Brian Tracy: setting goals isn’t the only goal

In many ways Brian Tracy is the opposite of Zig Ziglar, more corporate than homespun. In other ways they mesh well, sharing a similar background and bootstrap philosophy. Which is one reason the organizers of the People Builder Rally in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, booked the pair to appear on December 10, 1991 in back-to-back motivational talks.

At the time Tracy, the lanky forty-seven-year-old Californian who grew up in poverty and dropped out of high school before graduation, had made his mark by systematically studying why sales people were successful. After graduating from college, he created a seminar based on those principles and released it a self-help audio recording entitled “The Psychology of Achievement.”

Today Tracy is chairman and CEO of Brian Tracy International, a company that specializes in the training and development of individuals and organizations. He has consulted for more than 1,000 companies and addressed more than 4 million people in talks and seminars in more than forty countries.

We met at his “Success Secrets of High Achievers” seminar in 1991 and talked about the importance of time management, goal-setting and getting your priorities straight. He was touring the world and I was writing a column on the human-potential movement. I moved on and the interview remained unpublished for nineteen years. With this post I’m finally reaching that goal.

Brian Tracy

Brian Tracy

JW: As I look at your resume I’m just amazed. Founder of your own company, head of a large real estate development company, avid reader, author, trainer. You speak four languages. You do 155 to 120 speaking engagements a year. Why this drive?

BT: I work hard because I recommend that people work hard, and I don’t ever say anything to anybody that I don’t practice. I accomplish an enormous amount simply by working very efficiently.

Very successful people are very tight with their time because they look upon their time like money. It’s a very scarce resource and has to be spent carefully in order to get what they want. One of the most important keys to success is being very clear about what is important to you, what you want to accomplish. Most people are very fuzzy about that, but if you’re fuzzy about that it’s impossible to manage your time, because your time is sort of like shooting a rifle, and you can’t shoot a rifle unless it’s clear what you’re shooting at. So you have to say, “Where do I get my biggest payoff, not only in terms of financial returns but in terms of happiness?” And then you have to rifle in on those things.

JW: Did your philosophy grow out of an incident?

BK: It just came about by evolution. I was in my twenties before I even knew anything about goals, aside from sports, and then I found if you wrote down goals and made plans to accomplish them, you just suddenly went into overdrive. This began to happen at an incredible rate. I ask people, “OK, what if I make a couple of points about goals now. I know what you’re going to say, you’ve heard about goals, you don’t want to hear about goals anymore. Does everybody here know you’re supposed to have goals?” I say, “Good. I’ll tell you what. I won’t say another word about the subject today on one condition, and the condition is that you take out your goal lists that you carry with you and you review on a regular basis and show it to the person next to you. I’ll just wait patiently while you do that.” And I’ll sit there and sometimes ninety-nine percent of the audience sits there without moving. They have a few vague wishes and hopes but they have no goals. They have nothing written down.

JW: Have you always been goal-oriented?

BT: Aside from sports it never dawned on me until I was about twenty-three.

JW: What happened then?

BT: I was traveling. I set off when I was twenty and didn’t come back until I was about twenty-eight. I went out to see the world. I didn’t have the money to pay for my passage so I got a job on a ship. I traveled across the Atlantic as a galley boy, swabbing the deck, carrying food, feeding the crew. I read a lot, biographies and autobiographies and stories about men who had done a lot of interesting things, had traveled to a lot of countries, had a lot of adventures. If I ran out of money then I’d work until I had some money and then travel again.

JW: You must have started thinking, “Can I do this forever? What am I going to do with my life?”

BT: When you’re in your twenties, you’re in a reactive mode; you’re reacting to your situation. I was broke most of the time, in places like Gibraltar, Bangkok, Singapore, Johannesburg, Mexico City. When you’re out of money you become very creative. In my case I realized that selling was the only thing I could do.

JW: What did you have to sell?

BT: In Johannesburg I sold office supplies. In London I worked in a car dealership, cleaning cars. In Bangkok I got a job selling mutual funds. You just have to be determined. Remember the whole experience of human life is a learning experience, and therefore we only learn when we have to learn. I think it was Abraham Maslow who said that ninety-nine percent of human actions are motivated by deficiency needs. They feel they have to. Whereas only one percent of human actions are motivated by what we call being needs, and most people are reactive. So they become discontented or unhappy, and being discontented or unhappy, it’s like burning your hand—you avoid that. And so they move away from unpleasant situations.

