Create Work That Lasts with Todd Henry
Hey everybody, how's it going? I'm Chase. Welcome to another episode of the Chase Jarvis Live show here on CreativeLive. You guys better be familiar with this show by now. It's where I get to sit down with the world's top creators, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders. If it's your first time with us, welcome. If you're a returner, you're gonna love this episode. My guest today is an author that I've been following for a long time. I first saw his work when he wrote a book called The Accidental Creative. His next one was called Die Empty. You can see where this is going. And today we're here with his new book, Mr. Todd Henry and Herding Tigers. Welcome to the show, bud. (edgy music)
Thanks Chase, good to be here.
Super happy. So, we were internet friends.
We were, way back, way back when, like on IRC.
Like 2003 or four or something like that. Yeah, I remember you had a podcast called The Accidental Creative. It was literally the first creative podcast that I ever saw, which made ...
me say, crap, I gotta do a podcast. And this was in the early 2000s, right?
Yeah, it was like 2005 is when you launched your podcast. It's funny because, at the time I thought, oh, I'm so late to the podcast thing. It's funny--
It's 2018 and it's blowing up now.
I missed the curve, you know. And yeah, but there weren't a lot of podcasts about creativity at the time.
None, right? So, yours inspired me to do one, and it was a video one, and I don't know if you knew this from the video side. I think the audio ones were always free, but video you had to pay for your bandwidth.
Well, my audience was growing quickly and I had a really popular one, and I got a $9800 bill for a podcast in 2006, actually.
I was like, wow, I need to bring some sponsors on, woo. Anyway, super good to meet you in person. This is literally our first time meeting in person.
It is, it is.
We've been ships in the night at a couple of conferences with Chris Guillebeau, we have a lot of mutual friends. I'm super happy to have you here.
Thanks, man, and I love your work.
Thank you, thank you. We're all just digging our ditch. And we were talking, right before we came on camera, about, you know, your arc as an author. I gravitated to your work specifically because you were targeting creatives. And it's easy for us to say here in 2018, the rise of the creator is so obvious. It's been coming for, you know, decades, if not years. The internet has changed everything 'cause now we've got tools, and access to information, and everything's democratized. But you were on this sort of creator tip, basically as early as I remember being sort of targeted, outside of art schools and, you know, all those more traditional things that happened 20 years ago, the new way of thinking about creativity and your own empowerment. What got you into that?
Well, it was really out of necessity. I was a create-on-demand professional, right? I was having to go to work, having to solve problems, I'm leading a small team of designers, and writers, and whatnot. And, you know, it was really just sort of a survival mechanism for me to try to figure out how can I stay healthy, how can I keep my team healthy, what is it that some of the people who seem to be producing great work over time, what is it they seem to have in common that makes them different from everyone else? And so, I started doing a tremendous amount of research. This is like in the early 2000s.
We're just referencing the early 2000s over and over.
I pulled out the encyclopedia, opened it up.
The card catalog in the library.
And, you know, and found some patterns among some of the people who seemed to be really prolific, brilliant, and healthy, as I sort of tagged it, and started kinda sharing those things with my team, and then, you know, this whole new thing called podcasting became a thing, and so I thought, well hey, maybe there are people out there who might wanna have these same conversations, and so I started teaching some of the things I was learning with people out there in podcast land, and the podcast quickly took off. It's a funny story because I called it The Accidental Creative, and I, maybe like you, I kinda put a bunch of episodes out and kind of forgot about it. There wasn't any strategy, I was just trying to put something valuable out there into the world. And I kinda forgot about it and went back to iTunes like a month later and there was a podcast called The Accidental Creative that was one of the top podcasts on iTunes and I thought, oh no, I stole somebody's name. Like, I thought I had literally stole it and it was my podcast. I didn't realize there were actually lots of people listening to it. And so, from there, it kinda grew and gave me more opportunities, obviously, to connect with free and on-demand professionals out in the marketplace, and you know, now there's a consultancy, and a bunch of books, and all of that, but it all sort of began with this trying to scratch my own itch kind of thing, trying to solve my own problem, which is how can I stay healthy as a person who has to go to work every day, who has to solve problems, who has to do it on-demand in order to keep my job. You know, it's a lot of pressure.
Yeah, I think that's fascinating, and I wanna go right to something that, you said on-demand creator like three or four times. Never heard that before, besides from you. So, what do you mean by that? Isn't that part of your job as a creator? Or what's the on-demand part? So, how are you looking at that?
Well, I mean, you know, wouldn't it be great if we just got to go to work every day and like, hey, whenever you get this done, it's fine.
Put a beret on, put your feet up.
Just be sort of the precious creative that has all the time, and resources, and space in the world. But that's not what we get, you know? If you're designing, if you're writing, I mean, you have a strategy that you're trying to work within, you have a deadline you have to hit, you have a budget, typically, that you're trying to work within. Oh, and by the way, the brilliant idea has to be there on Wednesday afternoon because we have a client pitch on Friday, right? And that, you know, that is the very definition of creating on demand. You're basically trying to organize something that doesn't want to be organized. The creative process doesn't want to be organized, right? There's no predictability there. It's not like, oh, well, if I just to A, B, and C, then I'm gonna get a great result on the other side. You don't know when that brilliant idea's gonna happen, and so the only thing that I could figure out that people who seemed to be consistently brilliant, not, I mean, not accounting for talent because obviously some people are just unbelievably talented, but even talented people, if they don't have some kind of infrastructure in their life, will eventually wither, will eventually burn out.
It's so true, the thought of, like, I think people at home who are just getting into or discovering their own creativity and they look at what they think a professional does out there, they think, oh my gosh, it is just like you sit around with a beret, sip coffee at the coffee shop until the great idea hits. But the reality is that the constraints are actually the things that drive creativity, and sometimes those constraints can make you very uncomfortable.
They can, yeah, but they're necessary. I mean, Orson Wells said "the absence of limitations "is the enemy of art," and I think that's very true. I think that we have to have some kind of boundary within which to create, within which to channel our focus, and our energy, and if we don't have that, then it's really difficult to make any kind of progress. And so, disciplines, and rituals, and you know, having somebody to set those boundaries for you as a creative can be really helpful, especially if you're not good at setting those boundaries for yourself, it can be helpful to have somebody else who helps you channel that creative energy.
Yeah, okay, so those are basically tactics for being successful. So, you talked about being an on-demand creator. You also touched on something that I love, which is not broadly talked about, which is self-care. And there is the concept of the creative genius who, you know, goes mad in their 20s and by 28 they find a way to either kill themselves or be killed, you know, it's like this concept of the tortured artist is something I'm actively trying to program against because I think it's fiction. The best stuff happens over an arc of a creative career, and if there's so many folks out there who are trying to go from zero to one and they're 47 years old and they're like, you know, I'm gonna leave my job in the cubicle farm and go discover myself. And so, it's such a true statement that that is often when the best work can be done, but we don't talk about that in our culture. So, talk to me a little bit about, you talk about wellness, and longevity, and self-care. What's your concepts there?
