A brand new podcast about
the meaning and identity
we find in work.

Brought to you by Slack.

Tune in each week on SiriusXM, Apple Podcasts,
or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Episode Thirty-Four | Beginnings

Listen to Episode 34:

A reporter does her first remote live radio broadcast from inside a block of ice, a celebrity impersonator’s first international trip teaches her what it really means to be “Big in Japan,” and a Japanese translator leaves her family for the first time only to get shipwrecked on a movie set in the Antarctic. For our final episode of the season, we hear the origin stories behind of some of the strangest, and yet most formative, work experiences people have had in their lives. We go back to where it all starts: the beginning.

Illustration by Christina Ung / Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, listen on Spotify, tune in on Google Play and wherever you find podcasts.

Big in Japan A theme park mascot travels around the world to rediscover her roots

Erin Stanfield is a wardrobe stylist, dressing actors for film and television. But she began her career wearing a costume of her own.

Episode Thirty-Three | Age of Aquarius

Listen to Episode 33:

The owner of a vintage retail store recalls how she made a career out of the eclectic clothing in her closet, and a doctor grapples with his community’s vehement protests against his plans to open a medical cannabis dispensary. In this episode, two stories of peace, love, drugs and counterculture in ‘60s San Francisco.

Illustration by Ping Zhu / Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, listen on Spotify, tune in on Google Play and wherever you find podcasts.

Cultivating community support for your work A doctor and dispensary owner tries to graft a new business onto an existing neighborhood

Dr. Floyd Huen didn’t expect a community meeting earlier this year in San Francisco’s Sunset District to be contentious. The 70-year-old Asian-American community organizer and physician planned to explain his proposal for a bilingual, community-centric medical marijuana dispensary that would also offer traditional Chinese medicine treatments such as acupuncture. But the crowd was hardly supportive. Someone shouted, “You’re supposed to be a role model!” At one point, a chorus of, “Get out! Get out!” filled the room.

Episode Thirty-Two | From the Ground Up

Listen to Episode 32:

An environmentalist burns the midnight oil volunteering to preserve decades of climate change data amid a major government clampdown, and a Syrian medical student learns how his family’s chocolate-making business can equally be a cure for heartbreak. This week, stories about survival and the lengths people go to preserve a life’s work.

Illustration by Kelsey Wroten / Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, listen on Spotify, tune in on Google Play and wherever you find podcasts.

Starting (again) from scratch A refugee puts his medical career on hold to help give his family a sweet new start

Tareq Hadhad always wanted to be a doctor. In Damascus, Syria, where he grew up, school grades can determine someone’s entire career trajectory. Hadhad worked hard to earn the necessary grades. But shortly after entering medical school, the would-be physician had to help his family relocate to Antigonish, a small town in Nova Scotia, Canada. And there, his career took a very different turn: he had to help restart the family business, a chocolate company now called Peace by Chocolate.

Episode Thirty-One | The Next Act

Listen to Episode 31:

An enterprising retiree becomes a bustling cafés’ new favorite server, and a former Wall Street banker finds renewed inspiration after accepting a summer internship with a group of college students. This week, stories of people who have proved that it’s never too late to find professional, and personal, fulfillment.

Illustration by Josh Cochran / Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, listen on Spotify, tune in on Google Play and wherever you find podcasts.

A retiree re-enters the work world — as an intern After leaving corporate life, an executive finds a new way to teach, and learn from, a new generation of workers

One afternoon last summer, Paul Critchlow watched in awe as a fellow intern at Pfizer scrolled through her Facebook feed. “How do you get to the bottom of this?” he asked. Critchlow had never noticed the bottomlessness of social media. He wondered: if there is no end to information, how did his colleagues ever draw a conclusion about anything?

Episode Thirty | Stop the Presses!

Listen to Episode 30:

Meet the three New York Times machinists who’ve printed every single issue of the paper for the last 30 years, and an investigative reporter who waged war on mayoral misconduct from the front page of the Toronto Star. This week, stories of people whose lives (and careers) have been indelibly marked by the business of getting the story right.

