Ryan Holiday: How to Create Work That Lasts | Chase Jarvis LIVE

– Rolling. – Hey, everybody, how’s it going? I’m Chase, welcome to another episode of the Chase Jarvis Live
Show here on CreativeLive. This is a show where I sit down with the world’s top
creators, entrepreneurs and thought leaders and
I do everything I can to unpack their brains and
bring`valuable information to you with the hope of you
living your dreams and career and hobby and in life. My guest today is a New York
Times best selling author, he was the former Director of
Marketing for American Apparel and then wrote one of my
favorite books of all time called Trust Me, I’m Lying,
about media manipulation, then a book called The
Obstacle is the Way, which has helped
popularize stoic philosophy and we’re here to talk about
his new book, Perennial Seller. My guest today is the
amazing Ryan Holiday. – Thanks, man. (lively music) (audience applause) – We love you. – Thank you for being on the show. – Of course, you were
my first big interview that I ever did. – Second time on the
show and the first one was right at Trust Me, I’m Lying, which was like four years
ago now, three years ago? – No, five. – Five?
– Five at least, yeah. – Holy crap, I’ll never go five years without you being on the show. That means we’ve been
doing this for a long time. – Yeah, you could say that
it’s a perennial show. – Bomp, bomp, shhh. We’re going to unpack the
book, but before we do, we’re in Austin, Texas,
we were just talking about the last time you were on this show, you were living in the middle
of Los Angeles, were you not? – Yeah, I was either in Los Angeles or I lived in New York, very urban, yeah. – One of those two places, super urban. I thought of you like a
crazy renegade marketer who was hacking billboards
for American Apparel and helping people launch best
selling books of their own. And now we’re in Austin,
Texas, you’re just talking about you drove past the farm store. – Yeah. – Massive life change, so have you moved to the country to write or what’s the story behind
your life transformation? – I think that one of the
reasons I left New York, was that there was too
much going on in New York and it’s very hard to do work that I liked in the sense of when you’re in Manhattan and even when I’m there like on business, there’s an unlimited amount of things. I don’t know that you
can do stuff culturally or sightseeing or whatever, but there’s so many people there doing really great work
that it almost feels like you’re being irresponsible
not taking certain meetings, taking certain jobs,
going to certain events and so I found it was like incredibly hard not just to write, but to
do any sort of thinking or any of the work that
had propelled me to be able to afford to move to New
York City in the first place. First I just moved to Austin,
to just like Austin proper and part of it was like I won’t feel bad not being at a party in New
York City if I live in Austin, because I live in Austin and
I shouldn’t be there, right? So it was like it was a way of just sort of radically
saying no and simplifying things and then as things are wont
to do, it quickly snowballed from me living on the east side of Austin, to living very east of
Austin on a cattle ranch, which has been great. – I follow you on Instagram, of course I follow everything you do, and I’m watching you
feed carrots to donkeys. – Yeah, or this morning I woke up and one of our Longhorns
had jumped over the fence. You spend all this time
making this barbed wire fence, of course they can’t go through the fence and you think you’ve all got it. Then you just watch
this 1,500 pound animal just pfft, right over the fence. Yeah, I don’t know, it keeps me busy and in a way that’s not,
that’s very the opposite of what I do for a living. Having that balance has been
really, really good for me. – I will jump on that bandwagon. I love working with my hands and so much of the work I’m
doing right now is very, it’s– – Yeah, cerebral. – Yeah, it’s very cerebral
work and it’s leadership and inspiring others
and learning from others and applying that to
the CreativeLive world, or to make videos and
whatever we’re doing. I still love, we’ve got a,
mostly in San Francisco now, we have a home in Seattle
and we had a big remodel and I got to get into it a little bit. – Sure. – Felt so good. – I mean it feels good, it takes you away from what you’re doing,
but I’ve also found it’s very humbling, too. So like all the things I do on
my farm, they don’t require, they don’t require you
to be smart in the way that I always thought of myself as smart. So it’s like, we’re
having this garden built and I hired my 16-year-old
neighbor to do 98% of the work and then I’m just sort of
involved on the periphery. But there’s not a lot of
things that 16-year-olds are often showing me how to do and there’s not a lot of
things that I’m having to watch YouTube videos to figure out. It’s like the farm stuff,
you don’t have to be smart, you just have to be patient and
you have to be tough, right? And that’s just so the opposite of what I do on the computer
or what I do when I’m writing. I think it’s made me better
at the other things that I do. – I love the connection. I gonna go back five years
ago to Trust Me, I’m Lying and maybe even how you
got into that whole world because you were a marketer. So talk to me about a) how
you landed up in marketing and then the transition to,
maybe how you identify today. – Yeah, so five years
ago, I sort of sat down and wrote a book, which today we would say it’s a riff about fake news and about the manufacturing of fake news and how this system can be
and is sort of manipulated by marketers to get messages
out into this very noisy world. – Whether marketers are companies or politicians or messangers. – Yeah, how information
spreads in the internet age. I thought I was basically
lighting my marketing career on fire, literally like
destroying it by writing this book and it sort of went
the opposite direction. I started a company that’s
worked with all sorts of cool clients since then. But what it really opened
up for me was the idea of writing as a profession. That was my first book,
then I’ve done now, I think I’m on my sixth book,
six books in five years. It’s been, let’s say
exhausting, to put it mildly, but just the idea of being able
to wake up and have an idea and write about it and
communicate it to an audience, to me is, not only is
that the end of marketing, that’s like the goal of marketing, but that’s very creatively doing it. I would say I sort of
identify as a writer first and then I keep my hand
in the marketing world as a way of keeping things interesting and then also making sure that I’m not, I don’t ever just want
to be on the sidelines sort of talking about how
things might be going. I want to actually be doing the work. – Know.
– Yeah. – When you wrote your first book, I’m gonna go back to
the fake news comment. Of course the political
environment in the United States is unlike anything I think,
that anybody saw coming. Or if you saw it coming
and you talked about it, people would like downplay it. – Yeah. – You go ahead. – Yeah, I mean this is, what
I was writing the book about one of the messages I felt in the book was here’s how I’m doing this
when I work with author, clients or when I work
with clothing companies or when I work with funny people who are trying to do
some prank or some stunt. And to me, the ultimate
message of the book was if I can do this so
easily with these things that don’t matter, what
do you think people with more resources and less ethics are going to be able to do? I don’t want to say that
message was dismissed, but there was a lot of
shooting the messenger there and I think that came at our peril. I don’t even want to talk
about politics on the show, but it is interesting to
think that Donald Trump has been talking about
running for president since longer than I’ve been alive. Like his first, I think it was ’86, ’87, so he’s talking about it
and then every four years he would talk about it again. So what changes in 2015, 2016? It’s that these forces
that have been operating on our media system for
so long got to a stage where this sort of act became real and that’s very, very alarming. I think people need to
understand these things, not just like defensively, because you don’t want to be manipulated. How many people were,
they wake up every morning and they’re upset and they
don’t know why they’re upset and they don’t see what’s acting on them. Then also, you have to know
that these are the things that you’re competing with, so whether you love Donald
Trump or hate Donald Trump, what he is, is an embodiment
of how information spreads and operates in 2017,
and you need to know, one of the things I remember I was saying that people thought was
funny on your last show, it was like you have this charity that’s supposed to help kids in Africa or you have this message
of inspiration or hope about something you deeply believe in. Then you’re competing with low
cats and internet pornography and fake news and all these things, so we’re all competing
in the Facebook feed for everyone’s attention. And if you don’t know how
to break through that, you’re gonna wonder why
no one knows who you are. – So true, and to me,
that was, I would say, largely made my photography
career on the back of information spreading quickly. – Yes. – That’s one of the reasons
that I was initially besides, was it in ’10 that I introduced us? – Yeah, I think so. – To impress, besides
having mutual friends, I was fascinated because
I hadn’t deconstructed, effectively deconstructed my own success and it was largely around
information moving quickly and the information of how
to take amazing photographs in the world wasn’t just
about some special technique that I had, that if the
information was going to spread and that information was going
to be available to everyone, like you can lean into it and lead with it or pretend it doesn’t exist
and try and keep it quiet for as long as you can. So I was the recipient
of the benefit of sharing before it was trendy to do so. And when I saw the similarity, I mean I was aware of why I was doing it and that it was effective,
but when I saw it as, wow, this is going to be much
bigger than my little world and today to have it affect
politics the way it does and international news has
been a mind-blower, so– – When you think about advertising, right, it’s like on the one hand,
the photographer let’s say, their job is to take this
photo that’s supposed to sell the product in
the magazine or on TV or on social media. But then actually what
advertising has really become, given the infinite amount
of news sources we have, is really it’s supposed to
generate discussion and attention and chatter, so it really changes what a lot of people’s roles are. It’s like, you know,
my job isn’t to capture how the shoe looks, my job is
to capture way the shoe looks in such a way that other
people will start talking about it on Twitter. So these forces sort of
crank up how controversial and interesting and provocative,
or crazy or weird things have to be. If you just think your job is to take the best photo possible, you’re gonna be continually disappointed why your work’s not breaking through. – Yeah, I just read that
adidas passed Jordan as the number two sneaker brand. – Really. – It used to be Nike, then
Jordan, then adidas was, their market share didn’t equal, their whole global
market share didn’t equal to what Jordan was in the
US and there were people just a couple of years ago
saying they should totally throw in the towel.
