A Driver’s License Can be Revoked for the Elderly, but Artistic License? Never.

A Driver’s License Can be Revoked for the Elderly, but Artistic License? Never.

She was due for retirement. Try telling her that.

Louise Fili, the designer behind logos for Tiffany & Co., Good Housekeeping, Paperless Post, and Sarabeth’s was, as always, a font of great ideas. “I think you should be focusing on the great octogenarians out there — Seymour Chwast, George Lois, Ed Sorel, R.O. Blechman, Bob Gill, Henrietta Condak, Sara Giovanitti…there are so many,” she said in her graceful decline to be a part of this story. “I will be happy to participate when you update the article in, say, 20 years.” Fili is 65, the touchstone — albeit arbitrary — retirement age. Time will tell. But that’s an offer she can make confidently.

Artists exist in careers without reply-all emails about the break room fridge, or dress codes, or — and most importantly — without punch clocks. They are timeless talents.

In 1972, at 90 years old, Pablo Picasso painted “Facing Death,” a self-portrait; he died the next year, having painted since 1891, when he was 9. I.M. Pei, the architect, is set to turn 100 this year as he works on 28 projects in six countries; he’s been working since his designs first caught fire in 1949. “I know how lucky I am,” Roger Angell, then 93, wrote in The New Yorker in 2014, “and secretly tap wood, greet the day, and grab a sneaky pleasure from my survival at long odds.” He has been contributing to the august magazine since 1944, most recently about the Chicago Cubs’ World Series victory, their 108-year championship drought being one of the few things in this world that predate him.

Now 94, Norman Lear is rebooting his 1975 sitcom classic One Day at a Time for Netflix, a Latina spin anchored by Rita Moreno, the 85-year-old EGOT superstar, who plays a 73-year-old sexualized grandmother. Hayao Miyazaki, the anime demigod, has came out of retirement to turn a 12-minute short film titled into a feature-length project, as you do at 76 years old.

There is an element to vocation beyond Western raison d’être, the French “reason for being” mired in Enlightenment sensibilities, that approaches the looser Japanese concept of ikigai, which can be translated as “a reason to get up in the morning” but was best described in a 1990 article in the Japanese business publication The Nikkei (formerly The Nihon Kaizai Shinbun) as “the process of allowing the self’s possibilities to bloom.” That process is itself a craft. Sorry, Tim Ferriss, there is no Four-Hour Ikigai.

These are all-work-and-all-play lives lived in the livelihood of humanity’s lifeblood: art, creativity, design. “To create is to live twice,” Albert Camus famously mused. While that wisdom may have been a gesture at the metaphysical immortality of fame and legacy and the stuff of lifetime achievement awards, it can also be taken literally as the doubling — or more — of creative professional lives as compared to the workaday world’s corporate drones, to say nothing of the relatively fleeting glories afforded professional athletes, dancers, and porn stars. A driver’s license can be revoked for the elderly, but artistic license? Never.

“To create is to live twice.”

“It’s not about doing something well over and over. It’s about doing something new over and over,” said Ivan Chermayeff, the 84-year-old graphic designer behind iconic logos for Barneys, Mobil, National Geographic, NBC, and the Smithsonian. “People who want to retire want to do other things. Travel. Plant a garden. I don’t. I’ve been doing those things every day my whole life. It’s a good racket,” he added from his office, with Wally, his Australian labradoodle barking in agreement at his feet.

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Ivan Chermayeff, image courtesy of Chermayeff.

Chermayeff noted the physical costs of activity outweigh the mental and emotional costs of lethargy. “I have a bad knee but thankfully it has very little bearing on graphic design abilities,” he said. 

“I was a professor, a teacher. I just stayed in offices. It was awful,” said the prolific architect Daniel Libeskind, 70. “I have lived in reverse, my active period coming after the introspective, reflective period. With architecture, I fell into a new dimension. I made my first building when I was 52! Instead of withering me, time gave me a sense of flowering, of growing. To be honest, I don’t think of aging. There is an immortality to being creative. You are like God, who is the poetic symbol of creation, the poetry of creativity. As your work continues, you become younger. You discover youthfulness — braver, bolder, more confident, more adventurous. You discover possibilities.”

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Daniel Libeskind at the Roca London Gallery. Photo courtesy of Libeskind.

Not that it’s easy. “You have to make a conscious decision early on that the suburbs and its finished basements aren’t for you. I had an illegal apartment for ten years, 1971 to 1981, $50 a month in a garret at 55th and 7th. I paid another $50 a month for a work space. So I was free,” said Larry Hama, 67, the comics superhero who single-handedly revived the series G.I. Joe and Wolverine, among other feats. “I’ve had years without any work. But I still did what I wanted. The only difference is I got paid during the working years, which was nice, but it wasn’t the reason I worked.”

