My guest today, James Victore, has been described as part Darth Vader, part Yoda, prolific storyteller, designer, provocateur, artist, activist and teacher. James Victore is the designer and creative thought leader whom people look to find clarity and purpose in their life and work.
James is widely known for his timely wisdom and impassioned views about design and its place in the world. At the helm of his independently run design studio, James is always working to make work that is sexy, strong and memorable, that takes a strong position and often toes the line between sacred and the profane.
And, the world has taken notice. His work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (and he shares a pretty funny story about that in our conversation), is in the permanent collections of the Louvre and the Library of Congress and his client list includes industry-leaders like Adobe, Starbucks, Aveda and many foundations on a mission to create change in the world. James taught at the School of Visual Arts in NYC for over 20 years. His new book, “Feck Perfuction“ (https://amzn.to/2EksGze) is sort of his manifesto on living a creative, full-contact and alive life.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Describe someone who is one point:
provocateur one part designer one part artist, one part teacher one part hum
change maker and all parts rebel.
Well, that's just the tip of the iceberg with my guess this week, James retorted, who were
to school. A visual arts in new york dropped out midway through, but he didn't
out of the profession of creating provocative
designs that would go out into the world and make
The change in the scope of
you're a society.
duration and even have shown
ending up in mamma and in the past
and collection of the louvre, while
also simultaneously running his own design firm. This is the journey of james and weak.
Crack this incredible journey who he touched down into the early days. The mid points, the big moments of awakening,
and also what led him to write his latest book fact perfection.
Which is sort of a creative life's manifesto. It is
the powerful really funny really irreverent and also really poignant
We dive into sunday ideas from that as well supervision.
To share this conversation with you, I'm Jonathan fields- and this is good
How does a I even work where it is creativity, come from? What's the secret to living longer, ted radio, our explores the biggest questions with some of the world's greatest thinkers. They will surprise challenge and even change. You listen to and be ours ted radio, our wherever you get your PA guests.
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So by the time it was five years old. I lived in five different places. Attic I gotta lasers basis all around the country. My mom moved three kids on her own.
In a dodge station wagon across the country twice,
raised me, ah,
yeah, but I we ended up when I was five in upstate new york, plattsburgh, new york and my parents liked it and then like the schools, and we stayed there for forever and then
and then, in a while I was nineteen. I was like a big,
also. Can we just start totally out of like a you know, john cougar song or a song? You know I got the call of the wild and plus workers have said that it's a college town to college and military base. Yet I didn't realize that state university of new york yeah no longer a military, so
the first things I learned early on with there's no security.
Our security, getting right, you're, the military. You think you know this was my.
It was a lifer
If the securities are base just up and closed
they decide to stay so did he actually opt out with military junta yea? And I must
I mean jarring for the whole family. It was jarring for the whole family and you know, and then he started you know he was. He was a he's, a supporter, that's what he did, and so he took our jobs and he
as a security guard at the
inversely and then finally, we were a ski family. At that time we were skiing, upstate me arc and eve the shop that we bought.
Was closing. My father took it over some. He through high school, he amnesty shop, and now we were heavy into it, and I was ashen
the patrol and though he was there was a kind of
we but weird difficult time cause. You know my father was not a business man. He was just trying to figure stuff out and he just you know what I learned from him was never complain and fairest of AL. I mean
but I mean what are waiting to learn certain. I can always just like stuff happens: you have no control over it yeah you, don't you
just like okay. So what's next a daria, you know adapt or die yeah yeah alright. So we know that you grew up in the in in the plattsburgh area. You know you're into skiing and all this other stuff there would be, if
Look at at your life right now, where does the James s sort of like its present in created and progressive and provocative that sort of
but a really early age. You know it's funny. People Ass mean asked me about that. There,
type of question, and I see you know what I was born there. I was totally
to do this in the first two lines of my book say we're all born wildly creative. Some of us just forgot
you know way. There were so many signs early on that. I should do this and I know when I was a kid one of the young. More prevalent
that I remember when I was a kid, was that I was
I'll creative and it wasn't a compliment
It meant I write his rubbed. It meant I had set his eye of out of here were exactly weird.
it just how you know again and again and again and again, and sometimes it was of a bit of a benefit most of the times. It was a target, but I kept on
like I said, billina my went away, I'm basically a college proper high school run by the brothers of christian instruction, and you know I was an alternate for the air force academy and thank god that didn't work out
tat was waiting tables
in my home, town and escape trauma weekend- and you know whatever our jobs I could do and the the
for the time and this tiny little time restaurant is Gary. Danko
and he now owns a restaurant man.
Don't go in san francisco and one of the three is to start Michelin.
Restaurant when the restaurant you can't get into and we have set the bar when I was you know, nineteen
and he just said Jimmy go to new york.
Just did. I literally, like literally
or days later. God on about
ass with three hundred dollars and moved to new york and ended up guy came here to us to study this will a visual arts and if, after
two years ago, over two years at s, vs Adams
took me aside
down said: listen,
still is very competitive. Their lotta people looking to the same jobs
I suggested I basically become a cpl or golf golf pro or he just said it. Well, that's encouraging yeah totally, so I literally do now. A day later I dropped out of school, and my I called my dad and I said hey so I'm going to drop out of you know article and he said, but I thought you wanted to,
you know, be a fancy. Art director have your name on the on the door. I said, oh, no, no, no! No! I'm going to get that yeah.
I've just made negative finish school and theirs.
Exactly what I did lend literally a week later
walked into one of my professors. Studios who died already had some of our relationship with what relationship with it. It was paul bacon he's,
If he was on the eleventh floor of carnegie hall, he was a book jacket designer if you go to an antique bookstore, an old bookstore, and you start looking at the spines, and you start looking at the the the alpha and omega Joseph Heller's catch. Twenty two, the jaws that became the movie poster
we always I'm Carling s, all of Joseph heller, all of carbonic Vonnegut olive.
