They’re Not Throwin’ Away Their Shot

Sticking to a dream can be as hard as founding a country, but someone’s gotta do it. Find out how 3 fifth graders are working to make their dream come true. And consider joining them!

Outside the theater where Hamilton is playing, three girls meet their hero. Find out more here.
Outside the theater where Hamilton is playing, three girls meet their hero, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Find out more here.

The Broadway show Hamilton began to seep into our lives through our ten-year-old daughter, one staccato rap couplet at a time. Pretty soon she had a whole song. Then another and another. She was Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, Lafayette and George Washington, famous sisters Angelica and Eliza Schuyler, Hamilton’s wife. Choreography followed and then of course, the pulsing red desire to PLEEEEEEEASE SEE THE SHOW.

Problem is the tickets are so in demand that they’ve been scooped up by third party vendors who sell at top prices. (We’re talking 4 digit prices.)

Yes, we enter the Ham Lottery every day. (For $10 a piece, two lucky winners a day are ushered into front row seats in an endorphin-soaked daze. We actually know someone who won!) No, our kid can’t miss school to sleep out overnight in front of the theater for days on end with the encampment of others on the show’s ticket cancellation line.

What she can do, we agreed, is earn her way in.

Lemonade stands and busking in Central Park didn’t do it. But was there another way for our daughter and two Hamiltoniac friends to go?

Kickstarter! And while they were at it, the three fifth graders found a worthy cause to donate any extra proceeds—a theater project for kids, 52nd Street Project. The girls have come up with worthwhile “rewards” for their backers including an On-the-Road-to-Hamilton Diary bursting with tales and images of the wild up’s and down’s of their journey, and for big donors a pen-and-ink old-fashioned “Hamilton-style” personal letter or an original rap song.

When he first saw Rent, the long-running, game-changing rock musical based on La Boheme set in downtown New York City, Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of Hamilton says that it was as if a starter pistol went off in his head. A young, fledging musical theater, rap-obsessed playwright at the time, Miranda says that Rent gave him permission to “write musicals about what you know in the present. It’s fair game.”

Rent was Miranda’s creative tipping point.

In life we get only so many creative tipping points…if we see them. If we seize them. We’re hoping, even though they’re young, that for our daughter and her friends and the kids whose love of theater they’re supporting that seeing Hamilton is one in a long series of creative tipping points.

We’re their future audience.

What Stephen Curry, Amazon and Wormholes Have in Common

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry

When Amazon drops off a package at your home, it’s as if you are at one end of a wormhole in the space-time continuum. Amazon has mastered the art and science of moving packages from point A to point B. Like Amazon, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry owes his success to his ability to move an object from point A to point B with great speed, accuracy and frequency.

Innovators master the art and science of moving things from point A to point B. We benefit from their innovations even though we desperately miss what’s been destroyed. Read our story on wormholes, the three-point shot, creative destruction and the space-time continuum here.

 

The Comeback: How One Entrepreneur Reversed His Fortunes

Pediatrician Michel Cohen founder of Tribeca Pediatrics had a booming business, a best-selling book and downtown NYC celebrity baby cred until the bottom dropped out. How did he get back on top?

NY Observer Pediatrician Michel Cohen Photos by Francesco Sapienza/For New York Observer
Pediatrician Michel Cohen Founder of Tribeca Pediatrics photo by Francesco Sapienza

From the outside, fit and photogenic French-born physician Michel Cohen was on his way to becoming the 21st century’s answer to Dr. Spock. In the early 2000s he ran Tribeca Pediatrics, a smart, hip, high-quality New York City practice that catered to the neighborhood’s smart, hip parents, whose children he saw in his signature quirky medical office — think Pee-wee’s Playhouse meets a Wes Anderson film set. The media loved him and parents appreciated his common sense, low-intervention medical approach to children’s health.

Things were going so well that he opened up another office in Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, the healthcare industry was in flux with expanding regulations, upheavals in technology, rising pharmaceutical prices and dramatic cuts in insurance reimbursements. As a result, many doctors were abandoning their private practices to join corporate healthcare clinics and hospitals. (A report from Accenture shows that the percentage of U.S. independent physicians plummeted from 57 percent in 2000 to 33 percent in 2016.) But Cohen, who spent his days biking back and forth across the Brooklyn Bridge, managing his growing practice, seemed to be bucking the trend.

