Like many successful businesspeople, Guy O’Sullivan tried many career paths. Originally from Britain, he worked at the BBC before coming to Canada in 2000. He was also a producer/director with the CBC before starting his own production company, Proper Television (their shows include Canada’s Worst Handyman on Discovery Channel, and Newlywed Nearly Dead on Slice).
“I love my current job. No one can fire me now,” he says with a chuckle. “I can go bankrupt but no one can technically fire me.”
O’Sullivan is the co-creator (along with Jessica Wright and Eliza Clarke) and executive producer of the upcoming CBC reality TV series I Suck At My Job, which aims to help employees who feel they may be floundering at work.
“Everyone wants to take pride in their work,” he says. “And sometimes things just don’t gel. It’s more fixable than you think, but when you’re in the midst of it it can be quite overwhelming.”
O’Sullivan admits he was the world’s worst waiter.
“It was a fine dining joint in New York City, and they showed me the door after about two weeks,” he says.
Painting and decorating wasn’t his calling either.
“I think I lasted a day.”
He’s quick to point out that despite its title, I Suck At My Job is not inviting viewers to laugh at someone else’s misery. “It’s a grabby title, and that’s quite deliberate, because we want people to watch our show,” he says. “But it’s not, ‘Let’s laugh at the monkey.’ We’re not in the business of making mean-spirited television. We’re aiming to help people out when they are at a difficult point in their careers and put ‘em back on track.”
Participants are assigned a mentor, “a high flyer in a given field,” O’Sullivan says, who examines what they’ve done wrong, and advises how it can be fixed.
So far volunteers have included a waitress, a receptionist, a bartender, a construction worker, a retail manager, and a baker.
“As someone who has sucked at many jobs, I think it’s a really good opportunity to help others,” O’Sullivan says. “I know what that feels like, and it’s not nice.”