Josh Long

Category: Articles (page 1 of 2)

The Professional Professional

There is a certain type of person lurking about. The kind of person that has built a career on a false sense of value. This is the most dangerous person of them all. This person will ruin the career of someone that does good, solid work.

This person, is the professional professional.

You’ve no doubt seen them in your day-to-day job or when you’ve entered the office of a client. They’re the ones that have mastered productivity software rather than productivity. They’re the ones that can kiss ass like a champ and never say anything that questions the boss. They’re the ones that wouldn’t know how to defend a thoughtful idea or take part in a true critique to save their lives.

They’re the ones that have beautiful presentations and spreadsheets but have never built a single thing from them.

They have a great network on LinkedIn and they can tell you all of the amazing meetups that are happening in your area. They might even accumulate a few friends along the way because they’ve convinced them that their “connections” are valuable.

Be sure to identify this person, because when you’ve learned how to cut through the bullshit and get to the point, they’re going to be the ones freaking out because there haven’t been enough meetings about meetings. You couldn’t possibly be doing your job if you haven’t called a meeting to be showy about your brilliance.

There’s a plague that’s going around the world of work. It’s a virus that can be hard to see because of so many years of having to justify their jobs.

This virus has a name…

…and it’s called the Professional Professional.

The Great Diversion

In order to change the course of your life, it’s important to take the time to understand what is determined to be “right” for you versus what society has programmed us to believe is right. Society claims that we need something external to change who we are, but you don’t need to look any further than inside yourself. Turn your focus inward rather than outward.

For example, here are some of the great diversions to distract you from your own truth: money, yachts, status, finding the right job or career, finding the right relationship, choosing friends based on social circles, financial freedom, diet trends, multi-tasking, quitting your job on a whim, taking a year off to travel, extreme workout routines, fasting, no-carb diets, and the list goes on.

These are all signs of unstable or insecure people. In order to avoid societal traps and diversions, you have to remember that it’s not what you do, but who you are.

It’s better to look inward and say “this thing I must do is the most important, so owning too many possessions isn’t in the cards for me” or “I don’t have to diet because I’m just not someone that eats processed foods and sugars”.

The great societal diversions are there for the people that don’t care. There’s a void in their lives based on a lack of love, purpose, self-worth and more that they fill with the things they believe they are supposed to care about.

Remember that change is about making shifts within our existing reality rather than these extreme and temporary gimmicks. We need to integrate, not obliterate.

This is an excerpt from my book, Silence, that you can download here for free along with all of my other books. Enjoy.

Incompatible

You know that feeling that seems to haunt you throughout the day and in your deepest dreams at night? That feeling of struggle and the feeling that maybe your life is out of balance.

No matter how hard you try, your life just doesn’t seem right – something seems “out of wack”.

This is a sense that things are out of balance. This is the reality that parts of your life may be incompatible. It could be your job, it could be your relationship, or it could be the confusion surrounding who you are and what you want to be.

If you feel like this feeling has been with you for a while, it might be time for you to cut your losses. It might be time for you to indentify the things that are taking your energy and the things that are making you unhappy.

It might be time for you to admit that some of the things, or people in your life, might just be… incompatible.

Jubilee

In the Hebrew Bible there is a concept called the “Jubilee” which is the end of the cycle of the seven cycles. So, approximately every 50 years, there is a Jubilee.

Now, I’m no expert in the Hebrew text, but the concept of the Jubilee caught my attention over lunch. Apparently every fifty years you get to hit the reset button. Everything you are, everything you have, gets to start back from zero.

No disrespect to the actual meaning of a Jubilee, but I think it would be nice to purposefully have our own Jubilees during each transition or break-point in our lives.

Imagine you end a project or you’re in-between jobs. Now imagine what it would be like to go through everything you own and everything you do and ask yourself, “What is the reason to keep this or keep doing this?”. Notice the difference between fighting to keep something and asking if you should just get rid of something.

Put everything digital and analog “out on the table” and let it fight for a position in your life. What clothes should you keep, what ten fonts should you really learn to use, and what are the three tools, possessions or people that you couldn’t live without?

Sometimes we just need to stop and be aware enough to ask if the things in our lives are actually running our lives. What if we took these windows of time to take a minimal inventory of our surroundings – so that we could stay light and outside of the normal pressures of everyday life?

Maybe life would be better if we worked a few Jubilees into our story.

Ideas and Objectivity

In our creative working lives we’re constantly subjected to meetings, brainstorms and bouncing ideas back-and-forth. During this process, it’s easy to accidentally bury yourselves inside of your own ideas.

If you’re designing a campaign or building products, always step back and ask yourself the questions of objectivity. “Would I wear this t-shirt?”, “Is this a poster I would put on my wall?”, or “Would I want to use this app, or better yet, pay to use this app?”.

I think sometimes we end up losing ourselves inside of the walls of the boardroom or in the eye of the brainstorm.

Every once in a while, remember to take a step back and put your ideas into perspective. If you wouldn’t use or like these ideas, chances are other people won’t want to either.

An Email Problem is a People Problem

I hear a lot of people complaining about how email is the most evil part of their life. You ask them what they did that day, and what they dread most about tomorrow, and they’ll tell you, “email”.

But email isn’t the problem.

