Definitions of Success

I'm realizing that people see reality quite differently at times.

This isn't a stunning sentence that will change the world. But it's a thing for me to really feel in my gut for the first time. 

Especially in a work situation when the importance of success is tantamount.

That when your team members don't even agree to what success is, then it's already uphill to agree what path to get there is. 

You would hope in an ideal situation that the differences contrast, and force us to dig deeper. And to figure out perhaps an even better definition.

But as it happens, egos and politics (and perhaps exhaustion) doesn't lead to the deeper conversation. Instead, it's a shallow "alright fine, let's just keep moving." Or worse, water cooler whispers and complaints about other team members. 


Corporate Acceptance

Having experiences in corporate life, it's been informative comparing it to the movies I saw growing up. 

Granted, my views are skewed by always being in the creative departments. I never really had to file TPS reports all day.

But you still get a very clear sense that you're a piece in a machine that's much larger than yourself. And all the frictions what come about when you start adding up all the people involved in a chain. 

Each person with different motivations, in different stages of their career, and different definitions of success. 

It all adds up to this feeling that you're the one out-of-place. You start thinking that people are less motivated than you. That they're settling down, or rushing up the ladder. Or even sabotaging you.

But I don't think it's ever that dramatic. And yet it's hard not to feel that way, that this great big machine is out to get you. 

It gets really fascinating when you see how all these people choose to react to this general culture. How they cope. Where they compromise. Where they make assumptions about what will "never change here." (These "solutions" seem like the things that really mess up your own goals and aspirations.) 

Now, it's not to say that I'd like a company of people who are fully the same. No, I would hope that the ideal is somewhere in-between. That the differences that arise result in better conversations and better debates and better solutions.

But there's a point of which the debates become dictates. And compromise become acquiescence. 

I can see why people go off to make their own companies and startups. And they hope the people they then surround themselves with match closer to their motivations, stage of career, and definition of success. 

Shaky Origins

In an effort to be socially-aware and inclusive, I've grown shaky about where I start my opinions. In the light of multiple narratives and interpretations, my own opinion seems already lacking before I even open my mouth.

That where I'm starting from is too narrow, too ignorant, too un-enlightened. 

Some of that comes from lack of confidence. 

Some of that comes from cringing from others' narrowness. 

Some of that comes from being jealous that others' are confident enough to express in the first place.

I'm afraid of being judged, so I stay silent. But if they were judging, they'd remarking on the silence anyways. Right?

Right? I'm not sure.

Changing the Grammy's

Personal opinion: not a huge fan of awards shows (aka completely stopped watching them.) Too much talking. Too much pomp and circumstance.

Especially when it comes to the Grammy's. I'd love, you know, more music. So let me think out-loud here. 

First: arrange eight stages in a circle. Leaving a large middle section for the crowd. Make some special VIP areas for celebrities and other musicians. Slap a bunch of cameras in the middle. Each stage gets a sponsor. Make 'em pay up the wazoo. Who cares? Keep the commercials while you're at it. Who cares? 

Second: Put each nominee on every other stage. Start prepping the other stages with the bands for the next categories. (Keep it moving ya know?)

Third: A MC shouts out each band, and they just play for 15 seconds. A little suspense. And then the winner get to play out their song. No talking. I don't really need musicians to talk, I'd like them to play music. 

Fourth: Every once in awhile load up some special bands, and they do a special song or a some mash-up thing. Or a roulette of random bands. Or tag-team DJs. Who knows, you got eight stages. You can do whatever. 

Five: There's alleyways to food vendors. But they're like the national chains stuff. Let 'em spend a bunch to make themselves seem "artisan" and "local." Pan the cameras every once-in-a-while as the bands are setting up. Whatever. 

Six: Make each food vendor have a hashtag. If the person in-line tweets something good, give them their meal for free. Get a big screen by the grill to flash their face and tweet. Easy-peasy. 

So yeah, make it commercial and crass. But gimme the music. Two hours of it. Three whatever. Keep the party going, and YouTube the after-party. Slap a couple logos on that. Show pretty people dancing. High-five while you make all the money. It'll be great.

Creatives, Stealing & Getting Paid

One of the follies of our current creative age will be copyright. Because the lack of the recognition of between two disparate topics.

1) Giving due credit / getting paid.

2) Acknowledging that creative acts (or really human invention) is fundamentally an action that builds on the work of others. 

