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The WorkNotWork Show

The WorkNotWork Show

Author: Terence C. Gannon

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Have you ever met someone who seemed to have the dream job? Ever wonder how they managed to get it? Has it turned out the way they had planned? The WorkNotWork Show tracks down people with interesting jobs which in many cases started with a lifelong passion for the subject which they have managed to make into their career. Each episode, we talk to one person who is 'living the dream'.
22 Episodes
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Glenn Street: Top Dog

Glenn Street: Top Dog

2019-07-0101:05:22

When the 2019 Super Bowl was broadcast to something like one hundred million viewers around the US and still more internationally, you wouldn’t fault Glenn Street for thinking it was a watershed moment for the Calgary-based entrepreneur and Street Characters the company he founded in 1987 and now known around the world for creating amazing sports and corporate mascots.In that Super Bowl matchup, both Rampage for the Los Angeles Rams and Pat Patriot for New England were products of Glenn’s company and were made in his bustling shop right here in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.When the opportunity presented itself to help tell Glenn’s story here on The WorkNotWork Show, I jumped at the opportunity. I had seen Glenn interviewed a number of times and knew that he was a great storyteller who had a great story to tell — his own! What he needed, though, was the luxury of some time, which I was happy to afford him in this episode.
Don Tse: Beer Writer

Don Tse: Beer Writer

2019-01-3101:01:02

The first act of Don Tse’s life began when he was just ten years old with his own subscription to the Financial Post and a dream to become a securities lawyer. It was a dream realized and a career he loved.But even as he practiced law, Don knew that he didn’t have the control over his life for which he yearned and also realized he was doing something which, for him, no longer had the lustre it once did. He then did something unthinkable and began the second act of his life: Don Tse walked away from the law so he could pursue his passion for beer which, at last count, he had tasted 20,812 different kinds. He can seemingly recite the characteristics of each of them from memory. But there’s so much more to Don’s story than his encyclopedic knowledge of beer and the stories he tells about it.Stay tuned as we follow the arc of Don’s life and how we might apply his ‘walk the path laid before us’ philosophy to our own lives. A short program note: we recorded this interview in the beautiful tap room of our friends at Cabin Brewing. Thanks so much for that, guys. However, it does mean there are a few real brewery noises in the background which just seem appropriate when interviewing a guy like Don.*     *     *Thank you so much for listening and, by all means, please leave a comment below with any thoughts you have. We love listener feedback. (photo: Shutterstock)
Emily Hicks is President and Co-Founder of FREDsense, a Calgary, Canada based biotechnology startup focused on the measurement of water quality. FRED stands for Field Ready Electrochemical Detector, which is the product that Emily—along with her FREDsense colleagues—invented, developed and brought to market. It’s used to detect trace amounts of chemicals in a water using a groundbreaking new approach.Her studies in biomedical sciences at the U of C eventually led her to work on the technology on which FREDsense is based. She is a named inventor in the 2013 patent related to that work. Amongst her wide variety of accolades, Emily has been selected as a Kairos Society Fellow, one of the Top 30 under 30 in sustainability in Canada, a National Nicol Award winner in 2014, the Parlee McLaws Females in Energy Scholorship, amongst many other awards.Emily Hicks is a passionate scientist and entrepreneur. In our wide ranging interview, she not only eloquently explains the FREDsense technology in terms we can all understand but also the pleasures and pitfalls of the entrepreneurial life. It's a candid discussion for which the answer to at least some of the questions will come as a surprise to our listeners.Our interview with Emily was recorded live at the INVENTURE$ conference in Calgary, in June of 2018.
Carol Pilon: Wingwalker

Carol Pilon: Wingwalker

2018-03-3100:58:17

Sometimes life changing inspiration comes in an instant and from an unexpected source. In Carol Pilon’s case, it was the split second clip of a wingwalker she saw advertised for a local airshow in 1993. She was transformed by the experience and knew that it was something she simply had to do.Little did Carol know that it would take seven years for her to get her first opportunity to step out of the cockpit of a Stearman biplane and climb up onto the top wing. It was a life changing moment for her—she knew at that precise second it was what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.But the wild ride on the top wing was not the only wild ride she would encounter. For seventeen years, she has waged a day-to-day, moment-to-moment campaign to stay out there in the slipstream. After working with other teams for a time, Carol eventually concluded the only way she could control her future was to own her future. She bought her own plane—in fact, the very plane used for her wingwalking debut—and she and her bright red Stearman have been on the airshow circuit ever since. You may also recognize Carol as the main characters from the 2015 Discovery Channel series Airshow, in which she was prominently featured.You’re going to love Carol’s story and she is a great storyteller. It’s all about the tenacity, perseverance, persistence and downright stubbornness it sometimes takes to do what you were born to do. It’s a wild ride in so many ways.*     *     *Thank you so much for listening and, by all means, please leave a comment below with any thoughts you have. We love listener feedback. Also, we have a companion publication on Medium (https://medium.com/the-worknotwork-show/carol-pilon-39b158bb68c2), which has its own unique material related to this and all of our episodes. (photo: Martine Giroux)
Dr. Eve Crane: Pathologist

