Alex Pappas, On Making a Difference

alex pappas

So many in my peer group truly want to work on positive things, to create a better world, yet the options are far too few! We have the troops, but we seem to be lacking the leaders—the people and the companies that can lead us toward attainable "good" goals. And well, if not us—the educated and enthusiastic ones who wish to help—then who?"

I had fun, learned a lot, and made a lot of money working at a company that gave me many opportunities. When I left, it felt like I was letting down the other people on the team. But I think that kind of lifestyle made me soft and made it easy to ignore the things that really matter.

I've made a conscious decision to change the things I work on and the way I spend my time.

As I reflect on my change in priorities, I'm surprised to learn how much I had begun to identify myself with my job. When you tell someone you're a toy designer, chances are you're the first one they've ever met, and they all think it's the most amazing thing in the world. And for someone who went to art school and who always doodled in class, it felt like a huge achievement to turn thinking of ideas and drawing them into a monetizable skill. I am still proud of it, but too much of that came to define me.

My job began to separate from the lifestyle I wanted and the things I believe in. Although I worked on some projects that did add value, most didn't. And it's not that company's—or any company's—fault. It's just the nature of working in industry, which is in the business of mass-producing stuff. I started to question—if we don't need a new version of that thing, why are we making one?

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