Illustration by Samantha Mash / Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, listen on Spotify, tune in on Google Play and wherever you find podcasts.

Smoke, lies, and videotape For one investigative reporter, professional integrity trumps scooping the competition

Investigative reporter Kevin Donovan has built a sterling reputation over the past three-plus decades at The Toronto Star. He’s covered two wars and currently leads team of eight journalists, the biggest investigative unit of any Canadian print publication.

Episode Twenty Nine | Working on a dream (job)

Listen to Episode 29:

A freshwater ecologist tasked with making his research more accessible discovers an unlikely muse in Bruce Springsteen. A medical ethnobotanist seeks new cures for super bugs in the natural world after her own near-death brush with a bacterial infection. This week, stories about the noble pursuit of knowledge—and how that often leads to some surprising discoveries about ourselves.

Illustration by R. Kikuo Johnson / Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, listen on Spotify, tune in on Google Play and wherever you find podcasts.

Working on a dream (job) A disciple of science and Springsteen discovers he was born to pun

Freshwater ecologist Ian J. Winfield studies lake fish such as char and carp — not exactly the sort of climate change-adjacent topic that gets much media attention. He also happens to be a huge Bruce Springsteen fan. “Scientists are humans, so this kind of interest in things other than science is not unusual,” he jokes.

Episode Twenty Eight | Footloose & Free(lancer)

Listen to Episode 28:

Dive into the daily hustle, juggle, and struggle of the freelance life in this special episode. Meet a freelance farmer with a novel approach to traditional work; a writer, mother and animal keeper bitten by the travel bug; a sweet-talking freelance collections agent whose business is to get freelancers paid; and a private forensic pathologist who finds the untold stories of the dearly departed.

Illustration by Kelsey Wroten / Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, listen on Spotify, tune in on Google Play and wherever you find podcasts.

How a jet-setting career can actually mean more time at home A freelance travel writer uses her job flexibility to meet her family’s — and her own — needs

Lola Augustine Brown has what many would call a dream job, being paid to travel to exotic destinations and experience the best they have to offer. On a recent assignment to Anguilla, for example, the freelance travel writer spent several days savoring gourmet meals and delicious sunsets. She was working, but it didn’t feel like work.

Episode Twenty Seven | Reach for the Stars

Listen to Episode 27:

A jetpack inventor rejects his position as an ivory-towered executive to stay grounded as an entrepreneur. A Jamaican-American chess player becomes the first black international grandmaster in history. This week, stories of childhood dreams and the realities of rising through the ranks.

Illustration by Josh Holinaty / Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, listen on Spotify, tune in on Google Play and wherever you find podcasts.

Making the right moves How the first black chess grandmaster built a lifelong career out of a young person's game

When Maurice Ashley was trying to become a chess grandmaster, there were about 600 of the top-ranked competitors in the world. His aspirations went beyond just earning the title: he wanted to become the world’s first ever black chess grandmaster.

Episode Twenty Six | Looking Back to the Future

Listen to Episode 26:

A college student’s sweepstakes win paves the way for her lifelong dream to reform U.S. immigration policy. An academic lands a rare dream job as the ‘Wikimedian in Residence’ for one of the oldest libraries at the University of Oxford. This week, stories of modern day jobs with a historical twist.

Illustration by Christina Ung / Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, listen on Spotify, tune in on Google Play and wherever you find podcasts.

Amid a life of uncertainty, a stroke of luck A sweepstakes win paves the way for a college student's dream to reform immigration policy

The path that Ivón Padilla-Rodríguez’s life has taken is paved with improbable milestones.

Episode Twenty Five | Bake-Off

Listen to Episode 25:

The head of purchasing and IT at America’s largest fortune cookie supplier takes on a new role as head fortune cookie writer. A baker with Down syndrome has to break the law to lead an independent life and career. This week, two stories of remarkable people in who fight the odds to pursue their passions.

