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Episode Twenty Four | Boring is in the Eye of the Beholder
Listen to Episode 24:
Explore the hidden world of seemingly unremarkable jobs in this special episode with double the stories, including: a video store clerk who gets knocked out of his monotonous comfort zone by a suspicious visitor, a call center agent who finds renewed purpose in how she serves customers, a supermarket chain manager who comes down with a bad case of "bore-out", and a man whose job literally involves watching grass grow. And he loves it.
Going to the Super Bowl was a lifelong dream, and a peak professional achievement for Sean McLaughlin. But McLaughlin is not a football pro. He’s a student in turf management, and watching grass grow is his passion, as well as his profession.
An instagram star bullied for the color of her skin turns the teasing into the fuel behind her fashion modeling career; a professional British rugby player confronts “jock" stereotypes when he comes out to friends, family, and fans as gay.
Being drafted into the United Kingdom’s rugby Super League is a lot like being drafted into the National Football League in the United States. It’s the highest level a professional athlete can achieve, something little kids dream about.
We meet a chef who can’t wait to walk away from her prestigious Michelin star rating and a web developer who singlehandedly orchestrated one of the biggest fast food comebacks his hometown has ever seen.
Christian Ziebarth, founder of the Naugles reboot, at the Naugles test kitchen location in Huntington Beach, California. Photo by Mio Adilman, image by Gluekit / Subscribe on iTunes, listen on Spotify, tune in on Google Play and wherever you find podcasts.
Most people have fond nostalgia for the chain restaurants of their childhood, but Christian Ziebarth found his calling in those affectionate memories. The web developer and early food blogger, who had no actual restaurant business experience, made it his unlikely mission to reopen Naugles, a beloved Mexican food chain that closed in 1995.
An outspoken corporate downsizer learns a harsh lesson after being surprised with her own exit package, and a loyal cop that has to choose between fighting the war on drugs and his criminal brother. Sometimes practicing tough love at work and at home isn’t always the best policy.
Peter Muyshondt is a high-ranking police officer in Antwerp, Belgium with over 20 years of experience in law enforcement. In that time he quickly rose to deputy chief of police while watching over the country’s second largest city.
A journalist discovers a scarf with her byline imprinted in its design and embarks on an investigative journey to track down its makers; a former futures trader stumbles into her calling as an internet hoax buster with a specialty for empathizing with the perpetrators. Following your curiosity can lead you to some pretty interesting work, or at least a very good story.
What if someone told you there’s a chance the electronic pacemaker defibrillator implanted in your heart — the one that monitors your heartbeat and revives you in case of sudden heart failure — could be remotely manipulated by a hacker? It sounds far-fetched, but Karen Sandler, Executive Director of the not-for-profit organization Software Freedom Conservancy, assures that, though improbable, it’s not impossible.
A Kung-Fu master honors his father’s legacy; a frustrated musician’s chance meeting with a mentor leads to a powerful lesson in self-acceptance. Sometimes, the best thing to happen to your career is finding your guiding light.
Romeo Candido in Manila, Philippines in 2014. Images courtesy of Romeo Candido
Romeo Candido got his first big break playing a “singing, dancing Vietnamese person” in the original cast of hit Broadway musical Miss Saigon, even though he’s actually Filipino. “It was like winning the American Idol for Asian singers,” he says. “The show was like a beacon of possibility for Asian performers.”
A woman starts a dating site for single farm workers, and an exiled army colonel launches a revolution from the aisles of a hardware store. What happens when your life’s work is deeply connected to where you’re from?
British sisters Lucy Reeves and Emma Royall spent a lot of their young adulthood putting distance between themselves and the countryside where they grew up, first to different boarding schools and then to university; after school, each spent several years living abroad, Royall getting into scuba-diving off tropical islands and Reeves exploring the local nightlife of cities far from home.
An entrepreneur learns the cost of putting his work ahead of his relationship; a young developer flees her war-torn homeland for a chance to pursue her dream career. What happens when your professional ambitions put your personal life at stake?
A woman discovers her cranium-tingling voice is the stuff of YouTube stardom; a visually impaired man happens upon his special sightseeing abilities at night. What happens when your senses become your super-powers at work?
