Tag Archives: twentysomethings

Desperate is not a good look

I’ve felt my heart sink quite a few times in the past few weeks. More and more, I’m reading about people who admit to either feeling forced to go back to work; or feeling that they have to take any job offer that comes their way; or feeling that they must stay at a job even if they’re miserable.  The main reason these people are giving for doing so is – as you probably guessed it by now – the state of the economy.

Even if these stories of doom and gloom are being written by sensationalist (and irresponsible) journalists, there is an undeniable truth behind them.  The stories show that there’s an unhealthy emphasis on decision-making based on have to (no choice), should (guilt-driven) and must (both guilt and no choice). 

I get it that people have bills to pay (I do too) and that jobs are scarce in some of the largest sectors of the economy. Yet, I cannot help but wonder how it’s possible for some people to feel like lambs being taken to the slaughter, while others are feeling empowered and seeing the change of pace as an opportunity to explore new horizons, to experience new things and to re-invent themselves. 

By no means am I saying that the former are lying or not trying hard enough.

What I am questioning is their perspective and attitude towards the current environment. 

I can already hear some thinking: ”get off your high horse…beggars can’t be choosers.”  See, here’s the deal.  You’re only a beggar if you feel like one. And if you feel like a beggar, guess what? Others will treat you like one.  Not only is that attitude not conducive to a fun life, it’s not a sustainable way to approach your career.  Yes, I am saying that job satisfaction and happiness matter even during an economic downturn.  Both are what will lead to sustainable career decisions.

Here are two tips that will wipe off the desperate look from your face (which by the way is not a good look to take to a job interview):

1. Develop a clear vision.  In a changed world it’s crucial to have a clear idea of where you want to be in the next 3 to 5 years.  Your personal vision is what will keep you in control during those times when your employer, seeking to cut costs, asks you to take on responsibilities that go beyond your current job description.  It is also what will keep you motivated when you don’t get a job offer.  And it’s what will drive you to feel that going back to the work place is an opportunity, not a curse.

When you know where you want to be in a few years time, it’s easier to step back, and say: “This may not be what I expected from life, but I can see how this new experience is a great opportunity to learn something that will come in handy in a few years time.”  I’m not saying that every experience needs to be positive.  Dealing with situations that are not of your absolute delight also benefits you.  It helps you build character.

2. Stop catastrophizing.  Taking on new responsibilities at work, living off your savings for longer than you expected, doing without a few luxuries, and going back to work are not the end of the world.  It could be the beginning of a brand new and exciting chapter in your life.  Besides, if you’re sitting there feeling sorry for yourself, as you clean up your resume or build your network on Linked In, think about all the families who have relatives in Iraq.  That should help you snap out of it!

So what is driving your career: panic, guilt & fear or a clear vision and excitement? I’d LOVE to know.

Like the picture?  Thanks flickr

Worthy of cloning*…

The world needs more people like Jacqueline Novogratz, the founder and CEO of Acumen Fund.

Here’s why.

“Part of the journey that those of us who are privileged, which is pretty much everyone in this country, has to make is not being embarrassed by privilege or guilty for privilege or confused by privilege, but to start from that place of recognizing that your responsibility is to use that privilege in the best way you can to serve the world. And there are lots of ways of serving the world.” Taken from her interview at McKinsey Quarterly.

Do you know someone who’s worthy of cloning? I’d love to know.

*Inspired by the buzz created to celebrate the Ada Lovelace Day

A New Kind of Hero for a New Kind of World, Hero #2

(This post is part of a pact I made. Click here for the full story.)

