The Millennial PhD: Creative Survival at Work & Beyond

Ep 36. Collective Creative Wisdom + Happy One Year Anniversary to The Millennial PhD!

October 19, 2022 Carmela Season 3 Episode 36
The Millennial PhD: Creative Survival at Work & Beyond
Ep 36. Collective Creative Wisdom + Happy One Year Anniversary to The Millennial PhD!
Show Notes Transcript

This ANNIVERSARY episode is jam packed with creative ideas and inspiration that hit home over the last year. We got us! And this gathering of collective creative wisdom showcases that.

This episode features samples from:
Episode 2, ft. Dr. Nikita T. Hamilton
Episode 6, ft. Angelica Beliard
Episode 8, ft. Alyson Cadena
Episode 21, ft. Fitgi Saint-Louis
Episode 33, ft. Dr. Christine Koh

The Creative Visions program helps artists, entrepreneurs, and (recovering) academics bring a creative project or business from idea to reality. Learn more here.

Interested in starting your own podcast? I host The Millennial Phd on Buzzsprout and I love it because, for me, it was the easiest and most user-friendly podcast hosting site. Follow this link to sign up, and you'll automatically get a $20 Amazon gift card included in your sign up; plus, it helps support The Millennial PhD. Happy podcasting!

Support the show

Dr. Carmela Muzio Dormani - aka your host, Mela - is a sociologist, dancer, and creative consultant.

Learn more about Mela and get access to creative resources at

The Millennial PhD is all about building community. Join the conversation:
- Connect with Mela on IG @melamuzio
- Follow @themillennialphd for up-to-date info on the podcast & blog.
- Email with feedback.

Speaker 1 (00:09):

Welcome to the millennial PhD, a podcast about creative survival and beyond. My name is Dr. Carmela Muzio Domani, and I'm a sociologist, dancer and creative consultant from New York. In these episodes, you'll find inspiration, ideas, and actionable tips for building new pathways forward in work and life. You'll hear from artists, activists, creative entrepreneurs, PhDs, and professional pivoters. We talk about radical humanity and practical steps to follow your dreams even in the context of challenging social conditions. Before we jump into today's episode, a quick reminder to follow the millennial PhD on Instagram and to please take a minute to rate and a review the millennial PhD on Apple podcasts. Your rating really helps the show reach as many listeners as possible. You can learn more about me and get access to free creative resources on the millennial PhD Instagram page I hope you enjoyed the episode. 

Welcome back to the millennial PhD. This is your host me, and this is a very special episode because it is our one year anniversary episode. So I'm super excited. It's been such an incredible year. And of course I took the opportunity to reflect a little bit on the inspiration and ideas that have been shared on the podcast across these dozens of interviews, and hopefully in some of the solo episodes as well, on some of the new relationships that I've been able to form, either with folks who came on the show or just communicating with, with people who have listened to the episodes across creative industries who are looking to build brighter and better futures for themselves and their communities. And that's brought me a lot of peace this year just exploring the multitude of paths that people are building and the care and intention that's being brought to those paths. 

It's also been an opportunity over the last year for skills building and personal growth for me in terms of creative visioning, strategic planning, a little bit of storytelling, obviously a little bit of editing, a lot of bit of editing, and some copywriting. And that's been, like I said, a great growth opportunity for me the first time doing a full solo podcast to kind of work out what, what works, what works with my values, what is the info that I wanna put out into the world, what is the vibe that I wanna put out into the world? And it's also been really exciting to build tools to help share those skills with others, right? Which is really what it's all about. So I have lots of new stuff on the horizon for this coming year, but I do do wanna use this episode mainly as an opportunity to reflect on the last year. 

And what I've done is it's a little bit of a different epi, different format for the episode. And I've pulled out five pieces of creative inspiration that really hit over the last year. So I'll be playing some short clips from previous interviews and then giving my 2 cents on some of those conversations and some of the reflections that emerged. And in most cases, the themes that came out were not just mentioned ones, even though I will, I will play these clips where some of the ideas came out, a lot of times some of the same things came up more than once across different interviews. And they came up more than once for me as I was strategizing and planning for the solo episodes. So I hope we enjoy, I've pulled out five major pieces of advice back slash creative inspiration, guidance, however you wanna think of it. 

