life reinvention


Sometimes people will still say to me, “Oh, you’re the fantasy job guy”, referencing my work creating career mentorship programs with VocationVacations. Luckily, the number of people who see me as Ricardo Montalban of careers are declining.  Instead, people see the results of what career mentorship can accomplish:  A successful transition to an ATTAINABLE dream career.  Fantasies via Ricardo Montalblan’s Mr. Roarke are fantasies — they never truly come to fruition.  Dreams, however, do.  I work only with dreams.

Examples of unrealistic “fantasy jobs” for most of us are NFL quarterback, brain surgeon or rock star.  Examples of realistic “dream jobs” are bakery owner, stand-up comedian and fashion retailer.

All that being said, I often hear people say that they have a career in mind to pursue but they’re too scared to pursue it.  They see it as fantasy versus an attainable dream.  One that stands out in my mind is being a sailor, working on a cruise ship or owning and/or operating a vessel touring company.  There is a whole sector of folks who dream about sailing day-in and day-out but feel it’s simply too “fantasy”-based.  They’re wrong.

Whether you want to captain an ecological touring boat, be a schooner captain or sail the seven seas on a much larger commercial or leisure vessel, you CAN make your dream your reality.

VocationVacations mentor, Cindy Adams, of the Reef Roamer and QuickSilver fleet in Key Largo, FL and I were recently chatting about it.  She hears it all the time from people, “Oh, Cindy, you’re so LUCKY to be in this position.”  As Cindy will tell you, luck has almost nothing to do with it.  She and her husband, Terry, sought out a new career, leaving their corporate cubicles behind.  They were not millionaires.  They did not already own any land-based or boats in the Caribbean.  Instead, it took planning.  It took a business plan.  It takes a lot of hard work.  In the end, they have a wonderfully successful and lucrative business.  They have realized their dream and have created a fantastic work/life balance for themselves.

Only days after speaking with Cindy, I was in Hood River, Oregon which is situated right in the Columbia River Gorge along the Columbia River.  Gorgeous spot.  The Wadester and I are there all the time.  We dream (and will make it happen!) of someday “bouncing” between living in Hood River with views of Mt. Hood and the Columbia, keeping the condo in Portland and having a small place in New York.  Some day!  Well, as I was admiring the most amazing rainbow across the river, I then spotted a “tall ship” docked.  I had to check it out.  What was a tall ship doing in Hood River???  It was the LADY WASHINGTON, (owned and operated by Grays Harbor Historical Seaport in Grays Harbor, WA) a replica of the ship from the 1750’s that sailed around Cape Horn in South America and explored the west coast of North America.  Amazing.

And then I met someone as amazing as the ship:  John Paul Clark.  John Paul recently left his career as a carpenter to literally sail up and down the North American Pacific coast on the LADY WASHINGTON!  I have to say that he is quite proud of himself.  He chose the path.  He went through months of training and is now living and working his dream on the water.  He is not only part of the sailing team but is also responsible for providing the replica ship’s history to people like me.

When I asked John Paul if he indeed found his dream job sailing up and down the west coast, he simply grinned from ear to ear and said, “Oh, yes, most indeed.”   He also added that his daughter is proud of his endeavor of changing careers a bit later in life.  John Paul is proof that it is NEVER too late to work in what you truly love.

Now if sailing isn’t your thing, something else is.  Culinary?  Working with animals? Entertainment?  Sports?  Fashion?  Whatever it is, do not assume that your dream is unattainable.  It is not fantasy (unless you’re 45 and want to become that NFL quarterback).  It IS attainable if you work through a career transition program and you are diligent about your own progress.  I know.  I have seen thousands of folks work through the process since 2004.

Make your career dreams a reality.  You can do it.  Let the winds catch your sails!

Cheers,
Brian Kurth

President of mentorship-based career consultancy, Brian Kurth + Company, and VocationVacations, providing 1-3 day career mentorship experiences to adults.

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When I was making my 2-3 hour roundtrip commute back in my Chicago days in 1999, I would daydream about what I would rather do for a living.  I was “Dilbert” working as a product manager in a cubical for the phone company at the time.  But I dreamed of testing out other careers:  Tour guide…wine sales/marketing….and….dog training.

I gave dog training a try by creating my own dog training mentorship while still living in Chicago in late 2001.  It was the first-ever VocationVacation in a sense.  I love dogs and have to say that if it weren’t for my love of VocationVacations and working with my clients with Brian Kurth + Company, I probably would let my career go to the dogs and become a dog trainer.  And I sure will have some great mentors to help me become a dog trainer if I were to ever go down that path.  One is our newest mentor, Niki Trudge, of The DogSmith in Bonifay, Florida, located between Pensacola and Panama City.

