01/07/2014 03:47 pm ET Updated Mar 09, 2014

Jobs From Someone Else's Dream

Brian is telling me about how someone else's dream led to his new job.

"It's was a dream," he says. "It's not supposed to be logical. I get that. I'm 61 years old. I understand dreams can be gobbldegook. What I didn't know is that reading somebody else's strange dream could put me on the road to my own job. Especially a dream that SEEMED to have nothing to do with finding work.

I've been a . . . a "consultant" since 2008. I've gotten by. Done what people always do to find a job. None of it worked. Even with thirty years of corporate marketing leadership roles. None of it worked.

I saw Finding Work When There Are No Jobs on amazon and read the reviews. It didn't sound like a "how-to" book. And that got my attention. I thought, why not? It's cheap. And I had this feeling. 61 years, you trust your gut. So I go to the middle of the book and I read this:

"Again something unnamable coming. This time something very, very good is just about to happen.

From the snowy fields you step inside the conservatory.

It's like a zoo for plants. A tropical rainforest of green, moist ferns; trees winding branches under a clear glass bubble that keeps the snow and the winter and everything else outside. You've stepped from ten degrees of snowy cold into eighty degrees of steamy jungle vines.

Traveling deeper into the warmth, you find yourself knocking on the door of a kitchen. She opens the door and smiles; the smell of chocolate chip cookies floats out. You hear a scratchy record album. Linda Ronstadt singing 'Lovesick Blues.'
Just about to be in love . . . could this be her?"

From Part II of Finding Work When There are No Jobs.
Chapter III: 'Adding Music

"And I'm thinking, What in blazes does this have to do with finding a job? This is crazy! I should be sending out more resumes or going to a networking meeting or something! But then, just for a second, just one second, I stop beating myself up about all the things I should be doing and I remember that soup kitchen in Denver. You know how it goes when you have time to think. You remember things. This was years and years ago. Just out of college. I went in to this soup kitchen one day because I had heard a story about how Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac went there once. These were guys I admired.

So when I opened the door to the place, it was in this drafty hall of a church, I caught that exact same smell of freshly baked chocolate cookies. And I ended up sticking around. I'd go there every week, just to spoon out the stew and the soup. And the stories I'd hear from the old guys? I still remember those stories. I guess I liked going there cause I didn't have to think about ME all the time. That smell of chocolate chip cookies. It made me remember.

So I skip a few pages in the book and start reading stories in the 'Practicing Stewardship' chapters. Hell, that had LOTS to do with getting a job. I was with Pac Bell for 25 years. I understand what being part of 'something bigger than me' means.

I decided I could give up the job search routine for an few hours every week. Like they say, 'doing less sometimes means that you do more.' Talk about thinking differently! Then I found a food pantry. Right here in Denver. Not real far from that first one with the chocolate chip cookies. I walked in and told them I wanted to help. Started doing whatever needed to be done. Cleaning, stocking, checking in food, security.

More than anything, the place needed grant money. Of course there wasn't much grant money cause of government cuts. But we had to keep going. I told Sam, the Executive Director, that what he needed was somebody who could write, hustle business and work on commission. I had never written a grant in my life. But in a world where there are no grants, finding the talent to write, hustle business and work on commission was the real need---the real mystery to be solved.

I didn't know that 'solving a mystery' was one of the main deals in your book till I wandered into the story about the couple walking to Diary Queen one night and being clueless about all the places that they could hustle jobs.

So anyway, that's where I got to where I am today. I write grants, press releases, all the copy for the newsletter. It's a full time job. I make nothing near what I made back in the telephone company days.

But I don't need as much either. And I'm helping feed hungry people.

Now when people come and ask me for advice on getting a job? I tell them to get ready for the hardest thing they've ever had to do. Because everybody's way of getting it done is different! You gotta think differently.

I ask people 'What have you done in the last week that is different?' And if they can't answer that? I say, 'Then you might have bought the book, but you didn't really USE it.' I mean the stories are nice. But the point is to USE the book. Just because it's not some how-to manual, doesn't mean you can't use it.

Using it means thinking differently and then doing something differently. Like I did when I read somebody else's dream. Simple to say, really hard to do. And you gotta do it in your own way. But it did work for me. I started by reading about somebody else's dream of smelling chocolate chip cookies. And I ended up with a job feeding hungry people.

Yeah, I know it sounds weird. But it worked."