Food For Thought

What if your love was liberated?

I've been thinking a lot about love lately. Why do we choose to love who we do? Are we capable of loving everyone?

In the past, I've been very selective of my love - reserved only for those close to me, namely family and friends. I only have so much love to give and I must be careful who I choose to share it with, I thought. If I love too much, reveal too much, become too vulnerable, I'll stretch myself too thin, lose control, and it will only lead to hurt.

But when given freely, without the expectation of reciprocation, our love is infinite. It doesn't take away from us, or make us weak, it makes us stronger. It grants permission to love ourselves. Love heals hurt.

When my heart is full, I feel that I have enough love for everyone in this world.

Of course I don't have to love everyone; it's a matter of holding in my heart the belief that I am capable of loving each person I encounter as much as I love those closest to me. The possibility exists.

And just because I hold love in my heart for someone doesn't mean that I would choose to spend time with them, or always condone their behaviour. It's the recognition and respect of a fellow human being, knowing that no matter what appearance they project to the world, they, like I, crave love, intimacy, and belonging. They are my brother or sister on their unique journey of life.

If we approach each encounter with love and respect, we release our fears, acknowledge our similarities, and open our hearts to a more authentic interaction and meaningful connection.

In practicing love, I try to ask myself after each exchange: Did I leave that person with a little more love than when we first met? Did I add love to their life or perhaps take some away?

When I'm fully present with an open heart, I find myself speaking with people and at moments saying in my mind, "I love you", or "You're beautiful." It may be someone I've known for a long time, or a new friend that I met in the street or at a coffee shop. The thought typically arises when I let go of judgement; when I see, hear, and accept them as they truly are; when I acknowledge their truth and embrace the divine in both of us.

A profound recognition of our similarities; I see myself in them.

It's not important whether that love is reciprocated. When we offer our love freely, with pure intention, it's irrelevant how it's received. The beauty and wholeness we feel exists in the act of loving.

To fully engage in life, we must love. For love elicits life.

So let us not be selective of our love. Let us give it openly and freely - to ourselves, to each other, to each day, and to each beautiful breath of this magnificent moment.

And with that my dear friend, I wish to say… I love you :)


How To Deal With Criticism

I received a semi-critical email a while back and finally got to responding to it this week. The majority of emails/feedback I receive are extremely supportive, but every so often there is someone who sees the One Week Job Project, and what it represents, in a different light.

I wanted to share the email with you and my response. It's likely that other people might have had similar questions, and so this way I can share my perspective with everyone.


Yes we should all have jobs we like, but not all of us have the opportunity to leave Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire or the local warehouse... Yet we still came to the same realization that we should all be doing a job we like.  Is that not you’re main point?

Kind of. I think it's important that we're able to fulfill our passions in some aspect of our life - it doesn't all have to be in our job. We may not all have the opportunity to leave Tim Hortons, Can Tire, etc, but we do have the opportunity to explore our passions outside of work. I met a lot of people who weren't in their dream job, but they were content with their position because it allowed them to fulfill their passions outside of work. When we don't have an outlet to express our creativity or explore what truly fulfills us, I believe that can lead to discontent. Alternatively, when we are fulfilled by what we do, whether in a career or outside of work, that improves our relationships with our family and friends while making us more likely to contribute to our community.

It’s adorable your website says you were a Chiropractor for a week, a Radio DJ or even Brewmaster! Obviously that’s a bit of an embellishment considering these sound more like week long take your kid to work day. Maybe I’m wrong?

Most jobs I was actually doing the job, ie: on the air as a Radio DJ, assisting the vet with tests as a Vet assistant. Other jobs that were more technical, ie: Chiropractor, Tattoo artist, it was more of a job shadowing experience.

Have you ever worked in fast food? Retail?  For more than a week?  For more than 6 months even?  Have you worked 60 hour weeks for months at a time?  I didn’t do these things for a lack of courage to change, it was to seek my own enlightenment and generate enough income to live.

Great! In whatever we're doing, I believe that's the ultimate goal - to seek our own enlightenment - regardless of the path we choose to get there. Everyone's path will be different.

The silver lining is, you’re very positive and seem to pass that along to many.  I just think you forget that some people simply have limitations.  What you did was unique. Why? Because most people don’t have the opportunities you have. I would love for you to prove me wrong.. Such a positive message should be passed along. So with my e-mail in mind can you explain how someone can “take a leap” to find a career they love without money and without education past high school?

Thanks! In regards to your question, I was extremely surprised how open employers were to sharing their knowledge about their profession. I suggest that people think about what interests them and professions that they think might be the right fit. Then, before fully committing to going for it, see if you can volunteer with someone in the industry, or take them for coffee to find out as much as you can and if it might be right for you. Why they like it, what are the challenges, how does someone get into the industry... I think the most important thing is to DO. To get into the work force, no matter what job we have to take. As we do, we learn more about ourselves, develop skills, and get closer to figuring out what our ideal career would be.

