Learning to Master the Art of Your Career

It doesn’t matter what you do for a living — whether you work in medicine or retail, law or construction, software engineering or writing — there’s an art and science to every career. Each profession has its scientific aspects, those more mechanical facets, rules, and methods you must know to succeed. Yet no matter how dry, straightforward, or technical, these professions also have creative qualities that foster critical thinking.

It doesn’t matter what you do for a living — whether you work in medicine or retail, law or construction, software engineering or writing — there’s an art and science to every career. Each profession has its scientific aspects, those more mechanical facets, rules, and methods you must know to succeed. Yet no matter how dry, straightforward, or technical, these professions also have creative qualities that foster critical thinking.

This dichotomy is the reason no two professionals within the same industry are identical. These people may work within their careers for the same amount of time, possibly went to similar schools, or perhaps have the same position at the same company. However, they differentiate themselves in the ways they apply creativity and critical thinking to their jobs.

This idea impacts our personal lives as well. Consider medical professionals with the same specialty. If all dentists were the same by virtue of having identical skill sets and nothing more, you would have no preference for whom you go to for a root canal. But this isn’t the case; you prefer your dentist over one you have never been to due to their individual touch.

A real-world example occurred with one of my brothers, as some years back he struggled with pain in his legs. He visited three different orthopedic surgeons, all with identical skill sets and backgrounds. The doctors examined my brother. One suggested invasive surgery and the second proposed a more exploratory surgery. Both of these were unfavorable options. It wasn’t until we saw the third orthopedic surgeon that creative critical thinking took place. The doctor took one look at him and asked if he always wore his leather belt around his hips in the same place. When my brother answered in the affirmative, the doctor recommended he switch belts, replacing his leather one with a softer, more elastic material. With this change, his ailments were cured within a week.

All three doctors had the same impressive credentials and experience in the science behind their specialties; however, the third doctor utilized creative critical thinking to problem-solve.

Whether you’re training or in any level of schooling for a career, the “science” of that field is where the education lies. You’re receiving a hard, factual, standardized education, based on data and a proven methodology. Likewise, whether it’s accounting or food service, you’re also being schooled in the best practices of your industry.

Even in the creative fields, you still learn both the science and the art of your craft in order to find professional success in it. Writers must learn grammatical and syntactical convention, but they also have to learn how to write something everyone must read. Musicians need to learn scales, notation, and instrumental technique, but they also need to learn how to touch the hearts and souls of listeners to achieve musical greatness.

So where does the “art” come into these fields?

Artistic aspects of a career are picked up by professionals through years of experience and another, more flexible, less standardized type of “education,” one of induction. The first method of becoming more creative within your career through personal and professional experience is somewhat obvious — the longer you do something, you’ll become better at problem solving and thinking “outside the box.”

The second method, the nonstandard educational method of developing intuitive insights coupled with creativity, involves gleaning the best-kept secrets and most well-honed, time-honored methods, the knowledge and wisdom of your profession from other professionals. These should be people who’ve already distinguished themselves through their own creativity. You might seek these people out, like a musician choosing to take lessons from one of his favorite players, or an entrepreneur asking the advice of someone who’s already established herself as a success in business. You might also stumble into these people during the course of your life, like having a captivating, inspirational professor or being trained by a capable manager who knows the secrets to making your job fun and interesting.

You can learn the science of your job from books, manuals, and classroom lessons and know that you will be good at what you do — but you need to learn the art from the artists of your field to become exceptional. This knowledge and wisdom transfer is key not only to success, but to a rewarding career as well. Not only does it provide professionals an essential balance of skills, it’s what keeps industries thriving and innovative. It’s what pushes us to compete with others by bettering ourselves and, in doing so, to push our very professions forward.

Pick up a copy of my latest best selling book The Anticipatory Organization to help shape your future and accelerate your success.

Virtual Reality and Subliminal Marketing

However, if the masses embrace VR as predicted, should we be concerned that this completely immersive experience could lead us once again down the dark road of sinister subliminal advertising?

Virtual reality (VR) has become a reality, as nearly every tech company has created a product that features it, and it is now seen by many as mainstream. Facebook-owned Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, and the HTC Vive are just a few examples of household names that have launched us into the future of the immersive experience.

There is little doubt that VR has the potential to revolutionize the entire entertainment, tourism and even learning industries if audiences adopt the concept of strapping a device to their heads. At the same time, there will be those who feel instantly compelled to compare the technology to such fads as the first 3D television.

However, if the masses embrace VR as predicted, should we be concerned that this completely immersive experience could lead us once again down the dark road of sinister subliminal advertising?

Applied to VR equipment and other, similar technology, subliminal advertising has the increasing capability of wielding a much deeper impact on the unknowing user. given the vast, immersive characteristics of the VR environment. Consider one concept we’ve seen, where music apps and a smartwatch claim to play subliminal messages at a frequency overlaying music that cannot be detected by the ear, but only by the subconscious brain. This seemingly harmless idea could be incredibly valuable to savvy advertising agencies, as well as to candidates running for office.

