Terrible Old School Career Advice To Blatantly Ignore

My daughter is now at the age where she’s started getting unsolicited career advice from well meaning friends and family that some of us got when we were teenagers.

You’ve probably heard it yourself.

“Go to law school. Become a lawyer.”

“How about doctor? You could marry one. Or go to medical school. Medical school would be a fine choice. ”

“I hear there’s a lot of money in computers” (Talk about general advice).

While I typically favor the practices of the old school, this is one old time suggestion that should be tossed in the garbage can. If I’m dispensing advice, I’m not comfortable going with either:

  • a) “do what you love” starving artist vs.
  • b) pursuit of law or medical school for riches and prestige.

You gotta meet somewhere in the middle.

For Love Or Money

I was told once that I had the personality for sales. In the beginning, I didn’t have a passion for sales, but I do like stuff that I’m good at. So I stuck with it. My passion is a full wallet and the freedom that comes with it, to do cool things with my family (see this post for that).

Note to children: Here’s your unsolicited advice from your father – find an activity that you are really good at, or find something that you enjoy practicing over and over again so you get good at it. That’s your start.

Find people that want to pay you for that one thing, and you are on your way to finding your career.

My daughter, as of this moment, is really into biology. The idea of dissecting a frog or perhaps another dead animal is her idea of fun. She loves it. It has potential to become her passion.

I know the mind of a teenager can change. Mine certainly did when I was that age. At this point, it matters not. I’m a proud papa anyway. If she chooses to go into a field like biology, that’s only icing on my pride cake.

Like Father, Like Son

In our basement (which I proudly refer to as “the dungeon”), I have an old heavy bag that I have used for exercise and stress relief for the longest time. How long, you ask? Well, the bag has the insignia for the Los Angeles Olympic Committee, circa 1980.

Don’t judge. I was a very young man back then.

When I was a teenager, boxing was to me what biology is to my daughter. I went to live matches, and followed all of the big fighters. I trained like a boxer to stay in shape after initially using that training to melt away well earned body fat.

My bag is an Everlast, and the fact that it’s survived almost three decades of beatings makes it one of more durable possessions that I have. I still enjoy using it frequently, and number one son has now taken to the feeling of satisfaction that is punching things.

Like father, like son? Very likely. After all, most of us would like to take after our fathers in some respect. Derek Jeter once said “My dad had been a shortstop….and you know, when you’re a kid, you want to be just like your dad.” My dad started as a bartender, so guess what I wanted to be?

Bad Advice, Not Taken

When I was a bartender, a “friend” of mine asked me when I was going to get a real job (read: desk job shuffling papers and dodging office politics). Apparently, my current gig was low status, and did not reflect well on me personally.

I’ll admit, I did consider this advice for a brief time. After all, my friend was only looking out for my best interests. How could he let me languish in my role as mixologist?

I ended up ignoring his advice because there were some aspects of the job he just couldn’t understand:

  • The privilege of being able to serve thousands of people
  • Forming relationships with dozens of them, some lasting to this day
  • Being able to work with family (OK, at times this wasn’t all that great)
  • Growing a business that was distinctly my own. My customers belonged to me
  • Having fun! Most people don’t get this at work
  • The physical nature. Every day on the job was a workout. Lots of running and lifting

The last one is really important. Despite all the second hand smoke, I was in pretty good shape when I was a bartender. Those with real jobs had to battle the middle age spread. Before middle age.

And there’s one more…

One particularly punishing 14 hour shift on a Friday in the early 90s. Wanting to go home, but circumstance not allowing it. Staying out, and meeting a girl who would become my wife two years later. If I had followed up on my friend’s suggestions, and gotten out of the restaurant business then, our paths may never have crossed (more on this in another post later this month).

Best career advice: Gut instinct. Follow it.

What say you? What did you do with that “helpful” career advice that was given? Did you follow it? Or toss it? Let me know in the comments, start a conversation! Using the share buttons would also be appreciated as well.

One thought on “Terrible Old School Career Advice To Blatantly Ignore

  1. A good bartender learns how to get along with all types of people, how to listen and how to tell a story. Sounds to me like a recipe for a good salesman.

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