Again, I hope to hear from you.  Hope this didn’t come off as a Sean bashing session. Obviously you made me think a little or I wouldn’t give this the time of day.  To be honest, some of this may be spoken out of jealously.  I would have loved to do some of the things you’ve done.

All good bud! Thanks for sharing your story and thoughts!


I used to feel down when people didn't "get it" - I wanted to speak with each one directly to explain where I was coming from. During my year I was given some great advice to deal with it: "A third of people will love what you're doing. A third of people will hate what you're doing. And a third of people won't care what you're doing."

When you put yourself out there, you're bound to face some critics, but I've found the most important thing for me is to know why I'm doing what I'm doing, and to know that my intentions are genuine. This applies even when the feedback is positive, and there is an inclination to feed the ego.

Or, if you prefer a good Buddha quote:

"As a solid rock cannot be moved by the wind, the wise are not shaken by praise or blame."

Why Do You Do What You Do?

Ian and I are incredibly grateful to be in a situation where we can positively impact the lives of others. It's profoundly rewarding to know that your work makes a difference.

When asked, "Sean, what do you want to do?"

Most often I respond with our future plans for One Week Job (which we're both very excited about!), other times I'll talk about my desire to be a Teacher (Gym class, French), but if I'm really engaged and thinking on a bigger picture scale, it all comes down to this.

"I want to create things that inspire people to live the best life they possibly can."

Yes, I realize this is vague. No, I'm not saying that there is a model "best life" to which we should all aspire to.

I want to inspire people to dig deep and ask themselves the tough questions that will allow them to define what their "best life" looks like, what it feels like, and to uncover what genuinely makes them come alive.

I'm fulfilled when I'm connected to the meaning of my work. Not just on a conceptual level, but to actually feel at my core that what I'm doing matters. In anything we do, work or otherwise, it's easy to get caught up in the details and forget the deeper meaning of why we're doing what we're doing. When in reality, it's the most important question to ask ourselves. When we are truly in line with the response, it's no longer work in the traditional sense, but rather a gift that we wish to share with the world.

I wanted to share an email that we received today that reminds Ian and I why we do what we do:

I have been sitting home on unemployment for over 6mos.. I am veteran, 42 years old with a 7 year old girl. I am an electronic tech, and i have been so scared to go out there and get a new job, afraid that i will have to start from the bottom again and work my way up. I just watched your movie, and i have a new found courage about getting a job.. i am gonna make my best effort now and make the most out of what ever job i get.. thanks. man... wish me luck Sean.

We all have fear, yet we all have profound strength, courage, and the ability to affect lasting change, both within ourselves and in the world - sometimes we just need a gentle reminder.

And so, I'll ask one more time -

Why do you do what you do?

8 Reasons to Become a Mentor

The origins of mentoring can be traced back to ancient Greek mythology.  When Odysseus went to fight in the Trojan War, he put his trusted friend, Mentor, in charge of his son, Telemachus. Ever since, the term ‘mentor’ has generally come to define someone with more experience, imparting their wisdom and values on someone with less experience.  This relationship can be personal, spiritual, and educational.

Perhaps you’re a baby boomer who has considered taking on a mentee, but can’t decide if it’s worth your time and energy.  Look no further!  Here are 8 (great) Reasons to Become a Mentor.

1. Being a mentor bridges the generation gap.

Generally speaking, most mentor/mentoree relationships happen between someone in an older generation, coaching someone in a younger generation.  If you’re mentoring someone younger than you, realize that it can be a productive experience for both sides, as each generation can come to understand the other’s motivations, career goals, and attitudes.  Soon, it won’t feel like there’s any gap at all.

2. Being a mentor can help you redefine your own career path and goals.

By looking at your job through a mentee’s eyes, you gain outside perspective that could help you answer some tough questions about your career.

3. It's a wise business strategy to mentor others.

By becoming a mentor, you can keep on top of new trends, issues, and emerging technologies through your mentee. The partnership can also keep your mind sharp, since a good mentee will challenge you with great questions and creativity.

4. You build long lasting relationships in your industry.

If you and your mentee continue working in the same industry, you gain a valuable ally and sounding board for years to come.  Eventually you may even find yourself at different companies, but your professional relationship can last to benefit you both.

5. By acting as a mentor, you set the tone of your industry to those just entering it.

What better way is there to ensure continued success or instigate change in the workforce? Help others grow into the types of employees you would like to see.

