Unknown Origins

Sam Ladner on Sociology and Creativity

November 20, 2021 Sam Ladner Season 1 Episode 88
Unknown Origins
Sam Ladner on Sociology and Creativity
Show Notes Transcript

Sam Ladner is a sociologist who helps teams innovate, design, and learn. She is the author of Practical Ethnography: A Guide to Doing Ethnography in The Private Sector and Mixed Methods: A Short Guide to Applied Mixed Methods Research. Sam has worked on many advanced software projects, including Alexa, the Echo Look, Windows 10, Microsoft Office 2016, Cortana, and HoloLens. She currently works at Workday, an enterprise software company, as a Senior Principal Researcher studying the future of work. She received her Ph.D. in sociology from York University in Toronto.

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Roy Sharples:

Hello, I'm Roy Sharples, welcome to the unknown origins podcast. Why are you listening to this podcast? Are you seeking inspiration? an industry expert, looking for insights, or growing your career? I created the unknown origins podcast to provide access to insights and content from creators worldwide with inspirational conversations and storytelling, about art, architecture, design, entrepreneurship, fashion, film, music and pop culture. Sam Lochner as a sociologist, who helps teams innovate, design and land. She is the author of practical ethnography, a guide to do an ethnography and the private sector, and mixed methods, a short guide to applied mixed methods research. Sam has worked on many advanced software projects, including Alexa, the echo look, Windows 10, Microsoft Office 2016, Cortana, and HoloLens. She currently works at workday, an enterprise software company as a senior principal researcher, studying the future of work. She received her PhD in sociology from York University in Toronto. Hello, and welcome, Sam. I always look forward to your insight edge and wait for it shortly.

Sam Ladner:

Flair. Yes. Happy to bring my flair. Right.

Roy Sharples:

What inspired and attracted you to sociology in the first place?

Sam Ladner:

That's a good question. You know, frankly, I took sociology in undergrad as my several of my electives. I didn't major in sociology and majored in international relations actually. But so I was interested in it even back then. But kind of in service to what my, what I thought was, you know, more interesting at the time, and I kind of just forgot about it, left it aside. And, and I was, I realized, now looking back, I've constantly been reading about, you know, the nature of social life, I just, I'm just interested deeply in the nature of social life. And I've never, I've never said no to, you know, anything that's related to that, you know, I read a lot of political philosophy in my undergrad. And of course, you know, Rousseau stood out as being, you know, quite sociological. And I was always very interested marks, of course, and I didn't know that at the time, I thought I was reading more like, no politics, politics are important, important people are in politics, I'll read about politics. But I'm also I've always, you know, do give me an analysis of, you know, from young at any point, and deeply fascinated with, you know, the psychological aspect of life, but also in the group setting. Yeah, so I realized I was always interested in humans and how humans work and how humans work together. And so my master's degree was actually in communication. And it was an, you know, a sociological kind of analysis that I did on work and working experiences. And I thought about doing a PhD and communication. But you know, I was like, you know, what, I'd like to do something that has like, a real canon of reading something that tells me the nature of social life. And communication has a slice of that, but it's like a slice, not, you know, general. So I switched to sociology for my PhD. And yeah, I was really glad I did, because I got a slice of it and communication. I got a slice of it in my undergrad. But what I really wanted to do was to understand how to humans function. And yeah, it's been a deep fascination and I keep you know, I mean, I graduated my PhD. When was that? 22,008? I think it was sometime ago now. And I'm still fascinated. So I guess I made the right choice.

Roy Sharples:

Of course, idiosyncrasies exist, though, fundamentally people are the same everywhere, and that we are all born, live and die, have loves hates and passions, the same biotic structure of brain, organs, skin and nerves. We breathe, drink and eat, to stay alive. But what makes us unique is how we self identify by interpreting the world around us discovering our own strengths, and expressing our personalities, talents and triumphs, having the freedom to pursue your independent goals is essential for nourishing your, your mental health, achieving wealth, creation and happiness in life, instead of being an order taker for someone else's ideals, which ultimately marginalizes your self esteem and self worth and insecurities to ascend.

