We creatives can’t sidestep the importance of “knowing our stuff.” I’ll include some info related to the fundamentals of certain fields – whether it’s writing, design, entrepreneurship, blogging, or whatever field might be of interest to you.

Farewell, foreign shore by Nick Kenrick, Flickr

The endless quest to remember who you are

Farewell, foreign shore by Nick Kenrick, Flickr

Image: Farewell, foreign shore, Nick Kenrick, Flickr

“Know thyself.”

It’s a high classic Greek ideal. It’s also impossible.

It’s impossible if that adage means that we should know completely, consciously who we are and how we think and what we feel and what our motives are at any given time.

Consider these questions:

Why do you act the way you do? Why do you believe what you believe? Why do you conduct business the way you do?

Come up with a conscious rational answer. It won’t be complete. That’s why – without being self-indulgent and narcissistic – the quest to remember who you are as a leader, business owner, or creative influencer of any brand is essential. Read more

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A Ripe Time for Introverted Creatives & Entrepreneurs

A Ripe Time for Introverted Creatives & Entrepreneurs Imagine if Jonas Salk at last discovers the polio vaccine, but he cowers at the prospect of receiving publicity or criticism or of appearing vain by drawing attention to himself. So, he decides to keep the discovery to himself. That would be irresponsible, wouldn’t it? And yet […]

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How Art Disrupts Your Life Like Nothing Else

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Sometimes something about your life is off. You’ve played by the rules and followed the laws. You can master a week of meetings. Your team achieves its goals. Your writing gets published. Your art gets exhibited. Your kids make the grade. And, yet, when you have time to gaze out the windshield or the train window on your commute, or when you have a rare and real lunch break to pause between meetings, you hear or feel that kind of “off” something.

Is it your relationship, your job, the whole way you’re approaching your days?

It might be not only your business but how you conduct the very business if not busyness of your life that is at stake.

Here’s the funny thing: All of us, men and women with an iota of sensitivity, experience deep existential unrest at least once in our grown-up life. Yet when we feel that “off”-ness, a part of us refuses to admit that whatever is off is serious.   Read more

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Warning: You Cannot Plug in Your Potential

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Let’s face it, this fellow cannot write.”
– Bob Manning about a young Tracey Kidder

“The life in us is like the water in the river. It may rise this year higher than man has ever known it, and flood the parched uplands; even this may be the eventful year, which will drown out all our muskrats.”
– Thoreau, conclusion, Walden

1. The potential for defeat abounds.

Tracey Kidder was twenty-seven years old when he walked into the hallowed Boston offices of The Atlantic Monthly, one of the United States’ most respected and longest running magazines, and asked for a freelance assignment. He found encouragement from an editor, Richard Todd, thirty-two.

Kidder started submitting several freelance pieces to Todd. Some of them  were workable enough that Todd could help Kidder shape them into something publishable. Many were not.

Atlantic’s chief editor, the notorious and tenacious Bob Manning, once scrawled on one of Kidder’s pieces a note:

“Let’s face it, this fellow cannot write.”

But Kidder did write. He had to write. And eventually he learned how to write like a captivating author.

Had Kidder ever heard or listened to the publisher’s voice, Dr. Paul Farmer’s story of wanting to cure the world would never have been told in Mountains Beyond Mountains, readers would never have experienced the inspiring story of fifth-grade teacher Ms. Zajac in Among School Children, or had their minds cracked wide open to a whole new computer wave that not every one could see coming in 1981 as Kidder (and Todd) saw in The Soul of a New Machine.

And Kidder might never have won the Pulitzer.  Read more

What Value Publishers Add to Your Book’s Publishing Cycle

Image: Book. Copyright by Noah Digley. Some rights reserved.

Image: Book. Copyright by Noah Digley. Some rights reserved.

How Long to Publish?

A lot of people ask me how long it takes to publish a book – to let it fly into the hands and hearts of readers. I wish I had the definitive answer. Let’s get perspective on the realities and why you might or might not need a traditional publisher.

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Creative Commons (Moyan Brenn)

The New Story of Publishing

Creative Commons (Moyan Brenn)

Creative Commons (Moyan Brenn)

2016 might be the year you create a book that matters. I hope so. We need books that change our minds and change our lives. We need stories that expand our imaginations and expand our hearts.

