Take Action

Have you ever wondered why some people fail and others succeed? I've been curious about this question my entire life. At 25, I've lived just enough life to see friends I've grown up with make something of themselves. Some are now lawyers, doctors, celebrities, and others are still at the same place in life they were at 18 years old. Why is this? Some say it's environmental, other studies show it's time management, education, etc. I want to take a few minutes and raise some thoughts that aren't exactly in the self-help books of success.

As 2018 started, I reflected on what 2017 taught me. I realized there were points in 2017 where I was creating so much and other points where I was lazy and unmotivated. Have you ever been at that point – laying in bed wondering, "how did I get here?" I had a few of those last year. Through those moments I learned a lot about myself. I'm inherently lazy, as much as I want to be a morning person, I like to sleep, and most importantly, if my mindset wasn't right, I wasn't budging.

How does one go from lazy and unmotivated to feeling as though they've conquered the world? Ok, so that might be a little bit of an overstatement. For me, it has everything to do with mindset and environment. I'm going to share a few points on things that have helped me become more motivated and less likely to stay in bed all day. Disclaimer: I'm not one to read books or post on Top 5 Habits of Successful People, or Eat these three things to become a better Communicator, personally I think it's all BS. You've got to create a system that works for you. There isn't one path to success, these are just a few things I've learned over the years to help me focus and get work done.

Turn It Off

This is something new I've been doing and it's helped me focus more than anything else. When I start working on a project that I know needs full attention, I turn my phone off. Usually, during the day I keep it on silent and turned over on my desk. This ensures that I'm dictating my day instead of my phone directing where my time goes. This is probably a good time to mention that I have no notifications turned on. I receive texts and email popups, everything else is turned off. This seriously has become a lifesaver for me, that way I'm checking my phone when I schedule that time to do so.

Morning Routine

Unfortunately, I don't always follow this, but I'm definitely getting better at creating and sticking to a routine. I don't check my phone first thing in the morning. I don't want to get sucked into the abyss that is Snapchat or Instagram stories. I try my best to get up, have my coffee, and open a book. It's like prepping your mind for a more focused and productive day. You could even call this a meditation time, a time to clear your head before the craze of life happens.

Dwell in Joy

This is probably the most life-changing piece of the weird puzzle I'm creating. Mindset and attitude is everything. Choosing to wake up, be thankful, and be happy is one of the biggest components of productivity for me. Regardless of where you're at in life, choosing this mindset develops habits of gratitude that benefit not just you, but others as well.

I'm not sure that any of these suggestions are prescribed by the self-help books of today, but I do know that they've been working for me. I'm realizing more and more that the life we desire is ours to create if we simply take action and create it. Environment, resources, and ability aside, it all comes down to you. To quote Ghandi, "Be the change you wish to see in the world." Get out there and start creating.

12 Secrets to Unlocking Your Most Creative Work

One of my favorite bloggers/photographers/creatives is Chase Jarvis. When I started working in the "creative field" he was my go to guy for advice, mentorship, and solutions to a lot of problems. Chase posted a blog in August that I've help shape the way I'm living my life in the season I'm currently in. I wanted to repost it in hopes that it may help someone else who struggles with the ADD/ADHD/OCD/ABCDEFG lifestyle. If you have a spare 15min, give it a read.

A lot of my breakthrough creative thoughts come to me when least expected. I’ve talked about “finding creativity” and “creative inspiration” all over the damn place… on podcasts like this and this (twice for example) or given a keynote on it here at SWSW.

That said, I’ve also learned from an entire life in the trenches as an artist what DOESN’T contribute to them (abusing myself, bad head space, partying too much), but more importantly, what does… I’ve learned that creative inspiration is something that can be directly CULTIVATED by putting yourself in a fertile environment. So I’m going to let ‘em rip. Here’s MY personal recipe — my day to day list — of things, states, and activities for cultivating maximum creative inspiration… and I’m guessing it’s different (and more achievable) than you think it is…

1. Keep a Schedule
This one is super counter intuitive to most — and why I’m leading with it here… For nearly my entire life I thought that schedules were meant to keep my creative self DOWN… that a schedule was the devil. That you had to live a life like Jim Morrison from the Doors to find creative inspiration. Come to find out that doing what you can to keep a schedule is supremely helpful for your creative brain. And I don’t mean 9-5… but I do mean some semblance of a schedule. Taking photos every day, writing first thing every morning, headphones on and painting from midnight to 2am every day…whatever works for YOU is what I mean. But the more you can schedule worktime, the better. Science tells us this, but so does my own lifetime of experience. The funny part? To this day it’s still my biggest challenge. 

