Learning: The New ROI

Source: Unsplash

Source: Unsplash

Whatever it is you’re building, creating, or advancing, when you think of your return on investment, weigh it on what you learn in the process. This is often over looked or not calculated into the final ROI at all.


I laid out rows of three acorns on the lawn.

Me: “How many rows of three are there?”
7-year-old: “Foherr” (she rolls her ‘r’s as if she were French).
Me: “So, how much is 3 times 4?”
7-year-old: “Twelve!” Read more

Guidelines for Crafting Story

Image: Unsplash

Image: Unsplash

So who’s your Story about?

I generally feel a wee bit disoriented right after shaping 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 don’t go quite that far.

Last time this happened, my six-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 readers. Read more

From Writer to Published: Craft & Creative Mastery

Image: Unsplash

Image: Unsplash

You want to publish your book.

Whether you’re writing your first or fifth book, you fantasize about finishing that book, getting it into the hands and hearts of people who need it, and what might happen to your life and sense of fulfillment as a writer once that book is “out there.”

But you feel a tension. This tension is the gap between what you currently know and what your skill set is a present, versus what you might need to know and be able to do and create in order to reach that place you fantasize about.

That gap in knowledge can feel like a chasm.

That chasm’s enormity can take your breath away.

The self-masochism begins. Read more

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 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

The Rise of the Business Artist

courtesy of Dafne Cholet (Creative Commons)

courtesy of Dafne Cholet (Creative Commons)

I’m listening to how shifts in the economy are changing our attitudes toward making a living and toward making art. Whether you learn toward making art or making money, some reframes might challenge your biases and assumptions.

William Deresiewicz of The Atlantic confirms what we’ve been tuned into for a while – that the creative entrepreneur is rising and giving new meaning to what it means to be “an artist.”

“Artist,” he notes, with its connotations of the solitary genius ensconced in a lair of High Art beyond us plebians is 70 or more years outdated economically. “Artist,” he argues, was replaced by the “professional artist” supported largely by universities, grants, and other organizations. Before then, artists relied largely upon benefactors and galleries.

Replacing “artist” is the “entrepreneurial self,” the person capable of making and producing art in ways that breaks through the institutional intermediaries to make a living. 

Cut to the business end, and Whole Foods co-CEO William Mackey calls entrepreneurs doing business with a higher purpose today’s heroes who are making real change for the better in the world.

What does this movement mean for you as a business owner, creative professional, or artist? 

Let’s have a conversation.

I mention below which communities I will be visiting soon, but let’s talk in the comments section below about the trends and necessary skills I am laying out. We learn from each other.

Read more

Prioritize your get-better-at projects

William Copperthwaite in his handmade yurt.

William Copperthwaite in his handmade yurt.

“When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.” – allegedly said by John Ruskin

A golden boy novelist wants to rewrite his novel so it intrigues readers from beginning to end, but he can’t figure out the point of view.

An executive wants to become a dynamic speaker as part of her next-act venture in the field of leadership, but the stage daunts her. 

A husband-wife team of consultants wants to move from the stage to the screen and scale their programs online, but the translation confounds them. 

An engineer wants to build a more meaningful business that still provides for his growing family, but he doesn’t know where to start.

You likely know the scenario. You have great passion for a project, but beyond passion lies considerable uncertainty. Left unchecked, uncertainty eventually overrides passion, and you’re paralyzed.

Those projects get pushed to the back burner if they even make it to the stove. Or else you dawdle and wander with unclear goals for a few months or years.

But what if behind that uncertainty is in part a skills gap? What if behind your lack of confidence is simply a lack of skills – which you can change while having fun? Read more

How Business Artists Quest on the Job

2014-01-02 15.06.42Talking about mindset to other people is tricky.

I love to speak to and consult with individuals, groups, and organizations about doing just that – changing how they frame their work and themselves. That frame shapes how they do what they do and potentially changes their environment.

Mindset. Method. Place. It’s not a formula. It’s a working tripod that any individual, group, or organization must consider to lift themselves and one another out of an “eh” work world and possibly toward an “Ah!” work world.

One of the first bits of Southern wisdom I assimilated as a malcontent teenager applies here: Either change your circumstances, or change your mindset. Easier said than done for the less “rosy” among us. To change a mindset incrementally requires a creative cognitive reframe and cognitive tools.

Read more

Are You a Possibility Junkie?

doorsNote to Readers: One joy of shifting from a DIY attitude to a DIT (Do It Together) mindset is that you get to work with talented people who lift you up. That’s my experience with Heidi Johnson. Heidi has trained and apprenticed with me, worked as an events assistant & facilitator, and now serves as Tracking Wonder’s Client Liaison and as one of our Premium Consultants. Here article here gets to the heart of a problem we see a lot of in our TW Wild Pack, and in many ways Heidi “gets” Tracking Wonder’s practices and tenets even better than I do. Enjoy. -Jeffrey

Heidi-JohnsonAre You a Possibility Junkie?

by TW Premium Consultant Heidi Johnson

I’m a Possibility Junkie. I love the rush of a new idea, the visceral jolt of excitement that comes with the possibility of choices and options.

Several years ago, I would relish coming up with new business ideas: there was the idea of opening a lunch delivery business, being a virtual assistant, or owning a dry goods general store with an emphasis on crafts.

But there’s a shadow side of possibility. In a desire to create infinite possibilities, I ended up paralyzing myself from taking any action. Sound familiar? The shadow creates so many options and ideas that we can end up distracting ourselves from the real creative medicine we’re meant to share.

To counter the shadow, there’s also a catalyst side of possibility. That catalyst has to do with how you can fulfill your potential in this lifetime. The side that embraces discerning wise choices, moving toward mastering necessary skills along the way, and taking consistent action. To master something we use an inherent strength, develop a new skill, or hone an existing one.

I can now say I’m a recovered Possibility Junkie. Recognizing when the symptoms show up is a first step towards Mastery – towards owning the difference you can make when you catalyze your potential.

Here are the three most common Possibility Junkie Symptoms as I’ve noticed them in myself and the many talented people with whom I’ve worked: Read more

Beyond the Paradox of Loving What You Do

yearningheartThe Paradox of Loving What You Do

A funny paradox: We love to love what we do. Yet, we sometimes fear that if we learn too much about how what we do works, the love will vanish. As if increased behind-the-scenes know-how spoils the innocent magic. And if we become conscious of how what we do affects others, then we fear becoming manipulative.

Yet, can you imagine magician David Copperfield or filmmaker Wes Anderson being able to enchant us if they did not love what they do and aspire to learn how what they do affects their audience and do the work necessary to make the magic happen?

We know how art we love captivates us. And yet we’re not always willing to admit that we can learn without becoming cynical and that we can become adept and craft-conscious in our art and business art without becoming manipulative.

I see numerous aspiring artists and aspiring business artists tripped up and stuck in this paradox. Otherwise talented artists, coaches, and freelancers also get hung up on their own baggage labeled “marketing” and “branding.” (For the record, been there.) With the near-sold-out Your Captivating Book Mentorship Program about to get under way, I’m wondering more about what trips us up in the challenging process of art-making and artisan business-making.

(By the way, I’d appreciate your perspective in the comments below because your perspective broadens mine.) Read more