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What I learned from speaking to 600 freshman high school students

November 12, 2008 | by brett | Permalink

Today I arrived at Fairfax High School in Laveen, Arizona and delivered a Pursue the Passion keynote speech to 100 freshman high school students in the theater. And then I did the same speech again for six different periods, with a total of twenty-four different classes in attendance.

There were some things I observed during the course of my presentation as freshman filtered in and out to hear me talk about Pursue the Passion. I want to share the five top things I’ve learned about this mysterious, hard to reach age group of 14 and 15 year olds.

I hope this list entertains you, or at least helps you if you ever have to deliver a speech to freshman.

1. Freshman are clueless, yet, they think they know it all.

Without having any work experience, or really any applicable experience at all, freshman have a blind fearlessness about them that makes them think they can be a CEO right after high school. I had some freshman raise their hand when asked if they thought they could be a CEO in four years. Then one freshman who was raising their hand asked me what a CEO was.

2. Freshman are some of the most sexually charged people I’ve ever come across.

Since today was Wednesday, I asked the students what ‘Wednesday’ is commonly referred to as in working America. The answer, I said, ‘is Hump Day.’ This ‘hump day’ comment struck the freshman as wildly funny. All momentum the presentation had was halted as girls whispered in ears of their neighbor and the boys hooted and exchanged high fives. All because of ‘hump day.’

Yeah, you should have seen them when I mentioned I interviewed a Playboy photographer. I almost lost them.

3. Freshman think Facebook is for old people.

Yeah. It’s true. I asked the audience how many people had a facebook account, and I just about lost whatever ‘hip’ credibility I could have pulled off in front of an audience I was a decade older than. A few blurted out that you’re old if you’re on Facebook. Remember when Facebook was just for college kids? Ah, those were the days.

The mentioning of Myspace on the other hand quickly allowed me to regain their trust.

4. Freshman are like baby fainting goats.

Adult fainting goats are goats that are paralyzed for two to three seconds when they become fearful. They get a boost of adrenaline and they faint. Sometimes they fall down. It’s very comedic.

The baby fainting goats on the other hand do not faint. That’s because they never have fear, therefore, they never have the boost of adrenaline that paralyzes them.

At one point I offered anyone in the audience a job that paid $10 an hour if they could convince me to give them a job. Just about the whole audience raised their hand and screamed for me to call on them. If I were to make the same offer at a Jobing.com Career Expo to adult job seekers, I bet you I’d have to drag someone out on the floor.

That’s because adults are fearful, and freshman are not. They’re like baby fainting goats.

5. Freshman, if they had to make a priority list of what they wanted in a job, would list it like this: Money, Money, Money.

At the end of every one of the six presentations I made today, I had a short Question & Answer session. In four out of the six presentations, the first question that was asked was, ‘How much money do you make?’

This was after I spent a good five minutes telling them to go for experience and to pursue their interests instead of going out to get a job just for money. And this was also after I touched on how ridiculous 50 Cent’s song, ‘Get Money,’ really was when applied to life.

My response to the question elicited an eye roll every time: ‘If my salary were slashed in half, I’d still do this because I love what I do. That’s the point of this presentation. If you love what you do, it’s worth more than any salary could pay you. I wouldn’t go back to my accounting job if they paid me a million dollars.’

Brett Farmiloe feels really old after writing this post. But, educators seem to think that freshman still love the Pursue the Passion presentations. To bring Pursue the Passion to your school, contact Brett at brett@pursuethepassion.com. Cheers.

Pursue the Passion Loves Denver, And Wants To Come Back

November 3, 2008 | by brett | Permalink

It was fantastic to finally bring Pursue the Passion back to Denver for the first time since our Pursue the Passion tour in 2007.  And I have to say, it was a spectacular success.  

On Thursday we spoke to over a hundred high school and middle school students at Thornton High School about life’s ultimate question, ‘What should I do with my life?’ The students were exposed to what steps they could start taking today to set themselves up for career success.   The students then got a special treat to conclude the 90 minute presentation when Pursue the Passion invited Tommy Thwaites, co-founder and President of Coda Coffee, on stage for a live interview.  Brett Farmiloe and the students interviewed Tommy about everything relating to his career journey.  The most interesting aspect of the interview, in my opinion, besides talking about a $500/ pound coffee bean derived from animal excrement, was when Tommy talked about his parent’s reactions to his career decision.  Tommy’s parents initially disapproved of his decision to quit a mechanic job to go into coffee, and then 10 years later poured their 401(k) into financing Coda Coffee.  Talk about a turnaround. 

