About ten years ago, Jaimie Scott moved from Portland, Oregon down to Sacramento in California because he wanted a change of scenery and career. However, he didn’t really know what he wanted to do. Following a lot of soul searching, meditation and personal growth work, he came to the conclusion that what he wanted to do was work with dogs.
He founded Jaimie Scott Dog Training to train dog owners to train dogs. He specialize in dog obedience, puppy training and loose leash walking. Jaimie’s work is his passion, and a million miles away from his previous career as a consultant web analyst.
In this interview with Jobgen, Jaimie talks about the steps he took to find a satisfying career and the many career changes he experienced before reaching this point.
I was an independent consultant web analyst, analyzing web traffic data to determine the effectiveness of website design and marketing. I am pretty analytical by nature, so I really enjoy gleaning insights from data. Before this, I had been at Intel corporation doing research and development for 12 years and had six career changes during those 12 years, not just job changes, but career changes.
Then I decided to leave the company and do web analytics as an independent consultant. I did that for a few years and was pretty happy, but I realized I would rather do something that would allow me to connect to people more. So I started asking myself the question: if I could do anything I want, what would I do?
Very quickly, I came to the conclusion that I had no idea what I was passionate about. Not only that, but I wasn’t in touch with my feelings and emotions enough to figure out what I’m passionate about. And so I started down this path of getting more in touch with my feelings. I started hanging around with a bunch of gay guys, because all the gay guys I know are much more in touch with their feelings than the straight guys. I started doing some men’s personal growth work and when I was meditating one day, I quickly came to the realization that if I could do anything, it would be to work with dogs.
Just like that? The thought about working with dogs came from nowhere?
It’s still amazing to me that that realization popped into my head. I have no idea where it came from. The process seems kind of magical. I was meditating one day and just cleared my mind, and this is what I find with meditation. When I do it, even if I don’t know the questions I want to ask, they come pouring in along with the answers once I have cleared my mind.
What prompted all those career changes at Intel?
Intel is a big company and a quickly changing organization, especially in the R&D department where I worked. For example, we would form a group to do product development on a new technology and once we handed that off to manufacturing, the group might completely disband.
So, the career changes were due to the nature of the work environment to some degree, I suppose. Also, I was just open to whatever else came along as I started to look for my next position, rather than limiting myself to what I had been doing previously. I like the idea of trying new things, so I think that was also part of the reasons for the career changes.
During your numerous career changes, did you turn to books, mentors or other resources to help you make the transitions?
I certainly read books on topics that were related, and I used the career center at the university where I graduated from. I also took on some volunteer opportunities to try and get more in touch with what I was passionate about. I don’t recall having any one person. I mostly tried to figure it out on my own using a few resources along the way.
With so many transitions under your belt, do you have them off to a fine art?
Actually, I’d say the transitions were pretty challenging: they weren’t really easy. When I was an independent consultant web analyst that was a big struggle for a long time, figuring out how to market myself, get business and then to structure my business. But with the dog training transition, it really has just unfolded. Everything fell into place. It’s been a lot of work and it’s taken a lot of years, but the path was always clear to me. Although, early on there were certainly struggles.
I was trying to decide if this is really what I wanted to do, and when I first started out, I was doing it for friends’ dogs and I wasn’t charging a lot of money. Very quickly, I figured out that if I raise my rates, people would take me a lot more seriously, and consequently I got a lot more business. Originally, I was keeping my rates way too low, and I was shooting myself in the foot doing it.
Were you nervous about embarking on this new adventure?
I don’t know that I was nervous, but I was certainly apprehensive. I didn’t have a lot of experience setting up my own business model and initially I didn’t have the confidence I could train dog owners, because I hadn’t had any experience of doing it. But again, there was a sense of knowing it was right for me.
You see, the great thing about dogs is they live in the moment. You change your response to their behavior and they will change their behavior. They’re much more adept at doing that than we are. When I’m in that situation it’s obvious to me what I’ve got to do to get the dog to do what I want it to do. I’m getting good results and the clients are seeing that I’m getting good results and they’re excited about that. Very quickly I figured out this was a good fit for me. I am completely self-taught and developed my own techniques.
You said you were self-taught, what did that involve?
I’d say that self-taught is kind of a misnomer, because for me, it’s pretty much an innate ability. I can just look at a dog and I know exactly what I need to do in order to get the dog to do what I want it to do. The tricky part for me is trying to communicate what I am doing to the owner, because I often do things without realizing that I’m doing them. A lot of times I am just reading or feeling the dog’s energy and responding to it without thinking about it. So it’s not really something I taught myself, it is just there.
What do you mean by ‘reading or feeling’ the dog’s energy?
I refer to it as energy. I’m watching body language and their expressions and tail movements and feeling the energy coming from the dog. I’m not feeling it in a conscious way, I am more just sensing it. For example, if I pick up some energy from the dog that it is anxious then I back off instinctively and give it a little more space. And then as soon as I see it relax a little bit, I move in a little closer. It is a fine dance like that, and quite a difficult thing to articulate.
I get great joy when I meet with a client who can’t even walk their dog because it is out of control and pulls so hard, but within 90 minutes the dog and the person are getting what they need from the walk. Up until this point, the walks have been stressful for both dog and owner. That brings me an immense amount of joy because I’m improving the quality of life for both the dog and owner, in a big way. And I can see immediate results and they are both much happier.
This is a much more satisfying career than any other career I’ve had. I used to think I was happy, but maybe I wasn’t as happy. I was so out of touch with my feelings that I didn’t really know if I was happy or not. I didn’t know what I wanted so whatever I had was good enough. Now that I have a lot better feel for what I do want, and that is a connection with people and dogs, it completely changes the whole equation.
You’ve talked about the importance of personal growth work. I assume this is an ongoing process.
That’s right, it’s an ongoing process and it’s somewhat counterintuitive. I used to think that by the time I’d hit 50 or 60 years old I’d have life pretty much figured out, but the way it actually works is that it is kind of like an onion. And as you strip away one layer, it exposes two or three more layers of vulnerability or things you weren’t previously aware of until you stripped away that layer.
The entire goal of the personal growth work for me is to lead an authentic life, and that means making sure my actions are aligned with my values. That was the motivation for me getting into personal growth.
It has been vital to me, and I’d recommend it to anybody. Until I started to know myself, there was no way I could’ve known what it would take for me to be happy, or what I wanted to do with my life. This is how I figured out what to do.