Spray art for sale

A few years ago, an old man set up a booth in Central Park to sell his spray art.

The first two pieces sold were talked down 50%. After that, he was able to sell three more pieces. The old man’s take for the day was $420.

It turns out that the art pieces were created by one of the most famous artist of this generation, Banksy. The pieces sold were said to be worth $42,000 each.

What a bargain.

Too often human beings fail to understand what the true value of something is.

We ignore the evidence and miss the opportunities that are right in front of us because of our judgments, biases and prejudices.

If only we would pay more attention.

You improve what you measure

The problem is we choose to measure the wrong things all the time:

Bank accounts.



Safety days.

What if instead you chose to measure:

How did I help someone accomplish something that I couldn’t do?

How did I help someone see the world as it is?

How many doors did I open for others? (And how many of them turned around and opened doors for someone else?)

How often do I ship something into the world that is important and might not work?

[Once your survival is taken care of, how are you going to make things better?]

Because of one person

In 1970, Dr. Susan Beal was tasked with finding out why so many infants were dying from SIDS in Australia.

Over the next two decades, she would go on to visit the home of every victim (over 500!), looking for anything that might be helpful to solve this complex problem.

It turns out, there was a connection between how babies slept and death. Dr. Beal would go on to be the first person in the world to advocate for babies to sleep on their backs.

Because of this discovery, the rate of SIDS has dropped 85% in Australia since 1989. A global campaign followed where it is estimated that 17,000 babies have been saved in England and 40,000 in the US.

What a difference one person makes.

We don’t need more time or resources, what we need is to decide. Decide what kind of change you are going to make in the world. Now, go make a difference.

(All it takes is one grain of rice to tip the scales.)

Where did the magic of improv come from?

For hundreds of years, the Lord Chamberlain‘s office had the ability to censor any plays or performances they wanted. They were able to control the means of production and would send monitors to make sure that no one changed the script.

Creativity was stunted. As a play writer or performer, you weren’t allowed the freedom to explore the edges, to see what might work. You had to stick with what was proven and accepted.

Until a ruckus maker in the 1960’s named Viola Spolin brought a new set of games to performers. She would have the performers improvise characters and scenes on the spot. That forward motion was taken to a new level in the 70’s with Keith Johnstone by challenging directors to recognize the value of breaking the script.

And with that, improv was born.

Precisely because they went off script and went against the status-quo, they were able to do something remarkable, something totally different. They brought the element of surprise.

That’s the magic.

We don’t know what is coming next but when we are willing to show up and play are parts, we are able to create magic too.

Understanding genre

It is difficult to start a blog without reading Seth Godin, Randall Munroe or Hugh MacLeod.

Impractical to start a podcast without listening to Krista Tippet, Dan Carlin or Roman Mars.

Impossible to paint without observing the work of Abbey Ryan or Shepard Fairey.

You have to understand your genre.

Genre helps the recipient identify what type of work they are observing. Genre gives us rules and structure.

By understanding the rules, you can learn which ones to break.

Do more work

Ira Glass talks about closing the gap of having good taste and producing good work.

The secret?

Do. More. Work.

Set a deadline. Whether it is writing one blog post a day or painting one picture a day.

Sure, the work you do at the beginning might be really bad. But somewhere along the way it gets better.

Whatever it is you want to do, do more of it.


Is trusting that you are on the right path while ignoring all the things that draw you away from it.

What you do, where you live, who you choose to spend your time with, the art you create should all be directed toward being your best self.

Otherwise, why do you do it?

Who has to lose in order for you to win?

Of course, this is a silly question, we live in a world of endless possibilities. The pie doesn’t have to be fixed.

And yet, we play these types of finite games all the time.

The Olympics.


Racing someone to get on the freeway.

Hence, the problem with our dialogue surrounding gun control: Someone doesn’t have to lose in order for you to win.

It is possible to be a responsible gun owner and support gun reform.

It is possible to discuss automatic weapons, high-capacity magazines, background check, waiting periods, mental health, effects of media and video games, the Second Amendment, the corruption of the NRA without losing our civility.

This conversation is too important for it to be lost in who wins in the end.

The culture of numbers

A couple weeks ago, I overheard someone say that more teenagers die from texting and driving than gun violence.

The point she went on to make was that the conversation should shift to a bigger problem, indicating that gun violence deaths among teens was blown out of proportion due to the media.

What a shame.

It is a shame that we reduced ourselves to a culture of numbers–where one cause is more important than another because of statistics. And unfortunately, we see this tactic of proliferation all too often.

Where is our humanity? 

The thing is, motor vehicle accidents, suicides and gun violence are the three leading causes of death for teens.

One cause is not more important to solve than the other. Every human being is important.

One death is a tragedy and a million is a catastrophe, not a statistic.