August Reading and Watching
This month I’m focusing on inspiring stories of others who have been creative in their field, forging new paths that we now take for granted. I find that kind of story super helpful for the times we are in because we are all figuring out the future together. Hope you enjoy these!
- Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferris. This month’s theme is all about staying creative in crisis, so what better way than to have a whole book of 2-4 page summaries of great advice from people who are world-class achievers in their field? I always find that looking at best practices from outside my field so helpful in rejuvenating my creative spirit. It’s uplifting as well as enlightening, and the book is chock full of quotes and easy-to-implement recommendations. I’m reading it cover to cover, but you may decide to pick and choose your own adventure!
- At Work by Annie Leibovitz. When Annie Leibovitz arrived at Rolling Stone magazine she was 24, working in a male-dominated world where the photographer was seen as an appendix to the real journalist, the writer. Through her kindness, charm, humility, and willingness to learn, she carved out a whole new role as a photojournalist, becoming one of the first people to have a photo spread in Rolling Stone that WAS the story. What I find helpful here is her creativity in exploring both a new role and a new type of photography being on the road with bands. There was no blueprint for success, she created it. And like all new paths, it wasn’t always smooth. A good reminder for the times we are in.
Is there anything more uplifting than seeing how someone created or reinvented a path? When you see the obstacles and tradition-based roadblocks that the people in these series faced, it’s a marvel that they kept ongoing. For me, staying creative in tough times is all about continuing to believe that that big vision you have CAN come true, taking those steps in the right direction – regardless of what others say – and being willing to pivot is key. It’s also nice to see a story about the messy truth behind achievement.
- Chef’s Table – Netflix. A young black girl grows up in Savannah where her grandmother gives her the most amazing food to eat. Her family moves to New York to get away from racial tension. She goes to college, as her parents insisted, then takes the plunge and goes to cooking school in France. Returning to NYC, she works for some of the top chefs in the city. Then she gets offered a chance to be ahead chef in Savannah. She jumps at the chance to turn the old bus depot- once a place of racial segregation – into a fine dining place. At first, she struggles to find her voice, relying on the techniques she’s learned in France and New York. Then one day, she goes to a local cafeteria and is immediately swept away by tasting “her grandma’s food.” She changes the restaurant to be all about taking heritage recipes, ingredients, and cooking techniques from the African American community and elevating that. In 2019, Bailey was awarded a James Beard Award as best chef of the southeast. https://thegreyrestaurant.com/about-us/
- Mindhunter – HBO. Before CSU and Criminal Minds, there was the real story of how the FBI’s behavioral science unit was created. This show is based on the book, Mindhunter, Inside The FBI’s Serial Crime Unit, which tells the story of how we went from assuming that criminals are just “bad people” to understanding that environment, trauma, and early upbringing make such a difference in how people turn out, and to creating dynamic tools to better analyze, predict and profile criminal behavior. It wasn’t an easy road, mistakes and misunderstandings were encountered along the way. What part of your world is your re-inventing? What old paradigms can you reframe? I hope you’ll find kindred spirits in creating a new solution by following these stores.