Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Steve Jobs designed the only product that I feel defines me as a person. I’m a Mac.

I know I sound like a snob when I talk about Apple but I can’t help it. I was brought up this way. It’s who I am. I just think Macs are more clever.

I remember using the Macintosh as a small child. I know from my father that the first computer we had at home was an Amiga but I have no recollection of that. My earliest memories are all Apple. I remember playing a lot of computer games (remember those??) and I don’t recall which ones but I know they involved a joystick. I remember having one of the first drawing tablets and I remember the giant roller ball mouse.

Around the time I discovered the Internet (I can’t remember doing a single thing besides email and ICQ) we got the iMac. It was the most beautiful piece of electronic equipment I’d ever seen. By today’s standards it was huge and clunky but at the time it was sleek, modern, and sexy. We had the Blueberry and I remember, as a 12-year-old, being desperate to have one in every colour (flavour?). What a 13-year-old could possibly want with five computers, I have no idea. But that was it. I was in for life.

Years (and many Macs) later, my iPod became an extension of myself. Steve knew exactly how to turn electronics into a form of self-expression. It wasn’t just a tool, it was a body part. People always used to ask me why I felt like I had to carry around 80GB of music with me at all times. It was because no matter what was happening at that particular moment or how I may have been feeling, I could hear exactly what I needed to hear to make everything better.

You can tell a lot about a person by scrolling through their iPod. You can make a lot of really unfair judgements based on this. (You can tell a lot about a person by whether they’ve still got that clicking sound turned on while you’re scrolling through their iPod.) And now, in a new and strange country, I rely on my iPhone’s GPS to guide me through the city streets and get me home safe. At the same time it provides the soundtrack to my best and worst days.

And I may or may not have turned down dates in the past by stating, ‘Sorry but I’m a Mac and you’re a PC. It could never work.’

I’m writing this all down, not to say anything profound, but only to say that I really do feel Steve Jobs may be the total stranger who has had the greatest impact on my life.

And for that, a big thank you Steve.

Steve Jobs Gives The 2005 Stanford Graduation Plenary

EDIT: My dad sent me this after readying this post

I actually bought a Mac a few months before you were born, but we sold it about 18 months later.”

My bad. Apparently I was actually born into a Mac household on the exact year it was released. Makes sense.









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A few days ago, I read something remarkable. It was a blog post entitled How to Steal Like an Artist (And 9 Other Things Nobody Told Me) by Austin Kleon (the newspaper blackout artist). I encourage you all to read it here.

The life advice contained  therein is rich and insightful. As someone on the verge of some big life changes, I felt an incredibly personal connection to his words.

One point Kleon brings up that really resonated with me was the concept of Imposter Syndrome.

There’s this very real thing that runs rampant in educated people. It’s called imposter syndrome. The clinical definition is a “psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments.” It means that you feel like a phony, like you’re just winging it, that you really don’t have any idea what you’re doing.

Guess what?

None of us do. Ask any real artist, and they’ll tell you the truth: they don’t know where the good stuff comes from. They just show up to do their thing. Every day.”

Did anyone else just breathe a huge sigh of relief? I know I did. I think the biggest fear of any grad student is that we’re going to graduate, step into the real world, and not be able to apply anything. Yes we work with real clients and produce real work now, but our hands are being held. We work in teams, we’re united together. In a few short months, it will all be on us. I do feel like a phony sometimes, but I’m not even sure what I’m faking. Maybe it’s a fear that I’ll never be great at anything. Or that the things I’m great at, aren’t the things that actually matter in the work place.

When everyone we know, everyone we look up to and respect, is telling us everything is going to be alright, why do we still question whether it will? Self doubt is a silly thing.

