Meaningful Work

Paid labor has always demanded a large share of energy and time from those in its grasp. However, a modern career is now supposed to be more than just a way of earning money; it should also supply meaning. Despite this, many people find themselves in jobs that fail miserable on this count. My attitude is captured in this motto: ‘Don’t get a job, get to work.’

My journey out of the startup world

After more than a decade working with tech companies, I no longer believe in the startup dream. 21 Oct 2018

Creative work cannot be managed

Traditional management strategies are useless for problems that require creative thinking. 29 May 2013

What to know before joining a startup

Your stock options are unlikely to make you rich, so make sure you enjoy the work enough to make it through the tough times. 18 Mar 2013

I was a loser, most concerned with making a living. It took me 30 years to understand… I had to reinvent a system, find a way out, and set some rules that could work for me and a few others. I guess in the end that’s what we all are trying to do.
Maurizio Cattelan
For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin… But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.
Alfred Souza
Not every day of your life are you going to wake up and the clouds are going to part and the rays from heaven are going to come down and you’re going to write a song from it. Sometimes you just get in there and force yourself to work and maybe something good will come out of it.
Jack White
True heroism is minutes, hours, weeks, year upon year of the quiet, precise, judicious exercise of probity and care—with no one there to see or cheer. This is the world.
David Foster Wallace, The Pale King
People say to me, ‘Oh, you're so prolific.’ God, it doesn't feel like it — nothing like it. But, you know, you put an ounce in a bucket each day, you get a quart.
John McPhee
Scorsese once told me, ‘The things you do poorly are as much a part of your style as the things you do well…’ Which was totally true, and oddly reassuring.
David Fincher
I believe the value of art and living as an artist lies in the freedoms you give yourself. The freedom to be contradictory, to have a long weird path to where you are now and to know that the ground on which you stand is itself a path to someplace else; the freedom to be two people, speak with many voices; the freedom to be both wrong and right at the same time.
Sara Magenheimer
Instead of shooting arrows at someone else's target, which I've never been very good at, I make my own target around wherever my arrow happens to have landed. You shoot your arrow and then you paint your bulls eye around it, and therefore you have hit the target dead centre.
Brian Eno
One secret is his three-mile daily walk with Sandy; another is that though he used to smoke, he has never been a big eater or drinker. Mainly, though, he puts it down to a lifetime spent doing whatever has taken his fancy: ‘Live life as an independent! Never have a boss.’
James Lovelock
I know a lot of people who are in our position, who used to work for The Man or whatever, and now are making records or making films or designing clothes or creating products or screening posters or any of a million other things. And all of them, without exception, all say exactly the same thing and they say it in exactly the same words: ‘I should have done it sooner.’
Jim Coudal
The Utopia of Rules

The Utopia of Rules

David Graeber

This volume is comprised of previously published essays, many of them centered on Graeber's analysis of bureaucracy. In his view, not only does bureaucracy create stupid behavior, but more importantly, it works to prop up social situations founded on structural violence. Graeber speaks of the complexity of actual human relationships, the value of political imagination, and the tangled connection between rules, freedom and play.

Bullshit Jobs

Bullshit Jobs

David Graeber

This book gave substance to my own gut feelings about the bullshit-nature of so much that goes on in the modern workplace. I read this at the right time in my life and it’s felt a bit life changing. Graeber is an excellent writer and theorist and manages to be radical without being dogmatic.

Managing Oneself

Managing Oneself

Peter F. Drucker

I’ve often recommended this short book as a useful tool to diagnose your strengths and weaknesses. It asks you to answer a handful of questions (for instance, ‘Am I a reader or a listener?’) and recommends that you focus more on improving your strengths rather than trying to improve your weaknesses. The conclusions likely won’t come as a surprise, but it will be a helpful reminder that life is far better when you work with your instincts rather than against them.

Let My People Go Surfing

Let My People Go Surfing

Yvon Chouinard

This book tells the story of Yvon’s life leading up to the creation of Patagonia, and then goes into depth on the philosophy he uses to run the company. ‘If you want to understand the entrepreneur, study the juvenile delinquent. The delinquent is saying with his actions, “This sucks. I’m going to do my own thing.”’

How Will You Measure Your Life?

How Will You Measure Your Life?

Clayton M. Christensen

I once had a conversation with a stranger at a bookstore next to Harvard Univerity where I was told that Clayton Christensen is a genuinely good human being. This is a sincere and straightforward book that discusses a few simple principles that Christensen sees as fundamental to living a good life: find meaningful work, pay attention to those you love, and don’t go against your moral beliefs.

The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work

The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work

Alain De Botton

‘Office civilisation could not be feasible without the hard take-offs and landings effected by coffee and alcohol.’ A look at the inner experience of work and employment, those human feelings that persist despite the effort to maintain a zone of ‘professional’ decorum.

Shop Class as Soulcraft

Shop Class as Soulcraft

Matthew B. Crawford

Crawford meditates on the value of getting deep inside one’s work, engaging with it whole-heartedly, and discovering the pleasure and meaning that comes with doing and making. He describes office life as a tangle of contradictory or meaningless obligations and rituals and offers tangible, personal work as a way out.

Status Anxiety

Status Anxiety

Alain De Botton

First, a description of the unhappiness that comes from the misalignment between our present lives and the expectations we believe society has for us. Second, strategies to escape these anxieties and enjoy a richer inner world, with success coming on terms we decide for ourselves.

Are.na / Your Work

The main place where I collect quotes, link, images and more, all describing the process of discovering your work.

Are.na / A Job

The dark companion to the ‘Your Work’ channel. It’s about the grind of having a job you hate and the struggle to find a way out.

Are.na / Critique of the startup ecosystem

There a number of problems with the startup world. This channel highlights some of them.

Are.na / Small Software Studio

A collection of indie software studios making a go for it on their own terms.

Are.na / Advice for Living

More quotes about work, life and how to make sense of it all.