Are you unhappy with your job and career?
Have you ever dreamed of doing something different with your life…
…like pursuing your passion…
…and turning your passion into your career?
These were big questions that were weighing on my mind about three years ago.
In this article you’ll learn how I went from software consultant, to biohacker, to health coach, and full circle back to software consultant – but integrating it all with a focus on health and wellness.
How I decided to quit my business.
I had been working in the software industry for the better part of two decades. Since 2011 I was running my own software consulting business and just over a year ago I was struggling (yet again!) to keep clients coming in the door on a consistent basis.
I decided that something had to change. But I didn’t make that decision until after one pivotal moment in my life…
I was preparing dinner one night and listening to my usual podcasts (at the time). The particular podcast was from the $100 MBA Show about questions to ask yourself before you give up. In the podcast some questions were posed:
- Why did you get into this in the first place?
- How did it work out (and how are things going now)?
- Based on your answers, is it worth giving up?
- Are you satisfied with the effort you gave to the business?
- What would the best you could do look like (and is it worth it)?
- Why have you kept going up until this point?
Because this podcast was so relevant to where I was in my life and with my business, I made it a point to go back, re-listen to the podcast, and answer the questions.
My answers to these questions led me to the decision that I was going to make some changes in my life. When I look back on these questions, the one that really matters the most is the first one:
Why did you get into your business?
Running a software consulting business wasn’t for me.
I realized that I got into my business for the wrong reasons. I had been a computer guy all my life. I was writing code when I was a kid, got a computer science degree in college, and worked for IBM for five years. I got a bit distracted from the tech stuff when I went back to school for my MBA and then to Bolivia as a Peace Corps volunteer. (But I wasn’t entirely distracted from tech because I was teaching computer classes for over three years in Bolivia.)
I turned my focus back to tech in 2007 when I returned to Colorado and started a business with a friend that created fitness apps. I really enjoyed the challenge but, unfortunately, never made enough sales to fully pay the bills.
The good news is that I was already doing some consulting and contract work to pay the bills. Furthermore, I had learned how to find people to help scale our business. I was hiring software developers and designers. So the logical transition (in my mind) at that point was to follow the money.
Following the money led me down the wrong path.
And that’s precisely where I may have gone off track. You see, although I was a computer geek all of my life, I was also passionate about fitness, travel, exploring the world – essentially learning more about myself and the world around me. There has always been an underlying drive for me to do more than just write code or build apps for other people.
I got into my software consulting business for the money. And it was good money at times. But it was also very slow at times. Perhaps the worst part was that I was increasingly less interested in our clients’ projects.
On the surface, they were great projects. For example, we built an Android app for Snoop Dogg, as well as apps for the Department of Defense used by soldiers in the military.
But, when I asked myself the question, “Why did you get into your business?” The simple answer was: for the money. And, for better or worse, I’m not highly motivated by financial rewards.
I wanted to make a bigger impact. Something meaningful.
Biohacking as my window into health and wellness.
Coincidentally, about three years ago, I was getting into biohacking…that is, finding tips, tricks and shortcuts to optimize my own well-being. This was a big, eye-opening discovery in my life. You see, for most of my life, I was on what you might call the “See Food Diet”. That’s right: I see it. I eat it.
I noticed some strange things going on with my body so I tried vegetarian and vegan diets. This was definitely a step in the right direction to introduce more vegetables into my life.
But something still wasn’t quite right. This all changed when I discovered Bulletproof. You see, the guy behind Bulletproof, Dave Asprey, was living proof that his biohacking ways worked for him. And he was very knowledgeable about all things related to health. And a lot of it contradicted both “modern medicine” and common knowledge about health and wellness.
This was the true turning point in my career. I was all in. So much so, in fact, that I went to work for Bulletproof at Bulletproof Labs in Santa Monica; and I got certified as a Bulletproof Coach. I was on a new path. A path that aligned with my own values. I was now armed with my certification and could make a big impact on the world – in a meaningful way.
Just one problem: I needed customers. After all, is a coach without clients still a coach?
I pivoted my software business to focus on health.
In recent years I had made some bad business decisions and was not only lacking income from clients; my business was in debt. I needed cash.
So it didn’t seem wise to ditch the software business completely. Rather, I had made the decision to “pivot” and focus on health. I rebranded, created a new website and was looking for companies interested in developing digital health or mHealth apps.
I went to meetups, connected with people online and essentially did what my teachers in business school called, “pounding the pavement”.
But still I wasn’t getting enough business so I shifted my focus to coaching.
My first attempt as a coach.
Once I had my Bulletproof coaching certification, I decided coaching would be my focus – and that I would get paying clients so I could pay my bills. I launched my website, Zen Strength, and, in short, I struggled to get paying clients.
I did a lot of practice coaching with fellow coaches; I coached a lot of people free of charge; and I even did some service exchanges for coaching. However, I wasn’t getting anyone to actually pay me as their coach. It seemed clear that coaching wasn’t the best option to get my finances back in order.
I couldn’t really quit my software business.
I shifted focus back to my software business. But this time I decided I would focus on working with people and companies that I would enjoy. I began focusing on people who were working in the world of “alternative health”, aka wellness, holistic health, functional medicine, and so on.
That’s it. That’s my story. No wild successes or failures. Rather, I’ve had a lot of good and bad experiences that I’ve learned from. And, although it’s much easier said than done, I think the biggest lesson learned that I want to pass on to you and others is this:
Simply enjoy the process.
Nothing worth doing is ever going to be easy. But accepting the challenge and recognizing that there will be ups and downs is all part of the journey.
I’ve realized that I have the power to choose what kind of clients I work with. Although I had decided that software consulting wasn’t for me, I came to realize that there are companies and people out there who share my values; and they can benefit from my skills and my business.
So, as much as I try to move away from tech, it always seems to pull me back in. And every time I come back I can make changes based on what I’ve learned. This time I’ve learned that I can work with companies that are truly passionate about making real changes; providing the tools, knowledge and services to lead healthy lives.
I am working my way to my passion.
Since I’ve shifted my focus to things that align with my passions and values, I now have opportunities to build software solutions for some very interesting people and their companies. These are companies and businesses that I strongly believe will have a major impact on improving our overall health. Companies like:
And, as an added bonus, I also picked up my first true (paying!) coaching client.
What about you?
What have you learned about shifting careers in your life?