family influenced your career direction in both subtle and direct ways?
My grandparents, parents and siblings have all influenced my career direction in direct and indirect (but sometimes not so subtle) ways. For instance, my paternal grandfather always insisted that I should attend college and “make something of myself” because he never had the opportunity. Likewise, my maternal grandmother consistently encouraged me to pursue a career in art because I liked to draw and once drew a picture when I was 10 years old that looked vaguely like her (she still has it framed and hung on her bedroom wall). My father is adamant that I should become some type of professional (“It doesn’t matter what kind, just learn how to do something people will pay you a lot of money to do”). In addition, my older brother (a certified public accountant with an insurance company) has encouraged me to be an accountant because “that’s where the money is,” and my younger brother insists that I should work in a zoological park because “that’s where I belong.”
What have been the key events in your own career journey so far?
One of the most poignant key events in my career journey to date was landing my first real job. Over the years, I had held a series of minimum-wage part-time jobs in various food service establishments to help defray living and education experiences, but I secured my first “real job” when I was hired full time based on my educational credentials. Another important key event was leading a five-member group to develop a comprehensive video production of Henry David Thoreau’s life and philosophy, including interviews with several local historians and faculty members. This video was copied and distributed to other local colleges and high schools where Thoreau was included in the curricular offerings.
How might you have benefited from learning about “happenstance” earlier in your life?
Some of the most successful people in the business and political world would likely agree that happenstance played a major part in helping them get where they are today. Although it would be disingenuous to suggest that some people are “just born lucky,” it is also clear that some people manage by design or otherwise to be where important decisions are being made and where they can benefit personally and professionally. It is also important to keep in mind that happenstance can occur at any time, and people need to be prepared to take advantage of opportunities it introduces or to respond to urgent needs if the contingency is negative. In sum, it is impossible to be prepared for the unexpected, but it is possible to be prepared to take advantage of opportunity when it knocks.
How could you use these ideas to help you with clients in the future?
Serendipitous events do in fact “fall out of the sky” sometimes, but diligence and an informed approach provide a better alternative than waiting for happenstance to result in appropriate career choices and advancements. Good advice for anyone is to take action now to get where they want to be in the future. By setting goals and taking steps to reach them, people can achieve far more than sitting back and hoping for and expecting miracles and an action-oriented approach to professional development is always good advice.
Do any family members want you to pursue a career that they were unable to pursue? If so who and what is the career?
My father worked 50 and 60 hours a week for 35 years selling everything from paper products to apple pies over a grueling 1,000-mile sales route that spanned five states that would have killed a lesser man. He probably drove more than two million miles…