I want you to go for a walk

I want you to go for a walk.

If you’re reading this on your computer, at home or at work, stop reading now and bring it back up while you’re on your phone.

I can wait. Hit “unread” and come back when you have the time.

….

Are you mobile?

Good.

Now that you’re here with me.

Now that we’re on a walk together.

Now that you’re reading my words that I’ve typed out loud in your head.

Together we’re going to do an experiment.

Together we’re going to become less anxious and more open to life.

This is without any type of magic and can be done at any hour of the day.

Ready?

By now you should be moving.

You should be taking strides.

You should be able to hear your feet hitting the ground.

You should be able to feel the pressure on each foot as you step.

There is a blurred bokeh effect behind your phone as you stride.

What can you hear? Some birds in the background?

Or cars? Or noises from the street? Music?

Distant sounds, mixed with some quiet.

Ok now slow down to a slow and steady pace.

And while you read I want you to really listen to everything that’s going on around you.

I want you to read while being aware.

See from your peripheral while you walk so as to be safe.

You can meander in any direction, without any end goal.

Do you smell the air?

Do you feel the ground under your feet?

Are you taking it all in at once?

We’re almost to that point where you’ll understand…

Moving and listening and feeling all at one time…

Now stop.

…….

……..

Did you know that you could find peace so easily? That you could find that type of focus? That you could move and think and take in the world all at once? That you could be aware of everything, present, and undistracted?  Where did your worries go? Where did your self go? If you needed to step to the side or slow or speed up you did. If an obstacle came up while reading you simply stepped over it or went around. You were bringing a state of presence, of focus to wherever you went.

You were really listening, noticing the details but remaining focused.

You brought with you global type of awareness.

Now, if only we could live our lives in that state.

Listening, open, feeling everything at once while we act.

Focused, but moving without effort.

Like a simple walk.

______

Go bring that awareness to your next activity today,

xx David


Sunday Caffeine – The Brilliance

Annnnd we’re back. Happy Easter. Happy Passover. Happy fourth month of the year.

Let’s continue, shall we?

Last week I was quiet. I attended a conference in San Diego (Barrio Logan) and met some internet people for coffee and tacos (Salud!).

The thing about conferences is… the value is being on stage.

New goal: aim to attend conferences as the speaker on stage.

Another upside: Being “in town” is a good excuse to meet with people.

Don’t understand the power of a short time window.
*Note, artificially short time windows can be created freely, even at home.

WE NEED LESS PROGRAMS

And more people sharing their experiences, perspectives, and art.

In the beginning, you start with a wide net. You’re open to all things in a new field.

You want the program.

So you read that book on management. The one that is still on the best seller list. You subscribe to the industry newsletter. You adopt the lingo and philosophy, maybe it’s “Lean,” or to “Jab Jab Jab, Right Hook.” Medium posts pull you in constantly.

At some point you find Tony Robbins.

And then suddenly you start going in reverse. You begin to unsubscribe. The same books and posts aren’t doing it for you anymore. Suddenly that profound learning or tactic no longer has its shine. Or rather maybe they’re simply not working. You’re looking for more depth.

Experiences help us discover our own “how” without having to know exactly “what steps we should take.”

Programs are one size fits all.

You don’t want the map, you want the compass.

TASTES REFINE

More accurately, you develop a sour taste. An aversion to most of what’s mainstream. Sure, occasionally you binge a couple videos here and there because junk food still tastes great… but you know it’s not going to help you transcend.

It’s a temporary hype.

Is what you’re reading confirming your thinking or helping you have a new perspective? 

You’re on a new quest: to find ideas that change or rewire you.If you’re stuck, just “trying harder” won’t move the needle.
Better to approach things from a totally different angle. Sneak up on your mind, at night if you need to, with a new idea that suddenly breaks you from a pattern and releases you into the next phase of growth.

MISINFORMATION IS UBIQUITOUS

They said fat was bad for you, they said Hillary would win, they said the internet was a fad, they say cryptocurrency will die… If the answer they’re giving you is resounding or binary, run.

So we set up our own rules about what makes the cut. We grow a discerning eye. Today more than ever. Because time is precious, sure. But more importantly, the wrong information when learned or accepted will downright set you back. Remnants of ideas that are untrue can remain in your head.

