The Non-Linear Career Path

Great careers are often non-linear and am I ever the poster boy for that thought.

Here’s a never-before-revealed (or written) stroll through my own non-linear professional journey, which has confirmed for me that every experience in life provides value, even when we can’t see it at the time.

Beginning around age 12, my parents forced me to start knocking on doors around the neighborhood for odd jobs. Every widow within 10 blocks was subjected to my weak handshake, downcast eyes, hunched-over back, and pitiful pitch to mow their lawn. Despite my lame door-to-door value proposition, it was so successful that I ended up working much harder than I wanted to after school and Saturdays—mowing lawns, raking leaves, edging flower beds, and washing cars.

I washed so many windows with soapy water and newspapers (hey, it was the seventies) that I now refuse to wash my own.

Fast forward to high school and I landed a gig at the local farmer’s market selling bread and pastries for a local bakery. It was great fun and a lot of work. How many 18-year-olds do you know that get up at 5 a.m. every Saturday to pack their car trunks full of goodies, just to make $30? That gig turned into a five-year job through college at the bakery/restaurant, washing pans, and dishes; mopping floors; driving a van to hotels and restaurants to make deliveries; serving as a host, waiter, and eventually manager. For several years, I worked from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m., then went to college full-time in the afternoons and evenings.

I continued to explore lots of passions, some purposeful, most accidental, and became licensed to sell real estate. I worked on political campaigns at every level including U.S. Senate and even a presidential run. I eventually landed a job at the Disney Development Company and for nearly four years I worked as a project manager and research coordinator for one of the most iconic brands in history.

Eventually, I was recruited by FranklinCovey and moved west to Utah, where for 24 years, I’ve had eight different careers in a single company.

I started as a frontline salesperson selling leadership and time management solutions to colleges, universities, and school districts. I then did a stint in the U.K. focused on developing new clients and onboarding new sales associates. I returned to the U.S. as a sales leader, managing director, and general manager, then after ten years focused on sales, I moved into marketing. After seven years as a CMO, I moved aside and tackled a new division focused on thought leadership, constantly pushing boundaries and finding myself in way over my head.

I hosted a podcast and a radio program, wrote LinkedIn articles, and eventually became the author or co-author of two bestselling, award-winning books. I’ve become a fairly bankable keynote speaker around the world and now spend most of my time writing columns for media outlets and speaking on massive stages at conferences and events.

From mowing lawns and raking leaves to a Wall Street Journal bestselling author and keynote speaker. Don’t see the connection? I didn’t either until I penned this blog post.

I never realized how mowing all those lawns, delivering all those croissants, meeting with all those clients, delivering all those presentations, writing all those LinkedIn articles, and taping all those podcasts led to where I am now.

The most disconnected, seemingly random and meandering path led me to exactly where I was supposed to be. Right now. It’s all come together like I could never have imagined.

Plot your own path. It may look messy like mine. Connect the dots and see where it takes you!

80% of your results will come from 20% of your activities—are you focusing on the right ones? Download The 80/20 Activity Analyzer tool to be more strategic in your process and more successful in your results.

About the Author

Scott Miller

Scott Miller is a 25-year associate of FranklinCovey and serves as Senior Advisor, Thought Leadership. Scott hosts the world’s largest and fastest-growing podcast/newsletter devoted to leadership development, On Leadership. Additionally, Scott is the author of the multi-week Amazon #1 New Releases, Master Mentors: 30 Transformative Insights From Our Greatest Minds, Management Mess to Leadership Success: 30 Challenges to Become the Leader You Would Follow, and the Wall Street Journal bestseller, Everyone Deserves a Great Manager: The 6 Critical Practices for Leading a Team. He lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with his wife and three sons.

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