Yeah, I think, really, success as a create-on-demand professional needs to be categorized as am I prolific, meaning am I doing a lot of work, because we have to do that, right? Is my work brilliant, so am I actually doing good work? But the third piece, I think, that has to be taken into consideration is am I doing it in a healthy way, am I doing it in a sustainable way? Because, you know, and I'm sure you know people as well as I do, people who are, they think creativity is like water from a spigot, you just turn it on and, hey, this is really easy, and they're just running, running, running, chasing after whatever it is they're chasing career-wise, and then they hit a wall. Eventually they realize I'm not a machine. We're not machines, you know, we're human beings. We're wired for rhythm. And so, if we don't have some kind of infrastructure, then yeah, we may produce a lot of good work for a short amount of time, but eventually everyone will hit the wall. Either your work will suffer, either you'll start cranking out work that's not as creatively intuitive as it once was, perhaps maybe you'll slow down your pace of production because you're not wired to be able to continue cranking that out, or you will destroy your mental or physical health in the process because you're treating yourself like a machine. You know, any good machine needs good inputs, it needs care, right? Like, if you don't put oil in your car's engine, eventually you're gonna find yourself broken down by the side of the road. We have to take care of the machine of our creativity. You know, we have to take care of ourselves. And that begins by building rituals, building disciplines around how we inspire ourselves, how we protect our margin, our space, our energy. That's something we don't think about with regard to creativity is, you know, it requires energy. I've heard this called emotional labor, right? Like, we have to protect our ability to bring emotional labor to our work or it's gonna feel hollow. It's not gonna be the kind of work we're capable of producing. So, again, great creatives and great leaders have great rituals.
All right, so soft ball next question is you've talked to so many people, and again, this is part of what I'm trying to do on this show. I've had, you know, folks who are sort of wildly sort of pixie dust creators on the show, and they are fewer and further between than the folks who have morning rituals, have creative rituals, have just a plan and a program. And the thought of that, I used to actively resist schedules, and this is the man trying to keep me down, and what I found was, when I switched and started developing some rituals, like, when was I the most creative? What did it look like? I began to deconstruct what was going on in my life, I wait couple days before, couple days after, and started building some systems around that. So, you've talked to so many people in researching your books and writing. Patterns, habits, what are some common threads around, A, creating creativity for yourself on-demand, and then we'll shift gears after that and talk about longevity and health. But let's start off with this.
Yeah, so there are really kind of five core areas I've discovered that, and unwittingly, maybe they have these disciplines or these rituals in their life, but five kind of core areas where most creatives who are prolific, brilliant, and healthy seem to have some degree of ritual. The first one's in the area of focus, meaning they're really good at defining what they're doing and they're really good at winnowing down their priorities to just the critical few. So, most prolific, brilliant, and healthy creative pros that I know don't have 50 projects that they're working on at the same time. They have a critical few, and they have some on the back burner, for sure, but they have a critical few that they're channeling their creative energy into. So, they're really good at setting rails, and establishing focus, and understanding the problems that they're actually trying to solve with their work. And you know, that begins by just simply sitting down and defining those priorities. Okay, what am I going to do this week and what am I not gonna do this week? What am I not gonna focus on? Because, you know, probably like me, I mean, I don't know about you, but I tend to bounce from shiny object to shiny object. If I don't have those kind of rails--
Right, exactly, you know? So, focus is important. Relationships. We do most of our creative work on our own, right? Creative work is done in isolation. If we're part of a team, a lot of the intuitive creative work has to be done on our own. Most highly productive creatives have some relationships in their life where they're seeking inspiration, people who are calling out the best in them, saying, hey, you're really good at this, hey, have you ever thought about this, hey, you should try this, right? But a lot of creatives tend to isolate themselves. They tend to withdraw from, you know, the social constructs, especially when they're working on a really difficult problem. So, we need to be intentional about building relationships that inspire us, that challenge us, that keep us on-course. And not just the people we work with, not just relationships of convenience, but we need to seek out people in our life who will push us and challenge us. Energy management.
Love this one, love this one.
Yeah, creative pros who are prolific, brilliant, I mean, again, there's this myth of like, oh, I'm gonna stay up until two in the morning and I'm gonna get up at six and I'm gonna pound two or three Redbulls and just kinda tackle the day. Well, that's not, that's gonna work for you for a while, and then you are going to hit the wall, right? You have to treat your body with care. If you want to, I mean, your mind, and your body, and all of it, it's an ecosystem that you have to care for if you want to get your best ideas. And so, one of the ways to do that, very simply, is to practice pruning.
Pruning. So, in a vineyard, one of the primary roles of the vine keeper is to prune new areas of growth off the vine. They're perfectly good fruit. Why would you prune perfectly good fruit off of a growing vine? Well, it's because if you don't, then eventually that new fruit will steal resources from the older, more mature fruit-bearing parts of the vine, right? There aren't enough resources to go around to bear that much good fruit if you're not really good at pruning. Well, we don't struggle with new ideas, new projects, new initiatives, new things we wanna take on, new, you know, social commitments that we want to put into our life, right, and so we just cram it all in and we think, well, as long as I have the time, I can do it. The reality is, every commitment we make requires something of us. Even if it's not part of our work or our job, it still requires something of our energy, and so we have to be really good at pruning, at saying no to really good things, by the way. Sometimes really new things need to go away so that something better can be born. We have to protect the white space in our life because it's in the white space that creativity, and innovation, and new connections are formed, and all of that happens, right, is in the white space. So, energy is really important, stimuli. We have to monitor the stimuli that come into our brain, we have to be filling our mind with inspiring ideas, inspiring thoughts, even opposing viewpoints. We need to be putting ourselves in circumstances that challenge us and make us uncomfortable. So, if you're an introvert, go to a dance club, if you're an extrovert, go to a museum and don't talk to anyone all day. It's like incredibly, but it forces you to interact with the world in new ways. Steven Sample, former president of USC, said we should be making it a discipline to commune with great minds, and I think this is what's so brilliant about this concept of stimuli is that, when we are filling our minds with the ideas and the inspiration of other people, we're basically getting to live through their lives, right? We're getting to draw from them as inputs to our creative process. And then finally, hours. Prolific, brilliant, and healthy creatives tend to have some rituals or disciplines around how they use their time, but not just for efficiency, but for effectiveness. One very simple practice that I try to teach create-on-demand pros is something I call back burner creating or secret work. One of the--
I like it already. (laughing)
One of the unfortunate side effects of creating for a living is that you get into what you do because you love what you do. You know, it's like the flame that really animates you. You're like, oh, this is amazing, I get to do what I love and I get paid for it, are you kidding me? And then, a short time down the road, you suddenly realize I'm actually doing this more for the paycheck than I am for the thing that I love to do, and you lose your first love. And so, I always ask create-on-demand pros, do you have anything in your life that you're creating right now that nobody's paying you for, nobody's looking over your shoulder and judging, you're not trying to hit a strategy. Do you have any unnecessary creating in your life? Or is the totality of your creating going toward your work life or your create-on-demand work? It's really important for our creative spirit, for our creative soul, that we have some kind of secret work that's not for public consumption, but it's just unnecessary creating, something we're doing to fill ourselves, to feed ourselves, as a way of keeping that flame alive.