2. Meditation
I spoke briefly about this with Austin Kleon on cjLIVE and with Tim Ferriss recently, but trust me: it’s a doozy. Every day, I put 20 minutes aside when I wake up in the morning and before dinner at night to sit quietly and just be still. I practice Transcendental Mediation (TM), but I’m not recommending a particular kind in this post here… I’m just saying that meditation works. It’s made the single biggest difference in my life’s ability to perform at a high level and run the kind of gnarly schedule that I run. What’s the effect? Clarity. My ideas are more clear than ever before. You’ve heard athletes like Michael Jordan talk about seeing the game around them develop seemingly in slow motion? Well that’s what happens to the chaos of a packed life when one meditates. This are infinitely more manageable, things are less prone to get me off my game — and … here’s the kicker… my creative thoughts come more freely. I find it 100x easier to get into that creative “flow state” I’ve talked about before and that science backs me on

3. Regular Exercise
Just like I thought schedules use to suck, I had no idea that being active contributes a huge amount to my ability to kick ass as a professional artist. Staying fit and getting your heart rate up during the day has even been shown in studies to increase creative connections and cognitive ability. When I’m in Seattle I go to this gym. When in SF, I see this guy. But given that I’m on the road about half the time, I’ll sneak in this 7-minute workout every day. Turns out that even just a daily 10 minute run can change my headspace. 

3. Get Plenty of Sleep
Like a lot of creative types, I’ve had a tendency in life to do a lot of my work late at night, or to forego sleep in favor of staying out or waking up early to get a head start on the day. I used to be proud of operating on 4 hours of sleep — and I did that for more than 10 years — with gusto. I thought it was my tool for getting ahead. But, while there’s no substitute for hard work, sleep is nearly just as effective. This is something I’ve learned very recently. Sleep is like the wonder drug. And I use it as such. In the same way I use (but don’t abuse) caffeine, when things start getting sloppy in my life, I go to sleep. Seriously. I will carve out a couple nights for 10 hours of sleep… and voila. I’m back on my creative game. (This is an other subject I touched on with Tim Ferriss on his podcast.)

4. Take Breaks During Your Day — and Take a Walk
It’s been shown scientifically that there is a link between talking walks and creative boosts, and I’ve found this to be true in my own life, too. Although TBCITOTWY, I occasionally take walks without my phone/camera & think about photographs that I would take (saying to myself “that’s a photograph, that’s a photograph” while imagining what scenes might look like if I shot them.) But it’s even more important for me to take a walk and do nothing but observe. Observe the light. Observe other people, observe the world. Walking is also a kind of kinetic meditation, without pressure of having to produce. Talk a walk.

5. Get Away
I try to take small steps far away from work as often as possible. I’ll hit up the family cabin for a night, take a road trip, get out on our little boat for a few hours, etc., as often as possible. Sure BIG travel counts… like getting away on vacation, but that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about just a few hours, or an overnight… something to get you some physical separation from your stressors. For example, I got the idea for the Seattle 100 portrait project while lying in my hammock (on a break from work – where I went home for lunch and to chill out). I got the idea for doing the Best Camera app while up at our family cabin on Camano Island. Get some separation if you can, even if just for a couple hours.

6. Read More Books
As mentioned above, I spend a crazy stupid amount of time on planes, so I got into this habit of reading a LOT about 10 years ago. And I haven’t stopped. I intend to publish a reading list soon, so I’ll avoid going deep on titles here. But the point is to read… Get inspiration from others. My favorite genres are artist biographies. Second favorite = deep dives on any topic that I’m fascinated with at the time. Whether that’s the history of the internet or the psychology of creativity. Third favorite? New school books on business, and connecting your work with your life in a meaningful way. (Business wasn’t innate to me – everything I know, I read about or learned the hard way). Oh… one more genre….books that my friends write. I’m fortunate to have a wealth of friends who best selling authors and writers of great books. Couple recent examples = David duChemin’sRyan Holiday’s, and Adam Braun’s most recent books. I’ve also listed several books before that will recharge your creativity. More to come on this topic in future posts….