Tommy invited us to Coda Coffee afterwards to sample some of their creations.  They have a really cool thing going on over there.  The two brothers are the co-founders, and another six equally as cool employees all partake in the coffee wholesaler’s business operations.  Every coffee lover and retailer should check them out at http://www.codacoffee.com/. 

On Friday, Pursue the Passion was invited to keynote and close the City of Englewood’s week long conference.  After the city’s employees participated in an hour long activity where they addressed questions like, ‘What are the 3 most important things in work?’ Brett and Zach took the stage and gave a thought provoking and entertaining presentation.  The City of Englewood will never be the same, in a good way. 

After Executive Director of the Jobing Foundation, Vicki Steere, dropped Pursue the Passion off at the airport, Brett and Zach did what they do best: improvise.  Faced with two hours until their flight (and what turned into being another 2 hour delay, thanks United) the camera was unpacked and improv interviews were conducted throughout the airport.  Interviewees were business travelers ranging from an educational film salesman to a IT systems repair man.  It will be a very entertaining video when it comes out.  Hopefully it will come out this week.  So stay tuned.   That was our 36 hour Pursue the Passion adventure to Denver. 

We’ll be back in the middle of February to give a keynote at the University of Colorado at Boulder and close up Colorado’s Recruitment and Retention Conference. That is, unless you bring us out to your conference or school for a speaking engagement before then. 

Brett Farmiloe and Zach Hubbell together make up Pursue the Passion.  They speak about their 16,000 mile road trip where they interviewed over 300 professionals about how to find passion in work.  Learn more at www.pursuethepassion.com, and join them on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2335089409

Dislocation Doesn’t Stop a Student from Pursuing the Passion

September 23, 2008 | by brett | Permalink

Yesterday Pursue the Passion went up to Prescott to present 250 FBLA students with a challenge.  That challenge was to find someone who has a job they’re interested in and interview them about their career path.  For one student in the audience, that interview opportunity came sooner than expected.


Immediately after the Pursue the Passion speech, this student dislocated their knee while engaging in a game of ‘Collide-a-Scope.’  An ambulance arrived, picked the student up, and began the forty-five minute drive to the hospital.


While in route, the student had the bright idea to conduct a Pursue the Passion interview with the paramedics.  The student reached into their pocket, withdrew a camcorder, and began to fire away with questions.  By the time they reached the hospital, the student had concluded their first interview. 


The student plans to edit the footage into a video and post it to www.pursuethepassion.com when they get out of the hospital.  Hopefully the morphine didn’t have too much of an impact on the camera work. 

The Pursue the Passion program is spreading through the Arizona school system.  There are over 1,000 students conducting interviews with professionals in the community who have jobs they’re interested in.  If you are interested in volunteering for an interview or if you would like your school to be involved with Pursue the Passion, please contact Brett at brett.farmiloe@jobingfoundation.org    

Access: Diamondbacked

May 30, 2008 | by brett | Permalink

I first picked up the phone on Tuesday and worked until an interview with Major League baseball’s youngest broadcaster- David Flemming of the San Francisco Giants- was confirmed Thursday morning. Many routes had been pursued but as Zach and I stood in the lobby, one rite of passage had blindly been neglected- the Arizona Diamondbacks PR department.

The end result: interview cancelled.

The takeaway: inform anyone who could possibly want to know a media interview is going to take place, even the opposing team.

Hope to reschedule this one in mid-September. Stay tuned.

Winless Winning

May 22, 2008 | by brett | Permalink

Lessons on winning are exposed in the business world more often than a Jobing.com logo in the Valley.  I’m here to remind you of these lessons through the story of a haphazard B-League softball team that plays every Wednesday night under the lights at El Dorado Park in Scottsdale . The short story goes that one of my former co-workers invited me to fill in on his softball team.  I showed up to find sixteen players sitting on his bench, while a handful of bad news bears warmed up across the diamond.  They needed one more player, so I crossed the chalked baselines and played a little shortstop.  We lost badly.

