Habits for Ultra-Productivity with Jessica Hische
Hey everyone how's it going, I'm Chase Jarvis. Welcome to another episode of the Chase Jarvis Live Show here on CreativeLive. This is where I sit down with the world's top creatives, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders and do my very very best to unpack some sort of actionable and valuable insights with the primary goal of helping you live your dreams in career and hobby and in life. That's what this is about. My guest today is Jessica Hische.
Hi. (upbeat music) Welcome, this is our first time meeting.
It is our first time. I don't even know how it's been the first time 'cause we're not even distance wise that far away from each other.
We have a lot of the same homies.
I believe it I'm sure if we did the Facebook thing there'd be 4000 people between us.
Danger. We're close. We're gonna get closer over the course of the next 30 minutes or so because I have some questions for you about what you do. First of all thank you for coming here in San Francisco. We're here as a pa...
rt of a print magazine shoot right?
I was at 12:30, your shot at 6:00. Those are good photos you came out great. I was looking over my friend John Keatley, the great photographer they brought into the shoot, looks really good.
I don't normally look so put together so you know I really try to bring it when I know there's gonna be a camera pointed at my face.
It has been brought, you look fantastic. This is primarily an audio show so I would describing these great visual things. But for those folks at home who don't know as much about you and your work as they should can you give us a little bit of backstory? And then what you care about? And and how you got here?
Sure sure, so the little bit of backstory would be I was trained as a graphic designer but what I do now is quite different from graphic design. I ended up working my way through client work and various jobs into becoming a lettering artist and it's probably what I was meant to do all along 'cause I really should have gone to school for illustration instead of graphic design. If you're familiar with graphic design you're basically an amazing creative curator of stuff so you work with good photographers and you art direct shoots and you pick good fonts. And all those people that contribute in some way to the things that you curate are the other artists involved so I'm one of those people. So I work with designers a lot helping them sort of tweak typography stuff or create stuff from scratch and so basically illustrating words and phrases.
And you're very good at it.
The internet knows you're very good at it. Your clients know you're very good at it.
I will say I am very well practiced at it. I am proud of my work. But yeah I really like what I do it's great.
Tell me about you you revealed something that I want to know more about. You said I probably should have not pursued graphic design. Why not?
Well I love client focused work so I think it was an absolute perfect match in that way where I went to art school to be a painter but I could never really get my shit together in terms of expressing myself.
You know painters that have their shit together?
I don't know I know a lot of very serious artists that make very serious work. And I was just never one of those people. And I think I've always been the kind of person that just really likes any excuse to draw. And coming up with your own excuses to draw is much more difficult than having other people come up with excuses for you to draw so in that way it was a match made in Heaven. But I think if I had understood what an illustration career was earlier on I probably would have gone to school to be an illustrator and bypassed graphic design into the career that I am currently in now.
So you also talked about clients. I sense a love hate relationship. I have a love love relationship with clients yeah. I am not one of those people that says, that is just waiting for the moment where clients go away. I really like working with clients.
They're great for creating constraints right?
Yeah I thrive on constraints. I don't know how people go without constraints. When I get a creative brief that's oh no timeline just whenever you can get to it, and really do whatever you want. Just make up the words. It could be a poster, it could be brochure or whatever I'm I can't do this go find someone else that has the ability to narrow themselves down that well.
It's so true.
I really need some sort of direction with projects and I think that for me the best thing about sort of freelancing and also doing the kind of work that I do is that I get to have a variety of the really really really tight briefs and then the somewhat loose do your own thing briefs. And I get to manage moving back and forth between those two worlds instead of being all in one world or all in another world.
I think the concept well the way that I think about the people who pay attention to the show is I put them very casually in two camps. And I believe that there are two camps because I think it's about how people self identify. One camp is people who identify as creative and entrepreneurial and call themselves that, think of that that's their mindset. And they're trying to get better. They've started they're on their path and they're trying to get better. And then the other ones they're curious. They're dipping their toe in and they have been told their whole life that they couldn't do it shouldn't do it might want to do it leave that safe career and strike out on their own, their own business, their own careers or chasing some creative dream of theirs. And for the people who are in camp one that are trying to go from one to 10 say. They I feel by and large understand that constraints create creativity and creativity fuels a ton of things. And for the folks who are zero to one they think that the world probably thinks, or probably think the world runs on I just want to make what I want to wake up in the morning and put on my beret and smoke my cigarette and be very creative.
