Marie Forleo: Hey, it’s Marie Forleo, and you are listening to The Marie Forleo Podcast. Now, my guest today is an award-winning artist, creative, and entrepreneur, and his name is Chase Jarvis.
Now, you might already know him as the Co-Founder of CreativeLive, an online education platform with more than 10 million students. As a photographer, Chase has created campaigns for Apple, Nike, Red Bull, and so many more companies. He’s also been a keynote speaker on six continents, and a guest at the Obama White House, the United Nations, and Buckingham Palace. He lives in Seattle with his wife Kate, and his new book, Creative Calling, is out now.
My friend, Chase, thank you so much for being on The Marie Forleo Podcast.
Chase Jarvis: Thank you. I think it’s a longtime listener, first-time caller?
Marie Forleo: Yeah.
Chase Jarvis: There you go.
Marie Forleo: What I love about this is when we texted a few weeks ago and it was like, “Okay, you got a book coming out, you got a book coming out,” and we had our jam session about how challenging it is.
Chase Jarvis: Oh my goodness.
Marie Forleo: We have so many good things to talk about today.
Chase Jarvis: Yeah. There’s plenty.
Marie Forleo: But for those folks who perhaps just know of you from CreativeLive, or maybe know of you from your photography career, I actually want to go back…
Chase Jarvis: Go back, take me there.
Marie Forleo: To the time before college when your grandfather passed. I didn’t know that story, and I read about it in your book. I would love you to share with us what happened and how that really put you on a path to your creative calling.
Chase Jarvis: I’m happy to share that. It’s easy now to share that story, but it takes a little bit of backstory required. That is, that as a young person, as all young people, wildly creative, ask any first grade classroom, “Who wants to come to the front of the room and draw me a picture,” every hand goes up.
Then slowly our culture sort of trains that out of us. We get, “Well, you need to be practical. You go into this camp and you go into,” I hadn’t touched any of that yet.
I had just finished my first film. It was called The Sons of Zorro. I was heading into second grade. My first film, we made it with a Super 8 camera, we charged admission and made more money than we’d spent. My first film was profitable at eight years old.
Marie Forleo: When? When?
Chase Jarvis: Eight years old. Total win. Going to second grade, I’ve got my own comic strip that I’m distributing weekly. My character’s name is Clyde. I’m hand drawing everyone gifts to my classmates. Performing magic. I got a stand-up routine. This is second grade, right?
Then, I hear student teacher conference, there’s an ice cream social going on. I stumble in and hear my second grade teacher, Ms. Kelly, tell my Mom, “Chase is so much better at sports than he is at art.”
Marie Forleo: Oof.
Chase Jarvis: Right now, you’re thinking, “That poor little eight-year-old just got his little heart stomped on.” But you know what? I didn’t care. I was like, “Oh. Okay. That sucks.” But you know what I am going to do? I’m doing sports. Because I want approval. I want to fit in.
I think that’s a really important story, because in the particular lies the universal. We all have these moments. What I think is fascinating is for me as a kid, as much as I loved all those things, that was my universe. I was an only child. I used to go out in the backyard and entertain myself.
But we’re social animals. We live in a culture that gives us all kinds of shoulds and oughts and musts. We tend to just follow the path that everybody else wants for us. I did that without even thinking. No grief, just boom, right on my next path. Okay, cool.
Then Chase was the jock, and thank you Ms. Kelly, it was helpful. I went to college on a soccer scholarship. I played on the Olympic development team, could’ve continued to play professionally. I was doing the things, and I was fine at it, so she was right in a sense.
But when my grandfather died, and this is the nature of your question, right, what was going on then. He dropped dead of a heart attack completely out of nowhere. No warning signs. He wasn’t sick or ailing, or had been to the doctor. Just gone. Obviously that was just a week before my college graduation, very pivotal time.
In that moment, the grief was only made better momentarily, and I guess that would be the silver lining, was that I was given his cameras. He was a tinkerer, he was a photographer. He had photographed me, he and my father were both amateurs or hobbyists, and they photographed my journey as a kid and all the sports that I just mentioned.
