by Regan Kelly, Editor/Community Manager, The Greater IBM Connection
If anybody knows about pivoting in your career, it’s Greater IBMer Marc Miller, of Austin, Texas. He’s written a new book – “Repurpose Your Career” – so that baby boomers and others can learn from the twists and turns of his long professional life (and his many distinct careers). Miller has managed a help desk for mechanical engineers, worked as an IT architect, trained salespeople for IBM’s first UNIX product, taught high school, and more.
So it’s fitting that when he started his own business, he called it Career Pivot and developed a book advancing similar concepts. Read more about Mr. Miller, his days at IBM, his work today, and what you need to know about his new book.
Marc Miller’s new offering, available now
The Greater IBM Connection: When did you work for IBM and in what capacity?
Marc Miller: I started with IBM Austin in 1978 as a programmer working on word processors. I stayed in Austin for my entire career, and left in January of 2000.
The Greater IBM Connection: What was your role and what were some of your responsibilities?
Marc Miller: I wandered around a lot; I was an assembly language programmer for word processors; I was in an office eight hours a day with a coding pad, UGH!! This was before the IBM PC came to be.
I then went into testing, managed a help desk for mechanical engineers CAD/CAM, trained the first 1000 system engineers and salespeople for IBM’s first real UNIX product (RS/6000), presented IBM product plans in the AIX briefing center, spent a year in IBM Global Services as an IT architect, and finished up in AIX marketing.
The Greater IBM Connection: Why did you decide to leave IBM? Any regrets about that decision?
Marc Miller: After a lot of soul searching, I decided I wanted to go back to training, but I could not do that with IBM in Austin, so I went to work for Agere Inc., where I worked directly for one of the two company founders developing a training program.
In the first eight months, I designed and produced a two-hour seat time training CD that got rave reviews – I was hooked.
The Greater IBM Connection: Are you still connected with your former IBM colleagues?
Marc Miller: For five to ten years or so, I lost touch with a lot of my IBM friends. In the last few years, however, I have had many IBM friends reconnect for a variety of reasons. Some are retiring and looking to network. Some have reconnected via social media.
The Greater IBM Connection: Tell us about your job today. What is your role and what does it involve?
Marc Miller: In 2002, I had a near fatal bicycle accident. I had a head-on collision with an automobile where our combined speeds exceeded 50 mph. I miraculously lived with only few broken bones. I was back on a bicycle in 10 weeks and wondering why I lived. I volunteered to be laid off in 2003 and went off to teach high school math.
To make a long story short, I left teaching after a couple of years, did non-profit fundraising, and later was pulled into another startup in late 2007. I rode out both recessions in successful startups, but during that time I had a lot of friends who were being wiped out financially.
By the time I left the corporate world in early 2011, I had developed a lot of skills that my employers wanted me to acquire. I just did not want to use them anymore: I wanted to do what I wanted to do.
When I started my business Career Pivot in 2011, I was starting my 7th career, very unusual for someone of the baby boomer generation.
My mission is to guide baby boomers through today’s constantly changing career world. I am not a career coach, but rather a career trainer and designer. I train people to design their own careers. I focus on baby boomers and older Gen Xers who either cannot or don’t want to retire.
The Greater IBM Connection: What was the impetus for your writing a book?
Marc Miller: Most baby boomers were raised to be employees and to work for father-like companies that it was expected would take care of us. We all know that world does not exist anymore.
Most boomers made career decisions when opportunities appeared – in other words, we reacted. Now, however, we are in a referral economy and you can no longer react but you must be proactive.
The book is meant to be something like a cookbook. Though it doesn’t use cookbook language, it does contain recipes for career change. Of course, recipes are meant to be modified and seasoned to taste.
The Greater IBM Connection: What was the writing process like? What was it like working with a second writer?
Marc Miller: In 2011 I was introduced to Susan Lahey, who is a former journalist and was building a writing business in Austin. Susan is very good at writing in my voice. Our first collaboration was a white paper titled Don’t Retire Even if You Can – A Baby Boomer Manifesto. It’s available here.
In June of 2011, I started blogging three to four times a week, generating a lot of content. Based on feedback from my readership, I started writing in very long series (30-40 post sequences). I was writing about strategies in career management and job search.
Susan and I collaborated on the book, and its content mostly came from either from the manifesto or the blog.
The Greater IBM Connection: How has the book been received so far?
Marc Miller: I sent pre-release copies to many career professional around the country to get feedback. The response has been incredibly good. When people give me great feedback, it is very fulfilling.
The Greater IBM Connection: What do you do in your spare time?
Marc Miller: It may surprise you that I still bicycle. In addition, I am currently part of the Leadership Austin Essentials Class. I also have served on the board of directors of Launch Pad Job Club, the largest job support group in Central Texas, for the last six years.
The Greater IBM Connection: Is there another book in your future? If so, what might its subject be?
Marc Miller: The next book will be The Cure for Career Insanity, which will accompany my webinar series to launch in 2013.
We will put out a second edition of Repurpose Your Career in January of 2014, with more real-life stories from my clients.
The Greater IBM Connection: What’s the best way for readers to buy your book?
Marc Miller: Amazon is the place to go. The book is available in both paperback and Kindle editions. If you happen to live in Austin, the book can be found in the Career and Home Improvement sections of Book People. You should also be able to order the book from just about any bookstore. You can find the Kindle edition on Amazon.com here.
The Greater IBM Connection: Any final thoughts?
Marc Miller: The biggest hurdle is fear in making a career change or pivot. Fear of failure. Fear of financial hardship. Fear of loss of credibility. Fear of change!
It doesn’t happen overnight. I find it takes three months of working with clients to get them to the point where they believe they can make the change work.
Read some reviews of Repurpose Your Career
Visit Marc Miller’s site
Follow Marc on Twitter: @CareerPivot