It's colbert olive Robert muslim. You know vista this stuff, it was a tiny little below three persons studio, and
When I was in Paul studio, I just put together a portfolio of obviously fake book,
it gets and went out and got went out. A girlfriend of mine had then had the name of an art directorate, hopper collins.
it's harper and row. Then I think it's harpercollins now I forget one of those two things but called got an appointment left with work and I've been working ever since just just started
men throughout EU danny yeah yeah. Just just yeah, you don't make it so.
two conversations led to profoundly different outcomes. One is a conversation when your kid adheres: odin and gunnar new york, and just you do it:
any drop in three hundred auctioneer there and then
are the conversation tutors into sba regarding each still have it the, unlike within a matter of health in the blink of an eye,
make a decision to change course. Yet still do that,
a baby. This a couple of years I had just sit down actually with no glaser turn tat a conversation, And- and here
now a story when it was in high school it good at a science and included art.
and down he was supposed to go. Take the time
from science, yet instead he can
knock out and the test for one of the art schools, and
He came back his arm his guidance counselor.
got word about what he did called
and he thought he was gonna, get dressing down by the guidance counselor sitting down.
pulls out his drawer put on the table of a beautiful box. He, like french pastels and says he. I do good art and
This one moment where one conversation with a single person who he felt was
on his side and and could trust him dead,
not just in the complete shift like oh, I can do this yeah and am I'm
fascinated by those moments in those conversations and how rapidly we can change course them
you know it's funny when I was
Paul when I was in his studio, am
never actually worked for Paul. I just hung out in estonia, would be like watched to become a book jacket is that was basically my first gigs has looked at it and one of the first books I got to design with it was about a biography of Ruth gordon classic old,
reactors and right and
the first paragraph. She says I love these words when I was a kid.
She basically said when she was seventeen. He walked into the elevator of
Yet what the addresses but she's
carnegie hall, she said, I went up in the elevator had a meeting and when I came down I was a star.
is like one of these things, and I was so funny and then
busted my hump and
a bunch years later after I had dropped out of his. I started teaching there and then,
and I went back, is one because I had all these men tourists who I looked up to other. I knew them or not.
European designers and lamb in our polish friends, desires and americans, and I knew they taught knife up. Ok, that's what I'm supposed to do.
But to give back in some way, and I went back to as we had, because I wanted to be the teacher that I needed
I wanted to be the guy who you a fire under your ass or or set firefox,
is often that which I did you said firecrackers often class and just like
Wake up there I mean if our sun, when you were so when Europe s, we ass a student in us, for
years before we actually had a conversation. I what was experiencing was it what she thought. It would be a what you wanted to be mean. Oh, it was funny I kind of had a preconceived notions of art and design before I went there because
An odd side story is when, when I was a kid who is ten, we
outside of town and
went to was in the town time you don't twenty thousand people, but in the town, and I will
at school walk a couple block
over to the college library, where my mom worked
and there was like an hour or forty five minutes before she got off. Workin could drive me home. She knew I'd like to draw and she put books in front of me picture books and he's.
picture books, worden design annually from the fifties and Sixtys and the seventies italian design, animals and professionals in print annuals and I ve been through and I kind of got aid
through through, was what as moses this, this design history.
education and it was all european stuff
You know where there was not terribly a sense of great. It was much more painterly, much more artistic which more sandra and facades
cut by allowing
when I came to new york, you know, and we start
there's a class on grids and a clause on colored area in a class on you know you could do it this way. That's not right! I thought not come out of it.
I would, though I think I-
and early on that,
I think the best way like a phrase is that- and I felt like
most of my time commercially as it as a graphic designer I'm a
source and I'm pulling the cart
I wonder I wanna either there's something in me that wants to fly, and I'm I'm not doing it. I don't know why.
And I dont know never wanted. I don't want that feeling
It was ok. That was the reason it was totally okay to be asked, leave there
it's like you know what I think you know I think you're right to say you're kind of getting signals the whole time. Oh yeah, like there's something so that was almost like the straw that broke the camel's back there yeah. I think my oh, that was a funny thing. Is my grades were atrocious. So when I did go to you know I'm twenty years old in new york city and I've got it and I'm working full time to afford or I'm making.
five bucks an hour. We now I'm buying all the beer need what I need school for so so I therefore anything is was
yeah. He was.
If I hadn't been thrown out on ass, I do what would have happened, so it was ok they're. You ever think about that.
Like the rest. You just stay. That course I think
those things often cause there's a number of times that I've been thrown out of an asked, the sliding doors to the hand I'm like white. Why did I waits alone? Her, you know cause you, I think
I think if we are really in cotton in tuna, we really
to ourselves and listening to our bodies. Everything tells us, and I think
It's part of the reason why the book comes out is like, I think we are so resistant to listening to ourselves and so resistant to making the moves in our lives that we feel
but we need that. You know
trial and asked or rejection is, is it is not as bad as people think tat would,
that resistance is about- I mean some level fear but but fear of what I ve told you just for fear.
Being who you are being found out as a genius having found out as as a creative person, you know it's like we're all covering.
even me who I'm like, I just you know I just want to fly c'mon c'mon guan. Even me, I find when I know I polack and when I'm like really do we want to. You know it's really fun
Even for eurobonds are announced agent. You have got to know. I've got some sit
and gigs can happen in barcelona
dublin, with twenty five hundred, for
as the people in there and in a while I'm talking, and there is little voice going.
you're going to say that out loud in public, really, you sure are going to yeah. You know you know what it's like. They picked, the wrong person yeah I'm here for the community.
