life change


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.

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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

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

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

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

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

How?

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

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

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

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

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Brian-Kurth/202325023648?ref=ts
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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are Annemarie’s advice and words of wisdom:

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

What I know now:

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

Key strengths that kept me going:

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

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Brian-Kurth/202325023648?ref=ts
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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

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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Twitter:  http://twitter.com/BrianKurth

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

Blah. Blah. Blah.

We all have our 2010 New Year’s Resolutions, right?  Get to the gym.  Lose weight.  Manage time better in work.

Blah. Blah. Blah.

All great goals.  And we should all go for them.

But I have yet to hear anyone say, “My New Year’s resolution is to have more fun and smile more in 2010”.

Well, let me be the first.  Let’s face it folks, 2009 simply sucked for so many people.  If the Great Recession didn’t impact you directly, you more than likely have loved ones who have been hit by it.  They’ve been laid off.  Their hours have been cut.  They’re losing their house.  They can’t afford daycare anymore.  The list goes on and on.  I certainly heard it all this past year through some of my career coaching clients.

That being said, I think we all need a bit of levity.  Yes, we need to laugh.  We need to have some fun DAMN IT.  At home…and even more so at work.

I’m not suggesting that you forego the goals of getting to the gym, losing weight and managing your time better.  But I am suggesting that you add “Have Some Fun and Laugh!” to your New Year’s Resolutions.  If you have to, even PLAN some time for creative fun.

Me?  Here are three, simple things that I’m doing for fun at the beginning of the New Year (and there will be a lot more as the year goes by):

1.  My partner Wade and I are organizing Friday Night MAX Dinners with a couple of good friends.  MAX is our ever-expanding light rail system here in Portland.  It runs to places that we rarely go to – places like Gresham, Hillsboro, Clackamas and the far north side of Portland.  There are great neighborhoods with ethnic and mom and pop restaurants we want to check out.  So, each of us is going to take one of the lines and research a fun thing to do at the end of the line and a restaurant to have dinner on a Friday night.  Exploring our metro area.  Spending time with friends.  Love it!

2.  I am going to borrow friends’ dogs who would like them to have some “Uncle Brian” time in the VocationVacations and Brian Kurth + Company office.  Since I’m the boss, the office is totally dog-friendly.   I LOVE dogs but can’t have one in our condo building and I simply travel too much.  So my friends’ dogs will have some “people time” and I’ll get my dog fix.  Perfect!

3.  I am a total foodie…but I can’t cook.  And I also don’t like lamb.  But a variety of friends and acquaintances keep telling me, “Oh, but you haven’t had MY lamb”…or their Mom’s lamb, etc.  So, here’s the deal.  Invite me to dinner.  I challenge you and your lamb.  Whether it’s here in Portland or when I’m in NYC, Chicago, Boston, LA or wherever.  I will eat lamb in 2010 to determine if there really IS a lamb that I like.  I will bring a nice bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir to pair with the lamb.  How fun is that?

You get the point.  Small things like what I’ve listed above will bring smiles, laughter and deeper relationships. It’s all  part of the need for work/life balance!

What are YOU going to do to have more FUN and LAUGHTER at home and/or in the workplace in 2010?

Happy New Year!
Brian

Career Coaching & Mentor Recruitment – www.briankurth.com

Career Mentorship Experiences – www.vocationvacations.com

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LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/briankurth

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Book:  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).

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