Career Consultant
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D avid Thiermann is the most powerful, charismatic career consultant alive, and for good reason. He created that condition himself, and he can show you how to create what you want in your life. He has accomplished feats stronger than moving any mountain: getting people to change to more fulfilling, prosperous careers.
    In Thiermann's world, a wide swath of career opportunities awaits us all- only our self- limitations stand in the way. But luckily for those of us who do want substantially more, Thiermann possesses a lifetime of international vocation experiences and accumulated research data to wield in his personal war on everyone's ugly limitations.
    There are many tools in the Thiermann repertoire, and his consultations cut deep, peeling back layers of mental flesh that hide a person's true calling. The career doctor is always in, ensconced in his public offices - reserved tables at various exclusive restaurants in San Francisco. There, between bites, some of the most important power brokering a client and consultant can manage, goes on. I nailed down Thiermann for this exclusive interview; an article where we can all learn once and for all what David Thiermann is doing with all those clients.

    According to Thiermann, barbers last twenty-five years before they go through a career change, food counter workers only a year-and-a-half, while the rest of us are somewhere in between. Many variables exist in the scheme of career planning and marketing, and in today's highly competitive job market and booming economy, consultants such as Thiermann are worth their weight in gold, for they know the peaks and valleys, along with the hidden traps and treasures of job choices. It's just a matter of sitting down with Thiermann and letting him pick your brain with his rigorous approach of identifying your true vocational desires, then marketing and managing them.

One-Stop Service Station
    After a client is sent to Thiermann, who maintains an extensive network of contacts, the person is queried as to what goals they have in mind.
    "To better understand how I can be of service to you, I need to know what your goals are at the beginning of our work together," says Thiermann, who has assisted clients in beginning new careers as writers, photographers, artists, therapists, models, film directors, dancers, attorneys, musicians, physicians, architects, interior designers, social workers, and many more.
    "There are basically three parts to my program," he says. "The first part is the identification process, whereby through biographical inventories, surveys and testing, we are able to gather a tremendous amount of information on you. We then prioritize that information to focus on exactly where you're coming from and where you want to go, so that when we get to the second phase– which is the marketing phase, or the teaching of how to market yourself as a person, or any of your products, services and businesses– you'll have all of the information in one place."
    Thiermann says there is no sense in trying to market something until you've defined exactly what you're trying to market– or you're going to be wasting your time.
    "The third phase of my approach is long-range management, making sure that you're successful in whatever direction you've chosen. I essentially become one of your coaches and we work as a team. Unfortunately, in the real world, success is made up of ten-percent talent and ninety-percent marketing or packaging of that talent. What happens in my profession as a career consultant is that I get clients coming to me saying, ‘ I'm so talented and I have this great product or service, but I can't understand why I'm not successful.' "
    "Usually, the issue can be pinpointed to a problem with their marketing," says Thiermann. "Clients have been unable to inform the community of their specific service or function– ways they can be of service in a specific way and how they would like the community to support them, emotionally and financially in that endeavor."


“...there is no sense in trying to market something until you've defined exactly what you're trying to market.”
No Idea Too Foreign
    Thiermann knows about marketing, firsthand; through the projects he has been involved in throughout his life– and is adept at marketing the projects to make them successful. Coming from a hardworking, goal-oriented family– where his younger sister Ann teaches figurative and landscape art at UCSC extension, and his brother Eric and father Ian work with Academy Award-winning films dealing with the arms race and global concerns– Thiermann has been involved with projects such as the Tokyo-based organization, Conflict Limited, which attempts to improve business relations between America and Japan; taught at Hiroshima Medical School; written articles for the Journal of African Music, and conducted a television series comparing French Polynesian musical instruments with ones he found in the Amazon.
    He has also studied with Brazilian physicians for a television series on public health education; interpreted Swahili and lived with the Masai during a Small Pox vaccination project; helped build a public health dispensary in Haiti when he was twenty-five, a school in British Colombia when he was sixteen and a church in Mexico when he was fifteen; and owned and operated his own restaurant and entertainment center on Santa Cruz's Pacific Garden Mall in the 1970's, the Good Fruit Company, where he highlighted every kind of entertainment– mime, belly dancing, juggling, fire eating, sword swallowing, lectures on every conceivable subject, with musicians scheduled day and night.

