Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love

Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love

by Jonathan Fields


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There’s a revolution brewing across the nation—a movement that’s changing lives and revealing little known paths to passion and prosperity.

It’s about building a great living around what you love to do most. Once you’ve been touched by it, you’ll never be the same. This book is your way in, your admission ticket to the world of the career renegade.

Jonathan Fields, mega-firm lawyer turned successful lifestyle entrepreneur, blogger and writer shows you how to turn your passion–whether it’s cooking or copy-writing, teaching or playing video games–into a better payday and a richly satisfying life.

* Discover the 7 career renegade paths to prosperity
* Tap technology to turn a seemingly moneyless passion into a goldmine
* Rapidly test and tune your idea for free, from the comfort of your couch
* Establish yourself as an authority in a new field with little or no investment
* Cultivate the mission-driven, action-oriented career renegade mindset
* Rally others to your cause, and convince them you’re not nuts

Join the movement now…and take back your livelihood and life!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780767927413
Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/13/2009
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.22(w) x 7.94(h) x 0.76(d)

About the Author

A former lawyer, Jonathan Fields has launched a number of entrepreneurial ventures, while helping others do the same through his marketing group, Vibe Creative, and his Career Renegade entrepreneurship trainings. He's been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, CNBC, Entrepreneur, Vogue, Self and he blogs on the crossroads of work and play at and

Read an Excerpt


You Don't Have to Be

World Class to Make a World-Class Living

MUCH TO THE CONTRARY OF what we've been told for the better part of our lives, we do not exist for the sole purpose of paying our bills, grooming our kids to be able to do the same, and maybe, someday, retiring to finally enjoy life, should we ever reach that point.

We are here to let our lights shine as brightly as possible, to drink in the joy of friendship and family, to serve and better the greater community, and to tap into and inspire passion in everything we do. We are here to come alive. In doing so, we serve as an example to others that a life beyond muddling by is not only possible, but mandatory.

But, we've got a problem. We've spent years or decades believing the thing or things we love to do could never generate enough money to rise above the level of a hobby. We've bought into the notion that the ability to cash in on your passion is a wayward dream for gifted athletes, movie stars, and legends in their fields, people who are world-class great. And, as much as we might love to paint, act, play games, or run marathons, we're never playing pro ball, fronting a gallery show at Bogosian, or opening for Bruce at the Garden.

This might surprise you, but, for the most part, I agree.

You will probably never become world class. Especially if you are already deeply entrenched in a life and lifestyle that would not easily support the years or decades of hyperfocused deliberate practice needed to attain elite status. Or, if you have unchangeable limitations that stand between you and greatness. At five foot nine and forty-two years old, I am never playing center for the Knicks.

But, here's the big news, you don't have to be world-class great to make a great living doing what you love if you are willing to step outside the box, approach your passion differently, find innovative ways to mine that passion for money, and work like crazy to make it happen.
Running from the Law

In the last few months before I left the law, I began to rekindle my passion for the study of the human body and its connection to movement and mind-set. As a lawyer, I had explored yoga as a means of stress management, but I was nowhere near accomplished enough to teach it. So, I turned to fitness, drawing upon over a decade of year-round training in gymnastics, while reading everything I could find on anatomy and kinesiology.

I earned the first of many fitness certifications while still practicing law, resigned a few weeks later, and talked my way into a personal training position in an exclusive fitness studio on Manhattan's Upper East Side. I got to wear sneakers and hang out running in the park all day while learning this new trade. I knew my nest egg from the law would carry me for about a year.

The first few months were an eye-opener. I learned that most personal trainers made very little money and often left the field or worked other jobs to fill in the gaps. It was rare that a trainer would earn enough to pay the rent for a studio apartment, let alone support a family in New York.
Where There's a Will, There's a Payday

I also found, though, that a handful of people were able to define and differentiate themselves in a way that made them more successful with clients, gave them more satisfaction in their careers, and generated significant six-figure incomes.

I began to believe I could create a better lifestyle mousetrap. And, even though I was confident I'd never be part of the elite trainer set, I knew I could create a personal fitness solution that would generate substantially more money than most.

After about six months learning the business hands-on as a trainer and researching the industry, I left to build a private practice, while I laid the groundwork to launch a new facility. I wanted to create an environment where people could feel immediately comfortable, even if they'd never exercised. Images of a friendly southwestern retreat came to mind.

Of course, it wasn't long before much more experienced colleagues in the fitness industry began to ask, "Who do you think you are to open a fitness facility after only months in the business? You can't do that."

