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Gunn’s Golden Rules: Life’s Little Lessons for Making It Work reads like a conversation you might have if you were so fortunate as to have a three hour lunch with the author, Tim Gunn. It’s filled with wisdom that comes from experience as an educator, compassion that comes from humble beginnings, and gossip that comes from working in a highly competitive creative industry. Through his anecdotal inner monologue and hindsights, Gunn’s blunt honesty and attempts to “take the higher ground” were comforting to me a young professional somewhat uncertain of how he’s going to get where he wants to go.
I highly recommend this book. There are too many great lines to post, but here are a few of my favorites:
Making it work means finding a solution to a dilemma […] When my students made it work, they reached a new level of understanding about their abilities to successfully problem solve, and that gave them additional resources when moving forward to the next task at hand. When we figure a way out of a tricky situation in our lives, we learn something and gain confidence in ourselves. Making it work is empowering.
People need boundaries and rules. Society does, too. You don’t flourish if you’re left to do anything in any situation. I say this about art and design all the time, and it doesn’t always make me incredibly popular.
Risk taking in fashion in fun, but risk taking in our careers and in our education is essential. Ambitious people are more attractive and more fun to be with than people who maintain the status quo.
If you have great ideas, you have a responsibility to the ideas to present the work well.
Creativity should be fostered, but so should conceptual development and execution. Parents should want their children’s self-confidence to be earned.
The buffet style of education, where you take what you want when you want it, is so unfortunate, in my opinion. I know young people. They gravitate toward what comes naturally to them and what they think they want. But what they’re comfortable with isn’t necessarily their destiny.
I often say in keynote addresses to college students that I figured out what I wasn’t before I figured out what I was. That struggle to find out who are you are is so hard. You have to keep eliminating things that you aren’t and then see what’s left over. Most important, you should never pretend,. There’s nothing harder than living life as someone you’re not, even if being what you are is very hard, which is what being gay was for me for a very long time.
I love New York City and am so inspired by it. It’s a magical place to me. Even when it’s muggy and gross and the subway stinks, I am completely captivated by the city and find new things to love every day. […] It reveals just enough of itself every day that I’m never bored and never overwhelmed.
Wanting to look good in public has to do with the respect that I have for myself and the respect that I have for the people around me. One of the things I love about New York City is how much people dress up for one another. Walking down the street is such a pleasure, because people are really turned on. Yes, it probably took them more than five minutes to get ready, but it was so worth it. They make the city a prettier place.
I’ve learned at the age of fifty-seven that as much as I’d like to say X, Y, or Z, I must consider how I am going to feel afterward. And the answer in the case of angry or snide remarks, is: not great.
So many people I see complain when they’re faced with changes, “But that’s not the way we do things.” We know that. That’s why we’re having this discussion. Please put it behind you.
I find with complaints in general, you need to know the whole context, including what the expectation was. So frequently, I’ve found that the expectation has been totally false, a creation of the person’s own imagination. They’re disappointed not to get something they were never promised.
People like this want the cheaper version of fame: celebrity. They want to be famous, not for having done anything. That’s the opposite of what I think our young people need to be taught, which is: It’s wonderful to aspire to things. Aspire to be invited to the White House. Maybe one day you will be.
As anyone who sticks around in an industry for a while know, the people who have the best careers and best lives (and often who do the best work) are not the demanding, screaming, flinging divas. They’re the people who take their ego out of it and pull all that energy into their creative lives. […] You have a huge advantage over the competition if, in addition to being a talent, you are easy to work with.
Carry on, and let’s see what happens next.
P.S. This was the first book that I read entirely on my iPad. The experience was great!