Brian Kurth was tired of his job and did not feel the fire anymore; his daily commute of 2-3 hours round trip plus days of heavy traffic were not even bringing out the best of him. He started having all sorts of fantasies about jobs he could do -- become a dog trainer, work in the wine industry etc. Then he thought there must be a company that offers short internships so people can try out jobs before committing to them. He only found something for teenagers and youths, nothing for someone like him already in his forties. Thus came the idea of his company called Vocation Vacations, helping people get their dream jobs.
The company would offer vacations that lets you test- drive your dream vocation. Before reason took over, he registered a domain name, www.vocationvacations.com which now redirects to www.pivotplanet.com, his new brain child.
Years later, it took a merger and acquisition of his company, a layoff, September 11, stock market correction etc. before he started. This tells me that despite having a dream and a passion, not everyone just ups and starts, some need a certain push or even things beyond their control before they can take the leap and launch out.
Brian launched out as the only employee and also started his internship at a wine distributing company. Three years down the line with several struggles, lessons learnt and building a team, he started and people paid him to organise such internships for them before they made a life changing decision of quitting their jobs for the unknown.
People came back from the internship re-invigorated, more passionate, some with business plans written, and some determined to get more education and more with mentors holding their hands. On the other side of the coin, some even found out that the dream job they tried was not the job they thought they wanted. Everyone came out fulfilled and empowered to take action.
"The feel-good factor is huge," Kurth says. "It's not that we're changing people's lives, but we're giving them a tool that they could never, never, never get in a classroom."
A lot of people are still trying to figure out what they want to be in the near future. Some may even have good jobs and fat paychecks but still feel an emptiness. They dream about becoming the MD/CEO which will fill all the void within, discover and explore the job they have only seen in their dream. However Brian says “by following a realistic step-by-step vocationing process, you can pursue your interests and passions to the job of your dreams”.
The following major issues were discussed in the book which sum up the totality of test driving your dream job, testing the waters before taking the full plunge.
In Nigeria, though we do not have this kind of organised job vacationing experience, our take away on the overall should be to learn how we can actually start our business by the side and learn all the lessons like someone who has gone through the process of vocation vacationing.
The first step is to really know what your passions and interest are as this will help you find purpose and help you define your goals.
The fear of so many things, both real and imagined, is the number one culprit. The one that stands out most is money fears. You have bills to pay, kids and parents to support, getting married or settling down in the Nigerian context, healthcare, retirement plan; the list seems endless.
According to Brian “unfortunately, the harsh truth of the matter is that fear is apt to be an intermittent companion throughout this process”
You just have to bring your fears to the light, manage them, play worst scenario cases. Soon, you will have a track record of overcoming fear and with every milestone covered, you are getting closer to your dream.
Dig and keep digging, do not assume that you have everything you need already, ask people questions if they will be willing to pay for that kind of service
By the time Brian settled in a new city, he had a list of dream careers, how much he could charge, how many clients he needed monthly for a viable business. The research and numbers suggested that he could do it. There is a huge information online, you only need creativity and persistence to pull it out. This is the first place to start but not where to end the search.
Find a Mentor
After getting a decent theoretical knowledge of the industry, you can even have multiple mentors.
Brian advises that you find someone who has a passion, the expertise, teaching ability (they should not just know it, they should be able to impart the knowledge), longevity (been in the industry 5 years and more) and connection (someone you can click and makes you feel at home). You can even have a second Vocation Vacation with the person.
Remember that for the first meeting, you will be interviewing the prospect as much as he is interviewing you so you can make the right decision.
Test-driving your dream job
You actually learn by doing as this is the best test of knowledge.
Test-driving your dream job with a mentor has the potential to change your life, you learn about the day-to-day activities, and what it takes to succeed.
Prior to test-driving a dream job, have expectations from the job and learn about the skills, running capital, time, technical issues, pitfalls, career path, impact on family, support groups and industry contacts.
“Making a list of all the things you need to learn and know in order to make your dream job real,you will have mapped out a plan for moving forward”.
What is critical to reaching that goal is making sure the steps you follow are the right ones. Get yourself a very strong support system as this is the time you need them most to cheer you on and always remind you to keep going towards the goal.
When things don’t go according to plan
Many financial planners advise against using anything other than savings. However, Brian has a little riskier opinion which I am not going to discuss. However finances are not the only thing that can go wrong but I will dwell more on this.
It is important to understand the weight of the risk, challenge, and uncertainty you can endure before the job satisfaction goal becomes blurred by the process.
However you can take back his two critical lessons for protecting yourself from financial disaster when you create a dream business.
- Establish an absolute bottom line, a financial threshold you won’t go beyond
- Before you reach that threshold find outside money
A very good check is to always ask yourself, “is that a business decision or a passion decision” as this will help you not to confuse your love for the work with your knowledge about running a business.
The book ends on a happy note saying “you don't have to quit your nine-to-five job to pursue your dream job, you may get there through a less-than-direct path. It may take weeks, months and years but you sure will reach your destination if you do not stop trying.
According to Jerry who has been everywhere from biology teacher to bus driver to award winning song writer, “there’s never a resting place, there’s always room to improve, always someone new to meet and network with. The only difference now is that, most of the time, they’ll take my call !”
If the beginning seems rough and no one is willing to associate with you, remember this is a phase and you sure will pull through if you do not give up.
Nothing grows or thrives in the comfort zone, the discomfort zone is where all the growth happens.