Notes From My Journal 

Hiring Creatives? Standard Practice Doesn’t Work

Delray Beach, FL– He needed a new editorial director. I asked him how the search was progressing. He said that someone was “currently reviewing resumes” for him.

That worried me.

Because when it comes to hiring members of your creative team, you are not looking for a specific set of skills. You are looking for superstars and potential superstars. And for them, conventional recruiting methods don’t work.

Academic credentials mean nothing.

Resumes don’t mean squat.

Relevant work experience is generally overrated and problematic. (Superstars are usually treated like superstars and therefore rarely appear in the job market.)

And re the initial review process… you have to be careful. You don’t want a sensible person doing that. They will cull out the “unqualified” and the “oddballs.” But superstars and potential superstars are usually both… so you have to make sure the reviewer understands what you are looking for.

What are you looking for?

You’re looking for temperament and talent. Someone who is very smart. And naturally contrarian. Also, someone that can play well with others.

You’re not looking for good. You’re looking for great.

 

From My “Work-in-Progress” Basket

Principles of Wealth: #19 of 60*

There are two ways that investments can build wealth. One is by the generation of income. The other is through appreciation – an increase in the value of the underlying asset.

Certain asset classes are inherently structured to increase value by generating income (e.g., bonds, CDs), while others increase value through appreciation (e.g., “growth stocks” and entrepreneurial businesses). But there are also many asset classes that provide both income and appreciation. The prudent wealth builder will likely have all three types of assets in his holdings, but he will favor those that provide both income and appreciation.

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 21 Days to a Big Idea! By Bryan Mattimore 2015, 156 pages In 2015, Bryan Mattimore was hired by the librarians of the Chicago Public Library to help them work on their creativity. He challenged them to come up with a brand-new idea in just 30 seconds. They couldn’t do it. Then he led them in a little exercise. He gave each of them two sets of cards. One set was nouns: man, boy, dog, house, socks, etc. The other was adjectives: fast, slow, tall, short, simple, fancy, dull, glowing, etc. He told them to mix and match the nouns and adjectives until they saw something that felt like a new idea. In the next few minutes, dozens of interesting …

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A Short History of Nearly Everything By Bill Bryson 2003, 560 pages  The title suggests the challenge. Who would have the nerve to write such a book? Of course, if you’ve read Bryson you know he’s not a “serious” writer. He’s just a very good one. And he has a sense of humor, some of which is pointed at himself. A Short History of Nearly Everything is a tour de force. I enjoyed it immensely from cover to cover. It’s a big book but it reads fast. As promised, it’s an historical account of the history of the universe and much of human history, from the Big Bang to present day. It took Bryson three years to research and write …

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 When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing By Daniel H. Pink 2018, 272 pages  Timing Your Day for Mental and Physical Peaks It’s taken me decades to work out a daily routine that takes full advantage of my body’s natural chemistry. It took so long partly because I’m stubborn and partly because I believed that working non-stop for 18 hours was in and of itself a good. Had I known what behavior scientists know today, I might have figured things out sooner. It turns out that my personal biochemistry is typical of most people. In When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, Daniel H. Pink looked at the results of about 700 scientific and academic studies and came to some …

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 South and West: From a Notebook By Joan Didion 2017, 160 pages Not a novel. Not a memoir exactly. More a series of notes about a trip Didion took with her husband through the South and some notes she made during the Patty Hearst trial that turned out to be about privileged young women growing up in California. The thesis of the book, if there is one, is that the culture of the South, however backwards we feel it is, is steeped in history and likely to endure, while that may not be true of California’s very different culture. It is really well written: sparse and precise and at times poetic. This shouldn’t matter in evaluating a writer, but it …

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Dress Her in Indigo By John D. MacDonald 1969, 211 pages A “Travis McGee” crime novel. My first. And, frankly, I was surprised at the writing. It was not film noir-ish, as I expected. But able and smart. The style is quick and succinct and somehow modern. And the lead character, Travis McGee, is smart and experienced – a bit more than I wanted in some cases. The story is about McGee investigating the last days of the daughter of a successful executive. The daughter – Bixie – apparently died on a trip to Mexico and the executive’s dying wish is to find out what she was doing there. As it turns out, Bixie is still alive and is being …

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The Violet Hour: Great Writers at the End By Katie Roiphe 2016, 306 pages  End-of-life anecdotes/accounts of a half-dozen famous people. Susan Sontag: Influential lesbian. Beat cancer once. Fought to the bitter end. Arrogant to the point of finding it hard to believe she would ever die. John Updike: Took his cancer stoically. Sigmund Freud: Wanted to die rationally. Smoked 20 cigars a day. Dylan Thomas: Romantic infatuation with death. Drank himself to death. Maurice Sendak: Never felt loved by his parents, brought a dark sense of death and danger into his illustrated “children’s” books. James Salter: Another American writer with a stoic approach to death. “Don’t dwell on it,” he told Roiphe during their interview. (He was her only …

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Six Memos for the New Millennia By Italo Calvino 1988, 155 pages  Oddly enough, there are only five essays. They are on five qualities of literature that Calvino has identified: lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility, and multiplicity. The sixth one was meant to be on consistency, but apparently he died before he could finish it. Calvino’s thesis is that each one of these qualities has value, but it must also be considered in terms of its opposite. For example: lightness and weight. He appreciates qualities in literature that are light – as in nimble – but he does not deny that their attraction comes from the gravity that every good writer must feel. His writing is sometimes pedantic, sometimes inviting. He …

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The Fastest Way to Grow Rich… (and Not Risk Everything Else)

    You’ve probably heard this story… When I was 33, I decided to become rich. And I made that my supreme and overriding goal. There were plenty of other things that I wanted to do – like reading books and playing sports and traveling. But I made them all distant secondary objectives. The lion’s share of my time and mental energy would be devoted to getting rich. This decision radically changed my life. I went from broke to kinda rich in about 18 months. I became a deca-millionaire about six years later. Having a single supreme and overriding goal gave me laser-sharp focus and shark-like ambition. Day-to-day business decisions – once complicated – were easy to make. I simply …

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