A couple of months ago the NY Times Magazine profiled a group of twentysomethings who are, as Laverne and Shirley did, doin’ it their way. The Times praised these trailblazers fresh out of expensive colleges as they snub their noses at corporate culture and start their own businesses and change the world. Sure they work twenty hours a day fueled by energy drinks and will most likely burn out before they are 30 but that’s OK! They are entrepreneurs! I read this article with fascination and sense of dread as my next birthday lurks around the corner, taunting me as I prepare to cross into another decade.
Actually, the article really pissed me off. Oh fine NY TIMES! We “old farts” just aren’t good enough because we go to bed on time and drink regular coffee and not energy drinks! It made me want to dig out my old Nirvana CDs (they are all on iTunes now) and brood over simpler times. Well, not really, but the article did make me think. Ya see, I come from a long line of entrepreneurs and small business owners and for a while thought I was going to be following the same path. But my new job came along and gave me a raise, healthcare and a 401K and I’m fine with that. I have enough challenges working 8 hours a day with a lengthy commute and staring my own business just isn’t in the cards.
What was in the cards was an interesting conversation I had with my husband about these pesky Millennials who constantly remind us we’re doing it wrong as they blaze their own paths. Sure, they live on their smart phones and can’t open a spreadsheet but one thing they are doing and doing well (thanks to social media) is cultivating communities. They hold their friends close and wonder what the hell the problem is when old-fashioned politicians complain about what the queers are doing to the soil. (Sorry, bad Dead Milkmen reference) They reach out to each other when they can’t get funding for a project and have no problem putting together a Kickstarter campaign rather than sitting in a stuffy board room with venture capitalists. And I admire that.
During our “Millennial” conversation my husband and I got on the topic of creative communities. Places where a venture capitalist or a writer or a starving filmmaker can meet in a neutral area (like a coffee shop) and talk about the creative process and help with projects. It got me thinking about my creative automat and I how I only “stocked” it with writers and creative weirdos like me. I didn’t think to invite the designers, the energy-drink-fueled entrepreneurs, the engineers, the personal trainers and all the “weirdos” in between.
So, in conclusion, Gentle Reader, I guess I did learn something from the NY Times piece I so flippantly dismissed. Perhaps it’s time for me to take a page from the Millennial Playbook and get out of my creative comfort zone and expand my inner circle. Who knows? Maybe I’ll meet a publisher desperate to publish my yet unwritten book.
What about you? How could getting out of your creative comfort zone help you grow? What lessons have you learned (if any) from younger generations?