I was recently prompted to think deeply about my aspirations and skills with a few excellent questions:
How do I prefer to spend my time versus what am I very good at? What work specifically do I wish I could do more of? How do I feel blocked from doing it?
If money wasn't an issue, I would continue working towards becoming a great composer. At present, I don't think I am skilled enough to compose a remarkable score for a film project and deliver it on time and within budget. I wish I could spend more time composing and working on developing related skills, but alas, I have to prioritize paying my bills.
So, what am I really good at? What are my topmost skills?
Self-directed learning, acquiring new skills and resourcefulness: I think I am good at self-directed learning. For example, in 2012, when I was 24, I taught myself a computer programming language, Java, using only online resources; and within a couple or so months, I was able to write an app that plays a card game with you, Durak. You can download it here (just go to Java.com and install Java to play it). I was even able to successfully address a difficult problem on Stack Overflow with a well-received and comprehensive solution, demonstrating resourcefulness and an ability to delve deep and grasp complex subject matter. I always enjoy immersing myself in an unfamiliar topic or field and acquiring new knowledge and skills.
Computer and digital literacy: I think I am good at using computers and digital tools. As mentioned above, I have familiarity with programming. I also have extensive experience with Linux-based operating systems, in addition to macOS and Windows. I can easily and quickly learn how to effectively use any new software or digital platform. For example, in 2020, I started using Sibelius (an industry-standard music notation program) and gained expertise within a few months. As an exercise, I typeset the original score of Palladio by Karl Jenkins, painstakingly ensuring accurate representation of its nuanced details in the digital version. You can view the result here. I am constantly on the lookout for new tools and software to incorporate into my workflow.
Adaptability, perseverance and courage: I think I am good at adapting and persevering. In 2022, when I was 34, I started working in roofing. My coworkers told me they never heard of anyone getting into roofing in their 30s and surviving for more than a few weeks. It is a hard and dangerous job; and most people who try it, can't get past the initial fear of heights. I was shaking when I climbed ladders up three-story and four-story houses. My heart was racing while navigating steep roofs and carrying piles of heavy old shingles to throw into distant dumpsters below without missing. I was laughed at when I struggled and failed to pick up bundles weighing around 60 to 90 pounds on my shoulder and carrying them all the way up without help. Despite all that, I persevered, and after several months, I became one of the best labourers they ever saw. I refused to quit until I mastered the job. I also have a lot experience in other frustrating jobs, like door-to-door sales and lead generation, which call for a high degree of persistence. Throughout my life, I always valued adaptability, perseverance, and courage.
Effective communication, leadership and vision: I think I am good at articulating complex ideas clearly. For example, I think I did a good job at articulating my vision for a music video in a comprehensive package including a brief, treatment, script and a draft video. I think another example of my ability to articulate and explain confusing concepts would be one of my answers on Quora. I think I am good at organizing and orchestrating a group of people towards a goal. I did this in 2021 when I worked with a team to prepare high-quality sheet music for a couple of my compositions and sell them through my website.
Interdisciplinary integration, divergent thinking, problem solving, creativity and innovation: I think I am good at borrowing ideas from different disciplines, thanks to my wide range of experience across various fields. For example, in 2019, I was talking with composers in an online forum, and they seemed surprised at the ideas I was introducing, like using crowd review services for market research (which I borrowed from my songwriting experience). I think I am also good at figuring things out. For example, in 2004, when I was 17, I asked the entire math department at my high school for a derivation or some sort of explanation for the formula A=πr² (the formula for calculating the area of a circle). High school math teachers seem content with just teaching how to apply various formulas, but not explaining how the formulas were derived or discovered, which is the true beauty of mathematics. When I learned none of the teachers knew why the formula A=πr² is true or how it was discovered, I went to the public library to seek an answer (this was before the days of Wikipedia), and I couldn't find anything over there either. So, I decided to spend a few days thinking about it, and then independently came up with an elegant explanation, which I wrote about here.
When I look back at my life, and try to see the bigger picture of who I am and what I was always aiming for, there is key moment when I was 17: I was in the school library, working on a computer, and above me, on a wall, was a framed replica of the Vitruvian Man by Da Vinci. I was inspired when I saw his signature on the bottom right-hand corner.
I was inspired to create own personal branding, and I immediately designed this logo while sitting there:
This logo stayed dear to me all these years, and today, it hangs on a wall opposite to my bed.
There are indications that we are on the threshold of a new era of accelerated development, dubbed the Digital Renaissance. I think, subconsciously, I was somehow always preparing myself for this revolution, and aspiring to become something like what Da Vinci was in the last Renaissance. While I was designing my logo, the name "The Aviv" occured to me, and I have used it as my professional/artist/stage name ever since. I find it interesting that both "The Aviv" and "Da Vinci" are exactly 8 characters long (7 characters when the space is omitted). I never made that connection before!