Welcome to Careers Over Coffee.
My name is Chris Kochan and I am really excited for today, because today I am launching this podcast.
As an avid listener to podcasts myself, I have always wanted to get this going but sort of never knew what I could possibly talk about. Then, about a year ago when I was working at Apple, I started meeting students and young professionals over LinkedIn and eventually meeting them at coffee shops to talk about careers over coffee.
We’d chat about their current situation, their career goals, and a bit about my career. We’d then spend a good amount of time discussing some ways they can achieve their goals faster based on my experiences and what I have learned from others over the years. I quickly realized that I look at building a career a little different than most.
I have learned over the last 8 years to put a heavy influence on planning and strategy. This has helped me get past obstacles that came my way after graduating college with 2.63 GPA and still being able to accomplish one of my goals of working at Apple, where I was on the iPhone Manufacturing Design team.
With a goal of sharing tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way, and the expertise of others in my network through interviews – I decided to buckle down in this new year and take my Careers Over Coffee discussion digital to help more people.
The Goal of Careers Over Podcast
Again, my name is Chris Kochan, I’m 28 years old and I currently live in Madison, WI.
After 8 years in the corporate world, and for the last 2 years helping out other people in their career on the side, I finally decided to move on to helping both young professionals launch their careers and seasoned professionals get unstuck, to take their careers to the next level full-time.
So, if you just did the math, yes I graduated college at 20 and high school at 16.
Graduating high school and college at a young age became a big part of my personal brand that I used when getting the positions I had at Harley-Davidson and Apple.
We’ll go over how all of this lead me to creating the Careers Over Coffee podcast in just a few minutes. But… with this being the first episode, I’d like to go over what you can expect from me and the Careers Over Coffee podcast.
The goal of this podcast is to share insights on career building that I have picked up along the way in the aerospace industry, at Harley-Davidson, and at Apple, as well as through interviewing other professionals in my network, to create a solid resource that will help those who feel lost and stuck with how to build a career, become confident and unstoppable.
This podcast will feature real stories and actionable tips, tricks, and strategies to implement that will, overall, help you to create your own career destiny.
The Bigger the Risk, the Bigger the Reward
Over the last 8 years, I went from feeling very lost right out of college and having a mountain of debt… to be full out there with you, I was in $80,000 in debt at 20 years old… This lead me to push hard in my career to pay down this overarching stress hanging over me.
Though this, I figured out that the career journey after college is actually really fun and can be extremely rewarding if you plan properly, make strategic moves, and play the game differently than everyone else, staying within the same rules of the corporate world, because I don’t want to get anyone fired here!
However, I do advise looking at some of the rules or obstacles in-front of you as opportunities. I’ll share how I did this over and over again, beginning in high school, in a few minutes.
I know first hand that career building can be scary at times, especially early on in your career.
But… I have also come to find out that staying committed and focused on specific goals, having the right knowledge, and implementing the right strategy makes the journey much less scary and more fun, since you can anticipate different outcomes and how you should react to them.
If you are worried right now that you don’t have specific goals outlined, don’t worry too much as we’ll get to goal setting and career planning down the road.
For starters, I truly believe in the saying:
“The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward.”
And… if you continue to take calculated risks to achieve your goals… the rewards continue to exponentially grow as you progress through your career.nMaintaining focus on the reward and staying on your path toward your goal, especially when times get tough in your career, is the key to pushing boundaries and achieving goals.
The more you do this, the easier it gets and the bigger the rewards become.
It will eventually become an unstoppable force pulling you forward.
The Bigger the Risk, the Bigger the Reward
So, I want to transition into a little bit about risks for this episode, as taking risks based around a solid plan and strategy is how I’ve continued to achieve whatever my mind dreams up and I decide to accomplish.
This is truly the base of everything. If you aren’t comfortable with taking risks, even small ones, the journey will be tough…
Hopefully my journey here will inspire you to think about your education, your career, and your life a little differently to start coming up with ideas on how you can begin to look from a more strategic view point as we begin this journey together.
As I mentioned earlier, I graduated high school when I was 16 just after my junior year. When I set this goal early on my sophomore year, I knew the school wouldn’t work with me to accomplish my goal. At the time, everyone seemed to be locked in to doing a complete 4 years of high school, or maybe graduating a semester early.
But, I had also heard about them trying to prevent people from leaving early to get the revenue for having them enrolled. I knew an entire year would be pretty difficult if I was to tell the school. So, I went about it on my own and avoided the guidance counselor at all costs.
First semester of my sophomore year, I dropped all my study halls and even had a few semesters without a lunch hour, having 9 or 10 straight class hours per day to get in all my credits.
