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Posts Tagged ‘innovators’

Careers Do Not Belong in a Box

January 2, 2011 37 comments

The best ideas are those that lie ‘outside the box’. The top thinkers, innovators, and visionairies have all been considered ‘out of the box’. Similarly, those that have the appearingly ‘best’ careers are the ones who have taken the concept of ‘career’ OUT of the box.

Don’t wrap your career in a box. Don’t look at your career in a vacuum. It’s not static and if your idea of a career is static, you will become static as well.

Here’s the truth; if you’re looking for a career, you’re looking for the wrong thing.

What you should be looking for is something that makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning.

What you should be looking for is a way to continuously better yourself, continuously learn, continuously grow.

What you should always be seeking out – is your next adventure.

Certainly, that may take the form of something that turns into a career; or it may not.

Maybe what you’re looking for is to start your own business, maybe what you’re looking for is a contract – for a project that excites you, maybe you are good at several functional areas and it’s time to CHANGE what you thought was your ‘career’ path because all of the sudden, you’ve realized you’re a General Manager, but CERTAINLY you do not want to FORCE a career.

If you ignore this advice and continue to seek out a career, you will become part of the statistic that has changed so dramatically over the past decade. You will become one of the people who changes jobs an average of every year and a half, without promotion, but more importantly, without being happy.

By tying yourself into a career, you’re missing out on the most important part of your learnings; the different journey you take. The people you meet along that journey. Most importantly, your closing your mind to opportunities that may arise.

There’s probably a lot of people who will read this and think, “sounds good in theory, but I need to bring in some cash!” Of course you do – we all do. But bringing in cash and tying yourself to ONE career is NOT the same thing. Get a day job if you need the cash; but look for a day job that at least ties into something you love OR one that gives you enough free time at that “job” to work on your REAL passion – whatever that may be. A great example is Gary Vaynerchuck. He worked 12 hours / day at his retail wine shop and then built his own business at night – he worked almost every night from 8 PM – midnight. It took 2 years – but he did it. He launched his own business.

Another example is how I’ve designed my life. People ask why I consult and own my own businesses; and the reasons are very simple: 1) I don’t believe in a “career” as currently described in the marketplace 2) I haven’t yet found a job or group of individuals that meet the criteria set above; So, I take on projects and clients – I actually turn down more than I take on…and then I work on my own projects for free a couple hours / day. I have not “settled” for a job. I have figured out how to use my current skill set to continue making money. And I’ve ensured everyday is an adventure, every project is a learning opportunity, I only work for people who intrigue me, and most importantly, I enjoy my journey.

Your “career” can be anything you want it to be. Throw out the preconceived definition that so many cling to as a security blanket (definition of career) and define what a career is TO YOU!

“Live to Work” or “Work to Live”?

September 17, 2010 6 comments

I’ve always believed in the companies I’ve worked for. Similarly, I’ve always believed in the bosses I’ve worked for. I’m unsure if this was “luck” or me seeking out people who inspire me and business models I take pride in working for, but regardless, I realized this past week I wouldn’t except anything less.

I never understood how people could work 9 AM – 5 PM, take a lunch hour, and go home feeling fulfilled at the end of the day. Perhaps it goes back to the age old verbiage, some people “live to work” while others “work to live”. I’m more of a “live to work” person. I had never really ‘discussed’ my career / career options with anyone except my husband and friends, and as I’m at what I believe to be a pivotal point in my career; I decided maybe it was time to speak with an expert. No, not a ‘shrink’, but a career counselor.

While I’m consulting right now; owning my own business, I do want to go back into the ‘working world’; I miss having a team and definitely miss having people around I can learn from. As the higher education industry is booming right now (perhaps not in a good way), jobs in the industry for innovators are aplenty. Every time I interview or speak to a prospective company about a future relationship, I get excited. I can’t help it; I love building things from the ground up. That said, I couldn’t figure out why I was always excited (at first) and the more I learned about each company, the less excited I became. I loved the people, love the ‘start up’, but my gut was repeatedly telling me, “STOP”. I couldn’t figure out why, but after reviewing my notes from the career counseling session I had, it was clear; it’s because I’m not passionate about anything I’ve been offered. There is nothing truly innovative, nothing new, and certainly nothing that will address the issues the for profit education sector is dealing with right now.

This is an interesting paradox for someone who owns their own consulting business as the way I make money is by working with companies and teaching them how to do things that I’ve done successfully in the past. The problem is; I don’t believe most of what the for profits have done in the past will be useful for the future. Certainly, the skill sets and experiences will help to be successful, but innovation is going to ‘win’ in this industry. So, for the past 8 months I’ve been working, doing what a ‘consultant’ does, made more money than I’ve ever made before; and I have a fiduciary responsibility to continue running this business until I do find something full time that I am passionate about. But I wonder, from a psychological standpoint, how one can continuously work on projects that I don’t believe have a solid chance of long term success?

Short term success? Certainly. Can I bring a business to profitability? Can I teach them best practices? Can I education them about marketing, call centers, operations, and give the best recommendations in TODAY’s world – Absolutely. But in this industry, ‘today’s world’ is rapidly changing.

So the question for me is – how long am I willing to work for businesses I’m not passionate about? I’m delivering for the companies; but not delivering for myself. I am not fulfilled. I hate working from 9 AM – 5 PM. I hate not waking up at 2 AM with a great idea that I can draw up and execute on as I rush into the office at 7 am the next day. I hate not feeling the ‘fire in the belly’. But, I guess this is the life of a consultant. People pay you for your expertise, but you’re not necessarily building something that matters. I originally thought they money would outweigh the need to be passionate about a business. When the money didn’t excite me anymore, I told myself that the executives I was learning from would motivate me to feel passionate about what I was doing. Turns out, that hasn’t worked either. So, I continue in my quest for a meaningful role in a company I believe in and whose model I am passionate about. And I’m left with the question: Would life be easier if I could ‘teach’ myself to “work to live” instead of “living to work”?

