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Saint Vincent College Faculty Blog

Follow Your Passion

Posted by Michael Urick on Tue, Oct 8, 2019 @ 09:10 AM


In my previous month’s blog, I advocated that learning is a continuous process and that people can always learn from experiences. In the classroom, I use a lot of popular culture to help facilitate learning. For example, I use clips from the film “Marvel’s Avengers” to teach team stages and clips from “Star Trek” to teach ethics in my undergraduate organizational behavior class. I do this, in part, because I notice organizational behavior concepts in almost every movie or tv show I see, and I love leveraging some of my favorites in class that present clear examples. I also see a lot of organizational behavior in what I read – and I’m not talking just academic journals, but also fun pop culture books. I once heard Fr. Tom Hart, Saint Vincent’s assistant to the president for mission, say he would read anything. I agree that reading for an academic like me, even and perhaps especially outside of their primary area or comfort zone can help them learn. I can think of two recent examples, both of which are pieces of popular culture that have the same theme of the importance of following your passion.

One of my guilty pleasures is watching the tv show “Bar Rescue” hosted by the abrasive Jon Taffer, a service industry expert similar in personality to Gordon Ramsey. Since I enjoy the show so much, I recently checked out Taffer’s book entitled “Raise the Bar.” In the book, Taffer explains his view that success is related to process, an idea closely related to Operational Excellence. Though definitely not an academic piece on management similar to what I often read for work, I also can learn a lot from books such as this that I read for pleasure. Through his anecdotes, one can easily see his passion for his particular line of business, though the concepts in the book can apply to a variety of organizations (besides bars).

Coming from a completely different profession and perspective, Scott Bradlee also wrote an interesting (non-academic) book entitled “Outside the Jukebox.” Bradlee is the founder of a group of performers known as Postmodern Jukebox and is what I would consider to be a musical entrepreneur social media marketer. Postmodern Jukebox is a group that is famous for taking current popular songs and putting a vintage twist on them by incorporating musical styles from much earlier decades. In the book, Bradlee details how his obsession with vintage music built his career. His success was built over time but started through posting clips on YouTube and then growing a fan base via social media. Several years later, Postmodern Jukebox consistently sells out venues around the world. I think that this read would be beneficial to entrepreneurs, marketers and musicians as they can all learn much through this book.

One commonality between both books is that the authors have made careers out of following their passion. In my blog from April 2018, I discussed things to consider when choosing a career. Naturally, one such way to choose a career or job is to focus on something that you are passionate about. 

Of course, there is no one way to uncover your passion. However, a good starting place is to ask yourself what types of activities you enjoy most. Maybe you enjoy a particular hobby or doing a certain type of task. For undergraduate students, I would advocate choosing a major that could help them maximize their time doing what they most enjoy. I think that the old adage is true: if you have a job you love you never have to work a day in your life. This certainly seems to be the case for the authors of the books noted above.      

What is your passion? How did you find it? How do you follow it in your daily life? I’m always eager to hear from you and learn from your perspective so please be in touch! Email me at michael.urick@stvincent.edu and connect with me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/urickmj/) and LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-urick-05b775a3/). Please leave a comment below!

Dr. Mike Urick

Bradlee, S. 2018. Outside the Jukebox. Hatchette Book Group. New York, NY.

Taffer, J. 2013. Raise the Bar. New Harvest: Seattle, WA.

Topics: Michael Urick, saint vincent faculty, saint vincent professor, Faculty Blog, Dr. Mike Urick, passion, choosing a major

About the Authors

Michelle Gil-Montero is an associate professor of English and director of creative writing at Saint Vincent College. She runs the visiting writers series on campus, oversees the student literary magazine, and serves as guru to aspiring poets on campus. She received her MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2007, and she has been on the Saint Vincent faculty since that year. She is an active poet and literary translator from Spanish. She is spending part of the 2016-17 school year travelling to Argentina on a Howard Foundation fellowship and Fulbright grant. 

Dr. John J. Smetanka has been a member of the full-time faculty since 1997 and currently serves as the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean of Saint Vincent College, a position he has held since January 2008. Dr. Smetanka has taught courses in Physics, Astronomy, Chemistry and Geology as well as interdisciplinary seminars. He has published scientific research articles in physics and astrophysics journals, numerous conference proceedings and also works in science education reform and the interaction between science, technology and theology.

Jim Kellam is an associate professor of biology at Saint Vincent College and our resident ornithologist. He received his Ph.D. from Purdue University in 2003, and is taking this semester as a sabbatical. What does that mean? He'll explain in his blog posts.

Dr. Michael J. Urick is Graduate Director of the Master of Science in Management: Operational Excellence program, and Associate Professor of Management and Operational Excellence at the Alex G. McKenna School of Business, Economics, and Government. Dr. Urick teaches courses related to organizational behavior, human resources, culture, leadership, diversity, conflict, supply chain, operations and research methods. Professionally, Urick serves on the board of the Institute for Supply Management (Pittsburgh) and belongs to the Society for Human Resource Management and APICS. For fun, Urick enjoys music and, since 1998, has led and performed with Neon Swing X-perience, a jazz band that has released multiple albums and toured portions of the US. He enjoys watching movies, is an avid reader of fantasy and science fiction, and also likes to fence.

David Safin, C'00, has been a lecturer in the communication department since the Fall of 2003, and has served in a variety of administrative roles since the summer of 2004. Currently, he teaches multimedia in the communication department as an assistant professor. 

Dr. Michael Krom received his Doctorate in philosophy at Emory University in 2007 and is currently the chair of the philosophy department at Saint Vincent. He has authored a book on religion and politics and continues to publish works in Catholic moral and political thought. Dr. Krom also directs the Faith and Reason summer program every summer. 

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