Makete Hospital David Thiermann stops to visit with one of the patients at Makete Hospital in 1965. Although physically challenged, this patient did not permit his disabilities to keep him from working.
Local Boy Makes Good
    What was a local boy like Thiermann doing in Africa? "I worked in East Africa for three years, and because of this experience, I got started doing career planning and development as a career consultant. I had the opportunity of performing alternative service as a Conscientious Objector in a leprosarium (Hansen's Disease hospital) in 1965."
    "When I first arrived at Makete Hospital, about four-hundred miles out in the bush of East Africa, the administrator of the hospital told me, ‘Whatever you do here Dave, as a volunteer for three years, please don't start a craft program. It's been tried before and believe me, these people don't know how to do anything.' "
    "But being young, idealistic, and naive, I wanted to prove him wrong," says Thiermann. "And I did just that by starting a cooperative, making traditional instruments and artifacts which gave the patients a form of career counseling, occupational therapy and employment. It created a renaissance of art and music in the area. The patients were taught to make thumb pianos, baskets for grain measurements and the local home brew, and they taught each other how to make various instruments."
    Excerpts from the Tanzanian paper at the time of Thiermann's residence had this to say about him: He dresses very simply, wears worn-out canvas shoes, cooks and eats Tanzanian food. He cannot afford additional furniture to those provided by Government (sic). He cannot afford a whisky or a lager. If at all he wants a drink, he makes some orange juice or drinks "ulanzi" (a sweet bamboo wine) which is his favorite drink.
    The article closes by saying: Why should David want to return to Makete, is a question many people would like to ask. But to David, Makete is his home and neither the patients nor he could live without one another. As far as the patients are concerned, David must come back and live with them, if only to prevent them from going back to their former plight.
    "Luckily we had a cave and a waterfall on the premises of the hospital, so I used that as a tourist attraction to bring people down to the hospital, give them updated public health education about Hansen's Disease– because it is so misunderstood– introduce them to the patients and sell them some musical instruments and artifacts, while giving the patients career counseling and employment. Everybody benefited."


“It's okay to go through transition- that's the bottom line. When people stop going through transitions, they stop growing.”
Go to the Market
    Collecting instruments from around the world is Thiermann's avocation, using those instruments as tools for breaking the ice and establishing trust when he is traveling and doesn't know the language. He does, however, speak a mean Swahili. Thiermann markets himself with vigor and knows how to apply research data and interpretive tools to learn about others and market them as well.
    "I use several surveys in my practice to draw a client out," he says. "For instance, one of the surveys is an article, Discovering Your Life Purpose, created by attorney Marcia Perkins-Reed. It's great because it asks a lot of personal questions like: What do you love to do?, What parts of your present job or life activities do you thoroughly enjoy?, What do you naturally do well?,What are your ten greatest successes to date?, Is there a cause for which you feel passionate?, What are the ten most important lessons you have learned in your life?, Are there some issues or perceived problems in your life that have occurred over and over again?, What do you day dream about doing?, What would you do if you knew you could not fail?"
    "I record all that information, then prioritize it," says Thiermann. "Another survey that I use asks about your occupational daydreams, activities that you currently enjoy, areas in which you feel you're competent, occupations that interest or appeal to you, comparing yourself with other people your own age, in various categories. You end up with scores that boil down to a code series. If you look up that code in the code manual– a booklet containing 1200 common ways to market someone– you end up with logical, personal choices for a career.
    Thiermann tested out in junior high school as a health worker, and ended up working in health related projects in Africa, South America, French Polynesia, Japan and the Caribbean. Now he tests out as a career consultant.
    "Statistically, once every five years or so, people go through a major career transition in their lives," says Thiermann. "It's ok to go through a transition - that's the bottom line. Actually, we are always in a state of transition. When people stop going through transitions, they stop growing."

Baskets, Codes and Diversifications
    "I had one client who was really happy with what she was doing," says Thiermann. "Although she had a good salary, she didn't want to put all her eggs in one basket, so she decided to diversify her career. She hired me to set up a strategy for her diversification."
    Once Thiermann finds a code group for you, he avoids pigeon-holing you into that group. Whatever you test out as, whether it's a helicopter pilot or poultry veterinarian, Thiermann just wants to use the information to shed some light on the subject at hand.
    "Once we have a code group for you, we go back through all 1200 job possibilities and allow you to pick out the ones that would create the highest self-esteem for you– whether or not you've got training in those areas. We want to look at the professions that would bring love and joy and pleasure into your life."
    "You can always get training in those areas. We are just trying to find out where your heart's at and what you can be motivated to do. Once we have finished doing both surveys, we can clarify your position."

Imagine This, It's Relative
    Another method Thiermann uses in his approach to draw you out is the biographical inventory.
    "The biographies I incorporate into the process go all the way back to your grandparents and all the way up to your death, as though you're dead looking back over your life; asking questions like: What did your grandpa do for a living?, What was his passion in life?, What is his personality all about?, How did all of your relatives affect you genetically and environmentally to be who you are?"
    "Once we've chronicled all your relatives, we start with your life, from your birth all the way to your death," says Thiermann. "We want to include all the important friends that you've drawn into your life– to mirror or reflect who it is that you are; teachers that you've had a lot of respect for; stories that are colorful and humorous that we might use later on in terms of looking for angles to market you or any of your products or services or businesses.
    "We take the biography all the way up to your death, as though you're looking back over your life. We do this whole approach to see what the parameters of your imagination are, because if you can't imagine something happening in your life, then it probably won't happen. The more creative someone's imagination is, the more flexible they can be to actually get where they want to go."
    After Thiermann has done the biographical inventory and both surveys, he knows you pretty well. "I have loads of information on you," he says. "I know where you're coming from and where you want to go. We've clarified all the information by prioritizing it– editing out specific data that we can use later on during the marketing phase."
    The Thiermann approach can be used to look at different career or business options. It gives you ideas and strategies on how to diversify your present or future career; to make your career more powerful for you, and offers you marketing and management possibilities as well.
    "I have recently given myself an honorary Ph.D. in Transitions, an award for all the transitions that I've put myself through."


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