Benjamin Ritter floated around for a bit before obtaining his EdD doctorate degree and landing a career in organizational development consulting. He reaches deep and talks with passion on going with the flow of life and not listening to those who oppose your ideas in life.
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Hey, my name is Elise y Robinson. I am the podcast host of nobody wants to work though. And we have Benjamin today. We'll go ahead and give us an introduction about yourself Benjamin.
Hello, I get made fun of because I go Hi, my name is Dr. Benjamin Ritter. I'm, I always like every single one of my videos. And so walk into a room people will be like, everyone will go quiet and be like, Hi, my name is Dr. Benjamin Ritter. So hi, everyone. I have a background in organizational leadership and talent development. I basically work on helping leaders fall in love with their careers as well as great organizations that people can fall in love with. So I split my time as the head of talent development at a life sciences manufacturing company out in California, even though I work remotely in Austin, Texas, as well as coach one on one senior leaders and executives to basically be happy at work and to develop as leaders.
So the final question, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Okay, so there's a couple really young I wanted to be an archaeologist, which I learned over time is not an archaeologist. It was like a paleontologist, I wanted to work with dinosaur bones. But as a kid, no one had the heart to correct me. And I also wanted to be an astronaut that graduated into wanting to be a professional soccer player, which became my purpose for about half my life and led me to where I am today, because it taught me a very valuable lesson that the advice find your purpose is really terrible advice. I think we'll get into that today. And that then led into a couple other passions like diet, becoming a dietitian and nutritionist, which then led to wanting to become an entrepreneur, which led to wanting to just get involved in health policy and change the world, which led into the eventual growth and development to where I am into my current career. But I pause on the actual details of what happened there because I think we're gonna get into that.
Um, yeah, so you you did all that, like health policy and all that or no,
oh, yeah. So I worked at Illinois Department public health. Okay, I got my MPH in health policy administration and also got my MBA in entrepreneurial management. So yeah, I've done done a bunch of different jobs. I had a, I have a variety of jobs that I've done. I was a live cast model with somebody poured plaster on me. And so there's a bunch of mannequins of me and the Civil War Museum in Kenosha. I was a brand ambassador, I handed out flyers on street corners and granola bars, I walked around with pizza signs on my back to make some money. I dressed up as movie costume characters and ran around the city of Chicago, scaring people for promotion of zombie 28 weeks later, I was a sports counselor, funny how it goes down baby, and childcare. But my, those were all our jobs, right? Those were jobs to be able to make money to explore different things, and to honestly just enjoy life a little bit. And they didn't become my career because they were just kind of stepping stones and experiences.
Definitely, definitely, I was listening to a podcast the other day, and there were like, you know, all these experiences go into like, one big ball and you can use those experiences for, for what you want to do in the future. Or you can pull from that knowledge. And I found that interesting. And they were saying that, just because you have all these entry interests and do all these things and jump around from thing to thing to thing doesn't mean that you're a weirdo, or you're strange. Because, yeah, I mean, I'm finding that the people that I talked to, on my podcast have very interests and, you know, that's why they've changed careers so many times or, you know, one time or whatever. And I don't know if you think of yourself as a weirdo, but I think of myself as a weirdo sometimes because like, I dig into stuff and I'm like, Yeah, that's not it, and then I'll go on to someone else, something else. And my mother and my father hated it. They're like, just focus on one thing. You know, because they come from a time period where you worked at the same company for you know, 30 years or whatever retired and then went on somewhere you did the same, pretty much the same unless you went to management and that was it. So that that leads into my next question of, you know, what was the catalyst of changing your career?