In fall 1997, I launched Sedona Private Fitness in Cedar Grove, New Jersey, along with a more experienced fitness partner to lend credibility and bring start-up clientele. By creating an atmosphere that was intentionally homey and developing a brand that held appeal to educated, affluent adults who wanted to get healthy but hated gyms, Sedona was a smash hit. It was super-accessible, luxurious, and results-oriented. While small in size, Sedona generated almost as much training revenue in one month as the average full-size health club earned in a year.
So Much for Conventional Wisdom

A few years in, change was in the air. Along with the growth of Sedona over the next few years, my lifestyle interests and commitments began to evolve. I was married, living in Manhattan, working in New Jersey and, while I enjoyed what I did, I really wanted to be back in the city. Plus, with Sedona humming and the hypercreative element of the business cycle coming to a close, I began to hunger for a new challenge.

I decided to sell my interest in Sedona to private investors and refocus my energies. On the heels of the sale, I was pretty confident in my ability to succeed, so I took some time off, did a lot of writing, and began to cultivate my interest in broader mind-body lifestyles, with a focus on yoga and wellness.

As my personal yoga practice developed and my focus returned to New York, my mind began, once again, to spin. This is fun, this is cool, this makes me feel good. Then the questions began. Can I build on this new mind-body/yoga passion in a way that would differentiate what I do from what everyone else does? If so, does the world really need it? And, of course, can I make a living at it and, if I can't, will my wife leave me?

I immersed myself more deeply in the study of yoga, while exploring its potential for generating a comfortable living. At that point, my wife was pregnant and, while I was still led by passion, I needed to convince myself that the next adventure held the economic potential to comfortably support a family in New York City. That's a tall order for a recovering lawyer, let alone a yogi.

I learned that while yoga practice was expansive and powerful, earning a living as a teacher was a rarity. Once again, conventional wisdom said don't bother. Indeed, in India, for much of the yogic tradition, teachers were aesthetics and beggars, who subsisted on the generosity of others. Only in the last twenty years has yoga emerged as a more mainstream professional pursuit in its own country of origin. Still, I saw the power of the practice, the size of the untapped market, and, more importantly, a specific segment that was being overlooked. This was the opening I had been searching for.

On September 10, 2001, I signed the lease for what would become Sonic Yoga NYC, the first major Manhattan studio with an emphasis on preserving the power of yoga, while reducing barriers to participation for regular, decidedly unfoofy grown-ups.

In the seven years since its launch, Sonic Yoga has grown to become the number-one rated center in New York City (Citysearch 2005-2008) and boasts one of the busiest teacher training schools in the Northeast.

Was I the best trainer or yoga teacher? Nope. But, I immersed myself in both fields, blended my experience in the fitness and lifestyle world with my background in business, and achieved a level of accomplishment that allowed me to be well paid.

And, as my interests and passions continued to expand to writing, direct marketing, speaking, and entrepreneurship training, I've been able to structure my yoga studio to contribute very nicely to my income mix, while taking only five to ten hours a week of my time. Sounds nice, doesn't_ it?

Now, let's figure out how to turn your passion into a career, renegade style.

What's Your Secret Passion?
ASK AN EIGHT YEAR OLD what he loves to do and you'll get answers like play baseball or basketball, dance, play chess or video games, dress up dolls, paint, cook, build Lego houses, or design chocolate lollipops.

Kids have this ability to tap into what jazzes them in a way that adults find impossible. Sometimes it's one thing, sometimes many. They don't struggle with what they want to do. They just acknowledge what they "love" to do and believe "if I love it and I can do it all I want now, why can't I keep doing it when I grow up? Why can't it be my job?"

Good question. Why can't it?

The short answer is--it can. But, you may need to go about it in a way that defies the mainstream. The better part of this book is devoted to that process. Before we get there, though, we need to get reacquainted with exactly what it is that makes you come alive.

I have two questions for you:
* Imagine you woke up this morning to a phone call saying you had just won the state lottery. It was all yours, but there was a condition: You had to continue to work for the rest of your life and you could use the money to live on, but not to fund any professional endeavor. Now, what would you do? Write it down.
Chances are one or more answers jumped out, followed almost immediately by that little voice that said, "But, I could never actually make money doing that, so why bother?" This entire book will answer that question. It will reveal renegade paths designed to bring your passion to life in a way that generates real money.

So, go ahead and make your list. Write down the activities that make you come alive, the ones you'd love to call your living if you believed they'd truly support you. Maybe it's one thing, maybe it's dozens. Either way, just do it.

This list is a great starting place; it allows you to embark upon the next leg of your career journey with meaning and joy. But there are two more elements we want to work into the mix. Including them, regardless of the activity you choose, will go a long way toward ensuring that you not only do something meaningful and lucrative, but you do it in a way and with people that'll make each day a joy.

