Last Monday, I had the opportunity to see Milton Glaser, Chip Kidd and Dave Eggers speak at the 92nd Street Y on the art and evolution of book cover design. All three men are very different in their approach to cover design, but their presentations were illuminating on the kinds of processes they use to come up with their covers. Inspired, I checked out Milton Glaser's site and found this fantastic speech he made at an AIGA talk in London in 2001. So this isn't brand spanking new, but rather one of those classic pieces full of good advice for probably every working, thinking person out there. So, without further adieu, here are a few of my favourite excerpts from "Ten Things I Have Learned."
3. Some people are toxic. Avoid them.
...It is not necessarily true that the same person will be toxic or nourishing in every relationship, but the combination of any two people in a relationship produces toxic or nourishing consequences. And the important thing that I can tell you is that there is a test to determine whether someone is toxic or nourishing in your relationship with them. Here is the test: You have spent some time with this person, either you have a drink or go for dinner or you go to a ball game. It doesn’t matter very much but at the end of that time you observe whether you are more energised or less energised. Whether you are tired or whether you are exhilarated. If you are more tired then you have been poisoned. If you have more energy you have been nourished. The test is almost infallible and I suggest that you use it for the rest of your life.
4. Professionalism is not enough or The Good is The Enemy of The Great.
... I discovered after working for a while that professionalism itself was a limitation. After all, what professionalism means in most cases is diminishing risks. ... After all, what is required in our field, more than anything else, is the continuous transgression. Professionalism does not allow for that because transgression has to encompass the possibility of failure and if you are professional your instinct is not to fail, it is to repeat success.
7. How you live changes your brain.
8. Doubt is better than certainty.
... I remember once going to a class in yoga where the teacher said that, spirituality speaking, if you believed that you had achieved enlightenment you have merely arrived at your limitation. I think that is also true in a practical sense. Deeply held beliefs of any kind prevent you from being open to experience, which is why I find all firmly held ideological positions questionable. ...
His other essays are also full of a lot of very interesting insights which I strongly recommend as well.