Business


Ever read a quote and just love it?  And then feel compelled to share it with friends and family?  Yeah, me too.  I’m also one of those folks who saves newspaper articles and piles them up in the office til I blitz out notes to family and friends saying, “Thought you’d enjoy this article  — even if it is from 2005!” (Note to folks who cringe at the thought of newsprint:  yes, I still love holding a newspaper in my hands while on the bike or elliptical at the gym most mornings — call me a Luddite, but I think there’s value in still having a newspaper in addition to the days’ news online — but I digress, as I often do).

I have never read the following quote from Teddy Roosevelt before.  I love it.  It resonates to so many folks these days, I think.  We’re in the worst economy in 75 years.  People are scared.  People are wondering, “What’s next?”.  I shared it with my brother who’s a successful entrepreneur and he said it has been on his top 10 fave quote list for quite some time.  I can see why.

So, if you’ve been laid off….struggling in a relationship….are a wannabe entrepreneur…creating a life/work reinvention for yourself….or you’re simply wanting to challenge yourself by trying something new, this quote will speak to you:

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

So, are you daring greatly?  If so, in what ways?  If not, why not?

Best!
Brian

VocationVacations (www.vocationvacations.com) is a one-of-a-kind company providing 1-3 day career mentorship experiences for individuals and small groups.  Brian Kurth + Company (www.briankurth.com) is a career consultancy and outplacement firm revolutionizing career transition and reinvention by guiding clients through an 8-step process including creating their own mentorship experience(s).

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Hey there!  Did you miss me?  Well, I missed you.  I was away from blogging for a bit due to being so darn busy career consulting to individuals and organizations and providing career mentorship experiences through VocationVacations.  I’m not complaining, however.  I truly love what I do.  And who wouldn’t?  I get to work with experts who love what they do and are willing to share their expertise and time with my Brian Kurth + Company and VocationVacation clients.  It just doesn’t get any better than that.

With that being said, I am thrilled to announce…our new….drumroll, please….FASHION Retailer/Boutique Owner career mentors, Tom and Karen Rochelle of ROCHELLE’s in St. Augustine, Florida!  We are honored to have Tom and Karen on board the VocationVacations team of experts.  Here’s a bit more about them….

Karen describes herself when she was growing up as an “experimental dresser”. “I was trendsetting in my choice of clothes and sewed my own clothing.” However, she never considered her eye for fashion would go any further then her own closet.

But that changed after she and her husband Tom decided they wanted to own a business together. Karen’s fashion sense and Tom’s strong sense of style would ultimately serve them well when they landed on the idea of opening a women’s retail clothing store. “We both had earned degrees in business, and between the two of us we had little or no experience in this field,” laughs Karen. But that didn’t stop them.

Karen and Tom figured they would get “chewed up” in the big city, so they chose a smaller community, St. Augustine, to open their boutique. They had a little money, were able to get a bank loan and opened Rochelle’s in a strip mall in 1984. Their goal was to offer a wide mix of youthful, moderately-priced, high-quality stylish clothing that would appeal to all ages. “The first seven years were challenging, but we were committed to do whatever it took,” explains Karen. “We loved the creativity of owning our own business.”

Locals and visitors to this small tourist town began to take notice of the unique mix of clothes and accessories sold at Rochelle’s. “We learned about customer buying patterns, the psychology of working with customers and what sells,” Karen says. Customers from New York and Los Angeles became regulars when visiting St. Augustine and enjoyed selecting items from lines like Ella Moss, Susana Monaco, 7 For All Mankind, Tarina Tarantino and many more.

Karen knew they were on the right tract when a $5,000 sale to an out of town customer became a regular occurrence. In 1999, Karen and Tom moved Rochelle’s to an old warehouse which had been home to a sign studio since 1950. They renovated the building but maintained its character and charm, keeping some of the neon and painted signage as décor and for displays.

With the help of one permanent, full-time staff, Tom and Karen have successfully grown their business and gained recognition for the boutique’s unique style and product offerings that make it special. Rochelle’s has been featured in a segment of the TLC television program, “Making Over America with Trinny and Susannah”, and has a long history of being named by the local newspaper as the number one boutique in St. Augustine.

Karen loves her job, but, of course, there are always challenges. “You really have to stay on top of things. The new era of the Internet and the advent of social networking offer new opportunities and challenges and you have to understand how to work with them,” cautions Karen. There are many pieces to the puzzle of owning and operating a profitable boutique. Karen and Tom have successfully learned how to fit all those pieces together and can help you decide if the world of fashion retail is also the right fit for you.

