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'.
Glenn Street: Top Dog
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
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.
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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: President and Co-Founder, FREDsense
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
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.
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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)
Dr. Eve Crane: Pathologist
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.
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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 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.
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We welcome your comments below. Also, ratings and reviews on iTunes are invaluable and very much appreciated. Thank you! (header photo: National Science Foundation)