Tag Archives: career development

Quitters Never Say Die

Jon Acuff

It’s as simple as STARTing!

Huh? What? I know, I know. You’re thinking to yourself, “Quitters ALWAYS say die– This title definitely seems a bit oxy moronic. And I totally see where you’re coming from. But let me explain.

For those of you who are familiar with Jon Acuff, you know he’s the author of two best-selling career books, “Quitter” and “Start!” For those of you who aren’t familiar with Jon (and yes we’re on a first-name basis,) he was a self-proclaimed “quitter” who finally got what he called his “dream job” at The Lampo Group, Dave Ramsey’s company. Here is where he not only wrote his two books but also became one of Dave’s most well-known personalities, traveling around the country speaking with people stuck in their careers in desperate need to revive their dreams by just taking one step in any direction and simply starting.

Shockingly, a week after his excitedly organized and wildly publicized START! conference, I went to a site called No More Voices, a platform where Jon encouraged everyone to share their fears and gain a sense of community in knowing you’re not the ONLY one with self doubt or ridicule. You’re not the ONLY one who takes 20 minutes to talk yourself into something and then 2 seconds to talk yourself out of it. But when I arrived where the site used to be, a fear rushed over me that I had never even dreamed of: the site was gone.

A site that the Lampo Group hosted, it simply stated Jon had abruptly resigned, and the site was no longer available. I’m pretty sure I sat there for about 10 minutes in complete shock. My first thought was, “How could Jon leave his dream job? How could he leave ME?” Okay, that sounds a bit obsessive, but that thought truly entered my psyche, albeit a short stay.

I did what any normal human who has heard of the internet (or as my grandma calls it the world-wide web,) would do, and I immediately googled his resignation to try to get answers. Of course I only got extreme speculation. After marinating in the news for several days I thought to myself, “Isn’t Jon doing exactly what he talks about in his books? He’s literally living out the words he wrote in his books.” But this seems to be a double-edged sword. Because now that Jon’s words of having a “dream job” are etched in stone (or just printed on paperback, but details, details,) people are suddenly all over him about leaving Dave’s organization.

I am the first one to think Jon would be crazy to leave there, but who knows. Who knows what outside influences caused him to make the decision. Who knows what his head and heart were leading him to do.

My mom always says FEAR stands for “False Evidence Appearing Real.” And I’m sure Jon anticipated the speculation and judgement that would come with his decision. But he recognized the false evidence of all the rumors and decided to appear as real as he could, and do what was right for his family, his career and himself. And for that, I applaud you, Jon Acuff.

– Ambitioussoul

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Change of Seasons, Change of Heart

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The building may be pretty, but think about the bill!

I just received the dreaded phone call from my sister who started her first year of college only a month ago. When I saw her call come in and hit “accept,” I could sense the unsureness and panic in her voice. She didn’t waste any time telling me what was bothering her. The statement “I think I want to change my major” was hurriedly followed by the reasons why she wasn’t being fulfilled in her classes and how she came to this conclusion.

For all of us who have been through college, these times of “finding ourselves” seem so far off in the distant past that we probably read this and shrug it off, thinking it’s not that big of a deal. After all, how many of us even have jobs or careers in what we studied in college? I know I don’t. But before I spewed out my advice, I tried to not only think about the thoughts that were most likely swirling through my sister’s brain, but also about what I went through as a college student, the mistakes I made, and how to have her avoid them.

Do I think where you go to school means everything? No. After all, I went to a small, rural school for two years and transferred to a large university almost quadruple the first one’s size. It wasn’t because of the dorm rooms with their own private bathrooms, or the fact that they had my favorite cereal (Cinnamon Toast Crunch if any of you are taking notes), or even that the people wore UGG boots and carried Herve Chapelier bags.  It was hard to explain then, and it’s just as hard now. It just wasn’t… “it” for me. Little did I know, it was because the college didn’t fit over my hips! Say what?!

To me, college is like buying  a wedding dress. You know, the second you begin to slip it on, you start to tear up and say to yourself, “This is it… this is the one.” When you step onto the college campus you belong at, you suddenly feel at home. You have no reservations, no worries, no stress. It’s a pretty incredible feeling. And once you’ve found the perfect college ambiance, all your problems seem to fall to the wayside, right?

WRONG! What about your course selection? What about your college loans? What about the community that surrounds the campus? Back to my wedding dress analogy, it’s not just about satin versus chiffon, or tulle versus lace. There are so many other things to think about above and beyond the beautiful budding tulips peppering each and every green space and the large greystone buildings that tower over you at every turn. But this is what college has been marketed as; this is what all-knowing 18-year-olds look for (can you sense my sarcasm?)