It’s time for you to meet Jo.  Jo’s lead is quite interesting to follow.  Had you met Jo a few years ago, most probably it would have been at a hospital and she would’ve introduced herself to you as ‘Dr. Martin’.  Had you been one of her patients you would most probably have cancer (but G-d forbid).  That’s because Jo was an Oncology intern.  If you meet Jo now, like I did a few months ago, she’ll greet you with a warm red-lipstick smile that goes from cheek to cheek, and she’d ask you – in her young yet husky voice – to please call her ‘Jo’ or ‘Joey’.  She won’t ask you to undress, instead through a microphone, she’ll ask you to take a seat anywhere you like in the auditorium.  Soon after she’ll launch into a most energetic presentation, packed with practical tips and advice about what it takes to succeed as a professional public speaker.  That’s because now Jo is an inspirational speaker and mentor.  She delivers her insight across the world through public speaking engagements.  And Jo knows success well.  In fact, she made over $1.25 million in sales her first 12 months as a professional speaker.

To the untrained eye, Jo’s career metamorphosis comes across as total madness.  After all, what does Oncology have to do with inspiration and professional public speaking? After being on different career paths, Jo found the common thread that led her to find career Nirvana.

Note to self:  Be honest with yourself.  Only you know what feels right.

By most standards, Jo has it all.  She did well in school, she’s a doctor and a successful entrepreneur.  To top it off, she’s sexy and has a loving relationship with her life partner.  Yet as much as it seems that Jo has it all under control, she oscillated between career paths before finding her career Nirvana. 

Note to self:  Not having answers is not a sign of failure. More often than not it’s searching for answers that brings about success.

At the age of 8, before she even knew what a Paediatrician was, Jo decided to be a doctor – and announced it to her parents (which made them super proud, especially since both are Pharmacists).  Until she reached the sixth grade it was possible to say that Jo was one of those lucky ‘born-to-be-a-doctor’ types.  All that changed after she enrolled in the school’s drama program and discovered a passion for performing.  From that point onwards, her decision to become a doctor began to feel ‘not quite right’ because when she was not acting, she was longing it.

After finishing high school, she took a year off to travel the world with friends.  Perhaps she was hoping (and praying) that she could leave behind her longing to perform and continue life peacefully following her childhood decision to become a doctor. Yet her indecision was so evident, that it was at the very last minute, while speaking with her mom from a phone booth in Greece, that she decided to apply to med school.  As she confessed at our interview, that was only because she missed the admission’s audition to drama school.

Jo found med school challenging and she enjoyed it.  Except she never was sure what type of doctor she’d become. Finally Oncology found her – after two out of her five rotations during her Intern year were in Oncology.  Even if she did not think much about her indecision at the time, it seems as if her thought process was being interrupted by her longing to be on stage. 

After grueling months working in the Oncology ward, she finally cracked open.  And at the end of her first year, she decided to enroll in drama school.  Her decision came about almost as harshly as new teeth break through a baby’s gums. The catalyst was the passing of a patient she came to know well.  That same night back at the hotel room, she realized that the patient could’ve been her.  As she sat there debriefing after a long and emotional day, she asked herself: ”If I had 6 months to live (like my patient did) would I be doing today what I’m doing?”  Her answer was a resounding no.  That intense moment stripped her of all inhibitions and pretensions.  And once her gates of honesty opened up, answers started to flow downstream from her core.  In Jo’s words she said to herself: “Instead I would go to drama school and I would learn how to act, and I would try my hand as a professional actor.”

That was Jo’s first ‘if not now, then when?’ moment.

When telling me this, Jo made it a point to let me know that her decision to switch paths was not based on a dislike of medicine – or on feeling completely and utterly exhausted after working 12 to 14 hour days. It was because the practice of medicine was not giving her the benefits that she wanted, emotionally.

Note to self: Feelings don’t lie. They don’t know how.  When things feel right, it’s because they are. When they don’t, it’s because something needs to change. Learn to listen to your instincts and to trust them.

When I asked Jo if she has a way to tap into her feelings, she shared with me a method, which seems simple by most standards.  Jo uses a balance sheet model made up of assets and liabilities.  When it becomes clear that the liabilities are outweighing the emotional assets of an opportunity, she knows that it’s time to change. And change she does, and quickly. 

