Announcing Our New Book Project! MY JOB: Real People at Work Around the World

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Our family and foundation team are thrilled to announce the launch of our book project. Here, we disclose the what, why, who, when, and how of MY JOB.

While you clock in each day to a job you may love or hate, our director, Suzanne, along with a network of experts and volunteers that reach from San Francisco to Seoul, are tapping their contacts and racking their brains to gather true stories of some of the most intriguing individuals you’ll want to meet in MY JOB. Read why we’ve undertaken (no job-pun intended) this task, and how MY JOB will help lift millions out of poverty through dignified jobs.

This piece, written by Suzanne, reflects her primary role as editor, and reveals who’s supporting the book project through SFF and the “MY JOB dream team.” See below for how you can join us. 

 By Suzanne Skees  

WHAT: The nit and the grit of people earning a living—and sometimes just barely surviving. Our forthcoming book,My Job: Real Stories of People at Work Around the World, is our book-in-process, a nonfiction collection of true, first-person accounts of people in various jobs in the U.S. and around the world.

My Job explores the dignity, identity, economic opportunity, and inherent challenges of an occupation. How has the definition and notion of a job shifted in recent years? How does one land in a particular job, and what causes one to flourish or flounder in it? How does our job shape our sense of identity? How does where we live affect how we experience our occupation?

My Job is a special project of the Skees Family Foundation. Our family, friends, and partners will tap all the human resources we have to identify and recruit vibrant narrators to tell their compelling stories for My Job. When the book is published, 100% of proceeds of My Job will go to toward nonprofit organizations creating jobs to end poverty in the U.S. and around the world.

 

A seamstress in Port-au-Prince, Haiti daydreams on the job. 

 

WHERE: Everywhere. Finding and interviewing the colorful characters (who happen to be real) has me stomping around in the soil of George Kahumoku’s three-acre organic garden on the north shore of Maui, Hawaii; balancing my notebook outside a Zoona mobile-money kiosk in downtown Lusaka, Zambia, while chatting with self-made millionaire Misozi; and sipping tea with Nga in the upstairs office of her Hanoi, Vietnam, Thriive-supported factory where she produces school backpacks that double as life-vests to rescue thousands of children from drowning each year.

 

Matt’s working on a top-secret renewable energy project at Google X—but he’s also keeping 1,000 kids in school around the world. Read more here

 

WHO: Incredible individuals, some of which are right here in the U.S. There’s Matt, the youngest Google employee on the business-development team in Mountain View, California, working on a top-secret renewable energy project by day, who volunteers for the nonprofit he launched, The School Fund, nights and weekends. Nikki, who left her cushy cubicle in an IT firm in Denver, Colorado, to teach yoga and pedicab her way to graduate school in counseling, and discovered her love of fresh air, veggie burritos, and American tourists as she pedaled her way to her dream career. And Kelly, an English teacher in Daegu, Korea who loves her students at Chungdaum Learning Academy but is keeping a secret from her fellow teachers . . . As I travel around, meeting people in corners of the U.S. where I’ve never ventured before, and getting precious stamps in my passport from countries I never dreamed I’d get to visit, I’m shocked by our narrators’ generosity of time and truth. The stories they tell, to be compiled in My Job, will surprise and inspire you.

And while I’m running around putting a microphone in front of both the famous and the unknown, our “dream team” works back home to build our community. (That means YOU.) Isaac designed our logo and advises us on graphics, and Peter created our Instagram-style photographic website. Jonathan and team analyzed the market to discern exactly what content readers want and how to deliver it; Wendy expertly transcribes our interviews; and project manager Andrea keeps the entire machine humming as the weeks turn into chapters and the months become a book.

Meanwhile, hundreds of friends, from Hannah in Florida to Jill in New York, advise us informally, connect us with cool people to interview, and volunteer their creativity to build a collaborative project. If you have ideas or people and wish to join the team, contact us here.

 

The expertise behind the cuisine at a hip Asian-fusion restaurant in Los Angeles, California.

 

HOW: Tenacious creativity. The idea for My Job didn’t come from just one brain; it’s constantly evolving from hundreds of conversations. As we talk and I listen, I become increasingly convinced that these stories need to come into the light, illuminated and amplified, because the My Job narrators are:

  • Like none you’ve ever known: people you will grow to admire, who are striving toward a better life and better world by the sweat of their brows.
  • Working in professional roles that might strike your curiosity, such as  sports and music and tourism; and
  • Working in the informal sector or in low-paying jobs in programs whose work to end poverty we want to honor through these stories and whose programs we want to help fund through sales of My Job.

WHEN: Right now. We’ve just begun to seek the perfect publisher as well as corporate, podcast, and broadcast partners for this project. We believe the content will speak for itself, and we will find ideal outlets for these stories of real people at work around the world.

WHY: To share untold stories of amazing people; to explore the local and global issues around work today; and to raise awareness and funds for job-creation to end poverty. And, because it’s the most inspiring, challenging, and exciting creative project I’ve yet dared to launch.

 

The first person I interviewed for MY JOB: Muhammad, rickshaw puller in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Read more about Muhammad here

 

HOW YOU CAN BE A PART OF THE BOOK: Join us on a journey through the U.S. and around the world to experience jobs held by vibrant individuals in all sectors, from farming to information technology, to midwifery, to the military, to sex workers, to filmmakers and more. The book is being written throughout 2015! Get updates here.

Photographs courtesy of Scott Fifer of GoCampaign (Haitian seamstress) and Suzanne Skees for MY JOB (all others).

LEARN more about My Job and get a sneak peek into who’s in the book and how it’s all coming together, here. If you know a famous or infamous person in a fascinating job whom you’d like to nominate for the book, let us know here.

 

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DONATE directly to My Job’s mission of creating jobs to end poverty by selecting among our grantee partners here.

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