Personal Stories of America at Work

Category Archives: Publishing

How an American Woman in the Middle East Changes Course on Career

This essay, by Devorah Lifshutz, was chosen from among the submissions on the topic of career change. Devorah, writing under a pseudonym, is an American writer living in Jerusalem, Israel.

"Like a feminist fairy-tale heroine, I went into labor at the office, my contractions beginning as I was completing a story."

I can still remember listening intently as opera legend Beverly Sills promised my all-female graduating class at Barnard College, Columbia University that we could “have it all;” all, of course, meaning motherhood and work, family plus career. I believed her. Back in 1981, the diva’s words seemed self-evident.

Five years later, I was a full-time reporter for The Jerusalem Post in Israel. I had exhausted the Jewish singles scene in New York and had moved to Israel to find a husband. Instead, I found a career (and eventually a husband too). I lucked out—having neither gone to journalism school, nor even taken a single journalism course—and was plucked from the editors’ pool because of my writing flair. My beat included everything. From demonstrations to gallery shows to visiting celebrities, I was there. I loved the job so much that sometimes I thought I should pay The Post rather than having The Post pay me. Then I became a mother. Like a feminist fairy-tale heroine, I went into labor at the office, my contractions beginning as I was completing a story. Thirty-six excruciating hours later, I was a mom.

Read the full interview >>

molly | June 28, 2011 | Publishing, Women, Working Mother | 1

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

Passover Special: How One Woman Makes her Mark on an Ancient Profession

“There aren’t many women doing this work—in fact, there are only about ten female scribes in the world right now.”

Torah scribe Julie Seltzer rewrites her own career story

I do ritual Hebrew calligraphy. I just finished writing my first torah, which took fourteen months. The torah is the five books of Moses—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy—which is the first part of the Hebrew Bible. Sometimes when people ask me what I do, I’m tempted to say, “I’m a writer. I’m just finishing up a book, historical fiction, lots of family drama . . .”

Read the full interview >>

molly | April 19, 2011 | Publishing, Religious, Women | 0

The Book Dork

Independent bookstore owner Kathleen Caldwell writes a sequel for a small store that’s rich with relationships

"I’m never going to be rich, but I get to do amazing things and meet amazing people."

“Kathleen does not immediately strike me as an independent bookstore owner. No artsy reading glasses. No thin scholar’s physique. Instead, I get the feeling, as she gazes intently at me, that she does not suffer fools. Interviewed outside a cafe in the hillside community of Montclair, in Oakland, California, Kathleen was interrupted multiple times by passersby who asked about a book, a reading or how business had been that weekend. Kathleen is a real fixture in the neighborhood.”

- Chronicler and Managing Editor Molly Rosen

How it all started

After having spent twenty years in the book business, as a buyer, editor, publicity agent and events coordinator, I was fired for the first time in my life.

Read the full interview >>

molly | November 23, 2010 | Publishing, Small business, Women | 3

The Evolving Artist

Painter, teacher, writer, and actor Betsy Franco finds creative success while moving from one medium to the next

“I knew that in order to feel sane, I had to create somehow.”

“Betsy and I met in Bikram yoga many years ago. With her dark long hair and petite, fit frame, I thought she was in her late forties or early fifties, but she is the mother of three grown sons—all successful and creative artists. She asked that we not mention her age because she’s now acting and would rather keep herself open for younger roles. Our discussion explores her creative path and how it led to the successful work and art she creates today.”

- Chronicler Carrie Coltman

Even when I was a child, I knew what made me happy

As a child growing up in Shaker Heights, Ohio, I remember feeling delighted when I was drawing pictures, in school or on my own. Creativity was important to my parents, and they encouraged my art. I still have some of the drawings I made while we lived in Japan, when I was five and six years old and my father was an oral surgeon in the Navy. Throughout my childhood, I was drawn to art, poetry, and math, but I couldn’t have told you that then—I only see it looking back.

Read the full interview >>

molly | November 16, 2010 | Education, Publishing, Women, Working Mother | 6

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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  • Have a story about changing careers? We want to hear from you!
    For a short time we are accepting submissions from readers and will publish the top stories on our blog and possibly include in a book.
    We'll accept an autobiographical story or interview with someone else--check out the Submission Guidelines.

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