Those turbocharging elements are flow and people.
The Power of Flow

I was about eleven or twelve years old when I began to paint. I stole a small corner of my mom's basement pottery workshop as my own and began to experiment with an old set of oil paints my grandmother had given me. I had no training, but the challenge of understanding and working with this complex medium fascinated me. I set an old door on top of a few fifty-pound boxes of clay, hooked up an architect's swing-arm lamp, and began to play. I found myself spending longer and longer in my little corner studio, often with the entire rest of the workshop in darkness as I worked under the light of the swing-arm lamp.

As I became more comfortable painting, the process of creation took hold and, with no daylight to tell me what time it was, I would literally lose days to my little corner of the basement, utterly consumed by my exploration. It was through this process that I began to understand the reach and impact of the extraordinary state of absorption that my mother would regularly escape into while throwing pots.

Over the years, I have been able to cultivate that same absorbed state through a number of different activities. As a competitive gymnast in high school, the moment my fingers touched the high bar, the world around me ceased to exist. In a windowless, college computer lab, deep in the creation of a program, day turned to night and back to day in the blink of an eye. Mountain biking quickly through winding, rugged trails buried deep in the woods or climbing the craggy faces of local mountains delivered me into a state where past and future ceased to exist. Writing takes me there, too: A place where I am fully engaged in the world, in the moment, yet completely and utterly immersed in what athletes and artists have come to call "the zone."

It was decades after I first felt the thrill of being so absorbed that I heard this highly absorbed state described by famed cognitive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced "cheeks-sent-me-high") as "flow" and learned of its elements and critical importance in finding satisfaction in both work and life.

According to Csikszentmihalyi, while the state of flow may occur across a wide spectrum of activities and be experienced differently by each person, there are certain shared elements that most often define this rapturous state. These include:

Working toward a clear goal with a well-defined process: The task, big or small, must be clearly defined and the steps needed to get there must be laid out in detail or at least be highly delineated along the way. Getting there does not have to be easy, but you need to be able to see, even from a distance, where you are going.

Cultivating deep-concentration: The nature of the job must require an intense sense of concentration. Examples would be a fast-moving game like Ping-Pong or a gymnastics routine. In a work setting, leading a high-stakes, face-to-face negotiation, drafting a document, writing a blog post, creating a detailed artistic rendering, or coding a computer game, animation, or program would qualify.

Lack of a sense of self-consciousness: You become so engaged in the nature of the work that you are no longer aware of yourself but rather feel a sense of total absorption in the task. It's like that old sports adage, "be the ball."

Altered sense of time: Time seems to either stand still or fly by in the blink of an eye.

Ongoing, direct feedback: Either through people or the testable nature of the task, you need regular enough feedback to be able to constantly adapt, correct course, and make progress toward your goal. For example, when writing a computer program, you can constantly test, and debug to ensure you are on the right track.

Task is highly challenging, but doable: The task must be hard enough to finish that it requires a significant investment of your attention, resources, and energy, leading to the sense of absorption. But, it also has to be easy enough to allow you to believe that a solution is, in fact, possible, or else you'd just give up.

Control over the means: You must have the ability to harness the resources to get the job done. Lack of control over the means to achieve a goal, whether it's been set by you or demanded of you, is actually the source of a huge amount of job stress. Let's say, for example, you were charged with painting a house in a week but were required to use only organic paint. If you had the ability to manufacture organic paint, you would not need to rely on anyone else to complete this very challenging task. Everything you needed to get the job done would be within your control. If, however, you needed to purchase the paint from an organic paint manufacturer, and they were backed up that week, you would have to rely on someone else to contribute a critical factor to the process. And, if they were backed up, you would be stuck in limbo, waiting for them to do their part. This would take you out of flow.

The activity is meaningful or intrinsically rewarding by the very nature of doing it: While the end result might entitle you to a big outside reward, like a bonus, raise, or high sale price, the essential nature of the activity is so rewarding that you would do it at the same level, even without the extra motivation of some kind of external prize. For example, most great artists don't paint for a paycheck, they paint because the very process of painting is so woven into who they are that not painting would be akin to not breathing.

While not every element need be present to effect a state of flow, the greater the number of elements, the deeper into a state of flow you will be delivered.

Csikszentmihalyi's decades of research speak to the life-enhancing impact of exploring ways to increasingly incorporate flow into all aspects of life. So, when you look at your list of things you'd love to do for a living, ask yourself which pursuits most often deliver you into a state of flow. As you plot your renegade path, keep those activities in the forefront of your mind.