Yeah, before I dive into that, and I know that's a really important question, just responding to what you said, Yeah, I don't think it's being a weirdo to explore your interests. It's called a career and a career is a combination of jobs. And those jobs can mean anything for you, as long doesn't even have to have a meaning it just be something that you wanted to do at a time. And a job doesn't define your career. So that means that anything that you do today, you can do something differently tomorrow. Now, it's helpful if you're on a certain path forwards, like you're doing something intentionally, because whenever you're intentional, then you can actually create something for yourself. So I'd say there should be some reasoning or interconnection between some things, but I always thought it was weird, like, not myself, where other people were, I was a bartender for a decade, like I started off door security, wanting to be a barback then became a bartender. And that led to so many incredible social skills and connections, and experiences and adventures that I never would have had access to. And I'm sitting there, I have a doctorate degree, and I have a business and a full time job and I'm bartending at the pay off the degree. And, you know, people are sitting across from me, talking down to me, because of me being a supposedly, like, how only a hospitality worker, and I personally, you know, I thought it was funny. Because you shouldn't do anything for anybody else's opinion. You know, I was doing it for my reasons, I knew the truth of my story, the people that mattered to me knew the truth of my story. And if I let everyone else's opinion, curate what I did for my career, if what I did for work, I would make a lot less money, I'll tell you that, and I wouldn't be anywhere near as happy. Okay, now, I'm ready to get into your question. But I had to say that
what was the catalyst going from? I don't know what your last career was to organizational development.
Okay, so I got out of grad school in about in 2000. And now I got an undergrad in trying to think of the actual story that I want to tell. Let's go let's go to Yeah, 2010. And it was a it was a, it was a time where I was working for the Illinois Department of Public Health, but the economy wasn't doing very well. And so I received a job offer from the CDC, I received a job offer from an FQHC, which is like a health care clinic. But it's federally funded. I received a job offer from Illinois Department public health. And these were not all at once these were over two and a half year period where the federal government had no funding. And so I would sign on the dotted line and the contract would be cancelled the next day. I wasn't, I'm not kidding, I would sign the contract and they get an email. We're really sorry to hear this, but we can't fulfill this position. So what I thought I wanted to do for my career at the time, which was to go into health policy and change the world through policy and become a health advocate, pretty much got stomped on. And so through networking, through bartending, actually, I met a ICU manager of an ICU at a hospital, who got me an interview at a one at the hospital not too far from where I lived in Wicker Park Chicago. And I was not hired the first time because they didn't want to hire a bartender. But the person that made that decision left to go train at a different hospital. And they brought me back when when he left, and they ended up hiring me. And so I kind of fell into that role, it wasn't something that I chose. And whenever you don't choose some steps in your career, it may be interesting and novel, and a new adventure for a little bit. But it whenever you don't have control. And whenever it wasn't an intentional choice, you're kind of rolling the dice on if you're actually going to feel aligned or satisfied by your work. And it was a for sure, roll the dice because it was interesting for a bit and then I started feeling stuck. And then they were able to keep me because they selected me for a leadership program. It was 16 months. So they kept me for a year, you know, over over a year and they promoted me to the executive team. It became the minute I was the manager business operations at the time. And I was even worse because at least my first job I was doing good this job I felt completely disconnected from the meaning behind the work itself was very much in the spreadsheets and business development and working on jobs with the executive team and around very bureaucratic and traditional leadership which for me was like very disheartening and to sit in my in my cubicle and have someone come to me crying because of what the VP said was, like gut wrenching. And so eventually that led to me going into work trying not to work you know, me skipping out going to the gym for half the day and coming back and trying to hide the fact that I was gone. You know me opening up different, different programs and My Computer and just not really working, I mean, not having conversations with people that I was that I was working with, because I didn't want to build relationships, because if I built relationships, they'll talk to me more that will waste my time. And I don't want to be here anyways. So I had one foot out the door, one foot in. And when you do that, it's pretty much a self fulfilling prophecy. It could be because you're not doing anything to make you happy. You're actually proactively doing things to make yourself really pissed off at your job, and really, really stressed and frustrated. And I was pretty