Tim Doucette peering out into the night sky in his hometown of Quinan, Nova Scotia. Photographs courtesy of Tim Doucette
Tim Doucette spent the first 18 years of his life in Quinan, Nova Scotia, population: 320. There were even fewer residents while Doucette was growing up. As a result of its remoteness, there’s very little light pollution, making it an incredible place for stargazing.
A Wall Street trader’s climb to the top proves too gut-wrenching to continue; a classical pianist grapples with a career-ending injury. What happens when you’re suddenly physically incapable of doing your job?
It never occurred to Keith Porter-Snell that life could come without piano. With a pianist for a mother and a childhood of non-stop practicing, conservatory training, and major competitions, there was never any question as to how he’d spend his life.
A prison superintendent ordered to oversee two executions struggles with his beliefs that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime and a former Vegas drug dealer finally finds his place in the high life--sober. Sometimes the only way to find your true calling is to pull a complete 180. This episode also features Slack customer Bump Boxes - a subscription service for mom and baby that covers every stage of pregnancy to your little one’s first birthday.
To gain credibility in a case, a police officer reveals his identity as a practicing pagan. After 30 years of performing as a man, a veteran comic takes the stage for the first time...as a woman. This week, two enlightening stories of people who took big risks to bring their true selves to work.
Sometimes, the way to find out who we really are is to become someone else. Like the struggling author who’s already sold millions of books and the Vietnam war vet who carries out a do-or-die promise by becoming Santa Claus.
Scott Serafin gets dressed for a kids event at his home in Eden, New York. December 9, 2016
Sometimes the most profound things we say and do at work happen when we don’t say anything at all. This week: A librarianʼs shushing earns her superhero status and a young hospital chaplain learns that sitting in silence brings great comfort to ailing, ageing patients.
Every job has its freedoms and limitations, but sometimes all you need to endure the ups and downs is a noble purpose. This week: A man who saves airline passengers from errant wildlife and another whoʼs made it his lifeʼs work to build a country for the nationless.
Parents have high hopes for their children, many wish their progeny will follow in their footsteps. This week: A son trades in building new towns for building software and a college graduate contemplates her fateful career slinging smoked fish with her legendary family.
Joel Russ behind the register in the early days of Russ & Daughters; Niki Russ Federman and Josh Russ Tupper; the retail storefront, still in its original location, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Image by Gluekit
A hundred years ago, before there was a bank and drug store on every Manhattan street corner, Jewish delis and appetizing stores were commonplace. Delis sold things like knishes and sliced meats. Appetizing stores specialized in bagels, spreads, and smoked fish.
This week: career breakthrough moments. A 17-year-old female baseball player faces off against Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. An architect takes on the daunting task of rebuilding Sandy Hook Elementary after one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history.
On December 14, 2012, a disturbed young man with a high-powered rifle forced his way into a local elementary school, and began shooting. Sandy Hook was left to deal with the seismic shock of senseless violence and its aftermath.
When it comes to envisioning what we want to do with our lives, we set our sights high. In episode 2 of Work in Progress, we hear two very different stories of a dream (job) coming true, whether by a random stroke of luck or through decades of perseverance.
Jean in front of Discovery. Photo courtesy of Jean Wright
One summer evening in July of 1969, 13-year-old Jean Wright stepped outside her house and stared up at the night sky. The moon above Flint, Michigan glowed as brightly as ever that night, but Wright looked at it differently. Moments earlier she had watched Neil Armstrong on TV as he took his first historic steps on its barren surface, and suddenly the dark sky brimmed with possibility.
Some people know exactly what they want to do when they grow up, while the rest of us take a different approach—flying by the seat of our pants, dipping in and out of jobs not giving too much thought to any master plan because frankly, it doesn’t exist. Going with the flow can change your life forever and take you to some pretty unexpected places—whether backstage with David Bowie or onto the set of one of TVs’ biggest sci-fi thrillers. Welcome to the debut episode of Work In Progress, Slack’s new podcast about the meaning and identity we find in work. Hosted by Dan Misener.
Hans Fenger’s Langley Schools Music Project got some unexpected attention from big stars like David Bowie. Illustration by R. Kikuo Johnson
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Most people have been asked that question (hopefully, expectantly) at some point in their youth. Some people have a clear-cut answer, others leave matters to fate.