Our History


John C. Crystal

One man's experience and his capacity to recognize and then integrate some basic truths with his actions form the beginnings of the Crystal-Barkley Corporation. The copyrighted Life\Work Design™ Process is an outgrowth of John Crystal's experience as a US Intelligence officer in World War II. Through this, he learned the importance of the principle of reality – just as a spy must, we in the world of work must understand both our own capabilities and what is happening in our surrounding environment. Survival and accomplishment of missions depends upon observing this principle.

John Crystal's work was made available to Richard N. Bolles and became the inspiration for the perennially best selling, What Color Is Your Parachute? Later the two authored the now out of print, Where Do I Go From Here With My Life, often referred to as "the bible of career counseling."

In the '80's, Nella Barkley persuaded John Crystal to join her in building a business to make Life\Work Design™ more widely available. She was convinced through her management consulting that individuals' uncertainty about their own careers usually resulted in their own and their employers' diminished expectations and outcomes. She is the author of The Crystal-Barkley Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career and How To Help Your Child Land The Right Job.


Nella Barkley

In 2016, Barkley joined forces with Spencer Deering to form Best Work, Inc., which offers expanded as well as traditional Crystal-Barkley services. Deering's energy and creative entrepreneurship add much to benefit clients.