JW: Going back to goal-setting, many people say they don’t have the time, that they can’t balance work and family as it is.

BT: I’ve analyzed it very carefully and come up with a very simple conclusion: it’s very simple to do as long as you don’t do a lot of other things as well. What people are trying to do is not just balance the requirements of work and family but they’re trying to do a whole lot of other things as well. They’re trying to maintain all their social engagements and all of their friendships and sports and outside activities and work and so on. So what I say, and I have four children, is that I have a very well-balanced life because when I work, I work one hundred percent, and when I’m not working, I’m with my family. I don’t have anything in between.

The reason some people can’t keep up is that they’re wasting their time. It’s not that people don’t have the time. Everybody has the same twenty-four hours a day. When they work, the average person wastes fully thirty percent of their time socializing, and then they get behind in their work and feel this pressure. So one of the recommendations I make is to work all the time you work. And I say the key to success is—this is my own little creative synthesis—quality of time at work and quantity of time at home. You can’t switch the two.

JW: What does that mean?

BT: It means you work when you’re at work. People play and socialize and what happens is the work continues to mount up, and they say, “I’m under pressure and I have to take it home.” If you take ten things that a person has to do at work, only one or two of those are critical to their success in their career, and the others are various degrees of play.

JW: So one of the keys is to prioritize.

BT: That’s right. So you say, “Why am I on the payroll?” Peter Drucker has talked about this for years. You have to decide, “What is the critical output of my position?” And then you concentrate your resources on achieving that critical output and you discontinue all the things that don’t contribute to that critical output.

JW: How do you get the motivation to do that?

BT: Motivation is two things. First of all, it’s clarity with regard to what you want to accomplish. And second of all, the reasons why you want to accomplish it. Tom Hopkins says that goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement. I say reasons are the fuel in the furnace of achievement—reasons for wanting to accomplish something. A person says, “I want to have more money,” and I say, “Why?” If I were to say that somebody very close to you had to have an operation within twelve months and it was going to cost the amount that you make in an entire year, so to pay for that operation you’d have to literally double your income in the next twelve months to save that person’s life, could you do it? You bet your bippy. Now I’ve got a reason. So it’s very, very important that you not only have goals but reasons.

JW: How did you get to this point? What did your father and mother do?

BT: My father was a carpenter and a sculptor and my mother was a nurse. The broader answer to the question is the psychological discovery that we are most motivated to achieve what we felt we were most deprived of during our formative years. During my formative years we had financial problems, and throughout all my growing up we always worried about money.

The reason why I’ve been successful is I have a singular focus, and the focus is to find out the ways, ideas, means, techniques to be more successful. I have friends who earn a million dollars a year in industries where the average income is maybe $25,000, maybe less. Is that person working forty times harder? When we study these people we find that virtually all successful people do certain things in the same way, over and over again. If you do the same things that other successful people do, you get the same results. There’s no mystery to this. The mystery is why people don’t do it. And why people don’t do it is, first of all, they don’t know, ignorance, and second of all, fear, because they’re afraid to move out of their comfort zone. Probably the third of all the reasons is maybe they don’t have enough reasons.

JW: Does this philosophy of success grow out of . . . is it a reversal of your childhood?

BT: It’s just that since I was not particularly well off financially in my childhood I became driven as an adult to achieve financial success, and once you achieve that, you realize that the tools you can use to achieve financial success you can use to achieve a lot of other things. Almost invariably, people start becoming interested in emotional things, relationships, and spiritual things, the development of higher levels of consciousness.

The great challenge that people have in their formative years is that they seem to feel like pawns, that the world is just happening around them. Psychologists have found that one of the keys to interpersonal effectiveness is what is called a sense of coherence. The person feels a sense of structure and coherence in the universe, that things are not just happening randomly. If you go back to the earliest days of Western philosophy, you come to Socrates, who taught Plato, who taught Aristotle.

Socrates’ great contribution was the law of causality, the Socratic Law, which is the law of cause and effect. I teach this all the time because the great truths are very simple truths. The law of causality simply says that for every effect there is a cause. Things happen for a reason. Earl Nightingale called this the Iron Law of Human Destiny, and it’s true, it’s the unbreakable law. So therefore anything that anyone else has achieved you can achieve as well. You just have to trace it back to the cause.

