Category Archives: Other pieces

Picking Up the Pen…

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Why do I write? Why the resort to the pen? Expression, escapism, the need to feel productive, to merge the airiness of imagination with the earthiness of ink and paper, but my reasons have also changed with time. I was made acutely aware of this when reading my very first diary entry, dated December 1999 (let me defend myself in advance by stating that I was 14 ).I opened with the words “welcome people of the future”(I was also proudly nerdy)…I will not disclose the full contents of this first entry to save myself the embarrassment….but the overarching theme was an introduction of myself and my surroundings, documentation to be preserved for the future, something along the lines of a time capsule. The tone was an attempt to be impersonal, objective, a historian of sorts observing the flux of the world. “The world right now is in a stage of technological revolution” I wrote. I listed items “electrical fans”, “computers”, “wrist-watches”. I draw an elegant floral embellishment along the margins. Calm, cool and collected. I was trying to write to an audience, not self. However my efforts proved in vain… the first entry was an anomaly…my writing soon became infused with teenage politics, and rants, personal triumphs and dismay. Exclamation marks abounded. Underlined, capitalized words sprouted everywhere. Red ink came out, and pink, and silver. Words were blacked out with decisiveness, sometimes whole pages torn out in an attempt to discount the past and in a yearning to move forward unhindered. Plans were plotted, apologies to self were made, confessions were worded. Molehills became mountains, which shrunk into molehills again as perspective was gradually regained. There was absurdity and hilarity and silliness, the element of the ridiculous was dominant, but there was also something very redemptive in that brand of writing. An unburdening of thoughts. I also tended to gravitate towards writers with a fearless approach to the personal, Sylvia Plath, Osamu Dazai, Anne Sexton. I still keep a diary today but the tone is decidedly different, still personal, but not as zealous, perhaps a few steps closer to the objective historian but still ultimately subjective, as a diary is ultimately meant to be. Re-reading my old diary has made me aware of how the impulses to write, or draw, or creatively express in any other way, can be so varied. There are many reasons to pick up a pen, or a camera, or an instrument or a paintbrush, and they change by the days, and hours, and minutes. This is what can make art so unpredictable at times, but also so exciting and surprising. And yet there is also great comfort in the routine of it, in its rituals, I love stationary to this day because I enjoy the physical feel of writing as much as its less tangible rewards. So why do I pick up a pen? The reasons are many and complex I suppose, but I guess when I get old and grumpy it’ll give me something to do 😉

Discipline, Determination and other dreadful words that start with the letter D

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Art is exhausting.

Let me tell you – art is exhausting.

 

 

To be an artist you need to think and feel with intense emotion and dedication and then translate your heart and soul to the average non-artist who is too preoccupied with why your art doesn’t make sense – they think about the works instead of experiencing the works.

Do you know why, so many people fantasize but never actually become artists? Because it’s damn scary that’s why! We don’t idolize cocaine fueled rockstars,  famously suicidal painters or happily hedonistic hip hop artists because of their celebrity and scandalous lifestyles (at least not in the beginning); we idolize them because they have balls.  They get up there and they command, not demand respect.  They have presence, they have sexual charm, they have courage.

But without discipline and drive and determination (oh my!) artists can implode and ironically by being so open, so giving, so vulnerable – by being the very things they need to be in order to fulfill the sense of esteem and meaning in their lives – they lose themselves.

Artists need incredible discipline and self restraint balanced with freedom of self expression and experimentation.  This is no easy task.  To make things more interesting, many artists have supplementary jobs (what the non-artist would refer to as a “day job” although we artists do work, in the afternoon, mid morning, evenings and even wee morning hours as well).  Attempt to do all of this mentally and emotionally fulfilling/draining work and work a full time job at the same time – it can be an energy sucker.

Quil4 has done a lovely job of having a single post every month – I’m trying to get back on the 1 post every 2 weeks band wagon.  It’s not the frequency of the activity – it’s the persistence and doggedness of seeing something through.