Excerpted from "Career Renegade"
by .
Copyright © 2009 Jonathan Fields.
Excerpted by permission of The Crown Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
rclancy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of my close friends recommended this book to me based on our many conversations regarding our careers. While for the most part I've "liked" my work throughout my career, I can't remember when I last felt like I "loved" it, although long ago I know I did. That's where I feel like Mr. Fields' insights have challenged me to run down the path of discovery of being my own Career Renegade. This book has been a catalyst in my own effort, and I can see how it is worth the read for others also seeking a jump start.
MissTeacher on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A great book, though not what I was expecting. Having experienced quite a few career-related crises in the last two months, I rushed to put this book on hold--thinking it would reaffirm my passion for teaching and perhaps point me towards other like-minded careers. Yet let me say it: If reaffirmations are what you are looking for, you will not find them here. This book is not designed to make you happier in your current job or to move you towards another industry you may enjoy more--this book was created to get you off your butt so you can make your own job, your own career, your own industry! Though it was pretty heavily geared towards internet-related ventures, there were more than enough real-world ideas to help even the least internet-savvy among us. And allow me to reiterate what Fields says numerous times, that you cannot just sit there and hope your life will turn out the way you want it. I was reluctant and hesitant at first, but within only twenty-four hours, this book already had me thinking of an independent career path which might actually take me somewhere! Exhilarating!
greenotter on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Helpful info, but I'm still in my job, so it wasn't a miracle worker.
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Amigo_van_Helical More than 1 year ago
This is a well-written and energetic book about developing one's own passions into self-employment. Like many books in this genre, it will probably be most helpful to those who are outgoing and confident in themselves and their skills. To his credit, the author does try to help the reader reflect and identify his/her particular interests. Depending on your abilities, interests, personal situation, and mental state, this may or may not work for you. The book has some limitations of course. For example, it doesn't delve into how a sixty year old middle manager who spent 17 years with a company only to be dumped on the sidewalk might go about resurrecting a career and a modicum of self-esteem. But of course that's not the intent of the book. There is quite a bit of focus on "modern" (as of early 2009) communication modes and the use of social media to promote one's business. For the most part, the information seems sound and well-organized. Because web technology changes so rapidly, I think this book will need to be revised every three years or so, but for now it is a good guide.
Grady1GH More than 1 year ago
Jonathan Fields has created a 'how to' book that goes far beyond the borders of explaining a plan for self-improvement. CAREER RENEGADE: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love is a timely transfusion for many people caught in the current economic stagnation or those who face the enforced retirement package. In a smart, very readable book Fields gets real about infusing a sense of well being and confidence in every reader who takes the time to pick up this friendly manual. Somewhere along the way each of us was told that our lives could/should be divided between career and hobby, that making a living was key in allowing us to find space to live out the dreams in little sheltered moments. The work ethic has become the beastie that governs our lives and too often leads to fractured relationships and even physical distress. Enter Jonathan Fields, a man who at the peak of success in law and fortune fell ill enough to have that wake up call to change. And change he did, embracing all the things he loved doing, finding (surprisingly enough!) that he could (and did) make a fine living from following his dreams. This book is about taking the risk of stepping out of the corporate cubicle or its equivalent and jumping into the middle of a fountain of youth via discovering what it is we really love and committing ourselves to pursue that which makes us happy to the point that it is the source of our income. Yes, there are well-devised steps outlined in this book: it is after all a guide to taking control of life. But it is the manner in which Fields writes and offers examples and suggestions in such a user-friendly way that makes this book so valuable. It challenges the reader to follow dreams and it backs up that challenge with some excellent resource data to assist the willing to fulfill their desire. This is a happy book and could not come at a better time! Grady Harp
M_L_Gooch_SPHR More than 1 year ago
Jonathan Fields, mega-firm lawyer and entrepreneur has written a compelling, well-researched book about how to replace your mundane job with a lucrative career doing the things you love the most. It is not full of nebulous advice that goes nowhere but rather a guide detailing the tools, techniques and resources you will need to get off the corporate treadmill and really start living life as it was meant to be.

Career Renegade really struck a cord with me for two reasons. First, as a corporate director for a fortune 500 company I am witnessing first-hand the devastating impact the current recession is having on people¿s lives. As livelihoods are snatched away overnight, many people find that they had put all of their eggs in one basket. Placing false hope in loyalty to their employer, they find themselves without a plan, without a lifeline. They stumble around in the shadows of their former passions and ambitions. This book will rekindle those passions. Put forth is a blunt, easy-reading style, the ideas in the book will provide guidance and hope for those that have had the rug jerked from under them.

Second, from a personal perceptive, I totally agree with the subject of this important book. While I still maintain my 9 to 5 life in the corporate world, last year I signed a contract to publish my first business book - Wingtips with Spurs. Now two others are in the works. I only wish that I had read Career Renegade several years ago thereby inspiring me to put my energy and time in the things I have passion about.

Jonathan Fields has produced a work that is, authoritative, comprehensive and extremely relevant.

I hope you find this review helpful.

Michael L. Gooch, SPHR