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’.
Here's the Latest Episode from The WorkNotWork Show:
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.
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.
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, which has its own unique material related to this and all of our episodes. (photo: Martine Giroux)
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, 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 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 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 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. Also, we welcome your comments below and if you like what you've heard, please share with your social network.
©2017 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.
Tamir Moscovici can’t wait to get up in the morning and go to work. He’s a gifted storyteller and telling stories on film is what he gets to do for a living. The most important benefit of loving his work the way he does? Perhaps surprisingly, he says it’s because he gets to show his two young children that it’s possible to love what you do for a living while still looking after your family. It seems that if he can convey that life lesson, it’s more important than any accolade or award he wins for his films — and he has won plenty.
To understand what makes this talented filmmaker tick, we chose three of his films as a means of exploring his remarkable career in this in-depth interview:
We start with Urban Outlaw, Moscovici’s profile of Magnus Walker, an iconoclast of the Porsche world and a legend in his own right. Moscovici knew he had the subject for his next project the instant he saw Walker profiled on the pages of Total 911, a Porsche magazine based in the UK. Tamir was instantly drawn to the fact that Walker didn’t look like any Porsche guy he had ever seen before — he was more like somebody he would find on the set of one of his films rather than restoring highly sought after sports cars in downtown Los Angeles. The resulting film has wide audience appeal, well beyond the usual gear-heads you would expect. It’s what Moscovici intended — a mere car film was too easy. The result illustrates Walker’s philosophy which mirrors the filmmaker’s: you can do what you love and still put bread on the table. And then some.
Kaz: Pushing the Virtual Divide is Moscovici’s feature-length documentary about Kazunori Yamauchi, the ghost-like genius behind the Gran Turismo driving simulator franchise. As with Walker, the appeal of this film goes well beyond the video game community that is was largely intended to attract. Kaz is the story of a beautiful obsession and quest for perfection in a digital world, bringing the same zen-like qualities and dedication to craftsmanship usually reserved for more traditional Japanese arts. Moscovici knits together a dazzling array of diverse elements for a finished film which is mesmerizing, thought provoking and highly entertaining. And Moscovici returns to the theme of work that goes beyond a mere means of earning money and paying the bills — it can be a calling.
We complete our study with the curiously named Painting Coconuts the film about David Beattie who, at mid-life, was forced to re-think his whole life plan after being laid-off from his conventional Detroit desk job. Once again, Moscovici focuses on the passion that Beattie infused into the next chapter of his life, which was to return to a boyhood obsession of his own: slot car racing. But these are not the usual, snap together, black plastic variety from our Christmases as kids. Rather Beattie’s tracks are superbly detailed, entirely bespoke works of art that are simply stunning to behold. Beattie can’t keep up with demand from a global customer base. He also talks about the importance of finding a vocation as opposed to just a job. Do what you love and the rewards — monetary and otherwise — will eventually come.
Watching these films and in talking with Moscovici about them, we finally had that ‘ah-ha’ moment — Tamir consistently returns to the theme of a passion for craft as a way of life and as a way of making a living. Moscovici’s philosophy, as articulated by the subjects of his films and his making of them, is that you can do both in a seemingly effortless manner.
$150-million over 10 years. It could easily have been an announcement about the signing of the latest phenom in the NHL, NBA or NFL. Dr. Sean Morrison even jokes that if had won the genetic lottery for size, strength and speed, playing centre for the Montreal Canadiens would have been high on his list of his dreams as a kid. But it turned out that he had other talents into which he could channel his fiercely competitive nature and relentless curiosity about the world around him.
Dr. Sean Morrison at the Children’s Medical Research Insitute in Dallas, Texas. In his case, the one-hundred-and-fifty large ones— and two empty floors of an office tower — were the resources he received to start an entirely new organization, the Children’s Medical Research Institute at UT Southwestern in Dallas, Texas. It was one of the largest offers in the history of academia. More importantly, it was an entirely blank canvas onto which he could paint the research institute of his remarkable imagination. When asked what he thought about the enormity of the challenge that lay before him at that time, he remembers coming up with just one word:
It succinctly and yet accurately sums up both the man and his work. It all started, when he was just a kid, with an award-winning high school science project catalyzed with a summer science program called SHAD. That eventually resulted in the agricultural biotech startup Endogro Systems which Sean co-founded with his friend Brent Walker. They were so young that while they had signed a shareholders agreement, they were too young to be legally bound by it. Endogro’s promise was enormous — to change agriculture by replacing chemical fertilizers with a biological equivalent to increase crop yields. He continued with that work as he entered Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia to study biology and chemistry. However, Endogro was eventually dealt a cruel blow by the 1987 stock market crash. With that, there was no way to raise the necessary capital to take Endogro to the next stage of growth.