7. Learn to Teach Yourself / Hack Your Learning / Learn Online
It’s no secret that I got my start by teaching myself how to do what I do, but to this day, I’m an avid proponent of self-learning. Learning is not passive. It’s insanely active. In truth, that was a big motivation for starting CreativeLive, then taking that even bigger, so that YOU can have the opportunity to teach yourself -while following along with the top teachers and “do’er’s” and a worldwide community all your own.

8. Visualize Success
One of the best ways to stay creatively pumped is to do some visualization. It doesn’t have to be rigorous. I can be like letting yourself daydream. But it just so happens I do this with intention. I like to actively Remember why I started and think of what you want the end product to look like. One of my recent successful gigs — a campaign shoot for Samsung — was a literal visualization that came to me in a recurring dream. I kept picturing what this image from my mind would look like in real life (as you see in the video) and by the end of the shoot we’d made it happen. The point isn’t really about creating your dreams, it’s about believing you can be successful at whatever you choose to imagine. 

9. Immersion in Other Forms of Art
This is a big one: it’s crucial to get perspectives outside your chosen career/hobby/job/etc. This is one of my biggest “secrets” (but that I’ve been sharing for a decade.) Most of the things I applied to my own career that set me apart, came from thinking about / using influences from things outside of photography. To learn light? I took up oil painting. To learn how to shoot sports, I looked at fashion. And the list is a mile long… One of the reasons doing #cjLIVE is so essential to me is that I get so much interdisciplinary input. I’ve had musicians, artists, designers, writers, speakers, travelers, entrepreneurs, business titans, and more — all sitting right on my couch to chat for an hour or more at a time. These are my friends. This is where I get my inspiration. Talking to people in other disciplines informs my art, my work, and my side projects. Not only that, but it inspires me to do things outside of my comfort zone… and things that are completely unexpected in MY profession. It helps me be different, not better.

10. Make Things Every Day
Science says it, and I experience it. When I’m making things everyday — whether it’s writing or taking a photo or doing some — ANY creative craft… your brain pushes into new neural pathways. Quite literally creativity creates more creativity. The rote act of doing your craft — or ANY craft — is a primer for more creative mojo. Do not underestimate this. (My keynote on that topic here.)

11. Find Adventure
Put simply, I live in 2 modes: the adventure mode and the quiet mode. Adventure — whether that’s travel or putting myself in danger, or “living large” or whatever floats your boat… Putting yourself in the mode where you’re being stimulated and taking information IN is a critical mode for me. And I’d be it will be for you. Get into adventures. And…. then see #12.

12. Find Quiet
In contrast to #11 above, great ideas do NOT come in the heat of battle. Science says this as does my own personal experience. When you’re out in the world seeking inspiration and adventure, you’re most certainly “getting ideas.” But it’s actually the synthesis of the inspiration and ideas of others that makes the real difference in what you OR your ideas can become happens in synthesis. It’s the connecting of ideas into new ones where your greatest accelerants will happen. And this requires some calm after the storm. It requires quiet. It’s why your best ideas happen in the shower or before bed or when you wake early… because there’s less noise in your world at that moment. Find more time like that. Trust me.

So, there you have it! Those are a few creative tactics that’ll up your creative game. I talk about this stuff a lot (and here’s another post on “creative habits” right here if you dig this stuff). As always, I’m sure you have dozens of your own tricks and experiences too. Of course feel free to share them in the comments below or on Twitter/Fbook/G+. I’d be all about learning some more creative ninja mojo from you as well.

How To Be Excellent When Life Sucks

For an early twenty something like myself, my reality is somewhere between dreaming of the future and trying to pay tomorrows bills. It's hard to answer the question of "What are you doing with your life?" and "Why are you still living here?" I've found it hard recently to be consistent in the excellence of my work because well, sometimes it's hard to be excellent when you don't feel like you're on top of the world.

