What do you do for a living now and where do you work?
I’m extremely blessed to be writing code and working with the YouVersion team on the Bible App. I get to help make the Bible available to people all over the world, by writing code! This is definitely a dream job and I work with the best people around.
Now that you are “grown up”, who or what inspires you the most?
I think I’m inspired less these days by specific ‘role model’ type people and much more by the things around me in life in general. My wife inspires me to be a better me. I’m inspired a lot by the work I get to do and the stories from people and friends around me in life.
Creatively, it’s a collective of people and groups – bands, artists, designers, etc. Fifteen minutes on the Internet has more than enough cool stuff to keep anyone inspired. It’s what you do with the inspiration you already have that makes any kind of difference.
How do you stay creative? Or, what ways do you seek to be more creative?
Read, do, and then become part of a community that gives you real feedback. Write music. Even bad music. Sometimes you have to get all of the bad ideas out of the way before the good ones will come. That means play a lot. “Creativity” is definitely found in a state of play (there’s research to show this) and play is inhibited by fear. So do whatever it takes to get to a place where you can tune out the haters (even the one in your head) and just generate some stuff. Some of it will be downright awful, but that’s okay. You don’t have to share everything — but you do have to practice being creative.
It’s so easy to devour tons of “inspiring” information or content these days. I try to stay active by putting some stuff into motion, tinkering/hacking on things, etc. Also, finding people I trust that will call me out on my blind spots. There are places, even in my personal life, where I need to be more creative, and I’ll never grow in that area if I don’t have someone I trust to point it out.
What’s been the coolest thing you’ve been able to do in your life so far?
Have I mentioned that I’m bad with superlatives? I’ve been in a band, have a job that changes lives, and I am able to work hard enough to be free enough to do so many other things I love. Coming onto the YouVersion team has definitely been one of my favorite things, for sure.
What’s the one thing you’d like to accomplish in your profession?
I’d like to continually get better! I get to do a lot of cool stuff, but I’m well aware that there’s still a lot to learn, and I want to learn it. I also love to help people out, and so I’m hoping to do some more “consulting” in the coming year. I’m not crazy about that term, but I’m not sure what else to call it at the moment. I’ve learned a lot of lessons, and I have a lot of stuff in my head, and I love to share it with folks that are getting started on the internet, building their first business, and so forth. So one thing – help other people.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I would turn to my wife and ask where she wanted to go. That’s where and why we’d go there. =)
Do you read a lot? If so, what authors or bloggers do you like most and how do they inspire you creatively or just in general?
I wish I could say yes, but I know some folks that read WAY more than I do, so I just can’t. I highly recommend it, though! There are some standard books that I recommend regularly:
- “Axiom”, by Bill Hybels. He knows a lot, and shares it in bite size chunks. I think I’d love to write something half as useful as this some day.
- “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” and “Death by Meeting” by Patrick Lencioni. Very valuable information about working with other humans, on teams.
- “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. Easy read and not just a marriage book. Great information in here about the psychology of people in general.
As for blogs: I read so much on the Internet. I’ll just recommend Micahael Hyatt’s blog (http://michaelhyatt.com/). He has a lot of good information on leadership, publishing, and marketing.
What advice do you have for creatives who are reading this article?
- Know yourself. Take some evaluations, do Strengths Finder 2.0, and get involved with some people that will give you real feedback.
- Be yourself. One of the best examples of this I’ve heard was about music, and used Chris Cornell (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Cornell) of Soundgarden. He has an extremely unique singing voice. He didn’t bother trying to sound like other popular singers at the time. He did his thing. Find your own style, or sound, or what-have-you, and run with it! (Just remember, you can’t be yourself unless you know yourself).
- Go and do. Try stuff out! I’ve personally seen many young people avoiding doing some seriously rewarding work because of (what I perceive to be) fear of failure. If you’re not sure what you want to do, you can at least try a bunch of things and determine what you don’t want to do. Before you find yourself trapped in the death spiral of “not enough time, not enough money, not enough…” just make some things happen. Take your time and learn from your mistakes. You will make them! So why worry?
- Learn, don’t just read and be “inspired”.
This concludes our two part interview series with Tommy George, software engineer for YouVersion. I hope this interview afforded you the opportunity to look into the life of another creative and grab hold of some valuable life lessons. One of the things Tommy said that stuck out to me most was “become part of a community that gives you real feedback.” As a video editor, I am always striving to be better. For me, this will look like showing other video editors my work and having them critique it. What does becoming part of a community look like for you?
What steps can you take this week to get to know yourself better? In what ways will you “go and do” instead of being trapped by fear?
“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” – Milton Berle