Reprieve the main speaker at any. It's amazing how long that follows all of us. Are we so it's so hard to you? I mean I don't think you ever get rid of. It is just something that follows you and then you just gotta. You have to get comfortable with it.
I I mean there's none carried out.
I forgot to two are makers
for why maybe she'll be out there on start, is what nasa and then I'm a beautiful magazine called the great discontent. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, tina, an arm and a leg,
this idea that nearly this discontent just is perpetually there,
and the end that the greatest acts in any field are are never legally
I meant to be here like I made it like this. Is it's almost like
as is persistent pervasive, like unending discontent that fuels the yeah of yeah. I think of having one of the things that I've gotten pretty good at his teaching people out a jump. Most people think ok. What
Ok like this will modify. I'm gonna work flight
more years and pay off my car and then am. I know
No you're, not actually you can think that, but you know, but yet that that that
Jump is hard enough. All beginnings, your heart,
That's what starts most people is. Is they don't? They can see the first step and they want it the second and third and they can't have it until they take the first step
you know you don't know, what's going to happen until you until you leave and I I left sv a and literally two days later I had to you know I had a have a fulltime mentor who aren't just stand and watch over his shoulder and see what the work he was doing and and and and asking questions about. You know the the working over here, the telephone conversations and it was a it was a real treat. So when you
that conversation with somebody and the goal is to teach him had jump.
that conversation like you know I've,
I ve gotten, used to saying that it's not my job is not my place to tell anybody anything I had. I can't tell you what to do. I can't
but I can remind you- and I can remind you of your gear-
I remind you of your talent, and I can remind you of.
in eight power in those things and that you won't fall and you won't fail. You know ye not in the long term,
you know- and I have to kind of remind people and only those only those people who who who can really look inside and can really believe, are the ones who are going to you know going to do it and I've got a track record of some just just some marvelous people who I keep in touch with you know. Weekly
daily because of you. No social media now am and just to see the moves at their making it just like tang, so great there I saw it
So if you can look inside and believe, that's that's the thing
We are striving for which we,
if further into your career, and you started developing a body where he'll get you started, create iterations, where you're proving to yourself, your own output starts to prove to yourself that, yes,
this capacity that caesar that point. How do you
yet that in their really early days yeah, you know that level of freedom is is stolen level of green mistaken. You know, I was there
you mentioned milton. I was book jacket designer does that's what I was doing and I really wanted to do albums. I was back when they were still twelve twelve and a quarter when that was like the best, and that was the best stuff in the world and you can make them fold out to a larger you know. So I wanted to do albums and I wanted to do this, and I want to do that and I called
male men, I made an appointment and he said oh yeah able jackets. He said here. He said he
it's do like four or five of those a day in the in the day he said yeah and if you're, not careful, you're gonna wake up and five years from now, you're still gonna be doing projects, and I was like yeah so I see and for me the break was.
Nineteen ninety two I was twenty nine and
the converse day was coming up in the city here.
Newspapers were talking about ten all celebration
in the parade and blah blah blah, and you know I knew a little bit about american history and I knew about the pox infested, blankets and I knew about the you know the kind of contract early controversy. Then now everybody knows about it and I thought well
Other side needs to be told, and
I'm a graphic designer added. You know interested in that.
the almost journalistic properties of design that you can be a journalist as much as a you know that you can that you can put your voice in your opinion into your work. So I made a made a poster. You know size
twenty four thirty six, the same size as the advertising posters in the city in used my own money and printed
a thousand posters and took him to the young stage.
Or at lincoln centre at a certain time at night
that's when the guy's them both
mafia combine and the wild pose. They put him in the back of the man. They are and I got posters put up and you know all over the city use
print money, which was not a good business plan that guy
done, baby guarded dan?
I think the really really early former like instincts
it's totally wishes ram was around that then, just for a day, and I made that poster and then I you know I was interested like I said I still had the the memories of being ten and eleven looking at this european stuff, and I sent
I send it off to all these european competitions and I started getting ina started winning metals and them and being alongside these names that I knew about, and that was the
next thing it just. There was a level of bravery that that brought me and I
What I had done, as I realise that I had started out as a camera
represent a doing book jackets, but with what I found through starting to do social
cultural, political posters. When I found my purpose, my purpose was to make
if the that had an opinion
The resign that had a voice that the things that
love and things that I fear or possibly things that other people love in fear.
Was just ass. It was just a real trip and that's right
At each other people's once, you get a taste of that you dont want to let go and that's a good feeling. You now
once you're, once you're, like wow, I can actually
I don't. If I can make a living at this, but people dig it. That's the first part yeah.
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I mean sitting ass, it is, I think so
in the digital world, the art world there's a sense that first needed
Well, my skill to point
I'm good enough to go.
and get this attention and
A skill is one thing, but the thing that I keep hearing you say
Well, yet it matters and yeah. You did a lot of work and lot of innovations. He should develop a certain thing, but at the same time,
It was really about understand what matter to you and developing the voice, underneath that, because all the school in the world won't make up for now
having a distinct voice, not having a point of view there.
if somebody wrote me today, I'd put out there hunting through his scream and somebody wrote me and said dude. I can't wait till to get your book and I I just want to be as brave as you and I and I wrote back, and I said: why are you waiting or what are you waiting for
That's you know we're waiting waiting for an invitation waiting for permission.
Waiting for our skills to go with. You know I'm gettin there. Yet no done some. You know no baby just go just go. You know we
There is no there's, no secret handshake, there's no.
Wifi he just while the entry fee is yet loser. Fear
as you said, and I mean if you have It- was that easy, we'd all the out their sharing like origins, and only when you know you get the old you know well of everybody was created the lucky under my gear. Now you listen to the smile right now. If everybody was like me, oh my god, we yeah we be in trouble
but is really interesting. So I think we are so waiting for someone to give us permission to.
