Book Review: Career Renegade by Jonathan Fields
Jonathan Fields was a six-figure attorney in Manhattan before he ran from the law and became a serial lifestyle entrepreneur, speaker, writer, marketing gun, yoga innovator, artist, and author. In Career Renegade: How To Make A Great Living Doing What You Love, he shares his story along with a group of other career renegades who also succeeded in building a business around their passions.
Career Renegade struck a deep chord with me, because well, I am a career renegade, even though I didn't know the term until this book came along. Four years ago, I left my stable full time job because I wasn't happy. I was commuting 35 miles each way, which took me an hour and half...each way and I had chronic stomach pains. I knew I had to get out of the situation. But I didn't have a job lined up. I didn't even know what I wanted to do. But even though I didn't know at the time what would make me happy, I knew that as long as I stayed there, I'd never discover it.
At some point, it dawns on you that the corporate ladder is really more of a treadmill. You run faster, work harder, climb higher, sweat more blood, and push through stifling fatigue. But, in the end, all too often, you're no freer or happier than the day you began. In fact, for many, as your lifestyle expands to gobble up nearly every dollar you make, it's quite the opposite.
So I left. And now here I am, running one of the most popular personal finance sites on the web, with a book coming out in May. Yes, I'm happy.
Jonathan makes it clear he's not spouting the usual "do what you love and the money will follow" mantras. He doesn't believe that, and what's so special about the book is that it's not just a motivational pick me up that inspires with no actionable steps. The truth is that it does take hard work, as well as business savvy, talent and foresight. Going out on your own means relying on yourself for the money making process. You are responsible for your successes, as well as the failures.
I live in New York City. I have a famiy to support. I need to earn six figures just to scrape by. I've had to work incredibly hard and think wildly outside of the box (hell, half the time I've had to create my own box to think outside of) to find ways to make the money follow.
Not everyone can be, or should be, a career renegade (that would nullify the renegade part). Moreover, not everyone wants to be a renegade. Some are fortunate enough to have found a good solid job doing something they love and getting a regular paycheck for it. Others are also perfectly content with their job situation, even if it's not their passion. Their jobs provide the lifestyle that make them happy (which can include enjoying their passions tremendously on the side).
Career renegades are those who aren't cut out for a "normal" job, who recognize that we don't fit the mold. We are the outsiders, forced to carve out a place where we do fit. Neither the career renegade nor the regular office worker is better than the other. Both do their best to pursue happiness.
This book though, is for the closet career renegades. Those who suffer through their days because conventional wisdom tells them to stay put, even if they're unhappy. Social norms suppress dreams of breaking free and going it on their own. Everything in them is screaming to get out but it's the people around them who advise them to let go of those fanciful ideas and hunker down to a real job.
Wise Bread was founded by career renegades, all three of us have a story about discovering a passion and leaving conventional wisdom behind in the dust. It's never going to be easy, no matter which road you take. You make compromises and sacrifices for the larger goal. For some it's a 401k plan dutifully contributed to for 30 years. For others it's something no one else has ever thought of to do before.
This book doesn't just give you permission (even though you don't really need it), it gives you a tangible place to start. It asks the questions you need to have the answers to in order to pursue your dream job and ideal lifestyle. If you are able to come up with solid ideas, have the patience and stamina to see them through, and have the conviction to take the road less traveled, then you are armed and ready.
There's no better time for the career renegade. We are in an unprecedented age of innovation and freedom. The costs of starting a small business, publishing a book, making a movie, and doing pretty much anything else has never been lower. The risks have never been lower. Markets have never been easier to create. While it's definitely not easy to be a career renegade, opportunities have never been more accessible. That's what the internet has done for the entrepreneur; it's given an incredible amount of access to tools, resources, information, and anything else needed to get started. There's been no better time to allow yourself to take a chance, try something new, and open doors for yourself.
Career Renegade is a guide that will give you the tools you need to make money from your passion. Jonathan wanted to provide an "insanely useful" book for anyone who wanted to try this path, and he truly succeeded. Not only does he help you discover (sometimes rediscover) your passion, but the tips, strategies, and ideas are relevant and applicable. Apply them to your passion and there is no doubt you'll be able to create a successful business. The profiles in the book are not only inspiring, but insightful. And among them is one of our favorite career renegades, Leo from Zen Habits.
Greg has a great interview with Jonathan on About.com, and Gretchen Ruben from Slate also did a fascinating profile of Jonathan on Slate. Read more about him and the book at careerrenegade.com and check out Jonathan's great blog at JonathanFields.com. You can also download the introduction FREE.