Category: having fun

The Creative Journey… What About the Money?

“Art suffers the moment other people start paying for it. The more you need the money, the more people will tell you what to do. The less control you will have. The more bullshit you will have to swallow. The less joy it will bring. Know this and plan accordingly.” Hugh MacLeod

This post is dedicated to my daughter, Jenna aka Jenna Marbles, the YouTuber. (If you know a girl between the ages of 13 and 20, they probably know her.)  Here’s a  NY Times article about her.

Jenna has always been a free spirit who found a way to cope with ‘regular’ life. She made some videos in high school, but she wasn’t a ‘theater kid’ and never had aspirations of ‘fame’ that I know of. So when her video, “How to Trick People Into Thinking You’re Good Looking” (warning language) got 5 million views in its first week, you could say she ‘stumbled’ into making videos for a living.

The fact that she single handedly writes, films, stars in, edits and uploads a new video every week (and has for 4+ year) is amazing. SHE HAS NEVER MISSED A WEEK — that’s 215 video in 215 weeks! 1.5 Billion views. Many people think what she does is easy. Try producing original content every week for 215 weeks. But there’s a story beyond that, that’s even more impressive (besides how much she cares about the people who support her.)

She understands who she is and what she wants. In the quote above, MacLeod talks about how money influences art. Jenna wants creative control and isn’t willing to let the bullshit run her life.

I am immensely proud of her for that.

Are You Learning as Fast as the World is Changing?

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Do you think the world is changing too fast?

Yeah, so do a lot of people. But the question is, are you learning as fast at the world is changing? In order to cope with the world, we need to figure out how to keep up.

There are a lot of interpretations of ‘how to keep up’. I don’t have a prescription. I only know my own way.

In an article titled, “The Best Leaders are Insatiable Learners,” the Harvard Business Review author points out that according to John Gardner most of us are simply bored silly.

Can you relate? When I worked at my ‘corporate’ jobs, I have to admit, I was; at least part of the time, bored. For me, working with start ups, having my own company and being a freelancer has set me free.  If I am bored, it’s my own doing; not because of my work.

Some of the jobs where I made the most money, I’ve also been so bored I could scream like the boy in the picture.

The antidote to ‘boredom’ is learning. An insatiable desire and earnest effort to be exposed to the unfamiliar. Whether it be thoughts, ideas, foods, people, places, notions, experiences, etc.. The goal is to figure out a way to get that ‘exposure’ in a way that fits with our stage in life. If I’m young, this might be easy. If I’m 80, this might be more difficult. But the goal is the same.

My way is to: read, read, read; hang around people who are excited by their work and life; LISTEN to those people; try to do things I don’t know how to do – just for practice. A conscious effort to learn new things is, I think, keeping me young.

Find your way and instead of complaining about how fast the world is changing, you can enjoy, adapt and contribute to the change.

Photo credit: Scream and shout   madanys

Where Are You Today: In the Future or the Past?

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My hope is that each of us takes a minute every day to breathe in and out a few times. Today is all we have.

I Hate Being A GrownUp

One of the good things about about being a grown up is that you get to choose when you act/think like a kid. The problem is that many of us never choose that path, even for a few minutes. Once we’re grown up, we think it’s wrong to be silly or color outside the lines. This is a shame.

The older we get the more invested we are in ‘the same'; what Seth Godin calls lizard brain. Our prehistoric need to stay in the cave, “to back off, be careful, go slow, compromise.”

The idea is to live our lives according to what we (and our loved ones) need at the time.  This doesn’t mean I have to work at this job or this career forever. Just right now.

People forget this. They also forget that they can change their minds. I am not recommending arbitrarily job hopping. But trying several different paths to build skills and ‘try things on’ is a legitimate path – AT ANY AGE.

The problem is the judgement of other people, specifically our fear of it. When I requested and got approval (in 1984) to manage my team while working part time, many of my colleagues were upset. Here’s what they said; “why does she get to?” “she can’t be serious about your career” and my favorite “I wish I could do that.” Blah, blah, blah. I showed them how to do it, they were too afraid. That’s cool. You do it your way and I’ll do it mine.

But if you think you can go your own way and not face judgement from others, stop. it. right. now. Accept the fact that for whatever human reason, the pack doesn’t like lone wolves. If you choose a path that isn’t like everyone else’s, people are going to be upset and many will let you know.

