Where Do You Belong?

Image: Pixabay

We often seek belonging by matching like with like.

In a new group setting, our adaptive instincts seek “likes” (Is she like me? Do I have something in common with him?) instead of differences.

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Do Your Best Work, Not Someone Else’s



Are you telling yourself playing small and safe is your best decision?

Archie had made up his mind.

He told his two friends he just couldn’t risk starting his own animated studio. “It’s a stupid fantasy.” Benjy and Sahib sat silent and stunned. Read more

Break the Isolation & Find Your Creative Pack

Tracking wonder - business artist alliance

Most creatives I know and work with struggle with how to get optimal doses of solitude and of social interaction. I call it the Solitude – Social Conundrum.

Last week we gathered with a group of creatives and entrepreneurs from around the globe to discuss the epidemic of isolation and introduce people to how they can break that trend and find support through collaborative alliances in our Business Artist Alliance.

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Where Creatives Find Know-How, Community, & Affirmation

Image: Creative Commons

Image: Creative Commons

In this Age of Convenient Information Access and ready-made persona formation, why invest time and money in any training?

It was a warm sunny morning in Taos, New Mexico when I guided fifteen writers through a meditative yoga flow. When I asked them to check in with questions such as, “What am I here for?” and “What am I writing for?” a couple of them got watery eyes. Read more

Why DIY is a Lie for Entrepreneurs & Creatives


Now perhaps more than ever creatives & entrepreneurs have access to more knowledge, resources, and apps that empower us to take things into our own hands. But it’s also where we often get trapped.

Maybe we think that because we can kind of sort of figure things out on our own that we should do it on our own and that we’re skilled “enough” to figure it out on our own. Read more

The Poetic Science of Business Artistry



I’ve been talking with numerous business artists this past week about what it takes to go deep + innovate in a way that brings them a viable return on their labor.

I am reminded of how a woman born to the poet Lord Byron and to a mathematician helped innovate the first programmable computer in the early 19th century.

Her model and more can give us perspective on developing the “poetical science” of business artistry.  Read more

Business not as usual but as art

Into the light by mamnanaimie, flickr

Into the light by mamnanaimie, flickr

A growing band of people want to change the way we do business.

I have been taking stock of them for a few years. They’re not held together by profession or trade. They are painters and contractors, designers and teachers, insurance agents and literary agents.

They own retail shops and resale shops. They operate health care centers and spiritual centers. They produce events and manufacture products. They are lawyers and writers, filmmakers and trouble-makers.

They are clients of Tracking Wonder Consultancy, people who journey through our Live the Quest Learning Expeditions, subscribers to my weekly letter and to this blog. They are the entrepreneurs & artists I have been interviewing for seven years, the social entrepreneurs and NPO executive groups I have spoken to. They are people I’ve not met yet.

A common hunger bonds them.

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For Authors Ready for the Life-Affirming Fact

In the Tower of Babel that is publishing these days, it’s easy for authors to get distracted and to side-track their creative process in favor of over-thinking viable creative products.  The push to publish and profit can override the hardest fact.

I’m offering four spots in a program and then a free call for a select group of authors who want to be smart about the hardest fact.You can’t ignore the push to publish, and you need to know your options for shipping – whether your shippable product is a book, ebook, educational experience, brand, or seminar. But that’s not the hardest fact.

If you’re self-publishing (or self-enterprising), it’s almost near-impossible – although I’m not convinced yet it’s impossible – to bypass the traditional or even Amazon’s alternative distribution models and, hence, knock out middlemen’s profits. But that’s not the hardest fact.Publishing among the Big 6 (or is it 5 or 4 now?) still puts up big gates for you to learn to navigate. But that’s not the hardest fact.

You need to build your own audience, and you need to learn how to promote and market. It’s part of being an author-entrepreneur, like it or not, who figures out how to build a platform and craft a brand that fits. But that’s also not the hardest fact.

A former Yahoo exec nailed the hardest fact at the Tools of Change Conference.

Tim Sanders, the C.E.O. of NetMinds, defined it this way in Betsy Morais’s New Yorker piece “A Book is a Start-Up.”

“The biggest problem with authors today is that they overestimate their writing and editing skills. [Without editing], it would have been the ‘The Meh Gatsby.’”

Oh, how we don’t like to hear that. But his statement is true of all of us. Every one of us. Even of F. Scott Fitzgerald. He had on his side Max Perkins, the editor of editors who virtually helped reshape Gatsby and even nudged Fitz toward the great, and ironic, title.

But Sanders’ model and even Peter Armstrong‘s model at LeanPub don’t completely solve the problem.

I’ve been surveying the industry by listening to, talking with, and reading what agents, editors, distributors, and authors are saying matters today. And it keeps coming back to unsexy matters like hard work, learn your craft, practice, study the market, study your options.

Almost every author in the highly recommended Why We Write anthology says as such.And according to this Time Magazine article by Megan Gibson when Random House snagged 17-year-old writing sensation Beth Reekles’s The Kissing Booth, her editor Lauren Buckland was impressed less by her vast online fan base than by her writing:“The book was in fantastic shape….It was quite a new thing for us to find such a talented writer on an online platform.” Never mind she’s 17.

I heard this same mantra repeatedly among publishers, editors, and consultants at the Digital Book World Conference:You can have a million Twitter followers, but if you can’t write a good book, you won’t get a book deal. (and probably not much of an audience who really needs your book’s medicine)

So what do you do?

First, know where you are on the Amateur-to-Maestro Continuum. If you’re a power horse in one field, but you’re an amateur in the authorship field, admit it. If you’re a well-published author who, like Fitz, has gotten along well enough but admittedly is still learning your craft with this new book project (uh, when do you stop learning it?), then admit it.

We can admit we’re apprentice-authors. No, don’t admit it.