Six months after starting the drama program at one of Australia’s most competitive academies, she began to feel something she did not expect.  Especially not after she had given up a career as a doctor to pursue her dream to be an actor.  Although drama school helped Jo fill an emotional void and scratch a major itch, it did not do a complete job. She realized that performing was missing a key ingredient (drum roll please)…making a real difference in people’s lives.  Although this realization took Jo by surprise, she told me that she did not panic.  Instead, she focused on finding a solution. 

Note to self: It is how you respond to set backs that determines how quickly you recover from them. 

As tempted as she may have been to go back to practicing medicine, she knew that was not a sustainable option. That wouldn’t satiate her emotionally.  Around that same time she started to train in executive coaching.  There is where Jo found a path that allowed her to make a difference in people’s lives and to feed her emotional craving to perform.

Note to self: Cultivate an abundance mentality.  Be open to having ‘this and that’.  Don’t limit your decisions to either/or choices.  Dare to ask yourself: “If I could have it all, what would that be?”

Soon Jo realized that she has a talent for improving people’s morale and empowering them to take responsibility for their lives.  Her business as an executive coach, working with some of Australia’s largest corporations, grew at such a quick pace that she began to feel that drama school was holding her back.  That was when she decided to quit drama school to work full time on her growing coaching business.   Her work caught the attention of one of the world’s top results coaches, Chris Howard. He invited her to join his organization as Head of Research and Training.  Even though that move involved a considerable down grade in income, she decided to accept because she knew that the opportunity would pay back in know-how.  

Note to self: Learning is also a form of earning.  It’s an investment in your career path.

1. Be open to learning.

2. Read inspiring material.

3. Repeat.

She spent the next two years developing business with Chris Howard’s company.  Jo was so good at what she did that eventually she became the face of Chris Howard on platforms across the globe: UK, USA and Australia, replacing him on stage. 

Note to self: When you’re passionate about what you do, success is likely to follow – and quickly.

Two years later, after spending months at a time working away from her family and her boyfriend (now life partner), she decided it was time to come closer to home.  She made up her mind on her 30th birthday while she was celebrating it in London with work friends – instead of at home with her family. 

That was Jo’s second ‘if not now, then when’ moment.  Within a few weeks she quit her job. 

Note to self: Take action.  When it feels that it’s time to go, your feelings are probably telling the truth. Refer to lesson #3.

For the next nine months Jo went through what she calls a pajama phase. She did nothing. (Or as little as an over achiever like Jo can handle)  Then, after several professionals in the public speaking circuit approached her for advice, she realized she had a lot to offer. That’s how her current company was born.  She now spends most of her time helping entrepreneurs express their passion and find businesses that support their lifestyle.

Note to self: Nothing is the end of the world.  Not even quitting your job or selling your business or even getting fired without having another opportunity lined up.

Jo admitted to me that she never has had a plan or has taken time to weigh up options.  She simply relies on her instincts and a deep knowledge that she will be all right – no matter what.  And that’s how it has worked out for her until now.

It almost seems that Jo’s instincts where being guided by a two-circle venn diagram model.  Something inside of her knew that at the intersection of medicine and performing emerges success coaching and professional public speaking. Because she was willing to listen, her instincts guided her to her career Nirvana.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that this fell from the sky, like a pie, on Jo. Although she has this inner sense that whatever happens she’ll land back on her feet, Jo is an extremely hard worker.  She admits to have worked herself to exhaustion on several occasions.   She says that this tends to happen when she’s enjoying so much what she’s working on, that she stays on a roll for very long periods of time. That leads me to Jo’s greatest strength – her self-awareness and brutal self-honesty.  Both make her very down to earth and approachable.

You’re a baby step away from your career Nirvana…no bullshitake.

In the 6th century BC, Lao Tzu, the Chinese philosopher and central figure of Taoism, said:

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

To Lao’s words I’d like to add:

”That journey is completed a (baby) step at a time.”

(shame Lao didn’t get to see Bill Murray starring in “What About Bob?”)

History lesson aside, how on earth do you make that work for your career? 


(what da!)

Kaizen is the Japanese word for ‘improvement’.  Kai stands for ‘change’ and Zen for ‘good’.  It’s the name given to the philosophy that focuses on gradual, continuous, and incremental improvements – in every aspect of life.