By first semester of my junior year, I was in senior level courses. The school didn’t really know what I was doing. All I told them was that I hated study halls because they were a waste of time. Also, I don’t think they would have had a good argument with a kid looking to take more classes, since they had enough trouble with people skipping courses and causing hell on the school.
My last class was actually a gym class during the summer right after my Junior year. When it was over, I walked in and told the school office I needed my diploma to go to college the coming fall. They were blindsided and of course pulled up my transcript immediately to find that I had completed all my credits.
They went on to advise me that I should take Advanced Placement courses, also known as AP courses. They tried to sell me on the possibility of earning one college credit for each course if I were to pass the tests at the end of each courses. This made no sense to me since I could move onto college, take the same course and get 3 to 4 college credits – even if I just got a ‘C’ in the course.
After my mother got involved and a few discussions with the school, they basically gave me a form stating I had all my credits and satisfied the schools requirements to graduate. Not my diploma…
So, I had to use that form to apply to colleges. The high school then had me come back when I was headed into my sophomore year of college to walk in my high school graduation.
It was a pretty weird situation.
From 2.63 GPA to Apple
Anyway, I was 17 and a sophomore in college during the 2008 recession and the “dot-com boom” era. At that time, I was way more interested in learning skills like blogging, website development, search engine optimization, and online eCommerce than paying attention to school.
I was making a decent amount of money for a 18 year old building websites to sell and having recurring payments coming in for articles I wrote that got over 100,000 page views a month. My lack of interest in school showed up on my transcript. My sophomore year I got a 1.8 GPA.
I worked a bit harder my last two years to bring up my GPA, but I ended up graduating with a 2.63 GPA.
Although, I’m actually not sure how that made it through with that GPA… but, I took my diploma and ran!
So, I bet you might be wondering how I got into Apple with a 2.63 GPA…
Well, it actually helped me get the job.
When I started my career, it was for a salary that was a fraction of what I felt I was worth. Of course, I couldn’t compete right away for top jobs, so I took what I could get with the help of my uncle who was in the aerospace industry.
After 6 years I made it to Apple. I’ll touch on how I made this happen next.
At Apple, I got a taste of a six figure salary in exchange for having little freedom… I then decided to go up against my biggest risk so far – leaving my career behind to start a company.
Founding Partner of Mindzymes
I took the big leap of faith 6 months ago and went all-in on starting a supplement company with my fiancee, Sarah, called Mindzymes.
The cool thing is that I finally get to use all the skills I traded a good GPA in college for again. Also, I love hearing the stories people email us about how the supplements I have been passionate about for years and take every day have helped them.
- Like our Nootropic Stack for focus and motivation to study or get more done in a day
- Mood Support and Ashwagandha for relaxing and managing stress
- Digestive Enzymes to help digest all the food groups better, relieve the fatigue right after eating, and maintain energy throughout the day
We then took another big risk on just one month ago with buying a school bus.
You heard that right. Sarah and I are a proud owner of a 30 foot, 2000 International 3800 school bus.
You may have noticed in the introduction to the podcast that my friend mentions “skoolie livin” toward the end of my introduction, right before saying my name. A skoolie is actually a school bus converted into a tiny house.
We are in the conversion process right now, but so far we have gutted the interior, cleaned it, spray foam insulated the walls, and now the plywood walls are up and skylights are in.
It is beginning to look like a real house! Well… besides the outside that still looks like school bus. We will be painting it, though. We are not keeping it yellow!
The goal is to get the Skoolie Livin tiny house done to by the end of May, so we don’t have to sign another lease. We will basically be homeowners for the same cost as one year of renting. And… we can and will travel United States and Canada for at least the next few years.
As for this podcast after we hit the road, we will continue to record it no matter where we are located. We still are figuring out the final plans for the interior, but we do plan on having a recording studio in the bus, so stay tuned for that!
Finally, I am taking another risk right now. Launching Careers Over Coffee.
The Lost and Stuck Feeling
I’m making a commitment every week to get on here and share my story, tips, tricks I used, strategies to implement, and working with some really cool professionals to bring you information.
I personally wish I had a resource like this when I started, because then it maybe would have not taken me 6 years to get the job at Apple…. or, 7 years to start a business.
I want to be an example that you can create whatever life you want to have, if you strategically plan it out and you are willing to take action and work for it. Actually… I don’t just want to be an example.
I want this podcast to be a resource for you to turn to when things get tough, you feel lost, or stuck. Or when you need some ideas, you need a change, or maybe you want to start your own business.
It is very common for most people after college to feel lost, since there are so many decisions to make and no syllabus or professor to explain what to do.
