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How my career found me

Bit of an autobiographical feel to this post. Don’t worry if this is not to your taste, there will be more tips tomorrow!

In my post about what memes are I invited anyone to tag me with a meme in return for a link and a free copy of my forthcoming ebook.

Bonnie tagged me for a Multiple Choice Meme. I choose to answer the question “What talent or skill would you most like to have?“. I’m actually going to cheat and cover two questions with my answer. The other question I will answer is “What did you want to be when you grew up?“.

When I was a kid, actually right up to leaving school, I wanted to be an illustrator. From an early age I had enjoyed comic books. I dreamed of being a comic book artist, cartoonist or an illustrator for childrens books. I drew pictures all the time. Between playing with my friends, reading, drawing and spending time on the computer my parents never saw me.

As I got older the dream felt less and less realistic. It is one thing to be able to draw well enough to please friends and family, quite another to make a living out of it. While the motivation dwindled I still kept at it. I even sent off some greetings cards designs to Hallmark, things could have turned out very different!

You might think the talent I wish I had would be drawing and painting, but actually I am glad things worked out the way they did. I enjoy drawing pictures for my little girl but I think I would have made a poor artist.

At age 16 I had the choice of continuing education or getting a job. I hated school and everything about it. Plus I knew my parents couldn’t support me financially through university. Cut a long story short, I turned (eventually) to my other hobby, computers.

You might have gathered I was a pretty solitary kid, computers (at that time), drawing, reading. I was painfully shy, I couldn’t face even ordering fast food, I would blush or stammer at the slightest provocation. This had to change.

Being someone who always had his nose in a book my solution inevitably was to read a bunch of stuff on interpersonal communication and self help. You name it I read it. Body language, NLP, hypnosis, confidence, positive thinking. Some of it helped but I came to the conclusion I would need to actually do something rather than read a bunch of stuff.

When someone is afraid of flying they take them up on a flight, if you are afraid of spiders then you can go to the zoo and hold a tarantula. I enrolled on a teaching course.

The transformation wasn’t immediate but it was dramatic. Going from not being able to say the words “big mac meal please” to giving a talk in front of hundreds of people in a filled lecture theatre in several painful, sweaty, nauseous, stages.

Coming out the other side of it I realised I loved to teach. Of course I still got frightened with public speaking, and I am still shy meeting people for the first time, but something switches on inside of me when I help other people understand something new. It also dawned on me that I was most energised in my IT day job when I was helping people with their computer problems. I had been teaching all along.

I ended up a consultant. Which is a kind of teacher when you think about it. Inevitably I would get drawn into programming, which is not something I enjoy any longer, but this led to co-authoring programming books and running programming training courses which I did very much enjoy. Now I help people learn blogging and internet marketing, even better!

Had I shown more aptitude for the cartooning I would never have got to this point. I am grateful I didn’t have the talent I wanted πŸ˜€

So to continue this meme, I am going to ask the following people …

“When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?” and “if things had turned out different, what might your career have been?”

Should be an interesting mix of answers, I know in particular Darren and Brian have had some fascinating career changes between them!

Don’t wait to be tagged yourself, the invitation is there for anyone to participate.

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Comments

  1. I wanted to become a pilot, my father wanted me to see me as a Doctor. I studied Computer Engineering and got my masters degree in Computer Engineering. These days I am entrepreneur, visiting faculty, consultant and I speak for different audiences. Tag me, how you want.

  2. I wanted to become a pilot, my father wanted me to see me as a Doctor. I studied Computer Engineering and got my masters degree in Computer Engineering. These days I am entrepreneur, visiting faculty, consultant and I speak for different audiences. Tag me, how you want.

  3. It makes me wonder how so many people manage to change their professions in their lives… I just finished school and I’m not able to imagine a Future Me because there’s so much possibilities… Programming, drawing, writing, philosophy and all that stuff that kept my head busy the last few years. Can I make a living out of writing books and blogs, illustrating stuff and coding the markup and backend-software for websites? Probably yes, but I just don’t know how to start — and whether that’s a really good choice.

    What did you think when you developed?
    What were you frightened of when you got a job, when you changed your streams of income?

  4. It makes me wonder how so many people manage to change their professions in their lives… I just finished school and I’m not able to imagine a Future Me because there’s so much possibilities… Programming, drawing, writing, philosophy and all that stuff that kept my head busy the last few years. Can I make a living out of writing books and blogs, illustrating stuff and coding the markup and backend-software for websites? Probably yes, but I just don’t know how to start — and whether that’s a really good choice.

