Over the last week or so I have been reading a brand new book by my blogging friend Jonathan Fields called Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love . I first thought about reviewing it on the blog but decided that doing an interview with Jonathan would be more fun. So here it is, I hope you enjoy it. And that you check out Jonathan’s very practical – there is pretty much no fluff in it – and well-written book.
1. What is a Career Renegade?
Simply put, a Career Renegade is someone who consciously builds her or his career around the activities, settings and people that make them come alive, while also earning enough to live well in the world.
2. Who are you and how has your career looked like so far?
My career path has taken many turns. I was the kid selling lemonade when I was 8 and mowing lawns when I was 15, so I’ve always had a strong entrepreneurial bent. Somehow, I ended up in the law, though, first overseeing the markets at the United States Securities & Exchange Commission, then practicing hedge fund and securities law at a large firm in NYC.
The money was great, but after the stress of the job sent me into emergency surgery, I did a bit of soul-searching and realized I had little interest in law and no desire to become a partner. And, I decided that no amount of money was worth spending the better of your life doing something that consistently emptied your spirit and drained your body.
So, I set about rebuilding my career around the things I love to do, which for me, involved launched, building and selling a number of health and fitness companies and even teaching yoga and guiding mountain-biking along the way.
One of the coolest parts of each step along my journey, though, was figuring out how to turn pursuits that most people don’t make a living at into a serious income.
3. Why did you write this book?
The book grew largely out of my desire to wake people up to the fact that your living is not something to be suffered or endured. Sure, there may be elements of any job that you don’t love, but the far greater part of the way you earn your living should make you come alive.
Through the process of writing and interviewing a ton of people, I discovered one of the biggest challenges people have comes when their passion is not something that most people make a living at, like knitting, painting or even playing video games.
When that happens, most people just relegate their passion to the level of “hobby.” Which is really sad, because, approached differently, so many seemingly moneyless passions can be transformed into serious income generators. And, that is largely what this book shows you how to do.
4. Could you give a brief outline of your idea about Career Renegades and how someone can become one?
If you love what you do and you make a nice living, you don’t need this book (though you might still benefit from the wealth of personal branding strategies).
But, if you yearn to be doing something different, the first step is generally to ask what makes you come alive. And, decouple the question from the exploration of whether it can make money or not. With a little innovation and often a bit of technology, it’s now possible to monetize nearly passion, often in very unconventional ways.
Once you key in on this, the steps generally involve:
- Doing a bit of free or low-cost market research.
- Mining the web to devour knowledge in the area of your passion and cultivate a certain level of mastery.
- Building a portable personal brand by tapping blogging and social media to showcase your voice and value.
- Rally your inner and upper circles, it’s so much easier if those closest to you are on-board.
- Leveraging your personal brand to create your renegade career, either launching your own venture or tapping your reputation to attract employers or joint ventures partners who will facilitate your desire to build a great living around what you love.
I go into exactly how to do all of this in detail with hundreds of strategies, resources, links and case-studies in the book.
5. But how do I know or figure out what my passion is?
Ask yourself what makes you come alive. You’ve probably known since you were a kid. At least you know the types of activities, the setting and the people. You just haven’t owned up to them, because every time you did, that little voice in your head (or coming out of your parents’ or friends’ mouths) said, “that’s not a job, it’s a hobby.
So, when you ask the question, forget about the money side, then start writing things down. Then, once you’ve started to free up your mind enough to build a list, you can go back and figure out the money side.
6. What are some common misconceptions about taking this career route?
That if you do what you love, the money will automatically follow. Man, that would be pretty nice, huh. So, if I love to cook macaroni and cheese, and I spend all my time doing it, a great income will just magically appear or I’ll be so happy I won’t care about the money any more.
Um, no. I live in NYC, I have a family to support. As do many others. We can simplify (which I am a fan of), we can live more consciously, but to survive in the place I choose to live in, I need to make a good living. And, if my mad passion is making macaroni and cheese, then I am going to have to get really creative to figure out “unconventional” ways to “make” the money follow. And, THAT is exactly what this book is all about.
7. What do you think is holding people back from pursuing their passions in this way?
One thing is that little voice in their heads that I spoke about earlier. You know, the one that says, “it can’t be done, it’s just a hobby.” One of my biggest awakenings as an entrepreneur came when I finally realized that when other people say “it can’t be done,” what they are really saying is, “I can’t do it, so who the heck are you to try?!” When you realize this, you stop limiting your own choices by what others believe they can or cannot do. It’s incredibly freeing.
Another big factor is fear. Fear of failure…and fear of success. On the failure side, most people spin the failure scenario around in their heads until they literally brainwash themselves into believing it’s the only rational outcome.
I actually lay out a process in the book the short circuit this cycle. Nothing foofy, just a simple approach to building the mindset needed take consistent daily action. And, that is the true secret to success in nearly any endeavor. There’s not magic to it, nothing paranormal, nothing to buy into. Just the ability to act, without fail, day in and day out. It’s immensely powerful.
8. What are some of the most common problems Career Renegades run into and how can they solve them?
The three biggest challenges tend to be rallying support of those closest you, cultivating the mindset needed to take action and acquiring the knowledge needed to go renegade. The great news is that these are all problems that are fairly easily solved. In fact, I spent a substantial amount of time walking you the strategies, actions and resources needed to solve them, often in excruciating detail, in the book.
For example, when it comes to rallying support, many pundits say to jettison anyone who doesn’t get on board your vision train. C’mon, that’s just not realistic. Sure, you can remove certain people from your life fairly easily. But, there will always be another group of people, close friends and family, who you can’t just abandon, nor do you want to.
For them, you need a process to guide them to support your renegade quest or, at the very minimum, withhold judgment until your success begins to validate your efforts. And, I lay that out in detail in the book.
With rare exception, it’s no longer a matter of whether it’s possible…but “how.”
9. How have the internet, social media and blogging changed things for people who want to become Career Renegades?
Blogging and social media have dramatically accelerated both the passion-driven learning curve and the ability to build a personal brand. As little as three years ago, much of the strategies I share in the book would have been far harder to accomplish.
But the blogosphere and social have profoundly leveled the playing field, democratized influence so that if you are willing to devour knowledge, then share high value information and ideas, you can establish yourself as force in very little time, spending very little money and taking very little risk.
Plus, if you decide to actually launch an online business, the internet expands your reach, so that your community and your market are no longer your local neighborhood, they’re the better part of the world.
10. Is there anything more you’d like to add?
First, just a giant thank you. To you and to your wonderful community. I am truly grateful to have been given the gift of all of your time and energy.
Second, whether you buy Career Renegade or not, this is a year of profound change and opportunity for so many.
There is a very powerful silver lining in what’s going on in the world today. The old career paradigm no longer exists. The old rules have been irreversibly changed. And, in this short window of openness lies the chance to remake the rules the way you want them to be.
The big question is, will you emerge doing the same old thing or will you set in motion a series of ideas and actions that will allow you to rebuild a living and a lifestyle that, maybe for the first time ever, make you come alive?
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