Illustration by Ping Zhu / Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, listen on Spotify, tune in on Google Play and wherever you find podcasts.

Building a business when no one will hire you When employers saw only her disability, one cookie-baking entrepreneur saw an opportunity

Collette Divitto says the hardest thing about having Down syndrome is having her family tell her what she can and cannot do. But the 26-year-old cookie-baking entrepreneur has her family’s full support in Collettey’s Cookies, her Boston-based business that’s become a viral success story.

Episode Twenty Four | Boring is in the Eye of the Beholder

Listen to Episode 24:

Explore the hidden world of seemingly unremarkable jobs in this special episode with double the stories, including: a video store clerk who gets knocked out of his monotonous comfort zone by a suspicious visitor, a call center agent who finds renewed purpose in how she serves customers, a supermarket chain manager who comes down with a bad case of "bore-out", and a man whose job literally involves watching grass grow. And he loves it.

Illustration by Josh Cochran / Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, listen on Spotify, tune in on Google Play and wherever you find podcasts.

Making a living while watching the grass grow What may seem boring to some is one man’s dream of turf management superstardom

Going to the Super Bowl was a lifelong dream, and a peak professional achievement for Sean McLaughlin. But McLaughlin is not a football pro. He’s a student in turf management, and watching grass grow is his passion, as well as his profession.

Episode Twenty Three | Born This Way

Listen to Episode 23:

An instagram star bullied for the color of her skin turns the teasing into the fuel behind her fashion modeling career; a professional British rugby player confronts “jock” stereotypes when he comes out to friends, family, and fans as gay.

Illustration by Kelsey Wroten / Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, listen on Spotify, tune in on Google Play and wherever you find podcasts.

When your true self is at odds with your professional identity A rugby player comes to terms with coming out

Being drafted into the United Kingdom’s rugby Super League is a lot like being drafted into the National Football League in the United States. It’s the highest level a professional athlete can achieve, something little kids dream about.

Episode Twenty Two | Finger Lickin

Listen to Episode 22:

We meet a chef who can’t wait to walk away from her prestigious Michelin star rating and a web developer who singlehandedly orchestrated one of the biggest fast food comebacks his hometown has ever seen.

Christian Ziebarth, founder of the Naugles reboot, at the Naugles test kitchen location in Huntington Beach, California. Photo by Mio Adilman, image by Gluekit / Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, listen on Spotify, tune in on Google Play and wherever you find podcasts.

Recreating a secret sauce With no restaurant experience, one entrepreneur is determined to revive a defunct but beloved chain

Most people have fond nostalgia for the chain restaurants of their childhood, but Christian Ziebarth found his calling in those affectionate memories. The web developer and early food blogger, who had no actual restaurant business experience, made it his unlikely mission to reopen Naugles, a beloved Mexican food chain that closed in 1995.

Episode Twenty One | Grey Matter

Listen to Episode 21:

We meet a woman teaching doctors good bedside manners by acting sick when she’s feeling perfectly fine; and a neuroscientist at odds with her own brain after she’s diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Illustration by Sarah Lazarovic / Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, listen on Spotify, tune in on Google Play and wherever you find podcasts.

Feigning sickness to improve healthcare After a life-altering diagnosis, a ‘standardized patient’ does her part to improve doctor-patient communication

Not everyone we encounter day-to-day is as helpful as we’d like them to be in certain situations.

Episode Twenty | Tough Love

Listen to Episode 20:

An outspoken corporate downsizer learns a harsh lesson after being surprised with her own exit package, and a loyal cop that has to choose between fighting the war on drugs and his criminal brother. Sometimes practicing tough love at work and at home isn’t always the best policy.

Illustration by Ping Zhu

Asking hard questions when work and family loyalty are in conflict A police officer takes lessons from loss

Peter Muyshondt is a high-ranking police officer in Antwerp, Belgium with over 20 years of experience in law enforcement. In that time he quickly rose to deputy chief of police while watching over the country’s second largest city.