Sam Ladner:

I think it's a totally fair statement. And I think a lot of people, either they go from one end of that spectrum to the other, like, on the one hand, they say, No, people are completely different, and you can't predict and it's just, you know, it depends. It's very contextual, that's, I, that's not the case at all, there are patterns, there are universals there are, you know, archetypes, and narratives that are very human, essentially human. On the other hand, you know, which you didn't go to this direction, but a lot of people also, you know, like to say that we're are, quote, unquote, hardwired and, you know, biologically determined, you know, where this and that, and I think that going to that extreme, I mean, I'm not a, I didn't go to that direction with my own work, because I just found it kind of simplistic, you know, there's no room for it's also insulting to the human mind, you know, I have a consciousness and that unique quality of human consciousness, is what gives us the ability to interpret our surroundings and make choices and have free will, and have ideas. And yet, even within that context, we have kind of a firmware setting, if you could put it that way of all the, you know, the physical biological experiences that we have are interpreted, taken up, in particular, predictable paths, but then there's this beautiful, amazing, vibrant, you know, narrative structure that we tend to hang ourselves off of, and we interpret ourselves through which we understand the world. And that that is, I don't want to say universal, because that overstates kind of the hardwired part of it. But it is universal, there's something very, very human about, you go to another culture, and you discover, Oh, they're so different. They're so different. And then you realize, actually, they're not really Yeah. The way people do things is, you know, within a typology of actions, you know, there are cultural consistencies. There are known cognitive biases there, you know, all of these things are consistent emotions, you know, they're consistent. So, yeah, no, I agree with you that there is something kind of delightful about that recognition, of seeing humanity as a universal

Roy Sharples:

For sure, and from a personal perspective, travel has been a catalyst for inspiring my socialization, and opening my mind and freeing me from my prejudices, because you're experienced in different cultures and diverse societies and learning to appreciate and respect these differences in lifestyle, and behavior, which ultimately, when you experience that it starts to unite us. And so traveling forces us to depart from the familiar and take on a world of new experiences, cultures, languages, architectures, foods, and lifestyles, influencing our mains bodies and souls by shaping us into better more well rounded people with a more integrative worldview. Because we get exposed to and understand people's dynamics, life cultures, subcultures, customs, religions, how governments work, how economies work, and the creative arts some. How did growing up in Vancouver, influence your socialization?

Sam Ladner:

Well, you being in Seattle, you'll probably agree with this. I think the weather actually does have a big effect on your mindset. You know, I got very used to rain and dark like this time of year especially we're talking in November here and it's the darkest of days in the Pacific Northwest and Vancouver especially. It's even darker you know just that little bit up the highway into BC it's even darker. And you just get used to it and you know, you're you kind of embrace I think a little bit of this port city mentality. We are you know, on the edge of the Pacific Ocean and you know, Canada is a small open economy so it welcomes people and you know, we would have such a you know, a cosmopolitan from you know, at the time I didn't realize it but Vancouver's cosmopolitan Nature is kind of limited. It's really not the biggest city and it does have people from all over the world, but certainly nothing like, like New York or London or even Toronto for that matter. So I think I grew up believing, you know, in the ideal of the Canadian cosmopolitan. You know, they have a saying in Canadian sociology they talk about, you know, the US population is the melting pot, right. But the Canadian population, the metaphor they use is the vertical mosaic, well, they call it the mosaic. And then of course, the critique was, it's a vertical mosaic, where there's people at the bottom, there's people at the top, and that is definitely true about Canada, the vertical mosaic, I think, really nails it, you kind of infuse yourself with, you know, a feeling of, you know, white supremacy, if you're a white person, like I am. And I, incidentally, I grew up in a, you know, very white family, you know, in the sense that my I remember my grandmother, she actually worked at a residential school in NBC. So, for those of you who don't know, what a residential school is, it's a horrible thing. The Canadian government scooped up, you know, in First Nations, indigenous native kids, and took them away from their parents and installed them in these residential schools, which was supposed to quote unquote, civilize them. And of course, you can imagine how horrible it was. And we've had a lot of talk about how horrible it was. And evidence more and more evidence or occurred of the deepening nature of its horribleness. So I remember actually asking my grandmother, you know, we were surrounded to at the time, my grandparents were very avid collectors of, you know, Coast Salish artifacts. So I grew up infused with this belief in this respect for the indigenous culture, but without the kind of critical realization that like, why do we Why did we steal these baskets from people, you know? And I asked her, I said, Oh, what was it like working at the residential school and, you know, bless her heart, she was kind of clueless. She was all I know, some of them are very bad, but ours was a good school, been a very good headmaster. And I remember thinking, okay, you've kind of left out the whole cultural genocide part. And I was young at this point, you know, I was still like, I don't know, I want to say I was like, 17, maybe at the time, and I asked that. So I was burgeoning awareness. So it's kind of a conflicted experience. You know, we had an art teacher who was a First Nations artist, very well respected when he came and taught us how to draw, you know, Coast Salish, you know, hide a style art. And I didn't know what that meant. I just thought it was awesome. So I had this respect for it. But I also didn't understand my place in the vertical mosaic. Yeah, you know, really. So I think that gave me kind of this sense. Now I can look back what the sense I was developing as a groin as growing up was this awareness of being a settler. Now, that's now I can say that that's what it was, I was learning how to like recognize my place as a settler white settler in a, you know, indigenous place. So, that kind of set me up. I was always fascinated with that kind of awareness. Like I was aware of this kind of inequity, which I guess shouldn't surprise anyone.

