Cory Gladish came to my office in May 1995, after his grandmother heard me on the radio. He was 19, had graduated from high school, and was working at his father’s business doing a job that a lot of other guys would “kill for” – setting up rigging for concerts and outdoor events and doing permanent installation of sound systems.
Not only did he work for his father, but the expectation was that he would take over the business, which had little appeal.
Making it harder for him to turn his back on the family business was the fact that Corey really had no desire to go to college or university. There was a lot of pressure on him to take over the business and no viable defense.
His conundrum was, “If you don’t know what you want to do, you might as well take over the family business.”
Around the same time he was thinking of trying out as a slalom racer for the Olympic team. He also enjoyed racing motocross – activities with a lot of speed and risks.
A lot of young men are interested in speed, risks and hazards. Corey was different.
It wasn’t an ego thing for him. He was highly motivated by circumstances organized by risks, hazards and speed. I could understand that taking over the family business would have no appeal to him. Business is all about minimizing risks. It’s about eliminating risks to make more profit. That’s why most businesses are about turning everything into routine, where everything is predictable.
Corey enjoys physical activity. He needs work that has a high physical component. He needs to use his arms, legs and torso in a coordinated fashion and he wants to be outdoors. In addition, he had a lifesaving certificate, first aid training and is very personable. Sitting at a computer would be very stressful for him.
It’s not easy to find work with a strong physical component that also has an element of risks and hazards that isn’t routine.
One job I felt would be a perfect match for Corey was as a whitewater rafting guide.
It had never crossed his mind because he had never been rafting, but the idea really excited him.
I gave him the name of a rafting company, but he lost the paper on the way home. He called Esprit, the first company in the phone book. It was a Friday and they were starting a five-day guiding class the following Monday.
Corey was the only guide out of 14 in the class hired by the company. He was a natural for it and advanced very quickly in the company and industry.
By September he was selected as a substitute member of a team in the World’s White Water Rafting Championships and traveled with the team. The first stop was a month in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, Africa. From there he went to Mexico to run whitewater rafting trips in Veracruz until March.
He soon became a starting team member and spent two years in Africa and a year in Costa Rica.
He raced for four summers. In addition, he taught swift water rescue and many related courses to guides internationally, including a three month-long Whitewater Intensive Leadership Program in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
If that wasn’t enough, he raced bicycles as a semi-pro for Volkswagen-Trek that included the Ego Challenge North American Championship adventure race – a six day event combining trekking, aide climbing and repelling, mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking and orienteering. In orienteering, the team was given a topographical map and had an hour to figure how to go from one checkpoint to the next, for six days. His team finished fourth out of 40.
Now that Corey is approaching 30, he’s looking at settling down somewhat. He will soon be working for the local Fire Department specializing in swift water rescue.
Corey isn’t an adrenaline junkie. He’s not an extreme sports junkie. He truly enjoys learning a physical skill and using good judgment in circumstances with risks and hazards.
Corey has found his core motivation and has stuck with it. He’s at work at 6 every morning, finishes at about 9 or 10 at night – and can’t wait to go back to work the next day!