Real Artists Don’t Starve /w Jeff Goins | Chase Jarvis LIVE


hey everybody how’s it goin I’m Chase
Jarvis welcome another episode the Chase Jarvis live show here on creativeLIVE
you guys know the show this is the show where I sit down with the world’s top
creators entrepreneurs thought leaders and I do everything I can to unpack
their brains and help you live your dreams in career and hobby and in life
my guest today is the author of count’em five books most recent – or what we’re
gonna be talking about here one is called the art of work and the second
one real artists don’t starve my guest Jeff coins Oh chase welcome happy your ear gotta be here long time
come in to write the books been out for a little bit
look bit yeah few months yeah two or three months something like that and I
will confess I don’t know if this is like disclosure thing but I got an
advance copy we have a lot of the same friends Jeremy Cowart Ryan holiday Brian
holiday of course a lot of folks have been on the show so I got to see this
thing early and a congratulations Thanks feel good like you like had a thing
inside of you and now you’ve gotten it out yeah I mean it’s always good to like
finish something cuz you know there’s so many things in life that I haven’t
finished so I think part of why I finished books so that I can start the
next one yeah but there’s also sort of the grieving process for me that goes
into you finishing something like I think this is my best book yet I’m super
proud of it you know I open it up after it’s done
and I read something I go hey that’s not half bad but there’s still sort of a
grieving process where I have to like let go of all the things that this book
will never be yeah that is the thing about choice right when you do something
you’re sort of turning you back but as you will probably you did contemplate it
a little bit if I’m not mistaken that it’s it’s like shipping and doing and
making that actually is the Oh at least not deep ever but one of the pillars
that you contemplate in the book but before we go in to reload or starve
sorry let us don’t starve what I’d like to get like let’s go a little bit back
your journey yeah because you yourself became a writer at some point and you
yourself decided that you weren’t about to starve so let’s hear a little bit
about your personal journey on the way to writing the book that we’ll get into
in just a second well I would not be a writer an
entrepreneur I teach classes for writers online too so I kind of write books and
then I teach courses for writers and bloggers and I wouldn’t be doing any of
this if I didn’t first become a dad really yeah the dad was it because you
wanted to spend time and have freedom of fuck like schedule or what was this
because I didn’t make enough money to support my wife we wanted to stay home
be a mom for a little while so yeah I mean
I was never one of those people who liked from the age of five so I’m gonna
be a writer but it was always this thing like in the back of my mind and there’s
this guy named Parker Palmer who’s an author and activist and he says before I
can tell my life what I want to do with it I need to listen to my life telling
me who I am and so I was so I went to college I had a very practical double
major in Spanish and religion and then I did the next logical step after that and
I joined a band and toured the country for a year perfectly logical see how a
stacking society I was just you know chasing when I was curious about and we
had this tumor in Taiwan we were real big in Taiwan oh you made hundreds and
we played this nursing school one time for leagues like twelve hundred he was
like a pre nursing school thing and it was an all-girls school all these girls
were in uniforms was like 1200 Taiwanese young women and like they went nuts for
us I remember I’m serious like as I was playing I playing electric guitar and I
like you and I started to solo or something and and there was this balcony
of girls up top and I like pointed to one like winked at her and she fainted
no at the end of the show they rushed the stage like you know Elvis or the
Beatles or something we had to crawl out the back window it was amazing it was
incredible I mean it was less has been on the show and he has no no one’s
fainted on let oh yeah come on amazing and then we went back to the US you know
playing for you know high school assemblies with kids rolling their eyes
you know asking us to play Nickelback or something yeah so I I did that and then
eventually I got a job after that I moved to Nashville to chase a girl and
she became my wife and that’s what Jays I yeah I realized at some point I needed
a real job and so I I worked as a telemarketer for about seven months and
then I got a job as a marketing director for a non-profit okay
I don’t know anything about marketing I was I was a writer you know I knew how
to write and I didn’t think of myself as a writer but this guy the executive
director of the organization he hired me um after because I emailed him I emailed
him and like five other people on emailing because he had a
I read his blog and I thought this is cool you guys are doing you know I’d
love to be a part of it and he said oh you let me see your resume I sent my
resume said oh you’re a writer and I said I am and I had like like you
know when you’re like 23 and you put every insignificant opportunity on your
resume just to go hey I did this and one of those things that I did as a writing
tutor in college just as a way to make some money I had always been good at
English and always so I I I did this job for a while I read Seth Godin blog every
day which is like a you know first-class education and marketing incredible and
about five six years in 2000 my late 20s going is this is this what I’m supposed
to be doing I didn’t hate my job which I actually think is a really good place to
be yeah if you hate your job if it’s unbearable you have to leave but I was
in a worse place I think where I was comfortable yeah and I was anticipating
a midlife crisis like I wasn’t there yet I wasn’t life but I was going I know
I’ve seen this story play out yeah like I knew I couldn’t screw this up yeah
really so I wasn’t gonna get fired it probably
wasn’t gonna get laid off I was getting a raise and getting more responsibility
every year and so I said you I’m gonna do this for the next ten years is this
Who I am and that’s where that Parker Palmer quote came in so I started
listening to my life I start going to conferences seminars reading books just
trying to better unpack me and as I like went back went to some conference about
finding your dream and they like made you draw out a line like a timeline of
your life and they said plot out the most
significant experiences of your life just whatever comes to mind and like one
of them either came to mind was in sixth grade I won the school spelling bee and
I beat an 8th grader and made him cry which is Wow only time I ever made some
people faint but this is the only time you made somebody cry yeah I mean I was
this like super chubby long-haired grunge music listening insecure kid and
like this is what never plays for us is like one thing that I was good at and so
I just you know held onto it and you know when I was playing music my
favorite part was writing songs and when I toured with the band my like the best
part of my week was not playing shows for sometimes thousands of people
sometimes dozens it was every Saturday I had to write a blog
post detailing what we had done that day I remember we came to San Francisco and
we rented some bikes and rode all the way out to the muir woods and I’m you
know I wrote about that and so I looked back I’m like the past like 20 years of
my life and I realized my life is telling me that I’m supposed to be a
writer and so I started the blog and just started writing was just a place to
practice and then my wife got pregnant which she doesn’t like me saying it cuz
it sounds like you know some like it wasn’t a joint-venture but like truth is
we got pregnant sooner than we thought we were going to and so we’re like oh
I’m gonna be a dad and I kept hearing about blogging and making money I mean
this is 2011 yeah and so I was like well I got to figure this out and I told I
said I’m gonna find a way to make some money off of this and she looked at me
and she was like okay cuz throughout my 20s I just had like unfinished idea
after unfinished idea and this was my idea that actually finished I think
embedded in that that two or three minutes there is so many things that I
need to unpack or because you know you’re from show one of the things that
we taught well there’s many topics that we talked about that you touched on
there one of in particular is this ability to like there is no school or
there is no method for sort of finding out who you are right and to me that’s
the thing that is so misdirected these days it’s it’s people they’ll chase some
false ambition ambition ambition that their parents have your cultural for me
was cultural like if you were gonna be successful than you were you know a pro
athlete a doctor a lot like these are just like the sure thing the bet so you
just go if you can do this you go do it and if there is no there’s no actual way
to unpack the things that you’re supposed to be so when you talked about
listening to yourself was it the act of putting those things
on the timeline was it the like the messages that were around you was it
time that you spent walking in the woods meditating like what was what or is that
all those things like help let’s get tactical for a second because to me this
is the hurdle that 50% of the people who
are listening or watching yeah I’m you know I actually don’t think like you can
or should just go do whatever you wanted to like in the art of work I talk about
like you’re a sort of sweet spot and there’s lots of people have different
sort of versions of this is where like what you love and what you’re good at
and what people actually want or need from you or all those things intersect
and and so for me I was like I don’t just want to taste my passion about and
and that’s a personal value like I know some people can just like draw or write
or paint or take photographs all day long and be satisfied with that
but I really wanted to need to know that what I was doing was resonating with
somebody else yeah and so I was like trying to find that out like what am I
actually good at yeah and I wasn’t sure I was getting praise for something so
there was demand for something that I didn’t love doing which was my job I
didn’t hate it but I didn’t love doing it I knew I could probably hide there
for 10-15 years but at some point it was all gonna boil over so what listening to
my life looked like it meant talking and I still do this today I did about every
quarter Wow my friends will get emails from me and like oh here we go again
like I don’t know these emails from Jeff yeah like I don’t have like I don’t have
a midlife or quarter life crisis I’d like a quarterly crisis where I go am i
doing what I’m supposed to be doing I feel like a fake again and it’s a good
little you know exercise but I you know reach out to a bunch of friends I said
what am I good at like what do I do that adds value to you you know like what do