    What did you think when you developed?
    What were you frightened of when you got a job, when you changed your streams of income?

  5. Do what you love. Finding out what you actually *love* to do can take a while. Look at me, there were several things I *liked* to do, but it was only after facing a fear (ie. something you would have thought would be on the hate side) that I found my calling.

    In most cases through my life the thing I was meant to be doing clicked into place, when it works it just works. The stuff I found resistance, like rolling a boulder up hill, that never worked out quite right.

    Look at what you are doing now and sniff out a path. If you are not doing, then get doing. You don’t have to wait. Do a bunch of stuff. Careers are not big monolithic things, they are lots of tiny connected events.

    If someone gave you a fortune so you would never *have* to work, what would give you the most joy and satisfaction? Where can you make a difference? What unique talents do you have? It could take a lifetime or an instant to find out but we are all on the same journey.

  6. Do what you love. Finding out what you actually *love* to do can take a while. Look at me, there were several things I *liked* to do, but it was only after facing a fear (ie. something you would have thought would be on the hate side) that I found my calling.

    In most cases through my life the thing I was meant to be doing clicked into place, when it works it just works. The stuff I found resistance, like rolling a boulder up hill, that never worked out quite right.

    Look at what you are doing now and sniff out a path. If you are not doing, then get doing. You don’t have to wait. Do a bunch of stuff. Careers are not big monolithic things, they are lots of tiny connected events.

    If someone gave you a fortune so you would never *have* to work, what would give you the most joy and satisfaction? Where can you make a difference? What unique talents do you have? It could take a lifetime or an instant to find out but we are all on the same journey.

  7. Thanks for the tag, Chris – an honour to be in such company! I’ll try to do the question justice, although I fear that my response may end up sounding strangely familiar… well, you’ll see what I mean…

  8. Thanks for the tag, Chris – an honour to be in such company! I’ll try to do the question justice, although I fear that my response may end up sounding strangely familiar… well, you’ll see what I mean…

  9. I look forward to reading your answer πŸ™‚

  10. I look forward to reading your answer πŸ™‚

  11. Interesting post. I always like hearing about how people fell into this internet business. It isn’t the sort of thing you plan out and I’m always fascinated by the different paths people take.

  12. Interesting post. I always like hearing about how people fell into this internet business. It isn’t the sort of thing you plan out and I’m always fascinated by the different paths people take.

  13. Excellent story, Chris — with a great message.

    Growing up, I only wanted to be a cartoonist. As I got out there, I realized there were better ways to make living (for me), but still on my own terms. I’ve been fortunate enough to be self-employed for most of my working life, and do work that I enjoy.

    I still draw cartoons, (like on my blog) but just for fun. Sometimes, making something a job, makes it less fun.

  14. Excellent story, Chris — with a great message.

    Growing up, I only wanted to be a cartoonist. As I got out there, I realized there were better ways to make living (for me), but still on my own terms. I’ve been fortunate enough to be self-employed for most of my working life, and do work that I enjoy.

    I still draw cartoons, (like on my blog) but just for fun. Sometimes, making something a job, makes it less fun.

  15. Thanks for being transparent Chris, I enjoyed that. I also taught computer classes for several years and found it very rewarding.

  16. Thanks for being transparent Chris, I enjoyed that. I also taught computer classes for several years and found it very rewarding.

  17. Jen / domestika says:

    I think you hit it dead on with your response to Christian, Chris, when you said that “Careers are not big monolithic things, they are lots of tiny connected events.” Peering about anxiously to catch sight of that mythical monolith, too easy for any bright kid to crash and burn before they have a proper chance to take flight.

  18. I think you hit it dead on with your response to Christian, Chris, when you said that “Careers are not big monolithic things, they are lots of tiny connected events.” Peering about anxiously to catch sight of that mythical monolith, too easy for any bright kid to crash and burn before they have a proper chance to take flight.

