Book Reviews

Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins -Book Notes, Summary, and Review

34. Real Artists Don't Starve - Jeff Goins

Get it on Amazon

Rating: 8/10

Date of reading: 26th – 31st of August, 2017

Description: How to live from your creative work, whether it’s writing, designing, drawing, or any type of creations. It turns out that the creatives of the past weren’t starving and today, we can emulate that model and live from our art. 


My notes:




“And there were more—many more. In the end, Professor Hatfield uncovered a fortune worth roughly $47 million today, making Michelangelo the richest artist of the Renaissance. And to this day, this is a story that surprises us.” ( :10)

“Today, we find the remnants of this story nearly everywhere we look. It is the advice we give a friend who dreams of painting for a living, what we tell a coworker who wants to write a novel, or even the tale we tell our children when they head out into the real world. Be careful, we say ominously. Don’t be too creative. You just might starve.” ( :10)

“9. The Starving Artist works for free. The Thriving Artist always works for something.” ( :12)

“12. The Starving Artist despises the need for money. The Thriving Artist makes money to make art.” ( :12)


Part 1


“I had been my whole life a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck. —ANNIE DILLARD” ( :16)

“In the majors, Adrian was in the best shape of his life, making more money than he or his immigrant parents ever could have dreamed, building a career based on the rules we know all too well. Get a good job, do it well, and work hard until you retire. This was the path Adrian Cardenas was on, and he knew how to walk it. With a signing bonus of nearly $1 million, he was every bit the success story we imagine. It had taken Adrian years to get to this point, and now he was finally enjoying the fruits of his labor. He had everything he had ever wanted. There was just one problem: he no longer wanted it.” ( :16)

“”It’s great to do those things and then be able to feel confident enough to play for forty-five thousand people,” he said, “but you ask yourself, ‘So what? Why does this matter?'”” ( :18)

“Torrance believed creativity could exist in all areas of life and that anyone could be creative. The more research he did, however, the more he discovered how difficult it was to be creative in certain settings, particularly schools. He also observed how creative individuals tended to struggle in systems that forced them to comply to rules they didn’t understand. “The creative kids are the ones who rail against the rules the hardest,” said Bonnie Cramond, a former student of Torrance, in summary of her teacher’s findings. “Creative kids have no patience with ridiculous rules. They don’t see any purpose in it.” Professor Torrance concluded that following the rules does not produce” ( :18)

“outstanding creative work. If you aren’t willing to be a little deviant, then it’s harder to be creative. Sometimes it pays to break the rules.” ( :19)

“that you can’t change things midcareer and do something else. After all, when you have a good thing going, you can’t just walk away from it, right? But one year into a career where players make a minimum of half a million dollars a year, the young athlete quit baseball to become an artist, which illustrates an important lesson. Before you can create great art, you first have to create yourself.” ( :19)

“Over time, though, his comments started to wear on me. After all, is there anything worse for an adolescent boy than to be called a girl? It unnerved me, the fact that he believed something about me that wasn’t true. Living in what Thomas Merton calls the “false self,” we fall out of alignment with who we are, and I can tell you from experience there is no greater pain than living a lie when the truth is buried deep inside you.” ( :20)

“began to call myself a writer, which was something I did for myself but became a way to declare who I was to the world. The more I did this, the more other people believed it, and therefore the more I believed it. And over time, it became true.” ( :21)

“You have to choose your role and own that identity. We don’t fake it till we make it. We believe it till we become it.” ( :21)

“As a new father and lawyer, John Grisham woke up early every morning, went to his office, and wrote a page of his novel. That was his goal. One page per day for 365 days in a row, without fail. It took three years, but by the end of that time, he had completed the manuscript for his first book, A Time to Kill. The book would eventually go on to be a bestseller, one of many to follow, and in the process Grisham would invent a new genre— the legal thriller. Soon, he would become one of the world’s most successful authors, but he did not do this by betting big. He became a writer by stealing away a little time, thirty minutes to an hour each day. That was it.” ( :21)

“It’s a small risk but an important one, and that’s always the first risk to take.” ( :22)

“While working on his second book, Grisham published his first book with a short run of five” ( :22)

