Career Renegade Interview

beach-computerAs always, I’m trying to bring as many perspectives about work happiness to you that I possibly can. Jonathan Fields of Career Renegade is a friend who I met at SxSW and he is also a wonderful writer. I reviewed his book and took away a ton of great ideas. He’s a serial entrepreneur and that’s why I asked him for an interview. Many of you may not want to start your own business, but all of you are entrepreneurs, whether you are working for a company or yourself. It’s up to you to make your career come alive.

That’s why I love this interview. Jonathan is always bubbling with energy and concepts that we could all use to improve our working lives.

Let’s begin…
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Struggling at Work


Changes at work can be a difficult adjustment. I’m going through some changes right now and I wanted to share my thoughts through video.
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Personal Development at Work

Being happy at work means growing as an individual. The funny thing is most of us don’t equate personal development with our jobs. We see them as separate entities that don’t belong together. I believe this couldn’t be further from the truth.

The reason why personal development and happiness at work are forever linked together is simple. The better we are at cultivating relationships and productivity, the more we enjoy our jobs.
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The Magic of Allowing Employees to Do What They Love

What would you do if you heard from your boss that you could do anything you wanted for two hours every week? The catch: as long as it was related to work?

Would you hug her?

That could mean designing a new logo, creating a company year book, writing a company theme song, or creating a customer appreciation program. Whatever would make you happy, you get to do it for two hours every week. I know that I would love to do something completely different to help my company.

I’ve had good ideas that I was afraid to pursue, but this would take some of the pressure off because it wouldn’t be under your job description. It would allow you to be creative and probably come up with something valuable.

Company benefits:

–        Boosts employee morale

–        Improves employee retention

–        Co-workers collaborate

–        Shows the employees strengths to the employer, so the manager will be encouraged to change the employee’s job description if an idea is successful

Bla, bla, bla. All of you know that doing extra work for the good of the company helps them, but how does it help you?

Employee benefits:

–        Looks good on the resume (In this high turnover age we have to expect that employees want jobs that benefit their careers.)

–        Allows for complete creativity

–        Employee will enjoy work more

–        No pressure to be perfect

For any company worried about wasted hours, I’ve read several articles indicating that most employees only work between 4 – 6 hours a day. They are just putting in their time until they get home, but if a company would empower them to create something new then they would work harder than they had ever worked before. Both the company and employee wins. Workers become happier and the company becomes more successful.

So my question to you is, why don’t more companies utilize this type of program? Would you like this or would it only add to your workload?

Articles that are cool like that:


Image courtesy of John Calnan

When You Get Rich Slowly You Can Work Happier

Get Rich SlowlyOur culture is slowly changing from “working for a paycheck” to “working happy.” As our society develops we’re realizing that we can have our cake and enjoy every sweet bit that it offers. Most of us understand this, but we still lack the skills to make it happen.


Over at Get Rich Slowly, J.D. is doing just that. I know it hasn’t come without a sacrifice. When he was seventeen I don’t think he would have told you that he wanted to make money by writing about investing and spending habits. But now that he has found a voice that people enjoy reading, I can see he enjoys his work. If he didn’t, I know his blog wouldn’t have the readership that it commands.


Your Financial Success Depends on Your Habits


Your success depends on your ability to regulate yourself, whether it be in the area of spending or emotions. When you can allow upsetting feelings to slide off your back, then you can bring your emotions back toward happiness. When you can spend less that you take in, you’ll save money.


When you can save more than you spend you will have the ability to put yourself on track to be successful with your finances, whether your goal may be to save enough money to retire by the time you’re 50 or move to India. The thing that you are doing is putting savings above material possessions.


Make the Financial Switch


When I made the switch to saving more money than I spent, I looked at my job not as a necessity, but as an opportunity: the opportunity to create the life that I’ve always wanted.


My financial life isn’t perfect, My wife is a teacher and I work at a non-profit, so we watch every dollar that is spent, but every day gives me something greater than the day before – a little more freedom. My savings is growing and it’s putting me in position to create flexibility in my life. If my wife or I lose our jobs we won’t struggle to pay our mortgage. We have plenty of buffer to find new jobs or to create the dream job that I envision for myself.


Take a look at your budget and see what you are able to cut back on. The most famous example is the Starbucks affect, but try to go deeper and see if you can substitute generic cereal for name brand cereal or make your own birthday cards instead of buying the expensive brand. When you are aware of every item you purchase, from the Tic Tacs in the grocery store to a new pair of shoes, then you are learning to empower yourself to make better financial choices.


You’ll be surprised when you deny yourself that magazine in the check out lane and you notice that your savings account keeps climbing. You will no longer be working just to get by. You will be working to build for your future.