While on your Fashion Retailer/Boutique Owner VocationVacation career mentorship with Karen and Tom Rochelle at Rochelle’s, activities will include some or all of the following:

  • Assist in selecting merchandise (color, size run, ship date) from samples during a buying session with a sales representative in store
  • Coordinate and participate in informal modeling event at local restaurant
  • Develop marketing emails and send to customers
  • Write up sales, collect payment, and package purchases for customers
  • Write radio advertisement
  • Design and arrange accessory displays
  • Call customers on special orders received or on merchandise they have expressed an interest in
  • Review clothing/accessory line sheets/catalogs and write and place order
  • Engage customers and provide assistance with their clothing and accessory purchases
  • Rearrange clothing on racks by line, color or style so that they are visually appealing
  • Receive inventory and hang, price and merchandise in store

Ready for your career mentorship?  Or know of someone who could use some mentorship under the tutelage of Karen and Tom, please send them along to the following link to submit for their very own VocationVacation career mentorship:

http://www.vocationvacations.com/DreamJobHolidays/rochelles.php

If being a Fashion Retailer/Boutique Owner isn’t your thing, what’s YOUR dream job?  See our currently available list of VocationVacations.  Do we offer your dream job as a mentorship?  If so, great!  We look forward to your patronage.  If not, please tell me what your dream job is as we’re always bringing on more amazing mentors across 180 career types — and growing.  Hopefully with one for you soon!

Best,
Brian

President of Brian Kurth + Company Career Consulting and VocationVacations

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

Speaker represented by George Greenfield at CreativeWell.

I spent the last couple of hours speaking with several VocationVacation and Brian Kurth + Company clients.  The energy with all three clients was running high….positivity was abound….and I could feel my adrenaline rushing with theirs.  All three were so excited about their progress in finding or creating a great career and balance it all with life including family, friends, hobbies, etc.  Such a great start to a Friday.

And then I asked the question to all three clients, “What will you do if/when you get to the point that you are about to collapse out of exhaustion as you approach the finish line to finding or creating your ideal career and life/work balance?”

Well, wasn’t I just Mr. Debby Downer, huh?

Not at all.  The sense of exhaustion and questioning, “Is this career transition REALLY going to happen?” is a natural step in the process for many (not all) people.  This morning’s clients are like marathon runners at mile post #21.  They’re going strong.  But three miles later, by mile post #24, they might start questioning things a bit as they can SEE the end of the marathon ahead but are starting to wonder if they’ll truly make it to mile post #26 as their lungs and legs are feeling the pain and are simply tired.  The answer is, “yes, they will make it”.  But they need to keep several things in mind.

Here are my 3 Top Tips to Making It To The Career Search Finish Line if you hit a bit of burn-out:

1.  Don’t look so far ahead.  Stop looking at the finish line.  Instead, just look at what’s immediately in front of you versus what’s ahead months or years ahead.  I’m not saying that planning ahead isn’t important.  It is.  But sometimes you simply need to recognize where you are right now and acknowledge your successful progression from where you came from versus looking at what’s still ahead.

My past client, Sandy Huddle, recently sent me an email update and she NAILED exactly what I’m talking about.  She is making a career transition from working in the insurance industry for the past 23 years to becoming a Video/TV/Film Producer after having gone back to school several years ago.  She recently felt the pain of being so close to the finish line with college and looking forward to her new career — when she hit a bit of a wall.  Her comments below are full of sage advice and inspiration:

“I started this whole journey in October of 2006 – it’s been a long, exhausting, and ABSOLUTELY incredible experience. I can’t believe how much I’ve learned, experienced, and grown…I’ll be honest, it hasn’t always been easy or without some challenges.  The challenges are mostly internal where I have to remember to be patient with myself and provide some positive self talk.  My present mantra, courtesy of actress Janet McTeer, is “Someone has to succeed. There’s no reason why it can’t be me.”  I’m still taking it one day at a time, staying very much in the present and perhaps taking a peak at tomorrow. I try not to set my sights too far in the future or ponder on how many classes I have to go.”

2.  It’s the journey, stupid (remember Bill Clinton’s sign in his office, “It’s the economy, stupid”?).  Keep in mind that the root in the word, transition, is “transit”.  Yes, a career transition IS a journey, folks.  Enjoy the path as best you can.  Sandy Huddle also added some sage advice to fellow transitioners when she said in her email to me:

“…It’s the journey not the arrival that matters.  I am so grateful for having walked through my fear and taking that first step on a new journey that has unlocked my creativity and allowed me to pursue my dream.”