Do you find that there's a pattern in creators, that thing that is their secret work, in your world, or the side hustle, or any of these other great sort of popular terms in pop culture here that they end up being your next thing?
Oh, there is, yeah.
Is it more of a maintenance, or does that end up becoming their next thing, even when it was thought that they couldn't make money?
Like, what's the relationship?
Very often, because you're not, people aren't thinking about, is this practical. They're just thinking, you know, where does my intuition wanna take me? And so, yeah, very often it becomes the next thing, or it becomes a new business, a new opportunity, which then creates an interesting paradox, because then it's the thing you're doing for money, right? So then you have to figure out, okay, well, what's the other thing I'm gonna do?
But that's like, it's almost like an incubator.
That's how you grow, that's how you grow. You know, the reality is, a lot of us don't have the space and the freedom that we need to take the kinds of risks we really wanna take with our on-demand work, because we're doing them for a client, or we're doing them for a boss who has very specific expectations. And so, we have to go outside of our work to be able to take those risks and try new things. Well, sometimes when we do that, we realize, oh, this is really good, you know, there's something here. Either I can apply this to my on-demand work now that I know it works, or maybe this is something new I need to explore. But we would never know that if we don't have the discipline in our life of engaging in unnecessary creating.
Unnecessary creating is such a great term. I just, confessionally here, like, all of the best things in my life have come from that sort of side thing. Like, I was, you know, going to grad school, focused on, you know, at first it was medical school, and then it was a PhD in philosophy.
I didn't know that, wow, huh.
I had these, my photography was always running in the background and I was like, god, I really wanna find a way to make that work. It was running super small-scale, fine art, selling just a couple of prints to people that I knew that cared, and then obviously, if I could transform anything in my life, it'd be able to do this, made the leap, and then with photography it was, you know, oh man, I got this idea for an iPhone app, it was called Best Camera, you know, we built that in a sort of incubator on the side and it was like, that can never add up into anything because, gosh, you know, at that point, it was a two megapixel camera, I can see where it's going, but it's just informing the rest of my work, and inspirational, and then that, you know, millions of people got on that app. And then CreativeLive was actually the same thing. It was like, cool, we'll have this side thing where we help creators and entrepreneurs learn skills from other people. And here they are, each one of those things has become sort of my personal next big thing. I never really think of that as a paradigm, but clearly--
Well, it is, but I think one of the challenges that we have to confront is, you know, we wanna make it a thing too early, right? So, if you had set out with CreativeLive and you're like, I'm gonna grow this into a, you know, we're gonna have hundreds of thousands of people watching our classes, and we're gonna, you know, like, those rails from the beginning would've probably constrained how you thought about that project. But because you were basically giving yourself permission to play, to experiment, to try something, to build something on the side, to kind of tinker with it, it didn't have to be good initially, it didn't have to be for public consumption initially. But just because you gave yourself permission to do that, it actually turned into something really beautiful that it may never have been had you not given yourself that permission.
Play, the word play, I love it. We've had Charlie Hone on the show before. His book Play It Away, that was more dealing with anxiety. I think the way you're framing it is as a constructive, positive thing that builds on whatever it is your core focus is. Your first couple of books Die Empty and Accidental Creative were focused clearly, very specifically on the creator, and the mindset, and habits, and rituals. I don't wanna go too far from that. I think it's really important. But what I love about the book, your newest one, Herding Tigers, when does this drop?
It just dropped? Okay, cool. So, Herding Tigers is for people that work with creators as well, right? There's a lot of constraints in whether you're leading yourself or you're in an organization where you have to sort of foster and grow, whether you're, you know, a lot of people who start off as indie designers end up managing, they start their own design studio, and then they have to be designer plus sort of leader, or in an organization. Like, it used to be nice to have. Now the most successful companies in the world are wildly creative, you know, Apple Computer, Virgin, you can see where there's a culture of creativity and design embedded in the company. How do you facilitate creativity in those environments? That's a huge, you know, Herding Tigers, not herding cats. Of course, there's a beautiful play there. But why the book and what do we need to know about it?
Yeah, so, I mean, a lot of leaders, as you mentioned, a lot of leaders of teams came up through the ranks as a designer, or writer, or photographer, right? Or doing some sort of tactical work within the organization, tactical creative work. And then all of a sudden, they're so good at that that they get promoted into a managerial role. Great, your a great designer. You know what you should do? You should manage other designers. Well, that's an entirely different skillset. And not only that, but their entire career up to that point has been a giant setup, right? Basically, your entire career as a creative is, if you control the work and make the work great, so if you're really great at doing the work, you're a great designer, you control it, it's all about you, it's about making the work great, then you're gonna get more money, you're gonna get better clients, you're gonna get promoted, all that stuff. The moment you become a manager, that paradigm goes completely out the window, right? Because your job is no longer about controlling the work, your job is about leading the work. So, you get to a point in your life, in your career, where you get promoted into a manger's, everything that you've known about your life, and your career, and how I get ahead is now completely false.
It's like The Matrix, right? You take the wrong pill.
That's exactly what it is, because the moment you cross that line, if you try to control the work of your team, if you step in and do the work for them, if you step in and tell them how to make decisions, if you do, and you're basically doing the work for your team, then you're not allowing them the space and the freedom they need to be able to grow, to be able to tackle new and more challenging work, and in developing their, develop their own intuition, their own creative intuition. So, your team's capacity will never scale beyond the scope of your direct involvement. So, it requires a totally different set of skills than doing the work. You have to move from control to influence. And this is really difficult, especially for control freaks like me, right? when you suddenly are no longer tasked with doing the work, but leading the work, that means you have to set rails, you have to protect your team, you have to create a space for them. You have to sometimes let the work fail in the short term so it can succeed in the long term so that your team can develop, and grow, and understand how to make decisions. This is really difficult because guess what? When that work isn't as great as it could be, it reflects on you. Well, how have you been defining yourself your entire career as a creative? I do great work, yeah. I am known for the work I do. Well, how do I define myself now as a leader? Well, I lead other people in doing the work, right? I mean, it's a totally different way of thinking about your life and your career. So really, I wrote this book for people who have never really had a roadmap about how to lead the creative process. So, we talked about rituals before. Well, how do you create an environment in which creative people have the space, and the focus, and the relational connection, and the amount of energy they need, right? How do you keep them inspired? Like, how do you do that as a leader? And it's a really tall order, you know? 'Cause it's a completely new set of skills.
Yeah, what do you think about, let's go into some of these specifics for a second, 'cause you know, the research you did, you clearly found out what's some habits for individuals, and we'll compare maybe individuals, and then we'll do, sort of as a leader, what are some habits that fostering, you know, teamwork, or comradery, or what are some paradigms that you saw. So, go back to the individual. I know we're jumping around, but just to make it dynamic for the listener or the viewer. So, yeah, habits and patterns that you saw for individual creators, go. You talked about some nine to five, some hours, you know, we kinda ran through that. Is there anything else you wanna add to that?
Yeah, well really, you know, part of the other thing about Herding Tigers, I'm not taking it back to that.
