I'm a "Creative" -- Whatever That Means.

July 2, 2018

How X-Mode Empowers Different Types of Productivity

My work looks an awful lot like not working.

I walk around more than anyone else in my office. I am very familiar with the route between my desk, the breakroom, and the restroom. If something changes — say we get a new flavor of coffee, or a coworker gets a new plant — I will most likely be the first to notice.

It certainly doesn’t help that I sit right next to a window. I spend a lot of time staring out into space. God forbid I have something at my desk to fidget with — I can play with a pen or a set of keys for a half an hour without even noticing. I shudder to think how much this annoys my coworkers. They probably think I’m daydreaming.

Sometimes I am daydreaming. I’d like to think I get paid to daydream. Not about what I’m cooking for dinner, or my plans for the weekend. That’s for my spare time. At work, I dream a little bigger.

I get to paid to dream about big data and bigger ideas. I work in the world of possibilities and speculations. I’m a “creative,” and the reason my process involves so much stalling, pacing, and dawdling is because I don’t know of any other way to do it.

Most of my work involves writing pieces like this one, albeit usually a little less confessional. I start with a concept to explore, such as data transparency or Artificial Intelligence. Sometimes it’s given to me, sometimes I think of it myself. I scour the web to find out as much as I can on the subject, drawing on various perspectives from within and outside the tech industry.

Then comes the hard part: synthesizing the information into something cohesive and legible, something both informative and fun to read. Sometimes I write an outline first, but usually I dive in headfirst. Sometime, I’m able to write an adequate piece in a couple of hours. Sometime it takes me that long to come up with the opening sentence.

All this isn’t to say I’m wasting time. I get my tasks done punctually, and find new ones when I am finished. It isn’t always easy, either. There are few things in this world more frightening than an empty page, taunting me to fill it with words that don’t exist yet. I am only as valuable as my latest idea, so a lot of pressure builds up to constantly outdo myself.

And I love it. I love the pressure to create, the knowledge that I have no choice but to pound out a finished product. Impending deadlines have brought out some of my most rushed work, but they have also helped me create the pieces I’m the most proud of.

I recognize that, for most people, this kind of work sounds like a picnic. I certainly don’t think I am equipped to do the job of our sales team — the non stop hustle, the relentless push to close deals. And I don’t even want to imagine trying to fill the shoes of our data science team: they may as well be speaking Martian as far as I’m concerned.

But that’s what I love about working at X-Mode. Sure, I would have a tough time performing alongside employees in other divisions. But that’s why I’m doing my job and not theirs. The executives here recognize the existence of different kinds of productivity. Strong tech and an aggressive sales team is important. But being able to effectively communicate our vision is too. To paraphrase The Wire; in a successful company all of the pieces matter.

I’ve been writing since I was five years old; at this point, stopping isn’t an option. But it wasn’t until I started working at X-Mode that I felt my skills were valued just as much as anyone else’s. X-Mode gives me space to create in my own way, but also pushes me to constantly improve. They respect my work ethic — no matter how eccentric it may be — as long as I give them results.

What I’m saying may sound like sacrilege. There is a widespread belief about artists; that we hate being constrained, that an office is our enemy, what we do cannot be monetized. In turn, a lot of companies hesitate to hire us — we’re unpredictable, emotional… why even bother?

I can’t put to rest all of these biases and beliefs. And I can’t make any sweeping statements about the identity of artists and creators worldwide. All I can say is that X-Mode has taken a chance on this “creative.” You can decide for yourself whether they made the right call.

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