A Creative Job Search at the 100th Grey Cup

I am determined to work in Alberta this February, and I will do so. That is why I was working at my new office this past Sunday. I was searching for conferences and events where I might make a good contribution. It’s late in the year to do this for February and the task is time consuming, but it still has to be done.

But the creative animal inside of me knows that this is not the only way to get business.

I needed a break, and cycled down to the Rogers Centre around 4 pm. Thousands of people had gathered from all over Canada to watch and celebrate the 100th Grey Cup. I don’t remember the last time I saw so many painted faces. There was a fellow playing the bagpipes, and abundant festive sounds. The fresh, crisp November air went well with the loud energy of the hordes of people. This year the game was to be the Toronto Argonauts vs. the Calgary Stampeders.

As I’ve often done on the day of major concerts in Toronto, I checked with the box office to see if any tickets remained. And they did! I could get in for $158!? I was not terribly surprised, but was intrigued.

Not a huge football fan, I was interested in watching the game, but had no big plans to do so. I sat down in the “Spot Coffee” cafe right across from the Rogers Centre with the intention of getting deeper into my wonderful book, “Reclaiming Higher Ground”, by Lance Secretan. But almost immediately, a thought came to me,

“How could I get paid to go see this historical event?”

I scribbled out two mind maps. The first one was based on ideas with this written in the centre, “Attend game to earn business in Toronto or Alberta”. To the right are the actual mind maps that I scribbled out while wired on glorious coffee. The second one provided the action and was titled, “What would I do?”. Moments after my pen initially hit the paper, I had a strong feeling that I would probably be doing this stunt. While writing down my ideas – despite the ridiculous feeling to start – I was provided with a positive feedback loop that I believe helped convince me to go for it.

The first step in the “What would I do?” mind map was to, “Ask people in this cafe their thoughts”. I did so, and immediately met my first possible connection. They suggested that I go for it as the risk was only about $200 vs. the unlimited potential gain. Agreed! I had my new speaker One Sheet with me, and one of the professionals there was interested. We are in contact and he may help me find some presenting work. Nice! So this confirmed it for me. Moments later, they saw me enthusiastically waving my plastic ticket in the window of the cafe. I was going into the stadium!

I raced home to prepare for the night’s events bursting with energy and excitement about the task ahead. I quickly changed into my orange suit, and covered up with jeans and a sweater. Equipped with glow-juggling balls, some cash and a stack of business cards, I was ready for action. I raced back to the Rogers Centre and got into gate 11 to find that I was sitting in section 136, and my “obstructed view” seat was GREAT! The only thing that I couldn’t see was the jumbo-tron. No problem.

I settled into my seat as the game began and thought, “Am I really going to clown around with this audience to earn some business?” The first quarter finished and Toronto was leading 7-3. This was good news, but I had not started my work yet.

One very over-priced beer later, I decided I’d better get to it.

My biggest fan

I made my way to the mens room to find a huge line-up and all of the stalls full. With an audience of about 40 football fans, I eventually got the confidence to strip off my sweater and jeans like a superhero to reveal the ridiculous one-piece – bright orange leotard. This thing completely covers my body and I got a few funny looks but unsurprisingly everyone left me alone. I was laughing.

Who does this?

Once I pulled the mask over my face I was in character and it was time to start the show. I started playing with the audience. Heavily photographed and juggling often, I walked down the aisles in unauthorized sections and nobody stopped me. I did some miming and played with kids and adults alike. The suit really does look ridiculous and as it was orange, many people assumed that I was a BC Lions fan. I rolled with it.

Before half time I had earned the business that I’d challenged myself to do and felt amazing! One fellow hired me to perform at some upcoming events.

Investment: recovered
Future opportunities: developing…

Nice job Tony!

For part of the second half I was right down at the 50 yard line. I felt like I was in the centre of the place. When I turned around and looked up, I could see thousands of people. I know that they were not there to see me, but I drank in the eyes who were watching me when I did some performing that night. Audiences this size bring me completely to life. I could get used to this…

My intention was not to busk for money while there, however some people insisted on throwing cash at me. I used to say no to money. Not any more. One fan even slipped $20 into my bag with which I treated myself to another over-priced beer.

This was a delightful event to be a part of for a number of reasons.

  • I got to see Toronto win the 100th Grey Cup in Toronto by a score of 35 – 22.
  • I got to achieve my goal of generating business in the most playful way possible.
  • I had piles of fun and met some great people from all over this amazing country.

The next time you have an impulse to do something a little “out-there” but hesitate, consider creating a mind map or a pros / cons list quickly. Before you know it, you might just find a positive feedback loop encouraging you to live on the edge and to go for what you already know you want to do. Who knows what unexpected connections it might create?

Use your creativity to search for work no matter what field you are in. It does not have to be a chore. You might even find yourself achieving practical goals in front of 50,000 screaming fans having the time of your life!

That’s what I call a good night of work.