Kristina and Self Invention - A Founder's Tipping Point

Who do you want to be? Our crush on David Bowie and Reinventing.

David Bowie reappears in our lives across continents and time zones. Weird, right?

Studying David Bowie’s life is like studying the entire history of music, except in miniature, and with more color. Historians of music tend to place constraints on periods in musical history. Most of us, for instance, think of all orchestral music in a big lump of yawn-fests, right? And we think of that lump as “Classical Music.” The whole construct is ridiculous in real life. Johann Sebastian Bach didn’t decide one day to invent a new genre of music, and Ludwig Beethoven probably never thought about being the end of an era. These are imaginary rules that historians put on the grand movements in history in retrospect, which is why the music historians reading this are forming their arguments with my definitions.

All of musical history is a natural growth and reinvention which follows human appetites and has its own natural shape.

David Bowie’s life is like that, except driven by a single mind’s intent, so you CAN say precisely that THIS is the Thin White Duke era, or whenever, because Mr. Bowie would debut this decade’s reinvention of himself, parade around with his new look for a while, and then, after a while, leap into a new scene that either he hadn’t explored or hadn’t invented yet. He had a natural way of going about it. Everything he did seemed distinctly David Bowie-like, even if it never looked anything like he had done before. He inhabited his eras so utterly that he always looked like himself, even if he never looked like anybody else.

By an unpredicted and unpredictable web of circumstances, David Bowie is sort of a bannerman for us over here at Think Digital. In our different ways and for our different reasons, he’s been an important influence in how we’ve developed, personally and professionally. We embody different lessons from him.

Kristina’s life story, which I always tell with intentional inaccuracy, is an icon of Mr. Bowie’s natural reinvention.

When I met her she appeared more or less fully formed: a marketing wizard who designed her career to create freedom for her passions. Her passions are family, pursuing creative things, and building communities to support cool stuff. Her tipping point came when she decided to design her life to bring her passions to higher importance.

Like Mr. Bowie, Kristina was “fully formed” many times throughout her life, in the sense that she reinvented herself a great many times and did so according to her own nature.

Tipping Point

The reinvention of greatest concern today is what we’re calling the Tipping Point. Since Kristina’s one of our founders, this is a good place to explain what we mean by the term.

We’ve been building a tribe for a while now. As we’ve learned about the people in it, we’ve noticed a couple trends.

Trend one: Even if they don’t work for themselves, they often have the sense of adventure that comes with an entrepreneurial spirit.

Trend two: They often have a story about a pivotal moment in their professional lives when they realized that they had their attitude toward their passion inverted, and they realized that was why they felt unsatisfied. A lot goes into this pivotal moment I’m talking about. It has a cathartic moral, which goes…

“It is the moment when I changed my mind about my passion. I changed it from, ‘someday, maybe,’ to ‘Today!’”

We call that your Tipping Point.

Everyone’s got a different story, because everyone’s lived different lives.

Kristina’s Life

Kristina is a citizen of the world. She’s lived everywhere. Her pattern of natural reinvention rose from that. She moved every couple-few years, and so inconstancy became one of the few constants in her life. When she was in her teens, she and her sister looked at each other one day, after moving for the gazillionth time in their lives, and they said, “We can be anyone we want to be!”

Since then, she has been. That year, Kristina decided to be a cheerleader. Later she turned into a theatre kid. Another time she was the editor of the school paper. Until, eventually, she reinvented herself as an “adult,” whatever that means. Unlike the rest of us, she didn’t mature into an adult: she arrived at a job interview, age 19, and they offered her the job, but asked if she was “twenty-four or something”.

“Yes,” she said.

And for all I know, she was.

She describes that job as her first “proper job.” She worked for MTV, producing the bumpers between music videos.

Every other “proper” job she’s had since then that I’ve heard about has a similar sense to it: she showed up and said, “I can do that.” Because whether she ever HAD done it or not, she knew that she could get up to speed at it.

It’s proved true. She began at MTV (and interviewed David Bowie and Dave Grohl); and since then she’s worked with a dozen more international brands, helping them strengthen their own tribes.

Pretty interesting, right?

Where are her passions, though?

Kristina told me a story once about herself. Happened when she was in her early teens. The local theatre in the town where she lived was going to get closed down. She was going to have none of that. So she printed out a bunch of handmade fliers to say “Save Our Theatre.” She strapped on her rollerblades, painted her face in clown makeup (war paint, obviously), and hit the streets. She blazed around town handing out fliers.

Save Our Theatre.

I never heard if the theatre got saved. But that kind of set the tone of her career’s passion. She attaches herself to a cause and then makes something cool to build community around it.

Which matters not one whit without the people.