I remember being really intrigued with photography. Not because it was photographs of me, but it’s like, wow, that’s a moment, and that’s never going to happen again. I’m so glad I have that. It tells a story. I’d always felt connected and emotional around those moments and stories.
But now after basically denying my creativity for my entire youth, to suddenly have the tool for that handed to me on the backside of my grandfather’s death, I sort of took it as a sign from the Universe. I had been creatively curious that whole time, because I realized that I’d walked away from something.
I grabbed that camera, and with a little bit of money that I had gotten from his passing, some of my savings, and like a 13-stop red-eye taken to Europe, I lived out of a backpack with my then girlfriend, now wife Kate, and taught myself how to pictures with this camera.
Marie Forleo: Amazing. I mean, you thought you were going to medical school.
Chase Jarvis: For sure. This is, I think, the corollary to that story is despite that little moment of awakening, and I think it’s worth noting that these moments, and they can be both traumatic, loss of someone close to us, or something beautiful. The birth of a child, or a new job that you’ve been seeking after for your entire life or whatever. It puts us in a place of reflection.
We stop just long enough to either say what’s working or what’s not working. We check in, we do a body scan, we get in touch with ourselves. For me, that was like, okay, great, I did that. Then I’m on to my next thing. Which was this journey trying to figure out my creative self.
To me there’s a… what’s the right way to take this? I had denied my creativity long enough to be open in that moment and to pursue the… I didn’t have the end in mind, but I had this compass inside of me that I just started to listen to.
When the world’s telling us all these things, go back to Ms. Kelly, from a very young age. When the world was telling me, “Okay, if you’re hard working and you’re smart, you should go to medical school. Or you should be a lawyer. Or you should be a…” all the things that we should be doing. Go back to us being social animals and wanting to fit in. I’m like, okay, I’ll do those things.
Now juxtapose that with this camera, this sense of adventure, and this momentary check-in and a big transition point in life, for the first time those things really stopped going together. I was like, “Wait a minute. I’m supposed to do this. This is what I signed up to do, medical school, whatever.” In that moment, I started changing. I started changing away from all the shoulds and woulds of things.
The hardest thing in life, Marie, is that these are people that we care about that are telling us this. This is not the bully across the street. This is your mom, your brother, your teacher, your career counselor, your grandparent, your boss, your fill in the blank.
You respect and appreciate these people in your life. They add value. You connect with them. They’re telling you all the things you should do. But we have to have the courage to disappoint them at particular times in our life, and listen to the thing that we’re told to ignore our whole life for reasons of practicality and reasons of duh, duh, duh, duh, again, a million shoulds.
You have a compass, whoever is listening right now, you have a compass inside of you. You don’t have a map to anything. Anything you think you have a map to, that map is wrong. There’s no red dot, a bunch of dotted lines and then an X, that doesn’t exist. Anyone who tries to sell you a map is selling you BS.
You have a compass. The compass just tells you what direction to walk in. It’s your job, A, to listen to that compass and listen to that voice inside of you, and then B, start walking.
That’s all I did. For the first time in my young adult life. I started walking the path that I was supposed to be on and listening to that calling that I had inside.
Marie Forleo: Yeah. That’s what created this incredible career. I’m fast forwarding now, I want to talk about creative calling.
Chase Jarvis: Okay.
Marie Forleo: You’ve got a lot going on. Last time I saw you, any time we connect, for most of us and for most people listening too, right, life is full.
Chase Jarvis: Very full, yeah. By design we try and make it joyful.
Marie Forleo: Yeah. Absolutely. What inspired you to do this book, and why now? Where did that come from? Because you’ve got a lot on your plate, mister.
Chase Jarvis: Okay. It’s fair to say that we all always have a lot. I’m a little bit trepidatious or worried about acknowledging busy as a badge. Qualifiers aside, and busy life and career, when you’re doing the things you love, it’s really easy for that to happen.
I do have the fortune of having followed my own advice at that point, listen to that compass, and created, not overnight, but through a long arduous process, I’m truly living my dream life right now.
There’s plenty of potholes and pock marks, and it’s not always pretty. But I did not want to write a book. I wanted to continue to make internet videos and help empower people to learn through CreativeLive and the other stuff that I’ve got, my podcast. But this idea needed to be a book, and here’s why.
