Mark Dodich graduated from Kent State University in the mid-1970’s and went on to do what he was trained to do, “put on a suit” and go into industrial sales and marketing.
He moved around the country taking better positions and had a comfortable life with respectable finances, titles, and accomplishments that looked good on a resume. After 15 years of questioning who he was in that corporate world, he turned his hobby in astrology and spiritual growth activities into a full time consulting business.
He is in his 20th year as a full time astrological consultant, is seen in the media constantly, and bases his international practice in Portland, Oregon. As he looks back upon his early career life, he is much more appreciative of the skills he learned while in his suit. Those years served as the initial building blocks that served him well when it was time to seek greater meaning through his current work.
Mark learned to practice appreciation and gratitude for what he was doing at any given time period, rather than always needing to go after the next achievement thinking that it would give him the inner satisfaction he was seeking. Although his choice to seek inner meaning and satisfaction has had a price to pay, he would not give up his service for all the shiny baubles in the world.
How did you get started? What sparked this business idea?
My business started as a hobby while I was still working in the world of industrial sales and marketing. My interest in astrology and spiritual growth started in college. It really wasn’t a business idea in the beginning, more of a personal quest.
How do you make money?
I started making money at my craft because the cost of classes, workshops and books was costing quite a bit, so using the skills I was developing seemed like a natural way to cover costs.
I was looking to change my life, but did not know what a change would or should look like. I met two people at nearly the same time that became mentors to me. It began by starting a part time business to promote one of my mentor’s lectures and services, so I was combining my worldly business skills with my personal hobby desires. It wasn’t very profitable, but I learned a lot and had my corporate day job to pay the bills.
How long did it take to get your business into the black?
When I finally took my consultation business to full time, it took about four years to get to a stable place, where business was not having constant highs and lows.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
I never thought in my wildest imagination that I could make a full time living as an astrologer. However, I burned out on my industrial sales life and just had to find a better way to live. I left the corporate world twice and went broke quickly both times. When I left the third time, I went broke again, but had reached a state of mind where I just couldn’t stand the thought of going back. Since the bridge was burned, the only way out of the financial crunch was to go forward.
How did you get your first customer?
At the very beginning, I did not have the confidence to charge people, so I would trade for a home cooked meal, a massage, etc. I really started making income when I decided to rent a booth at a local psychic fair expo. People came to me as part of a public venue.
How are you marketing your business? What strategy works best?
Personal connection works best. I threw a lot of money away on advertising before I figured that out. I do talks, classes, workshops, provide an informative newsletter, go on radio shows and write articles for publication. Public appearances, ongoing communications, and referrals from existing clients are better and less expensive than advertising.
Is there a trend in your industry that particularly excites you right now?
The trend is more technology-based, such as providing webinars, but that doesn’t really excite me as I like the personal connection with people.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
As I get older, I am looking at the things I want to do within my profession and compare them to what activities pay the bills. So, choices are being made to find a better balance between aspects of the work that I want to do with activities that are profitable. Choosing something that isn’t all that profitable and can be time consuming, but gives you great joy and enthusiasm, has to have a place in a business or you stagnate.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
I am good at what I do. I treat people with respect and do not judge them for their weaknesses. I take actions that will help me in the long term, rather than always looking at the immediate gratification that a business with stockholders needs to do.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Because I get to see clients over a period of time, years for many of my clients, I get to see them live their life and grow. When I see a client who is making wise choices to bring their talents and desires out into the world, it makes me feel good. I hope that in some small way, my services help them in the life path.
Tell us about one of your hobbies when you’re not working.
That’s a tough question because as the business has grown, hobbies such as sailing and hiking have fallen away. Current hobbies and the business are very intertwined now. World travel would be the quick answer to that question.
Why bother going out on your own, when you know you are going to work harder than you ever worked for anyone else, and likely have more challenges?
For all my early years wearing a suit in the corporate world, I would look in the mirror and wonder “who is that guy?” That world just never felt like I was being who I truly was. I was always living someone else’s priorities based upon some computer sales printout, and what I did yesterday meant nothing today in industrial sales.
Now, I get personal meaning and the feeling that I am becoming a better person and helping people to reach their goals and desires. Finding meaning in your life through your work is of great value. There is more information on me in my bio at www.astromark.us.