“thousand copies. When the publisher didn’t offer much support, he bought one thousand copies to market the book on his own. While promoting A Time to Kill, Grisham finished The Firm, which ended up with a major publisher and catapulted his career. It wasn’t until he was two bestsellers in to his writing career that he felt confident enough to leave his law practice and pursue writing full time. That’s the art of the small bet.” ( :23)

“You can do extraordinary things when you are patiently persistent.” ( :23)

“For the last three of his thirty years at Hallmark, Gordon spent his time as the Creative Paradox. With such a vague title, he was able to orbit the bureaucratic mess, making up new rules as he went. “They were the most enriching, fruitful, productive, joy-filled years of my entire career,” he said. “Talk about a paradox.”” ( :24)

“This work is a process of continuous reinvention. We don’t just do it once. It is a journey of becoming, one in which we never fully arrive. “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master,” Hemingway mused.” ( :25)

“To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child. —CICERO” ( :26)

“Sam and Friends— originality, inventiveness, and innovation—were, in fact, all things that had inspired Jim in his then-nineteen years of life.” ( :26)

“e historian Will Durant once wrote, “Nothing is new except arrangement.” Even that quote is not new, however, hearkening back to the biblical line that there is “nothing new under the sun.”” ( :27)

“Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, creative work is comprised of five steps: preparation, incubation, insight, evaluation, and elaboration. What we often think of as “creativity” is really the final step, elaboration,” ( :27)

“Creativity is not about being original; it’s about learning to rearrange what has already been in a way that brings fresh insight to old material. Innovation is really iteration.” ( :27)

“This creative theft is not something you do because you are lazy or undisciplined. Quite the opposite, in fact. The best artists steal, but they do so elegantly, borrowing ideas from many sources and arranging them in new and interesting ways. You have to know your craft so well that you can build on the work of your predecessors, adding to the body of existing work.” ( :27)

“All these influences were absorbed into the work of Jim Henson. What he did was not invent something new but use what had been done before. This is how creativity has always worked. Of course, we all want to be original—no one wants to be accused of being a copycat. But the Starving Artist worries about being original, whereas the Thriving Artist knows that stealing from your influences is how you make great art.” ( :28)

“Columcille refuses, and the case is brought before the high king, who commands the monk to return both documents. This ruling infuriates the monk, who impulsively tells his father who also happens to be a king. This causes a battle that leaves the abbot dead and the young man plagued with guilt. The young monk is then banished from Ireland, along with twelve companions, and he lives out his exile on Iona, a small island off the coast of Scotland.” ( :28)

“At Iona, Columcille spends the remainder of his days paying penance through missionary journeys and doing the very thing that got him kicked out of his country in the first place—copying ancient documents. Soon, Iona becomes a center of Celtic Christianity and a refuge of western culture, one of only a few sites where art and culture are preserved while barbarian hordes destroy much of it, ushering in the Dark Ages.” ( :29)

“They copied manuscripts of ancient documents, which they inherited from the Romans. And the Romans stole much of their culture and art from the Greeks. And the Greeks, of course, borrowed from each other— Sparta from Athens and vice versa. On and on it goes. This is how cultures are made: you copy what has come before you, and you build upon it. You make it better.” ( :29)

“the deception didn’t last long. He discovered the sculpture was fake and returned it to the dealer. What happened next, though, was even more surprising than the forgery itself. The cardinal hired Michelangelo, becoming the artist’s first patron in Rome. Riario was not angered by the deception; he was impressed.” ( :29)

“The way you” ( :30)

“The way you” ( :30)

“establish your authority in a certain field is by mastering the techniques of those who are already authorities. And what eventually emerges over time is your own style.” ( :31)

“When I began my career as a writer, I wanted to find my voice. Whenever I tried to write in what felt like my style, though, it wasn’t good. Inevitably, the writing would drift into the voice of whatever book I was reading. For a long time, I thought real writers did something different. They must have been born with innate talent, some style that was just waiting to get onto the page. Turns out, that’s not true. We find our voice by mimicking the voices of others.” ( :31)

“They keep copying until the techniques become internalized. Then and only then can you create something the world calls “original.”” ( :31)

“When you steal, don’t just copy and paste the work of your predecessors. Once you have mastered the form, bring those influences together in a new way. Curate before you create. If you do this well, you won’t be merely cribbing other people’s work and passing it off as your own. You will be building on it and making it better.” ( :32)

