After the interview with Monique, I asked her if she knew a person which she wanted to know more about. It ended up being her former co-worker Mario.
Mario is a creative working passionately with his podcast
among other things. In this interview we talk about how he came to know Monique, his passion for podcasts and how he evolve with them.

Happy 1st December, what better way to start of this month, than by an evening read.

First of all, why do you think Monique chose you?

Monique is a dear friend, a talented collaborator, and a former colleague. We worked together at Kinfolk, and that’s how we met. I think that in a lot of ways, we are kindred spirits.

What’s your background and what are you working with today?

I’m a creative professional working in the fields of graphic design, art direction, photography, and creative consulting. Over the years, I had the privilege of working with companies such as Kinfolk, MENU, SPACE10, Harvard GSD, Ouur Collection, and The Audo.  Currently, I’m focusing on my two initiatives – Studio8585 and CREATIVE.VOYAGE. Studio8585 is my creative practice dedicated to producing elegant and beautiful solutions for clients, which include brand identities, content, websites, printed matter, and other bespoke communication assets. CREATIVE.VOYAGE is an educational platform with a mission to help creative professionals level up. The first project on the platform is the Creative Voyage Podcast, a long-form interview show which is edited and produced by me. In the podcast, I present in-depth interviews with some of the world’s most inspiring creative professionals revealing the stories that shaped their lives and careers to help fellow creatives and myself take our mindset and skills to the next level.

Kinfolk almost sounds like a hub where creative and likeminded people come to work sometime and then leave to start on their own?

Kinfolk, as a community, has some core values which do attract certain types of (creative) people, which makes it unique, at least in my experience. It’s about being intentional and also a doer, therefore it’s only natural that environment nurtures that path. So, I agree with your observation. My experience there was invaluable, and most definitely expanded my horizons, pushed me into new avenues, and gave me the confidence to try new, braver feats.

Some of Mario’s work for Kinfolk.

What draw you to start working at Kinfolk?

It was a combination of things. At the time, I wasn’t entirely familiar with the brand, but the aesthetic and messages resonated in some way, enough to send them my portfolio. I’m originally from Croatia and have lived there for three decades of my life. As a young professional, ever since finishing my studies, I’ve dreamt of trying to live and work somewhere else, and when the opportunity with Kinfolk showed up, it was clear that’s going to be my next step. Working on amazing projects there, moving to Copenhagen, and hanging out with the lovely people in the Kinfolk universe, influenced me greatly, and hopefully for the better (haha).

Some of Mario’s work for Kinfolk.

Do you have a project so far, that you are most proud of?

Most definitely, it’s the CREATIVE.VOYAGE. Throughout my life, I’ve been trying to figure out solutions to the obstacles I’ve encountered, be it something personal, relational, or in my career. Through my explorations, I’ve come to experience that there are strategies, tactics, and tools which can help with most creative-, business- or life challenges.I’ve become, and still am, obsessed with that. It all boils down to growth, self-betterment, responsibility, and simply trying to live the best life I can live. In the Creative Voyage Podcast, I attempt to explore and share those ideas with fellow creatives. I’m basically trying to have meaningful and honest conversations about things that matter to creative professionals.

What aspired you to create the podcast?

I love podcasts and audio content generally, such as audiobooks. I think it’s a fascinating, game-changing medium, partly because it can be consumed while doing other things. And in today’s world, where we always are doing something, finding time for reading, learning, and self-betterment can be hard. With audiobooks and podcasts, you can transform your commute or apartment clean up to a learning session.
On a personal note, podcasts played a crucial role for me in a difficult period of my life. It was a few years before moving to Copenhagen. I was an almost broke independent professional, and at the same time, not shining in my personal relationships as well. At the time, I’ve started listening to some podcasts while I was working as a lone freelancer and began soaking in fantastic strategic and tactical advice which was shared. Plus, I was feeling way less lonely, since there would be other people (from the podcast) talking “in the room.” Being somewhat of a nerd, I’ve naturally started experimenting and implementing some of those insights, and looking back to it, I believe it helped me tremendously, alongside other things, to get out of that hard period.

Work for Menu

Those experiences and my general sense that I’ve been blessed with so many things in life prompted in me an urge to try to give back similarly, by providing (hopefully) something useful to someone when they feel stuck, lost, lacking inspiration, or proper guidance.At the same time, being an avid learner, the podcast also satisfies those selfish urges. I get to speak and pick the brains of amazing creative professionals. That’s priceless, and I’m so grateful for all my guests who share their honest thoughts. Also, I’m coming from an introverted, socially anxious background, and am a non-native English speaker, so the podcast became a challenge to grow and be humbled in those domains. I get to work on my thinking, writing, speaking, and a myriad of soft skills, which I believe are crucial for a satisfying life.