My team and I are devoted to helping you become a captivating author – or an even more captivating author – this year.  I’m committed to helping you become an artisan-author, someone who learns the fine craft of her medium and genre so she can create exceptional work for her audience. And I’m driven to help you sort through the confusing multi-directions of publishing in the 21st century.

I hear and read a lot of anxious talk around publishing these days. Random House (#1 in the world) recently acquired Penguin (#2) so soon there may be just one mega-publisher. Or with the digital revolution maybe no books. Or with Amazon’s and Jeff Bezos’s dominion maybe no bookstores. The angst-ridden speculations go on and on.

I’m committed to filtering through this “Babel” for you and myself.

Among the things I’m sorting through are the several stories about the nature of publishing, past and present.

Let’s take a look at these stories about publishing and discern what matters most for you to focus on. I’m curious what your take is. Share your views in the comments below.

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Frédéric de Villamil

Just Have Fun or Get Better?

Frédéric de Villamil

Photo credit: Frédéric de Villamil, Flickr

A few years ago, when my first girl was two-years-old, she wanted to play my Bengali two-string dotar instrument. She plucked it. It twanged. I tried to guide her pudgy worms toward gentle strokes so it might purr, but no doing. Then, she wanted to pull out her mini-ukele. Similar deal. She set it down on her lap like a steel guitar player and pick in hand began plucking. It twanged. After a few minutes of random ting-tangs, I suggested another way to hold the instrument and strum it. She stood for my guidance for about 2.5 minutes and then said,

“No.” Not in the typical defiant explosive two-year-old way. Just in the resolved and clear-minded way. Read more

The Psychology of Seth Godin’s The Icarus Deception

GW1143H755There are thought leaders, and there are Thought Leaders.(1) And Seth Godin is the latter. Why? Godin is a Thought Leader not only because he’s smart. Not only because he’s prolific and creative.

Godin is an archetypal Thought Leader because he understands the nature of Thought itself. He gets what drives human beings. He understands story and the way story awakens something latent within our unconscious and stirs change.

In short, Godin gets the art and science of captivating creativity.

And if you’re someone writing a nonfiction book or wanting to write a book or eBook that makes a difference to its readers, you might learn something from how Godin’s book The Icarus Deception works.

A change in thought. A change of heart. A changed life. A changed patch of the planet.

Godin’s book The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? aims to change the way many people, trapped by corporate and cultural myths, view themselves and their potential.

Despite a flawed assumption here and there, the book works on many levels and for many reasons. Read more

13 Books for Thought(ful) Leaders

16793367681_e748a37419_hThe most effective, influential leaders of their pack read. They read a lot. But in my own experience and in reviewing the reading habits of key leaders in different fields, something surprising surfaced:

Maybe it matters less how much you read and matters more how diversely you read.

If you’re a business owner or a thought leader or thoughtful leader constantly reading business and economics books, guess what? You could be impoverishing your mind’s capacity to imagine, empathize, and think boldly through problems.

Below I share with you a few examples of well-known CEO’s favorite books and then give you 13 books to put on your list this year to do business as unusual. Read more

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Who is Your Brand Story About?

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Who is your Story about?

Several months ago, I felt a wee bit disoriented, having shaped part of a book proposal.

What’s it worth? I wondered. What if my agent rejects it? What if this is all a fool’s errand? What have I done with my life? Okay, I didn’t go quite that far.

Then, my five-year-old peeked in my study. She wanted to show me her outfit – a summer skirt and a short-sleever atop a long-sleever.

“I just couldn’t wait any longer to wear summer clothes,” she said as she twirled around the study. And at that moment, I remembered again why I’m writing this book, why I’m building Tracking Wonder, why I utterly adore engaging you.

After years of research and my own share of unbidden surprises, I vowed five years ago to keep tracking wonder so I could help create a world where that little girl could not wait to become a grown up (because the prospect would look so appealing!) and where grown ups could and must wonder again and again.

That’s my vow. That’s my mission. That’s part of the Story of Tracking Wonder. Read more