Work-life balance


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!

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

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

I am still sometimes surprised when people in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s are reluctant to get a career mentor. They think getting a mentor is just for the 20-year old college intern or the fresh-out-of-grad school young corporate exec.

Of course that’s not the case…but it takes some convincing for some folks. The biggest obstacles for most people seem to be their apprehension to research and recruit a mentor (“Where do I begin?”) and their impression that people simply don’t want to help them in their career development.  I have found that a good 40% of qualified, well-researched, prospective mentors will become a mentor if/when they are asked. Making the ask is the key!  So it is a numbers game.  People DO want to help out their fellow man!  The impression that finding a good mentor is a needle in the haystack is a falsehood.

Finding a good mentor is dependent upon establishing your criteria and effective research using key tools such as LinkedIn, Google search, your alumni association, trade associations as well as simple networking through your family, friends and colleagues.  Then, once you make one “ask” of a qualified prospective mentor, you will find it easier to make the second and third, etc.  It may be a numbers game.  You may need to ask ten people prior to finding your mentor.  But it is worth the time and energy.  Trust me.  I’ve seen thousands of people benefit from career mentorship in my work over the past 6 years.

Have you (or a loved one who’s “stuck” in a career rut?) acted on your motivation to get a mentor? If not, what obstacles are preventing YOU or your loved one from researching and recruiting a mentor in a current industry or a new, exciting career?

Cheers,
Brian
www.briankurth.com
www.vocationvacations.com

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Brian-Kurth/202325023648?ref=ts
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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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Book:  Test-Drive Your Dream Job:  A Step-By-Step Guide To Finding And Creating The Work You Love

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

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

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

Way to go, Jeff!

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

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

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

Cheers,

Brian

www.briankurth.com

www.vocationvacations.com

It’s been a wonderfully crazy week….most especially on Thursday when NBC’s TODAY Show featured VocationVacations and how it’s a tool for career transition and life reinvention!

CLICK HERE FOR THE TODAY SHOW VIDEO!

I hope you enjoy it.  Share with your friends and family members.

OK, one last bit of shameless self promotion — $100 VocationVacations gift certificates are 10% off through December 31, 2009!

Cheers,
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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