Just be ass, publicly yeah yeah yeah, it's funny! It's just human,
yeah, but he got it goes back to their fear thing and yellow you said it's, it's fear.
I who you are both the fear of its the fear of
uncovering who you are putting out there like in asia, just opening your shirt in saying this is who I am and you what you want you
Masticating is failure, and will you prognosticated peoples in appointing and laughing and in all, but was going to happen? Is yes, some of that will happen, cause
we are not made for everyone.
right? I know that my work doesn't appeal to everybody. It just appeals to the sexy people, so I dont really worry about that. But, yes
of divulging who we actually are there
I think we saw it so eat so much easier to hide behind the voice.
The opinion be branded whatever. It is the lines, the words the images of somebody else, because even if we don't execute that way,
Oh then, whatever pushed back we, yet we can just cassie while its there wasn't
my party that their rejecting it. It was all this other stuff, whereas if we put it out
and this is the essence of who we are dealing with,
Rejection goes back to us. The rejecting us
You can't blame the architects. You can't say that yeah, the marketing made mistake, numbers were wrong and yeah, it does hurt, it does, but we need to practice that we need to. We need to practice that we need to practice.
pooping, you know everybody every makes crap I buy, make a ton of crap
I was put out there and you know and
and I'm surprised when some of it rises to the top. Some of that actually isn't as papias. I, as I thought
Yes, it's! If we take it personally, then it can be a can. It can be painful, and I think that you know that probably stops
you know a lot of people from being themselves and that's as what gets its you as people.
they go back to a full time job because they're just a level of security in comfort there there
I mean you gotta kind, ass question: after what hurts more the penny being.
For they are the pain of being seen through your yeah yeah or,
or the pain of the pain of.
knowing your resource. In your point, a cart her you know cause. That's that's forever ass. A thing is like you know: when is that pain? When are you going to do
So speaking of paints or, like I had mentioned earlier, had the sum disturbed by accident to stem eight weeks ago?
I'm I'm living in pain, constantly right now and
it has been such an amazing teacher and I'm when I go
stage. Now I talk about it because
This pain that I'm living with, if I dont conquered, if I don't understand it properly, if I don't use it as a tool and as my best teacher right now, I got my wife.
Mean tremendously help me get get perspective, and she said she
said dab toy broke in our carbon.
hurt where my lungs and broke ten ribs on all on my right side and they, my white, my wife said she said: maybe your heart needed,
ro in your body made way you now and
I don't use that idea.
And understand that in grow, bigger and better and stronger out of this thing, then
accident was stupid and the pain was just pain and why I'm talking
The sun stages. I say: listen, do you have a choice like me? You have pain, it's not physical pain,
it's this relationship that chiefs, it's this body that you're uncomfortable with its your it your inability to ask for what you're worth its this job.
You're in that you want to get out, but you don't know how, when you or you, you know you you're, you want to quit your job or you want to talk to your boss. You know these are all pains and if you don't convert,
If you dont use those as a tool and grow bigger from them, you will
Every day, every year your body will contort and get smaller and more fearful end.
No two is why you know I I promote living dangerously living.
facing that pain and going into it all the time cause you just get good at. It is really crazy. You get good at it,
It's like a habit. Yeah yeah, it's a little bit like you know like being Alex honnold right though he dies. It's it's like that. For those who don't know he, he climbed massive massive. He climb, yosemite without arabs, are equipped areas happier or or or a surfer to take that. Take that metaphor, it's just like you know, you go fear notwithstanding.
And what happens when you get past that you get past the brake. We're not
pummelled and you can flow.
I mean minute, you like, oh my god. This is
this is also the same exact emotions just to ask for what your work
or set up a meeting for your boss and say: hey, listen, I'm not
what can we do
and in an open and and you're not.
Quitting you're, not you're. Just talking you know to talk is to up there.
I feel it also. In addition to this certainly fear.
There is a certain amount of served cultural grooming that goes on
with not being that person. You know
the ices would call a tall poppy syndrome, but a lot of times here. Even it's like you know you you play there.
your daughter. He like you got to get you don't get upset, it's like look, things are pretty good
I know yeah yeah, who are you to be the one who sort of goes and does that? Even if there's a voice inside of you that says, oh my you know, like you said, there's you're the racers pulling the cart like you just know. There is something inside of you that says you know.
your meant for something profoundly different and baker yom, but then there's a call.
Your voice, that very
and a lot of us you grown up around this is so yeah yeah,
Now it sets out its huge and strong and I think
so many of our fears in order to adjust-
in order to just live a creative life, so many of our
these are based on other people too,
based on other people, you now and then I went on
I'm back here in new york, and I see
walking down the street- and I see some very flamboyant very amazing- and you know I met you know in in texas- we don't see as much, but I
Oh my god. It's so awesome that level of
can. I just want to stop while everybody and have a conversation and say you know so what level of fear
have right now, like you afraid that people are going to do, and now is just so great.
And it's not for everybody and can't be you just can't be
I may seem like also for you there
you gonna, say level of curiosity.
it seems they. Thus, I feel for you, it seems like you constantly scanning the world and just raising eyebrow year.
I'm always looking to up the ante yeah, I'm always looking for you know there was a
Somebody pay me a nice compliment last night at dinner and they said you know what they liked about me that I was. I was the one who was always willing to just change, just like the other
texas, for example, donna, Texas or in know change careers, stop being a commercial designer and
start doing more in britain
teaching or doing get on values different things, and you know I I don't think of it. I don't think about that. I just do it
suttons column, cargo and making them,
you know the again that something that you can practice and leave you'd very good outages, listen to yourself there. They are and still appears in out. You know
linkage body work or less thirty. Five. Forty years now.