you see in me that I’m missing I like I said I went to conferences I loved
reading I read a bunch of books that book by Parker Palmer is called let your
life speak she’s a fantastic book about vocation yeah and and just kind of
finding the right kind of work for you and then like there was a little bit of
serendipity you know there’s a little bit of woowoo wonkiness where I went to
a conference and this guy said who here doesn’t know what their dream is and
like 60% of the room including me raise their hands this is why I’m asking the
question and I was like I’m not alone right yeah I felt great and then he said
I think you’re lying I think you do know what your dream is and you’re just
afraid to admit it so I just want you to write down the
first thing that comes to mind I was like I can open up my notebook and I go
go-kart racer writer you know you did you literally
wrote writer yeah and like I said for me it was just in there
and it wasn’t something that I ever thought was possible I thought writers
don’t make any money I thought they’d starve yeah and this had been baked into
my mind my whole life but I was like writer this is what I saw what I want to
do Steven Pressfield talks about shadow careers which I love we do these things
and we’re good at them but they’re really a shadow of the true thing and so
I wrote that down and I bring it home to my wife and we’ve been married in a few
years at this point like like look I paid $200 to go to this seminar I
discovered what my purpose is I’m a writer look it’s this writer and she
goes are you kidding me I’ve been telling you that for years and you and
you have to go to a conference was all ready to tell you that she was mad
because he’s like I’m telling you that and I think some truths about ourselves
are hard to recognize until other people affirm and reaffirm that a few years a
few months later I had joined a purse like a group coaching program we call
like a mastermind okay and something I paid to be a part of as
a group of I think about 11 people yeah and we met for a year and my boss
actually paid for me to do this as one I had a great boss bought books for me he
would send me to conferences and would pay for coaching for me he was really
we’re friends even today he really wanted to invest in me so I did this
thing and like the second meeting we’re like two months and one of the other
participants not the coach but when the other participants asked me what my
dream was I said I I don’t really have a dream and
he said really because I would thought your dream was to be a writer and I was
like and as soon as he said that that hit because again I’m trying to hide
from this young and other people are seeing it on me and I said well you know
I guess I’d like to be a writer someday but that’ll probably never happen he
said Jeff you are a writer you just need to write and the next day I had this
blog that was just sort of sitting there and I wasn’t doing anything with the
next day I got up at about 5:00 a.m. and I wrote a blog post
and then I did it again the next day and the next day and I did it for them every
day for the next year and by the end of that year I had tens of thousands of
readers and you know all kinds of hard work in between but that that moment set
into motion a daily discipline that you know every day I got a feeling like a
fake and a fraud but I was like at least I like did it at least I’m starting to
move this thing forward and then we got pregnant a little bit after that I’m
like maybe I can find a way to make some money and all these things started to
happen and it just it felt like the right thing this there’s it’s so many
things that are consistent a the fact that 60% of the people yeah don’t know
what your dream are but you really do hmm
and was it the act of being at this and again I think this is super tackling
really really valuable for people listening so I want to be methodical how
we go through this was it the act of going to a seminar and having the like
find your life’s dream as the core principle that got you to say that thing
or was it some other thing that was the combination is that what you’re getting
at you just that’s the listening part your your friends are saying it you’re
asking them what you’re good at your there’s actively trying to understand
what you should be doing I think it’s all the things somebody asked me a while
back when we launched the art of work it sold a bunch of copies and so one thing
you did to turn this into a best-selling book and I said the one thing we did was
lots of things yeah and I I think if I could go back 10 years and give myself
one skill that I have more of now than I did that and be self awareness I think
so many people particularly in the vocational space you know think they’re
good at something that they’re not good at and you can have all the passion in
the world and I like we can get good at things that we’re not good at I don’t
have a fixed mindset about that but like if you’re not aware that like this is
not good that you’re on American Idol and you’re singing off-key
yeah they’re not aware of that I mean that’s that’s a bad deal and so the best
thing that we can get and this is really ingrained in me with my job that I
worked at for seven years is feedback how am i doing at this you know before
we started the show you were asking me how are we doing here like that is bad
is the number one thing that I see with successful people that they do better
than most people they’re constantly learning and they are aware of their
weaknesses and either okay with them because they’re going well I don’t do
that I do this but on the things that they do well their constant trying to
improve those things yeah you referenced the concept of things you’re passionate
about the things you do well things that other people pay for or recognize yeah
you I usually give a shout-out to Chris Caleb oh yeah he’s so talented what was
his book called born for this yeah yeah yeah I always confuse that with Gaga’s
Born This Way and it’s not lady gaga it’s Chris gila both born for this but
that will run yeah right the boss there you go come on it was right saying it a
wedding on Saturday night so this overlapping Venn diagram and I think
awareness self-awareness yeah its key but what I have found then tell me if
this is true or not that that is an active process that that doesn’t just
sort of happen that you have to sit down not one day not three days 10 days but
pretty regularly and say before you have the answer what is my overlapping thing
that I love that I can see myself doing and that people get paid to do and then
I have some aptitude yeah do you find it in 10 do you have to be intentional
about that how often absolutely yeah I mean here’s the thing like the one of
the reasons my wife is so frustrated is because for years I sat on our coat our
couch and our studio apartment and and I had my laptop and I worked from home and
I would see all these blogs be cut like these bloggers become authors become you
know full-time writers and I wanted to do that I was envious about it yeah and
and I got better than them and she was like do something about it you know
write a book and I would I would start my little projects I you know had eight
different blogs that all failed because I wouldn’t stick with them yeah and and
and I think Envy can be a really good thing I was just gonna go there yeah cuz
like it can it’s bad when I when I see what you’re doing I go that looks cool I
wish I could do that man whatever you know like that’s it that’s a sickness
and we look at what other people are doing and we want the things that they
have without asking the question what did they
do to get those things yeah what did they do to get to where they’re at and
eventually I just got so frustrated and that’s when I started doing all this
stuff I was like I’m tired of not even knowing what to do so I’m gonna go I’m
gonna show up I’m gonna be where these people aren’t at the conferences at the
coffee shops do everything I can to just be around this scene to try to get some
of this on me yeah and I’m gonna learn how I’m gonna actually believe that I
don’t know how to do this and be willing to do what it takes to get where I’m
supposed to be because I can’t get where you are because I’m not you but I but I
can like you do on this show I can look at what you’re doing and what Chris did
and when so-and-so did over there and I can go wait there’s like a pattern there
is there are some of the same things that all these people who are at a
certain level have all done and I bet I can extrapolate from that and glean
something for my own journey so true and I think one of the other there’s a an
exercise besides being intentional with like doing the exercise of what am I
good at what do I care about that and that is curiosity yeah and Jason Silva
enough you know Jason the author host of a couple television shows amazing guys
been in this you know been on this show he talks about curiosity and I think is
that what was going on when you were like I’m gonna go to this seminar was it
curiosity were you exploring or was it more concrete than it yeah I mean I was
so insecure you know and I think a lot of us are we want to know do I have what
it takes in in the book real artists don’t start I tell the story of John
Grisham and I love the story because he didn’t start out going I’m gonna be a
writer he was a lawyer and he was a new dad yeah and he goes you know you know
what I think I might be able to do that so what am I gonna do am I gonna quit my
job am I gonna abandon my family or put
myself in them in financial dire straits no I’m gonna get up a little bit early
every day I’m gonna write one page you did this for two years and wrote a book
published the book with some you know small press it didn’t do well but he
said hey that was fun I’m do it again did you know for another
year published a second book and while he was doing that he bought like a
thousand copies of the first book and started marketing it himself it started
to kind of pick up sold the next book to a publisher it was called the firm it
was a mega bestseller and then he became Ben he quit he became an overnight
success and he didn’t know like I think we want to know yeah and one things I
like to say is clarity comes with action so we’re all waiting for clarity before
we act that’s beautiful we we act our way into clarity that is so sharp and
it’s so concise clarity comes with action yeah so is it fair to say then
that the act of doing the work is that what created the book the art of work
yeah that in that it’s like conceptually because you know I’m gonna go on your
share your arc right here yeah I mean I love like I don’t write about things
that I’m an expert out but I also don’t write about things that I don’t have
first-hand experience with now so I write about something that I had an
experience with art of work is about me kind of finding my calling that’s how I
understand it and going what can I learn from this and so that book I wrote like
like these seven steps for how to find your life’s purpose and it felt very
flat to me now I felt very self helpy and I didn’t like that and so I sort of
