Work-life balance


It is with great pleasure that I announce the winner of the 2010 Val Agosta VocationVacation Scholarship — Robi Malone of Simpsonville, South Carolina!

Everyone at VocationVacations has a special place in our hearts for our private investigator mentor, Val Agosta, of Boise, Idaho.  She lost her battle to breast cancer in March of 2009.  However, her spirit for living, her sense of humor and her laugh live on in our minds.  And, most especially today since December 15 is her birthday.

Choosing the scholarship winner was once again not an easy decision for Val’s family this year as we had so many entrants whose short essays exemplified Val’s essence and zest for life.  But, after much discussion and deliberation, Robi Malone was their choice.  Robi’s essay detailed how she put her life and goals on hold for many years in order to raise a family, including a son with a disability.  Once the diapers were changed, the soccer games attended and the kids were all in school, she went back to school herself and received her GED.  But Robi didn’t stop there.  She received her bachelors degree from Wright State in Dayton, Ohio.

Along the way Robi also pursued her love of photography.  But Robi feels it’s time to take things to the next level: she wants to start her own photography business — and she wants a portion of her work to be charitable, pro bono photography for families who are going to lose a loved one due to a terminal illness.  More on Robi’s plans and which Photographer VocationVacation she will take in 2011 in the January VocationVacations newsletter (if you’re not signed up, please do so on our homepage).

Please join me in congratulating Robi!

And thanks to the hundreds of folks who submitted their applications.  Don’t give up — please apply again in 2012.

Happy Holidays To All,
Brian

Hi Friends!

Disclaimer right up front: I’m a complete CHOCOHOLIC, DOG LOVER and CRAFT BREWING FAN. That being said, let me share a few exciting career transition stories that include three of my favorite things:  chocolate, dogs and beer (not always in that order).

First, I want to share the very recent launch of a new chocolate-making business, The Art of Chocolate. Vocationer alums, Chris and Darcie Farrow, of Monument (between Denver and Colorado Springs), Colorado just opened their doors!  Chris had his VocationVacation career mentorship with our phenomenal mentor, Will Gustwiller, at Eclipse Chocolat in San Diego in May, 2010 and Darcie had her VocationVacation career mentorship with the venerable Jack & Iva Elmer at Jaciva’s in Portland, Oregon in July, 2010.  Well, Chris and Darcie haven’t wasted ANY time in making their dreams a reality and opened The Art of Chocolate just this month.  Congratulations to the Farrows!

Second, I want to share a couple of wonderful articles that recently appeared on AOL.com about two past clients of ours.

Toni Cory went from being a laid-off Motorola employee to a successful businesswoman.  She launched her business, Almost Home Dog Daycare, after her VocationVacation career mentorship under the tutelage of Dawn Walton at Dog Zone Dog Daycare in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Read more about Toni’s complete career change.

And…

Mark Peffers is a grocery store department manager who is in process of becoming a full-time brew master after having his career mentorship with our fantastic mentor, Darren Currier, at The Gilded Otter back in 2008.  Mark is now working part-time as a brew master and is off to the University of California-Davis this upcoming January to study the art and craft of brewing from one of the finest institutions in the United States (the other beer making institution we often recommend to people is the Siebel Institute in Chicago).  Read more about Mark’s career transition.

If Darcie, Chris, Toni and Mark can do it, so can you!

How do YOU plan to take your first step in trying out a new career?

I am a bit of a news wonk.  I love my morning newspaper (I’m old school)….have CNN and ABC News alerts on my iPhone….and check the news throughout the day online or on my phone.

But not this week.  I’m tired of the negative news.  I need a break from it (other than the fact that I just watched Germany blow-out Argentina 4-0 this morning).  It’s not that I am not concerned about what’s happening in the gulf with the oil spill or that I am not sad to hear of more military and civilian deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq.  I am disappointed to hear that the June labor stats were horrible.  So, what am I doing about it?  Realizing that I, Brian Kurth, can’t impact the macro level events in this world.

But what I can do, however, is take some time to appreciate the small things in life.  Yep, I’m literally taking some time this week to turn off the news and stop and smell the roses….and other wild flowers.  Literally.

My brother, sister-in-law and I have a place in the Canadian Rockies that we were lucky enough to buy 10 years ago.  Each summer we block out time for ourselves — to come up and rejuvenate.  I have all of my normal calls with my career transition clients.  I’m also writing a treatment of a possible new TV show.  So I’m busy up here.  This morning I walked down the mountain to the town of Canmore, Alberta as I often do.  I usually try to go as fast as I can to get as much exercise — especially coming up the mountainside.  It’s a GREAT workout.  But this morning I “dilly-dallied” as my Mom used to say.  I stopped to take pictures of the many different types of mountain flowers….to appreciate life….and to be focused.  Here are just a few of the many Canadian Rockies mountain flowers I saw this morning coming back up the mountain with my coffee in hand after watching the World Cup at the Rocky Mountain Bagel shop…

Buried in fear of the economy?  Worried about the oil spill, Afghanistan and Iraq?  How are you going to pay for your kids’ college education if this economy continues?  I hear ya’.  All legit concerns and fears.  And I share some of them with you….but stop and smell the roses with me.  What are YOU doing or going to do to stop and smell the roses?