A lot of… I feel like we learn things, and we take notes, and those notes come in many forms. We learn lessons from people. Part of my background at CreativeLive and on my podcast talking to the top performers in the whole world, a lot of whom are mutual friends. The Brene Browns and Richard Bransons and Arianna Huffingtons and Tim Ferrisses and Daymond Johnses.
I started seeing these patterns in both my own experiences and the experiences of my friends and peers and aspirators, inspirators. I was like, these are not things that are written down. Why is that?
I started just peeling back the onion. At the root of all of it, I found were three very simple things.
Simple thing number one is that every person is creative. Every person. Go back to that first grade classroom. We are creating machines, it’s literally what differentiates us from every other species on the planet. Whether you’re creating dinner, you’re creating a family, writing computer code, building a business, it’s all creativity.
We’ve been told, we’ve been sold a lie that creativity equals art. But all of these things are creativity. Premise one is creativity is inside of every person.
Premise two, here’s the cool thing, is creativity is like a muscle. How do you build a muscle? You use it. Maya Angelou probably said it best, which is, “creativity is an infinite resource. The more you use, the more you have.”
Marie Forleo: Amen.
Chase Jarvis: If you think about that as a muscle, and it gets stronger with use, I’m not sure why you wouldn’t want to use it more. Especially if you start to understand the thing that I figured out way late in life and after making a bunch of wrong turns.
The thing that you know and so many of the people that I just mentioned who are the world’s top performers know, is that creativity is this superpower that we have. That when we create in small ways every day, whether that’s solving a problem, building a business, baking a cake, playing a guitar, expressing ourself. When we do that in small ways every day, we connect with this intuition and this understanding that we have agency and get a creativity over our entire life.
In learning all this over, whatever, my entire adult life, I’m like, there’s enough complexity here. This is not an internet video here. There’s enough complexity here that a feature film is not necessarily the right way to go. There’s enough complexity here that I need to put it in a book.
I’ll do the book in 52 ways from Sunday. I’ll make it so that you can read it, and you can connect, there’s characters in it, and there’s throughlines. I want it to also be a reference book and a textbook.
So I worked super hard on the structure of the book in order to make it consumable in bite sizes, and something that maximizes your understanding of a very complex concept, which is how to create the living and the life that you love and you want more than anything in this world. Especially if you’ve only got one shot, which is all we got.
Marie Forleo: Yes. Let’s talk about what stops us, what stops people from being creative.
Chase Jarvis: How much time you got?
Marie Forleo: Yeah. Well, I want to hit on two specific things. I think there’s something awesome that you share actually, it’s on page 79 of the book.
You know, so many folks that we meet, that I meet through my work, one of the big things that stops them is the fear of being judged or criticized. Especially in an environment where we’re obviously encouraging folks to share their work online, which is where people comment, and there’s all kinds of feedback we’ll call it with bunny ears.
I love the trick that you have to navigate this, and I want you to explain it. Calling it “the work.” Can you talk to us about what that means and how it can help, especially if we have a fear of being judged or criticized?
Chase Jarvis: Sure. I think the most appropriate way to start the answer to that is to say you are not your work. You are a human being. You have a history, a past, a life. You have a present. You’re present right now. And you’ll have a future. The things that you do and the thoughts that you have, and where you’re going, your good stuff and your bad stuff, does not equal you.
The same is true if you start to think about it, the work you make, especially in a creative capacity where you’re trying to experiment and find yourself, connect with yourself, connect with other people. Put work out into the world. Take chances, take risks.
If we just glue our identity to whatever we’re pushing out in the world, it’s really, really easy to… Because if you’re doing anything, right, of meaning, that’s meaningful to you, some people are going to like it, some people are not going to like it. It’s so native and natural to feel that there’s us and them, me and you.
When you start to let go of that and realize, all right, I’m going to do what I’m going to do. If I’ve got this set of goals and I aspire to do these things with these people, and in order to do that, in order to tap into that sort of self awareness and fulfillment, I can’t do it without taking risks, without being judged, without… I just find that it’s a very simple tool to disconnect you from the reception and/or perceived result of the work.
Marie: The work. Yeah.
