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Home > Blog > Career Change
Out of Our Minds
Tuesday, June 08, 2004 5:11 PM
Career Change
Kevin Salwen on Passionate Work

Every so often, we are presented with an opportunity to shift career gears. For Greg Raymer, that moment came on May 28, when the Pfizer patent attorney won the World Series of Poker and the $5 million prize that came with it.

This isn't one of those lottery-type annuity deals, in which $3 million drops into your lap every year. Instead, this one-time win gives Raymer plenty of immediate cash but no long-term guarantees. So, he's not giving up work; instead he's changing careers, in this case quitting Pfizer to become a professional poker player. Raymer, who is nicknamed Fossilman because of his love of fossils (which he used to hide his cards, btw), will be attempting to ride the wave of popularity now sweeping poker onto networks as varied as the Travel Channel and ESPN.

At 39, Raymer knows he has an opportunity that many of us never have -- to change careers almost risk free. As he told the Wall Street Journal, if poker doesn't work out, 'I'll definitely be looking to get back into patent law.' Still, I admire his willingness to completely shift to something new; how many have the guts to do that, even in ideal conditions?


5 comments

Regia Marinho - 6/9/2004 1:00:02 PM
Career Change is necessary when you feel like a fish out of the water with what you're doing. In 1990 I decided to give up work as civil engineer on a railroad foreign company and came to New York to become a successful visual artist. Lack of the right contact in the art world and no money I had to reinvent myself and got other skills to work in various jobs to survive. I have not yet get there, but I'm making a living with my art with help of the internet, through online auction and my website regiaart.com
Shelley - 6/9/2004 12:04:58 PM
To be honest, a guy who wins at poker and then goes into fulltime seems more in the line of boys not growing up, then anything else.

Kevin Walzer at http://www.kevin-walzer.com/ quit his fulltime job to manage his small poetry publishing business. He has a family and a home, but this is something he's loved and wanted to do and finally took the risk. And he can't easily go back to patent law if this fails.

Now he's creating a self-employment web site to help others who are going this route and his business publishes poetry for people who may not be known, giving them a chance to live their dream.

It won't end up in the Wallstreet Journal, but I can't help thinking this is a tad more inspirational.

Tom - 6/9/2004 9:24:31 AM
Ah, if only I didn't have a house and family to pay for, I could play poker for a living. Sorry, but this isn't one of the those inspiring career change stories you're going to find in 'What Color Is Your Parachute?'

Risk is what makes a career change a difficult decision and raises the stakes sufficiently to prevent most of us from doing it. This guy is just (literally) playing games. If it doesn't work out, it won't matter much to him at all. Next.
Randy Berlin - 6/8/2004 9:30:29 PM
I am reminded of my favorite quote by Warren Buffet which is hanging on my wall 'Risk is for people who don't know what they're doing' Interesting article Kevin. I think his risk is staying in a job where there might not be as much passion. I am looking forward to months of re runs on the cable channels.
Kevin Gossett - 6/8/2004 7:56:20 PM
I think this is the best kind of windfall, with the greatest opportunity for success because it comes with a very real deadline - when the $5 mil runs out!

Getting a 20 year payout on a lottery win could, I think, have a dampening effect on real change in that there's not a 'money's gone' deadline looming.

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