Ideas can keep you scared or from really seeing the field.  And these you barely realize because at the time they felt true..

TRUTH REMAINS

Which is why we’re so lucky to be living in a time with SO MUCH out there. I’ll never be bored. I’ll never give up the search. You can find a truth right underneath your nose. Right in that conversation with a stranger, noticing something new for the first time.

Truth comes from understanding, and from experience. So experience the music. The shows. The comedy. The error. The fortunes, and the empty hands. The wins. Experience all of it. Books and tea, hiking. Cultivating a garden. It’s all life. It’s all here to be drunk. It’s endless, and  it’s all at your fingertips.

But truths are approached more carefully. They slip in. You find them when you least expect in the distant corners, or in unexpected times in your life.

Cast a wide net for experience, and for truths, cast out a single hook with bait on a string.

But ultimately…

DISCOVER FOR YOURSELF

Great teachers are meant to wholly equip you to go off into the woods on your own. Great teachers show you how to see differently.

At some point, you have to graduate.

The brilliance is yours when you move forward on your own journey. To take a leap; exploring without models. Without prescriptions. With our assurances. Without baggage. Without trying to fit in.

Without imitating others…

Have you ever thought about why we listen to others at all? Why we listen to the words of someone on the internet we’ve never met? Why we feel shame because of something that the Huffington post said about our habits? Why we’re jealous of others when we have no understanding of what it’s like to be them?

So what’s this all about then? It’s not like I’ve transcended or anything. But, If I serve you and help you understand yourself better, help you find more courage, lead yourself more fully…

Then someday you will unsubscribe, and leave this space.

And as you go, if you look back and I will be smiling, waving…

Hoping that your off to find your own brilliance.
If you’re just joining us, this is Creative Caffeine, an ongoing conversation about using our creativity to earn a living without losing our soul. I’m David, conductor of the group and founder of Death to the Stock Photo.

Hit reply if you have something to share
(I occasionally share a roundup of community responses – and if you have a question I’ll try and respond)

If you’d like to join our Weekly Community Livestream
– sign up here: https://mailchi.mp/deathtothestockphoto/artist-tv

Easter Brunch at PYT
Barrio Logan

Sunday Caffeine – Small Moments

Hey all, welcome back to Earth. Same laptop, different backdrop.

Traveling again. Hanging out in San Diego to drop by a conference and see some internet-friends.

While here it’s the usual thing; a well crafted Airbnb (OneBunk SD) and getting to know some like-minded people.

Out back there’s a shipping container and a black cat that roams the yard. I jacked in my MacBook to the speakers and played Feta Kuti while I put my shirts on the rack and laid out my shoes. Simple pleasures in my life currently include; organizing my things at a hotel or BnB, stealing my girlfriend’s moisturizer, and slowly acquiring things made from leather.

Time

I have a fairly simple morning routine. Everything in my home allows me to be quick. The shower is heated on its own — I don’t need to go out and put a bucket of water over a fire to heat it. I don’t need to hunt for my breakfast, and the blender easily mixes my fresh fruits and vegetables. I could be ready in minutes.

Technology has the ability to give people time — and people are using that time to create new technologies… so it’s compounding and freeing us from all types of labor.

We’re are able to work on interesting problems because we no longer have to think about the simple ones.

And that is a fantastic luxury that I have been gifted in my life. Even writing this post to you comes from that luxury. How lucky am I to be free to do this?

Tech Inversion

There’s a funny thing that happens when things go from commodity to obsolete to luxury.

Take for example the candle. For a thousand years their cheap, ubiquitous and as boring as a bar of soap. And then, in the span of 50 years, we get electricity. Suddenly no more need for candles. Suddenly way fewer house fires, and 24/7 lighting without a match.

And as soon as there’s no need for the candle…

Tech inversion. They become a sign of luxury, even of wealth.

We start giving them scents and the market for them grows…

Burn Out.

Does your body ever just say no mas? I’ve had it happen to me once in a big way:
Shingles (a year and a half ago).

But every three or so months since then I hit a wall. It starts in the back of my neck, usually on the right side. Then a headache persists and when I’m like this everything seems to be a tall order. Thank god I work on my own schedule.

Then again, I’m my own worst boss. And life continues whether you’re making things happen or not.

