Friday, March 20, 2009

Late last year, after getting laid-off from her investment bank job, Christine Marchuska decided to dive into a creative career as a fashion designer. Produced by Gretta Cohn.

Weigh in: Short of work and pursuing a new passion?

    Music Playlist
  1. Getting the Job Done
    Artist: The Books
    Album: Thought for Food
    Label: Tomlab
    Purchase: Amazon
  2. Tokyo
    Artist: The Books
    Album: The Lemon of Pink
    Label: Tomlab
    Purchase: Amazon


Gretta Cohn

Comments [30]

viviani simpson from USA

Your story is really interesting and looking forward.i want to open a gift shop in my nebular.

Aug. 29 2009 06:33 AM
Lance Threecows from California

>>Posted by: Elizabeth CameronMarch 22, 2009 - 11:27AM
How lucky for Ms. Marchuska that after a perversely lucrative career in finance she had time and savings to invest in this new career, and then gets the best publicity anyone could ask for -- a free piece about her business broadcast around the world on a major radio program. Frankly, it only adds fuel to the rage of the rest of us who have lost, not gained, by the antics of the financiers of the past decade.<<

Elizabeth, How is it you know that the young lady had a lucrative job? She may have been a teller for all you know.

May. 11 2009 06:35 AM
Luigi Monteferrante from Italy

I'm a Canadian ex-pat, based in Italy, where my writing was supported by teaching English and running a B & B by the Adriatic Sea. Hit by regional funding cutbacks, the recession, inclement weather - what happened to global warming - and not least an earthquake too far from us to damage us on the coast, but certainly no good PR, I've gone all the way in pursuing a teenage dream and passion, ie, from writing bad novels to writing apparently good poetry that's been published in over 20 mags, mostly American, and following up with two bands in two wholly unrelated genres, ie, singer-songwriter as McMonty, and Gang of Tolstoy, an experimental/avant-gardish/contemporary classical music ensemble that sounds, yes, a bit pretentious, but what the leads to heretofore unexpected areas of creativity, inspiration and newfound energy. Now, with two album debut, I'm push-push-pushing the bands and composing new work for a third and second album, respectively. Tune in, help the cause: and Salut!

Apr. 24 2009 02:43 AM
Tiffany Sen from Hackensack, NJ

I was Director of Purchasing for Ann Taylor for over ten years and was laid off in a recent wave of downsizing. After my initial shock, I began to see this as a gift, rather than a setback. My true calling had always been musical. I had studied music in college, including a few years with Dr. Robert Moog learning the principles of electronic music, although my training was as a flautist. When I moved to NYC in the mid-nineties, my music played second fiddle to earning a living.
The loss of my job has allowed me to recapture my creativity and devote my full attention to a musical endeavor that I had been flirting with for the last year or so - an acoustic world beat pop band named Inner Gypsy.
Perhaps even more important than the music, this new lifestyle allows me to fully embrace the freedom from all those rules and obligations which dominate the corporate world. The philosophy behind this band, which I have created with my husband, celebrates the part of every person that yearns to sing, to dance, and to commune with their own “inner gypsy”.
You can listen to our music at

Apr. 20 2009 01:48 PM
steve friedson from nyc

I was a successful owner of a graphic design studio in NYC. I have 20 yrs experience as owner and studio manager. last year I lost my clients do to the recession. With no clients and scared about my future I tapped into my other passion , Kids, outdoors and climbing. I recently opened (last week) Steve's Adventures for Kids in Central Park. I have 4 kids and clients and looking to grow every week. I love this and hope I can make a living at this. Regardless it has given me purpose again. Sending out resumes over the internet is depressing day after day. Kids are so uplifting.

Apr. 20 2009 07:36 AM
Katannah Day from Minneapoilis, MN

My layoff happened three years ago, May 17, 2005. Fortunately I turned 65 on May 9 so I was eligible for retirement. I had worked for over 40 years as a graphic designer and now I finally had/ have the time to work on my 2 passions – art and family history.