No, no, it's good, no, no, no, it's all good.
Part if it was I realized that a lot of creatives in organizations don't understand how to communicate what they need to their manager. Right, they don't have terminology for it. They don't know how to say what's wrong. And you know, there are all these myths that exist about creative people, right? Oh, they're so sensitive, oh, they're so full of ego, oh, they're, you know, it's all about the idea, oh, they just want complete freedom. I mean, you and I know, we've been doing this for a long time. We know that most of those myths are not true about the vast majority of, now, there are some egomaniacs out there, there are some really unhealthy people, right? Of course. But not the vast majority.
But there are that in everything in the world.
Absolutely, like there are egomaniac salespeople, right? Or whatever. So, those myths are largely untrue, but the reason that behavior is exhibited is because of it's a response of poor leadership, it's a response to creatives not getting what they need. And so, when we talked about things like focus, and relationships, and energy stimuli, and hours, those really fall into two kind of categories for creatives in terms of what they need from the organization. The first thing is they need stability. They need to know that there is a stable playground in which they can do their work. There are clear boundaries, they need clarity from their leadership, so tell me what we're gonna do, when we're gonna do it, what we're not doing, how we're gonna do it. I want a clearly defined process so that I can take creative risks. It's difficult to have a poorly defined process, and also, by the way, also we want you to go out and take all of these creative risks within the midst of this poorly-defined process. Well, no, I need some stability so that I can--
Make people safe so that they can run all the way up to the edge and not over it.
That's exactly right. And I know where my hand's gonna get slapped, right? Like hey, here are the boundaries. Do anything you want inside of here, but if you cross this boundary, that's when you're gonna get in trouble. Like, we need that. We also need protection from our leadership. We need to know that you're gonna protect the time and the space that I need to do what Cal Newport calls the deep work, to do the deep creative work that I need to be able to do. So, I need to, you're gonna go to bat for me if I fail, and I need to know that you're gonna actually stand up for me, you're not gonna throw me under the bus. So, I need those things from my leadership. So, stability is huge, but I also need to be challenged as a creative. I need to not be bored, I need to be pushed to take risks, I need to know you believe in me, that you see me, that you know me, you know what I'm good at, you know what I'm not good at, that you're coaching me, helping me be better at what I do, that if I do make a creative leap that you're gonna be there to catch me if I fall, right? And I want to feel like I'm doing work that matters, that there's a why behind what I'm doing. This is one of the complaints I hear from creatives in organizations all the time is we're doing a lot of work but have no idea why any of it matters. Well, for highly talented people, we need to see not just what you expect from me but why does this matter.
Yeah, where's my impact.
Right, exactly. I mean, that's part of the intuition that we bring as creatives is the ability to take a core why and say, well, I know you're asking for this what, but what if we did this instead? It's tied back to this core why, right? Like, we have the ability to make those intuitive leaps, but we have to understand the why behind it first. The problem, Chase, is that stability and challenge exist in tension.
Yeah, for sure.
They do, right?
It's like product and marketing. There's a hundred year old problem, or in this case, you know, thousands of years old problem.
Absolutely, so as you challenge your team as a leader, you're gonna destabilize the organization by nature because you're pushing them, you're wanting them to take new risks, try new things. That's gonna create instability within the process, and as you stabilize, you tend to decrease the amount of challenge they feel. So, as a leader, we have to kind of keep our finger on the dial, not just for our organization as a whole, but for individuals. Like, I need to know what Chase needs, I need to know what Jill needs, I need to know what Nassa needs, I need to know what Nora needs, right? I need to know what all of these people need from me as a leader. Some people might need more challenge, some people might need more stability, but I need to be able to dial those things in for my team in order to get the best work.
That's so smart, and if you think of, you know, we're talking about maybe individual creative process here, a designer inside a company. Let's take it to the macro for a second. Reid Hoffman, who sat in the same chair that you're sitting in right now, he's saying, like, look, you don't manage to zero chaos, especially in a startup environment. If you manage to zero chaos, then there's not enough innovation, there's not enough, Mario Andretti, if you're not almost crashing, you're not driving fast enough. So, there's some happy medium there, and you know, in a startup, we find, such as CreativeLive, it's like, as soon as we figure out a system and it get super stable, then there's this, you know, everyone has the right amount of hours, and then it almost gets sort of, like, boring is the wrong word--
Are we settling in? Yeah, right.
You start to get complacent, and in this environment, if you're not always creating the next thing, like what are we doing about VR, you know, what's the next thing around the corner? If you're not thinking about that, then it's hard to both be excited and motivated, but it's hard to, like, I don't know, there's just, there's this energy, and to me, energy, you know, life force or whatever, people feel that so palpable, and without it, what have you got? I don't see a lot of creativity coming out flat, low-energy organizations.
That's right, yeah, that's right. I mean, we have to feel stretched, right? And especially highly talented people. You're not gonna keep talented people in your organization for long if they're not in that kind of environment you're describing where it feels like we're always just on the edge, we're almost out of control, but we're somehow holding it together, right? Like, that's where talented people wanna work.
And there's seasons too, right?
There's season, absolutely. There's a rhythm, it's rhythm. Back to the rhythm thing, right? There are gonna be peaks and troughs. It can't all be peak all the time, you know?
That's why, like, if you think of an athlete, football season is a season. The athlete, or in this case, pro football, they get together for, whatever, 16 or 20 weeks, teams are all in, and then they have quiet periods. Or even seasons that, like, winter, it's dark at, you know, at 4:00 and it's dark until 8:00am, so people sleep more, they rest more. That's like, and in summer, when it's on, you just see these sort of patterns. And are you suggesting that it's the leader's responsibility?
It is, I think it is, yeah, I believe it is, because, you know, one of the things that we unwittingly fall prey to as leaders is that we engage in what I call snapshot productivity measurement, right, where it's like, you know, Jill is delivering, there's no one here named Jill, by the way. I keep talking about Jill--
Our head of marketing at CreativeLive is Jill, so she'll listen to this and be like, oh my gosh, they're talking about me!
Jill, we're talking to you. But you know, we're producing, you know, Jill does something that's way over what we expected, right? She just over delivers and like 130% what we expected. We're like, wow, that's amazing! And the next time, Jill basically hits her mark. You know, she does 100% and we're like, what happened to Jill?
Where's the game, Jill?
Right, like why didn't she over-deliver? This is expectation escalation. You know, we engage in this as leaders sometimes, and we have to recognize there's gonna be an ebb and a flow, a peak and a trough to creative productivity. If we expect peak productivity all the time, what's gonna happen? Well, Jill's gonna figure out the game pretty quick and she's gonna say, listen, I had to work 85 hours that week in order to produce that, and if that's gonna be my baseline expectation, I'm not setting the bar that high again, you know, I'm gonna sandbag a little bit so that it doesn't become this thing where, like, why aren't you over-delivering every time? And teams do this, teams are really smart. You know, if we don't embrace the peak and trough nature of creativity, then teams will start occasionally kind of phoning it in. If they take a hill, because this is the most important hill we're ever gonna take, and then there's another hill on the other side, they'll be like, never mind, this is the most important hill! If they see that enough times, then pretty soon they're gonna say, hold on, I'm gonna conserve my energy because I have no idea what's coming around the corner. We have to be really careful.