Though I would say that even within both of those worlds there is a separate delineation. So there's even in the entrepreneur worlds there's the people that are at one that can visualize 10 and they shoot for 10. Whereas I'm not in that camp. I'm the person that that zeros from that goes step one, step two, step three, step four, step five and and I just keep going until it doesn't stop which can go on forever. But I don't sit here and go alright I'm at step three how do I get to step without, bypassing all these other steps? I kind of know that the steps are necessary for me. Some people feel they can skip the steps but I can't you know. And it's sort of knowing that there are steps to take that makes it less intimidating for me to create anything. So I, as an entrepreneur, when I do entrepreneurial projects I'm always trying to look at what's immediately around me rather than doing shoot for the moon stuff. 'Cause I'm just not a shoot for the moon kind of creator I'm a person that's you have a problem I'm solving it today we're gonna do it. And that's really satisfying to me, the immediacy of it. And it's also just a lot simpler to solve problems that you are extremely familiar with than it is to actually have to familiarize yourself completely with a project that is totally outside of your universe in order to solve it so I think--
There's a practicality you know that's so effective.
I'm an engineer brain that's in a creative role. I am a super crazy list maker, organizer, really logical really risk averse. There's a lot of things about how I run my career that I'm really happy that it's turned out well but. And I think, I feel my career is a testament where if you just keep hammering at something you will get good at it and have some form of success versus the the people that sort of see up here as if they jump out of nowhere you know what I mean.
I do and thank you for saying that because that is that reaffirms and confirms so many things that are true about the industry that most people who are in that zero to one camp they were told their whole life they weren't creative because they have an engineering brain or because they think very linearly or you're living proof you can be wildly, passionately, deeply creative, successful, all those things and have that kind of brain.
Well I think too if you're good at art from a young age everyone calls you right brained forever. But I test off the charts on the left side. Everything that, I'm in you know ENFJ. I'm just a super bossy person. Just get shit done, only do the stuff that's accomplishable. I'm not an ethereal, what's the vision of whatever kind of person and I love having those people around because I being the person that is, helps them hone their dreams into something that is immediately achievable. And there's definitely a place for both things but I think that a lot of creatives think that if they're not in the camp where they are the big thinkers, Steve Jobsy kind of how do I disrupt the industry or whatever.
Change the world.
Change the world. You know that's a really intimidating thing to think that that's the only form of success that actually matters. Whereas I feel I'm more of a massive impact on a small scale than a tiny impact on a large scale person.
I have somewhere along the line stole some idea that someone else handed me which is brilliant which was something light 1000 small fires instead of one big fire, something that. And that's this daily sort of get the work done. The ironic sort of twist to all that is some of the people that I know that the world thinks of as the most creative, that get the most shit done, that have achieved the most personal satisfaction and success have exactly what you're describing you have.
Well yeah I think actually even the big project people, the people that do are the huge dreamers they still have exercises that they go through to kind of get the wheels in motion. And sometimes those exercises turn into their own thing. And I think with client work the way that I mean I know a lot of people that are like this. It's against what the advice that you get from a lot of people is which is do the hardest thing first so it's out of the way. That's not how I work. I do all the easy things because that gets my juices flowing and it gets the gears turning and then I feel I suddenly I'm running downhill instead of slowly slogging uphill and it's while I'm already at that pace that I'm able to sprint into a huge project that I was maybe a little bit intimidated about And then find myself halfway into it before I realize that oh wow--
Here I am.
Here I am wow I got more done than I thought I would on this thing in a couple days whereas I thought it was gonna take me a month you know.
What is something about you that if people found out, people in your community, people on the internet, your clients if they found that out they would be surprised to hear it?
I think right now it might be that I work really reasonable hours. So I was definitely a crazy 80 to 100 hour work week person earlier in my life. I thought that that would be something that would kind of carry on forever but I mean really you get a lot more efficient at the work that you do over time. And now that I have a family and live in California and just don't have a lot of friends bragging about working on Saturdays I find that I keep a pretty normal schedule. So I'm actually in the office for between 35 and 40 hours a week and I work extra hours if I have a major fire under my butt about a fun side project but otherwise I to keep it at that.
What was the change? Was it a switch that flipped or was it a slow creep back to normality?
There was a little bit of a switch even just moving to San Francisco because most of my friends here were working at startups that weren't in that really early crazy stage. They were working normal jobs getting off at work at six. And it was just not exciting to be the only one working until 10 or 11 o'clock at night when everybody else was hanging out. And I think that's a real problem for a lot of young creatives is that they're not surrounded by that culture. And they can't put in the extra hours that a lot of people that are surrounded by that culture can. That culture isn't always healthy but it certainly does help you get a lot of work done early on in your career. But I was at a point in my life where I just kind of needed to slow down. I wasn't, I was probably capable of keeping going if I was cool getting bronchitis four to five times a year but it was really it was a time in which I'm glad that I had some more time to be introspective and actually kind of figure myself out as a human and not just as a designer.