I had already developed a project for my students (I was teaching Graphic Design at a local community/technical college) and the intent was to encourage them to value themselves and their histories by producing presentations about their families. To make a long story short, this project was the basis of my current endeavor, The Legacy Series. I love being able to combine research, traditional art and digital art to tell each family's special story.

You can see samples of my work at As I said earlier, I was fortunate because the timing meant that I would have at least a small income from retirement accounts so I can create for the joy of creating . . . although I am not complaining about a little extra money every now and then.


Apr. 19 2009 11:53 PM
Frank Hawkins from Potomac Falls, VA

I'm a stay-at-home dad and I split my time between caring for my two children and doing part time engineering consulting work. Because I'm divorced, I needed the income from the engineering work to make ends meet.

Then, about 18 months ago the engineering consulting jobs started getting smaller and less frequent. It was clear to me that things weren't going to get better so I began looking for another way to make money - something that I would enjoy.

It just so happened that at the time I had been looking for a health and hygiene book for my 5 year old son - something he could read and that would give him what he needed to grow up happy and healthy. I couldn't find anything.

I decided right then to write a book for my son and to see if other people might be interested in it, too. With the help of my brother, we wrote the book, published it, and began selling it on

Eighteen months later we're still selling the original health and hygiene book and have just published another book - this one about fitness and health.

My income from the books is nowhere near what I was making as an engineering consultant, but we're making ends meet. The best part is that I'm doing what I like and, who knows, maybe the business will continue to grow!

I'm beginning to believe in something I heard years ago - "Do what you love and the money will come!"

Apr. 18 2009 07:38 PM
Preston Woodruff from Brevard NC

My second career is great, but this is really a story about learning from your own children.
If you're a teacher and the passion starts to ebb, it's time to quit. So I did, without regret -- more time to make lutes and dulcimers, and to figure out what to do with the large sycamore that had recently fallen in my back yard. I live in southern Appalachia, the Blue Ridge, so doughbowls and wooden spoons were the logical products. Treenware makes good gifts, and I sold a few bowls and spoons locally.
"Take it to the web," my Atlanta daughter Jenn urged. She knows what she's talking about: she's the busy creator and owner of -- cloth diapers and other items for new parents who want their infants to grow up in a green world. The business is thriving. I'm proud of her. Not bad for an English major, huh?
So my daughter and her computer-wizard husband patiently taught me how to start up a small business, how to deal with shipping, with websales, with webpage design, the whole thing. My son Matt, who does IT in Wilmington NC, wrote long emails to help me ask questions I didn't know enough to ask. The learning curve is still on the rise, but as of two weeks ago, is online. It's a LOT of work, more than I anticipated. I wouldn't have had the time if I stayed in the classroom. And I wouldn't have had a prayer of getting past square one without the expertise of my children and my willingness to be the student after 34 years of being the teacher.

Apr. 18 2009 01:54 PM
Eugenia Renskoff from New York

Hello, I was listening to your program this morning and I had to comment. I am a writer, the author of Different Flags, a critically acclaimed novel. I also have blogs, one of them being I feel that more should be done for people who are creative and want to sell their work. Writing is my life; it is like a vocation to me and I would love to keep writing. In fact, I have 2 other finished books that have not been published yet. Eugenia Renskoff

Apr. 18 2009 01:28 PM
Sheryl Canter from New York, NY

For years I made a good living as a freelance journalist, writing mainly for magazines. My income problems started before the rececesson because journalism as an industry is tanking, and magazines are closing right-and-left. I finally took a full time job as a blog writer and editor in January 2007, only to be laid off two years later.

I didn't really like working 9-5 anyway, after so many years as a freelancer. So what I did was finish the non-fiction book I started four years ago - very satisfying. I published it through my own company. The topic: compulsive eating.

I have a Masters in Counseling and I started an online support group for compulsive eating back in 2002. In 2003, I started posting articles on my Web site. And now I've pulled it all together into a book. The book and the forum are both doing pretty well. I'm still learning about promotion.

Sheryl Canter

Apr. 18 2009 10:45 AM
Mark Solomon from Ardsley, NY

I was a trial attorney for a Fortune 500 insurance company. Last year, they announced that they were being acquired. I was familiar with the new owners, and as it turned out, I accurately predicted their timetable for eliminating my position and closing my office.

