The Police: Revealed on Stage

When we go to a concert, we often imagine ourselves on stage and contemplate what it must feel like to perform in front of a cheering audience. During The Police’s reunion tour a few years back, drummer Stewart Copeland let the world know exactly what it’s like.

In candid prose he detailed his experience on the first night of the tour, a real disaster:

I stride manfully to my drums. Andy has started the opening guitar riff to MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE and the crowd is going nuts. Problem is, I missed hearing him start. Is he on the first time around or the second? I look over at Sting and he’s not much help, his cue is me – and I’m lost. Never mind. “Crack!” on the snare and I’m in, so Sting starts singing. Problem is, he heard my crack as two in the bar, but it was actually four – so we are half a bar out of sync with each other.

Sounds rough! Yet Copeland confidently continues with his criticism of that night’s performance, saying “there is just something wrong. We just can’t get on the good foot. We shamble through the song.” Ultimately he ends with what happened backstage after the main set:

We fall into each other’s arms laughing hysterically. Above our heads, the crowd is making so much noise that we can’t talk. We just shake our heads ruefully and head back up the stairs to the stage. Funny thing is, we are enjoying ourselves anyway. Screw it, it’s only music. What are you gonna do?

His laissez-faire attitude seems refreshing, yet it belies a big truth: he cares so much about his craft, he knows that opening up about the group’s foibles will attract attention, and paying customers. In fact, the Police Reunion Tour of 2007-2008 is currently listed at #6 among the highest-grossing tours ever, having raked in a total of $358 million.

So Stewart Copeland is right. Bring your whole self to work — faults and all — then watch your productivity, and your income, rise.

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Strong, Able, and Dyslexic

If you’re dyslexic, this is what you need to know about your self. And if you don’t live with dyslexia, here’s how you may be limited without it.

In “The Upside of Dyslexia,” an opinion piece recently published in the New York Times, writer Annie Murphy Paul outlines the ways that dyslexia confers advantages on workers, especially those related to the arts and sciences. She writes:

People with dyslexia possess distinctive perceptual abilities. For example, scientists have produced a growing body of evidence that people with the condition have sharper peripheral vision than others.

How does this work? Paul explains:

The brain separately processes information that streams from the central and the peripheral areas of the visual field. Moreover, these capacities appear to trade off: if you’re adept at focusing on details located in the center of the visual field, which is key to reading, you’re likely to be less proficient at recognizing features and patterns in the broad regions of the periphery.

The opposite is also the case. People with dyslexia, who have a bias in favor of the visual periphery, can rapidly take in a scene as a whole — what researchers call absorbing the “visual gist.”

If you’re dyslexic, yes, focused reading can be hard. Yet perceiving data on the periphery of your view comes naturally.

Indeed, whole research centers have been founded to study the positive attributes of dyslexia. Consider the recent creation of the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, as well as the Laboratory for Visual Learning within the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

So the evidence continues to add up: dyslexia is less of a disability, and more of a different style of taking in information.  If you struggle with reading, knowing the current discoveries about dyslexia can help you find words to describe the strengths you possess along with your struggles.

And if you don’t experience what was once known as “word blindness,” you might seek the help of your dyslexic peers at work.

Especially if you’re striving to see the whole picture.

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Complicated Past? LinkedIn Can Help. [video]

Let’s say you’re a private equity information specialist. And a dancer. An unlikely pair of professions for one person, yet this is exactly the scenario we addressed recently while giving a talk to dancers about how to develop a wholly representative profile on LinkedIn.

While writing the “headline” on her LinkedIn profile, meaning the space directly under her name, a participant asked if it’s OK to write “Private Equity Information Specialist and Dancer.”

You see, she’s a client of Career Transitions for Dancers, an organization that helps dancers take their first steps toward second careers, because the physical tolls of dancing make it practically impossible to be a lifetime professional dancer.

So how did we respond? We offered that her inquiry really felt like the question “Is it OK to be who I am?” The answer to which would be “Yes, it is. Always.”

A fantastic thing about LinkedIn is the expectation that you’ll have only one profile, because you’re only one person. Also, you’ll synthesize your complicated background into a single headline, and then outline it within the various sections of Summary, Experience, and Education. Creating a profile on the “professional” social network becomes an exercise in identifying the breadth of your achievements and interests, organizing your story, and then revealing yourself in a coherent framework.

Watch how things unfolded, starting at 6:00, below:

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7 Secrets to Center Your Self at Work [video]

It’s one of the most underrated ways of doing work.

In the course of a day, we tend to chase appreciation and approval of our work, and avoid confrontation and criticism. Problem is, it’s almost impossible to feel secure and grounded when these things come from outside of our selves.

We need ways to feel more centered in the workplace. Webster’s dictionary defines being “centered” as being “emotionally stable and secure.”

What does that mean?

