Saturday Morning Request for the Collective Professional Wisdom of Ricochet

 

networkingA notable quality of Ricochet’s members is that quite some number of you are both extremely professionally accomplished — and remarkably modest about it. Few of our members brag, but since I’m a curious woman and good at reading between the lines, I’ve figured out that many of you have been quite successful at managing businesses, in particular — unsurprisingly, given the pro-business orientation of our site — and many of you have excelled in a number of other fields that demand an uncommon level of ambition, discipline, professionalism, and commitment.

As I mentioned on a recent editorial podcast, one of my favorite member posts in Ricochet history was Concretevol’s glimpse into his industry: Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Concrete (But Were Afraid To Ask). I love learning about jobs I know nothing about — that’s why I also love Dave Carter’s explanations about how the trucking industry works, and really enjoyed Bryan G. Stephens’ recent post about his experiences as a psychotherapist.

I have a sense that we have many people here who have had fascinating professional experiences — but who rarely discuss them, perhaps out of modesty or the mistaken sense that they wouldn’t be of interest. I’d personally love to hear more about what you do: about your training; about the economics of your industry; about the skills and temperamental traits required to succeed in it; about the lessons you’ve learned from it; about the way your industry has changed (if it has), and if so, how you’ve adapted. I’d love to know about the biggest challenges someone in your line of work faces, and to hear your tips for navigating them successfully.

Of course, it would also always interesting to hear how these experiences have shaped your political opinions. But even apart from that, we have such an interesting group of people here: We seem, truly, to have among us a highly qualified expert on every subject under the sun. And not everything about our lives is political, so there’s no need for every post to be about politics.

So may I invite you to tell us a bit more about what you do for a living? I’d love to see a lively discussion about this in the comments on this thread, of course, but even more: I’d love to see posts about it in the Member Feed. This morning, I put a little post on the Member Feed about a common dilemma in my own industry, to get things started. (It doesn’t make what I do sound like fun, but might give you a bit of insight into the way “the news” becomes “the news you read this morning.”) Let’s keep that as a Ricochet Member exclusive, though: If my thoughts about that go too far on the loose, they do have a bit of “You’ll never eat lunch in this town again” potential.

So tell us more about your job. And to those of you who reckon what you do is boring, I’ll bet you anything you’re wrong. For those of us who’ve never done a job like that, I wager it will be a lot more interesting than you’d ever think.

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  1. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    I’ve been working with the elderly in recent years; usually people with some degree of dementia. It started with watching after my grandma 24/7. Here’s something I wrote for Ricochet on the topic of elderly care back then.

    • #1
  2. user_5186 Inactive
    user_5186
    @LarryKoler

    I hope you like this as much as I do:

    Mike Rowe's Poster - Work Smart AND Hard

    • #2
  3. user_3206 Inactive
    user_3206
    @BruceHendricksen

    I’ve been an emergency medicine physician in the same suburban hospital outside of Chicago for 34 years. During that time it grew from about 18,000 visits/year to 70,000+.  Things have changed a lot. Three more years and I can write my memoir.

    • #3
  4. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Bruce Hendricksen:I’ve been an emergency medicine physician in the same suburban hospital outside of Chicago for 34 years. During that time it grew from about 18,000 visits/year to 70,000+. Things have changed a lot. Three more years and I can write my memoir.

    Get started now! We have two ER physicians here (that I know 0f), you and Kozak. I’d love to read that back-and-forth.

    • #4
  5. user_3206 Inactive
    user_3206
    @BruceHendricksen

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    Bruce Hendricksen:I’ve been an emergency medicine physician in the same suburban hospital outside of Chicago for 34 years. During that time it grew from about 18,000 visits/year to 70,000+. Things have changed a lot. Three more years and I can write my memoir.

    Get started now! We have two ER physicians here (that I know 0f), you and Kozak. I’d love to read that back-and-forth.

    We’ll see.  From the inside, it’s all pretty mundane at this point. (OK, not everything, all the time.) But still, difficult to know what might be interesting to others.

    • #5
  6. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    I write about TV too much as it is.

