Choosing to put comedy, illustration and my other disciplines on one website might sound obvious, but it was actually a really tough decision.
The term ‘jack of all trades’ is a phrase that has bugged me for years. I know it’s negative connotations and consider myself an optimist, but I’ve always thought I was one. A ‘jack of all trades…and master on none’. My thinking has been perhaps inherited from the previous generations. The received wisdom that focusing on one career to become an expert over time was the best way forward, and taking an interest in a few different things diluted time, effort and commitment .
Since going freelance as a designer and pro as a comedian I didn’t want a design client knowing I did comedy in case they thought I didn’t take the work seriously, or a comedy promoter to know that I did graphic design. I was terrified of not being seen as professional.
Old beliefs are very hard to shake. I previously had five different websites. One for comedy, one for design and illustrations, and more recently a podcast and training workshops. Each of these things had it’s own orbit and audience, with rare overlapping exceptions.
The fear of confusing people with ‘multi disciplines’ and not being able to answer the ‘what do you do’ question’ in less than four sentences was (and still is) a bugbear. However, I’ve known for years that diversity and adaptability are key to survive, and something just clicked. Listening to technology podcasts, reading Seth Godin books. Learning more about applied improv in my podcast. Finally something clicked and I’ve broken my old programming.
So here are ‘all my eggs – in one basket’. Better for me, better for google SEO and as I’m finding, people who come looking for one thing and find another and spend a bit of time on my website looking around. Isn’t the the point of a good website?
For a bit of inspiration in 2017, here’s my top 5 pick of TEDx talks in 2016. It’s the end of the year. Sad though it is I’m not going to dwell on the number of famous and talented deceased. We’re all going to die one day, and I don’t mean to be morbid. If anything it’s a reminder to me to get busy, make a mark and do good work.
Tim Urban: Inside the mind of a master procrastinator
“You call it procrastination, I call it thinking.” once said Aaron Sorkin. Tim Urban has a great blog and I even have his grim but refreshing life calendar. Here he explains why people tend to put things off until the last minute, and why that’s sometimes ok. Inspiration.
Mike Rowe: Learning from dirty jobs
I chanced upon Mike Rowe as I was listening to loads of podcasts and prepping to launch my own . As well being funny and shocking there’s a valuable lesson about ‘doing it the right way’, Aristotle and goats testicles.
Dave Morris: The Way of Improvisation
Dave Morris’s seven steps to improvising is a great refresher as to why improv is such a valuable learning tool. Play, listening, allowing failure as part of the process.
Susan Greenfield: Technology & the human mind
Are our attention spans getting shorter? Susan Greenfield gives a great talk about how children’s minds develop and the effect technology. The effect social media is having on our ability to engage and have quality interactions, i.e. Texting is bad. This is stuff that comes up in some of my training workshops, when we talk about the value of unspoken communication. I do draw issue with one point. Being a gamer I’d argue there are some role playing games which engage at an emotional level in a way that books cannot, and it’s an unfair comparison, as the engagement level is different. All good points to bring up though.
Diana Nyad: Never, ever give up
I watched this on a flight to the USA at a time I was feeling pretty down and feeling old. Listening to Diana Nyad’s was akin to a hand come out the screen and slap me across the face. Good health intact, age is relative and pretty irrelevant. Every year is a year to build and improve. Swimming with jellyfish and sharks at 64?
More personal development stuff. This is the third Seth Godin book I’ve read. I like his books because they are really short. It’s no surprise he’s a wealthy entrepreneur, why write one big book when you can write loads of short ones.
The dip basically an essay about learning when to stick at something or when to quit, and that’s ok. The point at which you need to choose is ‘the dip’. He argues that quitting isn’t failure, and that many high performers got there because they developed the ability to identify the difference.
He gets into the subject quickly, makes his point, gives you stuff to think about then wraps up. There a a few diagrams in there describing the types of dip you can come across. ‘The dip’ itself, the ‘cul-de-sac’ and the ‘curve’, all food for thought. His prose is easy to read and if feels more like a typed up TEDx talk than an essay. There’s nothing in here that gave me any big light bulb moments, but the use of bell curve diagrams to explain mass markets versus niche ones does make for intriguing reading.
A nice aside from reading book like this is that it’s also helping me with my interviewing technique. The more I read the more I question.
September and October have been pretty epic. I’ve recently come back from my fourth tour support with the Charles Ross and his ‘One Man Star Wars’ Show. Three weeks on the road, playing sixteen venues across the UK, it’s been as tiring as it has rewarding.
One of the biggest highlights was playing Salford Lowry Theatre to a full capacity crowd. Nice.
I’m doing a Half Marathon! In September I’ll be running the Great North Run, a goal I’ve had since completing my first 10k last year. I’m running to raise cash for the National Eczema Society, so if you can donate, please do. Here’s the https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/JohnCooperComedy