs by adding dog walking and sitting services.” We have become a one-stop shop for taking care of your dog,” Niki says.

Their business model has been successful, and they now offer franchises.  “We have a very strict screening process for potential franchisees.  Their philosophies have to align with our efforts on behalf of dogs and their owners,” Niki explains.  Franchise owners also have to commit to being involved in canine rescue efforts by contributing eight hours a month providing workshops and educational seminars. Today, with three franchises in Florida, one in Illinois and one in Pennsylvania, The DogSmith stands alone as the only national franchise that offers both positive, learning-theory based dog training services coupled with professional pet-sitting and dog-walking services.

Niki’s initial advice for someone wanting to get into the business of dog training/walking, sitting? “Do your research on training philosophies; recognize that this is a business like any business and requires attention to marketing, business operations and finances; understand that good personal service and building good customer relationships is the key to success.” And, of course, you have to love dogs.

Niki and her staff are committed to providing quality, competent, affordable services that benefit the dog and its owner.  Seven million pets a year are euthanized because their owners don’t know how to take care of them and respond to their needs.  The DogSmith is doing everything it can to reduce that number.

Ready to make a career change and become a Dog Trainer and/or Pet Sitter like Niki?  Learn more about this great new VocationVacation.

I’ll be back in coming days with some great new career transition stories.  I love seeing and hearing the amazing career transition success that people have made — EVEN in this troubling economy.

I spend a lot of time touting the importance of loving what you do for a living and creating a mutually satisfying work/life balance.  I encourage people to live for the moment and the future.  When I give speeches across the country, I often find myself referencing the cliché, “Life is no dress rehearsal”.  And it isn’t.

Our Boise VocationVacations Private Investigator mentor, Valerie Agosta, (Hanady Investigations and the Spy Moms) exemplified living life to its fullest — with zest, a sense of humor and always a big smile.  After a ten-year battle with breast cancer, Valerie died last March.  In her honor we have created the Valerie Agosta “Live Your Best Life” VocationVacation Scholarship.  (See details below)

If you or someone you know would like to explore taking the first step toward a career and life transition by taking a VocationVacation, please submit the application below.  The scholarship winner will receive their VocationVacation of choice and airfare to the location of the VocationVacation. The last day to submit an application is Friday, December 4. We will be announcing the scholarship winner on what would have been Valerie’s 57th birthday, December 15.

When Val came on board as a VocationVacations mentor in 2005, she shared with us she was in remission.  There was no doubt in our minds Val would be able to beat it.  Then a few years later we received the call – it was back.  Valerie did not let this deter her from her commitment to be a mentor. She continued to welcome vocationers, eager to share her experience and expertise.  She told us she would let us know if she ever thought she was not up to giving her usual 100%.  Again, we never really thought that day would come.  Val would beat the C-word.  We knew it.

But then I got the call in early-January of this year.  Val had a vocationer scheduled for late January.  She felt she was becoming too weak to effectively mentor and provide the quality experience she had always given her vocationers.  Even as she was preparing to head to Seattle for more aggressive treatment, Val took the time to find a solution.  She suggested her VocationVacation mentorship duties be transferred to her private investigating colleagues at Access Investigations, also in Boise.  Even as she was in her last weeks of life, Val remained on top of everything and had it all worked out.

Val died on March 14, 2009.  VocationVacations’ Melissa Townsend and I traveled to Boise for her memorial.  It was not a surprise the church was standing room only, and  there was as much laughter as there were tears.

Val, we miss you tremendously.  But wherever you are, your spirit of life, passion and reinvention goes on with the Valerie Agosta “Live Your Best Life” VocationVacation Scholarship.   Thank you for being you and for sharing several years of your life with the VocationVacations team and our vocationers.

