In the 1980s, when my long-time job as a Senior Vice President with a health system ended, I faced a tough career management transition. 

Small Business

People did not want the skills I offered, nor did I have the all-important master’s degree – it was a double whammy in a tight job market.  I went from being incredibly successful to the depths of despair, trying to figure out how to pay my bills.  I never thought this would happen to me.

In the ensuing 25 years I have had just one “employed” tenure with a regional health system in the town where I grew up.  It was a great experience.  I ran a home infusion pharmacy, then the state’s largest EMS system and, finally, their international recruiting company.  Little did I know at the time that this last “employed” gig would provide me with the experience – some of it painful – the skills, the courage, and the determination to launch my own corporate brand, JohnGSelf Associates, Inc. 

It was a tough slog at first, and there have been more than a few bumps along the way, including a disastrous failed business partnership, but today, looking back, I know I made the right decision to trust my own instincts and abilities.  In the end, it proved to be a home run.

I have had a great career – from working as a crime writer and investigative reporter for a major Texas newspaper, to being the first director of Hermann Hospital’s famed Life Flight program and then serving as national marketing manager for their aircraft company consulting with hospitals across the nation.

Now, working as an executive recruiter, advising candidates and clients in seven countries on four continents, the rewards of managing my own brand are enormous.

There are many in this land who cannot be an independent contractor because they have built a career comfort zone surrounded by reinforced steel bar concrete. Intellectually they may want to touch the third rail of career exploration, but they have no clue how to overcome their fears to take the leap of faith, so they don’t, and that is probably the right choice. 

There are others who need to break free, should break free and join the free agent nation, but they cannot see a way forward because they cannot overcome their fears and reluctance to do those things that will ensure incredible success.

Somehow I overcame all of those barriers and found a pathway to success.  It was painful at times.  I had to battle my fears of rejection and my reluctance to put my name, my brand on the line.  Being a salary-man is secure but you are always depending on someone or something else.  But being a successful entrepreneur is one of the most satisfying accomplishments in the world because where danger lurks, you, and only you, have the power to do something about it.