This is a question I’ve wrestled with most of my life. Growing up I thought the ideal job would be a professional baseball announcer.

While most kids my age wanted to be professional baseball players I would have been more than happy to sit high up in the booth and enjoy talking about the boys of summer.

Harry Carey, Vince Scully, had the best jobs in the world in my opinion. Sit and watch baseball, tell people what you’re seeing, and get paid for it.

Win or lose you’re still employed.

Do We Really Get To Choose?

In my case life waited a while to pick a vocation for me. I guess it was waiting for me to pay my dues before the opportunity presented itself.

In college I had no idea what I would do with my life but I figured I’d be in some kind of business either as an owner or employee so business was my eventual major.

Over the next 50 years I worked for 28 companies in 18 different industries and learned as much as I could about each one.

That was a collection of knowledge that I discovered people would be willing to pay for.

A Lunch Changed My Life

I moved from California to Montana in the early nineties. I was giving a talk to some Montana Educators at one of the local hotels and Dr. Mike Riley, Professor of Marketing at Montana State, was also a speaker.

We had lunch together after the meeting and that lunch changed my life.

I told Mike I was thinking about some kind of business newsletter that I could sell and his advice was very telling.

He said, “If you do a newsletter you’ll have to do it all the time.” “Write a book.” “You’ll do it once and get paid over and over for years.” And he was right.

Write A Book?

Write a book? How? About what? And the biggest question of all — who in their right mind would read a book written by me?

The Bozeman Chronicle provided the answer. I read about the first multimillion-dollar Powerball winner who lived in Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin. Fifteen people from Fond du Lac had also won.

Looking at the map of Wisconsin I saw hundreds of small towns. How did people in these small towns, often with limited finances, market and advertise their businesses?

The local library could find no books on how to market or advertise a business in a small town. A book was needed.

But there was still the book-writing problem. I went in my study and looked at all the business books I’d collected over the years.

I discovered that I knew virtually none of the authors by name or reputation — I bought their message — not who delivered it. Problem solved.

I had a message.

Dr. Mike Riley wrote the preface to my first book. Two other books followed.

Some Final Thoughts

You might be thinking, “Thank you Tom for that back slapping, self-serving trip down memory lane.” I would say you’re missing the point.

Life sometimes presents you with opportunities and you need to recognize those opportunities and act on them.

There’s no guarantee that things will come to a successful outcome but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it your all.

Failure is simply growing. Thomas Edison found 1,000 filaments that would not work in his light bulb. Basketball legend Michael Jordon missed the game winning shot 26 times but has 6 NBA championship rings. Are they failures?

If you have no idea what you want to do in life I have two words for you — pay attention. Opportunity may come knocking today.

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