Are You Doing Serious Work?
While ploughing through some to-do list items on my laptop, my five-year old came by to complain about being bored. I asked her to help me by drawing out her day on some graph paper. She happily framed out storyboards and began the process of putting her life to pictures.
Rough and childlike, her illustrations were exactly what you are imagining right now. Interestingly though, her drawings reminded me of Paula Scher, a renowned graphic designer and visual artist. You know her work, even if you’ve never heard her name before. She created the Citigroup logo, the original Windows logo and the incredible typographical artwork for the Bloomberg Building in NYC. Her work is multidimensional and profoundly unique but when she begins a project, her work is wonderfully rough and decidedly childlike.
This is the original concept for the Citigroup logo.
Maybe you can see why my daughter’s sketches reminded me of her work. The first time I saw her rough work, I was impressed by the lack of sophistication. There is a strong element of play when doing creative work that she, rather obviously, embraces.
Play can be a hard concept for us to understand as adults, but it boils down to the idea of creating without regard for strict practicality. Play might not seem like a thing you do much at work. While it’s true that you might not be creating your own logo (we highly suggest you don’t), you are doing creative work every day. Every time you sit down to solve a problem, offer a solution, or build out a plan for a client, you’re using creativity. To be clear, play doesn’t mean whimsy and it doesn’t mean this element of your work isn’t serious.
In her 2008 TEDtalk, Ms. Scher explained a truth about how play and work intersect that has a broad application. She quotes an article from Russell Baker that sets up a dichotomy between serious work and solemn work. Here’s an excerpt for you to see both his humor about it and the point he is making:
Being solemn is easy. Being serious is hard…Children almost always begin by being serious, which is what makes them so entertaining when compared to adults as a class. Adults, on the whole are solemn.
Jogging is solemn. Poker is serious.
Humphrey Bogart movies about private eyes and Randolph Scott movies about gunslingers are serious. Modern movies that are sophisticated jokes about Humphrey Bogart movies and Randolph Scott movies are solemn.
Solemnity is taking yourself too seriously – it’s producing work separate from your own emotion, or focusing only on a desired outcome instead of opening yourself to the possibility of all that could be. Solemn work is rote, draining, and stale, albeit reliable.
Serious work is focused and exciting. It requires a freshness and vitality that solemn work cannot stand. Serious work can be funny and uniquely you.
Your clients and potential clients need you to be serious but not solemn. They need you to see them as individuals who need your personality and expertise. When you give them your serious work, they get to build a relationship with you. If you merely give them solemn work, they may receive the same portfolio and outcomes, but they won’t get the part that will keep them there for years to come.
What do you need in order to do serious work? In large part, the answer is downtime. You need space and margin enough to conjure up fresh ideas, to take all of the important things swimming in your brain and dial them into fresh solutions. You need a mental break from the demands of media. To do this serious work, you’re going to need to schedule breaks small and large so that you can come back free of solemnity.
How are you freeing yourself from solemn work this summer?
- Time at the lake?
- A big trip out of town?
- Evening walks through your neighborhood?
Rosie the Robot, Amazon, and the Future of RAAI
Written by: Travis Briggs, CEO at ROBO Global US
It’s tough to find a kid out there who hasn’t dreamed about robots. Long before artificial intelligence existed in the real world, the idea of a non-human entity that could act and think like a human has been rooted in our imaginations. According to Greek legends, Cadmus turned dragon teeth into soldiers, Hephaestus fabricated tables that could “walk” on their own three legs, and Talos, perhaps the original “Tin Man,” defended Crete. Of course, in our own times, modern storytellers have added hundreds of new examples to the mix. Many of us grew up watching Rosie the Robot on The Jetsons. As we got older, the stories got more sophisticated. “Hal” in 2001: A Space Odyssey was soon followed by R2-D2 and C-3PO in the original Star Wars trilogy. RoboCop, Interstellar, and Ex Machina are just a few of the recent additions to the list.
