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Creativity 101

How to Create Cool Stuff and Do Your Life's Work

In this class we’ll look at your #1 creative project, doing your life’s work, turning pro and the three laws of mastery. Plus how to get your mind right and deal with troll poop. Let’s master the process of consistently creating cool stuff and giving our gifts to the world!

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The Psychology of Discovery and Invention

Creativity with a capital C—the type of Creativity that changes the world. How can we go about cultivating it in our lives? That’s what this book is all about. Our guide is the legendary psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Big Ideas we explore include defining true Creativity, focusing our attention and being willing to be kinda weird, the one personality trait all Creators have in common (hint: complexity!), creating rhythms and the nine elements of flow and how to tap into it!

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The War of Art

This book is amazing. If you’ve ever struggled with rockin’ your creativity it’s pretty much a must-read. Written in an intense, no-nonsense style, Pressfield gets to the heart of the “Resistance” that stands in our way to fully expressing ourselves as he challenges us to become true “Professionals.” In the Note, we’ll check out some of my Favorite Big Ideas—from letting the results be by-products to the importance of simply sitting down and trying day after day after day.

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Do the Work

Overcome Resistance and Get Out of Your Own Way

Steven Pressfield created a trilogy on mastering the creative process and winning our battle with Resistance. The War of Art kicked it off, this is the second installment with the final Turning Pro. In the book, Pressfield walks us thru a specific project and shows us how to deal with Resistance at each stage. Big Ideas we explore incude starting before you're ready, keep working (!), and SHIP!!

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Turning Pro

Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work

Turning Pro. Steven Pressfield tells us that's how we win The War of Art against our nemesis Resistance. Brilliant stuff. In this Note, we'll take a quick look at Shadow Callings (w/a look at mine!), the blissful hell of Epiphanies and more goodness on how to officially turn pro.

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The Artist’s Journey

The Wake of the Hero's Journey and the Lifelong Pursuit of Meaning

This is Steven Pressfield’s 19th book. It’s the 10th book of his I’ve read and it’s the 4th book on which I’ve done a Note. As with all of his books, this one is written in his inimitable, pithy style. (In fact, as I consulted my dictionary for the precise definition of the word pithy, I realized just how much his style epitomizes that word. Pithy means “concise and forcefully expressive.” <- Exactly.) Big Ideas we explore include defining the artist's journey (vis-a-vis the hero's journey; note: we all live both journeys!!), our #1 job (say hello to your muse), the superconsciousness (shuttle back and forth!), destiny acorns (daimon meet genius), how to let your soul shine (hint: SHOW UP!), Jay-Z in his studio (enter: 10,000 micro hero's journeys), and: Ready or not (you're called!!).

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The Creative Habit

Learn It and Use It for Life

Twyla Tharp is awesome. One of the greatest choreographers in the world, she’d created more than 130 (!!!) dances for her company as well as for everyone from the Joffrey Ballet to London’s Royal Ballet. In this great book,. Twyla shares some uber-Big Ideas on how we can develop our Creative Habit to more consistently rock it.

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Leonardo da Vinci. Charles Darwin. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Martha Graham. The Wright Brothers. Jane Goodall. Benjamin Franklin. Thomas Edison. Zora Neale Hurston. What do they all have in common? Mastery. In this great book Robert Greene shows us the key components of their mastery and, most importantly, how WE can each attain our mastery in our own lives.

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So Good They Can't Ignore You

Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love

Cal Newport decodes the pattern of finding work that inspires us and tells us, as per the sub-title, “Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love.” The title of the book comes from comedian Steve Martin’s advice to aspiring entertainers to “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”

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Steal Like an Artist

10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

This is a great little book packed with gems on the creative process we can apply to both our work AND our lives. As per the sub-title, Austin gives us “10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative.” Big Ideas we explore include the need to start copying, the importance of taking care of ourselves and establishing a routine as we set creative constraints and amassing a body of work as we consistently show up.

