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The Age of Ideas: Unlock Your Creative Potential
14 minutes | Oct 11, 2020
Season Finale: The End (of Season One) & Your New Beginning
Success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. —Viktor Frankl We have more freedom than at any time in human history. But the majority of us do nothing with this freedom. Instead, we impose constraints on ourselves, despite fighting so hard to remove these constraints. We decide what’s possible and enforce artificial limits on our lives. We do this because it makes us comfortable; it feels manageable, it’s just easier. But as Abraham Maslow explained, the pinnacle of life is the enjoyment of “peak experiences.” Today, these “rare, exciting, oceanic, deeply moving, exhilarating, elevating experiences” are within your grasp. All you have to do is be open and available to where the universe wants to take you. Put away your fears and go.After all, you’re free.But what do you do when you have infinite possibilities? How do you proceed? The primary goal of freedom is a fulfilled existence. And while it’s exciting to have an endless variety of hot dogs, work- out programs, and luxury automobiles, these material elements of life have little or no bearing on your true happiness and fulfillment. Our powers lie within. The mysteries of life, the true might of the human experience, exist in life’s emotional aspects. How do we feel about who we are? How do we feel about our loved ones? What do we create and share? How do we make others feel? Our emotional worldview determines what we’re able to manifest and, most importantly, how we feel about our life experience. Therefore, the understanding of your emotions and the emotions of the people with whom you surround yourself is paramount to a meaningful life. While we all desire happiness and fulfillment, popular culture gives us all the wrong directions on how to reach these goals. The fulfillment we all seek only comes from being creative in our daily life and sharing that creativity with others. This doesn’t mean you need to be a painter and live the life of an artist. It means acting on your creative impulses, pursuing your purpose, whether as an accountant, entrepreneur, or guitarist, engaging in a skill you find challenging and enjoyable. The result of this approach will be your best work. From here, your success and fulfillment will ensue. The Age of Ideas has arrived. Today, applying your creativity will not only bring you fulfillment, it is the primary skill you need to create value. It’s time for you to be truly free. It’s time to spend your brief time on earth doing the things you love, surrounded by the people you care about the most. It’s time to share what makes you special and serve the needs of others through a purpose greater than your selfish desires. Now is the time to realize the gift you’ve been given. Today is when you make it happen. Do it for all of us. We can’t wait to see the magic you make.
17 minutes | Oct 4, 2020
The Story of A24. Why Trust is Critical to Building a Modern Brand.
Moonlight. Ladybird.The Disaster Artist. A Most Violent Year. It Comes at Night. Spring Breakers. The Lobster.The Florida Project. Amy.SupersonicEx Machina. Almost every movie that has meant something to me over the past five-plus years has been made by A24, an independent film company started in 2012 in New York. When I see their logo (an awesome one, by the way), I anticipate I’ll be taken on a journey of emotional discovery, experiencing a life or points of view that provoke deep thought and consideration. Early on, while admiring their logo and loving their films, I didn’t know much about A24 and how they became such prolific enablers of great creative work. But in writing this book, I began researching the company, watching it more closely, and marveled repeatedly at the way A24 has proved exceptional at strategic sharing. Not only do does this studio foster superlative films, it demonstrates a profound understanding of how digital media, storytelling, collab- oration, direct influence, and trust-building can propel a company from zero to sixty in the Age of Ideas. Like Supreme, David Chang, or Ian Schrager, A24 makes a product that intrigues me, that inspires excitement, aspiration, and irrational loyalty. What do I mean by irrational loyalty? I mean the willingness to pay more for a branded product or service with minimal added practical benefit. I listen to the A24 podcast and I’m signed up to the A24 email list. I follow their social media feeds. This isn’t the way I usually engage with movie companies. A24 has developed a direct-to-consumer relationship with me and become my trusted film curator. When their latest release comes out, I don’t even need to check reviews because I believe in them and the work they’re doing. They’ve consistently delivered great films, and this has led me to trust them with my entertainment needs. And now I know their origin story. In 2012, Daniel Katz, David Fenkel, and John Hodges left their jobs at Guggenheim Partners, Oscilloscope, and Big Beach, respec- tively, to start a new, independent film company aimed at redefining the way indie movies were made and marketed. As Katz explained, “I always had dreams of [starting a company]. And on some level, honestly, I was afraid to go out on my own and try to make it work. And I was with a bunch of friends [driving] into Rome and I kind of had this moment of clarity. And it was on the A24 [motorway]. And in that moment I was like: Now it’s time to go do this.” Katz and his fellow founders had been great admirers of 1990s independent cinema and felt there was now a void when it came to films with that kind of boldness and artistic quality. They decided to start a New York-based company focused on “the films and filmmakers, not us.” This meant they would give the creatives—the directors and the writers—control of their work. As Harmony Korine, director of Spring Breakers, puts it, “Hollywood is run by accoun- tants at this point. And so anytime you speak with someone who’s not a pure accountant, is not a pencil pusher, it’s exciting. They had heart to them.” And that heart has made all the difference with filmmakers. While this approach is not new or novel, it’s rare. Entrepreneurs and business leaders who are open-minded and intelligent enough to enable creatives while providing them support and expertise to realize a truly differentiated vision are few and far between, but the ones who do it well are able to leave their mark on culture and exponentially improve their returns. Viewed through the lens of our Age of Ideas thesis, A24 represents a prime example of the Creator’s Formula in action. The studio enables gifted filmmakers—experienced creatives—to tell distinct, emotionally generous stories from a personal perspective.
