Creative Pep Talk

310 - This 4 Step Process for Finding Your Focus Unlocks Super Potent Motivation

Episode Summary

The worst thing about being lost is not knowing whether every step is getting you closer to being found or further away. It’s maddening! Have you ever felt this way in your creative journey? Is this dread haunting your creative process? More often than not, this is because you are lost. When you don’t know where you’re headed, you can’t know if what you’re working on is getting you closer to your goal or further away. The answer is not to buckle down and muscle through. You don’t need more motivation, you need clarity. Stop what you’re doing and listen to this episode to find what you want and what you should make next. Listen & Subscribe on Apple Podcasts Get Episode Transcripts at

Episode Notes

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National Geographic - Random Number Generator / Consciousness


The One Thing

Alex G

The 1975

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Episode Transcription

Andy J. Pizza: [00:00:00] Hey, you're listening to the creative pep talk podcast. Whether you're building a creative career or you just need to approach career in a creative way, we are here to help you chart your own path. I'm your host, Andy J pizza. You can stay up to date with it, all things creative, pep talk by following me on Instagram at Andy J pizza, let's get into today's episode.

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So a lot of people feel like the show is about finding motivation and, uh, you know, creative, pep talk. It's probably my fault from her name and it created a pep talk, but that was just a catchier title. Then what was maybe more accurate, which I'll get to in a second, but, uh, yeah, I, people, I think, think this show is a motivational show, but actually think that that is not true.

I don't think most people's problem is that they don't have motivation. If you find yourself in a place where you just can't take a step forward because. Every step you take just feels more painful than the last. You don't need more motivation. You need to listen to that pain. You need to stop what you're doing and solve the real problem, which is what we're going to talk about today.

Now there's a bunch of times on this show that I have talked to you about the time when I was living in England. And I impulsively decided to run to a tower that was 11 miles away, but I didn't know how far it was away. Uh, and I got super, super lost. I got lost for like six to eight hours. Right. And, and my, my parents were freaking out.

They called the police. Nobody knew where I was. I'm not going to tell all the details of that story. I've told it a billion times, but I want to just. Stop and say, I think I know why that story is one that I tell over and over on this show, because I think it gets to the heart of what the real problem is when you can't seem to be motivated to take any steps forward, because motivation is not a problem.

It's a symptom of a deeper problem. Now think back to a time when you were lost, not like lost, you know, in terms of your creative career path, but actually lost. Maybe you're not like me because I get lost every once in a while, like once a year or so I go out and I didn't charge my phone and yeah. I get really lost.

Um, and it's a terrible humiliating feeling. And maybe you haven't gotten lost in a long time. Maybe you have to think back when you were a kid at the drug store and you got separated from your mom and you, you know, for a second, you're like, Oh, okay, wait. She was just here. I hold on. I'm not lost. I just got to go to the next, she's probably in the next aisle and you go to the next aisle and you get a little bit more freaked out and you're like, okay, she's not in the next aisle.

All right, I'll go this way. Uh, Nope. She's not that way. And you start stepping the other way you start. Every single step you take is more. Painful than the last, not because you're not motivated. You want to be found, it's not a problem of motivation. The problem is, and the reason why you want to give up is because you don't know if every step you're taking is getting closer to where you want to be or further away.

You don't know if every step that you take is another step to being found or is it another step towards being lost forever beyond return? And I think that what happens in creative paths is that the reason we lose motivation, isn't a motivation problem. It's a clarity problem. We don't know where we're trying to go.

And we don't know where we are in relationship to where we're trying to go. And so when we get up and we make that thing, there's a voice in the back of our head, that's saying. You don't know if this is getting you closer to where you want to be, or if it's wasting your time. And if you, if you're spending too many days wasting your time, whether at some point you are going to be so lost that it's going to be too late to recover, and you're never going to get where you want to go.

And so motivation. Isn't the problem. It's the symptom of a deeper problem and the deeper problem. Is a lack of clarity of what am I trying to find? Where am I on the journey and what do I need to be doing to actually get closer to finding it? Now not so long ago I got lost again. Um, I went on a jog in my parents' new neighborhood that I'd never been to.

