The Penguin Latte Podcast #17 – Marketing as Self-Expression with Arielle Kimbarovsky

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Are advertisers evil? Are marketers the scourge of the earth, hell-bent on stealing our attention and selling it off to some nameless corporation? Yes, and no. It’s every good marketer’s job to capture our attention. And advertisers get paid to understand what makes people want to buy things. But to call either evil would be like accusing your grandma of being a Satanist (unless she really is one). The best marketers get us as excited about products and services as grandma makes us excited about fresh chocolate chip cookies.

In this episode, I speak with one of the most delightful and creative marketers I’ve ever met: Arielle Kimbarovsky (@ariellekimbar on Twitter). Arielle Kimbarovsky is the head of social media and marketing for M1 Finance. Her spec work portfolio (got it right that time) is full of an exuberance that reveals her eye for color choice, words that evoke powerful emotions, and stories impossible to forget.

If you’ve listened to my episode with Robbie Crabtree, then you know how much I value communication. Design is a form of communication. Some of the most difficult problems I’ve had with the blog and podcast were to pick the right words, color choice, shape, and names for titles. What you say matters less than how you say it. This episode serves as an opportunity to learn how to express yourself through multiple mediums: painting, writing, talking, music, video— nearly all the topics we discuss relate to communication. We also discuss reading, being introverted, taking breaks, being yourself, and thinking big. It’s a wide-ranging conversation full of possibility and delight.

So, please enjoy my conversation with Arielle Kimbarovsky!

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Thanks so much!

Everyone gets a Sunday

In some cultures, Sunday is the beginning of the week. The foundation of the day, grounded in rest and recovery.

No matter what culture you’re a part of, you’re guaranteed one Sunday a week. Of course, not everyone gets to dedicate a whole day to resting. You might be the busy mom who uses Sunday to prep for your kid’s meal plan for the week. Or you might be the busy teacher grading all your student’s midterms.

If you can’t find your rest on Sunday, I hope you can find some pockets of rest throughout the week. You deserve it.

The Penguin Latte Podcast #9: The Austin Calvert MegaEpisode – What It Takes To Be Ferociously Yourself in Your Craft

It’s been so hard for me to keep this episode unreleased until today. I’m so excited that I get to finally share this with you all. This is the longest conversation episode to date. Austin completely and gracefully over delivered on everything I asked him. He’s the first guest to stand up and lean into the microphone during our conversation. I could feel his energy bursting from my screen.

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…What I’ve been learning about the Internet is…you can grow exponentially through these scaled networks..but to me, what that means is your real life actions just translate to the Internet. Your real life actions are essentially compounding, right? We don’t really need the Internet to do that. Real life actions in the 1960s could have compounded as well. It’s always been there….

Austin is a true artist in every sense of the word. He’s one of those remarkable individuals who knows how to express art, even when using the most crowded market for creatives on the Internet (YouTube).

If you haven’t watched his mini-documentaries about the future of technology, please do. And if you have, watch them again. I get goosebumps every time I watch one of his videos. Especially this one.

A note on audio: something happened to how my computer was receiving Austin’s audio feed through Zoom. I could have said something during our conversation about this, but I didn’t. I didn’t want to interrupt the flow of the conversation. I’ve been kicking myself over that for weeks. Luckily, Austin was such an amazing guest so everything he says makes up for my mistake.

A note on future podcast episode numbers: I’m resetting the interview episodes. All numbered podcast episodes will signify that the episode is a conversation. All unnumbered episodes will signify that it’s an Akimbo styled episode: a short reading of one of my blog posts, or an improvised riff or story.

Consistent content. Even if you don’t think it’s good.