I’ve been working on a 5 song – a  5 song EP for 2 years now – I’m almost done….so close! But the closer you get to completing it you start to wonder – what the hell am I doing?!  Why has this taken so long? What is the point again?  That’s when determination kicks in and the questions morph into: Why have I pushed through for so long? What compels me to continue forward? What is the next step?  Artists – we need to have that discipline, that determination, that drive:  whether a project takes two days, or twenty years as long as you complete it and do so with some intention – you will find success.  Now granted – there is of course the little business voice in the background also saying – so….2 years eh….at some point you’ll want to see a return on your investment and possibly start generating some revenue from your works specifically in the hopes of becoming independent of your supplementary job. Well – duh – of course silly.  Seeing a project through to completion also means being flexible – it’s taken me 2 years to get to where I am because I didn’t want to be sitting in a pool of debt to see my works come to life.  A rational decision – balanced by the experimentation and freedom of the works themselves.

Everyone is working hard these days regardless of what they do.  But if you think your artist friends are just dreaming madly into the night sky – hopefully you’ll think twice about that and possibly offer them a cupcake and some tea. Be kind to your artist friends! And Artists – be kind to yourselves! Remember – every little step helps -every blurry photo – every wrong note – every writer’s block – with every mistake, you learn –  with every mistake you are moving forward.

Quil4….My story so far…

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I majored in International Relations with a minor in English literature, as part of my BA studies, and recently graduated with an MA in International Affairs, focusing on human security and development. Residing in Vancouver, I’m currently contemplating law school and searching for gainful employment. Creative writing has always been a hobby(though my readership has been mostly limited to myself), and though somewhat technologically illiterate, I’m truly excited to learn more about the world of blogging.

I’ve always loved the idea of being a storyteller, with all its romantic implications. If art is defined, above all else, by what one feels, then what better way to live life than to live it feelingly. Throughout my academic years, creating and enjoying art, in whatever form, seemed to offer both escape and elevation. It wasn’t the focus of my studies at university, so I linked art with leisure and pleasure and indulgence, it was satisfyingly separate from my professional reality and academic exercises. It was dessert.

But that didn’t mean I didn’t need it. Tired with reading about wars and dead political theorists and evidenced-based studies on global health issues and harsh international realities to which I was becoming increasingly de-sensitized to (my major was international affairs), I craved the release of reading less objective, less empirically sound, less strictly worded material. I wanted to be moved. (I like this expression that denotes internal emotional mobility and dynamism, that can be both a quiet shift or dramatically seismic). I wanted to read words crafted to evoke an emotional response, and I resented having to avoid those words in my own papers (though I understand the necessity of staying away from a propagandist’s agenda in the realm of political science).  I resented referencing every sentence, citing my words, searching for peer-reviewed articles to substantiate my thoughts; my writing felt impersonal, I didn’t feel particularly articulate. I missed the malleability of creative writing, that freedom to sculpt out your own meaning with the scalpel of your choice. Writing with style and texture. Inhabiting a story. Hiding meanings between the lines. Floating around as the omniscient narrator, going on a power trip and getting into characters’ heads. The creative process is incredibly empowering, as Josh Groban would say: “It lifts (you) up, so (you) can stand on mounntainnns.” As the ‘creator’ you have an incredible amount of flexibility, can traverse vast landscapes, can bridge past, present, and future; in short, you can be something of a superhero.

So while immersed in academia, I also allocated time for some creative writing, and often felt like when I was writing I was at my best as a person. (I heard author Zadie Smith talk about this in an interview). At my most empathetic. At my most understanding. At my most forgiving. At my most good humoured. For me, (being quite slow at most things, like eating) rallying my thoughts together takes time, when I speak my words are less thoughtful than when I write. When you write you can trace your thoughts all the way to completion, you have room for eloquence. You can take a breath and avoid jumping the gun, you can backspace your assumptions and other errors of ignorance, you can best traverse the shades of gray that color human life, you can wade through people’s complexities, digest them, and eventually learn to love all parts of them.

So creative writing was never purposeless for me, yes there is a level of self-involvement that I draw from, but equally a sense of connection to others. There was thus much gratification be had by me from investing in my so-called ‘diversions’. Escape and elevation, and lets also add, expression. Expression of self in relation to others, self’s connection to self and others…(I honestly don’t know if that makes any sense..expression is often difficult and problematic and …so is self). So now that I have my degree in hand, I am faced with the challenge of reassigning the role of creative endeavours in my life. To pursue it as a career is daunting for numerous reasons, financial of course, but I also lack discipline with my writing. I write when I feel like, I don’t know if I can do it any other way. And if it’s not my dessert…what does it become then? Unenjoyable, health conscious (financial health) writing? That’s no good. Hence, this blog, that I am so happy to contribute to, keeping me in line with due dates but encouraging creativity for the fun of it.

