Embracing fear is what enables us to find success in life, Daniel Seddiqui told an audience of about 100 people Wednesday night at the Kansas Union.
And, after getting held at gunpoint in Detroit, wrestling a steer in South Dakota and journeying four miles into the earth in a West Virginian coal mine, Seddiqui knows a thing or two about fear.
During his hour-long presentation, the California native shared stories from his 50-week journey across America in which he worked a different job in every state. He called the project “Living the Map” and published a book about his travels, “50 Jobs in 50 States: One Man’s Journey of Discovery Across America” in 2011.
“I really put my life in jeopardy to make these discoveries, and ultimately fulfill my goals of this journey,” Seddiqui said.
After graduating with an economics degree from the University of Southern California in 2005, Seddiqui spent three years trying to find a job, with little success. He said he failed more than 40 interviews during that time, an effort that later earned him the title of “Most Rejected Person in the World” from USA Today.
“When I graduated from college, I thought I was just going to get this nice, entry-level job that school promised me,” Seddiqui said. “And life threw me a curveball, then curveball after curveball. I had to resourcefully find ways to get to another path.”
So, in August 2008, Seddiqui packed up his Jeep, took out a $5,000 line of credit and headed east from California. Using a combination of Google searches and cold calling, Seddiqui secured a job in every state, relying on local families for lodging.
Along the way, he helped deliver a foal at a horse farm in Kentucky, confiscated 40 pounds of marijuana as a border patrol agent in Arizona and even worked as a meatpacker in Topeka.
Seddiqui’s adventures, while often exciting, were marked with a number of challenges. At one point in his speech, he admitted that he went into each job not knowing if he would be compensated for his work. To survive, he relied on five essential skills— adaptability, networking, endurance, risk-taking and perseverance.
“Life is what you want to make it. It’s really up to you,” Seddique said. “I learned that by being a long distance runner. I remember being on that starting line, and I had all this advice from coaches and strategies and the support system from my family and my friends and my teammates, but when that gun went off, I realized that they can’t run with me, they can’t run for me. It was really up to me.”
Fifty weeks and 28,336 miles later, Seddique returned to California with 48 out of 50 potential paychecks, and even a few full-time job offers. Now married and living in Denver, Seddiqui is still traveling across the country, this time as a speaker.
Inspired by his own experience, he is developing a semester program for college students to explore their career interests and the many different cultures of America.
“Embrace fear of failure and rejection,” he told his audience. “Then, you can make great discoveries.”