Imagine What’s Possible with Humans of NY Creator Brandon Stanton – The Chase Jarvis LIVE Show

Check out The Chase Jarvis LIVE Show Episode Page & Show Notes, hosted by Chase Jarvis (@chasejarvis)

Key Takeaways

  • The 3 principles discussed in Chase’s new book, Creative Calling:
    • EVERY person is creative
    • Creativity is a habit, not a skill
    • It’s with small acts of creation (i.e., baking a cake, writing code, or cooking dinner) that we create our life (the same muscle is used)
  • Creativity is the solution to every problem you’ll ever come across
  • Find the time to pursue your creative passion (the thing that feels like work to others, but play to you)
  • You’re tired at the end of the day because you’re not doing the work that you’re supposed to be doing 
  • Continually ask yourself – “If nothing mattered but how I was spending my time, what would I be doing? What would be most nourishing for me in any given moment?”
  • You don’t have to have all the answers, small acts of creation add up over time to change your life
    • In this way: You don’t need a map, you only need a compass
      • “If the compass that you’re following is your heart, it NEVER lies” – Chase Jarvis
  • How does one know when they need to shift their vision?
    • Brandon’s guiding compass: He always asks himself – “How can I make myself like my work more?”
    • Chase has a simple litmus test: He’ll ask himself – “Do I love it, and is it working?
      • If you love it and it’s working, keep doing it
      • If you love it and it’s not working, keep doing it (because you love it)
      • If it’s not working and you don’t love it, quit

Books Mentioned

Intro

The History

  • Brandon met Chase ~8 years ago, right around the time when Humans of NY was just getting started
    • “He’s still the person I always call when I need advice. I personally rely a lot on Chase’s business knowledge.” – Brandon Stanton
  • Commenting on Brandon’s work:
    • “If you try and stop a stranger in NY, at first they think you’re trying to mug them. Everyone’s in a hurry. To have someone like Brandon walk up and completely disarm a stranger, and get them to tell you their deepest secrets in 90 seconds, is fascinating.” – Chase Jarvis

Parenting

  • Chase has made the decision not to have children
  • “The things people get the most triggered about: politics, religion, and parenting… and parenting might be even highest on that list.” – Brandon Stanton
    • “People are unable to read a different philosophy or thought on how to raise a child without feeling like their way of parenting is being directly attacked”

Chase’s Book – Creative Calling

  • “First of all, writing a book sucks” – Chase Jarvi
  • There are 3 principles discussed:
    • EVERY person is creative
      • (but creativity is trained out of us as we progress throughout school)
    • Creativity is a habit, not a skill
      • It’s like a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it gets
      • Chase recalls a quote: “Creativity is an infinite resource. The more you use it, the more you have.”
    • It’s with small acts of creation (i.e., baking a cake, writing code, or cooking dinner) that we create our life (the same muscle is used)
      • By creating in small ways, you can create the life of your dreams
  • “Creativity is the human superpower. It’s what separates us from every species on the planet.” – Chase Jarvis    
  • “Creativity is the solution to EVERY problem we’ll ever know” – Chase Jarvis
    • The wheel is mechanical engineering + creativity
    • The light bulb is electrical engineering + creativity

Forget the “Shoulds”

  • It damages children when parents force them down a specific path (even if it’s done out of love)
    • (i.e., “You have to be practical. You have to go to this school, get this kind of job, and get good grades.”)
  • “There will ALWAYS be ‘shoulds’… But just realize, every time you’re putting a ‘should’ on anyone, you’re constraining what’s possible for their life.” – Chase Jarvis
  • For 99% of people, there’s a gap between where they are and where they’d love to be
    • (If you fit this bill, Chase’s book is for you)
  • “There’s so much creativity tied up in people who are wondering if they’re creative. They’re wondering if they have the right to pursue their big dream in life… There’s nothing else that’s going to get you that dream besides creating it.” – Chase Jarvis

Ponder This

  • Ask yourself: “Have you ever felt something effortless? Have you ever put tons of work into something that felt effortless, and it felt really good?”
    • (Chase refers to this as “effortless hard work”)
    • EVERYONE has experienced this in the past
      • Whatever you’ve experienced this moment with, do more of that!

