A New 80/20 Rule


Did you know Google gives its employees 20% of work time to pursue their own passion projects?

Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? Google employees get an entire day per week to:

  • focus on work they are intrinsically motivated toward
  • collaborate with coworkers on projects that may or may not end up making a profit
  • dream of the impossible and then go after it

While most companies balk at the idea of getting planned outcomes from employees only 80% of the time, Google understands the impact happiness can make on the bottom line. Studies show happy employees are 12% more productive than the average worker AND millennials are 25 times more likely to stay in a job when they feel respect for their company.

In addition to these positive factors, Google knows innovation is essential for sustainability. Chances are you’re currently using a Google tool that resulted from the 20% rule! (Think AdSense, Gmail, Google Maps, Google News, and Google Talk.) The creative liberties they provide employees result in positive effects far outweighing any loss.



Wishing you worked at Google now?


Although I’ve heard of this empowering management philosophy PLUS about a million other perks from our clients who are former Googlers, the point of this post is NOT to result in you Googling the Google HR application portal.

Instead, I want to ask you a question…

If spending 20% of your time on a passion project increases motivation, engagement, innovation, commitment, satisfaction, empowerment, and overall happiness, then why not spend 100% of your time on a passion project?!

[Disclaimer: This won’t work for everyone. I’m not asking you to throw all your chips in on this move, but let’s dream for a minute!]



So what do I mean by the 100% passion project?


The general belief is that a passion project is a creative side project.

But as you’ve seen in our other posts about career happiness, there’s another general belief that you can’t do what you love AND make a reasonable salary. That general belief is BS, as we’ve watched student after student achieve their dream career at a six-figure salary.

As Michael Scott would say, “Well well well. How the turntables…”


The Strategic Hobbyist


If you’re wondering what I meant by thinking of something you ALREADY do for people, Chris’ story will help you understand.

Chris had worked in business development for travel programs for his entire career, but when new leadership took over, he knew his time was ticking away.

Chris took this opportunity to think about what he really loved to do. He proactively joined Career Change Bootcamp before his company’s layoffs, setting himself on an expedited route for finding his next role. Throughout Career Change Bootcamp, Chris’ career coach encouraged him to talk about what he did in his spare time.

As it turns out, Chris loved helping people buy cars. His innate fascination with the industry left him as the go-to guy for all his friends’ car buying decisions. For years, he’d hopped on the phone with friends and talked them through the best cars for their budget, lifestyle, and priorities. Chris never charged his friends a dime—he was just having a good time and delivering incredible value while doing it! He hated the thought of anyone walking onto a sales lot and getting taken advantage of by a sleazy salesman, so Chris made sure his friends were fully equipped with a proper understanding of each car’s actual value.

After Chris told his career coach about his love for helping friends find the right car, she helped him develop a plan that allowed him to test-drive a role in the car industry. In the past, Chris never really considered finding a role here, mostly because he didn’t want to join an industry with a bad rap for deceitful and slimey salespeople. But Chris’ coach encouraged him to seek a role that combined integrity, cars, and the salary he desired.  After creating his strategy, he began to go full throttle on finding the right full-time opportunity.

When Chris sat down with potential employers, he asked in-depth questions about company leadership, culture, expectations, and customer service. His questions often caught executives off guard, but the last thing Chris wanted was to join a company that didn’t align with his values.

Eventually, he found his dream career. When Chris talks about the initial meetings he had with his current boss, you can hear him smiling over the phone. “We just clicked. We got each other,” he says. To hear Chris’ experience in its entirety and find out how you can work a career you love every day, listen to the full story at the podcast link below.


Using Chris as an example, can you think of something you’re doing for the people in your life that could turn into a paid service? If so, you might have just stumbled upon your full-time passion project.


Take back the 80%


This way of thinking may not work for you, but if career happiness is on the line, I think it’s worth a shot! Take time to brainstorm your hobbies and the services or favors you regularly offer friends, and let’s figure out how to turn that into a happy career. On top of this brainstorming exercise, you can click here to sign up for our free 8-day mini course on finding the career that fits you.

Why be passionate about 20% of what you do when you could be ecstatic about 100% of your career? Let’s take back the 80%.


Transcript from Episode

This is the Happen To Your Career Podcast with Scott Anthony Barlow.

We helped you stop doing work that doesn't fit you. Figure out what does and make it happen.

We help you define the work that's unapologetically you and then go get it.

If you're ready to make a change, keep listening.

Here's Scott.

Here's Scott

Here's Scott.