The Valerie Agosta “Live Your Best Life” VocationVacation Scholarship

The Valerie Agosta “Live Your Best Life” VocationVacation Scholarship offers the opportunity to choose from more than 175 different VocationVacations career mentorships and the chance to spend a couple of days experiencing the real-life responsibilities, challenges and rewards of that profession. The chosen individual will also have the opportunity for both a pre- and post-coaching session with an accredited, affiliated VocationVacation career coach.

In addition, airfare, up to $500, will be arranged for the scholarship winner.

Submit Your Application For The Valerie Agosta “Live Your Best Life” VocationVacations Scholarship Here

So I disclosed to you all last week that I am 15 pounds overweight right now and it’s really bugging me.  I went to a “Dead Celebrity” Halloween party on Saturday night.  It was great seeing Chris Farley, Jesus, Hunter Thompson, Keiko the Killer Whale and Michael Jackson all at one party — and even Liz Taylor showed up with a “Coming Soon” sign.  Evil, I know.  Well, I went as a not-as-good-looking-and-a-bit-overweight Heath Ledger from Brokeback Mountain, sporting my favorite cowboy hat and my fave Frye boots.  I actually was good and did not indulge in the cookies and candy…but I did have a few calorie-counting beers and I am always a sucker for a big bowl of crunchy cheetos (hey, I’m from Wisconsin originally — real cheese or totally fake cheese are always winners in my book).

So, while crunching down my cheetos and throwing back a beer, I thought, “Hmmm, it’s been a long time since I’ve been to yoga.  I should try it again as a new form of workout and balance my eating habits.  Crunch.  Swig.  Crunch.”

I like yoga.  But I don’t have it “down” quite yet.  It takes time.  And my partner, The Wadester, is getting into it more and more as well.  It’s something that we should do together since we both work so much.  But there are some folks who REALLY get into yoga — and make it part of their lives.  For example, our former vocationer alum, Veronica Cruz.

For 15 years, Veronica of San Jose, California, had a successful career as an IT consultant managing projects around the world. However, the landscape of the consulting business was changing, and Veronica found she just was not inspired by her work.  She wanted to feel passionate about what she was doing.

As a child growing up in Katmandu, Nepal, Veronica had been introduced to the practice of yoga.  Years later she pursued yoga again, and her love for the practice was rekindled.  She began to think about how she could turn her passion for yoga into a career.  “However, I realized it was one thing to be passionate about something, and another thing to turn it into a business,” says Veronica.

In April 2008, Veronica signed up to take a VocationVacation with mentor Dean Mahan, owner of Vida Yoga in Austin, Texas.   “Dean shared with me the good, the bad and the hard realities of the business,” explains Veronica.  “By walking in Dean’s shoes I was able to clarify my future direction and understand whether my passion could be translated into a life’s work.”

Veronica returned to San Jose, completed the consulting project she was working on and made it her last. Dean’s parting advice to Veronica had been, “Share your light and keep your vision full of light. Journey to your heart and share from there.” And that was just what Veronica did.  She threw her heart and soul into a plan to open her own yoga studio. She developed a business and marketing plan and earned certification by the Yoga Alliance.

A little less than a year later, Veronica opened Downtown Yoga Shala (www.downtownyogashala.com) in San Jose. “It was a leap of faith, but one done with my eyes wide open,” says Veronica.  Veronica’s advice to someone looking to follow their passion? “Keep an open mind, enjoy the journey and allow your heart to guide your path.”

Great advice for anyone considering a career (and life) transition.  If you are currently laid off, I’d also encourage you to consider this time as an opportunity.  Perhaps a yoga studio (or whatever drives your passion) has YOUR name on it?

Now, I’m off to sign-up for the next yoga class at the gym here in Portland.

Please feel free to send along “nudge” blog comments, Tweets, LinkedIn notes, etc. to me to make sure I do it.  Hold me to it so I can go as a FIT Heath Ledger next year!

Cheers,
Brian

Brian Kurth + Company Career Consulting/Coaching

VocationVacations career mentorship experiences

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Test-Drive Your Dream Job:  A Step-By-Step Guide To Finding And Creating The Work You Love: www.amazon.com