It ain’t work if you’re having fun
Everyone fantasizes about landing their dream job. Here are a couple of Airdrie residents who have made their dreams a reality.
Phoenix Phillips says that he starts most interviews with: “I have a curiosity about….”
It’s this innate curiosity that has driven the Airdrie resident from the world of radio to his current job as host and senior producer of go! Calgary, a Shaw TV series that profiles interesting people and events in and around Calgary.
“Part of my journey has always been one of curiosity,” Phillips says. “As much as I loved radio [he worked for AM 106 and Country 105] and I used to write articles for the Calgary Sun, my curiosity was always, what about this TV thing? I’ve been with Shaw six years and I’ve loved every moment.”
Phillips says that go! has given him an “all-access pass” to the heart and soul of Calgary and Airdrie.
“I can go a bit deeper than most people can,” he says of interviewing everyone from knitters to astronauts. “What are their challenges? What makes them happy?”
“I look for the passion, whatever that is. I try to do that with every single person I meet. That’s why my job is the best job in the world.”
It even works with famous celebrities, such as the time he interviewed Garth Brooks, noticed he wore an unusual necklace and discovered that the country icon was a huge Pittsburgh Pirates fan. “So we were talking about baseball,” says Phillips. “It’s the art of listening, but it’s also the art of communicating one-on-one with someone.”
Although much of his work involves Calgary, Phillips loves to turn the spotlight on Airdrie whenever possible.
“We did a Christmas special at the Festival of Lights, and we wanted to because it was a community-building moment,” he says. “We had half of Airdrie show up … the excitement, the buzz; we were able to facilitate that experience and [let people know] about all these things going on outside of Calgary.
“There are amazing people in Airdrie who have actually built it to where it is today,” he adds. “I met [Mayor Peter] Brown and he’s a wonderful gent … what we do is we strip away the title and find out who the person is. I would suggest the viewer takes that and realizes: ‘That could be me. Why couldn’t I be mayor or run the Airdrie food bank?’ Why can’t a child interested in robotics not be the next Commander Chris Hadfield?”
For Phillips, the key to success is simple. “I look for the passion, whatever that is. I try to do that with every single person I meet. That’s why my job is the best job in the world,” he says.
What do time travellers and Joel Salomons have in common? They both get to enjoy glimpses of the future.
In the case of Salomons, operator/buyer with Sullys Lifestyle, he gets to see what the well-dressed snowboarder or skateboard enthusiast will be wearing a year from now.
“I’ve always been interested in fashion, living in Europe for about two years,” says Salomons, whose dad was transferred to Amsterdam when he was in high school.
He says that there was no real training for him as he became a buyer, going to trade and fashion shows and developing the instincts to choose the right products for Sullys, the fashion-and-lifestyle retailer his brother, Jon, started in Airdrie in 2003. A shop like Sullys hadn’t been seen in Airdrie before, and it was soon attracting interest from not just this city, but Calgary as well.
In 2009, a second location opened in CrossIron Mills. Both sites continued to attract business and this past April the original Sullys relocated from its original Main Street site to new digs in Bayside. The new store, Salomons says, will continue promoting skateboard and snowboard fashion and culture.
“If was definitely a learn-as-you-go experience,” he says of developing his skills as a buyer. “It’s about having an eye for what we should buy for the store. We know a lot of stuff gets represented … you have to weed through it and figure out what will work for your demographic.
“You have to be a bit edgy and push people out of their comfort zones,” Salomons adds. “That’s the fun part of the job – to force people into fashion trends that they might not be ready for in Airdrie, but do it anyway.”
He also enjoys sampling new gear months, even a year, before it hits the streets. This year, he’ll be attending shows in Vancouver and Long Beach, scoping out what will be in the stores in 2017.
For Salomons, the most rewarding part of the job is seeing happy customers walk out with fashion or gear long after he first identified it as a good fit for the store.
“It’s not just a piece of clothing, it’s something I cross-examined – so [their] reaction completes the circle,” he says. “Most people in their jobs don’t get to see the end function – for me, it’s looking at something long before it’s released, then having it come in, unpacking it and seeing it go out the door.”