O’ Captain, My Captain.

For the first time in my life, I can’t spot the horizon. I have a sense of the path I left behind but in some profound way I need guidance.

I’m at a crossroad. It’s exciting… and it’s scary.

In the older days, we used the stars to guide us. At sea, a captain would look up and gaze at the nightly wonder above, a wonder the human intellectual capacity could not begin to fathom nor comprehend. But nevertheless, the stars guided him – they guided mankind. The stars rewarded mankind with a hint towards a home, another shore or a remote continent. For Columbus, the stars helped (or rather cheated) him into finding America.

We all get lost. And some of us do gaze up in times of despair. We can’t help it. It’s rooted in our nature. And we all need a captain at decisive check points in our life. Or, in modern terms, a mentor; for some more greedy (such as I) we need more than one.

I’ll share mine with you – maybe their pearls of wisdom are useful to you, maybe they’re not. But what’s certain is: they all have – in their own way – attempted to put a small dent in the universe with their own unique madness.

Mentors

sjSteve Jobs

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.”

His innovations made me use a computer. It made me become a designer and it helped me discover my passion for typography.
Jobs’s meticulous attention to detail is a trait that’s rooted in me, as well. And his relentless pursuit of excellence is an example, I can only reach a fragment of.

csCharles Saatchi

“I have spent too long being able to manipulate the answers I want from market research to rely upon its findings any more than I do weather forecasts.”

The first advertising agency I ever worked for was Saatchi & Saatchi.
In advertising I find no greater inspiration than Charles Saatchi. He’s unorthodox, provocative, ruthless and the fact that he left advertising and devote his life to discovering aspiring artists is something I respect above all else. Furthermore, his quote brilliantly displays the ludicrousness of the advertising industry’s obsession with data and numbers these days (ever heard of “Big Data”?). You can’t predict the next big thing – you can only be the best – or worst – that you can be. The rest will follow.

cbCharles Bukowski

“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.”

When I watched the documentary about Bukowski, I felt an uncomfortable connection to his crude nature. In regards to women, I’ve been as hopeless as he was in so many ways. Alas, I’m a school boy compared to him – but I feel a familiarity I seldom feel with any other author.
But above all else, his writing is an example of what I regard as “good writing”: clear-cut, straight to the bone and no detours.

ahAlfred Hitchcock

“Give them pleasure. The same pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare.”

In storytelling, I want to spark a fragment of the mood, Hitchcock could do in just a few frames. The first story I ever wrote (yes, it was written in a coffee shop and yes I’ve used it to woo some, OK a lot, of women) drew its inspiration from his movies.
Hitchcock is credited as the master of suspense but more importantly, he was a pioneer on several levels: In his movies the villain had endearing and sympathetic qualities, something unheard of in its time. Hitchcock elegantly displayed several layers of the human condition and his ability to captivate an audience through his trademark storyline is still mimicked by some of the greatest filmmakers today.


All of these mentors share one vital thing in common: they fought hard to shape a life, and a pursuit, that’s true to their unorthodox nature.

Your life has an expiration date. But to let it be guided by the convictions of others is simply cutting it too short. Steer your ship, choose your captain and find that continent you can one day call your home.