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Jon Acuff’s Formula for a Do-Over

After graduating from college, Jon spent sixteen years traveling through corporate America writing advertising for the Home Depot, branding for Bose and marketing for Staples. Jon shares, “I was laid off from one start-up, fired from another, ran my own into the ground and then found and left my dream job. Along the way, I learned one lesson about work: you control more than you think…work is not the enemy…work can be wonderful if we rescue Monday. If we dare to reinvent it. If we refuse to get stuck.” After leaving his last job, Jon says within 24 hours, 100 different friends had reached out to him and within a week, he had a team helping him build a new blog. Within a month he had new writing projects lined up. Why? He says, because for five years he had been making deposits into his tool kit he calls his Career Savings Account (CSA). His formula to explain a CSA is Relationships + Skills + Character x Hustle = CSA. He says we all have these four elements to one degree or another, but we must learn how to amplify them and apply them in a new way in order to create a CSA.

  • RelationshipsWho you know. The gang you lock arms with during your career. “Relationships not only help you get a new job, they help you get promoted at current jobs as friends tend to fight for friends much harder than just unknown names on a list of candidates.”  If your CSA is high on everything else and empty on relationships, you will become a career hermit. To help you strengthen your career relationships or build new ones Jon suggests the following:
  • Use note cards to help you focus on your relationships - write down the names of people you’ve worked with over the last five to ten years -- only the people you’ve worked with personally, one name per card.
  • Throw as many boomerangs as possible – send an encouraging tweet or text to someone you used to work with.
  • Use social media to your advantage. There are a lot of potential connections waiting for you online. Jon says social media played a big part in helping him get dozens of speaking gigs.
  • SkillsWhat you do. The tools you use to build your career. “When it comes to skills, old dogs can (and must) learn new skills. And young dogs can save years of frustration by learning skills the right way to begin with.” Again, use note cards, write down one skill per card you are good at. The reason for this is when you write your skills down it helps bring awareness to what’s missing and you begin to notice patterns. Don’t be afraid to ask a friend to help you if you are having a hard time filling out note cards. Remember some skills are invisible such as your attitude, but it is a skill. If you want a better job or a new job, Jon says start with a better attitude.
  • CharacterWho you are. The mortar that holds the entire CSA together. Remember that character takes time. “Start with a single trait (or tree) you’d like to plant. Orchards aren’t grown overnight,” reveals Jon. Be generous because generosity creates loyalty. Give your time, talent and resources without keeping score.
  • Hustle – How you work. The fuel that pushes you to do the things other people don’t, so you can enjoy the results other people won’t. Hustle is shorthand for work hard. Busyness is not the same as hustle.

CAREER TRANSITIONS

People are taught to work jobs, not build careers. In a 2013 Gallup survey, 70 percent of Americans said they hated their jobs or felt disengaged. As a culture we’ve bought into the lie that work has to be miserable. Instead of trying to avoid career transitions Jon says we should embrace them because everyone of us will experience career transitions. The solution is for each of us to build a CSA so that when you experience a transition you combine things you already understand, like relationships and skills, and amplify them. There are four different career transitions:

  • Career Ceiling (Skills investment) You climb to the end of a ladder at the job you have and now you face a decision. Sharp skills are needed to free yourself.
  • Career Jump (Character investment) When you decide to change companies, start your own company, or take a continuing education class to get better at your current job. Be openhanded with people in the course of your career. It will pay you dividends for years and years and years.
  • Career Bump (Relationship Investment) When you get fired or laid off. Relationships will be the safety net that catches you.
  • Career Opportunity (Hustle Investment) Making the most of unexpected moments. For example, a friend who you haven’t talked to in years calls with a job offer or your boss falls in love with someone and moves to Hawaii.

JON’S CAREER DO OVER

Jon did his own “Career Jump” when he left the Dave Ramsey team, the Lampo Group, in 2013. Lampo produces Dave Ramsey’s radio show, publishes training materials, and hosts live events. Lampo released Jon’s book Quitter in 2011 and his next book Start in 2013, reaching The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times bestseller lists. Although working for the Dave Ramsey team was a great opportunity that fast forwarded his career, Jon knew it was time to leave after three years with the company. He says there was no instance of “moral failure” on his part, no rift with Ramsey, nor a bigger, better opportunity waiting. “Every career goes through a do-over, and a do-over isn’t a bad thing. I believe we are wired for resets,” shares Jon. Over the last eighteen months Jon says, “I am shocked at how God has taught me to rely on Him.”

Jon grew up in a Christian family. His dad was a Southern Baptist pastor. In the eighties, his dad started a church – it was an adventurous thing to do at the time – that is from where Jon got his entrepreneurial spirit. Jon says he really connected with God in a personal way in his twenties. Today he knows his identity is in Christ and recognizes that He is his greatest hope. 

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Guest Info

Guests
Credits

Author, latest, Do Over (2015)

Speaker

Wrote a blog called “Stuff Christians Like”

Worked for some of the biggest brands in the world including Home Depot, Bose, Staples and the Dave Ramsey team

Considered a social media expert with over 243,000 followers on Twitter, 91,800 likes on Facebook, and 42,800 followers on Instagram

Graduated from Samford University with journalism degree

Married to Jenny

Two children

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