Mentor


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

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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 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?

Job search is hard.  And it can get expensive.  Times are tough enough right now so the last thing you should do is incur debt, or more debt, in your job search.

So, here are my 5 Tips To Keep Your Job Search On A Budget:

1.  Join a networking organization

Join a networking organization (or two, if your budget allows) that does not cost an arm and a leg.  Now is NOT the time to join that expensive business or athletic club in the spirit of networking.  No.  Pace yourself.  Instead, this is the time that you should join or renew membership with your university alumni association.  And/or, it’s the time to join a trade organization such as PRSA, AMA or ITAA.  Join one organization.  Two if you can afford it.  Prioritize your purchase (it IS a purchase so think of it in those terms!) based on which organization will give you the most bang for your buck.  How many members does the group have?  How often do they meet face-to-face?  How close to your home (include travel, gas, parking costs into your equation)?  What’s their online presence and level of activity?  You want to join an active organization – both “offline” face-to-face and online via the Internet.

2.  Upgrade your LinkedIn account for $50

Upgrade your LinkedIn account for $50 (yes, their prices have gone up…but I still feel it’s worth it).  In doing so, you will be able to directly contact ten people you have targeted in your desired field regarding networking, meeting for an informational coffee and/or establishing a mentorship relationship with them.  These are people you’ve found via researching on LinkedIn by company name, city or vocation type…but to whom you have no direct linkage.  The $50 gives you that direct connection to them.  You know me, I stress the value of mentorship every chance I get and this is an ample time to stress MTR: Mentorship > Transition > Reinvention!  That extra $50 may change your life by linking you with exactly the right person who may help you network and may mentor you – all the way to the point you land your dream job.  MTR is the crux to the proven 8-Step Process for a Successful Career Transition I use day-in and day-out with my clients.

3.  Go to the library.

Sorry, Barnes & Noble, Borders and my beloved Powell’s here in Portland and Strand Books in NYC (let alone, my own publisher).  But you’ll be back shopping there when you’ve landed the job and have more money!  For now, check out the latest career search and business-related books from your local library.  They’ll be happy to see you and you’ll be happy to have just saved some money.  That being said, IF you find a book or two of great value after checking them out at the library, then go to the bookstore and buy them so you have them for long-term reference and you can mark it up all you want.

4.  Write Your Personal Biography

In addition to updating your resume, write a biography of where you’ve been, where you are today and most importantly where you want to go.  This is YOUR brand you’re creating.  It tells a story that a resume simply cannot.  Then have a graphics person create a nicely formatted one-page PDF for you including the content you’ve written.  The formatted PDF should not cost more than $50.  For more on how this fits into the mix of your career search, checking out Step #6, Branding, in the 8-Step Process.

5.  Negotiate Your Terms.

Get a career coach or consultant.  BUT….negotiate with them.  They may not negotiate on their price, but they will (should) work with you on establishing a payment plan.  To be honest, I find it frustrating to hear that some of my career-consulting colleagues insist upon a client signing a one-year agreement and/or a minimum of ten or twelve sessions.  That’s overkill.  A lot can be accomplished in as little as five sessions, in my not-so-humble opinion.

Once you’ve found the right consultant or coach, ask them to establish a payment plan.  For example, I offer my clients the ability to split their payments in two.  They also can either pay by check or by debit card (Avoid using your credit card unless you know you can pay it off in the next payment cycle).

One last point:

Talk to an accountant and save your receipts for everything mentioned in all five tips.  Most, if not all, should be tax deductible.

Now, get out there and find that job….AND STAY ON BUDGET!

Cheers,

Brian

Career Consultations:  www.briankurth.com

Career Mentorship Programs:  www.vocationvacations.com

Test-Drive Your Dream Job:  A Step-by-Step Process To Finding And Creating The Work You Love – Hachette, 2008

I have to share a great story about a wonderful dinner I had this week.  Here’s the scene:

A former career consulting client of mine, his wife and kids are on vacation in Oregon this week. My partner, Wade, and I had dinner with them and some other friends on Tuesday PM.  In between beers, pizza and mac & cheese (for the kids), we got to talking about how we react when things just don’t go our way.  I’m not sure how we got on the topic…but we did.

We can all “lose it” at times.  On the job.  At home.  Heck, it can even be on vacation.  You know what I mean.

Well, my former client’s wife suddenly said that she is “soup” and that her husband is a “TV Dinner”.  UH!?   WHAT!?

She went on.  She said that when something doesn’t go right for her, EVERYTHING gets mixed together and now EVERYTHING has gone wrong in her mind.  She mixes work, family, vacation…whatever….all together into one concoction once one thing goes wrong.  She is soup when things don’t go her way (no offense to the soup lovers out there).  In her mind, everything in her life is falling apart at that very moment.