It is also very common to get stuck a few years into your career, as you get so focused on the work and forget to look big picture at what you need to do to make sure you are successful – not just the company.
I remember feeling lost several times during and since college – almost like a goldfish swimming in a shark tank.
It even happened to me when I began working at Apple – which had been a major goal of mine for several years. I had worked so hard to achieve this goal and when it actually happened, it wasn’t 4 weeks in and I said, “now what?”
So, I started looking for more that I could do while I felt I was now in my goal career.
Careers Over Coffee: FREE Help to Get Unstuck and Back On-Track
People who knew my story of graduating at 16, having built several websites and became a published writer by 17, then barely graduated college with a 2.63 GPA started to come to me for advice. Then, people who didn’t even know me started to reach out on LinkedIn, asking for the same type of advice.
I began to realize that, for me, the strategy and process of building a career and achieving a goal became more fun than what I was doing in my actual career.
I fell in love with helping people achieve their goals.
Don’t get me wrong – working on engine parts for tanks and jets was cool. Being a part of Harley-Davidson and helping to build motorcycles for two years was even better. And, of course, working at Apple on the iPhone team, the events, concerts, and traveling to Asia was an amazing experience.
But, to me… nothing compares to creating and achieving a goal. Especially when you achieve a goal much faster than you had ever imagined.
So, if you have made it this far, this podcast is for you!
As I mentioned earlier, this podcast is for people in college and just starting out in their careers, all the way to those people who have years of experience and are stuck in their career, or maybe just looking for a change, or something more.
Most of the principles that we will discuss on Careers Over Coffee can be used by anyone in any stage of their career. This also applies for those looking to leave the corporate world and begin their own business. Some episodes will also be specifically on the topic of starting your own business.
1st Tip: Get Active on LinkedIn Daily
With that said, I do want to tell you that becoming active daily on LinkedIn was a pivotal change that directly correlated with my success at getting the job at Apple.
I have studied LinkedIn for over 5 years. During that time, I have studied everything from how recruiters do searches on the recruiter membership dashboard, to optimizing profiles for the LinkedIn algorithm.
When I go the job at Apple, I had actually attracted two recruiters from Apple who messaged me with the opportunity on LinkedIn. I then went on to attract several recruiters from Google, Facebook, Wayfair, Peloton, ZOOX, and several other companies. This was all done through what I call LinkedIn personal branding.
It includes optimizing your profile pictures, what you write on your profile, using keywords, optimizing for recruiters searching on LinkedIn, strategically building your network, and several other areas.
Right now, I’m also working on creating a detailed course that explains the exact process of LinkedIn Personal Branding that I have developed over the last 5 years to attract recruiters how to do LinkedIn Personal Branding. If you are interested in this, I am looking for a few Beta Users to be the first to go through the course. You can get more information on this at AttractRecruiters.com.
Before that course launches to the public in a few months, I wanted to start this podcast off with focusing on some initial steps to LinkedIn personal branding.
And actually, it’s a FREE 10 day challenge.
A challenge called 10 Days to Build a Better LinkedIn Profile.
2nd Tip: Join the FREE 10 Days to Build a Better LinkedIn Profile Challenge Course
We will be posting one new piece of the challenge each day for 10 days straight and you can sign up for the FREE challenge by clicking here.
The audio of the challenge will be posted on here starting on January 22nd for 10 days straight that can easily be consumed and implemented right from listening to just the podcast, but in the challenge, we’ll be pairing the audio up with the keynote created for each day. The keynote for each day can also be downloaded and there is a worksheet for each day that you can use to help you complete each day.
In the next episode, I’ll g through more about my LinkedIn personal branding journey, so you have more context about how this can help you in your career.
The challenge will start on episode *003 of this podcast and will walk you through a piece of personal branding on LinkedIn each day to get you started down the path of attracting messages from recruiters on LinkedIn right into your inbox.
Again, the first episode of the challenge will be episode *003 and will be posted on January 22nd and there will be one new podcast posted each a day from January 22nd through the 31st, as this is a 10 day challenge.
However, the episodes will stay live beyond that and the challenge will always be available through CareersOverCoffee.com, so if you are listening to this after the initial challenge happened, you can actually take the challenge at any time through listening to this podcast, or heading over to CareersOverCoffee.com.
After the challenge is over, we will begin posting on a regular schedule of one new podcast every Thursday.
I Do Want to Get To Know You!
With that said, I do want to know a little bit about you! I know some of you will have questions, comments, need specific advice, and want me to cover specific topics in the future.
Click Here to get in touch!
I want to thank you for tuning in today. I’m really looking forward to helping you out with your career and working with you going forward.
Cheers to your future success!