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What Was the First Day of the Rest of Your Professional Life?

Not going to lie - I'm underwater with work today.  Enjoy this blast from the past and be sure to read the comments...

I'm on a little bit of a Dave Grohl kick - as evidenced by this post I did with a money quote from Grohl that really nails how people become world-class at anything (get your first instruments, start practicing your craft and suck, but keep coming back because you're having fun, etc.)

Grohl is basically a proponent of the 10,000 hour rule.  With that in mind, I've got a question for you today: First day rest of your life

"What Was the First Day of the Rest of Your Professional Life?"

Not following me?  Check out the following clip from Grohl at SXSW where he did a keynote (thanks to multiple readers who sent me the link to this) - I've set it to the point where he talks about the first day of the rest of his life.  Click here to listen to the story - it involves a punk rock relative and a trip to Chicago.  I start it at 14:05, listen to at least 16:40 to hear the reference.

The first day of the rest of your life.  What does that mean?  It means what was the inflexion point in your life where you found purpose and challenge that would define who you are for the rest of your life?

What was the first day of the rest of my professional life?  I think there are two:

1.  I was a sophomore in high school and took a roadtrip with some juniors and seniors from our small town to the University of Missouri to play basketball for a weekend - pickup, ragtag hoops in the on-campus rec center.  Figured out I could hang at a young age, and that cemented a work ethic that would allow me to chase hoops in a way that resulted in playing college baskeball on full scholarship, but more importantly gave me the abilty to chase things I really believe in with a singular, dogged focus.  Almost OC in some ways. It's served me well as a transferable skill, but that's the first time I found it - after that day.

2. I was living in St. Louis as a 29-year old and trying to get back to the Southeast and in networking with some BellSouth Executives they said the following: "Kris, we don't have anything we can put you in within Marketing, but we've got this HR Manager spot.  You used to be a college basketball coach, right?  Why don't you try that?"

DING.  It was the first day of the rest of my professional life.  I have to say the ride has been fun, and I can't imagine myself doing anything else.

What was the first day of the rest of the your professional life?  Hit me in the comments (or in email as many do) and tell me when it all changed for you.


Connie Costigan

Starting out in PR, I had interned at a union (don't be angry KD), and then was working on a short term contract in a college marketing department. I had gone through a series of great interviews at a very well known local agency, and didn't wind up getting the gig. I wasn't disheartened because my contract kept getting extended but knew I wanted something different. I got a call out of the blue from a marketing director at a local high tech company, who was referred to me through one of my interviewers at the PR agency. I was surprised but happy that I had made enough of an impression for this person to recommend me wihtout having worked with me. That was the real first day of my professional life and I never looked back. Having worked in high tech PR and marketing ever since, I still love it - the work, the pace, the people, the network - and couldn't imagine doing anything else. Big shout out to my friend Sandra for that fateful phone call many moons ago :-)

Eric Savina

I can say that I know exactly which one was the first day of my professional life...

March 2000, a rainy and cold day in France.

I was sitting in the clubhouse of my rugby club when I got a phone call from a recruiting agency. I was just wondering what to do to make my life more interesting since I was bored working as an accountant in an audit firm.

The guy on the phone asked me if I was interested to work abroad. Without giving any thoughts, I answered yes. After 3 interviews and less than 2 weeks after this phone call, I landed in Manila.

I did not know at that time that this phone call would change my life. 13 years later, I'm still living in the Philippines, got married, have kids and a job and a position that I would have never had in France (or at least not before reaching 50yo).

My second "first day of my professional life" is exactly March 3, 2013, the day when I convinced a developer to work with me on a project I had in mind. This is the day when rKruiter became more that just a dream but an actual goal to work on.



Kristy Hesse

I was an 18 year old working on an assembly line and I got pulled into the office by the VP of Operations because I asked my manager if he could help me instead of watching me work. Instead of berating me for my insolence, the VP said I had more to offer than what I was doing. The VP told me to get my ass back into college so that I could lead by example and remember where I started. I did. From that moment, I wanted to lead by example and be involved with putting the right talent in the right positions. Years later when I called to inform him I graduated, he didn't congratulate me, but asked when I was going to start my Master's degree. Thanks Glenn. I got that too.

Sometimes I need reminding why I do what I do. Thanks Kris - a very much needed and timely post.


Josh Westbrook

I got kicked out of the University of Illinois (UIUC) because I failed two courses in a semester. Now, I happened to get mononucleosis that semester, which set me back for about a good month, because the medical center gave me penicillin, which actually makes mono worse. In addition, I was taking calculus and a java programming class at the same time, which was brutal. The result I couldn't recover and failed both classes. Now, prior to that semester I was borderline on academic probation because I partied way too much and missed too many classes. That's why the two F's triggered an automatic expulsion. So when I received my letter that I was expelled, I went to the Dean's office, waited for 4 hours, and decided to write him a 4 page letter as to why I deserved a second chance. I never met with him, but I received a call from his staff the following day letting me know I was re-enrolled. Long story short, I made the point about the medical mishap, but I wouldn't have been in that situation had I taken my previous semesters more serious. I acknowledged that in the letter and detailed a specific plan on how I was going to improve. I got back in because I'm fighter, the re-enrollment literally changed my life, and I never forgot how close I came to blowing the best opportunity I've ever received.

After that moment, it was all A's and B's throughout undergrad, which got me accepted into one of the top HR and Labor Relations programs in the country, and the rest is history.


The first day of the rest of my life was when I presented a plan to revamp and recreate a truly sad employee recognition program into something that really means something. The answer was - go do it. Something I never expected, nor did I know I had the chops to do it. I did, and it's something that I am proud of now, and hope to grow even bigger.

