Stories of Men

Terrible jobs and why we should all do them

👀 Today I wanted to reflect on how the jobs we do through all of our lives shape the men we become, no matter how bad those jobs are.

How many terrible jobs have you had? I think we’ve all had at least one in our lives. I’ve pretty much done them all: paper-boy, car finance salesman, I worked in a fish warehouse, landscape gardener, Marks and Spencer delivery department. Name it and it’s pretty safe to say I’ve done it, at least for a week or so anyway…until I got sacked.

I never quit them. Rightly or wrongly, I stubbornly stuck them out as long as I could even when I knew the writing was on the wall.

No matter how terrible those jobs might have been, when I look back at them,  I see how they shaped my future career path. I see the ways they helped guide me to do what I love doing today. 

Many of them were terrible but not all of them.  I stated above that being a paperboy was a terrible job but it’s more tongue in cheek really. However, some people might think it’s terrible.

I actually loved it in many ways. It was my first job when I was 10 years old. I used to wake up at 6am to get roughly 40 newspapers delivered on time before school.

Most 10-year-olds aren’t earning their own money (then and now) and I had to lie about my age to get it. I was really proud of myself for having this job at the time. I started the paper round after asking my mum for money to go to the shop and she’d told me to go out and earn the money for myself.

I took her advice very literally and immediately enquired at my local shop and I ended up doing the job for nearly 6 years.

My mum had just had her third child so more money was being spent on nappies and less on sweets and chocolates for me.

Doing the job wasn’t easy. Waking up at 6am felt rough, especially in the dark of winter and the brutally cold weather. Many times it was pissing it down with rain and I’d get home drenched thinking ‘why am I doing this?’.

On Sundays, in particular, I had to work my skinny little legs to exhaustion to push my bike along with all the extra magazine supplements that the papers contained. My newspaper bag felt like it was full of bricks.

But the joy of Sundays was that it was payday and I felt like a rich man. It was a weekly reminder that the week of delivering newspapers was all worth it. I’d then forget about falling off my bike, getting punctures, getting run over and receiving b*llockings from customers for receiving the wrong papers.

As I got older, I had problems operating in the workplace. I didn’t get on well with my bosses and it’s probably one of the catalysts for why I went down the entrepreneurial route. 

I didn’t like being told what to do. Many of us don’t. I remember one boss that I had a particularly bad relationship with. It was 2004, I was 17 years old, whilst working as a car finance salesman in Bolton. My boss and I used to argue over pretty much everything and I ended up in her office a lot.

I was bored doing what she asked me to. I wanted to do things my way which I found more interesting and in retrospect, I wanted an outlet for my creativity and to come up with my own ideas. So you can imagine the problems between us.

One day, she surprised me by sweetly asking me if I could just pick up my bag and coat and follow her. Caught out by her unusually pleasant tone of voice, I did just that. I followed her downstairs and through the main corridor. I can still picture the walk. I should’ve realised what was about to happen. Naive indeed.

She walked to the front of the building and held the front door open. “Please, you go first.” She said. So I walked past her outside of the building. Then she said. “I’m sorry Alex, it’s just not working out. All the best for the future”. She then proceeded to slam the door shut.

I thought ‘lovely, what a way to get the sack…I was almost amused by it but then wondered if they were going to try and get out of paying me my final salary. Fortunately, I got it in the end.

My mum came and picked me up. I usually got the bus there and back but my mum was furious about what had happened so I had the luxury of her picking me up. Every cloud and all that. She immediately said ‘wait till I speak to that f*cking *insert another expletive*.’ I tried to calm her down and told her it wasn’t worth it.

It’s easy to look back at incidents like this and feel resentful, and I was at times. But each set-back just pushed me to try again. 

I’ve always had a desire to prove people wrong and I used that as fuel. It helped me many times in my 20’s and early 30’s but I realised it wasn’t a healthy mindset to have moving forward. It got me so far but then wouldn’t take me further; not in a healthy manner anyway.

I learnt to be resilient because I had no choice. If I wasn’t going to be successful as a car finance salesman, then I’d have to have a go at something else, and so on and so on. 

