"We gather knowledge faster than we gather wisdom." - William Bell

Friday Inspiration

Posted: April 29th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Inspiration | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Sometimes the greatest opponent to doing great things is that little voice inside your head. The best thing to do to shut it up is to DO exactly what that little voice says that you couldn’t.

Because that little voice inside your head is afraid. It’s afraid of trying something and failing. It’s afraid of succeeding and having everything change. It’s afraid of challenging the status quo of the everyday pattern of your life.

Ignore that little voice inside your head. Instead, listen to the feeling in your heart that’s begging you to create or try something new.

- Christian

How To Be Creative – Spend Less Money on Shit

Posted: April 20th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: On Ideation | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

A couple of days ago, Seth posted on the economies of small. Bigger isn’t necessarily better. Sometimes being smaller is more profitable. You have less overhead – you make more money. That doesn’t sound so bad. Everyone likes more profit.

And there are different types of profit – the most common is money. But profit can also take the form of more free time, less stress or even more creative opportunities. To an actor, profit may mean the opportunity to do a really great film for less money. For LeBron, Wade and Bosh, profit means the chance to play with their friends and win a championship.

Stephen Bayley and Roger Mavity, authors of Life’s A Pitch, recommend running your life like a business. Secure resources. Organize. Make strategic acquisitions. Although that’s all good advice, it may be a little intimating. Here’s my take – keep your overhead expenses down.

What does that mean? It means don’t spend over 50% of your paycheck on rent. Don’t pay $65 for cable if you watch 3 hours of television a week. Don’t drop thousands of dollars on a car that you drive only in the summer.

Keep your fixed costs of living low. Reduce your monthly expenses. That gives your more money for play. And I love that. It’s money that you can be flexible with. It’s money to take a vacation. Or to acquire a new skill. Or to gain inspiration.

Reducing the burden of expenses does something amazing. It gives you power. The power to do what you want with your creativity, with your career and with your life.

Power is a result of having options. By reducing your financial commitments, you increase your options. If you’re living well below your means, you don’t really need that next paycheck. You don’t really need to pull crazy overtime. You’re no longer tied to your job for the money. And that’s when the great thinking really happens.

At one of my old agencies, I remember talking to a senior planner and finding out that he hadn’t been paid in a couple of weeks. I asked if he was worried about it. Here’s what he said:

“Fuck no.I don’t need their fucking money. I don’t need this fucking job. I’m here because I’m trying to build a department.”

So that’s what happens. You can tell your boss to fuck off, because you don’t need the cash. You’re doing the job because you want to create good work. You want to be leading edge. You want to contribute great thinking, innovation and ideas. And you want to see them come to life in the real world.

A lighter load means that you can push the envelope. You can be bold. You don’t have to tip toe around fearful of putting your livelihood in jeopardy. It gives you the power to push back.

In creative industries, the best work doesn’t happen when people are fearful for their livelihoods. It happens when they have the power to challenge the norms. When they have the power to make ideas happen. And when they have the power to walk away.

Because when you have the power of options, you can do what you believe is correct. You can stand up for your ideas because you don’t need a promotion. Or a raise.

Power gives you the opportunity to create. To do what you want. So even if you want to spend an afternoon writing for fun (instead of for money), you can.

In order to be creative, you need freedom. A big part of that can be the freedom from financial stress and worry. It empowers you to pick and chose the jobs that you want to take instead of doing them for the cash. By keeping your overhead down, you allow for that freedom. You give yourself options. Options to create what you want. Options to seize opportunities. Not to be bogged down and grounded with too much stuff. So if a great opportunity comes up in London, you can move there to take advantage of it. You don’t have any large expenses or heavy possessions holding you back.

And finally, the best thing about reducing your expenses is that it leads to boldness. Boldness leads to success. Ironically, success is often rewarded with respect and money. Just don’t spend that extra money on a bigger place. Go blow it on a vacation somewhere warm. Keep your fixed expenses low. Because it lets you keep the power of choice.

- Christian

Recipe For Awesome – Invest 80% In Your Strengths

Posted: April 13th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Random | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Being exceptional doesn’t happen overnight. You have to work hard. You need to bust your ass. You need to put the hours in. According to Gladwell’s book “Outliers” the magic number is 10,000 hours.

But getting to 10,000 hours is intimidating. If you invest an hour a day, it would take over 27 years to become exceptional under this premises. That seems like a long time to me. Until I realized something – amazing people aren’t awesome at everything. They have strengths and weaknesses. Steve Jobs is a visionary, but an asshole. Dirk Nowitzki is one of the best shooters in the NBA, but sucks on defense.

The reason why amazing people are valued is because their strengths eclipse their weaknesses. Nobody cares that Jobs is abrasive if he continues to deliver leading innovative product design.

I’m not saying that you don’t need to put in the hours – you do. But invest your time wisely. Focus 80% of your time on the improving your strengths. Make them even better. Become impossible to beat. Create such a big advantage for yourself that nobody can touch you when you’re playing your strengths. Then spend 20% of time on getting your weaknesses up to snuff.

In an interview with Steven Stamkos, one of the the youngest NHL players to have a 50 goal season, he talk about how most people spend 80% of their time trying to improve their weaknesses. That leaves only 20% of their training time to work on their strengths. The result is that their weaknesses are bumped up to be acceptable. But because they are neglecting their strengths, those strengths suffer and drop down to par. The result is that their skill sets become normalized. They become average players with average abilities.

Who wants to be an average player? By focusing your time on improving strengths, you can increase the advantage you hold over your competition. This allows you to dominate the competition and become a truly exceptional player.

This philosophy doesn’t apply only to sports. It applies to your career, art, music and relationships. In all of those fields, you will have natural strengths and weaknesses. You may be charming with clients, but not a strategic thinker. You may be a great abstract painter, but awful at representing details in your art. You may be a fantastically caring romantic partner, but a terrible cook. It’s all good.

The reason why people will reward your work is because it’s exceptional and it’s different. Spend most of your time increasing the good instead of trying to decrease the suck.

- Christian

From the video listed here, I’ve been convinced that Steven Stamkos is a cool kid. He seems humble, hardworking and appreciative of where he has been able to get himself.

I especially like the fact that he found humility getting benched his first season. Instead of being a spoiled hockey brat, he busted his ass to get improve, get more playing time and score earn a 50 goal season. I would definitely trade training lessons for marketing lessons with that guy.

The First Draft

Posted: April 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Idea Drunk's Ideas | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

The hardest part of the creative process is the first draft.

You’re fighting with your brain. Trying to squeeze out the thoughts in your head. Wrestling with them to compose something articulate. All you have to do it get it down on paper. Express it in the world for the first time. Deal with the details later.

You take that glimmer of an articulate idea and write it down. You start filling in a blank page. And you write and write. You keep going until you loose steam.

And all of a sudden you’re done.

The pages aren’t blank anymore. They’re filled with your ideas. And those ideas are real because they’re on paper. And you’re kind of scared to read it because you don’t know if it’s good enough.

But whatever – you did it.You finished the hardest step and now you have ideas on paper. And you have something real to show for it. So you can start editing. You can begin molding it to become exactly what you want it to be.

I just went through this.

Yesterday, I finished the first draft of my book. To be honest, it’s probably crap. But I’m happy that it’s done. And I now  have a healthy respect for the people who do it everyday. I have no illusions. I know that there is a lot of work to get from a first draft to having it in your hands. But I feel like the hardest part is done. Now there’s something physical to show for the efforts.

It’s not easy. It’s not glamourous. But it’s fun. And after you’re done that first draft, you definitely deserve a drink.

- Christian