Announce it! Don’t admit it as if it’s a self-denying, shameful confession. Announce it as a self-affirming confirmation that you love to learn as a continuously curious and seeking human being.

We can learn specific arts as apprentice-authors.

We can find our Wild Pack – which is an improved refinement to crowd-sourcing your start-up book.

We can mentor ourselves and each other.

We can commit to the life’s path toward mastery without expecting to reach it. At least not within the next few weeks.


Between being a wide-eyed and big-hearted amateur and being a gratified and engaging author is being a hard-studying and life-affirming apprentice. And in our culture at large and in our Internet culture specifically, we have an Apprenticeship Gap.

And here’s the real hard fact: Most real authors remain apprentices their whole life. Acknowledge that, and you realize nothing is “wrong” with you. You’re just a human being hungry to do what we do best – learn.

We love to learn and thrive in optimal learning spaces. That’s not a hard fact. It’s a life-affirming fact.

So grateful to run with you – and Happy Spring,

Constant change is not sustainable for creative projects: conversation with 0 Positive Festival co-founder

Teaser: The Novelty Spurt is that burst of wondrous enthusiasm we feel for on a new project. The Novelty Spurt is comprised chiefly of three parts: Lightning Bolt, Energy Jolt, and Brick Wall. When the Lightning Bolt strikes, you or a group of people get an inspired idea. The Lightning Bolt gives an Energy Jolt. With youthful vigor, you create and work and stay up all hours. And then, crash. A Brick Wall. Your body crashes. An emergency arises. Or you face the inevitable challenges of execution, resource allocation, collaboration, promotion, and launch.
The temptation when faced with a Brick Wall? Avoid it by finding another Novelty Spurt.
Meet Joe Concra and his band of game-changing music-art-health care festival organizers and how they’ve tried to get over, under, and through their share of Brick Walls to sustain one of the freshest music festivals to come along in years. (The 0 Positive Festival – that brings together musicians, artists, & health care providers in barter – happens Oct 6-8, 2012 in Kingston, New York, 90 minutes N of the city.)

1. From Artist to Organizer
New York painter Joe Concra attended The Truck America Music Festival in the Catskills in 2010. That event would inadvertently shift Joe’s focus from making a living as a painter to co-founding and coordinating the 0 Positive Festival – what has become arguably one of the most original and best “do-good” music festivals with the right scale that has a premise with potential to take off across the United States.

A few weeks after attending that U.K.-based Truck America festival, a dentist in Kingston, New York, mistook Joe as the music festival organizer and said, “The only thing wrong with that festival is that I can’t bring those guys [musicians in Monogold] to play for me in exchange for my fixing their teeth.”


“I will fix these musicians’ teeth,” the dentist said in essence, “if you will bring them to Kingston.”

Joe went home, told his partner and fellow artist Denise Orzo, and pitched his pal, journalist and photographer Alex Marvar, and then pitched another area doctor the crazy premise.

Let’s bring musicians to Kingston in trade for free health care.

And so – with wide-eyed zeal – the 0 Positive Festival and its winning tagline of “Bartering the art of medicine for the medicine of art” was born and launched. In three months. Marvar gathered bands to play in turn for free health care.  Concra and Orzo rallied artists to paint public art – murals and other work – on Wall Street. The doctor, Dr. Art Chandler (director of the Columbia Medical Hospital in Hudson) and Dr. Tom Cingel (the dentist with the original request) gathered doctors, dentists, chriopractors, acupuncturists, and other health care providers to offer free care in return for music and art.

1200-1300 people converged on Wall Street of Kingston – 90 minutes north of New York City in the idyllic Mid-Hudson Valley. The area is a charming and slowly revitalized neighborhood that has buildings and sidewalks from “Small Town America” and owns bragging rights to sporting the only intersection in the U.S. with buildings dating from the 18th century on all four corners.

In its second year, 2011, the 0 Positive Festival provided

$38,600 of medical services + $17,600 in dental work = $56,200 worth of free services.

Sponsors in 2012 include the biggest proponent of local music in the Hudson Valley (WDST), the largest magazine in the area (Chronogram), the area’s largest health care system (HealthQuest), and a stellar branding and data-tracking business (Evolving Media Network).

41 bands like Dead Heart Bloom, the Felice Brothers, Richard Buckner, and Mercury Rev’s Grasshopper will play. 40 artists will have work integrated into the festival’s urban-small town fabric. Not bad for a group of wide-eyed musicians, artists, and dentists. Any problems?  Read more

A Training To Train Your Best Self to Show Up for Your Muse & Your Tribes

I want to tell you about a training. It’s a training to train your best self to do your greatest creative work in the world. And it’s a training that opens the way for you to do likewise for your clients, your students, your teams, your tribes.

You and I know the challenges of living this one wild life creatively day-in, day-out. Obligations drain your time. Distractions suck up your focus. Unforeseen complications frustrate you. And moods derail your once wide-eyed enthusiasm. And then there’s revenue. And having a unique offering for your tribe. And building that tribe.

Where’s the wonder?

The distance and residential training I’m offering this May through September won’t resolve all those matters. It won’t make living this one wild life easy. But I guarantee four things this training will give you:

  • a system and tools that will help you focus, imagine, persevere, and sculpt time to show up for your best creative work when you need to (not just when you feel like it);
  • an incomparable confidence and know-how to create and facilitate experiences for your clients and tribes;
  • the know-how and support to become a thought leader in your field;
  • ongoing support of & mentoring from a tribe of committed, experienced creatives, teachers, coaches, entrepreneurs, and facilitators

But there’s only room for a few of you remarkable people.  And if you apply and register before March 15, you’ll get a nice Early-Bird Discount.

You can fill out the application now and send me an email message that it’s on its way. Read more