Derek Shanahan

Work On Something Cool

You find yourself in the middle of a day that’s a month after the one you last remember.

You want to have written every minute of it, but instead you look around and wonder what you might do to further the cause you’ve jumped on board with.

That’s the best part of working on something you care about.  It’s also bad for your personal blog.

No, that isn’t an apology.

I spent a lot of time in the years after I graduated from college wondering what real people did with their lives.  I looked at the routes society mandates as advisable and found most of them completely foreign to the way I operate.

So I tried a few things.

I tried working for a lawyer doing deals in Hollywood and pondered the potential of a life as an intellectual property attorney.  Flights to LA for movie set duty and daily check ups on the industry news in Variety.

I took the LSAT twice and that second time I killed it like oil killed the Gulf of Mexico.

Before I got my scores back I heard the sing song everyone in the industry offered as advice: we hate this work.  I worked for people I saw gripping smoke and coffee breaks like their day would explode without them.  I saw the promise that going postal would provide wickedly smart people locked up in the depression afforded to the unfortunate and well-meaning people who settle for the restrictions of a typical career in a typical industry that pay a typically great salary for being typical.

Out I went, chasing the promise of an entrepreneurial environment in an identically typical industry.

Where I learned the hardest lesson I’ve learned: working for yourself isn’t the promised land.

Working for yourself isn’t the same as working on something you love working on.

So I failed at a long term and scalable business effort in a field that didn’t make me happy.

Big surprise there.

Today I’m in the office at the heart of a truly gorgeous city pretty damn late on a Friday night, and I feel like working.

I feel like working.

Hours and hours after I’d ever have imagined working on anything remotely related to work at any point in the years that came before 2010.

It ain’t easy.  I’ve told a lot of you that.

Take it from me though; life’s work and work’s life.  You are both.

Make ’em jive.

Work on something cool. Do it in the morning or night or lunchbreaks or whatever.  Just do it.

Then tell everyone about it.

What are you doing that’s cool?  I truly want to know.

34 comments
Kyle Crum
Kyle Crum

The WiseGifter community is growing slowly but surely, which is just fine with me. We've been really glad to see a good reception of it and especially glad to hear from a lot of people who have the same life values as us. That part has been really gratifying.Bali is pretty incredible, I can't lie. Although I can't lie, I'm a bit jealous of Vancouver, too. It's one of our favorite cities.

Alex
Alex

Definitely would love to take Foodtree for a test drive. Interface geeks unite. Hehe. It is definitely nice to approach interface design from a cognitive psychology perspective. Often computer scientists and engineers forget people have to use technology. :)

DShan
DShan

Haha...working on a tan; I'd LOVE to do that. I should try and get outsideat all, I think.Let me know how the community management stuff goes; I wonder about my ownskills sometimes.

DShan
DShan

And you're an inspiration in your field as well; great material people canreally digest. Honesty and hard work; you've got both in your toolbelt. Ihope business is going really well.

DShan
DShan

Mike,I'll go even further; I worked in a fully commission based environment(self-employed, albeit) for over five years, and was initially incrediblyattracted to the possibilities for my entrepreneurial mind when I set offdown that road. I found that I not only don't give a flying f*ck about thefinancial benefits of success at all, but I am actually notably impacted bytying my productivity to them. It destroys the value I bring to projects ina meaningful way.That was probably the hardest lesson I have learned thus far in myprofessional career.Great, great point.D

DShan
DShan

Seeing your comments makes me just as happy.I had no idea you were into such cool shit. Seriously...I mean that. I'm ahuge, huge interface geek; and I'll probably ask you to take Foodtree thru atest drive to see how you feel about the way it presents itself to people:) You application of those processes is probably wickedly interesting; what aunique context for interface design!

DShan
DShan

I completely agree. It's a beatiful thing...I kind of can't believe whatbecame of you and Nicole, having watched you both a bit from afar prior toyou meeting, and then you basically getting married to one another.There's something so shiny about it, honestly. You're both such greatpeople...great people...and you guys just sort of make each other a teenybit better.

DShan
DShan

Aw, Ali! Didn't you take an awesome trip last year to like Egypt or Israelor something? Whatever; you do very cool stuff all the time.

DShan
DShan

Work is a word that's got the wrong connotation, in my mind. It doesn'thave to mean suffering or unhappiness, and when it means that for someonethey need to reevaluate. I love seeing who love what they do all day;they're awesome versions of themselves, and they get so much done it'sincredible.You project over at wisegifter is compelling...I'll spend a bit checking itout. How's the community growing? It's a beautiful concept...I'm a bigbelieve in simplicity.Jealous of Bali...I hear it's incredible over there.

DShan
DShan

Haha...working on a tan; I'd LOVE to do that. I should try and get outside
at all, I think.

Let me know how the community management stuff goes; I wonder about my own
skills sometimes.

