Turn Your Day Job into a Dream Job

I wasn’t sure about this part-time job. How could I have known it would turn it into a DREAM while I pursue my DREAMS?  In fact, the same thing has happened with many of my past employers. What is my secret?

I’ve got to warn you, this may sound a little too simple but…


Is it really that simple? Having had “dream” results several times, I think so. And so does one of my favorite authors Dale Carnegie as noted in his famous book “How To Win Friends And Influence People.” Take my most recent success story for instance.

Although I had been considered all over the animation industry, I still needed a job. The marketing manager at the Weber State Campus Store offered me a part-time graphic design position. I had left graphic design to pursue animation, but for some reason I felt good about it….probably because they have some REMARKABLE management there. In my first month there, I did a lot of listening. I listened to a disgruntled student employee (noting mistakes not to make). I listened to the various managers and asked questions to better understand THEIR desires and visions for the future. And one of the most important conversation I listened to was concerning the athletic department’s desire to cartoon the recently redesigned university mascot.

It started with a bunch of pencil sketches and a lot happened during Waldo’s creation including: all the rebranding and graphic design needs of the story, my brief adventures studying under DreamWorks’ Animation Head Rex Grignon, and a brief video game animation gig on DreamWorks’ Dragon Adventure. But I kept coming back to Weber, LISTENING, adapting according to THEIR feedback while pushing my own skills within the parameters and now we have the new official design as shown above.

For the past few years, I’ve dreamt of sculpting a character in clay. When I heard they hoped to make toys from Waldo’s new design, I didn’t hesitate for a moment and spent two days sculpting. The whole store was excited about it and I got to check another dream off my list (though I’d willingly sculpt again).

After the store director (who leads a group of great LISTENERS) came up to me and said he wanted me to build something animation oriented (I heard him loud and clear). I created a new character, “The Imposter” who represents any lie that persists about the campus store. We used many talents for store employees to create this video (I also animated the video tagged on the end) and we have even better videos coming soon!

The Next project in the pipe is a music video combining live action, dancing, and animation staring my drawing hand, The Imposter, and maybe even this stormy little guy.

Now, I can’t guarantee this approach will work in every workplace, but I can guarantee it’s better than the alternative: too often the human reaction is to demand the workplace change to meet their needs, but I have found that if I just listen I can make changes to the way I personally work. If I keep dialogue open and honest, I believe all parties can benefit.

So why not try it? And remember the more interested you are in supporting your employers’ cause, the better! Let us know how it goes!

  • After reading this, My friend David Wilson added that it wasn’t just listening, but also constantly analyzing that brought the success. Well worded, David!

  • Shawna Tenney

    That’s awesome Scott. I really like how you listened, and then you were able to push the boundaries with your own imagination and skills! Great post! Over my years of freelancing, I have come to learn who to listen to and who not to listen to. A lot of the time in recent years I have found it’s not my agent I should listen to. In past years I took everything she said as the gospel truth. That I should have the kind of portfolio pieces she thought I should have and take on all the jobs she gave me. But over the last almost two years, I starters listening to other writers and illustrators who are making it in pursuing their dreams in the right way. It’s all about listening, and listening to the right people and then doing. Thanks so much for sharing a little bit of your recent journey!

    • Awesome Addition, Shawna! I’ve made a habit of finding out who the people I listen to are listening to. What books do they read? How do they spend their free time? What do they do to learn more and keep their minds sharp? These are easy, friendly questions to ask and very revealing.

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