Where do those career breakthroughs come from? As I examine my past I discover that many of my life changing opportunities came disguised as referrals that appeared way out of my line. For instance the day my sometimes Mentor, Herb True Ph.D. Notre Dame professor and awesome professional speaker called me and said, “Art, I recommended you to a client to create an Audio-Visual Presentation to be shown to his prospects.” I had never created an Audio-Visual Slide Show. (This was before the days of Video.) Herb said, “I think you could do a great job, Art. You’re a writer, a photographer and you know how to communicate with audiences. Why not call him and talk with him about it. He’s a great guy.”
At that time I was in a dead end job with 24 years at the railroad, unhappy, frustrated, and moonlighting, doing some writing for Herb. I wanted to become a full time writer and a professional speaker and couldn’t immediately see how doing an A-V show would help my career. I told Herb I would follow up and thanked him.
It was a real stretch for me but I created the show, the client had great success with it and in no time I was asked by another client to do the same and it was successful.
Shortly after that a locomotive fireman at our railroad got on the ground to throw a switch in the dark and was run over by some boxcars. He lost two legs and an arm and I had to investigate the incident. I called a Vice President and asked if he would like to join me in visiting the victim at the hospital. He agreed to meet me and on the ride over to the hospital I sold him on the idea that we had to do something about safety and attitudes on the railroad and I proposed an Audio Visual Presentation I had in mind. That meeting changed my life. I was promoted to Employee Communications Officer and later Corporate Communications Officer. I made 60 AV Shows in the following nine years.Our railroad went from major continuing losses to continuing profits and from the worst railroad safety records to one of the best. I also had the freedom to moonlight and did hundreds of paid speeches for major corporations and associations during this period and I wrote a number of articles and books that were published. I managed to retire from the railroad at age 53 with pensions and I have been writing and speaking full time since 1983.
Until yesterday I had always considered the day that horrid tragedy occurred when I called that Vice President of the railroad to be the turning point in my life.
Maybe instead it was the day I took the leap to produce that Audio-Visual Presentation that I first felt unqualified to do? What do you suppose you could do with your talents if you stretched and caught that pass that looked impossible….?