Or so he thought. One morning in 2008, he received a very disturbing call from his bank. “They told me I was $400,000 in debt,” Cohen says. “I was in complete shock.” To make payroll that month he had to borrow $30,000 from a friend.

Our story in Entrepreneur’s Startups Magazine here

Ellsworth Kelly, Visionary Artist of the Everyday, On Aging

Ellsworth Kelly, visionary artist of the abstract and the everyday, on aging (excerpt from my interview with Kelly in The New York Times Magazine).

Ellsworth Kelly, 91, photograph ERIK MADIGAN HECK
Ellsworth Kelly, 91, in his Spencertown NY studio, 2014 photograph ERIK MADIGAN HECK

“The most pleasurable thing in the world for me is to see something and then translate how I see it.” – Ellsworth Kelly 

Visionary painter Ellsworth Kelly died last month. I (Camille) had the pleasure of interviewing Ellsworth one bright autumn day in 2014 for a story I was working on “Old Masters” for The New York Times Magazine. Ellsworth Kelly, who was 91 at the time, became a nature lover and avid bird-watcher at a young age. After a stint in the army designing camouflage, Ellsworth combined as art critic Holland Cotter described in his obit for The New York Times, ‘the solid shapes and brilliant colors of European abstraction with forms distilled from everyday life.’ My art, Ellsworth said, is an attempt “to get at the rapture of seeing.” This was a path that he sought everyday. “I want to work like nature works,” he told me. His work is a testament to maintaining a life-long vision.

Ellsworth Kelly

Here is an excerpt from our conversation on aging:

What’s different about your life now that you’re older?

When I was 79, I asked my doctor, ‘‘I’m 79 and you say I’m in good health, what should I expect from the 80s?’’ And he said: ‘‘If you haven’t got any of the Mayo diseases, you’re pretty good. You can slide right through.’’ And I said, ‘‘What about the 90s?’’ And he said, ‘‘Well .?.?. we’ll talk about that.’’ But I didn’t sail through exactly. What happened five years ago is I discovered that painting with turpentine, which I’ve been doing since the 1940s, had ruined my lungs. So I’ve been on oxygen ever since.

Any surprises?

I don’t travel now. That’s the big thing. But I’m here [in Columbia County, N.Y.], and I love it. Each year I’m very surprised by the color. . . It’s one thing about getting older, you see more. . . . Everyday I’m continuing to see new things. That’s why there are new paintings.

What are your days like now?

I’m in the studio everyday. I draw a lot. . . I chose plants because I knew I could draw plants forever. I want to work like nature works. I want to understand the growth of plants and the dead leaves falling. Oh, how I connect with that!

Talk: Radical Creativity

What does it take to be radically creative? What does being radically creative even mean? Come find out at our talk “Radical Creative” part of the Provocateur Series at Parsons Design Center Friday, 11/13.

radical-creativityWhat is radical creativity? Who is radically creative? How? And why? Find out tonight how Sir John Harington, Bob Dylan, Cindy Sherman and others come up with radically creative ideas, and how you can, too.

Friday Nov 13 at 6pm our talk on “Radical Creativity” at the “Provocateur Series” at the Parsons Design Center 66 5th Avenue at 13th street

 

What Malala Can Teach Us About Being a Leader

When the Taliban tried to kill her for speaking out, Malala Yousafzai only got stronger.

lessons-learnedfive-leadership-lessons-from-malala-yousafzai

In conversation with Malala Yousafzai and filmmaker Davis Guggenheim (“An Inconvenient Truth” “Waiting for Superman”) whose film, “He Named Me Malala,” is in theaters this week, we found out what makes Malala a true leader.

You probably wouldn’t think to look to a high school junior for lessons in leadership. But the 18-year-old Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai is no ordinary high school student. In her short life, she’s not only drawn international attention to a massive problem—that of the 61 million girls around the world who don’t have access to an education—she’s persuaded world leaders to start taking real action to fix it.

As the filmmaker Davis Guggenheim’s new documentary He Named Me Malala hits theaters this week, it’s worth drawing a few lessons from someone whose influence, courage, and resolve have been felt around the world before she’s even hit 20.

Our story here

3 Tactics for Taking On Big Challenges

Philippe Petit may go where no man (or woman!) dares to go. But what he returns with is a set of principles we can all use when we take on big challenges of our own.