– Right. – And through tapping into
cultural icons for example, they have used that,
whether it’s unintentional or intentional, it’s
just like, we’re gonna go the celebrity route or
whatever and the fact that people are talking
about adidas making adidas different and interesting is more valuable than all of the actual
advertising in of itself. – Yeah, of course, you
look at cryptocurrency, how much of it is that people go, oh, I really believe in
this or how much of it is like, everyone’s talking about it? These things were just so exposed and they get so much attention
that they become real. That’s both really empowering
and really terrifying at the same time. – I’m gonna shift gears
from Trust Me, I’m Lying, to stoic philosophy. – Okay, a very natural trend, of course. – But to me, it’s natural
because it explains so much of your recent success. I’m unabashedly applying
a lot of this to my life. I grew up, I don’t know if
a lot of people know this, but I was in a PhD program in philosophy. People asked me all the time, I remember my parents saying,
“Are you gonna philosophize “about being unemployed?” What is philosophy, when
I met my wife, Kate, she was like, “That’s like sociology, “it’s just like whatever
path that’s gonna get you “the shortest, the quickest degree.” And yet, it has been a
tool for critical thinking and when I think about
stoic philosophy here, I remember learning about
a little bit back then, but you’ve brought this with
maybe even the first book Obstacle is the Way, you
thrust it into the limelight of popular culture. Now all the football coaches
are talking about it, strategists, politics, pop
culture, it’s everywhere. Give us a little backstory. – It’s kind of sad, this thing
that we done as a society or culture for thousands
of years is dismissed as this thing for academics. It’s obviously a tool
for critical thinking and that you even got
that out of it, is unique or unusual, right? But the truth was, for most of its history
ancient philosophy was not this academic discipline, it
wasn’t about thought exercises. It was supposed to be
sort of practical lessons for what they would
call the art of living. The stoics almost didn’t believe in what people were writing. They were like, how do you
live your life, what do you do? So that’s the kind of philosophy that I’m really interested in. There’s a line– – Is it practical, is it practicality, is that what it is about it? – Yeah, so Epicurus, who wasn’t a stoic, but he’d say, “Vain is the
word of the philosophers. “It does not heal the suffering of man.” But the point is, it’s supposed
to help you in your life, do what you’re doing. Marcus Aurelius, who is one
of the stoics, he would say that, ‘No role is so
well suited to philosophy “as the one you’re in right now.” The idea is, you’re a
photographer, you’re an emperor, you’re a writer, you’re a
janitor, how can you apply these principles if
your actual life, right? It’s not can you have
this interesting debate about do we exist or not, is
this a computer simulation? They would say what should you do when you feel your temper coming up? What should you do when you’re in a position
of power or leadership? What do you do when you
start to think about the fact that you might only have
twenty or thirty years left in your life? Or what do you do when a
friend of yours passes? Those are the kinds of
situations that they would say that philosophy is designed for. So I was really interested in it, specifically there’s one
exercise from Marcus Aurelius the book is based on. Basically he’s saying, “The
impediment to action advances “after one stands in the
way, becomes the way.” Really, what he meant is that
we don’t control what happens, we control how we respond and
that’s the element of stoicism that I’ve tried to introduce as a writer. The New England Patriots
read it on the way to the Super Bowl in 2014, and
then they beat the Seahawks. – You shut up. (Ryan laughs) – They beat the Seahawks and then– – The (mumbles) Seahawks, that was the worst game ever, sorry. – That’s what’s so
interesting, if you lose a game on the one yard line that you
thought you were gonna win, that the decision you made in
probably 99 times out of 100, should have given you that win. I sat in Pete Carroll’s
office in his chair and he was talking about what
do you do in that situation? And these are precisely
the situations that– – Stoic philosophy. – Yeah, the philosophy’s designed for it ’cause you can’t go back in time, you can’t undo what you did,
you only control what you learn from that situation, how
you carry yourself forward. What I loved, and he
hadn’t read the book yet so this is all him, but
Pete Carroll’s response, afterwards they’re
blaming the quarterback, they’re blaming the receiver, and he said, “I made the
call, it was my decision “and I own it.” That is a philosophical decision, to decide to take
responsibility for something that you very easily could have
pushed off on someone else. So that’s the kind of philosophy that I’m really interested in. – So what I would like to do is take the, even still conceptually, stoic philosophy, there is
a barrier from people saying I really want to embrace stoic
philosophy as a mechanism to, again the audience
who are listening here are largely creative, entrepreneurial. That’s what I lean into in my profession and that’s what CreativeLives stands for and so for the folks at
home who are going whoa, stoic philosophy, let’s now go specific. Even the Seahawks and the Super Bowl, those are some abstract things. – Right, so first off, they’re probably not
saying that like that. That sounds super boring,
I won’t get into that. (Chase laughs) But I get what you’re saying. Stoicism is basically three
disciplines I talk about. First is perception, so how
do you look at this situation, any situation, someone is rude to you, your company’s in trouble. – You need to get your work out there and be discovered and seen. – Yeah, so do you look at it
as this negative situation, do you look at it as being totally unfair, do you look it as impossible? The way you’re gonna look at
it is largely gonna determine how you’re gonna be able to respond. Not the secret right now,
like wish that it’s good and it becomes good, but
like how are you gonna see it and what are you gonna focus on? So the stoics would say first
off, you want to look at it as objectively as possible. They would say there’s no good or bad, there’s just how we look at things. Which is true, right, because
a negative situation to you, there is somebody in another country who would literally
kill for the opportunity to have that amazing thing happen to them. What you take from that is,
that oh wait, how I see this. The perspective that I look
at this thing is gonna change what I’m gonna be able to do with it. We have a huge amount of power. On the one hand it’s sort of disempowering to think that we don’t
control 98% of what happens to us in life. A car crashes through your living room, your plane is delayed,
an investor backs out, all these things, you don’t
control those decisions because other people make
them, you know, physics. – Sure. – But that final 2% is
what we tell ourselves, that those things are or mean. Do you know what I mean? – Absolutely. – Like I had a thing that went
south a couple of days ago and I got this nasty email and
there might be some dispute over money about it, and I
was really upset about it. Then I was thinking first
off, what did I do wrong in this situation? And I did a number of things wrong that led up to it
happening, so it was okay, let me take responsibility for those. And second, is this not a wake
up call about those things? Obviously, I’m gonna try
to fix this situation, get it right, maybe I am in the right, but at the very least,
this is gonna wake me up out of sort of a stupor or a status quo where I allowed these things to happen, does that make sense? – Absolutely. – The perception that we bring to things, that’s probably the most
important discipline of stoicism. – Is there a sense of it’s
almost like awareness practice, where you’re asking yourself a question, like what does this mean? – Yeah, so Marcus Aurelius’ famous book is called Meditations, so he’s
meditating on these ideas, not in a sort of a Zen
pose, but he’s writing. We have this book that
survives from this great man, where he was just sort of
like, there’s this one line that I love where he goes,
“Are you afraid of death “because you won’t be
able to do this anymore?” He’s like just implying that
whatever crap that he did that day, that was a total waste of time. You know, one of those
days where you’re just like doing nothing, and then he’s like wait, this is what I’m protecting? He’s just working on these things mentally and he’s also writing them
down, I think journaling’s sort of part of it. But yeah, it’s let’s
make sure we’re thinking about these things right. – So you talked about a
framework and the first part of that framework was really thinking like what does this mean, what attitude am I gonna
bring to this challenge? This is where I love the
