“The sacrificial pancake”

The Rule of Suck: the first one is going to be very, very, embarrassingly not so good.

What to do?

Do the next one. And the next one after that. On and on, serving up hundreds of works to an audience who trusts that you’ll get it right — eventually.

Here’s Paul McGrath (great name), on pancakes and what they teach us about creativity. I told him on Thursday that this was my favorite read of the week. It’s now Saturday, and I’m still standing by that statement.

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 #7: NoxyTango on Accepting Yourself as an Artist, the Emotions of Color, and Old-School Internet Culture

Because of the Internet, I’m more empowered to become better, and I’m able to seek the direction that I’m allowed to seek.

NoxyTango

Do you have any friends that you don’t speak to for more than a decade, and then you pick up right where you left off as if no time passed? That’s the kind of friendship that I have with NoxyTango. About 12 years ago, we met through a game called Runescape. We would spend hours on this game, creating “Runescape music videos,” increasing our fishing lvls, and forming a group of friends that we still keep in touch with to this day. Then, we became adults. And we didn’t have a full conversation until the time of this recording.

Please enjoy my talk with NoxyTango about the struggles of creativity, old-school Internet culture, and how the Internet brings us closer than we can imagine. I had a blast recording this, and I hope you have a blast listening to it.

Here’s a look at some of my favorite pieces by Noxy. I highly recommend you follow her art. It’s going to bring more color to your world (even though I’m about to list only black and white pieces. Sorry, I’m a huge fan of black and white.)

And you can watch her animations by clicking here.

Talking Points:

  • Runescape nostalgia and mid 2000s culture in Noxy’s art (2:00)
  • How Noxy discovered her art style, how colors influence emotion (4:00)
  • Pros and cons of digital art versus non-digital art (6:00)
  • Noxy’s influences (8:00)
  • Being an artist with Aphantasia, on my Synesthesia, and embodiment psychology (9:00)
  • Not being defined by your struggles (23:00)
  • How the Internet creates micro bubbles of community (26:00)
  • Being represented by our artwork, not how we appear in real life (28:00)
  • The dangers of being famous (31:00)
  • How the Internet has impacted her art in a positive way (35:00)
  • Why nice comments are so valuable to an artist (37:00)
  • “You’re good…for a girl” (40:00)
  • Defining masculinity and femininity for yourself (43:00)
  • Noxy’s writing process, and her upcoming novel (45:00)
  • NaNoWriMo (48:00)
  • The last time Noxy was in flow (50:00)
  • On rejection (55:00)
  • Noxy’s message for those who are stuck (58:00)

Show Notes

Synesthesia

Aphantasia

Nanowrimo

Embodiment Psychology

Brene Brown on vulnerability

Tim Ferriss on the dangers of fame

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 #5: Audrey Hebert On Laughing at The Sliminess of The Human Condition

[A note on audio: this was recorded in my room. I only have one mic. This was the best that I could do given my current equipment and setup. In retrospect, we could have leaned into the mic, but I wasn’t thinking about that. So, pardon that.]

Hey guys, welcome to another episode of The Penguin Latte Podcast! Today I’m joined by my girlfriend, Audrey Hebert. Audrey is a stand-up comedian and visual artist. In 2019, she won the funniest student contest at UC Santa Cruz. She’s one of those comedians that makes us laugh at the sliminess of the human condition. Seeing her perform always reminds me not to take myself too seriously. What I’ve learned from her comedy routine is that we are all just pissing, shitting, slimey, smelly monkeys in space who have no clue about anything.

You can find Audrey Hebert’s art on her Instagram page by clicking here.

“Sometimes you just have to do things that will make you feel like pure shit in order to get to do the things you want, and to get to a place to where you feel comfortable.”