And here they are jumping right in. The first one that I've pulled out a little bit and reflected on myself quite a bit is that we all come to this in different ways and at different times. Okay? And the this, in that statement is your creative journey. Maybe it's a business that you're trying to build, maybe it's a vision that you have for yourself. Maybe it's a particular project that you're trying to make work or a new pathway that you're, you're guiding yourself onto right now. And there's so much pressure to adhere to an idea of what the normal quote, unquote normal pathway into that is. And a lot of times that pressure can stop us, right? In our paths, and then we don't take the steps forward. But the reality is that our experiences, our life experiences, however varied they may be. Our creative experiences, they contribute to our voice and what we put out into the world. 

So nobody can really do what you're gonna do, right? Nobody can be you. No can bring your voice and your experiences to your art, to your business, to your creative work, to your career, whatever it may be. So to reflect on this or have a great clip from, I think it was one of our very early episodes, maybe episode two or three, with Dr. Nikita t Hamilton, who completed her PhD and then left academia to ripe for television. And she's been incredibly successful. And she says, Your journey is your journey and your path is your path. So let's roll the clip. 

Speaker 2 (05:27):

In the grand scheme of things, I'm like, some things are gonna take a little bit more time and that's okay. And like your a shouldn't be the thing that you're ruminating on right now. It should be like, how are you building your skills? How are you doing this thing? And still today, I have to sometimes have those conversations with myself where I'm like, Your career is going at the pace your career is supposed to go at. Now that's necess to say you don't call things out when you think something is ridiculous, <laugh>, sure. But it's like you, I think we're in a society that is so like age and time obsessed. Yeah. That it, it's, it's different like when you're seeing people who are like, Oh, and then so and so got extra job in at 18 or like 19 and you're made to feel like you're behind the ball, right? That's just like not the truth of the matter. And that's gonna happen. And it's just like you have to embrace that your journey is your journey. Your path is your path. And because of how you came into it, no one can write the way you can. 

Speaker 1 (06:29):

So it is incredibly tempting to look around and feel like we're behind or out of place, but your unique experience is gonna shape the perspective that you're bringing to your work. Again, whether it's a creative vision or business that you're looking to start or a new professional project or an artistic passion. And I loved how Nikita and I were able to, to chat and kind of talk on the nose about the question of age because, and this wasn't the only interview where that came up, but a lot of times we have this anxiety around arriving too late or starting something too late. And so much of that comes down to this super, super narrow version of what is quote unquote successful, or what the quote unquote normal or quote unquote right path is for something. But we have the ability to continue to morph and evolve and change throughout our lives, right? 

One pathway forward is really not the case for most people anymore. And even if it were, that wouldn't matter, right? Because you can build whatever is gonna work for you. And Nikita was talking about how obsessed we are as a society with age and time. And in a lot of ways that's understandable, right? And I've definitely felt that coming to certain things later than I wish that I had, whether in dance or in starting a business or any of some of the creative projects that I've tried to pursue. But the idea and the message of embracing the path that we're on now and living in the moment that we're in now and enjoying really enjoying the journey. I know that that can be a little bit of a trite piece of quote unquote advice or inspiration, but it really meaningfully shifts the entire perspective on a creative journey or even on the, on, on an entrepreneurship journey. 

Because there's never really gonna be a point in most cases where many of us feel like, Oh, there it is, I've arrived. It's perfect <laugh>. I mean, I'm doing awesome. And I hope we do take those moments to embrace, to embrace our progress and to big up ourselves. But the reality is, a lot of times we're going to feel like we're continually striving. So reorienting the way that we think and feel in relation to our journeys and our pathways has to center enjoying the, the path itself, the work itself, the progress itself. Otherwise, it's always gonna be out of reach. And for the academics and recovering academics, list listening, we know that that's something that's really deeply baked into academia specifically. And I'm sharing to a lot of other professions, the idea and, and even into dance and the arts. But the idea that, oh, there's these milestones and once you hit this one, you can rest. 

