Create & Release 01: Let’s Start With Why

There’s a book on my wife’s nightstand that I look at almost every day, and think to myself, “I really need to read that.” It’s called Start With Why by Simon Sinek and what’s keeping me from reading it is the fact that I’ve watched several of Simon’s talks and while I really like him as a speaker, I’ve seen enough to know that the book is not what I want it to be about. I think it’s just that I love the title and each time I look at it, it reminds me of all of the whys that I’m working through in my own life. For example, for the past several months, one why that I keep coming back to is around restarting a written newsletter.

If you are a listener to any of my shows, you may remember that my podcast Iterations actually started as a newsletter, and beginning with Iteration 25, I also started releasing them as a podcast — which I thought was a terrific idea at the time. I love audio and I was starting to listen to more and more podcasts and audiobooks so I thought that releasing them as audio would be a great way forward — at least as a secondary offering. But with Iteration 34, I simply stopped sending out the written version. Maybe in my head I was simply doubling down on the audio side of things but it really doesn’t make a lot of sense looking back on it, especially since I still write out most of the “scripts” for Iterations before recording them. Weeks went by, then months, and now years and I’m still trying to answer the question of why. Why did I stop releasing a written newsletter and why should I start one up again?

First and foremost, I think it’s about connection. Getting an email delivered right to your inbox opens up the opportunity for a one-on-one dialog between you and me that’s different than a podcast – it’s not better or worse, just different. Getting something as an email means you’re already there with the material in front of you. Have a question or comment about what you’ve just read, or maybe a suggestion for something you’d like me to talk about or someone you think I should talk to? Great, just hit reply and we’re in conversation.

Then there’s the format of an email newsletter, which in addition to the main thought or topic will include links to things I’ve recently seen that I think you might find interesting. Sometimes it might be a story in The Atlantic or National Geographic or Artnews that caught my eye or a book I’m reading or a movie or body of work I think you should see. Whatever I include, it’s because I hope it will be interesting and maybe even act as some sort of catalyst to start a conversation, if not with me then maybe with someone else in your life.

And finally there’s the importance of meeting people where they are — something I learned from my wife, Adrianne. In stopping the written version of Iterations, I made a unilateral decision on how you were able to connect with what I was creating and releasing. I decided for you — which is sort of the opposite of meeting you where you are.

I think that about covers the why for the relaunch, including its updated focus and purpose — which hopefully will also be a step towards connecting (or reconnecting) with you. Of course, I’d love to know what you think.

What’s a current why (or why not?) that you’re working through?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below or, if you prefer, click here to email me directly.

“An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.”
— Edwin Land

This has been one of my favorite quotes for years, despite being one of the hardest ones to consistently put into practice. I don’t know about you, but I am often terrified of failure — and it’s mostly when I get caught up in worrying about success. When I’m in the practice of creating — you know, that flow state where time seems to just fly by because we’re so engrossed in what we’re doing — in that state, I rarely think about failure. For me, the fear of failure rears up in two places: before I even begin a project, when I’m not quite sure what it could be and after I’ve completed it, when I’m staring at the finished work, wondering what do do with it and whether or not anyone else will like it. During, however, when my hands are in motion and I’m embracing the accidents — either happy or otherwise — my self-confidence is firing on all cylinders.

Where and how does the fear of failure appear for you, if at all?

A new book from Penguin Press, called Fierce Poise: Helen Frankenthaler and 1950s New York, looks at the life and work of one of my favorite artists. “She realized what was possible,” says the author, Alexander Nemerov. “She made a kind of art that hadn’t been done before.” I couldn’t agree more and find her work incredibly moving.

The art market as a whole is something that simultaneously frustrates me, confuses me, and fascinates me. One of my favorite documentaries about it is the terrific HBO film, The Price of Everything. It presents the art market as a fickle shell game run by a select few and I love it. Honestly, it’s worth subscribing to HBO for a month just to watch it – plus you can watch the newly released “Snyder Cut” of Justice League if superheroes are your thing. If you do watch The Price of Everything and you enjoy it, be sure to also watch the Netflix documentary Made You Look: A True Story about Fake Art. It’s the story of the largest art fraud in American history — the scandal around the Knoedler Gallery in New York that sold more than $80 million in fake Rothkos, Pollocks, and de Koonings.

Adrianne and I have been lucky enough to visit Paris three times and somehow we still have never made it to the Louvre. Actually, that’s not quite true — have managed to walk by it several times, but for one reason or another (usually coffee or a snack), we always ended up getting sidetracked from actually going in. Recently, Jean-Luc Martinez, the museum’s current President-Director announced “For the first time, anyone can access the entire collection of works from a computer or smartphone for free, whether they are on display in the museum, on loan, even long-term, or in storage.” While the entire collection isn’t yet online, about 482,000 entries have been added so far, giving art lovers everywhere the chance to experience some of the greatest pieces of art ever created wherever they are in the world. So maybe the next time we’re in Paris, we don’t have to feel quite so guilty about having another coffee instead of visiting the museum.

If you’re a fan of dramatic landscape photography from places like Zion, Yosemite, or Death Valley, I think you’re going to love the new episode of my podcast Process Driven, which is a terrific conversation with landscape photographer Ben Horne. Look for it this week in your favorite podcast app.


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