Yeah, which is a pattern for a lack of great work. So, if, I think we were talking about that in the context of organizations, or design leaders, or with groups and creative leadership. The same is true for individuals, and I think I fell in this trap a lot when it's just you and there's so many folks out there, solopreneurs, who are just getting started trying to go from zero to one, and they don't have a lot of outside input, or they're just like, oh, you know, I took this photograph, I just had this thing, I made this shirt, I built this small carwash company, or whatever the thing you built was. And if you don't have other folks, then you're always either in, like, I'm killing it or I'm blowing it mode. And what have you seen or heard from folks to sort of moderate the individual, independent creator? What's the self-talk? What do you think healthy self-talk sounds like?
Well, I think we have to extend ourselves the same grace we would extend to other people. I think we are our own worst critic, we're our own worst boss. We say things to ourselves that we would never say to somebody else. You're terrible, you're never gonna amount to anything--
Of course you blew it.
Of course you blew it, of course you did, of course, you know? What should I expect, right? Like, we would never say these things to other people, but we say them to ourselves. We have to, and I'm not saying you should, you know, blow smoke at yourself and say, I am the greatest photographer in the history of, no, of course not. But you have to extend yourself a bit of grace. You have to love yourself if you wanna be able to love other people for your work, right? And it's just the nature of it. And so, I think it's important to identify those narratives, those things that are playing out in your head, and journaling's a great way to do this, right? Writing out, like, I do an exercise called Morning Pages that comes out of the book The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. It's funny how many artists engage in this--
Yeah, it's an incredible book too.
But it's just three pages of stream of consciousness writing first thing in the morning, when your brain's still kind of waking up and you just write. And I am amazed, Chase, at the kinds of things that find their way onto the page I have no idea are in my brain, thing's I'm saying to myself, narratives that are playing out in my life.
Can you go there for us? Like, what are some recent ones that you know that you maybe would otherwise not share. (laughing)
Deep, dark secrets.
Yeah, I know the nature of it, yeah, but just like, when you're writing in the morning, I know some people think we need to put some great shit on the page, it needs to be insanely amazing, and it's like, no, and it's actually just the opposite of the program. The program is a brain dump, and then there's also a part of it which is programming yourself for what you want your day to be, but talk to me about what does it sound like, or what are things that would be not uncommon to find in one's Morning Pages.
Yeah, I, a lot of anxieties that I have about, and it's the typical thing you'd expect of--
Fear of failure.
Feeling I'm not enough, I'm not sufficient, feeling like I'm not equal to the task, right? I'm blowing it, I feel like I'm blowing it. Even in the midst of things going, if things are going really well, right? Like, you can have, you know, I spent my early 20s, I think I mentioned this off-camera, I spent my early 20s as a musician, right? And we were playing shows in front of a couple thousand people, opening for some major act, right? And it was like, on top of the world, and then the next night it's like you're playing a bowling alley for 10 people and they're telling you to turn it down, you know? And that encounter in the bowling alley would leave more of an imprint than the night before, playing in front of a couple thousand people who are screaming, and you know, all of that, because we are biologically wired to gravitate toward negative thoughts, right? So that we avoid pain, and death, and all this. There's a very real biological reason why we gravitate toward those things.
They used to keep us from the saber toothed tiger, but now it keeps us from embracing the big, successful night out, versus finding the bowling alley, I'm the worst ever.
That's right, exactly. Yeah, and so we have to be really careful about the stories we tell ourselves as creatives. And I mentioned expectation escalation as it applies to organizational life, but that applies to us on an individual level as well. Are you comparing your in-process work with the absolute best thing that's ever been done in your industry?
That's part of social media. Like, that's what I talk about. You can't, 'cause you know what's going on in your life, and you know when you look, or you should know and we don't, that when we look at someone else's Instagram feed, it's their highlight reel. And so, we're programming, culturally we're programming ourselves for this anxiety. It leaves me sort of, I think that's why some of the folks who are the most transparent and vulnerable end up having more honest connections 'Cause that's what I wanna see and feel. I don't wanna just see some sort of glossy, shiny perfection. So, it's culturally being rewired that we're not enough, and so, you know, whether through Morning Pages, we need to continually actively deprogram it. Is that, do you use morning pages for that?
I do, I do, and to identify what's going on in my brain, and frankly, just to get some of that chatter out of my head. You know, I think peripheral vision is a blessing and a curse, right? It's a blessing because it's great if you wanna see what's going on around you, and use it for inspiration and all of that, but it's a curse because it can very quickly become self-condemnation. You can see what other people are doing and think, well, I'm not doing what Chase is doing, I'm not doing what this other writer's doing, these other people, and we engage in this kind of expectation escalation for our own work, and then we start thinking, well, what's the point? Why even do it? Like, if I'm not gonna be the best, if I'm not gonna be what that person is, then why even, we forget that that person was once sitting in the very seat that you're sitting in now, that their finished product that you love so much probably was really crappy when it was in its first draft form, right? And we also don't account for the role of luck. Like, we look at these people who have--
Made it, right? And, I mean, of course there's hustle, of course there's having a brilliant idea, of course there's being really sharp, and incisive, and intuitive, of course all of those things. But there are also a lot of things that happen to get people to the top of their industry that we often don't like to talk about. And we think, well, it's always my fault. If I fail, it's always my fault every single time. The reality is, you have to focus on the body of work that you're building and say, listen, I am gonna build a body of work that's reflective of who I am, of what I care about, of what I'm passionate about, and if it doesn't become the thing, I'm okay with that. I'm okay with just influencing the lives of the people that I'm able to reach with my work, and that's fine. I'm not gonna engage in this kind of expectation escalation that says that, you know, if I'm not doing what that person's doing, then somehow I have massively failed myself. So, we have to identify those narratives and make sure that they don't begin to bound our behavior in an unhealthy way.
Isn't it, I think it's such a radical idea, and I don't remember when I finally figured this out. It's if you're always chasing sort of what's trendy, or someone else's thing, or this style, or whatever, you're always behind, you're always sort of second, third, or 258th, versus doing what is inside you, just plowing ahead. And it's the excitement of when the market actually turns and comes to the thing that you've been making for X days, weeks, months, years, or whatever, that you feel validated because you kept your own vision, and then the market, I mean, look at. Trends go up and down, you know, just even look at fashion. You know, I've got stuff in my closet. I look and it's like oh my god, I haven't worn that in 10 years, and like, oh, it's cool again. You know what I mean, and I think there's a vision that you're always, that creators are always chasing some new thing, and if you're, just the concept of chasing something is you're behind, right?
That's right, that's right.
Versus continuing to build up your building that you know intuitively, internally.
Yeah, and if you haven't defined what success looks like for yourself in advance, there are always gonna be people who will be more than happy to tell you what success should look like for you, right? Tell you what kind of thing you should be pursuing. If you haven't defined that for yourself, then you might very well end up some place and say, how did I get here? I am very far from my values, very far from what I care about, from what I intended to build. You'll spend your entire life and your entire career chasing vapor, basically chasing what everybody else tells you you should be chasing.