There are, of course, life hacks to this Fountain of Youth.

For Libeskind, it is thermodynamics: A body in motion stays in motion. “I’ve lived in 18 cities,” he said. “Sometimes without knowing the language. Sometimes without having a job. Warsaw, Berlin, New York, São Paolo, Milan. They contribute so much energy to your mind. I’ve never been one for the beach or solitary walks in the woods.”

“As your work continues, you become younger. You discover youthfulness — braver, bolder, more confident, more adventurous.”

For Jonas Mekas, 94, the filmmaker who founded Film Culture magazine in 1954 and what would become the Anthology Film Archives in the 1960s, it is cultivating prickliness — not antisocial, just countersocial. “I was an urchin, a sea urchin, covered in spikes. Society could not swallow me. I did not fall into its holes. And those of us who escape enjoy a camaraderie. We don’t have to talk or get together. But we show other people what life is. We lure them into life with the things we make,” he said.

“You want what? That I go to the beach? I hate the beach. For one thing, it’s hard to get an espresso at the beach. And what is there? Ugly, grotesque people indulging their laziness while they cook and bake in the sun like slugs. That is joy? That is freedom? I don’t blame them for retiring at 65 because they have lived as robots in mechanical, menial, tedious tasks. They deserve a few years trying to feel human after all of that. They took my humanity and my youth in the camps. I was 17 in Lithuania and the next day, on the other end of the war, I was 27 in Brooklyn. I will never lose my youth again. I’ve worked too hard all my life to be this young,” Mekas says.

For abstract artist Carmen Herrera, as she puts it, “my bus was slow in coming.” She first sold her paintings in 2004, when she was 89. But what a ride it has been since then. Last year, at 101 years old, she had her first museum retrospective, at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her secret is her stealthiness. “I was liberated by being ignored,” she said. “I was free to do as I wish.” Not to suggest too much whimsy; asked her morning routine, she laid out her breakfast: “Cafe con leche, toast, butter and jam, orange juice, and work.” And work. As if it were a chewy bagel or bowl of porridge. She devours it. And it nourishes her. But at her own pace. She takes all week to read the Sunday New York Times, favoring the alchemy of its stories over the checklist of the task. Asked what advice she would give youngsters — y’know, people with mere double-digit ages — she spoke in her native Cuban Spanish: “Patience, darling, patience.”

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Carmen Herrera in her New York studio. Image courtesy of Herrera.

For Hama, it was saying yes. “Whenever the train got into the station, I got on board. And wherever it took me, when I got there I didn’t want the guided tour,” he said. “I was in an elevator in 1974 and a woman asked me if I was an actor. I said no and she asked ‘Do you want to be?’ And later that day I was in an off-Broadway production of Moby Dick put together by the starlet Jean Sullivan. I was on M*A*S*H and Saturday Night Live. They needed guys and I raised my hand.”

How do you retire from saying yes? “I can’t imagine retiring, and I have a great imagination,” he said. “If I go to the beach and try that, after an hour or so I just feel inert. Life is for action. Wander. Wonder. Surprise yourself. That’s the only adventure. You can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket. I’ve done, I think, 239 issues of G.I. Joe and never ended with a coming attractions of the next issue because I never knew. I don’t know what’s on page three until I’m halfway through writing page two. And I guess I’ve lived my life like that, too,” Hama says. 

“Life is for action. Wander. Wonder. Surprise yourself. That’s the only adventure.”

When he was a child, Mekas’ home would be visited by an old man who climbed his roof and stood on his head on the chimney. He was 100 years old and his upside-downness had a profound impact on Mekas. 

“You’re asking all the wrong questions. You’re asking why I’m active at 94. But why are people living like they are already dead at 60? Or 40? Even 30?” he said. “I am not the abnormal one. I am normal. I am alive. This is life. They are the abnormal ones. They just don’t see it because they happen to be the majority, sadly. They believe in patterns that suck out their energy — ads and transactions and labels and paperwork and technology that all tell them they are not enough, that they are behind, that they are lacking. What is retirement or even vacation except a stupid trap built to justify the first trap of this draining existence? I reject it! Instead I choose art! Art and the avant garde is the difference between making a life and mirroring one.”

from 99U99U http://bit.ly/2kuphBX

Rob Vargas: How to Design a Magazine Cover without Subject Cooperation

Rob Vargas: How to Design a Magazine Cover without Subject Cooperation

These days the national magazine cover can feel a little tired in the creativity department. So many glossies look like they’re picking their cover subjects from the same celebrity merry-go-round, leading to predictable images of beautiful people smiling at the camera or displaying a knowing smirk that seems to say, “Yes, I’m hot and I know it.”