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Show Your Work

10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered

This is Austin Kleon’s second masterful little book on optimizing creativity. The first? Steal Like an Artist. After learning how to get our creativity on, we’re ready to become the artist whose ideas *others* steal. Big Ideas include chain creating, micro sabbaticals, playing till the 9th inning, troll pooper scoopers, and the #1 way to get more followers.

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Die Empty

Unleash Your Best Work Every Day

How do you want to die? With a calm serenity knowing you gave your best or with deep regret that you never took the risks and cultivated the discipline to show up with urgency and diligence each day to create a life of deep meaning? The answer is obvious. Big Ideas we explore on how to die empty include optimism vs. wishing, the root of mediocrity, the 3 S’s of goal setting and dealing with The Lag.

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Louder than Words

Harness the Power of Your Authentic Voice

Todd Henry tells us that history’s most impactful humans all had a unique, powerful, authentic voice. This book is all about helping us harness the power of OUR authentic voice. Three keys: Identity + Vision + Mastery. And, we’ve gotta learn how to own the Big U as we run our own race, have fun in monk mode and practice action + patience.

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An Audience of One

Reclaiming Creativity for Its Own Sake

Srinivas Rao has a super-popular podcast called Unmistakable Creative where he’s interviewed over 500 creative people—from Seth Godin and Tim Ferriss to Gretchen Rubin and Adam Grant. I got this book from Penguin Random House (thanks for another great new book!). It’s a quick, fun look at the importance of doing work YOU are excited about and letting your disciplined commitment to the practice of your craft lead to the results. (Focusing on that audience of one? It’s the best way to the audience of millions.) Big Ideas we explore include the four key aspects we need to "listen" for in the creative process, seeing our work as a GIFT rather than as a chore, the addictive power of flow, the fact that a "cognitive athlete" would never "smoke" (yet we all do), the importance of Optimizing PHYSICAL energy if you want sustainable creative energy, mono-tasking vs. task-switching (do the math, folks!), and knowing your reason to get up in the morning (yours?). Want to reach millions? Start with an audience of one--you!

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On Writing

10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft

Stephen King has written over 50 books. ALL of them (that would be every.single.one) have been international best-sellers. (Wow.) It’s fair to say he knows a thing or two (or 350 million) about writing. He shares that wisdom in this book and we'll take a quick look at a handful of my favorite Big Ideas in this Note.

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How Non-Conformists Move the World

Adam Grant is one of the world’s leading management thinkers and the top-ranked Professor at Wharton. He’s also a great writer. In Originals, we take a look at “How Non-Conformists Move the World.” Big Ideas we explore in the Note include vuja de, creating a ton of stuff, activating your GO! system when fear strikes, the fact that venting just fuels anger (and why empathetic anger is where it’s at), and how proper revolutions are less about cataclysmic explosions and more about long, controlled burns.

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The Courage to Create

Rollo May was a brilliant 20th century existential psychologist and this book is a great look at the courage it takes to fully express ourselves as we create our ideal lives. We'll explore the fact that the word courage comes from the French word for "heart" and that, just as the heart pumps blood to all the organs of our body, so does courage pump blood to all our other virtues—without courage, we're effectively dead. This Note is packed with Big Ideas to make sure your courage is beating strong.

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How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci

Seven Steps to Genius Every Day

Michael Gelb profiles the seven attributes of da Vinci's genius in his great book and in our Note we'll have fun checking out some Big Ideas including one of the most powerful exercises I've ever done called "A Hundred Questions." The exercise literally shaped my life and I trust you'll dig it as much as I have. We'll also look at the power of affirmations (did you know da Vinci used them?!) and the body of a genius (did you know da Vinci was also an exceptional athlete?!). Fun stuff.

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How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

Kind of the Story of My Life

What does Scott Adams have to teach us about success? A lot. And this hilarious book is packed with wisdom. Learn why goals are for losers (and systems are for super-crushers), how to move from merely wishing for success to DECIDING you will be successful and other helpful tips on how to program your moist robot for optimal performance. Um. Yah.