Do you see a thriller worrisome yeah I do. I do
I do, and I see
I see the same thing now that I saw in the early days, which was, I see, an artist searching for his voice,
artist searching for real
a whole new marks on the page. That will mean house stood
Someone saw in a row. Robert frost once wrote that he, he hee wonder right a poem that was barbed in others,
the idea of like how would sticking your heart, my god, that's what I want ya, Morton,
new project right now for em for doing university, and I'm like- and I know that
I have a again. I had this level of freedom and I'm searching its
I'm back in the studio- and I haven't worked this
curiously or strenuously in a while rum, really searching for some new something new and it's it it. It's a blast also tyre
and I'm like I'm like I haven't, worked hard and it's like man. It takes a lot out there yeah. No, that's not right. Do it again. That's not
do it again
out there in the world pulling at work, and yet you said so to big opening move. After me, I've been here
my nice, the posters in that serve unlocks
a whole world of activism, input tons of other posters in art and yes, doctor reputation now, which was cook, was cool as not just I mean it as a provocateur yeah
yeah, so when you go out in the world an end
did you feel at that point when
we're putting that initial round of posters out like that, you were doing something radically different, or this was just the next evolution of what you are up to. You know I dunno. If it was even that conscious about what I was doing, which I was just doing it you know, and there were a whole bunch of situations that came up. I was like
two or three years, maybe three, four years, that where all
situations were coming up and a I made work and
use that work. I sent it off to them. You know
amnesty international and the gdr
in the end, the lazy and so that and that created more than work more provide.
if working again got me more addicted to that. You know, and-
that I just wanted to be, then
I see like hey all this is this is cool now, if I could just figure out it.
The living doing, which was the big, the big problem there
Being an arduous, but am was this
so the addiction more the expression in the reaction or you just yes,
I can t have a sense. Ye add that I could,
sit quietly under a tree or at a bar and come up with. I can make myself laugh
That's the process that in the process it and I-
and I made myself laugh or I come something I go out there
This is something and then the second thought says they'll. Never do it
and you have sandra and then I present it and they do it and it's just like whoa gay, but that's that's cool. In a little
I did this hangman poster for the underbelly sepia bunch years ago and from the top
They will they wrote me and they had seen work that I had done. He asked me to be involved in this document. Re felt so I made the both made the fit the poster for the documentary film,
and we were on press literally thirteen days after I got that letter because it happened so quick. I brought about
the campaign- and they said that's amazing. Let's do that
and then I went on press and why lamp on press
the mai, my lizzie liaison client,
im over and said well as good thing we're printing this now cause back in the office. They're saying: well, maybe you know cause that's what that's the process and they start looking at it and they start going, and you know that-
and I understand, because a client like that they get their money from limo ladys in schools and donations, and you don't wanna be now. You dont want to upset anybody, but if you don't, but she for somebody like ada, inevitably cpu aids or an innate activism rain. This important stuff.
We're trying to change. The world
you're. Trying to really you now really tell the truth here will not be now,
when you and I can do that by making a very happy there
or by moving sloan making decisions by committing yeah, yeah yeah. Well, I've I've had knife had so many meetings with clients, and I am saying paid by the way,
work does not survive a committee.
So if you bring in a committee
There's gonna be a big hole that says art goes here.
Which, sadly, is how a lot of campaigns ashley lawrence like let's build the whole thing and then, let's find somebody to plug this hole, yeah a pretty photograph, the yeah, even if
buddy in pain, is still pretty photograph.
little bit of a grimace yeah yeah serendipity,
it is worth it keeps coming into my head. As I'm hearing you speak, the good word its.
is it seems like
when you look back like our waters
clear progression, but it sounds like lily
you know in the moment and and moving forward three life that
so much of this was holding yourself open to just the next thing. Indexing gnashing without intentionally saying I'm going to seek this set right or wrong
I think I think,
every number of years. I get to a point where I need to
I look around and unlike if the david, he knows it
David byrne song. You know the talking heads song. Actually, no, this is not my beautiful house. I wake up. I wake up, I wake up and have
Comfortable life that happens and I go oh I'm not doing what I'm supposed to be there.
Now and I can see it in their relationships- I mean- I see it in the work, I'm getting a c in the in the financial bottom line. I can see it everywhere, then I'm like, oh okay, I'm I'm not I'm becoming. I dunno comfortable
so so I need to the united to resist that
I need to create
Report need to figure out what what is going to,
no one's gonna make me happy so there's
there's a guy who I work with ease
and here s do
together whatever and we start targets,
a year ago when he says he's james I want
go over this.
I got a degree. I got the job
for one k, bauhaus got two kids
What down some money on an honour on a summer place and issues
I've home from work crying every night was wrong,
and you know like well listen. You know. The first thing is here.
That's what we gotta figure out, how to make you happy and it's not quitting, is not, and I think that
as a thing for a lot of people. Is there if you
born wildly creative and you
I understand that that doesn't die. You no meaning
you know, you know that you have a song left to sing. That is, it
really painful to to understand that and not leave that out.
Need to make some
some decisions and and try to fix that.
that happens to me.
