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Career Changing As a
Life Journey

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Visit Our Blog: Solutions for Living

Lucia Capacchione

Lucia's Story: Career Changing
As a Life Journey ~ Page 3

by Lucia Capacchione, Ph.D., A.T.R.

A few years into my private practice, my first book was published: The Creative Journal: The Art of Finding Yourself (Ohio U/Swallow Press, 1979). That book eventually led me right into the heart of talent development work in corporations and my friendship and collaboration with the late Peggy Van Pelt. When Peggy called me after reading and doing all the activities in The Creative Journal in one long weekend, the fun really began. As a Disney artist turned Talent Development Coordinator at the company's Imagineering Division (in those days called WED), Peggy was responsible for hiring consultants and seminar leaders to work with their theme park designers and support staff. She brought me in to conduct a lecture about my brain research and careers that favor one side of the brain or the other. This was a company composed of workers divided into two distinct groups: the bean counters and the creative types. These groups do not think alike and do not speak the same language.

After my lecture which was very well received, Peggy explained they were downsizing due to the completion of two big theme park projects: Tokyo Disneyland and EPCOT in Florida. The company had contracted with a job outplacement firm to help employees find work. Peggy asked if I was interested in being part of the outplacement team. They needed someone who knew the art and design field to work with artists, designers, architects and others in the Creative Division being laid off. Basically I would help with resumé writing, networking skills and portfolio and interview preparation. I jumped at the chance and was hired by the outplacement firm, helping them adapt their career transition program to the entertainment and theme park industries.

Working with the creative personnel from Disney was a perfect fit. After all, I had walked in their shoes. As a former freelance designer, I knew about marketing art and design. Most of them would have to become entrepreneurs like myself, since there were absolutely no jobs in the theme park industry in the mid 80's. They knew I was one of them so they trusted me. My background in psychology along with my professional contacts in the design world had prepared me for this job. We had a very high rate of success: 95% placement. Our Disney folks found jobs, created start-up businesses or embarked on full-time freelance work. Many eventually created the "themed city" we now know as Las Vegas, Nevada.

After the outplacement program ended, I saw a need for some morale building and team development seminars for those still working at Disney. I proposed a six-week series of team building (two hours per session) with a small group of the company's most pro-active leaders. Much to my amazement, this gig led to ten years of regular Friday in-service management and staff trainings. I called it "job in-placement consulting" as opposed to "job outplacement" counseling. Over the years, Peggy and I collaborated in developing new programs based on constantly changing needs. We served multi-talented employees who wanted to keep working within the company (no small task in a project-to-project industry). They shifted roles and job descriptions as the need arose: developing the flexibility required to reinvent themselves. This enabled them to network into different departments and newly forming projects. It was the summer stock concept borrowed from theater.

Recycling talent solved many personnel problems and helped build stronger theme park design and administrative teams. We saved the company a lot of money and time that would have gone into recruiting new employees. I am eternally grateful for the honor of having worked with the extraordinary talent pool at Walt Disney Imagineering, especially Peggy Van Pelt. And none of this would have been possible without the full support of their very enlightened president at the time, Marty Sklar.

After working together for ten years in corporate settings, Peggy and I decided to gather our collective knowledge and wisdom and write it down. We both found that talent had driven our careers in art and career development. When we co-authored the book, Putting Your Talent to Work: Identifying, Cultivating and Marketing Your Natural Talents (Health Communications, 1996), we were forecasting a work style that would be the way of the new millennium: a talent-based career approach rooted in self-management, personal responsibility and coming from the heart can spell survival in difficult times. This is what is most needed these days.

Traditional job security and confidence in employers is now a thing of the past. Big companies are closing at a rapid speed. Jobs are disappearing in huge numbers. Workers have to develop more flexible talent-based careers. The way to go about doing this is to find out what you enjoy most, what you are naturally good at and how you can make a living doing it. This is a strategy for survival as well as fulfillment. For even if you do not have to "make a living," as in the case of retirees, talent wants expression. In my experience as a therapist I can say this without hesitation: Working one's talent can lead to improved health, happiness and a longer life. Think Grandma Moses.