JW: I see we’re almost out of time. What’s next for you? Do you have a specific goal?

BT: I think the key to success in life is to do what you really enjoy, to do what you love to do, and therefore it’s everybody’s responsibility to find that. It’s not enough to enjoy doing it; you’ve got to become very good at doing it, because you find that other people enjoy doing it as well. And if you’re doing what you love to do, then really all you want to do is more of it. Because your work, your play, your whole life is one seamless whole. People who talk about backing off or taking a vacation, taking a trip around the world or avoiding burnout are people who are simply saying that they’re doing what they don’t like. Nobody gets burned out doing what they like. You get burned out if you don’t like it. So what I want to do is what everybody in my position wants to do—I’ll do more of the same. I want to do more speaking, write more books, do more audio programs. I want to share these ideas with more people.

JW: Thank you.

Zig Ziglar will see you at the top

In late 1991 I drove to Philadelphia to see a tag-team match of motivational speakers, Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy. From a scrappy optimist selling cookware to a household name in sales, Zig was the dean of motivators, in the same league as Dr. Norman Vincent Peale when it came to applying spiritual principles to business. And for people interested in building a positive attitude as well as a career, Tracy wasn’t far behind.

I was excited because I’d landed an interview with both Ziglar and Tracy just before their appearances. At the time I was writing a nationally syndicated column for newspapers owned by the publisher of The Wall Street Journal. I’d listened to recordings Ziglar had made about the sales process and marveled at his mix of confidence,  self-deprecation and home-spun truisms. He never lectured; he illustrated. And those stories, drawn from a poor childhood in the South, brought comfort as well as knowledge to the listener.

For those who aren’t immediately familiar with the human potential movement, Ziglar inspires people in and out of sales because he’s living proof that hard work and a tough attitude deliver results. The tenth of twelve children, he was born in Alabama and raised in Mississippi by his mother after his father died. In 1944 Ziglar met his wife, Jeane, a woman he affectionately calls The Redhead. In 1970 he went into the business of motivational speaking full-time. Some time after that he founded the training company Ziglar, Inc., near Plano, Texas.

Zig_ZiglarHe has written twenty-nine books on personal growth, leadership, sales, faith, family and success, including See You at the Top, Raising Positive Kids in a Negative World and Secrets of Closing the Sale. Nine of those titles have hit the best-seller lists.

Despite my appreciation of his work, I had one small problem with the interview. As a journalist, I felt slightly uncomfortable when Zig would close his programs with “I’ll see you at the top.” It sounded more like a tagline designed by marketers than a sincere wish from a very sincere man. But I felt certain we’d find dozens of positive things to discuss.

As luck would have it, I left the newspaper group before writing the columns on Ziglar and Tracy. Nineteen years later, in reviewing the transcription of the tapes, I found the questions I’d asked weren’t very inspiring but the responses were. Over a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs in his hotel room, Zig talked about everything from U.S. history to the influence of television to Biblical values with a passion that belied his good-old-boy image.

When it was time for him to take the stage, he walked me to the door, shook my hand with a firm grip and delivered a line that sent chills down my spine. Looking me straight in the eyes he said, “And I’ll see you at the top.”

I believe him.

JW: You were born in Alabama in 1926 and raised in Yazoo City. Your mother came out one day after you had sown seeds in the garden and made you do the whole thing over again.

ZZ: Yeah. Hoeing the beans. We had milk cows and a big garden right there in town.

JW: You got a lot of fundamental values from your mom.

ZZ: Very much so.

JW: I imagine it was a pretty Spartan existence.

ZZ: We never thought of ourselves as poor because nobody else had anything either. If you had a roof over your head and something to eat and something to wear, you were rich.

JW: I’m reminded of a continuing theme in your work, that if you help enough people get what they want, you too will get what you want.

ZZ: That comes as a result of the old principles that my mother raised us on, which were Biblical principles—you do what’s right, you tell the truth, you work hard, you treat other people like you want to be treated, your word is your bond. That whole scenario was played many, many times to us when we were children.

JW: You used to sell cookware door to door. That strikes me as being a very difficult way to earn a living, but I sense you learned some valuable lessons, such as how to deal with rejection and adversity.