lucky because I was in this place for a couple of years, trying to change things, but not really doing it with any sort of intention, very happy half heartedly. And so I was walking into work one day, and I felt this sense of dread, like I do every day. And by the way, here that I could walk to work, that's how how good of a job it was, it was very close to my job. And I was making eye contact with people. And it was it felt like everyone was a mirror of myself. They were just kind of zombies dreading the day. And all of a sudden, I had the chance to look at me. And I woke up as like, what am I doing? This is terrible. You do not have to be in this situation, I lived the life up to that point of self that personal discovery, becoming confident, growing, being adventurous, being curious, but for some reason, I never took those lessons and applied them to my job as like, what am I and so that was kind of this wake up call where I go, Okay, let's, let's take control. Let's be proactive instead of reactive. You know, your experience from 2010. Even my experience, even before that was soccer, the things that pretty much I had every every experience that proved to me that I could not choose the career I wanted. And I was letting that dictate my life. I said, this doesn't have to be this way. So I did a career audit. I looked at what I enjoyed what I was passionate about what projects I wanted to work on what relationships I enjoyed the most being around, and where I really wanted to take my career. So personal professional passions as well. And I actually had because of the leadership program, a personal coach, like our director of people was my one on one Coach White vibed with like everyone in the organization and our system, this person was like, This guy's my guy, this guy is awesome. And then I also had personal passions for coaching and development and impact, you can tell from my experience, like my desire for Health Policy and such. And I realized that the program that I was in the talent development piece, the leadership development piece, was was built to prevent me from being who I was this disengaged employee unhappy at work, I think, Oh, this looks awesome. This is like emerging of everything that I want to do for my professional career. How do I do this, which is so funny, by the way, because I was getting coached, and didn't realize that I wanted to be that guy, like, I wanted that job. I needed to seriously think about it. And all these events came together. And I realized that talent development was a thing. And so that was the start of my path towards that career. And I took some steps, and I'm happy to go into them. But I'll pause because that was a lot of talking.
Which is perfectly fine. You touched on so much, so much. I mean, you know, the whole effort part because there was a there was another lady that was on my podcast. And she was saying that she left before she got to the epic part, before she got super unhappy. And I told her I've never been at that part. I've always been at the epic part. And I burned a lot of bridges. And she said something about maturity. And I was like, Well, I never claimed to be mature. As one thing I never claimed to be as mature. And you touched on the part of you know, not caring what other people think. And that's, that's critical. You know, I guess my next question is, did you have a support system when you made this decision? Because, you know, not not claiming that you care what other people think, you know, which means, you know, people might say things here and there and you have no support. So did you have a support system when you made these decisions?
I've had a pretty supportive family, so I can't disregard that. Let's say that right off the bat. I also went for over 15 years of my life, maybe a little bit more, where everyone told me that I was crazy for trying to become a professional athlete. I didn't have one person because I was I was good. But I wasn't good. Like I was good enough to get on the team but I wasn't good enough to start. I was good enough to run it on a on a pickup game and in most leagues, but I wasn't. You know if you Pele or mayor down I wasn't someone that was a shoo in for a lot of these ones. So I was going against the grain a lot when I said I was gonna dedicate my life to a sport where it didn't look like I was, you know, I had the best opportunity to get there. And when I say dedicate, you know, I was spending, I was practicing three times a day, I was the only thing I would watch on TV with the recordings of games, I wouldn't really make friends because the people I wanted to hang out with were just playing. And I thought anything other than playing was a waste of my time. I only got good grades, because you know, having the highest GPA on the squad was a asset to our team and to the coach, because it raised our team GPA. So I was used to making my own decisions. And then also going in and getting my MBA in entrepreneurship. People were like, what is that I don't even know what that means. mph in health policy administration, no one knew what that was that I that I spoke to. So I was pretty much it used to be in this kind of lone wolf, when it came to my, you know, making decisions, I was able to support myself, and I stayed out of trouble. And that tended to be pretty good, good enough for the people that cared about me that were giving me their support. So I did not have a network in town with development, I don't have a network of people that I also leaned on, I pretty much leaned on myself, throughout it.
