What Is Success?
what is success? And we're talking about yourself in your work and in this business in graphic design and post resigned so in yourself. So when I was a kid, I was graduating high school, got good grades by essentially not trying very hard. Um, took the S A T s had really good s a t scores. Although my verbal skills were higher than my math skills and the schools that I wanted, the school that I wanted likes that the other way around. I wanted to go to the Air Force Academy. My life would be very different if I went to the Air Force Academy. Um um So I floundered for a while, and there were two jobs that were presented to me. These are good options if you're not going to college. And one waas. I was in a hometown where there was a nursing school and the other one, the next town over, had a penitentiary called Dannemora State Prison. Al Capone was there for a while. Um, Ted Bundy was there, um, these were presented as options to me for one reason why, Why? They were good jobs, which mean...
s what they paid and I'm thinking, Of course. Now I look back and I'm like, Wow, it's pretty ballsy of you to be 18 years old and have that thought. And I thought, But I don't feel like a nurse. And I don't feel like a prison guard. Why would I do that? And the answer was, it's a good job. It pays. Well, when we were talking about the cliche, that's one of the cliches to get out of high school. What do I do now? Dad, will you get a job? Could you be more specific? Yes. One that pays well, you know, and then they'll give you the math. Like, Okay, whatever your rent is, your paycheck has to be. I don't even know what the math is anymore. Because this is This is this is my This is my math now, OK, so whatever I need to make basically is, um, the square root of my truck needs snow tires, and I'm gonna have a new baby multiplied by, Um uh, let's say a winter vacation. That's the only math I know. Um, you know, all people can tell us if you go out seeking advice. All people can tell you is what you should do, right? You should get a job. It should pay this much. And what we What What? What? What we call that is you're getting should on, right? Everyone just telling you what you should dio I had that I did this talk. I did this talk. We did the whole getting should on thing. And then it was an audience of, like, 200 people that at an event that I organized and we finished that bit, it was like a five minute break. So I walked off stage and there was a pal of mine in the audience, and I didn't really want to talk to anybody. But my pal Mind comes up. This is to you know what? You should do it like, Oh, did you just do that right now? Tomey? Um, and here, Lauren and Andy and Franco and everybody else. Here's an interesting story. I was at a university. I spoke at a university a couple years ago. Um, and the guy who was running the university running the school, um, who I knew was gonna was gonna be at the talk. And I had actually taught his son so I figured I was gonna have a conversation with him. But his son had previously showed me photographs and he said, Yeah, my dad's an artist, and he showed me black and white photographs of this guy outside of a barn with shirtless with his big, hairy chest doing these metal sculptures that just like like David Smith strong, right? Like who? Your dad is an artist. Wow. And then I found out he was running this university. I'm like, Oh, jeez, I'm gonna I'm gonna meet him. So, um, I didn't meet him at the talker, so I'm in the audience. Then we're supposed to go to a restaurant and were at the restaurant tables. Not ready. Fine. So we're waiting there. And here comes David, the guy who runs the school, and he's like, Oh, James, Hello. How are you? It was great talk, blah, blah, blah. And I said, David, I got a question for you. I've seen photographs of you as an artist, shirtless and beautiful and, you know, bending steel with your bare hands. And now you're running this university. How did how do you reconcile that? How do you do that? And he gave me the best advice in the whole world that I will always remember. And he said, James, after all, it's all just theater. It's all just theater. That's amazing. So So So So what is success? What is it to you? You know? Is it money? Is that success? Because, like Like I said, Johnny Cash says have money is just worried about everything else, you know. Is it Is it is it? You know, museum wanted art getting into the museum or an art? People go itude. I always tell this. I was tell a story like I know, and it's so funny. The other day I was going into the subway and I you know, I get out my get out my metro card and I beep It doesn't work be not enough money. So I just jumped the turnstile. I go in, I go in and all sudden two cops come from the both side, right? And, um and I just said, Dude, it's OK. I'm in the museum, Martin. It didn't work. You know what is success? What do you want? You have to figure that out. And that's a hard. That's something that you should sit down on paper like my level of success is actually quite lazy. And it's just been it's just been pointed out to me, too, because my wife's gonna have a baby. My level of success is very lazy. I want to be a good dad. That's nuts. Who sets the bar that low to themselves? But wait a minute. What about money? What about don't? Doesn't your drug needs so time? Like you know what? Snow tires happen. Rent gets paid somehow. It's a miracle. We'll figure out what's important to you. What do you need often times, often times. Oh, my gosh. So I have this I I taught, um this the this in a week long thing at a school and I had this this guy and I was talking about this idea of success and I was talking about distraction, and I was talking about, you know, not bringing it, not owning. And this guy worked its, um um ah book. I think it was like Scholastic. One of those books that makes it wasn't scholastically one of those book companies that makes textbooks for kids, and he just outright told me when I first met him. He says, Yeah, I hate my job. I'm like, really? He says, Yeah, everybody in their hate their job. And I'm thinking you are making textbooks for Children and you hate your job. Your work is not a gift. That's a ludicrous What kind of low energy are you bringing into this workplace? You know, And the part problem is, it wasn't he wasn't he wasn't the smoldering fire. It was obviously a office wider. You know, it always comes from the top down, but I'm thinking, Wow, that's unfortunate. But we had these conversations and he came back to me the next day and he said, You know what? After all of our conversations, I went home. I opened my