I have succeeded at five different ad agencies over the course of nearly two decades by sticking to one simple rule:
Be a freakin’ weirdo.
Weird, you question? Yes, weird. Weird is what fuels individuals in the most prolific agencies to remain the vanguards of new ideas. And despite the tendency to outfit agency halls with creative stimuli, channeling our “inner weirdo” is not a natural tendency simply instigated by odd-shaped chairs or brainstorming books. Weirdness—uncovering it, embracing it, practicing it—is one of the most difficult, yet most integral, components to success within the halls of any agency.
“Being weird, I’ve come to realize, is only weird if you don’t use it to better yourself and those around you. Weird is the spark in innovation that separates the good from the great. Weird is the muscle behind adaptability and progress. Weird makes us broader thinkers, stronger leaders, and more adventurous co-conspirators.”
Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. The space and quiet that idleness provides is a necessary condition for standing back from life and seeing it whole, for making unexpected connections and waiting for the wild summer lightning strikes of inspiration — it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.
— Tim Kreider, The ‘Busy’ Trap
Mike “Dirty Jobs” Rowe and conceptions of work
Last week, Mike Rowe, the guy who hosts the show Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel, spoke in front of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, making a lucid, clear-eyed case for a national PR campaign for skilled labor. We’ve marginalized the trades, he argued. It’s time to elevate them, to close the widening skills gap, to combat the idea of the trades being “best suited for those not cut out for a four-year degree.”
He talked about his grandfather —- a plumber, mechanic, electrician, magician —- and how now, when his own toilet’s busted, he leaves a check on the table and never meets the plumber. He talked about how disconnected he’s become from how things get made or fixed. He (I, we, most of us sitting around reading blogs) don’t have to think about where the food comes from, or how the wires work, or who made the pair of pants or fixed the pipes. It’s been said before, sure, all about the way our relationship to the things we use goes only as far as flipping on the light, flushing the toilet, or turning the key in the ignition.
“In a hundred different ways,” he said, “we have slowly marginalized an entire category of critical professions, reshaping our expectations of a ‘good job’ into something that no longer looks like work.”
I do think that a shift is starting to take place. It’s most evident maybe with food right now, but I suspect that people are going to start recognizing the importance (and deep pleasure) of acquiring some know-how about the way things work.
Even if you gave everyone in the United States right now $1 million, somebody’s got to be a waiter, somebody got to be a waitress. Service work is very necessary. Everybody can’t be corporate America. Shut down all the service workers and see what happens.
— Kia Grasty, who makes $140,000 cleaning up after Penn’s messiest students. (Confessions of an Ivy League Cleaning Lady)
If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper that did his job well.
— Martin Luther King Jr., 1954
The Passion Trap: The more emphasis you place on finding work you love, the more unhappy you become when you don’t love every minute of the work you have.
Not sure I’m totally sold on this theory, but it raises some interesting questions.