Creative Director & Podcast Host

Bird by Bird - By Ricky Richards

Email To A Friend

I just this second sent an email to a friend I haven't seen for many years who is now doing his PHD in Ethics. It summarises much of my current internal dialogue and thinking about life so I thought it would work well as a journal entry. 


Hey Greg,

Thank you for the long message. I wish I had more friends that were as generous with their suggestions for things to check out as yourself. You should start a quarterly mail list, I’d love to track your recommendations.

I’ll save the long story for a time when we meet face to face. However, long story short, I had a brain bleed at university and I never got back to my prior form after that. Being my competitive self back then, winning was unfortunately what made me enjoy the game and I’ve not really played much since. I’m still okay, I keep myself in shape but you quickly discover it’s the additional practice and the 10% refinement on your game that accounts for almost all your ability and I just don’t value it enough anymore to put in the time. Sounds like you’re in a similar boat.

What you’re saying about what you do is quite fascinating. I’m guessing you’re referring to Crispr? I first heard about it about two years ago on a Radio Lab podcast. The implications seem vast. On the subject of these moral dilemmas, another one I find compelling is the parent running into a burning building and finding the child of another parent inside first, do they save that kid or go in search of their own if there is only time to save one? Again, I have a million questions for you but I think it’s worth holding off for a face to face.

I think you’re move to the EU is a great idea. You can study for far less out there as well which is good.

On the work front, I have to say that, compared to most, I’m lucky that my job involves creativity. I don’t know what I’d do if I had my head in excel spreadsheets all day. My role primarily consists of coming up with concepts and strategic approaches for brands. Paradoxically, I really enjoy the mental challenge of this even though I know that I’m only propelling an aspect of society I don’t particularly like. It’s a funny thing that because I’ve broken down advertising to combat it’s influence on myself, it's just made me more effective at using on it on others which is something I’m not very proud of on the whole. You were talking about Nepotism and how many industries aren’t much of a meritocracy, I couldn’t agree more on the whole but I’ve lucked out in respect that much of what I do is reflected in monetary gains and pitch wins, so my worth is really reflected on how much I can make for clients and companies, not time. Ironic that at a time when I realise how little money and things add to my overall happiness is when I’ve somewhat been given the keys to the kingdom financially. I’ve looked at career development as a game for the last five years and I’ve got to a stage where the salaries I’m being offered are quite lucrative so I’m doing all in my power to backtrack and resist getting sucked in.

I think the anxiety first came from a belief that I wasn’t doing as well as I wanted to be doing when I was around 22, which seems quite common. In the last four years I’ve read lots of statistics and realised that much success comes down to either Nepotism, fortunate positioning in key moments of time or catching some kind of cultural zeitgeist. There’s always exceptions but they tend to be anomalies. Also, the more I’ve analysed it the less appealing it becomes to be ’successful’. And my more recent anxieties are coming from my desire to work on things I deem to be a valuable use of time rather than what is going to pay. On that front, I’m aware that emerging tech things like AI and VR are likely to have a big impact in the coming 20 years and I’m positioned quite well to transition into those fields should I wish to, but It’s an ongoing debate with myself. 

My interest in philosophy probably started through consumer psychology, learning about the various cognitive biases we have. From there I stumbled across Sam Harris and many of the shows he’s featured on such as the minimalists and a bunch of other podcasts. Along the way I learned about Seneca, the audio books in particular are filled with lots of insights. I’m aware that most text that resonates just tends to be information that affirms beliefs we already have so when something crops up that is genuinely novel but that changes my thinking I get quite excited about it. When I found out you were studying Ethics I had to drop you a line because I’d love to meet up with you when you’re back and have a good catch up / chat about what your views are on these topics.

I suspected that you’d at some point thought about what was a worthy use of your time as I have. I’d like to think I have more to contribute than making rich brands richer so I was curious to your outlook.

Please do let me know when you’re next back in the UK, and I will do my best to come meet you for a catch up. I’m not sure what your thoughts are on propagating your ideas but I run a podcast so if you fancied recording our chat (whenever that may be) I’d love to share it.

Have a great day Greg, and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Cheers,

Rick

Ricky Richards