Why you need to celebrate your own portfolio

Johnny B. Truant

Some of Johnny’s books…

I interviewed an author the other day by the name of Johnny B. Truant. Along with this writing partner, he’s just put out a great new book about how to build a sustainable business with writing and publishing (find it below).

As I was researching him a bit to prepare for the interview, I learned he had written 1.5 MILLION words in 2013. And when I reviewed his profile of books on Amazon, I jealously saw that the list extended to four+ pages.

Wow. Impressive. Man, I wish my portfolio ran that deep.

But then, several days later, I realized I had an amazing portfolio of my own. I wonder if some budding podcaster out there is impressed with my catalog:

I’ve just recently crossed the 100th episode threshold of the Intrepid Radio Show.

Manufacturing Revival Radio, one of my industry-focused business podcasts, has 120 episodes as of this writing.

Businessinthe.AM, my sales, marketing, and leadership podcast, already has 49 episodes, and it was just launched in May of 2013.

Plus several hundred episodes from various other podcasts, not to mention the 1,000+ we’ve broadcast from trade show floors across America over the years.

Once I realized that my audio portfolio ran that deep, I suddenly looked at Johnny B. Truant’s catalog in a different way. I still greatly respect his ability to write 1.5 million words in one calendar year, no doubt.

But now I see him as a peer. As a fellow artist and creative…I just practice with a different medium.

I cannot stress the power of this new mindset, and what it is doing for my attitude, confidence, and approach to market.

So important that I write this short essay to force you to recognize your own portfolio:

Are you a salesman? Good, look back and realize all the important deals you’ve closed.

Are you a blogger? Great, how many posts have you published? [I just looked, and this here post will be my 711th]

Are you a runner? Impressive, how many half-marathons, marathons, or 5Ks have you completed?

Are you a reader? Smart, how many books have you completed? [For me, my count is 122 for the last three years]

Are you a photographer? Cool, how many photographs have you taken?

See? When you think on it, you have your own portfolio of achievement, accomplishment, and maybe even art.

I stress again, this is important for your mindset, a sense of massive accomplishment.

You’ve achieved more than you realize over the years, and you should celebrate that. Your “portfolio” may appear different than what we are used to recognizing: the number of paintings, the number of albums, or the number of published books…

…but it is still YOUR own body of work.

And one additional point: If your current “portfolio” is small, no worries! All portfolios, from mine to Stephen King’s, were built one at a time.

Get to work.

[By the way, you can check out Johnny B. Truant's book below:]

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Pic from Realm and Sands.

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Processing time vs. creative time

It is a trap we all fall into: getting sucked into processing time, when you should be doing creative time.

First, some definitions:

Processing time: managing To Do lists, processing and responding to emails, sorting inboxes, updating notes, cleaning off the desk, sorting papers to keep verses tossing, working IN the business…

Creative time: writing, doing your actual client work, deep thinking on coming up with solutions (for customers AND prospects), working ON the business…

Funny thing is, I love my processing time. I feel good updating, filing, sorting, getting the inbox to zero, checking things off, cleaning up and organizing. This is great fun for me, and as an anal retentive minimalist, this process is very important to my well being.

But it doesn’t put food on the table.

The creative time is what makes champions, closes big deals, wows customers, attracts the opposite sex. Whatever, you get my point.

And too many of us get trapped into the processing side of things, feel good about progress, and don’t focus or make time for the creative work.

This is why the end of the week comes, and you hear the magic words:

“Wow, I busted my ass all week, but I didn’t get my work done. How’s that possible?”

Now you know.

Look, don’t feel bad. We all do it. Me included. I caught myself in a near endless processing loop this morning, realized what I was doing, stopped, and sat down to create. Create what? This post you are reading.

Here’s the other important thing: the processing time is important. It does matter. But we aren’t dedicating enough time to the creative work. This work matters more.

It just does. Trust me. And there’s no magic app, book, tool, software, hardware, or hack that magically shifts you into creative mode.

You just have to do it. For yourself. Discipline here is key.

In closing, one thought:

Processing time: reading a book about someone else doing great work.
Creative time: writing the book about your great work.

Any questions?

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Drawing by Hugh.

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Sarah Kathleen Peck: It starts with writing

[Note to audience: This podcast was recorded for my writing podcast, The Intrepid Author, but the discussion contains a very important conversation about marketing and communications, and thus why I’ve decided to also share it here.]