In fact, we ended up losing fifteen games in a row. The season was characterized by grown men with beer bellies screaming at each other over bobbled balls and pop outs.  Our head coach was dubbed with a reputation that resembled the short tempered college basketball coach Bobby Knight.  I debated on returning for another season.

Sure enough, I found myself back out on the field with a few new faces.  Two of our four guys on the roster named “Dan” (Dan, Danny I, Danny M, Detroit Dan) decided to form their own team, leaving a showdown for our first games of the season.  It was two of three games we won all year, leaving us with a record of 3 wins, 11 losses going into the playoffs last night.

In a single elimination playoff format, the last members of our team tardily trickled into the dugout after the first pitch.  We were squared away to play the second best team in the league, where a Pau Gasol look-a-like played first base and hit the cover off the ball in the cleanup spot.  We jumped on them in the first inning, scoring six runs and finished the game in unknown territory as a handful of winners.  

In the semifinals our team carried the positive energy on to trounce our identically uniformed opponents as their Scottsdale prototype girlfriends looked on.  We had reached the finals to face the team I had jumped ship from 26 losses ago.

Be it nerves, complacency, our just plain lack of talent, our team fell behind by five runs as balls squirted in between infielders legs and out of outfielders gloves.  Whatever momentum rolled into the finals had dissipated as our team resorted to its losing ways.

Then Yo, an aging softball veteran who rocks a seventies style mustache and crew socks, started the top of the inning off with a line drive up the middle.  A single by Mike was followed up with a double by Joe, who was then driven home by a line drive from Mike D.  The contagiousness spread throughout the lineup as the guitarist Randy and the roofer Dan strategically placed pop ups between the shortstop and center fielder.  

The next thing we knew we were up for good, and were awarded a monster trophy recognizing us as the champions of the Scottsdale Softball B-League.  The hard-to-love losers had transformed themselves into winners.

I tell this story because there are many lessons that can be learned about winning.  

1)       Winning (and losing) is contagious.  If there is a loser in the bunch, that attitude spreads like a cancer throughout the team.  The pattern winning follows is the same, except that winning is a lot more fun. 

2)       All it takes to win is a universal, strong belief in achieving a goal.

3)       No matter who we are, how we appear, or how skilled we are, there is a winner in all of us.  It just takes a leader to bring it out in ourselves.  Usually, that leader is our self.

4)       Anyone can win on any given day no matter what the circumstance.  So stop making excuses and go play.  

Super Size Me

February 26, 2008 | by brett | Permalink

Last night I watched Super Size Me (2004), a film that follows a guy who eats nothing but McDonalds, three times a day, for thirty days. The film documents the drastic lifestyle changes the guy goes through, from his physical fattening to his psychological state of mind. Over the course of the movie, he samples every item on the chain’s menu at least once, and consumes an average of 5,000 calories (the equivalent of 9.26 Big Macs) per day during the experiment.

The film made me have nightmares, making me dream that my liver was going to burst with fast food accumulated fat, but it also made me reflect about the eating habits I’ve adopted in 2007. The conclusion I came to was this (mom, this post ends here for you):

I have never eaten so unhealthy in my entire life.

It started when I quit my job in April. I decided I needed to save enough money to go on our Pursue the Passion tour, and to do that, I needed to eat efficiently. When Jay, who was crashing on my couch while working as my college educated, minimum wage employee, found a food sponsor, we essentially began our own Super Size Me experiment.

The plan was to use the two hundred food vouchers to survive for two months until we hit the road. We figured if we varied our diets between frozen Hot Pockets, frozen pizza, frozen stir fry, frozen calzones, and frozen whatever else those coupons got for free, we would be alright. And at first, we were. Going down the grocery aisle with a choice constrained, yet unlimited shopping budget was like gumdrops falling from the sky. The cats and dogs danced in the street as our meals were microwaved three times a day.

But then something happened. Maybe too much sodium, maybe too much salt, maybe too much sugar. The wacky dietary imbalance that existed in our twenty-two year old bodies was not good. After a week, we were sluggish, working inefficiently, and the rosy colored world we had
been living in turned into uncontrollable visits to the toilet. And of course, discount FMV toilet paper was the product of choice.

