Finding The Sweet Spot

Holy crapballs you guys, do I love this post from my former client Brian Perry. Not only is there a gem here on how he, um, found his sweet spot in his career (hence the name of the post – we’re obvious like that), it’s also a rally cry (and no, that’s not too dramatic).

Happy As a Kid in a Candy Shop by The Lemon Peel

Don’t tell anyone, but I think I’ve found a sweet spot between my creative and professional lives. I’ve always been one of those people who struggled with the seemingly simple question ‘so what do you do?’ Depending on the context you caught me in I was either a comedian who also does web design, or a web designer who also does comedy. Now with the launch of Paperweight Magazine I can say something like ‘I design a humor magazine for the iPad.’ I might do something fancy with my hands while I say it – I’m still testing some options.

Last month we started a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter and the response has been pretty overwhelming. Real people have been willing to put real money (or at least theoretical money that may someday become real money) behind our idea. When I’m not obsessively checking our funding total I’ve found myself wondering in David Byrne-esque fashion ‘how did I get here?’

My conclusion: People and Time.

First, let’s check in with our good friend Father Time. On April 1, 2011 (no joke) I left a full time job to try my hand at a life of self employment. If my goal was to wake up on day one and find a project that allowed my comedy and tech lives to live in harmony, I’d probably get fed up pretty fast. In fact, I think I’d be back in a cubicle somewhere by now. Instead, I focused on finding web development work that could keep me afloat and grow my skills, while also staying active in comedy.

And I didn’t just up and randomly quit my job either. I worked with Michelle for a good number of months leading up to my aforementioned April Fools Day leap. For many of those months I didn’t have a date when I would be able to leave my job, just the overall idea that I wanted to work for myself. Sometimes it felt like I was doing work and not getting any closer to my goal. But the day eventually came along where I was pretty clearly ready to make the change I’d been aiming for. And when I did, I had work waiting for me on day one as if my new job had just been waiting for me all this time.

Michelle would probably tell you that I’m not much of a goal setter. I wouldn’t even say that I’m particularly focused. My psychologist wife says that I have poor executive functioning skills. So I’m not going to say ‘set clear goals for yourself.’ I’ve always just truly believed that my interests in comedy and the web could be more closely integrated. As much as I could, I focused on work that stayed true to that general thesis statement. Then over time I found myself in a place where I could take a legitimate shot at a project like Paperweight. Time isn’t always the enemy.

People! They’re everywhere!

I’ll start with the more extreme example. When I left my job on April 1, 2011, my wife was 8 months pregnant. So obviously she has given me a tremendous amount of support and had faith in what I wanted to do. She also gives me the gift of health insurance. Now I’m not saying to go find an endlessly supportive wife or husband – that’s difficult and also requires a lot of time. But what I am saying is that we all have people in our lives who believe in what we do and are willing to support us.

Paperweight has provided countless small examples of this. My co-founder on the project was a friend I performed with at ImprovBoston. Paperweight has over 150 backers. Crazy amounts of people have contacted us interested in writing, developing, and designing. Friends have helped us get in touch with people who were interested in covering our project. Every like and retweet is someone who believes in you and wants to help.

Unless you’ve lived a impressively distasteful life, you have people in your circles who want to support you. Give them the opportunity to do so. And when you can, return the favor.

So who knows what Paperweight Magazine means for my overall career trajectory. But
I’m willing to take the time to find out, and I know that I’ve got supportive people behind me regardless of what happens.

Speaking of that, anyway that you’d be willing to spread the word about Paperweight’s
fundraising campaign would be greatly appreciated. Turns out my theories about time don’t really apply to active Kickstarter campaigns…

Brian Perry is the co-founder of Paperweight Magazine. As a freelance web designer, Brian has built web and mobile presences for everything from comedy festivals to colleges. As a writer and performer he’s spent the majority of his career exploring the intersection between comedy and technology. He has performed throughout the U.S., Canada, U.K. and the Internet and is currently touring his one man musical experience ‘Briami Sound Machine’ at comedy festivals.



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