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I Can’t Get No (Job) Satisfaction: Stephen Kellogg at TEDxConcordiaUPortland

I Can’t Get No (Job) Satisfaction: Stephen Kellogg at TEDxConcordiaUPortland


Translator: Leonardo Silva
Reviewer: Mile Živković Hello. My name is Stephen Kellogg. I’m a professional singer and songwriter. When I was kid, I wanted to be Bon Jovi: rock and roll, money, girls, leg kicks, (Laughter) moves wearing a headset, ironically. It’s part of that. But, by the time I graduated college, not only was I not Bon Jovi, but I found myself eagerly
jumping into a six-dollar-an-hour job, no benefits, working in a ten-foot-by-ten-foot
kiosk in a mall. So, needless to say,
there was not a lot of room to practice leg kicks in that environment. But, over time,
work became something for me that was like pizza or sex: even when it’s bad, it’s pretty great. (Laughter) I believe that our ability
to be satisfied with our work is something
that is well within our grasp. I don’t think it’s specific
to any one field. I don’t think it’s as subject
to external forces as we give it credit for being. And I think that the strategies or the truths that have helped me
find joy in my work are things that could work for anybody. And that’s what I want
to talk to you about today. When I was getting ready, I read a study in Forbes that said job satisfaction in America
was at 19%. (Laughter) That’s grim. I’m not sure if I totally believe that, but it’s certainly supported my feeling that this might be a relevant talk. But even some of the more
optimistic studies that I’ve found still had it well bellow 50%, which should mean
that most people aren’t happy with the work that they’re doing. And that’s a serious bummer. I don’t think it has to be that way. So… I’m going to share some of those things. I know some of you guys
might be thinking, “Well, you sing in a rock band. Of course you’re happy with what
you’re doing.” And you’d be right. Musicians do rate high
on the satisfaction pole. But I would also say to you
that the challenges that I face are, I think, the challenges
that we all face. I’m going to introduce you
to my four daughters here. (Audience) Aw… SK: Yeah… (Laughter) These are my favorite people in the world. And, over the last ten years,
I’ve played 1,300 concerts and I figured out I’ve spent
about four out of every seven days away from them. So, I know what it’s like
to struggle with time commitments, and how much time we spend working versus doing other things. I would also share with you a job performance review that I received, particularly public,
in a newspaper, which says, “{his} music is likewise little more
than an airbrushed fabrication… a victim of its own gritless contrivances and overproduced underproduction.” (Laughter) I don’t even know exactly what that means, but it’s not good. (Laughter) And I think anybody who received a job performance evaluation like that would be very disappointed. So, I know what that’s like too. And, if you still don’t believe that my struggles are your struggles, I will show you my tax returns from the first few years that I did this. So, alright. Let’s talk about how
to be happier with the work that we do. The first strategy or idea: “Know why you’re working.” As the saying goes, measure your wealth not by the things you have,
but by the things you have for which you wouldn’t take
any amount of money. Before my time
as an illustrious songwriter, I had my first job at Brooks Pharmacy. I was sixteen years old. I was a sales associate, which meant that I was stocking shelves, checking people out, cleaning the toilet, you know, whatever needed to be done, and not work that one would consider obviously fun type of stuff. And one day, my mom came in and she was waving a phone bill,
and she said, “If you’re going to keep dating this girl who lives 45 minutes away, you’re going to need to pay for this.” So, as you can see, I married that girl. I knew there was no way
I was going to be able to get from point A, my junior prom, to point B, my wedding day, unless I could continue
that conversation with my future wife. I knew there was no way
I was going to be able to continue that conversation, unless I paid that phone bill. When I went back to Brooks Pharmacy, I went back with a bounce in my step, because I knew why I was working. And I got into the habit of saying — this is totally true — I’d say, “Welcome to Brooks, where you’ll love
what we do for you.” (Laughter) which I am not even sure
if it’s one of their sayings, but I just… (Laughter) You see, you’ve got to know
why you’re working. OK. The second strategy. “It’s better to be at the bottom
of a ladder you want to climb, than the top of one you don’t.” I got that from The Office. (Laughter) I’m big into sayings. So, about three years
