Amanda Palmer’s – The Art of Asking

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I was supposed to be getting on with organizing my life this weekend. Instead I inhaled Amanda Palmer‘s new book ‘The Art of Asking‘. It’s a compelling read for any ‘maker’, anyone who’s interested in connecting and making a difference with what they do.

I was vaguely aware of The Dresden Dolls, Palmers early 2000’s band but it wasn’t until I heard Seth Godin’s Domino Project speak about her enormously successful Kickstarter campaign that I started paying attention. The kickstarter campaign let to a TED talk which led to the book. The TED talk is a good place to start – check it out below and let’s talk some more.

The book covers the story in the video and so much more. It charts Palmer’s career arc, her intersection with Neil Gaiman and then life beyond. From the 8 foot bride in Harvard Square to Kickstarter sensation. Through it all you get the sense that she hasn’t really changed much, grown and matured most certainly, but the thread of wanting to connect at a deep level seems to be a constant.

I’m looking forward to rereading the book to see what I get out of it on a second run through but from the first reading what stuck with me were a couple of things. First it’s amazing to me how someone who appears to be really extroverted can be so wracked with insecurity. Perhaps everyone creating things that are important to them and putting them out in the world have these doubts, but I was shocked.

Of course the big theme for the book is asking, the exchange that occurs between artist and community or audience. Why is it so difficult for some of us to ask for things – help, money etc. and equally why is it so hard for some to accept help, money etc. when it’s offered? If you follow Palmer’s career she’s spent almost her entire professional life participating in this exchange – asking, giving and receiving. Putting herself out there, being vulnerable and trusting. By doing this time and time again, being authentic and showing up, she’s built an enormous following.

A role model for anyone who wants to develop a supportive community who could sustain their creative work? I think so.

Get the book here and follow Amanda and Neil on twitter they are very active and there’s always something interesting in their twitter fields. Finally check out the interview of Amanda by Maria Popova of Brain Pickings below. It’s excellent.

Resources for Finding Your Purpose

I thought that I’d share some of the resources that I’ve been digging into over the last few weeks as I’ve thought about finding your purpose. So here goes:

Simon Sinek’s book Start With Why is a great place to start your journey (also check out the follow-up book Leaders Eat Last. Sinek’s TED talk above is an excellent introduction to the material presented in Start With Why. Additionally there is a good bit of material on his website including some free exercises such as this 5 minute exercise to help find your why.

An alternate to the TED talks are The Do Lectures. The founder of The Do Lectures David Hieatt wrote an excellent book ‘Do Purpose‘ that I found hard to put down. Lots of easily digestible nuggets of wisdom.

In case you haven’t heard of The Do Lectures before you’ll find that there’s a substantial overlap in the intent of TED and the Do Lectures, ‘Ideas worth spreading’ vs bringing together ‘do-ers’, ‘the movers and shakers, the disrupters and the change-makers’ to tell their stories and hopefully inspire others to action, the vibe is distinctly different. Well worth checking out.

In ‘The Way of The Seal‘ Mark Divine both describes an effective way of uncovering your purpose and highlights how being clear about your purpose and what you stand for helps when it comes to making tough decisions. More than a book on how to discover your purpose and deeper than ‘just a book for meatheads’ worth exploring and spending time working through the 8 core principles.

Finally on this very short list is Danielle LaPorte. Having found LaPorte’s work initially through her book The Fire Starter Sessions I’ve enjoyed reading both ‘Style Statement‘ and ‘Desire Map‘ as I’ve been thinking about mission, purpose and why.

Friday Inspiration: Sebastião Salgado

Sebastião Salgado’s new book Genesis was waiting for me when I got home from vacation. It’s an amazing book, that represents the culmination of an almost 10 year project to photograph mountains, deserts, oceans, people and animals that have so far escaped change the onslaught of modern society. The book, it’s 517 pages !, is organized geographically into five chapters : Planet South, Sanctuaries, Africa, Northern Spaces, Amazonia and Pantanal. As you might expect if you know Salgado’s work the photographs are lush black and white.

This interview on the Canon Europe website is an excellent read.

Watch Salgado discuss Genesis below:

Sebastião Salgado: Genesis from Edmond Terakopian on Vimeo.

Salgado talks at TED

Friday Inspiration: Andrew Zuckerman

I’ve been aware of Andrew Zuckerman’s photography for a while – I read the reviews of his Wisdom project when it came out and recently bought the Creature ABC book for my kids. His photographs are interesting in the simple way that they are shot, all against a plain white background. It wasn’t until this week when I came across his presentation at a Ted conference that I had a reason to dig into his work more deeply. I didn’t realize for instance that rather than have his subjects come to him in his studio in new York he took the studio to them. Not sure that I could handle traveling with that amount of gear. He talks in his 99% presentation about inspiration. Andrew’s take on it that inspiration is the convergence of curiosity and rigor. I like that. Check out the 99% presentation below.

Andrew Zuckerman: On Curiosity, Rigor, and Learning As You Go from 99% on Vimeo.

Friday Inspiration: Edward Burtynsky

I had a birthday recently and one of the gifts that I received was Manufactured Landscapes: The Photographs of Edward Burtynsky, a retrospective of Burtynsky’s work that features essays by Lori Pauli, Kenneth Baker and Mark Haworth-Booth.  An added bonus, for me at least, is an interview with the Burtynsky by Michael Torosian, originally published in the Lumiere Press title ‘Residual Landscapes‘.  Burtnynsky’s work focuses on the impact of man on the landscape, his large format pictures of the damaged landscape, from mountains of tires to rivers of bright orange waste from a nickel mine, are really quite impressive but really make you stop and wonder what are we doing to the planet?

Burtynsky won the 2005 TED Prize, his TED presentation is in the video below.  To find out more about Burtnysky click here.