Discover more from Josh Spilker
And how to keep them
“You have fresh eyes. Tell us what you would do differently.”
I started a new job this past week.
In this role and in previous roles, the current employees always ask a version of the above question.
But do you really have to change jobs to get a fresh perspective?
That seems, in the words of what the kids used to say, extra.
Thanks for reading Create Make Write by Josh Spilker! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
A beginner’s mind…
Marc Benioff, the Salesforce CEO, says that he tries to approach each new problem with a “beginner’s mind.”
He said: "I kind of try to let go of all the things that have ever happened so far in our industry, which is a lot of stuff, and just go, OK, what's going to happen right now?”
Sounds a lot like fresh eyes.
Change jobs every 10 years?
Experts now say you lose your edge after 10 years and that you should consider switching careers.
What worked for you in the past will not work going forward because the young upstarts will have a new look.
I don’t think that rule is universal, but I can see the thread of truth in it.
As I get older, this is something I worry about. I’ve had a lot of jobs.
A reading tutor in a low-performing elementary school
An English teacher in the French Quarter.
Taking recovering addicts on errands and to the park
Financial analyst in a county child welfare office.
Temp job in a law office
None of those roles are on my resume any longer.
Punk rock shows at the homeless mission
Those jobs didn’t feel like what I wanted to actually do and I didn’t feel particularly good at any of them.
They are admirable jobs, and people should do them. However, they weren’t for me.
I like to think that I’ve very rarely skewed toward conventional wisdom, that I may have some contrarian outlooks.
I still fondly remember going to punk rock shows in a homeless mission.
Perhaps I have a predilection towards “fresh eyes” or at least new experiences. That could be a false self-belief, some weird conceited gumption.
Nowadays, I have to work harder to make that true. As I get older, the appetite for new experiences fades.
In other words, I don’t go to punk rock shows at homeless missions anymore.
In college, I told a woman I was dating that I would be fine being an intern for the rest of my life.
You know, jumping around from industry to industry.
The impetus for saying this was that I had a lot of interests and I wanted to explore all of them.
The dark underbelly? Crippling self-doubt that I would never be better than an intern at anything.
Spoiler alert: That woman married me anyway? 18 years later, and I can’t believe it either.
I didn’t go into writing for the money…
I gave up on a lot of jobs because they weren’t writing.
I didn’t move into writing for money. My first writing job as a business reporter didn’t pay better than helping recovering addicts or working in a county child welfare office.
It’s worked, but I made some tweaks (sold out???)
My main problem has been these 3 words: “I don’t know.”
My problem has not traditionally being interested in new things or approaches.
My main problem has been these 3 words: “I don’t know.”
Where I run into problems is in the learning process. My pride keeps me from asking the stupid questions.
I want to be the one that effortlessly knows the answers.
A beginner’s mind and fresh eyes takes humility.
And to see that as an advantage rather than a hindrance.
How to keep fresh eyes
What are my suggestions for balancing new curiosities with experience?
Read new & old.
What often happens is that we don’t seek out new experiences. The same business books get recommended, the same cycle of social media regurgitates the same ideas.
Libraries (yes, better than bookstores!) are still the best for this discovery process. Because they have old stuff. Go in the shelves and look at the topics you’re interested in. And then check those books out and see what they reference and what they recommend. I go to the library at least once a week, sometimes to work, sometimes to browse, sometimes both.
Sub in podcasts or YouTube? I mean sure, those are expanding in their resources. I’d just suggest that you be in charge of your own algorithm though, i.e. you become your own algorithm and actively choose.
I’ve traditionally been a horrible networker. I never wanted to go to the company parties or out for drinks after work or even think about industry events.
But in the past few years, I’ve had more people reach out to me. And I take a lot of their calls, at least once.
The other day, I spoke to someone about how they want their software to resemble a video game.
I also talked to someone who is in SEO but has a slightly different skillset than me. Related, but interesting!
They uncover stuff and then they share it with me and that keeps me up to date.
Know people in different fields.
Remember I said I hung out with drug addicts? But also worked in a county welfare office? I don’t do stuff like that anymore. And it was incredibly frustrating in a work environment, but now looking back, it gave me many unique perspectives that I wouldn’t have gotten with a straighter career path.
How do I do this today? My church helps me a lot. One of my good friends from church installs blinds and outdoor screens for a living.
Another person I know is an animator. One woman I know worked at a hotel, packs items at a warehouse, but is also a touring musician.
Also: talking to neighbors.
One of my neighbors is a sales rep for sandbags, yes, woven bags for sand and feed. Fascinating!
My other neighbor plays for the local symphony. Incredible!
Yet another owns a marina on a lake. Crazy!
If your only friends are from work, then your circle of knowledge will be incredibly small. Remote work is changing this, and I think that’s a good thing personally.
Talk to people of varying ages / backgrounds / life experience.
My church has definitely helped with this, and neighbors as well as my children’s school.
Social networking has been a huge benefit for this too, as I’m connected with people across the world.
All of these people will not help me in my career per se, but they provide a completely different perspective that helps with maintaining a beginner’s mind.
None of that is new…
I’m sure there’s a nice Twitter thread (maybe I’ll make one!) or Instagram carousel with all of the above recommendations. It’s nothing you haven’t heard before.
The difference is actually doing it. Meeting different people and talking with them. Asking them questions. It doesn’t mean you have to have an ongoing conversation or even agree, but adapting a persona of curiosity.
That “fresh eyes” approach can be a powerful tool in any role, not just in a new job. It means approaching a problem with a new perspective and an openness to learning, even if you are experienced in the field.
This is a reference to a set of scenes from the Oscar-nominated Everything Everywhere All At Once. Spoiler alerts!
I made this monster out of gloves with my children over the weekend. We also had fun making apple tarts.
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes.” — Marcel Proust
Enjoying the newsletter? Send it to a friend.
Find me on Twitter.