ZZ: There were two or three things, had I known this from the very beginning, that would have made it a lot easier, so I’m teaching people this now, which makes it easier for them. You have to understand that when people say “no” that’s not a personal rejection, it’s a business refusal. I try to remove the personal feeling from it. I have a close friend who is really my mentor, a brilliant man; his name is Fred Smith, and he’s a retired business executive, served on the board of Mobil Oil. He taught salespeople that when that happens, you treat it as an experiment and not an experience.

JW: You don’t extrapolate and say, “Everybody’s that way.”

ZZ: Oh gracious no. In other words, I don’t feel that person was rude to me but was part of an experiment.

JW: And this is a way of detaching yourself.

ZZ: That’s correct. That’s correct. And your image is intact and you go and make the next call.

JW: Did you ever have a worst day in your life?

ZZ: I’ve gotten into some awfully close scrapes financially and I relate to being extremely broke, wondering how I’m going to pay my rent, how I’m going to make my car payment, how we’re going to eat. When my oldest daughter was born [in 1948], the hospital bill was $64, and we didn’t have $64.

JW: What were you doing at the time?

ZZ: Selling cookware. I had to go out and make two sales to get enough money to get my wife and daughter out of the hospital. That’s pressure selling.

JW: And how about your best day?

ZZ: I still vividly remember the most exciting day as a salesman. I was in the cookware business. We were living in Columbia, South Carolina. We were extremely broke, very much in debt. On this particular night I had eight couples at a demonstration and I sold all eight of them. The total was $1,995 and all of the sales were for cash with the exception of one $200 sale. So when I got home that evening we set it down on the bed and counted that money about seventeen times and stacked it every different way you can stack money and just laughed and cut up and had a good time. We were going to be able to pay some bills that badly need paying.

JW: You talk about being dirt poor, going meal to meal. What were you saying to yourself during those times?

ZZ: I wasn’t really saying a whole lot to myself. You’ve got to understand that I’d been raised that when you make a commitment and accept a responsibility, you never consider escaping that responsibility. I had a wife, I had a family; they were my responsibility. So everything was geared first to survival and then to providing the family the other things that all families need.

JW: You’ve met the material definition of success. But what’s your personal definition of success?

ZZ: Our company’s mission statement is to be the difference-maker in enough lives to make a difference in America and the world. Now that sounds pretty grandiose but we’ve been very fortunate in that we have been able to reach an awful lot of people and we’re developing a couple of significant new programs that we believe will enable us to expedite that.

JW: Can you talk a little about those programs?

ZZ: You can trace every problem in our society, whether it’s crime or drugs or the dissolution of the family or our national debt . . .  you can trace all of them directly to a lack of leadership in this country.

JW: Government or business leadership?

ZZ: Everybody in leadership. Leadership in the family, that’s the beginning point. Leadership in the schools, leadership in our government, leadership in the media. I think we have to go back to the ‘70s to move ahead in the ‘90s.

JW: The 1970s?

ZZ: I’m talking about the 1770s. If you get your history book out, you’ll read that three million Americans in 1776 produced George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, James Monroe, etc., etc., etc. According to the Thomas Jefferson Research Institute, over ninety percent of all the educational thrust then was of a religious or a moral nature. Now those people were not religious. But what they did was they taught Biblical principles. By 1951 the percentage was so small you couldn’t measure it. We’ve taken God completely out of every facet of what we do, and we’re paying for it.

The average 18-year-old American watches 17,000 hours of television. He’s listened to 11,000 hours of music, watched 2,000 hours of MTV and the movies. That’s 30,000 hours. Now in 30,000 hours you can finish kindergarten, grade school, middle school, high school, college, medical school and serve an internship. I’m not opposed to us having some relaxation and entertainment—I’m going to play golf tomorrow. But in 30,000 hours we’ve taught our kids to play not to work. We have to go back to teaching our kids that there is a direct relationship between effort and reward. Society is our major problem but it really goes right back to the home.

JW: I’d like to talk a little about why it is so important that we have goals.

ZZ: Every human being I’ve ever talked to that has set and followed goals tells me that they absolutely work.

JW: When you were selling cookware and things didn’t look as nice as they do now, did you have goals?

ZZ: You betcha. My goal primarily was to make four demonstrations a day. That was one. Another would be to be the number-one salesman in our group that week.

JW: What does goal-setting give a person?

ZZ: It gives them a sense of direction.