Niki Tudge grew up in England and went on to pursue a career in the hospitality industry.   For 15 years, she  managed hotels in exotic and exciting locations.   But while she was building her career, Niki was looking for opportunities to follow her passion for animals.  “Since I traveled so much in my job, I couldn’t have my own pet, so I looked for other opportunities to get involved with animals,” says Niki.

Wherever Niki worked, she always became active rehabilitating abandoned and abused animals. Then, while in Africa, she began developing her skills as a family pet dog trainer working with the local police K9 unit.  When her job took her to Hawaii, Niki decided to earn her certification as a dog behaviorist, pet dog trainer, veterinarian assistant and pet groomer.  Although her position as manager of a five-star hotel was demanding, Niki found the time to follow her passion and, with a partner, opened Hawaii Dog Training Academy which thrived for two years until another move took her to Florida.

This move caused Niki to really evaluate what it was she wanted to do.  “I was tired of working in the corporate life,” she explains.  She had spent her career managing hotel staff and had gained valuable experience in business and training. Now it was time to take that experience and apply it to a new career – time to follow her passion to establish a dog training and pet care company that would completely redefine people’s relationship with their dogs.

Niki and her husband Rick Ingram bought a farm in Bonifay, Florida, and founded The DogSmith in 2004.  Initially, they provided dog training with a mantra of “do no harm” based on scientific learning principles and positive reinforcement.  “We began working with the local Humane Society and became part of the community helping to alleviate the pressure on the rescue organization,” shares Niki.

Their innovative training program was well received, and soon clients started asking about other services for their dogs.  Niki and Rick decided to go beyond training and provide a holistic approach to helping clients care for their dogs by adding dog walking and sitting services.” We have become a one-stop shop for taking care of your dog,” Niki says.

Their business model has been successful, and they now offer franchises.  “We have a very strict screening process for potential franchisees.  Their philosophies have to align with our efforts on behalf of dogs and their owners,” Niki explains.  Franchise owners also have to commit to being involved in canine rescue efforts by contributing eight hours a month providing workshops and educational seminars. Today, with three franchises in Florida, one in Illinois and one in Pennsylvania, The DogSmith stands alone as the only national franchise that offers both positive, learning-theory based dog training services coupled with professional pet-sitting and dog-walking services.

Niki’s initial advice for someone wanting to get into the business of dog training/walking, sitting? “Do your research on training philosophies; recognize that this is a business like any business and requires attention to marketing, business operations and finances; understand that good personal service and building good customer relationships is the key to success.” And, of course, you have to love dogs.

Niki and her staff are committed to providing quality, competent, affordable services that benefit the dog and its owner.  Seven million pets a year are euthanized because their owners don’t know how to take care of them and respond to their needs.  The DogSmith is doing everything it can to reduce that number.

Ready to make a career change and become a Dog Trainer and/or Pet Sitter like Niki?  Learn more about this great new VocationVacation.

I’ll be back in coming days with some great new career transition stories.  I love seeing and hearing the amazing career transition success that people have made — EVEN in this troubling economy.

I spend a lot of time touting the importance of loving what you do for a living and creating a mutually satisfying work/life balance.  I encourage people to live for the moment and the future.  When I give speeches across the country, I often find myself referencing the cliché, “Life is no dress rehearsal”.  And it isn’t.

Our Boise VocationVacations Private Investigator mentor, Valerie Agosta, (Hanady Investigations and the Spy Moms) exemplified living life to its fullest — with zest, a sense of humor and always a big smile.  After a ten-year battle with breast cancer, Valerie died last March.  In her honor we have created the Valerie Agosta “Live Your Best Life” VocationVacation Scholarship.  (See details below)

If you or someone you know would like to explore taking the first step toward a career and life transition by taking a VocationVacation, please submit the application below.  The scholarship winner will receive their VocationVacation of choice and airfare to the location of the VocationVacation. The last day to submit an application is Friday, December 4. We will be announcing the scholarship winner on what would have been Valerie’s 57th birthday, December 15.

When Val came on board as a VocationVacations mentor in 2005, she shared with us she was in remission.  There was no doubt in our minds Val would be able to beat it.  Then a few years later we received the call – it was back.  Valerie did not let this deter her from her commitment to be a mentor. She continued to welcome vocationers, eager to share her experience and expertise.  She told us she would let us know if she ever thought she was not up to giving her usual 100%.  Again, we never really thought that day would come.  Val would beat the C-word.  We knew it.

But then I got the call in early-January of this year.  Val had a vocationer scheduled for late January.  She felt she was becoming too weak to effectively mentor and provide the quality experience she had always given her vocationers.  Even as she was preparing to head to Seattle for more aggressive treatment, Val took the time to find a solution.  She suggested her VocationVacation mentorship duties be transferred to her private investigating colleagues at Access Investigations, also in Boise.  Even as she was in her last weeks of life, Val remained on top of everything and had it all worked out.