Yeah talk about that that's interesting. Talk about figuring yourself out as a human. That was very eloquently, you slipped that in there kind of but it's meaningful I want to hear about it.
Yeah well I mean I don't know any creative that once they hit 30 they don't have this I just got to take some time to myself man. And I definitely went through it. Part of it was just being surrounded by so many, a culture that encourages that so completely. Where of course you go to therapy. You got some stuff to work out. I gotta go to my pilates instructor to do my soft tissue work because my shoulders fucked up from when I fell off my bicycle eight years ago or whatever. And there's just a lot of that in the air in California.
In California. (laughing) A lot of fucked up shoulders in California.
But I mean what was really good is that I, while I was growing up and while I was younger I was always really good at sort of handling any crisis in my life because I could just throw myself into work to get my head out of it you know. So work was this thing that was always the good thing. It was always a positive. And I think I needed a little bit of time to focus on the other aspects of my life and enrichen those things and be able to handle crisis's without just shutting myself off from the world and doing it an 80 hour work. And just feel way more capable as a person you know emotionally and stuff like that then I think I was when I was in my 20's and crazy workaholic mode.
So it sounds vaguely like advice that you're giving. I'm wondering if that is advice that you'd be giving someone who's--
Yeah yeah, I mean it's the same advice your parents give you forever which is your health is your top priority. It's really true I mean you, one of the things that I really cling to as a piece of advice in general especially now that I'm a parent is you have to put your own oxygen mask on before you can help others you know. And if you're not capable of handling yourself and your problems because you're so buried in stress and whatever then you can't possibly make positive change for other people. And so there really is sort of an emphasis on self care in that where it's not selfish to make sure that you are cool as a human. And that you're handling your problems and taking care of yourself in sleeping and eating decent foods and just sort of making sure that you're at a good base level before you seek out to do really intense ambitious stuff because you'll hit a limit you'll hit a wall if you're not in a good place when you start those things.
Even if you can go deep and really far there is a wall out there and the sleep thing was a big thing for me that I for years and years and years thought it was genetic. Didn't need sleep because XYZ. Just entertain, let me go here for a second. And it sounds absurd but I remember saying I can't actually think of the last time I got more than five hours of sleep. And I think it's a good thing because it's something that you do do when you're young and the reason you have that much energy is because you're working on stuff that you love. And it's okay that there's nothing wrong with that but at some point you're like you know what? Something changed I feel like eight hours of sleep is a thing that if I went there and did that it was a game changer for me.
Well also too I think when, I am a person that can get by on very little sleep and I think that there are two kinds of people. There's people that are eight hour minimum nine hour would be better and then there's the six and a half to seven hour minimum but I should probably get eight hours and I'm in that camp where if I push the envelope I can get by for a really long time on five to six hours of sleep and be pretty okay with it. I'll just have a totally depleted immune system and be I just have sensitive lungs, I just get you know sick every now and then blah blah blah. When really I'm just rundown and my body is in crazy fight or flight mode. But yeah I think the sleep thing is huge just because the way that you approach work there's certain hours of the day that you are better at certain kinds of work depending on how you sleep, and how you're formed and what you're eating, and blah blah blah. And if I'd sleep decent hours I can extend my brainpower of the day beyond 9:00 a.m. to lunchtime. Where if I'm sleeping really poorly it's really just as soon as I wake up for two or three hours. Then after that I have to be in brainless production mode. And if I am treating myself well, getting exercise, sleeping well then I can do sketches in the afternoon and not feel I'm wasting time and just drawing circles in a book.
You said something earlier, I'm gonna change gears for a second. You said something earlier about personal projects. I know that's a thing.
It is a thing.
A thing for you in particular too right?
Then tell us about that.
But I realized something recently. So I was having a conversation with my studio mate Eric Marinovich who I think you guys are probably also interviewing for this.
Probably, we're all connecting here.
We're all connecting. We're both lettering artists and we share a space and he does a lot of personal projects as well though most of his personal projects revolve around doing experimental lettering stuff. And most of my personal projects are not about making artwork because I feel what my side projects do is exercise parts of me that don't get exercised in client work. So I don't have this overwhelming desire to fill more of my hours with lettering because I feel like I have plenty of my hours filled with lettering yeah. But what I do is fill those hours with heavy brainpower thinking stuff, and education projects, and writing, and things that so a lot of my side projects are more me exploring web development and what if I make a resource of this thing? Or what if I write this epic 8000 word essay but then make it a visual essay or whatever. And it's really helpful for me because those, it makes me feel like I'm actually addressing every part of what my creative brain wants to do instead of just specializing in the thing that I get paid to do for a living. And I think that that's something that anybody that is a specialist will tell you that they have plenty of other hobbies outside of their specialty and those things don't necessarily play into their professional world but they definitely are a way for them to explore other parts of themselves.