Sarah Kathleen Peck

Sarah Kathleen Peck

A special honor to spend some quality time with my friend Sarah Kathleen Peck, a writer, designer, and storyteller.

Sarah joined me to talk principally about her upcoming writing course, but we ended talking about the importance of writing, creativity, and the amazing personal and business benefits to writing and creativity. Sarah writes out of It Starts With…

Some highlights from our conversation:

1. We are ALL creatives.
2. “Writing is about discovering what’s inside of you.”
3. You are a writer. Whether you realize it or not…
4. “Follow your bliss.”
5. The four modules of Sarah’s program.
6. “The art of writing…” In all it’s forms…
7. The hero’s journey…and how it applies to YOUR story.
8. What to write about??? How to generate ideas…
9. Writing has to become a habit. It is a skill that must be developed and honed.

Again, here are deets on Sarah’s writing course…

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Via iTunes

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Five Critical Business Lessons From Art Farnswilerkerken

Todd SchnickMy apologies in advance for this little rant about the plethora of “lessons to be learned” posts and articles about Lance Armstrong.

Yeah, what’s the lesson from all these stories about him?

He lied. He deceived. So, don’t you do it.

There. Done. Moving on.

No, the real point of this rant is to decry writers and bloggers who jump on bandwagons and write content around the latest BIG NEWS ITEM…

Some have legitimate lessons to share, and my apologies to those attempting to pull real, meaningful lessons from Lance’s fall from grace.

But many are trying to jump on a hot topic, newsjacking a hot news item in an attempt to score traffic to their blog…

…usually with very obvious lessons that even a four-year-old can glean from the Armstrong chronicles…

[And yeah, before you go digging into my archives, I've done it too. So, this is part wrist slap to myself...]

No, this is an appeal to all writers, bloggers, marketers, and salesmen [and me] to stop doing this. To tell new stories. Tell attack problems and challenges with fresh perspectives.

There are FRICKIN’AMAZING lessons to be learned from so many intriguing people, why do we always jump the same old dang stuff to make our points…

[Case in point: Arnold Olender is probably the one recent Intrepid Radio guest you probably don’t know, but it is the one recent show I’ve done where you will learn something that will blow your mind…]

[Case in point II: I mean, do we need another article about company culture that references Zappos?]

So, who the hell is Art Farnswilerkerken then?

He is a figment of my imagination. He doesn’t exist. So, why are you reading this?

1. You read my stuff anyway. No matter what goofy titles I come up with. So the lesson is build an audience that trusts you to help them think a little differently about something. Anything.

2. You were wondering who the heck this guy was, and clicked the link because you were curious. The lesson? People do want to learn new things, at least the people you want in your audience…

3. You love learning from other people’s experiences, no matter who they are. At least for me, I am most fascinated about learning from real people, and what they experienced…

4. My intentional and innocent way to do the opposite of newsjacking. Since NOT ONE PERSON will do a Google search for Art Farnswilerkerken…

5. The fifth and most important lesson is the Farnswilerkerken Principle…which states the following: Read whatever the heck you want to further educate yourself… You can listen to my rants or not….But by God, read something that stirs your pot and gets your creative juices flowing…

So, at the end of the day, I hope this simple appeal helps you realize that you don’t have to talk to A-listers to learn anything. That you can learn the same lessons from the guy down the street as the guy on Oprah. And that you don’t have to write about the popular news of the day to get people to pay attention to you…

You audience appreciates you for who you are, what you say, and the way you say it!

And that’s the most important lesson of all!

P.S. Heads up, the next three weeks will be rife with “Super Bowl” themed posts and content. By the way, did you know that Art Farnswilerkerken was a hell of a QB in his youth?

Or maybe not…

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Drawing by me. It just might be a (very) rough sketch of Art Farnswilerkerken…

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How Abbey Road Inspires Me To Improve Marketing And Sales

So I was listening to Abbey Road this morning.

And I was taken back to my youth when I used to set up a concert stage in my room, put the LP on the turntable, and jammed out a LIVE concert. I even played bass left-handed like Paul McCartney.

I was role playing. I was practicing. And I had some pretty good moves. I even identified which tennis rackets were the specific guitars of John, Paul, and George. As in, I would get mad when my friends played George’s guitar on the tennis racket I had designated as Paul’s bass…

Ok, so maybe I wasn’t a normal kid…

…or was I?