Removing the everyday distractions of modern life and locking consumers away in an entirely immersive experience is every marketer’s dream — so before “plugging in,” we should all consider the potential implications of the use of this unregulated technology to manipulate us.

When we take a closer look at the advertising that surrounds us, it’s obvious that subliminal messages are real and powerful, as seen in one 2015 example created by a Brazilian advertising agency. The advertisers placed a billboard of people yawning at a busy metro station in Sao Paulo. This “contagious billboard” was fitted with a motion sensor that automatically detected when commuters were passing by and then displayed a video of somebody yawning.

The campaign aimed to convince passers-by that they were tired by using infectious yawning. The billboard followed the yawning video with this message: “Did you yawn, too? Time for coffee!” If it is possible to convince busy commuters to buy coffee by broadcasting a subliminal message, can you imagine the power potentially wielded within an immersive virtual reality experience that is completely free from distraction?

The gathering of data from our online purchases already allows subtle messaging for influential purposes, so the adverts that pop up and the messages we receive are certainly no accident or coincidence. Everywhere we turn, we are unwittingly subjected to product placements in video games and movies, but we congratulate ourselves on being able to see the messages and resist their pull. However, would we be as resistant to such messages if they appeared while we were completely immersed in virtual reality?

There is an enormous responsibility for any advertising agency considering bringing any form of advertising or marketing to virtual reality. If the consumer experience is in any way tainted by the out-of-date and detested marketing messages from our past, consumers will fail even to adopt the medium.

The main problem is that the current method of advertising is broken, and billions of dollars are wasted on ads that are either not seen or deemed irrelevant to a consumer’s lifestyle. This change in customer behavior is ushering in a new era of marketing called “targeted display advertising” (TDA) that uses consumers’ own data to deliver personalized ads that resonate with them.

Organizations finally have a handle on big data, and they will be able to leverage our mobile devices to learn what we’re interested in even before we clearly know ourselves, based solely on our browsing histories.

As we drift between devices and screens, we have surrounded ourselves with wave of white noise that has become a frustrating obstacle for any advertiser striving to stand out amongst all the distractions. However, a headset that removes any form of outside interruption by pumping sound into a consumer’s ears and preventing his or her eyes from wandering could make subliminal messaging hard to avoid.

Before becoming paranoid about what’s to come, it is important to understand how this technology can also be used for the greater good, too.

Virtual reality can make a positive difference in our lives by opening up fantastic opportunities for learning, rehabilitation, teaching and tourism. But I would like to see more conversations and debates about how subliminal marketing messages should be used in that environment, to help solve any problems before they occur.

What are your thoughts on the immersive experience virtual reality delivers to audiences, and about the benefits and downsides of its being leveraged to deliver subliminal messaging?

To better determine and understand the Hard Trend opportunities the immersive experience virtual reality delivers to audiences, get my latest book The Anticipatory Organization.

Pop Quiz, Monday with Matt Cooper at Skillshare

The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.

I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.

Can you please tell everyone your name?
Matt Cooper

Matt Cooper
Photo credit: Matt Cooper

What is your job role?
CEO of Skillshare

Tell us about your company?
Skillshare is an online learning community for creators. With 5 million members and 20,000+ classes, we’re on a mission to connect curious, lifelong learners everywhere — and build a more creative, generous, and prosperous world.

What do you love most about your job?
Building and working with a great team. When you have a great group of people, who are aligned toward the same goals which then go out and get it done day in and day out.

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
Skillshare is making a very clear difference in people’s lives, and it also happens to be an amazing business. It’s really hard to find a company that can offer both a clear impact on the world and some really fun business challenges.

How do your co-workers inspire you?
We have a lot of very smart, very motivated employees that will do whatever it takes to move the company forward. I’m always inspired by the really clever approaches our team finds to solve difficult problems.

How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
We have quarterly business reviews that we always pair with a team activity to get everyone out of the office together — like a mullet, business up front and party in the back. Our best activity so far, in my opinion, was our company talent show. We have some very talented people at Skillshare and a few that aren’t talented at all but make up for it with stage presence. 😉

Day to day, I’d say Slack is our primary source of entertainment. There’s nothing I love more than an employee with great Giphy game.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
The hardest issues are always the people issues, and when there are a lot of pressing business demands, it’s easy to not stay on top of some of them. We all have a lot going on personally and professionally and as the company expands the challenges of keeping the employees happy, motivated and challenged day to day to expand as well.