Unrelated Articles:


Image courtesy of waɪ.tiː

Be the Change You Wish to See in Others

GhandiDo you wish other people at your job wouldn’t be so gossipy? Would you like your co-workers to recycle?


Be the change you want to see in the world.”

– Mahatma Gandhi


All of these problems that we see in others we also see in ourselves; a lot of the things that annoy us stem from an internal attack on our own person. I’ve noticed the people who are most at peace with themselves are most compassionate toward other people. They understand that improving their outlook is more important than changing other people’s habits.


I always wanted to be more relaxed when I commuted to work, but I couldn’t find a perspective to help me be compassionate toward other people. I wanted them to drive like me. I found myself getting mad at each driver who took their good old time making a turn or they stopped at a yellow light and this needed to change.


When a driver in front of me didn’t make that yellow light, I let the anger in and accepted these feelings. Eventually they stopped taking hold of my mood because


  • I acknowledged these feelings

  • Relaxed with them

  • Redirected my thoughts toward something positive


Now when I’m making a turn I take my time and enjoy the shift in force from the car’s speed. When I come out of a turn I take the time to notice a tree that I pass or a person walking on the sidewalk. My attention is not about getting to work it’s finding the cool little things that I’ve never took the time to notice before. I’ve created a new me when I drive, redirecting my thoughts to encourage happiness.


I’m changing my life one habit at a time. I don’t require as much from others. I just make the change in myself and it allows me to have more compassion.


You can make changes in your own life to reflect what you want to see in others. Please remember that you will never be perfect, but as long as you keep adding new positive habits to your life, you’ll improve your happiness.


Other cool “Emotional Tools for Better Working” articles:


Image courtesy of Rigmarole

5 Smurf-tastic Tips to Work Like a Great Team

Papa Smurf

The Smurfs are great role models because they understood how to work happy. They had many great traits that every company would love to have.


  1. They worked as a team


They knew that they couldn’t do it all alone, so they came together to fight off Gargamel (the bad guy who wanted to eat them). They gathered all their collective intelligence and got the job done.


  1. Papa Smurf made quick decisions


Everyone would look to Papa Smurf to assess the situation and make a quick, but thoughtful decision. More CEOs should watch some Smurfs to see how Papa Smurf kept everyone calm. Wouldn’t it be cool to see Bill Gates or Larry Page watching the Smurfs before they left for work?


  1. They always look on the bright side


The Smurfs always landed into trouble, like all good cartoons. They never thought that they couldn’t escape a situation, except for Brainy. He always thought they were doomed, but his negativity never rubbed off on the other Smurfs because they knew that they had to stay positive to get back to the village safely.


  1. They laughed, sang and danced


They were always celebrating. This cool article about celebrating was written by Tom Volkar at Delightful Work. We need to celebrate our wins and flops. Yes our flops too, so we never forget the mistakes we made. Check out my post about creating a monthly fun plan to keep spirits high.


  1. Every Smurf had his role, but was always willing to pitch in.


Every Smurf understood his/her strengths. Papa Smurf was the leader, Brainy was smart, and Handy was able to build anything, but no matter what they were involved in – they were never afraid to chip in and help each other to get the job done.


Next time you are stuck in a difficult situation ask yourself, “What would Papa Smurf do?”


Put People in a Design-Friendly Atmosphere to Inspire Excellent Work

Inspire Great Work

New York City lowered crime by creating an external image that subconsciously signaled people to stop breaking the law. Simple measures such as scrubbing off or painting over the graffiti in the subway made people feel like they were in a safer environment and they acted accordingly.

This is Malcolm Gladwell’s theory from the book “The Tipping Point.”

Apple’s computers and iPods have become so popular because they are designed to be pleasing on the eye. This design enhances the experience of the music, video or what ever else the device is being used for. The same should be said for the design of office space.

I read an article from Egro Consulting blog and it reinforced my beliefs.

“It was the awe of the building that first captivated us. What I hadn’t anticipated was the sense of how the environment invites quality work. One almost feels embarrassed to deliver mediocrity within its walls.”

When a company creates a work-friendly atmosphere, through its beautiful designs, it creates a happier work environment.

“Of course it is true that the environment affects the way people work. But if it is so self-evident, why are workplaces environments that inspire so rare? We have certainly lacked imagination on how to organise our office environments.”

“Sure, money is a factor, but where there is a creative will, there is a way. I’m not embarrassed to say that we furnished our place mostly from eBay. My suspicion is that managers have considered employees and their environments a cost rather than an asset, and have for the most part have forfeited considerable business value by overseeing very ordinary office environments. I wonder what our workplaces would look like if we embraced the link between inspiring environments and productivity.”