JW: I’m looking at the time and know you’re going to have to scoot soon. . . . If you could have dinner with anybody in the world, who would it be?

ZZ: Obviously I’d pick that redheaded wife of mine.

Seven questions for Barbara Aline Blanchard

The mellow mouth of my French horn
Is worth all the jade or silver
Or the superficial birthright
Of an old family of scholars
That I’d trade for Scottish whiskey
And the junk I learned in college.

That’s how Barbara Aline Blanchard begins the poem that begins her book, I Was a College Dropout: the French Horn Was My Mistress. In it she tackles issues like aging, jealousy and making jam in her grandmother’s kitchen. During her career she has overcome the challenges of shopping her work and supporting her children as a single mother. Here she revisits her childhood dream and shares the ups and downs of a long career in an interview with Crossroads.

Blanchard BabetteHow did you get your start as a writer?
As a child of four, my mother called me Babette, French for “little Barbara.” She nourished my inner poet: repeating and recording my thoughts, praising my creativity, shaping my self image. Poetry was the core of my being—I always planned to be a poet when I grew up. As a shy child, poetry and art were the way I expressed my feelings. Ideas could take shape in essays, but emotions needed a poem or a picture.

When I met my husband of 26 years, I was a high-school English teacher in New Jersey, also teaching creative writing at night and lecturing in the psychological and nutritional aspects of weight control. Before that, I had been a social caseworker and a parole officer in Newark, New Jersey. Divorced with two sons, I was driven by a desire to provide for them in the only way I knew how: writing. Poetry wasn’t paying the bills, even though I had written two books of verse, recorded my work and given poetry readings in Washington Square and at such venues as the Lone Star Café in New York City and the Playboy Club in Great Gorge, New Jersey.

For years, I wrote two pages of fiction each weekday and five pages each weekend day, for a total of 20 pages a week. If I had a school vacation or a snow day, I would write extra pages, which would allow me to take occasional breaks. For 13 years I rarely missed a day. Most of my writing took place after 10 p.m. when my children were in bed. I would write until I fell asleep at the typewriter (remember those?): the typewriter bell would bing and I’d wake up and go to bed.

Blanchard Arthur & BarbaraMy first novel was accepted for publication just before I met Arthur. The check was equivalent to several months’ salary—enormous to me at the time. A sister publishing company then asked me to write a romance novel. I had never even read one. I was guaranteed an advance if I delivered the manuscript by December: it was ready in six weeks. Christmas was good that year, though I was sleep deprived.

After those two minor successes, I took a sabbatical from my teaching job to write fulltime. In addition to my then-current novel, I wrote short stories, newspaper articles, and “fillers.” I tried to make writing a business. Obsessively, I wrote 10-12 hours a day. In the evening, I painted to relax. I had two children and one TV—which I rarely watched.

What challenges have you overcome?
Making a living as a writer was difficult, even though I was publishing. I needed cash flow. After taking a bartender’s course, I worked special events at the Holiday Inn, experiences that were memorable and lucrative. But when my health insurance was about to run out, I returned to teaching and Arthur and I moved in together.

Arthur took an executive position in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania while I freelanced. A magazine picked up my ghostwritten article. “I Was a College Dropout, the French Horn Was My Mistress,” a sestina, arguably my most technically-proficient poem, was published.

What makes you proud?
Undeterred by those who said a writers’ group wouldn’t last, I wrote an article for the local paper announcing the inaugural meeting of Pocono Writers. Twenty-six of us met one evening in a real estate office. Raising a glass of “literary sherry” (a reference to Poe’s The Cask of the Amontillado), I dared the group to prove the skeptics wrong. We began a tradition of monthly meetings around the fireplace at a local restaurant, reading, listening to and critiquing each other’s work. All “business” was printed and distributed in the newsletter, which I began and edited for several years until Arthur took a job in Massachusetts. I left my friends from Pocono Writers, which was and is the seed of the arts in the tristate area. The group continues to thrive.

Arthur is a scientist and a businessman. He convinced me that writing yet another novel without an advance or contract was just not logical. I bought a 640k Leading Edge word processor with an amber screen and began to teach myself. I landed a job as a consultant for Better Communications, the premier corporate writing-training company.