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The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives

Tim Harford is an award-winning journalist, economist, and bestselling author. This book is a well-researched and equally engaging look at “The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives.” Big Ideas we explore include messy creativity (focus + desirable difficulties), collaboration (team harmony vs. goal harmony), YES! (the habit of), Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s (messy!) story, and the fact that Ben Franklin mastered a lot of things but... was super messy (and that didn't seem to slow him down)!

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Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t

And Other Tough-Love Truths to Make You a Better Writer

When I first saw the title for this book I thought to myself, “Really, Steve? THIS is what you think I need to hear? That nobody wants to read my sh*t? I thought we were working on our Resistance and winning the War of Art!" Then I bought the book and embraced the tough love with a growth mindset. Big Ideas we explore include WHY people don't want to read your sh*t (or engage with your product/or listen to your talk, etc.) (hint: they're REALLY BUSY!), how to be worthy of their attention, why the hero's journey is essential for effective storytelling (the 10 main points), doing what scares you the most, and the importance of giving us your gift (mine the gold, please!!).

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The Creativity Book

A Year’s Worth of Inspiration and Guidance

One of the world’s leading experts on creativity, Eric Maisel is a psychotherapist who works exclusively with artists. As the sub-title suggests, this book is set up as “A Year’s Worth of Inspiration and Guidance” and provides insight into everything from dealing with anxiety to taking the next baby step and having patience. Plus, you’ll learn a new power mantra for creating. :)

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Creativity on Demand

How to Ignite and Sustain the Fire of Genius

Would you like to ignite and sustain the fire of genius? Well, Michael Gelb's your guy, then. Gelb is one of the world's leading thinkers + teachers on applied genius creativity. He wrote the life-changing book, "How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci" and is back with more goodness in this gem. Specifically, he teaches us how to cultivate our creative mindset + creative mojo via tapping into universal life force, or qi = good stuff!

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Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel

A Biography

Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel. We all know Dr. Seuss. But few of us know Mr. Geisel. I got this book as a gift from my friend (Zac Zeitlin) after our families enjoyed a hike together during which we chatted about my love of Mister Rogers and the documentary featuring him: Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Our conversation turned to another one of the most iconoclastic and influential luminaries of the 20th century: Dr. Seuss. Zac told me that this biography was one of his all-time favorites. After reading it, I can see why. It’s a remarkably endearing biography by Judith and Neil Morgan who knew Ted Geisel in the latter half of his life. Big Ideas we explore include the fact that Ted was voted LEAST likely to succeed (and then became the MOST successful of his Dartmouth class :), how to move through walls of rejection, the cat jumping out of the hat (an origin story), money (and joy), and Ted's admonition that we CAN and we've GOT TO do better than this.

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The Icarus Deception

How High Will You Fly?

Seth Godin is one of the world's most inspiring and prolific creators. He's also one of its most popular bloggers. This book is all about challenging what Seth calls "The Icarus Deception" and reclaiming our power to fly. The primary theme? We’re way too worried about exhibiting any level of hubris and trying to fly too high when we should be more concerned about flying too LOW. (Obviously, without being “recklessly stupid” about it but…) Big Ideas we explore include: how to catch a fox (and human!), the highs and lows of the Icarus Deception, "the itch" (how's yours?), and how to deal with resistance (aka "the most important line in the book"!).

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Running Down a Dream

Your Roadmap to Winning Creative Battles

Tim Grahl is one of the world’s leading book-launch marketing gurus. To put it in perspective: At one point, his clients held FIVE spots on the New York Times bestseller lists. (To be clear: That’s REALLY (!!) hard to do. Like, almost impossible.) But get this: That week when he achieved the pinnacle of success? He was miserable. And this book is his inspiring, super-vulnerable story of how he moved through many dark nights of the soul as he ran down his dream—to not only create a business and body of work that he’s proud of but, much more importantly, a LIFE of sustainable meaning and mojo and joy. Big Ideas we cover include: a practice to eliminate the nonessential, the fact that everyone is pretty much always (!) editing their lives, making it all one big experiment, scraping away the plaster to reveal your already-perfect Golden Buddha essence and the true joy of running down your dream!