I.D.E.A.

  • Chase breaks up his book into the following sections:
    • I (Imagine)
      • Put your hurdles on the park bench, and imagine what’s possible
        • Ask: “If I could write my own script, instead of working with the script everybody else has written for me, what’s possible?”
      • “We’ve lost our capability of imagination because we’re told that creativity is whimsical, impractical, and naive… It is ALL we’ve got. Creativity and love is all we’ve got. Those are the foundational building blocks of everything.” – Chase Jarvis
    • D (Design)
      • Design a framework for getting there (AKA the behaviors necessary for achievement)
    • E (Execute)
      • Nothing works if you don’t work
    • A (Amplify)
      • This isn’t discussed, but the idea is you can amplify your way to success by surrounding yourself with a group of like-minded, creative individuals

What are the consequences of NOT being creative?

  • “It’s TOXIC when you’re not using your creativity.” – Chase Jarvis
    • It creates loneliness, isolation, and a distance between who you are and where you want to be
  • “Creativity is how we project our individuality. Creativity is how we put something unique into the world. If you’re not putting something unique into the world, you’re being put into an interchangeable box.” – Brandon Stanton

You Know What to Do

  • YOU HAVE THE ANSWERS IN YOUR BRAIN
    • The answer of how to get from where you are to where you want to be – YOU HAVE THAT ANSWER
  • Related: You may be 10,000 hours of work away from where you want to be, but you’re only ONE decision away

The Reason You’re Tired is Because…

  • You’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing in life
    • “I’ve very rarely come across someone who is as tired as most of us are that’s doing the thing they’re supposed to be doing in life” – Chase Jarvis
    • “If you did the thing you were supposed to be doing, you’d have 50% more energy at the end of the day” – Chase Jarvis

Do the Nourishing Work

  • Continually ask yourself – “If nothing mattered but how I was spending my time, what would I be doing? What would be most nourishing for me in any given moment?”
    • “Do whatever it is that’s most nourishing to you in the moment… What is it that, in the moment, you enjoy doing most? Time is the most valuable resource.” – Brandon Stanton
      • On your death bed, you’ll trade every dime you have for another week – don’t forget this
  • Another good question to ponder: “What about the efforts and expenditures that I’m putting forth every day is so I can feel successful and important in the eyes of other people.”
    • The #1 regret of the dying: that they lived the life other people wanted them to live rather than the one they’d choose for themselves

It Takes Time

  • You don’t have all the answers – small acts of creation add up over time to change your life
    • (In this way: You don’t need a map, you only need a compass)
      • “If the compass that you’re following is your heart, it NEVER lies” – Chase Jarvis
    • Brandon is where he is today because he walked around NY talking to people and taking their photographs for 5 YEARS without much success
      • What helped? – Purely focusing on the act of creation. He had no goals and simply did what was nourishing to him in the moment.
  • “It takes so long until you get to that point where you’ve put so much work into your project that a complete stranger will connect to it and seek it out. That’s the moment you know you’ve made it… The ONLY way to get there is by loving the activity and doing what you do for the love of the craft. If I were doing Humans of NY for numbers or engagement, I would have quit so early on, because it takes so long for that stuff to show up in a meaningful way.”Brandon Stanton

A Little Bit About Brandon’s Journey

  • “I moved to NYC to photograph 10,000 people and plot their photos on a map. That was my idea of doing something that would allow me to photograph every single day… I had never been to NYC before, ever. I didn’t know anybody there. I didn’t have any money. I slept on a mattress on the floor and didn’t have any furniture. I didn’t go to restaurants, didn’t go to bars, and didn’t go to concerts. I didn’t do anything. All I did was photograph every single day because that was the goal. I was trying to figure out how to do that every single day because I absolutely loved it. EVERYTHING else came out of that.” – Brandon Stanton
    • Humans of NY was born out of thousands of tiny evolutions Brandon took his work through as a result of being out there doing what he loved day after day
  • On his work:
    • “It’s almost like this form of meditation. It’s calming. It’s this bubble where all this other stuff doesn’t matter. The results don’t matter, what comes of it doesn’t matter, how many people like it doesn’t matter… All I’m thinking is: ‘This person is so interesting, I’m learning their story, and I’m going to tell it.'” – Brandon Stanton
  • Build your life in a way so you can continuously do what you enjoy doing for no other reason than you love the activity itself – it IS possible

Wrapping Up

  • If you’re confused or troubled about what you want to do in life – just play
    • Do more of what brings you joy/whatever you’re curious about
  • Invest time in your creative pursuits – if you don’t, who will?

