#36: How to Design a Bio, Part 2
A tribute to storytellers and to all things larger than life itself
This is a part 2 of the first post on this topic from ‘#30: How to Design a Bio, Part 1’, one of the highest-viewed pieces of content I’ve ever published. I was motivated to write that one in the hopes of sharing valuable lessons and techniques about designing personal bios from my career. It is practical, universal and meant to be applied and used by many. This second part is a little bit different. I wasn’t afraid to go deeper on this and lean more towards a philosophical point-of-view. This one’s particularly special, enjoy!
In an era where it seems to be that identity is everything, it really does pay to take as much control of it as possible— including the narrative of how one tells their story, on the internet and in real life. In many cases, the line between the two increasingly gets blurred out. All the more that it’s critical for all of us to be aware of this, whether one subscribes to the idea of it (‘internet identity <> real life”) or not. (I am not going to cover the metaverse for this topic today, although you are free to find connections with the ideas I’ve written.)
In a lot of ways, we are attached to the hip to our persona. Perhaps, the best way to deal with this is to learn how to discern situations, make better choices and be as deeply self-aware as one can be. Of course, this is not easy.
There’s a reason why this stoic quote by Jerzy Gregorek is popular, “Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.” Life is hard, the world is tough. What comes out of all this is character, and our persona is the face of it.
It better be told right, and there’s no one better to do so than yourself.
You may ask yourself, ‘I thought this is about work personas and bios, why are we talking about life and the hard stuff?’. I’ve been reading a lot about success and the lives of legendary people who’ve shaped our world. I’ve also witnessed it in real life as well. Generally, the people who are truly authentic and incredibly amazing, the ones worth emulating, they do not define their personas in the traditional sense: personal and professional. It is not that their work is their life; it’s that their personal growth and journey is their life’s worth.
I am willing to bet that one’s full satisfaction with life can never be complete without the emergence of the two. It is a privilege to create something that is bigger than life itself. What better way to do that than through the work that we do, whatever that is.
If you’re looking for ways on how to start doing that, I’ve written a few questions that, myself, would use to help me think about this more clearly:
Who am I when no one is looking?
How will I explain what I do to a 6 year old?
What are the things I truly care about?
What are the values I will never compromise on?
How are my long term career goals connected to said values?
What are the things I am willing to do for free?
What am I doing now to bring me closer to who I want to be?
What change do I want to see on the world and how am I contributing to its success?
How do I retain my integrity everyday?
If nothing can go wrong, what ambitious feat would I attempt to do?
What might this look like if it were easy? (credit to: Tim Ferriss)
The discovery period never ends but at some point it will make sense, it’ll click. You’ll have a lightbulb moment. A lot of writers and artists can speak for this. Half the process of trying to create something is the thinking part. Just like user research, everything, everyone is evolving everyday. Our behaviors, our dreams, our personalities, they all go through change. The trick is to capturing its essence in a form of writing. Yes, there’s no escape.
In order to successfully tell a story—your story, one has to start with writing. If keeping a daily journal is too much, that’s totally reasonable. Personally, I’m also finding it hard to do so and to keep up.
What I do, instead, on days where I simply can’t write: I do audio recordings. Had a thought about one of the questions above while you were in the shower? Voice it out and record it immediately after you’re done. In the middle of a long commute and something popped in your head? Open your Notes app and document it. Cooking and randomly had a thought about your personal dreams and aspirations? Record it. Never judge an initial idea. Trust that your mind will take you to places, if only you let it.
And once you feel like you’ve done enough, tell your story. Make it worthwhile by making it as authentic as possible.
What can the world learn from you? Whoever you are, there’s always something you can say, you can contribute that can change a little bit about anything and everything. Make it known. Own the experience of telling your story, otherwise you risk letting external forces do so.
Thank you for reading Working Title
This post is inspired heavily by this incredible podcast episode hosted by the great James Altucher, “797 - Polina Pompliano: Profiling the Profiler”. Don’t miss this! It’s fantastic and well worth the hour invested.
Aside from Polina Pompliano’s brilliant words (from the episode), I am also moved deeply by the passing of Virgil Abloh, the visionary designer, Off-White founder, philanthropist and many other impressive credentials. His work and design philosophy is a huge influence on my life. This post is a testament to that.
“For me, design is about whatever I find is worthy to tell a story about. I don’t believe that culture benefits from the idea that this line on a piece of paper has never been drawn in this exact way ever before. My goal is to highlight things — that’s why I collaborate a lot, that’s why I reference a lot, and that’s what makes my body of work what it is.” - Virgil Abloh. (source: Hypebeast)
Lastly, to my one-time hairstylist, although we’ve only interacted very briefly, it was a memorable one. I appreciate our short but refreshing interaction. Leo, may you rest in peace. You were a character worth of all that love and more by the community.
Cancer, you’ve taken way too many people this week. I can’t take anymore bad news.
To all, please do take care and I hope we all have a lovely holiday over the next few weeks.
If you liked this topic, you might like my post:
All future-focused. All present-oriented. Thank you again for reading working title.
As always, thank you for indulging me and my thoughts. I’d love your feedback. They always make my work better. Email me at: email@example.com. Looking forward to hearing from you.