You picture all the food you have to eat over your lifetime gathered together into one massive pile. You think you can’t possibly eat all that. But broken down into three meals a day, every day for the rest of your life, you eventually do.
Keith Turner has worked for almost 20 years as a creative professional, most of them in Advertising. He has worked as an Art Director, Illustrator, Storyboard Artist, and 3D Artist for many different companies including Leo Burnett, Chiat Day, C/net, and Wong Doody Crandall Wiener.
Before going off to work for himself, Keith was a serial employee. He is not always comfortable being an employee, and is definitely not comfortable with the word ‘serial’ being used to describe him in any way.
What are you working on right now?
An iPad productivity app for creative professionals called Keep It Together. It allows people to organize and group information in a more intuitive, analog manner: http://kck.st/RIRvaL
Where did the idea for Keep It Together come from?
It came to me when I was working on my short film, “Apocalypse Later, Surf Now“. Since I was doing everything myself, I needed to learn three new graphics programs and a lot of new techniques. As such, I gathered a large amount of information that I kept in a variety of different places because they were all different types of files. Predictably, I would lose track of some of the info and rack my brain trying to remember where I put it.
This wasn’t the first time this kind of thing happened to me, just the most recent. So I started thinking about a different way to handle and store information that was more project-oriented.
What does your typical day look like?
There is no typical day, since on this current project (up to this point) and my previous film project I’ve been doing everything. What I do during the day depends on what stage in the project I’m on.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Chunking. The short film seemed like an insurmountable task when I looked at where I was compared it to where I wanted to be. But when I broke it down to all the manageable parts and gave myself a reasonable deadline, I actually finished it a little ahead of schedule.
I would remind myself of something I read once: You picture all the food you have to eat over your lifetime gathered together into one massive pile. You think you can’t possibly eat all that. But broken down into three meals a day, every day for the rest of your life, you eventually do.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I’ll look at this one from a macro level and mention how the meteoric rise of technology has corresponded with the dramatic weakening of cultural wedge issues that politicians used to use to divide us. I’m not naive enough to believe technology will bring us a social utopia, but it is helping to move us in the right direction.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
When I was in college, my summer job was working at an amusement park drawing caricatures and pastel portraits of tourists. This was in the south, where it gets very muggy and humid. The costumes we had to wear felt like they were made out of burlap. We got paid $2/hr and 25¢ for each drawing. And the bosses were total jackholes.
Like a lot of people, I goofed off a lot during my first year of college. What I learned from this job was that more jobs like this were waiting for me after college if I didn’t take it more seriously.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Meditate. Twice a day, every day. Whether you’re angry, anxious, creatively blocked, or just fatigued. It really is like pushing the reset button.
And who knows? You might become one of the happiest people in the world like this guy. Though that hasn’t happened to me yet. And that really pisses me off.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
This is for a restaurant and it’s an area that I have no expertise in, so bear with me.
It seems to me that you can pair hot sauce with food similar to how you pair wine with food. So how about a restaurant where the only thing on the menu is a big list of hot sauces. The only choice the patron gets to make is what hot sauces they want to try. The chef will then give them some dishes, tapas style, that he has decided pairs well with the hot sauces they’ve chosen. Since hot sauce aficionados are generally adventurous eaters, they won’t be too picky about what they eat and would enjoy being surprised when they eat out. You could even have fun with the fact that diners have no choice in the food they receive by giving the restaurant a faux-totalitarian theme.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
Remove financial barriers to education. If we truly believe in equality of opportunity, then those wishing to better themselves shouldn’t have to go into debtor’s prison to do it.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I grew up on a small farm. When I was learning to drive, I hit a barn.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
Google and DropBox. Don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of these companies yet–I’m pretty bleeding edge. But keep an eye out for them, they’re gonna be big when the rest of the world catches up to me.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Singularity is Near. Ray Kurzweil makes the case for how technology is advancing much faster than most people think it is. Not only is our technology improving at an exponential rate, but the exponent by which it is increasing is also increasing at an exponential rate. It will be amazing to see where we are in 20 years. I can’t wait to have nanobots coursing through my veins repairing my body from the inside, because frankly, I plan to do some damage in there.
Also, Imagine: How Creativity Works. For entrepreneurs, the reasons for reading this should be self-explanatory. Though there are some issues with the author’s ‘creative’ attribution of quotes, there are still many important themes to glean from the book.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
Bruce Bartlett. He’s an economist and historian, and is one of those rare people who is interested in what works rather than adhering to rigid ideology. He’s paid a political price for his independence, but in my estimation he has been vindicated. He sets a good example for any entrepreneur in his willingness to reevaluate his approach to solving problems and adapt to changing times.
Wonkette. Because I love snark.
Good magazine. Because they highlight great, innovative ideas that also intend to make the world a better place.
Mario Schulzke. Because this is the part of the interview where I kiss your ass.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
My dog. She is a pit bull (American Staffordshire), the most misunderstood and wrongfully maligned breed ever. She’s fully grown and yet still very much like a goofy, playful puppy. So when she acts like a four month old puppy in the body of a full-grown, musclebound pit bull, the result is pretty funny.
Who is your hero?
I have many. Kurt Vonnegut, because he carved out such a unique style that to this day people still don’t know whether to categorize him under Literature or Science Fiction. And he remained inventive and humble through most of his long career. Francis Ford Coppolla, because after the second Godfather he could have just retired and rested on his laurels, but instead he looted his own fortune and almost killed himself making his next masterpiece. Steve Jobs and Nikola Tesla because they were brilliant and changed the times they lived in (though they were not without major personal failings). Matthieu Ricard, because he gave up what could have been a comfortable scientific career to pursue something important to him that was wildly different. Duke Kahanamoku, the Olympic champion swimmer who personified aloha spirit and introduced surfing to the rest of the world.
Keith Turner’s Website: keithturneronline.com
Keith Turner on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KeithHusseinTurner
Keith Turner on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/keith-turner/37/a87/865/