  19. Chris,
    I’m thankful for your ultimate career – learn a lot from this blog!

  20. Chris,
    I’m thankful for your ultimate career – learn a lot from this blog!

  21. Wow, i am a bit of an ingenue in this whole area any entering cautiously. Growing up the ma told me i was to be a pharmacist. i looked at life that way until my art teacher suggested i apply for a scholarship and go to art school. so…finished there with no teachers positions in school available, asked to teach photography, did that till someone suggested healing. studied that until… big jump with years better left unspoken…moved to nz… worked in retail then took street kids in for a few years… taught photography… moved… worked for a church … studied carpentry and became a builder until a horse fell on me… demolished houses and built furniture… started casual teaching… learned to weld…taught full time woodwork and design tech… moved back to Oz to look after ill relative… currently teaching….wanna be living in the country, rehabilitating the earth and selling my art… thats me
    teaching is a good buzz

  22. Wow, i am a bit of an ingenue in this whole area any entering cautiously. Growing up the ma told me i was to be a pharmacist. i looked at life that way until my art teacher suggested i apply for a scholarship and go to art school. so…finished there with no teachers positions in school available, asked to teach photography, did that till someone suggested healing. studied that until… big jump with years better left unspoken…moved to nz… worked in retail then took street kids in for a few years… taught photography… moved… worked for a church … studied carpentry and became a builder until a horse fell on me… demolished houses and built furniture… started casual teaching… learned to weld…taught full time woodwork and design tech… moved back to Oz to look after ill relative… currently teaching….wanna be living in the country, rehabilitating the earth and selling my art… thats me
    teaching is a good buzz

  23. Wow, thanks for the invite.

    Lots of tiny connected events – that sums me up perfectly. I can’t remember having the typical boyhood dreams of becoming a fireman or astronaut. In my early teens, somehow I thought being a stockbroker would be the coolest thing in the world (um no idea why)

    I did accomplish my goal and a pretty good one at that. I was lucky enough to be trained by the VP of Sales at Merrill Lynch who taught me the priceless skill of networking which he intended for me to put to use as a broker.

    Through a series of twists and turns that turned into a fulltime job training other brokers across the country how to network with influential people. That skill changed my life and every career move thereafter.

    Having the likely ability to (or at least thinking I could) connect with probably anybody I wanted to was an incredible advantage in future ventures. I launched several small companies’ which led me to my current one where I am happy. Helping people the way we do is extremely rewarding.

    I find myself stumped for the very first time however, the landscape has changed. While before my tools were a few nice suits and a good set of Callaway’s, the new tools of the trade are called Technorati, Digg and Stumbleupon.

    Before I used to figure out a way to get Conrad Hilton on the golf course with a checkbook, now I find myself trying to figure out how to get Chris and Brian to “tag me”

    Writing was never a requirement and I sorely lack in that area. THAT DAMNED BLOG! πŸ™‚

  24. Wow, thanks for the invite.

    Lots of tiny connected events – that sums me up perfectly. I can’t remember having the typical boyhood dreams of becoming a fireman or astronaut. In my early teens, somehow I thought being a stockbroker would be the coolest thing in the world (um no idea why)

    I did accomplish my goal and a pretty good one at that. I was lucky enough to be trained by the VP of Sales at Merrill Lynch who taught me the priceless skill of networking which he intended for me to put to use as a broker.

    Through a series of twists and turns that turned into a fulltime job training other brokers across the country how to network with influential people. That skill changed my life and every career move thereafter.

    Having the likely ability to (or at least thinking I could) connect with probably anybody I wanted to was an incredible advantage in future ventures. I launched several small companies’ which led me to my current one where I am happy. Helping people the way we do is extremely rewarding.

    I find myself stumped for the very first time however, the landscape has changed. While before my tools were a few nice suits and a good set of Callaway’s, the new tools of the trade are called Technorati, Digg and Stumbleupon.

    Before I used to figure out a way to get Conrad Hilton on the golf course with a checkbook, now I find myself trying to figure out how to get Chris and Brian to “tag me”

    Writing was never a requirement and I sorely lack in that area. THAT DAMNED BLOG! πŸ™‚

  25. @John – me too πŸ™‚

    @Tony – I didn’t realise cartooning was so popular, I am not as weird as I thought! πŸ˜‰

    @Mark – Transparent? I guess so, hadn’t thought of it like that

    @Jen – Yeah it is odd that schools put so much emphasis on choosing a “career” when there are very few people who actually stick to that choice

    @Sarah – and thanks for saying so πŸ™‚

    @Jayney – nothing wrong with being cautious πŸ™‚

    @Marc – you do fine from what I can tell!

  26. @John – me too πŸ™‚

    @Tony – I didn’t realise cartooning was so popular, I am not as weird as I thought! πŸ˜‰

    @Mark – Transparent? I guess so, hadn’t thought of it like that

    @Jen – Yeah it is odd that schools put so much emphasis on choosing a “career” when there are very few people who actually stick to that choice

    @Sarah – and thanks for saying so πŸ™‚

    @Jayney – nothing wrong with being cautious πŸ™‚

    @Marc – you do fine from what I can tell!