When to Change Careers

If you get up in the morning and tell yourself that you are going to work, then you are doing it wrong; you need to change careers. Find out what your passion is. Find out what you were put on this earth to accomplish. It certainly isn’t to make a lot of money. Don’t worry, odds are that if what you are doing in life is your passion, then compensation will never be an issue. What is your calling?

Success does not lead to happiness; rather, happiness, leads to success. In venture capital when deciding what companies to invest in, we don’t look for founders that want to be rich. Rather, we look for passionate entrepreneurs that want to put a dent in the universe. This is their calling. This is their reason d’être.

Don’t worry about money early in your career; if you follow your passion, then everything else will fall into place. Many of my business students want to become investment bankers but then they hate it and they are miserable once they start. Focus on what you love doing most in life. The best entrepreneurs don’t have a job; they have a passion. Superb examples of passionate entrepreneurs include Sir Richard Branson of Virgin, Mark Benioff of Salesforce, Christian Chabot of Tableau and of course Steve Jobs. The best CEOs and businesspeople in the world are passionate salespeople.

What is your passion? Ask yourself this question “who is a rock star to me but is not a musician?” Sounds out there I know, but for me when I was younger it was Bill Gates….so my passion then as it is now is software!

Don’t ever focus on money as your primary career goal or you will never have a happy existence; you will never feel fulfilled. Here is a wonderful quote by the Dalai Lama on this topic:

“Man…sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

Don’t have regrets later in life. Change careers if it will make you a happier person. It’s never too late to start over.

Take that Walk & Ponder a Career Change!

Some of the best decisions in life are made on long walks. Steve Jobs used to go on long walks with his friend, Oracle founder Larry Ellison. All US Presidents needed R&R at Camp David to go on long walks to come up with impactful decisions.

Go on at least one long walk per week in order to clear your thoughts and assess where you are in life. When you have a critical decision that needs to be made in life, take a long walk and decide what to do, especially when it comes to your career.

When I worked in the consulting industry, I wasn’t passionate about what I was doing and I thought maybe an MBA might help? I played a round of golf alone and in between holes, I wrote down the pros and cons on going to business school on two separate pieces of paper. I then put a score out of ten next to each criteria; 10 was the highest score and 1 was the lowest score. I then added up the scores. The total score on the pros card outweighed the total score on the cons page.

That long walk on the golf course that day in 1997 changed my life.

Should I go Back to School?

Should you bother getting a graduate business or law or engineering or other degrees? Only if you need another degree in order to change careers. Only if getting a graduate degree will likely get you closer to your goals. 

When Changing Careers Remember that ‘Nobody is Smarter than You!”

Please accept that fact that everything around you in business was created by people that are no smarter than you. I am not asking you to be arrogant. Rather, I am asking you to materially increase your confidence by accepting the fact that you are the smartest person in the world.

Why am I making such an outrageous request? Because if you believe it then you can accomplish any goal that you create in life regardless of how unrealistic others think it is. Actually, who cares what others think anyway!

Quite often the reason people are not successful in business or don’t change careers is because they are not confident enough to accomplish their goals.

Can I do it? People Say I Can’t. Avoid ‘those” People

Don’t let them get you down. That’s right. If you can, going forward disassociate yourself with negative people. Friends with negative attitudes are often not worth having. Surround yourself with positive people that believe there are no limits to what they and you can achieve. Surround yourself with people that are incredibly successful as their success, confidence and positive outlook on business and life will rub off on you and vice versa.

Surround yourself with positive people and the chances of you being extraordinarily successful in changing careers rises 1,000,000%. I have never met a successful entrepreneur, investor or CEO that doesn’t have a positive attitude. Richard Branson is the quintessential example of a positive role model. I believe that his cheerful and positive outlook in life and business is the primary reason for his incredible success.  His positive attitude is the cornerstone of the happy and positive corporate culture at all of his Virgin companies. Try flying Virgin America or Virgin Atlantic or one day Virgin Galactic and observe how amazing the attitude is of all of his employees. A company with an incredibly positive corporate culture will no doubt be much more successful than a company filled with negative people. A negative person would never consider launching a galactic service or taking on the airline industry. Richard Branson clearly avoids hiring “those” people.

I am a firm believer in letting our children do and be anything they want to be in life. Gone are the days of telling children to be doctors or lawyers. It’s their lives so they should just do what they are most passionate about. Steve Jobs was passionate about calligraphy and my kids enjoy legos and Minecraft. They can be anything they want to be. My goal is to make sure they do what they are most passionate about in life.

Why are Technology Employees More Passionate than Other Sectors When it Comes to their Careers?

It certainly is fascinating how much innovation has come out of the technology sector versus other sectors. Why is this the case? It is partially due to passionate software engineers that never saw the profession as a job. Lawyers see their daily activities as jobs and the same can be said for most people in other professions, which is why most non-tech industries pale in innovation advancement, by comparison.

In technology it is astonishing how a great engineer can be 10 times as productive as an average engineer. Why is this the case? Because the best engineers love what they do! This is more apparent in the technology industry than any other industry, which is why there are so many passionate CEOs like Marc Benioff in the sector. I bet that none of the parents of technology innovators urged them to be a programmer when they were younger!

Can Someone be too Old to Change Careers?

No darn way! When I was a kid I remember seeing commercials in Canada on TV for 'Freedom 55', which was a retirement savings company. Then as I got older, this age became 65 for those eligible to receive social security benefits. This age is slowly increasing. It’s ludicrous that people retire in their 60s or 70s. Heck, I know of many people in their 80s that are much sharper than I am.

We are on the cusp of a biotech and healthcare renaissance were we will see the eradication of many diseases in the next few decades. I think most people alive today will live to be more than 100 if they take care of themselves. I know in my heart that at some point in my life people will live to 150+ years old.

With this in mind, why would you want to retire in your 60s when you have another 100 potential years? You are never too old to start a new career or start a new company. Anybody that thinks otherwise is guilty in my humble opinion of age discrimination. It doesn’t matter how old or young you are, leverage your network and reinvent yourself over and over again until you find your passion! 

Ok are You Ready to Do this?

Condition yourself to embrace change and enjoy the process. This will help you deal with the perceived stress and profit from adversity while you change careers. If you feel stressed when you start embarking upon the next [augmented] chapter of your life, ask yourself in business “what is positive about this event and how can I enjoy and benefit from it?”

The belief that anything is possible leads to amazing accomplishments.

The glass is not empty.

The glass is not half empty.

The glass is not half full.

The glass is ALWAYS full!

You are never too old to start over. Successfully changing careers is based on having an unbelievably positive attitude. You be you. Welcome to the new you!