And it's this huge giant community with thousands of houses. I think I I'm bad with numbers, but I'm pretty sure that they said there's like thousands of houses in this community. And I go out, I just got my Apple watch. I think I'll be fine. Um, but I don't realize how. Fast it drains when I'm using it for music.

And so I don't have any devices. Uh, I get into that. I'm just like the kid in the drug store where I'm like, Oh, I think I'm starting to get lost. I just need to retrace my step one road back. And then you get to that road and you're like, wait, I can't remember if I went that way or this way. And you just get overwhelmed.

Not just by the feeling of, I don't know what to do next, but the humiliation of how did I get here? Why was I so dumb to even think that I could do this in the first place? And it's a shameful experience. Every time that I get lost, I just feel so stupid, which adds to the insult. It adds to the fact that I won't do what everybody knows you need to do when you're lost.

You have to stop. What you're doing. The first thing you've got to do when you're lost is to stop and admit that you're lost. But the fact of the matter is I've been lost so many times that I know. I've learned this lesson. I didn't repeat the mistakes of when I was in college and got lost for eight hours and, and couldn't find the humility to knock on somebody's door and tell them, Hey, can you help me?

I just instantly thought, you know what? I'm genuinely lost. I'm going to start stopping people, asking for, uh, you know, telling them where this address is, getting them to put it in their phone and just get a general idea where I am. In relationship to where I want to go. And if you're feeling unmotivated, if every step feels more painful than the last, because you don't know whether you're getting closer or further away.

Don't look for motive. Motivation. Don't look for more. Uh don't don't don't try to grit your teeth and bear it. Listen to that pain. Find the humility to stop and say, Hey, I don't know what I'm doing and do the hard work of finding clarity because it will change everything about your motivation. It will.

Make you feel not disintegrated where you have all these random pieces firing and all these different directions, but you will be able to, when you stop and find where you are in relationship to where you want to be and all the steps in between, you will find a clarity. And, and, and I feel like there's a voice that says clarity is and illusion.

I thought I had clarity once. Yeah, you did think you had clarity once. It's true. You can't look out over the next 50 years and know exactly where you want to be. You know, sometimes the thing that you're on this planet to be creating is in a medium that hasn't even been invented yet. Yes, that's true. So you can't have perfect clarity.

You are limited by the vantage point you have right now, but you can stop what you're doing. You can say, I think. Just like I did in my parents' community, I got stop and say, here's where I am. I know that their address is in that general direction. And as I, I start heading that way. Once I start feeling a lack of clarity, again, I can stop and ask for directions again.

And if I need to pivot and just kind of recalibrate, I can do that, but it doesn't mean that you don't stop and find clarity. Now because clarity does exist. You know, it exist. You've had it before, but you might be in a time where it's time to recalibrate. And that's what this episode is all about.

So I'm announcing that we're changing the name of the show. It's now called. It's not creative, pep talk anymore. It's going to be called creative clarity talk. That sounds good. I'm just kidding. We're not changing the name of the show. I like the name, but you know, if you're in a place where you don't have motivation, you're unmotivated.

Listen to that. There's a reason for that. Don't just try to find more motivation, stop and admit. I. Don't have clarity, something went wrong. I don't know where I'm going. I don't know where I've been. And every single piece of work that I'm making just feels excruciating. Cause I don't know if it's getting me closer or further away from to where I want to go.

Cause I don't know. Where I want to go. And so the first thing you gotta do is stop what you're doing. We're going to go through four things to do when you're feeling unmotivated, to find that clarity again, to help you get that tank full, can you smell it? It's a huge VAT of bubbling. Motivation the end of this, uh, exercise.

So the first thing you gonna do stop admit it. Sometimes you got to stop it, admit, Hey, I took a turn. I took a wrong turn somewhere. If you're a leader, that means that you led some people the wrong way and you got to own it. Sometimes you got to. Make things, right. You know, sometimes you gotta, uh, actually, uh, spend some money to fix the problem.

