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The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.  – Maya Angelou, “Caged Bird”
Eat, sleep, play - Panda style

Eat, sleep, play – Panda style

Sometime last year, one of my students dropped by to thank me. He had gotten a job in a finance advisory position. I had given him some good advice which led to be a turning point in his career search.  What rocket science advice you might wonder?  Go for jog.
My mind raced to that evening in December. He had a high GPA, likeable pleasant personality. It was a stressful time, handling a day job in pharmaceutical sales, studying for his Masters in Finance at night, looking for a job in finance post 2008.  After 3 sessions, I told him, go take care of yourself.  Enjoy. Give yourself a break. What do you like to do? Jog? When was the last time you did it? Doctor’s prescription: jog 20 mins 3 times a week.
I wasn’t even sure if it was exasperation that I was at my wit’s end and don’t know what else to say or some genius insight. He did just that.  His mind became calmer and he had extra mental stamina to check the university’s career portal in December. Only 5 students applied (possibly because it was December). He was one of four students who got the internship.
Why does the caged bird sing? Because it loves to. If it didn’t, it would lose its spirit.
What do you love to do? When was the last time you did it?
Recently I stayed over at a friend’s place to recuperate from my illness. She was very helpful and kind. She had told me in the past that she loved to read. But throughout my stay, I’d never seen her reading. I noticed her spending 3 hours daily watching Korean soap opera and cooking shows on TV in between a very busy schedule of doing household chores.

But pick up a newspaper or book to read? Not once.

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All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Somehow engaging in a activity that we enjoy and makes us happy seems to trigger a guilt trip.  We end up doing passive activities that are convenient. Such as watching TV, and picking up the phone to complain to a friend, under the guise of keeping them informed.

I find myself trying to be agreeable, going along with what others want to do, restaurants they like to eat. I was afraid that if I insisted, that no one wanted to come along with me, and I would be alone. As time went by, I got lazy and end up not having a voice, not having an opinion.  Anything will do.

1) What do you love to do?
2) When was the last time you did it?
3) When are you going to start doing it?
4) How often? (Once a week?) For how long? (15 mins?)
5) Write it down, schedule it.

Ernest Hemingway set up a goal chart to monitor the number of words he wrote every day.  No kidding.

Do you have difficulty trying to find a life goal, and finding your path?  Try taking care of yourself first.

Julia Cameron, in “The Artist’s Way” suggests

1. Writing 3 pages of A4 size every morning.

2. Go for a walk

3. Have a Play date with yourself. Do something creative once a week to feed your creative soul. e.g. you can fly a kite, walk in a Botanic Gardens, visit the museum, go to the library. Many local community gardens have free guided tours by volunteers.

Playing is necessary because you need to refill your well.  As an artist, [I would add, as a knowledge worker], Cameron says, we are drawing from our inner well. Unless you fill this well, its empty, there’s nothing left to create. More often than not, we feel guilty playing because of a work ethic.

In the name of playing, I’ve leaned Chinese calligraphy, learn to bake macaroons, mooncakes, bread, cakes. Whereas my analytical self would have said, that it was a waste of time, since the cost of the lesson would buy me more macaroons that I could ever eat. [Plus I don’t like to eat macaroons.]

What do you love to do? When was the last time you did it?

1. I love to dance and flag my banners

2. Read

3. Play with my nephews and nieces [not babysitting]

4. Nap

5. Walk on the treadmill in an air-conditioned room and watch TV

6. Take a long leisurely walk after dinner

7. Go to the library

8. Drink tea

9. Visit different restaurants (maybe once every few months)

10. Watch a play

Its recruiting season soon and time to start writing resumes, preparing for interviews. One question which students don’t need to take seriously is “Do you have a hobby?”  I often see “Reading and running” at the bottom of the resume. As if, anything else too lavish connotes a lack of focus on work and job hunting.

In Nolan Bushnell’s book “Finding the next Steve Jobs“, he shared that his boss, Kurt Wallace hired him in part because he was so impressed with his ham radio hobby. Bushnell is the “founder of Atari, and the man who launched Steve Job’s career”, writes Walter Issacson, author of “Steve Jobs“, the autobiography.

Hobbies aren’t just a sign of passion and creativity, they are also about diverse knowledge. Bushnell cites Stephen Gillett, COO of Symantec, who publicly credited his obsession with online role-playing game World of Warcraft with helping him manage his on-the-job tasks.

Others who start businesses based on hobbies, [you mean besides Mark Zuckerberg, Mchael Dell, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs?]

Australian-born American entrepreneur Megan Duckett always loved the stage.  Growing up, she would perform as a dancer, cellist but she knew she wasn’t of the league to perform professionally. During an internship at High School, she applied to Melbourne’s Victorian Art Centre to do the lightings. Instead of going to a college, she went to work as a freelance lighting technician and got into the ecosystem of rocknroll bands. She later went on to work for an events planning company. One day, she got a request to dress up 10 coffins to look like Dracula beds. [She didn’t even know how to sew. But that didn’t stop her.] Soon she went on to make costumes for children during weekends etc. One day, while they were doing their taxes, her husband commented that she was making more from her weekend crafts than from her day job. Today, revenues of her company stood at US$5.4 million. [Bushnell wrote that Duckett sewed the coffin drapery because of her child’s Halloween party but I couldn’t verify this in her interviews found on the internet. Nonetheless she has an inspiring story off the beaten track. Read more: http://www.more.com/reinvention-money/careers/she-got-rich-doing-what

Being connected to the eco-system is really important.  Someone once said, that in Silicon Valley, you can change jobs without changing parking lots.

Unfortunately, a number of young people today, would just want to sit in front of their computer. [When I was in university, I recalled spending my time studying and relaxing with friends. Anything else was a waste of time and distraction from studies. My sociable parents would force me to volunteer at the neighbourhood community centres. My dad would try to strike a conversation around international affairs (on newspaper) at dinnertime. Which eventually helped in my entry into the Foreign Service. So, I didn’t know better either.]

Someone sent me a cute cartoon on how modern man has evolved.  It certainly describes L. In his youth, L would play squash, keep a small aquarium, try different restaurants, meet interesting friends. Today, he’s sitting in front of his computer reading his favourite graphic novel.  Come to think about it, so am I, in front of the screen.

Anyway, a little about the artist, Levni Yilmaz. According to his interviews, it was an accident how he got into cartooning. The evolution of his work from a hobby to a career seemed more out of practicality.  “I had just moved to San Francisco, and I didn’t know anybody. I was a transplant from Boston. I was finding it difficult to meet people, so I started keeping a journal just to keep myself company. I would write down what I did on any given day, and after a while, I started illustrating it as well with these goofball little sketches. One day, I woke up with a hangover, and read what I had written the night before on the bus, on the way home from a rather disappointing party. …  There was no planning, or proverbial lightening bolt of inspiration. I find that most life changing excursions can come from looking at banal events with a slightly heightened sense of curiosity.”   “I stared doing screenings around town that were getting good responses, and it occurred to me that I should try selling DVDs.”  [Drawing cartoons was something he did as a child, and returned to, as a way of letting out steam in his journals before he decided to commercialise it.]

Read more: http://therumpus.net/2010/11/tales-of-mere-existence-the-art-of-lev-yilmaz/

http://rascalmag.wordpress.com/2013/07/30/it-was-an-accident-an-interview-with-cartoonist-lev-yilmaz/

http://www.ingredientx.com/

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