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Jocelyn Glei interviews on being a creative: part three

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As the interview with 99U director and editor-in-chief Jocelyn Glei continues from part two, Glei discusses what makes the experience of being a creative professional unique:

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L.C. The most recent book in the 99U series, Maximize Your Potential, provides essential perspectives specifically for creatives, so that creatives can "work with intention" in building dynamic, rewarding careers. What do you see as distinct about the experience of being a creative?

J.G. I'm going to add a caveat first - I think that we very specifically at 99U target creatives, but I think some people use that term a bit more narrowly than I would use it. They think only of people who are making art, or designers, or people of that nature. But I really think that it's anyone who is doing any kind of creative problem solving, which really is most people. There are a lot of people who are doing knowledge work.

In terms of what is distinctive about the experience of being a creative, I think the first thing is, and we talked about some of this in the first book, Manage Your Day-to-Day, the fact that you need long stretches of time to focus on work. If you're just, say, doing administrative work, or maybe you are managing people, and you are doing tasks - to break up stuff into little chunks - it may not be as big a deal if you're getting interrupted throughout your day. If you're trying to do creative work, you're in a moment where you either need to find inspiration to move forward or have that "aha" insight, or whatever it is.

The second aspect is that creative work doesn't happen on a rigorous timetable. You can't sit down and be like "oh, that's going to happen in the next five minutes." Sometimes, although it would be nice if it worked that way, you can't always control the timetable.

In this day and age, when people are constantly interrupting you or there are constant distractions - Twitter, email, etc. - you have to build your daily routine in a way that defends against those interruptions. So, I think there is a time management aspect that is very specific to being a creative.

Another thing that has happened is that we have this level of freedom and such a huge variety of resources at our fingertips. There are all these things that free us up basically to build careers and build businesses. You used to need these massive companies in order to have huge impact on the world, and you really don't anymore. A company of even just 3 or 10 people can have a massive impact.

The flip side of that is we have this amazing freedom as creatives, but we also have a huge level of responsibility. We're starting these incredible businesses and projects with such small amounts of people. It means that there is a really high demand for us to be able to constantly shift roles, even as one person.

So, it places a huge amount of demand just in terms of people being able to manage their time, shift mindsets, and also develop a very broad set of skills - to do all of those things and to do them well.

Continue to part four of this interview, where Glei discusses developing a mission >>


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