If you like to do something you do it often, whether it’s playing sports, designing, gaming, cooking or blogging. If you’re one of the lucky people in the world who actually manages to do this and make money from it you’re actually working whether you like it or not.
Someone asked the other day, “What do you want to do?”, as if to make me think at the moment I wasn’t truly doing what I wanted. It was an out of the blue question which got me thinking, in an idea world what would I like/love to be doing?
Since starting work at 15 I’ve had 8 different jobs and only 3 of these I have not liked. They paid bills. Some people are fortunate in finding a job which they enjoy or love which also pays for you to have a comfortable lifestyle, one where you can enjoy your life both ‘at work’ and ‘at home’. I’m not talking about being extravagant and going on multiple holidays a year, I’m talking about going to cinema, a gig or visiting places that you want when you want to.
The building in which I work is on the same campus as a University, I’m saddened to see people younger than myself heading to get an education knowing full well nearly 90% of them gaining a high-end qualification (degree level) will probably not end up in a job which they enjoy.
I didn’t go to University. I chose to make my own life choices, to better myself personally and professionally in something that I loved and it ended up being in design and online *stuff*. This has meant that at 27, I’ve got a lot of experience in multiple areas that I use to do my work and I’ve also done a lot where I’ve gained life experience. Experience is what will get you through just about anything, I firmly believe this. I believe that experience is the one thing that has guided and is still guiding me through my professional life.
I’m currently one of those people who is fortunate enough to actually love what I do. I get asked one question a lot. What do I have to do to get in to design? And time and time again is that you need to live, sleep, eat and breathe it. Our industry moves so fast that at the best of times its hard to keep up, never mind if you treat it like a 9 to 5 job. I also think that the design industry is unique in being one of the only types of work that people can genuinely fall in love with on such a large scale. Take web conferences for instance, the majority if not all of the attendees go to a web conference because they enjoy being a part of the hustle and bustle of the industry, they enjoy learning and they most certainly enjoy meeting up with people and discussing design/development over a beer. I just couldn’t see this happen in other industry’s like teaching or nursing. You’d almost always see other industry’s forcing themselves to go to a conference or spending hours outside of work on work-related activities.
Whether it be designing, planning, writing or the many other things I end up doing from day to day there isn’t much that gets me down about what I do for ‘work’. Most of the people I speak to outside of our industry think I’m crazy. Whenever they ask me what I’m doing they receive the usual answer of “Just working…”. It’s the easiest way to explain to them that I’m doing something I enjoy. It eliminates long conversations about what I’m doing so I can get back to it.
I enjoy and love what I do and there shouldn’t be a problem with that. I enjoy working longer hours, it means I can do more, I can read more, I can speak to people more. I know a lot of people who work longer hours and from what I gather, they never complain as they’re always doing something ‘cool’.
In noticing this article by Paul Boag where he discusses the point about working too much being bad for you, I had to agree to most of it. I believe even if you do love your work so much, you have to be realistic about how much your body can take. From experience, I now know that an all-nighter will ruin me the next day and will take me another couple of days to get back to normal. However, I believe that working more hours in the day when you can is not a problem and everyone should try to do a bit of reading / writing or just trying something new whether it be coding or designing to keep us on top of our game.
I saw this article over at Ashley Baxter’s blog originally from ‘this chicks tumblr‘ and thought it was so meaningful it was worth re-blogging. Thanks to Ashley for spotting it. Enjoy.
This is your life. Do what you love, and do it often. If you don’t like something, change it. If you don’t like your job, quit. If you don’t have enough time, stop watching TV. If you are looking for the love of your life, stop; they will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love. Stop over analyzing, life is simple. All emotions are beautiful. When you eat, appreciate every last bite. Open your mind, arms, and heart to new things and people, we are united in our differences. Ask the next person you see what their passion is, and share your inspiring dream with them. Travel often; getting lost will help you find yourself. Some opportunities only come once; seize them. Life is about the people you meet and the things you create with them, so go out and start creating. Live your dream, and wear your passion. Life is short.
I write an occasional ‘technotes’ column in our North East Newspaper called ‘The Journal’, below is this weeks written about our startup culture in the North East of England.
It feels like so long ago that the world went through the dotcom boom, yet it feels like yesterday when the majority of those booms went bust. I’m a geek, in a general sense so notice these things happen.
During the dotcom boom there were more startups than ever, investors were chomping at the bit to try and get a piece of the new technology pie and only a few ever made it to make a profit on their investment. Even harder times were ahead for the people with great ideas. It was them who had to find investment from those not willing to trust enough to devote their time and money away. Over recent years the startup culture has been revived, and whilst in this economic climate it may be a little more difficult to get funding, you can still make it happen with the right idea.
The United States has various ‘incubator’ type organisations like TechStars and Y Combinator which are thriving with successful companies like DailyBooth, Reddit and Dropbox. In the UK we in the past have run far short of enabling tech startups to get going. Most, if not all have been started on shoe-string budgets pulling all nighters to get an idea created into working software and only then after a long time have they been in a position to pitch funding. The UK startup culture is very different than that of the United States, in the UK you would usually see companies which have turned profitable and then been acquired. Whilst that is great and it’s fantastic to see our UK and North East companies being acquired, it takes a lot of time in comparison to America who inevitably pitch for funding at a much earlier stage, our startups have lacked the ability to secure mentoring that they undoubtably need. Until now.
The North East of England has its own tech start-up incubator, heading in to its second year the Difference Engine, based in Teesside and started by Jon Bradford was created to support startups, much in the same way as TechStars in the United States. The Difference Engine invests £20’000 (for 8% of the business) and supports them with mentoring, office accommodation plus various other types of services provided by the Difference Engine partners. It’s a full time 13 week acceleration programme to get the start-ups ready to pitch to investors.
We’ve not had this support in the North East, the United Kingdom or Europe in the past and now its sitting on the North East’s doorstep. The Startup Culture is here, at home in the North East of England.