Peas in a Pod us Artists and Entrepreneurs

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In my last few posts I’ve been obviously obsessed with combining the ideas of art and business.

Do art and business always go hand in hand? Of course not!  But there are times when they do.  Everyone should have the ability and a safe space to self-express and business has little to do with that.  (Self-expression is not exactly the same as being an artist or creating art – if you want to argue with this please feel free). Business is really an exchange of goods or services – forget the dollar sign if it makes you uncomfortable.  Think of business as a way to fulfill a need that you have (instead of a want which is what we do in consumerist culture). Cool?  Cool.

Artists and entrepreneurs share similar characteristics and our work has similar properties:

  • We both have great passion
  • We move from initial concept through stages of development to a final product or work
  • We are constantly looking to explore and learn
  • We have to deal with a lot of constructive (and not so constructive) criticism
  • Financing or Funding our dreams is a hefty aspect of our work
  • We find what we do very satisfying
  • We are willing to invest emotionally, physically and financially into our projects
  • If we fail (or deem something a failure) we will eventually get back up and try again or try something new
  • We are risk takers (even if the risks seem small)

If you are a CEO or a COO or a HR Manager or a Team Lead (essentially someone who is allowed to make final decisions) you should consider hiring more artistically inclined people to your teams.   Artists aren’t sensitive – we are critical and analytical. We synthesize great amounts of information and see patterns and themes in disparate ideas.  Business leaders always tell their teams to think outside of the box and then put them in a closed bare walled boardroom to brainstorm.    I have no idea why so many brainstorming sessions (even in creative industries) take place inside of board rooms – this is brainstorming not contract negotiation.  You would actually have to be a very skilled artist to make use of a blank space like a boardroom to create  brilliant ideas without external inspiration- and let’s be honest the vast majority of your staff are not creatively inclined.  Alternatively you could provide time or encouragement for your team members to express their creative sides or propose ideas which are tangent to your business.

Artists – we need to be more business saavy – the world of the record label, large gallery, movie studio or television network, essentially the idea of big media business currently is in pieces and in future will be replaced by the Apples’, Googles’ and Yahoos’ of the world. These companies are not made for artists – they are entrepreneurs – they use art, music, literature to further their businesses – but they are not in the business of art. Google is not really interested in meaning – they are interested in information – these are very very different ideas. And in practice Apple is not interested in creativity – they are interested in facilitating creativity.  Now of course, inherent in the Apple process are aspects of art and design – but they use these as tools for their software business (as discussed by Colin Gibbs in the post “As Always Mobile Music faces Uncertain Future” Jul 17 2010 on GigaOm.com).

The profitable and meaningful media future will require a hybrid  in the media industry.   A hybrid company that has the brains of a technology based corporation and the heart and soul of a community based artistic organization.    Any thoughts on building the foundations or staples of the a sustainable new media ecosystem or the real ticket – the business model to support that ecosystem?  If you have the monetization aspect down – I’d love to treat you out to coffee ;).

What’s a post about environmental capital have to do with Art?

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Finally here is the interview that I had with Manu Sharma from the Natural Capital Project!

Disclaimer:  I have known Manu for a very long time.  We’ve been friends since we were kids.  When we were little we always said that we wanted to do good in the world.  He recently moved from Toronto to Paolo Alto to work on this project with Stanford.  When I learned what the project was all about – I had questions.  This is not a random encounter – nor was I approached to do this interview by the project.  I was just sincerely intrigued.  I still have questions and will likely have a follow up post.

This interview in total lasts about 15mins. It’s been split into 3 pieces for easier consumption.  The 1st and 3rd part are audio only.  The 2nd part integrates the video desktop recording I’ve always been so curious about.     Also note that ‘B is for Blog’  is a work room so our contributors like to muck about with new ideas and new ways of presenting ideas.  Like, Social Return on Investment,  natural capital and trying to capture value in processes that have traditionally not been valued,  is a very tricky business.   It’s a project with huge scope, great hope and amazing minds working behind the scenes. (The first post we did was titled “The Natural Capital Project – What is that Forest Really Worth?”)

Part 1: The Basics (6.5 mins)

http://naturalcapitalproject.com

Part 2: The Model (6 mins)

Part 3: Why Manu is a part of this project (2 mins)

Now back to the question posed in the post….What does a post about environmental capital have to do with art?