Talking Points

Austin’s background (3:00)

Learning multiple skills at the same time (8:00)

How much content should creators be pumping out everyday? (10:00)

Going off on the wrong path / A bedridden depression / Living in Berlin /Austin’s travels (11:00)

Experiences with Ayahuasca (If you’ve ever heard The Tim Ferriss show, you know the risks involved with this. Do your research.) (18:00)

“As consensus turns into a form of truth…” (32:00)

Fighting back against the daily darkness (35:00)

What happened after his Ayahuasca trip? / Being relentlessly yourself in your craft (39:00)

On compounding actions without the Internet (42:00)

Why did Austin decide to start making videos? (45:00)

How long does it take Austin to make a video? (48:00)

Thoughts on newsletters (51:00)

Why every creator should see themselves on an exponential curve (54:00)

A huge discussion about the ownership economy (56:00)

Appreciating the work you’ve done so far (1:18:00)

“Speed is a poison” (1:19:00)

Where’s the finish line? (1:23:00)

David Choe (1:25:00)

Staying anonymous (1:30:00)

Leaving your audience with a feeling (1:34:00)

Go beyond the limits of your medium / Austin’s definition of authenticity (1:35:00)

David Foster Wallace – This Is Water (1:48:00)

Austin’s favorite books (1:50:00)

How information itself is transforming with technology (1:55:00)

The real darkness of self-transformation vs “struggle porn” (1:58:00)

Low quality self-improvement advice (2:05:00)

Do we need mentors? / The mass pretending phase (2:08:00)

Lying to yourself on purpose (2:11:00)

Giving back (2:14:00)

Austin convinces me to drop Evernote for Notion (2:18:00)

The Final Question (2:22:00)

Mentions

GaryVee

Naval Ravikant

JRE 958 with Dr. Jordan B. Peterson

Tryroll

Blockchain

Ayahuasca

David Choe on The JRE

David Foster Wallace

Civilized to Death

The War on Normal People

David Goggins

Tony Robbins

Boards of Canada

The Alchemist

A Conversation with Phil Desforges “The goal is not uniqueness, it’s not originality, it’s to be you. That’s the only goal”

Hi all. Welcome to another conversation about the pursuit of creative excellence. I’m so happy that I finally get to share this episode with you! What follows is an intimate, insightful, and entertaining conversation with a true artist — Phil Desforges. I highly recommend you browse through Phil’s portfolio while you listen to this episode.

Talking Points

  • How Phil developed his color palette
  • The art of building a world in your art
  • How photography saved Phil’s life
  • Why men should open up about their feelings
  • Sensitivities to music
  • Why Stoicism is important to Phil
  • Phil’s favorite movies and directors
  • On Casey Neistat
  • Following your gut vs your reasoning
  • The comfort zone and consistency conundrum
  • On Beeple
  • The nuances of creating on certain mediums, thoughts on Tik Tok
  • Getting inspired by the right creators
  • The flaw of originality
  • A message from Pakistan
  • Spending a week without creating
  • Phil’s favorite coffee and tea
  • Memento Mori
  • “The output doesn’t matter; it’s the outcome.”
  • On being bored productively
  • “Less counting, more doing.”
  • The necessary constraint of mortality
  • Sonder and This Is Water
  • We are all living in our own bubble
  • On current world conflicts, and feeling helpless
  • Honing in on the skills you can’t teach
  • On the beauty of flow
  • Why it’s so tough to be natural on camera
  • What modern people are afraid of
  • On geeking out about the things you love, and creating around that
  • Phil’s message for stuck creatives

Mentions in this episode

Salvadar Dali

Casey Neistat

Sonder

This Is Water by David Foster Wallace

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

Memento Mori

Symbols of Transformation by Carl Jung

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Beeple

Everything Is Fucked by Mark Manson

John Daub and OnlyinJapan

David Perell

The Penguin Latte Podcast #6: Pranav Mutatkar on His Petri Dish of Inspiration

Today, I’m joined by the wonderful Pranav Mutatkar (@pranavmutatkar). His newsletter, Your Lazy Sunday blends together art, music, comedy, and culture. It’s an intellectual treat for those of us who prefer not to take ourselves so seriously. Highly recommended.

We spent about half this episode geeking out about our favorite directors, psychoanalysts, philosophers, writers, thinkers, newsletters, and comedians. Pranav has much to say on achieving our goals with as little effort as possible. And if that seems completely counterintuitive to the usual approach, that’s because it is. And guess what? It works. Pranav’s life is proof of that.

Please enjoy!

What you really want to do is transition from it being lazy for you, to it being lazy for your audience, for your customers.

