“What a long, strange trip it’s been.”
That line from the classic Grateful Dead song pretty well sums up the crazy career journey my life has taken. Needless to say, it wasn’t quite how I had envisioned it…
I come from solid, small-town Iowa stock. My ancestors started farming in Buchanan County just after the Civil War. My Grandpa Grover had a rural mail route for nearly 40 years and owned a 120 acre farm. My Dad took over that same route in 1959, retiring after 38 years. And when I was 12, he bought a 100 acre farm…right next to Grandpa’s.
My brother and sister have been government employees since the mid 1980s. You can probably guess that I didn’t become a mail carrier, farmer, or a statehouse worker.
I didn’t just break the mold. I smashed it!
Broadcasting–The Original Plan
I planned to go to a two year broadcasting school, spin records for awhile, work my way into sales, and eventually into management. But radio was a harsh mistress. Two years after I had graduated, I’d worked at five different stations. By then, I was a psychiatric aide at a mental hospital, where I met a cute intern who eventually became my wife.
Fast forward through a construction gig, a few more radio stations and various sales jobs. We’re married and I decided to get my Bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa. My wife had a good job that allowed me to do college full-time, work part-time, win some scholarships, and graduate debt-free. We moved to Des Moines for yet another radio job, which lasted about six months. I picked up some temporary jobs while keeping my eyes peeled for something a bit more stable than the broadcasting industry.
Stumbling into Business Ownership
One morning, I noticed a newspaper ad for mobile DJs. I started doing that on the weekends, and entertained at wedding receptions all over central Iowa. After a few years, I was offered the job to manage the five-system DJ business. Nine months later, I quit my full-time graveyard shift video production job I’d had for nearly three years at the cable company. We added a few more sound systems. And in 1990, we bought the central Iowa Complete Music DJ franchise.
We had a great staff, and business expanded to the point we were able to perform at up to ten events simultaneously (our single-day record was 11!) I did sales, marketing, hiring/firing (a few times), training, supervising, and scheduling. Some Friday nights I’d be up until dawn, making sure the PA systems were ready and any special music was lined up. Eventually we added wedding videography. In our final year we bought a photo booth and began subcontracting photographers.
Our last few years were plagued by burnout and the economic downturn. I took some temp jobs for extra income. Technology had also developed that allowed anyone to illegally download free music, do gigs for cash, and avoid paying the expenses associated with running things legitimately.
We began looking for someone to buy our business.
Selling the Business—and a Harsh Wake-Up Call
After several potential buyers fell through, the right guy came along. So after being ultimately responsible for the success or failure of over 7000 events, we sold the business in 2013. I had an empty garage for the first time in over 25 years!
I started looking for a conventional full-time job as I was turning things over to Derek. With my decades of business experience and some wonderful help from a career coach, I was certain it wouldn’t take long to get something matching my qualifications and desires. Was I ever wrong!
I emailed resumes and cover letters. Filled out dozens of website applications and several company assessment tests. Contacted five or six employment agencies. Networked, on-line and in person and in groups. Worked (sometimes seven days a week) at whatever different odd jobs I could find– including junk removal, UPS driver helper, and several temp jobs. In one week in December 2013, I actually logged hours for 5 different W-3 employers! I learned that the traditional job market doesn’t seem to know what to do with a mid-50s former business owner, even if he works hard and plays nice.
I finally landed that elusive full-time job in January 2014. I’m a local account rep selling internet, phone, and video services to businesses in the Des Moines area. It’s challenging, but I have a great boss. I’ve learned a great deal about telecommunications and met some wonderful business owners.
Finding My Calling
For many years, I felt guilty about never finding a job that seemed to fit me for very long. What the hell was wrong with me? Eventually I discovered other free spirits who explained how you could create income outside the conventional “work world.” They became my heroes, my mentors, and my Tribe. I discovered Barbara Sher during a public television fundraiser. And learned about Barbara Winter, author of Making a Living without a Job, who I met a few years later at a retreat in Dodge City, Kansas.
Eventually I heard about Dr Valerie Young. She developed a program called Profiting from Your Passions, training people in how to help others discover innovative ways to make money doing things they love. I recently completed Valerie’s program, and created a business called Changing Life Bulbs.
Maybe My Unconventional Job Path Served a Purpose After All…
To me, becoming a certified Profiting from Your Passions coach finally helps justify my crazy career life:
- I can relate to getting fired and being underemployed and feeling hopeless.
- I empathize with someone who knows their job isn’t a good fit anymore…and longs to do something completely different.
- I know how it feels to approach the later years of middle age, wondering if it’s too late to leave a legacy worth marveling.
- I was officially diagnosed with Adult Attention Deficit Disorder, so I understand how hard it can be to narrow down options when there are so many interests you want to pursue.
An ironic gift of having A-D-D is hyper-focus. That means if you schedule a consultation with me, I’ll be obsessed in my preparation for you. I’ll be researching, writing out questions, and waking up at 3am to scribble down ideas. I’ll be using resources you never dreamed existed to help me craft some income possibilities–ideas that are customized for you and your interests.
I’m a patient listener, a life-long learner, and am perpetually curious. I’m usually reading at least two books at once. I’ve been a dad to three amazing kids. And I became Isaac’s grandfather in September 2014, which makes the whole legacy question much more personal.
Life is Short, Folks
Dylan Thomas reminds us to “not go gentle into that good night”. Too often, we continue to shuffle down a boring road designed by somebody else. But we know—down to our very core—we’ve been created for something much bigger!
If you’re tired of living someone else’s dream…if you’ve been longing to put your life ahead of your work …or if you just want to make some extra money on your own terms…let’s visit.
Just contact me to schedule a free 15 minute consultation.
Tim Grover | Livelihood Brainstormer & Career Optioneer firstname.lastname@example.org 515-238-8590