This makes sense to me.
“The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.”
– Neil Gaiman, graphic novelist
The inimitable George Saunders delivering words of wisdom and provocation at Syracuse’s 2013 commencement:
“What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.
Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded…sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.
Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope: Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth?
Those who were kindest to you, I bet.
It’s a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I’d say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder.”
Man. For some reason that gives me goose bumps.
Read the whole thing and feel something new — perhaps.
Do we really know the best way forward? Are their innate — subconscious — forces deciding for us? Most definitely. The key is to be aware of them so you can jump the hell over or through them.
Here’s Paul Coelho putting it succinctly.
This is so poetic and brings you right into a unique reverie—if you’re a Nirvana fan (from In Praise of Not Knowing over at NYTimes.com):
Kurt Cobain once said in an interview that long before he’d heard any actual punk rock music, he studied magazine photos of punk musicians and imagined what the music sounded like.
Ok, so there are a lot of things about Steve that are great, but here are a few quotes that really resonate with me (all from the WSJ):
“We weren’t going to go out and do market research.”
It’s just liberating to know that you don’t have to focus group everything–or even listen to your audience! Sometimes you just know what to do–your instinct just hollers at you loud and clear. At that point you’d just better do what it says. I often think that it’s our instincts that really make us who we are–our judgement–and we have to hold on to that like gold.
“A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”
Amen, brother. Diversity of experience is the key to creative problem solving. Creativity or bust! It’s so refreshing to meet people who have had a wide variety of jobs.
“It’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the navy.”
No explanation necessary.
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”
This is probably my most favorite. Actually, there’s an ending here that’s not part of the quote. This is from a Standford commencement speech by the way. He ends by referencing the last issue of the Whole Earth catalog. On the back cover it said: “Stay hungry, Stay foolish.” Words to live by.
If this excerpt rankles you then read the whole darn thing.
We prefer knowing to thinking because knowing has more immediate value. It keeps us in the loop, keeps us connected to our friends and our cohort. Ideas are too airy, too impractical, too much work for too little reward. Few talk ideas. Everyone talks information, usually personal information. Where are you going? What are you doing? Whom are you seeing? These are today’s big questions.
It’s from Neal Gabler, senior fellow at the Annenberg Norman Lear Center at the University of Southern California.
Loves all these comments!
I’m on record for thinking it’s an easy hop from being an artist to being a good marketer. And this Charles Bukowski quote reminds me ever more.
An intellectual is a man who says a simple thing in a difficult way; an artist is a man who says a difficult thing in a simple way.
Marketing is about robust communication on the head of a pin. It’s about the ability to distill–to take the complexity out of a thing without taking out the thing that makes the thing a thing. Wait, I just turned into Bukowski’s intellectual!
If everything is a metaphor then look no further than your kitchen for some good ones.
I was slicing some veggies the other night and noticed my slice was off. My cuts weren’t smooth. Pieces ended up being different sizes–I had no mojo. So I took a break and tuned my knife up with a few pulls through the sharpener. Nice. Now my job was easier. My work was higher quality. My job satisfaction got a bump too. I turned from amateur to a chef with mad skillz.
So here’s the metaphor: your kitchen is your life.
Do you keep your tools sharp so your work is rad–and not a struggle? In other words, to get to the ‘Pièce de résistance’ and not the ‘piece of s$%t’ you’ve got to get past the basics–and stay past the basics.
Folks, if you want to create works of beauty keep your tools in tip top shape–otherwise, you’ll end up cutting your finger tip off.
Michael Jordan never went out on the court without tying his shoes really well (I’d bet pro athletes are obsessive over that stuff)…
Here’s some naked lunch I woke up to this morning: Microsoft Word is dead.
I’m just done with it. Cold Turkey.
Here’s why: it’s a tool for printing stuff.
I’ve been using Word since I was in, like, middle school–and it was always in preparation for printing.
It sounds like an epiphany–but it’s really been a long train coming.
I think the first thing that happened was that I checked out Google Docs–which doesn’t have a lot of fancy formatting tools. But it made me think: what formatting tools do I really need?
The next thing that happened is that I switched my Word ‘View’ from ‘Print layout’ to ‘Web layout’–which allowed my content to fill my entire screen. Really, why would you want to reproduce the constraints of paper on a screen? This was the ‘ahah’ moment.
Here’s the nugget of truth I’ve been working on: we need tools to enhance our thinking–not to structure the output of our thoughts; otherwise, the tail starts wagging the dog. The focus should be on synergy, interrelatedness and sharing. The goal is enhancing thoughts (like shoes enhance walking!).
I want a tool that lets me cut, paste, share, email, tweet, blog, label, hide/unhide, connect, disconnect, save–whatever.
The last thing I need to worry about is getting my indent perfectly at 1 1/4 inches (who hasn’t lost a day in their life trying to get Word to obey!).
Let’s agree to move away from tools that constrain (not even a tool then, right?) to tools that liberate and accelerate.
Right now I’m using Evernote–not perfect, but totally digging the shackle free experience. No tabs. Just content.
My college buddy has been asking me advice about guitars for his kid: what brand? why type (acoustic or electric)? lessons/no lessons?
Made me think a bit about my own experience learning to play (like 20 years ago!).
I started learning through my local music shop–my first teacher was kind of dorky and wanted me to read music. That lasted one week. I literally wanted to jam–to express myself! So I moved over to some wild-haired high school student who taught me how to play three-chord punk anthems like ‘I’m a Customer’ by the Replacements. It all clicked at that point.
Enough reverie–here’s my insight: my first lesson should have been in the visceral art of drumming–for if you have no rhythm (if you can’t literally feel a beat) then you’re wasting your time with music. Banging on something is pretty much music’s original seed–it all grows from there… If I can extrapolate a bit more: self-expression is a pre-requisite to learning an instrument too. Once you let go and feel the music–even if it’s two chords–the rest is easy (and meaningful).
You know, this line of thinking goes for marketing too: shouldn’t marketers have been something else first? Like a journalist, artist, photographer, orator, singer, author, ceramist, leather worker, cowhand, carpenter? Marketing is applied creativity for commercial purposes. Any marketer should have a resume of creative endeavors–not marketing!
Chew on that!
Thank you Mr. Vonnegut for a great quote:
I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can’t see from the center.
This blog title is no joke.
It’s fundamentally philosophical.
It’s an edict.
It’s an aphorism in disguise.
It’s actually something I witnessed.
Here’s some context: This quote came from mouth of a mentor of sorts—an older guy who has achieved a cool success but without any battle scars. He usually doesn’t wear socks. California is his sales territory. It’s adding up, right?
So at a holiday party a year or two ago, we were sitting together when the waitress came over to ask us what we wanted for dessert. We had two choices from the menu. I answered the waitress dutifully: “Chocolate mousse.” Then he answered. Or, actually, he asked: “Do you have chocolate ice cream?” That’s when I looked at my menu thinking “How did I miss that?! I’d rather have chocolate ice cream too!”
Turns out, I didn’t miss it. It wasn’t on the menu.
After the waitress left, I jumped on him in a jokingly authoritative way “Hey, what gives you the right to ask for what you want?! You should adhere to the rules like the rest of us.”
After some back and forth banter—great entertainment for the rest of the table—the dust settled and our desserts arrived. Everyone at the table had what they ordered from the menu. My friend was eating what he wanted.
The take away is clear—and it’s a real energizer: in life, you don’t have to pick from the choices presented to you. Just ask yourself: “What do I really want?”
Life will never be the same.