Yeah it's like side projects. The difference between side projects and side hustle is real A side hustle is probably making money doing more of the same thing that you do during the daytime because you're good at that thing and you can make some cash.
Seems like this is a little bit more--
It's a little bit different I mean, and truthfully I should be doing more lettering side projects because those are the sort, they translate to more and different work, they do. If there's a thing that you want to be doing that you're not doing in your creative career if you find a way to do that as a side project some client will come along and say hey I love that thing you did. Can you do that for us but make it a little bit different? And that's really how modern freelancing works It's people creating projects for themselves, or for their friends, or for some band that they like or whatever, posting it to Instagram and some client that's a actual paying client sees that and goes you're cool. Can I pay you to do that thing but for me? And so I would say one of the things that I'm not taking advantage of by using my side projects as a way to expand my mental horizons is I'm not using it as a way to get different client work. But the kind of side projects that I'm interested in do, they have a different benefit for me because I have a super strong teacher gene. But I don't have an ability to teach at a college level right now 'cause I travel too much and I just don't have the, I'm never in one place for 15 weeks at a time. And so I think it's a way for me to use that really intense desire to mentor in a way that I can actually integrate into my life. And because I have that intense desire the side projects that I do end up working for my career in a positive way but just in a different way, they elevate me professionally but they don't put money in my pocket.
Well that makes me want to have you on CreativeLive for sure I'm sure you know Debbie, and Stefan, and Jessica, and Michael Beirut and you're in that whole clan and we'll have to find a way. Maybe I'll handcuff myself to you and make you sign, agree to do a class. The actual rubber to the road profession of design is not about, and I would say this with basically every creative career, it's not about waking up and saying what do I want to make today? Tell me your view on sort of going to work. I feel like we've tapped into it a little bit but there's more under the surface that I want to hear from you on that.
Well part of it is when you're running your own business you just have to accept and understand that a giant part of your life is not making artwork. And you have to, whether or not you enjoy it you have to accept it and if you don't enjoy it you have to figure out how to delegate it.
Either that or not be self employed.
Yeah or not be self employed 'cause not every not everybody's meant to be self employed. It is an awesome thing but it can be a slog. One of the things that I was talking to someone about recently is that one of the things that I love about being self employed is that there's very few jobs where you get to both be the person in charge that has all the power and also the person that gets their hands dirty and touches the art. 'Cause if you work for anyone the more power you accrue and the higher you climb on the ladder the further separated you are from the creative process. Which is just how it is. You become an art director, you become a creative director, you become a person that has meeting culture and spends all day basically coaching other people into making the art which can be awesome and super rewarding especially if you have the teacher gene very strong. But if you're someone that needs the actual creating to be a big part of your life you are gonna hit a cap if you're working for someone else of how much success in terms of title or in terms of how much you're making and things like that if you still really want to be involved in the actual day to day making. And you see that definitely when you're talking about startups and being a product designer and things like that.
I want to look at the other side of the same point and that is support for people who do work at another company and sometimes that works out really well.
Of course and that's what I'm saying though is that it's really difficult to not focus on climbing that ladder as being the only signifier of success and so I know a lot of people that work at companies that have decided to walk away from management jobs because they want more creative control in a physical way. So that is not to downplay working somewhere else. It's just to understand that if you work somewhere else and what your ultimate goal is is to be successful at the company you're gonna start removing yourself from creating, from direct creating and be more of a managerial creator. And if you really really want to stay involved in the nitty gritty creation you just have to accept that you're gonna hit a ceiling of where you're gonna climb at that company and that's not a bad thing. It's just a thing to know. And so what I love about being self employed is that I'm at the top and the bottom of the ladder simultaneously. And really if I had any employee whatsoever I would be on one end or the other. I'd either need to hire someone that was a project manager that basically told me what to do or I would need to hire someone that was a junior designer that I told what to do and then I would be basically delegating a lot of the creative work that I would love to be doing to them.
That's my favorite thing about my current role is as the founder and CEO I have the authority at the top but I love the bottom and I will allow myself to operate there. It's really the middle that is--
The middle is hard yeah.
That is really where I struggle I don't, I'm not. I'm a leader not a manager I don't succeed in that. It's not even that I don't, yes I don't it but it's probably because I'm really bad at anything that's in the middle and I'd rather be actually focusing that camera and saying no let's rack the focus like this or you know camera angle here, or this is what we want to be and become in three, five years I want to own Creative Education or whatever and the middle is weird.
The middle is hard.
You've put it so elegantly that as a self employed person you can do both.
Yeah you're at both ends of the of the spectrum.