It’s the implementation of that philosophy that turned the Japanese manufacturing industry into a world superpower after it was blown to pieces during World War II.

Take it from the lion’s mouth – Toyota’s President:

‘Why do you think Toyota has been successful so far?’ ‘We’re doing the same thing we always did: we’re consistent. There’s no genius in our company. We just do whatever we believe is right, trying every day to improve every little bit and piece.  But when 70 years of very small improvements accumulate, they become a revolution’ – Katsuaki Watanabe.

Now I’m determined to make Kaizen part of your modus operandi. 

If you look at the upper-right hand corner of my blog (below my picture), you’ll see a box labeled: Power Boost.  Inside that box, you will find easy-to-action tips that will be updated regularly.  The sum of the tips will lead you to career Nirvana one step at a time – a la Kaizen style. 

No bullshitake.

Power Boosts were designed as a series with the main objective to empower you to claim control of your career and keep you in the seat of power. That means that they follow a logical order which has a beginning, but not an end.  It also means that you can start taking Power Boosts at any time. (What about now!) If you happen to miss one or even a few, don’t sweat it.  I have them saved in an archive – and I’ll happily send them to you. (Simply send me an email or leave a comment.)

To be taken in small – concentrated doses.

It will take you a few minutes each day to action a Power Boost. 

Here’s why?

1. Reading the Power Boost – 10 seconds flat

2. Taking action NOW (Like a shot of fresh wheatgrass, it has a short shelf life) – 1 to 5 minutes, on the clock.

3. Repeating – do the math.

Start small, start NOW!



A New Kind of Hero for a New Kind of World, Hero #1

(This post is part of a pact I made. Click here for the full story.)

Meet Victor.  For twenty years Victor was an entrepreneur.  Now, after he switched career lanes, he works with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD as part of the team of computer engineers that is responsible for developing software for flight and non-flight projects. 

Victor did not find his career Nirvana in a blink. For more than 20 years, Victor was a suit-and-tie-wearing business owner. However, underneath it all lay dormant a passionate engineer.  And it may have taken twenty years for that engineer to come out and play, but when it finally did, it made a splash.  It was the awakened engineer that drove Victor to sell his business, move states and go back to school.  It was that same passion that drove him to complete a Masters in Computer Science (MS) at Georgia Tech after being away from academia for twenty-five years.

Note to self: Passion is power.  Tap into yours.

This is what Victor says about passion: “Try to find a way to say every day, ‘Cool, I get to go to work today!’ Pursue what you enjoy.  If you do so with passion, and you do it well enough, you’ll find a way to make a living.  I always wish I had pursued what I liked to do, engineering, from the start … I would be at the top of my game right now!  I love my job.  I’m willing to work very hard at it because it is truly rewarding.  I feel a part of something important.”

By most standards (even high ones) Victor is a smart guy.  Aside from his MS, he also holds a BS from MIT in Computer Science.  Yet for two decades he remained in a path that did not fulfil him.  As he wrote to me: “I didn’t like my job/company for many years.  I never wanted to be a businessman, but somehow found myself stuck with the position, and with the company.”

What was holding him back?

In his own words: “Fear of failure, too much debt, didn’t know what to do with myself.”

Note to self: It’s never too late to change – no matter what your circumstances are.  Never, never, never give up on your passion. Instead keep looking for ways to make the change happen.

Now that he’s transcended to the other side, Victor says:

“Seek advice from someone older, smarter, wiser. Many, like me, create our own barriers.  Get professional help if you feel stuck.  Always stay positive, never give up! (And) Work really, really hard.”

How did he manage to let go of twenty years of professional baggage and debts?

He met a life-partner who was understanding and supportive.  What he wrote to me gave me goose bumps: “I got married.  (My wife) has been incredibly supportive.  I probably wouldn’t have had the courage to make such changes without her by my side.”

Note to self: You’re not alone.  Reach out for the support, guidance and help that you need to make change happen.

