Dave Kerpen | “What Color is Your Parachute”: You Must Love What You Do
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“What Color is Your Parachute”: You Must Love What You Do

“What Color is Your Parachute”: You Must Love What You Do

This post is part of a series in which Influencers describe the books that changed them.Follow the channel to see the full list.
.I’ll never forget the hot summer night sixteen years ago when I sold Adam a life insurance policy. A 21-year old recent college graduate, I had done my job perfectly – I had done everything I was supposed to do, from prospecting to cold-calling to finding someone who had had a recent baby, to listening to him and asking questions which led to my selling him a whole life insurance policy. The sale earned both my company and me some nice money, Adam got life insurance, and everyone was happy..Everyone, was happy, that is, except me. I knew I had sold him something he really didn’t need – a more expensive product than the term life insurance Adam could afford. I knew it and yet I knowingly sold him what I did, to benefit my company and to benefit myself. I had made a horrible mistake..I felt horrible about Adam, and I knew that job wasn’t for me. I quit the next week, without a plan of any kind. For several months I floundered — as a temp, a pizza delivery guy, and a tutor. Then, I found a book which changed my life – What Color Is Your Parachute, by Richard Bolles. (incidentally, the best-selling career book of all time). .The book essentially says: Figure out what you’re passionate about, and then go find an industry, organization and job through which you can pursue your passions. The remarkable thing is that the author tells you not to pursue jobs that are listed (those jobs are being applied to by thousands of people) but instead to pursue organizations where you’d like to work and where you have skills and value to bring to the table. It’s easier said than done, but the book asks you to look inward and helps you find the answers to three key questions: .What do you most love to do?
Where do you most love to do it?
How do you find such a job and persuade those employers to hire you?
.I read the book and did all of the activities and soul-searching the book guided me through. I was passionate about marketing, and media, and children, (I had studied elementary education in college) and I loved the Disney brand. But I lived in Boston, where the only Disney-owned property was a radio station. .So I looked up Radio Disney’s contact information, called up the station manager Peggy Iafrate, and asked to meet with them. Even though there was no job posted, I got a job there doing promotions and sales. .A year later, after a lot of hard work that I loved, I was the top salesperson in the country for Radio Disney. While I have changed jobs and careers several times over the past sixteen years, I’ve always pursued things I’m super passionate about..The book changed my life, but more important, it’s changed millions of other people’s lives. I have given at least 40 copies away to interns, staff and friends who are searching for their career purpose. It’s difficult work – because not only will you read the book, but you’ll have to do a lot of exercises and soul searching throughout – but whether you’re 21 or 61, you’ll emerge with a clearer vision of what you want to do next and where you’ll want to work. .Steve Jobs said:.Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do..If you don’t have a job you love right now, at an organization you love right now, please take away just one thing from me today: What Color Is Your Parachute? 2013: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers..For most of our lives, we spend more of our waking hours with our jobs than we do with our family and friends. By doing something we love each day, at a place we love going to each day, we can truly make the most of those hours.—–

Now, I’d love to know YOUR favorites. Have you read What Color is Your Parachute? What other business books have changed YOUR life? What books have inspired YOU to become a better business person, leader and human being? Let me know in the comments here – and happy reading!

1Comment
  • Alan Allard
    Posted at 15:24h, 05 June Reply

    Dave, great story and I agree with you about the power of What Color is Your Parachute–a phenomenal book. A book that has inspired me lately is Bob Chapman’s Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family.

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