Archive for January, 2011

Lefsetz on Houdini

January 31, 2011 Leave a comment

“Harry Houdini was a tireless self-promoter.  A self-created person who needed to make it, for the fame, the money and the adulation.  Isn’t it interesting that our entertainment heroes always come from the lower classes, when failure is not an option, you put all your effort into succeeding. You invent a past and a future.  Because you’ve got nothing to stand on, and you’re sick of being broke in the ditch by the side of the highway.”

Houdini – Lefsetz Letter

Categories: CAREER Tags:

James Franco and productivity

January 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Over the weekend I read an inspiring and fascinating article in NYMag profiling actor James Franco’s intense schedule, full of various projects, including movies, a TV show, a book of short stories and FOUR graduate programs he’s attending simultaneously:

“The new critique you’re gonna start hearing about James Franco,” says James Franco, “is ‘He’s spreading himself too thin.’ ”

I tell him I’ve already heard that critique many times.

“But what does that even mean?” he asks. He seems impatient, genuinely baffled. “Spreading himself too thin?”

Well, I say, isn’t it a reasonable concern? How many targets can one person’s brain realistically hit with any kind of accuracy?

“If the work is good,” Franco says, “what does it matter? I’m doing it because I love it. Why not do as many things I love as I can? As long as the work is good.”

The James Franco Project in NYMag


I saw Franco in “127 Hours” over the weekend. Good movie + solid performance from Franco, who will unquestionably join the A-list with this film.


Where Good Ideas Come From – TED

January 17, 2011 Leave a comment

DISCLOSURE: This was originally posted on the Casanova Pendrill blog on Jan. 13th.

“A brain is a society of very small, simple modules that cannot be said to be thinking, that are not smart in themselves.  But when you have a network of them together, out of that arises a kind of smartness.” -Kevin Kelly

Where do your best ideas come from? Probably not where you think.

In this TED Talk, author Steven Johnson talks about the environments where unusually high levels of creativity are able to flourish. His two key hypothesis are:

1) “An idea is a network on the most elemental level.” In other words, ideas don’t come from a single source — they’re the result of multiple stimuli. Whether you’re collaborating with a group of coworkers or make travel a big part of your life, the stimuli coming from these situations increase the potential for creativity.

Drawing comparisons between the taverns of a few hundred years ago and the coffee shops of today, we can see that these places (and the open floor plan at Casanova) foster a more consistent level of creativity; what Johnson calls a “liquid network.”

2) Ideas also tend to be the result of a “slow hunch” — a prolonged incubation period where ideas tend to marinate until we’re fully able to grasp them. What we may interpret as an “epiphany” is really just the end result of constantly molding different sources of inspiration over time. In Darwin’s case, he thought he just came up with his theory of natural selection on a whim, but we know by looking at his notes that he had already formulated his theory way before he “discovered” it — he just hadn’t realized it yet.

Johnson makes a compelling argument on both points and the increased hyper connectivity we’re experiencing on the web has been fertile ground for cross-pollination of ideas (the proliferation of crowdsourcing comes to mind).

Watch the whole video here:

The four minute version:

What do you think is the most conducive creative environment?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

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Categories: CREATIVITY
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