It's happened to me. I can,
anxiously no two times know when I was in my mid thirties and then you know my early forties when I just like punk break was the inciting incident, the giants or was it just kind of like you woke up one day like? Was there something that happened and
that happened. No, it was just kind of like one. There was funny you there was. I was just thinking about it recently. Could I've just planted a big lobby gum read but tree at the house? I like them
and I had planned to the red butter. Add another house and fall came are used
I didn't. I knew I and or something and fall came and I walked down the ports, the one with with it. With a cup
coffee and I can see the leaves falling off the redbud and
tear literally become a program like oh ok,
dad stage LISA to look around. You know and there was a big explosion.
moving in london who is like it was like air I had. I was
paying attention and I wasn't doing a good job and I I couldn't continue it. We couldn't continue it there,
I'm happy, that's what one of the things said:
lot of people get really concerned about also when they hit that moment that you're talking about- and they know you know it's the story you just described as the person with the four one k, the great job, the salary, the security and they go home and cry every day and on on
Everything's, ok and benefit other line right
and a lot of their life is is decent. Maybe have somebody written alive, kids and
stay in that thing, because their terrified that yeah blowing up that thing isn't just going up a thing is blowing up their entire lives in their moment in analyze, where they are not
to do that, where a lot of good
they say, I'm gonna suffer here in the
still being ok here, not realising that everything bleed
together, yeah yeah, they're afraid that if they take this one little, if they fix this one little piece that everything else is jenga and everything is going to toggle down and it's It'S- you know I've I've been there a number of times where I'm like. Okay, if I do this,
if I say no to this client, then that's gonna mean I'm not making that money and has come to me.
this thing doesn't happen, that's going to mean my wife and kid are going to leave me and that's going to mean you know just spirals down to you know a you know said the sam peckinpah death, where you diana you know in a trailer in the desert. You know and
not true! It's not true,
You have to go into it,
open, eyed and logically, in no end
and and believing massa thing had come back to that. You have to believe that that, at that it's for a good purpose
now and in the end, the purposes your life, the purposes your
you're, just your mere happiness will get
creativity later, let's just deal with a happiness right now. What can we do that? Or can you do in your life? You know if you have the energy and the yellow the balls to do.
What can we do? That's gonna make you know and we to break his break the job apart in a walking.
Part of the job. Are you you know that,
inside. I think you can deconstruct a job and, and sometimes also it's like okay, so even if you're not willing to do that right now
You've got a couple of hours on the weekend. You've got lay time here sure like if this thing is really it. If this is it, this beat your heart and do more of it
every year. I usually easily start by saying: where are you at five o clock in the morning?
And they see on the bed, I'm like well, no longer buddy. Alright. What are you willing to sacrifice? He was you know an hour of sleep come on. What are you willing to sacrifice? Yeah I mean how much do you want it? That's it that's the test. How much do you want? That's what it comes down to it and also do believe that you can get it. Do you believe that, if you actually put in the effort, it will happen which
a lot of people down yeah, that's it that's the death of their
will they don't because they haven't, they don't have the experience it haven't tried it. That's all
Think what happens, especially when your past thirty, then
then you redeem, you even the need that feeling of I can't becomes even stronger.
Crazy in our people mean up,
write me all the time and say what do you know? I don't think I could. Unlike dude, I'm
zig zag in and I'm like
twenty years older than you. What's your what's your problem, I got two kids.
the kitten college, I got two kids in private school. I got you know to other people. I am supporting gimme a break there.
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locked into that.
an eminent beat. I mean, as happens in denying happens, writing happens in any form of creative expression, especially but probably any any career yellow.
Do you get known as the act person.
You know whether to style or expertise or like yours, you're, the
new. Does this thing in this way and that's why we want to keep paying you to do it and if it
you worked for a large organization very often that is in fact what they want of you yet for some
or maybe your good with that. Maybe that's the thing that just happens to intercept with he liked the sweet.
Daddy, I get you a sense of purpose and expression engagement, but you know- or maybe
it does for a window of time. But then, like most human beings, we don't stay static, so
you start to evolve away from that thing,
in no other people want
Continued adieu and pay you keep doing.
We often have a feeling that for a lot of people we start being.
Good there, but we grow as human beings over time and in ten years later,
I realize poor not actually that person anymore air
that's where the edit source, like it's it seeps in slow air. Was it's funny one of the one of the things I have to tell people early on as this tale. This listen late there they they come to me and they say: okay, here's this
cohesion at my job- and I have to say, ok, let's backup, it's not your job,.
You're sitting in the chair
probably a chair. Somebody else should be set in
it's not who you are it's just where you are now. So it's let's talk about that in a way that
they're, like welded in you now am I
as you know, it's just not true. Don't worry about that and there are a million jobs out there if you want to jail, be its net.
I'm in a job is easy
show up in punch a clock
but here identifying with
you know, and Jonathan even further, is identifying with that job and that that
that hr told you but identifying
the pain that comes along with and saying,
the zoo. I am somewhat I carry in our own and fur
because I'm talking about physical pain. Now I call in what I've gotta caught. My cruising pain like I can see
have a nice conversation with you. I can get back and get a cab I can do
You know I can I can move around, but
still in pain. So we we,
you know what happens if if we start to
identify with that pain and it becomes us in were I.
I get used to doing everything slowly and I get Eustace, I'm not doing my rehab and I'm not stretching my nervous system or not. You know doing not doing the work there becomes.
downward spiral. Yeah totally and then we live a contorted life and a lot of people live a contorted life. You know: they've they've, they've, they've, they've melded into a grey cubicle bath,
am I bumming out completely now and fastened by these questions and fascinated by people who
hit moments in their lives were like? Oh, yes,
three quarters down that spiral, but I didn't realize it, but some things for some reason. I just awakened to the fact- and there is actually something that I can do to reverse my way out of it and maybe not blow everything up right now. Maybe it's small little tiny baby steps, maybe it's the five am thing, but there is. I think,
the awakening, as always there
something that I can do
there's a guy who up is barcelona, but I will I would mentor him every
we had every two weeks. Situation and we'd have we'd have a skype for for for an hour and he had a screenplay in them. I was like dude since bruno when Bruno thought. What are you doing at five o'clock in the morning
oh, ok, literally Jonathan, three, my
later for months later, we
and the thing and he's:
smiling he's holding up a stack of paper. He's like this. Is it and nobody will what does taxes? I wrote it
The five o clock I got up and I did it
like. I could have no he's heard. I've been sitting on this for three years and like ok,.