Episode Nineteen | Down the Rabbit Hole

Listen to Episode 19:

A journalist discovers a scarf with her byline imprinted in its design and embarks on an investigative journey to track down its makers; a former futures trader stumbles into her calling as an internet hoax buster with a specialty for empathizing with the perpetrators. Following your curiosity can lead you to some pretty interesting work, or at least a very good story.

Illustration by Matt Huynh

How a former futures trader became a renowned internet hoax buster For Taryn Wright, finding fake stories is a true calling

It can be hard to spot fake news, but some people have a knack for sniffing out untruths, like accidental internet hoax buster Taryn Wright.

Episode Eighteen | Heart to Heart

Listen to Episode 18:

Meet a woman who’s made a career out of professional cuddling; and an engineer, lawyer and open-source advocate who grappled with her own values in order to save her life.

Illustration by Christina Ung

Protecting hearts from hackers A woman’s personal predicament turns into her professional odyssey

What if someone told you there’s a chance the electronic pacemaker defibrillator implanted in your heart — the one that monitors your heartbeat and revives you in case of sudden heart failure — could be remotely manipulated by a hacker? It sounds far-fetched, but Karen Sandler, Executive Director of the not-for-profit organization Software Freedom Conservancy, assures that, though improbable, it’s not impossible.

Episode Seventeen | Guiding Lights

Listen to Episode 17:

A Kung-Fu master honors his father’s legacy; a frustrated musician’s chance meeting with a mentor leads to a powerful lesson in self-acceptance. Sometimes, the best thing to happen to your career is finding your guiding light.

Romeo Candido in Manila, Philippines in 2014. Images courtesy of Romeo Candido

Famous in the Philippines An artist struggles to translate success in one culture to mainstream notice in another

Romeo Candido got his first big break playing a “singing, dancing Vietnamese person” in the original cast of hit Broadway musical Miss Saigon, even though he’s actually Filipino. “It was like winning the American Idol for Asian singers,” he says. “The show was like a beacon of possibility for Asian performers.”

Episode Sixteen | For Love of Country

Listen to Episode 16:

A woman starts a dating site for single farm workers, and an exiled army colonel launches a revolution from the aisles of a hardware store. What happens when your life’s work is deeply connected to where you’re from?

Illustration by Kelsey Wroten

For love of country In a Sex and the City world, two sisters start a dating site for countryside singles

British sisters Lucy Reeves and Emma Royall spent a lot of their young adulthood putting distance between themselves and the countryside where they grew up, first to different boarding schools and then to university; after school, each spent several years living abroad, Royall getting into scuba-diving off tropical islands and Reeves exploring the local nightlife of cities far from home.

Episode Fifteen | Startup Sacrifices

Listen to Episode 15:

An entrepreneur learns the cost of putting his work ahead of his relationship; a young developer flees her war-torn homeland for a chance to pursue her dream career. What happens when your professional ambitions put your personal life at stake?

Illustrations by R. Kikuo Johnson

From Gaza to Silicon Valley with love A Palestinian entrepreneur’s road to freedom is paved with hard choices

Entrepreneurship is a tough gig. It can be volatile and unpredictable, and even in America where resources abound in tech-centric cities, around 75% of startups fail.

Episode Fourteen | Sensory Overload

Listen to Episode 14:

A woman discovers her cranium-tingling voice is the stuff of YouTube stardom; a visually impaired man happens upon his special sightseeing abilities at night. What happens when your senses become your super-powers at work?

Tim Doucette peering out into the night sky in his hometown of Quinan, Nova Scotia. Photographs courtesy of Tim Doucette

Hidden lines of sight A blind astrophotographer's unique ability to see what others can't

Tim Doucette spent the first 18 years of his life in Quinan, Nova Scotia, population: 320. There were even fewer residents while Doucette was growing up. As a result of its remoteness, there’s very little light pollution, making it an incredible place for stargazing.

