Several years ago, we invested $800 per chair, for each of our teammates.
A week after the chairs arrived - about the same time we finally figured out how to pimp all the adjustments - Lynn said, “My butt loves my chair.”
She added, “a happy butt is a productive butt.”
Exactly. We try to provide our team with the tools to do good work. Great chairs. Macs. Free beer. Challenging projects. Jason Fried provides his 37Signals team an interruption-free workspace and a manifesto.
But a happy butt + an iphone doesn’t = great work.
Your tools and workspace can be the soil for creativity, but only you can make stuff grow out of it.
I’m fascinated by personal productivity and creativity. And I’m smitten by people whom I think are geniuses. I love Maira Kalman. And now, thanks to the folks at Design*Sponge, we get to see Ms. Kalman’s studio:
(Read the full blog interview and see more images here.)
In her workspace, Ms. Kalman keeps her favorite paper and drawing tools, of course. She also keeps tchotchkes. And shoes. And obituaries. And when she needs to feel inspired, she leaves her studio and goes for a walk…and just looks.
Yes, where we work matters. Space can be inspiring or deadening. Charles Landry calls places “Yes-places” or “No-places.” I pray that you work in a “Yes-place”...a place that feels creative and inspiring, where you can do great work…and where your butt is happy.
But absent that, each of us is responsible for our own results. We can’t wait for our workspace to be “just so” before jumping in. And - believe me - it’s called The Hustle for a reason. You want a fabulous life? Work like hell.
Asked what advice she would give to others, Ms. Kalman said, “The best advice I ever received was ‘keep working’ and ‘never never never give up.’ That was actually said by Winston Churchill. Not to me of course, but still. That is the only advice I can give. If you actually like illustrating, find a way to do it, even if you need to have other work to pay the bills.”
To this I would add: find a way to make your work space more inspiring, a place you want to be. Beyond that, pay attention to what feeds you…a walk? a conversation with a brilliant friend? And do that. The world needs the very best you have to give. So find a way to locate it, to channel it, and give it.
See Ms. Kalman’s TED talk, “The Illustrated Woman,” here.