Insofar as you can (and still pay your bills) stop thinking/worrying about what everyone else wants/thinks. You will NEVER please everyone so you might as well please yourself.  For me, this was a tough lesson, but once I learned it… I was free forever.

It’s hell in the hallway but the difficulty doesn’t last forever. But when you’re in the hallway… it sure feels like it will.

Want a laugh? check out my daughter Jenna’s take on ‘grownuphood” (alert: fbombs & other foul language included)

Photo credit: Why Do We Work?

 

Moments

“Exhaust the little moment. Soon it dies … and it will not come again…” Gwendolyn Brooks

It’s been a long, cold winter and yes, it’s only February. But since I got my dog, I am outside several times a day, no matter what the weather. This. is. good. It helps  me to be acutely aware of the birds, the squirrels, the ice, the temperature, everything.

For today, I encourage you to exhaust each little moment. Pay extra attention to the person talking to you. Taste that food. Smile more. Laugh more. I record America’s Funniest Home videos and watch it when I feel blue. It snaps me out of whatever negativity I might be feeling.

It’s easier to stay home than voyage, isn’t it? Will you share your secret for exhausting the little moment?

If you don’t know Gwendolyn Brooks, check her out. 

Do You Have B. S. S. ?

My dear, here, we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that,” Alice In Wonderland

BSS = Big Shot Syndrome – Have you got it? Before you say NOooo … Ponder these questions… there are no right or wrong answers.

  1. At work, do you think more about the money you  make or what you’re learning? (You have to pick one, you can’t say both)
  2. How often do you do volunteer work?
  3. Do you regularly work more than 50 hours a week at your job?
  4. Do you have a creative hobby that you actively pursue (have fun with every week)?
  5. How much money is enough? In other words, if you had x dollars, would you stop working and relax?
  6. Do you think about your legacy? (Not the money you might leave but what will you be remembered for?)
  7. Do you shop for recreation?
  8. Do you believe that the car you drive is symbol of your status in society? (Does driving your car make you proud?)

Ok, enough with the questions. The idea is for you to figure out what you are doing with your life. We all have obligations and of course we want to be good providers, but do we sacrifice our well-being, our relationships and our health in order to be a big shot?

These are questions only you can answer. If you think you’d like to be more aware of your choices, be more conscious of how you spend your precious time — then you might start with this article, “How Much Money is Enough?” If you want something meatier… you might try Rochester’s own, Pam Klainer’s book, “How Much is Enough,” where she helps each of us explore the power of our own ‘money story’ and how to use the story to help us craft the life/legacy we truly want.

Photo Credit: Diamond Age  jurvetson

Job Interview Question: Why Are Tennis Balls Fuzzy?

I recently gave a talk in front of a group of senior executives (older folk) who are ‘in the hallway’ (looking for work). I was talking about the collaborative economy and I made a reference to Porter’s 5 forces model. Now, you may never have heard of this, no big deal. But for a group of people over 50 who made over $100,000 in their last corporate job; it surprised the heck out me that only one them had heard of it but couldn’t accurately describe it.

Let’s be clear, on any given day… there are 1,000’s of things I don’t know and this has nothing to do with Porter’s paradigm specifically. My comment to them was, “good thing this isn’t a job interview.”

I work as a consultant so I go on a ‘job interview’ several times a month. As I’m networking, I never know who is going to be a connection to a gig.

Fuzzy Tennis Balls? This article, “13 Weirdest Interview Questions – 2014” offers us some of the oddest questions people were asked (submitted via Glassdoor). If you got this question in an interview, how would you answer? Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, thank goodness I’m not looking for a job or I’m going to pray that I don’t get a question like that. That’s one approach.

How about this? What if you use these odd questions as a chance to stretch your mind? Just for exercise. Talk to someone about it over lunch. Ask your kids what they think. Have fun for crying out loud.

For those of you who are looking for work, old or young, remember the goal of these questions is for the interviewer to see how you think, how quick you are on your feet, what happens to you when faced with a (small) challenge. Do you stumble and stutter or do you let your creative juices flow? Creativity requires practice so I suggest you play games, answer silly questions, get out those crayons; maybe you’ll get that job after all.