Do you have some tactics for how to stay on that vision for yourself? Is this part of Morning Pages, or is this a different habit?
Well, certainly, again, themes come out in the midst of that, for sure. But I mean, surrounding yourself with people who are willing to speak truth to you, I think is a really important, a really important discipline, and it's something that has been a core part of my life for a very long time because, you know, it's really easy, again, if you're building something, if you're sort of, I had a great conversation with a phenomenal leader. He's a former, General Casey, actually, a former Army General Chief of Staff, right? We were both speaking at a conference recently and I said, hey, what's a thing that you see leaders doing? Like, what's a mistake you see them making? And he said, the more successful you become as a leader, the harder it is to find people who will speak truth to you. People don't wanna say what they really see.
That's so true.
Yeah, because they wanna tell you what you wanna hear. Why? Because you're the one with all the power in the room. And I think the same thing is true for creatives, right? If you don't surround yourself with people who are willing to tell you, hey, here's what I see in you, here are the good things. Hey, by the way, you're doing something right now that doesn't really seem like you. It doesn't serve you, doesn't seem like it's on-vision for where you think you wanna go with your work. Can you tell me about that? Like, what's going on, why are you making this decision? That's a great question, by the way, to ask: is there anything I'm doing that doesn't seem like me? You know, it's a great question to ask your spouse, right? They'll give you a ton, right? They'll definitely give you all the low down on that. But, you know, I think a big chunk of it is just having people around you who are willing to speak truth to you and help you stay on-course.
What a great takeaway that is. How do you find those people?
I think, the problem is that I think you have to find them before you realize that you need them. Like, if you go looking for them--
When you need them.
Help me! That just seems clinging. They're the people that have been true to you for a long time.
Absolutely, yeah, and people who know you, they've seen your entire journey, they've seen the ups and the downs, they're involved in your personal life, as well as your professional life. You know that, I mean, it's always easy to find people who will say, oh, you should absolutely do that, absolutely take that risk, because they just kinda wanna see what happens if you do it, right? Like, they really don't care about you, they just wanna see if you crash and burn. Those are not the people that you want in your life. You can always find people who will encourage you. What you want are people who are willing to tell you, I know you really want this, I know you really wanna do this and you think it's a great idea. This is not a great idea. This might be a great idea for somebody else, this is not a great idea for you, and let's talk that through, because I care about you, I really want what's best for you. You know, we really, especially idea people, highly talented creative people, we need those kind of people in our life.
So, do you cultivate that? Is that, that's just, I'm trying to keep sort of two paradigms going at once here. One is the individual creator. So, I think I identify with how that would logically fall, so like, you gotta keep people in your life, whether it's your spouse, your ex, or some people you went to art school with, or the people you started your first company with, whatever. Inside of an organization, how does that, is that the role of the leader, is that the role of every individual person in that group? How do you think about it?
Yeah, well, the leader certainly can foster that kind of cross-pollination, those kinds of conversations. I think it's every individual's responsibility. I think we own our creative process. Not your mom, not your boss, not your, you know, whoever. Like, we own our own creative process, and so we have to be responsible for finding those people in our life who are willing to speak truth to us. So, if you don't have someone in your life that you can go to, if you have an idea for something you wanna do and you can't immediately think of, this is the person I need to go share this with, that's probably something that you need to start working on in your life, 'cause we all need--
Cultivating community, the community that cares about you and understands you. Wow, so, the cultivating community thing, there's two angles I wanna go down, and I wanna put a pin in cultivating community, but I also wanna talk about some specific habits that you have. You said we all need to own our own creative process. I think one of the things that I hear from a lot of folks who are in a sort of second career, a third career, or folks who are trying to go from zero to one, they've said, okay, cool, I'm leaving this old life and I wanna do this, is sort of personal voice, personal style, personal set of behaviors and habits, and one of the ways that I love to uncover that is just by asking people who are on the show, like, what is yours? And this is meant to be inspiration, or rip it off and copy it and see if it works for you and tweak what doesn't. But so, let's talk about Todd Henry. What's Todd Henry's personal creative process, or what are some habits that you have, and maybe you can talk about your writing around the book, or take me through morning, or habits, and just identify that for me.
So, I've had the same morning routine for about 15 years now.
Yeah, it's been a long-standing tradition. So, I get out of bed, of course, first thing I do, I get out of bed. There we go, we're done!
This podcast is in Toddy Henry's bed. We haven't made it out yet.
I get out of bed, I make the same breakfast every morning, and I've had the same breakfast, same thing for breakfast for a very long time, which is oatmeal, frozen blueberries, and some nuts, and the same coffee mug for the last 15 years. I have two of them, these two gray mugs, and I rotate them from day to day, and I've had the same mug, and I go to--
Did you travel over in Los Angeles and you flew to Cincinnati.
I don't travel with the mug. I actually, I do have my own morning routine when I'm traveling, though, which is totally different and I did do it this morning actually. But, and then I go to my home office, and I study, and I write for an hour. That's when I read whatever I happen to be reading at the time, and I don't just read, but I think about how does this apply to my life and my work, and then I engage in Morning Pages and do some journaling work as well. So, that's really the first kind of hour of my day, and that's my family's, you know, sort of getting out of bed and they're kind of getting ready for school. I have three kids, so like, they're all sort of getting ready work, of for school--
Put 'em to work early, right?
That's right, that's right.
Go to work!
So, they're all kinda getting ready, and then I'll typically see them off to school, and then the very first thing I do if I'm working on a book project, which I've just written four books in a row, so basically I only had, like, a couple of months in the last eight years where I've not been under a deadline for a book. The very first thing I do is I work on whatever my core writing project is that I'm working on at that point. And I have a word count that I try to hit, and it's not a minimum word count, it's a maximum word count. So, if I'm working on this--
Ooh, ooh, I love this.
On a project, you know, most book manuscripts are like 60 to 70000 words or so, at least in the space that I'm writing in, and I'll write maybe like 120000 words to get tho those 60 or 70000, because a lot of stuff ends up on the cutting room floor. But I know that I have to sustain my momentum, my enthusiasm, my energy for the project, and if I sit down, and I'm really inspired, and I write like 4000 words in a day, then I know the next day I'm gonna be like, you know what, I'm good, I'm covered, you know? And then the next day I'll be like, well, you know, I actually wrote, like, I wrote enough to cover today's load too, so maybe I'll just kinda put it off. Or I might write myself into burnout, right? I might get to a point where I'm like, okay, I'm out of ideas. So, what I'll do is I have a maximum word count. Typically for this book is was 500 words a day. And I know if I write 500 words a day five days a week for X number of weeks, I'm gonna get to my target word count for the manuscript. I write 500 words. If I get to 500 words, if I write 501 or 502, I'll stop, like in mid-sentence, because I wanna know where I'm gonna pick up the next day. I call it ending with a beginning in mind, right? You hear, like, begin with the end in mind. This is ending with the beginning in mind. I try to end my writing session knowing exactly where I'm gonna pick up the next day, so when I sit down the next morning to write--
It's in mid-sentence.