Scott: Welcome back to the Happen to Your Career Podcast. I am incredibly excited to be here today because we have a guest, that I have been well quite frankly I've been excited about having this type of conversation with him for about a year now. I would say roughly close to a year and he has done a really nice job over the last eight, ten, twelve months or so recognizing what he wanted within his life and then going after it. It hasn't always been easy, but he's damn hard work to be able to make it possible. He is out of the Portland Oregon, well specifically Vancouver Washington area where I used to live, so that's near and dear to my heart. Welcome to the Happen to Your Career Podcast Chris Bene, how are you?

Chris: Doing great Scott, how are you?

Scott: I am really good. I admit it, I'm really excited for this conversation. And I know that we were chatting just before we hit the record button here too and I have so many questions, but before we even get started on those, tell people what you're going to be doing now, give them a little taste of what you get to do from here on out.

Chris: Well, that's going to be the essence of the story but, what I'm going to do is I’m going to be a consultant for AAA Oregon, and they have this services they called “AutoSource” and it's a car buying service. And they, it's just part of being the membership with AAA that they have in Oregon that you can either call into the number and or you can email into the office and tell them what type of vehicles you're either wanting to purchase or sell or anything and what's great about it Scott is that they’re able to talk to me and I’m not a dealer. They'll be able to talk to me as a consultant just to talk him through the types of cars that they're looking for or possibly, like I said selling just to give them some great insight information on that. So that's what I'm going to be doing I actually start on Monday and very excited about that because it was a career that came up during the career change boot camp with the Happen To Your Career.

Scott: Well, and I was give people a little bit of backstory here too. You send me an email not that long ago. When you first close the offer on this particular job and you had said something along the lines of “hey, this is something that I was interested in” because if I recall correctly you have something that most people wouldn't think of as a hobby but it's pretty cool. Car consulting hobby as an option like that is something that you have done and that is something you had an interest in and I remember you set up a couple of conversations with a variety of people heading down that track a while ago, and it's only recently that those have turned into something much more than just initial conversations and we're definitely going to talk about that earlier because I want to talk about how that happened. But why is this such a great thing for you? Because it might not be right for everyone but I think this suits you so well.


Chris: Well, and then I tell this when I announce my new position with friends of mine or colleagues or people in my network that basically I've been doing this for free Scott's since I've been in high school.

Scott: Yeah.

Chris: And it just started off that, you know people would say, well I'm thinking about this type of car and I would start to talk to them and do that. But I really always hesitated from going into the car industry because I'm just going to say it outright and very track sleazy industry that people they've been through the strategy of spending, you know, five to eight hours in a dealership just fishing drug through the mud on buying a car it shouldn't be that hard and it's actually a strategy of theirs that they're trying to use to wear you down to where is your conscience buy this car from them? And I think this is such an option through this AAA service that you don't have to do that. Even if you want to test drive the car. I can bring the cars to our building and you can come there you don't have a dealer or a salesperson right in your back while you're checking out these vehicles. So its gives a great option for people that are just sniffing a lot of them very adverse to going to an automobile dealership to purchase a car.

Scott: You know what I think it's so cool here though is that, as you're talking about that like anybody who's listening to this right now can hear that is something that you're excited about and that is an industry and an area where it badly needs people that are really legitimately excited about that, versus as you said there and using different type of tactics to drag people through the mud and that's no good and I don't think anybody really once that at the end of the day and that's very much an industry that needs more people that are aligned with what they want and need in excited about it in ways that other people aren't. So congratulations first of all, that's awesome.

Chris: Thank you.

Scott: So here's my question though. You haven't always been in this role or haven't you know, you are just going to start here pretty quickly and prior to that when you first came to us, we first got to have a conversation and encounter you and get to know you a little bit then you're in a totally different situation. So I'm curious what led up to you wanting to make a change in the first place. What happened throughout your career that led you to here?

Chris: Well, my career is  pretty much a lot of aspects of business travel and people don't know what that is, but you know there's leisure travel of course when you're going on cruises and doing a lot of adventure travel things like that, but what I did was work with corporations. And typically senior management in corporations and putting together programs for their travelers, sales folks for their engineers, for their technology people that would be traveling and then so there's programs out there Scott that the corporations need like here locally of course the ones that come to mind are the large ones like Nike, Adidas, Freightliner all those huge companies have a lot of people traveling.

Scott: Yeah.

Chris: And they want to save money on that right? They don't want to spend top dollar on everything from an airline ticket to a hotel, to their car and so there's a lot of programs that we can put together for them even driven now more by safety more than price to make sure that we know, you know Scott Barlow was today at this time, you know, probably.

Scott: That’s interesting

Chris: On a trip.