On the contrary, email is one of the most useful and beautiful technologies we’ve encountered over the last twenty years. It’s the most reliable, functional, simple, and effective communication tool we have. It’s robust and it’s easier to protect yourself from than say, a text message or phone call.

Email isn’t the problem. People are the problem.

I did an experiment a few years back in which I tried to email like I tweet. I wanted to write emails within one hundred and forty characters – professional email or not. A truly remarkable thing happened… I got short emails back.

You see, the thing is, people are busy. Way too busy to hear your life story in an email. The truest sign of a clear thinker is simple, clear and direct communication. If you want to be professional, respect people’s time. That’s being professional.

Whatever you do, please don’t do your thinking through email. Stop, take a moment to think through everything, and then write your simple, clear and direct thoughts. Things will happen faster and you’ll find that you don’t spend light years reading mundane text.

Let’s not waste each other’s time here. Write a short email. Think first, and for the love of all things beautiful, please watch your signatures (add images).

An email problem is a people problem. But it’s not without a solution.

Tiny Revolutions

The definition of revolution reads like this: a forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favor of a new system. For the sake of this post, I would like to focus on “forcible overthrow” and “in favor of a new system”.

When we hear the word “revolution” we think of something huge, something unattainable without a large amount of effort or maybe even bloodshed. But in order for us to make significant change in our lives – i.e. forcibly overthrow our existing reality – only a revolution will suffice.

Changing our habits or shifting our lives into a path that will one day lead to work we must do, requires a revolution. But revolutions can happen in many “tiny revolutions”. In order for us to make significant change, we need to win the little battles one at a time. We need to fight the little battles in favor of a new system. Getting a blog post out, designing that homepage, or engaging customers are all small wins.

But without them, we’ll never look back at the revolution we started.

Let’s See What Happens

Today marks the first day of our transition from Studiomates in Dumbo, to Friends, our new space in The Invisible Dog. I just had a conversation with a random gentleman who was on his way to a new print residency.

He’s only been there a few days, but he was smiling ear-to-ear (and doing the screenprint motion) while telling me about how much fun he was having screenprinting. To see the joy on this man’s face was refreshing, so I asked him about his new position.

He said it was amazing because he had no idea what he was doing but it was something he always wanted to dive into. But that was the beauty of it – he wanted to do it, he had no idea how to do it, but he was happy in proclaiming, “Oh well, let’s see what happens!”.

I feel like we have a tendency to take what we dream of doing so seriously that we often never start. What would happen if we just found a space and starting doing what we wanted to, and had the bravery to just scream, “Let’s see what happens!”?

Get what you need, whether it be ink, paint, a computer, a canvas, or a box of pencils, – find your space, and declare “Let’s see what happens!”.

The result might just surprise you.

This is Crazy

Over a year ago, I stepped out and went with my gut on a bold vision. In November of 2013, I started Patterns, a business and design school aimed to help artists sustain themselves better. I took the school from idea to a 3,000 sq ft, fully-renovated space in the matter of three months. I was on a mission to alleviate the world of the phrase “starving artist”. Through a lot of my work with The Great Discontent (and my admiration of it), and my work with Seth Godin, I noticed patterns that led to successful people and projects regardless of whether they made traditional business sense or not.

As a true designer, I kept digging into these patterns more and more as time went on. I heard stories from students and then received emails and calls about the projects they all started when they went home. The more I kept searching for the essence of what was happening here, the more I realized that this went much deeper than just a few patterns and business models.

Now, coming full-circle, The Great Discontent has teamed up with my friend, Elle Luna, to launch the 100 Days Project. Starting April 6th, I’m going to join in on this project with an even crazier idea. Throughout my studies of patterns, I’ve realized that there is psychology, biology, philosophy, business, and even metaphysics behind what makes someone successful in this life (whatever terms you may use to define success).

So, this is crazy, but… I’m going to sit back and dig into these patterns for those 100 days. I’m going to define them, write them, accompany them with a geometric drawing that I feel is connected to the pattern, and share it on Instagram as part of the project.

This is crazy. It makes no sense. It will explore ideas that scare me, might make me sound like I’ve lost my mind, and there’s a strong sense that I might fail miserably at it.

But it doesn’t matter. This is crazy, but it’s something I must do.

Creating Our Reality

The biggest challenge we face in a day is the battle that’s going on in our own heads. Sometimes we just think too much. We think too much of ourselves or we don’t think enough of ourselves.

We battle over the most simple task, like writing a blog post or designing a button, as if the entire world will see it and laugh at us.

First, people aren’t really paying attention to us as much as we’d like to believe. Second, everything that we tell ourselves about what might happen simply doesn’t exist.

The reality that we live in is very much in the control of our own ability to design. The mind patterns that we use on a daily basis are either patterns that serve us or hinder us. Are we going to approach our work as something that we create while staying safe from ridicule or do we create art that is bold and reflective of the fabric we’re made from?

Your own world is made of your own choices.

How you approach your day and your work is the foundation of everything you build or don’t build. Since no one is actually paying attention, go boldly on your path. By the time they do pay attention, you’ll be too far into the right path you won’t even notice anymore.

Create your own reality. Make something that you’re proud of when you lay down to sleep at night.

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Copyright © 2015 Josh Long — Designer and Writer