With reverence

[Originally posted Sept., 2004]

There are a lot of great marketing books and blogs out there. That being said, I still think the best marketing stories come from personal, first-hand experience.

Here’s a favorite one of mine:

Back when I lived in New York there was this fabulous, crazy-ass juice bar on West Houston called Lucky’s Juice Joint. I think it’s no longer there. I hear it’s moved.

It was the most out-of-place business south of 14th Street. Hard to describe, except as a “hardcore hippie haven”. Just had this weird, crazy, psychedelic-rainforest vibe. But damn, it had the best juice in town. It was amazing stuff. Tasted like the fruits and vegetables were picked that morning. Fresher than anything else I found in New York. And yes, I had searched high and low for even better alternatives, but never found one. In New York, this was really it.

The boss was this crazy looking tie-dye wearing guy who looked and talked like he had done too many drugs back in the ’sixties. A big ol’ middle aged, acid-head teddy bear. One day we struck up a brief conversation. I complimented the hell out of his product. “Wow,” I quietly gushed, “Your stuff is the best. It really is…”

“Sure it is,” said the guy. “That’s because we make it with reverence.”

You don’t have to get a job with a famous company or hot-shot industry in order to have a spectacular career. You just have to do what you do with reverence.


[A recent letter to an old friend.]

Hi Colin,

As we discussed, I spent the last 20 years working on what I call “The Manhattan Series” Thousands of drawings, all drawn on the backs of business cards.

I would eventually like to get the piece shown somewhere in Edinburgh, then donate it to a national arts organization for posterity. It’s important to me that it ends up in Scotland.

Not only is Edinburgh where I grew up, it’s where I learned my trade, where I learned how to walk around the city and get inspiration and figure out how to translate that into an art form. Back when David Mackenize (the film director, and one of my best friends) and I were kids circa mid-80s, he was living with me in the New Town. We’d make it our business once a day to go out “and get some culture”. That early attempt at being proactively cultural served us both well over the years.

I’m also looking for gallery representation and publishers over there.

It’s important to me the body of work gets displayed somewhere at least once as a single, vast piece, preferably in Edinburgh, either in a large room or perhaps a large corridor.

Anyway, I think it’ll be an interesting art project. Cheers!


Recent favorites, 20th January, 2019

Jospeh Campbell famously spoke of having a “Bliss Station”, a place or time in the day where nobody or nothing owns you, a place were you make the magic happen, where you do nothing but follow your bliss. My friend Austin Kleon wrote about it well a couple of years ago. A religious monk will have something similar, the first hour in the day set for prayer and meditation.

You can call it anything you want- meditation, following your bliss, spending time with The Lord, prayer and contemplation- what matters is, of course, consciousness and mind expansion, and the cultivation thereof.

This is one of my favorites from 2018. It’s the story of my life.

If you’re a creative professional- writer, artist, filmmaker, dressmaker, poet, it doesn’t matter- this feeling is going hit you sooner or later. However worthy your efforts, there’s always something missing. Not enough recognition, not enough money, not enough critical praise , not enough people liking it for the right reasons.

It only get easier, once you realize that this feeling is normal- so normal, in fact, that if you’re not feeling it, you’re probably doing something wrong.

The Holy people call it contemplation. You’re praying, but not because you’re asking for something, but just trying to be in the God’s presence, trying to experience maximum consciousness.

There may be a better way of spending time on this Earth, but I don’t know of one.

The media chaps certainly are good at making being an entrepreneur LOOK glamorous.

The reality is anything but.

My take? That being an entrepreneur is not something you choose, but you just end up doing because you’re incapable of doing the alternative day job thing.

I like these minimalist cartoons- the ones that tell a lot of story in very few lines. Where the complexity of the story juxtaposes with the simplicity of the execution. It’s actually harder than it looks.

Spend More Time With The Lord

The Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles, Robert Barron, has a terrific YouTube channel were he preaches The Gospel and shares his thoughts on all kinds of subjects. If you’re into that sort of thing it’s great stuff. He’s a really smart, thoughtful fellow.

In one of his uploads he was talking about how he likes to spend his first early hour of the day (around 5am), as he calls it, “With The Lord”.

Other ways of saying this would be in prayer, in contemplation, meditating, in flow, in a state of mindfulness. I guess it all depends how secular or non-secular you want to be.

But it’s the state of mind that matters here, not so much the words to describe it.

I know that mental state well. It’s a state I try to reach EVERY TIME I sit down and draw. It’s one of the biggest perks of the job.

And I’m also thinking, though they may call it something else, a lot of being an entrepreneur is about seeking that state, as well. Being in the zone. It’s when the entrepreneur is most creative and productive.

It’s that part of us that nobody sees, yet makes us our most powerful.

And yes, it’s addictive. Once we lose it, we kill to get it back again.

The more jaded among us try to portray modern life as little more than shopping, gossiping, chasing tail and looking for the next hustle.

But that’s not the world I know. Most people I know spend a great deal of time and huge amounts of effort trying to get their minds into a higher groove thing. Some use religion, some use their careers, some use weed, some use CrossFit or Yoga, some use the arts.

But the real game is about consciousness, and the raising thereof.

There are many ways to call it, secular or religious, but if you aspire to live a creative, productive, interesting life, spending more time “With the Lord” is a good place to start.