How I Found My Calling, Chased it, and Landed my Dream Job in the NBA

I finished high school and I thought well, what now? And like everyone else I followed the typical trend to go to college/university. Everyone did it, my parents told me that I should do it, so I listened, I followed and I enrolled at Seneca College for Civil Engineering Technology.

Throughout school I felt like it wasn’t right for me; I didn’t find anything I was studying interesting. Everything seemed so planned, from when I could attend class, to what I had to study, to when things were due, I didn’t feel satisfied. The most memorable times for me was the times I spent playing varsity basketball. In fact I trained and played basketball almost every day. I wanted to do something with my hobby but I always listened to my parents and felt that basketball wasn’t going to lead me to a successful career.

After I graduated I started working as a civil engineering technologist; every single day I dragged myself out of bed to go to a job that I absolutely despised. It got so bad that in the evenings I got the desire to drink, to get over how terrible the day was. At one point, I spoke with one of my friends and he explained to me how I have to measure how bad we want something by the sacrifices we take to attain it. He also mentioned that as we get older, and more settled it becomes harder and harder to take risks, as we get a mortgage, have kids, we start to settle for this “norm”.  At this point, I realized that I never really wanted to get a job/career in basketball, I just kind of wanted it.

So I resigned from my position to take a leap of faith and explored my chances. I volunteered for organizations, and did anything I could to get involved with basketball. Anything to get me closer to my goal, even if it meant working for free I would do it. Eventually, I was fortunate to receive a contract where we would develop youth basketball in India. No one really wanted to go to india for a few month, but I quickly accepted and went. Through-out this process I was never guaranteed a job with the NBA.

When my contract finished with NBA India, I was back to my reality - Unemployed. Luckily, due to the connections I have made during my time in India, I was approached by my current boss now who reached out to me and interviewed me for a position, when I was offered the role as Basketball Development of Canada, within the NBA. Now, I love my job, I work more hours than ever, but I am so excited about what I do, I cannot wait until work.

Here are some tips to find your calling, and landing that dream job.

1.   Find What get you “In the Zone”

Your zone is when you are focused on something and you're completely focused on it because you are so intrigued. You know how you feel when you're doing something that you are 100% passionate about, you loose sight of time, you forget where you are, and you sometimes can even forget to eat. This is called your zone. Tony Robbins describes this as being pulled to do something. You are no longer being “pushed” by needs, primarily financial but now, you are being pulled by your interests and creativity.  

Something special happens to us as human beings, when we are inspired, and in this zone we are much more productive than someone who is just dragging their feet through their jobs. Think about it, how is it possible that someone like Bill Gates, Elon Musk, etc. achieve so much yet some people can’t even maintain a simple 9 - 5 job. It is because those high achievers are operating in their zone, in something that they want to be in. While the others are doing something that they are essentially being forced to do.

Your job, is to identify what gets you into your zone, and develop your career around that. This is this only way that you will be a high achiever. As if you end up doing a job, where you are just going through the motions, you will never reach that “elite” status.


Doing your homework refers to doing all the necessary work involved in chasing your dream. This may be reading and understanding exactly what your particular industry requires in order to complete the work. For example, if you want to be a famous architect that designs the most beautiful buildings, then you should look at what architecture schools are there. On the other hand, if your objective is to make amazing films (Steven Spielberg), then you should focus on learning all the elements to making the best films; not necessarily through school. 

I want to put this point here because of all the hype over the "entrepreneur" and start up craze that we have been going through. Not every dream includes quitting your job or dropping out of school. No matter what you do, to be successful, you will need to be educated (doing your homework), however education isn't just attained in school, but sometimes it is needed. For example, If you want to become a business consultant and help direct fortune company's, it would be strongly preferred if you had a degree or even an MBA. 

Do your homework to understand what are the requirements for your dream.

3.   Don’t Settle for Average

You may not be happy with where you are now, and your parents or your friends may be pushing  you to just "get a job" just to make some money. I think this is one of the worst things you can do. Getting a job for the sake of making money is the worst thing one can do.

"I know of nothing more despicable and pathetic than a man who devotes all the hours of the waking day to the making of money for money's sake." - John D. Rocafeller

Focus on nurturing your passion to solve an issue in this world or making a change in this world. When you work, for the sake of making money you end up being one of the people that hate their job, working only to make ends meet, paying their mortgage.

Don’t settle for average. Find something that you're interested in and study and improve your skills revolving around that area so that you are in demand.

3.   Great Creative

Do the things that other people refuse to do.

Have you thought about trying to network with a executive by going to different type of event? Perhaps you can meet someone at the gym, or when you are traveling? Talk to everyone that you meet and try to get to know them so you can expand your network. I read a story about a lady who wanted a job at a specific firm, and she stood outside waiting for the CEO to come out. John D. Rockefeller, the oil billionaire started his first job at a young age, much younger than anyone would have allowed him. However, he never took no for an answer and asked every single day, until one day someone called in sick and this was his opportunity.

Get creative, and do things that other people refuse to do. This will separate yourself from all other people.

4.    You are not looking for a job, Your Career is looking for you

Companies these days spend millions of dollars on their recruiting department to identify the “good” employees. Are there good or bad employees? No, I think there are inspired and uninspired employees. The people who are following the way their brains are wired will obviously perform better.

We have all seen the image of the fish, the money, the deer and the lion being evaluated by their abilities to climb a tree...well this wouldn’t make sense. The same applies for a company and their people. If the company is looking for people who can swim, they may select the fish, but if the job requires running then the deer will be better suited. The same applies for work, your career, your job that is wired and perfected suited for you is out there. Its up to you not only to find it, but also remember that they are looking for high performing inspired candidates like you!

6.    There is always a position available

As discussed in the previous suggestion, everyone has a specific job, or hobby that they are wired to perform. If you know or find something that you truly want to do. They people at the company will see, and even if there are no options available. Often, they will still want to keep you and offer a job that may not be listed.


Christian Alicpala is the marketing and event co-ordinator of NBA Canada. He holds an advanced diploma in Civil Engineering Technology, NCCP Level 1 & 2 coaching certification and basketball GM and scouting certification. He competed and played as the starting point guard of the Seneca String Varsity Basketball Team, where he led the team to the OCAA championships. He coached and focused on elite player development for Ontario basketball and also coached for the Jr. NBA in India. In his spare time, Christian Alicpala enjoys playing basketball, boxing, and working out.