What Do Superachievers Have in Common?

Is it dedication to a dream? Intelligent persistence? Ability to manage emotions? If you answered “all of the above,” you’re right. Sort of. There are more.

Listen to our interview with podcaster Greg Voisen.

 

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.

Are You *Doing* Enough?

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Illustration by Radio

To walk is to take one step after another; to put out a New York Times Magazine special issue called Walking New York is to want to start counting all those steps being taken. So we rounded up a random cross-section of New Yorkers from a dj to a diplomat and asked them to spend a single workweek wearing a Fitbit wristband, which tracks steps taken and miles traveled. Here’s how the subjects measured up against the 10,000 daily steps recommended by health officials.

“The Art of Curiosity” the Official TEDx Talk Video

Being curious, following our curiosity, developing a habit of curiosity can lead to remarkable things. We’ve seen it with the superachievers we interviewed for our book. We’ve even seen it in ourselves, for instance, in an incident that happened to me (Camille) in sixth grade, which I discuss in this recent talk on “The Art of Curiosity” for a TEDx event in Philadelphia.

For all you speakers, wannabe speakers or just the very curious, I’m working on a bigger article on the strange and wonderful art of public speaking, which I’ll share with you soon.

Meanwhile, feel free to share this video with others who you believe could benefit from being (or staying) curious.

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.

How a Media Star Found Meditation After a Meltdown in Front of 5 Million Viewers

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After Dan Harris, then an ambitious rising star at ABC’s news division, was left panting for breath during an on-air panic attack on Good Morning America in front of 5 million viewers, he realized that his life needed to change.

The occasional stage fright? That was routine. But this was something different. “I felt a bolt of fear rolling up my back, over my shoulders, and down my face, and I couldn’t do anything to stop it,” Harris told us. Continue reading

TEDx Talk: The Art of Curiosity

Recently I gave this talk at a TEDx Conference on Curiosity in Philadelphia. (This link is just a first look, it’s going up on TEDx YouTube Channel soon.) As I prepared for the talk, it dawned on me just how vitally important curiosity is in my own life, and in the lives of the superachievers that Josh and I interviewed for our book on what it takes to succeed.

Curiosity draws us to something or someone. It informs us. It drives us when our project seems unwieldy, or our endeavor, too taxing, or saying hello to that person sitting next to us at the conference seems so hard..

Our curiosity was the genesis of “The Art of Doing.” And while interviewing the three dozen high achievers in the book, Josh and I quickly discovered just how much being curious underpinned the ten principles and practices that these high achievers shared. 

Ultimately, curiosity is a defining factor in success. As tennis champ Martina Navratilova told us, “It was curiosity that got me into the game and curiosity that keeps me interested.” 

 (Enjoy, I’ve included a transcript and I’ll post a link to more talks on curiosity from the conference as soon as it’s available on the TEDx channel!)  Continue reading

Listen to Learn

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A bird call. A jackhammer. Your name being called out. Humans hear on the order of tens of thousands of sounds a day. But there’s a vast difference between hearing and listening. 

Psychologists have theorized about the benefits of a particular form of listening called active listening in which we listen without judgement, try to hear something from the speaker’s point of view, and let the speaker know that we understand the content of what he or she is saying. This method of listening is used in conflict resolution and to improve interpersonal communication from the boardroom to the bedroom. Advocates say that practicing active listening not only builds deep positive relationships but can change the attitude of the listener.

For our book, we heard about how listening—something we may associate with a passive pursuit—was actually one of the top ten strategies for success from people who have achieved mastery in their fields. We heard about how a former chief FBI hostage negotiator, Gary Noesner listened to perpetrators; how high school teacher Erin Gruwell listened to her at-risk students (who went on to write a bestseller “The Freedom Writers Diaries“); how award-winning actress Laura Linney listened to her scripts.

This made an impression on us. Is it possible, we wondered, to really become a better listener? To tune in to listen not just to validate someone or something, but to listen to learn?

Here’s a recent example from Camille: Continue reading

New York Times Story: Old Masters

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Ellsworth Kelly, 91 Photo by Erik Madigan Heck

OLD MASTERS

After 80, some people don’t retire. They reign. 

A few weeks ago, I (Camille) got a call from The New York Times Magazine to interview people in the 80’s and 90’s who are still doing what they do and doing it well. Despite the time constraints, it was a dream job to talk to over a dozen “Old Masters” to find out where they are in their professional and personal lives, what they’ve learned, how they maintain their level of excellence.

I’ll be sharing some of the themes of our discussions in the coming weeks, but for now, I wanted everyone to get a chance to see the gorgeous results of photographer/filmmaker Erik Madigan Heck‘s portraits, Lewis Lapham‘s insightful essay and my interviews with fifteen amazing Old Masters including architect Frank Gehry, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Actress Betty White and many others.

 

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.

Christopher Columbus, Startup Entrepreneur

 

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We all know that Columbus sailed the “ocean blue in fourteen hundred ninety-two,” but beyond the facts that he didn’t actually discover the Americas and that he dealt deplorably with the indigenous people he encountered in the New World, most of us don’t know much about Columbus’s history-making startup that he called, “Enterprise of the Indies.”

His entrepreneurial journey offers lessons for anyone trying to innovate today.

Go Where the Action Is  Continue reading

How a Small Company That Lets Kids be Kids Struck a Chord with Families

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Zylie fans the Bratayley girls take their bears on adventures


How does a family start-up with a throwback idea and not a lot of capital break into an industry dominated by corporate giants? 

Five years ago, Mary Beth Minton and her son Matt McCarty started their company Zylie & Friends around a single product, a teddy bear that Minton had sewn herself.

Now their award-winning bear, Zylie, and a growing pack of stylishly dressed toy bears, each with a passport, map, and a travel diary, hailing from foreign countries, are in over 600 stores nationwide.

Zylie has appeared on national television, on a recent TEDx stage during Minton’s talk “Unplug to Play,” and has fans around the world–from the YouTube celebrity family the Bratayleys (with half a million followers) to the thousands of ordinary kids who follow Zylie on Instagram.

Not bad for a little bear created as an antidote to too much screen-time.

So what can the rest of us learn from Minton and McCarty’s experience? Continue reading

Seeing Double, What We Can Learn from Dynamic Duos

John and PaulLennon and McCartney, Buffett and Munger, Jobs and Wozniak, Watson and Crick—how creative pairs come together and create together and why greatness so often arrives in two’s.

We have long been under the influence of the myth of the lone genius that toils in isolation and one day emerges with the brilliant creation. But if you dig deeper, you’ll find that a great achievement—the groundbreaking scientific discovery, work of art or technological breakthrough—is often the result of two individuals who come together as a pair to form a joint creative identity.

In his new fascinating and meticulously researched book, the Powers of Two, Josh Wolf Shenk writes about dozens of creative dyads. Shenk’s analysis of the inner workings of some of the world’s most famous creative pairs—why some work and others don’t and why some that once worked, break apart—is a goldmine of information for any two people wanting to become the next John and Paul or Jobs and Woz.

Even though he spent six years writing and researching his book, Shenk told us, he’s been astounded to find that the creative dyad phenomenon is even more widespread than he thought. “Ever since the book came out, people have been contacting me with stories of famous collaborators,” he said, “when all along I had thought it been just been the one guy.”

Here are Shenk’s four steps of the creative dyad life cycle: Continue reading