Lots really  – if you think about it.

Something that’s always bothered me about many disciplines, (in particular, art,  science or engineering based disciplines) is the weird way we compartmentalize what we do and keep it far away from those whom we deem simply too inept to understand what we are all about.

That was so 1990.  Welcome to the new age and the world of the ‘interdisciplinary.’  These interviews with amazing people I’ve met are a way to stimulate discussion in and between the disciplines we, artists or otherwise, belong to.

The environment is what we all live within.  FStop10, our resident photog, has utilized the landscape around us, animals and their natural and not so natural habitats as inspiration and muses for her work.  Edward Burtynsky, one of the world’s most influential photographers, utilizes his perspective and use of the lens to bring  us into a part of our world that is so daily and yet so hidden. (You totally need to see this video that describes his collection titled ‘Oil.’)

The beauty of having an interview with an environmentalist or learning about a discipline outside of your own is that integration aspect – that integration aspect is what I think has been missing from problem solving and addressing the world’s most devastating issues. The world is three dimensional – there is no single discipline that will save us.

Artists are amazing critical and creative thinkers.  We can bring a completely different or complimentary point of view to any issue.  Moving from compartmentalized disciplines to interdisciplinary thinking is like moving from 2d to 3d in the films;  it helps to make the picture fuller and more detailed – it brings life to the perspective.

B is for Blog Updates and Randomness

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Hey all!

I usually blog and have something new every Monday but this week I have been tardy.  It’s unusually warm this summer in Toronto and I have to say the heat got the better of me at the beginning of the week.  I’ll be sure to keep hydrated and I’m sure it won’t happen again!

We have some new stuff coming along and wanted to keep you in the loop:

  • More awesome content from FStop10 (you guys really like her stuff and she’s hoping to post more often! yay!)
  • More new bloggers who will be posting once a month! (Quil4 – keep an eye out, and one more 90% confirmed blogger [I was just too excited])
  • Mon July 12th we will be uploading our interview with Manu Sharma from Stanford University regarding the Natural Capital Project (we finally got some time together and now I’m just editing down a 3hr long conversation into lovely bits of nutritious info!)
  • More technology + art based blogs from me…..I’m taking a bit of a break from my own art and doing a bit of research about all the new models for media, art, content distribution.  There’s just sooooooo much going on!

In the meantime here is one more addition to my last post about working with virtual teamsAction Method Online….I have the “offline” organizers but the new online project management system seems to be pretty rad so far.  I love the interface and the ease of use – and you can even ‘nag’ or ‘appreciate’ your team mates! Ha! I love it!

Action Method has been developed by Behance – an company that helps to keep creative people organized. I very much have enjoyed perusing their many sites however I have found that their creative network (where you can upload and share your portfolio of work) is geared especially towards creatives in the visual fields, such as graphic design, animation and photography.  They also have CREATIVE BASED JOBS listed! How exciting! Even artists need to work!  Artists and Entrepreneurs aren’t all that different you know…we both attempt to move our passion from concept  to reality, all the while attempting to find funding or financing for our endeavours.  I feel a new post coming on!

Stay hydrated this summer and try not to exhaust yourself! If you are working hard – take a break! Have a cupcake with a nice cup of light tea and find a buddy to chat with about your passions and dreams. (Lord knows I’d probably have gone mad by now if I didn’t have other artistically minded people to interact with!)

If you don’t have a buddy to chat about such things – you can chat with us!

Working with Virtual Teams – Everybody’s doing it. You want to do it right.

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This blog, you will notice,  is made up of many people from different places contributing their original works- that is nothing new – now.  But some 2 or 3 years ago when we first really started to venture into the virtual workspace we had little idea what any of us were doing.  Things have come a long way in a short time and many of us are becoming more comfortable with the idea of collaborating and even creating online in groups.  Here are some of my thoughts about leading and motivating these awesome virtual entities into healthy and organic places to create and work!

While volunteering at the Millennium Network I was able to experience the new way of working – virtually.  Once I was in the thick of a project working with a team virtually, I began to understand that I needed new tools and resources to adequately make this virtual workspace successful!