Chase: By calling it the work there’s just enough separation. I also use that trick with the brain. This is not my brain. This is the brain. This is a multi-million year old organ. It is not designed to keep you happy. It’s designed to keep you safe.
Primarily what it’s designed to keep you safe from is saber-tooth tigers. They don’t exist anymore. So what does our biology do? It says, oh, the number of Instagram likes, that’s a saber-tooth tiger. The fact that my boss didn’t like my presentation, that’s a saber-tooth tiger.
The reality is, those are false. I just find that by realizing that you are not these things, that you can then more easily play with them and observe them, like thoughts going past your mind, or just a piece of work that isn’t a defining characteristic of who you are forever. It frees you up a little bit from judgment.
Marie Forleo: Yeah. I think that self-distancing is so helpful. We all need that constant reminder. I think what can help us too, and I’m curious of your take on this, is producing a good volume of work. Because when you’re creating a lot, for me at least, I’m less attached to each thing.
Chase Jarvis: Yeah. There’s a very famous apocryphal story, and I had to look up the word apocryphal when I, I said this is the right…
Marie Forleo: I’m really happy to hear that, because I’m like, I don’t know.
Chase Jarvis: I think I was using the right word when I wrote it. Basically it means not even sure if it’s true or not. It’s in the research around creativity and volume of creativity, and it goes like this.
There’s a pottery class, a ceramics class. The teacher says, “All right. You’re going to divide the class down the middle of the row here. All y’all on this half of the class, your job this semester is to make one beautiful piece of pottery. Y’all on this side, I do not care if it’s beautiful. Your job is to make as much as you can. You’re going to be graded on how beautiful this piece is, and you’re going to be graded on the volume of work. Go.”
The study follows this semester of school. At the end, the results now are not going to surprise you. The group that put all of their effort into one piece and polishing this one masterful thing, their quality of their work was far, far, far, far below the other group. Not only was the quality of the work higher in the other group, but obviously the volume was orders of magnitude larger. More better work was created.
You’re like, of course. That’s just two things. That’s repetition, and you’re parking your judgment, because you’re like, I’m just putting the work out there.
Marie Forleo: That’s right.
Chase Jarvis: Yeah. Andy Warhol, it’s like, I’m just going to make stuff, and while everyone else is busy judging what I’m going to make, I’m going to go make some more stuff.
Marie Forleo: That’s right.
Chase Jarvis: To me, that is such a cool thing. Honestly it’s how I feel like I found my footing and my purpose in life. I just tasted a lot of things.
I was going to, again, go play pro soccer. I went to a PhD program in philosophy. I’ve done, let’s just say, I’ve done a bazillion things, latched on to photography and started pursuing it. The same is true with every aspect inside of photography. This is how we find our way in the world, is by experimentation.
I talk a lot in the book, and I hope this resonates certainly with your audience, because you preach the same thing, action over intellect. You cannot think your way out of these problems, people.
Marie Forleo: I think one of my favorite highlights from the book is actually “action is identity. You become what you do. You’ve got to do the verb to become the noun.” It’s so unbelievably direct and so true. I love that. It seems so obvious, but I think all of us can get caught up from time to time. I certainly have. You know, not doing the thing that you want to do.
Chase Jarvis: Yeah. I just want to give a shout out to your book for a second. Congratulations on a masterpiece. It’s beautiful, super inspiring. We got to go through this process together.
Marie Forleo: Together, yeah.
Chase Jarvis: They’re coming out just a few weeks apart. There’s a whole host of these tools that we, in part because of timing and culture, and things are moving so quickly, and information wants to be free. Also in part just because of I think there’s a different mentality now. Culture has shifted far enough, not just technologically, but spiritually and emotionally, that there’s a whole host of things that we weren’t taught.
I don’t want to throw rocks at the school system. My wife was a public school teacher for a long time. I think the school system does a good job.
But the reality is, the school system is sort of, its guidance is a factory. You put people on the conveyor belt, they move through a system. First grade you’re doing this. They expect everybody to be on the same conveyor belt, and they expect everybody to learn the same things.
What do we know about people? We’re all over the place. Different backgrounds and learning styles and modalities and all that stuff. So no wonder that we weren’t well-served. We’re living the life in the 21st century with, you know, basically 19th century tools.