After a month and a half, our bodies a chemical war zone, I stood up in the seat in which I sat and announced a pact between Jay and I. No more frozen food for us. Whatever money we saved during our period of personal punishment was not worth it. We had to eat right.

Apples and bananas replaced the ridden sodium infected frozen packages we were used to buying. Health didn’t exponentially improve, but our state of mind did. It was like a weight had been lifted. A week after the “f*** frozen food” pact, we found our title sponsor.

We were on our way out of the unhealthy mess we had gotten ourselves into, vowing to never again to eat as bad as that point in our lives.

A New Direction

January 18, 2008 | by brett | Permalink

I’m writing to give you a Pursue the Passion update, as things have been shaken up since the conclusion of our cross country roadtrip.

Jobing.com, our 2007 tour sponsor, has extended us an offer to acquire Pursue the Passion, and has offered us an opportunity to continue PTP as a speaking and internship program. They will also be the publisher of the book we’ll be writing, and are going to provide a much needed revamping of our website. As you can imagine, I’m pretty excited to have these opportunities, and I have accepted their offer.

I want to thank you for your support and help to get us to this point. I would have never thought that PTP would have ever come this far, and now it looks as though we have just scratched the surface.

Upside Down Watch

November 15, 2007 | by brett | Permalink

A few months back we interviewed D’Wayne Edwards for a second time at Nike. At the end of the interview, Zach commented on his wristwatch. Looking down at the bright, round timepiece, D’Wayne noticed it was upside down. Laughing off his honest mistake, D’Wayne admitted that he doesn’t glance that direction too often. It was 1:00pm.

Tis the life of one who works passionately. Time has little meaning, if any.

As I headed out for the day this morning, I picked up my watch on my bedside stand. Feeling mischievous, I slipped the watch on my left wrist, upside down.

Working away in the coffee shop wasn’t the same without the nasty habit of glancing down every ten minutes. Things flowed. Things drug. It was all the same, except that my inner clock watching self was not present.

To work without constraint is free in so many ways.

Reason and Passion

November 8, 2007 | by brett | Permalink

I have been a fan of Kahlil Gibran since I first picked up the Prophet at age sixteen. Every once in awhile I pick up the book and flip through its pages. Yesterday I landed on “Reason and Passion.”

Here’s the opening passage on the topic:

“And the priestess spoke again and said: speak to us of Reason and Passion.

And he answered, saying:

Your soul is oftentimes a battlefield, upon which your reason and your judgment wage war against your passion and your appetite.

Would that I could be the peacemaker in your soul, that I might turn the discord and the rivalry of your elements into oneness and melody.

But how shall I, unless you yourselves be also the peacemakers, nay, the lovers of all your elements?

Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafaring soul. If either your sails or you rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas.

For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.

That last line sums up the last year of my life. Reason (aka my risk averse accounting job), was my force that confined. My passion (aka the four month tour that I dreamt about executing for a year and a half) was unquestioned by anyone. Therefore, as the trip progressed, the end goal that I had in mind (a resource for people to turn to for career guidance) fell short of my expectations because it was driven by passion alone.

Which puts me in a unique situation now, proceeding forth with a book and documentary. If our crew approaches it with reason and executes with passion, I believe that we have the rudder and sails to lead us to land.

But for now, we’re at mid-sea.

Living Simply

November 7, 2007 | by brett | Permalink

Whether I like it or not, I have been influenced by living in a RV for the last four months. In the RV, I had two overhead compartments for clothes and books, and one drawer underneath the refrigerator to store shoes. I learned to live simply.

When I returned home to Phoenix a few days ago, I did four loads of laundry. I stuffed clean socks into an overflowing, bedside drawer. Boxers poured out from the drawer below the socks. The closet did not have enough hangers for the new t-shirt additions I had picked up from various stops around the country. The simple lifestyle I had assumed on the road did not roll over to life at home.

So yesterday, I decided I needed to make the changes to live simply. I canceled my cable TV, leaving a desolate, 50 inch TV in the living room. I cleansed my closet, donating a hundred and nine items of clothing to goodwill. The products that took up space in the cabinet below the bathroom sink are long gone. Today, the daunting tasks of the garage and kitchen loom.

What started as a way to avoid reflecting on what happened over the previous four months actually turned into my first realization.

That realization is that I can, and want to live simply. And that we shouldn’t take up more space than what is allotted.

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