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Chris Hadfield

August 26, 2021 by Speakers' Spotlight

Colonel Chris Hadfield’s Worst Summer Job

Before Colonel Chris Hadfield called outer space his office, he was just a 13-year-old boy wishing he could stay home and play guitar instead of finding a summer job. Instead, he got that 9-5 job as told to by his Dad, and learned a valuable lesson — the 9-5 life was not for him.

Chris recently shared what his worst summer job experience was with Financial Post. Below is a snippet, read the whole piece here.

I was raised on a farm, so I was long used to hard labour — I once cleaned 50 years worth of manure out of a horse barn. But the year I was 13, when we were staying at the cottage and I would have much preferred to just play guitar and meet girls, my dad made me get a real job. Kind of. I’d say I was a volunteer, but really I was volunteered. It was somewhere between Dad asked me to do it and told me I had to do it. It was all part of the Growing-Up-Hadfield learning experience.

So there was this Ontario travelling waterski school at the time, and if there was enough local appetite for lessons, they’d come to your lake in a fancy boat with a trailer. Stag Island has only about a hundred cottages, but we really wanted them to come to us anyway, so my job was to drum up enough business to make it worth their while.

I first invested in advertising, by which I mean I’d make signs that said, “Learn to Waterski! Professional water-skiers coming to Stag Island!” I’d post flyers on the ferry and in our teeny-tiny convenience store. Mostly, I just walked and walked — there were no cars on the island and I was too young to drive anyhow — like a door-to-door waterski lesson salesman. I had a little clipboard and a money bag with a zipper. I’d make lists of names and reschedule the no-shows and get the money and try to keep it all organized.

I’d talk up the teachers — Herald and Sheldon, Olympic-level skiers as far as I was concerned — to convince people that they really should better their waterski skills. I had no real sales technique and no idea what I was doing, but it wasn’t a hard sell really. There was never much going on the island, so people were usually pretty excited that something was happening. The harder part was collecting the money. They didn’t get to ski until they paid.

I don’t even remember what the lessons cost, to be honest. I’m a bad accountant. You know what I learned that summer? I don’t like accounting and I don’t want to be an accountant. So I didn’t try too hard. I worked just hard enough to get the names I needed and no more. It wasn’t physically arduous, like the farm was, which I appreciated, and it didn’t take up the whole day. It was hours as required, just do the work and you’re done. I also learned that summer that I wanted an hours-as-required job when I grew up. Nine-to-five was never going to be my thing.

Referred to as “the most famous astronaut since Neil Armstrong,” Colonel Chris Hadfield is acclaimed for making outer space accessible to millions, and for infusing a sense of wonder into our collective consciousness not felt since humanity first walked on the Moon. Today, as a professional speaker, he continues to bring the marvels of science and space travel to everyone he encounters.

Interested in learning more about Chris and what he can bring to your next event? Email us at [email protected].