Work Strong America – Empowering America's Next Generations of Craftsmen, Builders and Makers to Craft Our Future

Welcome to the show! This episode is all about career change. So, from the INCREDIBLE interview that I got to do with Ron Paulk in Episode 10, I received comment from Robert Dailey asking for help, who has watched and followed Ron on his Youtube Channel.  So, here is some background about Robert.

Robert worked construction Junior and senior high school, and VERY MUCH enjoyed it! He was excited to work, and learn at a young age!

We live in America, the greatest country on the planet. Living here allows us all to make almost any choice we decide to create the life we are living. The problem is that we then allow our own choices to become the barriers that we well not cross to change our life’s direction. -Can’t remember..

Robert wanted to take a year between college and school, parents refused. Here is the deal, Roberts parents apparently did  NOT pay for his education, but INSISTED that he just go to college. Robert is now stuck with the bill for that. Listen, if you are old enough to vote and take a bullet for this country, you are old enough to say NO against a serious life affecting decision!

So, this resulted in five years of college, buried in student loan debt at the end, which he is still paying for. Robert is now being a man and taking care of his responsibilities. He has a wife and children to support, as well as obvious financial obligations that he is doing what he must to take care of. Good job brother, because that is what real men do!

Lets be really clear here, I’m NOT picking on Robert! He is the perfect example of what is becoming the new normal in America! He is leading by example, while still pursuing his dreams!

So, he is a elf described DIYer, and currently helps friends with project and small remodels on his own house and others. He typically takes small jobs that no one else will do!

So, here is Roberts question about his career change, in his own words.

You talked a lot about reaching younger guys and encouraging them in the trades, how would you suggest an older person (not that I’m old, but have a family to support) get into the trades? I can do a little of most things, master of none.

What do I recommend to Robert, and the others out there like him? Well, here we go!

  • FIRST, talk with spouse. Clear the proverbial table, and give each other permission to voice whatever is on your mind. You need to achieve clarity and understanding, BEFORE you even get agreement. If your spouse is not on board, keep your day job. This is serious stuff!
  • Get your Finances in order, this is first and foremost! I recommend Dave Ramsey, and to millennials i REALLY recommend my friend Joshua Sheats of Radical Personal Finance as well as the incredible Mr. Money Mustache. Your life will change! You can listen to my interview with Joshua Sheats right here, which I highly recommend!
  • Start small with your work, like you are already doing with your small jobs that no one else will take. Get experience, learn much!
  • Do you have a favorite skill/ interest? Consider all the aspects of the trades. In no particular order there is concrete, framing, plumbing, HVAC, painting, drywall, tile, siding, finish carpentry, welding, blacksmith to name a few..
  • Continue your education while small. Read good magazines and books! I will  link to my recommendations below. ALERT: My links below are affiliate links where I earn a very small commission if you make a purchase from the link. YOU will NOT be charged any additional money, and this is a small way that you can support this show and content.
  • File HomeBuilding is one of my favorites.
  • JLCmagazine and JLCOnline is a fantastic resource (same link, also this is NOT an affiliate link).

Books are very important, and here are just a few of the books I personally use and recommend:

  • JLC Field Guide to Residential Construction, Volume 1: A Manual of Best Practice
    Journal of Light Construction
  • The JLC Guide to Production Carpentry
    The Journal of Light Construction
  • Lead Carpenter Handbook: The Complete Hands On Guide To Successful Job Site Management
    Timothy Faller : This is CRITICAL if you intend to have employees
  • Managing the Small Construction Business
    Journal of Light Construction
  • Renovation 4th Edition: Completely Revised and Updated
    Michael Litchfield
  • The Builder’s Guide to Running a Successful Constructi (For Pros By Pros)
    David Gerstel : This is the classic, and one of the best in my opinion.
  • Keeping the Books: Basic Recordkeeping and Accounting for Small Business (Small Business Strategies Series)
    Linda Pinson : Learn it now, and keep it simple. This is LIFE AND DEATH!
  • Code Check Complete 2nd Edition: An Illustrated Guide to the Building, Plumbing, Mechanical, and Electrical Codes (Code Check Complete: An Illustrated Guide to Building,)
    Redwood Kardon : Keep things tight and right! Make sure you are working safe!

This is a small list, and there are so many more, but this is a good start to begin an education of business and building basics.