At this point, the best I know how to ride this out is excessively watching Mad Men. I think it has to deal with too much people time, but also of too much caffeine and consistent 6 day work weeks. Today I gave myself the cheat of a diet coke and peanut m&m’s. A real emergency…

Anyways, I’m not trying to complain but maybe you can relate. The hardest part is that you think that this shouldn’t be happening. I just type things into a keyboard all day why should that be so hard? Plus, I enjoy the energy and making things happen so it’s doubly hard to ride the bench.

Strangers.

Sometimes it’s often unexpected people who have the most interesting stuff to say. One time I was at a gathering up in Northern California at a ranch called Hopland.

I didn’t know anyone.

Right as I got to the farm to check in, I noticed a girl in a sweatsuit with a flat bill hat hanging out on her phone in a giant lawn chair. She looked out of place, but she was by herself and I thought about saying hello. Instead, I simply checked in and found my yurt which we were staying in. The next time I saw her she was up on stage speaking and giving an amazingly passionate talk about the multiple businesses she ran…

Small Moments

“Apparently inconsequential moments determine the fate of relationships more than arguments… like that time two weeks ago when your friend asked you if you wanted a cup of coffee.” – Shane Parrish

If we’re actors, we’re poor ones.

We slip out words en mass that give insight into how we’re doing. It’s Freudian. We want to be seen and heard and most people tend to focus their conversations on whatever their current struggle is. But this is something to embrace. Finding ways to help people on their course in the small moments.

I’ve found that for a long time in my life I never really SAW people. I was with them, sure but maybe I had too much going on in my own head to really listen or fully hear them. Once you empty that, and look outward everything changes.

I’m excited for the progress this week, and you should be too. Try and not look into the mirror too much. If you’re in the woods, simply step out. Take the extra time technology has given us to take care of yourself…

xx David


Sunday Caffeine – Brave Territory

Hello Hello,

Welcome back to another beautiful day on earth!

I’m writing to you again with a flurry of other posts on the way. That, and working through understanding the world of live-streaming. Hitting the circuit and considering options. There’s Twitch but that’s for gamers, and Youtube has the distribution. Still, you’ve got to run open sourced OBS on your mac to go live Youtube etc. and the jury is still a bit out on which is best. Seems like we’re still early in this space, and the tech is a bit complex.

But one thing is for sure, we’re entering new territories.

So I’m glad to work through this in the open. The Creative Caffeine community is about moving forward with the new mindset of an artist in a world that is changing.

The ideas available to us, the opportunity at hand, we don’t need more money for. What we need to is to brave, and a community gives us the ability to go places we couldn’t go alone.

Moving forward with the conversation…

I’ve just finished Dan Pink’s new book “A Whole New Mind” and to spare you the read, his conclusion is that whereas the last 50 years was about “Left Brain” thinking that brought us mass production (analytics, processing, details), the next 50 is for the “Right Brain” (the creative, the synthesizer, the storyteller, and the artist).

That the “MFA is the new MBA.”

So is this the future? Or is this an academic using data to skew a view in his favor?

Then again, every idea you share today, someone will have a counterpoint to whatever “fact” you present.
Which makes me think that it’s about the story.
Which is a +1 for the Right Brain creatives.

The facts don’t move people, and even if you wish they did, they don’t.
The meaning and context you give to your cause change our view.

So what this is about is the shift. It’s a world of overflowing media, malls, and stores are chalk full of thousands upon thousands of goods waiting for your consumption. And after all of the cars, the upgrades, and second homes and storage containers were not much happier. So we don’t simply need more stuff.

Which in turn means that the work that it took to create all of that stuff, is dying out.

So what’s next?

We’re on a search for meaning. For leaders who can unravel the mystery of what this whole thing is about, and serve us it in a way that helps us move forward with our lives, our relationships and with our communities.

This is an old idea which forever resonates. It’s the exploration of a lifetime.  People move people, and we’re ready to listen if you’ve got something new to say. If you can help us transcend.

At it’s best, the artist synthesizes new ideas in a way that helps us confront our demons or question how things have been done. It’s the artist that empathizes, connects the dots and brings us into the future. This is no longer for the fine arts. This is about every industry going through an overhaul in a shifting global economy that’s demanding a new type of eye. One that sees our deeper needs calling and can bring them to us through industry.