“”So much of what has come before has helped me succeed now,” she said. “As a lawyer, you learn everyone is faking it. I learned the appearance of confidence.”” ( :35)

“”It remains absolutely crazy to me,” she said, “that even now acting is my job, it doesn’t feel like work. There’s this thing that gives me so much pleasure and so much joy.” What got her there was not some lofty dream. It was gradual and persistent action in the right direction. She learned how to be an apprentice.” ( :35)

“You are patient, because you realize that though your big moment may not come today, if you put the work in, you will eventually see the results. You persevere, because you know this will not be easy and the odds are stacked against you. But if you keep going, you will outlast the majority who quit at the first few signs of trouble. You are humble, because you know how far you still have to go, and this attitude will earn the attention of masters who will want to invest in you and see you succeed.” ( :36)

“Michelangelo assisted Ghirlandaio in whatever his master needed. Perhaps just as important as the technical skills he developed in the studio, he also learned what it meant to be an artist of such stature: the responsibilities of running a studio, the challenges of managing apprentices, the social dynamics of dealing with patrons. This is most of what an apprenticeship is: watching, listening, and being present in the process. You experience by doing, and you internalize those lessons.” ( :37)

“Being an apprentice is not just about making big asks but being diligent enough to take the work seriously and continue growing. What will make you stand out from the crowd is not just the audacity to ask for help but the humility to learn and act.” ( :38)

“he “master” level. The difference between someone who made it and someone who did not ultimately came down to two factors: who helped them and how hard they worked. If they had a good master, they had an advantage; they knew someone who could help them find the right social connections to succeed. And if they did not, or if they didn’t apply themselves, they were in a tough spot. In the end, perseverance paid off.” ( :38)

“IS STUBBORN ABOUT THE RIGHT THINGS. We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details. —JEFF BEZOS” ( :41)

“During that time, Fitzgerald acquired an important trait. It was something that would go hand in hand with being a writer, one we often overlook in the pursuit of creative work today. In the spring of 1919, the writer put this resource to great use, writing 19 stories and receiving 122 rejection slips. He accumulated so many letters of refusal that the walls of his rented room were covered with them.” ( :41)

“Afterward, the author found it even more difficult to write. His personal life fell apart, too, when he admitted Zelda to a mental hospital in 1936 and was left to provide for their daughter on his own. Never fully recovering from the disappointment of his failure, he moved to Hollywood to write screenplays, a decision he later regretted. He struggled with alcoholism for most of his adult life and died of a heart attack in 1940 at the age of forty-four.” ( :42)

“Duckworth wrote that grit “entails working strenuously toward challenges, maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress. The gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina. Whereas disappointment or boredom signals to others that it is time to change trajectory and cut losses, the gritty individual stays the course.”” ( :43)

“For a business-minded creative, this means being ferociously entrepreneurial, even within a corporate environment. The company’s 150,000 employees approach their jobs according to Amazon’s fourteen leadership principles that grant them ownership of and responsibility for innovation and creativity. As a group, they have embraced Jeff’s ethos that an entrepreneur must get comfortable with being misunderstood, which must be a great comfort every time they try something new.” ( :44)

“”If you think that’s a big failure,” he once said of the Fire Phone, “we’re working on much bigger failures right now. And I am not kidding . . . Every single important thing that we have done has taken a lot of risk taking, perseverance, guts, and some of them have worked out; most of them have not.”” ( :44)

“Latin motto Gradatim Ferociter, which describes not only how we might end up leaving the planet one day but also how we can all succeed as artists in the meantime: step by step, ferociously.” ( :44)

“All that hard work paid off with 4,495 financial backers pledging $345,992, helping to bring the project to life. “We broke all the records that day,” Zach said. “Biggest project on Kickstarter. Highest crowd-funded movie. Project of the year.”” ( :46)

“We are told artists are stubborn, and they certainly can be. But this isn’t always a bad thing. Stubbornness can be an essential ingredient in making a living off your art. When you harness your strategic stubbornness, you give the world a reason to believe in your work.” ( :46)

“”reality distortion field” is a notable example of this, as demonstrated by a story from Andy Herzfeld, who had just joined the Apple team in 1981. Andy recalls arguing with coworker Bud Tribble on the deadline to release the original Macintosh software in ten months. “That’s impossible,” Andy said, knowing how many details had to fall exactly in line, but such things hardly mattered to the stubborn CEO. “In [Jobs’s] presence, reality is malleable,” Bud told Andy. “He can convince anyone of practically anything. It wears off when he’s not around, but it makes it hard to have realistic schedules.”” ( :47)