    • #6
  7. user_348483 Coolidge
    user_348483
    @EHerring

    Retired (16 years ago) Air Force officer, tactical air and missile defense.  I saw our future:  went through Checkpoint Charlie into East Berlin and saw the results of socialism and equality for all, spent time in Saudi and saw how Christians live where their religion is not tolerated, went to the shooting range to re-qualify on the M-16 every three years and saw how poorly recruits shoot when they grow up in a gun-free world, did gas chamber training and learned how those missing WMD rumored to have been shipped to Syria affect the body (hint:  shoot a roach with Raid and watch), lived in Third World countries and saw how people live under corrupt governments, worked in the Air Operations Center and saw how PC has screwed up warfighting…

    I have quit watching the news – too painful to watch.  Spending my retirement playing with my grandchildren, reading, watching H&G TV and college baseball, going to Home Depot/Lowe’s, and listening to Ricochet podcasts.  Got my husband a GLOP shirt and a National Review sweatshirt for Father’s Day.  I hope he gets me a gun safe for my birthday.  My sons-in-law are too old to be drafted and my grandsons are too young by far – but I fear for them and their future.  Those of us who served in military operations are not hawks….we just aren’t naive.

    • #7
  8. The Great Adventure! Inactive
    The Great Adventure!
    @TheGreatAdventure

    People often ask me what I do for my keep. I always respond with “I’m a consultant”.  Upon saying this, I say a quick prayer – “Lord, PLEASE!  Don’t let them ask th follow up question of ‘What kind of consultant?'”

    The moment I begin to explain that I assist clients who are implementing Supply Chain Management (SCM) software with a focus on Transportation Management Systems (TMS), 99.98% of them get a glazed look in their eyes which I recognize as a statement of remorse for having asked.

    As far as how things have changed… software companies come and go, ascend and descend.  I’m independent (used to work for one particular vendor) so I try to be company agnostic, but most of my experience is with the applications produced by my former employer.  For the first 17 years I was doing this, I averaged 120K air miles a year, almost all of it domestic.  Fly from Portland to someplace E of the Mississippi (usually) on Monday, work on site with the client Tuesday through Friday afternoon, fly home Friday evening.

    Over the past 2 years, however, there seems to have been a client base wide epiphany.  “Hey!  A lot, if not most, of the work this guy is doing he could do from home.  Why are we shelling out $1500 – $2000 per week in travel expenses?”  Last year I made 5 plane trips.  So far this year I haven’t yet been on a plane.

    • #8
  9. The Great Adventure! Inactive
    The Great Adventure!
    @TheGreatAdventure

    A follow up – my current client is in the Eastern time zone, so I have to start work at 0500 Pacific.  But never underestimate the joys of wearing shorts & flip flops to work every day!

    • #9
  10. user_348483 Coolidge
    user_348483
    @EHerring

    The Great Adventure!:A follow up – my current client is in the Eastern time zone, so I have to start work at 0500 Pacific. But never underestimate the joys of wearing shorts & flip flops to work every day!

    Dream job.

    • #10
  11. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    EHerring:Retired (16 years ago) Air Force officer, tactical air and missile defense. I saw our future: went through Checkpoint Charlie into East Berlin and saw the results of socialism and equality for all, spent time in Saudi and saw how Christians live where their religion is not tolerated, went to the shooting range to re-qualify on the M-16 every three years and saw how poorly recruits shoot when they grow up in a gun-free world, did gas chamber training and learned how those missing WMD rumored to have been shipped to Syria affect the body (hint: shoot a roach with Raid and watch), lived in Third World countries and saw how people live under corrupt governments, worked in the Air Operations Center and saw how PC has screwed up warfighting…

    Oh, how totally boring, man. Not like anyone here would want to learn more about that.

    (Would you please get on over to the Member Feed now and start writing your memoirs? Do I have to beg?)

    • #11
  12. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Well yesterday the training department still hadn’t updated the qualification/certification database so I could operate a crane, so I spent the day driving crane test weights around on a flatbed trailer. It’s not very exciting except that it was 60,000 pounds of weights each trip with truck rated at 52,000 pound gross. So, the short way of saying what I do is “I work for stupid people.”