Roy Sharples:

Curiously, it's funny, how darker climates and being rained on can be a trigger to the imagination to create. There is a strong theory that melancholy, and hate but by no means, am I seeing Vancouver, and British Columbia is Milenkovic as a naturally stunning landscape and part of the world. However, darker and colder climates can have a certain effect upon a society and its culture that can often inspire creativity when people channel their energy and passion into creative pursuits. And you see that in so many other northern societies that have similar climates, such as Detroit, Manchester, in the UK, Liverpool, Amsterdam, Dublin, Copenhagen, excellent as well as coming through as well. But the point is also that you can indicate as well earlier around port towns and, and also industrial towns as well that have a constant throughput of international exchange that's injected diverse cultural influences within their societies. And for the more industrial cities like Manchester, Glasgow, Detroit, there's a dreamer maker and do our sensibility that seems to be ingrained within their DNA. And that's probably evolved from their maker and production cultures that came through the manufacturing base and the industrial revolution that happened certainly within Manchester in Glasgow. But Detroit is traditionally a very industrialized see through the, the automotive industry. The other point you made some around the first generation indigenious native cultures. And when you look at their core values and principles, they arguably remain even more relevant in today's life in society, such as the importance of remaining close to the Great Spirit showing great respect for your, your fellow beings, working together for the benefits of all humankind, given assistance and kindness, whatever needed, but also to respect the land. And so in helping address some of the pressing societal challenges like climate, biodiversity, and ecosystems, there is much to learn and apply from this way of being

Sam Ladner:

Yeah, it's true, I see, like a cracking of knowledge systems at this moment, you know, and you're right. I mean, the, the, the climate emergency is here. And, you know, we need a better way of understanding our relationship to you know, each other, but also to the, the, you know, the objects and beings that predate us here on this planet. So, it's, it's funny to me that I kind of always had a discomfort with the, like, the Western way of knowing. And I didn't quite have a good finger on it. For a long time, I didn't quite understand what my discomfort was. And now, of course, you know, I'm very grateful for the education that I've had, because it's allowed me to kind of examine the, you know, the knowledge system, the way of knowing that you're kind of handed as a human, you know, you don't have to examine it, you can actually live your life pretty handily, if you've been brought up in a western way of knowing you can live your life pretty easily, without ever questioning the confines of that. And when you now that we're getting to this point where we realize it has limits, right, it has its natural progression toward this kind of overconsumption, and, you know, misplaced faith in science, you know, when I say misplaced faith, I mean, science is great, don't get me wrong, I consider myself a scientist, but it doesn't solve everything. And it certainly you can't engineer your way to the solutions that we need right now. There are social solutions. And dare I say spiritual? I mean, it sounds kind of, you know, I really, I understood it immediately when I read Nietzsche's concept that God is dead. Like, I didn't take that as being, you know, atheistic, per se, although clearly it is. I understood it. I was like, yes, everything that, quote, marks on this, everything that is sacred profaned. That's what we've done to our with our western way of knowing everything that sacred has, you know, all that is solid is melted into air. And we need to recover that. I'm hopeful that we're actually on the edge of doing that really well. I mean, it's a tough slog, though, we've got a lot of ways to go. But yeah, having that awareness is a gift, I think,

Roy Sharples:

Yeah, very much. So what is your creative process in terms of how do you make the invisible visible by dreaming up ideas, developing them into concepts, and then bringing them to actualization?