15 minutes | Sep 24, 2020
Influence, Collaboration, & Storytelling with Conde Nast, Louis Vuitton and Steve Jobs
When I was first appointed chief marketing officer of a hotel com- pany, I was presented with an interesting situation, one I’m quite sure many marketing professionals have experienced in some form over the last five to ten years. It was Fashion Week in New York City, and we’d allotted a small budget to offer complimentary rooms to some social influencers. It was 2014, and this type of marketing wasn’t as common as it is today, so we didn’t pay any fees, and the lost potential revenue for the hotel was minimal—maybe ten thousand dollars max. The influencers were engaged through the relationships of our head of social media. We invited fifteen, ten accepted, and they stayed for two or three days each in exchange for multiple daily posts show- casing the property. During the same week, another one of our hotels was featured on the Condé Nast Traveler Gold List as one of the best hotels in the world. For years, this list was paramount when it came to attracting high-end guests willing to pay a premium for your property. The entire executive team of the company was ecstatic at the hotel’s inclusion on the Condé Nast list. High fives! Congratu- lations all around! Meanwhile, no one made a single positive com- ment about the ten influencers we were able to get, at a minimal expense, to stay at our hotel. We’d spent more than one hundred thousand dollars on public relations agencies to be included on that Condé Nast list and less than 10 percent of that cost to acquire those influencers. Now, at the time, Condé Nast Traveler had no more than 300,000 followers on their Instagram feed and a rapidly diminishing print circulation, while the ten influencers had well over 10-million-and-growing engaged followers on their social media platforms. One of them was Aimee Song (@songofstyle), who boasts 4.9 million followers on just her Instagram platform alone. And these influencers didn’t just post once, they posted multiple times daily on their channels. Though we didn’t at the time have the digital analytics to measure the full effect—traffic and bookings—of both channels, I believe the return on investment from the influ- encer posts was significantly higher, considering the cost, number of followers, engagement levels, clickthroughs, and reposts. This experience is a prime example of how marketing has changed in the Age of Ideas. Influence isn’t a new concept born from influencers; all adver- tising and marketing has always been based on influence—it’s why we used to buy full-page magazine ads, TV commercials, and vie for the attention of magazine editors. But with the democratization of communication and technology, there has been a shift in who has the influence, a fragmenting of influence, and without a doubt this will continue to evolve. While some influencers are highly valuable, some are not. While some magazines and newspapers are highly influential, some are not. As marketers and entrepreneurs, we need to move away from relying on any one outlet or person who at the moment may have the power and instead build our own influence, like Supreme does. You can do that by establishing a strong direct relationship with your audience.
15 minutes | Sep 8, 2020
Sharing vs. Advertising, the Marketers Winning Hand
Sharing puts the audience first, while advertising or marketing in the classic sense of the word is selfish—it puts the needs of the indi- vidual or organization first. To be a great creator, to share yourself or your ideas effectively, you must share them without selfish inten- tions; you must put the audience first. Consider the current retail conundrum. For years, stores had seasonal mega-sales. Instead of improving their product, building bonds with their customers, and creating value, they chose to manipulate customers into action with discounts. The result? Customers only shop when there are massive sales, profits are eroded, loyalty becomes nonexistent, and, eventually, businesses close. While this applies to the many, a select few have discovered the antidote to this apathy. In a world where most consumers value meaning over money, experiences over material goods, and crave meaningful connec- tions, the only way to break through is to share, not sell; to be selfless, not selfish. The components of an effective sharing toolkit—our package of marketing tactics—have changed. For instance, traditional public relations efforts have lost significant influence over consumer behav- ior with the introduction of social media. As we explained, what used to be a controlled, one-way message, like a restaurant review or gossip column placement, has turned into an active dialogue between brand and consumer: your Instagram or LinkedIn feed. And that dialogue happens primarily through the three critical elements of modern marketing—creative, distribution, and experiential—and you’ll need to master them to effectively share your ideas. Creative “Creative” (as a noun) encompasses everything from your logo to your social media photos to all the content you produce—vid- eos, photos, blog posts, email newsletters, printed flyers, business cards—and even the way in which you communicate your message. Creative is expressed through content, which is directed toward specific audiences via any form of media, from television to the Internet, smartphones, books, e-books, magazines, and live events. Creative is the product of transforming your idea into sharable forms of messaging people can interact with, relate to, and use, whether on Netflix, Instagram, Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, or any of the other modern platforms. What does this mean for you? Consumers, especially those under the age of forty, don’t pay attention when they’re being sold to directly, especially when the source isn’t a trusted one, so your only way in is to entertain and creatively engage them. Your brand must be a wellspring of inspiring, beneficial, and interesting content that reinforces your core value propositions and beliefs—and once you have that, you have to amplify your creative and get it in front of the right eyes. This brings us to distribution. Distribution Sharing is good, and with digital technology, sharing is easy. —Richard Stallman, Internet activist Distribution refers to how you share your creative with the con- sumer. How do you get the word out? Think of your creative as a tree falling in the woods. You can have the best content ever made, but if you can’t get eyeballs on it, no one will ever know. In the mod- ern world, digital is the primary way for you to get that message to the most people at the least expense. It is highly efficient, requires minimal investment, and provides instant feedback.
22 minutes | Aug 28, 2020
Kith, Nike, & Jack's Wife Freda, The Making of a Modern Brand
In the Jewish religion, a bar mitzvah is the ritual induction of a boy into manhood at the age of thirteen. It’s recognized as the time when he, not his parents, becomes responsible for his actions. Ronnie Fieg took this transition quite seriously. Fieg’s first cousin is David Z, a legendary sneaker and sports- wear retailer in New York City. Ronnie’s parents were paying off his bar mitzvah celebration with the gifts from the guests, and as is customary, David came to the celebration with his gift in hand: an envelope of cash. Ronnie saw this as an opportunity and said to David, “Thanks, but no thanks; I’d rather have a job working for you instead.” The next day, Ronnie started as a stock boy at David Z. In the late 1990s, David Z was located on Eighth Street in Greenwich Village, one of the most influential blocks in the country for street culture. All the big hip-hop artists spent their weekends hanging on the block. They would start on the corner with a Gray’s Papaya hot dog, maybe grab a pair of Parasuco Jeans in one of the lesser-known shops, and end up in David Z’s buying a pair of GORE-TEX boots. This was where Ronnie learned the business of sneakers and streetwear. As he tells it, “When Lauryn Hill spits ‘In some Gore- Tex and sweats I make treks like I’m homeless,’ the week that she recorded that album, I sold her the boots. And when you see Ma$e and Diddy in the ‘Been Around the World’ video and they’re wearing Dolomites, I sold them their boots. Anytime you’d see Wu-Tang with custom Wallabies, I used to get them custom-made for them. Jay-Z was there every weekend. ‘Cruising down Eighth Street’—when he spits that on the [‘Empire State of Mind’] track, that was him every Saturday, cruising down Eighth Street. I used to help him with his Timberlands every Saturday.” For Ronnie, working at David Z was like going to the Harvard of street style. Ronnie worked his way up from stock boy to sales clerk to assistant manager to manager to assistant buyer and, eventually, buyer for multiple David Z stores around the age of twenty-five. As the head buyer, Ronnie had direct exposure to the brands, and luckily for him, David Z moved volume, which gave him influence. He formed a relationship with ASICS at a Vegas trade show, and the brand performed well in the stores, so ASICS decided to give him the opportunity to design his own silhouette. This was propitious; back in the day, his mom had bought him a pair of ASICS Gel-Lyte IIIs at Tennis Junction in Great Neck instead of the more popular Reebok Pumps he wanted. At first, Ronnie hated them, but eventually he grew to love them, wearing them until they had “holes in the soles.” He wanted to replace them, but they’d been discontinued. When ASICS gave him the chance to design his own, the Gel-Lyte III was his obvious choice. He pulled them out of the archive and created three versions, of which a total of 756 pairs were manufactured. He called in some favors from a few friends, and they threw an event at David Z. The next day, they sold a few pairs, and he shared the story of the shoes with one of the buyers. The day after that, Ronnie’s mother called him, exclaiming, “Your shoe is on the cover of the Wall Street Journal!” The guy Ronnie had told the story to was an editor at the WSJ, and he wrote a story about limited-run sneakers. The next day, there was a line around the block. That same day, the president of Adidas America showed up and, as Ronnie tells it, “I told him the story, and that’s how we started talking about working on a shoe called the Black Tie.” Ronnie had begun to build his following.