“the benefit of his work instead of his ego. Stubbornness gets in the way when it’s about you—your fame, your reputation, your success—but it becomes a tool when used to further your work.” ( :48)

“Starting in February 1943, three years after F. Scott Fitzgerald’s death, the Council on Books in Wartime capitalized on the innovation of paperback printing and sent 150,000 copies of The Great Gatsby to soldiers overseas. After being circulated during World War II, the novel became popular as many soldiers returned home with the story imprinted on their minds. In the 1950s, due in part to its brevity, Gatsby was introduced to high school English curriculums, causing even wider success. By 1960, the book was selling fifty thousand copies per year, a trend that continues today and has only been boosted by the appearance and reappearance of the story on movie screens. To date, the novel has sold more than twenty-five million copies.” ( :48)


Part 2


“During the break, Elvis picked up a guitar and began to play. The clumsy strumming pattern created a staccato sound that served as his own rhythm section, and he started to sing. Like an old, almost forgotten memory, the song came to him: “That’s All Right Mama” by Arthur Crudup. Jumping around the room, Elvis belted out the words to the blues tune, his energy contagious, and soon the guitarist and bassist were joining him. An audition that only moments before had been leading to rejection was now being transformed into something powerful. Phillips, who was cutting tape in the sound room, stopped what he was doing to listen, then interrupted the trio.” ( :53)

“In creative work, quality is subjective. How do you determine if a painting is good or bad? What makes a song beautiful? Objectively speaking, these things are hard to measure. What we need, then, are authorities on art. We need someone to tell us Bob Dylan is a genius and Vincent van Gogh was ahead of his time. Otherwise, we are left to make such determinations on our own, and we are often mistaken about who ends up being a genius.” ( :53)

“Overwhelmed by his generosity, I said, “You don’t have to keep doing this. You can stop now.” “Jeff,” he said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I share your stuff because it’s good, and I like it.”” ( :56)

“He told me what made it easy for him to say yes was the convenience factor (we lived in the same town), the potential I had (I was already doing the work), and a lack of neediness on my part (I just wanted to meet him for coffee). Turns out, I wasn’t the first person he had done this for, and since meeting him I haven’t been the last.” ( :56)

“Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia, Kabir wanted to do everything from music to business to politics. After college, he was hired by JP Morgan and quickly rose through the ranks. During his eight years there, he wrote five books, produced several Grammy award-winning albums, and served in the US Navy Reserve—all while being a significant revenue producer at his job. How did he do it? He used his day job as a kind of patron for the art he wanted to create. Kabir has always considered himself a creative person, but he never assumed he had to suffer for his art. Unlike some, he did not quit his job and leap out into the unknown. Instead, he did what many of us may have to do if we want our creative work to survive. He used his current scenario and surroundings as a means to an end, as opposed to an impediment to his goals.” ( :57)

“While working in finance, Kabir was required to write daily memos to investors. These were typically boring updates filled with industry jargon, but he used this as a chance to sharpen his skills, writing them in the form of haikus. This kept him creative in a job that could have sapped his” ( :57)

“creativity and made him stand out among his peers at work.” ( :58)

“Without a patron, you’re rolling the dice, hoping for the best— and the world is unkind to such gambles. The night “That’s All Right Mama” hit the airwaves, a young musician named Lee Denson was playing a show in Key West. When the song played on the radio, he couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Was this the same Elvis Presley whom he had tried to teach guitar only a few years before, the same young man who could barely play a chord? And here was Denson, doing everything a young musician ought to be doing— touring and playing shows, paying his dues—and it wasn’t working. Of course it wasn’t working. Denson didn’t have a Sam Phillips, and when it comes to creative success, that’s everything.” ( :59)

“world’s most famous authors, but at the moment, Ernest Hemingway was just another directionless kid.” ( :60)

“Every morning, the young author would walk along the Seine River, watching the fishermen pull their catch out of the water, a reminder of childhood summers spent on Lake Michigan. Often he would stop at a café for a few hours and write, fictionalizing his youth while” ( :61)

