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Monday, October 31, 2011

10 of the World's Coolest Jobs

Unless you're a Powerball winner, or you've inherited a large sum of money, chances are you have to wake up every day, go to work and make a living.
For most people, a job is just a job, little more than a way to pay the bills. But what if work were more like play? What if, instead of living for the weekend, you lived for Monday morning? There are people who feel that way; you just have to find them. We did. For instance, rock climber Steph Davis climbs up the north face of Castleton Tower in Castle Valley, Utah. Yeah, she gets paid to do that.
Here are 10 of the coolest jobs in the world, and the people who do them.
Stunt Woman
Alisa Hensley
Courtesy of Alisa Hensley
Some people fall into their careers, but Alisa Hensley falls, crashes, dives, rides, kicks and fights as part of her job. She is an established stunt woman with a long career in Hollywood working on a range of film and television shows, doubling for well-known actresses including Cameron Diaz, Nicole Kidman, Charlize Theron and Yvonne Strahovski on the NBC series "Chuck."
Hensley started her career with a non-paying TV show gig, which eventually led her to Stunt Coordinator Joni Avery, who had no hesitation in hiring her for her first paying job on Pamela Anderson's TV series "V.I.P."
Hensley is one of about 500 women in this field. She can do martial arts, ride motorcycles, fence, shoot firearms, rock climb, rappel, swim and many different forms of falling.
"In the middle of a day, when I'm just sweating and beating up guys, it's like I can't believe people pay me to do this!" Hensley said.
Photographer, Victoria's Secret
Russell James
Taking pictures of lingerie models, working barefoot and having your work showcased in every Victoria's Secret store in the world for everyone to see certainly seems like a dream job, but for Russell James it's reality.
This popular photographer for Victoria's Secret loves what he does, but it's not as easy as it seems. His photo shoots can cost upwards of $20,000 a day, meaning he's got to keep 25 other people on the payroll plus the supermodels he works with operating smoothly and efficiently.
The photographer's job is to "make the girl feel sexy and beautiful without being weird," said model Candice Swanepoel. "[I feel] just safe with Russell."
James' photography career took off in 1997 when he took a picture of Tyra Banks that ended up on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. That's where Ed Razek, the creative director of Victoria's Secret, first took notice of him.
Candy Store Owner
Dylan Lauren, CEO, Dylan's Candy Bar
Courtesy of Dylan's Candy Bar
The story goes that when Ralph Lauren asked his daughter Dylan, then a teenager, if he could name a new fragrance after her, she responded by saying she wanted to save her name for something she created. Something of her own.
She did just that in 2001 when she opened the Dylan's Candy Bar location in New York, inspired by "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory." After graduating from Duke University with a major in Art History, Lauren traveled the globe in search of the world's most exciting confectionery creations.
"I always wanted to do something big," Lauren said. "I wanted to open the world's biggest candy store and make it look like Disney World with candy."
Today, there are Dylan's Candy Bar locations in New York City (a whopping 15,000-square-feet of candy bliss), East Hampton and Roosevelt Field in New York; Houston; Orlando and, coming in 2012, stores in Miami and Los Angeles. The stores employ 206 people and sales for 2011 are expected to hit $25 million.
These candy emporiums offer not just candies from around the world but fashion items, accessories and even housewares. All with a sweet candy theme, of course.
Marine Biologist, Filmmaker, Inventor
Greg Marshall, Vice President, National Geographic Society, Remote Imaging
Courtesy of Greg Marshall
Greg Marshall has dedicated the last 25 years to studying, exploring, and documenting life in the oceans. He's won two Emmy awards for his cinematography and sound work on National Geographic specials, but perhaps his biggest contribution to the scientific world is the National Geographic Crittercam.
In 1986, while diving in the reefs off Belize, Greg encountered a shark and was struck by the sight of a remora fish clinging to the shark's side. Imagining the unique perspective the remora must have when hitchhiking with its host, Greg conceived a remote camera that would mimic the remora's behavior.
Marshall thought that if the camera were small and lightweight it could attach like a remora to a host and record the behavior of sea creatures in situations where a handheld camera could never go. Recognizing the scientific potential of such a tool he began developing a camera tool that could record images, sound and data from an animal's perspective.
"The first wild animal I worked with was an alligator... but I lost my one and only unit on the very first deployment," Marshall said. "The first successful wild deployment was with a Tiger shark at Isla Mujeres, Mexico, and it was incredibly exciting to finally see what a wild, free-ranging animal does in its natural habitat over time and spatial scales that we could never otherwise experience."
In 2003 Greg and his team deployed the first land-based Crittercam on wild lions in Kenya, capturing remarkable new images and ushering in a new era of behavioral science.
Beer Brewer
Jennifer Glanville, Brewery Manager, Boston Beer Co.
Courtesy The Boston Beer Co.
While some people's work might drive them to drink in the morning, it's actually part of Jennifer Glanville's job. There's a tasting every day at 10:30 a.m., and unlike in the wine world where professional tasters spit, Glanville and her brewing compatriots swallow. It's important in experiencing the true finish of the beer, she explained.
"My bad day at work is probably somebody else's best day," Glanville said.
Of course, there's a lot more to it than just tasting beers. A lot of work and passion goes into brewing craft beers for The Boston Beer Company, the maker of the Samuel Adams line of beers. It's Glanville's job not only to ensure the quality of the beer being made, but to come up with new flavors and new ideas that take traditional styles and turn them on their head.
