Creative Confidence & Parting Thoughts

I wanted to wait until after my presentation and our last class to post my reflection, and I’m very happy I did wait, because our conversations and the feeling I had leaving that presentation brought the clarity I was hoping to find when looking back on our class. For me, these were my major takeaways from the class:

  1. We can (and should) all be content creators

Even though I spend my life “creating” things, ironically, this class offered creative confidence where I lacked it – blogging, tweeting, and writing with a published audience in mind.  I think that no matter where people are on the creative comfort spectrum, this class pushed us to find our own voice, have confidence in our “expertise” (even if we are still students or new to our careers), and to benefit from the contributions of our classmates who had the courage to be bold, express themselves, and process topics that have many unanswered questions.  I mentioned at the beginning of my presentation that I felt as though “who am I to be a voice for video?” in this class, but the generous responses of classmates gave me the courage to continue processing my newly found career path and to blog in the most self-expressive manner that I could. So thank you for that, and as I mentioned in my presentation, although not everyone will have a job that is inherently creative, this class reaffirmed that content creation, creativity, and self-expression will continue to be important no matter your career path, and I believe they are key to a purposeful life and our own sense of fulfillment.

“The only unique contribution that you will ever make in this world will be born of your creativity” – Brene Brown


        2. Digital Literacy and Awareness is Crucial

As someone who is admittedly not as “politically aware” as I ought to be, and who skims the news but doesn’t often delve deep into the details, this course was exactly the push I needed.  A major takeaway for me – I don’t want to be like the Congress questioners at Zuckerburg’s trial one day – digitally illiterate and unaware. And even further, I doubt I’d be in any position of leadership, meaningful contribution, or importance if I end up becoming digitally illiterate in our rapidly changing world.  This class helped me think meaningfully about topics I once knew nothing about, encouraged me to be more aware and more adaptable, and lit a fire under the jarring realization that my very future depends upon it – especially if I continue to pursue a creative career in cinematography or digital marketing. If I do not adapt to the changing demands and trends of the industry, I probably should have stuck with accounting!


3. Social media is a tool whose use is dictated by the user

I think this was a major takeaway from many people, but especially in light of our last “Dark Side of Digital Technology” discussion, it is clear to me that social media, like many things, is simply a tool, and it’s the people using it that dictate its use and impact.  We read articles comparing the terrorist tactics of ISIS to a highly effective brand, and when you are forced to see that jarring realization of their “case study in marketing,” it drives home the fact that we must be aware, intentional, and informed about our use of social media, its effects on our own lives, and the larger role in plays in our society – how we get our news, how we form our opinions, how we interact with others, and even how we inform our policy.  The Cambridge Analytica “crisis” this semester was the best possible case study, and I know its effects will only continue to influence our digital perspective.

         4. You get what you give – education is about taking ownership

This takeaway was bittersweet for me – ownership was a key takeaway of the class for me.  If you want to have a valuable education in this class, you needed to take ownership, contribute, keep up, and put yourself in the “public square” of our ongoing class conversation.  As I mentioned in class, it was powerful to align our motivation for education to our peers, not just ourselves, and feel that missing an assignment or not keeping up was impacting others more than it was ourselves.  I admittedly was not the most consistent contributor to the class – often due to video projects or travels – but I couldn’t help but look back and think about the Twitter discussions and blog posts I might have missed along the way.  Over the second half of the semester, I felt myself drawn to go back and read past posts, articles, and Tweets not because of the grade impact, but because it was overwhelmingly clear how rich and insightful our class’ contributions to these topics had become.  I hope that I will continue to carry this lesson forward in the MBA program or more generally, in life, and try to take ownership for my education and my relationships to others in “the public square.”

       5. Regained confidence in career path

As I mentioned at the beginning of the class, I approached this semester with the question, “Did I make the right choice?  Am I genuinely screwed for passing by a career in accounting for a life of video production and digital marketing?”

I am grateful to say that this class helped me find greater confidence not just in my career choice, but in my own ability to adapt, and more importantly, recognize the value of my peers and put faith in “the crowd” to help identify the role I might be able to play in the industry.  I have always loved to write and read, but ironically, had not done so often since picking up this video passion, and I think this class helped me to recognize the value of a “full portfolio” and finding ways to reflect upon your work, recognize its value or lack thereof in relation to current trends, and stay on the cutting edge for future trends to come.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart #ISYS6621 and @geraldckane for one of the best educational experiences I’ve ever had, and I hope some of the digital and personal relationships we’ve built in this class will only continue to grow in the future.  And hey, when all of you become digital executives, hire that freelance videographer you knew from that class back in Stokes ;)


PS Two parting quotes that I drew inspiration from as a departing senior last year, and I hope it might strike a chord especially with the graduating seniors!

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.  Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it! Nothing happens until you decide.”     ― William Hutchison Murray

“We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life. It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. Who are on your  team. When the check is paid and you stay at the table. When it’s four a.m. and no one goes to bed. That night with the guitar. That time we did, we went, we saw, we laughed, we felt….We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I’d say that’s how I feel. How I feel right now. Here. With all of you. In love, impressed, humbled, scared.”           –Marina Keegan, The Opposite of Loneliness


  1. realjakejordon · ·

    John, this is an awesome post, and a lot to take in. The biggest one for me is your first point, that we can and should be content creators. I really haven’t thought beyond this semester until right now, but you’re right. We need to stay connected, keep sharing ideas and bouncing them off of each other. It got me thinking about how I’m going to do this, and I think making my own WordPress page might be the answer.
    Lastly, and slightly unrelated, I really like those quotes at the end of the post, and it was great hearing how you apply them to your own life in the Agape panel two nights ago. Cheers!

  2. bc_eagle1 · ·

    Very thoughtful John. You are a brave dude and entrepreneurship can be a lonely path. Feel free to reach out to me at . I certainly will need some promotional videos done.


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