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The four steps to living your dreams

Because so many people who tell me their greatest aspirations don't go after them, I've come to realize that for most people this isn't as easy as Nike's "Just do it." There seem to be three steps before that one.

1. Figuring out what you really want to do
You already have crazy dreams of what you want to do and who you want to be. The challenge here is to pay attention to your dreams and not blow them off as impossibilities. You can do anything, but you have to be honest with yourself first. You must acknowledge your dreams and continually seek to refine them through reading and talking to people who can show you the way.

2. Confidently explaining it to everyone and their brother
Many people don't do what they really want because they can't deal with their parents, siblings, in-laws/loves/likes, teachers, friends, and everyone else constantly asking questions. If you say you're going to be or are a doctor or lawyer or banker, the gators will immediately approve. If you want to do something else, though, you better be ready to talk a good game. You have to demonstrate excitement and confidence. You have to teach the gators through simple stories and examples they can understand. And you have to end the conversation with a smile, because no matter how well you perform, some gators will never cease trying to make you feel stupid.

3. Paying for it
We all have to play the money game whether we want to or not. I believe that if you do what you love, you'll work harder at it and ultimately be rewarded very well. But sometimes, you won't earn much money in the beginning so you'll have to make tough decisions about what you have to have and what you can live without. You might have to sacrifice eating out every night to avoid sitting in a cubicle every day. You might have to gather the guts to ask someone who supports your dreams for help. Then again, depending on the work you do and the lifestyle you want, you might not have to sacrifice anything at all.

4. (Finally!) Doing it
I used to think this was the hard part--you know, taking action, executing plans. But now I think this step is the easiest of all. I haven't met many people who had all three steps above worked out and then didn't go after their dreams. If you get to this point, you know you've been through a lot already and you owe it to yourself to keep going without looking back. (But don't you always owe it to yourself to keep going, no matter what step you're stuck on? Aren't you worth it?)

Posted by Ian Ybarra on 28 November 2005 Permalink

More proof we're still in an ICE Age

Did mock interviews with three sophomores at MIT last night. About five minutes after a former classmate of mine said this about his first few months on the job after college...

"My company is about as technical as they come -- high tech products, high tech services, everything's technology technology technology. But the work is still all about people. People, politics, more people. It's not about the technology at all."

...one of the students said this during her interview...

"Well, I really want to go into finance and not engineering because I really want to work with people. I don't want to just stare at a computer all day."

I reply, "Do you really know what people in 'finance' actually do all day?"

"No. Not really, I guess."

Wow. Looks like ICE (Irrational Career Election disease), is still spreading like wildfire.

Posted by Ian Ybarra on 16 November 2005 Permalink

10 minutes today

If you are a college student or a recent college graduate (class of 2002 and later), please take this survey today.


It's for a book I'm writing to teach employers how to attract, recruit, and hire the young talent they want. The book will be published by Portfolio (an imprint of the Penguin group).

Just go to http://ConquerTheCampus.url123.com/iyweb and share your experience and opinions from recruiting with companies, nonprofits, government agencies, or any kind of organization, and there's a chance you might be included in the book (up to you if we use your real name).

And if after you take the survey you have any questions about this project or how you can help further, just write to me.

Take the survey at

Posted by Ian Ybarra on 12 November 2005 Permalink

Friends don't let friends do stuff they don't like

At a conference in August I overheard a college student say, "Well, my major is accounting, but that's not my passion at all. I'm just doing that to get a job after college."

I've been kicking myself since then for not finding a way to join her conversation and challenge her on that statement. I feel as if I watched her get mugged and didn't do anything about it. She's spending so many hours in college studying stuff she doesn't like so much, with the intention of spending most of her waking hours after college doing more stuff she doesn't like so much. Her life is being stolen, most likely by just a bit of fear and ignorance, and it doesn't have to be that way.

You are doing a disservice to your friends if you don't challenge them when they say any variation of the following statements:

"Well, I work in the ________ industry, but it's just a job. I'm more interested in ________."

"My major is ________, but I don't really like it. I wish I could study _______."

If you're really a friend, it's your responsibility to ask them why they're doing what they're doing and what's stopping them from making the change to doing what they want. You have to make them think about it, even if only for a moment, because no one else will.

You can do this. I'm only asking you to challenge your friends on this stuff. I do this with new acquaintances and sometimes even complete strangers, and almost always they welcome the challenge and encouragement. Often, they're absolutely shocked that someone else believes they can achieve their dreams.

