Advice


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…..


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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

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Brian-Kurth/202325023648?ref=ts
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/briankurth
Twitter:  http://twitter.com/BrianKurth

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

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/briankurth
Twitter:  http://twitter.com/BrianKurth
Test-Drive Your Dream Job:  A Step-By-Step Guide To Finding And Creating The Work You Love: www.amazon.com

So I knew I had gained a few pounds this past year but it really hit home when the October issue of Entrepreneur Magazine came out.

Entrepreneur’s article entitled the “The 40-Year Old Intern” is about VocationVacations….and there I am at 43 years old….at One Girl Cookies in Brooklyn (one of our  phenomenal baker mentors)….lookin’ a bit pudgy.  It looks like I’ve spent a bit too much time eating the delish goodies at One Girl!  But, I have to tell you, there are two things in life I’m not going to give up — cookies and red wine.  So, hence, I have reinvigorated my gym attendance.  AND, I am now bringing on at least one gym owner/personal trainer mentor for VocationVacations in coming weeks.

But I digress.  The point of the Entrepreneur Magazine article is that a significant career transition CAN occur.  Please be inspired by how Paul Holje made the switch from being an architect to owning his own bread bakery, Dakota Harvest, in Grand Forks, North Dakota….and has even opened his second bakery!

As if the great Entrepreneur Magazine article wasn’t enough this past month, the fab folks over at MORE Magazine also did a wonderful story entitled “5 Tips To Reinvent Your Career” including vocationer alum Sue Burton’s story of how she made a radical shift in her career to create a stronger work/life balance.  Sue’s VocationVacations mentor was comedian Dan Nainan in New York.  After her stellar mentorship from Dan, she went from being a marketing executive for Fidelity Investments in Boston to being a corporate humorist and stand-up comedian.  For real!  I’m so proud of Sue for grabbing a mitt and getting in the game of life and loving every minute of it.

So thanks to Entrepreneur and to More Magazine….and thanks to Self Magazine for including us in their November issue!  Check it out.

I love what I do:  Helping people make career and life change, transition and reinvention.  Really good stuff.  Now, to celebrate, I’m going to eat a cookie….and hit the gym.

What’s YOUR dream career?  Go make it happen….

Cheers!
Brian Kurth

Career Transition Expert with Brian Kurth + Company

Career Mentorship Guru with VocationVacations

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

I had an amazing time speaking to the Big Ten alumni crowd at Northwestern University in Chicago (sold-out!  Thanks, everyone, for coming…and thanks to NAA and WAA for organizing).  My topic was the 8 Steps To A Successful Career Transition — and Work/Life balance since work and life are not mutually exclusive.

What strikes me most when speaking to university alumni association groups across the US, is that the concept of SIMPLY being HAPPY and attaining a work/life balance is a universal interest.  Last night’s group was comprised of GenY, GenX and BabyBoomer alumni.  It was 50/50 Men/Women.  Being fulfilled in one’s career and being happy are goals that reach across every race.

Happy.  Yes, happiness.  When was the last time you answered in an affirmative that you were HAPPY in your work?  Believe it or not, a 2006 Harris Poll’s result indicated that a full 84% of people are NOT happy in what they do.  Now, I ask “What the ____?” over that.  How can SO many Americans be unhappy in what they do.  Life is so short.  Don’t they get it?  Are you one of them?  If so, time to pursue some happiness.

Well, as it turns out, it’s the “F” word (fear) that keeps people from pursuing happiness.  We talked a lot about fear last night.  People shared their fears of financial insecurity, loss of identity (ie, “I’ve been an attorney for 20 years.  It’s all I know.”), fear of failure and fear of what family and friends are going to think of a prospective career change.  I recommend Dr. Susan Jeffers book, “Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway” to anyone who is facing fear.

I’m happy to report that I think several hundred people are starting today with a renewed sense of change and optimism in their pursuit of happiness.  It CAN happen.  I’ve worked with thousands of people over the past six years.  I know first hand.  I’ve seen the banker become a happy dog trainer.  I’ve seen the music executive become a happy hotel manager.  I’ve seen a computer sales exec become a happy yoga instructor.  And the list goes on and on.

But the key to pursuing happiness doesn’t occur in a vacuum.  It’s all about finding a mentor in your chosen field(s) to help you make the transition.  It’s a must.  If there’s ONE thing that I wanted everyone to learn from last night’s discussion is that MENTORSHIP, MENTORSHIP AND MENTORSHIP is the key to pursuing and finding career happiness.  See steps #4 and #5 in the 8 Steps:

http://www.briankurth.com/Career_Change_in_8_Steps.html

With that being said, please join the Big Ten alums in their pursuit of happiness — on the job and in life.

Are you ready?  When are your going to start?  What would hold you back?

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

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