10 minutes | Aug 23, 2020
Some Days will Suck & Free to Fail with Michael Jordan, Ted Williams, & Ed Catmull of Pixar
Ted Williams was an exceptional baseball player. During his nine- teen years playing for the Boston Red Sox, he made seventeen trips to the All-Star Game, was twice named the American League MVP, was the batting champion six times, and won the Triple Crown twice. At the end of his career, he had a .344 batting average, with 521 home runs. Most legendarily of all, in 1941, Williams ended his season with a .406 average, making him the last player ever to hit over .400 for a season. Ted Williams is without a doubt “the greatest hitter who ever lived.” Now let’s take a look at Williams’s statistics from a different perspective. Although he was baseball’s all-time greatest hitter, he was only successful at getting a hit 34.5 percent of the time. That means the best-ever batter failed more than 65 percent of the time throughout his career. For every attempt he made, two out of three times, he failed. But maybe that’s just baseball. Let’s check the application of this theory in another sport. The greatest basketball player of all time is Michael Jordan. MJ had a career field-goal percentage of 49.7 percent. This means that half of the time, when the greatest player and most prolific scorer in basketball history took a shot, he missed. One out of every two attempts, he failed. Okay, but what about the world beyond sports? Michael Jackson recorded and released approximately 225 songs. Jackson is recognized as one of the most prolific hit-makers in pop-music history, yet of his 200-plus recorded songs, only two out of every ten cracked the top 40 (with thirteen going to number one). Now, let’s look at these statistics in a different context: your work. If you told your boss or coworkers you were going to fail 50 percent of the time like Michael Jordan, 65 percent of the time like Ted Williams, or 80 percent of the time like Michael Jackson, do you think you would be looked upon favorably? The answer is without a doubt no. We’re taught to believe that mistakes are bad, and that when you fail, you’re considered a failure. This simply isn’t true. Without failure and mistakes, it’s impossible to become great and achieve something different, special, or innovative. It’s like cooking; the first time you make something, you might fail—it might not come together—but with experimentation and practice, it often becomes great. I’m not advocating that you bet your future or your organization’s future on moonshot ideas. What I am expressing is the belief that we must encourage, not punish, experimentation, exploration, and learning through experience. Pixar is the closest thing in modern business to Ted Williams, Michael Jordan, or Michael Jackson. At the time I am writing this they’ve released twenty movies since their inception, and every single one of them has been a commercial and critical success. Surprisingly, underlying their nearly perfect record is the fervent belief that it must be safe to make mistakes or fail. Pixar’s founder Ed Catmull said, “Failure isn’t a necessary evil. In fact it’s not evil at all. It is a necessary consequence of doing something new.” He continued by saying, “Similarly, it is not the manager’s job to prevent risks. It is the manager’s job to make it safe to take them.” In other words, to achieve unbelievable success, we must create an environment where experimentation and the occasional failure are permitted and encouraged. Failure is painful, and our feelings about this pain confuse our understanding of its worth. We must learn to separate the good and the bad feelings related to failure and accept it as a critical component on our journey to greatness. Embrace uncertainty; dance with your fear. Because you will fail—but it is only failure if you fail to learn from each attempt.
18 minutes | Aug 10, 2020
Practical Magic Part #2: Building Your Product & Embracing Uncertainty with Wu Tang, Seth Godin, & Francis Mallman
The ultimate step in your manifesting process is to take your brand and turn it into a product and your storefront(s). Your product is a good, idea, method, information, or service created as a result of a process that serves a need or satisfies a want. It has a combination of tangible and intangible attributes (benefits, features, functions, uses) that a seller offers a buyer for purchase. Your storefront is your website, app, or presence on a platform such as eBay, Amazon, etsy, or iTunes, where you can sell your goods, services, or content. Now is when you take your defined idea and start turning it into something real and sharable. For instance, if you want to start a T-shirt company, this is the stage where you have your T-shirts designed, find a manufacturer, and put them up for sale on your storefront, i.e. your website. We will get into how to share in the next section, Strategic Sharing, but before you share your idea you have to make it real. Will your product be perfect at first? No. Will it fly off your website on day one? Probably not. The manifesting process is iterative. In the Age of Ideas you bring something to market, test it, analyze the response, and continuously refine. It is an ongoing feedback loop—share, listen, refine. The difference is that today the feedback loop is much shorter and more accurate: the everyday entrepreneur has access to data analytics platforms they can use on their websites to help them identify opportunities and mistakes and make changes to their products and platform almost instantly. It used to be that if you designed the store wrong you were screwed, but today you can test five homepages on your website and optimize performance in real time. Make some T-shirts, send an email or share them with people you trust, and get their reactions. Or build a website and have people try it out, see what journey they take and analyze where they drop off. The more interactions you have, the closer you will get to something that works—we call “something that works” a product-market fit.The key to successfully manifesting is perseverance. Most people quit when the feedback is not good or things get difficult. Those who succeed are the ones who can overcome pain; they get past it by realizing it is not a statement about their self-worth. They continue to believe in themselves and their ideas and trust that, whatever mistakes they make, they will figure it out. The Product While some businesses may require physical locations, such as retail shops, offices, or factories, the majority of businesses today are housed virtually. Whether you are manufacturing a product or providing a service, in the modern market products should be tested in the virtual marketplace prior to existing in the experiential marketplace. For example, if you wanted to make a new hot sauce, you could produce a small quantity and offer it for sale to both retailers and wholesalers on your website. After you gauge the market demand, you can then decide the best secondary methods of distribution. This was not possible prior to the Age of Ideas. The same strategy can apply to professional service providers and freelancers, from artists to writers to accountants. Why do you need a physical office when you can put your service online, generate leads, and start by taking meetings at a co-working space or even a coffee shop? Even if your product is an experiential or retail-based business, you can still test it with a pop-up or mobile shop prior to going all in on a retail location. Ali Webb and her partners started Dry Bar, a hair salon focusing on blow-drying hair, with a mobile blow-dry truck. The demand for the service was off the charts, so after a lot of strategic consideration they opened their first retail location. Now they have over seventy Dry Bar locations.