That was 20 years into my career with a large municipal government division. I felt like I had started a whole new career.

I'm not an HR person, well not in name anyway, but I relate to much of what you post and love the crazy route the links often take me. I've learned so much. Thanks!

Marie Graichen

I am now 52 years old. When I was 24 years old, I had just gotten out of the U.S. Air Force, and moved to New England for the first time. (My husband was from there and had family in the area).

I had also just given birth to my 2nd child. Throughout the pregnancy, I had been working doing temporary work assignments, because back in those days--not many people would consider hiring a woman for a regular job that was obviously 'preggers'.

By chance, I landed a temp job in an HR department for a large defense company. I really enjoyed my assignment there and worked right up until the baby was born.

About five weeks after giving birth, I got a call from the manager that I had worked for, and he asked me to come back in for a visit that week. I got a babysitter and went into my former office, wearing a sweater, jeans, and boots, with a album of baby pictures under my arm. (I was only expecting to do lunch and look at pictures). After looking at the pictures for a few minutes in the office, with my former co-workers, the manager excused himself and left the room. He walked back in with a man wearing a suit and said, "I would like to introduce you to Mr. Lewis, and he would like to talk to you about a job opening that he has in Compensation". (At that time, I was so naïve and didn't know what he meant by "Compensation", or what they did). I was really caught off guard and embarrassed. I certainly was not expecting that I would be 'interviewing' for a job that day. Our discussion went well and then he said, "I heard really good things about you". I admitted that I enjoyed my work--mostly helping out recruiters and some general administrative work. I told him that I didn't know what the job would be in Compensation of if I would be qualified. I had two years of college before joining the Air Force, but no degree yet. He said--"You have the right attitude, and I can teach you".

It was a pivotal moment for the rest of my career, and for my life. One that I had not expected. To this day when people ask me how I started my career in HR, I tell them that "the career found me". I've been working in HR now for 28 years.

I had a wonderful teacher in Mr. Lewis--he taught me so much about compensation, (job analysis, surveys, regression analysis, etc.). When the time came for me to move on, I had the confidence to branch out into other areas of HR, knowing that I had already mastered one of the more technical parts of the profession. The passion that I had for my HR career propelled me on to complete my undergraduate degree, (while working full-time and mothering two young children), and later on, my MBA. I have identified much of my adult life through the experiences and opportunities that I have been given as a result of my HR career. I cannot imagine me doing anything else, (even though I could have), because I love it so much. I've had the opportunity to meet so many people and learn so much about many organizations. I truly love being an HR Business Partner now and 'giving back' by coaching managers and employees. I get much satisfaction by helping others to develop their capabilities and talents so that the next generation can be amazing.

One other interesting tidbit---many years later when my oldest was in high school and getting ready to complete his SAT's and career interest inventories, I told him that I thought I still had a copy of mine in my old high school yearbook. We found it and while looking through it, noticed that on the back of one of the pages was a 'career inventory assessment'. I had never 'scored' the results to compare it to what job I was best suited for back then, so for kicks, we did it then. Guess which career that I was 'best suited' for----you guessed it. (Although it was called 'Personnel Management' back then). So I guess it was meant to be.

Brian Deming

Similar to KD (or is it Mr. July?), there are two that stand out.

The first was a "temporary gig" helping an HR shop implement a new software package (I was more IT than HR back then). I did well enough that this six month assignment turned into 15-years and counting in HR. HR as a career never entered my mind as an option upon graduation. Now, I can't imagine doing anything else.

The second was the day I meet KD in person for the first time: SHRM 2012 in Atlanta. Technically, I met most of the #FOT gang (and many others) at that conference. Some of my closest friends evolved from this chance encounter (#NoKidHungry hockey game & CWS with Paul Hebert? icing on the cake). These friendships have only improved my appreciation for the #HRBoatrockers who challenge the assumptions of HR and force me to bring my A-Game every day. #CoffeeIsForClosers


I was with my company doing administrative type work for 3 years when we had a consultant come in and review the company. We had grown from 10 employees to 60 in 4 years and his top recommendation was that we needed someone to do HR (previously our CEO called himself the HR Department...). They asked me if I was interested and I've gotten to build the department from nothing! Now, three years later, we have 120 employees and I enjoy, appreciate, and respect the profession.


- Love the FOO. My turning point was when working part-time as a university student at a wallpaper distributor we got a shipment of paper from China in that smelled strongly of a chemical. People were feeling slightly sick and getting headaches etc. All we wanted was for our company to inquire about what it was and confirm it was safe. They wouldn’t. So we called the Occupational Health & Safety branch of the Ministry of Labour simply to ask about how we could go about maybe getting a piece analyzed. That opened the floodgates. The Ministry swooped in, issued orders to the company to comply with basic requirements for posting of information etc, and advised us about our right to refuse work if safety in doubt. They analyzed the paper, found it to be high in formaldehyde content (often used in ocean freight containers), and let us know that likely it was ok to work with by following some basic handling procedures. Once it was over (we thought) 4 of us, all young students were let go. When I said “I don’t think you can do that”, the owner said “I’ve checked it out with my lawyer”. The unfairness of it struck me and I thought that this can’t be ok. We investigated, filed a claim with the Minsitry of Labour for wrongful dismissal which was clearly a reprisal for exercising our rights. We represented ourselves at a tribunal and won our jobs back. That was the catalyst for me changing my major from history/philosophy to Labour Studies/Human Resources.

Roll Up Doors Direct

Good job! Well done with the post.

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