Val died on March 14, 2009.  VocationVacations’ Melissa Townsend and I traveled to Boise for her memorial.  It was not a surprise the church was standing room only, and  there was as much laughter as there were tears.

Val, we miss you tremendously.  But wherever you are, your spirit of life, passion and reinvention goes on with the Valerie Agosta “Live Your Best Life” VocationVacation Scholarship.   Thank you for being you and for sharing several years of your life with the VocationVacations team and our vocationers.

The Valerie Agosta “Live Your Best Life” VocationVacation Scholarship

The Valerie Agosta “Live Your Best Life” VocationVacation Scholarship offers the opportunity to choose from more than 175 different VocationVacations career mentorships and the chance to spend a couple of days experiencing the real-life responsibilities, challenges and rewards of that profession. The chosen individual will also have the opportunity for both a pre- and post-coaching session with an accredited, affiliated VocationVacation career coach.

In addition, airfare, up to $500, will be arranged for the scholarship winner.

Submit Your Application For The Valerie Agosta “Live Your Best Life” VocationVacations Scholarship Here

So I disclosed to you all last week that I am 15 pounds overweight right now and it’s really bugging me.  I went to a “Dead Celebrity” Halloween party on Saturday night.  It was great seeing Chris Farley, Jesus, Hunter Thompson, Keiko the Killer Whale and Michael Jackson all at one party — and even Liz Taylor showed up with a “Coming Soon” sign.  Evil, I know.  Well, I went as a not-as-good-looking-and-a-bit-overweight Heath Ledger from Brokeback Mountain, sporting my favorite cowboy hat and my fave Frye boots.  I actually was good and did not indulge in the cookies and candy…but I did have a few calorie-counting beers and I am always a sucker for a big bowl of crunchy cheetos (hey, I’m from Wisconsin originally — real cheese or totally fake cheese are always winners in my book).

So, while crunching down my cheetos and throwing back a beer, I thought, “Hmmm, it’s been a long time since I’ve been to yoga.  I should try it again as a new form of workout and balance my eating habits.  Crunch.  Swig.  Crunch.”

I like yoga.  But I don’t have it “down” quite yet.  It takes time.  And my partner, The Wadester, is getting into it more and more as well.  It’s something that we should do together since we both work so much.  But there are some folks who REALLY get into yoga — and make it part of their lives.  For example, our former vocationer alum, Veronica Cruz.

For 15 years, Veronica of San Jose, California, had a successful career as an IT consultant managing projects around the world. However, the landscape of the consulting business was changing, and Veronica found she just was not inspired by her work.  She wanted to feel passionate about what she was doing.

As a child growing up in Katmandu, Nepal, Veronica had been introduced to the practice of yoga.  Years later she pursued yoga again, and her love for the practice was rekindled.  She began to think about how she could turn her passion for yoga into a career.  “However, I realized it was one thing to be passionate about something, and another thing to turn it into a business,” says Veronica.

In April 2008, Veronica signed up to take a VocationVacation with mentor Dean Mahan, owner of Vida Yoga in Austin, Texas.   “Dean shared with me the good, the bad and the hard realities of the business,” explains Veronica.  “By walking in Dean’s shoes I was able to clarify my future direction and understand whether my passion could be translated into a life’s work.”

Veronica returned to San Jose, completed the consulting project she was working on and made it her last. Dean’s parting advice to Veronica had been, “Share your light and keep your vision full of light. Journey to your heart and share from there.” And that was just what Veronica did.  She threw her heart and soul into a plan to open her own yoga studio. She developed a business and marketing plan and earned certification by the Yoga Alliance.

A little less than a year later, Veronica opened Downtown Yoga Shala (www.downtownyogashala.com) in San Jose. “It was a leap of faith, but one done with my eyes wide open,” says Veronica.  Veronica’s advice to someone looking to follow their passion? “Keep an open mind, enjoy the journey and allow your heart to guide your path.”

Great advice for anyone considering a career (and life) transition.  If you are currently laid off, I’d also encourage you to consider this time as an opportunity.  Perhaps a yoga studio (or whatever drives your passion) has YOUR name on it?

Now, I’m off to sign-up for the next yoga class at the gym here in Portland.

Please feel free to send along “nudge” blog comments, Tweets, LinkedIn notes, etc. to me to make sure I do it.  Hold me to it so I can go as a FIT Heath Ledger next year!

Cheers,
Brian

Brian Kurth + Company Career Consulting/Coaching

VocationVacations career mentorship experiences

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cheers!
Brian Kurth

Career Transition Expert with Brian Kurth + Company

Career Mentorship Guru with VocationVacations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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