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Life Kerning: Creative Ways to Fine Tune Your Perspective on Career and Life Paperback – November 8, 2011

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Amazon.com Review

From the Author: Life Kerning Strategies

Life Kerning 04: Be Anti-Social
Online and mobile engagement is both beneficial and enjoyable, but we all need to habitually unplug. The more you engage, the more prone you become to constantly checking your accounts for communications you need to respond to. Soon time has gone by—in many cases, time that was just frittered.

Make a concerted effort to unplug and do something else. What’s interesting is that, when you do plug back in, you realize that maybe you are a little late to some of the conversations but that nothing happened is preventing you from still participating. The more time you take to return to the physical world around you and engage there, the richer your days actually become.

Start Your Anti-Social Campaign
1. What times of the day are you most productive and tuned in? Choose those times to focus on the items you want to accomplish, whether it’s at work or after hours. Unplug before you start.

2. Read something—not on a phone or tablet. Play a board game or a card game. Draw. Paint. Do something that does not entail an electronic device. Dust off the Etch A Sketch?

3. Work out and don’t check Facebook, talk on the phone, or tweet. Seriously.

4. If your phone or tablet is just too tempting, give it to a coworker or family member for a period of time.

5. You can set aside regular, fixed times to have a no-device zone. This could be at morning meetings, at the dinner table, wherever. You might actually have some meaningful conversation!

Life Kerning 011: Do What You Love
Do you love what you do? When you ponder that question, try to approach it from different perspectives:

1. Does your job excite and/or challenge you? If not, does your current profession inspire you, and could you find another job within that profession?

2. Is your satisfaction with your job tied to your attitude? (You know you can change your attitude, right?)

3. Does your job allow you to do the things that really matter to you (e.g., taking off early to spend time with family, enjoying your favorite hobby, writing your novel)?

4. Does the type of work you do help to make the world a better place? Do you resonate with your company’s mission? Can you visualize a satisfying future in your current profession?

5. It’s never too late to make some adjustments somewhere to bring the elements of your life into a more positive balance.

Finding the Love
Here are some more questions that may help you find the love again:

1. What would you do if you didn’t have to work?

2. How different is it than what you are doing now?

3. Remember where you started in your career. Go back to your first day. What has changed? Have you grown?

From the Inside Flap

Great design comes not in the lightning strike of a brilliant idea but in the painstaking process of refinement. Part of the design process involves kerning, the meticulous adjustment of space between letterforms (type). And so it is in life that the achievement of excellence comes not in broad strokes but in deliberate and incremental change.

In Life Kerning, author Justin Ahrens applies this concept to both your life and career. There is a common misconception that positive change can only come from a complete system overhaul. Ahrens challenges this notion by inviting business leaders and professionals to not only reassess the goals of your life, but also to rethink your understanding of balance altogether.

Using insights and observations from both the creative and professional world, this book guides you in determining what you're passionate about, and then how to keep those passions in the forefront of your life and career. Discover strategies to apply to your life and career that will allow you to:

  • Reach out to others strategically and trust the collaboration process

  • Create space in your life and add enjoyment to your day-to-day existence

  • Develop critical decision-making skills

  • Establish an inspiring and motivating workplace environment

  • Learn how and when to ask for more

  • Embrace your curiosity, and become a catalyst for positive change

Live a life that fuels your work, and work in a way that fuels your life. Life Kerning shows you how, one miniscule step at a time.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (November 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1118067827
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118067826
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.5 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,172,181 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Before Life Kerning was a book, I witnessed it first hand through the life and work of it's eventual author Justin Ahrens. When I first met him back in 2008 I realized he was a different kind of creative person, sure I admired his design work but there was more to it than a mere aesthetic appeal. It went deeper, it had meaning beyond our industry, it was real and he was excited about it and wanted to share it with others.

Ahrens insights will help pinpoint and cause you to remember moments in your life, thoughts you've entertained but never moved forward with, awake convictions you've held but haven't acted upon. You'll smile, shake your head in agreement, and than suddenly realize with clarity the kerning your own life would benefit from. I suppose someone could merely write this off as another self-help book, but if they do their going to miss a very fun ride. And I say "ride" instead of "read" because this isn't a "How to" book, it's a "Go do" book. And the ride it'll take you on will be well worth the time you invested.