Dr. Eve Crane: Pathologist

2017-12-1401:02:13

When Dr. Eve Crane was just five years old, her father became gravely ill with what was eventually diagnosed as an aggressive form of multiple sclerosis. It eventually rendered him a quadriplegic and tragically led to his early passing. It was during this period Eve made up her mind that she was going to grow up and dedicate her life to finding a cure for her father’s illness. She turned her family’s tragedy into a true triumph of the human spirit. It’s an inspiring and heartwarming story.Born and raised in Los Alamos, New Mexico, Eve Crane graduated summa cum laude from Rice University in Chemical Engineering and received her M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. She pursued postdoctoral work at MIT as well as three years of surgical training. However, after some deep soul searching, she realized that she simply had to return to her true professional passion—her calling—of pathology. She completed her residency in anatomic pathology, a clinical fellowship in hemopathology at Johns Hopkins Hospital and is board certified. Recently, she also completed a post doctoral fellowship with world renown stem cell researcher Dr. Sean Morrison (http://the.worknotwork.show/007-morrison-researcher), who was also a guest on a previous episode of The WorkNotWork Show.Eve now feels she has completed the training phase of her career and recently accepted a position as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Rochester. New York. She can be found there, of course, and on a social media platform near you. We spoke with Dr. Crane at her home in Rochester.*     *     *We welcome your comments below. Also, ratings and reviews on Apple Podcasts () are invaluable and very much appreciated. Thank you! (header photo: Dr. Eve Crane)
Sean Loutitt: Aviator