Pranav Mutatkar

Talking Points:

  • Living in San diego, beer culture (2:00)
  • The brilliance of Bill Watterson (4:00)
  • “A petri dish from extremely diverse places” (6:00)
  • Can we really be ourselves all the time? (12:00)
  • Pranav’s favorite directors (15:00)
  • The interplay of the movies “Her” and “Lost in Translation” (16:00)
  • Pranav’s philosophy of laziness (17:00)
  • Geeking out about Carl Jung, the Shadow, Jordan Peterson, Nietzsche, and Kanye West (19:00)
  • Pranav’s experience with Building a Second Brain with Tiago Forte (40:00)
  • Pranav’s course on lazy habits (43:00)
  • Getting comfortable on camera, starting small when you’re starting out (43:00)
  • A big riff on perfectionism (54:00)
  • Failing before you’re big (1:01:00)
  • “Translating the untranslatable” (1:04:00)
  • The Theory of Constructed Emotions (1:11:00)
  • The struggle of going deep on ideas in a world of “get to the point” (1:14:00)
  • On why we need comedy (1:19:00)
  • Being inspired by fiction writers (1:22:00)
  • Being interested in many subjects (1:27:00)
  • Pranav’s message for people who want to understand themselves on a deeper level (1:37:00)

Mentions in this episode

Her

Lost in Translation

Carl Jung

Symbols of Transformation

Jordan Peterson

Friedrich Nietzsche

Kanye West (do I really need to link this?)

The Tree of Life

Building A Second Brain

Rise of The Full Stack Freelancer

Carseat Headrest

Captain Sinbad

The Theory of Constructed Emotions

Dave Chapelle

How to write like Hunter S. Thompson

Sam Harris

The Penguin Latte Podcast #4 Chris Jordan on Staying Accountable, Fighting Perfectionism, and Freelancing

Don’t build everything up front if you haven’t started talking to people about your service.

This ended up being a special episode for me, personally. I spent the first half hour asking Chris questions about how I could position myself as a personal brand consultant. And he was generous enough to answer every question. I’ll be listening to the first half of this episode a lot as I push myself and my brand further. Even while I listen to this episode to list the talking points below, I’m taking notes on what Chris says about packaging something concrete for your clients.

Later on in the episode, we Chris explores why it’s so hard to keep ourselves accountable with our creative projects.

So, please enjoy! This is one of my favorite episodes so far, and I hope it moves you to take action on your ideas. It’s definitely inspired me to grow my brand in new directions.

Talking Points

  • Distinctions between Chris’s work as a personal brand consultant and a freelance videographer and editor (3:20)
  • Chris answers my questions about how I could become a personal brand consultant. (5:00)
  • How Chris gets clients without having a website, the power of the network (12:00)
  • Preparing yourself to get lucky, starting off as a freelancer (14:30)
  • Starting projects, and stopping projects (18:00)
  • “Sub 4 Subbing” (27:00)
  • What it means to engage in a thoughtful way (30:00)
  • The “why” behind the work (33:00)
  • Packaging yourself and your services (39:00)
  • Figuring out what problems you want to solve as a consultant (40:00)
  • On overthinking (42:00)
  • On authenticity, not trying to sound smart (45:00)
  • Being yourself on camera (48:00)
  • “You are the medium” (50:00)
  • On perfectionism (59:00)
  • Handling uncertainty (1:03:00)
  • What type of people are you trying to help? (1:06:00)
  • The power of saying no, and pricing your services (1:10:00)
  • Going to the clients who care (1:13:00)
  • Fearing not being able to deliver what’s promised (1:19:00)
  • “If you could help one person, you could help a thousand” (1:20:00)
  • Chris’s message to my listeners about outsmarting yourself to avoid regret (1:33:00)

Books Mentioned

The War of Art

Essentialism

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

The meditation continues

after you’ve opened your eyes. Because after you’ve opened your eyes, that’s when the real work begins.

Your most valuable asset isn’t your network. Or your portfolio.

It’s your sight.

We’re blind to what is (and isn’t) happening outside us until we can see what is (and isn’t) happening inside us.

To see what’s stopping you from moving forward, take out a pen and paper. Put your phone on airplane mode. Write down the three most important things that you need to do today. Only three. Putting more items on this list means that these three things aren’t as important as you thought. Then, write down all the ways in which you’re preventing yourself from doing those things.