One of her most recent brews is the Oyster Stout, literally made with oysters from Wellfleet, Mass., near the tip of Cape Cod. It was an idea near and dear to Glanville, who spent her summers on the Cape as a kid and now owns a home there overlooking the oyster flats. She recently debuted the brew at the Wellfleet Oyster Fest. It was a hit, but there's no word yet on when or if it will be widely distributed.
Meanwhile, she's still hard at work perfecting what might be her favorite brew yet: Sahti, a Finnish-style beer flavored with juniper. It's one of the oldest, continuously brewed styles of beer in the world, Glanville explained. Like the rest of her brews, it's full of her passion.
"It's a match made in heaven, I guess, because I've been here 10 years," Glanville said. " It's hard to imagine what else now would fulfill me."
LEGO Sculptor
Nathan Sawaya, Brick Artist
Courtesy of Nathan Sawaya
Nathan Sawaya was a successful corporate lawyer, but he dreamed of LEGOs. Sculpting with LEGOs, to be exact. So in 2004, he told his boss he was quitting and gave up his six-figure salary to start playing with the plastic blocks full-time.
"I remember walking into his office, 42nd floor, MetLife Building, and just telling him, you know, I'm going to go start a new career playing with LEGO, and I'm leaving the practice," he said. There were some lean times, but when the LEGO company noticed his work, things took off for Sawaya.
Today, he is a "LEGO certified professional" whose work can be seen around the world in museums and fine art galleries. His work was even featured in the annual Neiman Marcus Christmas Catalog, offering customers customized, life-size sculptures of themselves or their loved ones.
Sawaya's most recent work of art is a gift donated to The New York Public Library: Replicas of the library's famous marble lions, Patience and Fortitude. The half-scale sculptures took more than 60,000 legos and have an estimated value of about $30,000.
Music Teacher
Victoria Miller, Detroit Public Schools
Detroit is a difficult place to grow up, and working there isn't easy either. But for Victoria Miller it's a calling. She has worked as a music teacher in the Detroit Public School System for nearly 40 years, teaching kids not just how to play, but how to be leaders.
"Times are so hard, and children need a place to be," Miller said. "They need things to do to keep them out of trouble. And so, I'm there for them. They need to know there's somebody they can count on."
She sees it as her personal duty to give these kids a chance. She tries to keep them out of trouble, focused on their futures and doing the best they can. For these students, spending time in band practice means less time in the dangerous Detroit streets. For some, it's been a life saver.
One of her students was at band practice on the day his best friend was murdered. To this day, he believes Miller saved his life.
"The best teacher I ever had, period." he said.
Car Aficionado
Mike Princhinello and Zach Moseley, Owners, Classic Car Club Manhattan
This duo's idea of a dream come true? Searching all over the world to find the coolest and most powerful cars around. More than 300 members pay a $15,000 annual membership fee to drive the amazing collection of cars either on their own or as part of events such as skeet shooting, road rallies and visits to sports parks.
"We drive all the greatest cars. We get to buy what we like. We get to live our dream." said Princhinello about his dream job.
Princhinello and Moseley are currently planning to open clubs in Miami and Los Angeles. It's not all glamour and speed, though. The duo must also take care of the everyday necessities such as paying insurance policies costing $20,000 a year, dealing with accidents, overhead, and the dreaded Motor Vehicles department.
At right, Princhinello and Moseley driving some of their cool car finds.
Surfboard Designer/Builder
Ryan Harris, Co-Owner, Eco Boardworks
Ryan Harris spends his days at the beach building the world's first ecologically friendly surfboards. Of course, he also tests the products.
"I get dirty like a 5-year-old every single day, covered in dust, covered in resin and then get to clean up and go home and then do it all over again. I love it. Wouldn't trade it for the world." Harris said.
Harris and his partners opened their shop in May 2011, and business is already booming with a typical shortboard going for $600, significantly more expensive than a normal shortboard made without eco-friendly material.
Harris handcrafts all the boards in his Hawthorne, Calif., production studio. The process usually begins with Harris and his partners or a client coming up with a design idea. After that, Harris crafts the basic board, adds natural resin and then bamboo in order to make the board more flexible, then he vacuum-bags it. Finally, it goes into the "hot box" and by 6 a.m. the next morning it's ready for the fins to be added.
Rock Climber
Steph Davis
Photo: Damon Johnston
Steph Davis's day job will likely make you feel like a wimp. The 38-year-old Moab, Utah, resident on a typical day will climb up a sheer rock face hundreds of feet high — without ropes — then casually jump from the top, coasting back down to earth using a small parachute. She also jumps out of planes. And she does this.
Davis was the first woman to free climb the Salathe Wall on El Capitan in Yosemite and to summit Torre Egger in Patagonia. For Davis, rock climbing started as a hobby in college. Making it a job stemmed from her figuring out what she really loved rather than "getting bogged down in what job" she should be doing and how much money she should be making.
"It's about pursuing passion, living simply," Davis said. For her, climbing — and jumping and flying — helps her examine the larger questions in life and deal with fear, not by just trying to overcome it but by being aware of it and working "alongside it rather than being controlled by it."
About 80 percent of Davis's income comes from sponsorships. She's established relationships over the last 20 years of climbing with well-known outdoor brands like prAna, Clif Bar, Mammut and She's also a scholar with a master's degree in literature and is presently working on her second book, "Learning to Fly," slated for publication sometime next year by Touchstone/Simon & Schuster.

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