Companies & Industries

Find This Man a Job: Part 1


Coach Lauren Zander takes on helping "Almost Homeless" Paul Nawrocki in his job search. In their first coaching session, she offers this job-search tip: It's all about attitude

Remember Paul Nawrocki, aka Almost Homeless, aka the Sandwich Board Man? Here's a brief recap: In November 2008, Nawrocki was featured in BusinessWeek's Recession in America blog after blogger Monica Gagnier heard about him wandering around Midtown Manhattan wearing a sign that said: "Almost Homeless." Nawrocki's plight was picked up in the media around the world, but nearly a year later he has yet to land a job.

Nawrocki, a native of Beacon, N.Y., has 30 years experience in the toy industry, He was laid off from his last job in February 2008, as his employer did a last-ditch (and unsuccessful) downsizing to stave off bankruptcy. He has been looking for full-time work ever since. "I tried staying hopeful throughout my unusual and progressively desperate job search," says Nawrocki. "When my wife was diagnosed in June with cancer while we were struggling to pay for our health insurance, the wind was knocked out of me. Of course, after the initial shock, I quickly realized this could not remain my mind set and I knew I had to restart again finding some new way to approach my job search."

Enter coach Lauren Zander, chairman and co-founder of the Handel Group. Zander, who writes Coaches Corner for BusinessWeek, thinks working on your attitude and exercising are more important than polishing up your résumé. "When looking for a new job or going in for an interview, it's phenomenally important to approach it from the best frame of mind possible, and that means being physically and mentally fit. If you predict difficulty or failure, you have some work to do," Zander says.

Zander freely admits that her methods are unconventional. Her emphasis on attitude initially confuses some people, but she insists that's where you have to start. She's persuaded some tough critics along the way. Zander is in the fourth year of teaching a class at Massachusetts Institute of Technology called Designing Your Life, in which she lectures on "concrete strategies to creating a truly fulfilling, well-rounded life." The methodology she puts forth in that class has been implemented at such companies as Sony-BMG, Boardroom Inc., BASF, and Vogue magazine.

BusinessWeek approached Zander and Nawrocki to see if they would be willing to work together to help Paul with his job search and allow us to document the process. Nawrocki was grateful and Zander was excited. They agreed to work together, and we will be following them through the coaching process and watching to see how it affects Nawrocki's job search. No doubt the advice Zander offers Nawrocki can help anyone who's looking for a job.

Click here to see a video of Paul and Lauren's first coaching session.

Patricia O'Connell is Management Editor for BusinessWeek.com.

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