Conventional or Not, These Tips Can Help You Change Careers

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Bill Leingang looks out into the wilderness during a camping excursion.
Josh Franer/This Built America

'Paradigm change.' "Do not forget those words. You will need those one day."

That simple but sage advice from one of Bill Leingang's clients has rung true in his mind for years. Bill was the second generation of Leingangs to work in the grueling film industry. Notorious for long days, short pay and little forgiveness, the film industry can do a number on an individual -- but Bill earned his way into a steady career working consistently as a steadicam operator and other prominent production positions.

For Leingang, the most grueling ordeal of his career came from a tainted water bottle in 1996, leading to dysentery. This would bring on a career change he didn't fully anticipate, although he had considered making changes for himself in the industry before. The bout would last over two years.

Finally healthy enough in 1998, Leingang knew he needed the fresh air and self-reliance of the outdoors to fully recharge. Those trips into nature began the outdoor excursions he would take his family on that would eventually lead to a complete shift in careers heading up his own camping trips, Rough Riders.

Complete in a sense, Leingang and his new career officially took off in 2001 -- but it is a shift that he says continues to this day.Make the Change, Rely on Your Background
Like many undergoing a career change, fear will almost inevitably set in. That's perfectly fine. It's normal, in fact. Career shifts are hard enough on independent individuals. If you find yourself shifting as a spouse or parent, fear can become exponentially higher. For Leingang, that included his wife and four children (since welcoming two more to the bunch). Getting a grip on the fear was essential to his success and the family's survival.

Wondering how he could provide for his family, Leingang couldn't just take any job, regardless of his own fears. So, he looked into his skillset -- something that spanned engineering, communications, business and several other skills his father urged him to learn growing up. Using those skills, he worked several jobs until his business grew into a sustainable entity. These jobs didn't help reestablish the identity he thought he had lost with his film career. But regardless of what came his way, he stayed flexible and adaptive.

"You can't be afraid to work," he says.

"It Just Came Together"
There is no road map to success when shifting careers, especially as a business owner. That couldn't be truer for Leingang. A rarity in this era, his company thrives primarily by word of mouth. Without a business card, website or social media presence people have found his Rocky Mountain camping trips.

"I marvel at all this. They hunt me down like a dog," he says.

While potentially maddening to those taking a more conventional path of shifting careers, he is indicative of some of the core principles you need to make that shift. Adaptation, determination and knowledge can propel you to find your next career, as well as push you into it. Despite what could be seen as blind luck to some cynics, Leingang's shift is one that embodies an American spirit that is unrelenting and always prepared.

As family and friends push the reluctant Leingang into the tech sphere, he looks at his next adaptation and beyond. A name change may come as his clientele's needs expand, noting that not everyone needs an adventure like his company's name suggests. He is certain that his name, the thing that attracts most of his business, will be in the business's name somewhere.

Regardless of where he goes next, Leingang remains ready for the next paradigm shift.

Finding Refuge in America's Wilderness
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