Audrey Hebert

Talking Points:

  • Our favorite passage from The War of Art (3:00)
  • Time slots in stand-up comedy (6:00)
  • Dealing with hecklers (12:00)
  • Being inspired from local comedians (17:00)
  • Why being yourself on stage is important (21:00)
  • Gary Goleman’s gigantic list of tips for comedians (22:00)
  • Leaning into your intuition as a way to find your true fans (24:00)
  • The element of surprise in comedy (and cooking) (25:00)
  • Writing jokes on the day of the show (27:00)
  • The one Google Doc of Jokes (31:00)
  • On writing and drawing (34:00)
  • Cringing at our old work (37:00)
  • Strangest places for comedic inspiration (40:00)
  • Crowdworking (43:00)
  • A comedian who asked her parents to heckle her (45:00)
  • Why certain types of comedy age badly (47:00)
  • The Monty Python Debate (48:00)
  • On Curb Your Enthusiasm and Seinfeld (49:00)
  • On the brilliance of Nathan Fielder (50:00)
  • On the brilliance of Niel Cicierega and Nathan Fielder (57:00)
  • Why we need comedy (1:00:00)
  • Audrey’s message for people who want to get started in stand-up comedy… (1:13:00)
  • …and for getting better at performing in front of people (1:15:00)
  • Parting words of encouragement for those who are stuck (1:20:00)

Show Notes

The War of Art

Nathan Fielder

Monty Python

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Niel Cicierega

Gary Goleman’s 366 Tips for Comedians (Much of this applies to more than stand-up comedy. See, The War of Art, Mark Twain quotes, and other names I’m sure you’ll recognize.)

How to be afraid

When I started this blog, I was afraid. I didn’t use hashtags on my posts because I didn’t want to draw much attention to my writing. And for that reason, I didn’t comment on anybody else’s blog, or share anybody else’s work, either.

But every burst of progress that I’ve experienced came from a source of fear. I was afraid of networking, so I started reaching out to writers on Twitter. I was afraid of rejection, so I started asking some of those writers if they’d like to be a guest on my podcast.

And by acting on my fear, I’ve learned a lesson. Whatever it is you’re putting off because you’re afraid of doing it, do it.

You don’t need to do it all day. Your body and your mind can’t sustain that level of stress.

But for an hour a day? You can manage that. An hour a day to answer the questions: what am I most afraid of doing right now, and what do I need to do about that?

In Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M. Pirsig tells us that the top of the mountain defines the sides of the mountain. The top of the mountain is your goal. Your goal is what signals to you what’s worth your attention as you climb to the top of the mountain. Your goal is what gives value to the actions you’re afraid of taking.

The higher up the mountain we climb, the more we need to focus with each step. And that’s exhausting. So we ask, “well, I started this climb, and that was difficult enough. What more do you want from me?”

A lot more.

You might believe that who you were yesterday is 100 times braver than who you were a week ago. And you’re right. But who you’ll become after you do what’s scaring you today is 1,000 times braver than who you are now.

You aren’t the person who started this climb. You’re the person who keeps climbing.

So, for an hour, do what you’re afraid of doing. Send that cold email. Promote your work. Sit in front of the camera, and speak to us.

Then, take a break. Look over the side of the mountain. Celebrate. It might not feel like it, but something happened. For an hour, you became less afraid.

My checking problem

I have a checking problem.

I’m checking to see if the numbers have gone up.

I’m checking to see if anyone’s left a comment.

I’m checking to see if anyone’s shared my work.

And I’m checking to see if all my links lead to the right pages.

All this checking is like looking up at the sky to see if it’s still blue (or orange, if you live in Los Angeles).

Why am I doing this? Because we’re rewarded for checking. Not by our peers, but by our brains. When someone leaves us a nice comment or a red heart, our brains reward us with a dose of good feelings.

Relax. The sky’s still blue, your pages still work, your art is out there and people are going to see it.

Make your art, put it in the world, and forget about it until tomorrow. And if you have a serious case of checking (I call it “doom checking”), make time in your calendar for deliberate checking. Don’t make it too long, because then you won’t have enough time to do your work. Just long enough so that you can check all the important boxes.

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.

What’s next?

Not next month. Not tomorrow. Not even the next hour.

What will the next moment be about?

Will you dedicate this next moment to worrying about next month, and tomorrow, and what might happen an hour from now?

Or will it be about the next moment?