practicality of this system. I’ve seen it in The Obstacle is the Way and in just your work
everywhere, but talk to me about steps two and three. So one is how you look
with your attitude– – Yeah, then what do you do
with this information, right? Again, not the secret, not
like, hey, this horrible thing happened and I said it’s
positive so it becomes positive. Right now, it’s like what do
you do with this information? One of the most compelling
examples of this if we can go historically is
you think about Eisenhower in the second World War
and over and over again, this German blitzkrieg had
this devastating effect on the Allied forces. After D-Day, it’s this
massive counter-offensive, like 200,000 German men in tanks and there’s this scene where Eisenhower, he calls all his generals
into this conference room and he walks in and he says,
“Look, I want you to see this “as an opportunity and not as a disaster. “There will only be cheerful faces “at this conference table.” So that’s the perspective side of things. What he’s done is, he’s
looked at it differently, and he’s realized that this sort of massive counter-offensive,
this offensive mindset that the enemy is doing, is
also desperately overreaching, so they’re rushing at you. If you break and you are
intimidated by this, then it works. But if you absorb it and you encircle it, then there’s an opportunity there. This is what they do, if you think about, this first happens at the Falaise Pocket and then at the Battle of the Bulge. People have heard about
the Battle of the Bulge. What you don’t realize is
the Battle of the Bulge was the Nazis thinking
that they’re winning. They create this giant
bulge in the Allied lines, but then slowly the bulge
begins to close around them. So the discipline of perception
is how am I gonna see this, what good is in this terrible situation? And then how can I take
action and decisions based on this information, how can I exploit this
opportunity, which he does, and basically, they take
some 50,000 German prisoners in the Battle of the Bulge alone. So it’s this idea of catching yourself, seeing it differently than everyone else and then doing or zooming in on that thing that people aren’t willing
to do or aren’t able to see. The second discipline of
stoicism then is action. You have to make this into something. Just because you see it, it’s not enough. – I’ll take some notes, and
now it needs to be active. – Yeah, we both know Casey
Neistat and Casey’s saying, I remember this interview he
did a couple of months ago or years ago and someone was
like, “Look, I want to run “this idea for a business by you.” And he was like, “I don’t
care about your idea. “Tell me when you’ve
started it and then show me “what you’ve made and then
maybe there’s something “to do together.” And I think that’s true on
books or movies, or companies, people are like, I’m thinking
about running a marathon. Well, who cares, right? I’m thinking about doing a
lot of things that I never do, so what are you gonna do
and what is your actual plan for doing so, I think that’s
the critical variable. – Did you list that as number two? – That’s two, the third
discipline would be the discipline of the will. How do you deal with those
sort of overwhelming moments when life just sort of kicks your ass? I told the story of
Thomas Edison in the book, as an old man, he was the most successful
inventor in America and his factory burns down. He rushes to this scene,
it’s still in flames and his son is standing
there sort of shell-shocked. And Edison famously goes,
“Go get your mother, “she’s never gonna see
a fire like this again”. He’s just sort of embraced this thing that he can’t do anything
about and he tells a reporter, “This prevents an old
man from getting bored,” essentially is what he says. So the stoics have this
image, they call it, their metaphor is fire. Their translation was (foreign language), it means a love of faith,
but basically the idea was anything you throw in front of a fire only fuels the fire. So the stoics had this
idea for the problems and difficulties that we face in life, even the ones that we
can’t do anything about can still transform us
or change us in some way and we always have that power. On the one hand, they’re
almost preparing for bad things to happen, they’re almost
visualizing them in advance, and then in some ways,
they’re almost looking forward to them because they know
it’s gonna change them or improve them, they’ll make
the most of it in some way. – I have loved this so much
and the way I have translated this into a message for
the folks who pay attention to what is it that we’re
talking about here or the show, is that when shit gets hard,
and it will, I 100% guarantee that if you commit yourself
to anything that matters or is meaningful to you or any
cross-section of the world, shit’s gonna get hard. And when it does, you
can either look at it as something that’s there to keep you out, or something that’s there
to keep everybody else out that doesn’t want it as bad as you do. – No, I love that, I
say that all the time. I go, like with books, if it were easy there’d be more amateurs doing it and there wouldn’t be any money in it. Like what creates the financial
upside or the recognition or the things that people
are asking is scarcity. And if it was easy, if
everyone could do it, if it was naturally gonna go your way, if there weren’t those
walls keeping you out, it wouldn’t be worth anything. It’s like no one’s proud of
you for knowing how to drive, because everyone knows how to drive, a 16-year-old can learn
how to do it, right? (Chase laughs) it’s not an accomplishment,
but launch a new company or building a brand or
working for this or that, these are things that not everyone can do and that’s why they’re impressive. – Yeah, appealing or impressive, yeah. – Or lucrative, yeah. – I’m gonna talk about ego for a second. You have another book, one of the six now, I can’t believe you’ve done
six books man, that’s nuts. Title of the book is Ego is the Enemy. Let’s just talk about
popular culture for a second, because it goes hand-in-hand with ego. There’s so much in popular culture and I think so many
creators and entrepreneurs as you try and stand
out from everyone else. You know, I advocate being
different, not just better, but there’s so much ego
baked into the highlight reel of one’s self or the
highlight reel of others, comparing to all your dirty laundry. What role does ego play
in both the success and, if you don’t believe
that, it contributes to the success, to the
problems for so many? – I make a big distinction
between ego and confidence. I say like, I don’t believe
in myself, I have evidence and I’m only gonna have
confidence up until the point that the evidence supports
it and then everything else is sort of beyond where I want to go. But the nice part about
that is it’s in my control. I can go get more evidence, I can go prove more things about myself. I think one of the things that’s
so hard about our culture, clearly ego’s always been a problem. Going back to the Greeks,
hubris is the theme of all great Greek tragedies, right? But Odysseus didn’t have
to have an Instagram acct, didn’t care how many
Twitter followers he had. So I really pity, you and
I were both lucky enough to grow up, I was just
on the other side of it, to grow up and become a
fully-formed human being without social media warping who you were as you were becoming it. – Yeah, I think about that a lot. – Cheryl Strayed says in
your 20s, you’re becoming who you’re gonna become,
so you might as well not become an asshole and
social media makes people into assholes I think. Because it’s like when I
look at my Instagram feed, I know that that’s not my life. First of all, I know that I’m not that good of a photographer. The smartest programmers
and designers in the world are working to trick me into
thinking that I’m better at this than I am. And then I only take photos
of things that I think other people will like and
so I know what happened in between those photos. Then when I look at other people’s, I’m no like, oh, this is
a snapshot of their life. I see them running up the
steps of a private jet or getting out of their Lamborghini or on the beach in Bali or something, and you go, why am I not doing that? Are they better than me? Am I doing something wrong,
should I feel bad about myself? So these things are sort of warping it. On the one hand, I would never dispute that this is not part of
the age that we live in, that this isn’t part of having a brand, that there isn’t marketing,
but it used to be that only public people had
to do that delicate balance between their image and
who they actually were as human being and increasingly that’s a problem we all have, which is how do you play the
game without believing in it? How do you do the marketing
without marketing to yourself? – Wow, how do you market
without marketing to yourself? Is there like a fake it till
you make it thing in there? – Yeah, it’s like how do
