by Neil Brown, Baker+Brown Co
Editor’s Note: The following article is an introduction to a blog series in which Neil and Jen Baker Brown traverse the country, speaking with designers and creative entrepreneurs in different US cities. In the first part of their journey (to follow), the Browns will speak with Midwestern creatives from Kansas City, Indianapolis and Cleveland.
A brazen misadventure for two life long nomads.
It was late spring, just an handful of weeks ago. Summer was approaching. And with it, brought a longing for the road – the ever-present desire to explore that dwells deep within our genetics. Three weeks later we hit the road; no clear itinerary nor destination determined, but the car packed tight (really tight).
photos courtesy of Neil Brown
This is not a narcissistic journey of self-discovery, rather an opportunity to learn from others: their vision of the future, the potential they see, and the ideas they are pursuing. We hold our expectations loosely, for over the years we’ve learned that even our wildest dreams are still finite, trapped within the confines of our own minds and comprehension. Our motto in life is to surrender to the journey.
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”
– Alan Watts
Over the years, we have worked with 100+ entrepreneurial endeavors, ranging from nascent self-funded start ups to hundred-million dollar enterprises. We’ve learned through our own experiences and the amazing people we’ve collaborated, that in life and work it is most rewarding to dive in – head first! As entrepreneurs ourselves, members of the loosely defined “creative class” and ardent travelers, we are wandering across the U.S. throughout the summer and fall seeking to connect with thought leaders across a spectrum of domains — brands, agencies, entrepreneurs, investors, artisans, professors, students, and more — to learn their vision for the future of work. Along the way we’ll be researching, interviewing, seeking insights, and writing.
As we write about this journey, we will be honest. At some points, it’ll be uncomfortably awkward. For instance, camping isn’t all that glamorous, regardless of the gorgeous photos on Pinterest accompanied with simplistic instruction — we have no idea what we’re doing! Nor do we know how long we can sustain this brazen misadventure. We will be staying with friends and family along the way, using AirBnB on occasion, and camping when not under threat of hurricanes, tornadoes, or other acts of god. This is experimentation, not vacation. We’re working from the road. We are not pragmatic planners, so we’ll continue contracting and consulting just like 34% of the U.S. population (more on this later).
We are seeking to meet new friends and colleagues along this journey. The future of work, especially for entrepreneurs and the creative class, is fundamentally evolving. Our goal is to draw insight from individuals across the U.S. to develop a forward-looking philosophy of work—one that demonstrates how the creative class can significantly impact our collective future. Ultimately we seek to round out a thesis: why we work, how we work, a paradigm shift in how we monetize our work, and how we can organize to proactively combat the commoditizing on-demand, low wage labor race. Because that race has started, and the runners are out of the blocks! It is sprinting toward us, and with it brings positive and negative consequences — both for professionals and students.
“The best preparation for good work tomorrow is to do good work today.”
– Elbert Hubbard
We are a few weeks into this journey, and are currently circumnavigating the eastern half of the U.S. As we travel, we’ll be writing about the people we meet, ideas that entice, places we explore, and themes we discover that are driving the future of work (and play).
Neil & Jen Baker Brown are design futurists, navigating the adventure that is life for the last 12 years in marriage and partnership across a variety of entrepreneurial endeavors and experiments. They have collaborated with others on projects ranging from an arts and event space in Manhattan, to a grassroots film festival; they have taught leadership development in Vietnam, coached young entrepreneurs, and built an agency to partner with early stage companies. You can consistently find them on the road and online. www.bakerbrownco.com @bakerbrownco
Discover the artistic ideas behind the art journal pages of more than 40 famous and up-and-coming artists in Danny Gregory’s book, An Illustrated Journey.