“In his spare time, Hemingway would exchange boxing lessons for writing tips with Ezra Pound. At the Closerie de Lilas or Les Deux Magots he sometimes spotted James Joyce or bumped into F. Scott Fitzgerald, who introduced him to editor Maxwell Perkins. In the evenings, he would stroll down to 27 Rue du Fleurus where Gertrude Stein lived, and listen to her lecture on the importance of buying paintings rather than clothes.” ( :61)

“This is the Rule of the Scene, which says that places and people shape the success of our work far more than we realize. Location is not irrelevant. Place matters. As social psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi wrote, “Creativity is more likely in places where new ideas require less effort to be perceived.”” ( :62)

“It began with his younger brother Theo, a successful art dealer. Through letters, Theo’s words kept Vincent going when life was hard, which was often. When Vincent decided to become an artist, Theo paid his bills, gave him a place to stay, and shared his work with others. He was his brother’s patron and chief promoter.” ( :64)

“When you’re playing a game you can’t seem to win, sometimes the best thing to do is not try harder. None of us want to spend our lives playing by someone else’s rules. When the game is unfair, change the game you’re playing. Move to another city, create a new art form, get a different network. If the group you want to be a part of doesn’t want you, then create your own.” ( :65)

“As travel writer Eric Weiner has explained, “Genius is a place, not a person.” Weiner explored some of the most creative places on earth, such as Florence, Silicon Valley, and Paris, wondering what made these places such hotbeds of creativity.” ( :65)

“But even that was not enough. Artists saw possibilities in what was an otherwise stagnant place and turned it into a hot spot.” ( :67)

“Two months after publishing their book of poems, the three sisters each submitted a novel. The two from Anne and Emily were accepted, but Charlotte’s was turned down seven times. On the seventh attempt, the publisher asked if she had anything else. She did have something: a story about a simple English woman not unlike herself—Jane Eyre.” ( :68)

“Two months after publishing their book of poems, the three sisters each submitted a novel. The two from Anne and Emily were accepted, but Charlotte’s was turned down seven times. On the seventh attempt, the publisher asked if she had anything else. She did have something: a story about a simple English woman not unlike herself—Jane Eyre. The other two books, which Anne and Emily paid to publish, were Agnes Grey and Wuthering Heights. All three became literary classics.” ( :68)

“Glyer teaches English at Azusa Pacific University and has dedicated much of her career to the study of the Inklings, the literary group that included J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and their friends.” ( :70)

“”The problem,” Lewis replied, “is that hobbits are only interesting when they’re in un-hobbit-like situations.” That was all he needed to say. “So,” Glyer explained, “because of one lunch with a buddy, the story where Tolkien was basically done and directionless, one comment opens up the vista and gives us what we now know as this wonderful, rich epic story, The Lord of the Rings. I think that’s pretty strong evidence of influence.”” ( :71)

“As Lewis himself once wrote, “The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.” The same, it seems, can be said for being creative. We don’t do our best work alone; we do it by collaborating with others.” ( :71)

“The Florida Highwaymen shared a common aesthetic, with each painter bringing something unique to the group. They were young and energetic and all very poor. Other than what Hair had picked up from Backus, they had no teachers except each other, or as the only female in the group, Mary Ann Carroll, said, they learned “from one another’s brushes.”” ( :73)

“Four years ago, three people I barely knew got together and decided they wanted to start a peer group of local business leaders. Each person asked three other people to join the group, and that’s how twelve of us started meeting together every week to discuss our businesses and lives. We’ve been doing it ever since.” ( :76)

“Diana Glyer’s personal theory is that 92 percent of The Lord of the Rings was written on Wednesday nights, because J. R. R. Tolkien knew on Thursdays he’d have to face his friend C. S. Lewis and account for his work. Lewis and the rest of the Inklings would ask where Tolkien was in the story he’d been telling them. “What did you write?” they would ask. “And it’s that expectation,” Professor Glyer said, “there’s a ferocious aspect to it. But there’s also compassionate expectation that says, ‘You have this great idea. You told me about this project. You said you were going to drive this. How’s that going for you?’ And knowing that other people are out there, I think, makes all the difference.”” ( :77)

