THE ICARUS DECEPTION (A "Word Shots" Session)

Sometimes I know I need a boost of the value that a book has offered in the past, but I don't necessarily have time to sit down and reread the whole thing. So instead of getting frustrated with this, I've started a new practice I'm playfully calling Word Shots. That looks like me sitting down with a book, skimming, and taking no more than 2 journal pages of notes from the content. Just a "shot" of what it's got to offer to recharge rather than to drink in the whole thing again. I'll only do this occasionally, but when I do I thought it'd be fun to share my notes. Hope this can be helpful for you all as well!

The artist cares and so extends herself, creating new interactions to ensure that the recipient is changed and a connection is made...Anyone who cares and acts on it is performing a work of art.
— Seth Godin


Seth Godin is an extremely prolific writer with some very important insights on the end of the industrial age, the burgeoning connection economy, and what it now means to make a living. He challenges us to see that the only "safe" option left is to be making art. Think you've got a pretty solid definition of what art is? Don't think you're an artist? Think again, and read this book (or others by Godin) to be convinced...and hopefully encouraged to make your art, whatever kind that might be.

My Notes...

Elements that define art (p14): 

  • New
  • Real
  • Important 

The opposite of coherent is not incoherent, but rather interesting.  (p14)

There is a scarcity of the emotional labor it takes to make art. That labor entails:

  • Risk in digging deep to connect and surprise
  • Patience required to build trust
  • Guts to say, "I made this"   (p10)

Habits of successful artists:  (p144)

  • Learn to sell what you've made.
  • Say thank you in writing.
  • Speak in public.
  • Fail often.
  • See the world as it is.
  • Make predictions.
  • Teach others.
  • Write daily.
  • Connect others.
  • Lead a tribe.

Art almost never works as fast as you want it to, and the more you need it to work, the slower it happens.  (p211)

This might end up in crying. If you're not prepared to cry about it, I'm not sure you're making art. And if you're not prepared to dance in anticipation, you're definitely not making art.  (p210-211)

...your biggest failure is the thing you dreamed of contributing but didn't find the guts to do.  (p216)

The only 2 courses/classes art-makers need to take:

  • How to see
  • Finding the guts to make important work

The artist cares and so extends herself, creating new interactions to ensure that the recipient is changed and a connection is made...Anyone who cares and acts on it is performing a work of art.  (p161)

Art is an effort, an opportunity to denote enormous emotion and energy in a specific direction. It means that you care, not that you're a loner or a loon.  (p163)


This is the 3rd of 25 books I have committed to read & review this year for a project I’m calling “25/25.” Follow visual updates on Instagram (& Twitter) with the hashtag #read25in25.


I ran across this book by happenstance while taking a rare glance at the business section at Barnes & Noble recently. The handwritten type on the front cover stood out among the more traditional business-style designs, except for Seth Godin’s books of course. Those were popping out at me as usual, but I’ve bought too many already so I directed my attention back at Creative Confidence. I’d heard of IDEO, one of the world’s leading design firms, but I knew next to nothing about the Kelley brothers who founded and run it. And I’m all about instilling confidence in folks, as well as reminding us that we’re all infused with creative impulses and gifting––not just those people called artists, designers, writers, performers, etc. So the book seemed right up my alley. And in addition to the cover that caught my attention, I have to say the texture of the book jacket, paper choice, illustrations, and the overall design/layout make this a very pleasing read. I suppose this should be expected from the elite of the design world, but nonetheless I noted and appreciated it.


There was good balance of storytelling, discussion of values & ethics, and practically applicable information and exercises. These categories are not always offered cohesively together in one book, but here Tom and David Kelley accomplish it quite well. I also benefitted from their focus not only on the individual, but on crafting a communal culture that can better encourage creative confidence among members. 

One of my favorite parts of the book includes a list of principles and mindsets that the Kelleys suggest help “to foster creative confidence in a group setting, consider[ing] the social ecology of your team” (184):

  • Keep your sense of humor
  • Build on the energy of others
  • Minimize hierarchy
  • Value team camaraderie and trust
  • Defer judgement––at least temporarily

Download the Preface and Introduction to the book for  free  here.

Download the Preface and Introduction to the book for free here.

Watch David Kelley's TED Talk on "How To Build Your Creative Confidence" here.