Work for Menu

Which lessons from the interviews you have done so far, has inspired you the most?

There’s too many to give them its proper due. One of the benefits of doing this project is talking about those lessons and experiences, but then also going back to it in the editing process, and reviewing, relistening, finding the most intriguing nuggets. It’s when I learn the most. Generally, I’m trying to implement almost everything my guests shared, and for those who aren’t familiar with the podcast, I’d suggest starting with the recently published Best of Season 1 episode, which gives insight-packed overview of the strategic, tactical, and inspirational advice all of the 12 guests gave at the end of each interview.

Here, I’d like to mention a recent lesson which really stuck for me. It was shared by Jonathan Chmelensky, the principal dancer with The Royal Danish Ballet, in an interview I did earlier this year, in front of a live audience during 3daysofdesign 2019. The episode is still being edited, and it’s released in the coming months, but I’ll share the lesson anyway, paraphrased, of course.

Ballet dancer Jonathan Chmelensky

As a professional ballet dancer, Jonathan has such a strict regimen, subdued to optimizing his performance. At the same time, his performance is so embodied. How he feels matters and can impact his execution. We were discussing that, and then Jonathan shared his realization that at this point in his career, how he performs on his “bad” days is one of the important considerations. What I got from it is that how you show up when you don’t feel like it, makes you a professional and it’s something you can always work on and improve. During that interview, I felt quite off because of a personal thing on my mind, and Jonathan mentioning that lesson was a pure serendipitous moment that really stuck with me.

Its quite inspiring how you’ve worked with yourself, both on a personal and professional plan. How have you stayed motivated in the tough times?

Thank you. In a way, these times motivate me the most. Pain instructs, to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin. In my experience, most often, change and growth will be provoked by a significant portion of suffering. And then, next step is the self-reflection. As Ray Dalio puts it in his book Principles, “Pain + Reflection = Progress.” It was the accumulated pain, to the point of frustration, the itch of wanting something better, coupled with good mentors (through podcasts and books) plus self-reflection that instigated real change during those days of both emotional and financial almost-bankruptcy.

Another thing which had a considerable influence on me, and helps me when things get hard, is stoicism. I discovered it during the same troubled period through one of the podcasts I was listening to, featuring the interview with Ryan Holiday on his book about stoicism, “The Obstacle Is the Way.

Stoicism and the word stoic can have an unfavorable cultural connotation of being emotionless or cold, but that’s a modern misappropriation of the terms. Founded in Athens in the early 3rd century BC, stoicism was famously practiced by the likes of Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius. The philosophy asserts that virtue (such as wisdom) is happiness, and judgment should be based on behavior, rather than words. And most importantly, that we don’t control and cannot rely on external events, only ourselves and our responses to them.

To be fair, I think a big part of staying motivated and having a capacity for radical change (and self-help books, haha) comes down to how a person is wired. That can certainly be influenced, but predispositions are real. When it comes to that, a big part of what helps me, I believe, is having what Carol Dweck calls a “growth mindset” (versus a “fixed mindset”). Carol Dweck is a pioneering researcher in the field of motivation and why people succeed or don’t. In her book Mindset, Dweck writes, “in the growth mindset, failure can be a painful experience. But it doesn’t define you. It’s a problem to be faced, dealt with, and learned from.” I try to cultivate and remind myself of that as much as possible. Still, that growth mindset is a foundation I have received as a gift from my dear parents, a few fantastic school teachers, and probably a myriad of other sources I’m not aware of.

For both daily dose of motivation, as well as a reservoir of what seems to be unlimited wisdom on life, leadership, and creation, I often turn to the greatest of them all, Seth Godin. I’m subscribed to his daily blog, (re)read his books, take his courses, listen to his podcast. Whenever I’m lacking motivation, I just turn to Seth.

Do you find yourself in the place where you want to be?

I’d say I do, but it comes with a but (haha). The expression in your question suggests that there is such a place, almost like a secure location, and I don’t believe in that. I certainly feel more integrated and aligned. It’s about the balance, but the balance for me is not a fixed point; it’s an act. Which means I explore both sides of the scale. Sometimes I even examine the extremes. But I continually try to self-reflect and asses where I am, how that serves the people around me, and myself, to try to remain or get back into that sweet spot. It’s in that dancing, not being stuck in one dance move for too long, where I find fulfillment.

Thank you for your story and time Mario!