you play the hype game without buying into your own hype? I think one of the things that I’ve found about really great companies
and entrepreneurs and stuff is like, for instance, if I
was pitching CreativeLive, you would give me the
best pitch in the world ’cause you know it. But then if I was like,
privately, I was like, Chase, tell me all the problems
with CreativeLive. That would actually be a much longer list, so the CEO or the leader has to know, okay, here’s what we’re working on, here’s where we’re going,
here’s what we sell to people, and then on the other hand,
you can be this ruthless perfectionist who’s
zooming in on the thing, always trying to get better, yeah. – (mumbles). – So I think as a person, you have to know what you’re working on, where your weakness, like if
confidence is an understanding of your strengths, then you
balance that out by humility by a very real understanding
of your weaknesses. If ego is just how all the things you wish were true about yourself, it’s the most dangerous because
just because you believe you can do something
doesn’t mean you can do it. On the other hand, if you
don’t believe you can do it, you’re probably not gonna do it. But the idea of faking
it till you make it, to me is very dangerous. – Oh, it’s toxic. Yeah, I’ve transformed that saying, I write fake it till you
make it, then I cross out the fake and I put make. – Right, right, just make it. – Make it until you make it and to me, that’s a little bit more healthy. But it’s directly tied
into that ego thing about like feeding yourself your own bullshit, like you think that’s positive thinking or mental visualization
but it’s really not. I think it’s toxic and undermines
your ability to succeed. – Well, we both love Austin Kleon’s work, so I wrote at this in
Perennial a bit, but I love his concept of you can’t be the
noun without doing the verb. In some ways, the healthiest
thing is to almost forget the noun and fall in love with the verb. Then that way, it’s like
you’re not even concerned with how these things
are coming off because, I got very lucky when
The Obstacle is the Way really started to blow up,
because I had already sold Ego and I was getting my ass
kicked every day by it. So there wasn’t like
parties and celebrations, it was in a weird good
way I almost wasn’t able to enjoy it because I
was too busy on the craft of the next thing. I think social media makes it really easy to celebrate things
before you’ve done them and then to reflect, to sort
of become absorbed by them when you do have them,
rather then doing the verb. – Like the verb, I just was with someone who’s wildly successful, most people would know this person’s name off the tip of their tongue easily, easy to roll off the tongue. And they have an amazing
opportunity at their hands and they’re asking some advice
from a friend that came in, like what should I do here? The immediate place that I went to, and I’m not a great
therapist, I ended up being a pretty good career
counselor ’cause, you know, face-to-face with thousands
of people off stage, and said what do you love to do? What part of this potential
area of massive opportunity, what are you going to actually do? What are you going to wake
up and put your shoes on, your boots on, and go do and if you don’t love the
doing part, the rest of this is a shit sandwich and
it’s not going to work out. And how do you think about, apply that, use a little bit of Ego and
the Enemy to talk to the people at home about the thing,
whether they want to be a photographer or
entrepreneur, or whatnot, and try and make a story
out of that for me. – One of the things I
look at in my own career when I’m deciding to work with clients or when I’m deciding to
work on a different project or whatever, is I try to go, okay, let’s say these two opportunities. One’s gonna pay me a lot
and one’s gonna pay me not as much. Obviously depending on do
I need this to survive, these variables are very real and I don’t want to
dismiss them, but which one am I gonna learn more by doing? I think if you always
pick the learning one, or you take the learning
one more often than not, it’s gonna keep you
humble, it’s gonna make you by definition, better in some way and you’re gonna enjoy it more. We always appreciate what we’ve learned and that process of learning. Oftentimes, there’s a
reason that people who make lots of money are often
still very dissatisfied. People who are being challenged
and learning and growing, I find that it’s less often that you’re, “I’m learning the time but
I’m just so miserable.” You know what I mean, like those don’t go together very often. – Don’t often go together, yeah. All right I want to fast
forward to Perennial Seller. I feel like there’s a nice
lily pad from the media stuff up to Perennial Seller,
and I thank you very much for including me in your galley list, I got the early copy and to
me, it was sort of an ah-ha thing that was right there in
front of you the whole time, right there in front of all
of us in popular culture trying to be successful,
not for the sake of success but to make something that matters and it was like a face-palm, like duh. So walk us through the concept
behind Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and
Marketing Work That Lasts. What was the ah-ha for you
that said this is a book that needs to be made? – The weird ah-ha moment was
this tiny thing in publishing. If you look at The New
York Times bestseller list, which everyone sort of uses
as a rubric for success in the publishing industry,
it says very clearly in the fine print like, “Not
tracked in The New York Times Best Sellers’ List are perennial sellers.” What’s a perennial seller? It turns out the vast majority of income in the publishing
industry comes from books that were published a
year ago, five years ago, 10 years ago, 100 hrs ago. – So you have what’s a
highly effective, how many? – Great, great, The Great
Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, What to Expect When You’re Expecting, sold like a million copies a year. Yet, 90% of the focus of the industry is about chasing something
new and it’s been cool to see my book sell, like
The Obstacle’s the Way sold more copies last year
than it did the year before, than the year before,
than the year before. Paradoxically, less marketing from me because the book does
something for people. It’s solving a problem, it’s real. It’s just so interesting to
me that no one would dispute that it’s hard to start
a company, write a book, make a movie, yet most of
this stuff just disappears. Even the successful ones
disappear very quickly, so I’m fascinated by stuff that lasts, that really survives. My favorite restaurant in Los Angeles is not some fancy Michelin
starred restaurant, it’s The Original Pantry Cafe,
which is across the street from Staples Center that opened in 1924, and it’s open 365, 24/7. So there’s no locks on the
doors of the restaurant because they’ve never closed. I just love that idea, like first off, they only accept cash, so
it’s probably just made millions and millions of
dollars and they probably report very little of it to the government. I would much rather own that
business then like Nobu, or Mr Chow’s, you know? That’s so cool and if we’re
really honest with ourselves, that’s what we’re trying
to do, but we just end up getting distracted by the
fact that fidget spinners are popular or that everyone’s on that. I can only imagine in
your space what it’s like, you start this company
because you believe in it, but then you see all these other people who have much worse companies, it’s like, oh, they sold
to Microsoft for X amount and they sold to Yahoo and it’s
like even though we set out to make something last, we get
distracted by all the stuff that’s going on around us. So I tried to write sort of like a glorification of things that last, like the really great
things because why not, you know what I mean? – But those are the things
that take up, I believe, the space in between
what’s the new, just stuff that people are churning
on, and when shit gets hard or when (mumbles) goes south or when there’s a terrible catastrophe, what do you fall back on? – Right. – And there’s something
that’s sort of more real, or I don’t know what it is. I’ll give you an analogy
around CreativeLive, we have now almost 2,000
classes, 10,000 hours of content we’ve been making from the
ground up for seven years. First of all, when we
first started making this and investors said, you
should just open it up and be a two-sided market place
so you get 100,000 classes. But I’m like, oh my god,
there’s so much junk in there so we’re gonna do it the slow way and very, very intentional. But what we did is, we
developed this amazing muscle to make the world’s best learning content with the world’s top
experts, like yourself and Richard Branson and Tim Ferris and Arianna Huffington
and the list of names is long and impressive. We got so good at making stuff, that what we were not good
at is marketing things that were the best stuff in our catalog. What we ended up doing is just focusing on what’s tomorrow, because you get addicted. When shit gets hard, like,