“One of her cartoons features a white ghost with the caption: “Let yourself be seen.” Below it, Stephanie wrote, “I was nervous about putting my work out in the open. Because as much as I wanted people to know what I was doing, I was worried about being exposed. There was a risk of letting myself be seen. Like if they looked too closely, they’d discover I was a fraud. If I showed off my work, I’d be vulnerable to criticism or worse: silence.” ( :79)

“The more we do this, the better we get, and the more confident we become. Eventually, people start to notice. This doesn’t mean we let them see every step of the process, but we have to put our work out there. And when we do, we just might be surprised at how people react.” ( :80)

“When he’s working on new material, Rock may do this forty to fifty times in preparation for a big tour. At a small New Jersey club near his home, he’ll randomly walk in, take the stage, and bomb. He’s not doing his usual bits but instead trying out new ones. Sometimes it goes so poorly that people get up and leave. Other times they fold their arms or laugh at him, not with him. Why does he subject himself to such humiliation? Because Chris Rock didn’t become Chris Rock by practicing his jokes in a dressing room. He did it by taking the stage and failing in front of a live audience. The same goes for Louis CK and Steve Martin. This was even how musician Beck Hansen began his career: performing for audiences who didn’t want to hear a white kid singing folk songs in a rock and roll club.” ( :82)

“At the pinnacle of their success, when they were about to unofficially claim the title of best rock band in the world, Led Zeppelin took a risk and released their fourth record anonymously. Neither the band’s name nor any of the musicians’ names would appear anywhere on the album. Imagine the insanity of doing something like this now, much less in the 1970s without the” ( :83)

“existence of the Internet and other media outlets. This was unheard of. In an era of one-hit wonders when rock bands came and went practically overnight, the risk was considerable. Such a willingness to put their work out in the world without a name or brand anywhere on it was brave, if not a little reckless.” ( :84)

“curiosity that drove the staunchest of fans to find it. How long do you think it took fans to make the discovery? My guess is not long. Imagine being one of the first people to locate the record in a store and buy it, only to discover it was one of the world’s most famous rock groups. What would you do next? Probably tell everyone you knew. This is the record that brought the world “Stairway to Heaven” and other timeless hits. Without a doubt, it is one of the greatest rock albums of all time,” ( :84)


Part 3


“Today Melissa Dinwiddie still calls herself an artist, but she’s also now an author and speaker. In addition to selling her art online, she runs an online community for women creatives, leads creativity retreats, and brings her experience as a performing artist to workshops, keynotes, and seminars for organizations and corporations. And now that she’s doing this full-time she can’t imagine going back to working for free. Once she crossed that threshold and began charging what she was worth, her confidence grew.” ( :88)

“One of the oldest lies we believe is that if you do something you love and charge for it, the money somehow taints the work. When it comes to other trades, payment is expected; but with writers, photographers, designers, and other artists, we seem to think they don’t warrant the same serious treatment that an engineer or carpenter might receive.” ( :89)

“When we undervalue our work, we end up playing the martyr, resenting the free gig halfway through the process. “When I notice myself resenting my clients and wanting to quit,” Melissa Dinwiddie said, “I realize I don’t need to quit. I just need to raise my prices. If you’re feeling resentment at all, you’re charging too little.”” ( :89)

“When the prolific science-fiction writer Harlan Ellison was asked to contribute an interview for a film project on the making of the TV show Babylon 5, he said, “Absolutely!” There was just one small stipulation: “All you’ve got to do is pay me.”” ( :90)

“Regardless of what everyone else does, he will not give in to a system that takes advantage of talented people because that’s the status quo. And because of this standard, he is one of the most successful writers in Hollywood, having published more than seventeen hundred stories, screenplays, scripts, and essays. Apparently doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing is not always a bad plan.” ( :90)

“Paul started looking more intensely for the type of work and the type of companies and clients that felt good to work with. “It was a gradual shift,” he said, “to move away from Fortune 500s and move toward mindful entrepreneurs as clients. I’m fairly sure there wasn’t any change to my income either, since I’ve never dropped my rates. Income stayed the same, but ‘the feels’ definitely grew.” ( :92)

