Drop in! What to do when things get slow

In 1992, riding a skateboard up and down a half-pipe wasn’t cool. The world turned its attention to street skating. Something with more edge, more rebelliousness, less polished and less about sponsorships and money.

But that didn’t stop a scrappy kid in Carlsbad from riding his skateboard everyday. Because Tony Hawk knew that if the world decided that vert skating was cool again, he would be ready.

In 1999, Tony Hawk landed the world’s first 900.

What will you do when things get slow? Will you wait for the world to tell you what’s cool and what’s not? Or will you tighten your bearings, wax the rails, and drop in?

The Penguin Latte Podcast #12: Shelby Smith on Lessons From Failures, Language Learning, and Having the Courage to Get What You Want

Today I’m joined by the bold and adventurous Shelby Smith.

Shelby Smith (@CoShelbySmith) is head of user onboarding for LingQ. She’s also a writer who discusses leadership, language learning, self-development, and why it it’s important to stand up for yourself to get what you want.

Listen on Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Watch on YouTube

Talking Points

  • Shelby’s backstory with the entrepreneurial spirit (2:30)
  • “I’m a day one listener of The Tim Ferriss Show” (6:00)
  • Action is the missing ingredient / Life in Ecuador (9:00)
  • Learning from having a failed business (15:00)
  • “I wrote that I was psychic” / How to handle job interviews if you never went to college (18:00)
  • Suggesting what companies do wrong (35:00)
  • What it was like to go for a year without social media, and all the unexpected changes that came from doing that [I can’t believe this is even a talking point] (41:00)
  • “Build a personal relationship with your ideas” / Experience with Write of Passage (1:00:00)
  • Shelby’s guiding principles (1:07:00)
  • On learning languages (1:15:00)
  • How we elicit meaning in language (1:25:00)
  • What’s the work you do that feels like play? (1:30:00)
  • When was the last time you were in flow? (1:35:00)
  • When do you feel dissatisfied? (1:38:00)
  • The final question (1:42:00)

Books

The Four Hour Workweek

The Art of Learning

Deep Work

Principles

Discipline Equals Freedom

People

Tim Ferriss

Jocko Willink

Josh Waitzkin

Samuel Hulick

Cal Newport

Ray Dalio

Richard Turner

Other

LingQ

Duolingo

The Penguin Latte Podcast #11: Deepu Asok on Meditation, Yoga, Drawing, and Happiness

Meditation is that state where you are no more. Your sense of Self is gone.

If you ask an artist where his work comes from, if he’s a generous artist, he’ll say, ‘I don’t know where it comes.’

Listen on Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Watch on YouTube

Deepu Asok is the author and illustrator of the wonderful and enlightening Visual Wisdom newsletter. He’s also the host of a podcast called The Happiness Hypothesis. He’s got a serious eye for designs that pop.

Deepu and I were dming over meditation and spirituality. But he had to get going, and asked to continue our talk over zoom some time. I said sure. And of course, I asked if he wanted to record our talk for the podcast. He said yes. And so, here we are.

Please enjoy my conversation with the wonderful and wise Deepu Asok!

Talking Points

  • On different schools of meditation and yoga (3:00)
  • The benefits of doing yoga before meditation (11:00)
  • Why meditate? (14:00)
  • “Philosophy doesn’t transform you. Practice transform you” (21:00)
  • “The lion is trying to help you, but it doesn’t know how.” (28:00)
  • On Happiness and work (37:00)
  • Three types of work (43:00)
  • Selling on Gumroad (50:00)
  • The differences between drawing and writing (55:00)
  • “You’re paying for the organization of the ideas” / Constraints (1:00:00)
  • Art vs Content (1:07:00)
  • On books and reading (1:16:00)
  • Wishful thinking (1:23:00)
  • Flow in drawing (1:35:00)
  • Constraints (1:40:00)
  • Final questions (1:46:00)

Mentions

Books and articles

Civilized to Death

The Art of Learning

Living Buddha Living Christ

Flow

Linchpin

This Is Marketing

Atomic Habits

Show Your Work!

Getting Things Done

Thinking Fast and Slow

Mind in Motion

Autobiography of a Yogi

Ladders of Wealth Creation

People

Inner Engineering

Thich Nhat Hanh

Carl Jung

Alan Watts

Naval Ravikant

Seth Godin

Nathan Barry

Austin Kleon

Derek Sivers

David Perell

Tiago Forte

Other

Indie Hackers

The Penguin Latte Podcast #10: Salman Ansari on The Lost Art of Having Fun

Every idea you have, every concept, every word, every utterance, every tone…all of that is influenced by those around you anyway. You’ve got to acknowledge that and embrace that and ask, ‘how can I mix those together?’ Each of us is a completely different combination.

Listen on Spotify | Apple Podcasts | YouTube

Salman Ansari (Salman.io) is an illustrator, animator, and author of The Quick Brown Fox Newsletter.

Salman has a heart of gold. I promise that you’ll finish this podcast with more inspiration than you had when you started. He’s one of those rare souls who knows how to do what matters in life without taking himself so seriously. Every time I interact with him, I feel a radiant golden energy enveloping me in a reassurance that it’s okay to be myself. I hope you feel the same way after listening to our conversation. Please enjoy!

