WORDS OF WISDOM
(because the world needs more wisdom)
This is the inspiration I needed for Monday morning, not a Friday! But that’s the thing about great advice, it resonates best when we’re not prepared for its delivery, when our walls are down and we can be truly receptive to awakening thoughts. Like real troubles, awakening thoughts are “apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday”. In this instance, it was 2PM on an idle Friday and Summer Fridays are in full effect at my office so I was just about to wrap up and head home to get a head start on the weekend, but I stayed. I wasn’t prepared for the inspiration found in this man’s words of wisdom. I’ll get to who he is in a moment and you’ll soon understand why he kept me at my desk.
What are the greatest words of wisdom you have ever received? I can recall when I first encountered mine:
“Everything beautiful that we create in life requires a leap of faith”- Paul Budnitz, Kidrobot Founder
I was 21 years old and had just graduated from design school in Los Angeles. My life was rapidly changing as I went from student to do-it-all assistant for a famous jewelry designer. My new world was full of art, bright colors (namely fuchsia), curiosities, photo shoots and some incredibly talented individuals. It was a unique CREW and I naively pretended (and convinced myself) at the time that I belonged to this great mix of people who trickled in from some major luxury brands. (In fact, the design director who hired me had joined the group from Dolce and Gabbana’s design headquarters in Milan. Why would she hire someone lacking experience like me? The only rational explanation I could think at the time was she sensed that I wasn’t scared of what I didn’t know and that I was along for the ride).
One of the remarkable places the ride took me was my first business trip to New York City to meet Paul Budnitz of KidRobot for a design collaboration. Kidrobot is an all-around phenomenon in the world of designer vinyl toys and the curator of cool with three store-galleries in LA, SF and NYC and countless partnerships with world renowned artists, designers and major brands. Budnitz had worked with Dalek, Shepard Fairey, Jil Sander, Marc Jacobs, Dries Van Noten, Barney’s NYC, Nike, Lacoste and now… he was about to work with us. With me.
I had studied Budnitz’s unconventional and zany marketing plans in school. I knew he was the son of a nuclear physicist with an affinity and mixed aptitude for computer science and art. Budnitz was professionally coding safety analysis software for nuclear power plants and creating video games for now legendary Commodore 64 on his home computer in high school. High school! I knew I was about to enter the office of a creative genius but I didn’t know what to expect. Still, I wasn’t scared because I had my palm trio (circa 2007) to google him for more background 411. As the town car rolled up to his Soho office, I searched and the results appeared as the elevator quickly crawled up to his floor. A quote came up in the search:
“Everything beautiful that we create in life requires a leap of faith”- Paul Budnitz
Then the door opened:
I never forgot those words, that elevator ride and the meeting that followed after. Being in the company of 2 trailblazers (I count my *sparkling* boss at the time as 1) was one of the most eye opening opportunities I had in my early adult life. It opened my eyes to the fact that the two people sitting in front of me were successful because they had one very important trait in common (among others), they both were fearless. Fearless to join forces, fearless to try an idea that’s never been done, fearless to look or sound silly, fearless to admit that they weren’t the experts and fearless not to care and chase after an inspired idea. I learned at a very young age (from these two greats) to not be afraid of what I didn’t know. The only way to do that from what I could see was: to be open to the unknown, have rich conversations and ask plenty of questions. That job experience after school was remarkable, I wish I enjoyed it more. I was too worried about what was coming next.
It’s ironic to me that sometimes those 3 crucial musts for creativity so infrequently occur in creative pursuits. And sometimes I have found in getting older and (supposedly) wiser (?) that those things become harder to do. Isn’t experience supposed to make us fearless? Today I stumbled upon a video of author Neil Gauman's commencement address to the University of the Arts Class of 2012. It is by far one of the best commencement speeches I have ever seen and a must-see for those working in the arts. Like the quote I found in the elevator ride, it echoes some of the best advice I have ever encountered. “Pretend to be someone who is wise and then just behave as they would. Pretend that you are someone that could”. This is a link to wisdom I will keep to continue to help me imagine where I want to be. And now I’ve shared it with you hoping it will have the same affect because as I learned through the reinforcement of this speech, the world needs more wisdom. Enjoy!
Should you not have the patience, below are 10 key takeaways.
1. Embrace the fact that you’re young. Accept that you don’t know what you’re doing. And don’t listen to anyone who says there are rules and limits.
2. If you know your calling, go there. Stay on track. Keep moving towards it, even if the process takes time and requires sacrifice.
3. Learn to accept failure. Know that things will go wrong. Then, when things go right. You’ll probably feel like a fraud. It’s normal.
4. Make mistakes, glorious and fantastic ones. It means that you’re out there doing and trying things.
5. When life gets hard, as it inevitably will, make good art. Just make good art.
6. Make your own art, meaning the art that reflects your individuality and personal vision.
7. Now a practical tip. You get freelance work if your work is good, if you’re easy to get along with, and if you’re on deadline. Actually you don’t need all three. Just two.
8. Enjoy the ride, don’t fret the whole way.
9. Be wise and accomplish things in your career. If you have problems getting started, pretend you’re someone who is wise, who can get things done. It will help you along.
10. Leave the world more interesting than it was before.