I wrote about Field Notes here. My connection with Field Notes starts with Aaron Draplin. As I explained, it was how Aaron made me feel about Field Notes that provided the spark for my fire.
I jumped on the Moleskine train in 2005. The buzz in my then online communities (authors, management / leadership / marketing) made the notebook impossible to resist. Truth be told, I have always been a notebook junkie so it didn't take much.
The day my first Moleskine arrived in the mail was the day I cut the link between Moleskine and Hipsters.
To me, then, Hipsters were folks who lavished over Seth Godin and many of the top fifty or so online marketing websites. It was like they'd link to Seth to show the other Hipsters that they were cool. They'd also write stuff about marketing and their readers fed upon their words like a school of pirana feeding upon cow intestines. Actually I think it was more of a Kool-Aid thing than a cow intestine thing.
As the immature idiot I was at the time, I quit writing stuff about Seth. While he's one of my most favorite all time authors ever, and although I have this tendency to rant about people I dig, I could not associate myself with the Hipsters. In retrospect, most, no check that, all of the Hipsters were way more talented than myself and any dribble from me would have been a grain of sand in the desert worth of distinction...Dave belly laughs here!
The Moleskine notebook stood on its own. I did not need Hipster validation. I loved them! As with Aaron, one spark for me was the company's brand story of its connection as a successor to the legendary notebooks used by yesteryear's rockstar artists like Vincent van Gogh. While the notebooks are not the same ones used by the previous two centuries worth of artists, the story mesmerized me. That alone however, would not be enough. Plain and simple, it's the way my pen feels in my hands as I write in the Moleskine that seals the deal. It. Just. Feels. Good. So, brand story plus tactility keeps me buying Moleskines.
I devoted a couple of Pocket Reporter Notebooks to grocery shopping over the past few years. Both basically fell apart. That crack in the Moleskine armor led me to start using the Field Note memo book for grocery store duties. So far so good.
To me, notebook usage is an evolving phenomena. I began to use a Quiver pen holder with my Pocket Moleskine Classic and it enriches the experience. Still, I lovethe Field Notes memo book. So I will continue to use them as well.
One more thing about the Field Notes memo book: It inspires me to get out of the house and go record stuff.
I recently subscribed to the Field Notes seasonal edition release. When that first batch of Field Notes memo books hit my door I looked at them and thought, "Now you really got to get your butt out in the field and take notes!"
Feel like saying something? Head over to my Google + page and fire away.
Do you like to learn? Do you like to write? Do you like to help authors? Want to know a few secrets that will make learning, writing and helping fun?
Why Write About You?
The first time that I did this I walked up to an author in her booth at a tradeshow. I asked, "Why should I write about you over your competitor?"
In order to learn topics written in books or at Websites, I'd approach authors in my former industry in that manner or online. Sometimes, once you wrote positive things about them, they'd give you more access to their material. While they wouldn't flat out teach you for free, some would offer teaching guidance at little or no cost. This works really well within individual industries!
Now unless you're a cat who has a million or so followers, this approach will not work for authors like Dan Pink and Seth Godin. They are popular and crazy busy. When it comes to authors of high notoriety, I suggest joining their communities, learning from their books and or online material and supporting them when they ask. I enjoyed a really cool learning opportunity when I joined an exclusive online community to help promote Dan's book To Sell is Human. And the value that I received by participating in a Seth Godin Kickstarter campaign for The Icarus Deception far exceeded my cost.
Do you think Dan and Seth said, "I'm going to be an author," and instantly gained fame? No. So get to know the next batch of Dan's and Seth's before they become Dan and Seth. I began supporting Penelope Trunk and Pam Slim a little over seven years ago and Rosa Say nearly nine years ago. While they might not be as popular as Dan and Seth, they have achieved that crazy busy status.
Refer their book in the comment section of blogs (when appropriate)
Talk about their books in your favorite Linked In group
Join their community & get their newsletter
Gift their books to coworkers, friends & relatives
Gift their books to deserving young adults
I recently began experimenting with a new way to help authors I dig. Here I review Kathy Hansen's A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way Into The Hidden Job Market. Because I want to one, promote Kathy's book and two, provide more value for my readers, I created a mind map that lists resources relative to this book in particular. The mind map link is located towards the end of that review.
The second thing that I'm doing in that review is to NOT provide a comment section on my blog. Instead I refer the readers to a Facebook Page. That way it's easier for readers to talk to their friends about the book.