set that aside and I just started talking to people I started calling
people actually talk to Chris Guillebeau and I said how do you find all these
amazing stories for your books he says well I don’t talk to the people that
like I’ll send an email or something or put something on social and everybody
will send their own stories he goes but that’s not where the really good stuff
comes from the really good stuff comes from somebody suggesting somebody else’s
story because they don’t there’s no mixed motive yeah and I started I talked
to one family who uprooted their their entire family and moved to Burundi one
of the poorest countries in the world to sort of coffee farm and I was like how
did you do that and they’re like oh you know we took a leap and when I kind of
unpacked that some more and I said how long did that leap take they said it
took 10 years like that’s a really long week there’s a John Grisham story right
and sometimes the way we talk about what we’ve done the way we tell our
stories or even culture the way culture tells stories it’s not really what
happened and so I did I like I started digging into these stories of other
people and then I started to see these commonalities and I was like this is
this is how I found my life’s work it’s not a science it’s not this this this
this and this but there is a pattern you know and so art is not just like
throwing paint against the wall there are patterns there is intentionality
others it is a practice but at the same time it’s not you know completely you
know boxed in yeah so to me this is a great but I’m I’m
dying again in the book I just give that like the for the folks that are not
listening that are watching I’m holding the book up right now
it’s beautiful real artists don’t starve time’ strategies for thriving in the new
creative age and i’m gonna open our discussion on this book with eco Angelo
yeah and as you open the book roughly I think that’s the version getting this
right isn’t it’s the very beginning and set the stage for us on on the he’s
obviously the master painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel but why do you
unpack the first chapter for us because I think it is a great path for us to
then start to walk down around the book that I think is totally completely
loaded with gems so open the book for us so most people believe you where I guess
the myth we’ll just talk about the man yeah so the the thing that I hear a lot
here from photographers I live in Nashville and so there’s a lot of
photographers a lot of musicians a lot of writers and a lot of like now like
budding entrepreneurs and the one thing that I hear amongst all these people is
I can’t do that because there’s no money in that and that could be art it could
be writing it could be photography it could be music it could even be your
business idea like being a starving artist is this idea that the thing that
you’re most passionate about other people don’t value so you’re gonna have
to get a job right and I kept hearing this at the same time
I kept meeting people who are killing it people that you and I both know and also
like random people that aren’t famous or celebrities or anything we all know
people that are just they’re killing it yeah and they’re not and I’m famous yeah
they’re happy they’re making a great living and they’re doing the thing that
they love it is possible yeah and um and so I was like how do I like this is this
thing they’ve been bugging me for years and then I came across the story about
Michelangelo which I had never heard before yeah so story is in 2003 this
American art historian who was living in Florence Italy discovered this
incredible thing yeah and what he was doing was he was he was trying to date
the different scenes of the Sistine Chapel because they had a rough idea of
when Michelangelo painted them but he paint him over the course of years with
kind of these Vienna fits and starts and he want to know okay when was that
painted right it’s a huge ceiling and Michelangelo was an avid letter writer
so he goes the letters and he’s trying to find something out there’s some
reference to a commission and he goes he could really find any dates and the
letters that match certain scenes and so he’s like but I bet I could go to the
bank record so I could find his bank records
he received his commissions and installments I could attach this
installment to that date to that piece was the idea so he goes to the bank
records he had a friend at the archives he looked up the letter M he said it was
that easy and I see here that I : Michael Michael Jones Michael Michael
Angelo and he found bank records with the
equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars in there sort of surprised him
and he forgets about the letters and he starts just researching this and he
finds some unfinished research about Michael Angelo’s wealth and long story
short he ends up uncovering a fortune worth over fifty million dollars and it
made Michael Angelo the richest artists of the Renaissance but not only that he
at his time was the richest artist who had ever lived and I spoke with an a
biographer of Michael Angelo got him bill Wallace William Wallace and he is
you know one of the leading experts on the life of Michelangelo right now and
he said why Michelangelo did was he set up
president that many artists for generations after followed he made it
possible for an artist in the Renaissance to be wealthy before that
they were basically manual labourers they were like blue-collar shopkeepers
and afterwards they were aristocrats and he changed everything and so when I read
that story I was like here’s a guy as you said the master top of his game
arguably one of the best artists ever and he was rich and look this is not a
night like this doesn’t mean you have to be rich at all it means you don’t have
to starve but I think he represents like he’s he’s top of his game and he didn’t
starve so he is the best at his craft and he’s not a sellout and so he’s not
starving he’s not a sellout what is he I think he’s a thriving
artist yeah that and and to just pull a little bit more to the book and give him
to the reader or the listener or watcher here it’s like that’s you do a nice job
of contrasting throughout the book the starving artist versus the thriving rs I
think the nomenclature is really healthy too my personal journey on that same
story has to do with I want I studied philosophy yeah and in particularly the
philosophy of art and that’s it it wasn’t presented in such a tight way
that he did but it was made clear to us that that Michelangelo was a game
changer because he had transitioned out of what people thought was a like an
hourly wage rate for things like commissions and that that was impactful
for me because wait a minute like if you’re the belief was people that in
that age were just like working for pennies but if there’s commissions
involved then they had a benefactor and if these artists that have captured our
hearts for you know centuries they had benefactors then what’s so bad about me
trying to make a living and it was that story which one of the things that I
really bonds with your book over was wait a minute it was this it was a
similar lever like yeah it’s actually okay to make money as an artist yeah so
you there’s so many great stories and I think before we started rolling the
cameras you’re talking about or your art of storytelling and how
storytelling and research came together in this book and a really nice way why
don’t you like the next step and realizing that Michelangelo was paid and
was a master in that we don’t have to starve what was the jump between that
and and the rest of the book build that build that lineage for us yeah so I I
write books to answer questions that I have and that I think other people have
too so I wrote the art of work because a friend of mine when I quit my job he
goes what’s happened he was rare so you know going back the story of becoming a
dad then having a blog and like trying to go how can I make money off of this I
mean basically in about six months I replaced my income and replaced my
wife’s income and then we tripled her household income and she quit her job
right at the very end of her extended maternity leave and I didn’t even know
like she’s the finance person in our family and I had all this money sitting
in our PayPal account I open it up and I go oh we’re okay
it should transfer this to our you know bank account and it was it was it was a
crazy thing a friend of mine right before I quit my job where again I was
asking for some feedback should I quit my job is this this is crazy should I
not do it he is what’s happened he was rare and you should consider that this
is your calling and so the thing I love that I mean I quit my job and I was like
this is a big deal this isn’t just something that happened but I thought
what if it wasn’t rare what if it didn’t have to be rare and and so that’s why we
wrote the art of work and the same thing with with this when people go you were
lucky and nobody who’s worked hard likes to be called lucky and yeah and I mean
and look like fortunate things happen poorly recognized horn weight relatively
privileged work of course there’s so much that we have technologists yeah for
sure but like like I said I kept meeting two
groups of people equally talented but one had kind of a business mindset and
the other didn’t you know and they were both really talented but one was
starving the other was thriving it’s this thing bugged me and I read the
Michelangelo story years ago I clipped it in Evernote and I just let it sit
there and this is kind of how books happen for
they just sort of I have lots of conversations with people and it just
won’t leave me alone and and I kept collecting stories and I went back to
Michelangelo because all I had was this article about this this guy and I was
like what am I gonna find this guy he’s eight some 80 years old retired living
in Florence and I I tried I tried to email him it didn’t work the email
didn’t work I couldn’t find a phone number
I mean he was like off the grid he’s an 80 year old Italian man we Xavier can
live in Italy but he’s lived there for like 40 years
and and so I went to Twitter and I just searched his name and Twitter and I
found some students from like 2014 who had taken pictures of him teaching a
seminar and I just I direct I followed one of those people I direct message
them I said I want to I want to get a hold this guy and they said okay yeah no
problem and they connected me and we were talking on skype the next day and I
mean he just like he told me all kinds of crazy stuff I’m up Michelangelo and
so I started reading about his life and then I got connected with Bill Wallace
the biographer and I realized everything that we think an artist should be he was
not for the last 40 years of his life he had hundreds of employees helping him
build this Cathedral he got millions of dollars per commission he earned ten
times what his peers did just because he asked for it I mean everything he did
was just bizarre I thought what if he’s an archetype for you know other people
like this and so I just kind of like I started talking to people I started
