Daniel Seddiqui has been called the most rejected man in the world. Unable to find a job after college, he embarked on a plan to work in 50 jobs in 50 states in 50 weeks. He wrote a book about the experience and is now a speaker and film producer. He spoke at the Ray and Stella Dillon Lecture Series at Hutchinson Community College on Monday, Nov. 16.
In 2008 Seddiqui left his parents’ home in California and took off for an adventure of working jobs in each state that related to the main industries in that state. He was a stilt walker at Universal Studios, he worked in a coal mine in Virginia, made cheese in Wisconsin, got a modeling job in North Carolina, worked border patrol in Arizona and spent a week in a meat packing plant in Kansas. He said cheese making was the most physically demanding job he did.
In every case, he made a serious effort. “I tried to prove myself capable of every job I did,” he said. Only two of the jobs did not offer him a full time position after a week. One was in Las Vegas where he performed weddings, the other was on a lobster boat in Maine where he was suffering from sea-sickness. As he said at the luncheon, “They very politely fired me on Thursday,” and had him build lobster traps instead.
He gave a list of seven things he said everyone could do to lead an amazing life:
- Fail more – He said he, “got rejected so much that he became numb to that process.”
- Don’t care what others think
- Always be willing to learn
- Read to get a different perspective
- Be curious
- Ask questions
- Face reality
He called his journey, “Living the map,” meaning don’t feel stuck. Don’t limit yourself because of your field of study. He said 88% of people don’t work in the field they studied in college. Also, don’t limit yourself geographically.
He said five elements made him successful:
- Adaptability – When he left, his father joking said, “We’ll see you in three weeks.” He said that motivated him to keep going. He asked himself, “What am I turning back to? Nothing.” So he kept going. He learned to go with the flow and overcame any excuses. He sometimes cold called hundreds of people to line up his next job. He said he had to be fearless, although emotionally it was a very difficult journey.
- Networking – “The more people you meet, the more opportunity you create,” he said. He stayed with host families in 49 states – only in his home state of California did no one offer him a place to stay. “People created all these opportunities,” he said referencing his trip. “People are the best resource,” he said. He also said what he remembers most about the trip are the people he met. “Never overlook a person or a place,” he said.
- Endurance – He said finding purpose gave him the energy to do the work. He would work during the week and travel to the next job on the weekends. It was mentioned during the luncheon that he only slept about four hours a night. He said it was really important in some of his jobs, such as when they called him at 2:30 a.m. to pull a mare in Kentucky. or put him on the air as a Cleveland weatherman at 4:30 a.m.
- Risk Taking – He said this was a financial risk. He got 45 paychecks. The five jobs he didn’t get paid for were all government-related such as border patrol in Arizona. It was also a physical risk sometimes, such as coal-mining. He said it took 90 minutes to get four miles into the Earth, and he realized some of the people slept underground for three days at a time.
- Perseverance – He said the other four relate to this category, but he had to be persistent. He finished the jobs, but wanted to turn the experience into something beyond that. He wrote the book and has developed a college course that allows students to go out during the summer and do 5 jobs in 5 states for 5 weeks. He said Southwestern College is the only one in Kansas doing the program as of now.
In addition to his speaking career, he is training as a long-distance runner for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. He and his wife, who he met in Massachusetts while doing his 50 jobs in 50 states tour, now live in Colorado. He said he finds the people in the Midwest to be the most genuine in the country.