16 minutes | Jul 25, 2020
Practical Magic Part #1: 4 Steps to Manifesting Your Idea (Step 1 & 2)
Practical Magic Keeping our bedrock principles of manifesting in mind, now let’s get into some practical information, starting with a step-by-step look at how to manifest your ideas. Step #1: Define Your Concept The first step when manifesting an idea is to marry the emotional and practical elements of your idea into a defined concept. If you’ve worked through the process in Parts 2 and 3, you know your purpose and have a clear, concise statement of that purpose—one that should be entirely emotional. Now you need to connect that emotional purpose with a practical application. As an example, let’s look back at Ikea. Their purpose is to “create a better everyday life” for many, but their concept is to “support this vision by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.” While the two are related, they are quite different. One is a feeling, and the other is an offering. Purpose Statement = Emotional Concept Description = PracticalTo define your concept, write down two to three simple, clear sentences describing what you are trying to create. The best way to do that is to write down everything in your mind without overthinking or letting the monkey-mind limit or confuse you. You know your purpose; just let the concept that comes from that purpose flow. Write Concept Description BelowOnce you have done this, refine your concept description by considering the following questions: 1. Is this aligned with my purpose statement? 2. If not, how can I align it with my purpose? 3. Is this my highest and best challenge right now? 4. How can I set this up in a way where I can meet my short-term and long-term needs while making it a reality? Let’s look at an example. Say you wanted to open a fried-chicken restaurant. Well, the first question would be: What makes your fried-chicken shop different from other such shops? We call this your unique value proposition, or UVP. For our purposes, let’s use the following features as the ones creating your chicken shop’s UVP:1. We only serve chicken fingers. 2. We have 20 homemade sauces. 3. We use organic farm-raised chickens. 4. We only do takeout and delivery, no in-store dining. 5. We employ former foster children for all non-managerial positions. With this in mind, your concept description would be as follows: We are opening a casual, quick-service chicken restaurant specializing in organic chicken fingers served with our one-of-a-kind homemade sauces. The restaurant will focus on takeout/pick-up and delivery business. Our service staff will be made up of former foster children, 18-24 years of age, in order to provide them the necessary skills to succeed both personally and professionally and give back to the community.
17 minutes | Jul 18, 2020
Principles of Manifesting w Picasso, In & Out Burger, & the Baal Shem Tov
Manifesting starts with believing. Pablo Picasso’s mother said to him, “If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.” Instead, he became a painter, and eventually became “Picasso.” But he wasn’t anointed Picasso when he woke up one morning. He became Picasso after years of art school, brushes with severe poverty, decades of hard work, and a bunch of luck. He became Picasso because he believed he could become Picasso, despite those obstacles. He manifested his creativity because despite every challenge he encountered, he continued to believe in himself and his vision. This same principle applies to your journey. You must believe. Ninety-nine percent of the stories we tell ourselves are limiting. While they satisfy our sense of self-importance by explaining our past, they set limits on what we believe is possible for our future. These narratives define how we think about ourselves, which directly impacts what we’re capable of manifesting. But there’s good news: these stories are completely made up. You can change the story any time you like. It’s generally accepted that action is what makes successful people different. What not everyone considers is that action is preceded by thought, and how successful people think is what truly differentiates them from everyone else. Successful people believe. They believe in themselves, they believe in their people, and, most importantly, they believe that no matter what happens, they’ll figure things out. As Steve Jobs said, “When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you.”Stay Within Your Flow It was the summer of 1947 when Harry Snyder, a World War II veteran, wandered into a Seattle restaurant and fell in love with his waitress, Esther. She’d recently graduated college with a degree in zoology but also had a strong affinity for the culinary arts. On Esther’s break, they sat together in a diner booth, shared a hamburger, and discovered they both wanted to move to California. Ten months later, married, they pooled their resources, relocated to L.A., and opened a little burger joint across the street from Harry’s childhood home. The fast-food business was taking off at the time—McDonald’s had arrived locally just a few years earlier—but the Snyders’ establishment stood out: utilizing a two-way intercom, it was the first “drive-thru” burger experience in California, aptly named In-N-Out. Fast-forward seventy years. In-N-Out has grown to 300-plus locations and employs more than 18,000 people. While that’s significant growth, it’s paltry compared to the 36,000 McDonald’s locations and 420,000 employees, or Starbucks’ 240,000 locations and 280,000 employees. The reason behind this measured growth is that In-N-Out has consciously resisted franchising its operations or going public. All In-N-Out restaurants are west of the Mississippi River, no more than a day’s drive from their regional distribution centers. This makes it possible for the company to control the quality of their product by serving only fresh, unfrozen burgers and buns. It also allows them to control the quality of the experience, with rigorous training and people standards. Furthermore, the selective nature of their locations has led people to put an even greater emotional value on their delicious burgers. For years, customers have been begging In-N-Out to expand beyond its comfort zone, to cash in and follow society’s belief that bigger is always better.
18 minutes | Jul 8, 2020
Manifesting Magic with Gelareh Mizrahi
Our goals can only be reached through the vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success. —Pablo PicassoThe Designer Behind The Coolest Clutches In The World. - Nylon Magazine I knew she was different when I met her. She was petite, around five feet tall and ninety pounds, with big eyes and a captivating smile that implied, “I know something you don’t, and I am not going to tell you what it is.” But beyond her beauty, she was extraordinarily creative, with the kind of energy that bubbles up without intention— it’s just part of who she is. When you combine that type of creative energy with sensitivity, kindness, and a love of family, you’re talking about my ideal woman…which is why I asked her to be my wife. But it just so happens that Gelareh Mizrahi is also a perfect example of what everyone can manifest in the Age of Ideas. When I met her, Gelareh had recently graduated from the Parsons School of Design and was helping her cousin Aimee with her clothing brand, Queen of e.vil. The two of them would lock themselves in Aimee’s apartment for endless hours and cook up crazy design ideas that would end up on T-shirts, sweatshirts, and cashmere sweaters sold in department stores and boutiques from Dallas to Dubai. (You know that amazingly inspirational gear you pick up at SoulCycle? Aimee and Gelareh came up with the initial designs.) But before long, Gelareh, with her creative energy and desire, needed a new outlet; she wanted more. That was when the universe (and her mother) swooped in.One afternoon Gelareh’s mother Gilda was working in her boutique in Georgetown, an upscale area in Washington D.C. A customer noticed the python-skin handbags she had for sale and commented, “You know, I could make similar handbags for you. Maybe I could do a private label for your store.” Gilda said, “I don’t really want a private label, but you should speak with my daughter. She’s a fashion designer in New York.” And so Gelareh was put in touch with this woman, who owned a factory that produced handbags. A couple of conversations and emails later, an arrangement was in place: Gelareh would design and sell the python handbags in the U.S., while the woman would handle producing the bags overseas, and they would see how things developed from there. I was skeptical; yes, she had a partner, but no start-up capital. Why wouldn’t she just get a job doing design for someone else? But Gelareh was determined, and when she is determined, get on board or get out of the way. The first step for her new business was to get a booth at the Coterie show, a wholesale fashion tradeshow where all the major retailers buy from all the major producers. When you aren’t a recognized name, they don’t just hand you a booth, and most booths are committed months in advance. If a newcomer is lucky enough to score a space, it’s usually way in the back. That’s what happened here. Gelareh designed a low-cost but appealing booth for the Coterie show, and her father, brother, and I built it on-site, way in the back of the Jacob Javits convention center. I wanted to help with the sales process, but Gelareh was not having it. She asked me to go back to work and show up when it was time to break the booth down. Each night she came home exhausted, collapsed in bed, and left the next morning at the break of dawn. When the Coterie show ended, I broke down the booth. As we began our drive home, Gelareh was silent. She had not shared any sales numbers, so I was worried that no sales had been made. I was afraid of the impact this might have on her confidence and our new enterprise. But before long a subtle grin began to show on her face. I felt inspired to ask, “So did you make any sales?” “Maybe,” she replied. “How much you take in?” After a pause, she blurted, “We made $48,000!”
