At the July 7 First Friday Book Synopsis at the Park City Club in Dallas, I will present a synopsis of Eric Barker‘s best-seller, Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know about Success is (Mostly) Wrong (New York: Harper One, 2017).
One of the first issues in the book is concerned with how safe someone ought to play in order to achieve the success that he or she desires. Should a person simply do what he or she is told?
The answer, according to Barker, is that there is no programmed, correct answer.
In the first chapter of the book, he says:
Know thyself and pick the right pond.
Identify your strengths and pick the right place to apply them.
“If you follow rules well, find an organization aligned with your signature strengths and go full steam ahead. Society clearly rewards those who can comply, and these people keep the world an orderly place. (p. 30).
“If you’re more of an unfiltered type, be ready to blaze your own path. It’s risky, but that’s what you were built for. Leverage the intensifiers that make you unique. You’re more likely to reach the heights of success – and happiness – if you embrace your ‘flaws’” (pp. 30-31).
In essence, self-knowledge allows someone to create value wherever that person chooses to apply it.
It is the choice of where that really matters.
“If you want to do well in school and you’re passionate about math, you need to stop working on it to make sure you get an A in history too. This generalist approach doesn’t lead to expertise. Yet eventually we almost all go on to careers in which one skill is highly rewarded and other skills aren’t that important.”
At the First Friday Book Synopsis, we continue to stress the value of lifelong learning, asserting that exposing oneself to books is a powerful method to doing just that.
We are not alone in emphasizing the value of learning.
“Through learning we re-create ourselves. Through learning we become able to do something we never were able to do. Through learning we reperceive the world and our relationship to it. Through learning we extend our capacity to create, to be part of the generative process of life”
“The only sustainable competitive advantage is an organization’s ability to learn faster than the competition.”
“Breakthroughs come when people learn how to take the time to stop and examine their assumptions.”
“Taking in information is only distantly related to real learning. It would be nonsensical to say, “I just read a great book about bicycle riding—I’ve now learned that.”
One of the books that Randy Mayeux presented at the First Friday Book Synopsis approximately ten years ago is Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time (Crown, 2005). The author is Keith Ferrazzi.
Of course, the assumption behind the book is that there are people to eat with.
I thought it was interesting today in a column written by Cassandra Jaramillo, published in the Dallas Morning News, entitled “Let’s Talk Over Lunch,” (June 26, 2017, p. E1), that fewer people are actually going out to lunch. That means there are fewer people to talk with, and even fewer to develop relationships with.
The article presents statistics that reveal Americans made 433 million fewer trips to restaurants for lunch last year. Financially, translates into lost business of more than $3.2 billion.
Anecdotally, the article notes that if you live in the DFW area, this is not the case. The sub-title of the article is “The business crowd in North Texas defies national trend.” Undocumented observations in the article indicate that the lunch crowd is very strong here. Many restaurants, including some high-end varieties, are even now providing additional take-out options.
This may be the case. I rarely eat with anyone, including lunch. But, the few times that I do, it all depends upon where I am. Price does not seem to be an issue. For example, I am amazed at the packed crowds at Pappadeaux’s, which even at luncheon prices, would set you back about $25 per person.
Historically, I can tell you that the trend is not accurate. I am an active member of the Dallas High Noon Club. We meet weekly on Thursdays at the Hilton Doubletree Love Field hotel. The lunch is only $15, including salad, entrée, dessert, and tea or coffee. The meal value is likely about $30. Yet, we get only about 20 participants each week. I first spoke to this club in 1995, before I was even a member. The club met downtown then, and drew approximately 100 attendees at the same price we now charge. In other words, the attrition is about 80% in about 22 years.
There are two factors at work here. One, do you wish to spend the time to eat lunch with someone else? Pssst…it takes longer than eating by yourself. And, second, do you have someone you would like to eat lunch with? If you can’t answer the second question, you cannot even consider the first.
My business partner, Randy Mayeux, is strong at this endeavor. He holds regular lunch meetings with others on both relationship and business issues. He agrees with the premises in the book that he presented over a decade ago.
