When I think about Mike Guilbault, these words spring into my mind... energetic, empathetic, giving, and great! We meet a lot of self employed people out there, but few as genuine as Mike.

I first met Mike when he was “growing” his personal photography hobby into his own business, and it’s been a continuous charm ever since. Mike kick started in his photography career by understudying with Peter Northcott, and then decided to go on and build his own business.

What makes Mike a superb professional photographer is a number of things. He genuinely cares about people. He follows up with couples who are planning weddings, working with their affordability issues, coaching them as they make decisions about which engagement and wedding packages will serve them best.

Frequently these days we run into people who love what they do, and do what they love. Today, Mike Guilbault and PhotoGenics Photography is a compilation of a working life that has spanned retail sales (with Radio Shack), management, a budding interest in photography, the experience of working with Peter Northcott and Amora, shooting literally thousands of shining little faces in school after school for those important annual school pictures.

When Mike went out on his own, he invested heavily in the front end of his business, creating a portable storefront from his vehicle so he could make classy presentations for people right at their homes or businesses. It takes courage to spend that kind of resources when you have a young family, but Mike does believe in himself and his future. I see Mike everywhere, and he’s always giving, whether it’s the “glamour” shots he took at the recent Homeworks Small Business Show, or the celebration picture of the Tulloch Triplets on their quarter-century birthday.

Mike is the ultimate networker, which is likely the number one skill when you’re self employed. He uses the services of people he meets, connects them to other people. He gives genuinely without looking for something in return, and when we give unconditionally, it’s funny how goodness flows in a circular pattern. I love Mike’s pictures. He captures children, professionals, and intimate family moments easily. But more than that he’s living with his head and his heart and doing business the same way. Mike’s a winner at business, in my books.

On another note...

How many people do you know (including yourself perhaps) who are stringing together two or three jobs to make a full time income? So many of us are job jugglers, working permanent part time jobs, three days here, an evening somewhere else, and a couple of mornings in another venture. Working lives have changed so much in the last decade and it takes awhile to catch up when trends change.

The buzz word for those of us working this way is “contingent worker” and it’s anticipated that by next year, almost half of working Canadians will fit into this category. There’s a group of people in town who are coming together to look at things that job jugglers need. JJ’s are a new employment group and they don’t fit into the old categories. Often they don’t get vacation pay. Sometimes they don’t work enough hours to qualify for ei benefits. They juggle and squeeze and there’s not a lot of service out there for them.

This group, representing three levels of government, trainers, private business, and contingent workers themselves, is holding an information session on Tuesday night for job jugglers to find out about a series of workshops being designed for job jugglers. We need new skills when we work this way: how do we manage our money? how do we find more work? how do we make sure we know what our rights are? how do we learn more about what’s happening out there so we can create our own spot in it? how do we manage our schedules? where do we fit into a shifting economic trend? how do we market ourselves? is there anybody else out there juggling like I do? how do I find them?

If this is speaking to you, give yourself a real treat on Tuesday night (March 30)and show up at the Barrie Learning Centre at the north end of the Bayfield Mall. For an hour (7:30 to 8:30 pm) you’ll hear about eight workshops planned to help you move forward in this new economy.

The organizing group hopes to gather enough information to impact the companies whose services haven’t caught up to our working trends... insurance companies, medical services, employment services, there are all kinds of opportunities.

Spend an hour on yourself... show up and take the first step to finding out what’s out there for job jugglers like you!

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