#34: Lindsay Moran & Jeff Wenker on Teaching

Listen to the interview by clicking the arrow on the audio player below.

Back when Work Stew consisted of little more than my own inaugural essay, two friends of mine agreed to contribute essays of their own to what I assured them would eventually be a “collection.”

Ex-spy Lindsay Moran wrote a piece on the hazards of working while parenting and, in the days after the Abbottabad raid that killed Osama bin Laden, she contributed a second essay reflecting on her decision to leave the CIA back in 2003.

Coincidentally, the Abbottabad raid also inspired Jeff Wenker’s contribution to Work Stew: in his essay “In Praise of Uncertainty,” he speculated that, even on a bad day, he was a better stay-at-home Dad than bin Laden ever was.

Several weeks ago, I learned that both Lindsay and Jeff have now turned their attentions to teaching: Lindsay recently completed a long-term substituting gig, and Jeff is currently working his way through a certification program.

In this interview, I talked to both Lindsay and Jeff about their reasons for wanting to teach after years in other roles; we also discussed the logistics involved in effecting such a major career transition. For anyone who liked the banker-turned-teacher interview but felt that it needed at least one Dick Hertz joke, this is for you.

#33: Lice Removal Expert Lisa Weisberg

Listen to the interview by clicking the arrow on the audio player below.

In this episode, I talk to professional lice remover Lisa Weisberg. When I first heard about Lisa’s business, a service in the Chicago area called The Nit Pickers, I took note mainly because it was yet another unusual job (so now we have gorilla caretaker, adult film closed captionerhigh-rise window washer, jolly old elf, funeral director, dating coach AND lice remover). But that wasn’t all: the more I thought about it, the more I needed to understand Lisa’s motivation. I would find it difficult to deal with lice in my own family…why on earth, I wondered, would someone choose to tackle the infestations of strangers?

But as you will hear in the interview, Lisa loves her work. In this great talk, psychologist Shawn Achor makes a strong case for positive thinking, and Lisa’s enthusiasm for her work proves to me, possibly in a way that nothing else ever has, that happiness on the job is indeed largely a function of attitude.

About Lisa Weisberg:  Lisa Weisberg was a stay-at-home mom when her family endured a long and expensive battle with lice. In the course of the struggle, she realized there was a business opportunity in providing compassionate, expert lice removal at affordable rates. And so The Nit Pickers was born. Based in Northbrook, Illinois, the business centers around a salon focused exclusively on the removal of head lice; the company also offers home delousing services.

#32: Actor Chris Soldevilla

Listen to the interview by clicking the arrow on the audio player below.

Chris Soldevilla has been a working actor for more than 20 years, and his wife, Elizabeth Mitchell (ER, Lost, V), is also in the business—so he knows a thing or two about “playing” for a living.

In Follow Your Heart, Do the Math, or Somewhere in Between?, I asked Work Stew readers what they would tell young people seeking career advice today. Most of the commenters, perhaps still bruised by these recessionary times, suggested they’d lean towards “Do the math.” In other words: focus on acquiring marketable skills and pursue your passions in your spare time. Given this, I was intrigued to speak with someone who has in fact followed his heart—and fared just fine.

About Chris Soldevilla: Chris has been performing and teaching in Boston, L.A., and Seattle for over 20 years. He performs regularly with The Edge Improv, a well regarded Seattle-based improv troupe; he appears in plays and other projects; and he teaches a range of acting and improv classes for teens and adults. He has also appeared in commercials, TV shows (7th Heaven, Arli$$) and movies (Coyote Ugly).