6. Pay it forward.

Remember how confused and stressed out YOU were when you started working?  By acting as a mentor, you can help make the transition easier on someone else.  Having a mentor is also associated with improved job satisfaction, positive career plans, quicker promotions, and a greater probability that the mentee will eventually become a mentor themselves.  Don’t be afraid to share your failures as well as your success; some of the best lessons come from the worst mistakes.

7. Think about the impact you can make on someone else’s life!

Chances are, as their first point of contact within an industry, your mentee will look up to you and your experience.  Whether you realize it or not, mentors have a huge influence on a mentee’s career (and life) outlook.  Mentors have the opportunity to build up someone’s skill set and confidence – and that’s a relationship not easily forgotten.  Not to mention, the idea of enlightening another person's life will always add additional happiness to yours.

8. You have the chance to share your passion with others.

By coaching someone just entering the work force, you’re in the position to get them just as excited about the job as you are!  Share your tips for making entertaining power point presentations, effective web sites, or even the best spot for lunchtime appetizers.  You love your job – why not encourage someone else to feel the same?

In Conclusion

Ultimately, the success of your mentee is up to them; as a mentor you can only provide so much guidance, but the effect you can have on that person’s life is priceless. We have something to learn from everyone, and we also have something to teach everyone.

Treat your position with respect, and there’s no doubting that both the mentor and the mentee will benefit from the relationship for years to come.

Share your stories of being a mentor in the comments!

Gen Why

What is your idea of a perfect world? It's a simple question, it's a question worth asking, and it's a question Gen Why wants YOU to answer.

The Gen Why Media Project is a movement towards hope.  Their mission is to bring the Generation Y population (ie: the tech-savvy generation born after Generation X that currently includes teenagers to those in their thirties) together, and work to make the world a better place.  The Project is working on a 'crowd-sourced story of future' - and wants you to add your two-cents.

Visit the Gen Why website: and start asking, and answering, some questions of your own.

Also, be sure to check out Gen Why's newest video that accompanied the Gen Why TEDx Vancouver talk in November 2010.  The poem is written by Jonathan Reed, and the video features our own Sean Aiken!

The Inspiring Story Of Ernie Kasper

At the recent screening of the One Week Job film in Surrey, Canada, Sean and Ian had the pleasure of meeting Ernie Kasper. Ernie Kasper was, by all accounts, a healthy, happy, and energetic young man.  He had a loving wife, an animated daughter, and a precious, newborn son. However, shortly after the birth of his second child, Ernie suffered what doctors thought impossible; he had a stroke.

Ernie lost the ability to speak and his walking became awkward and disjointed.  Doctors refused to believe that someone so young and fit could endure such a diagnosis, but there was no denying the trauma that Ernie's body was going through.

Even though his days were filled with hurt and confusion as to why this had happened to him, Ernie realized that the best way to deal with his condition was to not let it stop him from living.  

Day by day, through intense physical and mental anguish, he taught himself to walk. And not only has Ernie learned to limp, skip, and walk again since his stroke -  but he has actually ran. 37 km in fact, and he's not stopping there.

Ernie's attitude is incredible. Everyday he consciously chooses to set an example for other stroke victims, by refusing to believe that something wrong with his body can stop his spirit.  As he puts it, 'When life hands you lemons - make apple juice.  That will always make people wonder!'

Check out Ernie's thoughts after seeing One Week Job.

Watch Ernie's Journey

Gift Different.

With Christmas just around the corner and purchasing at a year-end high, do we ever stop to ask ourselves: "Why am I running through this department store, sweating through my festive wool sweater, searching for the perfect 302-piece wrench set and brand-name socks?" It's 2010.  Some parts of the world still don't have access to clean water.  And we're buying brand-name socks.

When Sean Aiken set out to work 52 jobs in 52 weeks, instead of accepting wages, he asked his employers to donate money to the ONE/Make Poverty History campaign.  In the end,  $20,140.60 was raised to help eliminate poverty. What if we decided to do Christmas a little bit differently this year?  What if we put down our wrench sets, our video games, and our celebrity-endorsed perfumes in exchange for something a little more meaningful?

UEnd: Poverty is a charitable organization that encourages people to 'Gift Different' this holiday season. When users purchase a gift card online, they can either donate to a project in someone else's name, or let the recipient choose the project.  With each purchase, an email is sent to the recipient with a personal message from the giver, and (if it applies) instructions on how to choose a project.

Projects are categorized by cause, country, and partnering organization - with 100% of donations going directly to the organization in charge of that project (UEnd's website states that it has larger sponsors to specifically take care of their operating costs).

There are various causes to donate to, including projects in Education, Gender Equality, Community Development, and Infrastructure - and over a dozen countries in need of support, such as Guatemala, Liberia, and Bangladesh.

