Book review: Career Renegade


Everyone's style of learning is different, but the people who seem to be able to teach me the stuff that not only compels, but sticks, are the ones who know their stuff, but embody it as well.

Jonathan Fields is one of those walk-the-talk people, and I think it's no small part of his crazy success both as a serial entrepreneur and a leader of other would-be (and in-transition) fellow travelers. Better still, he's got a great sense of style and a fine way with words, including being able to arrange them in ways that make me laugh: no mean feat when the subject is business (although ironically, all the more necessary, if you ask me).

His book, Career Renegade: How to Make a Great Living Doing What You Love, reads like his blog, tone-wise. It's full of great stories that illuminate his points, told in a no-nonsense, light-hearted way that makes the material go down easy. Chucking the paradigm can be scary stuff, but the way Fields positions it, it seems like the simplest, most logical thing in the world. And while he never sugar-coats it, by breaking the process down into logical, step-by-step possibilities and components, he does make it seem do-able. Which it is, by the way.

Fields draws on his own rich history, sharing the methods he used to segue out of corporate law and into, yes, really, life as a personal trainer, then yoga school owner, then writer/speaker/coach. The book is crazy-packed with resources, lists, links, and even business ideas, plus ways of coming up with more. It's not quite as expansive as another recent book in the category, Pamela Slim's Escape from Cubicle Nation, but it's an equally excellent resource as a hit-the-ground-running guide, and will be especially treasured by those who like their information lean, keen and utterly fat-free. (Kind of like Jonathan!) You can download the introduction to the book for free at his website, and sample his writing for yourself.

Full disclosure: I'm friendly with the author, having spent a passel of time with him at the last South by Southwest Interactive Conference in Austin. In fact, he kicked my winded, out-of-shape ass on a power walk back from a South Congress dinner to our downtown hotels. But the way I see it, it's just a way of confirming that not only is the voice you read in the book absolutely the guy you'd meet in person, but also that he knows his stuff inside and out. Because that was one long walk, brother, and no one could vamp on b.s. the entire way, especially with someone like me pummeling them with questions.

Finally, if you're not ready to jump yet, the book offers a wealth of information on technical stuff to set up pre-jump, like getting started with blogging, understanding social media from a marketing perspective and how to start developing content for potential revenue streams. Again, it's at the overview level, but it's a good, comprehensive overview, with plenty of resources should you want to explore anything else at a deeper level. I've been at this crazy game since 1992, and online since 2004, and I picked up several pieces of good advice worth the cost of the book. (Which, full disclosure, I actually paid for! And I'm cheap!)


Image by Wendy Piersall (@eMom) via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.