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me to HunterTue
Hope this email finds you well.
I’ll just cut to the chase. I’m at the point where I’m confusing and lost, and would like to hear some little advice from you, because your last advice to me a few years ago have totally changed the course of my life - in a good way. I like to think that those failures were one of the best thing that happened to me. Anyhow, now I’m working at a startup and things are great, the team are very smart people and passionate about what they do. No, this is not about me having imposter syndrome. I’m not looking down upon myself and think I can’t compete. I love what I’m doing and I’m doing great - a sincere thanks to you (I planned a long time to thank you when I graduate but looks like it’s not gonna happen (sorry, parents) so this is most likely the best time). Thank. You.
The thing is, I feel I could do more than just designing software for someone to make more money - to make the rich get richer. Just to think about it make me feel sad. On the other hand, I had some experience from the non-profit side. I saw how and why they failed - the fundraising and donation model is just unsustainable. On the other other hand (notice that I have 3 hands), my previous life was also a furniture craftsman, and all I care was the craft and the smell of the wood. You see, although there must be a sweet spot in the middle, but these 3 professional philosophy just aren’t mixing well - for profit, for humanity(?), and for self-satisfaction. This is causing me a dilemma of how would I pursue my next steps in live.
I'm working on products for the finance industry, and all they care is money (obviously) - including the end users (also obviously). It’s very sad to see brilliant people working so hard just to make more money. More and more, I doubt myself if I’m doing the best thing for myself, and for the world. Maybe I’m still young and daydreaming too much. I could go work on things like a grocery list app that keeps the world moving, and have impact on millions of live in some ways - but it’s difficult for me to really realize the values in solving first world problems and making middle class have an easier life, or small and remotely impactful problems when there're second world, third world problems waiting in line. Surely, someone has to do this job anyway, and without money, we'd still living bartering life trading cows and eggs. There must be some humane value in it and I just have to realize it.
Everyone has their roles to do and I’m trying to accept and respect that. But if humanitarian is what I’m passionate about, maybe I should just go be a full-time activist? Sorry for being wordy. So much for cutting to the chase, huh? Thanks again for all these years. You’re my biggest fan!
Hunter to meWed
hi Jj… good to hear from you.
yeah… "to the chase" (followed by 3,000 words… ;) …)
first, let me let you in on my new idea. you’ve heard of “find your bliss”, right? that life advice that prompts you to find your dreams?
my new mantra is “fund your bliss” … what this means is that: find a job you like… maybe even that you love… but one that you’re not /in/ love with. we’ve seen many people married to their jobs and their entire existence is wrapped up in that. don’t do that. find something you are good at and that you can be marginally proud of at the end of the day and use that to fuel your free time to then find your bliss… for instance, my friend Jay is a creative director (ad agency) by day so that he can pursue photography — which he truly loves — when he’s not at work. plus, in this way, if you get laid off, you still have a life.
so, as it relates to the below, don’t be too cracked up if you 9-5 isn’t /everything/ you want… in fact, it shouldn’t be. but use the resources from there to follow your passions outside of work: art, music, social work, pro-bono design, etc… this does two things: (1) it gives you a place to retreat/go to after a hectic day and (2) people at work who have other things going on are automatically more interesting. you want to be that interesting guy.
in fact, my “happy place” is furniture, too. i could not do that if i was not a teacher 9-5.
in your line of work (the digital side of design), things are hot. UX/UI, specifically is waaaaay in demand, so you should have no problem finding work that you are good at and that isn’t soul-sucking. i could see how the finance industry might be that way, but /do/ keep in mind that they can pay YOUR paycheck because THEY make money… everything revolves around money. even the WHO (world health organization) is primarily funded by bill gates… who made money in the commercial world.
money isn’t evil. even a LOT of money isn’t evil. in fact, money can do a lot of great things… for instance, mark zuckerberg just gave $75M (million!) to a hospital. GAVE. as in — here, have some money. giving $75M to a hospital is the opposite of evil even if you ask them to put a plaque on it with your name.
however, actions and intentions can be evil. lying is evil. grift is evil… so if you’re in that position, run away. or find a way to make a stealthy escape (which might mean hanging on for a little while while you figure things out).
so, you might need to find a new 9-5 or get comfortable with what you /are/ doing for them… another evil is making a LOT of money and paying the people that help you to do it for very LITTLE. we’re seeing this more and more, so make sure you’re getting paid what you’re worth.
after you find a solid, dependable, but not boring 9-5, then go make some furniture. start an etsy store and takeout from there. my friend (and fellow graphic designer) ryan, did that, too.
… and then, every now and again, also do some pro-bono/non-profit work on the side that you can afford to do because you’re making a lot in your 9-5 job.
volley back to you.
me to HunterThu
Thank you for your amazing response! I feel much more confident in where I'm heading now. I think your reasons and mantra “fund your bliss” make perfect sense. Thanks for a confirmation that money itself isn't evil. It's what people do with the money that's evil.
The difference you mentioned between the job I 'love' and 'in love' really opened my eyes. I might always have this struggle. At a previous job, I worked with the US government and I still had the same problems. My guess is that it's at the gov policy level, so there's no way to see tangible evident from my work (plus I don't believe corruptions would just disappear in one night). If the job I can be 'in love' with - is a synonym to a 'dream job'. Yeah, be elected to be in congress would be a 'dream'. Afterall, a dream job may not exist at all - we're all just hallucinating. I love 'what I'm doing' - I just need to give 'what I'm doing' some love.
It's heartbrreaking that fine art, photography, or furniture are not making as much money (minus Jeff Koons). I just started to help my friends back in undergrad to set up a furniture shop/studio. We've got some words out there, but too bad the revenue doesn't support any of us to be able to leave our job and can work full-time on it.
I also found this writing which resonances with what we're talking about: www.someoneinlondon.com/blog/whitepaper-ethics-in-design. Money aside, although gov could be corrupted at times, but I believe there’re more good people than bad in the world, and then I can definitely sleep even more peacefully at night. Maybe working directly within the government is the answer. We'll see.