Life is Lesson Learned
Thirteen years ago, former H&R Block CEO Tom Bloch audited his life and found something was missing. His decision to become a school teacher granted him the ultimate return.
By Justin Petruccelli
It would be hard for most people to imagine what could possibly have been missing from Tom Bloch's life back in 1995. He had a great job as a CEO and a seven-figure salary to match. He had a wife and two sons. And that CEO job? Well, he took over the family business from his father, who, 40 years earlier, tweaked the spelling of the family name so people would pronounce it correctly. Then he did their taxes, under the name H&R Block.
But despite how great his life might have looked on paper, Bloch wasn't happy. His wife worried he wouldn't make it to 50. So Bloch left it all behind to become a math teacher in inner-city Kansas City. In 2000, he opened University Academy, a tuition-free charter school. His new book, "Stand for the Best," describes what he learned from the experience. He shares what aspiring business owners can learn from it as well.
Entrepreneur.com: A lot of entrepreneurs wrestle with the idea of giving up established careers to strike out on their own. Having dealt with this in your own experience, what advice would you give them?
Tom Bloch: Someone once said, "Someday your whole life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it's worth watching." I began to think about that quote and I realized we all have one life and we've got to make sure we use it in such a way that it's a happy life and a useful life. I read somewhere that about half of all people don't really like their jobs. And I thought, "What a waste of a life that is to get up every morning and do something that you really don't like." I felt something was missing from my life, even as a CEO making plenty of money, so I began to figure out what my real passion is and I decided to follow my heart. There was less of a risk for me because I could walk away from a lucrative position to become a teacher and not have to sacrifice my lifestyle. But I know for many folks it's a risky proposition to think, "I've got a comfortable, secure position. I've got a steady income." And to give that up for something that's uncertain, that can be scary. I understand that. But there's always that risk in not doing it--that someday you may regret having not followed your heart. I feel like it's never too late to make that decision. But it does take courage. It does involve risk. But I do think it's important to do your homework first before making a significant life change.
Entrepreneur.com: You say in your book that it's never too late for someone to find his or her calling. How does this relate to an entrepreneur looking to start a business?
Bloch: So many people take advantage of their life experiences. There's almost an advantage in some respects to waiting until mid-life to make a significant career change because often times, the experience you had in your previous career can be utilized and can benefit the next chapter in one's life. There's plenty of examples out there. My wife thought I was going through a mid-life crisis and that's why I was thinking about making a big change, but I really feel it was deeper than that, more fundamental. I know people much older than me who have made significant career changes and they actually worked out quite well. I would just encourage people to not settle for anything less than what they really want out of life because you might be able to achieve it.
Entrepreneur.com: University Academy seems to have a strong element of social entrepreneurship. Talk about how you apply the double bottom line in your new career.
Bloch: The guy I started University Academy with said, "Who has the nerve to start an inner-city school? It's not a growing business. It's a business that's been in crisis for decades. Why would anybody in their right mind do that?" But the rewards can be so tremendous by doing something where the benefits are beyond one's self. That's what I found to be really the greatest reward as a teacher--to connect with students, to make a difference in their lives and to find out years later that the impact was significant in a positive way. We've had five graduating classes now, and all but two students have gone on to college. I often wonder how many of those kids would've graduated from high school. How many would've ever gone to college? It's really a great reward. At the end of my first year of teaching, one of my students gave me a little ceramic apple that said "Greatest Teacher" on it. I took it home to my wife and told her, "I got my bonus today." She looked at me as if I were crazy. I explained to her that this little gift from a student meant more to me than some of those bonus checks I got at H&R Block that had several zeroes on them.
Artikel diatas saya copy dari Entrepreneur karna bagi saya sangat-sangat inspiring. Well, seorang CEO yang kita pasti sangat paham dengan salary-nya yang ga sedikit, tapi rela melepas jabatannya demi menjadi seorang guru, sebuah hal yang sangat-sangat diimpikannya. Memang, sebuah passion atau keinginan untuk melakukan hal-hal yang sangat kita cintai bukanlah melulu soal uang. Ini mengenai hal dimana saat kita melakukan sesuatu itu, kita merasa nyaman, merasa bahagia, dan yang terpenting, kita merasa bahwa apa yang kita lakukan sangatlah berarti dalam hidup ini. Ya, sebuah perasaan dari dalam hati yang ga akan pernah bisa terbeli dengan uang..rite?
Saya merasa sangat beruntung ga pernah merasakan keterpaksaan dalam melakukan sesuatu. Selama ini saya menyukai apa yang saya lakukan, yaitu berbisnis. Meski jalannya ga mudah, dimana saya harus mengerjakan segala sesuatu sendiri, dengan pengalaman yang masih minim, jatuh bangun, untung rugi, juga kadang sangat lelah n boring. Terkadang, I envy those who work at office, yang menerima gaji setiap bulan, sehari-harinya berpakean rapi, apalagi dilengkapi dengan blazer, yang menurut saya, terlihat classy dan cantik. Lalu saya bandingkan ketika saya pengen banged berbisnis di bidang per-kue-an, pasti hari-hari saya hanya berselimut apron dan rekan saya adalah mixer dan oven :D
But, again..prinsip untuk tidak bekerja dan digaji orang lain membuang semua rasa iri saya pada para pekerja kantoran. Somehow I feel gifted that I know what I really want with my life. Saya selalu berkeinginan untuk bisa terus berbisnis serta bisa menghasilkan uang dengan melakukan apa yang saya sukai, dimanapun saya akan berada, dengan siapapun saya nanti akan menikah, dan tanpa melupakan peran saya sebagai seorang Ibu rumah tangga. Well, saya selalu menyebut ini sebagai sebuah impian yang sangat cute, hahahha!! God, do hear my pray..!
Owhya, saya juga suka banged web lenterajiwa, hope You like it, too .. n follow your heart :)