Cover shoots are well-orchestrated events, involving armies of editors, photographers, publicists, incredible lighting, probably some airbrushing, and lots of money to pull the whole thing off. The image itself is always the capstone of a celebratory feature story. Words like “style icon” or “most powerful” or “Nick Nolte, the sexiest man alive” could well appear.

But Bloomberg Businessweek has been playing a different game, one where the cover subject is as likely to be criticized as they are to be lauded. And a critical article means that the cover subject is unlikely to want to cooperate with the editors on a cover photo shoot, leaving creative director Rob Vargas and his team with a blank page and the need to do something completely radical – come up with an original design idea. Unorthodox ideas aren’t just accepted, says Vargas, they’re necessary.

That ethos lends itself to some pretty gnarly images like, say, a shirtless Warren Buffett wrestling a bare-chested Elon Musk for a story on their battle over the future of solar energy. Or a mock Abercrombie & Fitch ad where the male model in tight, unbuttoned jeans is an old dude with sagging pecs and a portly physique, upon which is stamped the words “The Aging of Abercrombie & Fitch.”

Here Vargas discusses what goes into making the magazine’s provocative covers, how he determines when to treat a design with sensitivity or be sensational, and why he left the New York Times to join Bloomberg Businessweek.

How does a Bloomberg Businessweek cover come together?

The cover idea comes first. A lot of times it’s the photo editor and myself bouncing around ideas. Usually we don’t start with the headline. We start with something visual and build a headline on top of that. One of the things I really liked about this magazine – and this is not a shot at other magazines, but a lot of magazines take subject matter and depict people they want to celebrate, very laudatory stories. There isn’t a lot of room for humor in those cases.

With us, our stories can be critical of businesses and explore flaws within larger companies. We expose lesser-known bad behavior by financial firms. Many times we’re not getting cooperation from our cover subject. Like we did a story on a financial firm that was financing a dictator in Africa. There’s no cooperative photography for that. As a designer, I love when you have a 3,000-word story and literally nothing else. That forces us to think creatively because you’re staring at a blank sheet of paper.

 

Bloomberg Businesseek covers from June 2015 and January 2016.

Your magazine is published weekly, so you’ve got to be creative on a pretty tight schedule. What advice do you have for becoming a strong idea generator?

Like most things, you get better with practice. That not only has to do with gaining a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t, it also has a lot to do with confidence. When I first started in magazines and was tasked with coming up with a concept, it was pretty excruciating. I would think about a concept for hours and hours, and, as I was doing so, I would think about how I would never come up with a solution good enough to please my bosses. It was a very negative way of thinking, and the only thing it did was get in the way of a flow of ideas.

After a couple of hundred times of doing that, I acknowledged the fact that I was always going to come up with terrible ideas, and that’s completely fine. Sometimes you need to get those out of the way before you find the right one. Other times, you embrace the terrible one, and try to execute it in a way that elevates it. Other times, you just have to let go of your pride and ask others for help. What I love about publications is that I’ve found them to be very collaborative. People support each other as opposed to competing. This is especially true with Businessweek. It’s a multi-talented group, and so many of the best cover ideas had absolutely nothing to do with me.  Sometimes I just say “help” and then someone shows me something fantastic. From that point on it becomes my job to work with the art director or photo editor to see it through.

Bloomberg Businessweek is in a unique place, in that it covers people in the business realm who might also use the Bloomberg terminals, the company’s primary revenue generator. How do you balance potentially offending a terminal user in a cover story, with the need to be true to the piece? 

Luckily, we don’t get interference from Bloomberg corporate management when we’re writing critical stories. My feeling is that the cover stories are supporting financial firms in a roundabout way because they’re giving them useful information. From my experience, the company has never tried to protect a subject.

Do you ever feel like a cover went too far?

One of the things that people weren’t so happy within the company was this one cover that we did where a dog was urinating on the actual Bloomberg logo, on our actual logo. The story was about how, at the time, a big talking point for the presidential candidates was about Wall Street fat cats, so it was pretty much how everyone is beating up on business. That was our idea. It didn’t necessarily go over well here for obvious reasons. To me, that was a good example of how we exist in a space that we can also really criticize, even if it’s ourselves.

Tell us about a time you had a sensitive cover subject and how you handled it?

