I was recently invited to present at Pecha Kucha 8 as part of the Creative City Summit, organized by the good folks from the Artengine.
The concept and creative constraints that went along with the event format always appealed to me, but unfortunately fate never made it possible for me to attend…so I figured that this would force me to finally show up.
It was a fun night, with an eclectic class of creatives who really made me lean forward in my seat.
20 slides x 20 seconds each. And you don’t have control of the clicker.
The following is my last minute presentation, I started and submitted my slides 5 hrs before the event. This was the epitome of the term ‘thrown-together’. Sadly, this version of the talk does not include stuttering, multiple 'ummms’, oddly placed pauses and all the sweating that the live audience witnessed.
They say write or talk about what you know and this is a subject matter I know all too well. Please make sure you only give yourself 20 seconds to read my ramblings to stay square with the spirit of the event.
1) Hi, my name is Dominic and tonight I want to share with you a few personal tales that involve me quitting things and sometimes, things quitting me…
Along the way I learned some things.
2) I grew mostly in North America and this statement was constantly beaten into my psyche. And I believed it until I started to realize that it wasn’t true. Cause you can’t really start something unless you first quit something else.
3) One of my earliest moments of quit involved my family’s decision to leave Vietnam and India. Instead of picking one of these options, my parents quit trying to decide and settled on Ottawa. It wasn’t even on the list but the decision helped learned that life is kind of arbitrary.
4) Another event took place when I parents quit the restaurant they started. They were visionary and opened up a Vietnamese restaurant in Ottawa in the 80’s. I learned that hard work and determination was sometimes not enough.
5) This is me after my first major break-up in high school. I gave someone my heart and they stomped on it. I learned that other people can decide to quit you without you having much power or say in the matter. I cried a lot.
6) Side note: While I was searching for images for these slides, this was one of the first page results when I searched: asian + crying + boy.
This is actor James Van Der Beek from Dawson’s Creek. He is clearly not Asian.
7) After high school, I decided to study physical therapy in university. After 2 years, I didn’t want to go on. Going back to the second slide, it was a heart-wrenching decision to drop out. I was ashamed to quit, but I learned that sometimes quitting was needed to start something better, like design school.
8) Around the same time, I ended a long-term relationship. Equally heart-wrenching as dropping out. I learned that I could love someone with all my heart and yet not want to be with them.
9) After graduating from design school, I was lucky enough to be hired right away at one of the best agencies in town. I was surrounded by amazing, talented people and I loved the work. I was happy. Then I was fired (really laid-off) but they just didn’t want me around. I learned that there is no real security in the work place.
10) In my day to day, I quit all the time. My best work happens when I was able to shift my focus to the next task at hand. No more refinement, no more kerning and or adjustment. Be ok with being done.
12) My most recent big quit came from me leaving my past career. I loved my job and loved my colleagues, but I wasn’t completely passionate with what I was doing. So I walked away a steady income to pursue a dream.
12) A lot of people say it takes a lot of courage to quit your career. I don’t subscribe to that, I think it takes more bravery to not break the pattern. My motivation is fear, I am afraid of what would happen should I not quit.
13) Most rationale adults run around in circles weighing out the options and then base their decisions on this long drawn-out exercise. I was the same way until I realized that this is actually my perspective on things…
14) It’s all grey. Nothing is defined if you have an open mind. A good can be viewed as a bad and vice versa. So I don’t often make decisions of quit based on logical pros and cons.
15) My moments of quit happen when I only see one option. It jumps out at me quite quickly, kind of like muscle memory. I trust that instinct now. No more long-winded debates.
16) We all have this “inside” face, but when this was my regular face around my office, I knew. If you were in meetings months before I quit my job, you saw this face. This was my “outside” face. Option 'A’ it is.
17) All kidding aside, these are my boys. And they helped me decide. I really enjoy being with them and if I have to be away from them; it should be doing something I love. So I quit and started something new.
18) This method worked for me but results may vary for you. I call her my 'quit enabler’. This is my wife and design partner. We all need a strong support system that help us and she is that for me. I couldn’t do much without her. I learned to surround myself with good people.
19) Today, whenever anyone asks how I’m doing, this is my answer. Every. Time.
I’m a happy James Van Der Beek.
20) Because, sometimes the best things come as soon as you close your eyes and just qui….
Please send $3.99 cash and a self-stamped return envelope for a VHS video of a modern interpretive dance number re-enacting this talk to the following address:
Art of the Quit
12 150st St.
Des Moines, Iowa