Just yeah and that's interesting I'm gonna always credit you for that. That's very insightful. So let me ask a slightly different question because I know there are people out there in the world that are either at a company, building company, responsible for others for departments and things like that and sometimes that culture is open to design and design thinking and sometimes it's not so nice to have, it's not a must have so talk to me about the importance of design thinking culturally. Just pretend that your audience is yeah I think design is interesting.
Well what I would say is design is a really broad thing. There's design that is good design because it's invisible not because it is design with a capital D. And I think that when people that are, that don't have a very design centric culture think about integrating design they think about things like branding or they think about let's add some flourishes to something. They think about very--
At some serifs to the font.
Very surface level things where design does not have to be surface level. And I think as a person that is a very surface level designer, a lot of even the branding work that I do I focus on work that, I take a logo that has served someone well and can't be changed significantly and just try to move it into a zone that is better without losing the DNA of the original thing. So it is really subtle stuff but I think that you know there's a place for design thinking everywhere as long as you know that design isn't just a costume that you put on top of a product at the end of it. It's something that--
It's the thinking part.
It's the thinking part it's even just thinking about user experience design and things, how people actually engage with something, that's design. And how can a graphic designer make that part of it easier because there's certainly things that you just feel comfortable being in a certain space because it's designed a comfortable way. And I think that when it comes to product design it's that it doesn't need to be like holy shit look at the aesthetic of this. It's just I don't feel bothered by this thing and it's the non bothered that is actually making me enjoy the experience. So yeah it's just sort of understanding that design doesn't mean that the designers sensibilities have to be so present that you really that it has a theme to it. You know what I mean?
Some friends at Google Ventures Design Lab down the street here they're an investor in CreativeLive and they have walked us through some cool design sprints and they've showed us a little bit about their process and I remember one thing in particular is they showed the process of designing for a financial services company. And there were three different versions because the teams were competing and one was really out there. It's like hey what do you want to do? And it's like go to save money for Coachella, go on that rad trip, and it was all of the hip sort of design language and you know big big entry fields and it had it felt like a Mobile First application and everyone was sure that was gonna win because basically it was trendy. And then they user tested it against the thing that was more conservative that talked about safety and security. And it turns out people don't want a wackadoodle cool funky thing yeah for their finances.
Well and also too, so this is a weird comparison but I will make it.
Please, I love weird comparisons.
So a thing that you use every day kind of needs to be as vanilla as possible right. So if you think about an exercise video. I have used exercise videos in the past when I wasn't going to exercise classes. I had this one exercise video and the person that was in charge you know whatever the instructor made a joke during the segment where everybody was doing burpees or whatever and they made some joke. That joke get repeated every time that person does that instructional video. So after three or four days of doing this video you start to feel like you're gonna murder everyone on the screen. But honestly if they would have just left the joke out I wouldn't mind the repetition, it's ignorable. So it's like certain things you don't want to have a big flashy something something in because that's a daily use case thing. And the more noticeable the design is or the more noticeable the opinion is or the more noticeable that inserted joke is the more it drives people completely insane. So certain services kind of require you to completely remove any sort of design ego from and the best design is the design that is the most like wow I'm just using this intuitively even though clearly there's so much thought that goes into it. But nothing can disrupt that intuitive process. Anything that is even just the tiniest ooh look here that is gonna be so outrageously noticeable every time that person uses that service and it's gonna eventually drive them away from that service.
It's just like great service at a restaurant. If the waiter's always at the table announcing herself hey or if the guys like let me tell you about the specials I'm Bob and I'm gonna be taking care of you and it's I just like, versus if your food shows up, the food goes away, the drinks come, and it's all excellent and you don't notice it that's a service that's designed. And it's exactly the way I'd want it. I don't need a bunch of, hopefully the experience is at my table as much as it is from the person.
And the thing is too there are the times where you want that service. If I'm going to you know per se to eat I want it to be a special experience that I remember forever.
But if it's the place I go every Wednesday I don't want it to be over the top crazy or you know the place, in the case of apps, the place I eat every day for lunch. I don't want the place I eat every day for lunch to be screaming at me all the time. I want it to just be a thing you know. And I think that designers lose that sometimes where they are worried about making something that's not special enough when really if you add too much special into something that you want people or expect people to use very very regularly it drives them crazy and it's impossible to not notice it.
Changing gears, and changing gears specifically about you. Habits, what are some of your best habits?
Best habits are ooh that's hard to say. My immediate mind went to showers regularly but I don't know if I can count that.
Yeah that's like a baseline. You appear well showered today.