Specific projects include: installing a satellite phone in Chipursan, Pakistan to connect the secluded rural community to the outside world, funding schools in Sierra Leone to pay for health programs and teacher training, and providing a potable water system for the Miskito indigenous community of Pamkawas, Nicaragua.

Each project also features a running tally that displays the total budget goal, along with the current funds raised.  This way, anyone can see where a particular cause stands.

Rejoice!  This year we can get rid of our sweaty wool sweaters, and spend our time and money giving to a cause we really believe in - and helping to make a difference in world poverty at the same time.

Gift Different.


The 50 Best Work And Passion Quotes Of All Time

Have you ever found yourself wrapped up in the fetal position, sucking your thumb, while a loved one desperately tries to pull on your suit jacket so you don’t miss your carpool? 

Have you become so bored with work that you’ve started keeping sandwich crusts under your keyboard, just to see how many ants you can attract?  Have you started thinking about work as simply…work?

Everyone needs a little career inspiration from time to time. 

Whether it’s to reframe your workplace goals, or to give serious thought as to why you’re working a specific job in the first place.  It’s nice to know that others have been there before, questioning, suffering, and wondering just as much as the rest of us sandwich-hoarding, ant-counting, schmucks.

So take a moment to read the "words about work" of those who have gone before, with grace and hilarity.  Perhaps then we can take a step back, pull our thumbs out of our mouths, put on our suit jackets, and get into that carpool with pride.

- Amanda Lowe, One Week Job Blogger

1.  To be successful, the first thing to do is fall in love with your work.
 - Sister Mary Lauretta

2.  Trust not what inspires other members of society to choose a career. Trust what inspires you. - The Lazy Person's Guide to Success

3.  You are what you do. If you do boring, stupid, monotonous work, chances 
are you'll end up boring, stupid, and monotonous.
 - Bob Black

4.  I believe you are your work. Don't trade the stuff of your life, time, for nothing more than dollars. That's a rotten bargain. - Rita Mae Brown

5.  Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood . . . Make big plans; aim high in hope and work. - Daniel Burnham, American architect (1846 - 1912)

6.  You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. 
- Mark Twain

7.  A career is wonderful, but you can't curl up with it on a cold night. - Marilyn Monroe

8. I'd rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate. - George Burns

9.  I'm sick of people sittin' in chairs stating their problems. Then we roll the videotape... then we have our experts on the topic... I'm in the 'What's next?' phase of my career.  - Oprah Winfrey

10.  Never say anything about yourself you do not want to come true. - Brian Tracy, American Author

11. If we resist our passions, it is more through their weakness than from our strength. – Francois de la Rochefoucauld, French Author

12.  The biggest mistake that you can make is to believe that you are working for somebody else...The driving force of a career must come from the individual. Remember: Jobs are owned by the company, you own your career! – Earl Nightingale, Motivational Speaker

13.  The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them.
 - George Bernard Shaw

14.  If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful after all. 
- Michelangelo

15.  Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it. 
- Buddha

16.  If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting. 
- Katherine Hepburn

17.  My mother said to me, "If you become a soldier, you'll be a general, if you become a monk you'll end up as the pope." Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.
 - Pablo Picasso

18.  Passion will move men beyond themselves, beyond their shortcomings, beyond their failures. - Joseph Campbell, American Mythologist, Writer, and Lecturer

19.  Any human being is really good at certain things. The problem is that the things you're good at come naturally. And since most people are pretty modest instead of an arrogant S.O.B. like me, what comes naturally, you don't see as a special skill. It's just you. It's what you've always done. 
- Stephen Jay Gould, Evolutionary Scientist

20.  If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything. - Michael Evans

21.  There's nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos. - Jim Hightower, Radio Commentator and Author

22.  He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying. - Nietzsche

23.  Many of us have created lives that give very little support for experimentation. We believe that answers already exist out there, independent of us. What if we invested more time and attention to our own experimentation? We could focus our efforts on discovering solutions that work uniquely for us. 
- Margaret Wheatley, Author and Management Consultant who studies organizational behavior

24.  Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
 - Abraham Lincoln

25.  We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.
- Carlos Castaneda, Peruvian born American Anthropologist and Author

26.  Desire! That’s the one secret of every man’s career. Not education. Not being born with hidden talents. Desire.
 - Bobby Unser, Retired Car Racer

27.  People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.
 - Brian Tracy, Author

28.  A lot of fellows nowadays have a B.A., M.D., or Ph.D. Unfortunately, they don’t have a J.O.B.
 - Fats Domino

29.  What if "the hokey pokey" is REALLY what it's all about?
 - Curtis Spencer

30.  There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the infinite passion of life.  - Federico Fellini, Italian Film Director (1920-1993)