Failures (aka Learning Opportunities)

The first thing I noticed was that all of my years of leadership and management training – were failing me. The techniques relied heavily on face to face communications, including visual cues and vocal tone – there is so much that can be said just by the intonation of your voice.  Secondly, once you’ve electronically met all of your team, managing the varied individual schedules and meeting times was a difficult task; multiple timezones, multiple job types and task schedules -it was a real learning curve. Also the temptation to work or create at all hours of the day because you know someone somewhere is awake needs to be addressed: these tools are supposed to actually free up more personal time – that was how they were originally sold to us!  Just because you and your team can work 24hrs a day doesn’t mean you should be.  Stress, fatigue and members dropping out of the project can be the result! Finally, interpersonal relationships and team dynamics required individual attention, ie: we would have to allocate time with each individual member on a regular basis for one-on-one meetings to ensure tasks were being completed.  Also – I wanted to actually get to know who they were – they weren’t autobots on the other side of the screen (could you imagine? Bumble Bee on my team?!).  The level of accountability definitely changes working virtually – especially when you are volunteering your time (as everyone in this example had been).

Successes! (aka here are some thoughts and tools that might help you keep your sanity):

Virtual leadership for me meant that I had to be incredibly organized.  My beautiful articulate ornate and precise language was counter-productive via email, or Google Docs or even conference calls.  This is where my media writing background finally came in handy.  I had to be concise.  I had to be direct.  I needed to clearly understand the scope of the project and how each individual member (members of committees) fits in the final picture.  I was honest about time-lines and ensured that the team recognized how important those time-lines were to the greater project. I had to motivate them to contribute in ways that were an efficient use of  our time:

Google Docs – great, free, interactivity allows for each member of the team to easily view, contribute and share information in documents, spreadsheets and presentations; not every member has to have gmail to access the documents created by the team lead [though it sure helps!] and you can export documents as needed.

Personal Brain – I LOVE this software for brainstorming, strategy building and mind mapping. It’s free [although I’ve been using it for years and recently upgraded to the pro version].  It allows for a visual respresentation of your thoughts and allows for tangents like documents, webpages, contact information or notes to be added to each thought – so the links between the thoughts are realistic and I just love the way it works! You can print and export parts of your ‘brain’ however you should note that you will only have full functionality for a short while with the free version.  You will be able to retain, change and save all of your future mind mapping – you just won’t be able to export it after the demo time expires.

Basecamp is a pay service which is really professional choice -I have yet to  use this platform specifically but it’s the choice of many small businesses and large enterprises alike.

Applications: My ‘smartphone’ is particuarly inept and hates to function properly so unfortunately I don’t have any insight into mobile apps currently [except for ones that don’t work well – which may be a representation of my phone not the application- I have a 2yr old phone running windows mobile – says it all doesn’t it] but if you have any suggestions please share I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to have some insight on these.

Meetings and Time Zones and Schedules Oh My! Pavinder Tut (from the Millennium Network) introduced me to Doodle which I love. I think it’s a great tool and it puts the accountability not only in the hands of the team leader but of each individual as well.  Lord knows I’ve probably spent hours of my life in the past attempting to hunt people down, wait for their responses, reorganize if there’s an issue – Doodle helped make the virtual meeting scheduling much more efficient! (it’s great for regular meetings too!)  Mac Entourage – I also really enjoyed this application as it allowed for so many of my email accounts and project specific information to be pulled from separate external places;   it did a lot of the heavy sorting for me after I had set preferences. Heap CRM was also handy – I used it mainly for storing contact info on the go – but it’s a great simple interface and easy to use.

Individuals Make the Team: I couldn’t understand  personality through the virtual world. .  When you’re meeting anyone for the first few times in person it can be awkward – let alone when they’re not even a real person but rather 1’s and 0’s in your inbox. I would have individual phone calls with the team members just to see what was going on in their world – work related or otherwise.  I needed them to understand that I was actually genuinely interested in their skills and experience.  The internet is a hard place to come across as genuine!

Skype is the obvious cheap and cheerful choice: free calls over the internet from Skype to Skype accounts;  cheap international calling rates, great audio quality; fairly good video quality; chat on the side – we all know how great it is! Mac and PC friendly.

