Are You Doing What Eminem Did to Take Your Career to the Next Level?

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When you think of Eminem, how do you believe he became such a megastar?

Would you say it’s because he’s a talented, gifted wordsmith? If you would, you’re about half right.

Eminem’s technical skills—everything from penning tight lyrics to composing enthralling beats—are phenomenal. He’s a Hip Hop legend.

But that’s not the only reason he’s successful. Actually, that’s only half the story.

Eminem As a Marketer?

Yes, Eminem also knew how to market his work. He knew how to self-promote, network.

This shocked me. If you’re an Eminem fan, it might shock you too.

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Why Saying These Eight Words Will Make You A Successful Creative

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“I want to be one of those guys.

Saying these eight words will help you be successful.

I recently watched HBO’s Talking Funny, where comedians Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Louis CK, and Ricky Gervais talked about comedy. Initially I tuned in because I’m a huge fan of Louis CK, but I enjoyed a few of their interesting insights as well.

One particular insight that fascinated me was how they had similar mindsets at the start of their careers. At one point Louis CK asks Seinfeld what made him get back on stage after bombing his first set. Seinfeld explains:

Success wasn’t my objective. It was just ‘I want to be one of those guys’. If I can be one of those guys, then I win everything. Money was not the thing. So once I stepped on there for the first time, that’s it—I’m now one of these guys. I’m just going to keep doing this.

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Benjamin Franklin’s Incredible Technique for Mastering Your Craft

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On Monday, I spoke about the elements of deliberate practice. Today I want to talk about an extraordinary technique Benjamin Franklin used to become an exceptional writer (explained more deeply in Geoffrey Colvin’s book Talent Is Overrated).

Ben Franklin was one of the most exceptional and influential writers of the 18th Century. But how did he get so good?

Apparently through intense practice designed to shore up his weaknesses. His story is awesome.

When Franklin was a teenager, he would write letters and send them back and forth with a friend from school. His father looked at one particular letter—the topic was whether woman should be educated—and pointed out his son’s strengths and weaknesses.

Young, studious Franklin thought about his father’s constructive criticism—it smacked him in the gut. He took it seriously and did something pretty extraordinary. First, he gathered a series of superbly written essays. Then he’d scrutinize an article and make notes on the meaning of each sentence.

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Do You Know Exactly Why You’re Chasing Your Dream?

A lion knows why he dashes after a zebra in an open field—he needs to eat.

Editor’s note: The original article was published in January 2012. Also, I want to give a big thanks to anyone who came out to UTM’s book launch last night in Toronto and supported a bunch of new authors. A special thanks to those who bought my book, Lessons for Creative People. For anyone else interested in getting a copy, you can order it online at my publisher’s website.

Kevin Spacey’s interview on Inside the Actor’s Studio is inspiring. In this short segment of the full interview, he explains to a young audience that when you achieve your dreams, there is no external prize.

Achieving success bestows only an internal prize—a feeling of fulfillment, resolve, strength, purpose.

The most satisfying aspect of doing creative work is watching yourself grow and your skills mature—and witnessing the universe crack to allow room for your dream to breath, grow, and manifest.

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Is Art School Right for You? An Interview With OCAD Student Julia Tchaban

graphite stick self portrait dressed as Frida Kahlo

Today I’m excited to share an insightful interview with Julia Tchaban, an up and coming art student at OCAD, the Ontario College of Art and Design.

Julia and I had an interesting discussion about the value of art school. Her thoughts and advice are helpful to anyone looking to apply.

In this interview, Julia explains the value of going to art school, even though she strongly believes that one doesn’t need an art education to be a great artist.

Enjoy the interview!

Best,
Aaron.

Interview With Julia Tchaban

1.    To start off, why don’t you introduce yourself?

My name is Julia, I’m 22 years old and I just completed my first year at OCAD University. Coming from an arts high school I’ve already had quite a bit of experience in painting, sculpture, printmaking and photography, which I will definitely study here at OCAD. I may even go so far as take up some integrated media and design courses as well.

When I’m not in school I’m working part-time as a Page at Toronto Public Library. I love to read, go to concerts, watch movies and take a ridiculous amount of pictures (my love of photography black and white or digital, doesn’t matter). Ideally I would like to be a working artist and display my work in galleries. But now I’ve started to warm up to the idea of maybe even teaching on the side.

