One afternoon in 2014, my coworker Steve Schwartz, cofounder of Upaya Social Ventures, and I sat over plates of Thai noodles at a strip-mall café in San Jose, California, talking about the current batch of stories I was writing about their work to end poverty through job-creation in India. Suddenly, Steve threw both hands into the air and, with a tip of his bald head, he exclaimed:
“You know, Suzanne, every one of your stories is really about people in their jobs. You should write a book. You know, sort of like an updated take on Studs Terkel’s Working.”
And so Steve midwifed the concept for My Job, right in the middle of a Thai lunch.
Since that day, I’ve talked ad nauseam to everyone who crosses my path, getting input from coworkers, friends, and family members. They want:
- real stories of everyday people
- to know what it’s really like to be a taxi driver, a teacher, a musician, etc., and
- to travel vicariously to as many U.S. states, global cities and villages, as possible, gobbling up knowledge about people in their jobs.
As I begin a year of travel and interviews, a global team joins me creatively and virtually. Steve and his colleagues from Seattle to Bangalore; Kathleen from Kenya; Zeenat and Peter from San Jose; Isaac from Edinburgh; Daniel and Jonathan from San Francisco; Andrea from Boston—these and many more kindred spirits share their ideas and connections to build a collective vision.
What do we hope to accomplish? To create a compelling collection of stories that give voice to both famous and unknown workers, as they talk about their lives and how work has impacted them; and to raise and redistribute funds (through advertisements, donations, publication, and partnerships) for our job-creation partners—like Upaya.
Join us as we get started!