You see, I think this is what kids do. They role play. They pretend. They practice. They dream. They envision.

And I think the problem is we have gotten away from this behavior as adults.

Why?

I have no idea. But I think it is time we bring this back.

I can list (at least) eight presentation scenarios where playful role playing would be meaningful practice to hone the message:

1. Speaking gigs.
2. Podcast interviews.
3. Sales calls.
4. Product pitches.
5. Initial meetings over coffee with new prospects.
6. Product demos.
7. Creative brainstorm sessions.
8. Convincing internal colleagues to take action on your behalf.

And I am not talking about sitting quietly, and alone, and rehearsing…

I am suggesting that we “set up pretend concerts” and rehearse these big, important work scenarios in a big way, with dramatic role playing, props, and seeking the active involvement of others on your team. I even give you permission to have fun with this.

[GASP! How dare we have fun doing meaningful, important work...]

But why doesn’t this happen? Are we embarrassed?

Perhaps. Perhaps we live and work in a “too formal” business culture that discourages the playfulness of such an act. Perhaps some in our organizations look down upon this as childish and immature.

What a shame. I think we’d all do well to add some fun to rehearsals such as this.

Honestly, I think role plays like this that are, perhaps, over-the-top, playful, and fun have a few other side benefits:

1. I think they would stimulate a lot creativity.
2. I think it would strengthen teamwork.
3. I think it would sharpen the message.
4. I think it would break down cross functional anxieties.

No, don’t waste time, but I think there is value in “acting like a kid” and engaging in some role play in what are very important business functions.

Apart from improving teamwork, I think the activity could result in better output, and better, more purposeful communication.

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You Are A Writer, You Are A Creative

Jeff Goins

What will Jeff Goins tell you when you claim that you would like to be a writer? He’ll say emphatically, “You are a writer.” And his point is, until you believe and act that way, you will never do anything creative, especially writing.

You see, I believe we are all creatives. But in my humble opinion, it isn’t necessarily about talent, it is about belief. And that’s the message from Jeff Goins.

We welcomed Jeff back to the show to discuss his latest e-book, You Are A Writer, So Start Acting Like One. Here are some of the highlights of the conversation in today’s show notes:

1. “Writing is really simple. But that doesn’t mean it is easy.”

2. “Writers are born, and not made.”

3. This doesn’t just apply to writing, it applies to all skills that you have. You must believe that you are a photographer, an entrepreneur, a painter…

4. We explore why people are afraid to make bold claims about what they believe they are, or want to be. Once you make the claim, you now feel a burden to produce, and many people, frankly, fear that burden.

5. Even though you want to be read, you need to write for yourself first.

6. “You are not a true, honest writer until you start to contradict yourself.” Writing is sometimes a paradox.

7. “Art is supposed to be shared, to change things, and cause people to act.”

8. “Stop writing for accolades, and start writing for passion.”

9. Why a platform matters to writers (and creatives). And why establishing a brand is essential.

10. How do writers (and creatives) come up with ideas and inspiration…

11. “What holds most writers back is fear, not laziness. And it masks itself in the form of procrastination.”

12. A discussion around how bloggers can repackage older blog content into fresh, current books to sell on Amazon.

You can get the book here (affiliate link):

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Finding Your Creative Muse

This past weekend, I snuck in a visit to the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. I went to view an exhibit called Picasso to Warhol: Fourteen Modern Masters.

Picasso

I walked out of there charged, as I often do when I view art. In fact, when I engage with any type of art form, I leave with creative juices flowing…viewing paintings, listening to music, reading books, great films, or listening to well-crafted presentations.

Warhol

We all need to be creative in our daily lives: we need to solve problems at work, we need to be innovative with sales and marketing opportunities, we need to improve communications with loved ones, we need to improve customer relations, etc.

Point is, there are opportunities every day to be creative. But for some reason, most people find it hard to summon that creativity at will.

Jackson Pollock

So, you have to be creative to find inspiration to get, well, creative.

For me, it is exposing myself to the art of others. Listening to music, reading books, and as seen above, going to museum exhibits gets me charged up to create my own art (however you define your art).

You have to figure out what your creative muse is. This is vital to your long-term success in business, and happiness in life.