The one that comes to mind is one about Takata airbags that were exploding and killing people. The cover had a red background with the quote “If we go forward with this, somebody will be killed,” in small black type. It was a quote from one of the people that was trying to bring this situation to light to the managers well before the first accident. That, to me, is an example of the cover not shouting at you or not showing an upsetting car crash. We’re not doing anything sensational because it’s something very serious, but it’s also clear what we’re trying to do.

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There really is no way to properly caption an image like this. The 2015 magazine cover says it all.

Before you came to Bloomberg, you worked for the New York Times Magazine. What led you leave the New York Times?

I got cold-called by the former Bloomberg Businessweek creative director, asking me if I wanted to join this team to redesign the magazine, because that’s when Bloomberg had just bought Businessweek. The Times is obviously one of the best publications in existence, and it will be one of the best in existence whether or not I’m there. That is very clear. But Businessweek was this big lump of clay, no offense to the previous design team, but it was basically a full opportunity to make it whatever we wanted to make it. It’s not like where I was told, “We have this new thing that we can play with, but let’s make it look like Forbes.” It was, “Let’s make it look like nothing else.”

What advice would you have for somebody who is at a similar crossroads, choosing between a well-established brand that might have less creative freedom but more prominence and a less prominent brand that they can build or reimagine? 

You have to assess every risk for what it is. Moving to Bloomberg Businessweek felt like a pretty good risk because I already knew that I had shared a vision with the people that were hiring me. We were like-minded thinkers and that made the risk a lot easier to swallow. It’s not just jumping into a black hole and not knowing where you’re going to end up. You need to assess if what you’re making has the potential to grow, and whether you’ll be working with people that you share values with. If those things are in place, then it’s absolutely worth the risk [to choose the less-prominent brand you can build or rebrand.]

Do you ever fear that you’ll run out of cover ideas?

I used to be more afraid of that. After the redesign, we got tons of praise for the redesign and then it died out. Then we had this slight existential crisis. It was like, All right, now we’re known for this thing. Can we keep doing it? It was all psychological in terms of questioning ourselves and our own ability to take the tools we had and create these infinite reconfigurations.

How did you regain your confidence?

We just kept pushing forward. One of the positive aspects of being at a weekly magazine is that you don’t have the luxury of being inside your head for too long. The clock is always ticking, and there’s an endless stream of problems to solve. People are depending on you. At certain points you can’t help but take a step back and start obsessing about the meaning of it all. But eventually you have to snap back. You have to remind yourself that your here because you want to be here, because you love it for all it’s ups and downs, and then you just get back to work.

from 99U99U http://bit.ly/2koi3CT

Instrument — Portland

Instrument — Portland

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Like any good UX designer, Hooge started mapping out the new space by asking himself what would make for an ideal work environment. Lots of pressing needs were considered: Where do they put the mini teepee? Should they have a keg? A stove? An oven? The ability to blend smoothies wasn’t even a question – it was a must. “We took the best things from our warehouse space, such as the character and spirit, and the idea of a giant, open space,” says Hooge.

 

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The result is a timber-framed office, complete with its own photo and production studio. It stands apart from the surrounding buildings, thanks to its curved apertures, which jut out from the exterior walls. The focal point of the entire space is the three-story atrium that is purposely wide open. “That forces people to have unplanned collisions throughout the day and interact with people they wouldn’t normally interact with,” says Hooge.    

 

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As the Instrument team has grown from 15 people in 2010 to its current 120-person size, the company has decided to parse out its workforce into departments of 30 to 40 people that operate as mini-agencies. This number, Hooge and Lewis believe, is the tipping point between a tight, efficient operation that feels like a family, and a sprawling network of individuals who happen to be working under the same umbrella. “Each team has their own events, off-site trips, and rituals,” says Hooge. But one thing each team is willing to share is each other. “We have a bartering system where, if one team is light on a certain element, they have access to the other teams,” says Hooge. “You have your team family, your discipline family, then the whole Instrument family.”

 

*Additional reporting by Dave Bentoninstrument-text-6

from 99U99U http://bit.ly/2iNUz4t

DHNN — Buenos Aires

DHNN — Buenos Aires

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Upon arriving at DHNN’s work address, a two-level house in the Vicente López neighborhood, the first thing you’ll see inside is the pool surrounded by a garden and barbecue. “We are here one third of the day working, so we wanted to create an atmosphere that we’d want to be in,” says Lucas Davison, DHNN’s director.

 

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DHNN’s 20-person team is a mix of graphic designers and client account managers. The former have their offices downstairs, while the latter are based upstairs in rooms that have been turned into workspaces. Together, they have taken on interactive experience projects, like creating a surrealistic polygon video world for MTV and developing bright orange and blue digital branding for Visa’s payment systems. Meanwhile, the common spaces, like the kitchen, dining room, and garden, are used for meetings.