I try you know, a couple times a week at least. No I'm kidding, but no I would say one of my best habits which is just not even a habit it's just a built in part of me is whenever there is a problem that needs to be solved or something that, a positive that has come about I am constantly trying to dissect it and work backwards to how that thing happened. 'Cause I really love understanding how things work and so when there's a disruption in my life that's positive or negative I want to really understand everything around that thing and make sure that I'm maxing out everything around it so--
Example would be...
So if there was something personal if a bad personal thing came about I wouldn't go oh my God I'm screwed forever that personal thing is fucked up and I guess that person's not my friend anymore or I guess my leg never works in the same way again or whatever I don't, I wouldn't just be like I accept this thing as bad that's all.
Yeah full stop. What I would do is go oh my God how did it get to here? Let me walk back. Where did I, where's the change that happened? What can I do to adjust myself in the future so that change doesn't happen in the future? What can I do to remedy this situation? Which makes it so that I have coping mechanisms when stuff doesn't go my way. I know how to deal with crisis's a lot better than a lot of people I think just because I always think there's a way to walk to a solution to get to a better place and so I think that that's one of the best attributes that I'm very thankful that I have that as a part of me because it basically means that when stuff feels hopeless it never feels hopeless or when stuff feels amazing it feels like it's repeatable. It doesn't feel things are just fluke things positive or negative that I don't know how to find my way back to.
How about do you have any routines that you feel make you a better human? That's I mean slightly different than what you just said I think.
Yeah yeah. One of the routines that make me a better human which is a totally boring work routine thing.
You say all these things are boring but people think they're fascinating.
This was a true game changer of a thing in my career which I've written about on my site a little bit which I give, I'm like you want advice I'll give you advice all the time. But I started trying to consolidate all of my taskie administrative stuff into blocks of time. So I have Admin Mondays. So every Monday I take care of all of my administrative work for the week and if I get administrative work requests later in the week I push it to the next Monday. But what it what it does that I did not anticipate is it makes me really look forward to Mondays because Mondays I don't have any hard problems to solve they're all these, it's like basically organizing my sock drawer at the office. So I go into the office and I feel I've accomplished so much even though none of it matters 'cause none of it's client work. But I immediately remove this huge weight off my shoulders for the entire week and then the rest of the week it helps my creative work flow a lot freer because I'm not constantly worried I should have written that person back from eight days ago that wrote me about that thing or whatever.
That's good advice.
It was I mean--
Game changer for you?
It was a real game changer because I have a really hard time not being a trigger finger replier to stuff. And Email begets Emails so what happened was it makes you kind of purposefully aloof a little bit. And limits your availability when people assume unlimited availability from someone that works for themself. And I think all of us have a really hard time having constraints about when we are capable of doing things especially if you have a flexible schedule. It's sort of started me on this path of setting these hard rules about what I do and do not do when it comes to work and so that was kind of the first one of that, of like oh okay well you want me to send you a bunch of files that's on a hard drive that I don't even know how to turn on anymore. I'm not going to do that on a Wednesday. I'm gonna try and do that next Monday rather than completely screw up the middle of my week that was supposed to be a deadline day because I can't help myself and I have to do your request.
What about something, that sounds a great professional one do you have a personal one of those?
A personal one of those. I definitely feel like, well I don't exercise as much as I should but I found that I need meditation in my life but I'm a horrible meditator so the only, 'cause I'm just buzzing all the time and I have a really hard time calming my brain down. So even when I do yoga classes and stuff like that I'm working through day problems halfway through and it's very hard to turn off but what I have found is that when I do the kind of exercises where people are walking you through moves so it's almost that forced meditation thing where you have to focus so intently on what people are telling you to do on a minute by minute basis--
Bikram yoga do you know that one where they're just constantly yapping at you. It does happen to be 110 degrees but--
I can't do that because I run a little hot naturally but. I got really into really slow mat Pilates where it's not the on the machine doing crazy stuff and looking you're exercising. You basically, every move is pretty micro. But it's sort of like it takes 10 steps to even walk you into a move I would be really into those long form yoga pose kind of things for that. And it's just a way to get my brain--
Quiet the monkey working.
Quiet the monkey mind. I didn't think I was a person that needed meditation because I like running on all speeds all the time. But it made a huge difference and having a commute. I'm also the only person on earth that loves commuting because I just need a way to have 40 minutes of quiet time. That is that decompressing before I get into the office or something like that.
Nice, yeah I don't hear a lot of people celebrating their commute, especially 40 minute long ones.
I love it, especially if I'm on a train or something. I'm just 15 like minutes of New York Times the rest of time scheming about random stuff. It's like how people always come up with their best ideas in the shower and things like that. I can't take a shower without a toddler trying to get in there with me right now so there are no good ideas coming out of my shower. But there are lots of good ideas that come out of a long commute on a train.
Favorite art, favorite book, favorite movie? Or not favorite just actually favorite, let's take remove the word favorite.
