Personal Stories of America at Work

Category Archives: Job Search

One Page Business Plan Author on How to Reinvent Yourself after a Lay-off

Jim Horan is a former Fortune 500 CFO who invented The One Page Business Plan and reinvented himself as successful entrepreneur. The One Page Business Plan is called “an out and out winner” by Tom Peters, author of Thriving on Chaos and co-author of In Search of Excellence. His book is recommended by Oprah Magazine.

The Working Chronicles: What has been your career journey?

"I think we’re all capable of doing a lot more than what we have done."

Jim Horan: I was fired from my job as a CFO on April 1, 1990. April Fool’s Day. It turned out that the joke was on me—I was unemployed for two years and then underemployed for the next three to five years as I explored entrepreneurship. But it ended up being absolutely the best thing that could have happened. I discovered a whole series of talents I had no idea I had. I think we’re all capable of doing a lot more than what we have done.
While looking for a job, I found myself becoming a consultant. I began to work with small businesses and discovered that business plans are not understood by damn near anybody.

Out of that came the idea of The One Page Business Plan.

Read the full interview >>

molly | May 17, 2011 | Entrepreneurs, Innovation, Job Search, Publishing, Small business, Unemployment | 0

How a City Boy Trades Driving the Freeways for Flying in the Bush

"Nobody else is out there, no air traffic control, no runways, no designated procedures..."

LA city boy Rob Norberg lives off the grid as a bush pilot in the Alaskan frontier

Conquering a fear of flying

I have been flying for twenty years and work as a seasonal bush pilot for a fishing lodge in Dillingham, Alaska. People stay for a week, and we take them fishing in the wild.

I grew up in LA, so I am a city boy, but I always yearned to see Alaska. For a year or two I read everything I could find on Alaskan bush pilots. Alaska still has that sense of frontier and freedom that allows you to be your own person, be somewhat off the grid, and not be so exposed to the crowds and the rigmarole of society. Flying is the ultimate extension of that because you are going to places only accessible by airplane.

Read the full interview >>

molly | May 03, 2011 | Fishing, Job Search, Small business, Sports | 7

How a Reluctant Chinese Engineer Designed a New Life in the US

Engineer Duo Wang builds a bright career following the darkness of China’s Cultural Revolution

Loneliness sparks creativity

I was born in Manchuria in 1957, the son of intellectual parents who were from wealthy families. Seven years before my birth, the Communists seized our property and labeled us enemies of the people. In later years, my father was jailed, tortured and exiled. Because this bad family background, I was ostracized from society at a young age.

Read the full interview >>

molly | February 22, 2011 | Education, Entrepreneurs, Government, Innovation, Job Search | 6

How an Unemployed Worker Built New Foundation after Lay Off

Chauffeur Tony Garcia rebuilds his life after devastation in the construction industry

"I used to see those Employee-of-the-Month photos on the wall, and thought they were silly. But now, I respect them a lot more."

Tony Garcia

Limousine Driver

Like a scene from Up in the Air

I’m a limo driver now, but I spent over two decades in the construction industry. I worked my way up from apprentice to foreman to assistant supervisor, and finally, to a desk job managing people and estimating jobs. I was paid to catch mistakes, which are very costly in construction. In one year alone, I found over half a million dollars worth of errors. The company rewarded me for my work, and I was living the high life, like taking the kids to Disneyland and staying at nice hotels. I thought I had a secure job.

Read the full interview >>

molly | February 08, 2011 | Construction, Job Search, Unemployment | 4

What It’s Like to Work on the Top of the Golden Gate Bridge

Cuban immigrant Reynaldo Charles watches all walks of life while looking after a national icon

"It had been tough growing up in Cuba--I thank my dad every day that he wanted something better for his family.”

Reynaldo Charles


Seeing the whole spectrum of life

You can’t write a story of San Francisco without saying something about the Golden Gate Bridge. I’ve been a painter on the bridge for eight to nine years. I didn’t plan it—it was luck that I ended up there. Some people say they work on the bridge, but they work in the office or something. I really work on the bridge. When people find out where I work, they say, “You work on the bridge?! You climb way up there?” You can see the excitement on their faces.

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molly | February 01, 2011 | Construction, Job Search | 4

How an unemployed carpenter became a reality TV star

Carpenter Paul DiMeo shines as a minor celebrity who uses major craftsmanship to create hope on the reality TV show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

"There are many actors who are just as good and never find work creating as they expected to create."