If companies put 1/10 of their energy into inspiring their employees, the workplace would be happier and more productive. I believe some of this is being turned around in today’s workplace. Bzzagent is creating a work friendly environment that stimulates their employees. They have an artist Seth Minkin who has his art studio in the same office space. His unique artwork is all over the walls and the employees are excited by the environment that he inspires.

What do you think your company could do to improve its environment?

All Employees Deserve Respect

Employees Deserve Respect

Employees get in sticky situations with customers because of various reasons. When the customer complains the manager brings the employees into their office to reprimand them. This has happened to me and millions of other employees. This happens because of two reasons:


  1. Manager fails to listen to the employee’s explanation

  2. The employee fails to speak up


We need to improve this communication gap in the workplace by not jumping to conclusions. Alex Kjerulf of Chief Happiness Officer wrote an article, Top 5 Reasons Why the “Customer is Always Right” is Wrong.


The fact is that some customers are just plain wrong, that businesses are better off without them, and that managers siding with unreasonable customers over employees is a very bad idea, that results in worse customer service.


You don’t have to put up with a customer that’s out of control. You have a right to tell them to stop. If they don’t stop then find a way to make them stop. Maybe you have a great manager who is willing to take the bullet or perhaps you just walk away, but either way you deserve to be treated with respect.


Alex also posted some great responses from of his readers. My favorite was:




Marie wrote:
We recently had a customer who bounced a check, and had the audacity to call my customer service manager with a tirade of yelling & profanity (before she could explain what had happened). She was calm and waited for him to settle down and tried to explain… He continued to use profanity, only to stop when my CS Manager politely told him that if he didn’t quit, she would hang up… Later, he emailed a complaint to the corporate office stating how rude and unprofessional she had been…
The customer DOES NOT have the right to harass my employees. I just happened to be in the office that day and could hear him screaming at her over the phone. I think she handled it WONDERFULLY; I took her out to lunch!
I don’t believe that a customer has the right to verbally assault my employees and I have trained them not to take that type of abuse from anyone.


When a manager and company cultivate trust with their employees, workers can be happier and more productive. Next time the customer is being a jerk and they ask to speak to a manager, try to convey the message to your boss or manager that the customer is being unreasonable. If the manager fails to listen and gives you the old line, “The customer is Always Right,” then maybe it’s time to find a more forward thinking company that supports its employees.

Use Your Imagination

Use Your Imagination

Most of my earlier working life had been a struggle. I swung between complicated and simple perspectives, hardly ever straddling the middle. I was afraid to let go of my limited view because I thought that if I just simplified my work I would be happy. A simple life is good, but there will always be sadness, happiness, fear, and passion in every job.


Life’s like a movie, write your own ending. Keep believing, keep pretending.”
– Jim Henson quotes


The tool of imagination is one that we usually reserve for kids, but as adults we need to cultivate this skill because it’s so versatile. It helps us see life from a perspective that can make our lives enjoyable, peaceful, and interesting.


We like to keep our lives simple and pleasant. The problem with simple and pleasant is that our brains seek passion and excitement. That’s why people love to complete big projects. The stimulation brings the feeling of accomplishment.


When I’m at work and I’m having a rough day I imagine what I look like in the sweetest old lady’s eyes. I see this glow of love around me and this glow starts to penetrate into my heart, filling me with joy. This perspective usually picks me up and helps me see past my negative self view.


When I was fired from a job in my mid twenties I felt like crying in the managers office (I know I’m a big baby). I hugged him good bye (he was a good man, it was the owner that didn’t like me) and promptly went into a depression. I was lost for almost two months. I went on unemployment and rode around on my bicycle. It wasn’t until I hit my lowest point that my creativity finally kicked in. Love showed up in everything and everyone. The grocery store check out lady would smile at me. My parents helped me pay my rent. I felt like I was surrounded by love. I decided to write a book about how I found my joy. I turned my life into a story. That book spurred this blog and the rest of my life.


Your imagination is a tool that can help open doors to new parts of your life. Doors that will help you tap into the work passion that you need or just turn a bad day into an exciting learning experience. The best way to do this is to start off slowly because if you start too fast you might give up. I want you to slowly tap the mind for imaginative solutions to old problems. What do you struggle with on a daily basis? Who bothers you in your life? Try using your imagination to see a new angle. If that co-worker keeps hassling you, try to imagine that he had a rough childhood. Do you do monotonous work every day? Try imagining that you are a movie star playing the role of a lifetime. You’ll be amazed at how your imagination can improve almost any situation. You’ll bring a hop back in your step.


If a bad situation keeps popping up then your creativity will only take you so far. You are going to have to change the situation by find a new job or talking to human resources. But sometimes we just need to get lost in our imaginations to make the day a little more enjoyable. In my eyes, there is nothing wrong with that.