 

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“We work in here because we wanted a different way of working,” says Davison. “The backyard and pool are the best examples of that. During the summer we encourage people to go outside, and not work in front of their computers.”

 

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DHNN has a history of remaking unconventional spaces into offices to give employees more room to breathe. Previously, the team transformed an old bakery plant into a loft workspace. “When we started expanding the team, we were trying to find a place that avoids the common ‘corporate’ feeling,” says Davison. “No offices with multiple desks and technical facilities.” But a pool? Most definitely on the list.

 

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from 99U99U http://bit.ly/2iNUiyO

Why Unrest is Gold for Creatives

Why Unrest is Gold for Creatives

I became an artist at the age of 13, when a tear gas canister careened off the cracked asphalt of Reade Street in downtown Baltimore and skidded toward my feet, billowing gray smoke.

The year was 1969. Billboard’s top song of the year might have been Sugar Sugar by the Archies — a group inspired by a comic book  but even a kid my age could see that clean-cut, Dick Clark frivolity had just about run its course. Aquarius, from the new-age musical, was number two. Following close behind were songs by the Rolling Stones, Sly Stone, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Bob Dylan. In an era of upheaval and crisis, creative expression takes on new urgency.  What we remember now as Classic Rock was created as the soundtrack of a revolution  a call to action, a cathartic expression of anger and grief, a tool for enlistment and change. Within that caldron I was forged.

With a friend I’d cut my 8th grade classes. We’d taken a bus to the Flower Festival in downtown Baltimore. Advertised on the radio as a peaceful gathering of artists and hippies, we were hoping to check out the music, soak in the vibe, maybe cop some of the free “grass” that was rumored to be available.

I had this long hank of hair I combed low across my forehead—my father, the ex-marine, hated it. And I was sporting a pair of bellbottom dungarees. I’d had to smuggle the pants out of the house without my mother knowing, as jeans were against the dress code policy enforced at my school, a source of great unrest among the students. There’d already been several sit ins by a bunch of us more activist middle-schoolers, demanding a loosening of the rule—did wearing corduroys instead of dungarees make us better citizens? It was ridiculous and arbitrary. We weren’t gonna take it anymore.

Of course, our militancy had trickled down from our older brothers and sisters. Outside the walls of Pikesville Junior High School, on larger and more important fronts, bitter social wars were raging—racial, sexual, generational. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy had recently been assassinated. The Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act had only just been signed. Cities and women’s undergarments were burning. A culture of protest prevailed. Even dinner was unsafe; less than a decade earlier, children had been expected to grow up to be miniature carbon copies of their parents. Now there was this new thing they called Youth Culture. Family disagreements were increasingly bellicose as these baby boomers called a halt to convention. Never again would children be seen and not heard. Music, art, film—a golden age of creative output was blooming. Self expression was the hallmark of the age.

Underlying everything, of course, was Vietnam. Lyndon B. Johnson’s dirty little war—and the Selective Services’ little paper draft card was a death warrant issued to every eligible 18-year-old. Every night we saw the carnage, brought to the TV screen by an enterprising and independent press. And every day, more of our older brothers were being killed and maimed. You didn’t have to be a genius to figure out that if something wasn’t done soon, we junior high students would be next.  Hey Hey LBJ. How many kids did you kill today? That question, the widespread protest, was damning enough to run one of America’s most powerful politicians out of office. I still remember President Johnson on the screen of our black and white television, his long horse-face somber and defeated.  “I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.” 

I remember the sound the canister made, the resounding tinny thunk, and the scraping sound as it skidded toward me. I froze. Stared for a long moment at the smoke billowing, unsure what to do. Ever since elementary school, living under the specter of the Cold War’s threat of nuclear annihilation, we’d faithfully practiced our duck and cover drills. Now here I was, being fired upon by forces from my own team. I had no training for that.

Some older kid kicked the canister away, but not before I got a snoot full of gas. I can’t remember what he looked like but I remember him leading me into a store full of posters and pulsing lights, music blaring.

Together with a woman in the store, they helped me wash out my eyes. In the wretchedness of my symptoms—the rubbed pepper pain, the weeping eyes, and running nose—I can remember only one emotion: I was angry as hell. And I wanted to do something about it.

In the months to come I was grounded, which gave me a lot of time to go to the library.  I started reading carefully all the news about the protests and about the war. I read up on the leaders of these movements: about the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), about Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman, Stokely Carmichael, Martin Luther King Jr., Elijah Mohammad.

Somewhere along the way, I discovered the writings of the psychologist and social disrupter Timothy Leary. While I never got into using hallucinogenic drugs, as Leary advocated, I did take great heed of the slogan he made popular: Question Authority.

