CAREERS: My Big Break

President Kennedy, whose PT 109 was rammed by a Japanese destroyer,

was sometimes asked how he became a war hero. 'They sank my boat,' he'd

reply. Well, that's sort of how I became a White House aide.

In 1991, the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock went under forever, taking

with it my job. When I awoke from my hangover the next day, I had

exactly zero job prospects. But just days before, Gov. Bill Clinton had

opened his presidential campaign blocks away. The circus had come to

town, and I love circuses.

I called Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers twice a day for two weeks and she

finally hired me.

The pace was frenetic, the stress high and the pay literally


But after a year of 90-hour weeks making copies, filing clips and

hand-delivering news summaries, we won.

I served two years as President Clinton's director of news analysis

before writing a book (Aboard Air Force One, Fithian Press). Now back in

Little Rock, I'm providing public affairs consulting for Fortune 500

clients and earning more than three times what I did in DC. All because

they sank my boat.

Ken Chitester is managing director for The Thompson Group, a strategic

communications firm with offices in Austin, TX, Denver, Little Rock, AK,

and Washington.

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