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Made in America

Michael Eric Dyson is one of America’s premier public intellectuals and the author of a number of New York Times bestselling books. He’s also an ordained Baptist minister who got a Ph.D. in Religion from Princeton. And, he is a Professor of Sociology at Georgetown where he’s taught classes on “the fusion of politics, hip-hop and race relations” including “Sociology of Hip-Hop.” He’s also been teaching classes on JAY-Z and his poetry for years. I really enjoyed the book for a number of reasons. First, Michael is a brilliant, captivating writer. Second, JAY-Z is an equally brilliant, captivating subject for Michael’s analysis. And, finally, as a white man trying to open my eyes to the realities of the racial issues in our culture, I found this book to be a perfect opportunity to deepen my perspective while appreciating two genius artists at work. If that sounds like fun, I think you’ll enjoy the book as much as I did.

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Wired to Create

Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind

This book started out as a blog post by Carolyn Gregoire based on Scott Barry Kaufman’s work that went viral: 18 Things Highly Creative People Do Differently. Scott is one of the world’s leading creativity researchers. Carolyn is a senior writer at the Huffington Post. Together, they wrote a great little book on the mysteries of the creative mind. Big Ideas we explore include: the fact that creativity is a messy business (embrace complexity!), the power of walking for daydreaming (all the cool philosophers do it!), creating a nice home for your genius to visit (she’s got the magic!), creating again and again (and again), unitask rather than multitask (unless you want to atrophy the best part of your brain), and STAMP your life with your own personality (but only if you want to be great … and happy!).

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Bored and Brilliant

How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self

Manoush Zomorodi is the host of WNYC’s (New York’s public radio station) popular podcast and show called Note to Self. She decided to do a little challenge with her listeners. 20,000 (!) people participated in her 7-day “Bored and Brilliant” challenge. This book is the result of all she (and her community) learned. Big Ideas we cover include how to drop into your default mode (aka imagination engine) via boredom, daydreaming (three ways to do it: the good, the bad and the ugly!), challenge #1: observe yourself! (plus the other six), doing deep work (the 4 rules), and essentialism 101 (the 3 steps).

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Lead Yourself First

Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude

Solitude. It’s the secret sauce to leadership. But... In their great book Raymond Kethledge and Michael Erwin tells us: “Solitude is a state of mind, a space where you can focus on your own thoughts without distraction, with a power to bring mind and soul together in clear-eyed conviction. Like a great wave that saturates everything in its path, however, handheld devices and other media now leave us awash with the thoughts of others. We are losing solitude without even realizing it.” Big Ideas we explore include the big 4 of solitude (clarity + creativity + emotional balance + moral courage), the threats from our "Input Age," how MLK and Eisenhower used solitude, FOMO (get over it!) and how to change the world (starting with YOU!).

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Daily Rituals

How Artists Work

If you’ve ever wondered how some of the greatest mind’s in history—from poets, painters, and philosophers to playwrights, scientists and mathematicians—structured their lives to get their great work done then this may just be the book for you. Mason Currey does a great job of providing super concise and equally fascinating portraits of the idiosyncratic habits of 161 (!) iconoclasts ranging from W.H. Auden, Charles Darwin and Carl Jung to Stephen King, Benjamin Franklin and Mozart. The variety of approaches is inspiring and, more than anything (for me), feels like a permission slip to *really* (unapologetically!) own my own idiosyncratic style. If that sounds like fun, I think you’ll love the book as much as I did.

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My Morning Routine

How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired

Benjamin Spall and Michael Xander created a popular site and interview series called “My Morning Routine” (they’ve now interviewed over 250 people) and this book is a distillation of the best stuff they’ve learned. As they say, it’s “Part instruction manual, part someone else’s diary.” If you’re looking for some simple, practical ideas and inspiring examples of how to Optimize your mornings I think you’ll dig it, too. Big Ideas we explore include how to avoid decision fatigue, what NOT to do if you want awesome routines (and to avoid reducing your IQ by 10 points), 5 tips for focused and productive mornings, your life as an experiment (with you as observer and subject) and evening routines (remember: tomorrow begins tonight!)