Maybe it’s because these stories are such a part of our culture that few people realize just how far robotics has advanced today—and that artificial intelligence is anything but a futuristic fantasy. Ask anyone outside the industry how modern-day robots and artificial intelligence (AI) are used in the real world, and the answers are usually pretty generic. Surgical robots. Self-driving cars. Amazon’s Alexa. What remains a mystery to most is the immense and fast-growing role the combination of robotics automation and artificial intelligence, or RAAI (pronounced “ray”), plays in nearly every aspect of our everyday lives.
Today, shopping online is something most of us take for granted, and yet eCommerce is still in its relative infancy. Despite double-digit growth in the past four years, only 8% of total retail spending is currently done online. That number is growing every day. Business headlines in July announced that Amazon was on a hiring spree to add another 50K fulfillment employees to its already massive workforce. While that certainly reflects the shift from brick-and-mortar to web-based retail, it doesn’t even begin to tell the story of what this growth means for the technology and application firms that deliver the RAAI tools required to support the momentum of eCommerce. In 2017, only 5% of the warehouses that fuel eCommerce are even partially automated. This means that to keep up with demand, the application of RAAI will have to accelerate—and fast. In fact, RAAI is a key driver of success for top e-retailers like Amazon, Apple, and Wal-Mart as they strive to meet the explosion in online sales.
From an investor’s perspective, this fast-growing demand for robotics, automation and artificial intelligence is a promising opportunity—especially in logistics automation that includes the tools and technologies that drive efficiencies across complex retail supply chains. Considering the fact that four of the top ten supply chain automation players were acquired in the past three years, it’s clear that the industry is transforming rapidly. Amazon’s introduction of Prime delivery (which itself requires incredibly sophisticated logistics operations) was only made possible by its 2012 acquisition of Kiva Systems, the pioneer of autonomous mobile robots for warehouses and supply chains. Amazon recently upped the ante yet again with its recent acquisition of Whole Foods Market, which not only adds 450 warehouses to its immense logistics network, but is also expected to be a game-changer for the online grocery retail industry.
Clearly Amazon isn’t the only major driver of innovation in logistics automation. It’s just the largest, at least for the moment. It’s no wonder that many RAAI companies have outperformed the S&P500 in the past three years. And while some investors have worried that the RAAI movement is at risk of creating its own tech bubble, the growth of eCommerce is showing no signs of reaching a peak. In fact, if the online retail industry comes even close to achieving the growth predicted—of doubling to an amazing $4 trillion by 2020—it’s likely that logistics automation is still in the early stages of adoption. For best-of-breed players in every area of logistics automation, from equipment, software, and services to supply chain automation technology providers, the potential for growth is tremendous.
How can investors take advantage of the growth in robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence?
One simple way to track the performance of these markets is through the ROBO Global Robotics & Automation Index. The logistics subsector currently accounts for around 9% of the index and is the best performing subsector since its inception. The index includes leading players in every area of RAAI, including material handling systems, automated storage and retrieval systems, enterprise asset intelligence, and supply chain management software across a wide range of geographies and market capitalizations. Our index is research based and we apply quality filters to identify the best high growth companies that enable this infrastructure and technology that is driving the revolution in the retail and distribution world.
When I was a kid, I may have dreamed of having a Rosie the Robot of my own to help do my chores, but I certainly had no idea how her 21st century successors would revolutionize how we shop, where we shop, and even how we receive what we buy - often via delivery to our doorstep on the very same day. Of course, the use of RAAI is by no means limited to eCommerce. It’s driving transformative change in nearly every industry. But when it comes to enabling the logistics automation required to support a level of growth rarely seen in any industry, RAAI has a lot of legs to stand on—even if those “legs” are anything but human.
To learn more, download A Look Into Logistics Automation, our July 2017 whitepaper on the evolution and opportunity of logistics automation.
The ROBO Global® Robotics and Automation Index and the ROBO Global® Robotics and Automation UCITS Index (the “Indices”) are the property of ROBO who have contracted with Solactive AG to calculate and maintain the Indices. Past performance of an index is not a guarantee of future results. It is not intended that anything stated above should be construed as an offer or invitation to buy or sell any investment in any Investment Fund or other investment vehicle referred to in this website, or for potential investors to engage in any investment activity.
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