March 2010


I have many Baby Boomer career transition clients so I often recommend Jeri Sedlar’s and Rick Miner’s book, Don’t Retire, REWIRE! It’s a fantastic guide for folks who simply aren’t ready for retirement even though their age may suggest otherwise and/or it’s for people who simply need to continue to work for financial reasons but choose to work in a field for which they have passion.  It’s a great how-to guide for boomers but I would argue that Gen X folks can benefit from the book as well.  Plan for the future!

That being said, I’m thrilled to have Jeri as my guest blogger today!  Here is her sage advice on how to not let turbulent times steal your dreams!

The adage “one size does not fit all” couldn’t be truer than during these challenging times. Many people have postponed their retirements for financial reasons and others have decided to stay put and not pursue a new career or dream job because of workplace uncertainties. However there is a segment of our population who is saying ENOUGH and has decided to take action in terms of their work dreams! People of all ages are moving out of the pack and are investigating new playing fields!

People have recognized that there is never a perfect time to make a move. It’s always easy to find some type of excuse, real or imagined, to postpone moving forward. The reality is that the economy is slowly recovering and new normal situations are being created. But the key is that each of us will create our own new normal; it won’t be a collective happening! Change is the new reality and each of us needs to become our own change agent. So the truth is— you should be planning for your own economic recovery now!

I recently spoke to an engineer who said, “Let everyone else sit it out on the sidelines, wondering what’s going to happen! I want to be a cartoonist, and I’m not getting any younger!” So what did he do? He signed up for a weekend class on cartooning. This is an example of someone who is sticking to his original dream and is taking a small step to get there. He anticipates working for another three years then hopes to move into a career in cartooning. To him, this is all a part of effective life planning.

If you believe in your idea or dream, and believe enough in your self to try something new, then use this time to move on. Small steps matter. And tools and resources are in abundance if you choose to investigate them and use them. Many people are feeling overworked, underappreciated and living with too much ambiguity. So why not use the time to take charge of your future.  You will have to realign your time, and there could be trade offs, but I guarantee you will feel a sense of accomplishment and hope! And taking action toward a new career, regardless of how small the action, will positively impact your physical and mental health.

So how do you make your dream come true at a time when everything around you says wait, it’s the wrong time to make a change, to follow a passion or find your next job? You use your resources to discover the people, places and things to assist you on your rewiring® journey. Whether you want to use your current skills in a new way, express your values through your work, follow an old passion or just plain have more fun, go for it, now.

The following ideas are meant to jump start your next career:

  • know yourself- identify your drivers*, know what makes you tick
  • be able to articulate WHY you want to change careers
  • be able to express your passion for your new direction
  • build a network of people in your new field
  • do an exploratory and talk to experts; get their advice
  • do the legwork to discover what education or skills you need
  • take a course
  • shadow someone doing the job/profession/craft you are interested in
  • create a bibliography on your selected topic
  • join an association related to your dream job
  • Attend webinars online or go to conferences
  • read related blogs, magazines
  • volunteer; it’s an inexpensive way to try something new
  • take a part time in your chosen field
  • fill in for someone in the field
  • take advantage of all resources available

And of course test drive your new career by taking a VocationVacation!  It is the best way to actually work along side someone who is already doing it.  You’ll get to ask questions, get the feel for the job, and above all else test yourself to confirm your interest.  You will probably have some fun, but most important, it could change your life.

Jeri Sedlar & Rick Miners are the authors of Don’t Retire, REWIRE! 5 Steps to Fulfilling Work that Fuels Your Passion, Suits Your Personality and Fills Your Pocket!

*Drivers are our personal motivators.  When Jeri and Rick did the research for their book, Don’t Retire, REWIRE!, they asked people why they work beyond a paycheck.  They responded with 85 different reasons, which Jeri and Rick call “drivers”.

So, how do YOU plan to REWIRE!?  Let me know…..


I have been asked by more and more people which books and resources I recommend to my clients to compliment their career consultations and/or their one-one-one career mentorship VocationVacation experience(s).

Here is my down-and-dirty list before heading out for the weekend with the Wadester.  We are driving to a favorite place of ours — the eastern Columbia River Gorge for the opening season weekend at Maryhill Museum (check out the passion turned vocation by its founder, Sam Hill!).  But, as usual, my A.D.D. and I digress about the weekend….so here’s my list:

Hot Off The Press Suggestions:

My pal Randi Bussin just wrote a couple of great pieces that you may find on Job-Hunt.org:

5 Steps To Starting Your Career Reinvention

and

5 Steps  to Implementing Your Successful Career Reinvention

Here are two books that haven’t been released yet but I think you should add to your must-read list:

1.  What’s Next? by U.S. News & World Report contributing editor, Kerry Hannon.  This is a wonderful resource book full of advice and honest encouragement from people who have garnered up the courage to make career changes and reinvent themselves.  Kerry’s book comes out in June.  Mark your calendars!