Scott: Yeah

Chris: Yeah. Are you in Boston? Are you in New York? And were you asked specifically. So it's not big brother tracking you but it's really the safety of you if there would be something that would happen in Boston, that we'd need to track you down pretty quickly, and we would have that information out today. So I was on the business development side for that for many years. I've sold software to that program so I'm very familiar with B2B software typically the old days it was called SAS software-as-a-service.

Scott: Yeah

Chris: And so I have a lot of, I'm very comfortable in putting together of value package for an item and on my hobby side, it was automobiles and on my professional side, it was software and professional services for business travel.

Scott: So you did those for quite a number of years. What was the impetus for no longer wanting to be in that area?

Chris: It's called change of leadership. And I know many of our listeners today have gone through harken see change of leadership, and that's what my impetus was for signing up for the career change boot camp because leadership coming through and they were on a different plane than I was and I'm not talking about an airplane I’m talking about a plane of thought and I was a senior director of business development for the company and so when senior leadership internally as a different avenue to go than the salespeople, who does the development, people that are actually trying to make things happen. That's not a good scenario. So, I saw this coming took your 90 class very informative and really help me to work together a plan on what was going to happen and actually did happen at the end of January. I was let go from the company and then so I was already on a head start just because of your class Scott.

Scott: Interesting. I don't think I quite realize the timing of that as all of that was happening. So what prompted you as you were thinking, as you recognize, okay, there is a different set of leadership, different set of values. Obviously, there's no longer alignment, you have that realization and the foresight to recognize that meant, you better do something about it, which is awesome. A lot of us have a tendency to delay on that, I have been in the situation where that has occurred and I'm like nah, maybe, maybe it'll be okay and I stay too long in some ways, but you recognize this you saw it coming and you decided that you wanted to do something about it. So why did you feel at that point in time that you needed a plan? What was lacking from who that route? Lacking or what? Did you feel like you needed in order to in order to really make this change effective for you in ways that you want to.

Chris: Scott great question. And when think back to it. It's that I really did want to do something different because I had been in this industry for a while. And yes, we still tell you I have strong network, but most of the network was in the industry was in the business travel industry and especially talking with Lisa Lewis my career coach. I was able to get some thoughts going along some other lines of business that which turned out to be one of these is the car consulting, the automobile consulting. Really had me starting to think about that and so my network that I had built up. I mean, I'll be honest with you Scott. I've told four people know that are in the business travel industry during this journey. Because it just has you know with so many people talking in so many different Industries. It just doesn't it's not right anymore. You know, I Set my daughters to private school the whole way through there, they both graduated. So that was kind of done and we just had reached some many milestones and my wife gave me a green light that I could get out of business travel and that was a big one.

Scott: That is important one the part of green light

Chris: Once you get the green line that I'm going okay, we're going to move here. And so, you know, the rest of the story is kind of along the lines of during career change boot camp. One of the weeks was focusing on hobbies and interest that you could possibly turn into a business and so when I was talking to Lisa about that she goes right and you sound very knowledgeable about the second. Well, I've been doing it awhile, and I've been having a lot of fun at it and she said well what’s really key? I mean we talked about a lot of things but really high integrity. Like I said, I didn't want to be quote a used car salesman. I didn't want to do that.

Scott: Yeah,

Chris: and so when I started looking this AAA showed up and they even advertise a 99.3 completely satisfied with their client’s figure. 99.3!!

Scott: Wow,

Chris: I don't even know if happened to your career as that high Scott.

Scott: I am not a hundred percent sure to be honest. We tend to look at is as more of results versus a hundred percent satisfaction, but that is a good thing to ask.

Chris: Yeah, There's actually not, there the highest rated service from AAA Oregon and there's a lot of services of course in underneath that umbrella. So that impressed me. Once I was able to talk to the general manager and I actually had two conversations with him. The first one was kind of interrupted and so I actually had two telephone conversations that were set up as informational interviews. Which I started out right away going. I do not want a job. I just want to talk to you about how you do these things. And like I said, we had two great conversations and we just kind of wrapped it up and he's actually giving me the feedback that he goes Chris, I've talked to a lot of people about these informational interviews because I've never had anybody with the depth of questions that you're asking me about our operation. And I said, okay. Well, thank you. And like I said it went away until almost a year later from me taking that class that I went back and I thought this is something I would it would not be a job. They would be and this is what you talk about Scott. It's really not a job that I'm going to. It's just something that I like to help people with and I feel I'm pretty effective with that.