The first is simple in concept. Do something that someone else consumes, then get paid. In money, in chicken nuggets, whatever. The difficulty in this has multitudes. How much to get paid? How many chicken nuggets? (We've always had this problem though. How much do you pay the producer for a song? The studio technician? The ghost writer? They're simpler. But as in many divorces, how much does the stay-at-home spouse get for the career of the other?) (Not to mention, as the second topic will entail, how do retroactively and consistently credit all predecessors?)

The second is nuance that is much too easy to forget in-lieu of building a narrative. Especially the Western obsession of the singular genius. We forget Apple had thousands of employees besides Steve Jobs. (Of which many have gone to create their own companies, and we repeat the narrative of the singular genius to them.) Hip-hop, as a moment in history, is wonderful to me. Because it reminded everyone that something brand new is often built on things old. Early hip-hop songs underlaid with literal vinyl records of previous artists is profound moment in the our era. 

We forget that artists (of all types) have inspired each other. And that they/we take bits and pieces from each other to extend the conversation or bend it into new directions. That's the very heart of creation. And yet we now call it stealing. We call it derivative. 

And yes that happens. There are times that someone else ends up repeating the same message when their intentions was something new. But that falls outside the immediate concern, more a topic of execution than creation. 

Nevertheless, the first topic remains misconstrued with the second. When the first topic can be fixed eventually with technology and time. But the second. The second requires a large shift in the collective culture to think about creative acts differently. To acknowledge that borrowing and building upon are not only acceptable, but how it's has always and always will work.  

Rocks & Liquids

Growing up, I heard that some people were steady as a rock. (Or stubborn.) And that some were as easy-going as water. (Or slippery. Metaphors are like liquids.)

But I always thought I was oobleck. 

One day in second grade, the whole class divided into groups. And the teacher made oobleck. I would learn later that it was a mix of water and corn starch. A gloopey-slimely substance went pretty well with second graders. 

And it was a science thing. Because oobleck is weird. Scoop it gently, and it acts like a liquid. Hit it hard, and it acts like a solid. 

The fancy phrase is "non-Newtonian fluid." (Oobleck is still more more fun to say.) 

Anyways, I concluded that I was either solid like a rock nor liquid like water. But like oobleck. Stubborn if you hit hard, but fluid if you came gentle. 

I debate it nowadays. As calling myself oobleck now seems like an excuse to be an inconsistent asshole. 

But not sure what state of matter I'd like to be. A solid? Nah, still no. A liquid? Maybe, but I still have too many rules I like. A plasma? Super-charged with energy and excitable seems exhausting. 

Maybe a gas? Expansive and effuse to the container its housed in? I don't mind that too much. I can fit into that. (Says the gas.)

Small Fish & Ponds

It's a strange thing to get what you ask for. I moved to LA because I wanted something bigger than myself. The last few places I lived in were good to me, but I always found myself wanting to find newer and newer things. 

Maybe that's something to write about another time.

But as of right now, I got it. LA is sprawling with an infinite number of nooks and crannies. There's always something going on. And while that's exciting, there's an undercurrent of tension. Feeling unmoored. 

It took an old friend who made her own journey to NYC to articulate that feeling. The realization that you're now a small fish in an ocean. There's seemingly hundreds/thousands of people who found their lane. Found their thing, and is known for that thing. It's strange to not be that person with that thing. 

Mostly ego, yes. But also identity. Rebuilding requires a patience that uneasiness makes difficult. It takes a lot of energy to overcome that, and to be comfortable with that. And to seek out a home in a place that everyone seems to already have claimed. 

Let's see how it goes.


A long time ago, my writing buddy and I wrote a webcomic. It was the usual ensemble of characters embarking on adventures. And one of the side characters we created was named "Joel." The basis of him was "inverse House." House, being a character from an old Fox show was basically Sherlock as a doctor in modern times. So we wanted a character that was House-like, and would think and ponder, and then momentously announce his solution to the problem.

Except as "inverse House," he would always ultimately be wrong about his solution. 

It was a lark, and was fun to write for. 

The lurking shadow, however, is that Joel has become an articulation of one of my deepest fears. Spending a lot of time thinking about something, saying it out loud, but only to have everyone tell me I'm completely wrong.

It's like "Imposter Syndrome" but it's meaner bullying cousin. It causes you to hesitate, and be nervous about your instincts. It doesn't let you pounce when you're pretty sure you should pounce. Pretty deadly. 

I've been sorta working on this. When it turns out my instinct was correct, I try really hard to tell myself that, and to remember it. It's hard to remember. It's easy to forget. Deep deep fear. Joeling is the worst.