The Career Paths of the 21st Century: What Your Daddy Can’t Tell You, and Hollywood Can

Career advisor, college professor, and my former student Chaz Austin is my guest blogger today as he writes about the new face of career and work in the 21st century. The following is excerpted from Dr. Austin’s book On Working, to be published later this year.

Since the demise of the Hollywood studio system in the late 1940’s, the way the entertainment business has operated is that everyone moves from project to project, develops and leverages relationships, and then before the project ends, they’re hustling for the next gig. This is how you find work, and my clients from the entertainment industry understand the process intuitively. The rest of us need to catch up because the world of work and career has changed dramatically in the last decade. The safety net of the company that cares about you and rewards your efforts and loyalty has disappeared; they can’t afford to do that any longer.

The training my clients receive requires a shift in consciousness. It’s very difficult for someone who believes that they are prepared to find a job (armed with a degree in their field, a good resume, cover letter, and references) to discover that the rules have changed and that they a) will have to sell themselves, and b) will never stop selling themselves.

The new mantra for finding work is: what is your skill set and how can you use it in service to others? (or: what do I have to sell, and who’s going to buy it?). Given you’ll have many careers in your life, that skill set will alter as you expand your experience and education, but the self-promotion never ends.

The goal of your work is to satisfy everyone: your client/employer because they’re getting value for their investment, given your expertise can help them grow their organization; their customers, because those people are being taken care of; and you, because you’re doing what you’re good at (something you like/love) and being (well)-compensated for it.

And then you move on to the next gig/project/job . . .

I advise my clients to create their careers using what I call the Multiple Income Stream approach: looking at your core skillset, how many different ways are there to generate revenue?  Using myself as an example: my skillset/brand is an expertise in career development/counseling/mentoring. Let me count the many ways I can generate revenue from this: private clients, public speaking, workshops, writing, teaching, consulting to universities who want to integrate career development into their curriculum, etc. I’ll always have work. And I will always have to hustle to get it . . .

You’ll also need to learn to live with no results. You keep grinding it out (making the contacts, doing the follow up), but just because you did all the right things doesn’t mean you’ll get what you want. You’ll have to be able to tolerate no immediate revenue, despite all your efforts. Think of yourself as a farmer; you do the planting and then keep nurturing what you’ve planted while you wait for the flowers/plants/fruit to bloom.  If you believe that what you offer can be a contribution to others, you will be unstoppable. So when you pitch a client or go on a job interview and it doesn’t result in a “sale,” don’t think of it as a NO; think of it as a NOT YET. If you continually build and course correct, inevitably you can be successful.

Charles Michael Austin, Ed.D. is my former student in the Organizational Leadership Ed.D. program at Pepperdine University, a Career Mentor and college professor whose focus is business communication and career development. 

7 Responses to “The Career Paths of the 21st Century: What Your Daddy Can’t Tell You, and Hollywood Can”
  1. Violet says:

    What a wonderful blog post. I had the privileged of having Dr. Chaz Austin as my teacher for career development several months ago and I have been intuitively doing what he teaches for some years. So when he started explaining it out it made perfect sense! My classmates got so many jobs and met so many people just by using his simple networking strategies. Thank you!

  2. Brian says:

    Great perspective! I’ve always loved the down-to-earth, real, no BS approach Chaz has had to career development. It just makes sense. Looking forward to the book, Chaz!

  3. John Karayan says:

    I had the pleasure of watching Chaz work with my students, early and often, with their career development. I also saw the results, which were impressive along many dimensions.

    I am looking forward to the book, and will telling all of my students about it.


    John E. Karayan, JD PhD
    Professor and Chair
    Department of Accounting
    Woodbury University

  4. Great post!

    One challenge for people who want to work as freelancers is where to find new clients and projects. For most small businesses, finding freelancers is a rather luck-based process.

    On, a new how-to site and community for small business on marketing, we’ve compiled, and are continually updating, a list of the best sources to find freelancers.

    We hope can help small businesses find marketing experts to hire and freelancers find new clients.

  5. Lydia says:

    Chaz is the real deal; I know because we’re related…
    don’t walk to purchase this book once it’s published –
    run, run, run…
    Looking forward to the entire shebang myself!
    Best and Love, Lydia.

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    […]The Career Paths of the 21st Century: What Your Daddy Can’t Tell You, and Hollywood Can « Meat and Three Cafe[…]…

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