Jobless Guy Shows Up During Career Week

March 11, 2010

This week is career week for my son’s elementary class at his Montessori school. Several visitors have been to the class so far talking about their jobs. Ugh. “Job” is a word that can feel small and heavy at the same time.

When the teachers asked me to sign up to present, I decided I would do more than talk about being a consultant and coach. I decided to talk about how I help people find ways to work at what they love and make a living without a job. Guess how that went!

When I arrived the class was on the playground getting some exercise. One of the teachers had told me earlier in the week they were kind of restless by the end of each presentation because of sitting so long. Worse yet, it has rained off and on so they haven’t been outside much. I had already decided to have them move from place to place so they would have a different experience. Starting outside worked great for me.

We sat down on the ground and I told them very briefly what I do. In simple terms, I told them I talk with people once a week or every couple of weeks, and we have a fun and creative conversation about how they can make a living without a job.

I asked if they had any idea why we were starting outside. The closest answer was that they like to be outside. I explained that one of the first questions I ask (and this is part of my training in the Profiting From Your Passions creative career coaching program) is, “What do you want your life to look like?” I told them that a lot of people say they don’t want to work in an office all day, they don’t want to be in a cubicle, and they want plenty of fresh air and sunshine.

I asked if they knew anyone who made their living without a job, or who made money without having a boss. They gave me examples of part-time graphic designers and a backyard equipment and deck builder. They understood the general idea.

I gave a couple of examples of things people enjoy doing outdoors and how they make money at it. I had lots of examples in mind, but I didn’t want to overwhelm them. I wanted to be specific and real – so I skipped telling one of my favorite stories about the guy who wanted to spend his time sailing the Caribbean so he moved to an island and bought a boat. He now spends a few months taking people on tours and the rest of the year sailing for fun. Even I have a hard time believing that one sometimes!

Next we went inside the half-gym the school uses for P.E., for school programs, and for some after school activities. One girl asked me why we had to go indoors on the way in. I could tell she’s the kind of person who will want to find work that lets her be outside when she’s grown.

We talked about what the school uses the gym for and what kinds of things people do in big open spaces. We talked about dance, gymnastics, martial arts, musical and theater performances, art, and design. One of their teachers has a daughter who dances ballet so we talked about a dance studio as a small business and a way to work without a boss. A former classmate’s family owned a gymnastics and cheerleading center so they see how a big space can help you make a living without a job. Some of them are in a Tae Kwon Do class after school and they understand that their instructor Ms. Bethal doesn’t have a boss, and the Tae Kwon Do studio where she learned to teach is also a small business.

I showed them the patches on my son’s Tae Kwon Do gi top because they were recently designed by one of the men who trains at the studio. He works for a company as a graphic artist but worked directly with the Tae Kwon Do studio owners. I explained to the students that he could have a job and also work in a part-time business directly with clients, or build up his business and work only for himself if he wanted.

Next we went into their classroom. It is a large open room in a building designed to look like a farmhouse. There are blinds and curtains on the windows, tables and work stations spread around, and of course lots of shelves with materials and resources. It is a Montessori school, after all. It’s designed to be home-like, cozy and comfortable with a peaceful view of nature out the windows. The classroom guidelines focus on promoting a peaceful environment with good manners and respect for each other.

I explained that some people prefer working in a comfortable home-like atmosphere. We also talked about people enjoying a work environment that is set up to make it easy to find materials and resources, like their classroom is. We discussed that graphic designers, graphic artists, researchers, writers, and consultants might like that kind of environment.

And then I completely blew their minds. I introduced them to information products. I explained that someone can learn how to do something very well and then create a workbook with audio CDs or video DVDs to teach other people how to do that thing. I told them that a person who learned all about designing her own makeup and skin care products and having them produced and packaged could put together the information for other people to learn.

Some of the girls were amazed that someone can design and package and sell her own makeup and skin care products. When I explained that a how-to business product with a workbook and CDs or DVDs might cost less than $20 to produce and ship, but people can charge $150 or more for it, their jaws dropped.

I finished by telling them they can design their work around things they really enjoy if they will spend their time learning a lot about something or getting really good at it. People will pay them for their specific knowledge and expertise. I introduced the idea of blogging and having advertisers and affiliate links. I’m sure that flew over their heads, but a couple of them brought up YouTube and how people make money if lots of people view their videos.

I closed by asking them to remember at least two important things: They can make a living without a job and they can design a career that fits the life they want to have instead of stuffing their lives into a job.

After all, that’s the message I spread on a regular basis!

May You Know the Joy of Sharing Your Gifts,

Steve Coxsey


4 Responses to “Jobless Guy Shows Up During Career Week”

  1. Barbara Winter on March 11th, 2010 7:26 pm

    I didn’t catch how old these kids are, but it reminded me of my 6 week stint with 4th graders as a Junior Achievement volunteer. The entrepreneurial spirit burns brightly when it’s fanned! This afternoon, my daughter offered Zoe, her 5 year old, 25 cents for each dog pile she picked up in the yard. $2.50 later and Zoe’s wondering when she might start a business offering her services.

    Thanks for sharing with the kids…and with us.

  2. Beth on March 11th, 2010 8:24 pm

    I’m so impressed Steve. Thank you for helping to change the world by making a difference in people’s lives. Starting at this age level can make such an impact for future generations. I’m certain that your discussion had a profound effect on at least a couple of those kids. I think a book for children on this topic could be a best seller!

  3. Steve Coxsey on March 13th, 2010 3:45 pm

    Hi, Barbara!

    This class is a Montessori elementary class so they have mixed ages, mostly 7-10. My son is the oldest and just turned 11. The response was definitely strongest from the nearly 9 and older group, although the younger kids had great examples of people they know who earn money without a boss.

    I think your granddaughter must be a complete joy to be around. I’m reminded of those occasional stories where someone in high school starts a “side business” and grows it big by early adulthood or at least pays for college with it. She gets to start out free of the burden of employee thinking. What a blessing!

  4. Darcy on March 15th, 2010 2:29 pm

    Wow! I wish you’d come to my school when I was a kid! You are so cool, my friend. I love it. I wonder if anyone will talk later to your son about the stuff you said.

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