What exactly is passion? And how can we align it to our everyday work?

In this series, we meet the everyday people who are living their lives to their greatest potential by aligning their passions to their work.

We meet people who have been able to turn their passions into their career or their career into their passions. They have been able to find value in something they love, and live giving their value to others.

Tony “Jack the Bear” Mantz is doing just that. He is the owner and founder of Jack the Bear’s Deluxe Mastering, a premium audio mastering facility that aims to help people master their music and inspire artists to develop their creative potential.

We spoke with Tony on proving people wrong, determination and how even homelessness should never hold you back.

Promote This: Thanks for speaking with us today Tony. Congratulations on being able to align what you love doing to your work. Do you think it is important to find passion in what you do each day?

Tony: It is something I completely believe in and think is important. I’ve been passionate about finding value in my work since having a clear recollection when I was 15 that I wouldn’t work for the man or work 9-5 and would do what I love. Of course, I had some time working for the man and doing bits and bobs but the end goal was that it would not be my destiny. That kind of work would just be stepping-stones for me.

Promote This: What was so important to you in pursuing that dream?

Tony: I’ve always had a passion for music but to be completely honest, I wanted to prove my Dad wrong. He never got to finish his university degree and had a pretty hard life and so tried living vicariously through me. He could never understand the concept of job satisfaction, which has always been incredibly important to me. He thought that music was a hobby and told me to get a law degree, earn a f***load of money and buy all the music you want. But I didn’t want to just sit and listen to music I wanted to create and be a part of the record-making process to which he thought was a dead end.

Promote This: How did you transition from working for others and then making your break and creating your own music business career?

Tony: I still don’t really know how. I basically spent my 20s going around studios and trying to learn what I could from people. It never really was a job. During the 1990s we had a recession and that was really tough. By the time I was 28 I was completely homeless with no job and not even a pot to piss in. But I hung onto my dream because I knew I could do it. Dad’s words in my ears were, ‘you’ll amount to nothing’ and that’s what helped to drive me. I just worked loads of different jobs, worked at Triple M and the Virgin mega store. I did some MC gigs and saved some money, got a deposit to save a computer then bought a flat. I was working during the day, DJing on the side, working in radio and then in the evenings I was working on the studio and all the money I earned went right back into the studio. I had two mouths to feed and it was really hard. I was probably averaging 5 hours of sleep a night, working on the weekends with no day off.

That part of the journey was ok though because I knew that while I was doing all of these jobs, the studio was slowly building. Eventually we moved out of the flat into a house with a bungalow where I put all my equipment and the business kept growing.

Over a period of time as the studio started getting more work the debt was lowering and I relied less on outside work. But that was a 21-year journey to go from absolutely nothing to the point where I didn’t have to do any other jobs and that realisation was pretty amazing. It was a surreal moment when I got there and even though you never really ‘make it’, I every much felt like I had. Now I’m a fully-fledged engineer.

Promote This: What motivated you along the way? You can’t always see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Tony: It was mainly my overwhelming passion for music, being my own person, having my own studio and my Dad saying that I would amount to nothing. This motivation for me started when I was a kid and I understood that job satisfaction is everything. It’s about turning it into a lifestyle. I was dead clear about this and although I didn’t always know how I was going to get there, I just knew it was what I wanted and it was very clear to me in my mind’s eye.

Even though there were times where I wanted to chuck it all in and it was too hard, there was this thing reminding me that the hard times were temporary and that I had already come so far. I knew that if I didn’t go for it, I would absolutely regret it.

Promote This: It sounds like you’re describing having passion. What is passion to you?

Tony: Passion is the excitement you have when you think about something. You know when you’re dating someone in the early days and you’re just so enamoured by them? When you think about them, the birds and singing and everything is awesome and it just transports you. The studio and working in music, that’s my special thing. I used to take photos of all the studios I went to and engineers who mentored me and that inspired me. It really ignited the passion.

Promote This: You now have a popular podcast, ‘Mastering Music, Mastering Life’. What is your intention behind that?

Tony: Mastering Music, Mastering Life is a podcast that is designed to generate authentic and honest conversations with people from the creative artistic community who share their stories with others who can be inspired by them.

When you put people on a pedestal and they talk authentically about their failings, their concerns and all the things they have gone through on the way, I think that people want to listen to that and they become inspired.

These genuine stories make our brain tick and give people something to consider. The stories might be able support groups or networking- sharing our experiences in the hope that it will spark something in others and set people on a different trajectory and take them from a place of doubt to confidence.

I like to think of it as being a domino. If I can be the first one to kick-start a chain reaction, I’ve done my job.

Promote This: What advice do you have for others wanting to align their passions to their everyday work?

Tony: You have to be clear about what you want. A lot of people are unclear or they ‘um’ and ‘ah’. The primary reason for this is everybody’s fear of ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘I’m not smart enough’.

People think they don’t have the right connections or money so straight away people are shooting themselves in the foot because they are constantly thinking about how they can’t do it. Yes, you might not have the money or connections now, but that’s ok.