I grew up to be a journalist. And for the past 40 years I’ve been doing just that. Asking why, seeking truth, finding evocative ways to bring to light my findings.

 In these troubled times, there is only more to do.

from 99U99U http://bit.ly/2jHBmTN

How to Beat the Imposter Syndrome Feeling

How to Beat the Imposter Syndrome Feeling

Every other creative professional you know has succeeded largely because of their talents and dedication. You, on the other hand, have got where you are thanks to a mix of luck and the extra effort that was needed to compensate for your lack of true giftedness.

Does this harsh assessment match your own worldview? If so, it sounds as if you are suffering from a crisis of self-doubt that psychologists call the Imposter Phenomenon. Quite likely you live in professional fear. Fear that one of these days, you are going to be exposed. That the mirage of serendipitous and barely-made-it achievements that is your career will one day be lifted, revealing to your peers and mentors the shameful truth – you flunked it.

The imposter phenomenon was first described in the 1970s by clinical psychologists working at a women’s college, after they noticed that a large proportion of the students felt nervous of their academic success and were worried of having their true capabilities exposed. Since then it’s become apparent that men and women in all walks of life experience imposter feelings: in fact, one recent estimate (pdf) suggests that around 70 percent of us will go through a period of these self-doubts at least once in our lives.

It seems plausible that the syndrome might particularly affect those of us working in creative industries. In our world there is a pervasive myth that there is a minority of super achievers who are born with a magical gift, while the rest of us mortals struggle by with our ordinary talents. For a creative who’s enjoyed a degree of success, it’s understandable that he or she might especially worry that this was founded on luck or effort rather than true creative talent. 

Unfortunately, new research has begun to show just how harmful the Imposter Phenomenon can be to careers. Researchers at the University of Salzburg recently surveyed over 200 professionals and found that those experiencing the syndrome tended to get paid less, were less likely to have won promotions, and were usually less satisfied in their work and less committed.

Thankfully, psychology research has also revealed a lot about the mindset and behaviors of the typical Imposter Syndrome sufferer and based on these insights we suggest the following simple strategies to help reduce your Imposter feelings and protect your career.

1. Learn to be a healthy perfectionist

A recent study by Belgian psychologists of over 200 staff in three different industries, including finance and human resources, found that feelings of Imposter Syndrome went hand in hand with high scores on a measure of “maladaptive perfectionism” (These individuals agreed with questionnaire items like “I should be upset when I make a mistake.”) and with low scores on adaptive perfectionism. (They disagreed with items like “I set higher goals for myself than most people.”)

People who exhibit unhealthy perfectionism are fearful of failure, fearful of criticism, hate making mistakes, stew over past errors, and worry excessively about disappointing others. You can counter this by trying to develop a healthy perfectionist approach, which is about striving to do as well as possible, for yourself, not for outside approval; and not worrying excessively about mistakes or set-backs.

2. Avoid defensive pessimism and self-handicapping

Sufferers of Imposterism are also especially prone to shame and anxiety – when things go wrong. They think it reveals something essential about their lack of ability and talent. Motivated to avoid these uncomfortable feelings, the person who sees themselves as a fake will frequently adopt either or both of two psychological habits when confronted by a new challenge: defensive pessimism, which is about fearing the worst and trying to avoid it happening, for example through working excessively hard.

The other is self-handicapping, which is when you deliberately imperil your own chances, for example by procrastinating and only working on a project last-minute, thus giving yourself a ready-made excuse for when things go wrong.

These two approaches sound like a contradiction, but actually each feeds into a similar spiral of harmful thinking that can turn fleeting feelings of Imposterism into a chronic, debilitating state of mind. If and when, despite all this negative thinking, success comes, the defensively pessimistic Imposter, rather than celebrating, interprets his/her achievement as due to unsustainable levels of effort – and assumes that this grind was much more than anyone else needed to invest. The procrastinating Imposter, meanwhile, sees his success as surely due to luck. (Because after all, he just winged it.)

If this way of working sounds familiar, perhaps you are trapping yourself in an Imposter mindset. Part of the solution is to revisit your motives. Try to rediscover, if you can, the joy of creation for its own sake. Don’t see the outcome of your next project as some kind of barometer of your worth. Believe in yourself and break the Imposter spiral by putting in the work and effort that you feel this particular project deserves and requires based on its merit and difficulty level.