what makes us feel good? We’ve celebrated as a
culture in our company the releasing of a new title
so then you’re just like when stuff gets hard,
you don’t actually stop. – We need more, we need more. – Yeah, and I realized,
fortunately we realized at CreativeLive and we still make a ton, but we’re looking at
the things, for example, your class. We can continue to go back
and like how to stand out and get great articles for
PR, or great PR for artists and creators, because
is that ever going away? (Chase laughs) – No, and it’s crazy because
like, I mean, I get the checks and I’m like whoa, how does this happen? I’ve actually noticed
that’s started to happen on CreativeLive, like about
a year ago it seemed like there started to be a spike
again, which is very cool. The truth is, almost all
the creative industries are that way, right? Movie studios are putting
out the new Transformers movie but it’s really a Christmas story and Shawshank Redemption and
Star Wars, all these movies that are just churning out,
that people are discovering or watching on television
for the 50th time. Seinfeld has made $3 billion dollars. Not Jerry Seinfeld, the show Seinfeld has made $3 billion dollars
since the show went off the air. That’s the value of making
something that’s (mumbles), do you know what I mean? And because we still work
in offices, people still move to New York, like
the themes of the show are still so true. Yeah, just think about it,
it’s like all the people that are chasing the new,
popular business book, like oh, How to Become
Rich in the Trump Era or some showy things like that. Then it’s like What to
Expect When You’re Expecting, or a book that you give to
your son when he graduates from college, or that
you give to your daughter when she gets married. What are the books that
solve a part of your life? – An example you gave
in Perennial Sellers, like turning 50. – Yeah. – Pretty much everybody,
unless you have an unfateful death before then, you’re gonna turn 50 and that is a thing that
everybody goes through so how can you solve, maybe we can shift to get you some tactics right now. – Yeah, so you want to go this is a blank that does blank or blank, right? So can you actually fill in that question? I love, I talk about Red Wing Boots. Red Wing Boots starts making
boots in the early 1900s to equip the US Army
in the First World War and they’re still making the same boots. The boot is called like the 1915 boot or something like that. I have a pair that cost
$300 when they came out, so that’s very expensive, but
I’ve had them resoled twice, they get more comfortable
every day that I wear them, people notice that. It’s like, it’s more expensive
but they’re not having to roll out a new edition every year. It was actually weird, the
same way at American Apparel, one of the mistakes the
company made was chasing the fashion seasons. Whereas the reality is, if
you make something great and you make the same thing
over, you get better at it, it gets cheaper to make,
the margins get better and you have to do less marketing because there’s word of mouth. So when I think about my
own books, I go, are people going to read this in 10 years,
is it still gonna be true in 10 years, and if not, then
it’s probably not a great use of my time. Or, let’s just make sure
that if we are writing about something somewhat
timely, that we’re focused on the timeless elements of it. I wrote a book about growth hacking, that’s how startups market each other, but it’s almost five years
old and it’s still selling because I focused not on
the very, very specific cutting-edge tactics, but on
the mindset that goes into it because one is gonna
last a little bit longer than the other. – And the examples that
go one step deeper there would be like A/B testing
versus like how to buy this type of add-on Facebook (mumbles). – Exactly, right, right,
here’s a great app to get you more Twitter followers. Well, what if they go
out of business tomorrow? I was thinking about, I wrote
about Snapchat in the book a little bit. As an example of this, because
when I started the book, they were called Snapchat,
now they’re called Snap. Then Instagram launches Instagram Stories and all of a sudden,
Snapchat’s usage is cratering. So it’s like, your thing
isn’t going to last if it’s based on things
that are unlikely to last. My editor (mumbles) note
early on in the book and I made a joke about Groupon,
or QR codes or something, and gourmet cupcakes, and she was like, “Imagine that someone is reading
this book in 2040, in Thai. “Would any of this make sense?’ and I’m like no, it
wouldn’t so I have to pick some deeper analogy or deeper example that’s gonna be more timely. So in The Obstacle’s Way, I’m not saying, yesterday my friend Steve
and I were talking about, I’m gonna tell you a
story about Thomas Edison or Demosthenes or Odysseus
because The Odyssey has been part of our
culture for 2,000 years, probably not going anywhere. – Yeah. – You want to make sure
that you’re basing your work on really great stuff. – Let’s deconstruct for a second. Let’s talk for a second
how people can deconstruct their own work. – Yeah. – I think when I talk to
folks who are early on in their career, they’re
just starting out, they’re trying to go from zero to one, consider themselves a maker or launching a business or whatever, I feel like there’s a lack of research and a lack of thoroughness
and a lack of understanding what you’re gonna say, what
your critics are gonna say, the stuff that is wildly
successful by and large, has a ton of research behind
it and it’s very thoughtful. I think what people think
is that they sit down and they just blast something out. – A lightning strike, the creative genius lightning strike. – Right, so talk to me
what your philosophy is and how you know, what
amount of work goes into it and having studied it,
what are the habits. And maybe this is the
punchline, what are the habits of the people who make great work? – That’s a very great question. I would say that one of the
symptoms of this problem is a question I get all
the time, where people go, what influence, or should I
have someone promote my book or movie or my start? It’s like, if you don’t
know those people’s names, let alone you should have
personal relationships with all of them, but if
you don’t know who they are, and you’re asking a total
stranger about this, you should hit the stop
button as quickly as possible because there’s probably
some fundamental flaw in your product that doesn’t address, you know what I mean. If you don’t know your space well enough, yeah, I want you to resist
that egotistical impulse of like this thing that you
thought about for eight seconds, is gonna be wildly better than the people who have
been in it for 10 years. It’s not to say that it’s
gonna take you 10 years to get caught up. – Or that someone else
won’t have a good idea. – Yeah, but put in the time
to actually check your work. Check the math, make sure
it’s actually true here. One of the best ways is, like with a book, I know what I’m trying to accomplish, I know who I’m trying to reach. One of the reasons you have an editor, and in publishing you submit to an editor, that’s a legal term, you
submit the manuscript and then they accept it
and you only get paid if they accept it. Like it’s contractually the
submission and acceptance, so the S and A payment, right? What that forces you to do, is go to an objective third party and then they’re gonna
give you all sorts of notes on your book and a lot of their notes are gonna be totally wrong,
but where their notes pertain to what you are trying to accomplish, they’re gonna be able to tell
you if you did it or not. Harper Lee turns in To Kill A Mockingbird and her editor says, this
isn’t a fully-fledged novel is what she said. Obviously Harper Lee thought it was or she wouldn’t have turned it in. But Harper Lee does something
like two years or work on it, it comes out. Usually what that book looks
like would be lost to us, but when Go Set A Watchman comes out, it’s the original draft
of To Kill A Mockingbird. It was really popular at first, but do you see anyone
reading it on a plane? It’s not very good, it’s not
good compared to the work that her editor forced her to do to create To Kill A Mockingbird, which becomes this life-changing epic novel. Even Adele, Adele’s last
album was called 25, and each one of her albums
is supposed to come out, it’s titled after the year
she wrote it or the year it was released, how old she was. But it came out when she
was 27, because Rick Rubin made her do two more years
of work. (Chase laughs) It’s almost impossible for
you to see your own work objectively, so you need to make sure you have a really strong network
of creative collaborators who you can trust, who can be like, Chase, there’s flashes of genius in here but they’re not connected together and you need to fix this. Or like, I tried it and I don’t get it and then you go, that’s
okay, ’cause it wasn’t made precisely for people like you. Or perhaps that person is