A combination of an insatiable curosity, being a book junkie and having tremendous respect for those who write books has led me to a very fulfilling endeavor in helping authors I dig.
What does quiet sound like? Quiet is when you're in a room with over one-hundred people listening to a couple tell the story of how their daughter survived childbirth - all one pound and four ounces of her, and you can hear over one-hundred hearts pounding to escape the prison of their rib cages...thump, thump, thump. That's quiet.
I attended the Write Your Hearts Out, Tampa Bay event at the Straz Center this past Sunday. The speakers were insanely talented authors. A couple of Pulitzer prize winners, writing professors, two columnists, two fiction authors and a gentleman who is referred to often as the best writing coach in America. And as if this wasn't heavyweight enough, the Poynter Institute, one of the most prominent journalism schools in the word, sponsored the program. There was more literary and journalistic knowledge in that room than air.
Attendees came to learn about writing. And we did. But we were on the edge of our seats, trying to keep our hearts from exploding because a couple took turns telling the story of how their precious daughter survived childbirth and the subsequent months prior to her hospital release.
I am telling you that Kelley Benham and Tom French's daughter Juniper, survives. Because when Kelley's story in the Times first came out in December of 2012, I couldn't read it. The byline of Kelley's story read:
When a baby is born at the edge of viability, which is the greater act of love: to save her, or to say goodbye?
I was not about to read a three-part piece to learn that this brave couple had to say goodbye. Sorry Kelley.
Tom and Kelley are an intriguing couple who seem to be thriving in the land of opposites. Tom seems laid back and Kelley doesn't. After listening to Kelley talk for a few minutes, the words wild child popped into my head. That character of hers combined with a straight-forward-tell-it-like-it-is-genuineness and I could listen to her stories for hours.
Here's Kelley's story. These are Juniper's actual footprints.
Vishen Lakhihani and his friends are tapping into the power of crowdsourcing to come up with the top list of books that transformed people's lives. It appears that Vishen's efforts are just getting under way. As more people hear about it, the list will no doubt change.
This is so beyond cool that I am speaking about it on all of my online outlets.
I participated in the Kickstarter campaign for Seth and his team. This is a picture of all the stuff that my donation included. That large book weighs twenty pounds and you can see by the ruler below how large it actually is. I'll probably review the book in the not so distant future but I just wanted to pass the word along on the book and show you these pictures.
Should you buy the book? Yes. I've already made that determination after reading about thirty pages. But here's another reason. I first began to read Seth's books in the late nineties. I've seen improvement in each book. Seth has sharpened his awareness, increased his resources and enhanced his writing skills (I have twenty pounds of proof of this). That's why I'll continue to buy Seth books, provided he's not writing on some uninteresting topic, for years to come.
The Law of Inversion is the practice of inverting a lesson and looking at it from a different perspective. Here's an example.
My friend Denny recently turned me on to Simon Sinek. Simon teaches people how great leaders inspire action. I am burnt beyond crisp on leadership and management. Too much study on topics that were paramount to my day job for too many years. But Denny is a wise cat and so I watched a Simon TED talk on the subject. Ouch! I nearly let a narrow focus rob me of an invaluable lesson. Instead of watching this talk from the perspective of a leader trying to hone his corporate skills, I watched it and pretended that I was a young adult with hair trying to stand out from his peers.
Try this yourself. Deep-six the stodgy-gray-suited-mindless-nincompoop and pretend you're a young adult who wants to give herself an edge, an opportunity to stand out from an endless sea of peers clamoring for the same limited amount of desirable jobs. I value your time so I'm going to give you a tip that will optimize your experience. When people understand Why you are about, doors will open. Watch this from the perspective of other people understanding your Why.
In an ironic twist I use this example of a book written to help people with networking, become a better manager. I also include an example of how a manager can gain invaluable lessons from Penelope Trunk's book Brazen Careerist, a book written to help young adults enhance their careers.
The key to using the Law of Inversion to your advantage is to approach the lesson with an open mind. Like I crawled out of the bug and slime infested swamp of my management experience, step outside of your teacher, fireman or welder role and grab hold of a fresh perspective.
Escape The Island
If you're in an industry where your consultants or blog writers begin a sentence and you finish it, you need to get off the island. You need a fresh perspective. I had the honor of being around a young woman who, years ago, did just that. Angela Maiers, a teacher bent on improving literacy and learning, joined our online community that consisted mostly of managers, marketers and writers. Angela escaped her educational industry island and foraged on ours. What makes Angela so special is that she returned to her island and tried new stuff. The more she infused new life into the island, the less of an island it became.
