Monday, April 15, 2013

This Week's Inspiring Pop Culture Moment: John Ratzenberger

 Courtesy of FX

Each week we take a look around our pop culture world and try to find one moment that stood out as the most inspiring. It might be a celebrity who is doing charitable things, a TV shows that inspires us to be better or a philosophy that we should all strive to live by. Here is this week's most inspiring pop culture moment.

Actor John Ratzenberger is used to getting laughs on TV shows like Cheers and Legit and Pixar films including Toy Story and Monsters Inc. But off-camera he’s attached himself to some pretty serious causes, most notably what he refers to as “the manufacturing crisis in America.”

Rather than just complain about the shortage of jobs for skilled laborers in the United States, the television icon has contributed to his star power to raise awareness for the cause. In a recent conference call interview, he explained, “M.O.S.T. is a program, it’s Mobile Outreach Skills Training.  What we do is we pull up our trailer trucks that are outfitted as classrooms with computers.  We put people to work.”

Ratzenberger described M.O.S.T.’s unique approach, “We do it the opposite way that it’s normally done.  We’ll go to a company and we’ll say to the company, ‘What do you need?’  They’ll say, ‘We need ten welders and five CNC machine operators,’ and maybe some other things.  We say, ‘Okay, yes.’”

Next they reach out for the right man (or woman) for the job. “Then, we look for the people,” Ratzenberger continued. “They come to us right at the parking lot of the factory and watch some of the programs, and guarantee the job.  We’ve put over 1,000 returning vets back to work in the last year.  So, we go anywhere in the country.”

Of course, he’s no stranger to travel. He traversed the U.S. on a Travel Channel show called Made in America. The series spawned a book called We've Got it Made in America: A Common Man's Salute to an Uncommon Country, which he co-wrote with Joel Engel. The result is an engaging collection of essays that Ratzenberger wrote about what makes America great.

The man behind Cliff Clavin revealed that the next time he sits down to write, it may be about an even more personal story, “My daughter’s been asking me to write another one.  She said, ‘Daddy, you’ve got to write your story.’ My journey when I left home at an early age and ended up living in Europe for ten years — while I agree it would be a good story, it’s just finding the time and the space to do it in, but maybe one day.”

Pick up a copy of We've Got it Made in America: A Common Man's Salute to an Uncommon Country on

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