Since the age of about 8, I have been a musician; I started playing paying gigs with my band at age 11. For me, being a lawyer was about having a stable and secure source of income for my family, while I pursued music on the side. For the past several years, and certainly in today's economy, I no longer believe that any profession is stable or secure.

Almost by accident I recalled a long forgotten interest I had in sound engineering. I enrolled in a sound design certificate program offered at NYU's continuing education division.

I worked for two days at a television production company with the music director where I got invaluable advice about professional audio, what professional organizations to join, what equipment I needed to get started.

In November 2008 I opened Aural Histories, a mobile recording facility for music, sound design, spoken word, and sound for picture. I also compose, arrange and produce music and spoken word recordings.

Apr. 18 2009 10:42 AM
Wendy Miller from Santa Fe, New Mexico

As a licensed General Building Contractor in California snce 1978, I have built or rebuilt about one house a year, in addition to my professional career as Social Worker/Hearing officer/marriage family child counselor. I retired from the professional life in 2005, retired to New Mexico, was bored so I re-built a house in Santa Fe. Then I built a house in Culver City, and found myself caught by the credit crunch, unable to refinance to pay off my debt. Plan B was to sell my Santa Fe house to pay for the California house, but now the collapse of the housing market caught me and this house has not sold a year later.
SO - in my early 60's,I desperately needed a job. I applied on-line to Amtrak in 2007, and got hired as an Assistant Conductor out of Albuquerque NM. After two months of paid training in Delaware, I began my new career, and I LOVE working on the railroad! I work the Southwest Chief as Assistant Conductor, and work "yard jobs" taking trains apart and putting them back together. It is very physical, and I prefer the passenger contact working from ABQ to LaJunta Colorado and back, or ABQ to Kingman Arizona and back. Such fun!

Apr. 17 2009 11:37 AM
Daryl from N. Idaho

I've been into my career change for 13 years now, so I think it's permanent. I used to work in the white collar world, specifically in telecommunications. Everything there, including the people, seemed so two-dimensional to me. I craved things with substance and I wanted to be in the company of substantial people. I took a clay sculpture class at night and I took it over and over for, like, two years. From it I developed some of the skill I needed to leave the Dilbert cartoon I was stuck in and begin making a living by creating and selling 3-dimensional things.

Apr. 16 2009 07:49 PM
Kannan from Brooklyn, NY

Last year I became a statistic. One out of every 3 teachers leaves the field by the end of their 5th year. After 5 years of teaching, as well as a year of graduate work in education, I left the profession. Not great timing, I realize, given the economic climate. But I decided to pursue my passion, classical singing. I've been fortunate, so far, and have been getting work as a choral and opera singer. And I've been receiving lots of encouragement from teachers and directors to continue my pursuit. There are lots of gaps in my training, as I did not attend conservatory, but I'm filling them in slowly, mostly by being on the job, lots of practicing, and teaching myself Italian (molto bene!). It's not easy by any means, but I'm making it work. My stress level is also much lower these days, not having to worry about fighting for the attention of adolescents all day. And the enjoyment I get out of singing can't be matched.
If, in the end, my singing career doesn't pan out, I'll return to the classroom. In the meantime, it ain't over until the skinny man sings.

Apr. 16 2009 10:30 AM
Daniel Noll from currently - Antigua, Guatemala

So many of the comments here resonate with me and my wife, Audrey. In December 2006, when we were no longer challenged by our work in Prague, Czech Republic, we decided to up stakes, leave our secure jobs behind, put on backpacks, start a website, develop new skills, and travel the world on a creative sabbatical. We had no idea where it would all go...and we still don't.

Many of our colleagues throught we were crazy. Some still do.

Now we're almost 2.5 years into our journey. Our travels are not fully financially independent, but we have managed to cobble together revenue (from freelance writing, photography and website development - all skills we developed along the journey) to offset the cost of a significant portion of our adventures.

When we made our decision to uproot, we asked ourselves some difficult questions about leaving our secure livelihoods. Ultimately, we wondered whether we would wake up decades later and wonder “What if...”