Pink even quotes the stodgiest of citizens, Bob Lutz of General Motors who when asked about the future of the company said,

“I see us being in the art business. Art, entertainment, and mobile sculpture, which coincidentally, also happens to provide transportation.” 

But how many leaders do we have that inspire? 

A handful of exceptional individuals…

And what is exceptional? 

Well, first it means they don’t follow the conventional rules.

I can only guess how many people told Elon Musk what he’s doing is impossible, at every stage. Second, it means they don’t provide anything incrementally “improved.” Instead, they transcend. It’s never been incrementally beating out the other, like how we learned to do on the SAT.

As Dan Pink rightly asks: “Can someone else do it cheaper? Can a computer do it faster?”

These questions are irrelevant to the individual with their own ideas.

And how do we measure the impact? 

Trick question! This is where the Left Brain and the Right Brain will take issue. The data. But can we really measure their impact?

You can measure the Beatles in CD sales but…
Meaning is hard to measure.

So the motives are re-balancing.

Every time there’s a new article about a “Tesla Competitor” coming in to dethrone Tesla in the electric car market. His whole point was to INCREASE competition in the space of electric vehicles. This is a victory. But it’s misunderstood when reading through the old lens. And as for shareholder value… that’s another game that people play based on the old rules of business. Today those that inspire come from a place of deeper meaning, like I mentioned…An internal meter based on belief, because the money alone isn’t doing it for us.

And so people invest in people like Jacqueline Novogratz and Elon Musk because they want to be them, not just because they want the return. They’ve built their career on a different type of idea. They’ve stepped forward into the new age.

And now we see what they’re up to and see that it’s possible and hope to one day be in their shoes.

We have the option to jump but we hesitate.
If we have to, we can walk. Step by step into the new world.

But it still takes guts…

xx David
Relaxing morning at Dinosaur Cafe

Communicating your Message

 

The Audience (~90%)

This is your largest demographic by far and makes up the bulk of your email list, your followers on social media, the readers of your blog. This group has found you because of your communication. And more specifically, because they align with your belief system about your business, your products, the market, or just their general way of looking at the world.

Ever wonder why “Manifestos” work? They signal your beliefs and catch the eyes of those scanning for a unique perspective.

They sign up, subscribe, follow and read because they align with you. What you say, how you see, and the perspective you bring that shows them the future…

When speaking to them… ask yourself:
Am I communicating my unique perspective? Do I have an opinion here?

This is how you start the movement…

The Client (%10)

These are your buyers, customers, supporters. They believe in what you say so much, that they buy from you. But, that’s only because you provide them with some type of utility value. They believe your stories, and they want to take action on that belief by using your product to improve their life or their work.

The middle wants to hear about utility updates. Tell them about new features, speak with them about how they can have an easier time getting the job done. Sure, they appreciate your perspective, but not as much as how you can help them forward…

When communicating with them… ask yourself:
How am I helping them get the job done with less friction because of this message? Is this helping them take action?

It’s essential to learn to package and sell your value.

The Devoted (1%)

They’ve subscribed to your beliefs. They’ve bought your product. Now, they want to connect and get closer to the source of all of that. This group makes up your close-knit community members. They attend your meetups, hire your for consulting, connect you with others in their network. They are here because they want connection, not just utility and new perspectives. It’d be easy to see this smallest group as lower value, but it’s quite the opposite. These are the members that would cross the street for you, so connect. Be there for them.

They are the long tail.
Ask yourself: How am I supporting their connection to the brand, and to others in the community?

The best leaders unite the community amongst themselves. Great brands unite the like-minded, sparked by leadership that stands up with a new message for a better future.

—-

The days of artists being an opaque “Cool” are over. The Hollywood celebrities that keep the mystique going are being forgotten. It’s communication (in all forms) that builds this trust and connects the disconnected.

We want to hear your point of view, understand what makes you tick, attend the show and then go backstage and spend time. Sometimes in that order.

The best artists move with genuine interest and build their eye for communicating through experience. Your eye develops by taking risks and communicating early and often.

Understand what makes your audiences tick but always trust your gut…

Happy communicating,

xx David

 

 

 


Do you believe in ghosts?

She asked.