Sam Ladner:

You know, I get a lot of inspiration from some of my reading on this topic on what, like how creativity actually works. And I never really thought of myself as being creative. I remember actually saying, After I finished grad school, saying to a friend of mine, who's a designer, I was like, I have no creativity, like it's been beaten out of me. And he was like, Oh, don't be silly. Of course you do. And I was like, No, it's all gone. I've structured my thinking, I'm now like, this scientific minded person, and, you know, I'm rigorous, which is good, and I've accepted it and, you know, creativity is gone. Which is hilarious, because anybody who's, you know, been through extreme, you know, grad school experiences probably know exactly what I'm talking about. So I had to kind of recover from that I had to recover from that lack of awareness of my own creativity. So I kind of had to do it systematically. And I read a little bit about creativity. And so for me, the way that I start something is, you know, there's a great book by Rollo may called the courage to create. And it's a it's a wonderful book for I thought, not me, I thought it was for like designers or artists or, you know, musicians maybe. But it turned out to be great for me as a social scientist, because even literally says this, you know, in the book, where he talks about, there's a falling in love moments. So for, you know, a designer, it's like, how can I make this, you know, product better? Or this piece of furniture more comfortable? or what have you? You know, and for, you know, a musician, it's like, how do I convey the spirits that I want, since the notes and with the lyrics. And for me, for any cause? The sound of the book is like, for scientists, it's falling in love with the problem. Like, how does this work? What is this about? What are its confines its contours. So I used to kind of avoid that a little bit, that falling in love moment, because it's overwhelming. Now embrace it. So I just like gather all my stuff, everything, anything that's remotely related to the problem space, I will read it, I will, like, highlight it, I tend to like to highlight, you know, I have the touchscreen laptop. So I, you know, turn it on its side, and I have my digital pin. And I tend to read that way. And I highlight and I write on the margins, and, but I also save it digitally. So I took advantage of the digital environment. And I gather things into folders, and I look at all of them. And sometimes I Google things that I already know the answers to just to see what pops up and I let myself kind of go from you know, connection to connection. And spawn in, you know, people who are familiar with the design process will recognize that as like the diverge phase, right? You're divergent, and in the way that you're approaching things. I and I used to avoid that. And now I'm like, no, no, no, that's actually the best part. So I do that, then the painful part comes and I have to start like, converging. So I have to like zero in I have to like make things into abstract buckets, I have to kind of figure out, you know, what counts and what doesn't. And that used to be actually kind of painful. And I think for a lot of creative people avoid the convergence phase, because it hurts. Yeah. But I tend I started to kind of like, really embrace it, because it actually gives you this opportunity. So when I was writing, like, my, my second book, actually, I was like, all over the place. I was like, okay, but I this wasn't my first rodeo now now I kind of knew how to do it. So I wasn't worried about the all over the place. Yeah, I was like, it's gonna come together, you just have to embrace it, like, see where you can go. And so the conversation place is difficult to get comfortable with for a lot of people. But I actually now really embrace it. And it's about structuring, and then I just take all that extra stuff, right? The stuff, the cutting room floor stuff, you know, our little babies, nobody wants to let the babies go, right? So I actually don't I actually keep them. But I structured the keeping in a way that I can use them in my next falling in love phase, my next convergence phase or divergence face. So by that point, I'm like, No, I'm confident that I can let go of this little baby idea, I'm confident it'll come back around. And if it doesn't, it doesn't, you know, but I feel like I'm not losing anymore. Like I feel like I know what I'm doing with that. So when I put put my my second book together, actually, it came together really, really, like a lot faster than the first one I have to say. So it was good. I think where I'd really like to expand my creative process is I need to be a little bit more even more open in the falling in love phase. And part of the reason I'm not there is because I have very specific things that I'm trying to do in my work. I have to bring to bear different skills specific ones now different knowledge specific ones. And you know, you're talking to me now, right that at the tail and a project that I started working on it, you know, early in the year and without going into too much detail the project is very It requires a lot of discipline thinking a lot of rigor not traditionally what you would call creativity. It's it there's a lot of hard slog It's a culture change project like everything, but on the surface, it's something totally different. But really, it's a culture change project. So I'm coming to the end of me having to, like carry the burden of having that rigor all the time. So I'm very much looking forward to my next falling in love moments,

Roy Sharples:

