Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in career development but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with John Tarnoff, Executive & Career Transition Coach of Reinvention Group LLC, located in Los Angeles, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I am an Executive and Career Transition Coach, Speaker, and Author who supports mid and late-career professionals in defining, planning, and achieving more meaningful and sustainable careers.

Tell us about yourself

At the beginning of my career as a literary agent, then studio exec and film producer in Hollywood, my work was all about finding and nurturing talented creatives and helping them realize their visions and connect to a larger audience. I followed the same mindset when I moved into interactive and game development in the 90s. The tech startup that I founded and led through two rounds of funding during the dot-com bubble was an opportunity to manifest and monetize a colleague's daring future vision. Then in the 2000s, at DreamWorks Animation, I pivoted into working on people initiatives with some incredibly talented artists and technologists. I created tech adoption, talent development, and university recruitment programs that helped the company grow by 50% over four years. But those 30 years were also a bumpy ride - not unexpectedly for such a volatile industry.

In my 2012 TEDx talk, I joked about how I had gotten fired 39% of the time in my entertainment industry career. But those setbacks taught me the resilience and resourcefulness I needed in order to grow as an individual and as a professional. In my second-act career, since leaving DreamWorks in 2010, I bring together the ability to turn career setbacks into successes with the counseling and mindfulness skills I learned, earning my MA in Spiritual Psychology.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Helping my clients get out of a zero-sum mindset, realize the amazing value that they have to share, and then find the clarity, confidence, and resolve to go out and create the career that they truly want.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

You're the key. There's no one else to fall back on. So when you're successful, it's on you. But if you fail or encounter headwinds, no one else is going to save you.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Don't follow your passion. Follow your usefulness.
  2. It takes a community. Once you set out on the path, don't try to do it alone (but know whom you can and can't trust).
  3. Great quote from playwright Eugene O'Neil: "Those who succeed and do not press on to the greater failure are the true spiritual middle-classers. How petty their dreams must have been."

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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