Unconventional Career Advice You Need to Hear

Life coach Stephen Pollan, author of "Die Broke", offers his provocative take on how to keep your job or find a new one

by Richard Eisenberg • Next Avenue
die broke book image
Photograph: "Die Broke"

Stephen Pollan is an iconoclastic life coach and personal finance mentor. He’s also a lawyer. But I think the engraved sign on his New York City office desk offers the best description of what he does: “Professional Fear Eliminator.”
Pollan, 83, meets with clients for 45 minutes to an hour to help them deal with knotty career issues they’re facing or fearing, from bouncing back after a layoff to dealing with a gnarly boss to squeezing out more money from a severance agreement. Often, his advice is provocative, unconventional and even blunt. (Full disclosure: I’m a former client.)
“I’ve found that the most significant things people bring to me are their fears," Pollan says. "Careers are the biggest creators of fear because they’re our stream of income.”
After reading his new compendium of commentaries, The Gospel According to Stephen, I sat down with the author of the best-sellers Die Broke and Live Rich — and father of author Michael Pollan and actress Tracy Pollan — to hear his latest advice about keeping your job or finding a new one in your 40s, 50s and 60s. You can find some of Pollan’s career tips on his website, Stephenpollan.com.
Highlights from our free-wheeling conversation:
Next Avenue: You tell people not to be preoccupied with the concept of a career because that’s gone. What do you mean?
Pollan: We were all taught that your job should afford you fulfillment. That idea should be gone out of your mind.
Next Avenue: Why?
Pollan: You should focus on a career only as a stream of income. Your employer is not concerned about your fulfillment. Anyone looking for career fulfillment is going to be frustrated because employers are not out there to make us happy.
Look for fulfillment through your romantic life, through travel, through personal relationships, not on the job. It ain’t there.

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