What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
If I had one piece of advice for any founder or CEO, it would be to focus on the team around you. When you have a great executive team (like I do), you and the company have a lot more capacity to focus on the most impactful opportunities.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting in your industry?
You should join (or start) a startup because you love the grind, not because you want to get rich. Startups are a little like being an actor — you may end up as Tom Cruise, but statistically, you are more likely to be “Guy at Bar #3”. You should do it because you love building things and fixing problems and you love the journey more than the destination.

Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web:
www.skillshare.com
@skillshare (on Twitter and Instagram)

Pop Quiz, Monday with Gaby Roman

The best advice I can give is to learn as much as you possibly can about the industry, and then make your primary goal to help people.

The Pop Quiz, Monday is a fun little exam that we love to give to savvy business owners. The examination is not a surprise after all since the interviewee already knew about the questions in advance. However, we can always pretend and have fun with the scenario of a young entrepreneur sitting in class nervously biting on their pencil. They are ready to take a pop quiz on a chapter that they were supposed to read the night before. Instead, they played Metroid all night on their SNES (Oops, this was me in high school). The real purpose of the pop quiz is that this is a fun way to introduce business tips from real-world experiences that you can not learn in a classroom. We want to thank our entrepreneur for being a good sport and volunteering their time to answer a few questions to help our community grow from their knowledge.

I want to introduce you to our guest today who will be taking our Pop Quiz Monday.

Can you please tell everyone your name?
Gaby Roman

Gaby Roman
Photo credit: Gaby Roman

What is your job role?
I’m the Co-Founder of Coaching No Code Apps. I co-manage the company, create course and membership content, and perform high-level application development and consulting.

Tell us about your company?
Coaching No Code Apps is a place for founders, startups, and business owners to learn and build fully functioning apps and software with no coding required. Courses, consulting, and in-depth lessons teach students how to effectively use no-code tools to build, grow, or start their business.

Regarding services, the company offers high-level consulting and development help to startups and founders building web and mobile applications — most of whom are creating industry-wide solutions, like software for hospitals or dentists, for example. They’re working on pitching to investors and scaling their applications, and Coaching No Code Apps plays an integral role in that.

From a products standpoint, the company offers courses, ebooks, video lessons, and even a membership to founders who want to learn how to build their app on their own, at their own pace, and without having to rely on a development team for the life of the project.

What do you love most about your job?
I constantly find myself getting sucked into the most difficult questions or issues during the development of an application. Much of the process is like solving a puzzle, and while it can get frustrating at times when you feel like you’ve gone around and around in circles, I absolutely love the feeling of finally getting to a solution. It’s incredibly gratifying to know a vital element of a client or customer’s app will be able to function without fault.

What motivates you to get up every day and go to work?
More and more people are becoming entrepreneurs these days. They’re building their own businesses and creating revolutionary solutions to massive industry-wide problems. Knowing I’m fortunate enough to play a crucial role in thousands of people being helped is hugely motivating for me. So many people have software or tech-related ideas but don’t have the background to create those ideas. Helping them bring their visions to life is more than enough to get me out of bed every morning.

How do your co-workers inspire you?
Seeing their drive to keep pushing the company outside its comfort zone motivates me to do the same. It’s easy to get comfortable in your day-to-day routine, but when things get comfortable, it usually means you’ve stopped progressing. I love seeing co-workers push the limits and try new things because it keeps the business fresh and forward-thinking.

How do you have fun at work (team building, pranks, etc..)?
Coaching No Code Apps is run remotely, which means we get to be flexible with our locations and working hours. We keep things fun by playing the work-day by ear. Sometimes, we’ll start work and not come up for breath for 10 hours when we’re feeling especially productive. Other times, we’ll take the day on with a slower pace, grab a coffee, and go out for lunch. The flexibility is what keeps things fun at work.

What are some of the challenges of your job?
Each client and customer we work with has their own specific project with their own unique needs, wants, and criteria. Because of the constant progression of technology and software, the process of running this business also requires continuous learning and keeping our ears to the ground on new trends and practices. A challenge is keeping up with everything to provide the high-level help startups, and founders are looking for. That being said, it’s also one of the most fun parts of the job.

What are some lessons learned from a past project that you can share with us?
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned has been to say no when my company isn’t the absolute right fit for a particular client or customer. In the past, I’ve tried to help anyone and everyone, even if I might not have been the best resource for them. I’ve learned that sometimes, saying no (even though it feels like I’m turning someone away who needs my help) is more valuable in the long run than trying to mold my business to fit their needs.

What advice would you give to someone who is starting in your industry?
The best advice I can give is to learn as much as you possibly can about the industry, and then make your primary goal to help people. My main focus has been to provide the most valuable help possible, and I can tell you first hand, customers appreciate knowing you care about them. So, to put it simply, know the trade, and then focus purely on helping people.

Thank you for taking our pop quiz today. You get an A+ for effort. You can learn more about our interviewee and their business by visiting them on the web:

https://www.coachingnocodeapps.com
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTL_mXO3qsgFc_3s2T5wlWg