The Art of Doing

The Bus Driver: How Luis Found His Road

Luis Jimenez aka @luis_big_20 is a driver in New York City for the MTA. Photo @josh_gosfield

“Down in the Dominican Republic, my Dad owned a trucking business. It was a thrill to be sitting in that sideseat with my Dad driving. He painted my name ‘LUIS’ and my older sister’s name ‘NELLY’ in big black and red letters on the hood of his trucks, so when we’d come rolling into town, everyone would know, ‘They’re here!’ He was a great driver and he was great with people. I’ve been driving for the MTA, 21 years. 6am to 4pm, different routes, different days. Driving in New York City, it’s like a perfect day. I open up that door, and it’s like the world comes to me. I love my passengers. I want to give them the best ride, the best time, the best view of the city while I get them to where they’re going. That ride, that’s my gift to them. Wherever they’re from, they can take that home with them from New York City. I tell my kids, you gotta love what you do.”

My husband Josh (who used to walk our daughter, Roxie, to the M11 bus) said there’s never been a better way to start a day than to laugh out loud at the bus stop with the life-loving Luis. Now you can find Luis Jimenez on the M3 and @luis_big_20 on IG. Luis has another big talent-dancing like you would not believe. We’ll save that story for another post.

Find Your Road is a NEW SERIES we’re excited to share with you, based on our upcoming book. The book is filled with stories and strategies on how to find work you love that pays the bills. Visit us @Camille_Sweeney on IG to see more and share with the community there (in the comments) how you found your road.

The Artist: How Rafael Found His Road

“We lived in a tiny town, Huatabampo, in Sonora Mexico. My grandma had the only TV in town. Black and white. We watched so many telenovelas and everyone would come over to watch. I remember sitting there. I must have been 5. There was an ad that came on for an exhibit in Mexico City. Oh, 1000 miles away. It was a show of Pablo Picasso’s work and the camera kind of panned around the exhibit. Everyone in the room was laughing at the crazy faces. But not me. I was mesmerized. I was like, ‘What is this?’ ‘What is art?’ And ‘Why do I find this so beautiful?’ I felt such a connection to the work. I’d been drawing since I was even younger. Drawing in the dirt with a stick. Human figures, cows and pigs. I don’t know where it came from. I didn’t even know people could be artists. I wondered, could I ever be that?” .
Check out Rafael Esquer on IG @AlfalfaNewYork to get a behind-the-scenes look at his imaginative work from murals and maps to iconic branding for super teams the @HoustonRockets and #NewYorkCityFootballClub .

Find Your Road is a NEW SERIES we’re excited to share with you, based on our upcoming book. The book is filled with stories and strategies on how to find work you love that pays the bills. Visit us on IG @Camille_Sweeney to see more and share with the community there (in the comments) how you found your road.

The Bookseller: How Elizabeth Found Her Road

Bookseller Elizabeth at McNally Jackson book store in Soho, knows what you want to read. Photo: @JoshGosfield

“I am told I taught myself to read before I was 4. I’m the third of four kids in a family where I was loved but not attended to. My earliest memory is being dropped off every Sat morning at the library (while weekly grocery shop happened) and there I read and chose my maximum book stack (10?) for the week. I don’t remember anyone guiding me, so I just worked my way through shelves. First in Kids. And then (because no one told me not to) Adult. My father was an English teacher who is legally blind, and we talked of books from as early as I can remember though we share almost no reading taste. I love books, but just as much, I truly love helping people find the right book. I find shelving soothing. I love digging around to see that a section has all it could and should. New title Tuesday never fails to bring excitement. Thinking about ways to present books so readers find what they want, but also what they might not otherwise discover, is still thrilling.”

Find Your Road is a NEW SERIES we’re excited to share with you, based on our upcoming book. The book is filled with stories and strategies on how to find work you love that pays the bills. Visit us on IG @Camille_Sweeney to see more and share with the community there (in the comments) how you found your road.

The Musician: How Stewart D’Arrietta Found His Road

Australian musician Stewart D’Arrietta plays around the world and back.

“I started learning piano when I was put into boarding school at the age of 6. My first band, I was 14. After studying law, I enlisted in retail management, and at 26, opened my first shop, women’s clothing, young women’s clothing. I’ve always loved women’s fashion. I was a ballsy kid. Over the next 2 years, I opened 7 more shops. But I stretched my capital too far, went broke at the age of 28. I went back to law school. In my last 2 weeks, I was chastised for not being ready to file my conveyance for an imaginary client. Right then I decided the only thing I really enjoyed doing was music. I thought if there’s an afterlife, the only thing that would have relevance in that world would be music.” 

Ever since then, that’s what it’s been about for Stewart—music. One song, one show, one city after another, around the world. When you hear Stewart growl or stomp or smash chords on his keys, you feel every effing step he’s taken. He’s been called an Aussie “national treasure” by critics. (Stewart and Josh – aka my husband – are writing a musical about JFK that’s driving me crazy cause the song they did last week…I can’t get it out of my head!!)

Find Your Road is a NEW SERIES we’re excited to share with you, based on our upcoming book. The book is filled with stories and strategies on how to find work you love that pays the bills. Visit us on IG @Camille_Sweeney to see more and share with the community there in the comments how you found your road.

One Designer Fights Destruction with Creativity, Hate with Love

How to respond to tragedy?

Luis Vielma worked on the Harry Potter ride at Universal. He was 22 years old. I can't stop crying. —J.K. Rowling
[Victim of Orlando nightclub shooting] Luis Vielma worked on the Harry Potter ride at Universal. He was 22 years old. I can’t stop crying. —J.K. Rowling
In the wake of a mass murder, the images of the victims flicker and fade while the images of the killer fix, as if in some chemical bath, leaving a permanent stain on society. We watch helplessly as the killer’s self-propaganda videos and fire-arm poses outpace and eventually obscure the images of the victims in gentler moments of beauty, joy and love.