“Ha, No…”

I replied.

We had just trespassed onto a structure that looked like a small section of the Great Wall of China.

This was at the edge of the city of Toledo, Spain, right by the Tagus river.
We’d left our rooms around 10:30 as it was too hot to sleep inside.

What about you?

She said, “Yeah, but I find them comforting instead of scary.”

“Well.. that’s no fun…”

The area surrounding Toledo is littered with old ruins from it’s past. It’s built like a castle on a hill. It’s like a place you see in Disney movies, only today the relics serve as a local hangout spot for kids who are up to no good.

At night all the shadows and stone were spooky remnants on the hillside.

“So why is it that some people see them all the time and others have never seen one?”
I ask.

She stopped for a second “Because If you believe they’re real, then they are.”

“So it’s just a choice?”

“…. yeah, I guess it’s just a choice. You don’t have to be SO logical about everything. 
The magic is real if you think it is.”

A faint murmur of conversations could be heard from the town, as many Spaniards stay up late socializing, laughing and drinking wine.

There’s something about that type of ambiance that changes your mood.

You start to feel more connected to spirituality, or maybe a mysticism of some kind.

This happens on occasion in nature, or late at night… when you open your mind for a bit. Not adding a belief, so much as leaving extra room for something in case it wants to show up.

We’re left entranced by these perception changes.

I remember being in New Orleans, in the sticky heat and overgrown foliage, feeling some new kind of opened energy.

The music is buzzing and you’re walking down Frenchman and you’re feeling a bit intoxicated even if you’ve had nothing to drink. An energy where strangers are more like old friends and the lights make you feel lost.

It’s why we travel to see spectacular views. Why we climb mountains, take drugs, blast music, stick our head out the window of a moving car.

We feel a certain reverence towards these moments.
A quiet patience for passing your time.

We seek a change of perception that unlocks a different part of ourselves, and it’s often more available than we think. It could be something small to change your environment; light a candle, put on a different playlist, sit in a new spot you’ve never sat in before.

Dive in cold water. Stare up at the stars…

As wandered further up the wall to a dark staircase, I reached out my hand to feel the stone on my fingers as I walked forward toward the edge, where I took a seat.

Laying back, I exhaled a sigh, when suddenly I heard something that sounded like a faint whisper.

Like a rustling of keys nearby.

It was gentle, but enough to make me sit up.

“Did you hear that??”

“Hear what?”

I held my breath.

Further up the wall, you could see the outline of something heading our way.

Suddenly I was able to make it out…

It was 2 friends of ours also on a stroll.

I smiled seeing them, almost laughing.

But for a moment, I believed.

I was opened up.

xx David

“In the main, and from the beginning of time; mysticism has kept men sane, the thing that has driven men mad is logic.”

– G.K. Chesterton


Sunday Caffeine – Time to Play

Welcome to another day on earth, about as good as ever to be here!

You wake up, and for a few moments, things are in balance. You’re aware and present and there’s a savory moment where you have no expectation or real memory and you’re just there in bed or in the shower…

The thing to say is, “YES, Thank You, another day ahead!”

But, slowly and then all at once, the whole context of thoughts and history leaks through the cracks and rushes back to you. You remember who you are, where you are an are in some way a little bit less free because of it.

Because in that short space there was no assumptions or history or ego or limit. And what returns to you is the tasks at hand, the worries, the wins the losses and the scars from months or years prior. You start thinking of obligations…

What’s in the past is no longer relevant. Ditto for the wins.

If you’ve lived a long time, experienced the world, sure – you’ve got more pieces to play with.

If you’ve got an audience, you’ve got more ears to hear you again for the first time, and to take a bet on you.

If you’ve got a business, there is leverage, having others whom you can collaborate with and move responsibilities to.

But ultimately this 24 hours is your turn at the sticks. It’s your time to play and see what you can make. Time to get curious and pick up a new experience, share something with the world and go forward.

You’re either in the driver’s seat or you’re not.

But we’ve all got scars.

Business deals that didn’t work out, job interviews we didn’t get, talks we gave that bombed…

I’ve given two public talks that bombed. 3 slides in I knew I wasn’t connecting and I’d been too clever. After I had to have that awkward talk with my friends who graciously hid how they truly felt about how I did. So you walk up on stage the next time and there’s a caution keeping you from engaging fully.

