The Accidental Creative



The Accidental Creative podcast shares how to build practical, everyday practices that help you stay prolific, brilliant and healthy in life and work. Host Todd Henry (author of the books The Accidental Creative, Die Empty, and Louder Than Words) interviews artists, authors and business leaders, and offers tips for how to thrive in life and work. Listen in and join the conversation at


  • Life's Great Question: Discovering Your Contribution to the World with Tom Rath

    04/12/2023 Duração: 26min

    In this episode, we bring you a replay of the 2020 thought-provoking conversation with author and researcher Tom Rath, discussing his book "Life's Great Question: Discover How You Contribute to the World." Rath shares insights about the importance of focusing on contributing to others rather than solely thinking about what we get out of life. He emphasizes the impact of investments in contribution and provides valuable frameworks for identifying and prioritizing how one can best contribute to the world and the teams they are a part of.Key learnings from the episode:1. Rath highlights the importance of focusing on what we put back into life, emphasizing the positive influence on others as the primary goal.2. He shares that finding tasks one enjoys is less satisfying than discovering outcomes that are worth suffering for if necessary.3. Rath introduces three categories of contributions: create, relate, and operate, aimed at helping individuals identify their unique strengths and areas of impact within a team or

  • The Idea Factory: Unlocking the Power of Your Creative Output

    27/11/2023 Duração: 22min

    In this episode, we explore the importance of protecting our Idea Factory. Inspired by the Walt Disney business model, we learn that the creative output is at the core of any successful endeavor. Whether you're an entrepreneur or part of an organization, your ability to protect and nurture your Idea Factory directly impacts the value you bring. We discuss practical strategies and insights to help identify and safeguard your own Idea Factory.Key Learnings:1. The Idea Factory is the heart of creative output and value creation.2. Capturing and nurturing ideas through dedicated time and intentional inputs is crucial.3. Building an effective creative process involves managing time, focus, and energy.4. Investing time in generating ideas for specific problems enhances problem-solving abilities.5. Allowing for focused non-ping time and pruning nonessential activities contributes to effective creativity.Get three quick ideas to start your week off right. Subscribe to 3 Things at in t

  • A/J Jackson of Saint Motel: Navigating Multiple Creative Projects with Purpose

    23/11/2023 Duração: 30min

    In this episode, we revisit a 2021 conversation with A/J Jackson, the lead singer of the band Saint Motel and the founder of a new eyewear company called Aview. A/J Jackson is a true creative polymath, with talents in filmmaking, songwriting, record production, and now entrepreneurship. We explore his journey in music and film, his creative process, and how he chooses which projects to pursue. We also discuss the impact of the pandemic on the music industry and the potential for innovation in live events. A/J shares insights on his new venture, Aview, which offers interchangeable frame and lens sunglasses. Throughout the episode, we gain valuable advice for young creative professionals, emphasizing the importance of finding your unique voice and staying true to it. Key Learnings:1. Shake up your creative process to stay fresh and tap into new ideas.2. Create the things you want to experience yourself, rather than chasing trends.3. The pandemic has brought about lasting changes in the music industry, such as t

  • Achieving Breakthroughs: Principles for Igniting Innovation and Driving Change

    20/11/2023 Duração: 24min

    In this episode, we interview Kim Christfort, co-author of the book "The Breakthrough Manifesto: Ten Principles to Spark Transformative Innovation." Kim, who is the chief innovation leader for executive accelerators at Deloitte, shares insights on what holds us back from innovating and how to overcome those barriers. We dive into topics such as the importance of silencing our cynic, the power of stripping away unnecessary complexity, and the role of healthy conflict in driving innovation. Kim provides practical advice for leaders facing challenges in fostering innovation within their organizations.Key learnings from this episode:1. Silencing our cynic: While critical thinking is important, cynicism can be toxic and hinder innovation. It's crucial to differentiate between the two and be open to new possibilities.2. Stripping away complexity: Adopting a beginner's mindset and shedding layers of assumptions and beliefs can help us see things with a fresh perspective.3. Healthy conflict: Encouraging constructive

  • Embracing Calculated Risks: K. Scott Griffith on Thriving In Times of Uncertainty

    13/11/2023 Duração: 27min

    In this episode, we dive deep into the world of risk management for creative pros and leaders with seasoned expert K. Scott Griffith, author of "The Leader's Guide to Risk Management." We discuss the importance of understanding risk, how to spot and manage it effectively, and why risk management is essential for leaders. Griffith shares insights on the types of reliability and the importance of focusing on predictive behavior rather than consequential outcomes.Key learnings from the episode:1. Risk is inherent in everything we do, and managing it effectively is essential for success.2. Successful leaders are often risk-takers, but it's important to be smart and calculated in taking risks.3. Understanding the nature of risk and distinguishing between real risk and artificially escalated perception is crucial.4. Focusing on system reliability, human behavior, and organizational culture in that order is vital for effective risk management.5. Building a trusted environment for employees to report risks and workin

