We had the good fortune of connecting with Michael Marlowe and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michael, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Taking risks is everything. You can achieve anything you want if you are willing to take the risk. When you think about it’s core, what is it that you are risking? Nothing. Material things yes, but in terms of life impact and purpose, nothing of significance. Risk-aversion is rooted in fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of things outside your control, and ultimately a fear of failure. The unknown is nothing to fear, because it is outside your control, just like the past. Spending energy on either will distract you from what you can do in the moment. Failing is nothing to fear. I recommend failing early and often, not only is it the only way to hone your craft and skill, it will show you that failing in of itself is insignificant. When you are immune to the fear of failure, you will also no longer fear the past and the unknown. Then you will realize risk is the only way forward. Risk is what gives meaning to what you do, risk births greatness, and willing to risk in full confidence is what separates the average from the exceptional.
The upside is that never before has it been so easy to stand out. In a time rot with cowardice and obsession with fear, it has never been easier to make a difference.
If you look through history, most often the people who have the greatest impact on their community, world, and industry are not the smartest, the wealthiest, or the most talented. They are just the ones who raise their hand when others stare at the floor, the ones who stand when others kneel, the ones who speak when others stay silent, the ones who manifest the idea instead of just dreaming about it.
They understand what you should – risk is woven into our purpose, and fear of it is just a charade to prevent you fulfilling and manifesting that purpose.
To live your best life, you have to take every opportunity, and chase hard after your passions. This means facing a lot of risk, but looking back and where I am now, I can promise you: if you persevere, the reward always outweighs the risk.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I decided I wanted a career in fashion mid-way through an architecture semester and Googled “worlds best fashion schools” and applied. A few months later I was on my way to London with no money and no knowledge of fashion. LCF was a stereotypical fashion environment. Instructors would curse out students, set projects on fire, and demand excellence. It was an uphill battle from the start, as not only was I in an elite creative environment surrounded by the brightest fashion minds the world had to offer, I had no prior knowledge of fashion and had no creative training. You had to constantly fight for a spot, as out of 10k+ applicants, 80 were accepted and only 20 made it to the second year. I quickly learned that if you work smarter, and have an exponential growth rate, you will eventually eclipse those who talent, success, and wealth has made complacent.
I designed for Louis Vuitton, Alexander McQueen, Lanvin, YSL, and Agi&Sam.
Towards the end of my time studying there I was too ambitious and started a fashion label in my final year. This gave me a crash course in business, PR, and networking as it collapsed in a dumpster fire a year later.
The biggest skill I developed during that time was resilience. To not only get back on the horse after your thousandth fall, but to get so good at falling off the horse that you anticipate it bucking you off, and fall in such a way where you roll out of it right back on your feet. Then you realize you can fall off the horse constantly on your way to crossing the finish line, and falling off the horse constantly is just part of getting there. There’s no standing ovation, no handshakes, & no clapping at the end, but you did it, and most people are too easy to give up, or retire at the first plateau they see.
Again, I was penniless, jobless, and searching for purpose. I had fought tooth and nail to get seemingly nowhere. After doing odd construction jobs here and there I began designing suits for Hugo Boss. It was an odd blend of high-end fashion house, and stringent traditional corporate bureaucracy. I would say this was a time more of personal development than creatively. The work was creatively stifled and easy, The challenge was maintaining goals and purpose while resisting the pull to just give in to being a hamster on a wheel. Sacrificing your potential for an easy job and a comfortable life.
I had naively assumed creative industries are about pushing the boundaries of creativity, product development, and art, but the reality of it is that they are just a back alley knife fight for shareholder investments built on ego, ruthlessness, misconduct, and financial crimes. In an industry with no SEC or labor laws whose currency is who you know and what they can do for you, they cant resist. This revelation soured me on the industry as a whole, and so I quit at the 2017 Christmas Party and moved to Thailand.
Having a time where you have no routine and no responsibilities can be dangerous, but it taught me that you can truly do whatever you want and make the most of each day. So much of how we limit ourselves has to do with things we think we need to do, and filling our day with busyness that doesn’t get us anywhere closer to our goals. I heard someone say once “No one is less productive than a busy person”. That’s not to say laziness, and the absence of routine and responsibility make you more successful – you need discipline, routine, and responsibility in your life – but it is to say that what prevents us from fulfilling our purpose is often aimless busyness we create for ourselves. We work jobs we dislike, commit to things we don’t agree with, and we spend our free time trying to keep up with the person we think we are and the person society expects us to be.
As creative people, I believe our only job is to manifest the ideas we are given and stumble upon as honestly, raw, and pure as possible.
Once you let go of expectations and your fear of failure, you are truly liberated to become creatively successful.
I went broke in my 20s more times than I can remember, I’ve started multiple businesses that have failed, I’ve had friends die, projects fail, on and on. Im not special or unique. What makes me different is that I took every opportunity I could, I raised my hand when everyone else was scared to, and I pressed on when everyone else gave up. Choose the path of pain and resistance, and you will soon realize not only are you stronger than you thought you were, the pain and resistance aren’t that bad – and the fear of them is all just in your head.
If you are in a creative industry or want to be I can promise you this: it will not be easy and your limits will be tested constantly.
Let everything outside of your control go. You cant decide whether people like what you produce or not, and that’s not your job. If you try to, you will sell out immediately, stifle your creativity, and end up exhausted and unhappy. Your only job is to manifest the ideas you have as honestly and as raw as possible, thats it.
That’s what I’ve done ever since. I write, creative direct, make music, and do marketing. The outcome is not important, what you do with what you’re given is. Dont be passive and let life happen, be active and make your life what it needs to be to facilitate your purpose as best possible.
There is nothing worse than having ideas and inspirations die as you drone on in a substance-less life, and believe me, they do die.
Whatever you do, whatever inspiration and ideas you have, manifest them. Take the risk, choose resistance, and live a life free in ways most can only dream of.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Im relatively new in the area so I don’t have a full itinerary, but Forest Room 5, Sam’s no. 3, Milk Market, Illegal Pete’s, Zeppelin Station, Voodoo Doughnut, and 54thirty Rooftop
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Too many to name, but Josh Pruitt, Gabriel Ross, and Joy McLaren.
Josh Pruitt Anetta Odnoralov Daniella Vouzela Hanna Anderson