This inflection point gave Sean the opportunity to think deliberately about where he wanted to take his career next. He came to a startling conclusion: if he was going to devote his life to being the best he could be at something, it was going to be in a field that engendered a truly “visceral” reaction in the public it served. For him, that meant just one thing: medical research. If that wasn’t a sufficiently hard target, he decided to focus on the most intractable problems of cancer therapies and in particular the groundbreaking use of stem cells in that fight. After Dalhousie, he studied first at Stanford with Dr. Irv Weissman and then at Caltech with Professor David Anderson, both world-renowned experts in the field. He spent more than a decade at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor continuing the work as a member of the faculty. He was happy there not only in the work he was undertaking and its impact but, as he half-jokingly says, “there is more hockey in Ann Arbor than there is anywhere else in the world.”
Then the call from UT Southwestern came and eventually the dream offer to start his own lab — from scratch. We sat down with Dr. Sean Morrison at his now up-and-running, built-out lab. The interview is a highly engaging story of a remarkable career. What’s more, you get a strong sense that you’re catching Sean mid-arc; that there is so much of the story yet to be told.
Sean Morrison is endowed with many talents but it’s the intersection of three that make him unique: he’s a gifted scientist endowed with amazing technical skills coupled with an ability to attract top talent to form teams “optimized for discovery and innovation.” Add to that a lifelong history of entrepreneurship rooted in the belief that science for its own sake doesn’t help humanity; discoveries have to get out into the public and solve real, human problems. Finally, Sean is an extraordinarily articulate communicator. Not only is he able to take his enormously complex field of study and make it understandable for anybody, he does it was an enthusiasm you can almost feel.
Join us for our in-depth interview with Dr. Sean Morrison. He makes science, well, as he says…“Cool!”
From the time he donned the robes of Friar Tuck in a fourth grade staging of Robin Hood, Wayne Thomas Yorke knew he had found his home. It was on the stage, a passion which he is not able to easily explain other than it was a place where he felt comfortable “goofing around” because everybody else was doing exactly the same thing. It was in ninth grade, when he appeared in a high school play, when he first realized that acting was a viable option for a future career. For him, it was pretty simple: it was the only thing he really ever wanted to do.
In a serendipitous turning point at the end of high school, he was first accepted to Canada’s National Theatre School which would have likely put him on the path to more formal live theatre. In a seemingly cruel turn of events at the time, he was contacted a week later and told the coveted spot had been eliminated due to budget cuts. In a move that was to become a hallmark of his highly successful career, he did not dwell on the disappointment but rather made a quick, positive pivot to attend Studio 58 in Vancouver. It was to lead him to a decade of steady work on stage and screen in his home town.
In a second turn of seemingly random events, Yorke headed to Los Angeles — Hollywood — not with a dewey-eyed dream of stardom but rather just the simple need to get away for a while after a heartrending breakup. A few months in the California sun seemed to be the right prescription to get him back on track. More than twenty-five years later, he’s still there, married with two kids and a veteran of feature films, hit television shows, over 150 television commercials and many projects on the stage. By every conceivable definition, Wayne Yorke is a true rarity — somebody who went to Hollywood and made it.
In this wide ranging interview, we talk with Wayne about his career journey including his early discovery and subsequent, lifelong fascination with Hollywood’s Golden Age: the one populated with Laurel & Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle and the Marx Brothers. We go on to talk about his early days learning the craft, through to his first professional engagements and then to international recognition in television and movies. Along the way, we talk about the keys to success and happiness in Hollywood. We also talk about the changing nature of the entertainment business as it struggles to keep up with changes in technology, the business environment and consumer tastes. He also provides great advice for aspiring actors considering the same path.
