Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Career Rengade

Make a living by doing what you love
What turns you on may also be turned into a lucrative enterprise.

Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love. Jonathan Fields. Broadway Books. 288 pages.

Unlike novels, movies or music, a nonfiction book's title is a promise, and a description of its content and goals. Because of this, certain expectations are set up, though the old saying ''You can't tell a book by its cover'' should still be heeded.

In this case, if you're looking for a book to help you navigate through the treacherous waters of corporate politics, keep looking. Ditto, if you're seeking advice for dealing with any other things traditionally associated with the word "career.''

What this book does is offer advice for leaving your career behind, actually, and creating a business or businesses based on your unique passions, interests, enthusiasms or ''bliss'' (as they used to say).

The author, who had literally burned himself out as a hedge-fund lawyer, launched a series of enterprises that were extensions of things that interested him, like yoga and physical fitness. He eventually decided to turn his passion for passionately starting businesses into a business itself and now has the requisite website, schedule of seminars, blog, online videos et al.

Good for him!

But what's in it for you?

Well, once I got past Fields's new age-ish writing, I discovered a really solid reference for people who want to start their own businesses using mostly free tools available on the Web. There are ample resources for research and implementation herein, as well as tales of other refugees from corporate and other sectors who decided to create a means of supporting themselves based upon their own unique interests and skills.

There's more than one way to go, too, and the new enterprise could be a virtual one, a terrestrial-based operation or a combination. The format could be as innovative and unique as its founder, he contends.

The problem, of course, is that not everyone has the skills, intelligence and enthusiasm that Fields seems to take for granted. Even though he offers tons of suggestions and advice, those individuals not possessed with a hobby, skill or affinity that can be transformed into a new business may be out of luck. The other element that Fields misses -- and in all fairness, he'd have to have been a psychic or soothsayer, perhaps -- is that with all the layoffs and other economic challenges, this might not be the best time to embark upon this path.

Yet, for those unable to find employment, options may be limited by a variety of circumstances so this way might make the most sense. So if Fields has a substantial addendum to this book that specifically addresses the situation, I hope he posts it online or adds it to a future edition.

There are plenty of other books on this subject, including a few from Robert Allen and kindred promoters and itinerant hucksters who offer similar strategies.

Fields may even be a hipper version of them, in fact. But if you are considering ways to turn your interests into something that produces income, you can do far worse than see what this guy has to say.

published 3/30/09 in The Miami Herald

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