The Circle and the Dot: A Metaphor for Life


What if a school principal told the truth about a test?

Because of the No Child Left Behind Law passed in 2002 our daughter and all of her classmates have spent the last couple of months preparing for tests that may (or may not) measure their intelligence and their ability to think critically.

Our daughter’s teachers have little idea what will be on the test. The test makers have given the schools very few details about what the questions will be or how they will be phrased. It’s something like training for a mystery Olympic event—on opening day you may be asked to pole vault, synchronize swim or run the 440.

The kids will sit their tables, taking these tests for 70 minutes a day for a total of six days.

By the way these kids are in third grade.

Continue reading

Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Superachiever?


From “The Art of Doing: How Superachievers Do What They Do and How They Do It So Well” (Plume/Penguin)

For our book, “The Art of Doing,” we interviewed over three-dozen Superachievers in business, entertainment, the arts, tech, science and sports, about how they do what they do and discovered that talent is just the beginning. It’s what you do with that talent that matters. Find out if you have what it takes to be a Superachiever.

Buy “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.

Some of the Most Fascinating Humans In New York, Collected In One Place

'This guy was dancing for tips on the sidewalk. I asked him to try and put all his skill into a single move, and this is what I got.' Brandon Stanton, "Humans of New York"

‘This guy was dancing for tips on the sidewalk. I asked him to try and put all his skill into a single move, and this is what I got.’ Brandon Stanton, “Humans of New York”

When Brandon Stanton’s photo project of the Big Apple’s interesting characters grew beyond his original vision, he followed it straight to bestsellerdom.

[Our original article on Brandon Stanton ran in Fast Company last Fall. Recently Brandon was at SXSW for a book signing for his best-selling book, Humans of New York, and a talk on everything he's learned about audience building, crying alone in his bedroom, the magic of social media and the difficulties of standing out in a world where everyone has something to "like" and "share." Brandon himself says that he thinks he "has some special insight into building a large following around a new idea. But may have just gotten lucky, and could be completely full of shit..."]

At 21 years old, Brandon Stanton—the creative force behind the immensely popular photo blog Humans of New York—had flunked out of college (earning a combined score of zero on his five courses). Kicked out of his parent’s home, he was doing drugs, working at a dead end job at Applebee’s and living in his grandparent’s basement in Atlanta, Georgia. He was also convinced that he was going to write a bestseller.

Stanton described the unanimous reaction of his friends and family at the time: “They all said, ‘What the hell is wrong with Brandon? What a loser!’”

But now, not even a decade later, Stanton, 29, has eventually achieved his dream with over three million blog followers and a #1 bestseller. Continue reading

How to Succeed at Failing: A SketchNote


When we interviewed superachievers for our book, we wanted to know how they had achieved their incredible success but in our conversations with them, something kept coming up that surprised us. As we dug into the chronologies of these people’s lives and careers, we found that even more than their triumphs, it was failure that actually shaped their stories of success. What is failure? What’s the science behind it? Is there an art to it? Why do some people collapse in the face of it while others actually profit from it?

It’s become our latest obsession. Continue reading

Art of Doing Talk at SXSW ’14: “The Power of Failure” Monday, March 10 Austin TX



What happened to Momofuku’s David Chang before he became a foodie god? What drove Zappos’ CEO Tony Hsieh to create one of the world’s greatest company cultures?

The high achievers we interviewed for our book failed more because they tried more. And because they tried more, they’ve been able to succeed at goals that they may have never imagined possible for themselves. In our talk at South by Southwest Interactive ’14 we’ll discuss some of the science and art of failure—everything from frivolous failures to 9/11—to find out how some people collapse in the face of failure while others use it as motivation.

Join us and/or spread the news. Follow us on Twitter to get reports from SXSW14. Continue reading

The Self-Assured, the Self-Critic, the C-Student and Other Failure-Resistant Archetypes



Your personality speaks volumes about how you’ll cope when setbacks happen. 

Do you have what it takes to bounce back from failure?

Cass Phillipps, has witnessed more flameouts than an American Idol. The San Francisco entrepreneur started FailCon, the first conference ever to ask successful founders, investors, designers and developers, “What’s gone wrong and how did you fix it?”

