I’m a Fanatic and You Can Be Too

I was trying to think of a good word to call Don and Ben, who are not only full time professors, but also who host a hugely popular food safety podcast, Food Safety Talk.

Some of the titles I had in mind were “How to Make Food Safety Interesting” or “The Food Safety Freaks” but I ended up going with Fanatics.

The English definition of a fanatic is: a person filled with excessive and single-minded zeal, especially for a cause.

I found this the perfect word to describe Don, Ben and… me. If you eat, sleep and breathe what you love, you are by definition, a fanatic. If you what you love at work and outside of work for no pay, then that’s a fanatic. If almost every conversation you have is about what you love to do, you are a fanatic.

And in this case, fanatic is not a bad thing. In fact, if we had more people like Don and Ben, the world would be a much better place. Don and Ben has shared their passion for food safety.

Here are some indicators on being a fanatic:

You spend your spare time advocating

Don is in multiple leadership positions in all food organizations including IFT and IAFP. Ben, as you’ll see next week, writes for Barfblog pretty much weekly. Both are professors who do a podcast on food safety.

Let’s give a few more examples. Kim and I both do podcasts but we are also awesome product developers.

We’ve all the lucky ones that are so involved what we love to do, we’ll go a bit farther and use our spare time to bring value to others.

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I pick out 5 pieces of content from the latest food industry news to the greatest new products and leave my snarky comments every week.

Advocating is important, because it’s not a very highly profitable hobby, but it helps feed your soul. Nobody actually has to advocate for fair wage, equal rights, or how to live but when you are the one to do it, it feels darn good. Nobody really has to advocate, but you see people every day advocating for something they believe in.

What the people I’ve listed do, including me, is advocacy. We publicly support something we believe in and in this case, it’s awareness in what we do.

Your eyes light up and you can feel the passion behind your voice when you talk about what you love

I’ve been recently getting feedback on my podcast, sometimes they’re students who say I’m cool and sometimes it’s coaches who try to get me to use their services. I’ve noticed that everyone who listens to my podcast can tell I am very passionate in what I do. Whenever I’ve talked to someone where they suddenly hook me in, my eyes get wide, I talk really fast, and get animated.

If you haven’t found this feeling, now is the time to look.

I just finished the book “A More Beautiful Question” by Warren Burger and his advice was pretty straight forward in achieving this. It does require some quite alone time, but it’s necessary.

Think about what makes you excited. And maybe that is based off of who you’re with or what you do daily. This takes time and a huge amount of self-awareness and I wish I could give you advice on how to do it. What helps me is to just realize what you are doing when you’re really awake. Is it making samples? Or is it talking to people? Or is it pitching a product? Being aware of what you enjoy at work is the first step.

If you don’t enjoy anything at work, then it might be time to look for something new.

You feel like you have purpose

Boiling it down, it’s really all one question: “What is my purpose?”. This is a HARD question and it wasn’t until recently I’ve found it. Sometimes the only time you can find it if you do something difficult or get out of something difficult.

Purpose makes you get up in the morning and smile. Most people I’ve met who know why they’re here, you can sort of feel it and it’s a great feeling. They literally radiate.

Purpose, combined with passion can create energy. If someone were to harness that type of energy, it could probably power worlds. They both help each other in an endless loop of motivation. Once you find your passion and purpose (which might be the same, might not be), then you can pretty much do anything.

Again, I have no advice on finding your purpose. This is a journey you have to do yourself.

What’s the worse that could happen?

This is a sales pitch and the only sales pitch is that if you truly love what you do, you should become a fanatic. Someone who uses linkedin, a blog, a podcast, whatever, to bring something of value to the community.

People are scared, or overwhelmed at the work involved and they don’t do anything. But ask yourself, “what’s the worse that can happen?”

Will you get ignored? Or laughed at? Or lose a lot of money maybe? This has happened to me.

But thought the whole experience, I’ve gained so much. My network is amazing, I get to meet amazing people, opportunities are popping up everywhere, and I have so many sellable skills, I just sold my first website.

The benefits have outweighed the cost and as long as you are smart and tenacious, the same will happen to you.

Being a fanatic means showing the world you love what you do, It’s about putting your credibility on the chopping block and waiting for the knife to come swinging down, and having the resilience for the knife to shatter when it hits you.

I hope you can join us.

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