Yeah favorite's too loaded too loaded.
Something that you liked recently.
Something that I liked recently?
'Cause you're good at recommending things I gather.
Yeah I really, I read A Secret History and the Goldfinch from Donna Tartt. Both super good, I love fiction I feel like I know a lot of people that can't be bothered with fiction but I really love fiction books and I feel like so much comes from it creatively. It really is a way to explore without leaving your house when you can't leave your house as easily. So both of those books. I'm reading All the Light we Cannot See right now which is also really good. Though I'm not reading it as fast as I've read those other books and favorite TV. I watch a lot more TV than I watch movies.
A series that you like.
Well I'm also a crazy marathoner of television because a lot of my--
I've known you for a total of 45 minutes now and I would say I bet she can crush House of Cards.
Well the thing is I can crush House of Cards because it has that addictive like I just got to see what's happening next and also because I can survive on very little sleep. So it's a bad combination. But I actually marathon a lot of television that I've either already seen before or is not quite as artfully done as some of the Netflix series and things because so much of my artwork that I do involves a lot of long production. I can put on television while I'm working and just kind of half pay attention to it, especially if it's very dialogue driven and so I mean I got through 20 seasons of Law & Order SVU in five months or something you know like that. And there's things like that. I've watched the first three or four seasons of the X Files 40 times and there's a lot of, I like repeat watching things especially thing I'm a little bit too nostalgic all the time about stuff too. I listen to the same music that I listened to when I was, I basically add one new album per year to my music catalog and otherwise I'm still stuck as a 22 year old.
Pearl Jam still gotcha, or what's the?
I was a little later. Thankfully I had horrible taste in high school and then it really got up a notch in college and then so I'm just stuck in the college area which is fine by me I'm--
So you still have the CD's on your desk there?
Yeah I'm good with that yeah.
Advice, there are people who, you have blazed a trail and there are people who are following that trail. What's your advice to them?
I think that one of the biggest pieces of advice is just do not constantly compare yourself against other people. It is crippling, I find that, and it's even true now. One of the things that I notice in myself is that I've been consuming social media a lot more than I've been contributing to it. And when I was younger and working those crazy 80 hour work weeks I basically would just be like hey guys look what I did and then go off and work because I was too busy to not do that. And it was really rewarding just to kind of throw stuff out there and then walk away instead of spending all of my time sort of immersing myself in what was out there and then feeling too intimidated to actually push myself into it. So I think that a lot of people suffer from that where they know that they need to absorb awesome things around them and be aware of what the market is and what other people are doing but I don't know a lot of people that are not totally intimidated when they start seeing work that they feel is way way above there level.
You're comparing your day to day with everybody else's highlight reel.
Yeah exactly. I mean even even so it's hard to look at a piece of someone made and actually really understand the hours that went into it. Because if you start seeing people at a high level making stuff and you're like I love this piece but even knowing that that piece took 25 hours or something for them to make it feels so immediate 'cause we're just so used to consuming at such a high level, or such a high volume and it can just feel impossible.
That's a great advice that goes hand in hand with a friend of mine named Marie Forleo. I don't know if you know Marie but she says in almost the same breath she says two things comparing things is terrible. She actually has this lovely comparison. It's called a compareschlager like the Goldschlager that you drank in college was the worst alcohol you could possibly consume. And so don't compareschlager. And create before you consume. It's powerful and simple advice. I feel you might have some career advice. I think that's just very general advice that I subscribe to deeply. What about specifically for someone who wants to pursue a career like you have?
Well I think the main thing is whatever career you choose to pursue pursue it because you actually enjoy what that career entails not because you want what is at the end of the rainbow of that career. And that's really hard to find out. You have to actually try things in order to figure that out. That's why they make you take electives in college and stuff that. Because I love my career and that's because I really love tedious work and whenever people are sending me shortcuts of how to do stuff I'm like don't tell me I don't want the shortcut. I want to keep doing it my long way 'cause it feels good. That's how I meditate it's how I, that's when I go into flow mode and everything and anybody that tries to speed up my process I tend to be I tend to push away. But there's a lot of people that just don't have the patience and they don't have, they don't get off on the stuff that I get off on. And I think it's important to sort of understand how you want to fill your time 'cause really as a creative person, as creatives I think one of the things that's so amazing is that we have these careers that we kind of have to make up, you kind of have it--
Kind of looking around like has anybody figured out that I'm just figuring this out as I go.
