Friday, November 18, 2011

I've Switched to WordPress

Good news!  I've switched from Blogger to WordPress.  Now my blog and website are at the same easy address:  If you want to continue receiving my weekly postings via email or RSS feed, click here to quickly re-subscribe.  I know it's a hassle, but look on the bright side.  It's free!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Test-Drive Your Dream Job

Journalist Larry Portzline, my co-author for DEFYING GRAVITY, TOO, is my guest blogger this week.  Note that Mark Peffers is one of the men we interviewed for the book.  

Imagine having the opportunity to "test-drive" your dream job for a couple of days.

Maybe you want to become a brewmaster like Mark Peffers, or learn how to run a B&B, or find out what it's like to be a sports announcer.  Or maybe you've always wanted to be a horse trainer, a music producer or a detective.
VocationVacations® can help you to explore these possibilities and many more.

Founded in 2004 by entrepreneur and author Brian Kurth, the agency offers more than 150 hands-on "career immersion experiences" with expert mentors around the U.S.  "It's ideal for anyone who's considering a career change," Kurth explains.  "You get to work one-on-one with a professional, see what they do up-close and ask a million questions."

Some of the most popular one- to three-day VocationVacations® cover the culinary, sports, design, animal, entertainment and hospitality fields.  "People are trying to figure out what they really want to do," Kurth notes.  "They want to find their true calling and pursue their passions, especially if they feel stuck in their current careers."
Past vacationers have included attorneys, insurance executives, teachers and clerical workers, for example.  "They come from all walks of life," Kurth says.  "It's a risk-free way for them to explore the 'road not taken' or audition a new career without quitting their day-jobs."
A former director of business development for a dot-com startup and a co-executive producer for the program "This Job's A Trip" on the Travel Channel, Kurth has pitched VocationVacations on CNN, MSNBC and "The Today Show."  He also authored the book Test-Drive Your Dream Job: A Step-by-Step Guide to Finding and Creating the Work You Love (2008, Hachette Group).
"I always say, you test-drive a car before you buy it, whether it's a used Honda or a brand new Maserati," he explains.  "Well, it's the same thing with a career.  You should give yourself the opportunity to test-drive your dream job.  And see how it feels."
Visit for more information.

Intrigued?  Take a few minutes to view the above video.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Barbara Traynor

Barbara Traynor, author of Second Career Volunteer:  A Passionate & Pennywise Approach to Retirement, spends six months of every year volunteering at an organization of her choice in exchange for room and board.  

One year she worked at a small college in Alaska.  (See photo, above, of Barbara kayaking with some new friends in her free time.)  Another year she worked at a wildlife refuge in Florida.  This year she’ll be volunteering at Russell Cave National Monument in Alabama. 

Not bad for a woman in her 70s who depends on Social Security for her entire income and never thought she’d be able to retire, let alone travel all around the United States.

 This week I interviewed Barbara on “Ageless” and hosted her for the night at my place.  After she went to bed, I read her entire book from cover to cover.  It’s filled with inspiring stories of other volunteer careerists and a wealth of resources for anyone interested in exploring this lifestyle.  

Although the book is geared to retirees living on a fixed income, the financial crisis has made its content relevant to a much broader swath of people—recent college grads who can’t land a job, midcareer professionals who’ve been laid off, even affluent retirees who’ve grown weary of playing golf and want to give back.  

As Barbara herself says, “My volunteer lifestyle enables me to live within my limited…income without effort, travel to places only dreamed of, and network with an incredible group of people.  It does not get better than that!"

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

No Time Like the Present

Reading about Steve Jobs’ death tonight at the age of 56, I feel a renewed sense of urgency to seize the moment.  I’ve already lived a year more than he did.  With that in mind, today I’ve chosen to re-run a post I published on February 10, 2008.  When I wrote this, my friend Laurie’s husband Jim had just died of a brain tumor.

A memorial celebration was held yesterday for Jim McKennan, the husband of my friend Laurie Gordon. He was only 54 years old and the father of four school-age children. Over 700 people came to the service.

I was fortunate to be able to spend some time with Jim the last few weeks before he died. On each occasion, I left with the conviction that our connections with others nourish and sustain us as much as our dreams.

Throughout his life, Jim’s priority was his loved ones. He was enormously successful in business, the creative genius behind the Wendy’s campaign that featured founder Dave Thomas. But he almost never left his house before nine in the morning and tried to be home by six each night. He didn’t want to miss seeing his children off to school and hearing about their day when they returned.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Finding Purpose: The Five P's

This blog entry was originally posted on March 19, 2007.  I had just returned from Botswana when I wrote it.  I recently chatted with Bonnie Orton, the then 70-year old Peace Corps volunteer who hosted me while I was there.  She called me from JFK on her way home to Chicago from another trip to Africa.  One of these days we plan to go back together. 

We are born to dream.

Think about it. Where would we be, who would we be, without our dreams? Most of the great inventions of the world, much of the forward movement of human civilization, has been fueled by dreams. So it should come as no surprise that for many of us, finding purpose means putting our dreams into action.

For the past seven years I’ve been interviewing people who later in life did just that, and in writing a book about the experience, I realized a dream of my own. Analyzing what I've learned in the process and how it might apply to people of all ages, I've come up with what I call "The Five P’s of Finding Purpose."