Posted by Ian Ybarra on 11 November 2005 Permalink

Have you hit a Local Max in your career?

If you haven't yet surpassed all your wildest dreams in your career and your life, you need to read this right now.

Link: "Understanding Local Max" by Seth Godin

(and as a lower priority, but also very good is Seth Godin's follow-up post, which is more focused on organizations but also applies to personal careers...
Link: "How the New Marketing changes Local Max")

Posted by Ian Ybarra on 11 November 2005 Permalink

The Rookie

I just watched Disney’s 2002 movie The Rookie again. Dennis Quaid plays Jimmy Morris, the high school teacher and baseball coach who becomes the oldest rookie in Major League Baseball over ten years after injury forced him to retire as a minor leaguer. The show blows me away every time.

One of the story’s most dramatic moments comes after the Tampa Bay Devil Rays (and Jimmy himself) discover that he can throw 98 miles per hour. They immediately want Jimmy to play for one of their farm teams. He could have another shot at chasing his dream, but it would mean leaving his wife and children for a few months in Middle-of-nowhere, Texas. Jimmy goes to his father for advice, and the punk says this.

“Your grandfather once told me that it was okay to think about what you want to do until it was time to start doing what you were meant to do.”
Jimmy walks away depressed. Next scene he’s ranting to his wife about how his dad must constantly think about how to destroy him. But he had it all wrong.

I think Jimmy’s father had unknowingly told him to go play ball. What Jimmy wanted to do and what he was meant to do were one and the same. Most of the time they are. It’s just hard for Jimmy and us to see that in the heat of the moment if we’re either not honest or confident enough about what we really want to do and what we’re meant to do.

And from that perspective, Jimmy’s dad is really saying that at some point we have to stop the pathetic debates over what we want to do and start doing what, deep down inside ourselves, we know we're meant to do.

Posted by Ian Ybarra on 8 November 2005 Permalink

Tom chose "B"

Important update on something I wrote about in May.

"These are the times that try men's souls."

Tom chose "B."

Posted by Ian Ybarra on 7 November 2005 Permalink

Career Fair Tips

Although I’m not too big on career fairs because of the scarcity of companies that interested me at MIT’s career fairs when I was an undergrad, here are three things I’d suggest doing next time you go to one. (Thanks to Melissa Beam of NVR for getting me thinking about “How To Work A Career Fair” in her presentation at Baldwin-Wallace College today.)

1. If you like, visit twice.
If studies have shown that it takes effective marketing campaigns an average of 7 ad impressions to influence significant brand recognition and purchasing decisions, then repetition certainly won’t hurt your very own employment marketing campaign. When you’ve done hit up all your career fair targets, swing by the booths of your top choice employers once more. The second bit of face time and chance to tell them why you’d prefer to work for them instead of the other employers you met will only help your case.

2. Have way too many questions.
Write them down beforehand or take notes while walking the career fair if you have to, but be sure to have way too many questions for the recruiters of employers you like most. Then at the end of your couple-minute conversation, you can say, “Well, it’s been great talking with you. I don’t want to take too much of your time, but I do have more questions. Would you mind if I followed up with you to set a time to talk more in a few days or next week?” And be sure to get their contact information so you can initiate the follow-up conversations.

3. Help others, not just yourself.
Suggest to your friends, and even people who aren’t so much your friends if you have reason, which employers they should talk to. Most people don’t do the research on employers they know they should do before career fairs, so if you talk to an employer that seems like they offer something your friends once mentioned liking or similar to something you overheard in a stranger’s conversation, help a brother out. Your friend or new friend will be grateful for you pointing them in the right direction.

Same goes with employers. They’re on campus to find the best people for their organizations. If during an employer’s spiel you think of someone who would be absolutely great for them, offer to make the introduction. Or, if you’re standing in line, waiting for employer A, while simultaneously being with earshot of employer B, whose booth is devoid of students, strike up a conversation with lonely employer B. Find out who they’re looking for and how you can help. You’ll be loved for making a recruiter’s job easier.

Of course, to do this, you’ve got to ditch the individualistic, almost militaristic approach to a career fair that gets you thinking you’re out for yourself and no one else. There’s more than one job out there, so help others meet their matches, too. (This whole mindset shift works well at conferences, too. Subscribe to my boss’s Tip of the Week, and you’ll get his new PDF ebook “15 Tips from Keith Ferrazzi, Conference Commando" for free.)

Posted by Ian Ybarra on 1 November 2005 Permalink