Marie Forleo: Absolutely. And understandings and concepts, yeah.
Chase Jarvis: Now we’re in this massive transformation. We should acknowledge that there are still billions of people that don’t have drinking water, let alone the internet. Let’s not forget that. There’s still work to be done.
But we do have… We are in an era right now where the tools are stronger and more powerful than ever before. We do not need permission from the gatekeepers. It is the most exciting and opportunistic time in human history to pursue the thing that you want.
I actually believe that it’s the riskiest time in the world to play it safe, because the words play it safe were coming from a time and a place and a set of circumstances that are not present now. It is not safe to put all your eggs in one basket, go to one school, you get one job, have that job for 40 years, and get the gold watch. There is… The map for that is broken. Someone tore it up and threw it away.
If you are on that path right now, cool, you’re one of the last few that are going to be able to do that. Because if our parents had one job, we’ll have five, and the next generation we’ll have five at the same time. That we’re just now learning these things, to me that should be so empowering.
If we can change our mindset to adopt that and then start… these lives, fulfillment, success, those are not found items. You do not find success. Even though we use that, you know, “We hope you find success.” I am not a founder of a company. I created the thing. So success is created.
Why then is creativity this whimsical thing that maybe it’s sort of naïve to pursue it or risky or all these things? No, no, no. Creativity to be crystal clear is the human superpower. It is not only how some things happen, it’s how everything happens.
Marie Forleo: Oh yes.
Chase Jarvis: Instead of Everything is Figureoutable, it’s the same language that I’m using, you are creating the solutions to the biggest problems that you have. If you strengthen that muscle, yes, baking a cake, playing the guitar, building a business, and writing code, that is the same muscle. If you work on that, you’re going to be able to create your life. Just creativity at a different scale.
Marie Forleo: 100%. I think another thing that can prevent us from following our creative dreams or bringing them to life is a perceived lack of time. I loved this idea you suggested about using the time machine. Can you walk us through the time machine exercise and how it can help us, and traveling back in time to a favorite artist or a creator?
Chase Jarvis: If you’re listening to this and maybe you’re jogging right now or sitting on a park bench or at work, I don’t know where you’re listening, but go with me for like 90 seconds here.
Your favorite artist, your favorite piece of art, maybe it’s a band and that favorite album that makes you get up and want to dance. A video game. Whatever. Just a beautiful thing. Now, you can go back in time to the person who created that, and you’re watching them sit there and start to create this thing.
Then you realize that, wait a minute, what is that thing next to them? Oh, it’s an iPhone from the future and it’s got Candy Crush on it, and they pick that thing up and they start whittling away their time. You’re like, “No, no, no, no! You have to do this thing. You have to make the thing that you were supposed to make.” Then you see something else come along that is a total distraction.
The logical conclusion to this argument is, it’s so easy when you see something that you love in the world, and you do the thought experiment of going back and connecting with the creator.
To see them be unaware or distracted and potentially be doing things that don’t allow them to create their best work, it’s very easy for us to say, “No, no, no. I really want to make sure that you make this thing. If you just focused and did what you were supposed to be doing, what you know in your heart to be true, you don’t have any idea of the gifts you’re going to give the world.”
When we run that same thought experiment on ourself, so many things get in our way. Those bills, they’re not going to pay themselves. Oh, it’s a lot easier if I just stuck it out in this job because I got XYZ bill and XYZ responsibility. The safe thing to do, the smart thing to do, those are rabbit ears from every other input that you have, would be to do all of the things that I’m supposed to do through culture’s lens.
It’s so easy to see it for somebody else, so hard to apply that same rubric to ourself. That’s why I’m an advocate for this, basically two things.
One. I believe that all the answers are inside of you. We go looking in far away places, and of course experience adds to our own awareness and we get all these inputs. But the answer to that question, to solving that relationship, to deciding whether to go this way or that way with your next career move or relationship move, all the answers are inside us.
To stop looking, just for a second, externally, get in touch with yourself, and look in. If you can, this is the calling. It starts out as a whisper. It’s not like, “Hey, dummy. Go over here. All the answers are right here.” I think of it in terms of intuition. We’re taught to ignore intuition. What if you listen to it?