Yeah exactly and I think what's great about that is that we have no job security but we have the most job security because very few people outside of creative careers spend time annually asking themselves am I happy? Am I doing what I'm supposed to be doing? Am i advancing myself in the right ways? A lot of people enter careers after doing really awesome work in college and getting great degrees and then kind of going on cruise control for a really long time and if they get thrown off of that cruise control for whatever reason because of a life thing, because they got laid off, because of whatever they do not know how to recover 'cause it has been a really long time since they've had to think about stuff. And I think that that's one of the biggest positives about being a creative is actually taking time to figure out what you want right now in this moment, and that changes constantly. You can't expect that the career that you wanted when you were 23 is gonna be the same career that you want when you're 35 is the same career that you want when you're 55 and my goal is to never retire. If I can be in a place where I always feel I'm doing work that makes me feel awesome and fulfilled even if that work is really different than what I'm doing now but it's right for me at the time then I'm doing something right. And if I'm ever at a point where I go God I wish I could just walk away from this forever I know that I've gone really off the rails. And so I think that that's the biggest thing to think about. Don't think about how do I get into this career that can then end an early retirement, or how can I set myself up for life. It's more like how do I set myself up for a way that I get to spend eight hours of my day doing something really rewarding that makes me feel I'm contributing as a human to the rest of the world and also that I'm maxing out the stuff that I actually want to be doing for a living.
Speed round, ready? Biggest failure you don't admit to yourself regularly.
Biggest failure that I... I will say that I am not a crazy overachiever in terms of deliverables to clients. And when I see people that are I get really upset with myself because I feel like I'm doing it wrong. So if I see a deck that Aaron Draplin shows a client versus a deck that I show a client I showed three options which was kind of what I had promised but he's showing 15 options maybe I'm doing it wrong. So I don't think it's the wrong thing but I think it's something where--
That's a little bit of compareschloger but it's also--
It's a little bit of compareschloger but it's also--
Like there's something deeper there.
There's something deeper there. I think what it is is that I have over time become a really business savvy person and that can affect my creativity negatively sometimes because I don't let myself run wild.
That's a brilliant answer. I don't want you to explain it anymore that's brilliant. Biggest thing that if you said it right now that people would be shocked to find out they didn't know that about you.
I thought we already covered this with my weird not that intense work week.
That's fair I feel there are, I would to hear something else along those lines in the speed round. See what I'm trying to do is I want a one liner. You've done such a good job explicating. And now I'm trying to constrain you a little bit. This is the one liner.
So this is the thing that people would be shocked about me? See the issue is though I'm a little too much of an open book. I'm just Miss Out and About.
That's why I, then if you're so out and about then that would not qualify as a thing that people would be shocked by.
Well actually if this video was released tomorrow the thing that I think must be shocked by is that I'm currently pregnant with my second child which I've been completely hiding from the internet so.
How long do you want me to wait until this comes out?
Oh I don't care you can just do it whenever. But yeah I have chosen to not make this as public as the first round because--
That's the best, that's an amazing answer.
Yeah I just didn't want to have to do the clawing myself back into client world this time. And I'm gonna be unavailable for a month or two but that's kind of that.
Who do you admire?
Oh man I admire all kinds of folks. I feel like the people that I admire the most are the people that are able to be awesome at being human beings while also being awesome at being creatives. So in that way I feel Michael Beirut is one of those people where I'm just how does that guy do it? Where he is a very very thoughtful person on top of being an awesome badass designer. And I just haven't been able to get my shit together with sending thank you cards to people or just reaching out randomly to say a nice thing to someone and I definitely give people a lot of my time, and I'm everyone's cheerleader. But I feel it seems to dawn on him to do all those awesome thoughtful things a lot more.
Envious, who are you envious of? I'm envious of his persondom.
His domain (grunting) got it.
Yeah yeah his ability to just seem pretty I mean I know a few people that that are able to sort of effortlessly be extremely thoughtful and also professional.
Is there a new year's resolution you made that you'd share with us?
New years resolution. Well actually one of my new year's resolutions is to be more proactive in terms of actually reaching out to people that I want to work with and to meeting clients in person and stuff like that because I've been really weird and lucky in that I haven't had to do a lot of that in the past. And I could be fine not doing it now but I feel like this new fire in me to actually maybe I should fly back to New York every now and then just to meet with people that I've always wanted to work with. And I think one of the things that I've appreciated about being freelance is I never know what's coming my way and that's really exciting. But I do feel like I can now probably know some things that I want to do that I have the ways to make it happen and I want to start taking steps to do that.
Thank you so much for spending 45 minutes with us. I really appreciate your time. It's super awesome to have you been a part of the print magazine thing. Obviously Debbie curated a mean show.
She's good, she's got her posse.
She is, she's together. Thanks for doing this too I appreciate it.
Our paths will cross again soon.
Bye everybody at home. I hope you enjoyed this talk. It's a good one and she's too yay. Look in that one. All these ones, bye everybody. (upbeat music)