Photo credit: Tennis Kevinzim

10 Blogs I Love…Learning and Laughing

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One big difference between adults and kids is their attitude towards learning. Kids just go with the flow. They seek out new ideas and adventures. As adults, most of us are pretty complacent. This is normal, but not good. One way to keep learning while keeping up with all our daily responsibilities is to read blogs. People tell me they don’t have time… to read, think, learn, etc. Really? Do you have time to be a role model for your children? Here are the ones I like…

1) Mashable.com bite sized news of the digital world & relevant biz stuff.

2) Occam’s Razor web stuff including analytics, measures, etc. clear, lucid and insightful

3) Escape Into Life  awesome art of all kinds

4) In Over Your Head  Julien Smith’s occasional writing on hitting life — head on

5) Laughing Squid various music, stuff and nonsense

6) Soulpancake.com art, science, humor, philosophy designed to open your mind

7) The Atlantic Monthly blog short and long thought -provoking articles, photos

8) The Inspiration Room “a global effort designed to influence, affect and involve creative communities in the development of a world standard for inspiration”

9) The Cynical Girl “Hard core punk rock pixie of the apocalypse. Blogging about work, money, power and politics. And cats.”

10) Outside Innovation Patty Seybold’s blog on enabling customers to lead the design of your business processes, products, services, and business models.

Photo credit:  Hand Over Mouth Mel B.

What Is The Stupidest Thing That Could Possibly Work?

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There’s that line from the movie Forest Gump… “stupid is as stupid does” … well, there’s stupid and then there’s bravely awesome. Clay Shirky, one of my favorite authors, says…

“My motto for 2013, adapted from Agile Programming precepts = What Is The Stupidest Thing That Could Possibly Work?”

One of the reasons we keep doing the same thing over and over and don’t innovate… is that we surround ourselves with people just like ourselves. It’s human nature. And if someone sounds different or has goofy ideas or looks different; we forget to value the difference. We discount them based on whatever. The goal of diversity is to OPEN up the pool of ideas and thoughts. Recent research shows that large corporations that have women board members are more profitable than those that don’t. This only tells part of the story.

Real innovation must come from change and change takes courage. We’d all still be hitting each other with clubs if there weren’t some of us willing to create tools to go get food.

The more we think about things and try to ‘figure it all out,” the less likely we are to take the risk. The most successful parts of my life.. traveling, new jobs, speaking in front of large groups, etc. all came to me because I didn’t think about what might happen. I just did it.

We don’t have to engage in foolish risks without considering how to mitigate them, but letting “risks stop us from doing new things” is the safe road and on the ‘safe road’ only the guy with the biggest club will survive and I’m not having that.

Photo credit: Projectile Placement skycaptaintwo

Life’s Like a Ten-Speed Bike…

“Life is like a ten-speed bike… most of us have gears we’ve never tried.” Charles Schulz (creator of Charlie Brown comics)

I’ve led a rather colorful life. I had the advantage of growing up in a difficult family environment. Why do I consider that an advantage? Because I can empathize with people — in fact almost everyone. Pushing myself is part of my DNA and my life circumstances.

So what’s that go to do with the 10 speed bike? Well, because I know what it’s like to be hungry and scared… I’ve probably used a few more of my gears than others. Would I wish difficulty on anyone – no. But I can tell you that it made me the person I am and I am happy that I have challenged myself in almost every aspect of life.

So how do we figure out which gears we’ve used and which gears we ought to try?  It’s a matter of understanding where we’re comfortable. Trying a new gear has to do with making a conscious choice to do things differently.

Here are my energy gears:

  1. asleep
  2. before I’ve had my tea BUT I wake up everyday in a great mood. (it’s truly annoying to those around me)
  3. reading, skimming, thinking, meditating
  4. making art in my little studio or creative writing
  5. at work, talking to folks, making sure I’m present in my day
  6. starting something new or pushing through an existing project
  7. talking in front of a small group – less than 50 people
  8. talking to a big group > 50 people – energy needs to be really high
  9. going into a room full of strangers and talking to people (takes everything I’ve got)
  10. Not sure what this is..

This is only one measure of the gears that relate to the amount and kind of energy I need to summon. What are your gears and what pushes you use new ones?

Photo credit: Snowed In Chris Metcalf