The example I'm about to give you might be the Mother-of-all-Inversion-possible. Quickly though, I'd like to let my friends at Fast Co. dispel any notions of Design Thinking being a fly-by-night business fad that escaped out the backdoor and into the night. It isn't. It's a mindset. It's a way of life. It isn't going anywhere.
The Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Standford University, commonly known as the d.school, put together a bootcamp bootleg to instruct and support the process of design thinking. Prior to learning about the law of inversion one might think this document is for designers. You know, those who went to design school, those who design stuff and or those employed in the design profession. Whereas my examples above of the Law of Inversion are somewhat limiting, this document vaporizes the boundaries of possibility!
It simply doesn't matter what subject you consider or profession you're in. Open your mind, lock-n-load questions and peruse this document. An endless sea of ideas will pound upon the beaches of your mind. I printed off one copy to use for building Standing Out in a Sea of Sameness and will print off more copies for future projects.
If I were younger I'd pack my Law of Inversion and knock every single day on the d.school door until they gave me a job to sweep their floors or anything to be around this life altering program :-)
I bought this book after reading A Conversation with Biographer Penelope Niven by Sheryl Monks in The Writer's Chronicle (not available online). I learned that Ms. Niven worked on organizing Sandburg's papers at his last residence in North Carolina, from the summers of 1977 to 1983. She said something to the effect: "I began to feel that this book walked up to me and made me write it." Sandburg said the very same thing in regards to writing Abe Lincoln's biography. This pegged my intrigue meter and sparked a wild fantasy of self sacrifice. I'll tie myself up in the local library and wait for a gang of books to take me to their lair and force me to write a book.
Author Elizabeth Yates on biographies:
A biography, well and carefully done, contains the richness, the service, the achievement of a particular life, but it leaves a door ajar into a room where the reader makes his own discovery.
For a snapshot of Sandburg's life and context of this book, read Ms. Niven's own summation.
Passage through Ms. Niven's doorway led me to discover a man who was so beyond dedicated to his craft he seemed to rack up 10,000 hours every two years. Sandburg was driven by a need to chronicle life as it occured in his time and day. The main themes that permeated his writings were political landscapes and workforce injustices. Ms. Niven refers to it as participating in his times. Sandburg didn't just sit behind a desk positing the times. For at least sixty years he had his feet on the street taking America's pulse. This rich experience is one factor that distanced Sandburg from the average American writer.
The constant and continuous travel could have decimated Sandburg's family. But it didn't thanks to his wife Lilian, whom he called Paula. She encouraged and supported his poetry early on and provided the freedom for him to pursue his dreams throughout their lives by running the household and taking care of their three daughters. In spite of this, Paula still found time to become one of America's foremost experts on raising goats. With her education, intellect and science-based methodologies, Paula could probably have been one of America's foremost experts in a number of fields. If it wasn't for her, Carl Sandburg would not be the Carl Sandburg we know today.
Jewels of discovery abound in this prolific work. I learned about Paula's mother. Her brilliance and fortitude obviously spilled over on not only Paula but her brother, world class photographer Edward Steichen. Steichen was Sandburg's closest friend throughout his life. Sandburg's platonic relationships with scores of women no doubt influenced his viewpoints. I found it most interesting that one of those was with writer Brenda Ueland, who was very influential to Julia Cameron, one of my favorite writers on writing.
On the import of biographies, Elizabeth Yates says:
To me, it is the impact of a particular person on an immediate period as well as the reach of influence - the radiating circles made my one small pebble when cast by birth into the wide ocean of life.
It would take a battalion of graduate students three lifetimes to root out three degrees (or radiating waves) of separation from Sandburg - in America alone. There's so much to learn about Sandburg and the times and people surrounding his life. That Ms. Niven contains her work here in eight hundred forty-three pages is testimony to her writing skills.
You're working at the computer. You find yourself in a zone. Well, at the time you don't, that comes later. But your attention is at attention, your mind is focused and your fingers are a flurry of delicate ballet strokes as they move about your keyboard without stepping on each other's toes.
What are you working on? Are you Tweeting, Facebooking, Googling...writing?
What motivates you to stay in this zone? Is it escape? Is it a desire to be of value to others? Is it a desire to produce art?
I hear so many writers talk about being blocked, as in writer's block. I wonder if one can minimize writer's block if they concentrate on those who they write for. I think if instead of thinking about what words to write, they think about how their words will help others, it just might help those words to flow.
What are you thinking about when you are in the zone and not thinking?