Over the past 26ish years, the way I move on Saturday mornings has shifted tremendously. Some of my earliest memories are of watching the MC Hammer or New Kids On The Block cartoons while eating cereal. At the time, I was probably hanging out in my favorite Knicks shirt and some UNC shorts. It was pretty cool after a hard week of doing whatever it is that three-year-olds do.
Looking back now, those were some great times. How I operate on Saturdays now, relaxed as it may be, is still about growth as much as my Mondays through Fridays are. Most Saturdays, I wake up to pull out my yoga mat and stretch (tip to my near/post-30 year olds: STRETCH!), after which I go into the kitchen and pour a cup of coffee, spread some cream cheese on a bagel (unless I feel like cooking), and head over to the NY Times website to see what’s going on in the world. Then it’s time to shower, shave, get to running a few errands, after which I can get to my crossword puzzles. I used to exercise on Saturdays but that’s been moved to my Sunday morning regimen.
Saturdays have changed and, as a kid, I would think of my current life as boring but this is fun. I’m learning, I’m growing, and I’m keeping myself sharp.
Construct a Saturday morning routine. Make it cathartic and enjoyable. And let it work for you.
Make professional development a priority.
If you look at my photography page on Instagram, you won’t see many branded photographs. That is because, starting out, my photography was only meant to be artistic expression. I never thought it would turn into a source of income and recognition for me. But now that it has, I have invested in a professionally done logo (which will be released within the next week or two) and I’m in the process of getting some pieces printed. Going forward, my creations will be treated as a source of income, which they are.
But this post isn’t about turning your passion into a business. It’s about making sure you get credit that can take your craft to the next level. No, credit is not the goal with creativity but imagine the impact your art can have if you know that what people are seeing isn’t even your best work? What if being recognized gets you the resources necessary to create even better products and provide better services? For instance, let’s say there is an awesome video centered around LeBron’s move to the Los Angeles Lakers that a graphic designer created. The video was passed around the web and, finally, Bron saw it. He reposts it. But he doesn’t know who to credit because your creativity is unbranded.
Damn. Now you’ve got a great piece of artwork with a dope soundtrack and no one will ever know you created it because it’s been reposted 37,000 times.
I’m not saying you have to plaster your face or logo across everything you create but I am saying that, if someone wants to get in touch with you to offer you an opportunity to create for their brand, you shouldn’t be impossible to find.
By the way, this post was inspired by that great artist who will likely remain unsung.
Make effective branding a priority.
The Reader is changing. I’m not sure what it’s going to look like going forward. The title will remain but writing by myself five days a week for almost six years has been an awesome exercise and privilege.
So, thanks for reading. And don’t stop. Keep coming to the site. I will still be posting, just less frequently for now (unless I can get some partners, if that’s the direction this goes. I would rather shift my writing schedule than to spread myself thin and not give my readers (or listeners or watchers) what they need.
Peace, for now.
I don’t know what age people become “too old” to change so I’ll say this: You are young enough to change for the better. As I prepare for the next step in my career, I’ve gotten some great advice from a few seasoned professionals who each said, “Whatever the next step is, life is too short to do something you’re good at but that makes you unhappy.” It’s the truth. I’m not saying that I am unhappy but there are days where I ask myself “How can I make the most out of my talents?”
Don’t just jump without thinking about it but don’t not think about it. What really gets your wheels turning? What do you go to bed thinking about and then wake up with on your mind? Answer those questions and figure out how you can make a career out of it. It could be in working for yourself or you could work for an already established entity. While the point isn’t necessarily ownership, it is certainly happiness and it’s not being a slave to any place or person.
No matter what stage you’re at in life, you owe it to yourself to start your days with a smile. Figure out how you can do that and do it. Yesterday is a memory, tomorrow is a fantasty. All we have is now.
By the way, taking that dope photo above? That made me happy.
Make following your dreams a priority.
I have a longtime friend who just had her first interview in five years. She hadn’t been in the job market because she didn’t need to be. The thing is, you never know when you’re going to need to have sharp interview skills and, the best way to keep an ax sharp is to sharpen it ever so often. Even if you’re not looking for a job, I strongly recommend going through a couple interview processes a year, from submission of a résumé to the declining (or maybe accepting) of the position.
Whether you’re comfortable with your employer or you are your employer, you know the one thing that happens with all tables? At some point, they turn. Good can go to bad in no time. What do you do when you need to be able to sell your skillset but haven’t had to in half a decade or longer?
Need some interview tips? Check out these posts.
10 Questions You Might Ask In a Job Interview
Career Coach: Dressing For Successful Interviews
Make keeping your skills sharp a priority.
As a creative, while my art is inspired by the world around me, my vision is my vision. Everyone won’t love it. Someone will like it but will want to improve upon it. And, if your work is really good, people will (try to) steal it without giving you credit.
The same rules apply to your entrepreneurial visions. And that’s cool. While I strongly suggest protecting your work, artistic or otherwise, if you’re not creating things that others want to steal, are you creating anything worthwhile?
Make creating art people want to steal a priority. It’s an honor.
How do you prepare for big days?
I remember, as a boy, my dad taught me to take special care of my shoes. As a young man in the professional world, when I wore shoes to work every day, I polished them at least once a week. Now that I am able to wear sneakers and loafers on some days, I polish my hard bottoms less frequently but I still pay attention to their shine.
This post isn’t about shoes. It’s about being intentional in every aspect of your presentation. Press your shirts and trousers. Be able to select the appropriate socks. Have pen and paper that say, “I believe that what I am writing ought to be written with class.” Go into a meeting knowing you can not only meet with kings but also connect with them.
Life is too short not to be able to present yourself in a manner that commands respect. I’m not saying you always have to be in a full suit and tie but at least know how to do it and look comfortable and confident when you do.
Make looking the part a priority.