The Tools

Transform Your Problems into Courage, Confidence, and Creativity

The Tools. This was easily the best book I read in 2012. It's *packed* with goodness. Stutz and Michels are two no-nonsense therapists who developed powerful tools to transform our problems into courage, confidence, and creativity. In this Note, we'll take a quick peek at how to put these powerful tools to work to create real change in our lives.

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Mastering Creative Anxiety

24 Lessons for Writers, Painters, Musicians, and Actors from America's Foremost Creativity Coach

Eric Maisel is one of my favorite writers and teachers and thinkers. In addition to being one of the world’s leading creativity coaches (and therapists), he’s also an amazing exemplar of creativity—having written dozens of books on a broad range of subjects. Big Ideas we explore in this Note include the fact that anxiety goeswith anxiety (yes, “goeswith” = one word!), existential decisiveness and why it matters, enervators —> energizers, a cool mantra, cognitive restructuring and step 1 to creativity.

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The Artist's Way

25th Anniversary Edition

This is the 25th Anniversary Edition of the classic book that has inspired millions of creative people around the world. It’s essentially a 12-week course in helping us “discover” and “recover” our creative selves. It’s *packed* with exercises and questions to help us connect with the “Great Creator” within as we free up our latent creative potential. Big Ideas we explore include: the spiral path, morning pages, artist dates, gain disguised as loss, and the magic, grace and power of action.

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Art and Fear

Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking

Art and fear. (You may have noticed they go together.) This is a quick-reading (122 pages), witty, real look at the process and challenges of making art. Of course, I think the biggest art project all of us can ever engage in is the creation of our own optimized and actualized lives, so we’ll be focusing on Big Ideas we can apply to our lives today including: quitting vs. stopping, fast vs. slow, 50 lbs, the importance of progress, naive passion vs. informed passion and how to get work done like a PRO!

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Focal Point

A Proven System to Simplify Your Life, Double your Productivity, and Achieve All Your Goals

Brian Tracy is one of the classic modern self-development teachers and he's literally a Big Idea machine. In this Note, we'll have fun learning about the importance of taking responsibility in our lives and staying flexible (and, of course, some Ideas on how to do so!). We'll also check in on the importance of managing our time well by "one-touching" stuff and maintaining our optimism in the face of challenges.

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Attention and the Focused Life

Attention. If you want to optimize your life, this is the place to start. Winifred Gallagher gives us a beautiful target: rapt attention that leads us to live the focused life. Gallagher is a behavioral science writer who, five years before writing this book, received a cancer diagnosis that dramatically shifted the way she saw the world. That experience inspired her to understand the neuroscientific underpinnings of how attention works—which led to this book. Big Ideas we explore include: Attention 101, how to get it, the paradox of choice, grit + focus, focusing on virtue, how to be happier and waking up!

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Fail Fast, Fail Often

How Losing Can Help You Win

Ryan Babineaux and John Krumboltz are two leading psychologists and career counselors. This book is a distillation of the wisdom they taught in their popular Stanford University continuing studies course ‘Fail Fast, Fail Often.” After working with thousands of people, they came to a compelling conclusion: “Happy and successful people tend to spend less time planning and more time acting”—which allows them to learn a TON and optimize along the way to mastery. Big Ideas we explore include dialing in your fun-meter, how to take action, being willing to be bad if we want to be good, think big—act small, and the fact that failure is what you make of it.