Episode Thirteen | Switching Gears

Listen to Episode 13:

A Wall Street trader’s climb to the top proves too gut-wrenching to continue; a classical pianist grapples with a career-ending injury. What happens when you’re suddenly physically incapable of doing your job?

Illustration by Josh Cochran

The single-handed comeback A concert pianist loses the use of his right hand, and finds himself again in unexpected ways

It never occurred to Keith Porter-Snell that life could come without piano. With a pianist for a mother and a childhood of non-stop practicing, conservatory training, and major competitions, there was never any question as to how he’d spend his life.

Episode Twelve | The 180

Listen to Episode 12:

A prison superintendent ordered to oversee two executions struggles with his beliefs that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime and a former Vegas drug dealer finally finds his place in the high life--sober. Sometimes the only way to find your true calling is to pull a complete 180. This episode also features Slack customer Bump Boxes - a subscription service for mom and baby that covers every stage of pregnancy to your little one’s first birthday.

Illustration by Ping Zhu

When professional duty trumps personal conviction After overseeing two executions, a former prison warden works to repeal the death penalty

The death warrant came about 18 months into Frank Thompson’s tenure as superintendent of the Oregon State Penitentiary.

Episode Eleven | Coming Out

Listen to Episode 11:

To gain credibility in a case, a police officer reveals his identity as a practicing pagan. After 30 years of performing as a man, a veteran comic takes the stage for the first time...as a woman. This week, two enlightening stories of people who took big risks to bring their true selves to work.

Illustration by Matt Huynh

All in a day’s work for a small-town Pagan cop How Andy Stuart bridges police work with a misunderstood religion

The call to the police came on a Sunday morning. Officer Andy Stuart picked up. A citizen was concerned that the Ku Klux Klan were meeting in a neighbor’s garden.

Episode Ten | In Disguise

Listen to Episode 10:

Sometimes, the way to find out who we really are is to become someone else. Like the struggling author who’s already sold millions of books and the Vietnam war vet who carries out a do-or-die promise by becoming Santa Claus.

Scott Serafin gets dressed for a kids event at his home in Eden, New York. December 9, 2016

Becoming Santa for Life How a wartime crisis led Scott Serafin to find his true calling bringing holiday joy

Nearly 50 years ago, in a foxhole in Vietnam, Scott Serafin made a vow that would alter the course of his life.

Episode Nine | Amazing Grace

Listen to Episode 09:

A nun chooses solitude over social work and a highfalutin Wall Street recruiter quits the corporate life to work with former felons.

Margo Walsh with a group of her MaineWorks employees on November 18, 2016. Photograph by Joanne Arnold

Where grace happens How a corporate recruiter found meaning helping people in recovery

Nearly 20 years later, Margo Walsh still remembers the moment, sitting in a rehab facility in Portland, Maine, like it was yesterday.

Episode Eight | In the Driver’s Seat

Listen to Episode 08:

A historian recounts the tale of an escaped slave who launched Toronto’s first taxi service and a loyal London Black Cab driver takes to the radio to unite his industry in revolt.

Illustration by Ping Zhu

Driven to make history How a fugitive slave founded Toronto’s first taxi company

When Thornton Blackburn arrived in Canada in 1833, like so many immigrants to the New World, he carried with him the dream to create a better life than the one he left behind.

Episode Seven | Silence is a Virtue

Listen to Episode 07:

Sometimes the most profound things we say and do at work happen when we don’t say anything at all. This week: A librarianʼs shushing earns her superhero status and a young hospital chaplain learns that sitting in silence brings great comfort to ailing, ageing patients.

Illustration by Edward Kinsella

Adventures of a world-famous librarian How Nancy Pearl’s life’s work has taken her from bestselling author to action figure

If Nancy Pearl was ever going to write a memoir, it would begin like this: “I went to Mukilteo to be digitized.”