You start listening to the intuition, and it says, “You know, this community that you’re a part of right there, that’s not really serving you. This other one that you’re curious about, why don’t you go experiment there?”
This person, this job, this hunch you have, I’ll just use you as an example. I want my book launch event to be the combination of a Beyonce concert and a TED Talk, and if they had a baby and threw a street party, that’s what I want it to be. That is a hunch, that is a little intuition.
For the people who have honed their ability to listen to that, those are the people that you are inspired by, that you want to be close to, that you pay attention to. They are just better at listening to that. Like all things, this is a skill that you can develop, and I’m encouraging you to listen to it.
Then part B, that’s the calling part of the title of the book, and then part B is there’s a really strong narrative throughout the book about a path. You’ve also felt what it felt like to be on an amazing path, even if it was for a moment. Around people that you loved, doing a thing, however fleeting, however short. You’ve been on that path before. You know what it feels like.
I’m just encouraging you to now get on that same thing. Listen to those voices. Listen to that and experiment and walk towards that on that path. Take action over just sitting there thinking about it. That is the key to everything.
Marie Forleo: Can we talk about the distinction you make, because this is getting a little granular, but I loved it, between a creative and an influencer? I thought this was so wonderful, especially because there’s so much push towards are you an influencer, and let’s get influencers in XYZ. How do you see that distinction?
Chase Jarvis: It creeps me out, honestly. The concept of an influencer, when explained academically, an influencer is someone who has influence.
I think what is largely lost on this conversation or even the concept and the idea is that, how does influence happen? Of course, I’ve grounded everything in my book around creativity, and so I’d say influence is created and it takes work and you must create your ability to have influence.
The next logical question if you peel the onion is, well then, what is it that you do? To me, and influencer, if your aspiration is to be an influencer, that is not a thing in and of itself. There is no influencer capsule.
Go back to, you’ve got to do the verb to be the noun. You have influence because you are something else. You identify as something, and you create something on a regular basis, and people recognize you for your ability to create that and to stand out and to be unapologetically you.
For anyone out there who’s like, “I really see on Instagram, I like these travel influencers. It’s cool.” No, here’s what travel influencers do.
They are master logicians. They know how to tell a story better than anybody else. They can put their love for travel, their wisdom around storytelling, and their logical mastery to connect with tour guides and all these other things. They’ve put that together in a very specific way, such that people are willing to essentially pay them to live their best, most authentic real selves.
That is what an influencer is. An influencer is actually a person, again, peel the layer, who has these attributes, and puts them together in a way that only they can. Then people come to participate in that thing that they’ve become, or that vibe that they’ve put out, or that story that they’ve told about who they are.
Influence for the sake of influence is fiction. I think influence is a nice thing to have in culture, because it’s also sort of like persuasion. You can’t sell an idea, whether it’s the book you just wrote, Marie, Everything is Figureoutable, these all had to be packaged and ideas had to be presented.
To me, that’s a very, very useful skill. There’s no influencer without the ability to package and create and manifest the things that you want to be in the world.
Marie Forleo: I’m just going to read some of your own words back to you, because I love this.
Chase Jarvis: Uh-oh. This is dangerous. This is like mean tweets.
Marie Forleo: No. It’s even a more granular look at this, because it’s brilliant. “Influencers become anything they need to be to hold on to their audience. A creator holds to his or her oath, and the right people come along for the journey.” It’s just another way to drill down on what you just shared.
I think that that’s so important, because when people think about chasing, whether it’s the likes or the algorithm or whatever, they do lose the rootedness of what they are there to give or contribute. I just wanted to thank you for that.
Chase Jarvis: I think this is, it highlights something that is a theme of the book, which is, you can’t both stand out and fit in at the same time.
Therefore, if you want to stand out and have a remarkable life, even if for your own, you don’t need any sort of kudos from anybody else. The only way of truly doing that, and I would say the most effective way, because all the other things that can get you halfway there or seemingly there, is to be unapologetically yourself.