Sean Loutitt: Aviator

2017-08-3101:04:26

Sean Loutitt seemingly seeks out opportunities to fly at high latitudes and low temperatures. Born and raised in the far north of Canada, the son of a bush pilot, it was almost inevitable that Sean would eventually follow in his father's footsteps. His informal training began at age one, perched on his mother's lap at the controls of one of his family's aircraft. His apprenticeship continued at age 12 when he signed on as a dock boy for Latham Island Airways in Yellowknife for the princely sum of $2.52 an hour.Sean continued his journey to the pilot's seat (with only a brief detour for "cars and girls" as he says) and began his pilot training while finishing off his engineering degree at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. After school he headed home to Yellowknife and signed on with Buffalo Airways flying their amazing array of classic aircraft.In time, Sean would join the legendary Kenn Borek Airways in Calgary, the firm which was quickly gaining the reputation as the company to call with the most demanding flying missions in some of the remotest and harshest parts of the world. The Arctic and Antarctic were part of the regular routine for them. They made flying in these extreme locations and conditions look easy, but everybody knew that it wasn't. Anything but.In April of 2001, Sean Loutitt received a call which, given Borek's credentials, seemed almost inevitable at some point. Dr. Ron Shemenski, the only doctor at Amundsen-Scott South Pole base, was desperately ill with a pancreatitis and needed to be evacuated immediately. This required something that had never been done before: a flight to the South Pole in the middle of the Antarctic winter. Extreme weather was virtually guaranteed and likely coupled with not-of-this-world cold and inky darkness unbroken by sunrise for months on end. It was already a mission the US Air Force had turned down.Could Borek make the trip?This question kicked off a series of steps which eventually culminated in Loutitt, as chief pilot, along with a dedicated crew making a successful round trip to the South Pole in winter. They picked up Dr. Shemenski and delivered him to the medical care he was going to need to save his life. Equally important for the 55 souls still at South Pole, Borek delivered Shemenski's replacement physician Dr. Betty Carlisle. He would go on to repeat the trip in 2003 under similar circumstances. Borek still makes the trip when called upon to do so, most recently in 2016. In this episode of The WorkNotWork Show, follow Sean as he tells the story of how the trip came to be, how it went, and how it permanently changed the lives of those living and working at the South Pole. It's a story of real life adventure you simply do not want to miss.*     *     *We welcome your comments below. Also, ratings and reviews on iTunes (https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/sean-loutitt-aviator/id1133243251?i=1000391674009&mt=2) are invaluable and very much appreciated. Thank you! (header photo: National Science Foundation)
Our guest on this episode of The WorkNotWork Show is Sebastian Sztabzyb, co-founder of Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters. He just described his reaction to opening their first store and, as it turned out, bringing an end to his career as a full-time, professional engineer. Coffee had been his passion for seven years, and now it was his profession.The Phil & Sebastian brand he co-founded with Phil Robertson in 2007 sources, processes and serves ultra-premium coffee using an approach more akin to winemaking than traditional brewed coffee. The most visible aspect of Phil & Sebastian are their beautifully designed and well appointed cafes in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Their staff are superbly knowledgable and well-trained and strive — quite simply — to make no less than the best coffee in the world.The cafes are the most visible component of their brand, but by no means are they limited to selling just any old beans. Phil & Sebastian have dedicated themselves to the vertical integration of their operations: when you have a cup of coffee at Phil & Seb, it can be traced back to the seed that was used to plant the tree that eventually produced the beans that were then shipped to their roasting operation in Calgary. From there, onwards to the roasters, grinders and espresso machines in one of their amazing cafes and finally to your cup. Their operations are truly breathtaking in scope. We even break a little news on this episode as they seek to take their brand to the next level. (header image: Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters)
Gary Burns has been making feature films since 1997 and has been called “Canada’s king of surreal comedy”. While apt, it does not adequately capture the range of this unique filmmaker. In this extensive interview we talk about Gary’s films in the context of his strong opinions about urban planning, the built environment and modern society. The magical element of his work is that he rivets our attention on important social issues while entertaining us with compelling, quirky characters and stories. He educates and enlightens us in a way where we effortlessly embrace the message.Highlights of Gary’s career are Kitchen Party in 1997 followed quickly by Suburbanators, and then Waydowntown in 2000. He continued with Cool Money in 2005, the award-winning Radiant City in 2006 and The Future is Now! in 2011 (both with Jim Brown) amongst other projects. Most recently Gary collaborated with his wife Donna Brunsdale on Flexie! All the Same and All Different a biographical film about artist Levine Flexhaug. He is currently working on a new, feature-length drama, Man Running, set in the intriguing world of mountain ultra marathons.Gary has demonstrated a strong commitment to renewal of the art through the education of the next generation of filmmakers. Most recently, he was the Filmmaker-in-Residence at the University of Calgary for U of C film students. He sits on the Board of Calgary Cinematheque and provides committed, ongoing, tireless support for filmmaking in Calgary, Alberta and Canada.While he had opportunities to ‘go Hollywood’ early in his career, Burns remained in Calgary so he could continue to make his films the way he wanted to make them, talking about subjects about which he cared. We sat down with Gary at his home in a leafy downtown Calgary neighborhood in early summer. Prime street maintenance season, as it turns out, some of which part of the background soundtrack.Join us on this episode of The WorkNotWork Show for a remarkable ride through Gary Burns life as storyteller, filmmaker and educator.
