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Posts Tagged ‘seth godin

No, Really: What does a Philosopher do?

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When Adjuncts Escape

Helen De Cruz has done a fascinating and very readable series of blog posts (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) tracking the migration of philosophical thinking from academia into the rest of life. As low-paid, temporary workers (that is, “contingent faculty” or “adjuncts”) take over more and more university teaching duties (50% of all faculty hold part-time appointments); smart, degreed people are also starting to find their way out of this system that rewards increasingly narrowed focus with low pay and a kick in the butt at the end of the semester.

Ms. De Cruz has a number of excellent interactions with her sample of former academics (at least one of whom left a tenured position!). I love that Ms. De Cruz named transferable skills. What would a philosophy Ph.D. bring to a start-up? Or a tech position? The answers she arrives at may surprise you.

Why the Nichols Station Apartments look different.

Why the Nichols Station Apartments look different.

I’ve always felt we carry our interests and passions and skills with us, from this class to that job to this project to that collaboration. And thus we form a life of work. Possibly we produce a body of work. We once called this a “career,” but that word has overtones of climbing some institutional ladder. I think we’re starting to see more willingness to make your own way—much like Seth Godin described his 30 years of projects.

The notion of “career” is very much in flux.

And that is a good thing.

Of particular interest to me was the discussion Ms. De Cruz had with Eric Kaplan. Mr. Kaplan found his way out of studying phenomenology (and philosophy of language with advisor John Searle!) at Columbia and UC Berkeley to writing television comedy (Letterman, Flight of the Conchords, and Big Bang Theory, among others). If you’ve watched any of these, it’s likely you’ve witnessed some of the things a philosophical bent does out loud: ask obvious questions and produce not-so-obvious answers. And that’s when the funny starts. It’s this hidden machinery that will drive the really interesting stuff in a number of industries.

Our colleges and universities are beginning to do an excellent job dispersing talent. That thoughtful diaspora will only grow as time pitches forward.


Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Cure for the Common Blahs (Millman + Godin)

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Take Two Books and Call Me In a Week

I’ve been reading Seth Godin’s The Icarus Deception (NY: Penguin Books, 2012) and Debbie Millman’s How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer (NY: Allworth Press, 2007). Both books convey hope that work can look different—more personal and more meaningful—than any corporate recruiting brochure can ever let on.

@JamesVictore : "Although I used that word 'perfection.'"

@JamesVictore : “Although I used that word ‘perfection.'”

Mr. Godin’s message is consistent with his blog and other books: find a way to not submit to corporate overlords and their pre-packaged (wonderful) plan for your life. Make your own way. Along the way he hints that owning your work can happen in a variety of ways (even if working for the man). I’ve always appreciated Mr. Godin’s sense that art is about making connections and doing new things that spring from one’s brain/desire/compulsions/passions applied to a real-world problem. I would argue that kind of passionate living can happen in a big company or on your own—but we must all keep a sharp eye out for when life and work become rote ruts (which require re-routing).07082014-9781591846079_p0_v1_s260x420

Ms. Millman’s book is an absolute delight to read because it consists of 20 conversations with designers whose work has set them apart for years. People like Stefan Sagmeister, Neville Brody, Paula Scher, Emily Oberman, Bonnie Siegler, Paul Sahre, James Victore, Massimo Vignelli and Milton Glaser. The genius of 07082014-9781581154962_p0_v2_s260x420Ms. Millman’s book is two-fold: asking penetrating, questions (1) and then standing aside (2) to let each designer spool out their answers in the way they choose. I’m certain each question and answer was edited, but Ms. Millman’s book gives a sense of hearing the very crux of what drives each person’s creativity in their own words. Their answers provide lessons in the habits of artists, how to combat the woo of popularity and the lapses into isolation. Some of these designers have succeeded and failed and succeeded and failed—so look also for lessons in starting over from scratch.

I’m no graphic designer—maybe you aren’t either.

And I’m no artist (perhaps you are?), but Godin + Millman together provide a satisfying set of snapshots that keep anticipating the very personal work your problem-solving can accomplish. The advice and hope from each book make me want to look for problems to work on that take advantage of what I love doing.

Both books present forward-looking ways of relentlessly defining, redefining and doing your own work. And make no mistake: again and again it is the work itself that pulls these talented people deeper into their talent and continued relevance.

What is your work today?


Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

July 8, 2014 at 9:41 am

Seth Godin: Six Habits for Artists

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Especially #6: Ship it.

I like Mr. Godin’s expansion of “artist” to include anyone trying to make a connection (full definition here). If you are trying to create, you’ll find these six habits useful.



Written by kirkistan

July 7, 2014 at 9:23 am

Wait–You May Be An Artist

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However: it takes courage to keep pushing forward



Written by kirkistan

June 9, 2014 at 5:00 am

Posted in curiosities, Dumb Sketch

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Anxiety is the experience of failure in advance–Seth Godin

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There is no better apologist for freelance than Seth Godin


If you find yourself asking “What is my work?” listen to this interview with Seth Godin:



Via Brainpicker

Image Credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

May 22, 2014 at 8:35 am

“Do You Know Bob? You Should Meet Bob.”

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Listen when your friend says this.03282014-tumblr_n2mx8ozAml1qe0lqqo1_500

After your friend hears what you have to say and then responds with,

Hey—have you ever asked Judy about that? Because Judy talks constantly about that very thing.


And then go meet Judy. Or Bob.

Because a friend’s recommendation—after seeing a similarity or spark of sameness—can be telling. The connection your friend saw to make the recommendation implies you have something in common with this other person. Some way of thinking that will form a third-rail for communication.

And that is worth following up on.

I think Keith introduced me to Steve—likely through some offhand comment. Steve is a C-suite communication guy who also teaches and we talk about communication strategy, corporate life versus freelance life, life in agencies and the demands of teaching. I’ve had coffee with Steve a couple times and I honestly don’t think I could find more wisdom and excellent advice and weathered perspectives if I paid Seth Godin’s consulting fee for an hour of talk.

We have no clue what might happen with a connection. No idea where a conversation will go.

This remains amazing to me.

Image credit: Garry Winogrand via MPD

Written by kirkistan

March 28, 2014 at 10:01 am

I Don’t Have To Work. I Get To.

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On Seth Godin’s 5000th post

06052013-icn.seths.headSeth Godin is a sort of apostle of forward. His posts routinely help me rethink why I do what I do and why I don’t do what I could. He is a spreader of ideas and a harvester of pithy phrases and a stone-by-stone mover of mountains. Today’s post is typical and there is a joyous bit about blogging in the middle that bears repeating:

My biggest surprise? That more people aren’t doing this. Not just every college professor (particularly those in the humanities and business), but everyone hoping to shape opinions or spread ideas. Entrepreneurs. Senior VPs. People who work in non-profits. Frustrated poets and unknown musicians… Don’t do it because it’s your job, do it because you can.

Do it “because you can” is wonderful way to approach any day. It gives fuel for the work and shines light for colleagues. I recently heard our son repeat a phrase that is often voiced around the People’s Republic of Kirkistan: “I don’t have to work, I get to.” His career is taking off and it is great fun to witness.IDontHaveToWork-06042013-2.

To find joy in your work is no small thing. I consider such joy a gift from God.


Written by kirkistan

June 5, 2013 at 9:02 am

Posted in philosophy of work

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