And once you hit that one, you can really, then you can work on what you want, right? And it's never quite as satisfying when we arrive at those markers as maybe we had hoped. So embrace the journey and embrace where you're at in it and what you can bring to it. That powerful piece about having the time to develop our voices, your perspectives, the different experiences that have been woven into your life and shaped you, that means that you're gonna bring something special to whatever creative project that you're doing. Okay? So the next piece of big creative inspiration that I wanna focus on this episode is the idea of starting to create the life that you want before it's already there. And this is a little bit connected with the, the previous one about enjoying the path. And this is something that comes out of an interview, also, one of our earlier interviews with Angelica Beliard, who is an Afro-Latina dancer and actor. 

And she identifies primarily as an artist more than anything else. And she's been on Broadway multiple times. I was really inspired by her perspective on living the path that you want before it is all the way arrived, right? Of course, we can't control everything. There's gonna be a lot of factors outside of our control. And maybe this just means in one or two small interventions in your life, one or two small ways of shifting the way that we're moving through the world. But in a lot of ways, this is all about preparing yourself for the success when it arrives. A lot of times we're focused on the success, however you define it, the success that we want to come. And then when it arrives, we're not all the, all the way ready for it. Okay? So let's roll the clip. 

Speaker 3 (11:18):

I am all for following dreams. A thousand percent. I would say plan, and be very intentional about how you spend your days, how you are carving into your craft or your artistry. And not in a way of like, you have to think about it, 34 8. Um, but you know, le I think you really have, if you wanna cultivate that, you have to start implementing in every little bit of what you do. I think dance has definitely taught me that like how you do one thing is how you do everything. And it, everything is all connected in the body. And I think it's the same way out in life. So it's like you gotta align yourself out with how you spend your time, how you're spending your energy. Are you around people that do what you do? Are you finding resources that can help you along the way? 

Having a great team around you? Um, which, you know, it works for any, uh, any career path. You know, they're kind of universal principles, but I think you have to go out and search for them and, you know, start creating that image that you, not the image, but creating that life that you want. You have to begin to change the way you function and then watch how it all kind of unfolds around you. And then, then take it like, cuz it's your everybody, everybody has the opportunity to do exactly what it is that they wanna do. But I think we have to, we have to change our perceptions first so that we can accept it when it comes. 

Speaker 1 (13:09):

How you do one thing is how you do everything. Preparing yourself for the success that you're trying to bring into your life and starting to live the life that you wanna create. Now, those themes really, really resonated with me because the temptation is there, or the inclination, maybe not temptation, but the inclination is there to put it off, put off the life that you wanna lead, put off the embodiment of the dream in some ways and say, Well, when we get there, when I get to this level of success, then I'm gonna act like a real professional dancer. When I get to, when I get published for the first time, then I'm gonna tell, start telling people I'm a writer. When I book my first gig, I'm gonna tell people I'm an actor. When I booked four or five clients, I'm gonna say that I really have a business and so on and so forth. 

And it's not that I'm saying to be deceptive in what you're doing in your creative life or your business or your professional life, but it is this idea of stepping into that pathway and getting used to walking along it so that when it does arrive for you, you know how to move. So I love that. And it was, it was a very different perspective for me. And I think that it, it, it, it's a perspective shift that a lot of us could use. Okay, our next piece of special creative inspiration advice comes from an interview with Allison Cena, who is a powerhouse singer songwriter. She's also an actor. She's also a pod, uh, podcast host. Now I think she's hosting multiple podcasts at this point that's developed in the time since she was originally on the show. And this one can really be best explained by Ali herself. So I'm going to jump right into the clip. 

Speaker 4 (15:14):

I have a job and I'm never ashamed to say that, that, you know, I have a job because there's something that I get from, from that job and that's that financial security and like that fulfillment in my life. But then there's so many things that I meet in other ways and I always, sometimes I get to talk to like younger folks, um, pursuing the arts. And I tell 'em like, you gotta think of your life as an outfit and you can spend hundreds of dollars on the best shirt, but if your sneakers are raggedy and like the pants don't match, you know what I mean? What was the point? You look crazy. So I feel like I know I, I'm, so, I have the weirdest like, um, what's the word I'm looking for? Analogies. That's the word I'm looking for now. It was like analogies, there's a word it's coming to, I have the weirdest analogies to understand things. I love this one. But <laugh>, yeah, I'm like, what was the point of of of buying that Gucci bell if it's holding up, you know, shorts that have a hole in them, you know? So, um, I I, music combined with my job, combined with my family, combined with now being able to pursue acting, um, combined with even the plants that I buy for my apartment, is like making that like perfect outfit. Um, for me, 