15 minutes | Jun 28, 2020
Cultivating Appreciation w Tom Brady, Danny Meyer, & Scooter Braun
Too often in life, something happens and we blame other people for us not being happy or satisfied or fulfilled. —Tom Brady, quarterback, New England Patriots Capitalism harnesses our selfish desires to fuel the growth of society. It rightfully assumes that when freedom is combined with desire, individuals will obey their self-interest and work hard to improve their position. While I’m a rabid capitalist, the system isn’t without flaws. When most of our focus is on growth, material goods, and financial returns, it’s inevitable that we’ll constantly lack fulfillment and emotional generosity. And that lack has powerful negative implications. Our endless desire for more must be counterbalanced by the cultivated appreciation of what we have, for without that appreciation, the personal fulfillment we all seek isn’t possible. Just think of the multitude of parents obsessed with their children’s future achievements rather than enjoying the pure bliss of their child every day. This same lack of appreciation is a major barrier for both individuals and organizations looking to manifest their creative potential. Our capitalistic obsession with growth, material goods, and financial returns is in direct opposition to our ability to be emotionally generous and therefore manifest our full potential. For a simple example of this, look no further than publicly traded companies. These organizations are slaves to growth, because their stock price (and therefore value) is based on future earnings. If they don’t hit their quarterly numbers, their stock goes down and the company is worth less. This often leads to companies making short-term decisions like cutting great people or killing development projects to achieve quarterly results. Does that make the company more likely to achieve greatness long term? Absolutely not.The likelihood of realizing our potential increases tenfold when appreciation is cultivated, when we are emotionally generous. For example, Tom Brady has four Super Bowl rings and a legitimate claim to the title of greatest quarterback to ever play football, but Forbes recently called him “the biggest bargain in sports.” So what gives? Aren’t the two in complete opposition? While I have little concern for Tom’s overall financial situation, it’s notable that he earns less than almost a dozen other quarterbacks and could easily command significantly more. Why doesn’t he? Well, it seems Tom cares more about pursuing his potential—a/k/a winning Super Bowls—than he does his personal financial growth. Or, simply, he balances his selfish desire for more with a cultivated appreciation of what he already has—in this case his teammates. And that emotional generosity, along with one of the greatest coaches in football history, is what makes the New England Patriots perennial favorites to win the Super Bowl. Lacking appreciation and emotional generosity is endemic to our society and the human condition. It leads us to believe that fulfilling our selfish desires will bring the fulfillment and success we crave. But only when we transcend this impulse and give meaning fully to others can we truly appreciate our gifts and manifest them to their greatest potential.
23 minutes | Jun 23, 2020
Building Your Wave with Ferran Adria
I was 18 when I first started working at a restaurant. I was a dishwasher. I only got the job because I wanted to go to Ibiza for vacation, and washing dishes was the only job I could find.—Chef Ferran Adrià When I was a young man I wanted to be a chef. Food always fascinated me. I loved to taste it, I loved to cook it, and I loved—well, before the rise of food porn, I loved to read about food, talk about food, and watch people prepare it. When other kids were watching The Price Is Right on days home sick from school, I watched The Frugal Gourmet, Yan Can Cook, and shows featuring Julia Child, TV’s cooking matriarch. Combine this passion with an over-encouraging mother and an Italian grandmother who made a mean Sunday gravy, and you have all the makings of a future chef. I followed my passion diligently, even at a young age, constantly experimenting and honing my craft. Then, opportunity knocked: close friends of my mother were friendly with Wolfgang Puck (thank you, Ron and Nancy), and encouraged me to write to him to apply for a culinary stage my junior year of high school. I followed her advice, and a few months later, during summer break, I headed to Los Angeles to work in the kitchen at Wolfgang’s original restaurant, Spago, on the Sunset Strip. After a couple of bumps in the road (including not knowing that chefs brought their own knives to work), I hit my stride and began the daily grind that is working in a professional kitchen. The backbone of modern kitchens is formed by immigrants (many illegal), who are highly skilled cooks but willing to work for the wages that give restaurants the possibility of making a profit, and young culinary students willing to work for next to nothing to learn their craft. I spent months chopping fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices, occasionally worked on meats or fish, and, when I was lucky, got to prepare a staff meal. The experience was magical. I still remember the smells, the tastes, and even the first time I ever got drunk—with the staff—and spent the next morning in the bathroom throwing up when I wasn’t chopping jalapeños while the staff cheered me on. I rubbed my bloodshot eyes with the same hands I used to chop the jalapeños—and let’s just say it was a painful mistake I never made again. After a couple of months, just as I was getting the hang of it, I had to leave. School was starting, I had a girlfriend back in New York, and it was my senior year of high school. I remember returning and being really stoked about cooking, but I was also no longer in the kitchen. While Wolfgang wrote me a college recommendation and I got accepted to Cornell, I also got back into the regular life of a teenager. And the further I drifted from the energy of that kitchen, the more I convinced myself I would be wasting my talents as a chef. Why should I be a manual laborer when I could use my Ivy League degree to become a wealthy businessman? Most chefs made an hourly wage, and I would probably have to spend many years struggling. So I abandoned my dream and pursued the business side of hospitality. While the decision worked out well for me professionally, I can say without question that not pursuing a career in the kitchen is a decision I continue to regret. While in general I don’t believe in regret, I keep it alive in my consciousness in this case as a reminder that I made a decision for the wrong reasons. I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my short-term comfort to pursue the purest form of my purpose. I didn’t recognize or accept that I couldn’t start at the top; my ego got in the way, as it does for many of us. If Mark Zuckerberg can start Facebook and be the CEO, isn’t anything less a failure? After all, that’s what the media sells us. We’ve discussed the error in this kind of thinking, but at the time, I was blissfully unaware of it, and it cost me—maybe not financially, but in many other ways.