We ALL need to be reminded of the journey versus the destination from time to time.

3.  Blind faith can buy you time.  OK, you got me: Blind faith does not buy much else other than time.  True enough.  But time is your friend when in a career transition.  Career change often doesn’t happen overnight.  It truly is much more of a marathon than a sprint.  Simply believing that you will SOMEHOW cross the finish line and find or create your perfect career will get you far.  You might not know exactly how it will occur or look.  Or when.  And the ideal career and life/work balance might be a bit nuanced from the point that you started your marathon.  It’s OK.  Simply be open to the possibilities.  Perhaps it’s the dream job with the dream company — but in a different city in which you end up loving to live.  Or perhaps you want to become a chocolatier but along your marathon you realized that you also want to incorporate a coffee house into your business plan.  It’s all good.  Be open to the tweaks that will come your way.  Be open to blind faith and you’ll be surprised what will land in your lap.

Those are my three top tips….but you may have more suggestions….please give your thoughts!

Keeping the dreams alive,

Brian

Please excuse some shameless self-promotion but here’s what my publicist has to say….
Brian Kurth is an innovative career transition expert, TV contributor, entrepreneur, author and a sought-after speaker.  Brian has provided career mentorship, transition and reinvention (MTR) advice on CNBC, CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, NBC’s TODAY Show and National Public Radio (NPR), and has been featured in articles in O, The Oprah Magazine; The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, Fortune, Men’s Journal, and Black Enterprise Magazine, just to name a few.  Brian founded VocationVacations in 2004 and Brian Kurth + Company in 2008.  He is the author of “Test-Drive Your Dream Job:  A Step-By-Step Guide to Finding And Creating The Work You Love” – Hachette, 2008.

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

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.

Laid off? Burned out in your job? Then come to a Career Change Coffee Klatch if you’re a New Yorker or visiting the Big Apple this weekend!

I thought it’d be fun to do something a bit non-traditional and gather for a very casual “coffee klatch” in Central Park at 10am this Saturday, July 25.

If you are in a career transition and looking to reinvent yourself, then this will be a great, casual way to take the first step. I’ll chat a bit about the 8 Steps of a Successful Career Transition, the crux of which is based on creating a career mentorship for yourself and creating a professional brand

When:
Sat, July 25 @ 10am

Where:
At the “Imagine” ground sign at Strawberry Fields in Central Park:
http://www.centralpark.com/pages/attractions/strawberry-fields.html

Bring:
Yourself
Pen, Notepad or Journal
Coffee
Blanket to sit on

If there’s rain in the prediction, we’ll figure out a Plan B (any suggestions of a large enough coffee house as a back-up?)

Let me know if you can make it….and spread the word to friends and family members in NYC or may be visiting NYC who you think might like to have a fun career transition coffee klatch.

Cheers!
Brian

www.briankurth.com

www.vocationvacations.com

I love my job but, like everyone, I have my ups and downs.  Especially as an entrepreneur who does not have in-house tech support.

I have had one helluva week, to be honest.  My beloved iPhone and MacBook were stolen while in New Orleans at a conference; we had some serious IT issues with our main computers back here in Portland; and for the first time in a long time I weighed myself at the gym two mornings ago and I realized I’ve put on 15 pounds in the last year.  I’m ready for a low-cal Friday happy hour with my pals Sean and Carolyn. 

But….just as I am coming off a bad week, I am going to end it on an inspirational HIGH note. 

I am so proud that Black Enterprise Magazine covered the story of our VocationVacations alumni, Charles Turner, and our phenomenal mentor, Mercedes Gonzalez, in their July issue.  BEM’s editor, Sonia Alleyne, nailed the spirit of VocationVacations and Brian Kurth + Company.  What she doesn’t realize is that her story raised MY spirit during an otherwise challenging week. 

Her writing exudes the passion behind not only those of us here at VocationVacations but also that of our mentors.  And, most importantly, vocationer alum Charles Turner exemplifies how one can make a serious career transition one step at a time.  For him, he is going from being a finance professional to becoming quite the successful SHOE DESIGNER

I hope you find this story as inspirationl as I do.  After reading it, my troubles of this past week simply slip away and I once again check into what’s most important in life:  Being happy in my homelife and worklife and helping others find the same balance. 

Please enjoy Sonia’s wonderful article:

http://www.blackenterprise.com/magazine/2009/07/01/a-perfect-fit

Cheers!
Brian

http://www.briankurth.com/

http://vocationvacations.com/

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