  • Find GOOD reputable contractor, start small, work to build up your skills and take on small tasks and projects. DO NOT overreach what you know, you WILL get in trouble. Take small steps, and get the basics down well!
  • Save money, PAY TAXES, keep simple records with a pen, pencil and paper! Learn a lot, and NEVER stop!

Get Your License!!!


Also, your appearance, speech and demeanor counts. If you want to work FOR professionals, be thought of as a professional, and think of yourself as a professional, you need to ACT and LOOK like a professional!

Okay, with all this being said and all of this information before you, have fun. The trades and building are a fantastic career and business path. Being able to look at something tangible that YOU have built at the end of the day is very gratifying, and just plain old fun!

So, for all of you looking for a career change, I hope this has helped!

I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did recording it! Please let me know what you think! Also, I would love to stay in touch with you and keep you informed about the latest podcasts and articles!

  • Robert Dailey

    Rick, Thank you for the in-depth answer to my questions.

    I want to defend my parents just a little bit. My Dad has an incredible work ethic and I like to think he instilled that into me. As a Boomer he hit a “glass-ceiling” in the company he works for precisely because he never finished college. As an older millennial we were force-fed the lie that to be successful you must go to college since Kindergarten. Parents were/are also fed this nonsense. Many of my generation learned the cold hard truth as we were graduating College and the economy tanked.

    But you are right that ultimately the decision was mine to make. I don’t regret getting my college degree, but in hindsight I would have gone about the process differently. I have no intention of crying about it like a little baby, this is the hand I’ve been dealt and I’m playing to win. Dave Ramsey’s teachings have gotten me and my wife on the right path financially, and our Debt Snowball is starting to gain serious speed.

    I think the strategy you mentioned for buying tools would do the world of education a lot of good. Right now the model of education is set up like the new guy showing up to a job-site with thousands of dollars in fancy tools, but no idea how to use them. We, as a nation, need to shift to an educational system where you get the education you need WHEN you need it. Right now I feel the need to learn to manage a business, since I’m actively working on my side business. I can guarantee you that I’d learn more taking a night course at the local community college now, than I would have at a University as just a student. Why? Because I’d be instantly applying what I was learning to my business. That’s a tool I need to get, because I’m hurting with out it. Not some hypothetical need that may or may not come.

    I am blessed beyond what I deserve in my wife. We have talked extensively about what it would take for me to go full-time into carpentry (focus on finish, and custom woodworking), and what I would need to make (accounting for Health Insurance and Retirement also). Having a detailed budget makes this math simple.

    I’ve been running “Dailey Woodworks” for a little over a year. My website is I make and sell woodcrafts and furniture, do commission work, and small general carpentry jobs. My wife and I have agreed that all my income for this year can go into reinvesting into the business. Since I’ve been in the field before I know what basic tools I need and know what I can wait to buy when the job requires. I’m setting up to operate everything debt free, and have a Emergency Fund just for the business. I recently upgraded to a bigger/better (used)truck that I can use to get to my day-job and use for my side jobs, I was able to pay cash for that tool also. We’re now at the point to were my profit can go straight to our student debt.

    I would recommend to anyone, even if you just work for a general contractor, to have an online presence. I’ve found out that a basic resume doesn’t do much in this line of work. Having an online portfolio showing what you can do goes a lot further. It’s gotten me several custom jobs. Saying to someone “yeah I do drywall” isn’t going to work the same as showing a potential client some pictures of completed work.

    I do my best to be professional, and do honest work for a fair price. I tend to give myself the short end of the deal most times, but try to be fair to myself and the customer. It’s been a badge of honor to have a few repeat clients, who, when I give them a bid, don’t feel the need to even question it.

    In Texas their is not Licensing Requirement for a General Contractor. You need a business license of course. Some cities require a Contractor to get a license, but it is a city by city thing and is just proof you have liability insurance, not necessarily skills. My current residence does not require permits, or licenses.

    I will definitely be adding your book recommendations to my reading list. I’ve been catching up on your previous podcasts during my drive times. Very glad to have found WSA.

    Rick, Thank you again.

    Robert Dailey

    • Rick Seigmund

      Hi Robert!

      So, don’t know if you got to listen to the last show yet, but… Would you like to be a guest on the Work Strong America Podcast? Let me know if this is something that interests you. If so, email me at and we’ll make some plans. Thanks much!

      Rick Seigmund