There are times and places where you got to stop what you're doing and say, look, I am no psychic. I couldn't predict the future. Nobody could see what was on the horizon over the past couple of years. And so if you're lost, welcome to the club, we're all lost right now. Okay. We all have to recalibrate. Get our bearings again, and char our courses, uh, fresh to find motivation.

And so there's no shame. There's no humiliation. None of us are psychics. We need to stop and recalibrate. So stop admit that you're lost. The second thing that you need to do. As you need to ask yourself, where am I? If you have a map and you know the destination, you can clearly see it. It will do you no.

Good. If you don't know where you are in relationship to that, doesn't matter. If you can see it on the map, you got to know where you are and where you're going. And I think we skip this part. We get really into goals. We get really into where we want to be and completely ignore where we are right now to our own detriment.

And in fact, I want to even change that question a little bit. I don't want you to ask, where am I? I want you to ask where are we? You know, it's so easy on this creative path when you're charting your own territory and you're lost. It's so easy to go inward to get isolated, to get self-absorbed. But I really think that the most interesting, powerful things get unlocked.

Unbelievable things get unlocked when we sync up with others. Now recently. I wasn't on, you know, the weird web I was on national geographic and I ran into this article, uh, about a study from Princeton. Okay. These are legit peer reviewed things. They're not some random offshoot of the internet. And I ran into this article that had the most mind-blowing topic.

And I think it really illustrates what happens, what the what's possible when it's not just, you know me, but it's, we I've heard this a few times. My friend, uh, Kyle Sheely, he's seeing this in his work. I have a friend, Jason sturgeon. He talks a lot about me versus we, I heard Tim Ferriss say that, you know, when he, what he admires about the Japanese, is there a weak culture?

Not a me culture. There's something in the water, man. I I'm, I'm feeling this in a second. Especially as creatives. We're so prone to be, uh, you know, self-absorbed and disconnected and outsider. And yet I think if we will see that w you know, we didn't get here, w w where we are now, isn't just a product of our life.

It's all of the giants that we're standing on from the past. And if we get that context, interesting things will happen back to this national geographic article. So. Uh, I don't know how it works by the way, the people at Princeton don't know how it works. So don't ask me that, but, uh, they did this study and it's a study of human consciousness and ultimately the interconnectivity, the field of consciousness between me and you and everybody else on the planet.

And so what they did, they put these random number, generators, computers, I guess, uh, in all these major cities, all over the world and what they found, you know, these computers generate these random numbers and, uh, and they're like to the trillion degree random. And what they found was that when a global event occurred, usually a tragedy.

And all the people in the globe are kind of thinking about and conscious of the same thing that we were in sync with each other, that these random number generators would be effected. Just by what we're thinking that those random number generators would start to become more predictable, that when our brains are in sync, chaos turns into some kind of order.

And you're asking me how Andy, I don't know how they don't know. Nobody knows, but what we do now, Is that when we are in sync, unimaginable, unexplainable things happen in that's not even the kicker. So when things like nine 11 happens and everybody on the globe is focused on the same thing, not only does it affect those random number generators, not only is there some kind of interconnectivity that we can't quite explain, but.

Those random number generators actually get it affected hours in advance to a event like that. That when we get in sync, there's some kind of cosmic, E mystic pre cognition that happens. Like we somehow can see it coming between us, not individually, but. Globally. And I believe that if you will get in sync with the story of humanity, you won't just, you know, figure out where you are.

You might even tap into some pre cognition into where. Your going next. It's just like the kid with If you, if you just get your nose focused on the next dot, the dot where you are, you're going to miss the bigger picture, but if you will look back and see it, all the dots that have already been connected, you might even see exactly where we're going next.

And so what I want to encourage you to do is look for the torch bearers of the past, who are the people that were doing your work before you got here? Who were the people carrying that torch before you got here? For me, it's probably Jim Henson. Okay. I have a lot of heroes. Hi Miyazaki. Uh Tova Yansen Jim Carey, Jack Black, all these people.

They're huge fans of them. You know, they all matter to me, but I think Jim Henson more than any, you know, this balance of performer and concept artist, this person who really embodied. Stories that said different is not a bug, but a feature, you know, the Muppets and the Frankels. I feel like so much about it as just the celebration of our different personalities and our different neurochemistry and just how, how we're different and it's, and why that's so essential.