He also sold his business, which helped him get out without incurring the large expenses involved in closing a business.  Part of the deal was that he would stay on contract as one of the VPs.  This bought him time to decide his next move.

Note to self:  Keep asking ‘how can I make the change?’ and continue to explore options until you find one that works.

What has Victor learned from his process – that you and I could too?

“If you don’t like what you’re doing, be willing to explore something else.  If you’re in school and don’t like your major, change it, or try courses in other disciplines.  Going back to school was both the hardest, and one of the most rewarding, things I’ve done in my life.  Georgia Tech was a chance to do it better (the second time around).  And I did!  And loved every minute of it!!!”


Photo? Courtesy of NASA

Now, future – both matter

It’s true that being in the now has its benefits. You’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever been in the zone and experienced flow while doing something.  You’ll know that in the zone is where you reach your optimum performance. Out of simple and effortless doing come our best results. 

Professional athletes know this.  Next time that you watch an NBA game, pay close attention to how a player shoots a free-throw. Notice how they follow a ritual.  Every player follows a slightly different routine but each one is looking to centre themselves and get into the zone as quickly as possible before shooting.  They know that when they are in the now, there are no thoughts involved – and hence no interruptions. Just pure being.  It’s from that state that they perform their best.

In spite of this, even Eckhart Tolle, the author of the Power of Now, admits that the future is important.* That same NBA player would not be so eager to score that point if he did not have a sense of the consequence of his actions. He knows that his shot counts toward something bigger.  And he knows that to reach that something bigger, he must mind the small things – like making that single free-throw, out of the hundreds that he shoots during a game.

The concept of having something larger to work towards and minding the small things transcends into our own work lives.  Setting five-year goals for your career will give you something bigger to work toward.  Having long-term goals works like a magnet.  Goals will guide each and every moment of your life and infuse your day with a reason for being.  At that point it will make perfect sense for you to pay attention to the small things.

Set goals and just watch what happens.  Notice how your perspective on things changes.  I’d love to know.


*Click here to watch Eckhart speak about the power of now

Cool photo?  Thanks flickr

Not a sports fan? Don’t fake it…

(Networking for Loners revisited)

Shawn Graham’s post about networking over at Courting Your Career got me thinking about – well, networking.  Admittedly he makes a valid point about how following sports is a great strategy to break the ice particularly with people from different backgrounds.   I agree that as a Latin American if I were a football, a basketball or a baseball fan, it may have been easier to connect with others on the US college scene.   Now that I’m living and working in Sydney, I would probably find more connections with locals if I’d be a footy, a rugby or a cricket fan.  However, as much as I enjoy playing tennis, cycling and swimming, I have trouble faking an interest in watching others play – let alone memorizing their stats.  And even when I know that my tennis game is bound to improve from watching the pros at work, I have trouble stretching my attention span to watching a full match.

For those of you who are also at a loss for words when the conversation gravitates towards the latest sporting news, know that there are many other effective ways to connect – without trespassing no-go zones. (My personal ones are: gossiping, politics, sex and religion.)

