#ThreeFictionalCharacters that can teach us about career change

mm Bill Pace

You’ve seen the meme. It seems like just about everyone is sharing the 3 fictional characters that best describe them on social media this week. Here at ClearlyNext, we’re all about helping folks find a meaningful career and we thought it would be fun to apply that focus to the meme. Below are 3 of our founders’ favorite fictional characters who executed a career change in search of finding work they’d love. Plus, a little something we can learn from them.  

  • Frasier Crane: Starting out as the very educated and stiff Boston-based psychiatrist on Cheers (from 1983 to 1993), Frasier successfully moves to Seattle to offer therapeutic advice as a radio host (from 1993 to 2004). He offers an interesting example of someone who shakes up their life by virtue of switching cities and careers simultaneously (and re-engaging with their family). Furthermore, you can see how he has to adapt from focused work with a small set of private clients to seeking and attracting a large radio  audience. He’s also the classic case of someone who has expertise in supporting others with their problems but an inability to apply those lessons to his own life.
  • Roseanne Conner: Growing up in a family that it had its fair share of money problems, the initial airing of Roseanne (from 1988 to 1997) felt more familiar than anything else on television. Roseanne Conner was the opposite of Frasier Crane. She graduated high school and moved through a series of jobs including line worker at a plastics company, telemarketer, secretary for her husband’s boss, bartender, cashier at a fast-food restaurant, floor sweeper at a beauty parlor, and department store restaurant waitress. She cycles through a series of jobs hoping to give her kids a better chance at life, and occasionally feels valued and respected in the workplace. Ultimately, her family comes into a bit of money and chooses to invest it in opening a loose meat sandwich shop. Even if running the shop wasn’t always easy, she had achieved a part of the American dream by having an idea, realizing it, and being her own boss.
  • Chauncey Gardner (also known as “Chance the Gardener”) pursued his life as a gardener in peace and solitude until a series of events thrust him onto the national political stage. His expertise in tending flowers and plants equipped him well to serve as an advisor to a U.S. President and, subsequently, for consideration as the president’s successor in the forthcoming election. Chauncey saw the deep parallels between getting a flower to bloom and getting an economy to prosper…

Chance the Gardener: Yes. In the garden, growth has it seasons. First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.

President “Bobby”: Spring and summer.

Chance the Gardener: Yes.

President “Bobby”: Then fall and winter.

Chance the Gardener: Yes.

Benjamin Rand: I think what our insightful young friend is saying is that we welcome the inevitable seasons of nature, but we’re upset by the seasons of our economy.

Chance the Gardener: Yes! There will be growth in the spring!

President “Bobby”: Hm. Well, Mr. Gardner, I must admit that is one of the most refreshing and optimistic statements I’ve heard in a very, very long time. I admire your good, solid sense. That’s precisely what we lack on Capitol Hill.


Russ Finkelstein and Bill Pace are the Managing Directors of ClearlyNext, a guided online career program that helps people of all backgrounds and incomes figure out what to do next. Read more >