I grew up in Nebraska where I developed a habit for nodding and saying hello to fellow pedestrians and holding doors open for longer than necessary, skills that didn’t serve me well when my educational pursuits took me from the Omaha Jesuits of Creighton University to the West Village streets of NYU in downtown Manhattan. After graduating with a BFA, in the middle of the 88’ Stock Market Crash, I started rewriting resumes for fellow NYU alums and friends that had visited the campus employment office – yet were still having trouble finding work in a tight economy with resumes I deemed “shitty” at best. I proved a natural, starting my own executive resume and career coaching firm and making every possible mistake in the process. On a lark, I joined my lovely girlfriend at the time in applying for a caseworker job with the City of New York, counseling people with AIDS in the devastated Village and Hell’s Kitchen communities. Because I wrote my own resume, of course I was hired immediately – well before my girlfriend who after that experience entrusted me to write all her future resumes, but enough of that. Counseling dying people who were often not much older than myself proved too much however, for this younger version of me who had yet to have any real counseling or grief coping skills and so I transferred into the Foster Care program after a year, where I counseled kids and foster parents instead. While both jobs proved some of the most rewarding human experiences of my life, 20-something me was perhaps not as ecstatic about this life-altering experience, which among other things included watching the light go out of a kid’s eyes at the age of 3 or 4 when he begins to comprehend the hardship of being “underprivileged” and poor.
Still writing professional resumes, cover letters and ad copy on the side for clients who found me via word-of-mouth, I determined it was time to learn from my mistakes. I found a mentor in Life and Career Coach (and resume guru) George Gruber, where I learned the craft of life coaching, sales, business, bookkeeping and charging what you’re worth. I in turn taught George a few things about persuasive writing before opening my own business a couple years later. I began my business as “Advantage Resumes” when we used to have those things called Yellow Pages and they were alphabetized, before rebranding to The Resume Genius, New York City’s premiere career coaching and executive resume service. I later transitioned the business into a more holistic coaching firm focusing on life, career and dating coaching services, while also handling copywriting, branding and executive resume preparation duties.
My career was cut short by a massive case of shingles that resulted in a lifelong chronic pain disability that would leave me in tears, curled up fetally next to my pit bull and pug. So severe was the pain that when it ripped and burned through my neurological system it also caused “essential tremor” in my hands, basically that tremor you’d normally get when you’re 80. I think “essential” is a prime example of bad marketing as I find nothing “essential” about the fucking tremor. Fortunately, while on a date with a lovely woman many years ago, I was told to “just own it” and I’ve done so ever since (for the most part). Thanks to modern advancements in medicine, I was recently fortunate enough to receive a DRG Implant, a breakthrough technology just approved in the United States that basically serves as a pacemaker for pain, delivering interrupting electronic signals to the dorsal root ganglia nerves in the spine, delivered from a battery in my ass. Although my ass modeling days are over, the device has successfully combatted the most egregious, tear-provoking pain and allowed me to return to the business I love, the purpose I was meant for, that of helping you get over.
My trials with chronic pain and “hidden” disability have given me keen insight into not only what it takes to battle agonizing pain and disability, but how to harness the life lessons I’ve learned and turn them into tools for others with disabilities, often greater than my own. I teach them how to organize their lives, fight depression, summon social courage and return to the workplace when possible. I strongly believe that my trials with chronic pain not only inform other disabled people, but help me empathize with people of all different walks of life facing seemingly insurmountable situations and challenges of all kinds in their personal and professional lives.