Andy Kirschner, contributing blogger
Originally from Detroit, Andy Kirschner lived in Chicago for about 10 years after college and currently finds himself just outside Washington, D.C. He has had several job titles throughout his career, including knife seller, recruiting manager, bagel-maker, life coach, tour guide, career counselor, Birthright Fellow, trade officer and PresenTense Coordinator. Currently, he combines all of those skills at 100 Reasons to Win, where he coaches and trains professionals to replace excuses to fail with reasons to succeed. He also works part time to facilitate Weight Watchers meetings, though the views expressed in his articles do not reflect the views of the company.
Andy spends his free time running distance races, running back to the Midwest to visit family and friends and running out of time to make an Oy! deadline. After all that, he runs home to his wife and baby boy to apologize for being so busy. He is passionate about his involvement as a volunteer in the Jewish community! He is also getting better at spending more time with his wife and baby.
ARTICLES BY THIS AUTHOR
Remember Super Size Me—you know, the movie about the man who ate McDonald’s every day, three meals a day, for 30 days straight? And after you saw it, you were sure to say “I’m never going to be able to eat at a fast food restaurant again!”
Thanksgiving kicks off the season of family gatherings, holiday parties with friends and outings to the mall and Michigan Ave. for shopping, food and fun. To borrow a quip from our Christmas-celebrating friends, “ ‘Tis the season for peace, love, and joy!” But what about the over 10% of Americans on the unemployment roles or the estimated 10% more who are either underemployed or out of work for so long, they are no longer eligible to get help? ‘Tis it really the season for them?
For many of us that were born and raised in America, particularly in areas that have significant Jewish populations, we aren’t readily faced with overt, in-your-face anti-Semitism. So you can imagine how taken aback I was the other day when the following took place:
I run a job strategy and networking group for young Jewish professionals. At our last meeting, I found out that most of the group had made New Year’s Resolutions to do more networking. It is a great idea, as over half of jobs out there seem to be coming through networking. Most studies show that less than 10% come from sitting at home and applying online. But hold on employed readers, this article is still relevant for you. Any accomplished professional will tell you it is a good idea to keep your network going while you still have a job, because quite frankly you never know.
Last month I posted an article on Oy! that convinced you that Networking is essential to a young professional’s career. Hopefully, it left you hungry for more details on how exactly you go about building a network. Think of this article as Networking 201. (If you are not already open to the idea of networking, I suggest you go back and read last month’s installment before going forward.)
On February 22nd, 2010 Operation Enduring Freedom, the current U.S. war in Afghanistan, surpassed the Revolutionary War as the longest war in American history. I am sure those who read the articles marking the occasion found it to be a sobering reminder that our troops have been in harms way for over eight years.
I’ve now written a couple of blog posts about the virtues, the benefits, and the "how-to’s" of networking. These were a few of the thousands of blog posts out there from experts, professionals, and aficionados on the subject. However, I still meet with many people who do not take advantage of this tool to improve their professional, personal, or employment standing.
Not long after I had moved back to Chicago, my boss approached me with an idea. Business was going well at the sales company where I worked at the time. We were the #1 division in the company for sales that year and he wanted to acknowledge the key role I had played as a part of the division staff by offering to pay for me to see a life coach.
I was lucky enough to be one of the group leaders on a recent Shorashim Birthright Israel trip. We had an amazing 10 days in Israel with all the necessary highlights—the climb up Masada, the dunk in the Dead Sea, the beach in Tel Aviv, the Wall in Jerusalem and more. But what surprised me most wasn’t a tourist attraction at all.
Shana Tova! Like many of you, I have been reflecting on this past year, 5770, and looking ahead to the next, 5771. Over the past year I have transitioned from one full-time job to another, completed a part-time fellowship, staffed a Birthright-Shorashim trip to Israel, and proposed, planned a wedding, and married the woman of my dreams…just to name a few of the events that kept me busy last year.
I have been performing most of my life. There are few things I won’t do to get a chance at holding the microphone and having a moment in the spotlight. For the last four years I have been a part of an Improv Comedy Team in Chicago. A group of us put together a team as we were finishing classes together at IO Chicago.
Happy Chanukah, Oy! Readers! For me, this marks my 12th Oy post and first anniversary Blogging for Oy!Chicago. It has been great being an Oy! blogger, a website made possible by the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. This post is dedicated to the good folks who fundraise to make possible Oy!Chicago and a whole lot more.
I just returned from one of the most amazing trips I have ever taken. The best part—it was my honeymoon! Remember that day you were all left in Chicago with below zero wind-chills? I was on a beach in Aruba...
