Years ago I learned that if I wanted to become a career consultant (before I trained to be a coach), I had to simply find an audience and start practicing my craft.
I rounded up a group of people in New York, led a workshop based on materials I borrowed from my mentor and could say I was a Career Consultant from that day forward. It was as important for my self-esteem as anything else that I had that experience under my belt.
That gig led to consulting at Monsanto, which led to my job with the first outplacement company in St. Louis. That experience led to my own business, a book deal for Fired for Success: How to Turn Losing Your Job into the Opportunity of a Lifetime! By simply doing something, I started a chain of events still continuing after more than 25 years.
How many times do I have to learn this lesson before it doesn’t surprise me each time I encounter it? Thinking back, I saw two stories on CBS Sunday Morning that contained the same lesson, it didn’t take me long to make a note to myself to write about this issue.
Being Discovered on YouTube
You might like the music of the rock group, Journey, or even purchased one of its 70 million albums sold over the years. If you are a fan, you may know this group has been in decline since Steve Perry, its lead tenor, left in 1996 for a hip replacement and never returned. Two other lead singers over the past decade never captured Perry’s magic. It put the band in disarray. When its 1981 signature hit “Don’t Stop Believin” played at the end of the final episode of the popular HBO series Sopranos, the band saw a great opportunity for a come back… if only it had a lead singer!
Dean Castranovo, one band member, told Sunday Morning not having a singer and being able to go out on the road at that point drove him nuts. Not leaving the situation to chance, Neal Schon, another group member, used the Internet to search for a new lead singer. He said he was looking for a “legacy sound, a tenor voice… with soul and emotion.”
After surfing YouTube for two days, he came upon a video of Arnel Pineda, a 40 year old Filipino who sang with a group called The Zoo, mimicking everybody from Sting to Led Zeppelin. When he heard the young singer belt out Journey’s own “Faithfully,” Schon picked up the phone and called The Philippines, inviting Pineda for an audition in the United States. Pineda was immediately asked to join the group, there was no doubt in his talent.
A Remarkable Background
Pineda has sung from an early age, remembering at age 5 how his mother would ask him to sing along with her as she crooned with Barbara Streisand and Karen Carpenter on the radio. His parents, both tailors, created outfits for him as they sent him out to participate in singing contests. Being shy, he often ran away as they chased after him with a tape measure. Sadly, his mother died when he was age 13 after a long illness that bankrupted the family. For some period he was homeless, with no more than a piece of biscuit to eat for three days at a time. But he used the gift his mother gave him, crooning in Hong Kong nightclubs.
Like the line from the song, Pineda’s advice to all of us is not to give up: “Don’t Stop Believin.” His story reinforces the power of just doing what he wanted to do—not waiting for the opportunity to sing with a big band and strike it rich—but getting into action and grabbing singing opportunities he could find. Providence blessed a man who was already doing what he intended to do—sing.
Starting from Scratch
Another story exemplifies the same lesson. Whoopi Goldberg, a high school dropout from the New York City projects, is one of only 13 people who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony Award. She too started from humble beginnings even though she had a sense from an early age she wanted to act. Along the way she was caught up in drugs. After a stint in rehab, she reoriented herself to her dream.
Her experience growing through her naivety on the streets grew into various character sketches she wove into her own one woman monologue performance she called The Spook Show. Creating and performing her character sketches brought Whoopi Goldberg notice. Slowly, she made her way from stage to stage until she impressed director Mike Nichols was instantly offered to bring the show to Broadway. One hundred fifty-six sold-out performances were taped and shown on HBO, catching the attention of director Steven Spielberg who cast her in The Color Purple.
The moral of this story is that Whoopi did herself her biggest favor by getting into action and creating her performance—doing what she wanted to do by just doing it!
The question is: What could you just do—get into action on—to propel you into the future that’s awaiting you?
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