“In 1962 Jim Henson did a series of commercials for Purina Dog Chow and designed a couple of new puppets, one of which became Rowlf the dog. They shot the commercials quickly, and Henson’s studio billed the dog food company $1,500 for the cost of building the puppets. At the end of filming, Purina offered Henson $100,000 to buy the rights to Rowlf completely. Agent Bernie Brillstein nearly jumped at the offer, but Henson warned him: “Bernie, never sell anything I own.” After the Purina commercials, Jim Henson kept Rowlf, throwing him into a cupboard where he nearly forgot about him until 1976 when the puppet joined the cast of the Muppets. Today Rowlf is undoubtedly worth a lot more than $100,000.” ( :96)

“The decision was difficult, but Def Jam had one major advantage over Warner: they owned the rights to Jay-Z’s master recordings. Under Def Jam’s proposed contract, Jay-Z’s masters would revert to him within ten years—he would own all his music outright. Despite the offer of less money up front, it was more than enough reason for Jay-Z to accept.” ( :97)

“John pitched a short film idea to his bosses that would leverage the emerging technology of computer animation. He was enthusiastic and motivated about the idea, but again it was summarily dismissed. And then, he was fired. Five years into his dream job, John Lasseter was out of work.” ( :97)

“exactly what interested a thirty-one-year-old entrepreneur who wanted to be part of a group that loved art and tech as much as he did. His name was Steve Jobs. Recently ousted from his own company, Jobs was on the prowl for the next big thing, so he bought the division for $5 million from Lucas, who was in the middle of a divorce and trying to liquidate as many assets as possible. Jobs decided to call the new company Pixar, after the flagship computer the creative team had brought to life.” ( :98)

“Tin Toy was great, going on to win a 1988 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. Shortly after that, Disney reached out to John Lasseter to hire him back for quadruple his previous salary. But he refused. Why work for a place that didn’t want what he had to offer? He was finally at the point where he had the kind of creative control he had dreamed of, and he was starting to make the films he’d envisioned when he went to work for Disney.” ( :98)

“A week after the premiere of Toy Story, the company went public. It was a bold move. After all, who would buy a stake in such an unprofitable company? When their first feature film debuted to unanimously glowing reviews, however, Pixar was valued at twenty-two dollars per share, a valuation that in thirty minutes doubled. Then it reached nearly fifty dollars after an hour, and by the end of the day closed at 800 percent higher than it had started. The company was now worth more than a billion dollars.” ( :98)

“but to maintain the control we need to make our work excellent. It’s a short-term loss, long-term gain.” ( :99)

“When the Sixers landed their deal, they didn’t feel the freedom they had expected—Stephen in particular. Instead, he felt fear. “They’re going to find out I’m only okay,” he said, remembering those feelings years later, “and my songs are only okay, and I’m not worth their investment.” He was realizing his lifelong dream of playing music for a living and yet the whole time he was afraid it might go away. “I always feel like the bottom is about to drop out,” he confessed. From 2003 to 2012, Stephen toured with the Sixers, recorded seven studio albums, played more than twelve hundred shows, and shared the stage with James Brown. Who would regard these as anything other than successes? Turns out, Stephen himself.” ( :99)

“”Oh, my goodness, thank you guys so much for this record deal! I hope I don’t let you down!” Stephen said, remembering how he humbled himself before the record executives instead of standing up for himself. “I lived that way for years.” Sometimes the Big Break can be a big trap. In 2012, the band arrived at a decision point. Underpaid, overbooked, and exhausted, the band went on hiatus and never returned. “We’d been knocking out a lower-middle-class income for a decade, and I didn’t want to crush those friendships. That was a very lonely period of trying to figure out if we’d screwed something up.”” ( :100)

“”I wish I’d had a mentor,” he told me. “I never picked up on the fact that if you want to get somewhere, look at where you’re trying to get and start by studying the people who’ve gotten where you want to go.” It’s a common story. The talent that earns us initial success” ( :100)

“spend ten million dollars on a film that features something that looks like a giant stuffed animal?” But to everyone’s surprise, the film was a runaway success, grossing over $780 million at the worldwide box office, and because of this success, Lucas no longer needed to beg Fox for money. “Okay,” he remembered saying, “you took that risk. I’m willing to take the risk on the next one. I’m willing to put up my own money.'” Lucas invested $20 million of his own” ( :101)

“t was Lucas who was in control. When Fox asked the young filmmaker who was going to write, direct, and star in Empire, he replied, “None of your business.”” ( :101)