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What We Can Learn from Bradley Cooper’s Dedication

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Cooper embodied a professional attitude towards a craft that can be intimidating, daunting, and downright scary.

I am republishing this post, which was first published on October 10th, 2011.

The other day I watched an interesting interview of the actor Bradley Cooper on Inside The Actor’s Studio.

What I learned from watching this is that it’s important to become a student of the craft and dedicate everything we have to the process of learning and improving, because in the end, dedication will take us farther than talent.

Cooper recently flung into the spotlight after his successful performances in Wedding Crashers, The A-Team, The Hangover, The Hangover Part II, and Limitless, to name a few.

He wasn’t a child prodigy destined to star on the big screen, though. He wasn’t a Christian Bale type with movie-star-aura at 13 years old. The story of Cooper’s acting success is one of humble beginnings and a serious dedication to his craft.

In 1977, Cooper graduated from Georgetown University with honours in English. His initial plan was to take a year off and intern at the Shubert Theatre in Philadelphia and build up his acting skills before applying to grad school. As a test run, he decided it wouldn’t hurt to apply to a graduate program right away. Astonishingly, without any real prior acting experience, he was accepted to the MFA program at the Actors Studio Drama School in New York.

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J.K Rowling’s Inspirational Speech On the Benefits of Failure and Imagination

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Today I want to share a very inspirational video: Joanne Rowling’s commencement address at Harvard. She’s been through the ringer. She’s battle tested.

When she lived with her daughter in Scotland, she was penniless, relying heavily on financial support to pay the bills.

But it was rock bottom where Rowling decided to write the first Harry Potter novel.

In this speech, Rowling discusses what failure did for her imagination. It’s a must watch for anyone looking for inspiration through hard times.

Enjoy the video 🙂

Best,
Aaron.

 Let us know what you think in the comments below! 

Why Creative People Should Embrace [Mental] Chaos

Creative people thrive on mental clutter.

One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star.

—Fredriche Nietzsche

In a Big Think interview, author Malcolm Gladwell explains how important it is for creative people to welcome the irrelevant, the messy, and the chaotic things they come across.

He says that creative people’s brains are supposed to be chaotic and messy—it’s the landfill from which they invent and create.

The next time you catch yourself daydreaming, or find yourself in amusement of some small detail in nature—like a legion of ants crowding over an anthill—don’t censor it.

Let yourself wonder. And feel secure about it.

You never know when one junky idea might serve you. People who work in creative fields need to embrace chaos, not repress it.

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Self-Belief And Why We Need It When Chasing Our Dreams

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After watching an old 2009 interview of Curtis Jackson (50 Cent) on Tavis Smiley, I was intrigued to hear how he struggled to develop self-belief. His life story teaches us a great deal about where self-validation, courage, and self-confidence come from.

Are we born with it? Do we develop it—and if so, how?

These questions are hard to answer, but Jackon’s tale leaves us clues. (Hint: It’s developed through force of will.)

Living in Queens, New York, Curtis Jackson began to learn the craft of song writing from his mentor, Jam Master Jay. But he was often tempted to trash his dream altogether, and instead make fast, easy money by peddling crack cocaine. The more he tried to break free from the drug game, the more it seemed to pull him back in.

Jackson was internally divided between two lives—a life of dealing drugs or making music. But his rap gig was starting to sputter. He was getting older and his chance of getting recognized in the industry was vanishing. Jackson explains how he handled the uncertainty:

I thought I was ready in 97. And I didn’t have a major record company marketing to promote my project till’ 2003. So for that time period I had to run on my own energy.

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How to Kill Perfectionism

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Recently I watched a new documentary of South Park—the animated comedy about four vulgar grade-schoolers from Colorado—called Six Days to Air. It catalogued the making of one of the show’s new episodes: Human CentIpad.

The documentary was entertaining and informative. I learned that South Park has survived through 15 seasons because the show’s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, know how to kill perfectionism.

Parker and Stone have only six days to make a new episode. During the process of making Human CentIpad, Parker described what it’s like to be under such pressure:

There is a show on this Wednesday and we don’t even know what it is. And like, even though that’s the way we’ve always done it, there’s this little thing going ‘Oh, you’re screwed… you’re screwed!’

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