Take your work seriously, not yourself
A wake-up call for those of you falling asleep during the Pandemic.
I’ve worked at a number of big-name corporations in the San Francisco Bay Area. I’ve worked at smaller startups. I’ve consulted at medium-sized companies. I am currently the CEO and Founder of Blackbird. I studied computer science, minored in journalism and I just wrote a book called ‘Ripple: Craftsmanship worthy of the Abstract’. (Available shortly on Amazon and your local book stores) A book that bridges the gap between software and fashion of all things. Yes, I love fashion. I love cashmere suits and french cuff shirts. I’ve gotten my brown belt in Ju-Jitsu. I like to ride motorcycles. I played hockey my entire life and play for my college team(s).
While working in tech in San Francisco, I started my own audio engineering studio and recording facility in ode to the fact that I play the guitar, saxophone, and piano. I love to drink, smoke cigars, have sex and I am an unapologetic socialite. I ended up recording over 127 songs. Some vulgar, some not. I plan on coming back to them one day, compiling the best of them, and putting it out into the ether.
I can draw. As a kid, I would make up narratives and manifest them in the form of comic book style magazines. It taught me that I could do things with my hands that others either couldn’t do or simply hadn’t tried.
I read The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck when I was in middle school. I didn’t have a tv in my room so all I had was books. I read a lot. By reading, you vicariously put yourself in a position of empathy towards a given subject matter. This culminates in a larger knowledge base and a different style of thinking. Even as I write this, I am throwing away the ‘outline’ that my writing teachers would insist upon.
Phooey. Talk as you wish. Face danger or simply be unaffected by these artificial constraints.
Just do it and ask for forgiveness later.
I like to invest in the stock market, despite the risks. I like to live life. My favorite game at the casino is Craps. By playing Craps, drunk off free drinks, you end up calculating risk and reward with a baby like intensity.
The majority of my life is what some people would call crazy, spontaneous, and perhaps obnoxious and vulgar.
To me, it’s all apart of living. A singular entity. And I don’t care. As long as I’m not hurting my ability to handle my work and social commitments, and I am not endangering others, “you can call me Susan if you like” — Bullet Tooth Tony (from the movie ‘Snatch) for all I care.
And I hope you see where I am going with this. Don’t take yourself so seriously!
I have so many friends that are still trying to find their role in this increasingly changing world, and my advice is always this: try different things out. If you are a writer, allow others to read it. If you are a musician, post your music on every MEDIUM. If you are an entrepreneur, tell your story and be proud, even if you fail. People will be jealous, negative, and sometimes flat out mean.
That is exactly the sign that you are doing something right.
As a younger kid, I skateboarded with other kids, played all 4 major sports, ran track and cross country, and even wrestled despite me being a very small boy wearing tights in front of my first girlfriend. I lost the match, but I tried, and I tried hard.
Afterward, we laughed and I had my first kiss.
The point that I’m trying to make is, that all the things that I have tried have led to who I am today, and I realize that although it is impossible to have regrets, I always took the task at hand seriously, but I always tried to keep myself loose. To be self-deprecating, and happy go lucky. Because the more you overthink things, the less you will actually DO.
I believe I was able to do this without fear because I did not take myself as seriously as others. And not in a bad way. I mean that I was not afraid to fail, laugh at myself or simply say “I don’t know.”
One would stay away from Ju-Jitsu because you could end up in class or work the next day with a black eye. I always had the “I play ice hockey” card in my pocket, but I simply told them that I was learning Ju-Jitsu. “Are people going to think I’m some goon?” A thought I couldn’t help myself from thinking as I walked to my classroom. The opposite happened. People looked curiously and wanted to join. Friends and ladies asked and I explained what we did in that gym to their amazement.
A stark contrast from the sugar-coated world of the Linguistics 101 classroom. (Another passion of mine…language, its evolution, accents etc.) “I should try it too,” said one guy who looked like he spent all his time in the gym. He never actually showed up and he’s probably still in some gym. Like a hamster in a wheel.
Remember in “Fight Club”, when Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) assigns everyone homework. Homework which includes finding someone random person and trying to pick a fight with them?
It is very hard.
Fear controls most people's lives. Taking yourself too seriously leads to self-doubt and worse, insecurity. Insecurity leads to anxiety. Anxiety eventually leads to physical and mental paralysis.
Sure you can complete day to day activities. Fill up gas in your car. But what is your purpose? What is your conviction?
This will not clear up until you forget about what others think about you. Or simply stop caring.
Realizing that you are not made out of glass, but rather rock hard bone will open up avenues for you to grow, fail, learn and fail again.
Get used to failure, get used to yourself, and you will become self-independent, less reliant on cliques and groups, and most of all find, you will find yourself.
Lose the insecurities that troubled you as a teen when pimples were sprouting from every pour and your entire world was contained between your parents’ house and the school you attended.
As I write this, I am self-reflecting upon a conversation I had with a friend from my hometown of Boston. She wondered how and why I ended up trying and doing all of these things. I was in no way trying to brag, but she was doing her masters at MIT and there were a lot of things we needed to catch up on. It all sort of came out, like a timeline. I.E. When I first moved to California, I missed hockey and the seasons the most.
I realized that the best people I knew did and tried everything.
They didn’t just try it, but they gave it their very best and admitted what they didn’t know.
They had the ability to laugh at their own shortcomings. You can always learn a skill but you cannot teach the ability to forget unnecessary inhibitions unless of course, you join Fightclub.
Happy 2021! The world is Oyster. You just have to make it the Oyster Bar. Hurry, I hear it gets crowded during Happy Hour.
I’m just joking. Everything is closed, so this is the perfect time to do all the things you told yourself you were going to do but never did.