I got sacked many times over the years. They used words such as ‘unfortunately, it’s just not working out, Alex’ and ‘we’re looking for someone more suited to this role’.

It wasn’t until I turned 26 that I truly knew what I wanted to do. That felt late at the time. I realised that I needed to get into business for myself 💪🏻. 

Wherever I worked, I always got above my station. I had my own ideas on how to do things. I just couldn’t stand following orders blindly. I wanted to be involved and I wanted to make a real difference.

I firmly believe that we shouldn’t be concerned if we don’t know what we want to do even at 40, 50 or even later. Sometimes it takes time and wisdom to realise what we want to do with our lives. Sometimes it just hits you when you least expect it.

I did an exercise called Ikigai which helped enormously. Google it and try it out. It allows you to write what you’re passionate about, what skills you have, what the world needs, and what you can charge money for. The intersection of those 4 is what you should be doing with your life. It was profound for me.

My life’s purpose certainly wasn’t in the car finance industry or as an adult paperboy. Erm, well that would technically be a ‘paperman’ but that just sounds weird.

Another man who lost the passion he had for his work is Anuj Desai. I featured his story on my podcast ‘Stories of Men: Beneath the Surface’ which you can listen to here. Had Anuj not had this experience, he wouldn’t have been able to succeed in what he really wanted to do.

Having my own business means that I’m in control of my own destiny. If I think something can be improved, then I’m free to try it. I’m no longer ruffling anyone else’s feathers by trying to improve my own company.

But I never would’ve learned that I needed to work for myself if I hadn’t worked for others first. I found out so much about what I did want to do by experiencing the things I didn’t. 

Each terrible job that I did was part of the pathway to realising where I wanted to be in life and I’m thankful for each and every experience I had.

To slightly adapt a saying: some jobs are for a reason, some are for a season and others are for a lifetime. 

The reason for the terrible jobs I had was to gain the knowledge and experience I’d need in the future.

These jobs were terrible to me but to others they might be great and kudos to you if they are. One man’s rubbish is another man’s gold. What I do now, I believe, will last for a lifetime. Now that I’m my own boss I can’t ever imagine being anything else. 

Taylor James Pattinson is another man who was inspired to take risks after drawing on his experiences from the past, going from starting his own podcast to doing his own live show. Listen to Taylor’s story here.

When we look back on some of the jobs we’ve done in our lives, one of the things we’re likely to think is: “I’m glad I’m not doing that now”. But what we don’t think about are the skills that we gained from doing those jobs and how they helped us become the men we are today. Do we take the time to properly reflect upon them?

We also fail to think about the message that we’re sending to the next generation. When we slag off those jobs from the past, we’re reducing young men’s motivation to do the very jobs that we learnt so much from.

We don’t necessarily seek terrible jobs but they do happen. We can embrace them rather than resist them. What can we learn from them? I worry that the youth of today won’t do those jobs that many of us did in the past. 

Some kids would turn their noses up at being a paper boy especially as they have grand designs of being an influencer (which was the number one dream job for American kids from a study done by Lego recently).

Kids I know jump from one job to the next without sticking it out and allowing themselves to feel uncomfortable. A mate’s son was vomiting at work and went home after being in this new job for just one week. He called in sick the day after that and then never went back.

The hardest step is the first and, in the world of work, the first can be perceived as the most terrible too. But we took it and we made something of our lives, so let’s celebrate those first steps that helped make us the people we are today.

One important thing I learnt from my experiences of work is the importance as a man of being a leader. Take THE MAN TEST today to find out what sort of man you are and to discover how to maximise your full potential: https://bit.ly/the_man_test 

What terrible jobs have you had and what did you learn from them? 📩 Feel free to email me at team@storiesofmenpodcast.com and tell me your story on bad jobs.

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           PROFESSIONAL
 

Laura is the mix engineer for the Stories of Men podcast. She has a BA in Music from Nottingham University and an Advanced Diploma in Music Production and Sound Engineering from Abbey Road Institute. Alongside working for Our Voices she is a freelance sound designer and technician. Her highlights include sound design for JK Rowling audiobook ‘The Christmas Pig’, and sound effects editing on The Outlaws, on the BBC.

