There has never been an easier time in the history of the world to consume. From physical goods to information, our entire economy revolves around making things easier and cheaper to obtain and digest. The vast majority of the population is content to be labeled “consumers”, and the government explicitly encourages consumers to consume, and businessmen and women to create systems that facilitate consumption. Just think about the biggest innovations in the past two decades: the Internet and the smartphone. Both are undoubtedly tools that benefit society as a whole, yet a large reason they exist is to help make consumption as frictionless as possible. Same-day delivery by Amazon and Ebay, instant streaming on Netflix, Spotify and iTunes and instant communication on Facebook all take advantage of our current generation’s desire to consume without contributing anything in return.
2012 represented a small but significant shift away from this trend in my eyes. Codecademy, the NY-based start-up, pronounced 2012 the “Code Year”, in a challenge which saw hundreds of thousands of people sign up to learn to code so they could understand how websites work, and creating their own content rather than using YouTube and Facebook for consumption. Blog posts have warned readers about the dangers of over-consumption and the benefits gained from creating, while more recently Kid President asked the world “What will you create that will make the world awesome?”
Cliché these all may sound, but the reality is that creativity is part of what makes us human, and demonstrated creativity is an extremely attractive trait for employers from Fashion Designers in New York to Hedge Fund managers in Shanghai.
How do I know this? Well, I have recently been applying to internships in Finance and Marketing, and while my résumé has been nicely padded with a solid GPA and prior experience with a Big 4 Accounting firm, the two entries that most intrigued the various interviewers were my small on-campus business, FURI Rental, and my blog. I started both FURI and my blog because of a personal desire to do something more than simply watch Netflix, go to the gym or party 3 nights a week. I wanted to give something back to the world from which I am constantly consuming. By taking the initiative to create something of my own doing I am able to express who I am in a very tangible way, and stand out from the hundreds of plain vanilla applications employers receive for every job. More than anything though, creating something from nothing makes me happy, and gives me a great sense of satisfaction.
Starting from a blank canvas may seem like a daunting task, so let me offer some advice. One pertinent point made in a Stanford lecture on Entrepreneurship by Marissa Mayer, the current Yahoo CEO, is that “Creativity loves constraint”. Rather than letting your imagination run free and hoping to create something amazing, you are often better to narrow your target to tackle a defined problem or to create something within a defined set of criteria, whether that be a video parodying your college demographic stereotype, a blog about your biggest passion, or a venture tackling a particular problem that is crying out for a creative solution.
If you have read and agreed with this post so far, but find yourself struggling to think creatively, I can direct you to the science behind creativity as spoken by the most creative comedian to have emerged from the British isles– John Cleese.
I will end this blog post with a few more wise words from Kid President:
“It is everybody’s duty to give the world a reason to dance”
Get creating today, and become more employable, more interesting, and understand what it means to be truly satisfied.
Until next time!
P.S. Have a look at this video I created last year to spread a bit of cheer around Fordham’s campus: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CK9ScHdTU5k