CHICAGO - Take a look at the video below. It caught my eye this morning and I thought you might enjoy it. It looks like part of a video product for sale somewhere. Buy it. I know I will, because there's something to what this guy says.
One of the things I have learned in my 44 years is that the world doesn't care how much money you make (Barack Obama notwithstanding).
As most of my readers know, from 1993-2001, I was a frozen food trader. At times, I worked in a handful of functions in and around frozen food distribution -- but in essence, I was a trader the entire time. After being laid off during the 2001 recession, I decided to leave the food industry for good.
The commodity food industry is an extremely competitive arena defined by its price competition. In such environments, you're only as smart as your dumbest competitor. When my pink slip came, I was determined to move into professional services, a space where I could be more creative. I wanted to transition into a job that made better use of my latent skills and interests.
In the short run, that transition was a bloody mess. According to Social Security, in 2002, I W2'd $26,510 and in 2003 I W2'd $23,876. The debt I incurred just to get by was staggering. Every professional services firm I met with said the same thing: "Gee, you seem pretty bright, ... for a food guy ... Too bad we can't use a food guy ...". Outside of the food industry, I couldn't get arrested.
You unemployed candidates out there: Do you think recruiters can't relate to your pain? This one can! Those years were terrifying, and I couldn't sleep a wink. (Maybe that's because I was sleeping on the couch.) My blood pressure shot through the roof. With a stay-at-home wife, four kids and a mortgage, the situation was beyond dire.
BUT: In 2004, I discovered recruiting. Here was a professional service that allowed me to talk to online marketers all day about my greatest professional love: Online marketing. It was a blast.
And eventually, the money rolled in. In both 2006 and 2007, my W2 was many, MANY times my 2002 + 2003 earnings combined. Same guy, same education, different line of work, vastly different results. And the transformation, chronicled in 97 Job Search Tips, took only three years (2003-2006).
Not overnight, but not forever.
Times are tough right now, and there's every reason to believe that times will get tougher. That does not mean that you won't survive. You will. And many of you might even thrive. But one important key to thriving in any economy is to ...
Plant yourself in the right soil.
Very soon, please take the Birkman and figure out what your LATENT strengths and interests are. Then begin your gradual, orderly transition into a career doing what comes naturally to you in a growth industry that you like. In fact, here's a nice treat to get you started.
In all likelihood, Warren Buffett would have made a lousy nurse and Seth Godin would have made an average garbage man and Tiger Woods would have made an unremarkable auto mechanic. But each decided to embrace what came naturally to them and the rest is history.
Each recognized their strengths and then pursued careers that leveraged those strengths. There was never any guarantee of money. (There never is.) And that does not mean that they didn't have difficult days. There were moments of doubt, I'm sure. However, over a long period of concentrated effort, each made their vital, necessary mark on the world. And oh, by the way, the world rewarded them lavishly for it.
Now clearly, our society pays more for some jobs than it does for others. I'm not naive. First grade teachers don't make much money, but there's a ton of psychic income to be earned in such roles. If you are intellectually and spiritually inclined to teach first grade, then don't get hung up on the fact that you won't earn as much as your local ballplayer or divorce lawyer. Money can be a trap. I'm happier now because I'm in a more emotionally rewarding field -- not because I earn more. I kid you not.
Bottom line: It is not too late to reinvent yourself. In fact, there's never been a better time. If your job sucks or you have been laid off or whatever, you should thank God for the impetus to go back to the drawing board and reboot your career.
Of course, many of you are already in the right soil. You are blessed. Send this video to someone less fortunate.