Creating a Career That Doesn’t Exist: An Interview with Jesse Jacobs

Creating a Career That Doesn’t Exist: An Interview with Jesse Jacobs

M y Dad loved to tell people he worked in computers at a time when people would turn to him quizzically and ask, “What’s a computer?”

He was working in the industry long before Jobs and Gates, and were it not for his mental illness, he might have made a name for himself. Even still, and perhaps more importantly, it was work he was good at and loved.

That’s why I tell my clients they need to get creative when brainstorming new careers. I tell them that their ideal career may not exist yet.  Or it may be so new and young, they just haven’t heard of it. The trick has been finding an example of someone who’s doing that right now, not several decades ago.

So let me introduce you to Jesse Jacobs, founder and owner of the Samovar Tea Lounge in San Francisco.

I was drawn to Jesse’s story, because when you hear about the early stages of his career, he sounds like someone who was lost. He got a degree in international relations, then worked and studied abroad for several years. He bounced around several jobs, including as a shoeshine boy, a magician, and working at the Alaskan fisheries.

His love of foreign languages eventually led him to learn HTML. In the late-90’s he found himself in the Bay Area, in the middle of the dot com boom, and settled into a corporate job building websites and doing IT consulting.

The money was great, but the work became monotonous, and then soul-sapping.

In this interview, Jesse walks us through how he decided to start what he terms a “tea lounge,” perhaps the only of its kind in the world, with zero experience and virtually no financial resources. Despite an industry where very few survive, he’s grown to three locations in one of the most expensive cities in the U.S.  For the first 6 years, revenues doubled every year and continue to grow.

And he’s done it selling tea.


Help, I’m Feeling Inadequate

Help, I’m Feeling Inadequate

Do you know what really bugs me, the thing that eats away at my self-confidence?

The fact that my most successful blog post was written over a year ago.

I used to think jealousy was one of the worst emotions you could experience. I hated myself for wasting time analyzing other’s news clippings or subscriber numbers. It flew in the face of my own teachings about defining success for yourself.

Then I realized one emotion was worse: inadequacy.

Inadequacy is ruthless about detail. It notices how no one talks to you at the PTA meeting or how irritable you’re being with the family you love after a bad night’s sleep. It makes fun of your clumsy bump over the curb (again) while driving in a foreign country. If you’re a blogger, Google Analytics becomes the yardstick of your self-esteem.

On the other hand, inadequacy is blind to your wins, big or small. It discounts, minimizes, and forgets.

You can remember saying to yourself, “If only I could…” and then when you did, it was overshadowed by what you didn’t. (more…)

Why Is Happiness So Hard? An Interview with Gretchen Rubin

Why Is Happiness So Hard? An Interview with Gretchen Rubin

A while back, my husband said something shocking.

“I know you love your work, I just wish it didn’t make you so miserable.”

Say what?  I demanded to know what he meant.

He reminded me that I tended to push myself harder now that I am so engaged with what I’m doing, which means I’m frequently sleep deprived, overworked, and stressed.

“For someone who loves their work as much as you do, you just don’t seem that happy.  That’s all I’m saying.”

And yet if you asked me nearly any day of the week if I am happy, I would smile broadly and give you an emphatic yes.  Nor would I be lying.

Such is the paradox called happiness. (more…)

The Truth About What’s Holding You Back from Real Change

The Truth About What’s Holding You Back from Real Change

The more you struggle, the more you imagine a big change is just around the corner.

We tell ourselves that change is hard, that it only comes from effort and discipline and resolve. We worry and plan and steel ourselves for the long haul.

It’s exhausting, but necessary.

Or is it?

As Chip and Dan Heath say in their book, Switch: How to Change when Change is Hard, you need to deal with three things when you want to make a change: your emotions, your rational decision-making, and the situation you operate in.

Sounds complicated, doesn’t it?

And because it sounds complicated, we often make it complicated. We try to solve the problem by staging a dramatic struggle (and make no mistake, it is largely an act, though an unconscious one).

We announce flashy resolutions, we have long internal arguments about the importance of willpower, then sink into pitiful despair when we fail to make sustained progress.

What if there was a single exercise that could help you make a big change in just a few hours?

Let me introduce you to Steve, who went from flirting with a mid-life crisis to getting those butterfly feelings of excitement in his stomach for the first time in years–all in just one week. And then I’ll introduce you to Jennie, who transformed herself from welfare mom to CEO. (more…)

Taking a Break to Travel (Without Going Broke)

Editor’s note: guest post by Alexis Grant.

When I was 27, I left my reporting job to backpack through Africa.

The trip itself was amazing. I rode a camel in Timbuktu, discovered the howling lemur in Madagascar and bonded with a polygamous family in Cameroon. Those six months changed how I see the world.

But the coolest result of my career break was totally unrelated to travel: it catapulted me into a Life of Awesome.

Successfully taking that one big risk helped me realize I should take more. So I decided to write a book, a travel memoir. Then, two months ago, I left my day job to pursue my business full time. Now I’m launching an e-guide called How to Take a Career Break to Travel, daring to make my project public. I probably wouldn’t have made any of those moves if I hadn’t gone on my solo backpacking trip. Because of that trip, I now know the potential that lies behind each (scary) risk.

What I’m getting at is this: Once you’ve taken one leap, you’ll itch to take another. And another. And another. Once you’ve followed your dream once, you will want to do it again. You might even recognize or create big opportunities you wouldn’t have seen before. (more…)

Help Cara Stein Quit Her Job

Help Cara Stein Quit Her Job

In a response to a recent post on Everyday Bright, Cara summed up the crux of her problem

I’m a programmer at best and a meeting-attender at worst. It’s a B+ day job most of the time, and for awhile, I was content with that. I’ve had much worse.

But the more I’ve thought about the shortness of life, the more I’ve realized this is not what I want to be doing. If I was diagnosed with cancer, the first thing I’d do is quit my job.

It’s far from terrible, but it’s not where my passion lies, and now that I’ve found something that is, it seems like a huge waste not to do as much of it as I can.

It’s a problem many of us, including myself, can identify with.  What sets Cara apart is her approach to solving the problem.

In short: when Cara decided she wasn’t going to settle for an okay job, she also decided she wouldn’t settle for some run-of-the-mill business idea. 

This is what Everyday Bright is all about.  Not only am I here to help those willing to help themselves, I’m hoping you’ll share some love with fellow luminary Cara Stein.

I can’t think of a more powerful way to reward those willing to take the risk and inspire others to do the same.  Here’s her story. (more…)