Let me tell you a secret.
There’s no such thing as having one career or life-long passion. Successful people make a habit of transferring their knowledge and experiences from one career to another because they are always looking ahead.
We can take career lessons from successful people like Nick Cave, Steve Jobs and David Allen, because they have succeeded across disciplines like:
- the arts
1. Steve Jobs
Professions: Inventor, Entrepreneur, Marketer, Designer
Steve Jobs is one of the most famous inventors from more recent times. Jobs co-founded Apple with Steve Wozniak and created and released the Apple computer in 1976 and the Macintosh in 1984.
A college drop-out, his passion for multiple typefaces and proportionally shaped fonts influenced the evolution of personal computing.
Notoriously difficult to work for, Apple removed Jobs in a boardroom coup in 1985. Thereafter, Jobs became involved in other industries and co-founded Pixar Animation Studios in 1986. Jobs later served as an executive producer on the first feature-length animated movie: Toy Story.
I pay maniacal attention to where an idea comes from, and I even keep notebooks filled with my ideas. So it hurts when he takes credit for one of my designs.
Jobs returned to a beleaguered Apple in 1996 and, in what many describe at the greatest second-act in business, he turned the company into the one of the world’s most valuable brands.
The co-founder of Apple invented or had some part in the creation of game-changing devices like the iPod, iTunes, iPhone and iPad.
Walter Isaacson’s book Steve Jobs paints the Apple head as a brilliant if flawed individual, who brought out the best in many of his employees and reduced others to tears.
Isaacson quotes Apple’s designer Jony Ive as saying, “I pay maniacal attention to where an idea comes from, and I even keep notebooks filled with my ideas. So it hurts when [Jobs] takes credit for one of my designs.”
Jobs probably wasn’t too bothered by Ive’s objections. He famously said good artists copy, while great artists steal. Whatever you think of Jobs or Apple products, there’s no disputing Jobs left his mark in many industries and changed the way companies market their products and services.
What career lessons can we learn from Steve?
- Success follows our greatest failures
- Great artists steal
2. David Allen
Professions: Author, Business man, Consultant and Productivity Guru
David Allen claims he had 35 professions before the age of 35. These include: a magician, waiter, karate teacher, travel agent, landscaper, vitamin distributor, glass-blowing lathe operator, gas station manager, U-Haul dealer, moped salesman, restaurant cook and manager of a travel agency.
Arguably, David didn’t master or succeed in these professions. Today, however, he is one of the world’s most famous productivity gurus and his book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity has sold over 600,000 copies around the world.
Allen is also an accomplished business man and, through the David Allen company, consults Fortune 500 companies.
He has a black-belt in karate, an accomplishment which goes some way towards explaining the ‘mind-like-water’ mantra of Getting Things Done.
Allen isn’t necessarily the most accomplished writer or speaker, but his remarkable passion for accomplishing more with greater efficiency and his ability to speak across disciplines sets him apart from others.
Online, he’s affectionately known as ‘the Godfather of Productivity’.
What career lessons can we learn from David?
- Don’t settle for one career or role in life
- Lessons from one failed career can be transferred to the next
3. Nick Cave
Professions: Singer, Scriptwriter, Author
The Australian born Nick Cave is best-known as the front-man of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Grinderman and the Birthday Party. He has also written soundtracks for many films and is an accomplished author.
The Australian spent the early part of a chaotic career fighting a heroin addiction. He lived in Berlin and claims he wrote his first novel while on drugs. Thereafter, Nick moved to São Paulo, before settling in Brighton in the UK.
Today, Nick is clean and sober, and he’s growing more prolific as he ages. He tours with the Bad Seeds and Grinderman, and early last year, he released the critically acclaimed Push the Sky Away.
What career lessons can we learn from Nick?
- It’s possible to live on the outside and be successful
- Cultivating multiple side-projects reaps rewards
Who else has succeeded across disciplines, and what career lessons can we take from their experiences?
Please let me know in the comments section below.