finding story after story after story of creatives who were thriving and I
realized this is this is the new norm yeah and the book I called the new
Renaissance so if Michelangelo kind of started a new
thing with you know his example where other people could follow what if we
could do that again yeah and and what happened in between Michelangelo and
today is this story of the starving artist that has sort of infected our
understanding of art and creativity and just like you said
you read this sort about Michelangelo no surprises you surprise me it surprises
us because culturally we still think that artists should starve and the
argument of the book is you don’t have to thrive but whether you youth or you
don’t have to starve but whether you thrive or starve is ultimately a choice
that the the concept of starving artists just one more little piece of history
and I think youyou document this in the book is from Paris around La Boheme yeah
the bohemian lifestyle and is it just I don’t remember the details but it was
just that wasn’t it glorified like you’re struggling so much for your art
or something like that and that’s what made it worth worth the struggle is that
for people who were telling themselves that they were still worthy but they
weren’t really put in all the real work to be a successful artist er what what
was the context there yeah in a sense the question is where does this horrible
myth that so many of us have lived and fought through and so many who are
listening right now are going oh my god that’s me yeah so where did that come
from and how can we like how can we put it down so I call the story of a
starving artist a myth not because it’s untrue but because myths are stories
that we tell ourselves that help us make sense of our reality right so every
Christmas morning presents appear under the table under
the Christmas tree magically so parents tell them myth about Santa Claus right
and there are religious myths there are political myths or historical myths that
help us understand our reality they can be true based on truth or not
but when you believe a myth it affects the way you understand reality and
you’re in the universe in your life and so what happens is this guy named Omri
murder in the mid 19th century is his dad’s like a janitor and his mom’s like
a seamstress and he wants to be a writer and he’s surrounded by mean this is the
1850s so Impressionism I mean lots of really
cool stuff happening in Paris in and at the time and he’s surrounded by creative
geniuses and he wants to be one of them and so he
he tries to you know write some stuff and it doesn’t really go so well for him
and a little bit of literary success no commercial success and he’s frustrated
about it so what he writes is these series of short stories that basically
become eventually the Opera La Boheme and rents and these other things
afterwards Moulin Rouge are all kind of based on this the story of these artists
who are struggling living in poverty and they and and the poverty makes the art
better as sort of the message he is telling himself a story we all do this
he is telling himself a story to help him make sense of the reality around him
and you know what is that that fable the Fox and the grapes Fox tries to get the
grapes can’t get the grapes tries gets grapes can’t get the grapes goes I don’t
want the grapes anyway that’s the starving artist story yeah and if we try
something we don’t succeed at it we go well that’s not real art anyway and he’s
a sellout because he’s making a bunch of money it’s a way to sort of soothe
ourselves and so all I wanted to do with this book was tell the other side of the
story it is equally true perhaps even more true today but we have to be
willing to part with some deeply held beliefs beliefs based on the stories
that we tell ourselves one of my favorite people is a guy named Thomas
Merton who is a Trappist monk and he says he talks about the the false self
and the true self and he said the worst kind of illusions are the ones that we
believe about ourselves and those are the hardest to let go Travis monk I
figured out they beer-making months right if we just had some more beer
making monks around I’m gonna open the book here in just a second but before I
do I think you also talked earlier about one of the sad I think I don’t remember
what exactly the framework but it was I think he said it was one of the saddest
things that was it was like unfulfilled potential or do you member what you were
working out there it was like if you fight if you have your calling but you
don’t pursue it it was a thread you just started to go down and he changed gears
on me yeah I mean I think one of the this the saddest things I
don’t physically nor not but is the unlived life you know is it’s the idea
that maybe for the Fox and the grapes thing like you’re writing off these
things so easily you’re I don’t remember yeah but I mean I like we all kind of
like a lot of us sit on the couch and go I wonder what that would be like and and
we never try and ever pursue it for you know millions of reasons and I realized
that the the thing that I was most afraid of when I started going down this
in this path of you know being a full-time writer was not failure it was
actually success at the wrong thing like I’m a pretty ambitious guy I’m the
oldest of four kids so I’m like I got that elder brother I got to go out and
succeed mentality so almost everything that I do I do pretty well so I don’t
really have any fear that I’m gonna be broke in a ditch somewhere and and you
know maybe that could happen but I just like I’m gonna find a way so when I you
know sort of looking at these the the fork in the road yeah what is that Mark
Twain says I think Mark Twain when you see a fork in the road take it you know
it’s just the idea like do something yeah
and some of us get stuck there and so when I was looking at you know sort of
these different passes like well I can stay on this path of least resistance
and you know be rushing towards middle-age going is this what I thought
it would be or I can dramatically kind of reinvent myself a book I call it the
rule of recreation just like John Grisham did it’s never too late to go
this isn’t this isn’t what I wanted this isn’t Who I am I’m gonna recreate it you
know this life of mine and just go down this path and it may not work but at
least I’ll have tried I think the the your cajoling right there helped me
latch on to it and it was the the when things are okay yeah and there are so
many people I felt like for me everything was okay but I was listening
to culture and society and the parents and all these different sort of
external pressures that we have and I think for so many people having
basically become a really good career counsellor from the time you know being
a reasonably public person and chasing my own dreams and like oh yeah how’d you
do that it’s incredible look cool and what I hear is so much of the well I got
it pretty good right like but when the thing that’s getting up in the morning
is your insurance deductibles slightly lower or B or it’s like it’s the the
things that are just so beige by almost any measure that you’re and if that’s
the sort of justification for staying the course that is societally acceptable
or publicly acceptable it’s like being in a relationship that’s okay and how if
you were gonna give some you know because I think you’re pretty
prescriptive in the book yeah what is the what is the what is the prescription
you know I think one of the like idea that I really like and it’s it’s it’s a
thing that is sort of a philosophy that I share with some mutual friends and
acquaintances that we have people like Tim Ferriss Ryan holiday is the idea of
apprenticeship yeah I think it’s a lost art in the book I talk about actually
talk about both of the books we’ve been talking about and and I think it’s so
important I was talking to a friend of mine recently about this job that I
worked for about six and a half years and where everything was fine everything
was fine and I said you know what’s crazy about that job it is not a day
goes by today where I don’t use a skill that I learned there so I mean like
there were times where I didn’t like my job there were times I was really
frustrated felt misunderstood you know it was I was in my early to mid 20s for
most of that job and my boss would just throw stuff at me you know like he hired
me as a writer when I didn’t think of myself as a writer a year and a half
into that job he was oh by the way you’re the marketing director now like
literally that was what he said and I said oh I am we didn’t have a marketing
director he was the marketing director how do I do that will read Seth Godin
blog notice I had to figure that out and I really consider that season my
apprenticeship and I was recently talking to
a creative group that this company and I said the one thing that I see really
successful people doing in various creative fields is they always act like
an apprentice so what does an apprentice to Michael do this actually really well
they do whatever is required of them and we don’t live in a culture where I go
taste I need I want I want you to mentor me I want you to I want to apprentice
under you yeah like that’s a weird thing and you’re busy but like we don’t like
we’re essentially though you can do it remotely digitally from you can devour
all the things that a person puts out you can as you say in the book put
yourself around other people who are doing this thing and you’re sort of
apprentices mosasaur yep yeah like like that’s stacked against us is it’s just
hard where as Michelangelo goes to you know this the the most fashionable
painter in Florence at the time and says I want to be your apprentice and he
basically says okay join you know the other word boys you know cleaning my
shop so it was like it kind of baked into the economy whereas now you really
gotta fight to make these things happen which is why most people don’t I think
you can’t skip this like I think you have to act like an apprentice and I
think you’re right it does start with like watching this show reading blogs
and books and stuff but everybody that I know and I don’t know this about you but
I would guess that it’s true everybody that I know that has some semblance of
influence is pouring into the next generation as it were a handful of
people and the way that those people those apprentices got those influencers
attention was not by saying will you mentor me the way they did it was by
they started devouring everything that you do and then they reported back and
said I did this stuff you already helped me thank you and and in the book I like
I lay it out because you talk about being practical I think one of the best
things that you could ever do to try to get a little bit closer to somebody
that’s a hero a mentor of yours is to email them and just and not ask for
anything to work and say hey chase I love this show with Austin Kleon
when you guys talked about stealing like an artist it made me realize you know
with Photography I was trying to be original
and I was just like you know wasting my time and now I’m devouring all this
stuff I have you and Austin think for that
thanks so much is it you know and maybe you could work and ask in there that