Also Pamela (PC only platform – sadness) is my new friend.  Pamela is a software that allows for Skype video and audio to be recorded! Who knew! As someone who works in media, being able to record interviews or team ideas is a great boon! (Although please do let the other callers know that you are recording the conversations – not disclosing that information makes you creepy not clever)

Also if you are working as a member of the team – give the team lead a head’s up if something’s not working for you! If you don’t feel comfy in how you communicate, create or complete projects – then the entire idea of the autonomy behind the virtual working team is lost. None of the examples above are super original discoveries but I just found that when I was trying to figure out how exactly to function in this new working environment there was little in the way of direct links to tools or resources that worked.    If you have others, let’s add them to the list!

Art+Business – I want that love child.

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This is what I was really working on during my  island escape from the city:  an artist business plan.

For artists  ‘business’ is a bad dirty word -it’s quite a taboo subject for some.  So let’s talk dirty – let’s do something naughty, let’s  just do it –  we’re going to create the the love child of Art + Business.  Oh yeah.

Everyone is a business, whether you like it or not. You earn money you have expenses money comes in and goes out and hopefully at the end of the day there’s a little bit left over for savings and rrsps and ice cream.

I’ve been busy reading the usual creative + entrepreneurial blogs: The 99%, GigaOm, TechCruch, FastCompany, and  following up on Toronto + non-Toronto  based entertainment + tech entrepreneurs (Kunal Gupta, Gurbhaskh Chahal*, Zark Fatah*,  , Uniq Lifestyle’s Nitsa Tsoumaris* – one of the few female entertainment leaders I’ve come across).  Amazing people working on very different ideas that all intersect in parallel industries.  I’ve been mulling over their accomplishments, and comparing and contrasting their businesses with the smaller non-profits that I have worked for.

For-profit or non-profit organizations start the same way:  someone has a great idea and starts gathering people and resources to execute their vision.  However the trajectory for the for-profit start-up is very different compared to the non-profit  start-up which seems to have a much more difficult time finding partners for growth even if the ideas are sound.  Whereas for-profit start-ups seem to be able to gather capital even if the idea is inherently risky.

With a VERY broad brush – here are my thoughts:

The non-profit organization model is somewhat like an older woman with maternal tendencies:  steadfast, dependable, self-assured, resourceful and willing to make whatever sacrifices it takes to her own material wealth to ensure the health of the family unit. But this model has inherently been neglected by investors because of the lack of financial return (obviously).  Growth becomes difficult without capital.

Whereas the for-profit model is much more like a young man in his prime with an adolescent swagger: well connected, brand-conscious, self interested, status driven, willing to risk whatever it takes to be recognized by his peers as number 1.  Investors have always loved these kinds of organizations – venture capitalists salivate at the thought of the financial potential gain – but I wonder if they recognize how many for-profits are inherently neglectful of the very communities that are supporting them.

I want to be both a mom and an alpha male.

The non-profit world does so much amazing work – the people are incredibly knowledgeable, experienced and educated, but  overworked and underpaid. In many instances the non-profit worker is without health benefits – which makes them vulnerable.  You shouldn’t have to take a vow of poverty to help your community.    On the other hand, the corporate world has the incredible ability to raise huge amounts of capital in short periods of time; but does so at the expense of common or community goods and values.

Hence my business plan – where I’m trying to manage, or rather mix, both cultures into a third more holistic business culture – the Social Enterprise.  Cultural Careers Council Ontario has been a huge help.  Many people, including MaRS in Toronto,  are working on these ideas and  my own works are a small part of this experiment.

If you were going to create a business plan for your own life – which model would you be? For Profit? Non-Profit?  Social Enterprise? What kinds of ways would you be comfortable making money?  What material assets could you not do without?

Try to build your own basic business plan for your own lively hood – it’s daunting, daring and a surprisingly fun.  Here’s a great PDF primer for artists (but it’s useful info for everyone)  from the Cultural Human Resources Council: AMYC-Chapter1-en

*I have a TON of respect for these guys – they are all self-made, they’ve worked like crazy to get where they are, they run successful businesses which are all highly recognized – but what’s the deal with the dark backgrounds and shiny pics?  Have you noticed how similar the aesthetic is between all of these brands- even Mr. Chahal’s brand  even though he  is actually a tech entrepreneur?   Intriguing – needs a thesis I think – something along the lines of male dominated industry + night time pursuits with inherently dark imagery to evoke the mysterious exotic aspect of their brands…..I struggle with this idea with my own branding – I think this is another post in the making.  Meggy Wang and I have had great conversations about this topic – I think it’s going to be my next post.   Any thoughts?
PS: My interview with Manu Sharma from The Natural Capital Project will happen in the next week! Keep an eye out!