For the Stories of Men podcast, Laura is typically provided with a Voice Over and interview. She then cleans the dialogue, integrates the podcast intro and outros, chooses the music that will add to the storytelling and pacing of the episode, then bring all the elements together in the mix, followed by mastering and then delivering the final edit.

Experience in Industry: 3

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Favourite Food: Potatoes

Favourite Sport: Wild swimming

Favourite Show: Anything Marvel

Favourite Movie: Anything Marvel

Favourite City: London

Hobby: Music

Favourite Book: Northern Lights

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I’m the community manager at Stories of Men. I spend most of my time focusing on the implementation of our marketing strategy, achieving goals and KPIs, and the rest of the time listening to the amazing stories of our guests. What I love most about working for Stories of men is the impact it has on peoples’ lives. It requires a lot of courage to tell your story out loud so I make sure these stories are heard by as many people as possible.

I was born and raised in Pakistan and I’ve been living in Hungary for over two years now. I have a Master’s degree in Marketing and I live for mastering the art of digital marketing.

Industry experience: 3 Years

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Favourite Food: Biryani – introduced by the Mughal rulers in the Indian subcontinent; this dish is an absolute delight. Also, can never say no to a good burger – extra cheese!

Favourite Sport: Cricket – I grew up playing and watching cricket with friends and family.

Favourite Show: Stranger Things – I love how an odd group of friends fight against challenges bigger than themselves.

Favourite Movie: Harry Potter – The only movie I can watch over and over again!

Favourite City: Prague – Absolutely love the Baroque and Gothic vibe of this city.

Hobby: Netflix, Travelling, and Eating- I want to try different cuisines from every country once in my lifetime!

Favourite Book: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown – A fast-paced thriller that keeps you hooked from the first page to the last.

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I run Fascinate Productions, the production company behind the Stories of Men podcast. I’ve had a wide variety of roles in media, from underwater videography, to live televised sporting events around the world. But since listening to my first audiobook in 2016, I’ve been all about audio and jumped in with two feet. Podcasts are enabling the world to democratise its most valuable information. They’re about spreading messages, and sharing ideas, and it’s my mission to help those holding the knowledge, to distribute it far and wide.

When Alex approached us with the idea of making a short stories podcast, with a big social impact, he got our attention. As the producer of the show, I’ve heard his guests’ highest highs, their lowest lows, and the moments of change that made them who they are – it’s been a privilege helping to craft their most intimate experiences into stories for you to enjoy.

 Experience in Industry: 5 years

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Favourite Food: Ice cream. It’s just the greatest culinary invention.

Favourite Sport: Rugby. I played from the age of 5 until 26 when a dislocated shoulder put me out of action. Still like to watch now though.

Favourite Show: The 100 – I love those ‘what if humans nearly got wiped out?’ type shows.

Favourite Movie: Gladiator

Favourite City: London. As a country boy from Yorkshire, I never thought I’d enjoy living here.

Hobby: Listening to podcasts while on long walks with my dog Alfie.

Favourite Book: I love to read anything business/startup related… One of the most recent great ones was Good Strategy/Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt

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Richard Willan is the CEO of Fascinate productions, a podcast production and promotion company. Before starting Fascinate, he worked an audio engineer, mastering tracks for artists on major and independent labels.

He is an executive producer for ‘Stories of Men’ where he assists with production, creative direction of the show, and marketing strategy.  

 

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: 15 YEARS

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Favourite Food: I love Indian food – My favourite dish is a Dansak. It’s a rich combination of hot, sweet and sour flavours, made from lamb and lentils.

Favourite Sport: I enjoy watching combat sports like MMA – Isreal Adesanya is my favourite fighter at the moment, due to his Tae Kwon Do base and speed. 

Favourite Show: Succession – an American satirical drama. The character development is incredible, and the writing is top notch. 

Favourite Movie: True Lies. I find it amazing that someone who can’t act (Arni) has so many great films.

Favourite City: London, because it is a melting pot of culture and the music scene is amazing. 

Hobby: Making music, going to gym and eating out. 