your ideal target customer and if they’re telling
you I don’t like it, you’ve got to listen to them. – I talk about a thing
called the other 50%. In creating, I think most people believe that it’s just the product, that you make a great product and then it’s wildly successful. The approach that I’ve taken
is no, the great product is the get-in-the-door fee. Then you’re actually on the field. – The buy-in. – Yeah, get the buy-in
or, I don’t know why, but I use professional
golf, like the 300 golfers who are on the PGA, the
men’s PGA, the women’s PGA, the LPGA, the difference
in skills is nominal. It’s like the amount of distance that they can hit off the tee, the
amount of putts they sink out of 10, and yet how many
golfers’ names do you know? There are so few and so it’s basically, what you think is 90% craft
and 10% all the other stuff, is sort of probably the other way around. You have to be great at
your craft and I don’t ever want to diminish it, but
it’s this whole package. Now, so you zoom out a little bit, you see it’s not just a thing, and you zoom out and you say, oh my god,
it’s the total package. Then what I do, is I
draw a line right there and I say great, that’s 50% of the thing and the other 50% is
cultivating relationships and community around the things
that you’re trying to make. Like you said, if you
want to launch a project and you don’t know who
the influencers are, you’ve stopped at the other 50%. And if you don’t know the other 50%, you have 50% less chance of success. Respond to that for me. – Right, your thing about the golf is that you have to qualify for the PGA tour. So if you win, it’s something that proves you deserve to be there and
then you’ll keep winning, right? But the way I think about it is, I say with creative projects
is making them is this marathon and it’s the hardest
thing you’ve ever done. Then you’ve just barely,
you stumble across– – You stumble across. – …the finish line and
then the race proctor, they grab you by the hand
and you think they’re taking you to the rest
tent or to the medal stand, they’re gonna put the medal,
actually they’re grabbing you and they’re just
directing you to the beginning of a second marathon that
you’re not at all prepared for. But that marathon is
marketing, it’s positioning, it’s packaging, it’s
relationships, it’s investors, it’s all the things that go into taking this
idea and then getting it from your physical space
to my physical space. There’s a lot of overlap
between the two phases so it’s not a perfect
analogy, but the idea that if you build it,
they will come has killed so many great projects. And you have to remember,
given the economics of how content and stuff works today, you’re not just competing
with the other people who started at the same time as you. Like, if I make a YouTube
series, I’m not competing with just the other YouTube series. I’m competing with the
fact that on Netflix, I have access to some
of the greatest shows that were ever made. Think about all that is your television, it’s like think about all
the people that have never watched an episode of The Wire yet, or Breaking Bad, or Madmen. You’re competing for those customers with those proven products that
are objectively amazing. So marketing is the tool that
you use to win that fight. So are relationships and your platform and your relationship with
your fans and all these things. And yeah, so the idea of
just like the world isn’t, no one’s like, we really
need more amazing stuff. They’re like, why should I
choose your amazing stuff over this other amazing stuff? And by the way, this
amazing stuff, it’s free. – And it’s been out for 50
years and it’s time tested and it’s on billboards and
on all the awards shows and blah, blah, blah. – Yeah, so it’s really,
really, really hard. – I was scrolling through
my phone the other day looking for a photograph
and came across a photograph of you, me, Scott Belsky and Tim Ferris. – Oh, at his party. – Yeah, at a party that
Tim threw and made me think of Scott, who was on the
show a couple, two weeks ago, something like that. There’s some many great
ideas in Creative’s heads that aren’t going to be successful because they don’t have their shit together. I was wondering if you
could react to that. Like what does it mean for
the folks at home are like, I want to have my shit together. So what is having one’s shit
together, is it other stuff? – I think about it like, ’cause
I think about books a lot ’cause I work with lots of
authors and I think about it with myself, but don’t
judge a book by the cover. That’s why books have covers. I mean, that’s the
whole point of the cover is because that’s what people do, right? So I’ll see products and,
here’s a good example. Wealthfront, huge startup,
billions of dollars under management, I use
it, I think it’s wonderful. Its first name was Kachingle. Would you put your
retirement money in a company called Kachingle? (men laughing) I wouldn’t. – No, ’cause I could never
find it in the app store. How do you spell Kachingle? – It’s ridiculous. – Right, it’s totally ridiculous. – A company isn’t going
to urge their employees to put their 401K in Kachingle, but they will put it in Wealthfront. Or did you see the Tom Cruise
movie, The Edge of Tomorrow? – No. – Okay, it’s a great fucking movie but The Edge of Tomorrow is
not what the movie’s about and it’s a terrible title,
so when it came out on DVD, they couldn’t change the
title but they just rejiggered the poster so that the
tagline was Live, Die, Repeat. The movie is, he’s stuck in
this continuum, so every day he dies at the end of
the day until he can get to this thing. So he’s waking and– – I did see the film,
I saw the film, okay. – Terrible title, right
and Live, Die, Repeat is an amazing title for that movie. So these things title, cover, logo, copy, the people who are
involved with the product. This things have an incredible,
we wish that they didn’t, but they have an incredible
impact on whether people are gonna try them or not. In the same way that
you would judge someone coming into an interview
wearing shorts and sandals and their hair all disheveled,
we judge work that way. Especially now that lots of
people are self-publishing, you already have a knock
against you, so you have to be like twice as good to get
over those reservations. So these things can’t be
ignored, they can’t be phoned in. They’re as much as part
of the creative expression as the work itself. – You have the concept of
hacking is, the word is, the vernacular, you know words matter and it came out in a computer software. And then the term growth-hacking,
to make a reference to something you said earlier,
I’m wary of the concept of hacks because the
people who hack things and if it’s not repeatable,
then to me that’s part of what distinguishes
something or someone who’s able to be successful and you look
at the most successful people and they repeat their
successes over and over. Do you, for the folks
out there who are looking for quick fixes, do you
throw them in the trash and then talk about them
or think about them? You’ve written a book
called Perennial Sellers, is that antithetical to
hacking, or would you take hacking out of
hacking category and put it into like, user best practices? Help me reconcile. – As long as you’re not using
hack as in terms of shortcut. If you’re using hack as shortcut, then it’s a dangerous word. If you’re using hack as a
creative way of doing something, a way of combining this
thing and that thing to create something new, then
I think it’s very positive. There’s just something in
our culture where people go, like they want step one,
two, three, four, five, as if that would work
and if it would work, how quickly it would be
exploited and used by everyone. So I think, what I try to do in my books is not create formula, but
to create sort of a set of principles that are
always gonna be true and that you can think about in lots of different situations. Go to the principles that
undergird, like in industry, aerospace or a career path that you’re on. Don’t look for shortcuts because it’s like if you’re already
looking for the shortcuts and you haven’t even
started, what does that say about when the shit gets really hard? You’re gonna be like,
done, you’re not gonna have what it takes. – For sure, you’re certainly
not attracted to the verb. – Yes, yeah, you have to
actually like that it’s hard. Yeah, I think people want this
like tried and tested formula and it’s never, not only
is that never possible, but you wouldn’t want it
to be possible if it was. – And by definition, if it was
that easy or that possible, or just a series of steps
that anyone could do, it would be wildly
exploited and there would be no upside for you, no real upside for you. It’d be like driving. – Yeah, exactly. – You gonna learn how to drive, a rad education in this job. – Chase Jarvis, he’s been a photographer for all these years, he’s built this company, also