after I took that 6-dollar-an-hour job, I was selling advertising for a magazine, and I was doing pretty well at it. And I got a call to come play
at this local steakhouse. And the gig was such that they said, “We want you to play four hours.” The pay was absurdly low. They made a big deal of the fact that I was going to be fed. (Laughter) And they asked me to wear
this really goofy shirt, with a steakhouse emblem on it
and everything. So, it was not a sexy gig. But at the end
of that first night doing that, I knew I was on a ladder
I wanted to climb. I also knew I was at the bottom
of that ladder, but it was alright. So, whenever possible,
climb ladders worth climbing. Number three: “The grass
is always going to look greener.” This is such a cliché. I really hesitate to use it here at TED, but I don’t think there’s actually
a better way to say this. We’re talking about
being happy with your work, and I think one of the easiest ways
to be unhappy with your work is to sit there, looking over
your shoulder, at the other guy, thinking that they have it better and that their situation’s better. I think that we have
common denominators in all work, or rules of the game. Everybody’s going to have a boss who doesn’t always appreciate you as much as you wish they would. We’re going to have coworkers who don’t do things the way we would or who are just annoying,
you know. (Laughter) Rarely do people get paid
what they feel they’re worth. And, you know, sometimes,
you have too many hours, too little hours, you could always
do a better job, if only. It’s fine that we have these. These exist at every job, at every level. The important thing,
if you want to be happy with your work, is to realize
that they exist at every level. Everybody’s got these,
so you’re not sitting there thinking, “Ah, the grass is really
greener on the other side.” This picture, I’ll just explain,
that’s me in a van, about five years into my touring. I had it in my mind that,
if I could get on a tour bus, all my problems would be solved. One day, I got on a tour bus. I promptly found a bunch of new problems. Now, I’m back in a van, so I had a lot of problems. The bottom line is
the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. So, alright. Number four: “Understand
the positive effects of your work.” This is something that sounds simple, but I’m kind of amazed
when I talk to people about their work, how not keyed in it’s possible to be to the positive impact of what you do. I think of the guy
that brings pizza to my house every Friday night. And now he knows I’m so psych to see him that he’s got this big grin when
he shows up — (Laughter) — doing it. But you’re bringing
the best food in the world — non-negotiable — to someone’s house. (Laughter) It just is that way, you know. So, I think of my accountant, who takes a big scary mess of papers and the looming threat
of the IRS and possibly jail, and he turns that into, sometimes,
a tax return. (Laughter) I think of a realtor who takes in a young couple, who says, “We want this much house, and we have this much money,” and, somehow, they make it work. I could do this with every job. Obviously, we don’t have time to do that,
but, seriously, email me, and I will help you find
the positive impact of your work, if you can’t, unless you’re a criminal, in which case — (Laughter) — I can’t help you there. (Laughter) This moment really came for me. I’d been out there — I think I can say I feel at home with you. You know, I was trying to bolster
my ego, sell more records, sell more tickets, be a bigger deal. And I’d been on tour
and doing that for about six years. And I got a call to play
at the Saint Jude Children’s Hospital, in Memphis, Tennessee. And I went, and I played
to about a dozen patients, and parents and staff. And at that small concert, I had an “aha” moment, because I saw people who had so little to smile about smiling back at me. And I realized that this skill set
I’d been working on I had developed so that people
without an inclination to smile could have joy again. And I never played a gig different — I never played the same way, after that. So, key into whatever it is that you do that’s positive, and hang on to that. You’ll be happier with your work. OK. The fifth and final strategy,
or insight, or truth that’s made work like sex for me is this, — (Laughter) — “Maintain your integrity and core values.” Core values are some of those buzz words, that you hear so much
that it’s kind of become white noise. But I’m really talking about your soul. And probably the most humiliating moment
of my professional career came a couple years ago. It was decided I should have a hit song. So, I flew out to Los Angeles, where all hit songs come from, (Laughter) to work with some writers. And we wrote a song that was
