3 Tactics for Taking On Big Challenges


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.

What Jeff Bezos Can Learn from Henry Ford

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.


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 to be a Master at Public Speaking?


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.

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?


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






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


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

Screen Shot 2014-10-24 at 11.44.05 AM

Ellsworth Kelly, 91 Photo by Erik Madigan Heck


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.