    • #12
  13. user_348483 Coolidge
    user_348483
    @EHerring

    Claire Berlinski, Ed.:

    EHerring:Retired (16 years ago) Air Force officer, tactical air and missile defense. I saw our future: went through Checkpoint Charlie into East Berlin and saw the results of socialism and equality for all, spent time in Saudi and saw how Christians live where their religion is not tolerated, went to the shooting range to re-qualify on the M-16 every three years and saw how poorly recruits shoot when they grow up in a gun-free world, did gas chamber training and learned how those missing WMD rumored to have been shipped to Syria affect the body (hint: shoot a roach with Raid and watch), lived in Third World countries and saw how people live under corrupt governments, worked in the Air Operations Center and saw how PC has screwed up warfighting…

    Oh, how totally boring, man. Not like anyone here would want to learn more about that.

    (Would you please get on over to the Member Feed now and start writing your memoirs? Do I have to beg?)

    Are you coming on the cruise?  Socials are great for talking to interesting ricochetti.  I am easy to spot….I will be with the handsome husband.  I will have on my Richochet credentials (ricochet luggage tag, sans strap, clipped to the National Review lanyard).

    • #13
  14. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    The Great Adventure!:People often ask me what I do for my keep. I always respond with “I’m a consultant”. Upon saying this, I say a quick prayer – “Lord, PLEASE! Don’t let them ask th follow up question of ‘What kind of consultant?’”

    The moment I begin to explain that I assist clients who are implementing Supply Chain Management (SCM) software with a focus on Transportation Management Systems (TMS), 99.98% of them get a glazed look in their eyes which I recognize as a statement of remorse for having asked.

    If their eyes are glazing over, it’s because you’re telling it wrong. You have to start with the part people need to grasp: that unless you’re looking at an indigenous species of tree, every single thing around them got there, somehow. Start with that fact. (The most impressive place to say this is in Manhattan: Wave right. Wave left. Say, “See all of that? Nineteen bridges and twelve tunnels. Everything you see came over them.”) Let that idea sink in. Then they grasp “Supply Chain,” and from there it’s pretty easy to get to “Transportation Management Systems.”

    Not so boring then! Right? After that, if they’ve got so much as two firing neurons in their brains, they’ll say, “Wow. How does that happen?”

    And then you can say, “Funny you should ask,” and take it away. Because what you do is in fact anything but boring … you’re just starting with terms that sound boring, because they’re jargon. People don’t get what they really mean.

    As far as how things have changed… software companies come and go, ascend and descend. I’m independent (used to work for one particular vendor) so I try to be company agnostic, but most of my experience is with the applications produced by my former employer. For the first 17 years I was doing this, I averaged 120K air miles a year, almost all of it domestic. Fly from Portland to someplace E of the Mississippi (usually) on Monday, work on site with the client Tuesday through Friday afternoon, fly home Friday evening.

    Over the past 2 years, however, there seems to have been a client base wide epiphany. “Hey! A lot, if not most, of the work this guy is doing he could do from home.

    Rather an interesting –and hugely consequential — transformation for those who think about how best to manage the labor supply chain. Another point you’d be in a good position to explain, I reckon.

    Get thee to the Member Feed. Explain this the right way and I promise you — no one’s eyes will ever glaze over again. Just get them started with the right thought: See what’s around you? How do you think it got there? How do you think it keeps getting there every day? 

    • #14
  15. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    What I got from this post is we are going to talk about concrete again, excellent!!!  :)

    • #15
  16. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Aaron Miller:I’ve been working with the elderly in recent years; usually people with some degree of dementia. It started with watching after my grandma 24/7. Here’s something I wrote for Ricochet on the topic of elderly care back then.

    That’s really a wonderful post, Aaron. And an update based on what you’ve seen since then would be very welcome.

    • #16
  17. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Concretevol:What I got from this post is we are going to talk about concrete again, excellent!!! :)

    You started this, as far as I’m concerned.

    • #17
  18. OkieSailor Member
    OkieSailor
    @OkieSailor

    I’ll be the gate-crasher here. I never worked my way to the top though I did pay the bills for 35 years by going into the tire factory every day, even when I didn’t feel like it. I did have my own business for a while (appliance repair) but no employees. We homeschooled  4 kids,   (my wife is brilliant!), saw 3 graduate college and all become self-supporting adults, no mean feat today though that is a sad commentary, I think.
    We helped turn Oklahoma into the reddest State in the Union, not in leadership roles but as consistent foot soldiers, starting with knocking every door in my district twice for Don Nickles when he ran as a little known candidate against a big name Democrat who outspent him 3-1. Nickles was elected because enough of us cared about his small government message to get the word out through shoe leather and phone calls (I hate making phone calls!). Leadership matters but there is no substitute for foot soldiers. The candidates I’m most proud of in terms of the results were Senators Coburn and Lankford.
    After retirement we designed a new home, bought an acre, moved 800 miles and are now finishing our new residence. We will continue to make our small, but hopefully  important contributions to rebuilding a vibrant America even though (hopefully) no one will ever know our names; we like it better that way.
    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/17042240/CAM01423.jpg