Plan B…

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Thanks to B for that intro and to Sachin for his insightful post, which was indeed food for thought!

Interests, aptitude or financial security – oh my!  Quite the dilemma…

No doubt it becomes an even more trying issue when you have a number of varied interests and aren’t quite sure which one you’d like to pursue, when you’re skills may or may not be marketable, and/or when you have a sneaking suspicion that a predictable/banal/secure job might crush your soul (just a little bit – even if only around the edges).

It doesn’t help either when that dreaded beast (Career) Anxiety (which I’ve often imagined would appear as a walrus toting a briefcase, should it be so inclined as to take material form – go figure!) lumbers over your thoughts, your plans, your imaginative inklings and does it’s very best to crush them under it’s lumpy, bulbous belly.  It barks and honks at you (“What if?,” “Is this the right choice?,” “Could this be an awful mistake?”) and refuses to clean up after itself when it leaves…..What a horrible house guest!

Well, I’m not sure what combination of “interests, aptitude and/or financial security” it’s best to go with (particularly in this economy!), but in hopes of finding some kind of answer, I’ve made a concerted effort of late to seek out the counsel of older folks – you know, those who have already settled into their careers and who seem satisfied with their choices.  Curiously enough, many of them have instructed me to follow my “passion” or to “look into my heart” to find an answer.

I’m still not sure how I feel about this advice.  Do you buy it?  What if your “heart” has taken a vow of silence?

One colleague with a very enviable career path offered these consoling words: “Don’t worry, I didn’t figure it out ‘til I was like 40.  You just gotta keep trying different things until you figure it out”.

I’ve decided to take comfort in that.

I suppose a career is as much a work in progress as is anything else… if all else fails, look for Plan B and refuse to be taken hostage by any walrus you should happen to bump into (particularly if it’s of the imaginary variety!).

First Post – Career Choice

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Hi, I’d like to thank Bandana for the intro, my name is Sachin and this is my first post, truth be told I was struggling on deciding what topic to discuss and as I was contemplating, it dawned on me that I would touch on something I’ve been talking to friends/acquaintances as of late being career choice.

I think it’s a very relevant and important topic that is often touched on but not explored, specifically as to the driving factors that effect one’s decision in determining what career path they will pursue.  Most of my friends are in their mid-late 20’s, some have recently changed jobs into a completely new field and others are considering going to back to school to gain more credentials and skills.

Based on my experiences and I think everybody would agree in general, money is more often than not a big consideration when choosing either a specific job or considering what career to endeavour into; the stereotypes that doctors, lawyers and in general professionals, do very well holds true and since most people work to earn a living, it would seem logical to choose a profession that pays well.  I think as a pretense, when planing what field you want to enter, money is a consideration and in fact in my opinion it’s a valid consideration, after all if you plan to raise a family and lead a certain lifestyle, your payscale can be a limiting factor.  On the flip side, I know we’ve all met people who have entered a job on a temporary basis, been very successful such as in a sales environment and because they are doing very well financially, do not consider going back to school or building on a skill set that they may be more interested in.

This brings me to an obvious second consideration which should be like/dislikes and interests.  I’m sure we all remember being asked in elementary school what our favorite subject is?  Of course the guys say phys ed and the girls say art (I’m joking, don’t want to get myself in trouble here), but on a serious note your initial interests may be in sports or something adventurous like being an astronaut or a fireman.  However, to use an extreme example to make the point, if you can’t hit an 85 mph curve ball, your probably not going to play professional baseball.

Of course that was an extreme example, in a lot of cases you can build on a skill set such as acting if your interest lies in being a professional actor.  But it does bring up what I consider a third factor that most should consider which is aptitude, this quote from Bill Clinton that I came across I think describes it best:

Sometime in my sixteenth year I decided I wanted to be in public life as an elected official. I loved music and thought I could be very good, but I knew I would never be John Coltrane or Stan Getz. I was interested in medicine and thought I could be a fine doctor, but I knew I would never be Michael DeBakey. But I knew I could be great in public service.[14]

So, I think it begs the question, which approach be it your interests, aptitude or financial security drive your decisions? and also from a practical standpoint is it more prudent to take a job in a field that is a compromise of all three?  I’d like to hear your feedback, that in fact was a much longer post then I had intended to do on my first one, I hope it provides some food for thought.