3. Listen to other people’s honest stories

According to the early research on Imposterism by the psychologist Pauline Clance, people prone to the syndrome hang a lot of their feelings of self-worth on being exceptional. Yet, in creative careers, if we enjoy some success, our peer group changes. We find ourselves surrounded by more high-achieving people. This makes it increasingly difficult to feel special, and moreover, it’s easy to assume that everyone else got here through effortless talent, as compared with our own mix of luck and exhausting effort. And yet this is an illusion. In reality, behind the most impressive professional resumes there will be a litany of set-backs, direction changes, and moments of doubt.  As Oliver Burkeman wrote here at 99U: “the truth, deep down, is that we all feel as though we’re just winging it.” One powerful antidote to Imposter feelings is to take the time to talk to trusted peers and mentors about their careers. Listen to their stories and experiences and you’ll likely discover that nothing came easy.

4. We can help each other

Seeing that feelings of Imposterism are fueled by anxiety, low self-esteem and self-doubt, we can all help each other counter these feelings by fostering a supportive environment. It’s worth doing this from an organizational perspective because workers who feel like frauds are less likely to go the extra mile for the company  any such ventures represent another chance of being found out.

How to implement such a culture? For a start, star performers can be encouraged to contribute by being open and honest about the trials and tribulations behind their own successes. And we can all strive to be collegial and to give each other constructive feedback that is aimed at processes and techniques rather than on personal criticisms. The recent Belgian research shows that a supportive working environment (as measured by agreement with items like “Someone of a higher rank frequently devotes extra time and consideration to me”) helped to reduce the link between workers’ Imposter feelings and their lack of job satisfaction and commitment to the organization.

5. Adopt counter measures

Feelings of Imposter Syndrome have long-lasting, harmful effects for our careers. Other related new research, involving hundreds of undergrads from several European countries, suggests this is because the Imposter feelings undermine our professional adaptability, including our concern for the future of our career. For instance, people with Imposter feelings are less likely to keep track of job openings and promotion opportunities, presumably because they are more concerned about keeping hold of their current position, and fearful of new challenges that will expose them as frauds.

While it’s important to try to tackle your Imposter feelings head-on following the steps above, a parallel, practical approach is to recognize the ways these feelings are likely to hinder your career progression, and then to take deliberate counter measures, such as going for promotions and looking out for exciting job opportunities. The truth is, the more successful you are, the more likely it is that you will end up feeling like a fraud – it’s just such a common experience. Soak up the self-doubt and then take the leap anyway. That’s what everyone else is doing.

from 99U99U http://bit.ly/2jN47BN

Designing the Next Generation of Condom Packaging

Designing the Next Generation of Condom Packaging

It’s hard to make a splash in condoms, despite it being a vital industry for public health that is projected, according to a May report by Global Industry Analysts, Inc., to comprise 48.5 billion units for a total market of $8 billion by 2022.

The humble rubber sheaths are federally regulated as medical devices by the Food and Drug Administration. That puts innovators in the cockamamie poppycock position of needing something in the ballpark of at least $5 million just to do human trials.

The problem is clear: There is a real need to make a next generation condom that is easier to use, stigma-free and more visually appealing, but the product is tightly controlled by government guidelines. And the cost of trying to rethink the product itself is like playing high stakes poker with a buy in that is out of reach for most people.  

That financial thorn is what poked holes in Mark McGlothin’s condom dreams. McGlothin won $100,000 as part of a 2013 Gates Foundation Global Grand Challenges contest to usher in a “next-generation condom” to turn the tide on condom use (worldwide, only 5 percent of men use them). Three years later, McGlothin has about a dozen collagen-based prototypes but is legally bound not to let anyone use them — despite having sunk about $60,000 of his own money and 2,000 hours of sweat equity into it.

“It’s completely unfair,” he said. “I recently saw a speech by Peter Thiel that called this out: our progress in the world of bits and bytes, which is light-years ahead of where it was even a few years ago, versus our progress in the world of atoms, of actual objects — cars, drugs, condoms, buildings, whatever — which is stuck where it was decades ago because of all this regulation and oversight.”

McGlothin was no random contestant. In the 1980s, buttressed by a $1.3 million National Institutes of Health grant and a matching sum from a family planning non-profit, he developed Avanti, a polyisoprene, non-latex condom now used by industry heavyweight Durex. He is condoms’ Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, but is stuck living as the industry’s Nikola Tesla, his San Diego office stocked with blocked ideas and contraband prototypes. 

But not all condom stories are so blue. In 2013, the same year McGlothin hit his brick wall, Tiffany Gaines, then a graduate student in design for social innovation at New York’s School of Visual Arts, partnered with Claire Courtney, who was working with homeless teens in Los Angeles. The condom company they formed together, Lovability, has enjoyed wild creative success.

