I have a lot of respect for Ricky Gervais. His dry comedic style is not only hilarious, it’s extraordinarily intelligent. And whenever he speaks about anything, I usually drop what I’m doing and listen. Recently, he was interviewed on Harvard’s IdeaCast, episode 239, where he talked about “Not Having a Real Job.” There’s a lot of wisdom in these 12 minutes of audio, and I think it’s especially applicable in the internet age.
On whether awards matter:
It doesn’t matter if you win or lose. What matters is the work: the work you did. You tried your hardest, and you’re proud of it. And you brought something into the world. That’s the important thing: pride in your work.
On the subtle but important distinction between reputation and character:
Your reputation is what people think of you; your character is who you really are.
On people pleasing:
If you do exactly what you want and you’re in charge, whatever people think of it, you’re bullet-proof. I don’t try [to] please anyone except myself. And if people like what I do, that’s fantastic. But if they don’t like it, then that’s good too, really. Because if you start trying to water it down or second guess people you end up with something so safe and homogenized that a lot of people will like, but they won’t love it…
I’d always rather do something that really moves a million people than washes over ten million.
On interpreting your audience:
The bigger you get, and the more successful you get, the more hated you are. But you should relish that as well because it means you’re making a connection. And I think the point of art is to make a connection.
Whoever you are, whatever you do, be an artist, and be genuine. That's your best.