says is there anything else I should be looking at right now I’m guessing like
the probability that you you responding to that on Twitter email whatever just
multiplying by a hundred and if you do this again and again and again with say
a dozen people I promise you one or two of them yeah are gonna go this guy this
this girl they’re for real and and I’m gonna start investing more and more time
and I’ve been fortunate to be apprenticed by some great people some
great minds yeah and it was not because I asked them for one favor and they said
yes it was because I kept showing up saying I’ve already done the million
things that you’ve talked about in your books on your blog you know on your blog
wherever you know you’re sharing your influence and that’s how you prove
yourself worthy of somebody investing and doing the work the actual work yeah
and reporting back yes and Shelly saying it works yeah I did this you told me to
do this side you said jump I said how high I jumped and look at where I landed
this amazing thank you and the people I think in in the book well I’m gonna get
a little tactical I’ll open the book here in a second but that’s I think you
talk about put yourself in this in the place or I remember what it what you
called it lysine go to the scene yeah yeah I call that the other 50% which is
50% is the making the sharing and then if you just make and share but you sit
in your parents basement like it’s gonna be very hard for you to connect with
other people so for me the other 50% is going to what you call this is the scene
so owning it and I think for the it’s a part of the mentee or being involved in
a mentorship relationship is sort of participating and you have to either
digitally or physically go there and meet these people so break down like
what what do you mean by like be a part of the scene yeah so the book is like 12
rules of the new Renaissance I call them and these are rules and like artists
don’t like rules but I mean a rule is if you do it like things typically work out
for you and if you don’t you’re sort of rolling the dice right so we have rules
for our son who’s five right now because he needs structure
understand that life has consequences and one of the consequences of not
following these rules is like you might continue to starve and so these were
things that I observed that historically and then also contemporarily
contemporary artists we’re doing and it led to their success and they’re doing
lots of other things we use the twelve things that I saw most thriving artists
do and they’re also the twelve things that starving artists actively did not
do this but I don’t need to do that I need to market my work you can stand on
its own and one of those things and it’s challenging but I think it’s possible is
what I call the rule of the scene which is you got to show up and be a part of
what you whatever’s going on in in your industry and I think every city has a
scene I think every industry has a scene you know but I have a friend who moved
here recently moved to San Francisco or right now from San Diego like San Diego
is a cool City yeah but he realized like there was some stuff happening here that
he wanted to be around and he was single and he had some flexibility to make that
happen she just you know showed up and then things are working much better for
him and so the idea is you’ve got to move and the first movement is probably
across the room not across the country yeah for me living in Nashville like I
said I sat on the couch for five years and I was like I don’t live in New York
I don’t live in San Francisco I just live in nationally move to your girl I
work from my home I can never be a part of that stuff and I said wait a second
like there are some things happening here we have meetups
you know III just noticed because I would like east stock people you know uh
you know like they’re all hanging out at that coffee shop whatever just going to
work at that coffee shop and a couple things happen when you join the seam one
you do get to be around sometimes some of your heroes and maybe even develop a
relationship I think the much more realistic and even better thing is you
get to be around all the other people who are kind of where you’re at that
want to be a part of that scene and I think one of the best things that we all
can do is find other people that want to be where we are and are like actually
doing your doing they want it and and link up with them hang out
promote their work I texted a friend of mine I was like remember we started our
blogs six years ago and I would text you every time I had a blog post and ask you
to go to read it and upload it and I would do the same thing for you and like
easily I remember that I was ridiculous ridiculous but I mean like that’s what
we did you know we were there to support each other and it’s a lonely place when
you’re getting started reinventing yourself recreating yourself and so
going to a scene which which is like a physical place where you can connect
with other like-minded people getting encouragement getting correction I think
it is essential to success dialog it’s like feedback you talked about feedback
and awareness and yeah this is one of the ways that we can create that for
ourselves and for our community and I think you may see underscored something
that’s really important is that it happens in every city and if it doesn’t
then you can start it yeah join one or create one yeah and then and the it may
be is meetups and there are trade shows and every you could be the group who
quilts only in purple fabric on Tuesdays in May and there’s a there’s a club for
that on the Internet and so like finding your tribe we could go down a big seth
godin hall there but I won’t but I think you know the the joining a scene is a
really prudent thing you talked about the 12 rules you’ve got them into a
couple buckets here I’m just gonna throw a couple others and we can talk about a
little preview I think it’s really well organized well you already hinted at
Austin Kleon stop trying to be original yeah name one of the chapters so little
tribute to him but also to the millennia like its yeah art is very much about
reconstituting ideas so talk to me about how you presented that in the book um so
there’s a historian by the name of will Durant he says nothing is new except
arrangement I love that I mean here’s a historian right like saying there’s
nothing new Under the Sun even that idea even his quote is is hailing back to a
biblical quote from Ecclesiastes and yeah I mean it’s it’s fascinating
how much this sort of plays out in a variety of fields Jim Henson incredible
pioneer of Muppets puppetry The Muppets the Dark Crystal
Semmy street i read several biographies about him he’s probably one of my
favorite creatives cuz he was he was such a pure artist and yet he used the
business to make his art and the way he started was he was you know doing
commercials for a coffee company called Wilkins coffee and there were like 10
second commercials concealed YouTube um they’re bizarre they’re black and white
they’re two puppets and and his Wilkins and won’t kins and Wilkins says you know
do you like coffee and won’t consiste know and he’s like blows his head off
with a candidate for a purchase by Wilkins coffee but what Jim was doing
and what he would eventually did was revolutionary and and yet when he
received some Lifetime Achievement Award for puppetry
he said he he’d be prompt this guy named Bert Hillstrom who was basically the
first person that put puppets on television he said bird till strim did
more for bringing puppets on the TV than I ever did and so here’s this guy whom
we will remember for probably hundreds of years who has created an incredible
legacy and he goes all I did was what this guy did but I just did it a little
bit differently and and Jim was actually when he was
doing those commercials he was a senior in college making the equivalent of
seven hundred fifty thousand dollars a year
another starving artist thing yeah and he is like he was bored he want to go be
a painter because he didn’t think he’s being a real artist and so he took a
six-week sabbatical he and his his girlfriend Jane were running this
business together he left it the business to her he goes to Europe for
six weeks of making basically backpacks and what he sees in Europe is puppet
shows where adults and kids are going together whereas in America at the time
that didn’t really happen he said what if we could do this what if we could
steal this and rearrange it and share it you know in America and that’s exactly
what he did so nothing is new except arrangement we’re just we’re copying
what people are doing we’re curating it and then we’re reesh
airing it you know in order to content of the remix you know yeah the remix
everything is a remix that’s right Picasso talks about this a lot that he’s
there real look real artists steal yep so I
think that’s a fascinating chapter we’ve talked about Austin a little bit yeah we
already touched on apprentice how about don’t work for free this is like the
this is the hardest chapter for me to write because being an apprentice right
is like you’re doing work for free and so the idea here is not that like when
you get started you may not do something to sort of build your portfolio but like
you don’t need to do that for years and I meet lots of creatives makers
photographers writers who literally you know for five years are working for free
in hopes of like catching a break and if you set a precedent that you work for
free I mean you’re basically saying that your work is is worthless yeah and and
and this was something that I saw was pretty common amongst the I mean it did
this survey with hundreds of working creatives and all of those that were
thriving I mean they did not do work for free maybe every once in a while they
would donate a project for philanthropy but this idea that you’re discounting
your rates or you’re doing lots of stuff for free to break in well for it to lead
to some opportunity yeah it doesn’t work and so the counterpoint to that has
always worked for something opportunity doesn’t pay the bills and when we do
stuff for free and I did this for years we think it’s going to lead to something
we aren’t quite sure why we’re doing it speaking is this way where a lot of
people want you to come there conferences and speak for free and I do
that sparingly either because I want to help a friend
or because I I know that if I speak for this particular event it’s going to you
know validate or legitimize me in this industry and I can you know take this
and leverage somewhere else so like that’s worth something I remember when I
first started speaking I I couldn’t get any gigs and so I started doing gigs for
free and and and somebody said don’t do that I was like well what should i do
there said charge something something yeah I said okay well I guess maybe like
$250 they said yeah and so that next time I was gonna do speaking
somebody called me and said well you speak at a conference I said well well
you know what’s your budget they said always you know like it’s free we’ll
cover your travel and I said I really can’t do it for you know less than 50