You know, I just think about it in terms of evolution. I get, I get excited about when we start talking about different is a feature because, um, I, you know, the reason we have evolved to what we are is the mutation. That thing that is weird about you, that's what pushes us forward. That's what makes it okay.

Us capable of accomplishing so much is that we're not all equipped in the same way. So, you know, as someone with ADHD, I'm very passionate about that. And so when I start not just thinking about where I am, but where are we? Where have we been? What, where did that torch get left off? I get really excited and I get inspired and I get some insight of where we might be going next.

You know, have a buddy. Uh, Brad Montague creator of a kid president. And I really think of this guy as like the modern day, Mr. Rogers, like, I think he that's the work he wants to do with kids and how, how clear his vision is for how important children are. And his spirit is just so. Gentle and sweet and funny.

Uh, it just reminds you of Mr. Rogers. I think about, uh, the, I recently watched Richard Pryor's special on Netflix and I was just really, you know, I was just taken aback by the similarities. Between him and Dave Chappelle, you know, Richard Pryor has this white guy voice that I feel like Chappelle kind of picked up that torch and put it forward.

And I think about how, uh, both of those people in culture really were like, uh, this bridge between black culture and white people. I feel like, uh, you know, I can't speak from experience, but it seems to me that. That Richard Pryor was able to articulate the black experience in such a way that a bunch of white people were listening to it.

You know, he had a very, uh, diverse audience and the same goes for Chappelle and I just. I think that there's this amazing thing that happens when you pick up the torch, when you figure out not just where you are, but where you are in relationship to where we are and some mystical, magical, crazy things can happen.

Number one stop. What you're doing, admit that you're lost. Take a minute. Quit. Just making, making, making, if those pieces are excruciating, stop making them a tunnel for. Pat, fabricated positivity and motivation. Look for clarity. The second thing you want to do is figure out where are you by connecting to where are we?

The third thing that you need to do is say, where are we going? Where do I want, where am I trying to head next? What is that? Domino from my vantage point right now, you're not going to be able to see the last domino of w that you're trying to knock over in your life, but you'll be able to see, uh, you know, 25 dominoes down the line.

It might be a little bit fuzzy, but you can get a vague sense of where you are in relationship to where you want to go. And that kind of clarity will unlock motivation because it will show you what you need to be doing right now. And we're going to get to that number four, but number three is where are we going?

Uh, and you know, just real quick that the reason I wanted to bring up the whole Jim Henson thing and talk about picking up the torch, something about like, seeing really tapping into, uh, w w what kind of work were they doing on a regular basis? Like, what were they spending their time with? What did they care about?

You know, one of the things I really relate to a Jim Henson is he was a visual artist, but it wasn't just, it was more about the concept. It was more about showing people what was in his head than it was like drawing per se. And I just so related to that, and I related to the fact that somebody came before me that felt torn between.

Visual art and that kind of expression and performance it's, uh, it just gives me comfort and it gives me clarity to see how people have done that in the past and how they spent their time. And so when we talk about how w where we're going, I want us to think about first not job title. Job title is so, uh, can really throw you off your path, job title, you know, being a standup comedian or being an actor or being a director, all those words, I feel like they're so tied up, those labels are tied up with this.

Egoic identity of who we want to be in the world and how we want to be seen. And I feel like if you lead with title, you're leading with ego, but if you lead with job description, you're leading with meaning and joy and how you actually want to spend your life. And that really, really matters. And so the shortcut into figuring out where you want to go, I think is not by thinking some hypothetical future.

Where, what kind of title do I want to have, but how you want to spend your week in five years? What kind of stuff you want to be doing Monday to Friday? It's probably going to be pretty similar to what you wish your week was this week. And so the shortcut I want to take as. What would a perfect Monday to Friday look like for you?

How would you be spending it? How many hours are you working? What kind of hours are you putting in? Are you are, is your half is half of your day writing and the other half is performing. Is w you know, what, how does that break down then? We'll link that to a job title. A few things you can think about here for me, the perfect week would be the balance of doing stuff that feels meaningful and being in the flow state, like having the joy and the fun of really just enjoying the state of flow for meaning, for me, it's like, it's kind of the balance of, uh, You know, this is you I'm uniquely qualified to serve in this way.