    • #18
  19. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Education.  My absolute favorite stories usually get shared with parents, not posted on the Internet.  But I have a few.

    Lots of politics which– other than Common Core, nowadays — doesn’t get as much attention on the Right as it deserves.  I’m not sure why, since it’s rather important.  It’s complicated with many layers and I claim no expertise, but I go through phases when that stuff absolutely fascinates me.  ESEA reauthorisation is a big deal, but speaking of eyes glazing over…

    But once in a while, I think about trying to write something up.  Time or mental energy are often short.  Maybe this summer, though

    • #19
  20. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    Virtually everything I write is about my job. But there are a lot of lawyers at ricochet!

    • #20
  21. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Used to be a space navigator, mainly on the Shuttle Program. This included three year on the Navigation Console doing real-time navigation of the Shuttle during missions. Mostly navigation performance analysis afterwards.  Before anyone gets too impressed, it is mostly a number-crunching job.

    When the Shuttle Program ended I transitioned to being a technical writer? Why? The demand for space navigation software engineers was far exceeded by the supply, while the demand for tech writers exceeded the supply (of good ones – I am a good one). Throw in that I did (and do) freelance writing, the decision to change into a tech writer was easy. Mostly work on producing software documentation for end users – the poor suckers who get a new program and have to figure out how to use it. I also write documents for software developers on how to get the software they write to work with the software my employers  produce.

    I also write history books as a hobby. (Why as a hobby? Because the best advice you can give a freelance author is “don’t quit the day job.”)

    Seawriter

    • #21
  22. SParker Member
    SParker
    @SParker

    EHerring:

    The Great Adventure!:A follow up – my current client is in the Eastern time zone, so I have to start work at 0500 Pacific. But never underestimate the joys of wearing shorts & flip flops to work every day!

    Dream job.

    +1.  It’s also nice when you wake up in middle of the night worried about being behind schedule to just walk across the hall and get started on the day.

    As for people being bored by what you do, thank the merciful Lord that you don’t have to say doctor, lawyer, or anything else most people are even remotely interested in.  There’s the old joke about the doctor asking the lawyer at a party what to do about people wanting free medical advice.  Lawyer says “do what I do:  send them a bill.”  Doctor says “thanks” and receives a bill  in the mail 3 weeks later.

    • #22
  23. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    I’ve had two careers.  I spent 10 years as a hospital Pharmacy Assistant; ended as lead IV tech at Children’s Hospital in Seattle.  I was one of the first to receive my tech license when the state began requiring it.  When I re-started playing the violin after 25 years and wanted to play in a community orchestra (note my avatar),  I had to find another job that didn’t require working rotating shifts and weekends.

    Great Adventure, we should talk.  Right now I am a Planner/Buyer at an aerospace company.  We went to a new ERP system in 2013, and we’re still getting it broken in. I have 25 years Purchasing experience, and I absolutely love my work.  I’m also the Business Survey Chairman of ISM-Western Washington, and just finished by 16th year in that capacity. ISM is Institute for Supply Management.

    • #23
  24. user_541971 Member
    user_541971
    @DavidDeeble

    When I was a kid I joined my local magic club, the Long Beach Mystics. The Mystics had two chief characteristics: a complete lack of adult supervision and a laser-like philosophical focus on giving audiences the bang for their buck. What I didn’t know at the time is that “my local magic club” would emerge as an incredibly prolific producer of some of the most successful entertainers in magic and comedy.

    The Mystics disbanded sometime in the ’80s, though many of us remain friends. Professionally, though, I never looked back. The first summer after I graduated high school I went to Europe with a friend and busked (performed on the street) in Munich, Bern, and Avignon. The comedy boom had not yet run its course so I began performing at comedy clubs throughout North America. I now perform at private functions, cruise ships and corporate events and on the road about half the year (I’ll be performing on the Pacific Princess in Alaska during the NR cruise and will just miss you guys).