2.  SpyMom by Valerie Agosta.  This is a true story about how Val’s passion, curiosity and need to “give back” led her from being a regular ol’ soccer mom of three kids to becoming a private investigator with a focus on clients who were women and children in need.  Val also writes about her ten-year battle with cancer along her journey of becoming a P.I.  This book is heart-warming and full of inspiration.  If you are questioning if you can really make a career transition, read this book.  Val tragically lost her battle with cancer in March, 2009 but she more than won the battle of making a career transition.  We miss her dearly as a VocationVacations mentor.  We look forward to granting the second annual Valerie Agosta “Live Your Best Life” VocationVacation Scholarhip this December.  Submissions will be accepted in early April on the VocationVacations website so please stay tuned for that and pick up a copy of SpyMom as of April 1.

I’ve also been asked what my favorite resume-writing book is.  That’s tough.  To be honest, I HATE writing resumes.  I really do.  So I don’t do them.  I like to focus on my strengths and writing resumes is not one of them.  Don’t get me wrong, resumes (as well as LinkedIn profiles and summaries) are important for clients.  So instead, I partner with two amazing resume writers, Miriam Salpeter, of Keppie Careers and Julie Ghatan.  I asked Miriam what her favorite “how-to” resume-writing book is.  She immediately responded with the recommendation of Resume Magic by Susan Britton Whitcomb.

My Tried and True Suggested Career Transition Books Are:

Do YOU have a favorite career transition book or resource?  Please share!

Cheers,
Brian

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In this down-turned economy, I get a lot of prospective clients telling me, with almost an apology, “You know Brian, what I REALLY want to do with my life is become a Travel Writer.”  And then they follow with a chuckle, “But, come on, how does one do that?  It’s not feasible, is it?”

My reply:  You won’t know unless you try it out.  But, yes, it can be done!

Now, granted, it goes without saying that travel writing is a competitive business.  Who doesn’t want to travel to cool places and write about them and give one’s suggestions and recommendations to others, right?  Sign me up!   The reality is, however, that the world of magazine, newspaper and book publishing is in a paradigm shift.  Dollars are fewer.  Advances are nearly gone.  And the hours to make the dollars are longer.  And, yet, people DO succeed as writers — and, yes, you Rick Steves wannabes, even travel writers.

Why?  Because many of us still love to travel, fantasize and plan where we will visit some day or because some of us still place importance of travel and exploration high on our list of things to do in life and budget accordingly each year.  Also, corporations and organizations are still sending their employees out on business trips — and the employees want to combine some fun exploration along with their business meetings.  People are not staying at home, folks.  The “staycation” thing only goes so far to feed one’s soul.  Hence, it’s Economics 101:  Supply and demand.  There is still demand for travel writing.  There are still readers.  And as long as there are still readers, there are advertisers and sponsors….and, hence, travel writers will be employed.  Yes, the Great Recession has made the field even more competitive.  The cream rises to the top.  Yes, the ad dollars are down.  No, you might not become a fairly wealthy travel writer like Rick Steves but, YES, you CAN make a decent living at it.

How?

AOL just wrote about one of our former clients, Craig Zabaransky, this past week.  He went from working the corporate life as a consultant in the finance sector in Manhattan…to getting laid off…to having his office become his laptop and mobile phone.  Yep.  Craig has become a full-time travel writer this past year!  He offered up some great advice on how to become a travel writer on AOL…..

http://jobs.aol.com/articles/2010/03/11/management-consultant-to-travel-writer/

I need to put in a little plug for Craig’s amazing travel writer mentor, Ron Stern.  Craig’s transition was made easier due to Ron’s advice, expertise and hands-on mentorship while on Craig’s Travel Writer VocationVacation (which was a gift from Craig’s fiance, how cool is that?) in March, 2009.  He has helped Craig and many other aspiring travel writers create their tangible, common-sensible, realistic action plans for their part-time or full-time (as is the case with Craig) career transition.

So, if you want to become a travel writer — part-time or full-time — you CAN do it.  Even in this economy.  Craig is proof in the pudding.  Congratulations, Craig!

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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

This is a really quick shout-out before heading out for the weekend.  I just have to share how excited I am that several authors see what we do as career mentor recruiters at Brian Kurth + Company and as career mentorship providers at VocationVacations as, simply — revolutionary.

