illustration: filipe andré alves
In the last year I’ve been jumping between Lisbon and Berlin. I went to Hamburg and Munich. Prague. Thailand, Cambodia and Lao for vacations.
I’m kind of a quiet quiet guy who likes to have is own space to relax and reflect but after 8 months in Berlin – if I consider it as my base camp for this last period - I find myself sitting in the living room of my 3rd apartment here. What impact does this has in me? I’ve been thinking about this. Everything in Berlin moves really fast. Even the city itself moves fast. One year is cool to live in “Kreuzberg”, the next year will be cool to live in “Prenzlauer Berg” and I can predict that in two years maybe “Wedding” or “Schöneberg” will be on the run for the coolest place to live here. I’m not betting on “Neukölln” because that’s this years new trend and this means it’s already out of fashion. Being trendy in not trendy anymore.
Pedro just turned thirty three and he is a really nice person. He is not only a nice guy because he brought a great bottle of wine for the dinner at my place but also because If you could take empathy and give it a shape, Pedro would fit the description. A gentleman with hearth and sense of humor. A man who’s never alone because he likes to surround himself by friends and listen to a good story. If some people say that happiness is contagious. Believe me. He can contaminate you with his smile. Pedro is a faithful worker. He’s working in the same company for six years now and he is fine with that. He talks about the culture of the company and how that culture suites his needs and he never uses the word “change”. He is not unhappy with what he has. He is now in Berlin because his company was able to recognize that the importance of being in contact with a different culture, engaging with other people and methods has an impact at a personal level and influences positively the vision on the all structure.
Pedro is going back to Lisbon in a few weeks and he’s ready to go back to his normal environment where he still feels that he can change things around him for the “good”.
Back to my living room, sitting at my huge desk procrastinating and still absorbed by the latest Lana del Rey song.
“- Lana del Rey? That’s so 2011.” This last sentence synthesises what someone said after watching me drooling while still looking at the computer. I was simply paralyzed by that sentence and since then I have been giving a lot of thoughts on this.
Lana del Rey – maybe a product of the “old” industry – still haven’t put up an album out there and was already outdated. Why is this happening? Is this because our ego’s are more demanding than ever? We are reaching a peek where probably more than ever we don’t want to follow. We are expecting to discover the next big thing so that people end up following us. The question is that you need to keep up the pace and that means, giving a lot of time trying to find new stuff and slowly forgetting about the real good stuff. Everything is changing so fast that you don’t stick to anything anymore. We all wanna be “trend entrepreneurs”. Find something, put it out there, move to the next.
Why do we change so much? Every week I get an email from a friend who’s thinking about coming to Berlin. Every week I get to know someone from a different country and to be honest I don’t know how many creative people I have met in these 8 months, I’ve lost count on how many articles I’ve read about new “startups” and the fact that Berlin is becoming the new “Silicon Valley”, I’ve lost count on how many of those companies I saw packed in the same buildings but all of this isn’t necessarily bad. We know we can find creativity in the major cities and establishing theses connections with so many different people makes us more creative, agile and smart. Still I sometimes feel that some of these young entrepreneurs and “junior” companies are here for the gold and not for the passion of creation (not all of them of course). Some of these guys easily move from one seat to another because they quickly forget their vision others simply because they feel abused or fooled. Even the definition of “startup” is by itself an indicator of what you’re trying to design. Some years ago people would set up a company to be part of a system. To feed and to get food. Today it feels that most of the “startup” scene is feeding up itself with fast food. The “Get fat as quick as you can” approach has consequences. Fat people live less. Fast companies…I’m afraid that we can be entering the era of the “pop economics”.
I’ve also met in the last months some really great people in Berlin (special reference to my friends from “What Would Harry Do?” and to all the people involved in the Stanford d.school workshop on “Entrepreneurial Spirit” with George Kembel) and Lisbon (amazing what Beta-i has done in such a short time) that are honestly trying to help some of these companies in being more sustainable at a long term and gaining more awareness on the principles behind their “designs”.
Sometimes we forget but we should give more value the ones who can stick to something for a longer period. Who are able to go through all the ups and downs of the first years. I get surprised when someone tells me he is working in the same company for 5 years years but in the end…shouldn’t we give credit to that? Weren’t these people capable of creating their own place at a small or big company or even creating their own project? Aren’t most of the successful examples about compromise and perseverance? Shouldn’t we all take the time to put our hands on things, to make our businesses grow more sustainable, to not loose track on our vision and to build a playground where we can design our own future?
I feel that one of the reasons that makes us want to change so much is when we feel we don’t have the power to change things anymore. And we should not loose anytime the feeling that we can still influence things around us.
There’s not so many genuine idols in the creative industries anymore. Yesterday’s idols created something we could grab with our hearts, today’s “new type” of idols create something that we can grab with our hands and egos.
If we think about it, and to see how things changed quickly in the last years, no one knows who the hell invented the MSN Messenger (in 1995) but everyone knows who invented Facebook, Craigslist or Google.
We are just changing all the time because we are not capable of maintaining our focus on what really matters…to us.
Decades ago the idols created art and today they create ways to pack things. Decades ago the music felt unpredictable and inspiring. Today the one’s who risk to do it are out of fashion by their second album because is not fun anymore. The one’s who still get it, live in the world of “copy paste” where everything is created do satisfy and not to surprise. I like Lana because in the industry someone understood that there was an intersection market between the perishable and the delightful. In the future my dear friend Pedro might still be working in the same company while we won’t be listening to Lana del Rey anymore – Unfortunately.