There’s no such thing as a meaningless job if you’re doing something germane to a collective effort.
Trust is not simply about hearing the truth, or counting on someone to pick you up at an appointed time. Trust is about counting on insight and integrity mixed with courage and confidence. Trust is about knowing that people have your back while remaining unafraid to tell you you’re wrong.
Expertise in discrete tasks, even ones that get changed and exchanged, becomes the reason to perform. Rather than becoming tedious burdens to bear, the atomized elements of a larger whole take on deep value for those performing the jobs.
The Mayan prediction of apocalypse has come to pass. What could possibly be weighing on your mind?
This time of year things simultaneously slow down and speed up. Theaters fill with expectant popcorn munchers eager for escape, while countless Lego sets rise above millions of carpeted floors, earnestly striving for architectural transcendence. Productivity in workplaces across the nation slows down unless you're in the catering business. Families spend time reacquainting themselves with others who share the same living spaces, a temporary relaxation of modern academic and occupational pressures inducing an odd temporal rift in the space time continuum.
Artists especially look back and look forward, sometimes in the same glance. Here at 1AU, we're reflecting on a great year. As a team, we've grown in ways that can only be described as exciting. Technical capabilities are razor sharp, and creative invention has never been more keenly honed. We completed some thrilling projects in 2012, expanding our roster of clients in the process, and developing relationships we're confident will have long lives ahead of them. 1AU staff appeared at numerous public speaking events, too, getting great audience reactions and a flurry of new connections. Plus (you don't mind if we boast for a moment, do you?) it's always fun to speak at events where your team's work is up for an award.
2013 promises continued growth along this path. Members of our team are already booked for several great live presentations in the coming year. More importantly we're deep in pre-production for a range of thrilling new projects, some flat, some round, some online, all inventive and engaging.
Trends in the industry suggest that the extraordinary era of change and transition in modern media will only intensify and expand. Movie ticket sales continue along a hard-to-predict curve; television as we know it is the same as it ever was, while simultaneously fresh and new, too. Mobile media clearly has become the newest solution for everyone's media needs, both upscale and down, but as everyone knows, what looks like the "new normal" may only stay that way as long as the next new thing hasn't appeared yet.
But here's the one thing we're confident will remain consistent: 1AU Global Media will be out front. For me, I continue to take great, humble satisfaction in getting to work with such a great team. I'm inspired, I'm reinvested, and I'm grateful. As we work on new pieces for a wide variety of government, corporate, and private clients, we're also developing our own projects in-house. (More on that in coming months!) As a company, I'm emboldened to dream big dreams, confident that we'll not only persevere, but create products with value, meaning, and clear voices.
We're looking forward to an exciting new year, and in this space you can expect to see more news of our exploits, as well as regular thoughts about world of creativity. We're also looking forward to hearing from you. If you're a current client, a possible client, just a fan or a friend, or perhaps you found us by happenstance on the Infinite World-spanning Interwebs, please drop us a line, either in our comments section or via email. You too…can GO FARTHER.
All the best for a great new year! ...from the team at 1AU Global Media, LLC
PS -- Next week will be pretty quiet here on the blog. Perhaps a word or two, perhaps a picture. But we're just taking a short break. Plan to make us your regular Monday check-in again starting January 7!
Shortly after a recent production meeting, I was talking with one of our animators. He usually says a lot even when he says a little, but his brain is always working in the background. Smart, smart, smart, the guy focuses like a laser, works really hard. In short, he's good! So I was thoroughly fascinated when he said, "I'm really glad I do what I do for you instead of what you do for me. I'd much rather be a fighter pilot than the guy who's in charge of where to send the planes."
There's a reason we're a good team.
The truth is, I really love working with people who deeply care about what they do without me having to worry about them hating what they do or trying to do what I do. Sounds obvious, but as we all know work teams are not always harmonious.
He's the kind of guy who genuinely feels like he's doing his best when he can deeply dig in to a discrete assignment. As an animator, his creative life is intensely technical, even as it aims to deliver something that doesn't look technical at all. To viewers, the final result of his labor should be visually effortless, conveying whatever story or feeling it was designed to impart. Viewers doesn't care how it was made, and nor should they. But as a producer or director I most certainly do!
What I've come to appreciate, and what I love best about working with artisans of all sorts, is that inside a discrete assignment, there's no singular way to solve any specific creative problem. I turn to experts to do specific things because I can count on novel ideas to get proposed, no matter how specifically or clearly I think I'm defining the task. I also turn to experts because their expertise is what empowers their own creative contributions to be special.
Now here's the other side of the equation, and try not to flinch 'cause this could sting a little.
You may be a master producer, director, civil engineer, or flower arranger, but the moment you work with any other living person, you've got to accept that you're going to have the living, breathing influence of that other person invested in the output. Even if you give precise instructions -- "Make it powder blue, two meters long, five centimeters thick, and carved from aluminum"-- there will be inevitable surprises. Yes, you most certainly can demand a revision if work delivered doesn't fit your inner vision, and compromising on vision is generally not something you should easily accept. But you're a fool if you don't at least consider the alternative solution presented to you based on your initial assignments. If you really respect your team, you will enter in to a pas de deux with each player, individually. Even if you don't like each other personally, the pursuit of the work itself should be as if you were both trying to have an intimate conversation while walking the wrong way against street traffic on a crowded sidewalk. It should be as if you're making every effort to stay close enough through the endless oncoming distractions, internal and external, to stay on the subject, keep the conversation going, reach your destination in mental sync and understanding.
Are you nervous that I'm suggesting that everyone should have the same level of authority, that everyone is equal on a team? Far from it. The director decides the movie. The architect decides where to place the windows. But the great ones listen closely to the key grips and building engineers. One of the things I respect about the fighter pilot vs mission manager metaphor is that properly compartmentalized, both players each get a positive boost from doing their specific jobs right. They both may be able to pilot a plane, just as they both may be able to make an overall plan, but left to pursue excellence in their individual dharmas, a cohesive team becomes capable of greatness.
Here's where the strategy trips people up. When the pilot doesn't appreciate the challenges of the planner, trust erodes, and the mission suffers. Where the planner doesn't listen to the realities of flying by night, low to the ground, under fire, the planner compromises mission success overall. If you're going to work with a team--and face it: in the modern world everyone works with teams of varying size and scale--you've got to build multidirectional respect. Without it the team fall apart, or at best only achieves middling results. If you can't find a way to respect the various members of your team, you either need to find another team, or quit doing what you're doing.
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