#2 Dave Allen
Dave’s an interesting man.
I was keen to have a natter with him because of what we have in common. We have both spent time in the music industry – he as founder and bass player for punk-rock band Gang of Four, me as a producer of MTV’s first digital channels MTV2, MTV Base and MTV Dance. I’d be “interviewing” a musician for the first time in over 12 years. Only this time I’d be chatting over a cup of fresh leaf tea and pear cakelets rather than sinking sambuca’s in the smoke fuelled basement of the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. I’d take the tea and cake every time.
Dave’s brain clicks into gear as soon as my feet are in the door of his South West Portland home. Driven by intellectual thought and an insatiable curiosity I can tell that the two hours he’s spent alone in his house that morning have been too quiet for him. I sense he likes to talk, to challenge and be challenged. I like him.
He takes time to brew the perfect pot of loose leaf tea whilst waxing lyrical about the difficulties that occur when agencies get in between the client and creator. “They just fucked the entire concept up” he says in reference to an anecdote about an unnamed agency adding a jingle to an app that’s main function was to deliver information to its user based on an algorithm that was calculated using external sound. Idiots. This is a man who “thinks” easily and is clearly frustrated that the majority of the planet can’t keep up. He reminds me of my husband – always a couple of steps ahead whilst the rest of us are idling behind.
At the risk of sounding like a researcher on Oprah’s Where Are They Now?, I asked Dave how he had managed the transition from “famous punk musician of the 70’s” to “not famous businessman and father of three”. It was a futile question since I had already ascertained that this is a man who is driven by intellectual thought and insatiable curiosity. Not fame and adoration from punk loving pubescent strangers.(you caught that bit above right?) His response was inspired. “You’re obviously still struggling with that” he said. Ha ha. I told you I liked him.
And he was right of course. Because he’s a thinker and he finds thinking easy. Why else would I be asking him that question other than to reassure some part of myself that wasn’t yet comfortable with my decision to move away from the limelight and into the dark lonely corners of being a stay-at-home mum. If I measure my success and achievements on the reactions I get from my “audience” then motherhood ain’t the job for me – my wild mushroom risotto is NEVER going to earn me a positive response and I’m sure as hell not going to be applauded for washing their dirty laundry.
So my chat with Dave turns into a micro-therapy session and we discuss how best to measure success. He gives me parenting advice – which I’m very keen on given that he has three wildly successful grown up children. (I realise that I measure their success in terms of health and happiness not acclamation or money and wonder why I don’t judge my own success on that same metric).
He’s kind enough to share with me horror stories from their teenage years lest I leave with a deluded notion of perfection. (My favourite being the one where his eldest crashes his friends mum’s minivan en-route to buy cheap drugs from some crappy gangsters in northeast Portland. There’s a film script there somewhere.). And I leave with answers to questions that have been swirling around my head for the longest time. And a fair few new ones. Most importantly I leave vowing to change my outdated, malfunctioning “personal success measuring chart”. To stop looking to others to validate me. To concentrate more on making myself proud rather than other people. My new measure for success will take into account whether I tried hard, enjoyed it, am pleased with the results. And you know what, I fucking LOVE my wild mushroom risotto.
Thanks Dave. For challenging me. For suggesting I “make it happen”. And for sharing the pear cakelet. Let’s do that again soon.
#1 Dinesh Dave
Dinesh Dave is one of those rare specimens that you don’t come across very often. Just the right amount “larger than life” and full to the brim with optimism, humour and compassion. Chuck in a bucket of talent and you’ve got the makings of a rather great human being. That’s Dinesh Dave.
I first met Dinesh when he worked with my husband in Portland. He and his friends threw a party in which we were invited to visit each of their apartments over the course of one evening. Each host cooked up a traditional dish from their home country. Dinesh made a mouth watering curry and a killer dahl. I fell in love a little bit.
Six months ago he packed his bags and left Portland for San Francisco after landing his dream job as an interactive designer at Apple. It just so happens he’s in town this week with “nothing to do” and so I bagged him for my first of fifty or so coffees.
I’m uncomfortable with the words “dream job”. Do you remember having one of those in mind as a child? We must have heard those words a hundred times. “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. “What’s your dream job?”.
“An astronaut”. “A ballerina”. “A spy”. “A pilot”. “An inventor”.
In the beginning we’re taught to dream big. Dinesh wanted to work for Apple.
Me, I gave up on my idea of a “dream job” somewhere between discovering the opposite sex and the 876th test of my academic intelligence. (p.s. educators, if you could sort that one out that’d be great, thanks)
Dinesh failed his GCSE’s. And then he failed his A Levels. His friends were selling drugs and going to jail. His parents ran the corner shop. Dream jobs weren’t real. But Dinesh still wanted to work for Apple.
He liked to doodle. One day he googled “Graphic design courses America”. He wanted to work for Apple.
Six months later he was in Atlanta on an international scholarship at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). His friends laughed. His parents said he’d never get a visa to stay. He wanted to work for Apple.
I was keen to know why he thinks his dream stayed with him. What drove him to make it a reality when he lacked any kind of support? I was mostly interested so that I could take this precious nugget of information home with me and plant it into the hearts and minds of my three growing children. Ready made dream following instructions? Perfect.
But it turns out that there’s not really an answer. Certainly not for Dinesh any way. He can’t pinpoint why he was brave enough to follow his dream (though he does attribute a lot of his “can do” attitude to a guy he met at college called Eric). The closest he came to giving me a reason for his dogged determination was that he wanted to prove his teachers and his parents and his friends wrong, to blow a big fat raspberry in the face of his critics. And so he did. And it paid off. And 6 months ago he got the call from Apple.
So what am I going to say to my children when they are faced with adversity in their quest to find their dream job? My chat with Dinesh reminded me of a print I bought for my husband recently which reads “You have all the tools you need”.
You have all the tools you need.
So I will teach my children not to become complacent. To have a dream. To dare to be a filmmaker or a ballerina or a poet or to work for their favourite brand even if it is 5000 miles away from home. To blow a raspberry in the face of their critics, (including the ones in their head) and to go and bloody well get what they want.
Thanks Dinesh, you were awesome. (p.s. apologies for the shocking quality of the pic! iPhones and a lack of light don’t go well together ;-))