When Justin encouraged me to "Serve and Change" it literally changed the entire way I looked at everything. My life had way too many gapping holes of self serving ideals and goals, but once I took the time to simply serve and use my talent for the sake of someone else, the change it brought was refreshing and life kerning.

This book may have been written by a designer, but it's application, motivation, and inspiration is universal and timeless.
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Format: Paperback
Life Kerning is engaging and refreshing. This book strikes the fine balance between a good read and one that's packed with insightful takeaways that are easy to incorporate into any scenario. None of Ahrens' tips require a business overhaul or abrupt life change. They are small "fine-tuning" adjustments that are already making a big difference on the way I see my career and how it fits into my life. Strategies like:

* "Create Space" (making room for the important things in life)
* "Play Nicely with Others" (how to start or improve strategic collaborative relationships)
* "Do What You Love" (...and how to get back to loving what you do)
* "Serve and Change" (easy ways to incorporate serving into your work day)
* "Balance is a State of Mind" (True balance is different for everyone, and knowing that is half the battle)

The book is really well laid out and easy to read (more thanks to Ahrens' friendly writing style). And as a special bonus, 7" x 7" is a great size (easy to take anywhere), and it's filled with witty illustrations in each chapter. Also the flaps make it easy to bookmark a tip I'm currently working on. It would make a perfect gift for any business owner, professional, or creative in your life.
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Format: Paperback
This was the book I didn't want to like. How could someone 20 years my junior know enough about life to "kern" it (usually, kerning is the final step in production). Maybe *I* should have been the one that wrote it.

Shortly after picking up "Life Kerning" I realized how arrogant that was. Just a few chapters in I knew I couldn't have written it--this little book was definitely authored by the right person. Justin Ahrens has insights, and the experiences to them back up, I never had--far beyond his years.

So let me say this--it was a hard book for me to read. It would have been easier 20 years ago when I would been more inclined to feel I had the chance to change things. I'm at that stage in my life and career where I beginning to regret that I didn't "kern" my life, my business, my friends, my family as well as Justin shows how we can.

While those in leadership roles will benefit the most, this book should be required reading for anyone in that critical stage of early adulthood when they can benefit most by developing healthy, long-term patterns of behavior that make them more balanced, wiser, gentler, altruistic, and generally better person over the long haul--not just for them, but for all those they come to touch. The recommendations are not out of reach for anyone--most are the old palm-slap-to-the-forehead-why-didn't-I-think-of-that steps anyone can take to make their journey a better one.

If you are looking for an academic tome on the meaning of life, you won't get it here. "Life Kerning" is "advice-lite," only lightly covering some potential profound precepts, e.g., the chapter "Learn from the Wisdom of Others." And for my senior-moment tastes there were too many concepts that blurred together by the end (29? 10 worked for Moses).
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Often a well-designed ad is simply a slight tweak from perfection. In "Life Kerning," Justin Ahrens drawls on his experiences as a designer and small businessperson to offer easy and concrete ways to tweak the way you work and live. As he states, "You are closer than you think."

"Life Kerning" is useful.

I say "yes" too much. After one sitting "Life Kerning" helped me look at opportunities in a new way: Will I have fun? Will I make money? Will I reach an audience that will help spread my message? The next day I was presented with one of those "we can't pay you what you normally get, but..." opportunities and busted out my yes/no "Life Kerning" lesson and took all the wishy out of the wishwashiness that too often invades my decision making process.

Ahrens makes the argument for establishing an advisory board -- a cabinet of trusted peers who will shoot straight with you -- and he presents you with steps and guidelines how to establish one of your own. Before I was done with this section, I had a list of possible people scribbled in the margins to ask to be on my board.

Life Kerning is inspiring.

So many business or self-help books require massive change. Stop checking your email! Work less! Work more! Ahrens doesn't shout at you to overhaul your life or your business. There's no lesson from "Life Kerning" that isn't doable. And the knowledge that I'm closer to being a more efficient, productive, and balanced ME, made this one of the most inspiring books I've read in the past year.
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