In his best-selling, new book, DRIVE, Daniel Pink examines the three elements of true motivation – autonomy, mastery, and purpose — and offers techniques for putting these into action.  On page 31, VocationVacations is illustrated as an example of such a technique:

“Take the curious example of VocationVacations.  This is a business in which people pay their hard-earned money…to work at another job.  They use their vacation time to test-drive being a chef, running a bike shop, or operating an animal shelter.  The emergence of this and similar ventures suggests that work, which economists have always considered a “disutility” (something we’d avoid unless we received a payment in return), is becoming a “utility” (something we’d pursue even in the absence of a tangible return).” – Daniel H. Pink, Riverhead Books, 2009

And if this isn’t enough, best-selling mystery author, Erica Spindler, took a VocationVacation as part of her research for her new book, BLOOD VINES!  As she says in the acknowledgements,

“To all the folks at Larson Family Winery, especially winemaker Carolyn Craig, thanks for making my VocationVacation research day so fabulous.  It was truly terrific.  I’ll never forget climbing the wine barrels and into a fermenting tank — how many authors can claim that?”

And, finally, I’m really excited that US News & World Report Contributing Editor, Kerry Hannon, has also included our style of career mentorship in her soon-to-be-released book, WHAT’S NEXT?

I love being part of a revolution!  Isn’t this awesome that we are getting such wonderful support and advocacy?

GenX and Baby Boomer ADULTS (NOT just the 20-year old college student) need and want to be mentored in new careers — regardless of age, career histories or educational background — we ALL need career mentorship.

How do YOU see career mentorship as revolutionary?  What are its greatest benefits in your mind?

I recently had the pleasure of seeing yet another career transition client fulfill on their dream of creating or finding their dream job.

Annemarie Spitznagle was a pharmaceutical sales executive who simply lost the passion for “schlepping” legal drugs.  Instead, she wanted to pursue her true passion:  organic foods including….sweets!

Annemarie was well down the path of writing her business plan for an organic bakery prior to taking her Baker VocationVacation at The Pink Cupcake in Mt. Vernon, OH with mentors, Beth Murdock and Sommer Meade.  She felt she needed the hands-on mentorship in addition to her coursework at the University of Wisconsin Center for Entrepreneurship.  Combining class time with face-to-face mentorship is a key to success.

Fast forward:  In less than six months from taking her VocationVacation career mentorship, Annemarie opened her amazing, new organic bakery, Bloom Bake Shop, in Middleton, Wisconsin, a suburb of Madison.

I asked Annemarie to share her advice and words of wisdom to those who think they may want to become a baker or become a bakery owner.  Much of her sage advice can be applied to just about any other career transition, however.  Embarking upon the path of career change and reinvention is not for the faint of heart.  But it’s SO worth facing the struggle and obstacles to get to the point of work-life fulfillment as Annemarie has.

Congratulations, Annemarie!  So very proud of you….and all our other career transition clients who have created change and reinvented themselves.  I can’t wait to enjoy one of your delish organic cupcakes!

Here are Annemarie’s advice and words of wisdom:

  • I’d bank sleep.  You will work harder then you ever knew possible and then you’ll work some more
  • I’d order some thicker skin, there are always more positives then negatives, but as perfectionists we forever focus on the one negative, like a tiny splinter, when the rest of the body is perfectly healthy and strong
  • I’d remind myself to step back periodically that first opening weekend and pat myself on the back and tell myself, “You did it!”
  • I commend myself for having for having built amazing friendships, people that stayed up until the wee hours helping me finish the little details, friends that got up and baked with me from 4:30-8am and then went right on to their “real job”
  • I’d remarry my husband again. He has always been a fan, but gosh, he is my number one cheerleader and source of strength, everyday telling me how proud he is of me. You need that
  • I’d remind my mother how great she was for flying up at a moment’s notice TWICE to keep my home-front running because we didn’t expect to take off so quickly with demand
  • I’d tattoo my mantra between my eyes: “Remember it’s just cake!”  It is so easy to get caught up and take it all too seriously.

What I know now:

  • I am stronger then I ever thought I was..and braver
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help
  • No matter how much you plan, how great your business plan is,  you will still miss some details. And it will be okay. You will survive
  • If you do make mistakes, fix them, if it bothered someone, apologize and then swallow your pride and keep your chin up
  • Remind yourself when you are exhausted that this is your passion; this is your dream
  • Find a theme song, bring it to work and play it when you are feeling stressed, tired, or just want to break out dance because you feel HAPPY because, darn it, you are living your dream!

Key strengths that kept me going:

  • A solid business plan that I shared with numerous critical professionals to ensure it was ripped apart appropriately
  • Good legal counsel to protect my investment
  • An amazing mentor that believed in me, my idea and never tired of all of my questions and concerns
  • A talented graphic designer who got my vision in an instant so I could effectively communicate my brand to the public
  • Working with a commercial realtor to ensure I was placing myself in my appropriate demographic and access was optimal
  • Created a delicious product
  • Tested my product with a constructive audience of strangers who owed me nothing and then tested it again!!  And again!!
  • Not being intimidated by constructive criticism
  • If you haven’t worked in the type of bakery you want to own, go do it or apprentice in one.  Experience first-hand the fun, the stress and the reality of it all.

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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