Alicia Graf Mack has an answer. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Company dancer was recently interviewed by William C. Rhoden about the dancer as athlete (video below), and along with Gia Kourlas’s interview in TimeOut New York, we see an outline of Mack’s insight about how to be more emotionally stable and secure on the job.

Here are the dancer’s 7 secrets to center your self at work:

1. You can tolerate pain. Writes Kourlas:

[Mack] suffers from an autoimmune disorder classified as reactive arthritis, which led to swelling and pain in her joints … [She] began teaching dance… What happens when you start teaching? You start dancing again.

Alicia Graf Mack loves to dance so much, she willfully works through her physical pain to do so. Really, for what kind of work would you accept physical pain?

2. You can’t tolerate pain. Read more

How to Bring Whimsy Back [video]

Oy, work can be so serious sometimes. We’re guilty of looking at the sober side of things — well, because we take work seriously, too.

Just as Joseph Herscher does, and yet the product of his efforts brings about serious smiles.

Herscher is a kinetic artist who creates Rube Goldberg machines, contraptions that delight viewers with their silly premises and whimsical movements.

His work was recently featured in the Daily Mail, where you can see still shots of “Page Turner,” an installation that–you guessed it–turns a newspaper page. By tapping into his sense of whimsy, he’s created a complicated machine that prompts viewers to experience wonder, joy, and exhilaration.

And he’s wildly popular. The Internet has played “Page Turner” about 5 million times and counting. Herscher has attracted significant media attention, which will likely lead to more commissioned work. To be sure, this artist’s star is rising.

What would result if you were to reveal and engage the extent of your whimsical nature in the workplace? At least, you might bring some levity to your surroundings. And levity, wonderment, joy, and exhilaration are all things that can lead to increased engagement and productivity.

What are you waiting for? You, too, can help bring whimsy back to the workplace.

Watch his very watchable work below:

Image by Fletcher Lawrence via

Grief, Gender, and Ecology at Work

We were totally excited recently to come across Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons, a performance group firmly grounded in the 2010s. Part social commentators and part Nina Simone-inspired musicians, AATJ was spotlit in the Village Voice on the eve of Swanlights, their MOMA-commissioned performance at Radio City Music Hall.

In the Voice interview, English-born and transgender Hegarty reflects on the world he inhabits, and touches us at our core. In one moment — among many — of poignance, he relates his experience as a transgender person with the ecological devastation he sees:

“I see them as parallel issues, as a tiny reflection of a greater problem,” he notes. “Even as a transgender person, I’m excruciatingly aware of my privilege as a white male, and the subjugation of women is critical to understanding the subjugation and destruction of the ecology.”

Brilliance! See him working the dual oppressor and oppressed within him?  He continues:

“America is less willing to consider a gay or transgender having a platform outside of gender identity,” he says. “But we are barely acknowledging that the weather is changing, either.”

Say it, Antony. Americans’ purported less-willingness to see the world broadly can lead to pigeonholing one another, and to misperceiving the continuing transformation of Earth’s geography. He’s grounded in his emotions when he says, “We need to start grieving, at the very least.”

And then he drops a profound mind-bender:

“People can more easily imagine the collapse of the world than they can imagine stepping away from capitalism or patriarchy.”

We’ve been thinking about this idea ever since we first read it. Do you think it’s true, that capitalism and preserving the world can’t coexist? While it pains our brain to ponder, it’s certainly worthwhile to consider.

Still, he seems hopeful when he thinks about his ethnicity and place in the world. “I am as American as it gets,” he shares.

And we remain hopeful, too. Not only about our ability to solve some of these worldly problems, but hopeful that revealing our whole selves at work, as Antony does, will help lead us there.

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David Hockney Revealed

Many artists can school the world on how to love, and how to work. Just recently at the Brooklyn Museum we came upon an eye-opening example of how to bring your whole self to work by English painter David Hockney.

In the exhibit HIDE/SEEK: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture, we saw Hockney’s painting Adhesiveness, 1960, and learned that he actively integrated his sexual identity into his work.

David C. Ward, co-curator of “Hide/Seek” and historian at the National Portrait Gallery, spoke in a video about how Hockney has engaged his whole self in his work, and the corresponding description says it best:

Even though homosexuality was illegal in England until 1967, David Hockney presented his homosexuality directly, as integral to his art. While his paintings from the early 1960s did use coded references-to lovers and other gay references-the overriding avowal of male desire made these paintings a commentary on England’s proscriptions. And Hockney openly stated his intent to propagandize “for something that hadn’t been propagandized: homosexuality. I felt it should be done.”

Bravo Mr. Hockney! We’ve always loved your paintings, especially those depicting fantasy and reality in Southern California.

Learning that Hockney brings his whole self to work means there’s now even more about him to love.

What parts of you are integral to your work?

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