I think it's really admirable a few things, right. One is your ability to oscillate between divergent and convergent thinking, you know, like that ability to almost work on dexterously between left and right. critical and creative thinking. And that's, that takes a lot doing and very few people can really do that. And well, so total credit to you. The other thing as well, Sam is your self awareness and your self critique is really admirable. You know, like, are you have any ability to, to really like to tune into yourself and be honest and, and how you're aware of where you need to build muscle and where you need to where you're really strong and things and you need to bank that rather than what many people cannot often fall victim to is just focusing on their strengths, or a one trick pony, or just repeating the same thing over and over and over again, and expecting the same results, which is very, almost never the case. So I really admire the fact that you can push yourself outside your comfort zones, and you truly do apply a mindset where you're, you're continuously on a journey to discover new things and create new things and new way. So, so credit to you.

Sam Ladner:

Thank you, thank you, you know, it's, you got one life, right? Yeah, exactly. So you know, you can choose, you can choose to do the same thing over and over again, and now get really, really good at it. I mean, we do the way you put it that I can't mind, I had this classmate in grad school, and, you know, when you graduate, you know, not everybody graduates at the same time with a PhD because it takes you know, takes a long for somebody to finish, but at different rates, but she happened to be on the stage at the same time that I was along with, like half a dozen other folks in our department. And she was off to, you know, a very prestigious institution, she had job waiting for tenure track on the on the surface. To me, it looked like a huge success. But you know, and I confess at the time, I did think it was a huge success. But even then, I had a little niggling of doubt. Now, in retrospect, I have a lot of doubt. In fact, I kind of feel sorry for the way she got there was just doing the same thing over and over and over again, you know, with consistency, ever increasing incremental improvements, you know, learning getting deeper in that particular narrow area. But it's, it felt very mechanical to me, like very, like, you know, instrumental transactional, like, I'm just doing this so I can get, you know, if I do X, I'll get Y. And, you know, we're all kind of tortured by that, you know, really counter, you know, productive instinct is to do the same thing over and over again,

Roy Sharples:

Exactly! It sounds like that reference point that you mentioned was that they were going through the motions and check boxing the to the B to the C and, and so forth, without any kind of critical thinking, applied creativity, and understanding why they are doing it, what they are learning in real terms, and where they can make a productive improvement and difference along the way. That example stank of the downside of the British education system that I grew up in, in the 1980s and 1990s, the bygone needs of the Victorian industrial age where recall, was valued over imagination and difference in educating people to to fundamentally work in factories, and only the elite few were ushered into white collar occupations within management, law, medicine, etc. Usually favored within well to do a networked families I make in the same like Pink Floyd's another brick in the wall, dramatic. But here, a story without setbacks is rarely worth telling. People like Coco Chanel, Wayne Gretzky, Muhammad Ali, and Bjork were classic outliers, who had no attachment to fixed definitions of any form of life or reality, which is why they became truly great, and their chosen fields. There were self defined, self educated, magical artists who intuitively knew to self direct themselves in a specific direction, whether that was going left or right ate at the junction, as it were, the surprised and excited us, we are attracted to their originality and magnetic genius, encouraging us to expect the unexpected and ultimately, to be entertained by them. And to learn more about ourselves and the world we live in, also underpin and one of the points that you made a little bit earlier there, Sam around not resting on your laurels, and to continually have this kind of growth mindset where you're constantly building muscle, looking at ways where you can constantly innovate and, you know, looking at, there's been many examples within society, within business, within the arts, and so forth, where multiple people have been able to tap in to their innate talent and ability to channel their creativity and passion in certain ways in their respective domain. And I think the Beatles are a great example of this, because if the head rested on their laurels, they would cease to have exist, and the way that they currently do and the mythology and the ever grow in popularity that they seem to cultivate year in, year out. And when you obviously look at the Beatles when they started off, they were imitators of American gospel, r&b, and rockabilly, and every rock and roll. And then, you know, the con, the content of their songs was the banal love songs and about teen relationships, which was really standard fare of the day. And then once they really mastered the technical expertise, as musicians, and songwriting experts, they started to really master their craft, and then develop their own authentic voice and style that resulted in them producing lyrics and music about everyday life and observations in their native Liverpudlian accents. And that was the point where they started to become true authentic artists, and innovators. And so from that point onwards, every single album that they made was so different and so revolutionary, and it wasn't just about the music, they also significantly impacted pop culture. So take the hippie movement back in the 1960s. And the whole psychedelic scene around that, that The Beatles were a catalyst for social change, given the context. And so it's a fine point around the need to constantly innovate, and have that intuitive ability, where you are able to spot the signals to gauge the signals, and sense what's coming next. And then either defining that, or riding that wave to define the future so that the future is not leaving you behind. And when you look at many of the great artists like Picasso, Dali, they started off similarly imitating and learning the craft from the Great's of their time. But then once they find their own unique voice and style and identity, they then became revolutionaries. And that's the thing that we remember them the most,