When I get an illustration job and I can think of 50 other people that should have got that job above me, it totally takes the meaning out of it. But when somebody comes to me for the kind of thing that I feel like only I can do, that really feels meaningful. That's how I like to spend my time. So figuring out how am I uniquely equipped to serve?

Because it's not just about, Oh, this is I'm special. I get to be the talented person. I'm the only one in the world that can do this. Yeah. But if you're the only one I'm, maybe I'm the only one that in the world that can bend my arm backwards really, really far, but that's not meaningful. And if you ever see me, I'll show you that trick.

It's disgusting. Okay. It's super unique. I haven't seen a lot of people that can, that are double jointed. To that extreme, but it doesn't help anybody. So it's not meaningful. You got to get that unique service mixed with fun. Joy me high check sent me high. The, the, uh, research who researcher who made the book flow talks about flow state is that balance of challenge and mastery.

You don't want to be so good at it that you just crush it. You know, I love, uh, what Neil Gaiman says about writing books. He says you never learn how to write books. You only learn how to write the book that you're writing. That's what's so inspiring about story to me is that it's just like working with people.

You never know. Figure out people, every single story is a unique challenge and yeah, you got to have all the skills. You've got to have the utility belt, all of your story chops to come at it, but every single one is fresh and new and that mastery and challenge mix really makes it an enjoyable practice.

So the first thing to do when you're talking about where we wanting to go is start with the job description, not the job title. Now, once you have an idea of like, I'd like to spend half my day doing this, or a third of my week doing this. And third of my week doing that third of this, I think three thirds is kind of a hole.

Um, once you have some idea of that, then you can go look to let's look at the present day pioneers. Because if you're talking about where you want to go, that's maybe true three, five years out in the future. It's going to be building on people that are pioneering things in that space with that job description right now who's spending time like that.

For me, it's kind of a, it's kind of, there's kind of a, I kind of think of it like a mashup. Like I feel like I'm a, I'm not a. A replica of any of these things. I'm a link in the chain between two groups of people that are doing work. And hopefully in three to five years, you can look back at this and be like, Hey now.

And he had, he had tapped into the Bri cognition of we, not me. Um, I don't know if that's true, but let's see. Okay. Uh, one side of it is like the, the, the, the, the one-person show. That's like humorous storytelling people like you've heard me talk about a Mike Birbiglia, James, a caster, Derek DelGaudio. I just watched Derek Derek DelGaudio show in and of itself on Hulu directed by Frank Oz and in produced by Stephen Colbert.

That thing I lapped, I freaking wept. And I can't tell you anything else about it, but go watch it is incredible. And I, you know, part of that is part of this, you know, one person show thing that I relate to so much, as I heard Nikki Glaser on Mike Birbiglia, his podcast, talking about how she develops material and, and I was listening to it and I was thinking, Oh man, That's how I do material.

I don't just sit in a dark room for weeks and weeks and weeks and just writing and crafting and making it perfect. I have to write on stage. I have to put it in practice. It's part of my motivation. It's part of me keeping going, like I have to make a little piece, put it out, make a little piece, put it out, make a little piece, put it out.

And then. Edit it down to the best stuff. And she was talking about, that's how she develops her material. That she's a stand-up comic. And she doesn't do a lot of like writing. She doesn't even do a lot of like post editing. She just kind of builds it over time and it snowballs into a special, and then funny enough, you know, I'm listening to her, describe her process and I'm thinking that is my process.

That's how I want to spend my time. And then she talks about how she just got diagnosed with ADHD. So I'm like, okay, that is a bread crumb. That is, there's something about the way that you spend your time. That's how I want to spend my time. And then the other side of the link of that chain is people like Oliver, Jeffers, and Mo Willems both have a very different sensibility.

Neither of them are doing really what I want to do in the world, but they do a lot of


Andy J. Pizza: [00:31:21] you know, Ted talks and, and specials and all that, but they also make kids' books and it all comes from that point of view. And I feel like in-between, they're picking up that Jim Henson torch and trying to find that space between a one person show, uh, and, and, and kids.