Now, that is no longer an issue. We are testing the “what if.” And although there remains a great deal of uncertainty (of the financial kind), we believe it is worth pursuing life now in favor of deferring it to a retirement that may never come or may be unexpectedly cut short.

At a different angle, perhaps the days of mini-retirements are upon us and the days of generalists are back. And the wisdom of people who have held multiple careers or experienced the world will yet be harvested.

Daniel Noll and Audrey Scott
Uncornered Market

Apr. 08 2009 08:04 PM
Elayne from Glenside, PA

I've gone from working in Hospice care for 10 years to opening a gift shop in my neighborhood. I loved what I did in hospice but the administration was the devil so when after 10 years of fabulous evaluations, audits and success they treated me poorly, it was time to go. Two days after I quit my job not knowing what would lie ahead for me, when I found out the owner of a small gift shop in my neighborhood was looking to sell, I decided to give it a try. Even in the current economy, I couldn't be happier. In fact, the title on my business card is The Boss of Me.

Apr. 08 2009 03:17 PM
Pitz Quattrone from Vermont

I'm a Didgeridoo guy, the native Australian wind instrument. In the 90's my "Didge" biz of making "didges" failed and I got a job in a small furniture factory. That lasted 5 years until I almost lost my mind due to boredom of doing the same thing month after month at the furniture shop. I then decided to focus on performing on the didge rather than trying to make and sell them. I now have a website, manager and band. Last fall I got to play with Pete Seeger and Guy Davis at a benefit show for Vermont family farmers! I now know why I was born.

Apr. 06 2009 10:20 PM
Laura Sussman from Las Vegas, NV

After 30 years in the nonprofit sector, I did not get my contract renewed in January 2008. Being an unemployed executive in Las Vegas at the same time the big casinos were laying off executive staff and the rest of the community was scaling down, was a daunting challenge.

I began exploring a variety of 'helping' professions that I thought were somewhat recession proof. I settled on opening a funeral home. Along with another woman, we opened a small funeral home that focuses on personalized service. We became officially licensed in March of this year, and so far, the response has been good and the career change has been very fulfilling.

Apr. 06 2009 08:50 PM
CR Allen from Dallas

I've worked for 20 companies sine 1979. I've been laid off six times. One company laid me off with only two weeks severance after ten years with it and/or its subsidiaries. I've never gotten more than two months severance. At the last job, where I was laid off in Feb, I acted like a whipped dog cowering in the corner anytime a manager called me into the office unexpectedly. I've now signed up for a two year Masters of Fine Arts program to design Virtual Worlds. I audited a few courses in March and was thrilled at learning all new things and having my opinion valued by the class of 20 somethings. Being 52 and pumped up about live again feels so very good. I truly want to turn my lemons into lemonaide.

Apr. 06 2009 09:35 AM
scott landis from Baja Mexico

I write this 8 miles from the nearest electrical utility in the hills of Mexico. Twenty miles to the nearest store run by a family i know who care that i come. At my rancho there is no man made noise I do not chose to listen to. I am in love. Two miles jby trail to my car. I am streaming Studio 360 thinking how crazy this is thanks to solar and satellite.
The state of my personal economy is simple.
The broccoli is three feet tall still producing after a month. Tomatoes, lettuce, chard, kale, turnips, rhutabegas, peas are regular fare. Mangos comin in July though last years in the freezer may make it. Cheers Scott

Apr. 05 2009 11:39 PM
Maureen Quinlan from Saint Petersburg, FL

I took early retirement from BofA in March 2007 to devote full time to my small business ( which is in need of what we have coined 'altruistic angel investors'. Our main product is a little girls hand-smocked dress.

I am, in the words of our most recent adviser, much like Andy Warhol, looking for a supporter - to fund my projects. I am truly just a Kentucky hillbilly handwork artist!

I feel much like a new college graduate at this point trying odd jobs to just make ends meet until my solid, golden job (investor) drops in my lap.

I have driven a cab, worked at Costco, lucked into some good project work via Craigslist (this has all dried up since last summer though) - I am currently babysitting and getting certified to teach summer swim lessons at the local pool. And now, I am designing a swimwear and coverup line!