Gotcha. I totally understand. When I moved to Mexico, I called my father a month and a half and and told him I wasn't coming back. And then you know, I come back with all these stories, and he doesn't care he doesn't want to hear on so I just, I just don't say anything. So, so I totally get it. But I do have I have a support system. And you know, that's that's currency outside of, you know, my my dual my dual life. So I totally get it. And you have to be strong enough in order to push through and basically take control of your life because, you know, no one else is going to live it. But you so why would you want to squander that.
To your to, I think what you're saying, which is really important. Sometimes the people that we think are going to support us don't. And that's disappointing. And one of the best things that we can do for ourselves is if we know we want to go into a specific field, surround ourselves with people that have already done something within that space or aspiring to do something in that space. Things are so much easier when you can when you feel like someone gets you. And things are a lot easier to when someone has done what you want to accomplish because they can share their expertise. Now what they share is not the only way of doing it. It's not the only way. It's not what you have to do. Don't feel like it's the law. But it just is it's creates hope. And sometimes provide solutions quicker than you can find them yourself.
Definitely, definitely, network is a is a key thing that other people have talked about in the podcast and I have a support system with my entrepreneurship shout out to Christian. We go back and forth every day about you know, entrepreneurship, pros, cons, negatives and positives. And because it Yeah, you're you're lonely at the entrepreneur. No one gets it.
What you're doing right now, podcasting is one of the best ways I found to meet people that you can resonate with as a business owner. When I was a pre COVID, I used to build my my client funnel and my brand through in person events. And I would have two speakers to three speakers per event. And those people were people that did it that crushed it. They were doing really interesting things. And they become some of my best friends. Because I gave them value. And then we found that we aligned through the hour or two that we spent together. And now today, they're invaluable. They're priceless, not just from a professional perspective, but also from a personal perspective.
Gotcha. Yeah. One other thing I do is a monthly seminar on different tech topics. My popular one is live resume review the live LinkedIn reviews, and I've met people that way. So you are so great. You're so right. Um, what was the process on switching? You know, did you go to seminars, take courses? You talked about your network, what was the process specifically?
So when I found out that I wanted to pivot my career, I went to my boss actually, and said, I would like to start doing some of this work. And it exists within our organization, Do I have your buy in? It won't affect my current job? She said, Yes. She wanted me to be more engaged. So I went to that department and asked if I could do some work for them. And a lot of times when you ask them when can I do some work for free? They'll you think they should say yes, but they don't know what to do with you. So you have to be more a little bit more specific in what you're asking them. So I asked them for some specific projects. They said yes, I started doing A little bit of work. It's a very, very slow process, but it was working. And then we got acquired for the second time, and everyone I was working with got fired. And everything that I was working on got centralized. And so that was a kind of a dead end, unless I wanted to work in the corporate office, which would involve a pretty decent commute just didn't want to do that. So my next option was to go to try to find another job in this space. And I don't know the tips and tricks that I know now. So I did not get one. And so my third option was, let's go get credible in this space, so I can't get a job in it. And at the same time, maybe even start a business and a brand within this area, once I learned what I want to do in it. And so I made the, it was pretty difficult at the time decision to go get my doctorate. And I was excited about the opportunity to go to research. So I I would be very well read and experienced within this space that's a lot of people don't have because talent and organizational development, like it's a pretty new field for a lot of places. And so if you pop up with a doctorate, and people tend to listen to you. And I was also hoping to build my network through that program, and do the professors and through my classmates. And so I got in After two rounds of applications that did not get in, took the test three times the standardized test three times, but then found a doctorate. Well, prior to that, by the way, I don't want to I don't want to skip over this, I was applying for PhDs in social psych. Because I thought that would help me get a job within this space. And I went to go volunteer in one of the labs, because you have to do a lot of lab work to get a PhD. And I hated it. So it was it was really good information for me to learn that I didn't want to do a PhD in social psych that I thought that was the way to become credible. And I found instead a Doctorate of Education, in organizational leadership, literally exactly what I was trying to get into. Got into that program. And then, you know, long story a little bit shorter, about within the first couple of classes, I decided I want to rebrand and relaunch the business within the space because I was already coached at the time with clients and such, but it wanted to focus on something different. And then started building my network within the field. And then about when I left health care in 2018, because making enough money within my business, I got my doctorate and then in 2020. So two years later, I got called by an organization called YPO to come on as a regional learning director. And then after that, one of my potential consulting clients asked me to come on full board and create a talent development program for them. So now I'm the head of talent development or culture at that organization while I still get to coach on the side and do it's a pretty, pretty sustaining business at the moment. So it's kind of runs itself on SEO and referrals, because I had a couple of years to build it. So it took me if you want to look at the time, three years from when I graduated my doctoral program to become the head of talent development for, you know, a 300 person organization in the field that I was interested in. And the doctoral program took two and a half years. So along the way, I've had some really great journeys. I've met some really great people. And if you look if I look back, it felt like it was a blip. Yeah, I felt like it was a blink of an eye. And you're looking at five and five and a half years to becoming one of the top positions in your field. Which is, which is pretty I think I would hope inspiring for people that are looking to craft a new career path.
