If you should know anything about us at Raise Your Flag, you should know that we're the biggest believers in getting started on your career path as early as possible. To have as many work experiences as you can while you're in the early stages to help you make the best career decisions possible.
Our Trailblazer this week took this to the extremest of extremes and worked 50 jobs over the last year FOR HIS HONEYMOON and documented the whole thing.
Meet Heath, this week's Trailblazer.
First Name: Heath
What was your first job ever?
In between 7th and 8th grade I started my own lawn mowing business with a buddy of mine. We had repeat clients, business cards, and never actually paid our parents for letting us use their equipment (so no overhead in theory). Kind of an awesome business, don't know why I got out of it.
Did you like it?
I love working outside and getting a bit of exercise in during the work day. It's definitely something I miss when sitting behind a computer screen all day, I also miss the person to person interaction that I feel we're lacking in our culture. However, I don't miss having to be outside in the Texas summer heat. Texas summers are quite miserable unless there is a cold beer and pool involved.
Most important lesson you learned from that job?
For my first "real job" my dad got the job for me and I was mowing pipelines (also in summer heat). It was a pretty brutal job, I had to wake up so early. I remember one morning in particular when I was at my best friend's birthday party. I went to bed late, woke up at 3:00am and everyone was still awake... and I was going to work. It was then I realized I never wanted to have to work a job that forced me to wake up at 3am and go make money for someone else. I wanted to be an entrepreneur.
What do you do for a living now?
This past year my wife and I have traveled to all 50 states filming a documentary called Hourly America.
The purpose of our film is to explore the question of what it means to "have a real job". Does a real job mean an office-type position with salary, benefits, or is it any kind of job that pays the bills? Throughout our filming I worked an hourly paying job in every state for just one day and filmed my coworkers and people I met at each different job.
The film will mostly feature the commentary and voices of hourly paid workers across the country. My jobs featured everything from being a zombie at Six Flags to a paddle board guide in Maui.
How did you have the idea?
While working in my first job after college as a software salesman, I started to realize I wasn't cut out for this kind of office job. It was a sweet gig that I should have been proud of, being so young and all, but I hated the monotony of coming into the office every day, the small talk at the coffee machine, and I just felt like I was letting precious time of my life slip away- and for what I didn't know.
I thought back to my time in college when I worked for a moving company. It was sometimes 16 hour days on a truck with other smell guys, but at the end of the day you felt this satisfaction, both physical and mental, of a job well done. Even though it felt excruciating at times and I wanted to be any where else, I felt I had more enjoyment in that moving job than I did working a cush, office job with a start up company. Maybe it was the fact that I could physically see my job well done at the end of the day, or I was outside, exercising and things like that. I wasn't really sure. What I knew was that I wasn't going to spend any more time than I absolutely had to working a job I didn't like.
With a wedding approaching, my now wife Alyssa, and I came up with the crazy idea of traveling to all 50 states on our honeymoon. We calculated it would take seven months and along the way we pin pointed a few different cities we could possibly settle down in and stay for awhile, such as Portland, Nashville, Souther California, Boulder, and anywhere in North Carolina.
After realizing it would take seven months, we both wanted to create some kind of mission for our trip.
The purpose of the mission?
Having some kind of mission for our travels would do a couple things. It would 1) Give us something to do other than travel and 2) Help us have some form of trackable goal that would keep us on line to finish our 50 state quest when things got tough. Ultimately, the idea of doing 50 jobs, one in every state, was something I came up with with the help of a friend.
Since I was in a place where I wasn't enjoying my job in software sales, this would be an awesome time to learn about different kinds of work, interview people about their jobs, and maybe be a kickstart to the writing career I'd dreamed of.
How have you liked it?
Best year of my life (so far).
Knowing I stepped out of normal into the unknown and things have worked out so far. There was so much fear before I started this journey. The hardest part was just fighting like hell to get out of the everyday 9-5 kind of life.
I know that's contradictory because I went and worked a ton of 9-5's, but it was something I wanted to do. I strongly believe the most important thing in your early 20's is to find the time you need to develop yourself. 99% of us have no Earthly idea what in the heck we want to do with our lives, and that process requires time and a ton of experimentation.
The problem is, most of us graduate or take jobs early on that have us "working from the bottom of the ladder" and eating up all of our day and mental capacity. The best part of about stepping outside of that hamster wheel was it gave me an opportunity to create an unconventional career for myself as a film maker and writer (also I'm a paid consultant for multiple published authors) and the freedom to find work that lights me up.
The lack of community. I miss the known and closeness of seeing friends and mentors in person on a constant basis. While constantly traveling the country in an RV sounds like the dream, and it is quite awesome, I definitely miss the community element.
Most surprising thing:
People were willing to let me come in and try out jobs when they had no clue who I was. Many of the jobs links to blogs I published and things like that. All of them also knew we were filming a documentary. But the thing was, before this trip I was just a normal college graduate doing the normal thing. I wasn't anybody special to make this trip happen, but it gave me 50 different job experiences to use for the rest of my life.
How did you find the jobs?:
As it worked out, I found 25/50 jobs through cold calling and emailing. I actually published a blog about how towards the end of my trip I had a 50% success rate in finding each job (meaning I only had to reach out to 1-2 people to land a job, here's that post).
