Above All, Do What You Love

A few weeks ago, I announced that I was leaving AMC. That was a hard decision and not one that I came to lightly. But I felt good about it because I was leaving on my own terms to do something that I loved and start/continue a photography business with my wife at Shane & Alli Photography.

There’s a tiny wrinkle.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always kept a very short list in my head of the companies that I really dreamed about working for; you know, the ones that you think the world of, the ones that you truly advocate for and that you envision working at for your career. My list is very short and anyone who knows me well knows that there is probably one company above all the others on my list:


Steve Ells’ Denver-based company is one that I’ve thought extremely fondly of for many years. When I first set foot in the Corporate Woods location off of College Boulevard in Overland Park, I could tell it was a special place. Ever since then, my love for the company has only grown, both as a fan and professionally.

When I joined AMC in 2010, I managed to connect with some of the members of Chipotle’s social team. (OK, I may have stalked them sought them out.) At my first SXSW conference, I got to meet two guys in particular who have become close friends over the past few years — Joe and Rusty. If you have ever tweeted at @ChipotleTweets, I’m sure those names sound familiar.

We’ve stayed in touch over the past several years and we actually got to spend some time together when they were in town for the Chipotle Cultivate Festival here in Kansas City. In fact, I even moderated a panel with them, joined by Myra and Candice, for the Social Media Club of Kansas City. It was a pretty great moment for me. These were people that I have been able to develop friendships with over the years through social and I got to sit with them as they shared their expertise with a room full of social media and marketing professionals.

As I heard them talk, I got more and more inspired by the work that they do and the company that they work for. Chipotle’s approach to not only their food, but their people, is something that I was blown away by. The fact that they put on three free Cultivate Festivals every single year in order to better educate their customers about why they do things — that was a pretty neat realization.

Another thing I found out was that their team had an open position.

A position that I will start in September as a Community Engagement Strategist for Chipotle Mexican Grill.


In order to cut off a few questions at the pass, I have created this handy-dandy little FAQ section:

So what are you going to be doing?
My main job will be responding day-to-day to loyal Chipotle customers (just like me) on Chipotle’s various social channels, mostly Facebook and Twitter. I’ll get to interact with Chipotle fans and people who have good and bad experiences (though those are pretty rare, I assume), and be one of the voices of customer care for the company. I had gotten pretty far away from this at AMC and I’m really excited to get in the trenches again.

But Chipotle is in Denver! Are you moving?
I am not moving. It’s true that Chipotle is based in Denver, but I will be working from the comfy IKEA chair in my office. One of the great things about the digital age is that I can do that and still feel connected to the team. Sure I’ll have to travel to Denver (where my boss, the aforementioned Joe, is based) and NYC (where the digital director is based), but the majority of my work will be done behind one of those fancy computer thingies.

Can I have a free burrito?
I haven’t even started yet and you already have your hand out? Jeez.

And the most important question:

So what does this mean for Shane & Alli Photography?

The answer is: very little changes. One of the great benefits that I listed above is that I’ll be working out of the home. That will still allow me enough flexibility to continue to grow our photography business. We plan to still open an in-home studio and we plan to continue taking photography jobs fast and furiously. (Seriously, if you’re looking for a photographer, give us a shout.)

Photography will always be our love. I love working with my wife and best friend. I love capturing the special moments of life for our clients, our families and our friends. Those images are special and important and I love that work.

This tiny wrinkle allows us a bit more breathing room to continue to grow our business in a more measured way. And it also gives me the opportunity to work for a company I love, doing something that I’m good at, working alongside people that I really like a lot. I wouldn’t be able to do this if not for the amazing support I get from Alli and our families. Our business is going to continue to grow and this gives us a bit of leeway to do a little bit more with it than before.

I’ve always thought of myself as a bit of a renaissance man. I’m interested in a myriad of things. And I never said that anyone should limit themselves to just one passion in their life. I love a lot of things and some more than others. Obviously, I love my wife above all. I love our dogs, Buzz and Woody. I love photography and capturing the moments that life brings alongside my best friend and partner. I love music and movies and food and especially burritos. In this new world, I get to spend time on all the things I love.

After all, isn’t that how we should spend our lives?

Eating Chipotle is Good for You

Chipotle Bag

Since January 1, Alli and I have been on the Weight Watchers online plan. I could lie and say that I wasn’t inspired by Jennifer Hudson’s crazy weight loss, but I won’t.

I’m not a skinny person by any means and I love food, especially burritos from Chipotle.

Fortunately, thanks to the beauty of online nutritional information, I have the ability to calculate exactly how many points I consume each time I eat at my favorite restaurant. As a rather large person, I have quite a few points that I am allowed to consume, so my regular diet of Chipotle 3 times a week isn’t too much of a problem.

Think I’m lying? Here’s proof: Since I started Weight Watchers in January, I’ve eaten at Chipotle no less than 2.5 times per week. This is the 16th week of the year. That’s about 40 times, a conservative estimate. In that same span, I’ve lost over 25 pounds.

Here’s what I typically get:

  • Burrito bowl
  • Rice (5 points)
  • Chicken (7 points)
  • Mild Salsa (0 points)
  • Medium (Green) Salsa (0 points)
  • Cheese (6 points)
  • Guacamole (4 points)

That’s 22 points for my entire, rather large and quite filling meal. If I was doing any other diet, I’d probably have to cut back on the Chipotle considerably, but since I know how many points I have to allocate, I can reserve the proper amount for days that I know I want to have Chipotle (which is, let’s face it, just about every day).

Then, there’s the added bonus of eating at a place like Chipotle who goes about their approach to food in the right way. Their Food With Integrity program is one of the differentiators of what makes them a great company and one of the reasons that I have no problem frequenting them as much as I do. From their website:

Food With Integrity is our commitment to finding the very best ingredients raised with respect for the animals, the environment and the farmers.

This system may not work for everyone, but it works really well for me an Alli. We have the ability to eat what we want and still lose weight. Plus, we support a pretty great company. Sounds like a win-win-win situation to me.

He Loves Chipotle Too

Dreyfuss eats Chipotle

Alli started this habit of giving Dreyfuss the remnants of her burrito bol on the nights that we got Chipotle for dinner. We are regretting it now because anytime he sees that brown bag he starts freaking out and whining constantly until he gets the scraps.

All along, we’ve thought there was some sort of addictive chemical in Chipotle that makes us love it as much as we do. Turns out we were right.

Saturday is Burrito Day!

Chipotle Burrito Saturday in Kansas City

If you can’t read the image, it basically says that if you buy a burrito, tacos, salad or bowl at a Chipotle in Kansas City, Chipotle (the King of Burritos) will donate the proceeds up to $10,000 to Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics.

So there’s a good reason to have a burrito this Saturday…

Do it for the kids.