  1. Food – As an experience we all share and most everyone enjoys, food is a universal glue amongst us all.  Thankfully, unlike sex, it’s acceptable to share our love for it with strangers. There’s also no need to be a gourmand to be an authority on the subject.  Sharing our finds of eateries around town, our sick & twisted encounters during our travels, or our own experiments and creations (whether successful or not) all make for a sure way to bond with people.
  2. Wine, beer and hard liquor – This is not reserved for snobs and it’s certainly not about sharing with strangers what a fool you made of yourself while drunk at last year’s company Christmas party (save that for the bar scene).  There’s more to speaking about booze than drunkenness and hangovers.  Not enough has been said about grape varietals, single malt whisky and boutique beers, seriously.
  3. Books – Only at high school parties it’s uncool to talk about what you’re reading. Sharing with someone what’s on your night-table or your favorite author is a sure way to connect in a non-threatening way.  Personally, whenever I meet someone I find interesting, I ask them about what they’re reading. That’s how I’ve found some really great reads – and bonded with bosses. (feel free to label me ‘geek’) Why if you don’t read? (which I find hard to believe if you’ve made it this far in your career), keep going down the list.
  4. All things culture –There’s no need to try too hard (or dress up) because whether it’s theatre productions, concerts, movies, exhibitions, or the opera, most people enjoy some form of art.  Speaking with others about the many expressions of art is such an easy way to keep your finger on the pulse of culture. As a bonus, you stand to find out about events that you would’ve otherwise missed.
  5. Travel – It’s more the norm than the exception to meet people who have travelled beyond their country borders (except for Bush Jr. – that’s as far as I’ll trespass the no-go zone).  Whatever you do, avoid giving someone a laundry list of all the places you’ve travelled to.  That’s what nouveau travellers do.  Besides, one of the easiest ways to connect with people is by listening.  Also, we all love stories.  Systematically running down a list of all the stamps on your passport is bound to bore people and make you come across as obnoxious. Focus on experiences you’ve lived overseas.   Feel free to throw in tips.
  6. TV shows – How much can you talk about Desperate Housewives at a business meeting without coming across as unprofessional?  For hours if your client is into it as much as you are!  DH aside, it’s likely that people watch some sort of TV show.  Aside from being an easy way to connect with people, finding out what they watch is a good way to learn something more about them. (For the record DH is my favorite form of brain candy and I indulge once a week – not twice – on Monday nights, Sydney time.)
  7. Sports – No, not watching them, playing them. And you don’t need to be a jock (like some have labeled me). In our health conscious world, it’s more common to find people who are active than those who aren’t.  And how refreshing it is to see how the business world no longer revolves around golf. You don’t need to look that hard to find colleagues and clients who regularly run, bike, swim, practice yoga, hike or play basketball, tennis or soccer.  In that sense, I’ve found that sports are a great conversation starter.
  8. Them – So you have this one-of-a-kind individualistic individual in front of you and you’ve failed to connect with them through any of the topics on this list.  What now?  Talk about them. I guarantee that will do the trick. We all love to talk about ourselves – especially with someone who shows a genuine interest in us.  Besides, as humans, you’ll find that we’re not that different from one another. We all have dreams, fears, feelings. Albeit the content of all those may be different, but we experience very similar things.

It is possible to network without faking it.  I know this after trying very hard to fake an interest in watching sports.   After a few failed attempts – marked by falling asleep shortly after the national anthem – I’m glad I stuck to my guns and instead looked for other ways to connect with people. Staying true to myself and sharing my real interests has made a big difference in my own path.  Beyond what faking it would have achieved. Guaranteed.


Photo by Dallas Photoworks.




Short & sweet

Picture shot at Tropfest 2009, the world’s largest short film festival.

Last night over 150,000 people gathered at outdoor venues across Australia to watch 16 short films.  

And what do all those thousands of people have in common?  

A love for all things short – as in brief. 

Note to self: One of the most effective ways to get your point across at work is to keep it short. 

Do your ideas pass the elevator pitch test?  In other words, can you sum up your main ideas in 30 seconds or less – the average time of an elevator ride?

When looking to get buy-in for your ideas, keep in mind that the greatness of ideas is based on others understanding them.


Want to see more photos? flickr

Why Pigs Can’t Fly – and Neither Can Opportunities

As a writer and career strategist, one of the opportunities I enjoy most is when people I meet involve me in their process of discovering what they would like to do for work.

It’s been refreshing to see that even during these unstable economic times, there are people out there who are not willing to continue to sell their souls for a paycheck.  There are some who refuse to settle for a job and insist on finding something that they’ll enjoy and will bring meaning to their life.  The main hurdle these people share is that while they know that their current line of work is not fulfilling, they have no idea what will fulfil them.

For those of you who are seeking to answer the question: “what do I like to do?” first let me remind you that there is nothing to be ashamed of. I’m not saying this to be nice.  Take a look at how a well-run manufacturing plant works.  One of the most dangerous things an operations manager can do is ignore problems in the system.  It is only when she acknowledges faults in the process that she stands a chance to correct them.  The same applies to the game of work. 

