One of the things that I will miss most about Houston and mostly The Planet is that I am surrounded by people that find the coolest things and share them with me. My co-worker (and friend) Neal finds a lot of them, Mensa Kevin finds me tons of things. I'll miss the spontaneity of having a lunchtime conversation and then shortly getting an email that has some cool speech, video or cartoon that reinforces whatever we just talked about.
One of my favorite post lunch finds was when for some reason; Mensa Kevin broke out into gospel music in the car on the way back to the office. Then Neal clapped in the right spots of the song. Katie and I had no idea what they were doing. Shortly, upon arrival back, Mensa Kevin had the clip from Glory when they sing "O My Lord, Lord, Lord, Lord" around the campfire. Now the four of will spontaneously break out into the gospel singing and clapping. It confuses everyone else around us.
Since I am preparing for quite a bit of change in the near future, lunch today talked a lot about what I've learned professionally about myself the past two years and what I wanted to do with my life.
When we got back to work, my friend Neal shared an excerpt with me from a Milton Glaser speech. First, I had to Google who the hell Milton was. Apparently, he's a totally badass graphic designer. He seems pretty smart. The speech is called Ten Things I Have Learned.
Here's the full link to the speech but I thought I'd share a couple of my favorites from it with you, too. Milton's Speech Text.
YOU CAN ONLY WORK FOR PEOPLE THAT YOU LIKE.
This is a curious rule and it took me a long time to learn because in fact at the beginning of my practice I felt the opposite. Professionalism required that you didn’t particularly like the people that you worked for or at least maintained an arm’s length relationship to them, which meant that I never had lunch with a client or saw them socially. Then some years ago I realized that the opposite was true. I discovered that all the work I had done that was meaningful and significant came out of an affectionate relationship with a client. And I am not talking about professionalism; I am talking about affection. I am talking about a client and you sharing some common ground. That in fact your view of life is someway congruent with the client, otherwise it is a bitter and hopeless struggle.
SOME PEOPLE ARE TOXIC AVOID THEM.
This is a subtext of number one. There was in the sixties a man named Fritz Perls who was a gestalt therapist. . Perls proposed that in all relationships people could be either toxic or nourishing towards one another. It is not necessarily true that the same person will be toxic or nourishing in every relationship, but the combination of any two people in a relationship produces toxic or nourishing consequences. And the important thing that I can tell you is that there is a test to determine whether someone is toxic or nourishing in your relationship with them. Here is the test: You have spent some time with this person, either you have a drink or go for dinner or you go to a ball game. It doesn’t matter very much but at the end of that time you observe whether you are more energized or less energized. Whether you are tired or whether you are exhilarated. If you are more tired then you have been poisoned. If you have more energy you have been nourished. The test is almost infallible and I suggest that you use it for the rest of your life.
PROFESSIONALISM IS NOT ENOUGH
Early in my career I wanted to be professional, that was my complete aspiration in my early life because professionals seemed to know everything – not to mention they got paid for it. Later I discovered after working for a while that professionalism itself was a limitation. After all, what professionalism means in most cases is diminishing risks. So if you want to get your car fixed you go to a mechanic who knows how to deal with transmission problems in the same way each time. I suppose if you needed brain surgery you wouldn’t want the doctor to fool around and invent a new way of connecting your nerve endings. Please do it in the way that has worked in the past.
Unfortunately in our field, in the so-called creative – I hate that word because it is misused so often. I also hate the fact that it is used as a noun. Can you imagine calling someone a creative? Anyhow, when you are doing something in a recurring way to diminish risk or doing it in the same way as you have done it before, it is clear why professionalism is not enough. After all, what is required in our field, more than anything else, is the continuous transgression. Professionalism does not allow for that because transgression has to encompass the possibility of failure and if you are professional your instinct is not to fail, it is to repeat success. So professionalism as a lifetime aspiration is a limited goal.
Basically, friends, I liked what ole Milt had to say. He said things I think just much more eloquently. So give him a read, cause someday when I am famous I'll probably give a speech a lot like this one.