What can Joaquin Phoenix teach us about switching careers? Do you have street cred?

by Rich DeMatteo on October 6, 2009 · 4 comments

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The embarrassing decline of Joaquin Phoenix

Towards the end of 2008 shocking reports surfaced that Joaquin Phoenix was switching careers.  Phoenix declared that his accomplished acting career was over, and immediately focused on pursuing a hip-hop music career.  Anyone who saw “Walk the Line” and his excellent portrayal of Johnny Cash might not have been too surprised when hearing the news.   What did come as a shocker to mostly everyone was that it was specifically a hip-hop rap career he intended to pursue.  Let me be the first to ask you Joaquin, where’s your street cred?

Everyone needs street cred every serious  rapper has it, Joaquin.  It’s critical in gaining respect, as well as record sales.  Ask Curtis Jackson, AKA 50 cent about street cred.  The man was shot 9 times at close range and lived to tell about it.  What happened to your brother was terrible, but unless you’ve been shot at, sold drugs in the projects, or stole a microphone away from sweet Taylor Swift then I’m not sure you’ll be respected amongst the hip-hop community.  The video below points out the lack of respect Phoenix received during his appearance on Letterman.

On February 11, 2009, Joaquin Phoenix appeared on David Letterman to promote a new movie.  At first many thought this could be a hoax, but really its just Joaquin Phoenix on drugs.  If you haven’t seen it, check it out now, then come back for a bit more on this topic.

Making a switch?  Make sure you have Career Street Cred

Career Street Cred (you heard it here first) is absolutely critical when making a change.  Without it you’ll surely fail to be noticed/respected by recruiters, hiring managers, or peers.  Often times I’m contacted by people who truthfully hate what they do, but have no way out.  Sometimes a career or industry change can do wonders for someone’s job satisfaction.  Unfortunately, when the actual job and essential functions of that role are the problem, then there aren’t too many options for them.

Let’s chat about what to consider before making a career switch:

  1. Are you good at what you do? –  Be honest with yourself.  Do you excel in the career you’ve chosen?  If yes, then do your best to stick with it.  Talk to your supervisor, or your supervisors supervisor about job enrichment opportunities.  Maybe management is in your future?  How about a different company?  Do you have the knowledge, skills, and financial backing to open up your own shop?
  2. Could you handle a pay cut? – Switching careers usually means starting over.  If you are fresh into your career than maybe it won’t hit your wallet so hard, but those with even just 3-5 years experience could see a large drop in pay depending on what they switch to.
  3. Do you have experience or education in the desired position/career? – How are you qualified?  Without direct experience, most people choose to go back to school.
  4. Do you have friends in your desired position? – Talk to your connections about your idea and see what they think.  Ask them what you need to do in order to gain the respect of recruiters and hiring managers.  Ask what you’ll need to do to get started and where you should go for experience and/or education.

What people sometimes don’t realize is that everyone at some point hates there job.  The sad part is that many people are too lazy to do anything about it and that frustrates me more than anything.  If you find yourself hating your career, and also the career path ahead of you, then take a seriously look at the 4 items above and decide if it’s time to switch.  Doing that will clearly point out how you can gain the Career Street Cred needed to catapult successfully into a new career.  Without education and/or experience it’s virtually impossible to gain the respect of your peers, recruiters, and hiring managers.

So, whatever happened with Joaquin Phoenix and his new rap career?

It’s not going so well for Joaquin.  Not only is he a terrible rapper, but he responds to criticism poorly.  The video below shows his ear wrenching performance, then at the end you can clearly see him attack one of the audience members.  Yikes.

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