This is world creativity and innovation week, and it got me thinking about how much my creative life has influenced and enriched my tech life.
Here’s the backstory:
In college, I studied creative writing and education and I loved it. My mother on the other hand, was convinced that someone had kidnapped her real daughter who always wanted to be a “baby doctor”.
The story she tells goes something like this: When I was little, I’d run around saying that I wanted to be a “baby doctor” when I grew up. That’s before I knew words like spinach, responsibility or pediatrician.
As you can see, I didn’t end up becoming one. Instead, I started studying environmental science. First year of college and I wanted to research the environment and find interesting (and cool) ways to make the world and cleaner and healthier place to live. I enjoyed my classes and was on my way, then Spring semester ruined my mother’s dreams. I took a writing class that changed my life. No, really it did! By sopohomore year, I was teaching in a writing program and studying everything from Classical Chinese Poetry to Shakesperian sonnets. Yup, I had converted.
Studying Writing Taught Me How To Monetize My Creative Talents
Now, hold on! You’re probably wondering how this statement could be true. Let me break it down. I went on to study writing, and then I taught creative writing after college. My mentor, the late June Jordan, was all about teaching us how to teach, perform and write. She wanted us to have jobs when we graduated, and I did. I didn’t ask my parents for rent and Ramen money, and they slowly let go of the doctor thing. Paying the bills had a real affect on them, in a good way.
Suggestion: If you want to do something creative, do it and make sure someone else will pay you to do it. Knowing how to teach is a good place to start.
Studying Writing Taught Me How To Perfect The Art of Public Speaking
Everyone could use some public speaking perfection. Right?
Today, I’m a tech entrepreneur. I still write and perform professionally, and some of my most recent performances involve pitching my startup. As a poet, I spent years getting on stage (and getting paid to do it) to read my work. Many of the lessons learned apply to pitching: Connecting with your audience, projecting your voice, timing, body language, improvisation.
Now when I tell my mom just how much performing helps me in tech, she smiles and nods her head.
You’ll most likely need them for the rest of your life.
Studying Writing Taught Me How To Be Vulnerable
Ah vulnerability! It’s never easy, but it’s often very powerful. Some of my favorite blogs are my favorite because the blogger isn’t afraid to be vulnerable. I love when people can be real, flaws and all.
When I’d get up on stage, it was all about sharing things that were deeply personal for the sake of connecting with others. Sometimes, I was so nervous before getting on stage, but I was convinced to do it anyway. Knowing that someone might benefit was the motivation I needed to get up there. I still get nervous when I get up to read, but it’s the good kind of nerves. The before the curtain goes up kind that says we’re all deeply human and more similar than we think.
As a blogger and copywriter, I still think about just how powerful vulnerability is when it comes to creating great content. Readers love to engage and identify with people they can relate to. Seems like I use this lesson everyday.
Suggestion: Creativity and income don’t have to live in two separate worlds. There’s a way to use what you’re learning today in the work you might be doing tomorrow. So, your parents might worry about your major but the truth is if you focus on skills worth having, you’ll be able to use them in any line of work.
Creativity breeds innovation and that’s what’s changing the world we live in right now.
So, what skills have you learned that surprised you when you used them? Are you in college and worried that you won’t be able to use your major. I’d love to hear your responses in the comments.