[TechSparks 2020] What would you do for no money, asks Glitch’s Varun Duggirala on pursuing a creative gig as a content creator
Whether it is letting your imagination soar on a blank canvas as an artist, or composing pretty ditties on your guitar, or creating podcasts for an unknown audience – there is no end to prolific ideas for those who are looking for a creative gig to enrich their lives. As more and more people realise that being a creator in their leisure hours is rewarding in intangible ways, they are pursuing their passions and have discovered a new path to happiness.
But isn’t being a creator a complete waste of time? No, says Varun Duggirala, Co-Founder and Content Chief of Glitch, who conducted a virtual masterclass on Day 2 of TechSparks 2020, and went on to explain how being a creator influenced his day job too.
“Two years ago, I began hosting a podcast called ‘Advertising is Dead’,” he said. “I only focused on the fact that I was enjoying doing it, but eventually it helped me in my professional career too.”
Varun worked in broadcast production at MTV and Channel [V] before founding Glitch, which is now a new-age creative agency working with key platforms like Netflix, LinkedIn, Diageo, Unilever, and many more.
The creator animal
Varun urged his audience to think about their life as three different animals.
In each of us, there is a career animal, a soul animal and a creative animal, he symbolised. The soul is our character which defines who we are, while the creator animal encompasses all the random stuff we liked to do, even as kids.
“If you have to think about what your life could be as a creator, you need to think about what you would do for no money. You have to do these things because you genuinely enjoy doing it,” he explained.
Life isn’t an ‘either-or’ game. Certain things define and career, and others define your happiness. Sometimes that flips as well.
“You might be someone whose day job is to deal with art but what you like to do on the side might be something very technical. I know people who have a creative career but who like reading about history, or are financial geeks who want to read about economics though they do creative jobs during the day,” he added.
Curiosity pays you back with interest
Varun discovered that as he continued doing his podcasts, that curiosity can pay you back with interest.
“As you take up a creator gig on the side, you start learning newer things. You start thinking about stuff you can do that could enhance that, and in a weird way, as you do that, it enhances how you are in your day job,” he said.
While doing his podcast, Varun learnt from every person he interviewed on the show. That, in turn, helped him in many client meetings in his office and gave him many insights.
“This is because I am going beyond what my day job involves and it has given me something to learn. And many times, when somebody says something on the podcast, I go and read about it a little more. This opens my mind to so many opportunities in that space and that is really what learning and curiosity can do for you,” he relayed.
Point of view and feedback loops
A creator can also discover his unique point of view over time. You form well-developed ideas about the things you enjoy doing, and share these insights with others whenever possible.
“Opinions are things you shove on people but points of view are something that you throw at people so that they can throw their points of view back to you. That back and forth is what everything in life is about,” he said.
Being a creator also gives you the ability to build a feedback loop for yourself, because many times no matter what you do, you won’t get instant feedback. Even if it is negative feedback, it is priceless.
“Feedback also gives you a way to validate what you think you could be good at, and this feeds back into your job,” he added.
Focus on what you can control
Even during a time as difficult the pandemic, you can find new interests that can help you in unique ways.
“For instance, over last six months, I have been studying Stoicism and it has become a major point of focus for me,” he said. “It has taught me different ways of looking at life and work. I also did a strategy course and a comedy workshop. During the lockdown, I realised that there are some things in life you can control and some things in life you cannot. There is no point worrying about things you can’t. Focus on what you can control.”
In the question-answer session that followed, Varun talked about how our education does not encourage enough creativity, how to build a personal brand by not overdoing and over packaging yourself, learning the concept of perm-flex (which involves finding out what is permanent and what is flexible in your life), why you need to find time for yourself and your family, how to get inspiration from other content creators, how to keep taking stock on what works and what doesn’t, and much more.
The beauty of being a creator lies in the fact that it can improve your contribution to everything else. “Eventually your professional career teaches your creator life and your creator life flips it backwards,” he added.