The ability to do that is not a skill that we are taught. That is part of what I’ve done in my own life, see where I was successful and where I went wrong, and all of the people like yourself that I’ve deconstructed their work and said, “Wait a minute. There’s a very simple repeatable pattern here,” that’s why the book has the structure that it does. It’s a very simple process, a creative process, to either bake a cake or build a life, it’s all of the same process.
Again, I’ll go back to your earlier point about a book. The reason you wrote your book is because these ideas are out there, but no one’s put them together in a simple package. I just tried to assemble it in a way that makes sense. That was one of the ways of looking at it.
Marie Forleo: You did such a brilliant job of doing that. I’m wondering, before we wrap up, before I get to my last question, can you walk us through the IDEA acronym? Because I love it, and I feel like everyone listening right now will be able to hear it and then start to put it into practice as they get your book and read it.
Chase Jarvis: Great. In thinking about my own life and deconstructing the lives of others, I have not found a way… And I’m going to sit down and talked to Richard Branson, he’s an investor in CreativeLive, he’s become a mentor. People like Brené. Other people that we’ve mentioned already that I feel like are in our pop culture circle that are easily relatable. That’s why I mention those names.
These people, what they have done is a very simple and repeatable process. They may have different words for it, different ideas, different labels. But the fact remains that there’s a very clear blueprint.
I have named it the IDEA system. I-D-E-A. The book is based on those four parts. The first part, I, for Imagine. The second part D for Design. E for Execute. Then A for Amplify. I’m going to go through them really quickly.
Imagine. Now, in the same way we haven’t been taught a lot of things, we were really not taught to imagine without all of the limitations. We were taught to be practical. We were taught that you need to think a certain way, you need to figure in the economics, all these things out in front.
But I can tell you no one, Steve Jobs did not come up with the idea for the iPhone by looking at everything else exclusively and then doing another one of those things. He said, what if we took some of these constraints away? What if, like, blank slate, blue ocean, blue sky, whatever the kind of thinking. We’re not really trained in that thought.
I’m asking you to truly imagine for yourself. This works whether you’re baking a cake or you’re living your life. What is truly unencumbered? If you could write it down in three sentences or five sentences, what would you write down? Imagine. There’s a set of tools for doing that.
D, Design. Okay. Let’s go back to Steve Jobs and the iPhone. It’s a little bit of a tired clichéed example, but I’m just going to go with it.
In order to produce that thing, they had to make a plan. Here’s how we’re going to manufacture it. Here’s the materials. Then they had to create a set of habits. We’re going to have reviews on this timeline. We’re going to do all these things. They had to design a system.
The same is true for your personal goals, whether you want to get fit for your dance show or anything. Design a set of habits and a set of systems really that if you did these things will get you as close as possible to the thing you imagined. So D, Design.
E, Execute. This is a pretty practical thing, but we talk a lot about it in the book, because it’s getting shit done.
Marie Forleo: Yes. That action piece baby.
Chase Jarvis: I love how much you love that, and I’m all about that action, boss. It’s required. I’m a huge advocate of action over intellect as I’ve already mentioned. E is Execute.
Then A, I think is the most misunderstood of all the pieces, because you think, “Oh, yeah. That’s kind of how you build a house. What do I want it to look like? How many bedrooms?” Then you’ve got to draw a plan and then you execute the plan. But here’s the thing that’s different between building a house and architecting the life you want for yourself. It is the A piece, the Amplify piece.
Because, see if you follow me here, you have put let’s just say dozens or hundreds of hours into something. Whether it’s a present for work, or a piece of art you’re going to put out in the world, or a new course you’re going to release, or whatever. You spend all this time and energy.
You look at what other people are doing. You’ve tuned into yourself that this is the thing I’m supposed to do. Then you put it out there into the world, and what happens? Crickets.
Marie Forleo: Nothing.
Chase Jarvis: Tumbleweeds.
Marie Forleo: Worst feeling in the world.
Chase Jarvis: Worst feeling in the world. A is the solution. The Amplify part of the book is the solution. What it really is, is a roadmap for community.
It’s the most misunderstood thing, because most people who, the way that we get information on the internet, TV, whatever, you don’t get to see all of the other pieces of it. The pieces I think are of the most importance, doing good work, that’s a given. That’s a given. That’s the get in the door fee. You have to do good work.
