50 Years of Shoveling Horse Shit

Question: What’s the best or worst career advice you’ve ever received?

Malachy McCourt: Ah.  I think when I was a kid I was advised, and this is poverty – depression thinking.  Somebody said there was a job in Limerick where I grew up, and at the time, cars were not as numerous as they are now.  There were more horses, and so they dumped their horseshit all over the place.  And there were a few people who got jobs in Limerick, a big barrel on wheels, and it was a barrel that went back and forth, and a shovel and a broom.  So, they went around shoveling the horseshit into this barrel.  So, you got that job when you were around 15, and then you got to retire at the age of 65, with a pension.  A small pension.  So that would be 50 years of shoveling horseshit.  And I was advised very seriously that I should get that job.  I didn’t.  And I thought that – not that’s either here on this earth shoveling horseshit, or else that’s my punishment in hell, shoveling horseshit.  And that’s the worst advice I ever got. 

And the best advice was, do whatever you want because that’s not what you are.  That’s what you do for the moment. 

Recorded on March 10, 2010

Malachy McCourt describes the worst career advice he’s ever received.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Want to age gracefully? A new study says live meaningfully

Thinking your life is worthwhile is correlated with a variety of positive outcomes.

Surprising Science
  • A new study finds that adults who feel their lives are meaningful have better health and life outcomes.
  • Adults who felt their lives were worthwhile tended to be more social and had healthier habits.
  • The findings could be used to help improve the health of older adults.
Keep reading Show less
Promotional photo of Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones
Surprising Science
  • It's commonly thought that the suppression of female sexuality is perpetuated by either men or women.
  • In a new study, researchers used economics games to observe how both genders treat sexually-available women.
  • The results suggests that both sexes punish female promiscuity, though for different reasons and different levels of intensity.
Keep reading Show less

This 1997 Jeff Bezos interview proves he saw the future coming

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, explains his plan for success.

Technology & Innovation
  • Jeff Bezos had a clear vision for Amazon.com from the start.
  • He was inspired by a statistic he learned while working at a hedge fund: In the '90s, web usage was growing at 2,300% a year.
  • Bezos explains why books, in particular, make for a perfect item to sell on the internet.
Keep reading Show less