  • Getting To The Best Idea (a conversation with Niki Papadopoulos)

    09/11/2023 Duração: 35min

    In this episode we re-vist a 2018 chat with highly respected editor Niki Papadopoulos. Niki shares her insights on the role of editing, offering invaluable advice for anyone looking to make an impact with their work. From the importance of finding the core of an idea to strategically building connections, Niki provides a wealth of knowledge. Todd and Niki also discuss the significance of having a point of view that may challenge and even offend some readers, as well as the importance of sharing and testing work in front of an audience. Key Learnings from this Episode:1. Make your product have impact, not just for the sake of making it.2. Write as if you are speaking directly to one person who needs the advice.3. Strategically build connections with people in your industry based on shared interests.4. Consider the target audience and their relationship with your kind of product when developing an idea.5. Share and test your work in front of an audience to overcome the fear of rejection and improve consistently

  • Good Design is for Everyone: Mauro Porcini on PepsiCo's Decade of Design and Innovation

    06/11/2023 Duração: 30min

    In this episode, we dive into the importance of design with Mauro Porcini, the Chief Design Officer at PepsiCo. Design is often seen as an afterthought or something purely aesthetic, but Mauro explains that true design is a culture of caring. It begins with observing and understanding the needs and desires of people, and then creating solutions that meet those needs. Design is about more than making money, it's about making a real impact on people's lives. Mauro also shares the qualities of organizations that attract and retain talented designers, including traits like kindness, curiosity, and optimism. Join us for this insightful conversation on the power of design and its impact on leadership.Mauro's new book is called Good Design Is For Everyone. Key Learnings from this episode:1. Design is not just about aesthetics, it's about understanding and meeting the needs of people.2. True design begins with observation and caring about what people need and want.3. Kindness, curiosity, and optimism are key qualitie

  • Breaking Free from Approval Addiction

    02/11/2023 Duração: 17min

    In this episode of The Accidental Creative podcast, we dive into the topic of approval addiction and how it can hinder our effectiveness as leaders and creative professionals. Whether you have a formal leadership position or not, we all have the capacity to lead and influence others. However, when we prioritize being liked over making progress and speaking truthfully, it can negatively impact our ability to lead effectively. Host Todd Henry shares insights and strategies from his book Herding Tigers on how to overcome this approval addiction and focus on being effective, even if it means not always being liked. Key learnings from this episode:1. The tension between being liked and being effective is common in everyday interactions and collaboration.2. Prioritizing being liked over being effective can hinder our ability to lead and make progress.3. Speaking the truth with empathy is crucial. Consider the context, timing, and how the other person is likely to receive your words.4. Refusing to engage in conversa

  • Why You Should Write A Resignation Letter (But Not Send It)

    30/10/2023 Duração: 35min

    On this episode, we dive into two powerful tactics to help you approach your career more meaningfully. First, we discuss the power of writing a resignation letter as a means to self-awareness. Then, we discuss the concept of "unnecessary creating" and how it allows for skill development, experimentation, and self-discovery. Todd shares insights on identifying unnecessary creating activities and the importance of having creative outlets outside of our jobs. Key Learnings from this episode:1. Engaging in unnecessary creating is essential for continued growth and creativity.2. Relying solely on existing skills can lead to stagnation and lack of passion in our work.3. Writing a resignation letter, but not sending it, can help us gain clarity on our motivations and frustrations.4. It is crucial to have creative outlets outside of our jobs to maintain our love for our profession.5. Unnecessary creating opens up new pathways of thinking and can lead to insights that impact our on-demand work.Get three quick ideas to

  • 10 Things Creative Pros Wish Their Manager Knew

    26/10/2023 Duração: 17min

    In this episode, we explore the misunderstandings and tension that often exist between creative pros and their organization. We explore how the two sides often speak different languages and have different perspectives, which can create waves within organizations. Drawing from Todd Henry's book, Herding Tigers, we present ten things that creative pros wish their managers knew. These statements aim to spark dialogue and understanding between managers and their creative teams. From the importance of a balanced process and product to the truth about motivation and the role of design, we cover key insights that can lead to a more productive and harmonious work environment. Key Learnings from this episode:1. The process and the product are interconnected. A great process will yield a great product in the long run.2. Money is not the primary motivator for creative professionals. It's about the process, the work itself, and factors like prestige and career growth opportunities.3. Organizations should reward employees