Scott: it's a whole different feeling. And until you are there it is difficult to describe because it doesn't mean that like you're going to get into that role in it doesn't mean like all your problems are going to be solved or anything like that by any means that's not what we're talking about. But it is a completely different feeling going and spending much more of your time in those areas that either really are leveraging your strengths and interests. Or they are much more in alignment with what you want and need and what I'm hearing from you is that this is much more of both of those.

Chris: Absolutely, and I know with our listeners especially people are in roles. And Scott this is why you probably made us all. Happen to Your Career is that you're in there. You're getting the paycheck you have bills to pay everybody has bills to pay and you're thinking I'm never going to leave this place. I mean it's terrible, but I'm just going to stay here. That's where I really appreciated. You know that class and the class that I took, the career change boot camp really helped me throughout the whole curriculum. Realize there are other things I can do and you know, what start going down that path.

Scott: I very much appreciate you saying that I'm curious and I think some of our HTYC listeners might be very curious as well. You know, you talked about what we call test drive conversations and they're little in some ways, there a little bit more advanced version of an informational interview and clearly that was the impression that this person had in a variety of different ways and it's for a different purpose for example. So one of the things that you said, I'd love to go back to that for just a minute, cause I think that can be really helpful as people are thinking about those are finding themselves in this exact same place and want to do things a bit differently. As they're trying to determine what really is right for them and get to the same type of situation that you are. So for you and what, why did you say earlier that you declared up front that this was yeah, you weren't necessarily looking for a job and I heard you mention that just a couple of minutes ago when you were there and you were talking to that person in AAA,

Chris: I think I just like to be a person that's direct. So I like to put that up front going. I'm not going to ask you for a job at the end of this talk. I mean I put it right up front because that way it puts finding out. I sent an email to him beforehand that I just wanted an informational interview, but I think that's clear once they hear you. That's not my goal right now. I'm just trying to find out information. So that's why me, Chris Bene just sends it out ahead of time. When I did go through informational interviews, and it did put people at ease and then once I started in this particular case once I started asking questions in you are wasn't a drive-by job interviewer that I had really worked at a pretty significant level not a professional level but significant level with working with automobiles.

Scott: So I for everyone listening a lot of times the next thing people want to know is “What questions did you ask?”, and I want to ask you that question too, and I want to preface that just a little bit, because I know from interacting with you that you have a genuine interest interested in this area, and it comes off very clearly and part of the reason why this is one approach to learn more about a particular area or industry or role, or whatever it might be. It is, and one of the reasons why it can work in building relationships is because you can't really fake that genuine interest part of it. So that almost is a prerequisite but with that in mind, what types of questions did you ask help people understand a little bit about how this float in this particular occasion since we already mentioned it.

Chris: I don't know if you'd call it a flows Scott, but there were questions. I'm going to go back to the one that I just remember in my mind so much and I just said, you know, Mr. General Manager, you know, how do you achieve 99.3 percent, I said I’m doing a lot of customer service, you know type of rules. I've done this a lot. And I said that is one of the highest levels I've ever heard of and he said well Chris he said 70 to 75% of our clientele is both referrals and repeats, and I go oh? So they were happy with you the first time and they're coming back third fourth fifth time, to have you consult with them to help them purchase a vehicle and he said yes, and so that opened up a lot of doors and then from there I just kept on asking about how they do things different. So if you see about a flow I wanted to know how they were different than Joe's dealership for Ford or Chevy or Jaguar, or whoever. How were they different because I kept on drooling, my main goal was I wanted to feel good about the integrity of that company when I walked out that was that was my goal. Yeah, you got to make money and we could talk about salary and we did later on but at this time for information. My key go was ways that they showed integrity

Scott: And I know that you and Lisa, your coach had spent a lot of time talking about how to make sure that your next role was really within that integrity. So it's not a surprise to me that that was one of the things that you were searching for. Overall in even in those types of conversations and questions as well. I am also curious. Why do you think that, that conversation where you were going in trying to learn more about what it is that they actually offered and how they were doing some of these things and expressing that legitimate interest, why do you think that that left such an impression on them because obviously they like almost a year later they ended up hiring you and you never once asked them for a job for all intensive purposes at the beginning stage. So how did, why do you think that that was such a big deal or why do you think it made such a big deal?

Chris: A lot of prayers Scott, a lot of prayer not from me not only me but a lot of my friends and a lot of my network. I just really clicked with the General Manager and people know that I mean you and I click but there's sometimes you just go in there and in fact I had this back-up plan with Julie my wife and I had told her Julie my appointments on Friday at 9:30, and I said if I call you up by 10 o'clock time. I'm saying this is gone. This is another no or another no good and I'm just walking out. Well, this is the one that's recent, not the one a year ago.

