Career Steps and Action Plans

It’s interesting how careers evolve over the years. I am a big fan of Ken Coleman (, who has a radio show and podcast I often listen to when I’m on the road. On his show, people call and ask for advice on what they should do career-wise, and he provides a method for how to figure out their Talents, Passions and Mission, then use his “Proximity Principle” to get to their goal.

People often call dissatisfied with their career, even after investing in a college degree and spending years doing the job. Ken’s material does a good job helping people get clarity and figure out what to do about it.

When I started building the Automation Academy, I realized quickly that it wasn’t just about PLC programming and industrial automation, but that the core of the issue was often either getting a job or improving one’s career prospects. I created a couple of short courses called Goals and Path, using a lot of Ken’s material in the process. Fortunately a representative from his team gave me permission to use his material as long as I referenced everything properly. So a big part of the Goals course uses his material.

Career Clarity Diagram – Ken Coleman

When it came to the rest of the Plan course, since my focus has always been in the field of industrial automation, I had to create material that connected to the rest of the site. I am very fortunate to have landed in my “sweet spot” at the intersection of my Talent and Passion early on. I had no idea what I wanted to do after failing to graduate high school in 1978, but joined the US Air Force and studied electronics. This set me on my course and it turned out I was pretty good at it. Just for fun I created my own “steps” diagram that summarized my current path:

This covers my last 42 years and hits most of the major events. Like a lot of the people who call Ken’s show, I didn’t really have a plan, I just kind of reacted to events. Until about 5-10 years ago I didn’t have any idea what the “Mission” part was.

At this point I am toward the final part of my career. I found a love for teaching when I began doing Automation Training classes in 2013, and since I also love designing and building machinery, I kind of thought I was where I wanted to be after building my Factory and training facility.

After the tornado and Covid-19 changed everything this year, the Academy has become my mission. It’s not just about teaching people industrial automation, PLC programming and machine building any more, it’s about improving people’s lives and careers. Since I am in the industrial and entrepreneurial arena, that is where I tend to focus, but the main focus is helping people find their own paths.

The Action Plan section of my “Path” course is all about that. It breaks the major steps shown in the diagram at the top of this post into much smaller, actionable items. Some of the items can be accomplished using resources I have created, classes, articles, etc., but part of my job is to curate information from everywhere to help people achieve their goals. If I don’t have the resource, I point people to where the resource can be found.

My Academy opens officially next Thursday, November 19. At first I will be able to help people individually with their plans, but as my membership grows some of this will need to be self-guided. Unlike the Goals part of the course, I haven’t found as many resources for the Path part, so I have had to create it myself.

Live events, webinars and Q&A sessions will help, they can address a larger audience than one-on-one coaching can. My first live session will be soon after the Academy opens, we have already started planning it.

I am interested in seeing what other people’s career paths look like, did you plan on doing what you do now when you were young? Are you working in the field you were trained in? Do you like what you do?


Electrical Engineer and business owner from the Nashville, Tennessee area. I also play music, Chess and Go.