31 minutes | May 31, 2020
Challenges, Opportunity, & Mentoring with Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese & Denzel Washington
Going through all this adversity, going through all this difficulty, is what defines you. I’m just thankful to be cooking. —Chef Danny Bowien It was October, 2013, and Danny Bowien had just received word that his Manhattan restaurant, Mission Chinese, had been shut down by the health department for an array of violations, including an infestation of mice. Overwhelmed, embarrassed, and worried about his employees, Bowien, a rock-star rising chef, didn’t know what to do. It was then that his phone rang. René Redzepi, the chef behind the world’s best restaurant, Copenhagen’s Noma, and Danny’s close friend, said, “Chef, are you ready? They’re coming for you. They smell blood. You’re hurt, you’re wounded and they’re going to come for you.” But those weren’t Bowien’s only worries. At the same time, he was in the midst of opening the Lower East Side taqueria Mission Cantina. The health department issues distracted him, and he canceled a crucial research trip to Mexico. He opened Cantina before it was ready, and the reviews weren’t good. Even Redzepi sent him an email saying his tortillas needed an upgrade. After a stretch of being celebrated by peers and customers alike, the once-rising chef was faltering. Redzepi coached Bowien through his challenges, telling him, “Everything’s going to be okay, but you’re going to need to handle this. You’re going to be fine, but you just need to focus.” This encouragement, combined with tough love from another close friend, chef David Chang, founder of Momofuku, spurred Bowien into action. Despite resolving his issues with the health department, Bowien shuttered the original Mission Chinese and set out to start over in a newer, better location. Bowien came to terms with his adversity and the realization that it had been his own fault. “I got swept up in the whole thing,” he remembers. “Doing events everywhere, getting flown all over the world, not being in the restaurants enough. At the end of the day, my time is best spent in the restaurants. This is what got me here.” He retrenched, focused, went back to giving the kitchen the benefit of his considerable energy. He gave up alcohol, once his regular companion. The challenges that once could have destroyed him instead were compelling him to rebuild; a stronger, better Danny Bowien would make a stronger, better Mission Chinese. After a year-plus of hard work, Bowien reopened Mission Chinese in 2014. The original restaurant had sported a beer keg on the floor and was thrown together and cramped. His new location was more civilized, maintaining the edgy, creative energy people expected from him, but through a more refined expression and ambience. The reinvented Mission Chinese is like an artist’s work later in his career—self-assured and polished. He’s now spending long hours in the kitchen when he’s not with his family, focused on his craft and his fatherhood, not his fame. Danny had become an experienced creative. And it shows in the results: the new Mission has snagged three stars from New York magazine, two stars from the New York Times, and is consistently ranked as one of the best restaurants in arguably the top restaurant city in the world. Just as important, the reborn Mission Chinese is flourishing, with more business than it can handle.Danny Bowien transformed his challenge into an opportunity. There are different types of challenges—the ones you choose and the ones that choose you. The key is to embrace them both with the same fervor and positivity. Most of us have similar reactions as those experienced by Danny Bowien when we encounter a challenge we perceive to be negative: panic, anxiety, fear. Thoughts of bad outcomes—worst-case scenarios—become overwhelming and paralyze us. Robert Downey Jr. explained it best when he said, “Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want to happen.” But you can shift your perspective and realize that the word possibilities inherently means multiple out
15 minutes | May 25, 2020
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions w Joseph Campbell & Adam Grant
Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls. —Joseph Campbell, author, The Hero with a Thousand Faces We are part of a universal cycle of birth, transformation, and death. This cycle is repeated metaphorically throughout our lives, over and over again. You take on a challenge, you transform through some ordeal, your previous existence dies, and you’re reborn in some altered form: birth, transformation, death, rebirth. This is what life is all about—trials, tribulations, triumphs, and ongoing transformations. From child to adult, from single to married, from married to parent, from amateur to professional, from employee to entrepreneur, from Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader, it goes on and on and on. To be a hero—someone who gives your life to something bigger than yourself, whether it be in your own mind or the minds of others—you must take on challenges. The goal of these challenges is to create and then share your creations for the benefi t of something larger than yourself. This is part of our DNA, whether it be manifesting our own journey or engaging with someone else’s. It’s why we’re so enthralled with the achievements of others, whether they be sports stars, entrepreneurs, or just children playing a new song on the piano. It’s what we do, it’s what we want to do, and it’s what makes us feel most fulfilled.The problem is that most of us don’t have a framework to approach our hero’s journey, to choose our challenge. And we’re principally concerned with our selfish desires, not understanding that our success and fulfillment are wholly dependent on serving a larger purpose. Successful individuals and organizations not only have a deeper connection to their purpose, they manifest frequently and regularly, giving them many more opportunities to realize their potential. As author Adam Grant points out in his book Originals, “Creative geniuses weren’t qualitatively better in their fields than their peers. They simply produced a greater volume of work, which gave them more variation and a higher chance of originality.” Not every act of creation is going to lead to success, but the likelihood of you creating something truly special increases exponentially the more you create. That is how you become creatively experienced.