intended to be a tip of the hat to Simon & Garfunkel. Suffice it to say we pretty much
put the hat on. (Laughter) And, when the song came out, my fans called me out on it and said, “You know, that song
sounds like Paul Simon.” My four-year-old daughter
walked into my office one day, and she said, “Daddy, Paul Simon’s song
sounds like your song.” (Laughter) And that was definitely, definitely the lowest moment of my career. I felt very out of touch
with what I’m about. The good news
is you can make those things right. And, in this case, I withdrew the song, rewrote it to be 100% mine,
feel like mine. I explained as best as I could
to my fans, kind of how that had happened. And, out of the lowest moment
of my career, came really the proudest moment
of my career, because I knew exactly
who I was in that moment, and I could continue my mission. So, don’t ever underestimate the power of keeping your integrity
and your values in your work. You do these five things, and we are going to show
Forbes who’s boss, my friends. (Laughter) So, I’m going to finish
this talk with a song. It’s what I do. I’m not really known for brevity, and no one that’s ever interviewed me has accused me of being too concise. But this opportunity to do this today and boil down some of why work
has been a positive thing, it gets me really excited. I hope that somebody out there who’s not satisfied
can grab on to that and can think, “If I know why I’m working, if I climb ladders worth climbing, if I don’t spend all my time dreaming that the grass is greener
on the other side, if I can understand
the positive impacts of my work, and if I can keep
my soul intact in the process, I’m going to get more out of my job.” This song I’m going to leave you with is my final comment on job satisfaction. And it’s the last thing
that I want to share with you. I’ve put it in this song. It’s, your work is just your work. It happens to be what we spend
most of our waking hours doing, but it’s not the whole of who you are, and it’s just one part of your identity. You can switch it up, you can do whatever
you have to do to be happy. But I hope we’re happy. This song’s called “Satisfied Man”. (Acoustic guitar) ♪ There are some things
you never get over ♪ ♪ Whatever your parents say ♪ ♪ First on my list of these three things ♪ ♪ is the sight of my father walking away ♪ ♪ Next on my list would be heaven ♪ ♪ I already know what it’s like ♪ ♪ because I fell in love
when I was sixteen ♪ ♪ with the absolute love of my life ♪ ♪ Last on my list would be losing ♪ ♪ Someone always needs to win ♪ ♪ And thumbing your nose
at the boss I suppose ♪ ♪ just feels like a beautiful thing ♪ ♪ The thing that nobody tells you ♪ ♪ you figure it out if you can ♪ ♪ There’s one thing on Earth
no one can touch ♪ ♪ It’s the sleep of a satisfied man ♪ ♪ Yeah, the sleep of a satisfied man ♪ ♪ And I don’t know
why I love the leaving ♪ ♪ It’s not from lack of loving you ♪ ♪ You can’t remember
when you stopped breathing ♪ ♪ and I can’t remember it too ♪ ♪ But I’m coming home tomorrow ♪ ♪ and I wanted you to know ♪ ♪ that the part of me
that can make you smile ♪ ♪ is the same part that needed to go ♪ ♪ And the thing that nobody tells you ♪ ♪ you figure it out if you can ♪ ♪ It’s that they can’t interfere
or get inside here ♪ ♪ to the sleep of a satisfied man ♪ ♪ Yeah, the sleep of a satisfied man ♪ ♪ And of all the things
I’ve had to learn ♪ ♪ there’s just one that won’t quit ♪ ♪ no matter how I try ♪ ♪ one that won’t quit,
it’s all that I can stand ♪ ♪ one that won’t quit,
I’ll never learn to say goodbye ♪ ♪ but I hope for your sakes that you can ♪ ♪ Then, on April 2nd,
the birth of my heart ♪ ♪ the day that the zombie
awoke with a start ♪ ♪ When I fell for Button
and she fell for me ♪ ♪ back in the spring in 1993 ♪ ♪ January 7th, 2005 ♪ ♪ the birth of my blood
came fully to life ♪ ♪ Now, when I see Saint Peter
and ask for my wings ♪ ♪ leave me that memory
and the joy that it brings ♪ ♪ Because the thing
that nobody tells you ♪ ♪ you figure it out if you can ♪ ♪ it’s the things
that you never get over ♪ ♪ that build the character of a man ♪ ♪ And if heaven,
and family, and children ♪ ♪ are what’s left to me when I die ♪ ♪ then, I hope for your sake
that you’re better than me ♪ ♪ at learning to say goodbye ♪ ♪ Oh, if heaven,
and family, and children ♪ ♪ are what’s left to the race that I ran ♪ ♪ then, I’ll quietly slip
to this slumbering peace ♪ ♪ of the sleep of a satisfied man ♪ ♪ Yeah, the sleep of a satisfied man ♪ ♪ Oh, the sleep of a satisfied… ♪ ♪ And may you all be satisfied ♪ (Cheers) (Applause) Thank you all very much. Thank you so much, everybody.
Thank you. Thank you.