It was Phillipps’s own failure that inspired her to start the conference in 2009. When a startup she launched was flailing and she needed advice, she was frustrated by the smiley-faced “if you don’t have something self-promotional to say, don’t say anything at all” startup conferences she was attending. She didn’t need to know what to do in the face of success, but what action to take in the face of failure.

Since then at FailCon (which has now gone global), Phillipps has been witness to the confessionals of hundreds of self-professed failures, big fish (some of the biggest names in tech including PayPal co-founder Max Levchin and Zynga’s Mark Pincus), small fries, the famous, the infamous and everyone in between. She’s heard these failure testifiers stand up in front of a crowd and share their tales of tragedy and woe, for personal catharsis and the spread of useful knowledge of what to do and what not to do.

So who gets over failure best? Phillipps, who should know, offers Five Fail Survivor Archetypes: Continue reading

Interview With Us for Upcoming Talk at SXSW ’14

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Preview: The Power Of Failure: The Hidden Side Of Success

by Jacob Ehrnstein

Everyone wants to be successful. We all have our different versions of success, financial, emotional, or physical. And we all have our role models for whom we identify what success is. We try and emulate them to achieve that success.

But what if you had the opportunity to meet your role model of success and they uttered these words to you “Fail More”?

Camille Sweeney and Josh Gosfield the authors of “The Art Of Doing: How Superachievers Do What They Do” will speak on the topic of failure at their panel “The Power of Failure: The Hidden Side of Success.” They’re experts on the topic of failure now, though, not because of failures of their own. After interviewing super successful people they discovered one common trait these successful people shared: their willingness to fail.

I spoke with Camille and Josh about their upcoming panel in March and some ways to take your failures and help them propel you to your next success. Continue reading

Art of Doing in the News: Entrepreneur Magazine


Some Traits You Need to Dominate Any Industry By Paula Andruss

If great minds think alike, it stands to reason that great people, no matter their field, have similar habits. In their book The Art of Doing: How Superachievers Do What They Do and How They Do It So Well, Camille Sweeney and Josh Gosfield found several common qualities shared by ubersuccessful individuals. Try adopting some of them in your quest for greatness. Continue reading

Play for Good


Play for Good’s Spin for Good is a new kind of social gaming site that combines the passion of gaming with the motivation to do good.

Put together some brainy academics to solve the world’s biggest problems and you may think they’d come up with a blizzard of white papers filled with obscure hypotheses and foot-long equations that would give you flashbacks of tests you failed in high school.

But you’d be wrong.

Amee Kamdar and Janet Moehring, two young University of Chicago economists, were having Thai takeout in Moehring’s Lincoln Park apartment in Chicago, brainstorming how to start a business with a pro-social bent when the idea hit them. Continue reading

An Internet for Robots


Twenty-five years ago Tim Berners-Lee first proposed the World Wide Web–perhaps man’s greatest source of shared knowledge, connecting several billion users worldwide. Now robots are getting their own.

RoboEarth, the so called Internet for robots, does for automated machines what the Internet does for humans–offering users the ability to both teach one another and learn. RoboEarth, funded by the European Commission, is the work of researchers at Eindhoven University in the Netherlands and five other European institutes, who have been working on the system for over four years. And last week they unveiled RoboEarth’s first live public demonstration of robots working collaboratively together.

Most robots exist to perform tasks more efficiently and cheaper than humans. Or to do things that humans can’t. But when it comes to learning most robots are no smarter than the parts they are made from. In fact, most robots are designed to perform a single routine task. And if that task changes or the conditions in which it’s being performed change, the robot can become useless.

Heico Sandee, RoboEarth’s project manager, discussed this limitation of robots, describing the situation of a company that told him that when they make even a small change in one of their products, they have to reprogram and reinstall all of the robots they use for automation. “This adds up to 80% of what it would cost them to simply buy all new robots,” Sandee said.

RoboEarth was created to solve this problem of robot inflexibility. By allowing robots to learn from one another, the robots can engage in a dynamic evolutionary process. They can adapt to their changing environment and learn the more subtle and sophisticated behaviors and actions required to work with humans. Continue reading