It’s sad to say, but in my mind, this economy and the price gauging colleges and universities get away with year after year has led people to treat choosing a college like a business decision. What education can I buy for the least amount of money and risk? I know, this doesn’t make the decision sound sexy or even fun, but it’s the truth! It shouldn’t be about where you want to go, but what you can afford. Why try on a $10,000 dress when you can only afford one for $3,000?

So many people believe that where you go to school has something to do with your success. I would say yes in only about 3 % of cases. Why? Because the Division I football team’s success or the new off-campus housing the school built have nothing to do with your capabilities and skills once you enter the job market. It’s the practical experience you gain via internships and part-time positions that differentiate you from the other 50 million college students graduating at the same time as you (okay, that may be an extreme exaggeration.)

And I digress… the second variable should be what you’d like to study. In my sister’s case, she knew what she was interested in (as many post-high schoolers do,) but she wasn’t exactly sure how to classify it. As shown in my intiial story, she’s realizing she missed the mark and needs to go back to the drawing board, but better now than three years down the road with unrecoverable time, money, and effort invested. But let’s be honest– there’s alot of wiggle room when it comes to majors in college. Look at me: I was a broadcast journalism major, and I’m in marketing. Relateable? Not really. But I’m doing it. If I would have gone to my advisor 3/4 of the way through my college education and shared my thoughts on switching gears, she would have talked me into changing my major and spending another three years in college to the tune of $45K per year. No thanks…

I give my sister alot of credit. Between going to a state school solely because of cost and following her heart, knowing quickly she had chosen the wrong path, I know she’s headed in the right direction. Although she’s not at her “dream school,” in her “dream city,” she’s making it work… in her real life.

-Ambitioussoul

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Longevity and Loyalty: A Thing of the Past

Close your eyes, believe in yourself, and jump!

How many of you have grandparents or even parents who started and finished their careers at the same place? That was how it worked back then: you graduated from high school, attended college (of course this step was optional,) and found a job, made it a career, and retired from that same factory, office, or school 50 or more years later.

This is exactly how my grandpa’s career took shape. He didn’t even graduate from high school (not that I’m saying this is recommended,) and he worked for The Herald Journal (our city’s newspaper) as a copywriter and then editor for 51 years. He retired with full health benefits and an extremely generous pension.

A few decades later, my dad’s career took off a bit differently, but with the same result. He graduated from high school, then college, got a job right away and is still there today, climbing the ranks the corporation defined way back when. He has been with the same company for 31 years– incredible.

Now, both scenarios I’ve described above are almost unheard of. For those of us who have just entered the job market or have only been in it for a few years, we know nothing is forever. We start our job search knowing that we will most likely only spend a few years in that position and then begin looking for something else. It’s just… the “way” these days.

So many people shake their heads at the paradigm shift I describe above. Those who join my parents in their generation wonder why no one looks for careers anymore, they only search for jobs. I think there are two reasons for this:

1) The job market itself has changed. Professionals of my era don’t trust large corporations, or any company for that matter, to take care of them for life. With so many lay offs, downsizes, and outsources, everyone is constantly looking over their shoulders, wondering with each closed door and mandatory meeting if bad news is going to come their way.

2) Just a warning: I may offend some people with this, but here it goes… whether you’ve been working in your position for 1 year or 25 years, I think the work force has found this unwarranted sense of entitlement. People expect things more than they ever did. It’s a mentality of “What have you done for me lately,” and frankly, it makes me incredibly irritated. Whether it’s companies providing lunches, outings, or bonuses, many believe they should receive all kinds of perks for just showing up 40 hours a week. When people don’t feel as though they are “getting enough” out of the company they work for, they start to look elsewhere. And in my opinion, more power to them.

So how are people supposed to overcome this sense of uneasiness and vulnerability? Well, according to 48 Days to the Work You Love, maybe it’s time to “be your own boss.” Now more than ever, there are so many opportunities for individuals to start their own business, and often without much of an investment. For many, they can’t find their true “dream job” within an already existing company’s four walls. They also can’t reach their highest income potential. As Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad says, “The problem with having a job is that it gets int he way of getting rich.”

Is starting your own business scary? Sure it is. But it’s also super exciting. Just think about it: doing what you love, being your own boss, and most appealing of all, being in control! I’m not saying you should quit your job today and give up everything (how little or much that may be,) but this is something you can totally do alongside your current position. Yes, it’s a TON of work and effort at the beginning, but the long-range benefits are sure worth it.