31.  Would I ever leave this company? Look, I'm all about loyalty. In fact, I feel like part of what I'm being paid for here is my loyalty. But if there were somewhere else that valued loyalty more highly, I'm going wherever they value loyalty the most. – Dwight Schrute, from the television show ‘The Office’

32.  I am not young enough to know everything. - Oscar Wilde

33.  In fifty years, he never worked a day. To him, nine to five was odds on a horse. - Archie Bunker, from the television show 'All in the Family'

34.  When you're following your energy and doing what you want all the time, the distinction between work and play dissolves. - Shakti Gawain, Pioneering Author & Teacher in the field of Personal Growth

35.  I like work; it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours. – Jerome K. Jerome, English writer and humorist

36.  Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable...Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

37.  Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you've got to say, and say it hot. - D.H. Lawrence, English Novelist (1885-1930)

38.  Passion is the quickest to develop, and the quickest to fade.  Intimacy develops more slowly, and commitment more gradually still. - Robert Sternberg, American Psychologist and Psychometrician

39.  Passion kept one fully in the present, so that time became a series of mutually exclusive 'nows.' - Sue Halpern, Author

40.  They  may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel. – Carl W. Buechner, Author

41.  We cannot be sure of having something to live for unless we are willing to die for it. – Che Guavara

42.  Rest in reason; move in passion – Khalil Gibran, Lebanese American artist, poet and writer

43.  Throughout my career, if I have done anything, I have paid attention to every note and every word I sing...If I cannot project this to a listener, I fail.  - Frank Sinatra

44.  If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins. – Benjamin Franklin

45.  I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day. - James Joyce, Irish Novelist

46.  If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are—if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time. - Joseph Campbell, American Mythologist, Writer, and Lecturer

47.  I think everyone should experience defeat at least once during their career. You learn a lot from it. - Lou Holtz, American football coach and author

48.  If you wish to achieve worthwhile things in your personal and career life, you must become a worthwhile person in your own self-development. - Brian Tracy

49.  One can never consent to creep when one feels the impulse to soar. 
- Helen Keller

50.  The belief that you can have a meaningful career is the first step to finding one.  - Sean Aiken, Author and Creator of the One Week Job Project

Did we miss any great quotes on passion and work? Share in the comments!

A Need for 'Higher Education': Interview with Author Kenneth Jedding

When most of us graduate from college, we have little knowledge/experience on how to navigate the real world. Kenneth Jedding was no different. “When Jedding first graduated from college he went into a bookstore looking for “THE” book – a book that would tell him all the things he didn’t learn in school, how to get a job, how to navigate friendship and love, how to maintain a good relationship with family and above all, how to stay cool.”

Unfortunately, no such book existed at the time. Fortunately, Jedding was inspired to write such a book.

Kenneth Jedding is the author of HIGHER EDUCATION: On Life, Landing a Job and Everything Else They Didn't Teach you in College. For 10 years, he has lectured as a career counselor and life coach at colleges and universities across America. He is currently a psychoanalyst.

I recently had the chance to catch up with Kenneth and ask him some questions about his new book HIGHER EDUCATION and his opinions on life after graduation.

I hope you get a lot out of his great insights, and be sure to leave your thoughts in the comment section!


1. Generation Y is often characterized as being lazy, entitled, and generally a lost generation refusing to grow up. Having spoken and worked with many Gen-Y’ers, what is your opinion on their work ethic and how do you see Gen-Y contributing to the working world

Good question. Complicated question.

Gen Y has a bad reputation, as you mentioned, but I think your description masks a larger truth. You're a transitional generation. In the 80's and 90's, the world evolved into what it's going to be for the next century. The new modes of communication were your baseline. For you, that's just how life is. So your perception of time is futuristic. But I think in many ways the world is still in the old time mode, so there's what I'd call generational jet lag. This comes off as laziness. But it might just be that you can't believe that non-electronic life is so slow.

I think the Y's reaction to life, what you called not growing up, reflects a different wiring. To give an example, when I was 18 I had a French girlfriend I met while backpacking. We wrote three snail mail letters a week. It was very fun and sexy, but it existed mostly in our heads and imaginations. If we did it now we'd be on Skype: it would be a hundred times cooler though still long distance (i.e. no physical touch or sex.)

But how can you go from one time orientation to the other? Say, from having a friend, or a boyfriend or girlfriend in China and keeping up with each other moment to moment--to: the slower time scheme of starting an entry level job when it seems nothing is happening, and they ask you to fetch coffee! It's easy to get discouraged and to say: Why bother?

You asked about the work ethic. Work has a puritanical connotation. Sounds too much like work. Let's say career instead.