Paul Brodie is an artist who works in the medium of steel and machines. It is not just rhetoric: before devoting almost his entire life to steel fabrication—mostly of bicycle frames and reproduction vintage motorcycles—Paul dabbled in line art drawings and even took steps to make more traditional art his career. However, when he discovered his talent for bicycle frames wrought from steel, it wasn’t surprising that he ‘signed’ them—just as you would expect from an artist—starting with frame #002. He has gone on to make well over 4000 frames over the course of his career to this point—each with its own unique serial number. When you look at the precision and the attention to detail present in his work, ‘artist’ makes so much more sense than metalworker.Paul Brodie founded the company that would become Brodie Bicycles in 1986 which coincided perfectly with the then-emerging phenomenon of the mountain bike. In fact, the first place mountain biking culture landed outside the United States was British Columbia and spawned a generation of frame makers, bicycle manufacturers, champion mountain bikers all of which made an indelible contribution to both cycling and popular culture. Although self-taught, Paul contributed significant engineering innovations to the field including the sloping top tube and the Gatorblade composite front fork. If you take a look at any modern mountain bike there is a little bit of Paul in it. It’s impossible to overstate his influence on the field.Although he eventually sold the Brodie manufacturing operation and name—it continues as an independent company with an amicable association with Paul. However, there have been other important, professional mountains Paul has climbed since then. Initially, it was as a restorer of rare vintage motorcycles. His restorations were to a standard where, in 1998, his work was exhibited at New York’s Guggenheim in The Art of the Motorcycle exhibition. He then went on to be a manufacturer of extremely limited run, production-quality vintage racing motorbikes. He has a particular fascination with the legendary Excelsior board track racer, of which he will only ever build a total of ten. The results reflect that small number, though: they are impeccable, worthy of display purely as art, and have been sold to collectors around the world.It turns out that Paul’s connection with the Excelsior goes beyond mere personal interest. He has an almost metaphysical connection with the marque. But for that, you will have to listen to the interview! It’s a twist in the story you simply will not see coming and is utterly fascinating.Most recently Paul has been teaching Frame Building 101 at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, British Columbia. He has run over 50 sessions with students coming from both the local community and around the world. It’s safe to say that Paul’s influence on frame design and construction has now been safely passed to a new generation of frame makers, ensuring his legacy will be preserved for decades to come.In 2016 Paul published his autobiography, Paul Brodie: The Man Behind Brodie Bikes. It’s a rollicking read and he brings the book life in our interview. In both the book and in our discussion Paul claims to have not thought through his career path through well in advance. However, he made his first bike frame at the age of 12 and continues to make them better part of 50 years later. It’s the touchstone to which he has returned time and time again over the course of his life. It’s been a tough, challenging road at times, but Paul Brodie demonstrates a passion for craft and an enthusiasm for the subject which is inspiring and positively infectious. It was hard to pack it all into an hour but we believe you will find it is the story of a life well lead and with so much more yet to come.Thanks for listening!*     *     *We conducted our interview with Paul Brodie on a warm spring evening at his compact but exquisitely well organized fabrication shop located near his home in Langley, British Columbia.Paul is also a keeper of prized peacocks with their coop located immediately adjacent to his shop. Their comical ‘voices’ appear regularly throughout the interview in addition to a few other intriguing background sounds. We think that leaving them all in really captures the ambiance of that evening. Conducting the interview in his shop also meant being amongst Paul’s ongoing fabrication projects—certainly one of the cooler places to do a remote setup. Our Instagram (http://instagram.com/theworknotworkshow) feed has a number of the images from the evening as well as other unique material.You can also find this interview on Apple Podcasts (https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/the-worknotwork-show/id1133243251?mt=2&i=1000386244524). Also, we welcome your comments below and if you like what you've heard, please share with your social network.©2017 The WorkNotWork Show (http://the.worknotwork.show)
Imagine taking advantage of virtually everything a modern air force has to offer and living that life to its fullest for two decades. Now imagine that while acknowledging the amazing life you have led to that point, there are still things that you want to do – there are still challenges that scare you and deciding you are going to pursue those challenges. This is the amazing, dual life of Rob ‘Scratch’ Mitchell, our special guest on episode #009 of The WorkNotWork Show.Scratch Mitchell joined the Royal Canadian Air Force right out of school and in doing so, became a third generation fighter pilot: his grandfather had flown over 400 missions in Spitfires in World War II, and is father had flown CF-101 Voodoos in the Seventies. But even with this pedigree, it was still with some trepidation and a hint of rebelliousness that he signed up. That was to kickstart a series of events that would eventually lead him to become an RCAF CF-18 Hornet demonstration pilot – the pilots of rare skill that would be called up on to show off the aircraft at the very limit of its performance.It would also lead him to two tours with the RCAF Snowbirds, one of the best and most respected precision jet aerobatic teams in the world. He served first as a team member and then eventually returned as Team Lead. He quickly found out that this new role would not only require the absolute best of his flying skills, but also demanded his natural leadership abilities in a very difficult period for the team in the face of tragedy. By every account Scratch was well on his way to becoming a ‘lifer’ in the military from whence he would retire at a very senior rank. All of his professional efforts, both in the air and on the ground, pointed clearly in that direction.Stunningly, Scratch then made a totally counterintuitive decision – he had discovered during his time as an air show performer had awakened a passion that was to eventually prove every bit as compelling as his early desire to fly. He wanted to act, produce and direct for television and the movies. He was contemplating walking away from a perfectly great military career where the future was certain – if not a little predictable. He was walking into the unknown, into territory that while intriguing was completely new territory for him. At that critical fork-in-the-road, he unpredictably chose the path less travelled.He initially took on the duties of First Officer at a well-known commercial airline. He figured he was embarking on a likely decade-long pursuit of that ‘second chapter’ in his life where he would have to find a steady income to cover the uncertainty of his new career. To his surprise and delight, he waited just nine months: Discovery Channel picked up Airshow, a documentary series about life on the commerical airshow circuit, in which Scratch not only produced, but featured heavily as a member of the Patriots Jet Team. He was instantly captivated by the process and catapulted into the entertainment business where he remains to this day.We covered a wide range of subjects with Scratch: from that amazing day when three generations of Mitchell fighter pilots flew together in the skies over Cold Lake, Alberta. We talk about his tours with the Snowbird and the CF-18 demontration team, and then move on to his decision to wind up his career with the RCAF and become an entertainment polymath: actor, producer and director. We also talk about his plans for the future and what advice he might offer to those who want to live the life he has led. We even talk about the pitfalls of celebrity, like the he was stalked down in an airport parking lot by a zealous podcast producer who wanted him on his show. Scratch is a highly articulate storyteller who possesses that rare combination of superb technical skill and the soul of a poet. It’s a discussion you really don’t want to miss.
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