Definitely, definitely inspiring. Because, yeah, I mean, people. People think that five and a half years is a long time, but it's really not. And Time waits for no one. And yes, that's that's really inspiring for you know, for people that are trying to get into the field and, you know, don't necessarily know the right path to take
one more thing, by the way, it was It wasn't all like yeah, there was hard work, but you're still living your life around that whole thing. So I had relationships, I found an incredible partner. I traveled to like all over the globe all over the world to Spain, to Italy, to Costa Rica to Guatemala to Peru to Colombia, like hiking, Machu Picchu Throughout all this, you know, it's so life doesn't stop because you're pursuing another path like life still continues around you. And people tend to forget that. Oh, well, if I focus on this goal, it's the thing I have to do like okay, yes, it's the thing you have to do, but you're still living. There's still other time during the day.
We can only hope. But yeah, you're so right. What are some of the positives and the negatives of this new career that you found?
Positives I get to help people Does the thing that I love. And I get to apply the things that I learned in the best practices into organizations to help them become places people can fall in love with. In terms of things that aren't good, I honestly, I'd say that I'd say some organizations, right, they still have to hit their bottom line in talent development, and people being happy at their jobs isn't always top priority. So it's a you've trying to balance the impact and meaning of my work with the priorities of an organization. I wouldn't say that's something that's terrible, it's just a learning learning point, in some organizations are going to learn are going to move quicker than others. And then if you get into this field, they need facilitators. And so to find a position where you're not facilitating as much, is a little bit more difficult. But if you'd like facilitating, that's a great thing. And then it's still a pretty new field. So you're still pretty, you're pretty unique when it comes to your skill set. But to that point, it's also harder to find a lot of open jobs, even though they're becoming more and more.
Gotcha. What are some traits that you think someone would need to have to be successful?
Within this space, so there's a couple of different aspects of it, you can be a content creator, like learning content creator, you can be a facilitator, you can be, you know, strategize, or you can be a coach. So there's like a variety different places within the field that you could grow into, or build your career in, you don't have to do all of them. A lot of organizations will actually split these these roles up. So I'd say, I mean, just to list a couple of them, even though there's so many, there's like, there's so many. You have to be a good listener, you have to have if you are a facilitator, presence, and curiosity, and the ability to present to speak in an engaging way, it's helpful to understand learning theory. So how people learn. Really, what that means is people tend to learn more by doing and people learn a little bit differently. So you have to understand as to what the best way for someone is to learn as well as to immerse them the topic that you're trying to teach them, and follow up consistently. You have to care about individuals and their jobs. So a lot of it is giving people the opportunity to talk and really hear what they're saying and dive in deeper without trying to give advice right away. And when it comes to learning strategy, understanding what the being able to understand and pull out the purpose of what someone's training or learning is supposed to accomplish. And then first, really try to see if what they're doing is going to reach that goal, if there's some other innovative ways that we can teach and help and guide individuals to learn what it is we're trying to, to help them develop into. That's kind of all over the place. But I hopefully touched on a couple of the key areas.