bucks and I’m like oh yeah we could do that and I was like wait like you said
it was zero you know and I realized there was room to sort of negotiate and
then other times you know I would speak for free in exchange for all the video
and audio that I could put on my website and that was worth something to me so it
can be whatever value you want to get out of it get something out of it you’re
spending hours you’re often using materials don’t do it just because it’s
going to lead to some opportunity and you don’t know what that is it’s gonna
lead to nothing yeah I’m gonna keep I’m loving this little exercise here I can
keep shooting you oh thank you for signing this book for him by the way
yeah my galley copy wasn’t signed I didn’t send that
so collaborate with others is this a little bit like the scene an extension
of the scene yeah so there’s like three chatter right next to each other yeah
there’s sort of like a trilogy basically and I had to break them apart but it’s
one idea which is like when you get around people that are like-minded cool
stuff happens and and there’s no such thing as a solitary genius and so the
first idea is you have to join a scene like you got to go where people are me
hi csikszentmihalyi which is super fun name to say he wrote
the authoritative book on creativity called creativity and in that book he
says one of the best ways to be more creative is to not will yourself to do
it but to go someplace where creativity is already happening so that’s the idea
of joining a scene and then when you join a scene you’re going to basically
build a network that you can then leave that scene so when Hemingway moves to
Paris to become a writer joining the expatriate community that
lived there he leaves after about eight years and he has that network that makes
him the famous author he is today that he kind of carries around with him for
the rest of his life and so you know you go someplace you connect with people but
then ultimately the network leads to some sort of collaboration and so this
is the idea of a mastermind group it’s the idea of doing partnerships
connecting with other people working on stuff
together because when you collaborate it’s it’s better yeah and my favorite
story about that is how JR toking wrote the Lord of the Rings and the story is
talking and CS Lewis and about 17 other men met weekly in Oxford every Tuesday
night and they would get together and they would read something that they’re
working on and talking and Lewis became friends because they were the first two
people they were both professors at Oxford that um like they’d ever shared
their work with and so they were very shy about because their professors
teaching literature but they were also like writing poems and stuff and and
like all you do this too and they started sharing it and eventually they
started this mastermind group called the Inklings and toking started he worked on
The Hobbit it was successful and then he had a contract to work on the Lord of
the Rings and one day he and Lewis go out to lunch and Lewis asked tokine
how’s it going talking says it’s horrible I’m stuck I’m a few chapters
and I haven’t written in months I think I’m gonna quit and he lets his friend
read the manuscript and Lewis says AutoKey don’t you know that hobbits are
only interesting when they’re placed in unhallowed like circumstances and this
is a light bulb for talking he goes oh yeah they’ve got to leave the Shire and
if you’ve read the Lord of the Rings or seen the movie like there’s the chapters
the first few chapters first 30 minutes of the movie they’re just like watching
fireworks they’re in the Shire you know it’s sort of like tension is building
but he stuck there because he he was such a perfectionist he was kind of a
nerd about the languages and the history he needed the voice of a friend saying
you can do better a friend of mine who’s a researcher on the lives of the
Inklings our name is diana glare she calls these people resonators we all
need resonators in our lives like that friend was for me
where he goes Oh Jeff you are a writer yeah I am
you know sometimes we’re just the last people to recognize the gifts that we
have and community creates that kind of resonance that helps us understand what
our best work is and also how also helps understand when we’re falling short
Lewis was telling talking this is not your best work you can do better
and what happened was he ended up writing the Lord of the Rings one of the
most successful books of all time he did it by bringing it not by being a
solitary genius and the man was a genius he did it by bringing his works in
progress every single week sharing it with his friends and getting feedback
and that is the only way that you can do great work amazing there is another
thread that I need to pull one you’ve touched on a couple times I’ve been
trying to put there’s so many good ideas coming here I’m trying to put pins in
these things that’s my job that’s why I’m here and I learned this from Sir
Richard Branson and you you you’ve mentioned it a couple times here it’s
that there’s a belief and you haven’t really gone there so when I asked you
together there’s a belief that you have to bet it all hmmm yeah and to me I
think you cite some research in the book if I remember correctly and when I sit
here and I’m thinking as I’m listening to you about the takeaways from the
people who are listening and watching right now and I know there’s some way to
big percentage of people who are defying that how their problem is X & Y and
they’ve got a family and a mortgage and I you know I can’t do it because of all
these things and what would you tell those people I would say don’t take a
leap build a bridge it’s sort of my tweetable version of that and I believe
this for years so when I you know going back to John Grisham’s story you know he
does this for basically three or four years before he goes full-time reminder
that’s the league he was a lawyer and then wrote the books and yeah yeah and
that was sort of my story too so I started the blog I basically build the
audience to about 10,000 subscribers while I’m doing that my wife gets
pregnant then I start like maybe I can make some money off of this and so then
I like do a survey and you know launch an e-book and then launch a course and
then publish a book and basically it takes two years and I’d replaced my
income and like I said we had basically a year year
then some of runway and I was like okay I guess I could do this like it wasn’t a
big you know leap of faith yeah you didn’t mortgage the house and yeah and I
go all in on your freelance writing career and put your feet up yeah and in
like part of that was because I had responsibilities and I couldn’t do that
part of that was I knew my wife would kick my butt if I try to do that and it
was also just the wisdom of seeing people do this yes like I had had a
friend who had worked for ten years at a corporate job he hated it he quit his
job to be a writer in six months later he was broke and I was like if I’m gonna
do this I don’t want to look back like I don’t want to do this for a year and
then go have to find a job again cuz they will have replaced me and then I’ll
have to go somewhere else and I like I am a writer therefore I want to spend
the next 20 30 40 years rest of my life writing so I’ve got a really like I’ll
wait like I’ll I’ll take my time and just do
this in the margins practice in the margins for a couple of years until it’s
obvious to me in everybody else that this is the next step so in the book so
I just always have that idea but I would hear people say crazy stuff like take a
leap man and and like I said I think sometimes we sort of sanitize our
stories yeah like that couple that I talked to who quit their jobs and move
to Africa I was like how long that take that you make all the leap yeah it took
ten years they didn’t move to Burundi they first moved to South Africa and
they did nonprofit development work there to understand the culture and then
when that kind of like after ten years of doing that they were like oh I think
we really want to get into coffee let’s go to Burundi and and then I mean that
was still a big deal right but it took ten years and I think most success
stories when you really get down to it they’re slower than we realize they are
people say you just came out of nowhere how good does that feel oh you know oh
yeah I did just come out of nowhere I’m special it makes me feel special but
when in reality like this took eight years because I had all these blogs that
had failed and I tried to do these businesses that didn’t work and I
applied for these different jobs that got turned down but but everything was
sort of building to this moment and I was okay with it taking time
and not long ago I ran across this study from the University of Wisconsin which
is very fascinating study they studied the trajectory of I think 5,000 American
entrepreneurs for 15 years and they split tested it basically and and half
of them that they looked at basically quit their jobs to go become business
owners and then the other half you know built a bridge they they didn’t quit
their job yet they started a business kept their job and you know eventually
quit their job transition yeah the ones who quit their jobs to go all-in were
thirty three percent more likely to fail they just so like can you take a leap
and the net will appear yeah maybe sometimes is the safer option to just
take your time and build a bridge and try to like I want to be creating for a
lifetime yeah I want to make a body of work not just do one thing because I’m
pissed about the job that I have so I’m willing to be a little bit more patient
about it and it’s frustrating yeah but I but I see this and maybe you see this to
the people who well you know the people have been doing what I’ve been doing for
even the past five years that are still doing it now I mean there’s like like
all those people that I was hanging out with that are still been doing for the
last five years I mean there’s like a couple of them and and and the ones who
have endured are the ones who were patient yeah who didn’t just quit their
jobs and start something and hope it worked out and the ones who failed were
those who were riskier and so I do think it’s it’s sort of a misunderstanding in
our culture that you gotta take some big risk
we even of the the point I made with Branson is and to me why it’s remarkable
is not because of Richard but because of someone who has Richards success and who
you believe went all-in and he told you he didn’t do that he’s like his his way
was mitigate the downside like just you know we’ll talk about Virgin America for
a second so it’s a it’s a virgin company the license the name he was one of the
major investors and he found a way to get it so that if the airline didn’t
work that either Airbus or Boeing would buy
I think was Airbus would buy the planes back from him at near full price
like he pre-negotiated and you think like oh my god that’s not being
optimistic you’re planning for failure it’s like no that’s actually how you
transition out of being involved in some of the other things and picking up this
new thing yeah like how do we reduce you know people say I have a house I haven’t