Media creators. There's something in that zone. That's where I want to go. And it starts in forming every decision that I'm making and it tells me what do I need to do next? So that I know when I take that next step, I know that it's at least in the general direction of where I'm trying to go. And that's what we're going to talk about in step four.

Quick, shout out to the sponsors, Skillshare, BK, and G studios have been sharing their skills for quite some time. These are two chaps who I've, I've shared a drink with them, had a laugh. But more than anything, I'm just intimidated, uh, talented they are and how skilled they are at making design and posters and beer labels and all this stuff.

And one of the tricks up their sleeves is the geometric patterns and they have a new class and it's all it goes from basic patterns. If that's kind of what you want to know of, how to do that digitally, create these repeat patterns. All the way to like MC Asher type of tessellations, uh, and everything in between really cool stuff.

Hands-on stuff like, like they're showing patterns and some basics and the, the real world and digital. Techniques and all kinds of cool stuff. It looks like a great class. If you've been wanting to dive into patterns, go check out geometric graphic design, eight patterns to power your next project with DK and G studios at pet for two free weeks. pep. Thanks, Gil.

Yeah. Really hard. Uh, and by we, I mean, Ryan Appleton, my, uh, manager and agent worked really hard to make sure that our sponsors are people that, uh, are a good fit for you. And also just things we believe in. And, you know, sometimes we get a lot of inquiries about sponsors on the show. We turned down a lot, but every once in a while we get an inquiry from a, from a brand that we're already major.

Fans I've and Spoonflower is one of those brands. Uh, I've been working with Spoonflower for, I don't know how long since maybe 2013, Sophie and I, my wife got some repeat patterns printed on fabric it's fabric and wallpaper on demand, and we made some pillows and products back then. Um, but they have all kinds of different options.

If you've been wanting to create your own wallpaper or create your own fabric and, um, explore that, go check it. Out makes them repeat patterns and then print them on staff. Thanks. Spoonflower

okay. Number four is what is standing in my way, when you have figured out when you've stopped and you've figured out your lost, you found where you are and you found where you want to go. Now you can say all of the things, all the obstacles, all the dominoes in between where you are now and where you want to go next to those dominoes are the things that you need to create.

They're the things that you need to make to get through the obstacles that, that are keeping you where you are and not where you want to be. Uh, you know, this idea of the one thing, there's something about that book, Gary Keller, Jay Papasan. The idea is, uh, what's the next one thing you need to do? What's the domino that you need to knock over next that by doing it, everything you want to accomplish will be finished or B.

Easier to accomplish. This has been so essential to my life because what it does when I'm feeling unmotivated, usually it's because yes, I lacked clarity. Part of that clarity is this disintegrated feeling. Where all of the pieces of my journey just feel like random floating things. It's like 18 dominoes, all in different spaces.

None of them connected. None of them working together when in fact, even all the different disparate parts I'm doing, they always can work together to a whole, you know, I talked about on a recent episode, how. I wanted to get into kids' books, but my podcast was taking off. So I went with my podcast, but grudgingly feeling like, man, I'm going to miss out on kids' books only to find out that my podcasts, the audience was essential to getting my first, uh, bigger podcast, our bigger kids book deals.

And so those dominoes seemed like disparate. They seemed disintegrated, but actually, yeah. If I had had the perspective of every single piece fits together in the next piece I need to do, uh, can, if I focus on the one that can accomplish a few different goals, then I'm in a really good place. And recently I've been doing that and it's been unlocking so much motivation cause I've realized.

Now that I'm, uh, about to promote some picture books that I'm super pumped about. It's easy to be like, well, what about the podcast? What about public speaking? What about it does, but I can see if I knock over this domino, if I really focus on making the best effort. In the thing that's happening right now that it actually has a domino effect of everything I will say.

I want to do. If I get really, uh, established in the picture book world, it will open up speaking gigs that I could never get. I can see that with people like Mo Willems and people like Oliver Jeffers. Right? So that, that feeling of integration with all of the little things. Every creative. I know has so many moving parts.