  • Creativity As Tension: Navigating the Three Assassins

    23/10/2023 Duração: 27min

    In this episode, Todd discusses the dynamics that often go unseen and can hinder our creativity, which he refers to as the "assassins of creativity": dissonance, fear, and expectation escalation. Todd shares insights on where these assassins come from and how we can effectively deal with them. Key Learnings from the Episode:1. Creative professionals often face tension between their creative instincts and the practical expectations of their job.2. The assassins of creativity, such as dissonance, can derail our focus and hinder our creative process.3. Understanding the "why" behind our tasks and projects is essential to staying on track and producing meaningful work.4. Fear is often the result of artificially escalating the perceived consequences of failure.5. Expectation Escalation is constantly comparing your in-process work with the best thing you've ever done.Get three quick ideas to start your week off right. Subscribe to 3 Things at in this episode:Please Support Our Spons

  • Measure What Matters: Are You Tracking The Right Things?

    19/10/2023 Duração: 21min

    In this episode, we dive into the topic of what to measure when it comes to complex work and personal goals. Host Todd Henry shares his insights on how to determine what is worth tracking and what is not. He emphasizes the importance of starting with your desired outcomes and objectives instead of focusing solely on the activities. Todd introduces two types of metrics to consider: tactical metrics and time metrics. He provides a practical example of how he used different metrics to measure his progress in writing and editing a book. Finally, Todd warns against the common mistake of mixing up tactical and time metrics in organizations. Key learnings from this episode:1. Begin by identifying your desired outcomes and objectives before determining what to measure.2. Utilize tactical metrics to measure specific activities that contribute to your overall objective.3. Shift to time metrics when deep cognitive work is involved, as sustained focused time is crucial for producing quality work.4. Measure the amount of

  • Unleashing the Power of Deep Work: A Conversation with Cal Newport

    16/10/2023 Duração: 28min

    In this re-visit of a 2016 conversation, we dive into the concept of deep work with special guest Cal Newport. He believes that deep work is the solution to the problem of perpetual shallowness and frustration with your creative output. Deep work is when you intensely concentrate on a cognitively demanding task without any distractions. It's a skill that is becoming increasingly valuable in our current economy, yet it is also becoming more rare. Cal explains that deep work needs to be trained and developed, and that it is the key to thriving in today's economy. He also emphasizes the importance of differentiating between deep work and shallow work, with deep work being the type of work that produces massive new value and helps you advance in your career. Throughout the episode, Cal provides practical tips and strategies on how to engage in deep work more purposefully.Key learnings from this episode:1. Deep work is a valuable skill that is becoming increasingly rare in our current economy.2. Engaging in deep w

  • Liz Bohannon on "Beginner's Pluck"

    09/10/2023 Duração: 34min

    In this episode of The Accidental Creative, we revisit our 2019 conversation with Liz Bohannon. Liz shares her journey of moving to Uganda without a plan or job after college, and how that led her to start a socially conscious fashion brand. We dive into her book, "Beginner's Pluck," which challenges the narrative of being special and encourages action on small dreams. Liz's practical and authentic approach to entrepreneurship and leadership shines through as she shares her experiences and lessons learned. Join us as we explore the power of pluck and embracing our inner beginner.Key Learnings from this Episode:1. Embrace the power of small dreams: Taking action on small dreams creates momentum and propels us out of waiting and indecision.2. Let go of the need to be special: Redirecting our energy from trying to be unique to creating and doing can lead to greater productivity and innovation.3. Treat small dreams as sacred: Acting on small dreams, even if they lead to failure, builds momentum and opens pathways

  • Letting Go and Embracing The New: Navigating Times Of Change In Your Team

    04/10/2023 Duração: 16min

    In this episode we delve into the topic of expectations and leading indicators during times of transition. Todd Henry provides practical strategies for establishing stability by clarifying expectations and creating new cultural principles. Additionally, he highlights the importance of identifying leading indicator behaviors that align with those principles. By defining expectations and reinforcing them through these leading indicator behaviors, teams can successfully navigate times of transition.Key Learnings:1. During times of change, it is crucial to establish stability by clearly articulating new expectations, cultural principles, and systems.2. People often cling to the old way of doing things for stability, but it is essential to push them towards embracing the new.3. "Ghost rules" or invisible narratives can hinder the adoption of new ways of working.4. Redundancy in communication is necessary when introducing new expectations and cultural principles.5. Identifying leading indicator behaviors that alig

