Video: How to Find Fulfilling Work

From The School of Life:

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Writing as a career – in 1940s America

Say, are you a young boy looking to make a career in hard news journalism or a young girl who wants to write about cake decorations? Never fear: Arthur P. Twogood tells you all you need to know in this instructional careers video from around the 1940s. Apart from a so-painful-it’s-funny segment about women journalists, it is rather fist-on-your-chin fascinating to see how news writing used to be. If you redid this video today, we’d see someone receive a PR email, copy and paste it into a website and go home.

Yes, I use technology a lot, but…

I’m going to be circumspect here because I don’t want someone to know that I’m worrying about them quite this much. I’m certain sure they’ll be fine, I just worry because I wonder.

This is someone who does not use technology.

Now, that might be true of you too, except that of course if it is then hello, welcome to your first use of technology. There is no reason you should be in to this stuff, just as there is no reason in the world I should ever be interested in football.

Except that I guess that’s a lie. There is reason to use tech.

I don’t like that. If I told this person that there were reasons, they would all be about work. I run my business through my iPhone and iPad, I am not short of reasons why this stuff is great. But automatically putting it that way feels like automatically saying you should use it. It feels like saying you should forget what you like and don’t like, you should – you must – use technology. That’s not me, that’s not the way I want to be.

Listen, I have a friend who owns an Android phone.

I don’t phone her, but.

You can’t really urge someone to use this stuff by saying they have to. It’s like saying you must buy this computer instead of that because its backside cache is better. It might be true for all I know, but it’s no actual use to for making the decision. It’s no use to you at all.

This particular person does tend to use what I’d call Stone Age computers and I have the impression that doing anything on them is a chore. If that were me, I wouldn’t bother doing it and I think I’d soon conclude that anyone who did is a bit of a geek. Unless you like computers, you wouldn’t put yourself through this alchemy.

So I do get why she might not be drawn to technology. I do. I just think she sees it as something geeks use. I think she sees it all as a toy. That it’s happy for you if you want to play in your sandbox, that it’s not for her.

It is for her.

It is very for her.

She’s joining the legal profession: technology is made for her.

I imagine whatever firm she ends up with is perhaps likely to issue her with a phone but I know for certain sure that the firm she ends up with will be built on technology. She’ll have to use it, so she’ll have to learn it, and I think that makes all this a slog.

You just want to say that of course you wouldn’t miss that appointment change if you could read your emails on the way like all your rivals. You just want to say that Evernote would fix that problem. OmniFocus would completely remove that worry.

You want to say that your rivals will be the ones in court with the ability to find and cite page 112 before you’ve got the book out.

But you don’t. So instead you write a blog post about it and hope that by the end you’ve formed your thoughts into some kind of order, said William writing on his iPad and posting to the web via a WordPress app. Technology much? Doesn’t seem like it here, this seems straightforwardly, boringly obvious.

Career advice from successful women

I hesitated over that headline because I think this collection of quotes is smart advice for anyone and so surely the gender of the speakers makes no difference. But some of it does address issues that especially affect women, such as sexism in the workplace.

Also, the more I thought about it, the less I thought it was necessary to use the word career in the headline. This is all ostensibly about work and careers and business but I’m taking general life lessons from it.

Actually, what exactly does successful mean either? If it means being successful at being a woman then if you’re a woman, success. I’m a man, so I’ve failed already.

And if I were the type of man who ignored advice because it’s from a woman, I would truly be a failure then. So I’m taking this advice.

I just suspect the better headline would therefore have been “Advice From”.

It’s Advice From a longish blog post that specifies it has 15 such tips, though I note they come from only 11 women: Tina Fey gets quoted four times. But my favourite of them all and the one I think is most relevant to us as writers is one of hers in which she says:

The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11:30…What I learned about bombing as a writer at Saturday Night is that you can’t be too worried about your “permanent record.” Yes, you’re going to write some sketches that you love and are proud of forever—your golden nuggets. But you’re also going to write some real shit nuggets. And unfortunately, sometimes the shit nuggets will make it onto the air. You can’t worry about it. As long as you know the difference, you can go back to panning for gold on Monday.

Tina Fey quoted in 15 Career Tips from Smart Women – Joanna Goddard, A Cup of Jo (16 September 2014)

Do go read the other 14. They are smart quotes. But then also go buy Tina Fey’s book Bossypants: I’ve never met Fey and don’t really know her work beyond a few episodes of 30 Rock yet the book feels like she’s sitting there with you telling you these great stories. Fantastic writing style and a huge amount to say.

Make your kids be more interesting

Sorry, this is not how to do that, it’s why you should – and how in this day of everyone studying for exams yet not learning anything, being interesting gets you through doors. In this case, The Atlantic magazine specifically means through the doors at Harvard, but the principle works everywhere:

“We could fill our class twice over with valedictorians,” Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust told an audience at the Aspen Ideas Festival, sponsored by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic, on Monday. That means admissions officers rely on intangibles like interesting essays or particularly unusual recommendations to decide who comprises the 5.9 percent of applicants who get in.

Faust’s top tip for raising a Harvard man or woman: “Make your children interesting!”

For parents and students alike, that’s both good news and bad news. The bad news is that of course it’s much easier to say that than to actually make it happen, though Faust recommended encouraging children to follow their passions as a way to develop an interesting personality. It’s much easier to complete a checklist, however daunting, than to actually be interesting.

How to Get Into Harvard – David A Graham, The Atlantic (30 June 2014)

There’s not a great deal more to the full article but I found it an encouraging read.