They have so many desires. They have so much ability, you know, their voice can be manifest in a diverse range of outputs. It's medium agnostic. Most of the time when you get into that essence of what you really want to be and talk about and exist on in this planet, it rarely just falls in this neat, tiny little compact, uh, Compartment.

Right. And so if you feel like disintegrated, this is what you need to do. You need to ask yourself not, what's the one thing that I'm going to do forever and screw everything else. We all know that's not right, but instead what's the one thing I'm going to do next that everything else I want to do will be.

Easier to accomplish if I focus my energy here. And so here's what I want you to do. I want you to go through, here's some ideas of some things that might be stopping you from accomplishing, from getting to where you want to go to be spending the weeks as you want to be spending them. The first one is credentials.

So you might, maybe you just don't have the credentials. You don't have the authority. You don't have any, uh, you don't have any. A body existing that says, Hey, this person knows what they're doing. I don't know if I've ever told this story on the podcast, but you know, I went to college in England. I was there for five years.

The, the, the catalyst that brought us home was this overwhelming feeling that I got, that I, I was starting my illustration career and I'd had a few good projects that were worked with companies like Sony. Uh, and I'd had, um, You know, uh, back's beer and a bunch of other stuff, a bunch of other pieces. And I was making more and more money.

And I just, I had this deep compassion for my creative friends at home, and I wanted to share all the things I'd learned about breaking into illustration and breaking into the creative career that I, that I wanted. And I had this overwhelming feeling to move home and start some kind of entity that would help.

Others build creative careers. Okay. And, and then when I w that was the reason we moved back to America, that was, I mean, there was a bunch of reasons, but that was the catalyst. And we moved back home and the recession hit. And, uh, you know, a lot of the hype around the book that I published had diminished and all of my jobs dried up and I didn't have.

Any credentials. I didn't have any right to be telling anybody else how to build a thriving, creative practice because I hadn't. And I, I spent, you know, I couldn't help anybody get their crap together. I had to get my crap together and I spent a good, you know, four to six years focused on building my. Own thriving practice, not by chance, not by accident, not by luck, but through strategy and practice.

And I built up that portfolio and I built up my salary and I built up my practice. And by the time I launched this podcast in 2014, by the time I had gotten to this place where I wanted to tell people how I had built my practice and the things that I was learning all alongside other people in their journey, by the time I'd done that.

I had more or less forgotten that we had moved to America to start something like this podcast. That's how much of a distant memory it was. And that's what it's like. Sometimes, sometimes we have this vision or this dream and it propels us forward. And, and actually, uh, we might forget along the way or even going through the practice, right.

There's other reasons for building a thriving, creative practice for myself. But, but, uh, that was true. Sometimes you gotta get the credentials. Sometimes you got to get the skills I've told on this show before I had. Uh, an opportunity to get my illustrations animated on Nickelodeon. And the first opportunity I had with that right out of college, I massively failed.

I sent them over all my final stuff and they said, rough drafts, look okay. Looking to see how they, they shape up in the finals. And these were my finals. Right. And the problem was between where I wanted to be and where I was was I just didn't have the skills, you know, I, I just. It didn't have the chops.

And I spent several years learning to draw digitally and learning to, uh, develop my style and, and learning to, uh, hit home on a brief and, and solve a problem. Like I spent several years and then luck would have it that I got another opportunity to make illustration, to be animated on Nickelodeon. This time I had the skills, so it might be credentials.

It might be skills. It might be social proof. Maybe you've got all the goods, but you just need something that says that you've got the goods. You know, when I wanted to get into kids' books, maybe some of my ideas were good. Some of them were bad, but ultimately I was untested and there was just no. There was no metric to say we should risk it on this person.

And so building up my Instagram building up my podcast was helpful for social proof of there, something to this work. So maybe it's social proof, maybe it's accessibility. You know, I worked with an animator a few years back then. Uh, he was making these gorgeous animations, but they were hosted on a random website on the internet and you could see the timestamp, they were five, 10 minutes long or something.

