change


My last blog was guest written by Martha Wagner.  She is encouraging me to expand more VocationVacations with an organic, farm-to-fork, know-our-own-food focus.

However, there’s a new twist to things, folks! The Wadester (my partner for those of you who didn’t already know) has been saying for years that he wants to move to the country…run for county office (he’ll die that I just wrote that but it’s true — he really does want to serve in rural government)….and “grow things”.

The Wadester grew up in rural Montana. Although he was a “townie” (population 400), his Mom’s family still owns and operates a gorgeous cattle ranch….all free range.  So he has some innate proclivities.

I was raised in rural Wisconsin just west of Madison….where I spent a fair amount of time helping out with chores at my friends’ dairy farms.  It was fun since I only had to do it maybe once every couple of weeks.  I had to beg my friends to help them with their chores since they really saw me as their meal ticket to AVOID chores in order to come to my house and play with Legos, Matchbox cars and commando with my GI Joe walkie talkies.

But even as a kid, I knew I didn’t want to help with chores every day.  Let alone TWICE a day!  No way.  I give full credit to dairy farmers.  It is the toughest job out there.  The cows need to be milked….every day…twice a day.   Soooooo……unlike The Wadester, I don’t have a proclivity to grow things…..or raise things…..four legged animals….two legged animals….or plants that grow from the ground.  I don’t even want the responsibility of growing plants in the house.

The Wadester is in Vermont at a conference this week.  It’s turning out to be a dangerous trip for me.  His desire to grow things has grown as he’s in a bucolic, agricultural state.  He just sent me this link about a gay couple who opted out and moved to upstate New York to farm:

http://www.mnn.com/lifestyle/arts-culture/blogs/the-fabulous-beekman-boys-gay-urbanites-turned-organic-farmers

He is inspired.  I am worried.

Are we moving to the country?  Will I put on bib overalls?  Does Banana Republic even make them?

Time will tell, I suppose.  I can truly manage VocationVacations from anywhere.  And if his dream job is to “grow things” then, as you know, I’m always the person who will encourage someone to pursue their passion.  I want to be the encouraging spouse.

But he will work the farm.

I will manage my business from the front porch of our farm with my MacBook and iPhone as long as I’m within an hour to a major airport so I can get to my beloved NYC, Portland and beyond.  I will not, however, drive the tractor to the airport.  I have my limits.

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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…..


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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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?

You know, these days, some folks are forgetting to have fun in their work or job search (yes, job search can and SHOULD be fun at times).  I feel there is a pervasive “heaviness” in the air due to the economic conditions in the US, the constant partisanship in DC, overall “worry” about world affairs and terrorism….and an increasing burn-out from those employed making up the hours for their laid-off colleagues who are equally burning out in their job search.  Hence, people are simply tired.  Let’s rid ourselves of this heaviness as best we can.

What is my advice to all of you burned-out folks – regardless of whether you are employed or unemployed – to reduce your feeling of “heaviness”?

GET OUT OF THERE!

Get out of your office or home office for a day or two and work remotely from a new and different locale.

“I’m too busy with work,” you say?  Take the work with you.  Have laptop & mobile phone, will travel.  This is the Internet/iPhone/Blackberry age for crying out loud!  Work can be done just about anywhere.   Any reasonable boss can be convinced of such (if your boss isn’t reasonable or rational, then you have another matter to address). You can take the work with you.  No excuses!

“I am unemployed and can’t afford to take a work vacation and leave town.”  Fair enough.  Then hop in the car, on the bus or subway and change your environment.  Head to a coffee shop with WiFi in a completely different neighborhood, town or city within, say one hour, than you’re accustomed.  No excuses!

Why is it so important to spend time working out of your office or home office from time to time?  How do you, your employer and/or job search benefit?   Here are a few reasons:

1.  Increased productivity and creativity – It is proven that when people shake things up a bit, they can actually increase the quality and quantity of their output by “clearing the mind”.  No excuses!

2.  Law of Diminishing Returns – as you burn the candle at both ends, the return on investment for your time decreases along with your productivity.  By “getting out of there” and shaking things up, you will actually mitigate and maybe even eliminate the diminishing returns you’re creating for yourself.  No excuses!

3.  Fresh air – mind, body and soul.  Now, I’m not a psychologist but it’s not rocket science to understand that seeing grass, snow, flowers, squirrels, trees, the blue sky and the sun is beneficial to your well-being.  Get out of your cubicle for a day or two.  Get out of your home office for a day or two.  If you’re job searching, you can make phone calls from just about anyplace as long as it’s quiet…..and you can email resumes and network  online via LinkedIn, et al from anywhere.  No excuses!

Do I practice what I preach?  Absolutely.  Here is a photo of my MacBook with a view of the Pacific coast in Lincoln City, Oregon just two weeks ago.  Only two hours from Portland.  Did I break the bank by getting away?  Absolutely not.  Getting away on a Monday and Tuesday during off-season is dirt cheap.  Especially in this economy.  And, again, if you can’t afford to actually get out of town for an overnight stay, then AT LEAST get out of your neighborhood, town and city and spend the day in a different neighborhood, town or city.  Just for a day.  No excuses!

I promise you’ll see an increase in your productivity and creativity while feeling less burned out.  And you’ll PHYSICALLY feel better.

So, grab your iPhone, Blackberry, laptop, writing journal and whatever else you need to get the job or job search done and GET OUT OF THERE!  No excuses.

Cheers!
Brian

Brian Kurth

Career Reinvention & Transition Expert, Speaker, Author, TV Contributor and Founder of VocationVacations

Brian Kurth + Company:  www.briankurth.com

VocationVacations:  www.vocationvacations.com

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

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).