Favourite Book:  The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I love the world she created, and the incremental path the characters take into darkness. It’s amazing.

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I am responsible for writing blog articles for the Stories of Men podcast. I have the privilege of listening to fascinating stories on the topics and issues regarding men that are of greatest relevance to our society today. Once I’ve done this, I create articles that provide an overview and description of the conversations in order to help spread them to the widest possible audience. My job is to make these articles as engaging as the conversations themselves.

As an English teacher who has worked with students from all over the world for over 10 years, I have got used to successfully communicating with those from different backgrounds and cultures. This has helped me to appreciate the value of connection across borders and boundaries. It has also helped me to appreciate that we are all able to learn from each other’s experiences.

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: 10 YEARS

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Favourite Food: Chocolate. It’s an indulgence, I know, but it tastes so good. I particularly enjoy dark chocolate for its richness and smoothness. 

Favourite Sport: Football.Unfortunately, my local team (Nottingham Forest) is not in that top league but I hope that one day it will be.

Favourite Show: The Wire. 

Favourite Movie: The Godfather. 

Favourite City: Reykjavik. I had the pleasure of spending two weeks there a number of years ago and I loved the place for its beauty, culture and calmness. It’s rare that you can be in a capital city and experience genuine space and peace and quiet. There’s also a black sand beach to walk along, although, due to the cold, I wouldn’t recommend bathing in the sea!

Hobby: Watching films. I love films, foreign films, classic films, contemporary films, just all good films.

Favourite Book: “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer. 

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I’m the Editor of Stories of men. I craft compelling narratives from the stories of our fantastic guests, editing their interviews and scripting the episodes. I’m a freelance journalist and audio producer from Northern Ireland, currently based in California. I cover social issues, health and gender – with reporting in The Guardian, Vice, NPR, Cosmopolitan and many others. My focus is shining a light on the communities and initiatives that improve people’s lives. I have a background in the nonprofit space, having worked in communications for a mental health charity, as well as an education start-up. I mentor young female writers and sit on the board of an NGO that empowers women in global supply chains. 
 
INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE: 11 YEARS
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Favourite Food:  In a word, sandwiches. The possibilities are endless.

Favourite Sport: Show jumping. When I was little I wanted to be a professional horse-rider, and I still get a kick out of watching the pros in action.

Favourite Show: Fleabag: the writing and acting create a thrilling kind of intimacy I haven’t seen anywhere else.

Favourite Movie: Victoria is an incredible German thriller that’s all shot in one take – it’s a real trip. Plus it’s beautifully soundtracked by Nils Frahm.

Favourite City: Very hard to choose, but it’s got to be Barcelona. The food, the pace of life, the winding streets – there’s nowhere else like it. 

Hobby: exploring city streets on my bike – preferably while listening (safely!) to a podcast – is when I’m at my happiest. 

Favourite Book: Bernadine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other is a stunning, utterly unique portrait of womanhood, race, ageing and the principles we choose to live 

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I am the host of Stories of Men. I help to find men that have a powerful voice to share and then I speak to them and help to tease the stories out of them that will have a positive impact on the listener. 
 

While running Swoosh English, an online English school from 2013 – 2021, I had the opportunity to meet men from all walks of life and many of these guys had incredible stories. This inspired me to start ‘Stories of Men’ because I wanted to give these men a platform to share their stories with the world.

I love the detail that people go into and how people craft stories in different ways. My dream and vision for the future would be countless people messaging to tell us how a particular episode has changed their lives!

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Favourite Food: Avocados – an incredibly delicious fruit that can be used in so many dishes. My favourite is guacamole with nachos!

Favourite Sport: Boxing and football (couldn’t choose one!)

Favourite Show: 2 comedy series: Alan Partridge and The Office (UK version). I just love English humour!

Favourite Movie: Shawshank Redemption: An unbelievable journey full of twists and turns.

Favourite City:  New York – Living there for a year in 2008 changed my life. It made me believe that anything in life was possible if you want something badly enough.

Hobby: Football, boxing, reading, learning Spanish, travelling and watching fascinating conversations on Youtube.

Favourite Book: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts – a book about an incredible journey.