Wayne is quick to credit good fortune for the amazing life he has led. But in talking with him, you get a much stronger sense that he has a vision uncluttered by competing professional ambitions. He knew what he wanted and has never lost that focus over the course of his life. Every gig, no matter how big or small, he throws himself into abandon and infectious joy and we are all the richer for it.
Join us as we talk with Wayne Thomas Yorke, and take a little bit of that journey with him.
Porsches are sometimes called ‘bookend’ cars. You buy one at the first hint of disposable income coming your way and sell it when spouse, house and family come calling. Then a decade or two or three goes by. Just as you get a sense that life may be passing you by, you convince yourself that you’ve once again earned a Porsche. Maybe even a red one.
Now imagine a life where the Porsche obsession takes hold early, in the usual way, but then you get to indulge that passion all the time for a living. This is Phil Raby’s world.
Although Raby convincingly claims he never specifically planned his life this way, outwardly it sure looks like it. Discovering that his early, default career choice of marine electronics engineer simply wasn’t for him, he returned to art college to study photography and soon landed his first job at EOS, a photography magazine. There he was able to pursue his passion for photography, design, writing and eventually leading teams of people to produce top quality printed journals.
With a growing reputation and a body of work to which he could refer, there came a time when he knew an important personal milestone was within his grasp. He took the bold step of writing an unsolicited letter to the UK-based quarterly 911 and Porsche World with an offer to provide his services. Perhaps surprisingly, the publisher eventually wrote back with the offer of a job. Raby contributed a lot to building it into a mature, monthly publication with a robust and growing readership. He did this by routinely driving fast, fantastic cars and capturing them in artfully crafted words and pictures.
Phil was far from being done and felt that there was some creative instinct not yet satisfied. His response was to co-found, edit and publish Total 911 magazine which reflected not only his design sense for what a high end car magazine should look like, but also satisfied an entrepreneurial streak. After launching and growing it successfully, he sold Total 911 but continued to edit the magazine as it entered the digital age.
All the while he was nurturing a kernel of a new business. It turns out helping out friends buy and sell Porsches was a tidy little business as well, which ultimately became Philip Raby Porsche, a boutique, pre-owned Porsche dealership. He has not abandoned his core passion however — far from it — as he contributes a regular monthly column and other articles to GT Porsche magazine.
Most recently he has written a new book, Save Your Life, where he has tried to capture his ‘unplanned plan’ for work/life balance – or as he prefers to call it work/leisure balance. With the enviable life that Phil Raby has led so far, it’s advice we would all do well to heed.
Dr. Robert Thirsk isn’t ready to write his autobiography – yet. You would think someone who qualified first as a mechanical engineer then as a medical doctor and then became an astronaut and is now a university chancellor there would already be lots to put in at least one book. But Bob Thirsk, at 63, believes there’s lots more life to live. He describes himself, first and foremost, as an explorer. Quite simply he says there is lots more to explore before he writes his memoire.
It would be quite easy to imagine his broad and varied qualifications represent a “scattergun” approach to career planning. Nothing could be further from the truth. From the time he was in grade three – when an inspired teacher brought a radio into class and let the students listen to John Glenn as he orbited Earth – Bob knew there was just one career destination for him: space. All of his qualifications were a carefully organized curriculum to get him there. Ultimately, it was a stay to last for a combined total of 204 days in orbit.
Bob credits his father for inspiring him to dream “big hairy audacious dreams” and, equally, his mother for instilling him the organizational skills that enabled him to achieve them. He also credits countless others who he has been “blessed” to know and who have contributed to his efforts over the years. It’s modesty and it’s not false. He truly believes that without the support of his wife, parents, family and his ‘other’ family – those that have supported him along the way – none of what he has achieved would have been so.
In this wide-ranging, extensive, thoughtful interview Bob Thirsk talks about the ferocious determination, drive and patience it took to get to orbit, life once he got there and how it has transformed him, and what you do after you have just climbed one of life’s biggest professional mountains. While clearly a man of science, he also brings real humanity to the endeavour. He feels a strong sense of responsibility to relate his experiences to others so they too, can dream big and achieve those dreams. He believes that the platform on which those dreams is built is advanced education for which he is a powerful, persuasive and compelling advocate.