Locked +1s

#36 Deep Work

How to Escape Shallowville and Go Deep
Cal Newport has a very big brain. He got his Ph.D. from MIT and is a professor of Computer Science at Georgetown. He also wrote one of my
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#85 50 Pounds = A

How to Master the Fear of Art
Imagine this: It’s your first day of art class. You signed up for an intro class on pottery. (Nice! Go you!) The teacher does something a
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#86 What Shakespeare, Beethoven & Picasso Have in Common

Want to Create Something Great? Create a Ton.
In our last +1, we talked about how to get an “A” in your next pottery class. Quick re-cap: Produce a TON of stuff. (Remember: 50 lbs =
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#165 Flow

What It Is & How to Get in It
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is one of the world’s leading researchers studying the science of well-being. He co-founded the Positive

#201 Creative vs. Reactive

Choose One Before the Other (If You Want to Actualize Your Potential)
Creative and reactive. Two words with the same exact letters. Just a slightly different placement of that “c.” But, alas, that “c”
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#240 Our Minds Must Relax

Seneca on How to Avoid Mental Dullness and Lethargy
In our last +1, we talked about the Cal Newport-inspired “Shut-down complete!” First, quick check in: You win that game? 😃 Get this:
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#249 Celebrate Confusion

Tony Robbins Says It’s Your Gateway to Clarity
Once upon a time, I was at a Tony Robbins event. Thousands of people. Fired up. And, literally, walking on fire. 😃 I basically filled up

#284 How’s Your Genius?

High Fives From Me to You Guys
Did you know that in ancient Roman times everyone had their own genius? Yah. If you ever did something awesome it was because of your

#286 Genius Dress Code

Save Your Brain Cells for Stuff That Matters
In his classic book on Creativity, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi walks us through the science of what makes extraordinary creators so

#288 Just Get Started!

vs. Just Do It
Tim Pychyl is one of the world’s leading authorities on the science of conquering procrastination. He wrote a great book called Solving
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#414 Inspiration Clock

What Time Does It Strike for You?
Steven Pressfield wrote one of my favorite books: The War of Art. Actually, he wrote three of them: The War of Art, Do the Work and Turning
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#430 Chewing on 100k Words Per Day

Lions, Kings, Monks and Original Thoughts
Here’s another little gem from Dan Pink’s To Sell Is Human. (The man is a brilliant writer and a treasure-trove of goodness.) He tells
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#437 Stephen King’s Spikes

Hammering Rejection to the Wall
In our last +1, we talked about my new railroad spike. (You get your own yet? And, most importantly: Have you hammered away at your #1 most
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#493 The Supercomputer in Your Head

And How to Turn It On
A few +1s ago, we talked about Manoush Zomorodi’s great book Bored and Brilliant. We reflected on the fact that 25 minutes of time wasting
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#593 You and Jay-Z in the Studio of Life

Making Epic Music via 10,000 Daily Micro-Hero’s Journeys
Steven Pressfield is one of the world’s masters of the creative process—which is why we keep on coming back to him and his wisdom. Today
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#622 The Growth Mindset

Jordan, Picasso and You
In our last +1, we talked about how to be like Mike sans the sugar-laden Gatorade. 🤓 I briefly mentioned the fact that Jordan was
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#756 How to Make a Life Omelet

Remember: Important Step = Break Some Eggs
In our last +1, we talked about the fact that I’m not the handiest of men and then we had fun getting our grit on as we stocked our
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#811 Want to Create a TON?

Have a Very (!) Big Waste Paper Basket
In our last +1, we talked about the super-creative plodder Peter Drucker and his response to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s invitation to
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#816 Rituals of Preparation

A Cab Ride with Twyla Tharp
In our last several +1s, we’ve been having fun hanging out with the great choreographer Twyla Tharp. We spent some time archeologically
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#839 Rejected Lately?

Dr. Seuss, JK Rowling and YOU
At this stage, most of us know that JK Rowling was rejected twelve (!) times before she finally found a publisher who believed in her and
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#840 Happy Artists

I Found One!!
This morning on the Trail I was thinking about Mister Rogers and his challenges creating (recall our “tortures of the damned”!) along
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#866 Got Good Ideas?

