James DeKoven
Writer & Content Strategist

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Opinions, ideas and ramblings

Feel Stuck? Use Imagination Instead of Technology

"It Reduces Red Skylight Fatigue" -  Jeff Riley

"It Reduces Red Skylight Fatigue" - Jeff Riley

If you need to make something big happen in your life, stop looking to technology for answers and follow the example of “Uncle” Joe Benson.

Joe is a DJ at KLOS radio in Los Angeles. Growing up, much of my education about bands and music history came from his show.

Joe’s been on the air for over 40 years, but according to legend, he had a tough time landing his first professional gig. No matter what he tried, nothing worked.

Consider that from the mid 1950s until the birth of the World Wide Web, being a rock n roll DJ had nearly the same cache as being a rock star.

Job interviews were hard to come by, even for a guy like Joe with vast music knowledge and experience on college radio.

Joe realized he needed to stand out. He had to be bold. He had to take a chance. That’s how he came up with the idea that would change his life.

Joe didn’t send yet another resume to another radio station. This time, he delivered it. But not in the conventional sense.

Using a piece of twine, he wrapped the resume around a really big rock. An actual rock from an actual mountain. Talk about dropping something off at the front desk.

The station manager didn’t only notice Joe’s bravado, he recognized the metaphor. Joe got an interview, which landed him the dream job he’s had for over four decades.

It’s a story that reminds us about the power of imagination.

These days, technology is the default solution to every minor or major challenge. Hungry? Check out the Yelp review for the restaurant. Not sure how to have that necessary but uncomfortable conversation with your co-worker? Look up some advice.

A web site or an app may offer less expensive and more convenient paths for reaching your goals. But efficient doesn’t always mean effective. If the software wasn’t programmed to perform a specific action or provide a specific answer, you’re screwed.

Despite how much technology improves our lives, it also restricts our ability to step into the unknown. It's the safe option. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics has urged parents to limit screen time for their children in order to unleash their imaginations.

And I’m not the first person to say that you can only accomplish great things by taking a risk. You might have to gamble with your money, time, education, perhaps your reputation or mental health, but the reward can be worth a roll of the dice.

For the most part, we don’t take chances because we prefer to do things how we’re supposed to do them. We accept the rules of the game as if they’re immutable laws of nature.

But when you ignore conventional wisdom and take a risk, you don’t only liberate yourself, you free up everyone else along the way.

If our species had always stuck to what’s appropriate, we’d still be serfs living in fear under the omnipotent hand of royalty. Women wouldn’t be able to vote or wear jeans to work. There would be no such thing as America.

Your ability to overcome a challenge is only restricted by the limits of your imagination. When I decided to ghostwrite books for corporate leaders, I spent months using typical marketing and social media techniques. Nothing panned out.

I thought long and hard about my next step. How could I reach busy executives who would most likely delete my emails or ignore my articles? A radical career change required a radical idea.

I wrote a sample chapter of a book for a CEO I admired. I sent it via FedEx and two months later, I started working with him to write the whole thing.

Maybe my example or “Uncle” Joe Benson’s story can inspire your next move.

If you’re looking for a new job, don’t send a resume into a digital black hole. Take someone to lunch at one of the companies on your list. Then after you break out your wallet and pay the bill, ask to be introduced to a hiring manager. Why not? You have nothing to lose.

If you want to finally pursue your lifelong dream to paint, don’t take classes where you’ll get little personal attention. Get in touch with a local artist and ask if you could learn from them. Again, you have nothing to lose.

Whatever you’re trying to achieve, people are usually happy to help. You just need to ask. So step away from your device and get their attention.