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!
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|Publisher:||Crown Publishing Group|
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About the Author
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:
* What activity would you do for free, purely out of a sense of passion?
* 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.