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Old School Friday Nights
You know when you leave pizza out too long, and it gets hard and stale? That’s how I feel about giving the same talk year after year.
I’m forever in the constant pursuit of finding my voice, style, and craft. The more I can find ways to inject my pizza-loving, galaxy-dreaming, cats-and-coffee-obsessed quirks into everything—the better.
Going into 2018, I had to bake up an idea for a new and different talk.
After hours of writing, editing, practicing and designing slides, my 3 Life Lessons Learned From Loving Pizza talk was born.
Since February, I’ve served this cheesy topic to a buffet of ten different audiences, and I’ve dished it out at conferences for those looking to elevate their side hobbies and projects into creative careers.
I’ve shared it to a whole student body of savage and curious 8th graders. (Shoutout to my Bunger Middle School Wolfpack!) I’ve presented this talk online to a hungry class of college seniors ready to get their feet wet.
Furthermore, I’ve shared it in front of business-savvy entrepreneurs, who often lose sight of having a creative edge.
Each time I share this topic, it gets tweaked to cater to the audience.
My favorite audience, however, is you. I feel you and I share a BFF bracelet bond, and you’ll relate most to the topics in this series.
Do you struggle to find your groove or struggle with which path to take? This series is for you.
Do you constantly wrestle with self-doubt and comparison? This series is for you.
Do you love eating pizza and appreciate pizza illustrations? This series is definitely for you.
Intent to Deliver
Without a doubt, there are some strategic factors for converting this talk into a series:
- Giving the podcast listeners a chance to hear this talk, as most of you will never get to hear me give this talk in-person
- Attracting more speaking gigs (If you’re listening and want me to speak for you, hit me up!)
- Putting this out in the universe in hopes of turning this topic into an illustrated book
My real intention is more simple: to deliver a cheesy-yet-well-crafted message that hypes you up and prepares you to face the adversity that comes with pursuing your creative potential.
We’re treating this series like old-school Friday nights where you’d order pizza and watch family-friendly TGIF TV. So, get cozy, as we’re are building a bridge between creativity and pizza with these three life lessons:
- Understanding that You’re Not Pizza
- Taking Life One Slice at a Time
- Learning to Love the Crust
Today we’re devouring lesson #1. Please clean up your crumbs as we proceed.
The Makings of a People Pleaser
Growing up, life wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows.
You see, I was the chunky kid with glasses, braces, and a bowl cut. You could catch me eating chip dip with a spoon, sneaking Doritos for breakfast, and rocking my first pair of JNCO jeans when they weren’t cool.
Safe to say, I was the prime target for bullying—my daily routine consisted of getting beat up and tormented.
Being born in Waterloo, Iowa, didn’t help my self-esteem. My hometown doesn’t get the best wrap as there are a lot of drugs, gang violence, and crime. Google ‘Crime in Waterloo, Iowa’…and you’ll see there’s a lot more to it than farms. Being from Waterloo immediately labeled you as a ‘Waterloser.’ People were quick to judge and treat you like dog shit on the bottom of a bum’s scuffed-up Nike’s.
The icing on the cake from being from Waterloo—getting demolished in every sport from middle school throughout high school. The surrounding cities’ athletes, students, and parents let you know you were Waterloo hot trash every time they kicked your ass.
Throughout my life, it felt like losing was engrained in my DNA.
I don’t need a therapist to tell me that these circumstances groomed me to be a people pleaser. I remember laying in bed each night dreaming of being the cool kid and thinking how sweet the nectar of popularity would taste.
These desires caused me to say, act, or do anything that I thought someone wanted to hear in order to be liked and accepted.
I wanted to be liked so badly that my soul and spirit would be crushed if my tactics didn’t succeed.
Queue Life Lesson #1: You Can’t Make Everyone Happy, You’re Not Pizza.
Why You’re Not Pizza
If you think about it, you can totally tailor pizza to anyone’s liking.
You can make it gluten-free, vegetarian-friendly, or covered with weird shit like anchovies—whatever floats your boat.
I hate to break it to you—no matter how badly you or I want to be delicious pizza, we never will be. We can’t tailor everything about us to someone else’s liking. By attempting to do so, you’re only setting yourself up for a world of pain.
I thought I was pizza for the longest time, and I got pretty damn good at people-pleasing.
When I got to high school, I accidentally pulled off an insane makeover.
Within a week of the end of freshman year, I shaved my head, ditched the glasses, and got my braces off. I spent that summer hitting the weights for sports and somehow morphed into the ‘cool new kid.’ Being good at sports helped in the popularity department, and I finally got the guts to talk to the ladies.
Here I was, as a teenager, thinking I had mastered the people-pleasing game.
When I was 26, I finally started to find my artistic groove and started Perspective-Collective. Sadly, this people-pleasing mentality started to spill into the work I was sharing.
At the beginning of my Instagram quest, I was solely sharing work I thought was dope with no strategy of getting discovered. When I started to get a little attention through features, my strategy quickly changed.
Everything I created was focused on what I thought people like you wanted to see. I was addicted to your engagement and admiration. Each post turned me into a social junkie feening for a dopamine hit.
It got to the point where I created for the masses and tied my self-worth in the engagement.
Don’t Create for the Masses
When you try to create for everyone, you make it extremely hard for your work to resonate with someone.
It’s a slippery slope when your self-worth and identity are measured by how well your work performs. With social media’s ever-changing algorithms, you’re going to fuck your head up, believe me.
In reality, all it takes is one post and one person at a time to build a loyal tribe.