Thanks for all the great stories and inspiration.

Maureen Quinlan
Founder and Director

Apr. 05 2009 07:09 PM
Saul Hernandez from Currently Just South of Toledo, Oh.. residing in CA

Out of apparently nowhere,on a easy Monday evening, when I was filling the final inventory results at my home store, my boss the Head of Buying for the US stores and my former assistant and now managing her own store, walked in, and to my surprise. After a quick walkthrough of the store where I discussed the new floorplan, that my team and I created over two overnighters, in preparation for the busy shopping season, my boss leads me out of the store and to the malls dining area to inform me that he had to dismiss me from my postion.... There it went, nine and a half very productive and successfull years thrown out the alley window. Suddenly it was over.
One year later, I am on a cross country run, Atlanta, GA to Phoenix, AZ, with a load of metal construction materials for the building of the "border fence" across the desert. I boldly embarked on a completely different experience, of discovery, introspection and growth. The retail gate clangs behind me as I slam it shut. Clothes, books, audio tapes, 36 key Yamaha piano and a laptop studio, all packed up in the traveling studio of the cab in the truck I now drive. My apartment vacated and the remainder of my possesions ushered into one of my single dad's empty rooms at his home. Now going on year two as a transport operator, promoted to moving boats, yachts, military and construction equipment across this great USofA, my head is into all kinds of literature, composing, and learning, to creatively produce that music as well, all whilst I pay down debt (debt free at the end of this year by the way). I will return to college winter '10 and am presenting my music professionally. The experience allowed me to re-examine goals, values, and direction. Now I am centered, grounded and gratefull. Where I previously sought out only for my gain, now I seek out for all the ways I can give of myself to my community, even if it is as simple as handing out sandwiches to the men and women wandering our cities.

Apr. 05 2009 06:50 PM
Liza Orchard from Dallas, Texas

I've been in the advertising/promotion world for over 30 years. After years of doing very well as a creative director, the dot-com demise and 911 sent our industry into its first spiral. Unfortunately, this career jolt coincided with having to having to support a friend with their alcohol and drug addiction. Having less "work" than ever, I chose to apply my time, talents and energy to fighting that challenge in society. If I could make a Greyhound bus ride alluring, I could certainly enroll people into an alcohol- and drug-free lifestyle. Especially if I truly believed in its merits. I took it on. It has not been easy, but the sense of achievement from these efforts trumps a generous paycheck any day. I'm thankful I've learned how to make $1000 work as hard as $10,000. And now know that passionate people are a company's most valuable asset. Sadly, our country has just come to that realization. And because I learned to embrace scarcity, we're ahead of the game. I'm proud to say, our BuzzFree efforts are touching high school students all over the country. That's the result of doing what you're committed to, not paid to do.

Apr. 04 2009 04:21 PM
Eric Svalgard from WIlmington, DE

After 30 years in the construction industry, my father’s death had me looking at life with a ruler on my belt and a phone in my ear. He lived only 6 years in retirement before being diagnosed with cancer and was gone at 72. The following year, 2002, I saw my daughter perform as a student in a School of Rock show and realized that I wanted to help make this idea work. I slowly weaned myself from my six-figure job, company car and paid vacations and started teaching teenaged kids to play rock and roll. I started as a volunteer one then two days a week. Then I was hired to open the first franchise in Downingtown, PA. I now own my own school in Delaware and although I am struggling from month to month, I really enjoy what I do. Every time I sit down with a student who is trying to figure out some David Bowie or YES song I shake my head in disbelief that this is how I make my living. Well almost a living.

Apr. 04 2009 08:09 AM
Meg Schultz from Mount Laurel, NJ

Unfortunately, my newest passion involves collecting unemployment while trying to keep a part time job that in these tough times offers so few hours that I don't have to worry about the 20% limit against my "baseline" cutting into my eligibility for said benefits.

I actually won "UNemployee of the Week" on Air America's "Break Room Live" program with Sam Seder and Marc Maron on the March 27th episode last week:

My other new passions-- volunteering at a local historical site, a nature center and processing manuscript collections at the PA Historical Society-- are more charitable and rewarding than my former career, however as my accountant brother points out caustically/realistically "You can't put THANKS IN THE BANK."