Whether I agree or disagree with those premises is irrelevant at this time. My situation now does not allow me to eat lunch with others. Perhaps in 6-8 weeks that will change. But, in the meantime, I am considering making a list of people I would like to meet to eat lunch with. We’ll see if that materializes.
P.S. – If the Dallas High Noon Club is of interest to you, you can get information about the weekly program by calling (214) 638-0345.
Occasionally, we have presented an art-based book at the First Friday Book Synopsis over the past 20 years. The most famous was a best-seller which is one of Randy Mayeux‘s all-time favorites, entitled The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it For Life (Simon & Schuster, 2006) by Twyla Tharp.
So, it is not surprising that a new best-seller about creativity has caught our eye for potential presentation. On June 6, 2017, Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age, written by Jeff Goins, was released by Thomas Nelson Publishers.
We will monitor the performance of this book on the best-seller lists, and make a later determination about whether we will present it at a future First Friday Book Synopsis.
The book was an instant hit. As of this writing, it is in the top 50 in three Amazon.com best-selling sub-categories. It debuted at #6 on last week’s Wall Street Journal business best-seller list (June 17-18, 2017, p. C 10).
Who is Jeff Goins? According to Amazon.com, he is “a writer, speaker, and entrepreneur. He is the best-selling author of five books, including The Art of Work and Real Artists Don’t Starve. His award-winning blog Goinswriter.com is visited by millions of people every year. He lives with his family just outside of Nashville, where he makes the world’s best guacamole.”
In Inc.com, on March 9, 2017, Benjamin J. Hardy, interviewed Goins about the myth that artists must starve. Here is that interview. The exact URL is:
On a plane ride across the country, I just devoured Jeff Goins’ new book, Real Artists Don’t Starve, set to be published in early June of this year.
This book was extremely well written, filled with numerous stories from both historical and modern artists.
The premise is simple: A myth has been perpetuated for generations that artists must starve. This myth has stopped countless people from thriving as artists.
We’ve all been fed this lie since we were children. Hence, so many kids grow up to pursue “safe” college degrees and safe careers because being an artist of some form is perceived in our culture as “risky.” Only the “lucky” make it we’re taught.
Goins’ entire book is a strategy guide about how to thrive as an artist in the digital age.
As one who has personally been mentored by Goins, I can attest to his principles. In January of 2016, I reached out to Goins. Actually, I purchased 20 copies of his book, The Art of Work, as part of a promotion he was running. By purchasing those 20 copies, I was afforded a 30 minute phone call with the man. He generously gave me closer to an hour.
At the time of that call, I had approximately 10,000 email subscribers to my blog. I was very anxious to get a traditional book deal, as most young writers are. However, Goins told me to wait. Here’s almost word-for-word what he said (I was taking notes):
If you wait a year or two, you’ll get a 10x bigger advance, which will change the trajectory of your whole career. With 20K email subscribers, a writer can get around a $20-40K book advance. But with 100-200K email subscribers, a writer can get around a $150-500K book advance. Wait a year or two and change the trajectory of your career (and life).
I followed his advice and waited the duration of 2016, during which time I went from 10,000 to over 100,000 email subscribers. In February of 2017, I signed a $220,000 book contract with Hachette Book Group.
Had I not had that conversation with Goins, I may have jumped the gun and gotten a substantially lower deal, and been less mature as a writer. A concept Goins conveys in the book is the importance of knowing your value, and charging that value, for your work.
The entire book is filled with numerous strategies embedded within three sections:
In the first section on mindset, Goins walks the reader through the mindsets needed to shed the false belief of the starving artist.
In the second section on marketing, Goins walks the reader through the development of a platform and key relationships that make a creative career possible.
In the third section on money, Goins teaches how to build a portfolio and diversify your income streams so you have the freedom to develop a long-term career as an artist.
If you want a motivational punch in the face coupled with a buffet of practical strategies, pre-order a copy of Real Artists Don’t Starve. Your future self will thank you when you read the book this summer.