Category Archives: Philosophy

Happy Birthday to “Invisible Man” Author Ralph Ellison

“I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allen Poe; nor am I one of those Hollywood-movie ectoplasms.”

American writer, essayist, and musician Ralph Ellison was born March 1, 1914.

One of my favorite books of all time is Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man: a complex, sprawling, and uncompromising rumination on race, class, and identity in Mid-Century America:

Invisible Man, First Edition, 1952.

” I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids–and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.”

It is a book that reveals deeper levels and new revelations with each reading:

“Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass.”

Invisible Man, 2012 cover designed by Cardon Webb.

Considered to be a seminal novel of the 20th century, it is a nightmarish journey of psychological angst and societal madness as told through the narrative of a nameless protagonist.

CODA: If you haven’t read the novel (or if you haven’t cracked it open since high school or college), I would highly recommend the experience:

“When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination–indeed, everything and anything except me.”

 

A Decade on One Design? Lost Art Describes Working with the Avalanches

Design is hard.

Working on a singular project for a decade is commitment:

“it is more important for us to be creating beautiful, progressive, rewarding work with our partners than it is to take on every new client we can.” —Lost Art

The design firm Lost Art collaborated with the music outfit The Avalanches more than ten years as their second album Wildflower was in development.

As reviewed in this blog in September, Wildflower is an exceptional album—a sonic collision of genres transcending time and space and one of my favorite releases of 2016.

CODA: Check out “The Was”, a video piece created by the art collective Soda_Jerk and the Avalanches:

 

 

 

Five Lessons Learned from the Greatest: Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali, an athlete whose accomplishments in and outside of the boxing ring transcends the world of sport and makes him one of the most recognizable and influential figures of the past century.

Here are five lessons to be gleaned from “The Greatest”:

Muhammad Ali 2016

  1. Believe in Yourself—Muhammad Ali called himself the Greatest long before anyone else did; so believe in your abilities and banish the negative self-talk.
  2. Believe in Something Greater Than Yourself—Mr. Ali’s strong spiritual faith was a source of both humility and strength during a time of great social and political upheaval. Find your center and it will ground you in times of adversity.
  3. Believe in the Greatness of Others—We can’t do it all alone and we must rely on a team to reach our goals. Choose your friends, partners, and confidents wisely and in turn help them achieve their goals.
  4. Believe That You Can Change Your World—If not you then, who?!
  5. Believe the Change You Affect Will Be Remembered—Execute tasks and complete work with your legacy in mind.

Life Lessons from Nobel Physicist Dr. Yoichiro Nambu

I love reading newspaper obituaries.

Not only does it remind one of how brief life is, it can be a powerful motivational tool for learning life lessons. Here’s one from Nobel Prize winning Physicist, Dr. Yoichiro Nambu:

“‘When he won the Nobel Prize, Dr. Nambu was asked what advice he would offer students interested in science.

Yoichiro Nambu

‘Think independently and think all the time,’ he said.
‘I like to tackle a problem first by myself, and then look up somebody’s answer, if there is one.’”

For a man of science, Dr. Nambu sure sounds a lot like an artist.

The Secret to Orson Welles’ Creative Output? He was an Insomniac.

Playwright, Actor, Director, Producer and Insomniac Orson Welles
Playwright, Actor, Director, Producer and Insomniac Orson Welles

George Orson Welles would’ve been 100 years old this week and many authors and critics are writing about the breadth and depth of his creative output.

How can a man write, direct and produce for theater, radio, and film in seemingly the same space of time? Answer: He didn’t sleep. 

Here at TLS, we are not advocating insomnia or being a workaholic, but we do respect Mr. Welles’ relentless drive and intense focus. The takeaway: whatever you are currently working on—be it for five minutes or two hours—give it your undivided attention.

(Ed. Note: Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, and The Third Man are amongst my all-time favorite films, check out The New York Times’ list of other great Orson Welles films.)

Thump Takes Issue with a New Generation of DJs—What Can We Learn?

Thump’s Trino Trevino hilarious, yet accurate assessment of the state of today’s aspiring DJs has a lesson for us all. Social marketing is an important component in your quest for fame and glory, but don’t overlook doing the work.  Also, don’t be like THIS guy!

“Here’s the bad news: fame and glory will never come if you never make music.”

The Extreme Productivity of Robert Pozen

Over the course of my career, I’ve read a lot of books on productivity and organization and Extreme Productivity by Robert Pozen is one of the best.  I first read it several years ago, and return to it again and again.

extreme-productivity

Many of the theories, techniques, and tools employed by Mr. Pozen aren’t new, but they are organized and reasoned through a lifetime of experience and success.

We are all busy and there is no substitute for hard work, but we can all learn to work a little smarter and be more productive.

What Can An Elite Martial Artist Teach You About Your Design Business?

I had the privilege of participating in a martial arts seminar and instructor training with Kyoshi Dave Kovar (an elite martial artist with black belts in 10 Martial Arts styles) and many of the lessons learned in the dojo can be applied to the office.

In Mr. Kovar’s blog “In Martial Arts, You Are the Product”, he lists four elements essential to individual, team, and business success:

  • Your attitude – are you teaching every class as if it’s the best class ever? Are you approaching each project as your best project ever?
  • Your appearance – are you tidy and professional? A tidy and professional appearance instills confidence in yourself, your team, and (most importantly) your client.
  • Your presentation – have you spent time preparing for class, and do you have a plan? Strategic planning, organization, and goals for your team and your business are absolutely essential.
  • The attitude, appearance, and presentation of your staff – have you provided the guidelines and guidance for your team to succeed in the three areas above? Lead by example, but also clearly communicate attitude, appearance, and presentation expectations to your team.

My seven years of martial arts training and study have been a great resource for maintaining my physical and mental health and I would encourage everyone to engage in a physical activity or sport as a tool to maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

10 Reasons Why You Should Be Reading “Steal Like An Artist” Right Now

Steal Like An Artist
Complex concepts distilled into 10 easy actions

Last week on vacation I made time to read Austin Kleon’s, Share Your Work and it inspired me to revisit his previous book Steal Like An Artist one year later.

Read both of these books RIGHT NOW
Read both of these books RIGHT NOW

Mr. Kleon’s intelligent, humorous and straightforward observation of the creative process builds a persuasive case for starting work NOW and sharing it with others (one of my professional mentors refers to it as a “bias towards action”). These books are essential reading for any creative professional or aspiring creative. Happy Reading!

4 Words or Less?

Best Advice

From time to time I receive these kinds of inquiries on LinkedIn and choose not to comment, but this one merited a response:

PWPG
Hand Drawn Text Scanned in Adobe Shape CC and Edited in Illustrator

 

PRAY, WORK, PLAY, GIVE,

A well-reasoned, sincere, and articulate mission statement is personal branding at its best. Four active words can serve as a motto to quickly define your being, a mantra to motivate you through self doubt, and an ethical center to guide your actions:

  • PRAY—make time for learning, meditation, and reflection,
  • WORK—nothing meaningful is accomplished without genuine physical and mental effort
  • PLAY—constructive recreational activity and relaxation strengthens and rejuvenates the body and mind
  • GIVE—contribute your time, knowledge, and experience to benefit yourself and others

P.S: It may be impossible to truly achieve a perfect work-life balance, but having a core set of principles and practices can provide an important framework for addressing future challenges.