And that's a lot to ask of somebody who's never heard of your stuff. You ever tried to get someone to listen to even a band that's already popular. Uh, have you ever tried to get them to listen to a three minute song? They're like, I know you're going to like this. Would you please listen to this song?

It's really, really hard because it's not, you know, that accessibility is really tough. And, and we talked with him about how do you, how can you break down these animations into bite sized chunks that take seconds, uh, to consume that are easy to share and. You know, he was able to take his Instagram from a very small thing to 150 plus thousand, and then work with the New York times all just not by changing skills, not by, uh, you know, getting credentials just by making it more accessible.

Maybe you need to work on the messaging around how you're telling people who you are. Maybe you need to package it different. Maybe you need to find a better fit in a medium. You know, I used it before I ever did this podcast. I was writing a blog about creative practice, but writing is a really weird medium for me.

Audio is so much more conducive to the way that I like to create. And so maybe it's a medium FET, but what is the, what are the dominoes between you and where you want to go? And what's the next right one. But if you knock that over. Almost all the other ones are going to be obsolete. If you get the right credential, the right skill, the right social proof, that to make it more accessible, it's going to help you get there.

A little bit of homework, you know, just to wrap all this up and, and give you something actionable to do. I want you to make a gateway drug to your work. I need, I want, I need you. I need you to do this, do this for me. Um, I want, I'm suggesting that's all I'm I don't need you to do it. I'm suggesting you make a gateway drug and your work, uh, you know, make your work accessible and easy to tap into.

Is there a piece of work? That you've made that you can point to that really exhibits the best of what you know, you're capable of and summarize it in a way that really makes sense. This is something I'm working through right now. You know, we tell these analogies on the show. We, we, I do this illustration.

I ha you know, all these different parts, they're all kind of separate. And right now I'm figuring out how can I make a little. A little small thing that gives you a dose of the heart and the story and the aesthetic of this stuff. What can I make something that's a minute, two minutes long that just really gives you a dose of the best stuff.

I think about it. Like I have this, um, you know, two of my favorite bands, Alex G is one of them, uh, which is a little bit more. Indie art kind of underground experimental stuff. And then 1975, which is obviously, I feel like they're on opposite ends of the spectrum, but they're both like 1975 is, uh, has some big hits that I think make people, judge them wrong.

Alex G has some. Uh, accessibility problems where some of it's so experimental that if you turn on the wrong and you're like, Whoa, man, this noise is breaking my ears. Um, but I think if you find the right way in to both of these bands, You can see how brick and awesome they are. And so I've made gateway drug playlists for both of them have like start here, you know, that little place in the maze, your creative practice is a giant maze that other people can get lost in.

And they're like, I don't even know where to start. You need to create a gateway drug piece. That is a big. Chunky arrow that says start here. This is the way in to my brain and my creative practice. I've been working on that and I encourage you to create that gateway drug. And yeah. You know, if you put it on internet, put it on Instagram, do hashtag CPT gateway drug, and I'll check it out.


All right. Sometimes, you know, uh, get pushback either from myself or from others, uh, what I'm encouraging them to stop and find some clarity. And I think it's just this feeling of you're afraid to dig, because you don't know if there's gold in there. You're afraid to go into that cave because you don't know if there's clarity even in there.

Am I just wasting more time? I'm telling you, if you will stop and do some of these practices, you're going to feel more grounded. You're going to feel like you have a clearer direction in what you're doing in the next thing you make. Uh, if it's in line with that, the next right thing, that next right domino, you're going to find a well of motivation that you haven't had in a long time.

And these are all things that as you can tell, I'm passionate about, but also. They're all things that have helped me really recently, um, that I've come back to. So I hope it hope it really helps. Uh, thanks to Yoni Wolf in the band. Why for our theme music, thanks to Alex Sug for our soundtrack. Thanks to SoFi pizza for content assistance.

Thanks to Apple boy. In, uh, of, uh, uh, my co-founded podcast network, the Colu podcast network for content assistance and sponsorship assistance. Thanks to Jordan, Aaron for editing. This shows how beautifully I can't get over it. Apple boy, calling that. Um, thanks to all of you for. Showing up and listening, hope this brought a bunch of pep to your step.

And until we speak again, stay pepped up.