Scott:  Yeah,

Chris: One recent, two hours later. I gave her a call and she said I bet you went pretty well. I said it is, and that's where I actually had job offer which really shocked her also, and it could have gone three hours Scott. It was that comfort level because I'm always me. It's just always me. I'm not the right out of college, you know trying to figure out what the whole business world's about. I've been in it for a while and I’m just me because I know that that's the best way to be and I know you have a lot of strategies with interview questions, which is awesome because it's helped me out a lot, especially responses. But as far as just being you when you're in there, there's no better way to be and I knew I knew with this general manager who would be my manager that I can work with him. He did have integrity is proven Integrity from being in the industry for quite a while to me that this was going to work like just unbelievably great.

Scott: I suspect that both in the initial conversation as well as more recent conversations. You being able to go in and ask about and express what you feel is important to you and for all intensive purposes. I don't think I probably felt like this at the moment, but for all intensive purposes, you know taking a stand on that is one way to think about it and in doing so being you then I expect that that helped it along for them being interested in in you too. I could be wrong, but I suspect that to them being able to see that that was you and it was obviously genuine and you are legitimately interested in that way that probably moved it along in terms of their desire to have you on their team. Do you think I'm way off base? Feel free to say no.

Chris: So well, I was just like I said, I was just myself and I felt very comfortable and I feel that we collect as you know as people and once again,  that's my belief on that matter. I'm sure just like I saw things in the General Manager that I liked that we did talk about also. So yes.

Scott: It’s funny how looking back a lot of this stuff can feel sore organic people come to us all the time when they're looking for the tips and tricks and techniques and everything else along those lines, but honestly A lot of what we teach is just how to make those things much more organic and get to real relationships or real value or real situations that feel good, to all parties and are good for all parties and I love how you what you have done here has been a great example of that and but here's another question though Chris, because not everything always went. Well this took longer than what you had wanted it to. I think that is a per se and

Chris: Absolutely!

Scott: What was harder about going through this type of change for yourself? What was more difficult than what you anticipated?

Chris: I think being totally human. I think it was the time factor, because it took me 12 months from taking your class got but from being let go it was a seven-month journey.

Scott: Yeah.

Chris: And some people might say man, I've been out a year. Some people might not be out longer than that because of circumstances, but I didn't think it was going to take that long. I mean, of course, I'm very confident, I’m a business development guy and I’m like you, I have a very positive view, that’s one of my strengths

Scott: Yeah.

Chris: Of course my wife, the realist said it’s going to take longer and you know why because and I’m not open up to kimono here a little bit, I am on older worker and I've been through some of those games already to where I told him. No, I think I told you this already and maybe I did on this interview. I told four different companies “No” that I was offered positions because I knew they weren't the position I was looking for. I knew that and many of them were in the I'd say three out of the four were in the field that I am a veteran that I have experience in that I've worked for a number of people with including American Express pretty big names, but it wasn't right. You know the ending is a happy ending and I hope to be able to come back in number of months and tell you how much even better it is than I thought it was going to be.

Scott: I am anxiously awaiting that update Chris and you know what we talked just a little bit before and you might be able to give me some of that update because we briefly talked about. I think I'm going to be in your area so we'll hopefully get the opportunity to meet up have coffee everything like that and you can tell me. You can fill me in on what it is like as you're into month one and two. I'm anxiously other be great.

Chris: That'd be great Scott.

Scott: Yes, absolutely very much looking forward to that. And let me ask you one final question here. For people that find themselves in that same situation, where they recognize for one reason or another that they want to make a change and that there is potentially a much better situation as you pointed out for them out there and something that is a better fit well in a variety of different ways. What advice would you give them? What advice would you give them after making your own Journey?

Chris: Well, and they're not being cliché about it, that really more faith than fear because Scott you know what the people you talk to and work with and your whole team, fear is huge. You know, it's fear of not finding something that fear of changing, fear of change is huge. And that's what I would tell people is that it's going to be a little bit scary the journey but it's worth it. Like I said, time I am thinking a year ago. I'd be saying this but you know, I'm a success story from not only your class that just the journey.

Scott: That is amazing and I think that sometimes it's really hard to understand that fully until you've seen all sides of it. But I very much appreciate that advice and it is so true. It really is so true. It just absolutely fear, I think is one of the biggest things that has a tendency to cause us not to realize or have things happen for us that we actually want or may want or suspect we might want. And you've just done a really nice job looking that fear in the face, and being able to move beyond, anyways even though it's hard. So congratulations again, sir.

Chris: Thank you Scott. And I appreciate you and Lisa and the whole team there and offering the class that did have one key component that that booted me out and kept me going. So, thank you.