apartment door and I saw my couch and, you know, and you know what? I saw the ass David on my couch. He said, I realized I'm not bringing realize This is not what I'm here for, he says. I love my apartment and that's my burden. He is. He is, He is. He is hand shackled. He is held in by circumstance that he likes his apartment. He has to make that, and he likes sitting on his couch and going so Homer Simpson style. You know, the bad Homer Simpson. Not even the clumsy, funny Homer Simpson. He's like the dangerous Homer Simpson, right? So you guys have to figure out what is success making posters like, I think, making posters and putting him out in the city of New York. That's awesome. I will do that without I get paid or not. You know, not getting paid is kind of weird, though, because not weird. Dangerous. The 1st, 1st, the first week that I was telling you about this amazing assistant that I had Crest Thompson the first week that he was with me, just moved from Nashville, literally came knocking on my door and said, Huh, I would like to work for you. Like what? What is this? You know. But then the phone rang, and I'm like, I got a big job from Esquire magazine, like pointed the computer only do you know how to use that? And he stayed for four years. It was great, but it was like a became like a basket, a little on the doorstep, you know, basically, what I'm saying is fear and self doubt are the greatest detractors. Two business to our work to ours being professionally. Oh, Chris. Showing up first week in the studio and I'm like, Hey, do that Made it is these posters. It was the hand made a series of things, and he's like I said, like, you know, let's go. It's got Put him up. He's like, Yeah, okay, first week in the studio. And Chris is like this up against a cop car. I and I'm and I'm right here like Oh, dude, I'm so sorry. Okay? That's why we now get other people to hang our posters because I have a fear of leaning up against cop cars. So does anybody know the first rule of business? I love this question. I love this question. I am going to write a business book, huh? Hey. Oh, my God. You know, genius, cause those people say, um, make more than you spend profit. First rule of businesses fun. This is Nobody wants to hear this. Your parents would cringe, but they're wrong. Parents, air amateurs. I'm sorry, I'm one. Find it because if you do not enjoy your job, look at Mr Mr Scholastic. Mr. Book Designer. If you do not enjoy your job. You are not enthusiastic. You are not committed. Long hours are going to feel like work. You're not bringing the party. I want to work with an accountant who loves his job. I want to work with an accountant. Who, um whose work is a gift. Who, like, looks around, goes James. I found this thing. You didn't love it. I just saved you $28. You know this kind of thing? Course you do. You want to work with the surfing instructor who loves his job. I've ever been with a serving instructor who doesn't love his job. I haven't. I have not, But I can imagine. Well, hell, you've been at restaurants with servers who hate their job. What's that like? Do not stand for it. Do not stand for it. Ask for another one, not to the person. But get up and go. I'm sorry. I came here to enjoy a nice meal, and now I feel like I'm being peed on. So I would just like, you know, Or maybe you go to another restaurant because maybe we did. You know, you're not just saying anyway, fun and I know I'm hold. I'm towing a hard line to a certain degree, possibly telling lies, telling small lies to illustrate larger truths. But there are people who have said it more to the point and more directly than I and Joseph Campbell is one. And Joseph Campbell says, I think the person pigs takes a job in order to live. That is to say, make money has turned himself into a slave. That's the bidder. Truth, hard answers for easy questions. Remember, you are not put on this planet for success and to support a family you put on the planet to figure out who you are and get out in the world through work through this through through. Through this. This is my This is my channel. Joseph Campbell and amazing. If you haven't read here, 1000 faces here with 1000 faces or anything else. He's right. It's amazing. So again, I spent a lot of time going to universities and talking, and every time I go there, there's a sign on the door that says Communication Department and I always laughing like that's That's funny communication department and they go. What do you mean? Like I'm like I'm like, Look, I'm like, Oh, yeah, like like you can design communications can't design communication. All you do is pick colors and typography. You can make signs that say bathroom This way. There you go. That's about as tight as communication as you can get. Right and you get to the bathroom is like, I think that's the boy's room. You know, I hate going into Mexican restaurant, Spanish restaurants, ethnic restaurants, getting the boy Matt bathrooms. And I'm like, not sure I just wait till someone comes out. Yeah, um, I don't think we can design communication. I think communication is a byproduct of us putting ourselves in our work really communication. And I know that Red Means has the certain psychological meanings and green means this and typefaces. You know, one is cold and one is warmer and really, really so we're just collage ing and hoping what I'm or interested in is design and purpose communication design and the stuff that goes on in that room is designed, but it's not purpose. We have a purpose, and our purpose is to move others to my rule is my work whether it's spoken word writing or ink on paper is to entertain, to educate and to enlighten. If I can do that, you know color and typography and picking choices and finding a nice stock photo and putting a couple of words like hope. Joy mystery is meaningless, yet we see it everywhere else, so success is a byproduct. But you have to. You have to do the work. You have to do the work. You know that and what that means is practice, practice, practice, practice. I knew very early in my life that the little goofy drawings that I made and left on, like post it notes around like the feeble jobs I had to support myself when I was when I was in art school that people responded to people kept and have to this day, I have friends from then who have framed a little post it notes that I did when I was, you know, like at these jobs that I hated. I've knew early on, and you guys probably have gotten some clue along the way of that. There's things that you have inside you that people really like. Do that find that thing and do that because we are not for everyone, just the sexy people, right