Early in March, I was speaking with my mom on the phone to let her know we had cleared a Sunday in our schedule to celebrate her birthday together.
I was running down the lakefront path. To my right, LSD and the whirl of buses and cars rushing up and down the highway. Just beyond that was the parking lot and main entrance to the Lincoln Park Zoo.
Facebook—some of us curse its very existence, while some of us let it consume us. Oh, I LIKE your last status about going to the post office. Yes, I am a FAN of my high school and I WILL ATTEND your birthday happy hour next weekend.
After two weeks at my new job at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, I was sent to Israel for a training conference, but was lucky enough to get a few extra days to tour around on my own. I have always been infatuated with the beauty of Israel and the rich connection of the land and people to the history of the Jews.
This past week, PresenTense announced that it will launch 13 social entrepreneur fellowships in 10 cities around the world. Some of the fellowships are with existing partnerships and others are brand new. By next summer, dozens of new social ventures will launch in Chicago, Washington DC, Cleveland, Kansas City, Jerusalem, Moscow, Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Earlier this year, my wife got a “too good to pass up” job offer outside of our nation’s capital. She arrived in April to start work, and I figured it would be reasonably good form for our new marriage if we lived together, so I quit my job in Chicago and headed for the East Coast. Now that I have been living here for six months, I thought I would do a head-to-head comparison.
Those of you that tuned in to my post last month were treated to an un-OY-fficial match up of DC vs. Chicago. In a tight race, I graciously called it a draw between the Gem of the Midwest and the Jewel of the Mid-Atlantic. Stephen Richer of Gather the Jews, a DC based website, brought on a full challenge to my results, claiming DC as the definitive winner to this civic battle.
Over the last year, I have lost over 50 pounds. Around 10 more pounds from here, and I will be within the recommended range for Body Mass Index of 25. I will have made the journey from just over 300 pounds in 2004, to just over 160, eight years later.
I had actually planned to sleep in last Thursday, but after lying in bed for over an hour, unable to get back to sleep, I decided to put my energy to good use, lace up my sneakers and log a few training miles.
Over St. Patrick’s Day weekend, while many flocked to the streets to enjoy the parades and then to the bars to enjoy a fresh pint of Guinness, I ran my first marathon. I crossed the finish line after four hours, 23 minutes and 12 seconds of beating up my body.
The other day, I was lying on the couch catching up on some reading and Toolie jumped up on my chest to see what was going on. Then she started licking my face. Eventually, I got her to settle down and just lie on my stomach for a while.
I recently traveled a ways to make it to my youngest sister's graduation from Berea College in Berea, Kentucky. We listened to the commencement speaker give a rather frank assessment of what lay before these young, ambitious rookies to the American workforce.
I am on the road, headed back to Washington from a long road trip to a wedding in Illinois. I put off submitting my post this month, thinking that the time in the car would leave me ample space and inspiration to craft a masterful piece for Oy! readers.
Every water bottle, pitcher or jug we owned was filled with water. A pyramid of canned beans, corn and tuna were stacked neatly atop the counter. The pantry was full of stove-top friendly fare, such as rice and quinoa. The freezer was packed with extra ice, so that it would hold its contents better— in case we lost power.
I am proud to say that I am celebrating my three year ann-OY-versary! I wrote my first post in November 2009. Do you remember way back then? Obama was President, gas was only $3.44 per gallon and the biggest issue facing our nation was the economy. It's amazing how much can change in just three short years- Obama is still president, gas was $3.44 per gallon on 11/12/12, and the economy is filling the headlines. Hmmm, so I guess the big stuff has stayed the same.
What makes something Jewish? Who owns the labeling rights to call something Jewish enough? If I go to a service, how do I know if I am experiencing something authentically Jewish? It’s a question that I grapple with. I have a non-Jewish spouse, and when we have kids, we have committed that together we will raise them Jewish. It’s important to me that they are raised “Jewish enough.”
This past weekend we celebrated the Jewish Holiday of Purim. Purim celebrates the story from the Book of Esther and one of the major themes discussed around the holiday is the concept of nahafoch hu. This is Hebrew for turning something around or flipping something upside down. The Esther story is full of characters that turn things around and plot twists that seem to turn the story upside down.
Several months ago, after a three-and-a-half-year hiatus, I decided that I was officially returning to a career in life coaching. It helped that two individuals had already reached out to me and asked if I would coach them. I had the start of a business and the desire to pursue it.
The message came over Facebook late Monday night. “I just heard from his cousin. Josh took his own life last night. I am in shock. So sad.”
Let’s take a moment to pay homage to the almighty To Do List. It is the quintessential organizational mechanism in the How-to-Get-#$%^-Done tool kit. I know people that live and die by the list. You know them too. They get a high from checking off the boxes; they add things to the list they just completed so they can have the thrill and satisfaction of crossing them off.