Sam Ladner:

You use a really important word in that where you said, intuitively, no to go this direction or that direction. I think that's the biggest, you know, hidden, hidden benefit of self, like of study of growth, is that you you refine your intuition to such that it looks on the surface to a lot of people. Like it's the same that, you know, a novice might have. But it isn't it isn't at all. It's informed by many, you know, you were forced to, you know, imitate, you know, American r&b And you were forced to play every night in Hamburg, you know, for six hours, you know? So you finely tuned it right, like you finely tuned this ability to like intentionally break shit. It's important. Also for like, really, really rigorous people they need to recognize the breaking, whereas people who are kind of autodidact they kind of need to embrace. I hate to put it this way, but rules, right, they need to embrace rules. But likewise, the people who are very rules oriented, they need to embrace the breaking. It's really hard to do.

Roy Sharples:

It's the Modernists, Mavericks, Misfits and Outsiders that make innovation happen. True artists are always outsiders looking in the rebels with a cause themselves. They provide something new to the world we live in overturning the status quo by positively impacting people's lives and and moving society forward. Sustained creativity is a true difference. initiator and the people who transcend the status quo and inspire others to do so to become our models for ingenuity, getting to that point, is not by some miraculous fluke, when it falls out of the sky and enters you, by chance. It's about being passionately dedicated to your craft, being honest, trustworthy and responsible by by taking pride in everything you do, to help achieve the highest quality craft, and professional excellence levels. Of course, you need talent and technical excellence in your craft, to perform at what you do. But achieving greatness is more than that. Expertise isn't enough, although you have to be expert at it. It is about having the the relentless intensity and focus, desire, resilience and persistence, to never give up and to achieve the highest levels of excellence within your respective domain. At that point, then, is where the artistry and the true innovation and difference comes in. But it starts with self belief and desire to change your mindset to recognize that failure along the way is essential to achieving mastery.

Sam Ladner:

I don't know why this person is coming to mind but little NAS X is coming to mind. Yeah, I love I love how Dolly Parton he is. I love how how hip hop slash gay slash country he is. I it's just like, amazing. Yeah. And like, I'm like, you can't tell this guy who he is. He's gonna say no, I'm gonna take this piece, I'm gonna take that piece, I'm gonna take that piece.

Roy Sharples:

Yeah, it's a very eclectic approach. Some one of the key skills needed to survive and thrive as a sociologist?

Sam Ladner:

The first one really is curiosity. It's a skill or an innate quality, I think you can probably make it a skill. If you don't have curiosity, you're going to get really bored really fast, and it's going to feel like you're walking through, you know, mud, you know, try to run, run underwater, that's what it's gonna feel like you really do have to become scientific. And I think that sounds really antithetical, maybe even heretical to a lot of people listening, because they don't think of sociology as a science. And some sociologists may even object to me saying that, which is fine. But when I say science, what I mean is you have to have kind of a dedication to the systematic inquiry, the systematic pursuit of knowledge. And that's applicable to any scientist, right. And so any scientist of any sort is dedicating themselves to the systematic uncovering of insight. If you you must, you must dedicate yourself to that. And that means practice and that means like, you know, data collection skills, qualitative and quantitative means data analysis skills means data archiving skills, and scholarly rigor, you know, like, you really got to do your footnoting. I know that sounds really stupid to a lot of people listening, but what it does is that it cements connections in your mind, and it makes you able to see schools of thoughts and it gives you that that brain plasticity that you were talking about earlier, being you know, going from convergent or divergent, you need to be able to engage in both. So you really, you really have to have that awareness that you are dedicated yourself to systematic pursuit of knowledge. You know, and there's no debate in sociology, I wouldn't call it a debate but some of you may have read see, right Mills, the sociological imagination, the slim volume, and actually, it's really enlightening for lots of people whether or not you're sociologically minded or not, but is essential thing in this book, in a way I read in grad school, it's kind of required, but is you have to kind of recognize that there's no such thing as value free sociology. So you know, maybe as a biologist, theoretically, you could kind of like, absent yourself from the ethical conversations about where my values I say theoretically because I know that that's probably true, but in sociology is absolutely not true. You have to have a position you have to know what's important and what's not important. What's what's laudable and what is not. So, you know, what is your your value positioning? And it's right within the literature of course, you know, standpoint theory is like where are you coming from and understanding you know, self reflexivity and the ethnographic mindsets, you know, where are you in power relationships to others in this investigation in your life a you know, in your work. So, you really, really do have to kind of it forces you to have that kind of value position and you have to know what's what's on the table. I'm valuable for anybody, but it's probably critical, I would say sociologists.