It is, it's in mid-sentence and I just start writing because I know exactly where I'm gonna start the next day. And it's helpful too, because I tend to write books from the inside out. I don't write in linear format, so I might start in the middle of the book and be writing a chapter, or I might skip from chapter to chapter as I'm writing, depending on that day, like, whatever is kind of inspiring me. So, it kinda of helps me to keep my pace and to make sure that I'm staying in line with my objectives for the book and kind of where I want them to go. So, that's been a really helpful discipline. In Great by Choice, Jim Collins talked about the concept of the 20 mile march, right? So like, you get up every day and you march 20 miles, and if it's a beautiful day, you march 20 miles. If it's cold, and miserable, and sleeting, you march 20 miles, but that discipline of just the 20 mile march, some days it's gonna be easy, some days it's gonna be hard, is something that's really helped me as a writer, just knowing, like, listen, I'm gonna give myself permission to stop. When I get to a certain point, I'm done. I've done my work for the day, I can feel good, you know, I've made progress and I know I'm gonna hit my target if I just keep putting enough of these 500 word days together.
I think this is gonna be a breakthrough for a lot of people really soon. And then, talk to me, relate this to flow, because we're also told, in other paradigms, we've had Steve Cotler on the show, who are just like, oh man, your whole goal is to get into flow. When you're in flow, it just effortless pours out, and you're like, you're just getting to flow on word count 426, and then you only get 18 words, or whatever, 75 words when you're in flow and then you gotta stop because you're following Todd Henry's idea of only writing 500 words a day. And you pick up, I like the concept of, because people tend to look at a blank page, and we're using the blank page here and writing as a metaphor, for all you folks out there. It's not just for writers. So, you sit down and he's like, oh gosh, you can just pick up where you left off. Does that, where is the max, we're already maximized, do you maximize on having to sit down in the morning, and you see the partial sentence and you know exactly where you're going? Do you think that pays off? Or how does, what about the concept of flow? Help me, Todd, I'm confused!
Well, and so, I think this is a really difficult balance for us, right, as creative professionals, because you're right, I mean, ideally, I'll write 50 words and I'll start experiencing breakthroughs, and flows, and all of that, and the next several hundred words will be in that moment of creative rapture. The reality is that I think those moments of flow are fewer and farther between than we often want them to be, as creatives. If we depend on experiencing flow in order to produce our work, I think that, you know, a lot of days, I'm probably not gonna produce a lot of work, right? So, for me, you know, I kinda see it as my job, you know? I know Steve Pressfield has said, you know, basically sit down, do the work. You have to carry your lunchbox, get to the job site, you sit down, you do your thing, and when you're done with your thing, I mean, some writers have a different approach. They say I'm gonna write for an hour, I'm gonna write for two hours. You know< they have like a time limit instead. This has worked really well for me to do this. I don't tend to get into flow when I'm writing, which is funny. It's like, you know, it's not something that I've really experienced a ton. I do tend to get into flow when I'm conceptualizing, when I'm thinking, when I'm creating, when I'm white boarding things, that's when I tend to get into this state of, you know, sort of creative ecstasy, high flow kind of thing, where I feel like I'm challenged, but I have the skill, kinda, to meet the challenge, right? That tends to happen to me when I'm conceptualizing much more so than when I'm doing the tactical work of writing. So maybe that's why I don't feel the need to get into that when I'm writing as much.
Interesting, interesting. I think that you might be the first person I've sat with that has separated tactical, actually creating the craft, from conceptualizing as still a very important part of the process, but that flow is in that concept phase. And I'm just sitting here thinking that, crap, I think that might be me too. Like, when I'm shooting a photograph, or you know, doing whatever the thing is, writing, for example, I'm working on some stuff right now.
Well, if you're on-demand, if you're on-set and you're making a photograph, right? You don't have the luxury of telling everyone, okay everyone, we're just gonna do a bunch of stuff until is tart to feel it, right? I mean, you don't. Like, you're burning money. You might as well just take a wad of cash out and light it on fire, because you can't predict when that's gonna happen. You just have to produce work. And sometimes, in the midst of producing that work, you're going to experience creative ecstasy, and sometimes it's gonna feel like drudgery. And the funny thing is, I don't know if you've experienced the same thing, but the funny thing is, the moments when it feels like drudgery to me are sometimes my best work. And the moments when I feel that creative ecstasy like, oh, this is really great, and I go back and read it later and I'm like, what was I thinking, you know? And so, we're terrible judges of our own work. We are terrible judges of our own work. And sometimes the moment that feels really good to us isn't really all that great in terms of what we're trying to accomplish, right? Like, it was great for us personally. Hey, it was good for me. But it's not necessarily good in terms of meeting the objective.
I think it's cool to be able to be okay with having flow state in a conceptual, brainstorming strategy part of the world. My best ideas have come in that sort of space, for sure. I think it's an important sort of thing to shine a light on, which is, we can't be our most creative amidst chaos. Like, that's sort of like you're taking in information, input, input, input. The synthesizing sort of takes quiet. It takes space. You talked about white space earlier. I think that's true for me, and that's also a pattern that I've seen on the show.
Well, that's another ritual. I take a long walk in the middle of the day and I often experience flow in the midst of those long walks, 'cause I take a long walk and I'll put this kind of dronish music on in the background and just be thinking about a problem, or conceptualizing, or coming up with, like, you know, whatever I'm working on, whatever the project is. And often, it's in the midst of that that I experience that sort of creative ecstasy, where I feel like, oh, things are really clicking, and my mind's going a million different directions, and my heart starts racing and all of that, it's often in the midst of those kind of conceptual walks, much more so than when I'm doing the tactical craft that I have to do in order to--
I just feel like I got a little bit more free. Thank you! Tools, let's talk about tools for a second. I think some of your habits, your morning routine is great. I think that's cracked something open for me. But talk about some of the tools. We talked earlier about Scrivener.
Yeah, I love Scrivener.
The writing tool.
Yeah, Scrivener has completely changed my world as a writer, because I don't write sequentially. That means I don't write sequentially, I write from the inside out, and Scrivener allows me to write sections of a book as I'm--
It's almost like you're writing Post-it notes and you can move it around.
Exactly, you can move it around to wherever you want it, which is far superior to having to cut, and paste, and you sort of write in a more linear format. Now, there comes a time when you have to start writing linear format, where you have to start filling out the book, but ti's really helpful to somebody who is, you know, sort of a bit of a drifter, I tend to bounce from idea to idea. It's helpful for me to have that kind of flexibility, so I absolutely love Scrivener.
And is that available on all the devices?
It's on all the devices.
Okay, 'cause a lot of my ideas are in coffee shops, or airplanes, or whatnot.
Yeah, so you can use it on, I use it on my Mac. I also use it on iPhone, iPad, so like, if I wanna go to the pool with my kids in the afternoon this summer, I can sit there on my iPhone and actually work on the book. It's not what I should be doing, I should be hanging out with my kids, but I do it anyway.
You don't wanna always be in the pool, right?
