• PHOEBE

On Self-Education

Updated: Nov 14, 2019

What distinguishes really good creative work from work that’s just…OK?

Work that shifts the status quo from work that's more of the same old?

Work that makes people stop, think, bookmark, laugh, tell a friend, and - most importantly - want to make better work of their own?

Having spent the past ten-ish years interviewing people who are really good at what they do, I’ve found the answer is nearly always is in the footnotes. The teachers. The references. The reading lists. Work ethic is important, but not everything: From what I've observed, the thing that distinguishes the good from the great isn't really the Ten Thousand Hours of sheer productivity - a theory that has been widely debunked, anyway - but rather, the quality of the ten thousand books, songs, films, and life lessons that are used to fill them. 

We are living in a time when it has technically never been easier to self-educate, given that all the world’s information is just a swipe or search away. But it’s also an age of scammers, hackers, and a focus-hijacking attention economy – all of which undermine  the deep thinking and constant learning that goes into really good work. It’s clear to me that we’re in need of new frameworks for modern thinking, and new ways to learn to create.

When I relaunched The WW Club back in January, I included Ten Principles to focus the ways I want to think and write about working now. Included on the list were:

Concept + Context: Work with both in mind.

and

Practice Autodidacticism:  Lifelong learners never stall or stagnate.  

The erosion of intellectual space in our culture is happening against the backdrop of an increasingly outdated education system; one which alienates so many people who might otherwise thrive on its timeless trove of ideas about art and life. This system is not only financially prohibitive for many, but also strangely out of step with a world which is calling on us to think, learn, and work in drastically new ways, every day.

I was lucky to have been born the kind of nerdy left-brainer who coped well with the linear structure of my own education. I absorbed a lot from lectures, academic journals, and thick, dusty books. Even so, I know that certain songs, buildings, and cities have influenced my own ideas as much as any essay I might’ve read at school. Similarly, I have friends whose own moments of creative enlightenment have been sparked by specific photographs; artworks; moments on nightclub dancefloors. When I interview people, it’s always these references that I’m digging for: the flashes of personal epiphany which lead to new ways of seeing - and being - in the world.

In that spirit of curiosity, I'm excited to announce Intellectual Property, a new platform offering a space for creative discourse and self-education. Because I believe in conversation as an unparalleled tool for learning, connection, and personal growth, IP is built around interviews exploring the ideas and references which have shaped the most creative thinkers I know. These conversations are presented in audio format and also as digital and physical resources, with the aim of creating an accessible and easily-referenced framework for the open sourceprinciple of our times. 

The first IP interview is with one of my personal mentors: media entrepreneur Claude Grunitzky. There will be many more to come. 

I hope you like it.


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