The other 25 jobs I found through a reputable online job board called Snagajob.com. They help people find hourly paying jobs that are part time or full-time. I sent a cold email to them before we ever got started on our journey and they also helped sponsor our journey by paying for our gas and sending us film equipment for the documentary.
Has anything wild/crazy/ridiculous happened to you while doing Hourly America?
About five months into our trip we hit NYC and CNN found us on Twitter (all we did was follow them, apparently some intern checks that feed and thought our bio was cool). Anyway, our story was released on CNN and then it was picked up on Fox and Friends Morning Show where we were guests, Yahoo!, Business Insider, and several other places.
The crazy part was this guy reached out to me during all of this media and threatened to sue me, because he wrote a book once about working different jobs. His project was extremely different than mine and he had no grounds to do anything what so ever. But the fact was he was some disgruntled guy who didn't find success like he wanted to wanted to rain one someone else's parade. I really didn't believe there were people out there so lame, but I was wrong.
What was the hardest thing about getting Hourly America started?
The hardest part about getting Hourly America started was taking such a ginormous project and breaking it own into actionable steps. We were not only planning a seven month cross country adventure, at the time we were also planning a wedding.
As a side note, I wouldn't recommend trying to do both. In my former life, pre-Hourly America, I was very much an idea guy who struggled to carry out and execute on things. I had ideas, but nothing to back them up and turn them into reality. The difficult part for me was overcoming that stigma I'd placed on myself and having the confidence to know that I CAN do this. Plus, having a great wife who is a planner helped more than I could ever describe.
When did you know that this was something that you really loved doing?
The first day of filming at a small martial arts dojo in Albuquerque, NM. We showed up with our cameras, and I don't know who was more nervous- Alyssa and I, or the owners of the dojo. We all hid our nerves with over the top enthusiasm and spent the next 14 hours teaching youth martial arts and learning about their life/work story and how they got started.
I immediately realized filming a documentary would open more doors and experiences than I could have ever had in my life, had I not been filming. The best part was, I realized my knack for being a good listener made me someone who had a natural talent for interviewing people. Plus, I really, really enjoyed interviewing people and learning about their work day and who they were as a person.
I've been known to sit at places like IHOP and talk with some random old guy about his war stories for two-three hours at a time. I just have this interest in people and feel like with the right question, it can trigger wisdom out of almost any person. It's invigorating.
What are 1-3 things that you learned that you want other people to know?
If you want to travel, make a film, buy an RV, try out other jobs, or do anything that requires some form of bold action-- don't wait.
Seriously, I know you're reading this, telling yourself you've heard this before and you're already plugging excuses away in your mind about why you should do what you want to do, but you're wrong. I promise.
The outside world, your coworkers, and even the people who truly love you will never open up an adventurous door and tell you to go pursue something crazy that you believe in. It's a door you have to be willing to open yourself and walk through, nobody is going to open it for you. The moment you realize that you're the only person standing in between you and a big goal or dream, it's the moment you can stop making poor excuses and go do something meaningful with your life.
The worst mistake you can make when applying for a job is to say this, "I'll work anywhere at this point." No, why would you ever do that to yourself? When you're willing to "work anywhere" you make the mistake of applying for jobs with a half ass mentality.
Nobody who is reading resumes and applications is going to hire someone with a half ass mentality, it's probably the reason you can't find a job if you've been looking awhile. Pick three jobs, only three. Pick three jobs that you would run through a brick wall to get. Instead of trying to crank out twenty applications, spend two full days applying for this job.
Ask someone else to reread what you're submitting to get another opinion. You're mentality and how badly you want that job are going to shine through the mediocrity of other people on those applications.
And I can tell you this for sure, if I'm choosing between two people who are both somewhat qualified and one person is crazy passionate and other is "eh", I'm going to hire the passionate one every time. When you tell yourself you're willing to settle for any job, you make the cardinal sin of job hunting.
You might as well pull a Step Brothers (NSFW language in link) and show up to a toilet cleaning interview with suits on.
Re-read my first two answers. It would be worth more to put those into action than to write another one.
What would you do differently in regarding your career if you could go back in time?
I know it's cliche', but I really don't think I would change anything at this point.
What advice would you give to somebody who’s trying to figure out what to do with their life?
Write down what your mission in life is. If you don't have a mission for your life, then what is guiding your decisions?
For example, a mission I write out for myself and live out daily is "To live a life that inspires others to challenge the status quo". I use this mission when I'm contemplating big decisions and small decisions alike, does what I'm trying to do fit into that mission. If you're struggling to figure out what you want to do with your life, this would be the first thing I would say to do every time.
Figure out a mission statement for yourself and then write down all the options you're currently considering or could possibly do when moving forward. Which ones align most with your vision? Go do that.
What's next for you?
Editing a documentary. Transcribing 76 interviews. Submitting a book proposal to an agent so I can achieve my dream of publishing a book and hitting the NY Times Best Seller's list. Planning a 2016 book/documentary tour around the US. If you'd like to help with any of the above, would love to talk. Here is my personal email --> HeathDellPadgett@gmail.com