Yeah, that's right, that's right.
Okay, other tools, other little, you know, I don't know if it's a hack or like, what are some tools of your trade besides the software?
Yeah, so I--
You said the journal, also, you talked about Julia Cameron's Morning Pages.
Morning Pages, right. Yeah, and I use, I created a sheet for myself that I use every day. I call them my day sheets, and basically it's a way for me to track my daily activity, sort of log my daily activity, and what I do, what I accomplish and all of that. But I also have on that sheet a space of tracking what I studied that day, so what I interacted with, what I read, what I learned from it, so I keep all of those notes in one place. And then, also--
When do you do that? Do you do that at night before you go to bed or do you do it in the morning about the previous day?
No, I do it, as I'm actually doing, I'll record, okay, here's what I read, here's what I learned from it, all of that. Like, I'll take notes as I'm interacting with whatever. And then there's a space for what I call the dailies, and the dailies are the daily practices that I want to try to engage in every single day as a matter of ritual. So, they're a handful of dailies that are just right there on the sheet that I practice every single day. So like, one of the dailies is I wanna have a meaningful conversation with my kids every day, with each of my kids, which is difficult when I'm traveling, but I try to. But, you know, if I did it that day, great, check it off. You know, meditation is a daily practice, check it off, great. Study, daily practice, check it off. And then there's some business things like business development. I wanna engage in business development, some active business development every day. Great, check it off. Review projects, great, check it off. You know, so there are a certain number of dailies that I engage in as well.
Roughly how many? 200 or four?
There are eight dailies, yeah, yeah.
Yeah, no, I've got 10 and I've developed those to 10, or they occasionally come and go when they are truly, absolutely habits, I don't have to think about them anymore or track them, I stop tracking them, but I've got 10. And I think that's fascinating. There's some time, and do you share this page that you've made or is it very private? Like, is there a place where people can go to find it?
That's a great idea, actually.
I think you should publish it.
I think it should share it, yeah.
Maybe it's a page in one of your future books. All right, so, I think, I wanna put a bow on this, to me, that you have sort of written from a couple of different perspectives, right? You've written from the individual creator to the creator trying to fit into their space, from the leader leading inside of organizations, or you know, big or small. Have you completed your, you know, the tour de creative, or like, what's next, or what's in the hopper for you?
I don't know. I'm in that space right now where I'm trying to figure out what the next thing I'm gonna make is. I may have some projects I've been working on, back burner projects I'm working on.
Send those to the back burner.
So they may be the next thing. And then we've created a bunch of personal interactive workshops around Herding Tigers, because we really want, you know, my goal is never just to write a book and give people interesting ideas, my goal is to transform behavior because it's only when we act on what we know that we actually change our lives and the lives of people around us, and so we wanna really try to help people build practices, and disciplines, and rituals, and conversations and things into the work, a place to create, a space where creatives can come alive, so that's something that we're working on launching very soon. And just super excited because my goal is to try to help people be the leader that they never had, right? To try to be a leader that makes echos, to be a leader that transforms lives. I mean, our legacy is not the work that we create. Now matter how great the work is that we do, in 100 years, nobody's gonna remember our work. Like, nobody's gonna remember, no offense, but nobody's gonna remember your photos, nobody's gonna be remembering my books, nobody's gonna remember even the companies we build. Like, chances are, in 100 years, nobody's gonna remember those companies. But the impact we have through the lives that we influence, through the people we lead, I mean, that impact is gonna continue to ripple for generations. And so< I just really wanna help creatives and leaders be people who make echos, who build a body of work they can point to and say, yes, that represents me, it represents the sum of my greatest accomplishments, not the sum of my greatest compromises.
That's beautiful. Before we go, one final question. And I get these questions all the time when we, like, flip the script here when I'm in this chair that you're in and I'm getting interviewed. I hate, like, what's the most, best, any superlative thing, so I don't ask those, but I do like being challenged in real-time with no preparation. And so, there are two groups. I'm gonna categorize roughly into two groups of listeners here. There's the group who is trying to figure out, to go to zero from one, they wanna transform their life and start a new one. So, I want some advice for them, and then I want some advice for the people who are trying to go from two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, whatever, up to 10 or 11, we'll call it they want to go to 11. So, two groups of folks, give them a piece of Todd Henry advice. Go, zero to one.
So, the people going from zero to one, you know, it's really important, I think, to recognize that there are gonna be people in your life who are gonna give you advice for all kinds of different reasons. Some people are gonna give you advice because it serves them really well, some people are gonna give you advice because they just wanna see what happens to you. You need to have a trusted council of advisors in your life, especially when you're in those places where you're establishing a new vector. You have to have people in your life who will speak truth to you, who will tell you when you have spinach in your teeth, people who will tell you when you're full of delusion, and also people who will say, I think you can do this, I really believe you can do this, this is a great idea, right? You need those people in your life, so you have to seek meaningful relationships. I know we already covered that, but like, I can't say that enough. You know, because when we're creating something for the first time, we tend to go into isolation. It's all about the hustle, it's about the grind, I'm working 75, 80, 90 hours a week trying to make something happen, and it's really easy to just close ourselves off to other people and to become the worst version of ourself right when we need the best version of ourself to be taking the forefront. So, that would be my encouragement would be make sure that you're finding those people. For people who are trying to go to the next--
They've been doing it for a while, they wanna go to the next level.
I think it's important to recognize, listen, everything you do every day, every conversation you have, every dollar that you spend, every conversation you have with your barista at Starbucks or how you interact with that person, every product decision you make, every marketing decision or hiring decision, all of that, you're building a body of work. You're building a delta that is the sum total of value that you created because you sucked air on this Earth, right? And I think people lose sight of the fact that they're building that body of work, that body of work that's gonna stand as a testament throughout all time of what they cared about, of who they were, of what they valued. They lose sight of that in the midst of the fray, in the midst of all the little decisions they make. And that big delta, that big change is comprised of a lot of little deltas, little decisions you make every single day about where you spend your focus, your assets, your time, your energy. So, my encouragement to people is, listen, make sure every single day that the decisions that you're making are decisions being made in accordance with what you value, with your definition of success, and they're not being made according to somebody else's definition of success for you, because it's really easy to build a body of work and get to the end of your career and to look at it and say I built somebody else's body of work. I built a body of work that was based on what everybody else wanted for me, not based upon what I truly value. And if you don't have a framework for making decisions before you get--
What you do and what you don't do.
About what you do and don't do before you get into those pressure-packed moments, those critical moments, it's gonna be really easy to compromise your values. So, build a body of work that's reflective of you. And whatever you do, take the risk and don't take your best work to the grave with you, right? Like, it's just, it's not worth it. You're gonna regret a lot more the things that you didn't do than the things that you did do and then realized, oh, that was really dumb. Right, so make sure that you're building a body of work that is reflective of who you are, and make sure you're getting your best work out into the world every day so you can point to a body of work with pride.
Thank you so much, man. I'm so happy to have had you on the show. Don't forget to pick up Herding Tigers, you guys, incredible book. Be the leader that a creative would need. I'm Chase, this is another episode of the show. (moody electronic music)