Having seen Earth from orbit, Bob talks with great eloquence about the beauty of the planet but also the challenges it faces: from climate change to whether Earth's “seven billion astronauts” can learn to get along. However, he is ultimately an optimist. He thinks human space travel can make us think more like global citizens and collectively we can address these problems and get beyond them. After that, we’re going to Mars, and onwards. His infectious passion is irresistible and makes you believe it’s all really going to happen.
As in his own life, Bob thinks we Earthlings should dream big dreams, do our best to achieve them, think about what’s next and then dream some more.
©2016 The WorkNotWork Show
In this third and final part of our interview, we talk with Dave about his life after retiring from his life as a publisher. We start with his thoughts on agile (both as a noun and as an adjective) as well as the use and value of spoken and written language in the digital age. We talk about society's relationship with the book and whether there is in fact a future for bookstores as we currently know them. We wrap up with what advice Dave can offer the next generation of programmers.
In this, the second part of the interview, we pick up the story when Dave first met Andy Hunt. Dave and Andy co-founded The Pragmatic Bookshelf after they had already written and published books with Addison-Wesley. We learn about Dave and Andy's motivations for starting The Bookshelf, the trials and tribulations of getting it up and running, and what the future holds for publishing in general and the printed book.Dave recently retired from The Bookshelf, but remains involved as Publisher Emeritus and is still keenly interested in the overall objective of The Bookshelf which is simply to make programmers better.
In this, part one of our interview, Dave reflects on his early influences, his formal education at Imperial College in London, making the leap into the commercial software development world and laying the foundation for both his writing and publishing careers. We also talk about that little bit of Dave that is heading for outer space. Finally in this part, Dave takes time to reflect on formal education and provides some surprising thoughts on whether or not there is still value in post-secondary studies. He even proposes a new, alternative curriculum which is more closely aligned with the times in which we now find ourselves.
Dave Thomas is co-founder of The Pragmatic Bookshelf, co-author of the landmark books The Pragmatic Programmer, Programming Ruby and Agile Web Development with Rails as well as many other titles. Dave is also a highly sought after as a keynote speaker, an enthusiastic and popular educator and a true icon of the modern software development industry. In this preview of the groundbreaking three part interview, Dave talks about his early career influences, gives us a peek inside The Pragmatic Bookshelf, and then talks about what's next for him and the industry. Along the way, Dave provides his thoughts on the future of publishing, books and even the state of higher education and language today. It's a thought-provoking, compelling and entertaining interview.
Our full interview with Michael C. Smith, three time Olympic Decathlete. When he was just 18 years old Canadian Olympic Coach Andy Higgins knocked on the door of Michael Smith's parents home in Kenora, Ontario. After seeing Michael at various junior meets, Andy just knew that Michael had what it took to be a world class Olympic decathlete. Just one week later, Michael was launched on a 13 year odyssey that would take him to the Seoul, Barcelona and Atlanta Olympic Games. We talk with Michael about his Olympic experiences, what it’s like to be a role model for younger athletes, his early influences and his professional life after athletics.
A preview of our upcoming interview with Michael C. Smith, three time Olympic Decathlete. When he was just 18 years old Canadian Olympic Coach Andy Higgins knocked on the door of Michael Smith's parents home in Kenora, Ontario. After seeing Michael at various junior meets, Andy just knew that Michael had what it took to be a world class Olympic decathlete. Just one week later, Michael was launched on a 13 year odyssey that would take him to the Seoul, Barcelona and Atlanta Olympic Games. We talk with Michael about his Olympic experiences, what it’s like to be a role model for younger athletes, his early influences and his professional life after athletics.
Mark Langille is the owner of Flitelab, a provider of commercial drone services based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Mark founded Flitelab in 2011 initially as a supplier of parts and information to the do-it-yourself drone hobbyist. More recently, Flitelab has evolved into the provision of commercial drone services specializing in aerial photography and video. He is regularly called upon by local, regional and national media to comment on developments in the industry. Prior to founding Flitelab Mark worked in the IT field for 17 years.