Speaker 1 (16:33):

I loved her unique take on this, which is basically you need to build the life that works for you holistically, right? And for those of us from working class backgrounds, that can be really helpful in releasing the pressure of especially pursuit of very challenging fields, whether they be in the arts or in any new professional endeavor, right? That, that idea that the one thing, like the passion or the creative journey or the business that you're starting has to be awesome. It has to be your whole life. It has to provide for you economically and creatively and artistically and socially is, you know, oftentimes not gonna, not gonna work out like that, at least right away, right? So your art can be just part of this holistic way that you're building your life. Your business can be just one part of that. Your professional path definitely can be just one part of that. 

So Allison had this awesome analogy of building your life, putting it together like it's an outfit, okay? And everything has to, it has to kind of go together. And it's not in the clip that was just played, but she also talks about it, it has to match up a little bit, right? It's like maybe the job that you're taking right now allows you to build your other vision on the side, or it allows, allows you time to build your business where it allows you time to go to dance rehearsal or singing lessons or pursue your other passions in a different way. So I thought this was great. Super unique advice from Allison Kadena. Our next big piece of creative inspiration from year one is trust in your dream, in your vision. And go for it while you have that intuition and that energy. Sometimes we just gotta get started. Okay? And the clip for this one comes from Fiji St. Louis, who is a multidisciplined creative and voiceover actor, currently working as a freelance experiential art director. She's also an adjunct professor at the school of Visual Arts SBA in New York. And by the way, she just had her first solo gallery exhibition in Harlem, which I got to see. And it was absolutely stunning. So let's hear from Fiji. 

Speaker 5 (18:59):

I guess my space is coming from like the advice of trusting in your, I don't wanna say dream per se, but for me, I felt like there was a point where I wish I would've pushed myself out into this world a little sooner. And I was afraid of either mistakes or what the possibility of like whatever a definition of failure was. And when I realized, especially then with the pandemic, how fluctuating things could be for anyone, then it just seemed like if you feel like you have that intent, you have an itch to do something different or to expand, then act on that while you have that because you don't wanna lose it. And the worst is you can go back to whatever it was you were probably doing before. I don't think you're gonna lose out a hundred percent on what was there. So whether it's in design or voiceover or freelance, try it. And if it doesn't work, you can always switch it up. I think nothing is finite. And you can have that ability to say, I thought I wanted to do this, I tried it, I love it, I hate it, whatever the case is. But then, you know, you can move forward from that possibility of what is going to happen next. 

Speaker 1 (20:21):

I've been really struck this year by that idea of jumping and do it. And as Fiji says, if it doesn't work out, you can continue to move forward, find an alternate path. But this theme of you have to get in the deep end and go for it at some point was present in a lot of the interviews I had this year. It's something that I'm working hard to live out myself in my own creative practice and business. And it's something that I'm working on with clients, working out the how, what does that look like for your business, for your life, for your project. And it's so tempting to kind of get stuck in the planning stage or get stuck in the thinking about it stage or have this idea that's sitting in your, in your body, you know, it's sitting with you for a long time and sort of playing like hopscotch, like, I'm gonna jump in, I'm gonna jump in, but never getting in there. 

And it's like at some point you have to jump in or else you're not playing at all. And that is for me at least, and I think for a lot of people I've heard from, it's can be a little bit scary, it can be a little bit intimidating, but it's also something that just like we're writing for those of us who write a little bit, if you're an academic or if you just like to write, you probably know that when you sit down to write your first draft of something, it is not perfect unless you are absolutely a magical person. But the hardest part is getting the words on the page, that first draft, right? But the real transformation comes and the real magic happens in the editing, right? That's where something goes from a vague blob of ideas, at least if you're me into something a little bit more comprehensive, something that has a little bit more of a narrative story to it, or narrative arc to it. 

