A is for Amateur

F7da6cd8b30e99bf6316b7e3b2ec6cf3?s=47 Steph Troeth
June 17, 2014

A is for Amateur

In Latin languages, the root word of “Amateur” is “lover”. Yet in English, “amateur” has a rather negative connotation, where it tends to mean “not professional” or doing something “not for money”. How do we balance between “work that pays the bills”, and keeping ourselves fresh and creative? In Latin languages, the root word of “Amateur” is “lover”. Yet in English, “amateur” has a rather negative connotation, where it tends to mean “not professional” or doing something “not for money”. How do we balance between “work that pays the bills”, and keeping ourselves fresh and creative? In this talk, I share some new thinking around passion for work, and discusses the pragmatic side of loving what we do.


Steph Troeth

June 17, 2014


  1. A is for Amateur Stephanie Troeth ! Breaking Borders June

    17, 2014 Reading, UK ! @sniffles
  2. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/40589/40589-h/40589-h.htm

  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight-hour_day

  4. None
  5. None
  6. http://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-advice/how-did-this-couple-travel-and-live-in-35-cities-in-two-years/story-e6frfqfr-1226798140969 news.com.au: “How did this couple travel & live in

    35 cities in 2 years?”
  7. “So often in life you can get trapped by the

    mundane day to day routine of it all. Every day can just become a 'photocopy' of the previous day. Pretty soon you can stop being grateful and before you know it life can pass you by.” ! — Natasha Patel
  8. http://www.flickr.com/photos/classblog/5136926303/ Work vs. Leisure?

  9. We have effectively separated the ideas of “working” and “living”,

    giving birth to the concept of “earning a living”.
  10. “‘Amateurism’” is defined […] as “nonprofessional”, while “amateurish” is the

    lack of professional finish…” ! —Robert A. Stebbins, ‘Amateurs’ (1979)
  11. “There is an intellectual relationship among professionals, amateurs, and publics,

    which springs primarily from the amateurs. Having more time for such things, they can maintain broader knowledge of their activity than can most professionals…” ! —Robert A. Stebbins, ‘Amateurs’ (1979)
  12. “…Professionals are often too busy polishing techniques and making a

    living with it to find time for reading about the history of their endeavor or about forms, styles, periods or persons beyond their bailiwick.” ! —Robert A. Stebbins, ‘Amateurs’ (1979)
  13. It becomes easy to forget how to labour with love.

  14. Do what you love… or Love what you do?

  15. “Follow your passion.”

  16. Video of Cal Newport Cal Newport, World Domination Summit 2012

  17. “For most people, it's easy to be passionate about things

    that are working out, and that distorts our impression of the importance of passion.” — Scott Adams http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304626104579121813075903866
  18. “In hindsight, it looks as if the projects that I

    was most passionate about were also the ones that worked. But objectively, my passion level moved with my success. Success caused passion more than passion caused success.” — Scott Adams http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304626104579121813075903866
  19. “My hypothesis is the model that works instead is: pick

    something interesting —if there are 9 things that interesting to you, throw a dart — get good at something rare and valuable, while your friends are switching jobs 9 times ‘cos they don’t love it in the first week…” — Cal Newport
  20. “… take advantage of that and get good at something,

    to focus down, to do the satisfying work of craftsmanship, to build up an actual ability. And once you have it, that’s where you apply the courage to use it as leverage to gain the traits that matter to you.” — Cal Newport
  21. If love and passion needs ‘work’, what can we do

    to keep the flame alive?
  22. Getting good at something.

  23. Kathy Sierra on Mastery:

  24. Models to show what “good” means. https://www.flickr.com/photos/maru3/3692777541/

  25. Practising and rehearsing http://www.flickr.com/photos/mysnapps/3954210522/ Edge practice (getting good at the

    right things)
  26. Forward flow: keep on keeping on. http://giphy.com/gifs/wQI5H4jtqZEPK

  27. Going deep vs going broad.

  28. Stealing from the Growth Share Matrix Relative Market Share High

    Low High Low Growth rate € $ £ ability to generate cash ?
  29. “The trouble with this colourful schema is that classifying businesses

    in this way can be self- fulfilling. Knowing that you are working for a dog is not particularly motivating, whereas working for an acknowledged star usually is. Moreover, some companies misjudge when industries are mature. This may lead them to decide that businesses are to be treated as cash cows when they are in fact stars.” ! —“The Economist Guide to Management Ideas and Gurus”, Tim Hindle http://www.economist.com/node/14299055
  30. What if we turn the Growth Share Matrix into a

    map of our lives, projects & work?
  31. ? Satisfaction Stability € $ £ High Low High Low

  32. ? Interestingness Investment € $ £ High Low High Low

  33. Option 1 Option 2 Option 3 Great people 4 3

    5 Interesting work 1 5 2 Well-located 1 2 4 Good money 4 3 1 … Total points emotional emotional rational rational Choosing with a Decision Matrix
  34. Experiment http://www.flickr.com/photos/acrider/4124977525/ (no such thing as a bad/ failed experiment)

  35. Play http://www.flickr.com/photos/acrider/4124977525/

  36. http://www.flickr.com/photos/acrider/4124977525/ Experimentation is structured play.

  37. The El Bulli vs The Sagmeister

  38. Time-boxing http://www.flickr.com/photos/tcp909/4004808621/ (stop and move on)

  39. Be a perpetual amateur to be a better professional.

  40. Narkis Narkis Alon, Co-Founder of Elevation Academy, Lift 2014

  41. Universal Theory of Undying Love (by induction method)

  42. Be in love tomorrow Forever will take care of itself.

    Be in love today
  43. Thank you! ! ! @sniffles