Besides, it takes great courage to acknowledge (if only to yourself) that the path that you have been on – whether it has been for a few months or several years – is not the right one for you.  Just as well, the process of looking for answers is an opportunity in itself.  You’re bound to end up better off than when you started.  Even so, there are no easy answers or formulas to find an answer. 

To shine a light on your path, here I share with you what has helped those who have found an answer:

Staying open to trying different things.  The discovery of the light bulb is one of history’s most over-used and yet plainly obvious examples of the power of trial and error. Like the light bulb, most of the world’s greatest discoveries have been made by those who have tried different things and learned from their failures. (Think Thomas Edison)

If you’re hesitating to accept a job or a business opportunity, keep in mind that you’re not accepting a life sentence. Of course it’s to your advantage to be committed to making things work out, but if down the track you find that you’re miserable, there’s always the option to change.  The upside of changing after you’ve tested an opportunity is that you’ll become more clear on what you don’t want.   That puts you in a better place next time that you consider an opportunity.

Learning from every experience. Every job or business opportunity is part of the process of discovering who you are and what you want to do.  Pay attention to the feedback that every experience gives you.  Make a list of every major job you’ve held and every business opportunity you’ve been a part of.  Beside each, jot down the major lessons and insights gained. Those are yours to keep for life – and to take with you to other jobs and business opportunities.

Trusting the process. It’s key to recognize that there are things that are outside our control.  Even if we feel that answers are light years away, we must trust that they will eventually come.  Part of having answers is having enough information to recognize those answers.  How many times has it happened to you that the answer to something has been in front of you but you did not see it – while someone else did?  That’s because you were missing information that allowed you to recognize the answer. Once you received the information, you were able to recognize it.  The same applies to finding out what you’d like to do.  It’s possible that the answer is right in front of you. To recognize it you must first live through certain experiences that will give you the information that you need. During those times when you become particularly impatient or anxious, try saying to yourself: ”I trust and I let go.”  Doing so will help you acknowledge that just because things are outside of your control does not mean that they will not be taken care of.  My favorite example is the human heartbeat.  Just because you cannot control it, does not mean that your heart will not beat. 

And what has stopped others from finding an answer?

Doing nothing. 


Nothing will lead to nothing.  So many times I come across people who decide to do nothing because they do not know what to do.  They’re afraid that if they jump into something, that it will be the wrong thing.  My question to them is: ‘if you do not know what you’d like to do, then what does knowing what you’d like to do look like?’ The point is, even if the thing that you’d like to do landed on top of you while you’re in a state of inaction, chances are you wouldn’t recognize it.  Why?  Because you need more information.  And you’ll get that information by doing something.

For those who insist on remaining in a state of paralysis, here are a few things to ponder about while you sit and wait for the right opportunity to land on your head (re-read the title):

Every job role and business leaves valuable lessons – even if you don’t love or like it.

Every experience has good and bad things.  As much as you suspect that you will not like a role, the reality is that there will be things that will like about it. The world is not all black or white.

It’s a chance to expand your network.  It’s more likely that you’ll meet people at work than sitting on your couch.  Make the most of those relationships.

As you seek for answers, remember that it’s not an easy question to answer; it’s one of the most important ones.  Just as well, seeking for an answer is as valuable as finding one.


Like the pig? flickr 


Why my first guest blogger is anonymous

This is a big leap of faith for me.  

For the very first time since this blog was launched I’ve reached out to ask a reader to write a guest post.  This reader is one of those highly talented but unassuming people who likes to fly below the radar.  That’s why he has asked me to keep his post anonymous.  For the purpose of this post, lets call him Joe. (This reader is also in the habit of sending me quite relevant and thought provoking comments via facebook.)
I agreed to publish Joe’s post – even if it meant leaving out his real identity – because I believe that doing so is very much in line with my vision for this blog; and my writing career in general.  In order to inspire and empower my readers, I do not believe that I need to brag about anyone’s flashy titles or qualifications. What adds real value to my readers is a person’s insight and experience.  That is what I believe everyone should wear like a badge of honor – not whether they are a CEO, a director or have an MBA. And that’s exactly why Joe’s words deliver.