So how do you combat this? How in your early twenties, when you're still trying to figure out life do we stay focused on the path ahead? How do we maintain excellence when we really don't feel up to it? 

1. It's In The Small Decisions We Make In Our Personal World.

The small decisions affect where we go and who we'll become. Sometimes as we go through colleges or internships we get lost in trying to prepare and create our public, corporate profile. We often forget that the key to a successful public profile is a solid personal stance for character and integrity. Sometimes we don't realize that our stance on character and integrity in our own lives will shape what happens to us publicly.

2. It's In The Small Things We Take Note In Other People.

Have you ever met someone and you immediately thought...wow, I don't want to be anything like them? Maybe you've interned or worked for a company who did it all wrong? Take note. These experiences will help shape how you treat your one day interns and run your company. 

3. It's In The Small Things We Do.

Jesus said it best:

"Jesus went on to make these comments: If you're honest in the small things, you'll be honest in the big things; If you're a crook in the small things, you'll be a crook in the big things. If you're not honest in small jobs, who will put you in charge of the store? "
– Luke 16:10 MSG

It's all in the small things. What we do day in and day out that make us excellent. 

Thoughts About Excellence:

  • Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.
  • Excellence is not perfection.
  • Excellence is an effort, not perfection.
  • While some people have greatness thrust upon them, excellence is learned.
  • The only person who can see if you are striving for excellence, is you.

How to achieve Excellence in your everyday life:

  1. Associate yourself with people of excellence.
  2. Find people to call you out and hold you accountable to excellence.
  3. Don't allow yourself and others to get away with substandard levels.
  4. Give yourself consequences for not achieving daily levels of excellence.



50 Things About Millennials That Make Corporate America Scared Out Of Their Mind

In 2013, Joel Stein deemed Millennials the “ME Generation.” The TIME contributor called Generation-Y selfish, egotistical and lazy. He also noted, however, that we may just be the generation that will save us all.

Per usual, no one knows what to make of us. Our parents scorn us, then praise us. They lament over our technological dependency, then ask us to set up their iPads. They tell us we’re lazy, then ask us for a loan.

Our generation is an anomaly. We refuse to do things their way, so they call us entitled. We refuse to sit in cubicles, so they call us spoiled. We refuse to follow their plans, so they call us stubborn. What they are slowly realizing, however, is we’re not lazy, stubborn or entitled. We just refuse to accept things as they’re given to us.

We refuse to accept that life must be dictated by a job we hate. We refuse to go to work in suits and ties when we’re more productive in sneakers and graphic tees.

We refuse to adhere to work schedules that don’t work. We refuse to allow the corporate culture to suffocate our creativity. We no longer see adulthood as the end of our childhood, but the beginning of something even more liberating.

We’re not going to hand our souls over to men in suits or women in pencil skirts. We’re not going to work for companies we don’t respect. We’re not going to wake up every morning dreading the 9-to-5. But we’re not going to sit back and sulk either.

We’re going to innovate. We’re going to change the game. We’re gonna show our parents, Corporate America and everyone else who refuse to take us seriously that we’re not lazy, entitled nor egotistical. In fact, we’re the kids who are going to take your jobs and throw them away.

Like that girl you can’t understand, Corporate America has gone from scorning us to fearing us. The bosses don’t understand why we’re not pleading to work with them, why we’re not wearing suits to interviews and why we aren't trying to make a good impression on them.

They don’t understand why we’re not lining up after college for a spot on their factory lines. They don’t understand why we don’t want to make five figures under fluorescent lighting or why we’d rather be broke than bored.

We gave you a shot, tried you out and decided you weren’t for us. We saw how you treated our parents, grandparents and the bottom percents and realized you weren’t that good of a guy.

Much like why our generation is full of more singles than any before, we’re just not willing to settle. We’re going to keep doing things our way, keep striving for that ideal life, even if it makes everyone else uncomfortable.