Episode Six | Untethered

Listen to Episode 06:

Every job has its freedoms and limitations, but sometimes all you need to endure the ups and downs is a noble purpose. This week: A man who saves airline passengers from errant wildlife and another whoʼs made it his lifeʼs work to build a country for the nationless.

Illustration by Josh Cochran

A country for the countryless Filmmaker Mohamed Alborno dreams of a place for those who are citizens of nowhere

A few years back, Mohamed Alborno was standing in a kitchen in Manchester, England, talking about his first film, about a man who wants to start a new country because he can’t return to his own.

Episode Five | Following in the Footsteps

Listen to Episode 05:

Parents have high hopes for their children, many wish their progeny will follow in their footsteps. This week: A son trades in building new towns for building software and a college graduate contemplates her fateful career slinging smoked fish with her legendary family.

Joel Russ behind the register in the early days of Russ & Daughters; Niki Russ Federman and Josh Russ Tupper; the retail storefront, still in its original location, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Image by Gluekit

Following in the family footsteps Tradition and progress at New York institution Russ & Daughters

A hundred years ago, before there was a bank and drug store on every Manhattan street corner, Jewish delis and appetizing stores were commonplace. Delis sold things like knishes and sliced meats. Appetizing stores specialized in bagels, spreads, and smoked fish.

Episode Four | Breaking New Ground

Listen to Episode 04:

This week: career breakthrough moments. A 17-year-old female baseball player faces off against Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. An architect takes on the daunting task of rebuilding Sandy Hook Elementary after one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history.

Illustration by Josh Holinaty

Rebuilding Sandy Hook How architect Barry Svigals took on an extraordinary task

On December 14, 2012, a disturbed young man with a high-powered rifle forced his way into a local elementary school, and began shooting. Sandy Hook was left to deal with the seismic shock of senseless violence and its aftermath.

Episode Three | Career Pivots

Listen to Episode 03:

From working in finance to servicing HVAC units, prosecuting despots for war crimes to pursuing life as a bootstrapping standup comedian...our careers can take some sharp left turns.

Jess Salomon at Cous Cous Comedy, Montreal 2011. Photograph by Elias Touil

The funny thing about a career pivot Human rights lawyer Jess Salomon needed a change, so she took the next logical step

“I used to be a war crimes lawyer in the Hague before I decided it was time to get serious.”

Episode Two | Dream Jobs

Listen to Episode 02:

When it comes to envisioning what we want to do with our lives, we set our sights high. In episode 2 of Work in Progress, we hear two very different stories of a dream (job) coming true, whether by a random stroke of luck or through decades of perseverance.

Jean in front of Discovery. Photo courtesy of Jean Wright

Seamstress to the (literal) stars How Jean Wright worked for three decades to land her dream job of sewing for NASA

One summer evening in July of 1969, 13-year-old Jean Wright stepped outside her house and stared up at the night sky. The moon above Flint, Michigan glowed as brightly as ever that night, but Wright looked at it differently. Moments earlier she had watched Neil Armstrong on TV as he took his first historic steps on its barren surface, and suddenly the dark sky brimmed with possibility.

Episode One | Going with the flow

Listen to Episode 01:

Some people know exactly what they want to do when they grow up, while the rest of us take a different approach—flying by the seat of our pants, dipping in and out of jobs not giving too much thought to any master plan because frankly, it doesn’t exist. Going with the flow can change your life forever and take you to some pretty unexpected places—whether backstage with David Bowie or onto the set of one of TVs’ biggest sci-fi thrillers. Welcome to the debut episode of Work In Progress, Slack’s new podcast about the meaning and identity we find in work. Hosted by Dan Misener.

Hans Fenger’s Langley Schools Music Project got some unexpected attention from big stars like David Bowie. Illustration by R. Kikuo Johnson

Going with the flow Why sometimes having no plan is the best career plan

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Most people have been asked that question (hopefully, expectantly) at some point in their youth. Some people have a clear-cut answer, others leave matters to fate.