I'm Bryan Berg, And This Is How I Work

It's safe to say that Bryan Berg has a job unlike any other. Specifically, he makes Guiness-Record-setting sized card towers without a dab of glue or strip of tape in sight. In Sydney building a replica of the Eiffel Tower as part of a Virgin Frequent Flyer publicity effort, he talked about working in an impromptu fashion, and why sometimes you just have to work through sleep fatigue.

Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico Current Gig: Cardstacker Current Mobile Device: iPhone Current Computer: Mac One word that describes how you work: Impromptu

What's your best time-saving trick?

In a card-stacking sense — given that's my line of work — I would say that instead of building the mass of the building, I will build the shell of the building. Instead of building the white and the yolk of the egg, I will build the shell, usually. That saves me so much time.

In daily life, for a time-saving trick, I'm not the person to ask. It seems like it takes me forever to do everything, and my wife is always telling me better ways to do things. So my best time saving trick would be my wife.

What apps/software/tools can't you live without?

I use Google Sketchup to render my projects, because I need to know what I'm doing, clients want to know what I'm doing; in this case I've provided Virgin Australia with a rendering of the little town and Eiffel Tower that I'm building. There's always a graphic component to what I'm doing; I can create something, and make it a component, and I can scale and move components around. It allows me to keep changing the scale and arrangement of a project.

Besides your phone and computer, what gadget can't you live without?

I haven't used it here yet, but I have an electric digital thermometer and humidity reader. Some places I work are really humid, and some are really dry, and all of that has an effect on how the cards work.

What's your workspace like?

I do a great many of my projects in a giant glass box. I do it that way for a number of reasons. To protect the work that I'm doing from everyone; from cleaning people who might not know what it is and help clean up around it, to the odd gust of wind that could come in. That's my way of controlling things, and I also use it to define the project and the space. I'm all by myself working away, but I have a lot of company in the sense that everybody's watching me.

What do you listen to while you work?

I tend put my iPod on and charge it with music, depending on my mood. I've found over the years that I tend to like house music, so I play a lot of house music. It can be very up-tempo, it can be very laid back. It can suit almost anyone's taste.

What everyday thing are you better at than anyone else?

In a general sense, I'm a really creative thinker. I tend to not get overly worked up about things just because I figure there's a creative solution figuring out a way to handle it.

What's your sleep routine like?

My sleep routine is a mixed bag, because every project I do is different, and I have different work hours. Here I'm working from usually around 10 until 6, and if I get behind schedule, I'll start working longer hours; starting earlier and working later.

This time change was really killing me, but I'm finally getting around 8 hours sleep a night.

What's the best advice you've ever received?

Years ago I had a professor; I'm trained as an architect. He told me that I could sleep when I graduated. I pull that thought into my daily routine when I'm doing cardstacking; sometimes you do have to put in a brutal week to get it done; that killer week to do what you're going to do, and then you can chill out.

More recently, I read "Screw It, Let's Do It", by Richard Branson, and in that, he goes against everybody's advice, and it all works out. I kind of use that in my own life, that if I just follow what it is that I want to do, and give it my all, it generally works out. If you do what you love to do, you'll get pretty good at it, and people will notice, and you'll have more and more of it to do.


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