“This is what ownership does. It gives you options. The Starving Artist tends to trust the system and hope for the best, but that’s a bad idea. “The object,” Lucas said, “is to try and make the system work for you, instead of against you.”” ( :101)

“George Lucas eventually did give up complete creative control of his company and sold Lucasfilm to Disney for $4 billion. It was an opportunity to take the franchise to a whole new level, one Lucas was unlikely to reach on his own. And this raises an important point: sometimes, it makes sense to sell out. Like John Lasseter, Lucas was obsessed with making the work great, and that sometimes means selling your work to someone who can make it better.” ( :102)

“It’s not that selling out is bad. But selling out in the wrong way, at the wrong time, and for the wrong reasons, is what we need to avoid.” ( :102)

“In 1987, when Cirque du Soleil was invited to perform at an arts festival, the nonprofit group was facing financial problems. The leader Guy Laliberte decided to perform at the festival anyway, and the performance ended up being a hit. Afterward, Columbia Pictures took notice of the performance, reaching out to Laliberte about making a movie about Cirque. The offer sounded intriguing enough to pursue but ended up being too good to be true. When Laliberte realized just how much ownership he would have to give up to get Cirque on the big screen, he pulled out. The experience convinced him his company should transition into the for-profit sector and be privately held so he could have all the freedom he needed to operate the company. Today Laliberte is a billionaire. We must own our masters or our masters will own us.” ( :103)

“Your art is never beholden to a single form. You can always change and evolve, and the best artists do this regularly. They understand that in order to thrive, you have to master more than one skill. This is the Rule of the Portfolio: the Starving Artist believes she must master a single skill, whereas the Thriving Artist builds a diverse body of work.” ( :106)

“In the middle of his life, Michelangelo, now a well-established artist, undertook a new discipline— architecture—and began designing St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. At a time when most people double down on mastering the skills they’ve already acquired, he learned a new one.” ( :108)

“”There are almost no writer/artists in the world who are both poets and artists,” historian William Wallace told me. “Michelangelo is a major poet as well as a major artist. William Blake is one of the others.” ( :108)

“At Aftermath, Dre attracted new talent, including rappers Eminem and 50 Cent, helping launch their careers to incredible stardom. Death Row was eventually sold off for $18 million, a far cry from the $100 million it had been bringing in.” ( :109)

“Jimmy Iovine. Iovine was concerned with two problems currently facing the music industry. The first was how piracy was affecting record sales, and the second was the prevalence of low-quality audio due to Apple’s plastic earbuds. Apple, Iovine said, was selling “$400 iPods with $1 earbuds.” Dre responded with a similar amount of frustration. “Man, it’s one thing that people steal my music,” he said. “It’s another thing to destroy the feeling of what I’ve worked on.”” ( :110)

“Dr. Dre eventually sold off Beats to Apple in 2014 for $620 million. The deal made Dre one of the wealthiest musicians alive,” ( :110)

“Today his old partner Suge Knight is in prison, and Dr. Dre is a billionaire.” ( :110)

“The writer must earn money in order to be able to live and to write, but he must by no means live and write for the purpose of making money. —KARL MARX” ( :112)

“That’s how Alan Bean became the first astronaut artist and the only person in history to paint the moon from firsthand experience.” ( :113)

“He devoted his life to painting. And for more than three decades, his art has allowed him more than enough to live. Today Alan Bean’s artwork is featured in galleries all over the United States, with his paintings selling for tens of thousands of dollars apiece, sometimes more. An original called First Men: Neil Armstrong, a forty-by-thirty-inch textured acrylic, recently sold for $228,600. He did his duty, and he did it well.” ( :114)

“We don’t make art for the money. We make money so that we can make more art.” ( :115)

“As the story progressed, the storyteller would remove one picture and reveal the next. The last of the three stories would end with a cliffhanger so the children would want to return the next day. This form of Japanese street theater disappeared with the advent of the television in 1952, but its” ( :116)

“storytellers endured, as did the art form itself.” ( :117)

“The artists went on to spread a new form of art called “manga,” which now makes up a global, billion-dollar industry. Today street artists at festivals and fairs are reviving kamishibai as an art form. It endures in its own style and in the world of comics and animation.” ( :117)




“Professor Hatfield told me. Sometimes, it’s easier to believe a beautiful lie than a difficult truth.” ( :120)

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