Capture Them!
Today we’re going to talk about what to do with some of your best ideas. But, first, let’s talk about cars. Quick story: I used to pride
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#867 Counting Pearls vs. Stringing Pearls

Yoda Says: One’s Better Than the Other
Not too long ago, we spent some time with my Yoda (aka Phil Stutz) and he taught us the power of what he calls “stringing pearls.” (It
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#909 Creative Hiccups

How to Cure Them
In our last +1, we hung out with Steven Kotler and talked about flow junkies while smashing together two ancient words (“hedonic” +
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#932 Rome Wasn’t Built In a Day

Neither Was Any Other Great Thing
In our last +1, we briefly chatted about John Harrison’s decades-long (!!!) quest to bring the world precision timekeeping. At the time
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#1111 Crossing Bright Lines

And Getting Back on Track
This morning I did my normal thing. Starting last night with shutdown complete, etc. You know the drill. My #1 AM1 Deep Work goodness was
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#1191 Genius Work vs. Mediocre Work

High Fiving Your Inner Genius
In our last +1, we talked about the INFINITE power of Consistency. Recall that our (always evolving) equation for Awesome now goes something
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#1265 Want to Be the Best?

Godin Says: You Really Can’t Try to Do Everything
In our last +1, we got our inner Freak on as we spent some time with Dav!d Rendall and learned to embrace constraints as we reminded
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#1282 Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You

Origin Stories Featuring Cal Newport + Steve Martin
In our last +1, we had fun extending Cal Newport’s Work wisdom to our Energy and Love. As you may recall, I suggested that we may want to
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#810 Peter Drucker on Creativity

Make That… on Plodding
In our last +1, we talked about Twyla Tharp’s great book The Creative Habit. In addition to seeing who she thinks wins the philosophical
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#523 The Power of Solitude

Clarity + Creativity + Emotional Balance + Moral Courage
In our last +1, we talked about an exercise to get a little more clarity on the trade-offs you might be making in regard to your top
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#735 Grow Lights

On What Will You Shine Yours?
In our last +1, we did some severe pruning with Steve Chandler and Ralph Waldo Emerson. (How’d that go for you? More specifically: What
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#973 Practice Balls

Make that: PRACTICE Balls
The other day I was walking home from our studio. It’s only a few minutes from our house near downtown Ojai, California. (Fun fact for

#295 Newton's First Law: Fine Print

Eliminate Distractions to Stay in Motion
In our last +1 we talked about Isaac Newton and his First Law of Motion. Recall the basics: An object at rest will stay at rest. An object
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#614 Trust Thyself

Every Heart Vibrates to that Iron String
In our last +1, we talked about the fact that (as per Seneca’s wisdom), we need to let go of “the world’s opinion of you—it’s
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#814 Reading and Thinking

The Two Go Together
A few +1s ago, we talked about Twyla Tharp’s Creative Habit. That led to a little dance through the minds of some pretty epically creative
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#760 Mr. Rogers' Creative Neighborhood

Won’t You Be a Creator?
The other day I watched the documentary on Fred Rogers (aka Mister Rogers) called Won’t You Be My Neighbor? It’s absolutely FANTASTIC. I
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#868 On a Roll?

Keep Creatively Shooting!
You know how I’m all about oscillating and recommend that we pretty much never work for longer than 90 minutes straight without at least a

#187 The Zeigarnik Effect

How to Use It to Your Optimizing Advantage
Today we’re going to meet a woman named Bluma Zeigarnik. Bluma was a Russian psychologist who did some fascinating research. Back in the
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#1254 Einstein’s Baggy Trousers

And His Creative Genius
In our last +1, we talked about How to Create Time. I mentioned the fact that, with just 15 minutes of wasted time recaptured (and +3ed!)

