Things you won’t find on my CV
10 jobs that led me to where I am today
Newspaper carrier: from the ages of 13 to 16, every day the Long Island edition of Newsday magically got delivered to a route of 30+ homes in Plainview (it took about 2 hours a day; less if my brother or sister helped me, longer if I took my baby brother or the dog). In addition, I had to collect the weekly fees and tips from each customer on the route. There were always people who were hard to reach, or just didn’t like to pay. Looking back, it was an unlikely livelihood but what else could I do? Length of job: 2.5 years
This opened up for me the worlds of responsibility, independence and perseverance. Probably time management as well.
Baseball cards: over 150,000 cards flowed in and out of my parents’ house during my childhood until I was 17. I must have done 500 transactions, including selling by mail order. This was all before internet, so I placed ads in trade papers and county weeklies. My nearsightedness is probably a result of reading and memorizing the stats on the back of the cards. I financed my first two European trips, bought countless books and gadgets and still have thousands of cards I don’t know what to do with. Length of job: seriously for over 5 years, then later sporadically liquidated inventory.
I learned how to negotiate. I was dealing with much older geeks, who all had a lot more experience than I did; I needed to be quick on my feet to not get ripped off. This must be how I manage to come up with all the answers in my seminars. That was useful experience.
University Security Department “Escort” service. If someone felt unsafe walking around campus at night, they could call Security and they would call us by walkie-talkie: who to escort where. Between escorts I would monitor the peace and all fire extinguishers in the dormitories, basements, lecture halls etc. I started this job in my first semester. Length of job: 1 year of night-shifts.
I learned how to wield authority= professional and friendly, even as a “security” guy.
Oxygen service: my summer job was delivering liquid oxygen tanks to dying patients all over the City and Long Island. There was extra money thanks to the on-call and hazard pay and heavy tanks. I regularly visited these patients, all of them deathly afraid of not getting their oxygen on time. Of course no one died on my watch. Length of job: 4 summers.
I learned to plan and organize my schedule so as to serve all customers and earn all that free time. Not to mention taking responsibility of other people’s oxygen supply on my shoulders. Literally. And my bedside manner was ofttimes commended!
Red light district bartender at the Last Waterhole, Amsterdam: arguably the most fun job I ever had. There was a band every night. One time one of the Angels fired a 38 at a slot machine. When the police came we were gainfully instructed to say we’d never seen him before. I loved that job. Length of job: almost 1 year.
I learned how to persuade drunk and sometimes aggressive people to go home at closing time. I never had to use the emergency line, except that once.
Illicit interpretor I was responsible for translating deals and damage control. I quit after the second hassle. Length of job: 2 weeks.
I learned severe diplomacy and that dirty business is unacceptable.
Cook: if I couldn’t find a better job during my 10 years in Amsterdam, I worked in restaurants. I’ve tried out every job possible in a restaurant. But usually I was a cook. Length of job: 3 years out of 9.
I learned how to feed myself simply or lavishly by using my 5 senses. Cooking has become like a meditation.
Rhetorical consultant, “Network CV” – a CV and resume writing service. I made flyers and placed ads in employment agencies (they let me do this for free). Eventually interview-coached job candidates at all levels. Length of job: about two years. I lost interest when I got the job at the Academy, but I still help friends do their CVs.
I practiced and taught manipulating language – verbal and nonverbal, for the purpose of persuading someone.
Sauna Fenomeen: One day I noticed a sign at my favorite (illegal) sauna club in Amsterdam; they needed some help running their meetings and getting legal. Their days of total freedom were over; they had to start paying taxes. I joined them as a volunteer on their board for two years, in addition to my regular Sunday evening shift behind the bar. During this time I had to regulate operations in an anarchistic vereniging and release certain long-standing employees for a variety of violations. Just before leaving Holland for Prague, I made sure that one guy got removed from the board. It was not an easy fight and I lost a couple of friends but we managed to vote him out. Three years later he was back on the board and getting thrown out again, these times without my intervention. The sauna is now unfortunately defunct. Length of job: 2 years.
I learned a lot of diplomacy. My mandate was to respect the anarchy, help draft and maintain rules, and pave the road for the future. It was not easy. But it was fun, and such a healthy place.
Suggestopedic teacher: even before I got into teaching, I was reading books on alternative learning methods. I tried some out, picked up Dutch and some other esoteric stuff. Then I got a teaching job and so experimented with the music and games. This turned out to be my professional entry into Prague. Length of job: sporadically for 10+ years.
I learned the delicate art of communication, to groups and to individuals. This has been useful to say the least in my current challenges as coach and (group) trainer.
Last and least, my horoscope. West: Taurus; Chinese: Fire Horse. This combination, according to the rare sources on such detailed matters, can be summed up in one word. If you’ve read this far, thank you and feel free to email me for that word. The first one who does will get a voucher for free entry to a future course.