Talking Points

  • Giving advice on Twitter (3:00)
  • “Insecurity work” (5:00)
  • Layers in writing (8:00)
  • “The hardest part of writing is talking about myself” (13:00)
  • Aren’t we all polymaths? (20:00)
  • “Being yourself isn’t the most effective growth strategy” (26:00)
  • Salman’s experience with teaching (31:00)
  • Monetization for content creators (35:00)
  • Platforms, communities (41:00)
  • DJ Salman (44:00)
  • “What am I doing right now that would be fun to explore in a new way?” (49:00)
  • Getting inspiration from animation teams and comics (51:00)
  • On web-comics (55:00)
  • Creative constraints (58:00)
  • The benefits of reading older books instead of newer books (1:01:00)
  • Influential video games (1:05:00)
  • Authenticity as a buzzword/ Permission to be yourself (1:10:00)
  • Learning to be comfortable with questions, not answers (1:17:00)
  • Using tools in the right context (1:25:00)
  • Play (1:28:00)
  • Is it irrational to make art? (1:32:00)
  • “What do you mean why?” (1:38:00)
  • Leisure: The Basis of Culture (1:40:00)
  • Meditation (1:45:00)
  • Start with “I don’t know” (1:55:00)
  • Parting thoughts (2:07:00)

Mentions

The Courage to Be Disliked

Don Hertzfeldt

The Polymath Playbook

Status Regulation and Anxious Underconfidence

Spirited Away

Teenage Engineering

Studio MDHR

Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art

SHEN COMIX

Studio Rare and The Making of Goldeneye 64

Undertale

VVVVVV

Intimations by Zadie Smith

Elizabeth Gilbert

Aldous Huxley

Leisure: The Basis of Culture

Carl Jung

What to do if you don’t have “three years of experience”

I know I’m late in saying this, but the Internet is 4w3s0m3s4uc3. I’m getting help for my new consulting service from an experienced consultant in Australia. A generous young teacher from India improved my resume. And I had a two hour conversation with an artist from Wichita.

For many, it seems like the biggest barrier to doing good work is “three years of experience required.” But we can work around that.

How?

By seeking people who have the experience. By being curious enough to ask them the right questions. And by being so enthusiastic about the work it’s almost overwhelming.

It doesn’t help to start by asking, “what should I do with my life?” because you “sort of” know the answer already. By asking someone what to do with your life, you’re seeking permission to do what you’ve always wanted to do.

Instead, try, “I really like what you’re doing. I want to do the same. But I’m not sure how to go about doing this.”

And how should you express your enthusiasm without stepping over boundaries? It’s like I said before. Ask the right questions.

If you don’t have “three years of experience” yet, enthusiasm and curiosity are your greatest assets.

For our amusement

Why should we make anything at all?

For our amusement.

And if we’re making things for our amusement, does that mean we shouldn’t share anything we make?

Of course not. Experiencing art we enjoy is like looking at a mirror. And as creators, we’re making mirrors for people to look at and see something we can’t see.

Some of us look at the mirror and notice technical finesse (or error). Some of us look and see emotions we can’t put into words. And some of us hear the subtle tempo changes.

The artist knows more about their art than the audience does. That is, until the artist shares their work. It’d be overwhelming for the artist to know all the ways the audience might experience the art.

When your work is out there, it’s out there. It’s impossible to control how the audience appreciates your art. To be upset that your art wasn’t well received is to be the mother who’s upset their kid didn’t want to live the way mother wanted them to.

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.

Listen on Spotify | Listen on Apple Podcasts | Watch on YouTube

…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

Where does self-worth come from?

It’s sad we’re even asking this question.

We find the answer when we first ask, what are we?

Well, I know what we’re not. We’re not a collection of numbers.

We like to focus on growing our metrics. Get more subscribers. Get more followers than we had last Thursday. But the numbers don’t define us. The numbers are something that somebody else invented. And we’re not defined by something that exists outside ourselves. So we shouldn’t tie our self-worth to something external. Because what exists outside ourselves could be taken away from us.

Put some distance between you and what you see. Who you are isn’t what you see. You’re not your social media numbers. You’re not the number of people retweeting your latest bit of wisdom.

What’s dangerous about tying our self-worth to numbers is that a number can always be higher. And it can always be lower, too, which is why we prefer them to be higher. Lower numbers means we’re less significant. Higher numbers means we’re accepted.

You’re a collection of experiences. But, like the numbers, you don’t have much control over your experiences, either. You couldn’t have asked your mother for an abortion.

But what you always have is control over your perception. You can choose how you’ll perceive the fact that you were born.

We lose our wallet in the same place we lose our self-worth. “Oh, it’s right in front of me.”

What’s in front of us is what blinds us. What we see always hides something else.

If you’re seeing numbers all day, then you’ll unconsciously tie your self-worth to the numbers. What gets measured gets managed, right? What gets measured gets managed by our ego. It’s our ego’s job to tie our self-worth to what we’re seeing on a day to day basis.

This is why it’s healthy to disconnect and go for a walk. Put nature in front of you, and you’ll soon realize how expedient the numbers are.

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