Here are some important things I’ve been learning lately, from Kleon and from the incredible people I surround myself with:

1. Being creative doesn’t mean you have to invent something no one has ever thought of before. (phew)

2. You are your influences. Surround yourself with inspiration and you will be inspirational.

3. If you see, read or hear something you like, write it down. Save it somewhere. Don’t let it pass you by.

4. Start creating now. By doing so, you’ll learn more about yourself than you ever could while waiting to find out.

5. If you act like the person you want to be, pretty soon you’ll be the person you want to be.

6. Art doesn’t feel like work. It feels like play. If it feels like work, you’re probably not making art.

7. People are busy. They can’t all pay attention to you.

8. Give your secrets away. Tell everyone. The more you share, the more people assume you have.

9. The more nice you put out, the more nice you get back.

10. Creativity is subtraction. Edit, edit, edit.

Do you have other bits of wisdom to share? Please do, we can’t ever have enough.

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Social media is such a buzz word these days and it’s all a bit silly. Most organizations, businesses, charities (and let’s face it, people) seem to join Twitter specifically because they’ve been told to. They probably attended some seminar or read some article that told them it would be the only way to keep up with their ever-evolving sector. They have such friendly automated thank yous and #FFs going out, 100s of followers and love that retweet button (especially when the tweet contains their own name). It’s so tragically rare though, to watch someone actually do it right.

One of my chosen charities is situated half-way across the world, doing local work in a country I’ve never seen, and run by people I’ve never met. And I love them because of who they are on Twitter.

I began following the Scottish animal welfare charity OneKind about four months ago after a recommendation from Claire Kerr. Immediately after I typed @onekindtweet, I was followed and actively engaged by employees Stuart and Martin. They weren’t just spamming me with links to donate or info about their charity. They asked questions about me, related to posts I’d made, and drew me in with interest; to be honest, it was like a really great first date. Because I could tell it wasn’t all an act. Your followers aren’t stupid. It’s obvious when an action is genuine, even through the computer screen.

The relationship that has developed since can be described as nothing less than friendship. I’ve never felt friends with a charity before. In fact, I’ve barely been stewarded by one at all. I’ve yet to ever meet the brains behind OneKind but I have no doubt that when I do (and I will), we’ll sit down over a drink or two and have a great chat.

The way these guys use Twitter is genuine, honest, caring and most importantly, relatable. They strike that absolute perfect balance between promoting their charity and having real conversations with real people. The impression that this gives an outsider, is that OneKind is full of people who live the cause. I feel like I can trust them, not only with my money but with the responsibility of making positive change.

Recently, I’ve connected with two more from the OneKind team, Catherine and John, both wonderful as well. That makes five active accounts, engaging me every day. How many organizations can you say that about? Someday soon, I’d like to add ‘engaging on Twitter’ to my list of daily, work-related responsibilities. I know that I will use it as a tool to add value to whatever company is clever enough to hire me, because I’ve watched and learned from the best.

They’ve taught me that you can be yourself on Twitter and still be ‘professional’. Professional doesn’t have to mean dry, in fact, it never should. I’m not a major donor to their organization. Besides a recent small sponsorship, I’m not a donor at all. I’m simply someone who thinks their goals are important. And that’s enough for them to make me feel like part of their team.

Not all of you will have these same goals and feel as connected to OneKind as I do. But if more charities took this human approach to their social media platforms, my guess is that we’d all start feeling a little more connected to our favourite causes.

If you want to be heard, start by listening.

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This evening, I had the privilege of sitting down and speaking with someone that I greatly admire. I had grandiose visions of how this meeting would go. I felt this person would most certainly hold the key to unlocking at least half the mysteries in life. He’d teach me to lead, to speak, to inspire, all in a few hours. Perfectly realistic, right?

What happened instead, to my delight, was that I got to know an actual person. He wasn’t perfect, he didn’t hold all the answers, he even made a few questionable jokes, but he was real. I ended up learning things that I didn’t expect, and even better, I found that I actually already know more than I give myself credit for.

Perhaps the most reassuring thing you can learn is that the people you want to be, are actually not that different than who you are now.

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