The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life by Richard Florida
(Published by Basic Books in 2002. ISBN #: 0-465-02477-7)
The Rise of the Creative Class has been hailed as a breakthrough book. I was so excited by the ideas that I stopped reading my libary copy to go out and buy my own! Drawing on both sociology and economics, the author proclaims that creative people are members of a new class in a new Creative Age. In this new age, creativity fuels economic growth. Members of the Creative Class flock to geographic regions that are tolerant, open, and diverse. They desire more responsibility and challenge, more freedom and flexibility on the job. They never have enough time, which has created an underclass of workers to take care of their everyday needs. Because time is so short, they may not keep up with old friends but instead depend on the next creative project to bring them together. Sound familiar?
The Super-Creative Core (12% of the U.S. population and a subset of the Creative Class) is composed of engineers and scientists as well as artists and musicians, architects and designers, writers and editors, and teachers and professors. Members of the Creative Class create new forms that are easy to reproduce and distribute (think of writing a musical composition that can be played over and over). Florida states: “The key difference between the Creative Class and other classes lies in what they are primarily paid to do. Those in the Working Class and the Service Class are primarily paid to execute according to plan, while those in the Creative Class are primarily paid to create and have considerably more autonomy and flexibility than the other two classes to do so.”
Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
(Published by HarperPerennial in 1996. ISBN #: 0-06-092820-4)
It is rare to find a research-based book about creativity that is as much of a pleasure to read as this one. Informed by more than thirty years of research and nearly one hundred in-depth interviews with present day creators, Creativity highlights the joy and engagement that are part of the creative process. A refreshing departure from popular culture, with its tiresome focus on money, fame, and passive entertainment, this book features people who are not rich or famous or glued to the TV but actually get paid to have fun at work and make a difference at the same time. In addition to challenging some common myths about creativity, the author also suggests practical ways to lead a more creative life: for example, adopt a domain (such as literature, music, or the culinary arts) and learn its principles. Don't miss the chapter entitled Enhancing Personal Creativity. Csikszentmihalyi is the same psychologist who authored Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, which is about the art of achieving happiness.
150 Jobs You can Start Today: Creative Ways You Can Make Money Now by Deborah Jacobson
(Published by Broadway Books in 2003. ISBN #: 0-7679-1609-3)
There are lots of reasons you might need to find work immediately, including the need for a survival job that will support your creative endeavors. This is the updated version of Survival Jobs, first published about ten years ago. The book contains 150 complete descriptions of jobs that will "allow you to take the skills you already possess and create your own opportunities." Some examples are pet-sitter, carpet cleaner, traffic school teacher, secret shopper, real estate appraiser, and karaoke performer. Each description includes information on the practicalities of getting started, required skills, typical fees, benefits and pitfalls, and resources for obtaining more information. If you are looking for a day job, chances are good that you will find at least one workable new idea that you have not yet considered.
The Career Coward's Guide to Interviewing: Sensible Strategies for Overcoming Job Search Fears by Katy Piotrowski.
(Published by JIST Works in 2007. ISBN # 978-1-59357-389-8)
The Career Coward's Guides series provides fun, proven techniques for today's slightly-scared job searcher. The first book in the series, The Career Coward's Guide to Interviewing, shows job searchers how to land interviews with ease, build confidence inside and out, plan a successful interview strategy, and negotiate attractive job offers. Rich Feller, Professor of Counseling and Career Development, nails the essence of this book with his endorsement: "Finally, an interview guide that deals with the 'confidence' issue . . . a quick read jammed with wisdom and hints extracted from thousands of coaching cases."
Future books in the series include The Career Coward's Guide to Changing Careers (Fall '07), The Career Coward's Guide to Resumes (Spring '08), The Career Coward's Guide to Job Search (Fall '08), and The Career Coward's Guide to Career Advancement (Spring '09)--each one providing fun, effective how-to guidance for creating the career you want and deserve.
The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D.