20 minutes | May 17, 2020
Integrating Your Life with Picasso, Dali, & Dean Kamen
Take it that you have died today, and your life’s story is ended; and henceforward regard what future time may be given you as uncovenanted surplus, and live it out in harmony with nature. —Marcus Aurelius Velcro was invented in 1948 by Swiss engineer George de Mestral. The miracle material that makes it possible for children to close their sneakers without shoelaces was conceived when he went for a walk in the woods and wondered what he could learn from burrs. Nature made these seed cases prickly for protection and sticky to spread seeds, a combination that made them very difficult to clean off his trousers (and dogs). De Mestral realized he could apply the same design to a synthetic version for industrial use. After years of researching nature’s brilliance, he successfully reproduced this natural function by utilizing two strips of fabric—one side with thousands of minuscule hooks and the other with thousands of minuscule loops. The name Velcro came from a combination of two French words, velours and crochets (“velvet” and “hooks”), and it was formally patented in 1955. Velcro is quite possibly the most famous example of biomimicry. This field of research and innovation is defined as “the design and production of materials, structures, and systems that are modeled on biological entities and processes.” Or, simply put, copying nature’s brilliance to find solutions to our problems. When you understand biomimicry, it’s very much a whydidn’t-I-think-of-that? moment. It’s just so obvious. What hubris do we have, thinking our solutions will be more effective than those already in place in the natural world? Why should we know how to capture the sun’s energy better than a leaf? Or fly more efficiently
23 minutes | May 12, 2020
Discovering Your Purpose w Ikea, Shane Smith of Vice Media, & Chad Campbell of Bandido Coffee
At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want. - Lao Tzu As Rick Rubin demonstrates and the Creator’s Formula explains, to discover your purpose and unlock your creative potential, you must connect to your inner self. But Western culture prefers the world you can see and touch: to “be somebody,” you have to look good and have a lot of money. This is an unhelpful message, because your purpose—the factor that has the most impact on your fulfillment—is completely internal. Generally, when someone is unhappy or lacking meaningful sustenance in their life or business, it’s because their internal self isn’t in harmony with their external self. For example, they love to paint or work with their hands, but spend all day working in an office on finance. While this may be an oversimplification, it’s precisely this type of dissonance that causes energy blocks that manifest in people as depression, anxiety, and frustration, and in organizations as poor performance, low engagement, and weak sales. Bottom line, and to quote our friend Mr. West, we “worry ’bout the wrong things, the wrong things.”In simplest terms, you won’t be able to unlock your creative potential, achieve sustainable success, or even be fundamentally happy unless you align your internal and external worlds—unless you’re true to yourself. Therefore, to begin the journey of discovering your purpose, you must focus on what matters to you internally, not externally. And the first step in this process is to eliminate obstacles that prevent you from hearing the signal above the noise. These obstacles include things such as commercial concerns, financial motivations, comparing yourself to someone else, and other manifestations of ego. Think of the little devils sitting on characters’ shoulders in cartoons—that is the exact function of these obstacles, confusing you by telling you the superficial or selfish thing to do. Your goal is to eliminate those voices and learn to concentrate instead on that small voice in the back of your head expressing your true desires and work to slowly build up its presence in your inner narrative. You must encourage your soul-level wants and needs to bubble up to the surface and take center stage. Let’s return for a moment to Rick Rubin and his process with artists. According to Rubin, “One of the main things I always try to do is to create an environment where the artist feels pretty comfortable being naked—that kind of a safety zone where their guard is completely let down and they can truly be themselves and feel open to exposing themselves. It’s very powerful when people do that, when people really open up.” And that’s exactly what you must do to discover your purpose. Create a safety zone for yourself where you can shut off the world for a moment and ask yourself the important questions, exploring what really matters, without any concern for the implications of those thoughts or decisions. Because if you don’t access what exists deep inside you, as Lao Tzu says, you may end up where you are heading without knowing if it’s really where you want to go.
13 minutes | May 3, 2020
Discovered, Not Manufactured: Rick Rubin & Kanye West
People are so different. It’s almost like you need to go through the process, discover and unlock what it is that makes that band that band. And a lot of times they don’t know it. —Rick Rubin, music producer In early 2013, Kanye West asked legendary producer and Def Jam Recordings cofounder Rick Rubin to help complete his new album, Yeezus. With only days to meet West’s deadline and a rough cut of sixteen unfocused and unfinished tracks, the task appeared nearly impossible. West couldn’t seem to create the sound he’d imagined, and his process bordered on perfectionism. Though he was certain it would come to him, he had no idea how or when. He needed something, or in this case someone, who could reveal his vision. When Rick Rubin showed up, the album’s rough cut ran nearly three and a half hours. In the studio, the two began deconstructing the tracks, unveiling the “edgy and minimal and hard” sound West had been searching for. The duo worked for sixteen days, fifteen hours a day, with no time off. With just two days left, five songs still needed vocals, and two or three of them still needed lyrics. In a final flurry of remarkable creative collaboration, West and Rubin finished those songs and the album in one two-hour session. The final cut of the album featured ten songs for a total length of forty minutes— less than 20 percent of the original three and a half hours of music. Rubin had broken down West’s compositions to their simplest form, leaving only the essence of his ideas, and the results were epic. When Yeezus was released, it debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 and eventually went platinum. Yeezus was the most critically acclaimed album of 2013, appearing on sixty-one Metacritic top ten lists and named #1 on eighteen of them. Critics commended its brash direction. When asked about their collaboration, Kanye said, “Well, I didn’t reduce it. Rick Rubin reduced it. He’s a reducer, not a producer.” Rick Rubin Rick Rubin grew up in Lido Beach, New York, not far from JFK Airport. His father, Michael, was a shoe wholesaler, and his mother, Linda, a housewife. In 1982, during his senior year of high school, he founded Def Jam Recordings and formed a punk-rock band called Hose. Using his high school’s equipment, he recorded a Hose track that would eventually become Def Jam’s first release. Hose played punk clubs in New York City, the Midwest, and California, but broke up as Rubin’s interests shifted more toward hip-hop. In 1994, Rubin and DJ Jazzy Jay of Universal Zulu Nation coproduced Rubin’s first hiphop single, “It’s Yours,” for the rapper T La Rock. As the song started getting played in clubs and on the radio, Rubin’s music found a fan in Russell Simmons, who was making a name for himself as an artist manager and concert promoter. Rubin convinced Simmons to join him at Def Jam, and the pair was soon holed up in Rubin’s New York University dorm room, sifting through demos of aspiring rappers in between Rubin’s classes on philosophy and film. In late 1984, Def Jam scored its first hit with LL Cool J’s song “I Need a Beat,” selling over 100,000 copies. The rapper’s first album, Radio, would be the first Rubin “reduced,” and it would go platinum. Next would be the Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill. It would go ten times platinum, selling over ten million copies, cementing Def Jam’s reputation.
