AY: Can you tell us a little about yourself? What’s your background and how did you get into going all around the world?
TB: My name is Turner Barr. I am a laid back American guy originally from the Seattle area but migrated to the SF Bay area before going nomadic for the past 6 years. I studied Political Science and International Relations at UC Berkeley and later did a Masters in Business Entrepreneurship in Luxembourg. I began my around the world odyssey after college when I went to South America and became hooked. Since then I haven’t looked back much except in the occasional self-doubting moments which most of us experience.
Can you introduce your Around the World in 80 Jobs project for our readers? What was the inspiration behind the project? What took you on the road to begin with?
My project — Around the World in 80 Jobs — is to take on as many different types of jobs and life/work experiences that interest me as possible.
Some are jobs that make money while others are more for the cultural experience. After I left college, I was at a loss. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life and felt that much of what I had learned was heavily influenced by the American cultural norm of just go out and make as much money as you can — then you will be deemed successful and worthy. But after my first major trip to South America, I knew that living abroad and working overseas was what I wanted to do and was paramount to just making money.
Since you got your start in your round-the-world passion project, how many places have you visited? Do you have a favorite and/or a least favorite?
In total since I began traveling I have been to about 90 something countries, but for this project 42 countries thus far. In terms of countries, I love Thailand, Colombia, and Mexico. But if I had to pick one place to go to tomorrow it would be to go back to the Galapagos. That place is pure magic.
What is the coolest job you’ve done so far?
The most unique job was playing the role of the Krampus in Austria during their Christmas time. To my knowledge I am the only non-Alpine man to have done this. It was surreal going through the Alps in a blizzard with 20 Austrian guys who spoke little English performing for the festival. The Krampus is part yeti/abominable snowman, part demon who punishes children who have been bad and wards away bad spirits.
The least cool job you’ve done so far?
I was a toilette attendant at a festival for children, and that probably wasn’t my favorite job in the world… But then again, I have had several jobs working in hot fields all day doing some type of manual labor. I am not really much of a mountain man, but each job has its own challenges.
I recommend anyone who isn’t happy with their current job try volunteering as a toilette attendant for a day to get some perspective on life.
Speaking of perspective, what have you learned about yourself through this project?
I have learned that no matter what job you do, your overall success depends more on your ability to connect with people and having persistence. Doing these jobs around the world has given me a renewed sense of appreciation for being in a position where I don’t have to work in horrible conditions doing back-breaking and tedious labor day in and day out. It also has given me an appreciation for the process of where things come from. In modern society, so much has been automated that we have lost a sense of how things work and how things are made. Once you have worked in a hot field harvesting agave all day, all those tequila shots you order at the bar will have a bit more significance.
We’ve all been reading about this Adecco mess — can you (as objectively as possible) tell us about the situation?
A big multinational hired an ad firm to come up with a global marketing campaign to target unemployed youths to engage their company. They made a promo video using an actor that looked like me, acted like me, and even shot footage of the jobs in the same way with a GoPro. They also attempted to trademark my brand name globally.
Have you had any communication with Adecco around the issue? Have they tried to offer any type of settlement or make any sort of concession to you?
I tried to reach out to them in good faith and to try to make a win-win situation, but after 4 weeks of being led astray, I realized it wasn’t their intention.
What are you doing right now to salvage the situation?
When I realized Adecco had no intention of offering me fair compensation for my work and to stop using my brand, I wrote a blog post on my site that went viral and spurred to action bloggers and other denizens of the internet who related to the injustice of intellectual property theft. Bloggers, small-business owners, creative artists, and others understood this wasn’t a situation just about me, but about all of us and how we need to address how big business treats us.
With the backlash, I posted an open letter to Adecco on how they could #makeitright, as I didn’t want to pursue a legal course of action, if possible, because to me this was an issue of ethics. Adecco stepped up and owned up to their mistake, met me on the common grounds that I laid out, including a $50,000 donation to Save Elephant Foundation, an organization that helps captive elephants in Southeast Asia and is close to my heart as I worked one of my jobs at Elephant Nature Park in Thailand.
What can our readers do to get involved, stay connected, and/or help out?
I think this outcome will serve as an example of how social media, if used constructively, can help keep big business honest, and how we can address problems as a community going forward. I think staying active on social media, meeting and connecting with other entrepreneurs both on- and offline, as well as participating in online advocacy groups for small business should they arise (? not sure this exists yet?).
For now, since we have a solution, you can help out the elephants at saveelephant.org, and you can help me by staying connected with me and my ongoing story at:
Any last thoughts to leave people with?
Dream big, do good, and don’t be a stranger.