Now. What is now the hard part as a hard parties realize you had a voice
and he did the work, but now the hard part.
is nagel show it now. I gotta get out
if the world- and he got you know, that's where the fear comes in you know. All beginnings are hard because they're all based on okay, what's going to happen,
as the public sewer that really terrifies us- and you know we live in fear, a lot of us. We lot of us are afraid to divulge who we are because we live in fear that someone may not like it, and I gotta tell you baby somebody's, not gonna, like it.
that's just how it works. You can't be
for everybody you know modern advertising wants to be for everybody. That's why they don't say anything or can't say anything can't have an opinion
So when you better sba as teacher,
want to do. Oh what do you like? What are you trying to accomplish by going back there when I went back like I said, I wanted to be the guy who who lit fires and and
took me about a number of years. I got I got comfortable and I was bringing in all these ideas that I like to play with
and all these ideas from one of my men torres a polish designer named them, Henrik top chaskey, who
and now in warsaw and as an asset as a teacher in the fifties and sixtys and seventys, and
he was just he said. I didn't
know how to
each. So I was trying to teach people how to think so. I was using his assignments and I was using my own ideas and, after
a couple years. I realized. Oh, my god. I'm teaching is a third year instructor. The school of visual arts
not teaching graphic design cause, I'm not teaching for
or a color or
It looks like a decidedly my students. No, I didn't care what it looks like. I would care what it said and they knew
in a critical situation,
if there was a piece on the wall, and maybe it had some stones on it with some words in
It's on the stone or something and and the the all the students know that who who's ever that was like, say we're going to see an okay anna, tell us about it and she says well when I was a kid,
every new right there was a slight gonna be goal. When I was a kid, I followed me
beach. Every summer we never even went to the water. We just walked
down the beach we collected, rocks and here's. Why, in like
oh, my god, you got me
the army, this answer
you know in the end. What would happen if the students would have a revolt?
it around eventually and they'd say. But why not we're doing this thing and we're we're trying to tell our own stories and we're trying to you know, put our
which in our opinion and your work, but they said, but if it's soap,
geller to me how
and have means other people and I'd say you know.
what matters to you managed to other people
in the particular lies the universal. You know them the more
honest, a filmmaker can be
in divulging the truth about the story than down the more memorable the film is gonna, be there
meaning is gonna. Have,
and that's just how it works in any kind of story telling. Those are the good stories where
we can say we I said we see ourselves in it. It can be a story about a dog who dies and you'll be crime. Like a baby, you don't even have a dog, but you understand that idea of loss. You know there
I made a guy. I once heard her and he was mary car. He said a great memorial, it's not what happened
writer, it's how what happened to the writer change them
I think we can all transfer into a moment that changes us in some ways it perform sounds like you're
You went back to be there
You didn't happen, you it s very correct, yeah yeah
I totally did end. I was super lucky that the chairman,
roger wild allowed me to end as
but basically state.
My back and let me do my thing in new that my class was popular
and you know I think you know at the net the flip side of this.
Giant as- and I will tell my students- listen I'm doing you a disservice
because when you leave here you're going to have debt
school would like you to pay off your debt or pay off your fancier near parents, debt, and I say I don't care about that somehow,
debt gets paid off soon. Loans get pay off. Somehow
how you and I would also run a class on money and say just remember the stuff but I'd say.
most people when they leave school, they get all hopped up on creativity and they take a job and in order to pay off their debt, they choose slavery and not
creativity. So why don't you when you get out of here when you take a chance
and tell the world that you believe in yourself take take a chance
getting paid for your creativity and he paid for
You were here in the first place. Instead, just
in the job. And then, when the
blows hold your total, should we take another job and wind blows hold out or don't you take another? I mean just like go through this this this
This process will take a chance and and and and put it.
Utility to a test
It was a reaction when you said that, oh you know, they're then they're like yeah yeah, there's room for graduation. You know I am spartacus yeah, but it's funny because it would they would come to me and they'd say hey. I got this awesome job at this as it is an internet startup and
They're gonna pay me and I sixty thousand dollars out the gate. Acid. That's awesome, I said
and you're gonna come see me in here and they will
and they come see me in a year and they're like oh who'd, my job, but I bought an apartment. So now I'm stuck that as we lock ourselves in costs right, yeah and
a couple years down. The road mama calls you up
but then a couple of years actually yeah for the Zona moma museum of modern art new. Actually this legendary institution says hey. We want you here and we want to put your pictures up.
in this space? It is like.
What does that mean to you when they said that here
yeah in other it was one because they they contact mean they said you and we want. You know ten
As for our permanent collection- and they said, oh
and we're redesigning the third floor and we're going to have you know we would like to put five of them up at you know as an exhibition
oh ed, a small james victorie, show at the museum of modern art. That would be nice,
yeah it was was, it was grew, you know, and it's funny what I'd do it the way I tell it to people now they're like when they bring it up.
And now I've got like I've got like my getting my
the free card and everything, my lifelong membership and all that kind of stuff, while all the kinds of energy that's it is, it is all I have, and people like
it must be amazing. I said yeah, you know the other day I was going down into the subway. I didn't have any money on my card, so I just jumped the turnstile, and these two cops come up to me and I I
I said well we'll go guys guys, it's it's cool, I'm in the moment, and it really
really I make now ages. It doesn't mean anything. I mean you know it's, it's
it's cool, it's another level of bravery better than that. You know that it gives me but lead
yeah, you doesn't buy me a sandwich her there,
the way you do it, it's not it's it! It's it's nice! It's not why I do it.