worried to have a well yeah but have you gone to the people that you’re closest
to and told them that this is just not this thing but you have a real sort of
an existential crisis where you need to be doing something else for a living
because you’re not happy and there’s nothing worse than success but without
fulfillment this is borrowing from Tony Robbins yeah
that’s this that’s the catastrophic part that sort of like the bay’s job at the
beige life and the and how can we then transition and if you include other
people in the journey and you work with what you have rather than what you don’t
have and what you have is people who love you you have a roof over your house
so you have a 60 hour week job how can you make it into a 32 hour week job what
are you doing with your five to nine not just the nine-to-five and I find by and
large that there’s a you know you mentioned the stories the myths that we
tell ourselves that this is impossible once you have a mortgage or next or a
yrz that it’s impossible I think you’ve done a nice job of the research was
really interesting to me hadn’t heard that before yeah I didn’t enter that I
thought was fascinating and I mean that was like we hear that if you want to be
an entrepreneur you have to take a risk you got to go
all-in and the most successful people that I know are not pessimists but they
always understand the downside yeah the only time that I ever like really left
was a time when I thought I had considered the worst-case scenario which
is we’ll do this will kind of take this risk spend about $70,000 I went to my
wife this was two years into me being a writer and having this business and I
said this is the this is the downside we’ve got seventy thousand dollars in
our bank account we do this upside is you know we’ll make a hundred grand I
mean you know pretty quickly and and she’s like okay let’s do it
that was not the worst-case scenario really it could be a little worst-case
scenario was that everything would go you know way different than we thought
and we’d lose $200,000 and then get it with a $50,000 tax bill
that our CPA didn’t anticipate and and i and i was like oh my god what am I gonna
do ya know and you know you figure it out and and and I remember go to my wife
and I cross crying I was going I’m sorry I did this to us and it was ego was me
trying to you know buy prestige and do something that I thought you know like
when you succeed at one thing you kind of think you can succeed at anything at
least early on that you go tell us that yeah I was like I could do that I know
business yeah business guy got a blog I know things and I totally failed because
I was out of my depth and I were talking my wife about it and I said I’m so sorry
she says you know passed you know two almost three years we’ve never had to
worry about you taking care of us and you know so you’ll figure it out
just don’t do this again I said no no I won’t ever I promise and you know I just
like it’s not that you can’t anticipate failure you can yeah but it was like at
that moment I realized it’s not like risk can get you hurt and the best thing
that I can do as an entrepreneur as a writer as somebody who wants to be
creating for a lifetime is make sure that I have things set up that
worst-case scenario I can live to fight another day I can live to write another
book create another thing just keep going
somebody once criticized Walt Disney kind of at the pinnacle of his career we
were just making movies to make money he said oh no no we don’t make movies to
make money we make money so that we can make more movies I I didn’t know that
was a Disney Court I’ve been saying that since I and I had literally figured like
wait why do i yeah like because I goes back to the started
the people that I know they’re real artists and I started in there doing
well like what because I just kept thinking of projects that I wanted to do
and projects took money if you didn’t want to you know be beholden to the man
or whatever the narrative that you’ve told ourselves I how true is that for
you what’s that like is it how and is this a
theme that in your book real artists adopt they make money to make art versus
make art to make money one of the my favorite people I talk to in this book I
interviewed basically like half the stories or contemporary artists as I
mentioned the other half are like historical people Picasso Twyla Tharp
Michelangelo and so on I talked to Alan bean who was the fourth
man to walk on the moon and he’s a full-time fine artist today and his
stories basically he always kind of painted for fun and he gets to 50 years
old and we’re not doing moon missions anymore and he’s looking around at NASA
this isn’t like the 80s I think and he sees all these people who can do his job
better than him he goes anybody can anybody can fly the space shuttle
anybody can do it I do about how many astronauts can paint the moon from
firsthand experience and the answer was nobody nobody can do it nobody else had
been to the moon and could paint and he told me he goes you know I am a man
because I said to him I said you know like you could quit your job to like
chase your passion of art he goes hang on a second Jeff I’m a man I’m a Navy
man and then I joined NASA like I’m a man who’s always done his duty and the
way I see it because I because I loved painting I was good at it and I’d been
to the moon I could do something I could capture a part of human history that may
never be captured again I thought it was my I felt it was my duty to quit NASA
and become a full-time artist you go to Allen Dean’s website today you can buy
you can buy paintings huge paintings of you know his experiences on the moon and
they’re anywhere from fifty to four hundred thousand dollars because he is
the only guy who does that but how cool is that that’s another great takeaway is
that the answer for his art was in here it’s like what it what are the personal
experiences what makes me different not just better there are people yep what’s
his last name again Alan bean okay bean there are people who are much better
painters and Alan bean I haven’t even seen the work I just know about some
insane talent out there totally but what he did is something different and
something you need to him he blocked on the
freaking moon yeah it you know what else he did I love a story it’s just super
fun and the point of it is not so that he could make a bunch of money the point
is he can charge those prices because he’s only guy who’s done it he’s using
what only he you know what he has but he’s making money so that he can make
more art and he’s been doing this for thirty years now
and he really considers it a duty a calling like this is his thing work only
he can do but he had this sort of dilemma where he was going to our
museums he’s like I’m no Monet I can’t do it what he can do
because so what do I have and he’s literally sitting in a studio and when
you walk on the moon as one does they let you keep all this stuff let me keep
the suit the shovel everything all that stuff like in the corner of his room he
looks at it and he goes oh yeah I can use that and his his suit was still
caked and moon dust and so if you buy an Alan bean painting it’s only it only
cost you fifty thousand dollars every piece has a little piece of moon dust
like he like takes the little moon dust off the suit throws it on the painting
so you’re literally no piece of the moon so yeah I mean like he’s taking like
what only he has and using it to his advantage and he’s making money off of
his art so that he can keep making art and keep doing his duty I love it I love
it so you have written a bunch of books you’ve talked about teaching read and
you’re teaching a writing that’s when the reasons you’re in San Francisco
we’re super lucky to have you on creativeLIVE tell us about so your
class is called surviving too successful starving too successful sorry I think
that’s how bad Matt who wrote that alright your handwriting starving to
successful how do we come full time writer yeah and is it in this class that
you unpack a lot more in the detail or what what it folks yeah we’re gonna get
yeah so you know taking this idea of not being a starving artist as I mentioned
at the beginning you can be a starving artist in anything in business in your
bakery shop and in your writing career and as a writer I have a lot of
experience with that and I just see a lot of writers who think they can’t
money off of writing I mean it’s something I hear authors say I can’t
make any money doing this I’m like I’m making money doing this lots of my
friends are making money doing this you you can’t suck and make money doing this
but like you can’t make money doing this so yeah the class is just practically
walking through what I call the writers roadmap which is a 12 step process going
from starting with your message to making $10,000 a month which we sort of
like that’s that’s how I define making a living just about in any economy that’s
you know a living wage you know good living and it’s possible and I work with
thousands of clients and students every year walking them through this process
and every year I see them doing this and I think what’s frustrating for me is
sometimes seeing you know online education I think you probably share
this too is you have a lot of fakers who like had an like had an experience once
and they go this is true for me so it must be true for you and what is has
been fun for me doing this for about five years now in six years is walking
with people seeing them achieve stuff that I’ve never achieved like I worked
with this this guy just over the past year and he grew his email list to
100,000 people in 12 months and he goes what should I do I was like yeah I said
what do you want to do is I want to write books I said go get a frickin book
deal man yeah he goes and gets a $220,000 book contract my first book
contract was for $6,000 stuck yeah and the next day I was talking to a writer
and she says well you know you can’t you can’t make much money off of your first
book I was like let me tell you a story and so yeah I mean it begins with this
idea of mindset you’ve got to want to win you’ve got to discard the idea of
the starving artist but if you do the work you’re going to see the results and
so that’s what we’re teaching people is the stuff that I see thriving writers do
every single day every single year and they succeed super happy to have you on
the creative life platform that’s you know you talked about there’s so much
hokey-pokey out there if you’ve done one that’s why we curate the heck out of
people who are on the platform super happy to have you back for a second
class yeah and thank you so much for sharing your journey on creating
real artists don’t starve must-read I read it in two days Wow yeah it’s loss
and I think it’s it’s not just a tribute to your wisdom and brilliance and
writing but the research and the fact that now is an incredible time to be a
creator we have more tools than ever before all these access to information
to folks like you and enough people to you
feature in the book congratulations man thanks a show
thank you all right I’ll see you again probably hopefully you