I hope that like me, you’ll find many lessons in Joe’s search for his career’s ‘g-spot’.  

Finding “that”*

I was at a funeral recently and arrived a few minutes late.  I was taken aback to hear how inspired and passionate the priest was delivering the speech.  This was probably because he was a close friend of the person who died. He said something very important that we often forget because we are too busy living our daily lives: “Leave a mark before you go and do it by living to the fullest”.
I’ve been thinking about his words ever since.  
Plenty of priests, rabbis, monks, parents and friends repeat this. As do we, but are we really doing it? Only the person inside each of us can really answer this.
When Silvana invited me to participate in this blog I was a bit cautious about what to write.  After considering several subjects, I decided to write about how we go about finding the right career and choosing what we do – because I believe that our decision resonates beyond what most us are aware of.
A career is not about academics or money it is about finding the lifestyle that makes us truly happy, something that if taken away from us, makes us cease to exist.  What we study or even the jobs we hold are not what define us. It’s deeper than that. It is how we chose to live and what we are 24/7 that defines us.
Then how does one go about finding the path to live to the fullest?  
Some are born knowing what they will do, others grow into something, others have a great talent and others happen to find it by some crazy accident.
For me, finding the right path, the right job, the right place to be and live, what I call “that” has come after searching and falling for many years. I have shoved my nose into so many industries, places, jobs and what not that I think I have more stories than answers to the question above.
And what is “that”?
A friend of mine once said that being in love is wanting to be at the same place every day and not getting enough of it. That’s exactly “that” because finding the perfect career or lifestyle is about loving what you do to keep doing it forever.
Today I work in the music business.  I’ve been doing so for over 5 years.  To be honest I am not leaving it until someone drags me out after they have killed me. Growing up I never dreamed of doing something like this nor was music an important part of my life, like it is for everyone in my industry. I stumbled upon it after 6 years of being a serial entrepreneur, working in the telecom industry, recycling, aeronautics and the internet. (I got to know the internet industry quite well when the Y2K stock market bubble blew up in my face, hard.)
I used to think the music business was easy: you have a talented musician, show him on a stage and thousands will come by some magical reason. I decided to embark on this “easy” task by buying music business books and making phone calls.
Then I hit a brick wall so hard it took me a while to get up. This is an industry like any other, governed by laws, treaties, costs, financial projections, negotiations, contracts, inventories, time management and all the little things we deal with in any business. Artists are products.  And I cannot tell you how many thousands or hundreds of thousands there are, plus the millions who want to make it. If you want cutthroat by all means join in.
The difference with other industries is that this is a qualitative one. Every product we sell reaches the senses, nothing more. Music hits the emotions like no other vehicle and for some reason it fit me perfectly because all business decisions are based on how the qualitative mixes in with the quantitative, the money. How do you pick a single for a new album? How do you know how to charge for a single concert? How do you sell your artist to an ad agency who wants to place his/her song and image for a brand? We don’t sell carpets that cost $100 to make and sell it for $200 because it fits the market price range. We sell talent and this cannot be measured. This is the beauty of it.  That there are very little formulas in this business; we make them up as we go. For some reason that I still don’t know I am perfect for this (or I like to think so) and want to continue at it for a long time. Since I found it somewhat by accident I am lucky enough to say that “that” found me, but I had been looking for it as well, I just did not know that it was the music industry. I am plain lucky I guess.
When it comes to making the right career choice it may sound a bit silly but do it from the gut, which is nothing more than mixing brains and heart. In other words, there is no magic in finding the right career.  It just takes a lot of wanting to explore, falling down and getting back up a million times until you find “that” or it finds you. Being what you do will make you do it well.  Most importantly it will define how far you want to take it.
I like Oriental philosophy very much so I’ll leave you with this quote from Confucius: “Find a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
*Read at your own risk