56 thoughts on “I Can’t Get No (Job) Satisfaction: Stephen Kellogg at TEDxConcordiaUPortland

  1. Stephen, you have always inspired me and you continue to do so! I'm beginning my search for the ladder I want to climb, and as scary as that is I know once I find it I'll be happier than I am now.

  2. Thank you so much for this… I met you today after your Bing Lounge performance and now I wish I would have given you a huge hug. Thank you for reminding me what's important.

  3. If you've never heard Stephen play live, solo or with his band the Sixers, well, your life is truly incomplete. He is one of the most engaging, giving performers out there, and his shows are pure magic. Before he gets half-way through his first song, the satisfaction he talks about in his TEDx talk is palpably evident. In a world of plastic, glorified karaoke pop stars, Kellogg is the breath of fresh air every lover of rock & roll needs!

  4. We just saw Stephen in PDX at Mississippi Studio. He's a wonderful performer and songwriter. I am so glad I heard about this clip on Ted talks. He rocks!!

  5. I saw Stephen play for the first time at UMass probably 15 years ago. He was opening for Angie Aparo. There were only about 5 people in the room but he played with the grace and humor and enthusiasm as if he was headlining at the biggest venue. It made a big impression on me at the time and so listening to his talk at TEDx now Im glad to see that I was right that he the real thing.

  6. Stephen, those are truly words to live by. My wife and I have seen you every chance we can from Spokane to San Diego and your satisfaction is self-evident. We love you and hope to see you soon!

  7. yeahh accountants! 🙂
    Stephen Kellogg really is awesome, an amazing performer, seriously underrated. His live performances are great! Go see him!

  8. Muito bom! Valeu pelo vídeo. E acho que o mais importante é "Pense porque você está fazendo isto." Se você não concordar com a conclusão get out.

  9. What annoys me when people talk about job satisfaction is that everybody focuses on the employees but not the employer. Many corporations have sucked the life out work experience.They have taken away 401ks, benefits, vacation, and add the stress of multiple roles and we the employees are the ones judged as not satisfied or lost when in fact its the corporation that are lost. When you remove all incentive to work you cant expect anyone to be satisfied.

  10. Dude~ Does he have a single brother to gawk at? LOL Oh…yeah, what was said was very good.  Down to earth.

  11. Great Ted Talk! Entertaining, informative and genuine! Your music is not bad either! I think I'm your new fan!

  12. SK is the man. For anyone even considering watching this. do so, your life will have been a great use of 18 minutes. fulfilled to say the least. and that's an understatement.

  13. Será que tem algum filho de Deus que poderia colocar uma legenda nesse vídeo para nos que não falamos Inglês.

  14. Thank you for your inspiring, humble messages! ….what you are taking about is seeing your job as your calling, even if it is not. When we look for the positive impact of our work, we will find it. When we can experience our current job as our calling at this very moment and find some meaning in it, it actually makes it easier to shift into something we truly care about. Embracing were we are right here, right now, makes change so much easier!

  15. 13:29–13:42 is just what I needed to hear. (I've been unemployed even though I have two graduate degrees.) This talk has helped with the healing process.

  16. If it´s true that jobsatisfaction is only 19 % and something of truth can be extracted from such a statistic, then the World is a mourning-valley.

  17. you have to be kidding…..try working for an airline…good luck. sure, it used to be fun ,when people where respectful ,and civil. Now? I dare you.

  18. What a beautiful speech! it made me think that sometimes we should slow down and appreciate all the things that we have in our lives. And I loved your song too!

  19. I clean septic tanks for a living. My job satisfaction comes from dropping acid while on duty. (Get it? Doody duty! Haw!)

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