28 thoughts on “Real Artists Don’t Starve /w Jeff Goins | Chase Jarvis LIVE

  • Woo! first comment – super excited about this one. Thanks for the introduction to Jeff Goins, Chase! Definitely next on my reading list 😀

  • I'm going through the transition of leaving behind my well paying design job to do my own thing. This is perfect timing! Thanks so much.

  • Wait! Did he mention "Burundi"? First time I heard it said so well, and just was like "wait…, I know that country, I am from that country!!" Thanks for sharing💙

  • Really love this interview it had me thinking of the things that I can do to position myself to get paid for doing my passion!

  • This is dope) I am the one who took a leap and failed, so I got the job now and I am building a bridge! Thanks for this amazing interview!!!

  • Great interview – I have Jeff's online course Tribe Writers and its really good for helping to start writing and building a tribe. 

    Well done Chase!

  • This is useful for me. thanks for putting out so much useful content. I am trying to incorporate listening to part of one of your shows during breakfast or stretches every day. It is useful for the "setting the state" part of my daily routine.

  • Man I got SO much great value and insight from this video, guys!!! Thank you Jeff for helping debunk that stale and outdated myth about pursuing an artistic career, and Chase as always for your pointed questions and solid interviewing. I'll be buying someone's book soon I do believe… 😀

  • When the two 'Tom Snyder's' finish trying to impress one another with bold & brash braggadocio-maybe they'll get around to hawking dude's pamphlet. I'm sure he'll sell dozens. This clip proves Karaoke I King, What used to be the audience has now become the players. Is smell Pulitzer. The fact that 'Mary's' pamphlet author-
    knocked up a girl is unreal.

  • Thank you this has been inspiring. Everyday I watch a new video containing fragments of wonderful information and this has to be by far the best few minutes I have spent between my morning job and early afternoon job. Gives me motivation to really explore who I am and what I am meant to be doing!

  • Some great ideas and advice here! But I can't help noticing the slight problem of a someone talking about being a successful writer who is successful because he writes books telling people how to be successful writers. I'm wondering, does the book give advice that people can use who are not planning on writing similar advice books?

  • This was a great discussion. The term "mentoring" means different things to people. I'v had some jobs where my manager was a "mentor" and other jobs where they thought they were mentoring but they were micromanaging. You are fortunate to have worked with someone who gave you more opportunities to try different things on your job. There is no greater feeling than to know that an administrator sees your potential before you can recognize it yourself.
    Thanks for sharing your story Jeff. I'll be checking out your books. Thank you Chase for the good questions.

  • Mr. Goins, Thanks for helping to put things into perspective for me on my writing journey. We often attribute success to the renegade or the gladiator. Thanks for sharing your authentic story with lightness and simplicity. It helps to make a career in writing seem a lot less intimidating and a lot more accessible. Thanks again!

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