Having a career you enjoy will make life more interesting. There aren't many other ways to do it. I think we grow up thinking "All I need to be happy is money, stuff, and love," but career needs to be with love at the top of the list. It's one of the ways to feel truly good about yourself, excited about life, and, one of the best ways to make money.

We're told we can accomplish whatever we set our minds to, the American Dream et al, but I think 9 out of 10 people who make big money love their jobs. As I discuss in the book, most people figure out what they love by trying things out. That's a slow process for every generation but for Y's it must feel like walking underwater.

You're wired for things that are real in the moment. Work starts out being unreal in the moment.

I believe Gen Y's have a ton to contribute, and, if they can forge through the initial b.s. of the work world, and trust the process even when things seem to be moving forward in super slow-motion, they'll work as hard as anyone else, and will reap the psychological, spiritual and financial rewards.


2. In HIGHER EDUCATION you provide some great techniques to find your passion. Do we need to find our passion in order to be happy at work?

Yes. But it's a trick question. If you're a violinist and you play the violin out of college, you're onto your passion--but even violinists may not feel happy at first. Or, say, if you make it to the NBA, it's definitely a passion.

More to the point, for most people passion opens up incrementally. It doesn't feel like passion at first.

The Dream: I'll love what I do.

The Process: I'll start doing things to get closer and closer to what I love (i.e. start using more and more skills) and find my way to real passion at work.

You're one week job project was so interesting, Sean. You were writing about having the courage to begin.


3. In your opinion, why is that Gen-Y is putting off entering the real world after graduation – generally taking longer to leave their parents home, get married, start a family, and choose a career?

College costs more, leading to more debt and to living at home. I talk a lot about dealing with parents in the book.

As for getting married & starting a family, I think it's good to get to know yourself first, so waiting is not necessarily a bad thing.


4. You mention several examples of people who were very successful by not focusing on the money and simply doing what they love. I always questioned, “Well, what if the money doesn’t come?” In pursuit of our ideal job, how do you suggest we cope with those difficult times when our fears and self-doubt surface and we question if we’re doing the right thing?

Money can come in unexpected ways. The best way for you to make money may not be in the traditional "money" areas, as I discuss.

And yet: some careers don't pay much. Like being a teacher, working with the mentally challenged, or being a coach (unless you make it to the top in any of these areas).

What if one of those non-money professions would truly make you happy? Then it's a good idea to go for it.

Let me put it this way: If you're born to be a teacher and you do a mental two-step (It doesn't pay much so it's off the list) you may be walking around numb and confused, telling yourself "I don't know what I want to do," but you actually know.

It's easy to fear "I won't make a lot of money doing x or y," rather than trying to make just enough money in a field you love. Money is nice, for sure, but so is empowerment, being on your path, feeling confident, radiating energy that attracts others, and liking yourself. And there are many ways to get there.


5. I recently read a NY Times article in which a recent college grad struggling to find work was offered a job paying $40K at an insurance company. He turned it down saying that he’s holding out for the job that feels right for him. Would you recommend waiting for that perfect job, or is it more important to get into the workforce?

I don't recommend waiting for the perfect job. That makes me laugh, Sean, thinking of what you did.

Perfect's a dangerous word. I like the Leonard Cohen poem:

Ring the bells that still can ring Forget your perfect offering There is a crack in everything That's how the light gets in

We learn things in unexpected places and those things prepare us for more unexpected moments.


6. What one piece of advice do you wish someone shared with you when you graduated from college?

I wish someone had told me that, over time, things would work out.


Kenneth Jedding's book, HIGHER EDUCATION: On Life, Landing a Job and Everything Else They Didn't Teach you in College, was published April 2010 by Rodale Books and is available for purchase through the above link to

It's Been a Slice!

So, I last left you with my reaction to the slaughterhouse.

Ben, an employee of Bob and Laurie’s, took me with him to pick up some buffalo from the ‘Heart Valley Processors’ slaughter facility. Bob had even called ahead and asked the staff to give me a tour.

When we got there I put on my hairnet and rubber boots, and followed Stan – the owner of the plant. He took me through a few offices, the lunchroom, and then unceremoniously opened the door to the ‘Kill Floor.’

It kind of caught me off guard - one minute I’m walking down the hall, and the next I’m perched on a walkway about 4 feet off the floor, watching the workers process a steer. The cows are killed, strung up, and bled - I never realized how much blood there was in a cow. Then the animals are quickly skinned, gutted, inspected, and hung in a cooler for 10-14 days. Organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys are referred to as ‘awfuls’ and are prepared for consumption as well. The animal’s blood can even be saved and turned into ‘blood sausage.’