has his driver’s license. – You’re not on the list of shit to do. – Right it doesn’t go in the bio. – Got it, so let’s get tactical again. I think part of the stoic philosophy is what are you actually gonna do? Like what the action, that second step. And are there some helpful
frameworks in the book? – Yeah. – Give us a couple of
frameworks for people to chew on and, again, this is a
book that’s dense enough that you’re gonna want to get it. This is not the solution, this interview is not the
solution to Perennial Seller. – I’d like the book to
leave people some questions to ask when they’re starting. I tried to create something
you could re-read every time you’re starting on a creative project. The first question that I think
entrepreneurs and creatives forget all the time is, who is this for? ‘Cause they’re making it for themselves and that’s not a big enough audience. Or, I’ll ask who this thing
is for and they’ll go, everyone, smart people, Malcolm
Gladwell fans or whatever. So who is this for, do you
actually know what your product is for or are you a solution
in search of a problem, which is a very dangerous place to be. Who is this for, I think is
a very important question that I would tack. Not just like, oh yeah,
I know, but like actually who are they, where to
they live, what do they do for a living and then
what does your thing do? My editor said to me, she’s
like, “It’s not what a book is, “it’s what a book does.” What does my project do for people? CreativeLive is like a
full tool kit for anyone trying to do basically
any creative profession. That’s very clear and obvious. And then, because it does
that, there’s the chance that you have word-of-mouth if you can bring those customers in. I think that’s very important. On the marketing side, I
want you to think about how crazy it is that anyone buys anything. It’s like if you think of all the stuff that’s free out there, like take a book. This book is, where’s the
price, is it on there? – Think it’s on the inside. – On the front, so all right, so $26 US. I’m asking people to give me
$26 and a week of their time for something they don’t
know what’s in these pages. So one of the reasons I do interviews, I give tons of content
away, I make videos, I excerpt it widely, is
because I know how crazy it is. Do you know what I mean, I
just spoke at a conference that was full of writers
yesterday, and I had the publisher give away 250 copies because
that’s the exact community that I’m trying to reach. So it’s like, chances are your
product is the best possible advertisement for your product, and so I want you to give it away for free as much as possible. I’m not saying work for free,
and that is a dangerous thing, people get taken advantage of. But who are the people
that need to read this, or that need to experience
it or gonna talk about it? Make sure that you’ve brought
them through your system. That’s all marketing
is, so people are like, oh, I figured out how
to hack Facebook ads, it’s like have you ever bought this thing? Have you ever bought
something from a Facebook ad? Meanwhile, somebody gives
you a book for your birthday and then the next thing
you know, you’ve bought it for all your employees. So understand what you’re
asking people when you’re buying and just how expensive it is,
and make sure your marketing and your creative efforts
are designed to make it as accessible as possible. Then the last big lesson I
would give is your platform. Everyone wants a platform
but they don’t want to put the work into it
and they want it now, and the best time to have
made it was 10 years ago. You know what I mean, or
five years ago or yesterday. What’s that thing about a
tree, it’s like the best time to plant a tree was 20
years ago, second best time is right now. Like, don’t be thinking just
how to market this thing you have right in front of you. What are you gonna need
to market over the course of your career? If you want to end up
with 1,000 true fans, how you gonna number 640 and
642, how are you doing that? So from a marketing perspective,
I’m thinking about building a body of work, thinking about building a
reciprocal relationship with fans, thinking about owning that
permission-based connection and if you’re not doing
that, you’re at the mercy of newspapers and social
media and television. If they decide, sorry, we’ve
already talked enough– – We changed our minds. – … about online courses,
we’re not interested in promoting another thing,
okay, I guess I’m done. And you don’t want to be in that position. – Right, I’ve noticed that
you’re doing a lot of speaking and certainly it’s a
great way to sell books, but it’s also to be able to experience your rendition of the book
and the ideas therein. It’s very compelling
and a lot of the folks that hire you to speak are
companies, and given the way that you’ve thought about it and given that between 1/3 and 1/2
people who are watching here are inside of companies, some
are leaders, some are not, doesn’t matter, but talk to me
about some of the qualities, maybe just go through a
couple, like team building or leadership, let’s
talk about leadership. So when you go to speak
at these big companies, what are some things
that are in your purview that are really applicable
to modern leadership? – One of the things I
think about as a speaker is like, ’cause I watch lots
of talks, and people are just, here’s a bunch of facts and
figures, here’s my pitch deck, let me run through it. I think we just learn by stories,
stories are basically it. So I want to leave people
with just a handful of stories or quotes that change how
they think about what they do. If I was thinking about leadership, something like that Eisenhower story that we were talking about earlier, where it’s like a guy
faces this incredible situation, overwhelming. He stops the chaos and the
retreat and the despair and he says, what positive
can we find in this? Then he goes out and
he goes, oh, actually, not only is there kind of a positive here, this is how we win. And so I like to leave audiences
with stories like that. Because that’s how I learn personally. – We’re hardwired for narrative, too. – ‘Course, ‘course and
that goes to all the things that we’re talking about
here, which is like, is what you’re doing
delivering value to people? I think stories are that, I
don’t want to tell stories about me because you
might not like me, right? Or you might go, okay, that’s
great but what about X? So I want to present sort
of that incontrovertible, undeniable, inspiring things that are gonna stay with people. – You know the book, Tell To Win? – Yeah, uh-huh [Affirmative]. – Is that Peter Gruber? – Yeah. – And Peter is a studio
executive, wildly successful billionaire dude. – Owns the Warriors. – Yeah, he’s partners with
(mumbles) and the Warriors but the concept of Telling
to Win or telling stories as a leader, like I’ve
learned a lot about leadership now running a company of
120 people or something. Is that a thing that you see
people wildly deficient in? – Yeah, they’re not good
at capturing stories, they’re not good at telling them and then they’re not looking for them. Having to gotten to know
a lot of professional and really great NCAA
sports teams, it’s like you realize that the
coaches all basically know the same amount about
basketball or baseball, but it’s what are they
teaching mindset-wise, what are they teaching
approach-wise and most of the time, they just get up in these
meetings and tell stories. So these coaches read
incredible amounts of books, they study history. I was at a conference a couple of days ago and Bill Walton spoke before me. After, we were talking
and he was telling me that John Wooden, in the course
of four years when he played for him at UCLA, talked
about the other team twice and they lost both games he said. His job was to tell them about the game and about what it is to be
a man or to be a teammate or to be a good person. And that’s where stories, I think, come in and as a leader, you
should be collecting those. I think one of the reasons,
politically what upsets me so much right now is that
so many of the issues that we’re upset about
are really non-partisan and will really be solved by sort of finding the connective tissue between people instead of
fighting about this or that. I think what we’re missing
with Obama not in office, again, politics aside, is that he followed for the most part, the
actual role of the president, which was to be the
president of all people and to communicate to us what
needed to be communicated in important or tragic or
stressful or scary moments. – Yeah, storytelling. – Yeah, and that’s the leader’s job. – Regardless of political affiliation, it’s like the leader
is there to communicate and to facilitate communication. – Yeah, so you think you’re
it, someone thinks their job as the CEO is to solve these problems and actually you hired the
people to solve the problems so your job as the leader is
to keep everyone in the boat, going in the same direction. And a lot of that is
storytelling, creating culture and things like that. – What about creativity
and innovation inside of these places? I see a very clear role of
storytelling and leadership. What are some of the, as
