Make Good Art

I've watched Neil Gaiman's address to University of the Arts a few times now. If you haven't watched it, you should.

But if you can't spare the 20 minutes (or just really want to know what resonated with me), here is my take on his career advice:

1. When You First Get Started, You Have No Idea What You're Doing
This is great, because if you don't know that things are impossible, they are easier to do. And even better, because no one has done it before, there aren't rules to stop you.
My favorite piece of advice, both because neither VDC or I are very far away from "first getting started".

2. Go and Do It
If you have an idea of what you want to do, go and do it. Imagine your goal as a distant mountain. Keep walking towards the mountain. When you aren't sure, stop and think if something will take you towards or away from the mountain. Depending on timing, you may make different decisions
This is great personal advice, but also corporate advice. It reminds me of an article I read about Whole Foods mission statement, which includes language about 'natural and organic products'. Their mission statement makes it easier to make decisions about carrying products - if it has artificial flavors, they won't carry it - it takes them away from their mountain.

3. Problems Of Failure
 Be thick skinned. Not every project will survive.
He also offered what I consider a corollary of the problems of failure, the Problems Of Success.
[With success], I have this unshakable conviction that you're getting away something and that any moment they will take it away from you.
4. Make mistakes
 It means you're out there doing something. When life goes wrong, when things get tough, make good art.
This meant nothing to me until I made the connection to what my 'art' is. And in fact, I had to think about what I do when things get tough. I cook. And when they get tough at work, I make a grilled cheese for lunch in our kitchen...because its close enough!

5. Do the stuff that only you can do.
The moment you feel like you're walking down the street naked, exposing too much, you may be starting to do it right.
6. Secret Freelance Knowledge 
People keep work because: (1) Their work is good; (2) They are easy to get along with; and (3) They deliver the work on time. And the real secret: you only need 2 out of the three.
This is so very true. Dirty little secret.

 7. Best Piece of Advice That I Completely Failed To Follow
"This [success] is really great. You should enjoy it." - Stephen King

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