I will clarify all of this by saying I don’t have first-hand experience owning my own business, but I know many people who do, and not one of them ever has complaints about his/her job. And they all look at what they do everyday as a career– not just a short-term position they’re hoping to move up from someday.

In 48 Days to the Work You Love, Dan Miller lists 18 attributes that are key to owning your own business. Here are a few that will really give you an idea of if you have what it takes. If you do, the answer to all of these questions will be a resounding “yes!” And of course, you have to be honest with yourself. Here we go:

1) Are you a self starter? Waiting for opportunity to knock on your door typically leads to settlement. Start bothering the crap out of opportunity to be truly fulfilled.

2) Do you have a high level of confidence and belief in what you are doing? If you don’t, that will shine through. Even if you have the most useful and cost-effective product and/or service to sell, it won’t matter. Perception is everything, and consumers can see right through you.

3) Can you stick with it? Most small businesses fail because the starters don’t know how to hear “no.” That elementary, one-syllable word slows them down or makes them break down all together. It’s difficult not to take it personally, but it running and owning your own business, you must realize for every 1 “yes” you get, you’re going to get 100 “nos” first.

After reading these few qualities you may say, “Well, I answered yes to everything, but I could never start my own business, because there are a million other people out there who probably have the same idea as I do.” Yes, you’re probably right. But out of those 1 million people, you may be the only one who takes a chance, believes in yourself, and actually takes a leap of faith. That’s the difference.

-Ambitioussoul

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Say “Ahhhh”

This weekend I happened to stumble upon an obituary that piqued my interest (I know, a bit morbid, right?,) but I think it was written with the intent of showing how this man left this world… as a legacy.

Not only was he an extremely well-known oral surgeon and philanthropist in Syracuse, but he was a man that began his career out of his passion for helping people. Did I know this man? No. But I do know his son, who followed in his footsteps and became an oral surgeon as well, and let’s just say he’s a complete and refreshing replica of his dad. If his father was anything like him, I know he had the best intentions and the best results from doing what he loved.

But back to the obituary… it was the LONGEST write up I’ve ever seen. It took up two newspaper columns; the text seemed to scroll endlessly. Several paragraphs down, it explained his recipe for success, and the principles he lived by, appropriately named “The 3 As.” It read (I’ve renamed him “Dr. A”, being overly cautious):

“Dr. A taught others through story and experience. He treasured the moments he could help someone and often shared his own formula for success–the 3 A’s: In order to be successful you were to desire and practice to have Ability, be Available to do the hard work and to help others and most importantly be Affable…be likeable, be kind.”

As soon as I read this I thought to myself, “What an amazing thing to put in an obituary.” I mean, typically it’s the usual statistics, symbolizing the culmination of someone’s life here on Earth, however long or short it may have been. But never have I seen someone live so strongly by a certain set of values that it makes his/her obituary! It reminds me of one of the questions after a chapter in “48 Days to the Work You Love”: “What would you want your epitaph to read?”

So let’s reflect on Dr. A’s words for a bit in terms of your career path. Ability makes complete sense. You obviously have to be able to do the work in order to perform well and to feel a sense of purpose. In my mind, everyone has the ability to do whatever they put their mind to. Sure, some things may come easier than others, but you need to be willing to learn new things and be the best you can possibly be at the task at hand. The ability to grow and learn is much more important than anything else.

Available… now there’s one that some people have trouble with. It’s SO difficult to balance life these days. Family, work, friends, church, extra-curricular activities… the list goes on and on. But are you available (physically, mentally and emotionally) to make a change in your life when it comes to dedicating yourself to and doing something you truly love? If not, make this a priority. And just as it’s put above, you need to have time to help others. The personal gratification from this is so astounding– that alone will get you motivated, if nothing else will.

And affable– kind of a funny word, huh? Being likeable and getting along with the people around you is SO key. Of course you’re always going to have the few people that drive you nuts (especially on a day where you’ve already spilled your coffee, forgot your lunch in the fridge, and your gas light goes on all before 8 a.m.) But people are everywhere. And then come in not only all shapes and sizes, but personalities. To help myself out with this, I always try to tell myself that I never know what kind of a day a person is having; I never know if they just received devastating news or are going through a tough time. So yes, Dr. A., you’re right– we need to remember the old addage, “Treat others as you would like to be treated,” or in your words, be affable.

ImageThank you, Dr. A. for sending such a refreshing message. Not only did you make people’s smiles brighter through your work, but also through your words. I’m sure you didn’t expect someone to write about your obituary in a blog, but it did exactly what you wanted it to do… helped your “3 As” principle live on.

-Ambitioussoul

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