On Wednesday morning of Erev Rosh Hashanah, I found myself overwhelmed with the thought that it was the start of the Jewish New Year. Soon I would be sitting in synagogue pondering transgression, judgment and forgiveness. I felt a pit in my stomach because the notion was so final.
I always thought that I would marry someone Jewish. It seemed like a given; USY and Hebrew school classes were sometimes dedicated to teaching us about the challenges of marrying outside the faith. I was on board, and my beshert would surely be Jewish. My true love would naturally have an affinity for my first love, Judaism.
Several years ago, I was privileged to staff a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip for Shorashim. From the moment I found out I’d be going, I was really looking forward to celebrating Shabbat in Israel again.
I was squirming a bit in my seat and not exactly breathing regularly, yet Rose seemed relaxed. Her smile was gentle, even as she explained the less glamorous moments for women in their first trimester.
Becoming a new parent comes with a whole list of new challenges and experiences. Leading up to the birth of our son, John, my wife, Rose, and I tried to prepare as much as we could. We read books, downloaded apps and watched videos to make sure we had all the right skills and had purchased all the right supplies.
I was already sweating when we walked into the yoga studio. We had been running late, as usual, and I had double-timed it from the car to the building. Just before walking in, I remember hesitating. Did I really want to go to Mommy and Me Yoga?
I was sitting in my career coach’s office, constantly adjusting from side to side. If I stopped shifting for even just a moment, my right foot began to furiously tap on the floor. I couldn’t make up my mind as to where I wanted my hands to go: in my lap, on the arm rest, on my chin. I kept switching positions without finding comfort in any of them.
From what I gather, Johnny’s bedtime ritual is pretty typical: change diaper, wrestle to put on PJs, nurse on the couch while reading stories and singing lullabies before drifting off to sleep.
It was one of those spring days in Chicago that reminds you why you put up with so much winter for so very long. It was that first day after the snow had completely melted away. The sun was shining over the lake, and the lakefront path was packed with runners. I was in my car on my way home from work and all I wanted to do was pull over, abandon my car, and start down the path on foot. That was the moment I realized I was becoming a runner.
When my 1-year-old son, Johnny, was born I remember lifting him out of the basinet at the hospital for the first time. Completely swaddled in a hospital blanket, he was a fussy 8-pound burrito. I was in love with and in awe of him. We all had high hopes for him and our newly started family.
We were just wrapping up dinner at a new restaurant enjoying a lovely family evening together. My 1-year-old son, John, had eaten well and managed to get most of the food we offered into his mouth, avoiding the floor. My wife and I managed to complete at least half of a decent conversation. Nobody was screaming yet.
Yom Kippur is "Judgment Day," and there is a prayer that repeats over and over again throughout the many services of the holiday called Vidui, or "The Confession." Every year when I go to shul for Yom Kippur, my heart beats a little faster when the Vidui comes up in the liturgy.
At the time, it seemed like a no-brainer. I could easily give up Sunday morning and Thursday evenings. I would be with an experienced co-teacher who could help me with the lesson plans. I had a curriculum and some general support from the administration. Best of all, I got paid. Teaching Hebrew school seemed like a great way to make some easy money.
It’s true what they say about our kids: we learn more from them than we will ever teach them. Every day that I spend with my 18-month-old son is not only a lesson on how I can be a better parent, but how I can just be a better person.
Sometimes the journey makes you appreciate the destination that much more. I know many of us have received this advice, and it applies to so many situations: Becoming a bar/bat mitzvah, graduating college, navigating your first “real job” and things like what I experienced just last month -- traveling from Washington, D.C. to central Illinois with an 18-month-old.
Gleacher Center, University of Chicago Booth School of Business, 450 N. Cityfront Plaza Drive
Thursday, February 18, 2016 | 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
The Center for Jewish Genetics in collaboration with Hillels of Illinois presents The Business of Genetics, an interactive discussion on the globalization of research and development for rare diseases. Take advantage of this rare opportunity to interact with corporate leaders from Pfizer, who will touch on the scientific, business and medical aspects of the development and marketing of Elelyso (a new treatment for Gaucher disease) in collaboration with their Israeli biotechnology partner, Protalix. The event includes a networking reception with refreshments following the program.
For more information, contact
KarenLitwack@juf.org. There is no cost to attend this event, but space is limited. Register at
Pre-register for your free Birthright Israel adventure this summer or next winter with Shorashim to fly from Chicago, travel with others from the community, and spend all 10 days with Israelis your own age! Learn more @ israelwithisraelis.com.