I hate to admit that this year's PSFK Conference was not as explosive and impacting for me as it was last year. Nevertheless, it's difficult to come away from one and not feel even the slight bit inspired. This year was no different. Among the speakers and panels, my two favorites came down to Joe Gebbia (co-founder of Airbnb) and Justin Gignac (NYC artist). Although they talked about two different things, it was the same story to me.
Gebbia re-told the humble beginnings of Airbnb (From Moleskine to Marketplace); how it started with the need to pay their rent, and evolved into a viable alternative to hotel lodging. Gignac, on the other hand, discussed his NYC Garbage and Wants For Sale projects, with a particular emphasis on simply going out and doing things; hence the title of his piece: Doin' It and Doin' It and Doin' It Good.
Years ago, an old mentor, who is probably the most qualified to say so, taught me the importance of personal projects. Sometimes they turn into lucrative businesses, sometimes they remain ventures of self-fulfillment. Either way, you should be doing something. Anything. By remaining static, only doing the assignments you're given, you never really grow. At least not at the pace you could by taking matters into your own hands. In Gebbia's case, the need to pay rent pushed him to discover how to run a profitable business in three short years.
Oftentimes, on the creative side of the advertising/marketing business, we talk about things like rapid prototyping and iterative agile development for our work. As Gareth Kay aptly put it: "Stop communicating products, and start making communication products." But we only ever seem to apply that thinking to our work, never to ourselves. I think it's about time we turn the gun around and hold ourselves to a higher standard as well. What are the things you love? Perhaps it's photography, biking, or digital art.
Find out what you're passionate about, figure out a way to express that creatively, and just do it. Don't do it for a buck. Don't do it to get seen. Do it for yourself. Do it because it fills a creative void in your life and makes you feel complete. I'm no shining example of what I'm preaching, as this blog is the only up-and-running side project I have, but I do have another in the oven that I've been working on for a few months.
Which brings me to my final point: Stop making excuses.
In all honesty, there's no reason (well, I suppose money is a good reason) that I haven't gotten further with my project. Like many others, I find excuse after excuse to avoid just getting it done. You're either too tired, too broke, or you want to go to the gym. Whatever it is, stuff it. Like a relationship, if you really wanted to, you would find time to make it work. Even if it's only small bits at a time. Gignac closed his presentation with a point I want to share with you: "Making excuses takes the same time as making progress."
So stop bitching, and start doing.