But of all the other pieces that are missing, people don’t realize that the success that is manifested when someone you admire puts something out in the world, is because they’ve been working on community for years, and it takes many different forms.
Some are communities that you join. If you’re an actor and you never go to acting school and you don’t know any other directors and you aren’t in Hollywood, it’s going to be really hard. If you’re not joining and participating in other communities that are doing things that you’re doing and are like-minded and like-spirited. I think this is a really important piece.
Then part two of that, there are communities that you join, and then there are communities that you create around your work. That is, such that when you do put something out, that someone cares.
This is the fabric I think of modern culture, and this is where I think community and the internet and tools and social networks, all these things are misunderstood as vanity metrics or they’re toys. That’s true. You can look at them and they can be those things. But they also can be 50% or part of the equation for creating community.
You have a community that is worldwide. I was on the way in this morning in the car getting messages from South Africa, from Ireland, from Pakistan. Like, I can’t get your book in Pakistan.
Marie Forleo: Yes. Amazing. That’s amazing.
Chase Jarvis: What we’ve done, is we’re just building community in order to receive the work that we want to put out in the world. I actually advocate that that’s 50% of the work that you need to be doing. Most people, they would say, the saying goes, the cream rises to the top. You make great stuff, and this is what your teacher told you in eighth grade, you make great stuff, it bubbles to the top.
Marie Forleo: Oh hell no.
Chase Jarvis: Can’t be further from the truth. Then you say, you’ve got to promote it. No, no, no. If you’re just creating and promoting, that whole thing is only half the pie.
Promoting it, people are only going to pay attention when you promote something if they are tuned to you or the work or the style of the work or the genre, that you have to give them a reason to care about you, rather than someone else.
Marie Forleo: Yeah. I love it. I mean, the book is brilliant. Congratulations. I know how much work went into it on very intimate scales.
Chase Jarvis: You and me both. We were weeping on the phone to each other, like, “Oh my god.”
Marie Forleo: Yeah. But you did, it’s just a really incredible book. Everyone listening right now, you have to go get and check out Creative Calling. I love it too because it’s so applicable. You don’t need to quit your job and become a photographer.
Chase Jarvis: Yeah. This is not about a beret. You don’t need to move to Paris, no new set of clothes, no new friends, nothing. It’s available to you immediately. It’s just about finding the way that it’s authentic to you, tapping into that personal power, and unleashing into the world.
Marie Forleo: As we wrap up, for someone listening right now who’s on the verge, and they believing what we’re saying, but they’ve got that little bit of fear that maybe they’re not creative, what’s the one message we want to leave them with today?
Chase Jarvis: Creativity is absolutely inside of every person. You’ve been told a lie that some people receive it, some people don’t. Some people have it, and other people were excluded. There is no club for creativity. It is foundational to who we are as a species.
It’s okay that you have come as far as you have not thinking you’re creative. But I want you to own the words. It’s okay to say it. We’re in a new era, where creativity is seen as possibility. Creativity is the new literacy. Creativity is the thing that will get you from where you are to where you want to be. In fact, it’s the only thing that will get you there.
Marie Forleo: Thank you so much for being a friend. Thank you so much for this body of work and CreativeLive and everything else that you do, and making the time today in this super busy time for you to share your thoughts and your heart and your dreams and your work with our audience.
Chase Jarvis: Thank you.
Marie Forleo: Love you.
Chase Jarvis: Thank you. Love you too. So grateful. Love your book as well, it’s a masterpiece. I think the themes are, you’ve really come at it from a practical figureoutable. I came at it through a creativity lens. I think there’s so much similarity which…
Marie Forleo: Is awesome.
Chase Jarvis: Yeah. That tells us I think we’re on to something. It’s a new opportunity for humanity to both explore who we are and who we want to be, and then a set of tools to get us there.
Marie Forleo: If you enjoyed today’s interview, as always, the best conversations over at the magical land of marieforleo.com, so head on over there and leave a comment now.
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Stay on your game, and keep going for your creative dreams, because the world really does need that special gift that only you have. Thank you so much for listening. We’ll catch you next time on the Marie Forleo Podcast.
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