Roy Sharples:

Sam, what are our lessons learned in terms of he pitfalls to avoid, and the eys to success that you can hare with aspiring ociologists?

Sam Ladner:

Well, maybe a little unlike most of your listeners, I'm guessing. Aspiring sociologists are, in many ways, aspiring academics. And so the biggest thing you need to recognize is that you're not probably going to be an academic. In these days, getting a tenure track job is very difficult. And even if you do get one, I mean, I have colleagues from grad school who are just like quitting, you know, because it's just like horrible. Being tenure sounds good, but it's not. It's a difficult job, it's very difficult job to be an academic, so you have to love it. And you have to pursue it single mindedly. I wanted to be an academic. And so I learned, hey, you know what, there wasn't a job waiting for me. So what are you going to do about it? And I still I still grapple, right, I still grapple with a sense of incompleteness with that, even after all these years, and even after my other success, I still kind of go, Oh, but I really wanted to be a professor. And, you know, I'm kind of like, it's bittersweet, there's a bit of sweetness. So and that goes for pretty much any career, I would say there's going to be a bitter sweetness, even if you achieve your wildest dreams, you're gonna have pieces that aren't perfect, you know. So, you know, it makes more sense for you to have a core, you know, value mindset of core starting point where you think this is really, really important. These are the things that I'm trying to make a difference on in this world. And there's many ways that you can solve for those things. It's not the one necessarily that you started out with. And so you have to, you have to, like, you know, consciously and with intense and self compassion, construct, and look at your life regularly and say, Yeah, you know, what this is in line with those values. This is what I wanted to do. It's not the shape or form I thought I was getting into, necessarily, but it is still valuable, worthwhile, and in good faith.

Roy Sharples:

What's your vision for the future of sociology, and where do you see the role of creativity play?

Sam Ladner:

The discipline is kind of at a standstill, I think it's kind of like, it's in trouble, it's in a lot of trouble. And you can say that about a lot of academic disciplines that have really like caught themselves up with like, you know, what, you know, in the in the literature, you call you know, business unionism, you know, if you decide that you're a union member, but you're only a union member, so that you can win a pension not because you care about the political struggle, like that's the same kind of thing that I think you're seeing in a lot of academic roles. So it's a kind of come to Jesus moment, I I personally would like to see the future of sociology being much more embedded in everyday life, and having negotiated the difficulties that come with that. You know, like for example, you may not get tenure, and you may not get quote unquote, academic freedom, which let's face it, it's kind of a lie in the first place but you are embedded in your they're making a difference in places that really matter like, I've seen a lot of sociologist go into civic work so you know, building like the the ATF is an example here in the States, you've got the Canadian digital service. California has a statewide digital service, that's great love that. Seeing them go into disability activism and disability policymaking into housing. I've seen that too, that's been going on. It's just wonderful. Technology like me really important, like hard. Don't get me wrong, it's very difficult. But I'd like to see more of that. Ideally, I would really like to see sociologists go more so into medicine. Because if we've learned anything in the last 18 months is that science alone can't save us, quote, unquote, biological science alone can't save us. We need human science as well. People are, humans are weird, they're rational. They do things that seemingly make no sense. We need more sociologists in that in that who can explain how and in what ways the best of scientific intentions can go awry. Just because we didn't think about the actual human element. I'd like to see more of that.

Roy Sharples:

Just how soon is the future? One thing for sure is, the future is unwritten and everything is possible. Do you want to learn more about how to create Without Frontiers by unleashing your creative power? Then consider getting

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