Petit

Philippe Petit offers us a glimpse of what’s possible

It’s 1974. A man has decided he’s going to walk across a wire stretched a quarter of a mile in the air between the Twin Towers of New York City’s World Trade Center. As he does it, pedestrians below gawk in awe. An entire city swoons. Wire-walker Philippe Petit becomes an international celebrity for performing what many called the artistic crime of the century.

Forty-one years later, Petit’s feat is the subject of director Robert Zemeckis’s 3-D spectacular, “The Walk,” starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Petit. The film, which hits theaters this weekend, puts audiences right there on the wire with Petit, and is a powerful reminder that even the most perilous feats can be accomplished one careful step at a time.

And indeed, when we interviewed Philippe Petit for our book The Art of Doing, he told us there was a method to his madness. Having gone on to perform dozens of other high-profile wire-walks, authored several books, and become an adept equestrian, fencer, carpenter, rock-climber, and even bullfighter, Petit would bristle at the idea that his work could be reduced to a system. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t lessons that any entrepreneur, artist, or aspirer to big deeds can’t learn as they gear up for their next big challenge. Our story HERE.

Yogi Berra’s Mantra For the Masses

Baseball legend Yogi Berra (1925 – 2015) on “How to Be a Major Leaguer” from in The Art of Doing.

Yogi Berra 1925 – 2015

Baseball legend Yogi Berra died at 90 this week. But his advice to aspiring athletes—or to anyone engaged in the struggle to succeed whatever their endeavor—was as practical as what he told himself when he was struggling to earn a place in the Major Leagues.

Now considered one of baseball’s greatest catchers of all time who holds the record of being on the team of the most World Series wins (10) and on the team of 15 consecutive All-Star Games, Yogi Berra was the linchpin of the New York Yankees dynasties from 1946 to 1960. He is the so-called fifth face of the Yankees’ Mount Rushmore (after Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio). Continue reading “Yogi Berra’s Mantra For the Masses”

What Jeff Bezos Can Learn from Henry Ford

How Henry Ford kept his workers happy

Amazon Unveils Its First Smartphone

Henry Ford wanted to get as much out of his workers as he possibly could. But being a pragmatist Ford knew that his success would depend not just on technology but on the bodies and minds of his workers. 

Henry Ford and Jeff Bezos changed the world. That’s not an exaggeration. In their own ways, they both revolutionized how business is done. After Henry Ford’s labor-saving, assembly line innovations, companies that made physical products had to adapt to Ford’s style. Or else. Amazon did something similar. Bezos and company built a digital infrastructure for home shoppers. The experience was simple, dependable, economical, and timely. Since then, any company with a product to sell has had to reckon with what Amazon’s innovations wrought.

Ford did not invent the assembly line. Bezos did not invent e-commerce. But both were the first to apply these new technologies with such relentless zeal and scientific rigor that anyone doing things the old way could no longer compete. That’s what Ford and Bezos have in common. But when it comes to their vision of the place of the worker—the actual human beings who perform the labor—Ford and Bezos have different philosophies.

Read more on our story in the New York Observer.

 

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How to be a Master at Public Speaking?

Sweaty palms, racing heart, find out how the masters deliver masterful presentations.

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How to start, how to hold, how to build, how to end—eight master strategies of public speaking 

Your legs wobble as you approach the podium. Your hands tremble as you adjust the microphone. Your head throbs. A wail builds deep inside you and threatens to escape.

It’s showtime, and the feelings are primal.

Evolutionary biologists tell us that in the presence of a presumed threat, we go into fight-or-flight mode, kicking off a millennia-old chain-reaction that starts in the brain’s fear centers and ends with our muscles pumped with blood and oxygen, prepared for battle or escape.

If you experience this, don’t worry. You’re in good company. In a recent story for the New Yorker, Joan Acocella writes that some of the greatest performers—Daniel-Day Lewis, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Barbra Streisand and Sir Laurence Olivier—have all faced symptoms of extreme stage fright.

As panicked as the thought of presenting in front of a group can make us, whether we’re delivering a speech before hundreds, doing a business pitch, attending a job interview, or introducing a report in a meeting, our careers may depend doing it, and doing it well.

So how can we get better? Our story here.

Bonus: See how comedians handle hecklers.

Order “The Art of Doing” hereSignup for “The Art of Doing” free weekly e-newsletterFollow us on Twitter. Join “The Art of Doing” Facebook Community. If you’ve read “The Art of Doing” please take a moment to leave a review here.