At some point I decided to publish 500,000 photos during my lifetime. A few months later I realized that 500,000 was not enough and chose to do 1,000,000 instead.

What this goal means most of all for me is that I will dedicate a very large portion of my life to creating art. It means that my life will be intertwined with photography in a significant and meaningful way until I die. It’s a discipline to ensure that I live my life in such a way that art will play a significant and prominent role in it.

That’s from an interview that Chris Guillebeau did with photographer Thomas Hawk.

Hawk thinks it will take 10 million clicks of the shutter to get the one million photographs he wants to publish.

What moves me about his story is the way Hawk has committed himself to the craft. During every spare moment he has, he is processing photos – on his train ride to work, at breaks during the day, at 11PM before he goes to sleep. He says the only two things in his life are his art and his family.

Most of us won’t make that commitment. I know many days I don’t think I have anything interesting enough to say to here, but I fight through that judgment to keep writing and sharing. Think how having a goal like Hawk’s doesn’t even allow for the time to filter and fear and wonder if this is what he should be doing.

Where Your Center Lies

Wherever your center lies, know it , name it, stick to it, and believe in it. Everyone who works with you will know what matters to you and will respect and appreciate your unwavering values. Your inner beliefs about business will guide you through the tough times. It’s good to be open to fresh approaches to solving problems. But, when you cede your core values to someone else, it’s time to quit.

-Danny Meyer, Setting The Table.

Writing Advice for Engineers (and Everyone Else)

How to make engineers write concisely with sentences? By combining journalism with the technical report format. In a newspaper article, the paragraphs are ordered by importance, so that the reader can stop reading the article at whatever point they lose interest, knowing that the part they have read was more important than the part left unread.

State your message in one sentence. That is your title. Write one paragraph justifying the message. That is your abstract. Circle each phrase in the abstract that needs clarification or more context. Write a paragraph or two for each such phrase. That is the body of your report. Identify each sentence in the body that needs clarification and write a paragraph or two in the appendix. Include your contact information for readers who require further detail.

— William A. Wood, September 8, 2005 (source/via )

Idea Arena Podcast – Drive Interview with Dan Pink

In this interview, I talk with Dan Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.

Pink says the conversation about motivation has either been about survival (eat, sleep, sex) or sticks and carrots (rewards and punishments). The trouble is that most work today involves creativity and creativity suffers when we use sticks and carrots. Motivation 3.0 is about autonomy, mastery, and purpose. If you don’t know the work of Edward Deci or Carol Dweck, you should definitely check this one out.

This is the nature of mastery: Mastery is an asymptote.

You can approach it. You can hone it. You can get really, really, really close to it. But…, you can never touch it. Mastery is impossible to realize fully. (p117-118)

Drive Interview with Dan Pink

Other highlighted books:

Idea Arena Podcast – Switch Interview with Chip Heath Idea Arena Podcast – Switch Interview with Chip Heath by toddsattersten

In this interview, I talk with Chip Heath about Switch: How To Change When Change Is Hard, the new book he co-wrote with his brother Dan Heath.

"What looks like resistance is often lack of clarity.
What looks like laziness is often exhaustion.
What looks like a people problem is often a situation problem." p17-18

The meme you are going to keep hearing with Switch is about the elephant, the rider, and the path. Chip and I talk about each of those concepts and their effect on our ability to change.

Book Review – Linchpin by Seth Godin

In 2003, I was working with my father in his small sheet metal fabrication shop. We were struggling to keep customers and attract new ones. I read Purple Cow from a milk carton and it changed my life and the trajectory of our company.

Lightning does strike twice.

I keeping changing my mind as I think what Linchpin is about. Seth Godin is certainly writing about work, how it is changing and the opportunities that will create, but it is also about art and change and gifts.

The first part is available in any number of books. The Spring 2010 business book season is full of them. Dan Pink’s Drive, The Heath Brothers’ Switch and 37 Signals’ Rework are all about doing, what gets us to do things, and how we get ourselves to do things different. That is covered in Linchpin as well.

It’s the second part, the ‘what’ we should do, that deserves attention. Here Seth does what he always does: expands the meaning of words. Art is not a painting hanging on the wall in a museum, but rather “a personal gift that changes the recipient.” Art creates change, whether stump speech or chocolate cupcake, stone arch or science fair experiment. Everyone can see themselves as artists.

Artists give gifts, Seth says. On this point, most readers will struggle, but Seth comes back to it multiple times. We think of gifts with wrapping paper and bows, given on special occasions. Seth is not talking about the holiday reciprocity with we have come to expect. He says those expectations cripple art and creates an arms-length quid pro quo. Give without expecting anything in return.

Linchpin has done the same for me that Purple Cow did. Books are often about timing and hearing what you need to hear at the right point in time. I write this review as I start off on a new path in my life, and Seth told me a bunch of things that I needed to hear or maybe just needed to be reminded of.

(You can also listen my interview with Seth Godin here.)

Idea Arena Podcast – Linchpin Interview with Seth Godin

Seth and I spend 20 minutes talking about the words he choose to use in Linchpin and what those words mean.

Art. Gifts. Emotional Labor. Shipping. Map Making. Idea Arena Podcast – Linchpin Interview with Seth Godin by toddsattersten

(You can also read my review of Linchpin here.)


I was watching The Today Show a few days ago and an expert was recommending to a viewer that the answer to changing her bad eating habits was to start by eating one healthy item every day starting January 1st.

Most of the research shows that stopping cold turkey and cleaning out the cupboards leads to your best chance for success. Get rid of anything in your house that you can pick up and eat now. Fruits and vegetables are the obvious exceptions.

But the expert’s answer is so much easier to hear. The small step. The doable step.

Alan Webber says change is a math formula. When the cost of the status quo is greater than the risk of change, movement starts to happen.

With that time of year upon us and everyone readying their resolutions for the New Year, don’t make a promise to yourself. Find a way to raise the cost of something in your life that needs to change.

For me, I am raising the cost of not writing. I started hiding the Dock on my Mac to eliminate the temptation to check to Mail or Tweetie. I have gotten back to using WriteRoom to create a clean workspace for writing (OmmWriter is also good). Before the New Year, I am going to remove all the clutter from my desk to remove more distractions. This is my version of cleaning the cupboards.

Nothing changes the fact I have to put my fingers on the keys and start typing.

Check out Alan’s book Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths for Winning at Business Without Losing Your Self; C(SQ)>R(C) is Rule #5