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I always love announcing new VocationVacations mentors.  So it comes with great pleasure to introduce our new TV Script Writer mentor, Mark Kunerth!

You’ve enjoyed Mark’s writing skills if you have ever watched “Friends”, “Roseanne”, “Veronica’s Closet” or Showtime’s hit new show, “The Big C” starring Laura Linney.  In addition to being a successful TV script writer, Mark is simply a super nice guy and is wildly passionate about what he does for a living.  He can’t wait to share with you how he made a career transition from writing press releases for Dairy Queen to moving to Hollywood and becoming a writer.  For real!

Give us a call at 503.720.4282 or sign-up online if you’d like to compare calendars and arrange your career mentorship with Mark.

Cheers!
Brian

I enjoy inviting people to guest blog from time to time.  It adds an extra bit of content “flavor” to things, I think.  I love to get their thoughts…their take on things related to career transition and reinvention….and I love to be challenged myself a bit.  And that’s just what Martha Wagner did:  She challenged me as you’ll read below.  She adds some real flavor to the blog — both in a literary sense and….a culinary sense!

Introducing Martha Wagner.

Cheers!
Brian

It’s hard for me to imagine Brian Kurth sitting in an office cubicle or even behind a big desk in his former corporate life in Chicago. In a recent chat at one of his favorite Portland coffee shops, he looked relaxed, like an entrepreneur affected by, but not crushed by, the current economic times.

I’d recently read Brian’s book, Test-Drive Your Dream Job: A Step-By-Step Guide To Finding And Creating The Work You Love, and found it to be an innovative “how-to” guide to creating your own career mentorship.  But when I went to the VocationVacations website, I thought there were some possible gaps in the list of career test-drive experiences, so I called him and we set up a time to meet. He was happy to listen, but before long he was twisting my arm into writing a guest blog about the gaps I detected in his list of career paths. He said that his blog readers might provide valuable feedback about whether I was onto something.

What expertise do I have? Well, I’ve been following local and national stories about food and farming for 30 years. I am resuming an earlier freelance writing career, now focusing on food and local farming. I devour foodie blogs and newsletters from local and national groups such as Slow Food, Friends of Family Farmers and the Organic Consumers Association. I go to meetings of my county’s Food Policy Council. I’ve been shopping at Portland’s many local farmers markets for years, and more recently have witnessed the sprouting of new home gardens and the arrival of backyard chickens all over the city.

Even though Brian has a number of food-related careers on his VocationVacations list—including baker, brew master, chef, chocolatier, cheese maker, farmer, ice cream maker, restaurateur, winemaker and wine retailer (he’s got a passion for that business)—there are other career paths in food and farming that I think people are eager to explore. Just one example: Camas Davis, a 30-something Portland-based food writer and chef I recently interviewed for a story, wanted to learn about what she calls “the dying art of the butcher shop” and through a friend of a cooking teacher she knows managed to set up a summer internship with a family of farmers and butchers in southwest France. The experience gave her the confidence to start the Portland Meat Collective, a venture in which she and other chefs are teaching a range of butchering skills to restaurant and home cooks.

When the First Family put in an organic kitchen garden at the White House it was one very visible indication of growing interest in farming and in organics. In the Northwest, the number of organic farms growing vegetables, specialty grains and beans, and garden starts is increasing. Farmers markets and natural food stores are selling meat from small farms that are practicing sustainable animal husbandry. CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farms are providing a way for eaters to connect with farmers and farmers to sell direct to the public. Farmers markets, grocery stores, even food banks and in Portland, the city Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, are sponsoring food-related classes these days focused on topics as diverse as eating economically, canning and preserving, raising backyard chickens and almost-vegetarian cooking.

So where am I heading with all of this and how does it relate to VocationVacations?  As I watch new food and farm related businesses open, I see a need for more VocationVacation mentorship choices across the country—for careers such as butcher, organic and/or CSA farmer, cooking instructor, personal chef and garden designer (vegetable gardens and mixed gardens). In the world of baking, organic, vegan and gluten-free baking are up-and-coming specialties. Food cart businesses—from waffles to tamales to barbecue—are one of the hottest new restaurant trends. I just met a first-time food cart owner in Portland, newly transplanted from Chicago and loving his new livelihood. VocationVacations, I suggest, should make it easier for people like him to test the waters of new careers related to food and farming.

So now I leave it to you, dear readers. Let Brian know if you think he should expand the VocationVacations list. Do you have some ideas of your own for him?

Best!

Martha Wagner

Martha Wagner arrived in Portland in the late 80s, following a circuitous path from the Midwest to Connecticut, England, New Zealand, Northern California and Eugene, Oregon. She has written about food and health, from tofu to walking shoes, for numerous magazines and newspapers. In her “day job” (www.marthawagner.com) she edits and proofreads countless words for colleges, nonprofits and businesses. She lives at a 3.7 acre urban co-housing community where her neighbors include 37 chickens.

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

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

971.544.1535 Office

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

This is a quick blog today since it’s a wild and crazy Friday but I want to share this amazing career change story of a Brian Kurth + Company career coaching client of mine, Jeff Harvey, in Buffalo, NY.

I am so impressed and proud of Jeff.  Jeff went from being a stock broker to following his passions to become an angel investor in a brand new pharma company working on a cure for Muscular Dystrophy, Rose Pharmaceuticals.

Jeff’s toddler grandson has MD.  Jeff simply could not sit by the sidelines and watch him struggle without doing something tangible in the fight for the cure.  He decided to throw his time and dollars into research.

Way to go, Jeff!

Make sure you view the video that the NBC affiliate in Buffalo did on Jeff and Rose Pharmaceuticals and the research it’s doing on muscular dystrophy with, yes, tarantula venom!  For real.

This is why I do what I do.  These types of stories give me goose bumps — in a great way.  People creating real, tangible change.  Not only for themselves but for others as well.

WATCH JEFF’S STORY ON BUFFALO’S NBC AFFILIATE – CLICK HERE

Cheers,

Brian

www.briankurth.com

www.vocationvacations.com

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
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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

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.

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