you’ve been asked to speak inside of these Fortune 100 companies, what about creativity and innovation, is there any insight
there that you can offer? – That’s one of the things
I was thinking a lot about in Perennial Seller, it’s
like no one gets that excited about making something
that we’re gonna sell to some other company,
because we know it’s garbage, you know what I mean? They get excited about being
able to push themselves and do something. I imagine what it would be like
to be an engineer at Apple. Must be pretty, I’m sure
it’s incredibly stressful and sometimes you want
nothing more than to quit. But just the standards that
you’re forced to uphold and the opportunities that you have, that’s what keeps people going,
more than the stock options. Like Peter Drucker would
say, “Culture eats strategy.” So it’s like what standards
are you putting in place, what story is at the
heart of your company? I think that transcends all these things. – Yeah, especially if
you need to be inspired to do your best work. There’s the worker who
can come in, sit down and do their stuff, but the
role, and I think this is wildly misunderstood, it
touches on storytelling and so many things that have been a part of our conversation, but the ability to motivate,
in Tony Robbins, it’s energy. If you don’t have energy
to bring to something, you have basically no chance for success because everything requires energy. Talk to me a little bit about
the role that inspiration plays and you can bring it
again, the story aspect, but when you have spoken
and when you wrote Perennial Seller, what
role did inspiration play? – It’s like on the one hand, inspiration’s wildly overrated because
people think it’s like, I just need to be inspired,
I need this epiphany and it’ll all happen. On the other hand, it’s
very underrated in the sense that like, again, if
what you’re trying to do is very uninspiring, who’s
gonna give their best to make that thing? So what are your goals, what
are you trying to accomplish as an organization, what are the standards that you hold yourself to? When I think about my
own books, I’m thinking I’m not trying to make a book
to get more speaking gigs, that’s very uninspired, right? (Chase laughs) – Sorry I laughed at that. – But that’s true, right,
a lot of people do it for that reason. If your interest in
football is that you think it will make you famous,
you’re not gonna get through two a day practices in the summer, right? You’re not gonna rush
to overcome a torn ACL. If your interest in photography
is that you saw other people making a lot of money on
Instagram, there’s gonna be nothing to what you’re making. All the subtle things
that you can’t really see but you can feel are not gonna be there. So you’ve got to go into
this for the right reasons and I think one of the company’s job, the job of the leaders of
a company, is to insist on and sort of be the
caretaker of those values. I’ve built a site recently
based on the stoics, we had a site called Daily Stoic, and we made this one product
and it was doing really well. Then so it’s like oh,
we can do this and this. You could see how easily it
could become a cash-grab, let’s throw up some tee-shirts. And it’s like no, the reason
this product is doing well is because it does something for people and they really liked it and
it took a long time to make and we didn’t cut any corners on it. So my job as a leader is
not to kill their bad ideas, but to go here are the boundaries of what the acceptable ideas are and here are the principles
that I’m insisting that be true for us to proceed. Now once that’s constrained,
now everyone’s really focused not necessarily on
what’s gonna make the most money, but what’s gonna be best
and then that’s gonna be most likely to last over the long term. And then again, make the most money but what are your principles? If you don’t know, you’re in a bad spot. – I’m gonna touch on The Daily
Stoic before we hang it up. The Daily Stoic, incredible
book you and Steve put together, Steve Hanselman, and I admit
that I don’t stay with it everyday, but there isn’t a
day that when I touch the book I don’t get crazy value from it. – Did you get the email? – I don’t. – I read an email every
day that’s like unrelated, like another one ’cause none
of them carries the book around with them. But it’s my favorite thing to do. It’s like I get to do one big thought of ancient philosophy every day
in a really practical forum. It sort of blew me away,
it built a 100,000 person community at this point,
the book sells like crazy and I hear from all these
senators and athletes and celebrities and
stuff that are like hey, I do this every morning and it’s been this really incredible experience. But then yeah, again to
go to what I was saying about the product, so we made this coin. It’s like this coin you
carry in your pocket, I have one actually. – I have one in my wallet,
I carry it every single day. – Yeah, see, so it’s this memento morning. – I’m not sitting on it right now because it’ll make noises and it
sits in the same pocket as my microphone pack. But it’s in my wallet, it goes
everywhere with me every day. – I sent you one, right? – You did. – Okay, that’s good, so
it would be much easier to make a tee-shirt or to make a course, like there are many cheaper
things that would potentially have better margins. But it was like no, I feel
responsibility to this space that’s been very good to
me, that’s changed my life. I don’t want to be the one
that’s poisoning the well, do you know what I mean? I don’t want to be the
one that’s turning this into something sleazy or scammy and that’s very important to me and so my job as the leader
is to inspire the people that are part of that thing that I’ve made to adhere to those standards. And if I fall down on the job, it would be potentially
lucrative in the short term but very destructive in the long term, so that’s what I think about it. – Can you rub the coin first? – That’s the point of the
coin too, which is like, there’s a corporate market– – Hold it up, that can see that. – There’s a quote from
Marcus Aurelius on the back and he’s basically saying,
“You can leave life right now, “let that determine what
you do and say and think.” I think as a leader, that’s
a great way to to think too. It’s like this could be
the last time you talk to your people, this could be
the last email that you write, this could be the last
trip that you go on, could be the last time
pulling into the driveway after a hard day at work, so
are you gonna do it right? What’s gonna motivate you,
are you gonna actually live and experience that moment? If you’re not, is that not very entitled? Are you not betting that
you’ll have 1,000 more of these mornings or whatever, and I just don’t want to take that chance. – Memento morning. – Yeah, remember you will die. It’s not the most
inspiring thought at first, but actually I think it
becomes profoundly inspiring if you think about it the other way. – I think about how often
I go into my wallet, either to put a receipt away
or take out a credit card, and that it’s always there. You can see and it’s worn in tied leather and not only does it inspire me, but if I’m ever at a counter and I’m having a playful conversation with the person who’s across from me, or I’m with a friend and I have it, I just hand it to them. It always starts a
fascinating conversation that I feel like, even if
you’re on the other side of the counter, I’m like,
remember, you’re gonna die. Then that will stick with
them, if it’s with a friend or something, it’s always
an inspiring conversation that comes out of it. – And look, that’s
obviously very cool for me creatively and philosophically but then, if we were talking about something that wasn’t so meaningful
at the same time, that’s all the hallmarks of what you want when you’re making something, which is that it becomes
part of a discussion, it becomes part of people’s lives. It becomes something that they
talk about to other people, that they recommend to other people. Not only is that what you
want because it’s fulfilling, but that’s what you want
as a business, right? It’s not like I privately
took this CreativeLive class, I’m really embarrassed about it and I don’t want anyone to know, it’s like this thing changed
me and I need to change you. – Yeah, you can hand out– – Yeah. – Thank you so much, congratulations on the most recent book,
Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday. He’s got five others too, so
it’s an amazing body of work. You talked about building a body of work, I think you’re well on your way. You’ve published more books than everybody that I know basically, besides maybe Seth Godin,
but congratulations. Thank you so much for being on the show, keep inspiring us. What’s the best place for
people to stay in touch? It would be @ryanholiday most places? – Yeah, and then it’s ryanholiday.net. – Thanks, bud. – Thank you. – Of course. – Awesome. – See you again next time, bye guys. (lively music)


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