Something that works and rings true and feels right and tells a story. So just like with sitting down to write something where you have to throw down that first draft or that outline to get you started is the same in other areas of our life. And I know the hurdles are there cause I've felt them, but I have increasingly come to believe that you really need to jump in there and put that first thing out. Put out the class, put out the, the, you know, whatever the thing you wanna start the offering for a business. Put out the resume, the first resume into a new industry. If you're looking for a professional pivot, start that new podcast, right? <laugh>, start that new screenplay. So, uh, Fiji's conversation definitely encompassed that. And again, it came up in a lot of the interviews this year, which also was wrapped up in what kind of support might that require, which brings us right into our fifth clip of the episode, which comes from a much more recent episode with Dr. Christine Co, which in which she talks about don't go it alone. Okay, so let's roll the clip. 

Speaker 6 (23:27):

You know, I think that the biggest, it's not gonna sound like rocket science, but it's everything is that don't go it alone, you know, I think that because of the way that I grew up, uh, and because of the different traumas I experienced in life, I had had and still sometimes have a lot of trouble asking for support or leaning on other people for anything. And it just, it just makes it a lot harder or even to just talk creatively with. So one thing that has been really crucial in this sort of next phase of my life and career in this next phase of life, I've really leaned into being okay with being a little vulnerable and saying, I don't know if I know how to do this. I don't know if I'm good enough to do this. And I have a few sort of professional colleagues who I like rely on, I call them my like secret squirrel squad where we'll just kind of, I can text them anytime. I can ask them a question. I, and I know they will be brutally honest with me. You know, they can say, I love you to pieces and I think this is a terrible idea and it's all good. Like, we all need those people in our lives who love us unconditionally and will support us unconditionally. 

Speaker 1 (24:47):

This idea of not trying to go alone, not trying to operate in a vacuum is really the whole theme of this episode and this show in some ways, which is to center the collective. How do we build and support each other? The title of this episode, unless I change it in the last minute, the title of this episode is Collective Creative Wisdom. Because the idea is that there, we have this resource within and amongst ourselves. We got us for real. There's so much that people are doing in our communities that people are trying to build and create and put out into the world. And so trying to pretend that we can or that we have to just figure everything out by ourselves and on our own is not necessary and it's really hard. And so I hope that we can move forward with that message and that idea of picking each other up. 

And that's it for our creative clips that we brought together. I may do another anthology episode like this in the future, but I definitely wanted to do it for the one year anniversary episode just to honor all the conversations that have happened so far this year. And I've had some people reach out to me over the course of the year talking about how they appreciated or were impacted by certain episodes, which has been amazing. And I also wanna honor the fact that it's brought a lot of inspiration into my life. Just the process of putting it together and getting to meet a lot of the people that came on the show, getting to think through these topics and try to try to articulate them and put them out in a way that that would speak to others and, and hopefully find some points of connection there. 

So I hope you've enjoyed it. As always, please feel free to send me an email or some feedback, the millennial I really appreciate hearing from anybody. You can also touch base on Instagram at mela uio, that's my personal account or at the millennial PhD on Instagram. And I do wanna take a minute at the end of this episode to talk about a signature program that I have just put together and, um, informally launching and putting out into the world, which is an eight week program called Creative Visions. And it is a coaching and consulting program to a company, artists, creative entrepreneurs and or recovering academics in bringing your creative vision from idea to reality. So that includes one-on-one time, one-on-one coaching sessions. It also includes a little bit of outside time, a little bit of work on your end, a little bit of work on my end, trying to put together a timeline and a map for your path moving forward. 

Especially if you have a creative project or business that you wanna bring to fruition in the next couple of months, this would be a great program for you. So I will link info about that program in the show notes. As always, I'll be chatting about it a little bit, probably on social media here and there over the next couple of months, but feel free to reach out. Uh, I'm also always happy to talk for free one on one if you wanna schedule a meeting with me to chat and connect. So I hope to touch base and connect with some of you. And that's it for our one year anniversary episode and looking forward to the next year. That's it for this week's episode of the Millennial PhD. You can find more content, resources and information on Instagram at the millennial PhD in this collective moment of reevaluating our relationships with work and exploitation. I look forward to connecting with you and building stronger bonds of community and collaboration. I would love to hear from you via email at the millennial with any feedback, comments, questions, or concerns, or if you're interested in coming on the show as a guest. That's all for now. It's been real. See you next time.