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What Billy Joel taught me about EMS career satisfaction

From anti-drunk driving campaigns to funding pet oxygen masks, there are many ways we can incorporate our passion into our day job


During high school and college, I worked at several radio stations and was lucky enough to interview several famous musicians. One was the Piano Man himself, Billy Joel.

He shared some advice that some 20-plus years later still resonates with me: “Figure out what you’re good at, and do that. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time.”

That memory was recently triggered by a phone call from a peer that I highly respect seeking some advice.

About a year ago he quit his job at a TV news station after feeling burned-out. He launched a new business, which is doing well. But he admitted he was considering returning to his former career because he missed the passion he used to have for his work.

Good vs. passionate

It got me thinking. Being good at something isn’t the same as being passionate about it. 

In EMS, there are many ways we can incorporate our passion into our day job.

If you care about animals, find a way to fund pet oxygen masks for the ambulances in your department.

If drunk driving, a medical condition like a stroke, or a disease a family member suffers from are important to you, sell media on stories that connect your profession with your passion – your pitch will be that much more compelling. 

EMS touches on many different issues, and our role as public relations professionals is to recognize the passion within ourselves, our organization and our peers.

Then, we need to tell those human interest stories to create memorable images and positive public awareness for our companies.

A lesson from finance

Here’s an example.  A financial advisor I know had a passion to ensure that his personal investments were not “terror-infested.” 

No mutual fund existed that screened out U.S. companies operating in terror nations like Iran, Syria and North Korea — so he created his own. He combined his talent with his passion.  It’s not easy, but it’s fulfilling and personally rewarding. 

So to update Billy Joel’s quote, “Figure out what you’re good at and passionate about, and do that.  Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time.”

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