SRM’s or Severe Risk Materials such as the spinal cord and brain are thrown out to prevent transmission of BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis). After that, the employees of Heart Valley cut up the meat according to their customer’s wishes or ship them off to other butcher shops.

I know it may sound gross and cruel to some – to have a job that focuses solely on killing animals and preparing them for humans to eat - but we need people to do it. The reality of meat processing does get a little messy, but it’s still an important part of many people’s daily diets.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t a little uncomfortable watching the process! It was a little shocking to see it all go down, and to be so close to the action. But I respect those who do this job, and therefore make it possible for me to enjoy my medium rare steak and pork chops. And as I’ve mentioned before, I think it’s important to know where your food comes from, and how it’s treated. At least now I’ll have a frame of reference when I sit down to the dinner table…

I spent my last day at the Butcher Shop helping wrap beef jerky and pork sausage, and having some good chats with Laurie. When I talked to her and Bob about their likes and dislikes in regards to running the store, both mentioned the variety it brings. When cutting meat, there are so many different animals – cows, sheep, pigs, deer, elk, moose – and so many different ways to prepare them for the customer. Within the industry there are also a lot of different skills to master, whether it’s slaughter, custom cutting, packaging, or customer service. Plus, these skills can easily be put to use in any country in the world, essentially ensuring that a meat cutter will never be out of work.

While packaging, Laurie and I starting talking about the mutual respect between employers and employees that’s so important. Her and Bob talk to their employees the same way they would chat with a customer – always polite and helpful, and never condescending. That’s something huge that I’ve noticed in my work experience – the more respect I have for my employer, the better job I want to do for them.

As far as challenges in the workplace goes, pleasing the public is definitely high on the list, but something Laurie easily takes to. She’s always so welcoming with everyone who comes through the shop, leaving whatever it is she’s doing to personally go out and greet them.

Bob and Laurie often take on high school students to work for them, usually starting them off as cleaners, and then gradually teaching them the skills involved in cutting meat. The things about cleanliness in a butcher shop, is that it’s one of the most important things to be aware of. You can imagine what the shop would smell like if even one piece of meat was left on the floor and started to rot…yick. By giving a student the job of keeping the shop clean is almost a compliment, as well as a testament, to how the team at the shop needs to work together to ensure their continued success. Bob and Laurie know this, and value the work that everyone brings to the table.

Something I found strange, was the meat cutting is no longer considered a skilled trade in the province of Alberta. I’m not sure why this is, because from what I saw these guys are pretty skilled! They can cut up an entire buffalo in the time it takes me to wrap a few packages of jerky!

But at the end of the day, Bob loves being his own boss. The time commitment and monetary investment is large, but he’s making quality meat products that he is very much proud of. (The buffalo jerky is a favorite of mine, and when tasting it warm out of the smoke house it just melts in your mouth!) Laurie says she loves being able to kiss the boss - and as husband and wife, you can see the respect and love they have for each other.

This week surprised me in so many ways...

Growing up I never thought about what went into preparing the hamburgers I ate at picnics or the steak my family enjoyed on special occasions. I thought that a butcher shop would be all hooks, knives, and animal flesh, and instead discovered the real art that it takes to properly prepare meat. I learned how to make sausages, make hamburgers, wrap and price products, and deal with customers. I even started to get good at wrapping beef jerky - right Bob?!

Ben, Bobby, and Tyler – you guys work for some great people, and are amazing at what you do. Thank you so much for letting me tag along and answering all of my questions.

Bob and Laurie – thank you so much for taking me on for a week, and teaching this city-fied country girl the importance of hard work and quality product. I appreciate your patience and kindness, and the care-package you sent with me is definitely being enjoyed!!

I’ll be sure to come back and visit!

And to whoever wants some quality jerky, sausage, hamburger, etc - make the trip to Beaverlodge, Alberta, and visit the Beaverlodge Butcher Shop!

- Amanda

Mary HAD a little lamb...

Day 3 at the Butcher Shop - and I got to cut some meat!

BUT first off, I should clarify something I said in my last blog.  When I mentioned that I was "in the freezer" cutting down sausage - I was actually only in the "cooler."  First thing that Bob said to me this morning was that he'd read my blog, and that I'd got it wrong.  Then he made me go stand in the real freezer to really see what that felt like (yep. it's a lot colder.)

Back to the shop - I'm still trying to process all that I've learned in the last 3 days.  I've helped link sausage, package sausage, jerky, steak, and ribs.  And today I even got my own metal mesh glove and helped cut some lamb!

Today when I asked Laurie and Bob what the most important things about running a butcher shop were, they had these points to make:

- Quality. Make sure that each cut is fresh, tasty, and not mixed up with the meat of any other animal.  Laurie told me that Bob has actually thrown out batches of meat he's not happy with.  Quality also applies to your customer service and the ability to serve your customer what it is they want.