No, no, that's that was perfectly good. Um, outside of that, what are some like, things that you wish you knew before you joined this career field? Like, can you give me any tips or tricks on things that you wish you would have knew or you wish you hadn't done?
I'd say there's nothing that I did that I wish that I didn't do. But for people interested in this path. There's a ton of really great podcasts on talent development and org culture. Really great thought leaders, Ted Talks, books, just immerse yourself in the topic and see if it's something that you really want to do. And you can even probably find some contract work as a learning specialist and just kind of get your toes a little wet. I didn't mention it. But like, for example, learning management systems that are more technical. So there's places also for for people that are interested in data, or behind the scenes work when it comes to video editing, and like course, creation and such. So there is really a place for everyone within this space, and it's only going to grow, I'd say the only threat that potentially is going to happen is just the integration of AI into some of the work. But I don't think that's too much of a threat for the next you know, 10 or 15 years, maybe more.
I don't know I don't think people want to listen to like, some monotone computer thing, computer generated image. But I could be wrong.
Well, the future is that that's not when it's going to be it's going to be like you and me. And it's going to be able to respond to questions. And it's gonna be able to pull information from everything. So like it's, it's on its way I mean, they're gonna they're gonna they're utilizing it for music. They will be utilizing it for movie But so if anyone's wondering what career paths go into the terminal away from learning, but AI man, that's gonna have some great opportunities in the future.
So more so of their stilling me and you meeting your voice, and basically, computerizing it to where it's not boring and monotone.
Teachers that can, they'll be able to take whatever we upload, or scan everything about me. And create a virtual avatar that has my inflections, my voice, right and speak, and be able to use that as a as a teacher, as an instructor.
Yeah, okay, that makes more sense. Like, yeah, I don't, I don't want to listen to any monotone thing. But last question, just any any last advice on career switching? I mean, you kind of touched on in the beginning, you know, telling people not to care what other people think. And, you know, I say YOLO all the time. And so yeah, any any last tips and tricks? Advice?
Yeah, if you're making the switch, be patient. Be patient, if I compared myself to achieve people officer at the moment, and if I did, when I made the switch, I never would have made the switch would have seen way too far off. So be patient with your goals and give yourself grace in the transition. And at the same time, make sure you're comparing yourself to the right people, which is really nobody. But for example, if you're wondering, oh, I wish I could be here. You shouldn't be comparing yourself to where that place is. You can compare yourself to where someone is where exactly where you are, and say, what steps would this person take to move a little bit more forward, and then take those steps because then you'll feel that you're making progress, you'll be able to have be a little bit more happier with where you're at. And honestly, you enjoy the present. Because very often, when we're trying to make a career transition, we're stuck in the end goal of that career transition. And we're gonna also still feel stuck at times and unhappy at work and tired and demotivated. We're just at least in a better environment, and in a better job that brings us more joy. doesn't automatically equal more joy. So, in, take some time, give yourself some grace, set your sights and where you want to go. Don't compare yourself to the people that have been doing it for a decade. And take one small step.
Definitely, definitely. I don't have anything more to add to that. Because yeah, you set it all right there. Thank you so much, Benjamin, for coming on. Nobody wants to work though. Podcast, where can we find you?
Well, I'm out in Austin, Texas. So if you're out there, find me and say hi. But if you actually want to see where I'm located, I kind of find my work and stuff. Go on LinkedIn, go to Dr. Benjamin Ritter. Type it in, I should be the only one that pops up. And you can also go to live for yourself. consulting.com. That's Live For Yourself Consulting.com. And you can learn all about my coaching services. My podcasts are there immediately. They're all that all that jazz. Online courses there. So that was recently launched a couple weeks ago.
All right, thank you, Benjamin for being on the show. And thank you guys for watching. Subscribe and see you next time.
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