(Published by Broadway Books in 1997. ISBN #: 0-553-06218-2)
Some of us were born with a sensitive nervous system. This is normal and can be either an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on our environment. However, in the American culture, sensitivity is often labeled with words that are not considered socially desirable, such as timid, shy, inhibited, introverted or withdrawn. In The Highly Sensitive Person, author and psychologist Elaine Aron never loses sight of the benefits of sensitivity as she offers genuine help for the challenge of keeping your nervous system at just the right level of arousal. This is a nicely balanced self-help book. I first learned of it because several readers recommended it to me as something that was very helpful for them
According to Aron, society breaks down into two major classes: the warrior kings and the royal advisors. The warrior kings are aggressive and dominant, focused on expansion and profit. The royal advisors are needed to temper their boldness and impulsiveness with wisdom and discretion. Many creative and unconventional people are sensitive and well-suited to the occupations recommended for royal advisors, such as counselors, teachers, scholars, writers, judges, artists, historians and homemakers. The Highly Sensitive Person includes a chapter entitled “Thriving at Work,” which begins with the concepts of vocation and following your bliss. The book ends with a list of tips for employers, explaining that the highly sensitive employee is likely to be conscientious, averse to pushy self-promotion, and the first to be bothered by an unhealthy situation in the workplace.
The Great Jobs Ahead: Your Comprehensive Guide to Surviving and Prospering in the Coming Work Revolution by Harry S. Dent, Jr.
(Published by Hyperion in 1995. ISBN#: 0-7868-8158-5)
The Great Jobs Ahead is a decidedly energetic and positive look at the workplace of the future, when large and cumbersome corporate whales will transform themselves into swift and well-organized schools of minnows. Dent provides a businessperson's look at the work revolution of our times, with plenty of implications for those of us who never will be corporate types but who will want to play an creative role in the new information age.
I especially liked Dent's Chapters 11 and 12, in which he outlines two different possible roles or career paths. As a reader, you are helped to consider which you would prefer--whether you'd rather be on the front lines using information, or on the back lines providing information. Some of the fields that Dent places on the back lines include the creative fields of advertising, architecture, writing, training, and design. I found Dent's ideas quite helpful in planning some of my own future projects, such as this web site!
The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property by Lewis Hyde.
(Published by Vintage Books in 1983. ISBN #: 394-71519-5)
The Gift makes interesting reading for creators who want to take a thoughtful look at their role as gift-givers in a commercial society. The author, Lewis Hyde, is a poet and scholar and translator who has himself struggled with the problem he poses at the beginning of the book: “... every modern artist who has chosen to labor with a gift must sooner or later wonder how he or she is to survive in a society dominated by market exchange.” Art, fed by imagination and synthesis, is an example of a gift exchange; business, run by logic and analysis, is an example of market economy. As he explores the tension between a gift economy and a market economy, Hyde weaves together sociology, anthropology, literature, economics, religion, and psychology and examines subjects ranging from the customs of the Trobriand Islanders to the poets Walt Whitman and Ezra Pound.
As Hyde notes, the gift appears several times in the creation of art. First, talent is a gift that is bestowed upon the creator. Then the artist receives an intuition or inspiration as a gift that inspires his work. Finally, the finished work of art is returned as a gift and received by an audience with gratitude. This book is a gift to undervalued creators looking for some perspective. At the very least, The Gift helps you take society’s treatment of the arts a little less personally.
Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes by William Bridges.
(Published by Addison-Wesley in 1980. ISBN#: 0-201-00082-2)
If you are going through a major life transition, either in love or work, Transitions will help you feel like you are not really crazy after all. "It is into some rabbit hole or cave or forest wilderness that creative individuals have always withdrawn on the eve of their rebirth, " claims Bridges. This is a nicely written 160 page book that draws on the fields of psychology, anthropology and literature, as well as the personal stories of real people undergoing change.
Transitions is organized in two parts. Part One is The Need for Change; Part Two, The Transition Process. In an appealing reversal of expectations, Bridges begins the transition process with "Endings," describes the middle as the no-man's land of "The Neutral Zone," and ends with "The New Beginning." In addition to describing the transition process, Bridges provides some positive practical tips for coping. This was the first book I recommended to a friend who decided to leave a major corporation after twenty years of employment, despite not knowing what she was going to do next.