Hi friends,

I want to send out a quick note to let you know that Aaron Pottichen of the Austin, TX Merrill Lynch office is sponsoring a FREE teleclass this Thursday, June 24.  I will outline the 8 Steps To A Successful Career Change and take questions.

Please join….and feel free to tell your friends.  Here is the call-in information:

Thursday, June 24 — 5PM Eastern / 4PM Central / 3PM Mountain / 2PM Pacific.  It will be 1-hour in length, including Q&A
Conference Call #: 1-866-637-2663
Passcode: 3971883

“See” and hear you this Thursday…

Cheers!
Brian

Brian Kurth
“America’s Dream Job Matchmaker” – CNN
Speaker, Author, TV Contributor and Founder of VocationVacations
Brian Kurth + Company:  www.briankurth.com
VocationVacations:  www.vocationvacations.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He is inspired.  I am worried.

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

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

But he will work the farm.

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

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.

I have many Baby Boomer career transition clients so I often recommend Jeri Sedlar’s and Rick Miner’s book, Don’t Retire, REWIRE! It’s a fantastic guide for folks who simply aren’t ready for retirement even though their age may suggest otherwise and/or it’s for people who simply need to continue to work for financial reasons but choose to work in a field for which they have passion.  It’s a great how-to guide for boomers but I would argue that Gen X folks can benefit from the book as well.  Plan for the future!

That being said, I’m thrilled to have Jeri as my guest blogger today!  Here is her sage advice on how to not let turbulent times steal your dreams!

The adage “one size does not fit all” couldn’t be truer than during these challenging times. Many people have postponed their retirements for financial reasons and others have decided to stay put and not pursue a new career or dream job because of workplace uncertainties. However there is a segment of our population who is saying ENOUGH and has decided to take action in terms of their work dreams! People of all ages are moving out of the pack and are investigating new playing fields!

People have recognized that there is never a perfect time to make a move. It’s always easy to find some type of excuse, real or imagined, to postpone moving forward. The reality is that the economy is slowly recovering and new normal situations are being created. But the key is that each of us will create our own new normal; it won’t be a collective happening! Change is the new reality and each of us needs to become our own change agent. So the truth is— you should be planning for your own economic recovery now!

I recently spoke to an engineer who said, “Let everyone else sit it out on the sidelines, wondering what’s going to happen! I want to be a cartoonist, and I’m not getting any younger!” So what did he do? He signed up for a weekend class on cartooning. This is an example of someone who is sticking to his original dream and is taking a small step to get there. He anticipates working for another three years then hopes to move into a career in cartooning. To him, this is all a part of effective life planning.

If you believe in your idea or dream, and believe enough in your self to try something new, then use this time to move on. Small steps matter. And tools and resources are in abundance if you choose to investigate them and use them. Many people are feeling overworked, underappreciated and living with too much ambiguity. So why not use the time to take charge of your future.  You will have to realign your time, and there could be trade offs, but I guarantee you will feel a sense of accomplishment and hope! And taking action toward a new career, regardless of how small the action, will positively impact your physical and mental health.

So how do you make your dream come true at a time when everything around you says wait, it’s the wrong time to make a change, to follow a passion or find your next job? You use your resources to discover the people, places and things to assist you on your rewiring® journey. Whether you want to use your current skills in a new way, express your values through your work, follow an old passion or just plain have more fun, go for it, now.

The following ideas are meant to jump start your next career:

  • know yourself- identify your drivers*, know what makes you tick
  • be able to articulate WHY you want to change careers
  • be able to express your passion for your new direction
  • build a network of people in your new field
  • do an exploratory and talk to experts; get their advice
  • do the legwork to discover what education or skills you need
  • take a course
  • shadow someone doing the job/profession/craft you are interested in
  • create a bibliography on your selected topic
  • join an association related to your dream job
  • Attend webinars online or go to conferences
  • read related blogs, magazines
  • volunteer; it’s an inexpensive way to try something new
  • take a part time in your chosen field
  • fill in for someone in the field
  • take advantage of all resources available

And of course test drive your new career by taking a VocationVacation!  It is the best way to actually work along side someone who is already doing it.  You’ll get to ask questions, get the feel for the job, and above all else test yourself to confirm your interest.  You will probably have some fun, but most important, it could change your life.

Jeri Sedlar & Rick Miners are the authors of Don’t Retire, REWIRE! 5 Steps to Fulfilling Work that Fuels Your Passion, Suits Your Personality and Fills Your Pocket!

*Drivers are our personal motivators.  When Jeri and Rick did the research for their book, Don’t Retire, REWIRE!, they asked people why they work beyond a paycheck.  They responded with 85 different reasons, which Jeri and Rick call “drivers”.

So, how do YOU plan to REWIRE!?  Let me know…..


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