- Safety. There are a lot of sharp instruments used in a butcher shop, so be careful not to surprise anyone when they're working with knives or saws.

- Cleanliness. After an animal goes through a machine, or is taken off the table after packaging - everything is washed down and disinfected.  Laurie must wash her hands a couple dozen times a day between working with the meat and dealing with customers.

- Pride.  Be good at what you do, and take responsibility for your business.  Learn what works and what doesn't, and be confident in your product.  The Butcher shop has nothing to hide - they know their meat is good, and day after day they prove it!

- Employees. A business is only as good as the people who work there.  Bob and Laurie provide most of the training for the shop, and trust their workers to do a good job.  You can see the friendship and camaraderie on a daily basis - good natured joking, laughing, and trust.

VIDEO - Watch as one of the meat cutters shows me how he's going to cut up the 'Rib' section of a cow:  Cutting up the Ribs

Tomorrow I head out to pick up some bison at another slaughter house, and am getting a chance to tour the facility as well.  This may be an eye-opening experience, as I may see some slaughters actually take place...

Keep in mind that this is all about learning where my food comes from - something that every good farm girl should know!

Just a little question for you:  Why is it important to know where our food comes from, and how often do YOU think about that?

Talk soon!

- Amanda

Globe and Mail Interview Provokes A Reaction

globe Today, Sean's latest interview was published in The Globe And Mail: 52 Jobs In 52 Weeks.

And just like during the project, Sean's story tends to provoke a divided opinion. The comments on the interview range from positive:

"I think that what Sean did is very brave. How many of us are stuck in jobs for years and once we leave we realize that we were miserable?"

To the appreciative:

"Maybe Sean won't make a great Chartered Accountant but he is creative, well spoken, thinks outside the box and has an abundance of initiative - sounds like a great employee right now."

And the not so positive:

Nice resume Sean - I'm sure business will be astounded to have your varied experience and ratty hair-do.

And the downright mean:

"This guy is what is wrong with a lot of todays youth and the parents are to blame. He is utterly useless and will go on to lead a useless and meaningless life. Mommy and Daddy will pay for his fun and convince him he is a successful contributing member of society. GIVE ME A BREAK!!!

Now, we live in a free country, and it's perfectly fine for others to share their opinion of Sean's journey. Yet it's interesting to turn the scrutiny around and use One Week Job as a mirror to study our own life situation.

Ask yourself: what is my immediate reaction reading Sean's story? Then ask yourself: why?

What does that say about how you see careers and life in general?

Chances are, if you're the type of person who believes work should be meaningful, that life is about adventure and not "earning a living," then you'll likely support the project.

If you're the type of person that believes life is hard, that work isn't supposed to be "fun," then you might feel resentment towards the project.

Of course, there's no right or wrong answers.

But at the very least, before judging someone else, we owe it to ourselves to look inward and see what we find.

- Ian

An Idea Worth Sharing

Happy New Year - I wish you all the best for 2010! "One Day" - Matisyahu

One Day sometimes I lay under the moon and thank God I'm breathing then I pray don't take me soon I am here for a reason sometimes in my tears I drown but I never let it get me down so when negativity surrounds I know some day it'll all turn around cause all my life I've been waiting for I've been praying for for the people to say that we don't wanna fight no more they'll be no more war and our children will play one day it's not about win or lose we all lose when they feed on the souls of the innocent blood drenched pavement keep on moving though the waters stay raging in this maze you can lose your way it might drive you crazy but don't let it faze you no way sometimes in my tears I drown but I never let it get me down so when negativity surrounds I know some day it'll all turn around cause all my life I've been waiting for I've been praying for for the people to say that we don't wanna fight no more they'll be no more war and our children will play one day one day this all will change treat people the same stop with the violence down with the hate one day we'll all be free and proud to be under the same sun singing songs of freedom like one day all my life I've been waiting for I've been praying for for the people to say that we don't wanna fight no more they'll be no more war and our children will play one day

You Matter

I just posted something from Seth Godin a couple days ago, but he's just that good. This was his latest post. Have a read and see why you matter. During my week as a Yoga Instructor in Week 7, I met Henri. I remember he said to me:

"When my students come into the class, it is my opportunity to impact the outer world through my inner studio. If I can change their mindsets, so that when they leave here, they are feeling calm and relaxed, that will alter how they experience the rest of their day and the other people they encounter. In doing so, I am creating a ripple effect far beyond I know the implications of."

Every day we have the power to impact those around us - a kind word, a genuine smile, an inspiring blog post - whether that impact is positive or negative is up to us to decide. The important thing to remember is that either way, our ripples will be felt.