Did you know that little side story where on the lake they call me we're? Having conversations, I say I was there and I was there. Is there a gala event that I'm
attend with my wife and they said no. We don't do that. I said I said: do. Is there a trophy too I get like appliances, James retorted, they said. No, we don't do that. I said was re m is,
let her do I get an official letter with a gold emblem of the moment. They said no,
You don't do that and I said well.
Could you do for my mom. Could she'd really appreciate that and I shoot you,
ten days later in the mail. Dear james activities, mom a letter was so great that I said, and everything else is over dead and our really going like aiming to act. Ways forget him in the moment, like that letters and then every year, and that that then I immediately sat down and and made a new. You know a new thing to talk about which, as you know, ask for more
Ask for what you want enough. You want a pony ask for a unicorn,
and I would ask for what you want it's if it works.
I only some of this conversation I feel like is- is about being uncomfortable.
Yeah. No it you know it's funny because in the back of my mind again the little voices in the back of my mind, I'm sitting here talking I'm sitting here today talking to Jonathan fields on the good life project.
the back my mind, I'm thinking about Europe
me these questions and bring me back to these places and, unlike
yeah, that was there was uncomfortable
but it was where needed to be. There will to be there, but it but like
put yourself in disposition sure here
cancer, large, almost eight when you didn't feel it, you did what you need,
we to put yourself back in that space and that's where the magic happen and that's where the fear happens and that's where it all happens but
and you know- and it's also it's also a level of commitment- you're telling the universe that you that you're going to do this amala yeah yeah yeah again? How much do you want it much
one it's always it's always a test, so books,
written. If you knew one that perfection
at worst title in the world. By the way can't say it can't spell it. You know, I tell people if they say. Oh, you will. What's your title, your book, I'm like perfect and they're like worth it.
What what is it? My guy yeah
Where, again, that's what I do man, I just I just put myself in this situation and say you know it's gonna, be fine!
this is essentially about who spoke to me. Also is
four fertile land for lack of a better category. This is personal growth
this is a book about how you live your life, about how you look at the world about how you take action about how you move through all these things that we're talking about it's not a book about design now, but it is a book about design, but it's really a book
now you know,
this is, I mean it sounds like
this is your version of he now like here
in this way, at least this is what work for me. Why
I feel it's important yeah. It says book out now it's maya yeah, I think, and grow rich with pictures. Yeah, oh damn
I write chronicle right now. Thinking grow rich with pictures, and so we sell it at the self test. Sticker a sticker on the book think and grow rich with pictures. Yeah. I mean why this book and why now and why
now is because it's the book. I need nights like so
you talk about being uncomfortable on me now, I'm I put
Often these situations, but I need constant reminders. I don't I'm not the kind of guy who wakes up out of bed cheery and of an uncomfortable
true you I need it takes work, it takes an effort and
I met laura my wife, I thought I was low maintenance and I realize I'm high maintenance high reward baby high reward it. It takes a lot
and when I was at sv a- and I was going through all these you know, students would come in and they'd be. They would be like, oh I'm, so angry somebody, you know,
on the train and I'd say: ok, listen,.
You have a choice and how you react to that.
and that of all the choices you chose that one each chose to like ruin your own day, because so I all these lessons
things that I started using when I would speak rowan. I would, in our teach workshops stuff- and I, like you know what the
These are big. These have been great tools for me. I am having and have had a great new creative life.
And I need to cheer him in. Oh, my my
My career calling right now is is less of a commercial designer, but I want to be of service to.
There's I'm recently. I said something them out loud that I
No, I said out loud, which was kind of awesome, and I said I want to be
poses for creative people,
what does set them free of lichen magma, decipher square labour has, as you know, being
Creative is not easy
The creative life is not easy, and I would
to be of service. I'd like to help people understand their creativity, understand
our voice understand that their life is basically that arc of the jury
the hero, the Joseph campbell thing because of the book goes from. You know, finding your voice all way through to having a purpose,
is the best thing you know when you have a purpose, then you can get out of bed in the morning and you know get shit done at five o'clock or four thirty. You know so I've got
I've got a side. Note. I've gotten so good that it's for thirteen. By the way he has know, I wanna, I know wanna, you know
up the ante for anybody with just doing. If you want to keep up,
being that Moses, your purposes- death, yeah yeah.
enjoy it. I love it. I love it
you know when I was it sba when I was teaching there.
students would always say why
is it the you say the opposite of all the other instructors
I didn't really have a good answer and I dont know if I still have a good answer but but I would say, listen, there's a spectrum
No I'm over here and their way of here you're going find your way.
You're you're somewhere in there
be closer to that. You might because this, but you know this just learned from everybody. Their violent resonate with here.
yeah you know you know, and even you know always always
learn from everybody and learn from every situation. Just
always be a student there and get behind that
she's a good place for us to come full circle. So if I offer at the phrase to live a life, what comes up
to live. A good life is too
wax into relax and accept who you are and and and relax and accept your
your creativity because its put there for a purpose and it s.
It is a good few can learn to listen to it. It's a great guy, it's a great guide. It will serve you well. Thank you, batman,
This is a blast. Thank you. So much for listening and thanks also to our fantastic sponsors who helped make this show possible. You can check them out in the links we have included in today's show notes and while you're at it, if you've ever asked yourself. What shall I do with my life? We have created a really cool online assessment that will help you discover the source code for the work that you're here to do. You can find it at spark: a type dot com, that's s, p, a r K, e t, Y p e dot com or just click, the link in the shadows and, of course, if you haven't already done so, be sure to click on the subscribe button in your listening app. So you never miss an episode and then share share the love. If there's something that you've heard in this episode, that you would love to turn into a conversation, share it with people and have that conversation, because when ideas become conversations that lead to action, that's when real change takes hold, see you next time
Transcript generated on 2023-06-27.