Unable to change much about the condoms themselves — although they source “fresh” latex that has a 12-week trunk-to-junk life —the entrepreneurs triggered major changes by tweaking largely presumed packaging traditions.

For one, their condoms open with buttercup wrappers — picture butter or grape jelly containers at a diner — that peel back without any of the tooth-and-nail approach seen in condoms’ classic tearable pouches. And because the condoms lay flat in the container, they’re always right-side up (no unrolling the condom a bit to see if you’re doing it the right way).

“We’ve joked it’s the hipster condom, the artisanal condom, the bespoke condom,” Gaines said. “But no. It’s not that. It’s about taking the part we’re kinda stuck with because of the FDA and changing the relationship since we can’t change the technology. We’re able to do these minor things that actually do a lot of heavy lifting in the anxiety battle. It transforms anxiety into power. It’s like a training bra. It allows for a fuller, more comfortable conversation.”

The packages are stored in small round tins, like breath mints. “It’s unusual enough and discreet enough that someone can drop it out of her purse in an ice cream parlor full of kids and nobody is going to gasp,” said Gaines. “That is huge. We took it out of that hyper-sexual, hyper-clinical pharmacy space where it’s on an aisle with Band-Aids, cough syrup, and adult diapers. It needs to be more like lipstick, something that makes you feel sexier and braver and bolder when you use it.”

Lovability is huge on feedback to avoid unnecessary or unhelpful designs that beleaguer products targeted to women, from the so-called “pink tax” to the inanity of, say, Bic’s “for her” line of pens. Alternately, the Lelo Hex condom of tessellating hexagons is bro-y both in its aesthetic and its marketing.

These condom packaging wrappers by The Woork Co for Confortex purposefully look like candy wrappers.

Unafraid of targeting a younger audience, Debbie Martín, cofounder of design studio The Woork Co. in Madrid, flipped condoms’ packaging by putting the instructions on the condom’s wrapper and boxing it in a nondescript bright container for client Confortex. “We wanted it to look less like cough syrup and more like bubble gum,” she said. “Now the condom looks — and feels — less like medicine and more like candy. You want it more.”

But what happens if the packaging sports fruits and vegetables? Will consumers still want it more? National Taipei University of Technology student Guan-Hao Pan thinks so. He has developed a prototype line of condoms called Love Guide to address the issue of men buying ill-fitting condoms.
Rather that packaging his condoms in a square box and wrapper, Pan has gone with elongated packaging, using different fruits and vegetables as context for size. “Each package is different in diameter and specified with a color as well as a label: cucumber, carrot, banana, turnip, and zucchini,” writes Pan. “Holding the package makes it much easier for buyers to determine which size fits them the best.”
condoms-main

Condom packaging using fruits and veggies to give sizing context, as dreamed up by Guan-Hao Pan.

Designers are also asking their users to weigh in on what’s on the packaging. Take One Condoms. Sure, One’s pouches are round instead of square and have one tear spot instead of a miniature picket fence of vulnerabilities. But what’s key to One’s strategy is what’s on the wrappers. The word “One” is incidental to lavish, colorful illustrations commissioned by street artists, giving the condoms the allure and collectibility of Pokémon or pogs. It’s not as gimmicky as it might sound. “A glow-in-the-dark condom may sound like a joke,” said One Condoms senior director of brand strategy Jared Maraio, “But not if it allows a conversation about wearing a condom that might be too nerve-racking or offensive with a normal condom.”

Every three months or so, One releases new designs, which have been voted on online. The result is not just their sneaker-style collectibility but that condoms become much cooler and more approachable. “It’s self-expression,” said Maraio. “It’s emotion. It’s power. It’s art. And so it’s designed to evolve with public attitudes and trends.” The condom maker might partner with Tom of Finland or exhibit in Urban Outfitters. But they’re very targeted. And whereas public health campaigns can creep slowly over years, One’s approach allows for radical shifts in the somber I’m-the-rubber-you’re-the-gloom scene of an STD clinic or middle school sex ed class almost immediately.

“We can do different designs for urban markets or gay markets or whatever,”  said Maraio. It’s working. One now partners with 3,500 public health organizations and recently were acquired by Karex, a blue-chip condom manufacturer, with plans to expand the 55 condom sizes available in the United States to the full 66 sizes offered in Europe. 

Meanwhile, McGlothin, in his San Diego office, bemoans the small victories with which those in the condom industry must make do. “Ten million dollars would accomplish exactly what Bill Gates tried to do,” he said. “But now I won’t even listen to someone offering just another $1 million. It just wouldn’t work. It’s not an industry where million-dollar ideas have power anymore.”

from 99U99U http://bit.ly/2jJkmjt