21 minutes | Apr 26, 2020
Creators Formula Part #2: Walt Disney & Restaurateur Michael Bonadies
There’s really no secret about our approach. We keep moving forward—opening up new doors and doing new things—because we’re curious. And curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. We’re always exploring and experimenting. At WED, we call it Imagineering—the blending of creative imagination with technical know-how. —Walt Disney Lillian Disney could sense something big brewing in early 1952. It was one of those times, she would say, when “Walt’s imagination was going to take off and go into the wild blue yonder and everything will explode.” Walt began liquidating long-held family assets, borrowing against his life insurance policy, selling properties, and even selling the rights to his own name. Walt Disney was planning something new—he was planning to kick down the walls dividing his movies and real life. When Disney’s children were very young, he’d tried to take them to places where their imaginations could run wild. But every carnival or fair seemed to be dirty, poorly run, and filled with vice. Walt wanted to create a place where people could take their family and forget the concerns of the everyday world—a place beautiful, safe, and filled with endless wonder. So at about the same time that he had started selling assets and conserving his capital, he pulled aside one of his art directors and had him begin working on concept sketches for a new kind of amusement park. The sketches started to illustrate the vision he had in his head, a utopian world where guests would enter a fairytale world. Ever since his early days as a Kansas City artist and animator, Walt had a unique belief in the power of his thoughts. As time went on, he became expert at manifesting his dreams into physical forms, often creating the necessary technology as he went. But nothing prepared him for the challenge of manifesting Disneyland—taking the imaginary world of his movies and making it literally concrete. Disneyland would transport visitors into a captivating three-dimensional story, a sprawling material incarnation of a wonderland that began as a vision, then lived on screens. Disney knew little about the experiential side of entertainment; his expertise and success was in storytelling through the mediums of animation, film, and television. To make his dream world a reality, Disney chose some of the studio’s most talented individuals, took a small building on the Disney lot, and formed a new company, WED Enterprises—an acronym for Walter Elias Disney. This interdisciplinary dream team would be tasked with creating the design, development, and construction of Disneyland—not only doing something that none of them had done before, but that no one had done before. They represented an extraordinary group of storytellers, engineers, animators, contractors, directors, writers, artists, set designers, lighting designers, sound engineers, and many others. WED employees would interpret the Disney stories by building beautiful sets and giving them the interactivity and resilience to wow thousands of guests daily. The plans for the 160-acre site called for 5,000 cubic yards of concrete and a million square feet of asphalt. The designs included a replica of an 1800s main street, manmade riverbeds for steamboats and jungle cruises, a mile of railroad tracks, and a full-scale Bavarian castle. Walt was at the construction site pushing the WED team every day, giving his attention to every detail, every blade of grass, every leaf on every tree. As former Disney executive vice president and Imagineer Marty Sklar remembers, “The thing we worked so hard to avoid is letting people out of the story with discordant details…. Even the trash cans in the park are for that particular story or theme.” The attention to detail and level of execution were extraordinary.
27 minutes | Apr 19, 2020
Creator's Formula Part #1: Sweetgreen & Harry Bernstein
Everybody has a creative potential and from the moment you can express this creative potential, you can start changing the world. —Paulo Coelho, author, The Alchemist The greatest challenge individuals and organizations will face when attempting to manifest their creative potential is not a lack of talent or resources—it’s a lack of understanding. Even when people believe in the intangibles, they don’t understand how they function, or they significantly undervalue them. That puts those who do understand in the precarious position of needing to change people’s opinions before getting support—not an easy task. While it is well documented that individuals and organizations that achieve greatness think independently, achieving your goals while fighting constant opposition takes a combination of bravery, confidence, and perseverance that is difficult to develop and exhibit consistently. It was my own frustration in constantly explaining the value of intangibles that led me to write down these thoughts, intending to increase understanding by creating a coherent explanation of this transformative perspective. The next step in that process is to create a simple framework that can guide individuals and organizations on their journey to unlock their creative potential—what I call the Creator’s Formula. It’s a set of skills and conditions that must be in place for you to realize this value. The first step is to gain a clear understanding of what each of the elements are and how they work. Then you can begin experimenting with the formula. This will help you build trust in your creative process and eventually harness it for your individual or organizational benefit.Like most formulas, it requires an investment of time and energy to understand the subject matter behind the formula pre- sented. For example, Einstein’s theory of relativity, e=mc2, means nothing without a basic knowledge of physics and mathematics. In our case, the more self-aware you become and the more you prac- tice the art of manifesting—making the intangible tangible—the more effective the formula will become. Think of it as your guide to the process of discovering and sharing the best version of yourself or your organization. A guide that gives you permission to experiment, trust your instincts, and, most importantly, take the right chances that will lead to previously unimaginable results and fulfillment. The Creator’s Formula is made up of four key elements: defined purpose, experienced creativity, flawless execution, and emotional generosity. We’ve already seen it at work in the stories of Supreme and Ian Schrager. Now it’s time to explore the formula in detail, illuminating the four key elements, while meeting other creative people whose vivid journeys embody the real-world application of the formula. THE CREATOR’S FORMULA Purpose The why behind everything you do. What drives you, what makes you different, your essence. + Experienced Creativity The ability to manifest your breed of creativity consistently over a sustained period of time. + Flawless Execution When a product or service is the ideal manifestation of its purpose. + Emotional Generosity Understanding the needs of others and being willing to put them ahead of your own selfish desires. =Personal Fulfillment & Professional Achievement
9 minutes | Apr 12, 2020
The Myth of Success
A few years ago my therapist asked me, “What do you want out of life?” I said the first thing that came to my mind: “I want to be successful.” He looked at me, puzzled, and replied, “What do you mean?” “You know what I mean,” I said. “I want to be successful. I want to be wealthy, powerful, and recognized.” In other words, I framed a conventional vision of success, the one drummed into us by popular culture and other social dimensions. My therapist chuckled at my naïveté for a moment and then asked, “Alan, why do you believe that wealth, power, and recogni- tion are the definition of success?” He then went on to explain to me that success is defined as “accomplishing an aim or purpose,” but the definition of that aim or purpose is up to the individual. My mind was officially blown. Up until that day, I had never really thought about why I defined success that way—instead, I’d been obsessed with how I would attain those things. That focus on the how instead of the why had really tripped me up. It had led me to make some very bad decisions and to experience some very unhappy times. When you follow the influence of mainstream culture—television, mov- ies, magazines, and more—to elevate the goals of wealth, power, and recognition above all else, it becomes logical to take selfish or negative actions in order to attain them. After all, that kind of approach—playing the game, playing for keeps, as they say—is put forth as the way to achieve success and happiness. Machiavelli’s writings are often referenced to support this point of view—state- ments like “the ends justify the means”—but it should be noted that Machiavelli died alone and in exile. It’s only when you free yourself from external definitions of success that you’re able to comprehend the folly of this type of pursuit. Ask yourself: What’s the point of attaining a goal if it isn’t going to satisfy your internal needs? All you’re going to end up with is some form of a trophy (money, a big house, a nice watch, some press clippings) alongside a big bowl of unhappiness and dissatis- faction. You can only define yourself as a success if the result of your actions is the satisfaction of your internal desires, not that of some superficial, outside force. It isn’t relevant if society deems you a success—it’s whether you believe you’re achieving success that matters. For some this may mean fame and fortune, but for others it may just mean putting food on the table every night for their family and having a loving relationship with their spouse. The determining factor is how you feel and what you desire on the inside. The first and most powerful step is realizing you have the power to determine what success looks like for you. Only then can you free yourself from the myth and begin the journey of living your truth.
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