It was a bitter pill for me to swallow when I understood not everyone was going to love me or my work.
In fact, there are people out there that will hate you and your work for no particular reason at all. I call these soul suckers H.A.T.E.R.S.
You see, haters hate for a reason. H.A.T.E.R.S. means Having Anger Toward Everyone Reaching Success.
H.A.T.E.R.S. means Having Anger Toward Everyone Reaching Success.
It’s easier to tear people down than to have the courage to consistently show up and pour yourself into the world.
Here’s the catch, though. Yes, there are people in this world that will hate you and your work. If you have them, congratulations! That means you’re doing something right. You have an interesting opinion or style and aren’t playing it safe by riding the fence.
Look at it this way: you will certainly have haters the more you continue to show up. However, there’s plenty of other souls on this lush, vast planet that can love you and love your work.
I think the best way to reach these people authentically and organically is by simply Staying in Your Own Lane.
Stay in Your Own Lane
I made an entire episode on this topic back in episode 35. Essentially it means creating work that is true to yourself and that you think is dope.
It’s far too easy to swerve into someone else’s lane and bite their style.
It’s tempting to follow the flow of traffic and jump on the latest trend. This is how things get too saturated and dull.
I get it—you see others succeeding and want to ride their bumpers to bask in that glory.
I’m a firm believer in the Law of Attraction and the concept of Like Attracts Like.
What do I mean by that? The more you continue to pour your heart, soul, DNA, experiences, and stories into your work, the more like-minded people you will attract to your tribe.
Over time, people will have a connection to you. They will not only vibe to your work, but they will also care about who you are as a human because they feel like they know you.
The Sweet Spot
What are your weird quirks or qualms that make you different and unique?
What are those stories you have that others can relate to?
Anyone can rip your style, but no one can rip your voice and delivery.
When you stay in your own lane, you navigate toward finding your sweet spot, or in pizza terms, the secret sauce.
I’ll go more into depth on this in a future episode, but essentially your sweet spot is the intersection of 3 areas:
- Your Greatest Strength: what comes naturally to you
- What Lights You Up: what you’re passionate about
- Your Niche: where is there a need for what you have to offer
By staying in your own lane and pursuing that sweet spot or secret sauce, you put yourself in a position to have a pretty killer creative career.
As simple as it sounds to achieve your sweet spot, it’s even easier to get wrapped up in other people’s pursuits.
Fight Back Against the Comparison Trap
We’re all guilty of, whether we admit it or not, falling victim to the comparison trap.
Comparison breeds a toxic environment for your inner critic to run rampant.
If you’re Dr. Jeckel, the inner critic is Mr. Hyde. His sole focus is to convince you you’re insignificant and not doing enough, especially compared to someone you envy.
We get so caught up in our envy that we become blind to the fact that we have something that someone else desires.
I’m a small-town Iowa dude who dug himself a hole with private student debt. I also spend 40 hours a week working in a cubicle. I’m really hard on myself at times and hold these things against myself. I often compare myself to colleagues who:
- owe zero student loan debt and always seem to be traveling
- have a massive following with a drool-worthy select client list
- work remote or freelance full-time
I’m human just like you and crave freedom with my money and time. Yet, I’m guilty and ignorant about the things I’ve achieved that people wish they could do.
When I actually stop and think about it, I’ve worked really hard and accomplished some pretty cool shit. There’s so much to be thankful for, and I’m leaving behind something in which my son can take pride.
I hope you can see the awesome in yourself as well.
If you need some ammo to attack your inner Mr. Hyde, here are two ways to fight back against your comparison trap:
1. Put on Your Blinders
If you’re like me, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in what someone else is doing. We often put too much focus on things that are outside of our control.
Putting on your blinders means doubling down and getting laser-focused on the things within your circle of influence.
- work ethic
- time management
- strategy and self-marketing
- kindness and compassion
- persistency and grit
The more you disconnect from caring about what others are doing, the easier it is to plug into the big things moving in your bubble.
2. Celebrate Others
When you land on someone’s work and you feel Mr. Hyde stirring the pot, give this a try.
Show love and share that person’s work with your following.
Instead of self-destructing, do the opposite and celebrate them.
Design Twitter is a real thing. There’s a lot of drama with designers attacking other designers over the pettiest shit. It’s literally assaulting your own family.
There’s enough negativity in the world—be a part of the solution instead of the problem.
When we celebrate others, we let go of things outside of our control.
Feel free to study and analyze someone’s work all you want, but don’t let Mr. Hyde win.
Guts & Secret Sauce
I get it, we all want to be pizza. We want everyone to love us and love the work we share.
It’s easy to get paralyzed by comparison or scared of what a H.A.T.E.R. may say or think.
Like in episode 91, pursuing your creativity and your personal legend takes a lot of guts.
As cheesy as it sounds, you truly can’t please everyone. You’re not pizza.
The sooner we start to accept this truth, the sooner we can forge our own paths and find our own sweet spots.
Finding the ingredients to your secret sauce is your mission and destination. The world needs the best you can offer.
Next week’s Life Lesson #2 takes life one slice at a time. We’re serving up hefty portions of daily grinds and marathon mindsets.
Support the Series With the Limited Pizza Party Sticker Pack
To celebrate this 3 part series, I created a Pizza Party Sticker Pack that is made up of the 3 Life Lesson designs. You can get yours now with FREE US SHIPPING!
- Episode references:
- Dose of Inspiration: @FriedDesignCo
- Podcast Editor: Aine Brennan
- Shownotes Editor: Paige Garland
- Podcast theme music: Blookah
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