  • Extremely Online: Taylor Lorenz On the Rise Of Online Fame and Influence

    02/10/2023 Duração: 22min

    In this episode of The Accidental Creative, we sit down with Taylor Lorenz, author of the book Extremely Online: The Untold Story of Fame, Influence, and Power on the Internet. Taylor discusses the revolutionary impact of the social Internet and how it has disrupted traditional notions of fame and power. We dive into the early days of e-celebrities, the evolution of platforms like YouTube and TikTok, and the current state of monetization for content creators. Taylor shares her insights on the maturity of these platforms and her predictions for their future trajectory. Tune in to gain a deeper understanding of how these forms of media are impacting society.Key Learnings from this Episode:1. The rise of the social Internet has upended traditional notions of fame and power.2. Early e-celebrities struggled to monetize their online presence, but now there are more opportunities for content creators.3. Platforms like YouTube and TikTok were initially dismissed as novelties but have since become influential forces i

  • Amos Heller (Taylor Swift Bass Player) On Craft, Creative Growth, and Living In The Moment

    29/09/2023 Duração: 43min

    In this episode of The Accidental Creative, we sit down with Amos Heller, the touring bass player for Taylor Swift, to discuss his craft, gamifying growth, and the importance of living in the moment. Amos shares how his exposure to different genres and the enthusiasm of others has influenced his interests and knowledge. We dive into his journey as a musician and his experiences working with Taylor Swift, exploring the balance between staying true to his strengths while collaborating in a professional context to help the team accomplish its goals. Amos also reveals his practice routine and the physical and mental demands of being a touring musician, and how he copes with them. Join us as we gain insights from Amos's experience and learn valuable lessons about creativity, preparation, and the power of being yourself.Listen to our past interview with Amos here. Follow Amos' YouTube channel.Key Learnings from the Episode:1. Surrounding yourself with passionate people and exposing yourself to different genres can

  • Unlocking Career Success: 3 Key Investments Every Creative Pro Must Make

    27/09/2023 Duração: 17min

    In today's episode, we will be exploring three career investments that every creative professional should be making. Todd brings a unique perspective on the topic, emphasizing the importance of making small investments now that can lead to significant dividends in the future.The first investment he discusses is the flexibility of focus and engagement. He encourages listeners to take a broader view of their career and seek out roles that offer increasing levels of flexibility as they grow professionally. This flexibility allows them to navigate their way into work that is personally meaningful and uniquely contributive.The second investment Todd highlights is diversity of income. He cautions against becoming overly dependent on a single source of income, especially for freelance creatives. He urges listeners to start diversifying their portfolio of income streams to protect themselves from potential disruptions in the future.Lastly, Todd explores the connection between financial freedom and the ability to do m

  • Dream Big and Win: Liz Elting's Journey from Idea to Billion Dollar Company

    25/09/2023 Duração: 28min

    In this episode, Todd Henry interviews Liz Elting, the co-founder of billion dollar translation solutions company TransPerfect, about her new book Dream Big and Win and her entrepreneurial journey.Liz shares her experience of leaving her job at a finance company and starting TransPerfect, a language solutions company, in an NYU dorm room. She discusses the concept of perfecting existing ideas rather than inventing something entirely new, highlighting the importance of identifying gaps in the industry and providing better solutions.They also discuss the importance of taking calculated risks and reinvesting in the business to achieve long-term goals, and Liz's decision to stay with TransPerfect until it became the world's largest language solutions company.Key Takeaways:1. Dreams alone are not enough for success. Taking action and employing verbs is essential.2. Perfecting existing ideas can be just as successful as inventing something entirely new.3. Taking calculated risks, especially in the early stages of e

  • Time Chunking: My Secret to Unlocking Productivity and Creativity

    21/09/2023 Duração: 14min

    In this episode, I'm diving into a game-changing technique that's been a total game-changer for me—time chunking. You know, it's one of those simple concepts that can make a world of difference when it comes to getting stuff done and unleashing your creativity.We all know the struggle, right? You sit down to work, and before you know it, your day's hijacked by emails, calls, and endless meetings. It's a tough challenge to overcome, but here's the thing: dedicating specific time slots to your important creative work can change the game.In this episode, I break it down step by step. Time chunking is all about setting aside dedicated periods (usually an hour or two) for your high-impact, not-so-urgent tasks. It's like creating a fortress around your precious work time, making sure you're focused and productive.I'll show you how to pick the right project for time chunking, find those sweet spots in your calendar, and protect your work periods like you would with any important meeting. But don't worry; I'm not adv

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