DShan
DShan

Aw, Iva, you are definitely a super hero with massive super powers. That'sunquestionable.

DShan
DShan

I completely agree. It's a beatiful thing...I kind of can't believe what
became of you and Nicole, having watched you both a bit from afar prior to
you meeting, and then you basically getting married to one another.

There's something so shiny about it, honestly. You're both such great
people...great people...and you guys just sort of make each other a teeny
bit better.

verybadcat
verybadcat

hmm. I'm working on finding my feet as an administrator for a local blogging site. think of it as a teeny tiny 20SB for Asheville (kinda). I'm cheering for the local roller derby league. as in tennis skirt, fishnets, pom poms and raffle ticket sales. I'm working on trying to walk gracefully in a pair of kick ass high heels. If only all of those things and the rest of my life didn't preclude working on my tan...

Brian Plain
Brian Plain

"Working for yourself isn’t the same as working on something you love working on."Excellent point that is often confused. Working for yourself doing what you were meant to do is much different than working for yourself doing something you kinda sorta might like.You're a constant source of inspiration and I'm always grateful when you share your thoughts with the world.Nothing but continued success to you and Foodtree.

Brian Plain
Brian Plain

"Working for yourself isn’t the same as working on something you love working on."Excellent point that is often confused. Working for yourself doing what you were meant to do is much different than working for yourself doing something you kinda sorta might like.You're a constant source of inspiration and I'm always grateful when you share your thoughts with the world.Nothing but continued success to you and Foodtree.

Mike Roberts
Mike Roberts

Really glad that you are loving what you do. Random question: Do you ever find that you don't give a fuck about the financial benefits that are sure to follow doing what you love? (IF your goal is to monetize). Like, you know they are coming, and you will enjoy them, but you don't really care about them. Don't know if that makes sense...What I do that is cool (to me anyway) is help people set up short term and inspiring goals in there lives and develop a clear and flexible strategy to get there. This is what I do in my own life, so it's fun for me to help anyone who is willing, do the same.

Mike Roberts
Mike Roberts

Really glad that you are loving what you do. Random question: Do you ever find that you don't give a fuck about the financial benefits that are sure to follow doing what you love? (IF your goal is to monetize). Like, you know they are coming, and you will enjoy them, but you don't really care about them. Don't know if that makes sense...

What I do that is cool (to me anyway) is help people set up short term and inspiring goals in there lives and develop a clear and flexible strategy to get there. This is what I do in my own life, so it's fun for me to help anyone who is willing, do the same.

Alex
Alex

I loved seeing your name pop up in my Google Reader. That being said, I love knowing when my favorite bloggers are off the radar for awhile that they are busy doing something that fulfills them. I think it is so wonderful that you "feel like working" and I hope your heart continues to be happy. I am doing my thesis research with a first shooter game developed by the Army to help soldiers train in a safe environment before going out in the field. I'm helping the Navy design interfaces for high speed boats that apply principles of human cognition in the design phase. Life is good.

Alex
Alex

I loved seeing your name pop up in my Google Reader. That being said, I love knowing when my favorite bloggers are off the radar for awhile that they are busy doing something that fulfills them. I think it is so wonderful that you "feel like working" and I hope your heart continues to be happy.
I am doing my thesis research with a first shooter game developed by the Army to help soldiers train in a safe environment before going out in the field. I'm helping the Navy design interfaces for high speed boats that apply principles of human cognition in the design phase.
Life is good.

jamievaron
jamievaron

I get to make pretty designs for really awesome people. All day. And like, people pay me for it. And I have so much freedom that there is basically nothing in the world that is off limits at this point. True present and future life design. I have to say. That's pretty fucking cool.

Ali
Ali

You write so damn well, damn it!I'm going to Europe in September. That's the most cool I've been doing in like, ever.

Ali
Ali

You write so damn well, damn it!

I'm going to Europe in September. That's the most cool I've been doing in like, ever.

Kyle Crum
Kyle Crum

I travel around the world (currently in Bali) and run a site (http://wisegifter.com) that allows people to gift non-material items. I believe that people get too much stuff as gifts and I'm looking to change that by allowing people to gift experiences and non-material items. Less Stuff = More Life. Do you really think that it should be called "work" if you like doing it? Then it's just fun, right?

Kyle Crum
Kyle Crum

I travel around the world (currently in Bali) and run a site (http://wisegifter.com) that allows people to gift non-material items. I believe that people get too much stuff as gifts and I'm looking to change that by allowing people to gift experiences and non-material items. Less Stuff = More Life.

Do you really think that it should be called "work" if you like doing it? Then it's just fun, right?

Ivamessy
Ivamessy

You are a genius. a superhero. and super cool. and totally awesome and inspiring. "I feel like working". I love that.

Ivamessy
Ivamessy

You are a genius. a superhero. and super cool. and totally awesome and inspiring. "I feel like working". I love that.