1. We play by our own rules.

2. We don’t take the first answer given to us.

3. We don’t care about getting into trouble.

4. We’re willing to work for nothing if it means being happy… Despite being in debt.

5. We know how to beat the system.

6. We’re always trying to change the game.

7. We have social media on our side.

8. We like a good fight.

9. We don’t care about the perks.

10. We hate that “good ole' boys club".

11. We’re not about climbing the ladder, we’re about circumventing it.

12. We ask for what we want rather than implying it.

13. We’re not afraid to quit if we don’t like what’s going on.

14. We’re not on that suit and tie.

15. We’d rather start work at 10 and finish at 10.

16. We’ve got youth on our side.

17. We don’t have a chip on our shoulders.

18. We know technology.

19. We’re more educated, by the book and the street.

20. We’re not interested in office politics.

21 . We have less to lose and everything to gain.

22. We don’t pursue the paycheck, we pursue the passion.

23. We have that "all or nothing" attitude.

24. We are trying to beat the system, not just work with it.

25. We don’t have to go to college to get ahead.

26. We’re getting married later and working younger.

27. We’re listening to our women.

28. We want freedom more than anything else.

29. We would rather die a slow death than sit in cubicles.

30. We know they need us more than we need them.

31. We distribute the news, not the other way around.

32. We don’t care as much about profit as we do the product.

33. We’re willing to listen to one another.

34. We understand whom we’re talking to.

35. Social stigma's are out the window.

36. We’re open to listen to those who don't have the same views as we do.

37. We know what makes us happy.

38. We know what doesn’t make us happy.

39. We learned from our parents mistakes.

40. We’ve defined them, they haven’t defined us.

41. We’d rather travel and be poor than be rich and never see the world.

42. We don’t take life too seriously.

43. We understand we’re all going to die someday.

44. We’d rather have experiences than bank statements.

45. We refuse to hate what we do.

46. We know there’s always a better way.

47. We want careers, not jobs.

48. We have passion.

49. We have morals.

50. We have each other.

Link to Original Post: http://elitedaily.com/life/50-things-millennials-make-corporate-america-uncomfortable/758330/ (My post has been modified)

Made For More

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been give, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.

— Galatians 6: 4-5 MSG

I started this post off with a verse that has been my verse for 2014. I chose this verse because at the beginning of the year I was stepping into a new season of life. I have always just done the things that I'm talented at. I mean, that's how life works right? If you're good with numbers, be an accountant. If you can paint, become an artist. In high school I took up photography and collectively became known as a "photographer." Several years later when I wasn't even remotely involved in anything to do with a camera, I would walk into a restaurant or pass someone I went to high school with and it never failed they would ask, "How's the photography business?" Isn't it funny that when people know us for something, it always sticks? Sometimes we can't live down the stereotypes that the general public know us by. 

As I began studying this verse, the original text in verse 4 is, "Let every man prove his own work." The word Prove in Greek is dokimazō which means to test, to recognize as genuine after examination. I find this interesting. Our work, and how we preform is directly related to who we are as a person. So what does all this mean, am I even making sense? Let me explain.

Sometimes when the world, the people around us perceive us as something that we really aren't, that fabricated person begins to form and take shape in our lives. When there is constant pressure to be a certain way, live a certain way, or be a certain way; that takes root in who we are and it then becomes society forming us instead of the genuine, authentic person that we were created to be. Even though I hadn't shot photos for years, everyone always remembers be as a "photographer" and for the rest of my life all I'll ever be to some, is a "photographer." Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes moments, experiences, and times when we weren't "ourselves" shape us. The people around us, the environments we are in, the places we go; it all adds up to creating something that at the end of the day, we might not enjoy. 

So what's the point? Going back to the verse, "Make a careful exploration of who YOU are, and what YOU'VE been given to do." God created each and everyone of us individually, unique, and with a purpose. Make a careful exploration of who YOU are and where YOU want to go. If the people around you, the places you go, and the environments you are in don't reflect that. It's time to make a change. Maybe that is location, maybe that is where you go on the weekends. I know that I've had to make some changes recently in my person life to reflect who I am and what I've been created FOR. Don't sell yourself short. You were made for more. Your life matters. Surround yourself with people who elevate you. Be in positive environments. Make the most out of what you've been given. Take responsibility for doing the creative best with your own life. You got this. 

What are some changes you need to make in your life this season? 

Have a good weekend!!!