Visual artist and designer Rafael Esquer and his studio mates at Alfalfa Studio, want to invert this equation. Continue reading “One Designer Fights Destruction with Creativity, Hate with Love”

Superachiever Connie Rice on Partnering with Enemy Number One

In order to fight for justice, LA’s civil rights activist/lawyer and second cousin to Condaleezza, Constance Rice believes you have to change the system from within.

Constance Rice

How to fight for Justice

When we spoke to civil rights activist and lawyer, Connie Rice (second cousin to Condaleezza), for our book, Rice gave us a manifesto on how to fight for justice.

In her mission to serve what she calls the impoverished “invisible people” of L.A., Rice had waged war for decades against the entrenched power centers of L.A.—the city, the LAPD— with innovatively crafted lawsuits. But after time she saw that although she was winning in the courts, she was losing in the streets.

Rice told us: “If you see a need for change, you have to ask yourself, ‘Who has the power to get it done?'” Continue reading “Superachiever Connie Rice on Partnering with Enemy Number One”

This is What FAILURE Looks Like

My Startup Has 30 Days to Live, a raw, uncensored look at a startup going down told by a guy who takes responsibility for everything that’s gone wrong.

failure the art of doing

A raw, uncensored look at a startup, going down, told by a guy who takes responsibility for everything that went wrong.

In the research for our book the superacheivers we spoke to told of us past failures. What set them apart was their honesty about how they had contributed to their own failures. Because they challenged their beliefs, they were able to reinvent themselves and find entirely new ways of approaching their work. (Which we wrote about here.)

On the Tumblr blog, My Startup Has 30 Days to Live by an anonymous author about an unknown company, we are witnesses to a moment of real-time failure. What strikes us is the author’s brutal honesty about what has gone wrong. He is in the throes of defeat so he doesn’t yet have any answers about how to reconfigure his strategies—but based on how important we found that self-assesment is to success we would guess that he has a good shot at eventually sorting out what went wrong and figuring out how to do it differently the next time.

Subtitled “In 30 Days My Startup Will Be Dead,” the fascinating blog post recounts the rise and fall of a startup. It begins as most startups do. Continue reading “This is What FAILURE Looks Like”

What the Creators of IVF Can Teach Us About Innovation

Robert Edwards 2,500th child.Dr. Robert Edwards spent decades trying to solve the riddle of infertility with IVF. His innovative approach was a lot like any you could find in a modern-day startup—underfunded, scrappy and improvised.

It was in the mid-1950s when Robert G. Edwards, a young post-grad student who worked menial jobs to pay for his tuition at the University of Edinburgh, got a crazy idea.

Working on a genetics project with mouse embryos at a university lab, Edwards wondered if he could “pluck the egg from the ovary [of a woman] and fertilize it in the laboratory,” he wrote in his book, A Matter of Life. More importantly, he thought, if he could transfer the resultant embryo back into the woman’s womb, he’d solve one of mankind’s most vexing biological problems–infertility.

Considering this leap from mouse to man, it was an audacious thought, and a highly unlikely goal for a young scientist-to-be. But nearly 25 years later, in 1978, Edwards’s dream came true when the first child was born through in vitro fertilization.

The history of every innovation is unique with its own idiosyncratic quirks, characters, and defining cultural moments. But when we look back on ideas that were mere visions before they were embraced by the public, such as IVF, it can be helpful to see how an innovator like Edwards (who died earlier this month) pulled it off. Here are some lessons any entrepreneur or visionary can borrow from Edwards’s quest: Continue reading “What the Creators of IVF Can Teach Us About Innovation”

How Tennis Legend Martina Navratilova Went from Good to Great

Photo Carol Newsom

Most of us strive to be the best at what we do, but even those with the greatest advantages don’t necessarily rise to the top and stay there—what makes the difference?

Born with incredible athleticism, by her late teens, Martina Navratilova was one of the top players in the world. But in her early twenties, Navratilova played with uncertain commitment and was prone to puzzling losses.

When we interviewed Navratilova for our book, she told us about a fateful meeting with Nancy Lieberman a one-time pro basketball player that changed the course of her career. At Lieberman’s urgings, Navratilova, who had previously practiced for about an hour a day, took up weight training to achieve peak conditioning, running and basketball to improve reach and footwork and began a daily four hour, on-court practice regimen. Navratilova told us,

“All that training improved my reaction time and speed. I could hit the ball harder. I could run just as hard at the end of a match as I did at the beginning.”

[expand ]
At the time, this form of cross training was unheard of on the pro tennis circuit. Players hadn’t yet conceived of a physical regimen to achieve peak fitness. Because Navratilova was the only player training this way, she had a tremendous physical advantage, which allowed her to dominate the sport.

Once she began to win consistently, Navratilova told us, she “got religion.” She applied the same rigor to improving her diet as well as the mental, strategic and emotional aspects of her game. Navratilova went on to become one of the greatest tennis players ever, winning a record 59 Grand Slam titles in a career that spanned four decades.

What made the difference? Of course, it was the rigorous training that today is understood to be a necessary component of every elite athlete’s success. But just as with an innovative entrepreneur who creates a new business model, Navratilova had the self-awareness to recognize what was lacking in her game. With no precedent or model in her field, Navratilova had the creativity to evolve new ways of achieving her goals and the tenacity to carry through, which put her and kept her at the very top of her game.

We wonder, who is out there today, in tennis or any other sport, who will be tomorrow’s game changer?

Navratilova Records: Most singles title wins—for men or women (167), most singles match wins (1,442), longest match winning streak (74) and only player to win Grand Slam titles in four different decades.