Episode 123- Terrorist Hunter/Author/Tech Expert/Ballroom Dancer Mark Herschberg

In light of the chaos of this past week, writing about our show might feel a bit silly — that erotic bakers or professional mermaids are the last things worth thinking of in this moment. We’d argue that because it is so ridiculous, it is absolutely the right thing to do. We are nothing if we don’t try to listen to each other and try to understand each other. And it’s all for naught if we can’t do it politely.

Every episode of ours is a heavy listen and it certainly won’t make anyone angry (except for maybe other professional podcasters who think we make them look bad), but we feel like over the past few days, this is a point that is worth repeating: the best thing anyone can do right now is to politely and respectfully listen to the story of another person.

And, in the spirit of being polite, we kicked off this week complaining about our mothers. Really, isn’t that a common link that can bring us all together? Of course, we don’t mean that everyone complains about our particular mothers. You aren’t allowed to do that unless you’ve been subjected to a parental ballroom dancing-related text chain or had a harpist play in the foyer of your home for your sixteenth birthday party. (Tip of our icebergs, friends…)

Another link that brings us all together is wondering whether the coworker seated right next to you — or that you see on Zoom eight hours a day — has a completely fascinating life beyond the context of your work. Is Gladys really just all about financial forecasts, or does she also live a secret life where she performs as a drag king, impersonating Corbin Bernsen three nights a week in a show called “L. Lay. Ooh-La-Law.”

For this week’s episode, we spoke with someone who has to be an enigma to the people he works with. Mark Herschberg is so completely multi-faceted that he has different business cards depending on what you need him for. And not in that shady way Cousin Bruce says he’s a DJ/distributor/psychologist. (We know what you’re up to, Bruce!) When Mark talks about being an author/tech expert/terrorist hunter/ballroom dancer, he has the credentials to back it up. And after speaking with him, we feel confident adding career guide and great podcast guest to that list!

If those last couple of sentences threw you off, we apologize. It’s just that Mark can’t be summarized with a quick description. A good place to start is that he wrote a book titled, The Career Toolkit: Essential Skills for Success that No One Taught You. Mark shared with us what inspired him to write the book and why he’s uniquely qualified to do so. And based on the fact that he teaches much of what he touches on at MIT, we were compelled to ask him how we could be even more successful than we already are. (“Not possible!” you exclaim? Thanks, Mom — sorry for complaining about you earlier…)

Mark is a fascinating guy to talk with. He was a top-ranked ballroom dancer in the U.S.; has multiple degrees from MIT in physics, electrical engineering, and computer science; and he specializes in cryptography. With that knowledge he helps starts ups, creates authentication systems, tracks criminals and terrorists on the dark web, and much more. So… we had a lot of questions! Mark filled us in on what skills the education system leaves out when preparing people for the working world. He was polite when we bugged him to compare his experiences tracking terrorists on the internet to how it’s depicted on TV shows. And we got the inside scoop on what, exactly, is a “stoner party” in the world of ballroom dancing.

So if Gladys is driving you crazy at work and you’re looking for a promotion or a career change, listen to this week’s episode for Mark’s words of wisdom and check out his website for The Career Toolkit. (We get it, Gladys. Corbin Bernsen has a collection of over 8,000 snow globes. We can’t listen to you talk about it anymore.) You can also check out Mark on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, where you might even catch a glimpse of one of his thematic cufflinks. He has a huge collection of them, and they are far more useful and easy to store than snow globes.

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