Don’t be a HATER

April 12, 2010 Leave a comment

I got an email from Gary Vaynerchuck today stating, “Hey Guys I was wondering if you guys have read Crush IT and if you had if you would please leave your honest review on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0061914177/ref=cm_rdp_product a bunch of haters have come on in the past week and I was thinking that it’s sad that people with venom are more motivated than the peeps with Honey. If I got a review for every person that has e-mailed me how much they loved the book I would be in the ball park of 5000 5 star reviews. lol. Anyway wanted to say hi and ask for this support and more importantly wish you all well and a great week”

It amazes me how many people HATE those that are outside the status quo; that are not ‘the norm’. If we go back in time, most entreprenuers that have been successful in business have gone against the norm. Even Warren Buffet tells us to “buy when it’s not popular to do so and buy something that’s not popular”. Why does he say this? Because something that is popular in business has already become the status quo – there is already a business model out there doing what you would be purchasing. It is the “next big thing” that you need to find. There are certain business models, or sales and marketing strategies, that will forever work. Example: call centers. It is rare to find a call center business that differs vastly from the others; however, in businesses that are similar – it is the one that has the unique “business approach”. In the call center example, perhaps you can find a company that will take payment on performance rather than a fee per hour. In a business like “fast food”, maybe it’s the angle of the commercials that differ. I can assure you – whomever is doing something the furthest from the norm will be the most noticed.

In relation to Gary’s email above, why do people hate Gary? Pretty simple; people are afraid of him. The biggest (most documented) fear in the human race is fear of the unknown. it is innovators like Gary Vaynerchuck who not only figured out how to ‘market’ the unknown, but have taken the step to inspire others to pursue what they never thought they could.

So, why the haters? People are afraid of those that follow their passion; afraid of the business leaders that want to differentiate and mentor others to be creative and think outside the box…they know that the next round of successful business will come from these Gen Y businessmen and they don’t like it.

Well guess what? Suck it up.

Gen Y + Passion = Success

April 6, 2010 Leave a comment

IF YOU ARE GEN Y – THIS IS YOUR TIME!

It was Jack Keruoac who said, “I shambled after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!'”

And Jack Keruoac did change the world. He went against the norm, he hated status quo, and people thought he was too passionate about his beliefs. For those of you who don’t know, Jack Keruoac was an author and the father of the Beat Generation, which was a group of writers that started the movement and became what we all fondly know as “hippies”.

He was passionate. Was he mainstream? No. Could he walk into an office setting? No. But he was brilliant, he had no fear, and he believed in what he was doing; in fact, he was willing to give up his life for what he was doing. Passion.

While he was an author, you’re probably thinking, ‘of course it was okay for him to be passionate, he didn’t have to go into an office everyday’. Here is where I challenge that thought. I propose that the only people who truly succeed, are innovators, build businesses, rise to the top; are the ones who are passionate about what they do. This may mean something different to everyone, but I’m sure we can all think of someone we worked with who everyone looked at and said, “wow”. They leave high paying jobs to go to low paying jobs (or no paying jobs – start ups) because they believe in something. They get to work at 7 am and don’t leave until midnight at times. When you get into the office, you already have 3 emails from them from the middle of the night. In meetings, if there is an idea they don’t agree with – they will argue with you and tear you down with such conviction, you will run the other direction. You love to love them and you love to hate them. They may scare you because people who are passionate enough and crazy enough to change the world are the ones who actually do.

So, how does that play out in today’s “corporate” culture? Well, I would argue that even five years ago, many of these people were looked at as ‘impulsive’, ‘too emotional’, and not “a good fit” for an organization. In today’s world, is it still like this? With the rise and demand for creativity, innovation, the addition of being able to be contacted at all times (Blackberry and iphone), can one be successful if they are not passionate? I ask myself this question and I look at the companies and CEOs I have worked for or with; and it is clear. Success is driven by passion. I would argue that it is largely due to Gen Y that business people have started to embrace this passion. Perfect example of someone who is passionate, successful, happy, and who many would call “non corporate” – Gary Vaynerchuk.

There are also still many corporations that are more conservative and want to ensure that “passion is harnessed”. Great learning experience for me; I worked for 1 company that, in the interview, spoke of passion and winning and loving their work. In fact, the Chairman of this company sold me on the spot. I realized when I got to this company was that it was more important to be “corporate” and to “fit into the corporate culture” than be passionate. And I knew immediately this company was not for me. HINT: If you are a “Jack Keruoac” type, talk about this at an interview. Find out the feeling about this before you decide to go to a company!

But let’s look at the DOW; and let’s look at these conservative “baby boomer” corporations; it appears to me that they are losing. Their stocks are not only dropping now, but were dropping 5 years ago when everything else was booming. What types of companies have risen to the top? GEN Y companies like Facebook and Google. More Liberal minded companies like Apple. Steve Jobs has adapted and companies like PEPSI have the median age of their BOARD to be 27 years old. As quoted by their chairman, “To be a leader in consumer products, it’s critical to have leaders who represent the population we serve.”—Steve Reinemund/PepsiCo.

So, IF you are 1) GEN Y and 2) PASSIONATE

YOU HAVE A STEP UP ON ANYONE ELSE IN THE MARKET PLACE. IT IS YOUR TIME TO SHINE. THESE ARE YOUR 2 MOST VALUABLE ASSETS; COMPANIES ARE SEARCHING FOR PEOPLE LIKE YOU (AND IF THEY’RE NOT – YOU DON’T WANT TO WORK THERE!)

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