Audience Questions

How does one know when they need to shift their vision?

  • Brandon’s guiding compass: He always asks himself – “How can I make myself like my work more?”
    • A few different variations: 
      • “How can I love my work more?”
      • “How can I be more proud of my work?”
      • “How can I do work that I think is more interesting?”
  • Chase has a simple litmus test: He’ll ask himself – “Do I love it, and is it working?
    • If you love it and it’s working, keep doing it
    • If you love it and it’s not working, keep doing it (because you love it)
    • If it’s not working and you don’t love it, quit

On Fear & Failure

  • “Part of my job as a creator is to get good at being afraid. I’ve found that all the best things in my life are on the other side of fear.” Chase Jarvis
    • “Just like creativity is a muscle, so is playing through fear”
  • “If you can fail and keep going, it’s a complete superpower. At that point, it just becomes a numbers game.” Brandon Stanton
    • The more you fail, the more immune you become to failure
    • Eventually, with enough trial & error, you’ll stumble on success
    • “I encourage people, especially when they’re young, to put themselves in a position to fail”
  • If you want to learn how to better deal with failure, Chase highly recommends reading Rejection Proof
    • “It’s amazing. It’ll change your life.” – Chase Jarvis

How to Challenge Yourself

  • “Most of the things I’ve ever had success on people told me were impossible” Chase Jarvis
    • You HAVE to be willing to be misunderstood for a long time – people WILL think you’re crazy (and that’s okay)
    • If you have a hunch it’ll work out – LISTEN TO THAT VOICE

What if your idea isn’t unique?

  • YOU make it unique
    • “It’s impossible, if you’re using your creativity, to make something that doesn’t have any uniqueness at all” – Brandon Stanton
    • There’s only one YOU – there’s only ONE person on this earth with your life experiences
      • “Lean into YOU. That’s where the best stuff is.” Chase Jarvis
  • Repetition also matters
    • Imitate someone else until you’re so tired of imitating them – you’ll then discover your style
    • This is similar to advice from Keith Rabois: To succeed as a creative, sure quality matters, but so does quantity
      • A lot of the great artists and inventors of our time succeeded by producing a TON of output, and it just so happened that some fraction of their output was incredibly valuable
    • “If you ask any artist, they’re not sitting around waiting to get inspired. They get up and go to work… every day.” – Chase Jarvis

How dos Brandon recover from his work?

  • For Brandon, his work IS his recovery
    • He adds: “The act of listening is extremely powerful. A lot of the people I’m talking to have never really been truly listened to. They’ve been carrying things around with them that they’ve wanted to talk about. Having somebody take an intense interest in what they’re saying is very palliative to them.” – Brandon Stanton

Do Chase and Brandon meditate?

  • “I’m at a terrible place with my meditation practice right now” – Chase Jarvis
    • But – “The single most powerful vehicle for changing my day-to-day life is 10-20 minutes of meditation in the morning and 10-20 minutes in the evening, but I’m off my game right now.”
  • Brandon doesn’t have a practice… yet
    • “The moments when I feel completely present are when I’m sitting at somebody’s feet and completely listening to their story. That’s when I have no thoughts about myself. That’s the closest thing I have to meditation.” – Brandon Stanton

How do you deal with bumps in the road & negative feedback?

  • With a love for the craft, you can get through anything
  • Get used to it – the haters never go away

Is there one particular story that’s stuck with Brandon over the years?

  • It varies depending on where he is in his own life
    • Now that he’s a parent, stories about the subject tend to hit him hardest

How does Brandon choose where to travel?

  • Right now, he’s working on an international book that’s coming out in the fall of 2020
    • Thus, much of his travel is constrained to areas he hopes to include in the book
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