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Life Kerning: Creative Ways to Fine Tune Your Perspective on Career and Life Paperback – 16 Dec 2011

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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.

From the Back Cover

Small steps toward the elusive work–life balance: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. "I just love this book. And you will, too, if you strive to be a human being and not a human doing. It′s about simple truths: Serve others. Say thank you. Create more good. Believe in something bigger than yourself. Do what you love. This isn′t rocket science—it′s just a great guide for assessing what′s important in your life. Read Life Kerning, take it to heart, and watch everything around you get a little bit better." — Ken Blanchard, coauthor of The One Minute Manager and Lead with LUV "Life Kerning is a very good read. The style is such that you feel like Justin is alongside you as you both discover how to navigate work and life. As I was reading it, I found myself drawn further and further into the concepts just by the authenticity with which they were delivered, but honestly, the concepts themselves are meaty but accessible. I′m going to give this away to a lot of my friends and clients." — David C. Baker, ReCourses, Inc.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Based on a True Story 28 Nov. 2011
By Von Glitschka - Published on
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Refreshing Perspective on Business and Life 12 Nov. 2011
By Kara Ayaram - Published on
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Life is an art. Turn your life into the masterpiece it should be. 26 Nov. 2011
By Kelsey - Published on
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Are you ever to old to start kerning? 25 Mar. 2012
By breadwild - Published on
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). That said, if the book would have been much deeper, it would have been called "Life Leading," a much more noticeable typographical move.

My only disappointment: many of the issues that would lent themselves so well to a faith-based point of view, weren't. I suppose I can understand why, but as a fellow believer, I would have appreciated Justin's perspective and application. As Jesus said, "What I tell you in the dark, say in the light... proclaim from the housetops."

In actual practice, once type is kerned it doesn't need to be done again. Not so with life--while letterforms on a page don't move, people do. This book is small enough to keep on your desk, and easy enough thumb through to be reminded frequently of those things we should be doing to stay "kerned."

The challenge for me is to admit it's not too late. If I had never read "Life Kerning" I might have never had that chance. Thanks Justin.
Every designer (and non-designer) should read this book. 14 Oct. 2013
By Maple - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I picked up this book because I was a lost designer. I desperately needed advice on how to navigate and balance my life as a designer and as a person. Life Kerning is full of great insights that will change the way you think and live.

Life Kerning does exactly what it says it will do: fine tune your perspective on career and life. The book provides so many good insights that make you think and re-evaluate your life. Ahrens isn't afraid to share his personal experiences and the lessons he's learned from his mistakes, making the book relatable and personable. Ahrens is honest, challenging, and urges you to ask yourself hard questions, just like a good friend would. The book is a great, easy read that you can pick up or put back down easily. Chapters are short and great for a quick dose of inspiration and self-reflection.

Some of my favorite insights from the book:
• The power of saying no: "Will the work be profitable? Will the work be fun? Will the work help you attract other work, future employees, or attention in the marketplace? If the type of work or client fits two out of the three criteria, you may choose to go for it."
• "Who really cares who is on your company's client list? Is your work fulfilling? Do you enjoy it? Are you paid a fair wage? If you can answer yes to these three questions, is there really an issue?"
• "People on their deathbeds do not wish they had worked more."
• "True balance is different for everybody (and it really doesn't exist), but just knowing that is half the battle."

There's so much great practical advice that this book offers. I've started incorporating some of them into my life, and I find that I am less stressed when making decisions and evaluating situations. Balancing a career and life is not easy, and I definitely recommend this book to every designer! Even non-designers will get something out of this book. Life Kerning is definitely one of the most inspiring, practical, and well-designed books I've read. (And for all the design nerds out there, the book features witty illustrations, strong typographical hierarchy, and nice paper!)
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