For much of his life, Joseph Damian, the 359th person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, was looking for a career that met three criteria – he enjoyed it, he was good at it and he could earn a good living from it.

But Joe kept landing in jobs that ticked only two of the three boxes.

After studying psychology, he worked as a counsellor and social worker – he enjoyed those roles and was good at them, but the money at that time was insufficient for a father of three children. Later, he worked in senior operational roles in the clothing and transport industries – he was good at those roles and they paid better, but they weren’t satisfying. He also spent many years in honorary positions for Australian-Arab advocacy – enjoyable roles that he was good at, but were unpaid.

Joe’s life changed when a childhood trauma, which he’d never processed, resurfaced, triggering flashbacks and despair, causing a catharsis that was both life-threatening and life-saving. One of the things Joe realised was that he needed to pursue a career that really fulfilled him.

Joe has been creative all his life, writing songs and plays as a child; taking a year off university to pursue his dream of becoming a professional musician; delivering op-ed articles and TV interviews during his years in Australian-Arab advocacy; and publishing not one but two books. So Joe decided to take those skills he’d been honing for decades and become a professional writer.

Since 2018, Joe has run a copywriting agency that produces everything from grant applications and award submissions to ghostwritten speeches and website content. He loves the work, because he gets to help others while embracing his creativity. Joe is also good at his job and able to make a good living from it. So, after years of searching, he’s found a career that ticks all three boxes.

During an earlier phase of his career, Joe had a business card that displayed his corporate role on one side and was blank on the other. He liked to tell people that if they really wanted to know him, they should focus on filling in the blank space, because there’s so much more to a person than what they do for a living.

So let me tell you about Joe the person.

What I discovered is that Joe is a deep thinker who values human connection and participating in deep, heartfelt conversations. He’s also very open – processing his trauma was very liberating, he said, because it meant he no longer needed to keep secrets. Instead, he was finally free to be himself.