#299 The Inner-net vs. The Internet

One Has All the Real Answers
In Life Visioning, Michael Beckwith tells us we need to turn off the Internet and plug into the Inner-net. We THINK the Internet has all
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#828 A Barrelful of Songs

Is Your Barrel Overflowing with Goodness?
In The World According to Mister Rogers, our beloved neighbor Fred tells us a story about a time when he was in college and went to New York
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#595 The 1-Hour (Deep) Workday

4 Hours Too Much? OK. Let’s Do 1!!
We’ve been talking a fair amount about the idea that some of history’s greatest creators didn’t work all that much. To be clear, they
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#613 Useful Feedback and Trolls

How to Deal with Both
In our last +1, I shared a kind note from a fellow Optimizer and we talked about developing our obstacle immunity one OMMS at a time. Couple
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#809 The Creative Habit

The Philosophical Tug of War
Over the last 11 years, I’ve created (and we’ve shared) over 500 PhilosophersNotes. I currently have a stack of them on the floor next
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#594 10,000 Micro-Hero’s Journeys

The Phone Is Ringing All Day Every Day
In our last +1, we talked about you and Jay-Z in the studio of life. 10,000 potential micro-hero’s journeys. Every single day. Did you
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#829 Do You Think You Can?

Well… If You Have the Guts…
In our last +1, we hung out with Mister Rogers and his barrelful of songs. That story he shared about meeting a songwriter he admired
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#113 Making Yourself Proud

How Can You Make Yourself Proud Today?
After finishing the last +1, I got up out of my chair and celebrated another little micro-win. I actually did a little fist pump and said:
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#179 Chunk It!

Break Your Epic Goals into Bite-Size Chunks
In our last +1, we talked about reducing Delay to increase Motivation. I briefly mentioned the power of “chunking” a big goal into small
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#491 Jobs, Careers, Callings

Which Do You Have? (Here’s How to Make It All Three)
In our last +1, we talked about you starting a hypothetical new job. Today I want to talk about the science of jobs, careers, and callings.
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#432 Compete? Nah. Create!

A Key to the Science of Getting Rich
In The Science of Getting Rich (best title ever?), Wallace D. Wattles (definitely best name ever) tells us that, if we want to enjoy the
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#322 A Wealth of Information

Creates a Poverty of Attention
Herbert Simon won the Nobel Prize in Economics. He was one of the early thought leaders in the field of “attention economics.” In 1971,
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#78 AM + PM Bookends

How to Create Masterpiece Days: Start Here!
In The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy makes the important point that we have more control over the very beginnings of our day and the very
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#1180 Astonishing Productivity

Some Math on How to Create It
In our last +1, we had some fun playing with Cal Newport’s Deep Work equation. We modified it from: High Quality Work Produced = Time

#267 Ready Fire Aim

How to Start a Donut Shop
John Mackey created Whole Foods Market and captured the principles of how he deliberately created a purpose-driven business at scale in his
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#1003 Traction vs. Distraction

Which Way Are You Being Pulled?
Nir Eyal wrote the playbook that pretty much all of the major tech companies use to create their super-compelling (addictive/Irresistible?)
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#38 How to Schedule Your Best Work

Match Your Mental Energy to Your Task
Scott Adams created Dilbert. (Over 10,000 of them by now, actually.) He also wrote a great book called How to Fail at Almost Everything and
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#37 Multitasking Is a Myth

What We Do Is Really Task Switching — And that Has a Big Cost
Multitasking is a myth. Our brains aren’t like computers with parallel processors. We can’t actually do multiple things at one time.
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#522 To Sculpt or To Be Hacked?

< THAT Is the Question (Two Lists for Your Digital Optimizing)
Continuing our focus on how to conquer digital addiction, let’s talk about a super simple way to get a little more clarity on the
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#591 Morning Routines

The Keystone for Your 4-Hour Workday
Continuing our theme of architecting the optimal 4-Hour Workday, let’s talk a little more about some wisdom from Alex Pang (and his great
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#128 How to Discover Your Deep Work Style

Hermit. Bimodal. Rhythmic. Journalistic. (Yours?)
Deep Work. As we’ve discussed many times, it’s increasingly more rare AND increasingly more valuable. The amount of high-quality work we

#138 Want Willpower: Play Offense not Defense

How to Win the Willpower World Series
Most of us wonder how we can have more willpower in those moments of temptation. But Roy Baumeister—the world’s leading expert on