Apr. 01 2009 08:30 AM

Two IPOs....a dozen years...and still not a millionaire. I left my last tech job in 2002. I have been teaching Art at a public elementary school 2 miles from my home. I have never been happier. I love Mondays. The kids are inspiring. I paint and draw better than I ever did as a child. It took my a few years to activate that side of my brain again, but it is so richly rewarding that I am forever grateful that I took a little money in 1990 and got that masters degree to 'fall back on'. I completely recommend falling back.

Mar. 23 2009 08:13 PM
Rohn Amegatcher from Tacoma, WA

In August 2008, I closed my construction management office and laid off all my 5 employees/ I decided to minimize my cost f living to the bare essentials. I turned to a passion I had always had of making furniture and home storage pieces out of reclaimed wood I collected from curb sides. I set out to make it happen and today I am making a go of it. Until it becomes profitable, I am cooking at a care facility to supplement my income. I have so far not made a living at woodworking, but it offers me a health sense of self, pride in my creativity, and personal happiness. These were important things I did not recognize in my self over 20 years as a construction manager. I have not made any money at woodworking yet, but I keep at it.

Mar. 22 2009 11:08 PM
Elizabeth Cameron from Virginia

How lucky for Ms. Marchuska that after a perversely lucrative career in finance she had time and savings to invest in this new career, and then gets the best publicity anyone could ask for -- a free piece about her business broadcast around the world on a major radio program. Frankly, it only adds fuel to the rage of the rest of us who have lost, not gained, by the antics of the financiers of the past decade.

Mar. 22 2009 11:27 AM
LaKeisha Sabol from Las Vegas, Nevada

A mid-thirty year old, I entered the real estate industry at the age of 19 in Dayton Ohio. Having a very successful eleven year career I sold primarily historic commercial real estate and purchased a RE/MAX franchise. 2 years ago I realized I would not be able to make a sustainable living with the state of the economy and decided to make the huge leap of going back to school for an education in theatre and festival stage management combined with festival and event management. I moved to the entertainment capital Las Vegas and got a job with Cirque du Soleil in special events.

Dec. 31, 2008 I was laid off and decided no matter what I would finish the 5 semesters remaining for a BA degree. I am extremely anxious to enter the workforce again and feel very grateful that I have the opportunity to (finally) finish my degree after 10 years. I am making a pretty courageous jump from a real estate career to a new very different career out of festival/event management (however, utilizing much of the same skill set). I intend on producing large scale culturally based festivals surrounding music, visual arts and street theatre (think Edinburgh Fringe Festival).

The recession will not last forever and the positives that I choose to dwell on are the huge opportunities that lay ahead of me. The above changes that have occurred to me due to the recession are now allowing me to follow my dreams vs. just chasing the almighty dollar with huge commission checks...that being said I did really enjoy selling historic real estate.

Mar. 21 2009 08:15 PM
Jordan Dane from Edmond, OK

I'd had 25+ years experience in the energy industry and had grown tired of companies downsizing and targeting management at my level for layoffs. In 2003, I decided to tap into a passion I'd had since I was a kid so I could make a change in my life going forward. I took up writing fiction. I had no formal training in writing and honed my craft by being an avid reader of mystery suspense crime fiction.

In 2006, I sold my first three books and they sold in auction. Avon HarperCollins became my publisher and my debut series was released back to back Apr - Jun 2008. My new series just came out in Feb 2009 and I'm now a national bestseller and critically acclaimed. Publishers Weekly, a trade publication, named my debut book NO ONE HEARD HER SCREAM as the Best Books in 2008 - Mass Market Paperback.

My main message to people these days is that there's potential in tapping into the passions you had from childhood. I had given up my dream to write back then because I never thought I could make a living from it. Now I know differently.

I don't regret my decision to retire early...or pick up writing at this stage in my life. I'm living in the moment and I've now realized a lifelong dream. I'm the happiest I have ever been.

Best regards,

Jordan Dane

Mar. 20 2009 05:20 PM

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