For example, if your goal is to write 500 words of your next blog post, but you’re worried that it won’t be good, write that down. “I’m worried that it won’t be good.” You said your goal was to write 500 words. You didn’t say your goal was to stop worrying. So, write the 500 words.

Too often, what’s stopping us from doing what’s important is our own self-deception.

H/T to pages 190-191 of Greg McKeown’s book, Essentialism. Highly recommended if you’re feeling overwhelmed today. It’s worth putting off your projects to read the book in its entirety.

The Penguin Latte Podcast #3: Alexander Hugh Sam on Writing Without Censoring Yourself

Hey! Today I’m joined by Alexander Hugh Sam. Alex is the author of one of my favorite newsletters: The Kaizen Newsletter. Alex is unafraid of expressing himself through his writing. If you’re scared of opening up what Austin Kleon calls, “your cabinet of curiosities,” then I highly recommend you check out Alex’s writings, which you can find here. He parses out important lessons from anime, tech, product design, and hockey. It’s fresh, unique, and definitely worth the read. I’ve been a big fan of anime since I was ten years old, so seeing his newsletter pop up in my inbox is always a treat.

Please enjoy, and take care!

“I use writing to have a conversation with myself. I use it as a way to tell myself that it’s okay to fail. Even though you failed, we know that you learned a lot of lessons from your experience.”

Alexander Hugh Sam – @alexhughsam | The Kaizen Newsletter

Talking Points

  • Self-improvement philosophy from anime (2:00)
  • Writing as the best way to solve your own problems (10:00)
  • Being a part of Write of Passage (12:00)
  • Writing about what interests you (14:00)
  • The nuances of optionality, choices, and failure (18:00)
  • How stand out as someone with a broad range of interests (22:00)
  • The struggle of defining yourself (28:00)
  • Letting your audience dictate your art/finding your 1,000 true fans (31:00)
  • Does “success” matter in life? (34:00)
  • How to publish a blog post everyday (36:00)
  • The challenge of writing short pieces (39:00)
  • The benefits of deadlines (42:00)
  • Structured procrastination and “precrastinating” (44:00)
  • Alex’s message to creative people who struggle with accepting their interests (51:00)

Show Notes and Resources

Alex’s Newsletter

Write of Passage

Want to start your own newsletter? Here’s an easy to use platform called Substack. Some of the world’s most popular newsletters run on substack. I even run my newsletter on Substack (but it’s not yet the world’s most popular. Yet.)

Stop Summarizing Books

Did the author not make themselves clear?

Was the book so awfully written that we need you to explain what the author failed to articulate?

Summarizing books is a waste of time that works.

It works because we’re getting busier. 200 pages? No time for that. 12 bullet points? Perfect.

And it’s a waste of time because none of your favorite authors summarized books before writing their first bestseller. Instead, they wrote until they wrote their first bestseller.

The point of reading a book is to experience the book through the lenses of your perception. To summarize books is to enable people to take more shortcuts.

Please don’t give me the key takeaways. Tell me why this book is worth the 9 hours it takes to read it.

If you have a counter argument, please, drop a comment and let me know. I love having my mind changed.

I redesigned my homepage

Here’s the before and after.

(Note: I don’t have a “before” photo. Just imagine a page full of text and hyperlinks.)

After:

rd 1rd 2rd 3rd 4

Thanks to the generous folks on Twitter who reached out to help me. To summarize their advice, say what you need to say in respect to the constraint of the viewer’s attention.

Not the constraint of their time. No, that’s a reversal of roles. Attention is the constraint. Attention signals to us what is and isn’t worth our time. Attention comes from the stories we tell ourselves. It’s easier to get someone’s attention when your messages already match their story.

Often, that story is, “I want (or, I want “this”) to be more (or less) _____” It’s easier to convince someone to eat a banana when they already believe that bananas are worth eating (being hungry helps, too).

By working on this (I still am), I’ve learned that design has two parts.

The first part is addition. What can I add? How can I use this tools to make something new?

The second part is subtraction. I made all these things, but now it’s overwhelming. What can I subtract, piece by piece, until only the essential is all that remains?

Whenever I work on something that matters to me, I’m always reminded of these words from T. S. Eliot.

We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.