This is sort of how we approach our days, in a way.
With a bit of caution.

So instead of waking up and saying “THANK YOU” we start to say that and then mid-sentence remember the deadline looming for Thursday.

But if we can act like the game’s reset, and keep the thanks – things go better.

What am I creating today?
What do I want to pursue?
What is the energy that’s driving this train?

The magic is in your intention. It’s about the approach.

The trap is in the context you give yourself.
Or the story that’s disempowering.

So it’s up to us to shake the influence and pursue the day. Removing the magnet that pulls us away from the opportunity at hand.

Like they say, If this was your last day on earth, you’d suddenly have nothing to worry about.

You’re up to bat now. Follow your curiosities and immerse yourself in your work.

So good morning and THANK YOU and go have fun playing today.

xx David

enjoy the extra light that comes with the time change…


Flowing

The world today is flowing.

It used to be that the day was broken to fit into neat packets. 9 to 5. The school day, an hour presentation with a 45-minute lunch break and so on. Ditto for money, and substance.

But today what matters happens in its own time, and on its own timeline.

Got breaking news? Report it.
Finish your post? Ship it.
Have an offer to make? Email it.

Feeling like you’ve got the energy to go late into the night with work? Burn it down and wake up at 10 am to a slow morning.

The window of opportunity and excitement opens for its own duration.

Best to catch it and ride it through.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not speaking about discipline or devotion to mastering your craft. This necessitates rigor. But that rigor is based on your own flowing. And it’s up to you to figure out how to lead yourself in a way that supports this.

And if you can regularly provide your product, if you’re churning with creativity, you want to ship and get to your next work.

With these emails, I send you them when they’re done, rather than on a content schedule.

Sure, I curate. I try and take risks. I don’t send unless I believe it will be relevant. But the best way to get there is to be moving forward; processing, thinking, creating, discovering…

And right now we’re seeing the limits being tested; Youtube Vloggers, beat makers and writers are showing up every day to create. New videos daily, for 365 days. It’s incredible.

The ante has been upped for us all.

We’re being taught this lesson by our feeds.

You don’t wait to post, you publish. And the timeline is jacked due to the algorithm, so what use is it to delay posting when it might show up in 2 days for someone else?

We’re being taught this by our politicians.
You announce your ideas in the public, direct to the public…

We’re being taught this by on-demand products.
Uber and Seamless…

It’s why I’m a loyal fan to Flying Southwest; because I can change my flight up to 15 minutes before I board FREE no questions asked. People’s schedules change, or their plans change or they slept in and they want to catch the next one.

The stock market opens and closes M-F and not on major holidays. The Cryptocurrency market doesn’t open or close, it’s just open.

But this flowing is helpful to us as creatives. It’s to our advantage. We didn’t fit in the old model. Slowly our society is breaking from its bounds away from the industrial mindset into the artist mindset.

More and more companies are allowing work from home days, working remote. Flexible vacation policies. This is a good thing; not just for productivity, but ultimately because this is our LIVES we’re talking about.

So we’re all trying to optimize our time when the real goal is to optimize our creative output and for the feeling we get when we’re living our lives in a flow of things instead of on a schedule.

Work ebbs and flows.
Productivity ebbs and flows.
It’s natural to have this tide like cycle.

And for the ambitious, when the tide goes out on one project, they have a 2nd project to ride the tide back in.

And this is a good thing.
Becuase as a creative, all you want to do is…

Just. Keep. Flowing.


Simple Statements

Communication is the hardest part.

Ditto for simplicity.

Art can’t be measured – despite the marketer’s best attempts.

Marketing, when done right… is art.

Don’t be surprised if making money is at odds with what is working to garner attention.

Plan on doing something the same way for 5 years? Yeah right.

What you consume influences what you create, so consume wisely.

What you communicate, starts with who you’re communicating with.

Most true answers reveal you’ve been playing the wrong game.
(Rather than not playing this game well enough)

When something is quality, length doesn’t matter. No one talks about the length of Hamilton or a great album or a desirable sports event.

Big institutions crumble, but not from “competitors.”
They crumble when they entire board is re-arranged.

When something breaks through, it can’t ever fully be explained.
Even the artist was surprised they had it in them.