For seven years, I traveled throughout the United States, Canada and Bermuda, presenting workshops to, among others, Ford Motor Company, Sun Microsystems, the U.S. Department of Transportation and AT&T. I edited corporate documents; ghost wrote speeches; coached scientists, engineers and executives how to write more succinctly and give their documents visual impact. As the director of curriculum and instructor development, I was included in Who’s Who in of Global Business Leaders in 1996. Finally, I was earning a decent living as a writer. My hourly rate was 50 times what I had earned as a fiction writer, maybe more.

Meanwhile, my typewritten manuscripts were beginning to fade away and were impossible to scan. My first still unpublished novel, The Barefoot Years, which I had once submitted to Random House with high expectations, had fallen into the technology gap. “Despite obvious merits, we will not be making you an offer to publish,” the editor had written. Why not? Too short? No sex? Too introspective?

What was your breakthrough?
Hotel rooms were where the phone rarely rang: the perfect atmosphere for a writer. After a day in which I exceeded my word quota, I sat in the room and doodled. I sketched. I wrote poetry. There were no laptops, no cell phones. Business writing and creative writing collided in a cyberspace that had not yet been invented. The visual world took over my right brain.

Blanchard garden torso--Prize winning sculpture 2009 001 (2)The time came when the train to the future chugged to a stop: Babette had loved to paint, to mold clay and words into the shapes of clouds and butterflies. The journey back to my childhood destination has been arduous, like the overnight train from Beijing to Xian. I looked out the window at the early dawn and watched a fantasy landscape pass through a cotton-candy cloud that melted at the touch of my tongue.

Now I am walking through the dream I once had: traveling to exotic lands, attending theater and concerts, sculpting and painting. My studio is a place to play, to work, to imagine.

What is your latest work?
Blanchard Cover smA poet-songwriter friend, Virginia Wagner Galfo, spent three years editing my previously published poems. She persuaded me that these poems were my legacy. I Was a College Dropout: the French horn Was My Mistress was recently published. My sculpture by the same name is currently in a 3D show at the Venice Art Center, Florida.

What do you do for fun?
Almost everything I do is for fun! Recently, there was Brecht’s Galileo, Respighi’s Pines of Rome and Verdi’s La Traviata. The porcelain workshop with master potter Ki Woon Huh is hard work—today I spent four hours carving my piece. My hands hurt, I’m tired, but it was fun. Tomorrow I go to my twice-weekly workout at the Y: it’s fun when I finish.

What is your advice to fellow writers?
If you want to write for a living, write nonfiction. It’s helpful to have some credentials and knowledge about what to write. A major in science, for instance, would make it easier to publish in myriad journals and websites.

If you want to write poetry and/or fiction, get a day job. Take lots of notes, keep a journal and don’t worry about writing for a living. Write what comes from the cherry pit in your belly.

Getting to know you so well

How do you stay motivated on the job in an era of fewer bonuses? Forget the money and discover non-monetary ways to motivate yourself, says author Daniel Pink in his new book, Drive.

Pink was interviewed recently by Barbara Chai in the Wall Street Journal (“How to Stay Motivated—and Get That Bonus”) and had this to stay about the corporate reward system: the old ways no longer work. The traditional carrot-and-stick method, in which companies offer money as a reward for the successful completion of a task, is not only ineffective for motivating employees but potentially harmful.

Pink book coverHe draws two conclusions from the current recession. One, the U.S. economy is moving toward conceptional work, and creatives don’t always do their best work when they’re motivated by money alone. And, two, the consensus in America after the meltdown in the financial system is that providing executives and shareholders with more money isn’t the primary motivation in their lives.

That does not rule out bonuses, he points out. Companies could combine financial with other rewards. That said, employees can’t count on their bosses to provide the appropriate motivation. So what can people do? Investigate a better career path. And how do they do that? Start with a few questions. “It’s a process of discovery,” he says. “What do you do for fun? What would you do for free? What do you do in your spare time? Think about whether you can make a living doing that.”

That’s the conclusion of Christine Hassler, 33, a Los Angeles resident who realized she’d made a mistake after landing her dream job as a Hollywood agent. “I didn’t like the job, and I didn’t like the person I was becoming while doing it—stressed out, irritable and unmotivated,” she tells Alexandra Levit in the Wall Street Journal (“A ‘Career-Life’ Crisis”).

Hassler’s advice? “”Relax and spend some time getting to know yourself. As we get a clearer picture of who we are, then what we want to do becomes easier to identify.”