What does it for you? What stirs your creative juices?

Exercise? Hiking? Bike riding? Active conversation? Brainstorming with colleagues? Long walks? Success? Failure? Meditation? People watching? Reading? Writing in a notebook? Sketching your ideas visually?

You have to find out what gets you going creatively. Understand it, know it.

It is ok if you don’t know. You aren’t alone. But, it ought to be a priority to understand this about yourself. For it will open up a lot of doors…

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[the photos above are my own...]

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Austin Kleon’s Steal Like An Artist: Business Lessons

You know that I feel we are all creatives.

I don’t mean we are all painters, musicians, or poets. I mean we are all problem-solvers and solutions-providers. Thus, we are creative.

This is why I was so pleased to welcome Austin Kleon to the show, to discuss his latest book, Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative.

On the show, Austin and I discussed the following topics:

1. Are we ALL creatives? [short answer: yes] And do the ten lessons of this book apply to entrepreneurs?

2. Stop romanticizing that only a genius is creative. You are too…

3. And perhaps, if you change your mindset, and view yourself as a creative, you might bring a whole new viewpoint to what otherwise is a mundane day job…

4. You need to steal like an artist. And why that is CRITICAL to executing your business plan.

5. “See the world as raw material for YOUR work.” [your job is to collect good ideas...]

6. Keep a note book. Keep a swipe file. Record your ideas and inspirations.

7. The importance of getting started. And why. “Inertia is the death of creativity.”

8. Write the book you want to read. Create the product you want to use. Because if you try to create for everyone else, creativity is thus hard. But you will find that the world is large enough, you will ultimately find an audience for your work…

You can learn more about the book here, and purchase it here (affiliate link):

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Jeff Goins on Intrepid Radio: On Writing and Creativity

Jeff Goins

Joined in the studio recently by Jeff Goins, author, writer, and blogger. You can learn more about Jeff here. Here, you can also download some great manifestos and other materials.

On the episode, Jeff and I discussed the following subjects:

1. How to be a professional writer…and yet not devote full-time to the craft of writing. And despite that, still get book deals, build a large audience, and make a difference.

2. The debate about whether we are ALL creatives, or artists in our own way. Perhaps creativity is something that is obvious to you, but brilliant to someone else…

3. Steve Pressfield’s notion of “the professional,” and what it takes to turn pro. And how you have to turn pro in your head first…

4. The mindset of an author and a creative. And how finding passion in the work you are doing is essential to generate the ideas you write about and create.

5. Content marketing for sales and marketing is all about helping people, adding value, doing it well, and connecting with an audience.

6. Is the practice of writing effortless? Maybe, maybe not. But the key is to show up. And the more you work on a craft, the easier it becomes. It is no different with writing and creativity.

7. Guest posting, meaningful networking, and sincerely trying to get to know people — are three keys to building an audience.

Jeff’s book, Wrecked, will be published later this year. We look forward to having him back to discuss it!

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Jonathan Fields on IntrepidTV: Author of Uncertainty

As you know from reading this blog, I believe there is a creative in ALL of us. The problem is, most people DON’T create anything because they feel uncertain: uncertain that anyone will appreciate their work, uncertain that their work will be good enough, uncertain that they have it in them to make something meaningful in the first place. And most important, uncertain how to proceed when the going gets tough…

Thank goodness for Jonathan Fields, and his latest book Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt into Fuel for Brilliance. If you do any type of creative work (and believe me, we ALL do), you will both enjoy this video and get real value from Jonathan’s book (which you can purchase below). Learn more about the book here.

Some critical highlights from our conversation:

1. Jonathan explains why he wrote the book: to help people with the “creative jones” to not suffer through the process.

2. Jonathan talks about the creative in all of us, and that there are largely two types of creatives: big idea vs. execution. Which one are you?

3. We discuss the value of leaning into uncertainty, and why most people will not. Will you?

4. Jonathan explains the difference between the fixed and the growth mindsets. This segment is worth your time…whether you are raising children and/or supervising employees and teams.

5. We talk about the importance of deliberate practice with intense focus, and why it is so hard for most people to achieve. And why most people are average…

6. Finally, we discuss the changing world of publishing, and how if you are a writer, there has never been a more exciting time. Jonathan informs us about his Tribal Author organization.

You can purchase Uncertainty below (affiliate link):

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