Paul DiMeo, Actor

Los Angeles, California

I needed to eat

I’m reluctant to call myself a star and prefer the moniker “Minor Celebrity.” And in my case, “Minor, Minor Celebrity.” And a lucky one at that. It all began for me back in college where I majored in theater with the hope of acting in dramas and musicals on and off Broadway. Television was always an option, but I like live theater; I get energy from the audience. So I went to New York after college, hustling audition after audition, and quickly realized there was no shortage of talent in New York City. Still, every once in a while, I’d see an advertisement for an audition calling for my exact talents. One called for a thirty-something male, slightly balding, who played a mean piano, sang, played the harmonica, and could juggle. I thought, “This is me!” I showed up early, assuming there were not many people who could do all that. So did about six hundred other thirty-something, slightly bald males. I got a call back but didn’t get the part.

Read the full interview >>

molly | January 11, 2011 | Entertainment, Job Search | 3

Grandma, P.I.

Private investigator Nancy Poss-Hatchl uncovers hidden facts to help straighten out tangled lives

"I don't think the assailant expected to see a little old lady."

Nancy Poss-Hatchl

Private Investigator

Undercover with a soldering iron

I have a B.S. in Chemistry and an M.A. in Anthropology. I was looking for work after a divorce from my husband of twenty years. While I was married, I was primarily a homemaker. After the divorce, I wanted to be as independent and autonomous as possible. It was 1974, and I needed to develop a career, though my children were still young teenagers.

A friend of mine was a secretary for some private investigators. They had an opening for an undercover operator who was bilingual, and I am fluent in Spanish. They had me go undercover into a small electronics factory where three employees had died from a drug overdose. They wanted to know if there was a drug ring operating within the company. I worked as an undercover operator under a pseudonym and with a fake address.

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molly | January 04, 2011 | Entrepreneurs, Job Search, Small business, Women, Working Mother | 20

Santa the Mensch

Believe it: Jac Grimes, a bus driver, really is Santa Claus

Santa Claus Christmas

"I see Muslim kids and Jewish kids, and I tell them it’s OK. Santa Claus loves all children.”

“If Santa Claus had a day job, it would be a school bus driver, right? And he would adopt foster children, like those with HIV, right? And he would volunteer in children’s hospice programs? Santa Jac does all those things and truly loves his job. A native of Greensboro, North Carolina, Jac is a natural storyteller with a Southern drawl. No one-word answers from this Santa! And yes, I did some fact-checking to make sure he was for real, because I was so moved and wanted to be sure I wasn’t being taken for a (sleigh) ride. I hope you enjoy this story, which shares the spirit of the holiday season, no matter what your religion.”

– Molly Rosen, Chronicler and Managing Editor

Are you really HIM?

Here’s how it started:  It was the Christmas season of 2005. I hadn’t shaved since Labor Day. The day before Christmas break, I was driving a bus at an elementary school I’d never been to, driving kids I’d never seen, as a substitute bus driver for our county. I decided awhile ago that spending all my life working and traveling as a management consultant wasn’t going to work for me. My kids were growing up, and I wasn’t around a lot of the time. So after running a local video store for nine years, I decided that driving a school bus would be fun. At the same time, my beard was turning white—it was more gray and white than it was red.

I’d had a habit of wearing a Santa hat around the holidays. The kids got on the bus, and there sat a guy—me—in a lightweight red jacket and a Santa hat with a gray beard. And I’m rotund anyway. The kindergartners and first-graders got on first. One of them asked, “Are you really HIM?”

Read the full interview >>

molly | December 21, 2010 | Entrepreneurs, Job Search | 10

The Hopeful Job Seeker

Former claims rep Bonnie Edwards comes to terms with a job loss and strives to start over

"I was fired in August 2009. How can you target someone who’s been able to do a job for twenty-one years and suddenly say they can’t do the job?"

“As a Human Resources executive for over twenty years, I have seen my fair share of resumes. Sometimes we get so caught up in ‘key word matches’ and ‘job fit’ that we forget each and every resume represents a real person out there with hopes and desires for a happy and productive life. Bonnie’s story helped me remember this. She started in the automobile insurance industry right out of college and after twenty-two years at the same company was fired from her job. She is actively seeking new employment and, in our conversation, describes feeling grateful, at peace, and more hopeful about the future. At her request, we’ve used a pseudonym.”

– Chronicler Sherry Jordana

I’ve got the perfect job for you

I graduated from Rutgers University in 1987 with a Bachelor’s in Sociology and intended to go into social work. But I would have had to work over a year without health care benefits, and since I was just out college and really needed health benefits, I decided not to pursue social work. I ended up going to an employment agency. The agency person went through her files and told me, “I’ve got the perfect job for you!”

Read the full interview >>

molly | November 06, 2010 | Automation, Insurance, Job Search, Unemployment | 8

The Working Chronicles

  • The Working Chronicles captures an intimate look at work in 21st century America through candid interviews with people from all walks of life and all corners of the country.

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