    I’ve appeared on Last Comic Standing, CBS This Morning and  The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. I’m also the only performer kicked off America’s Got Talent! (their exclamation point, not mine) by merely describing my act.

    Locally, I perform most often at the Comedy & Magic Club in Hermosa Beach and The Magic Castle in Hollywood. I love what I do and make it my mission to ensure that audiences do, too.

    • #24
  25. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    Seawriter:I also write history books as a hobby. (Why as a hobby? Because the best advice you can give a freelance author is “don’t quit the day job.”)

    Afraid that’s true, alas.

    • #25
  26. JustmeinAZ Member
    JustmeinAZ
    @JustmeinAZ

    Wow, I don’t know how to make my job sound interesting but I love it. I am a financial analyst at a major defense contractor (think Tomahawk missiles) and it’s just like going to work and solving math puzzles all day. The best part of the job is watching videos of our products blowing up bad guys. Retiring in July after 30 years.

    • #26
  27. Layla Inactive
    Layla
    @Layla

    Before I left publishing to stay home with and educate my kids, I was an editor for the premiere K-12 education magazine. (Hence the staying home to educate my kids. Ahem.)

    Now I edit almost exclusively for my husband, who writes primarily about fly fishing. (No, really. I’m serious. I can tell you everything you never wanted to know about shad migration.)

    I also teach my own kids–and others’ kids, when I’m teaching literature.

    Boring, but I think that’s what I like about it. ;)

    • #27
  28. Eric Hines Inactive
    Eric Hines
    @EricHines

    Like EHerring, I’m an ex-USAF officer, though not retired: I resigned my Regular commission after 14 years when I couldn’t stomach my General’s views of “ethics.”

    Sat across the fence from the Russians most of that time; a couple of minutes, air time, away from northern Korea for some of it; a TDY in Saudi Arabia as part of an advisory team helping them watch the Iran-Iraq war for another small part.  I got there shortly after Israel bombed Osirak, and the SAF were still very unhappy that we’d not given them a heads up on that, since of course our magic, sees-all AWACS watched that mission from start to finish.  I’ve seen evil close up.

    Advised the PAF on air defense matters for a while, was there when Marcos was tossed.  Was there, too, when Clark was closed by a Philippino worker strike, until the “entertainment industry” just outside the gates in Angeles City literally stoned the strikers off those gates and made them get back to work so the “entertainers” could get back to work, too.

    Early in my career I qualified expert with the .38 pistol (all us officers were allowed to carry at the time; we couldn’t be trusted with serious small arms), scoring 102 out of a possible 100.  The “officer” on my right at the firing range would close her eyes every time she fired, insisting that God would aim her pistol, and God apparently aimed a few of her shots at my target.

    Spent time as the Director of Radar Operations for the then largest Wing in the USAF in Germany as a Captain sitting in two Lt Col billets (I also had a position in the Base Command Post).  During that job, my wife–assigned to USAFE HQ–was bombed by the Red Army Faction, and her first call was to me so I could get my base prepped and on alert.

    Moved to the civilian world in defense contracting and then “the phone company.”  Got thoroughly disgruntled with the civilian view of management and the utter lack of actual leadership: everything is groupthink and PC sewage.  There’s also a marked lack of interest in offering or accepting personal responsibility or plussed-up jobs (my stints in the USAF weren’t that unusual; the military routinely puts people into higher positions than their official rank might seem to justify).

    Now I pretend to write for a living.

    Eric Hines

    • #28
  29. Claire Berlinski, Ed. Editor
    Claire Berlinski, Ed.
    @Claire

    JustmeinAZ:Wow, I don’t know how to make my job sound interesting

    Oh, you do. See below.

    but I love it. I am a financial analyst at a major defense contractor (think Tomahawk missiles) and it’s just like going to work and solving math puzzles all day. The best part of the job is watching videos of our products blowing up bad guys. Retiring in July after 30 years.

    • #29
  30. Ed G. Member
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Ryan M:Virtually everything I write is about my job.But there are a lot of lawyers at ricochet!

    One thing about Ricochet I never could stomach: all the damn attorneys.

    • #30

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