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Now & Then: Stories of Career Buzz

As 2017 marks ContactPoint’s 20th anniversary, we wanted to take a look at the most popular sections of our website as well as the most-read articles, and reflect on what they say about how the field has evolved over the past two decades.

By Ali Breen


Mark Franklin is producer and host of Career Buzz, a broadcast radio show and podcast that explores real career stories with none of the secret twists and turns left out. Since 2006, together with talented co-hosts, he has broadcast unedited and unrehearsed conversations featuring the extraordinary career stories of ordinary people. Mark has been a featured ContactPoint blogger, providing the inside scoop on Career Buzz episodes for more than a decade.


In asking Mark Franklin about the genesis of his radio show Career Buzz, it didn’t surprise me that he was aiming to disrupt the status quo. That’s how I found him, and OneLifeTools, last spring. As a Millennials Career Coach starting a private practice in Halifax, I was searching for post-modern tools and out-of-the-box resources. A careers board game? A holistic, narrative framework? These were in line with my values as a career professional and they resonated with my clients.

Likewise, 10 years ago Mark had an idea to adopt something innovative and different to promote the field of career development, as the majority of people don’t touch career services. Even though most Canadians say they could really use these services, they don’t. He also wanted to share stories that make listeners feel that they too could be empowered to make changes and choices and find career happiness.

Today, the show airs weekly on Wednesdays and is co-hosted by a co-operative of thought leaders who see career through different lenses. Some of these intersections, where career meets diverse disciplines, include Nicole Hamilton with arts and entertainment, Stephen Armstrong with innovation in the workplace, and Shelley Deloyer with youth transitions. Over the years, co-hosts also included Louisa Jewell whose focus is positive psychology and Leigh Anne Saxe who focused on happiness at work.

The first story

In the very first episode, Janelle, a client of Mark’s at University of Toronto, waived confidentiality and agreed to share not only her story, but how her experience with career services helped her find meaningful work after graduation. Her story hit on both of the show’s main goals. Back in 2006, Career Buzz aired every two weeks on Fridays, and was broadcast live from a musty basement in the quirky building that was once home to the infamous Vinyl from the Crypt.

The next stories

Mark has spent a decade scouting stories. “In the early years,” he explains, “it was just about the story. I’d ask the typical questions about what people liked about their careers and how they found career happiness.” Now, the scope is wider. He invites guests that have both career stories and an area of expertise that’s captivating. Career and employment experts, from Norm Amundson, Sareena Hopkins and John Krumboltz to Barbara Moses, Tom Zizys and Phil Jarvis have appeared on the show. Well-known Canadians like Arlene Dickinson from Dragon’s Den, Jeffrey Remedios, head of indie music label Arts & Crafts, National Geographic Explorer-In-Residence Wade Davis, MP Julie Dabrusin and author Terry Fallis have shared behind-the-scenes views of their journeys. Hidden gem careers are revealed too, from an epidemiologist to a Jamaican jerk chicken chef.

The bonus chapter

To hear Mark tell it, he gets deep satisfaction and sees incredible value in capturing and broadcasting these stories. Another bonus is in the backstage pass he gets to use as a press agent. As part of the media, he gains access to events, and to people, that would normally remain beyond his reach. From positive psychology luminary Sonja Lyubomirsky to academic rock star Linda Duxbury, these career stories have been made accessible through the show.

The sequels

Narrative Community of Practice

For the past few years, Mark has been building a community of practice around a holistic narrative approach to careers, and he co-founded OneLifeTools with Rich Feller. Mark now aims to help the helping professional.

I ask Mark how Career Buzz has informed the work he is focusing on now. “If you listen to enough stories,” he explains, “you see patterns emerging.”

The first pattern is the lucky break. Often, people explain a positive career experience as luck, a chance event, as “I just fell into it.” This is unhelpful to listeners trying to empower themselves, as they can easily fall into the trap of “I’m doomed” or “I’m unlucky” or “That will never happen to me!” However, if you stop and get into the small details of people’s stories, you notice that it was intentional, inspired actions that put them in the right place at the right time, and not simply luck.

The second pattern is tied to exploring with intention. Mark explains: “One step leads to more steps, and then leads to the thing they chose.” He often asks people what else they were exploring and considering, what other branches they considered reaching for versus those that they actually climbed. “Once you learn to see the whole tree,” he continues, “you can use future retrospective storytelling to project the client into a future career happiness place and ask them what steps they took to get there.”

Both of these patterns, witnessed over the 10-year span of Career Buzz, have been incorporated into the OneLifeTools/CareerCycles framework. Who You Are Matters!, a group career intervention disguised as a board game and the Online Storyteller web application are tools used by helping professionals to empower clients to reflect on their stories in an organized way. Clients can then take inspired action and pursue intentional exploration at the intersection of work and life.

Reaching more Storylisteners

When I asked where he sees Career Buzz headed over the next decade, Mark imagines an extended North American or even international reach through broadcast, podcast and guest appearances. He says we need to be inspired and empowered now more than ever. He’s committed to engaging with leading thinkers about the future of work, which is fast changing and affected by things like automation, the price of oil, climate change and political whims. “It’s a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, and uncovering more hidden gem careers and sharing inspiring stories is vital.”

The very next story

Mark and I recently travelled to Florida to attend the NCDA conference. We maximized our trip by renting a convertible on our last day and driving to the Kennedy Space Centre. While I stood amazed in the shadow of an actual spaceship, Mark, who never stops scouting, chatted with a technician who shared his career story working for NASA, starting at the bottom and working his way to head of space shuttle assembly, proving his value each step of the way. He’ll be on the show soon, and we’ll get a peek into both his space story and some NASA engineering. I’m tuning in. Are you?



Mark Franklin, MEd, CMF, CCC, is practice leader of CareerCycles, host of Career Buzz and co-founder of OneLifeTools. Mark was the recipient of the 2015 Stu Conger Leadership Award for Career Development and presents and trains worldwide. He developed the OneLifeTools/CareerCycles narrative method of practice and co-authored the Who You Are Matters! game and diverse peer-reviewed research.

Millennials career practitioner Ali Breen, BA, HNCP coaches young professionals using a narrative framework and post-modern approaches. She draws on her experiences from both sides of the career management table: from corporate recruiting to non-profit employment centres. Ali recently joined the OneLifeTools team as Growth Manager to nurture the community of practice using the OLT narrative, holistic approach.

Lucie Morillon
Lucie Morillon is the Bilingual Content & Communications Co-ordinator for CERIC. With a passion for quality content, she connects with her online communities and provides strong resources to engage members – and always encourages new ones to get involved. She identifies, creates and curates the content destined for the ContactPoint website, the weekly CareerWise newsletter and Careering magazine.

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