Meanwhile, she went on, her husband is able to separate whatever is going wrong in life.  He isolates it.  Almost like the parts of a  TV dinner.  Things are compartmentalized and separated by aluminum foil.  His tasty (is that possible?) turkey dinner isn’t going to be impacted by the fact his “peas” went awry and burned beyond belief.  He enjoys his turkey dinner and the dessert surprise.  He is a TV dinner.

After Wade and I stopped laughing, we began to assess ourselves.  Are we soup or TV dinners? As much as I’d love to say I’m a TV dinner, I’m soup.  But I’m proud to say that I’m soup for only a short period of time before morphing into a TV dinner.

For example, last Saturday, Wade and I went to see Julie & Julia starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams (NOTE:  Great movie by the way.  Yes, out of disclosure, I’m biased as we are doing a wonderful VocationVacations promotion with them in conjunction with the movie’s release — sign-up to win a free career mentorship before August 17!). There’s a great scene where things are not going well for Julie in the kitchen and she has a meltdown.  She was soup.  Her husband, Eric, was a TV dinner and tried to support her in saying not all was lost on what she was making.

Well the next night, I was making dinner.  I had gone to the farmer’s market on Saturday AM with my friend Roey and was very proud of what I had brought home.  I was prepared to make cilantro pesto chicken, tomoto/cucumber salad and fingerling, multi-colored potatoes.  All was going well until I used the Cuisinart to make the salad dressing.  It exploded all over me.

Yes, the F-bomb was said (shouted?) several times.

With that, I became soup for about 10 minutes.  The world was coming to an end.  Why did we have such a small kitchen?  Why did I bother going to the farmer’s market anyway?  Why can’t Democrats and Republicans agree on a healthcare initiative?  You get my point.  I ran the gamut for 10 minutes.

Wade, on the other hand, became an instant TV Dinner and compartmentalized it and reminded me that, yes, oil & vinegar salad dressing may be difficult to get out of my shorts and t-shirt but they’re only a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.  “Right, Stan Sunshine”, I thought to myself. I was still in soup mode.

After 10 minutes, I then decided that it wasn’t all that bad….and I finished cooking dinner.   In my underwear…after taking off my vinegar and oil soiled t-shirt and shorts.  That “vision in the kitchen” was Wade’s dessert in his TV dinner.  And it was my way of turning my soup into a TV dinner.  With laughter.

So.  Are you SOUP or a TV DINNER?

Cheers!
Brian

Need mentorship-based career consultation?  Check out my proven 8-Steps To A Successful Career Change!  I’d love to help you through the process.

I was on a flight back to Portland from NYC last week and reading the NY Times and found two articles that really intrigued me.

The first was about a former NFL football player, Keith Miller, turned opera singer:

For an Ex-Fullback, Big Plays in a New Game

The second was about, Michelle Nihei, a former neuroscience researcher at Johns Hopkins who became a horse trainer (unfortunately, the article isn’t on the Times’ website).

At first you might think, “Oh, these folks had natural talents that made such huge career shifts possible.”  Not completely true when you read both of the brief articles.

Instead, in addition to their inherent strengths, Keith and Michelle also utilized three key characteristics for their successful career changes:

1.  Allow Your Passions to Lead the Path – Despite what some of their friends, family and colleagues may have said to them upon their decision to forge ahead with their drastic career changes, they followed their natural passions.  They thought with their HEARTS and GUTS versus just their brains.

2.  You Cannot Do It Alone – Keith and Michelle reached out to mentors to learn how to make the transition.  They did not make their decisions or take their first steps in a vacuum.  Instead, they reached out to experts in the field to better understand if and how they could make the switch.

3.  Stay Positive – Despite the obstacles and naysayers, Michelle and Keith were driven by their dreams — some days with blind faith.  They battled their own “chatterboxes” (the negative voice in one’s head according to author and psychologist, Susan Jeffers:  “Feel The Fear….and Do It Anyway“) pounding out the “Are you serious???” thoughts in their minds.  But they stuck to it.  Part of it is simply SHOVING negative thoughts out of one’s mind in order to stay true to the positive, passionate path.

I love Michelle and Keith’s stories.  I hope you do too.  We can all learn from their examples.

What is YOUR unfilled dream that is being held back by YOU and your chatterbox?  Time to take Michelle’s and Keith’s lead….

Cheers!
Brian 

THE 8-Steps To A Successful Career Transitionwww.briankurth.com

Test-Drive Your Dream Jobwww.vocationvacations.com

THE DIY Book On Creating Your Own Career Mentorship In Your Career Transition

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

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

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

When:
Sat, July 25 @ 10am

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

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

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

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

Cheers!
Brian

www.briankurth.com

www.vocationvacations.com

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