The Art of Doing

TEDx Talk: The Art of Curiosity

A sneak peek at a TEDx talk I gave at a TEDx Conference on Curiosity in Philadelphia.

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 “TEDx Talk: The Art of Curiosity”

Listen to Learn

Active listening is a top ten strategy for success. Find out why it works.


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 “Listen to Learn”

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.

Christopher Columbus, Startup Entrepreneur

Christopher Columbus’s entrepreneurial journey offers lessons for anyone trying to innovate today.



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 “Christopher Columbus, Startup Entrepreneur”

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

“Our mission with a brand built on top of it” is how entrepreneurs Mary Beth Minton and her son Matt McCarty describe their start-up that’s disrupting Big Toy

Bratayley girls
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 “How a Small Company That Lets Kids be Kids Struck a Chord with Families”

Seeing Double, What We Can Learn from Dynamic Duos

John and Paul, Jobs and Woz, Watson and Crick—in his new book, “Powers of Two,” Joshua Wolf Shenk offers an alternative to the myth of the lone genius.

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 “Seeing Double, What We Can Learn from Dynamic Duos”

3 Lessons on How to Beat the Competition from World-Cup Winning Joachim Low

As a professional soccer player he was mediocre, as a coach he had only middling success, so how did Joachim Low get his German National team to perform above all the rest?


Joachim Low, coach of the winning German men’s soccer team, knows a few things about leading a team for a high-stakes performance. 

Joachim Low was a mediocre professional soccer player. As a coach he had only middling success. When he was promoted from assistant to head coach of the German National Team in 2006 he followed in the footsteps of the much-revered coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

Low was a tactical mastermind. As Klinsmann’s chief game strategist and as head coach himself, Low had ditched the static and defensive style of the German team and replaced it with a relentless fluid style of attacking football. The German team’s success raised the collective hopes of the nation, but they always lost the critical games. After a disappointing loss to Spain in the semi-finals in the 2010 World Cup, Low was reviled in the German press. It became a national sport to question Low’s ability to bring home the cup.

In a pre-tournament poll, Germans had so little faith in Low’s leadership that only 6% of the country expected the team to win the 2014 World Cup. But apparently Low knew a thing or two about beating the competition because in front of a billion viewers of the final game, Low proved 94% of his countrymen wrong.

So what can we learn about competing from this footballing philosopher? Continue reading “3 Lessons on How to Beat the Competition from World-Cup Winning Joachim Low”

Five Startup Lessons from America’s First Cofounders

In the late 18th century, a motley crew of lawyers, farmers, merchants, and disruptive freethinkers had an idea for a startup. Few of them figured the fledgling startup had much chance of success…and yet here we are today.


In the late 18th century, a motley crew of lawyers, farmers, merchants, and disruptive freethinkers had an idea for a startup. Few of them figured the fledgling startup had much chance of success. They came up with many names–including Columbia, the United Colonies, British America, and United Statesian–until they finally settled on the United States of America.

But how exactly do you go about starting up a government, especially if it is unlike any other that has existed before? It wasn’t as if they could go online and read up on how to do it.

The Founding Fathers were an exceptionally innovative collection of men. Not only has the government they conceived of lasted for more than 200 years, but it’s a model of democracy around the world.

It’s fascinating to realize that the political strategies the founders argued passionately about are still being argued today in business schools, boardrooms, and in the garages and basements of those aspiring to become the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. Continue reading “Five Startup Lessons from America’s First Cofounders”

What Happened to Child’s Play?

We all know youth sport participation can be good for self-esteem, socialization, and general fitness but youth sport specialization has its consequences—sports legends Yogi Berra and Martina Navratilova tell you why.


Sports legends Yogi Berra and Martina Navratilova offer lessons against specializing kids in youth sports

Just as your little soccer star is about to kick off a summer of U6 soccer drill camp or your ten-year-old tennis player is back on the courts for eight straight weeks, comes the message that specialization in youth sports in America is harming kids.

“Children are playing sports in too structured a manner too early in life on adult-size fields — i.e., too large for optimal skill development — and spending too much time in one sport,” writes David Epstein, author of The Sports Gene, in a recent article in The New York Times.

This, Epstein argues, can lead to serious injuries and, a growing body of sports science shows, a lesser ultimate level of athletic success.

“We should urge kids to avoid hyperspecialization and instead sample a variety of sports through at least age 12,” says Epstein.

Baseball legend, Yogi Berra and tennis champ Martina Navratilova would agree. Continue reading “What Happened to Child’s Play?”

Maya Angelou RIP

There has been a lot to say about the poet and writer Maya Angelou since her death last week. But about what life has taught her, perhaps Angelou says it best.


Born in Missouri, Maya Angelou was a fry cook, prostitute, streetcar conductor, single mother, nightclub dancer and performer, cast member of the opera Porgy and Bess, coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and a magazine editor in Egypt and Ghana during the days of decolonization. She was an actor, writer, director, and producer of plays, movies, and public television programs. From 1982, she taught American Studies at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She was active in the Civil Rights movement, and worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. She was the first poet to make an inauguration recitation (at President Bill Clinton’s 1993) since Robert Frost at John F. Kennedy’s in 1961. Her memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings about growing up in the Jim Crow South, was the first book by a black woman in the 20th century to reach a wide audience.

About her, New York Times journalist Margalit Fox wrote: ‘Throughout her writing, Ms. Angelou explored the concepts of personal identity and resilience through the multifaceted lens of race, sex, family, community and the collective past. As a whole, her work offered a cleareyed examination of the ways in which the socially marginalizing forces of racism and sexism played out at the level of the individual.

There has been a lot to say about Maya Angelou since her death last week. And more will be said at her memorial service at Wake Forest this Saturday, (which will be live streamed). But about what life has taught her, perhaps Angelou says it best. Continue reading “Maya Angelou RIP”