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The Art of Self-Reinvention with Malcolm Gladwell

Lesson 36 from: The Chase Jarvis LIVE Show

Chase Jarvis

The Art of Self-Reinvention with Malcolm Gladwell

Lesson 36 from: The Chase Jarvis LIVE Show

Chase Jarvis

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36. The Art of Self-Reinvention with Malcolm Gladwell


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Lesson Info

The Art of Self-Reinvention with Malcolm Gladwell

Hey, every day, what's up? It's your body. Chase, Welcome to another episode of the show. This is the Chase Jarvis live show here on creative life, the show where I sat down with amazing humans and unpack their brains with the goal of helping you live your dreams and today's insanely badass guest is Mr Malcolm Gladwell of course, you know his work, things like tipping point blink outliers, he is an award winning author, multiple new york times bestsellers, He's also into some new stuff, audio, he has got an incredible podcast called revisionist History among a couple of others, and he's the president of Pushkin Industries, uh where they're exploring all kinds of audio art and today's episode with Mr Malcolm. Gladwell features one of those pieces uh a new work that he has collaborated with, the one and only mr paul Simon incredible piece, and it's called Miracle and Wonder, We go deep on all sorts of things, his creative process, the creative process behind the legendary songwriter paul...

Simon, we talked about the ability to choose what you want to be and become in this world, how paul Simon did it, how Malcolm Gladwell did it and how you can do it, um how do you know what to pursue where your areas of genius may lie? Maybe in your background may be the fact that you have not yet tasted enough things in the world. It is a fascinating episode. I've wanted to have Malcolm on the show for a really, really long time and this couldn't be a better time to interact and intersect with his career arc in this new work of genius. Again, Miracle and wonder with paul Simon, I can't wait for you to hear this episode. Give Malcolm a shadow on the internet and yours truly will attempt to answer any questions you have, but I know you're going to love the show, so I'm going to get out of the way yours truly and Malcolm. Gladwell, mm hmm. Mhm. Thank you. They love you Malcolm. Gladwell and welcome to the show. Thanks for being here. Thank you. It's my pleasure. Well, you've done it again, sir. We're I just shared with you before we started recording that for the last several days, I it's been operating out of Seattle and it's been the typical Seattle fall winter, lots of rain, and I spent the last few days curl up on the couch, rereading a bunch of your material, but mostly listening to a Miracle and wonder, an incredible collaboration that you've just put out with yourself and one of the greatest songwriters in modern history, Mr paul Simon, So that is one of the things I want to focus on. But before we do for the handful of listeners who have been living under a rock and might not be familiar with you or your work. Can you take us way back? Tell us a little bit about yourself, mostly interested in your earliest times and what sort of what made you you Oh dear. That's like, let's go way back for the people who might not be familiar with your work? That's quite the uh quite, quite, quite the question. Um well I'm a, you know, I'm a, I'm a Canadian, I suppose I should start with. That seems very, very relevant. Um and I uh I came to this country after graduating from college on a kind of whim. I was actually an illegal immigrant for a while um and stuck around worked for the Washington post for then I worked at the new yorker, got interested in journalism and then started doing a podcast couple of years ago called revisionist history, wrote books on the side through much of the last 20 years and now I am at this audio company called Pushkin, which I started with my best friend Jacob and we just make audio stuff, um podcasts, audiobooks, anything that's got a sound component. Um and that's been, that's the latest iteration of what has been a very unexpected ride. Didn't think I was going to, this is what I was going to end up doing in my life, but that's where it's been. I'm curious why the Canadian part, obviously you opened with your heritage. Um there seemed to be something in your answer that anchored that being, especially depression right now like what is it about? Well you said you're in Seattle and I always have a running south Canada just for what it's worth. Yes, I was going to say every time I meet someone with Seattle, I was like, dude, why don't you just live in Vancouver? I mean it's, you know, it's the same weather and it's only, was it two hours away, but it's like in every other way, it's better. I mean, you know, like there's just no, there's just no excuse for putting up with America when you could have Canada. Canada's like right across the border. So I thought I would throw that in there just to, I'm actually even closer right now I'm operating from, we have a little beach house that's an hour and a half north to Seattle. So borders like 30 minutes away maximum. I could send, I could send one of those military helicopters pick up your house flying over the border, just dump it down in an equivalent beach and on the, on the, on the Canadian side. I, well there's plenty of reasons that that might might take you up on that. Um, it is, can you describe a little bit of your upbringing, you know, obviously you're, you're known for your writing and you, you articulated the different places that you'd spent time as a staff writer and you mentioned books and now you're obviously focused a lot on audio, but what, you know, let's go back childhood because most of the people who are listening today are creators, entrepreneurs, folks who um would aspire to a path where it seems like what you've created for yourself is the ability to, to make a living and a life doing what you love. And I'm wondering if if there are things, you know, maybe take a page out of outliers, go go back to, you know, how you were raised, what you were, what you believed in, and is there any insights for us to gain from that? Well, I um I grew up in a little tiny farming town in southwestern Ontario. Um so an hour and change west of Toronto, Canadian, Ontario bible belt is basically where I grew up. Um everyone I went to school with was pretty much either the ah child or the grandchild of a farmer. Um and my dad was a professor, a math professor at a nearby university um and at the kind of Canadian science school and my mom was a writer and a therapist and so I grew up with parents who we're very kind of independent minded and who none of them had conventional. My dad used to always say that he had never worked for anyone a day in his life, which I thought was a lovely way of describing what he did, you know, they made their own way in the world, which was a really wonderful um model for me as a kid. They didn't, they weren't institutional people, they were um there were people who think thought that you should do stuff that you thought was interesting, they weren't terribly hung up on how much money they were making, they were more interested in whether they were inspired by what they were doing, they were deeply religious, which gave them a kind of um strength and stability that maybe they wouldn't have had otherwise. Yeah, it was a kind of um so I I never thought that I never thought the path I chose was in any way a rebellion or a departure from the path of my parents. I sort of feel I'm just doing a version of what they did, maybe in a different place and with different kinds of public consequences. But um you know what Professor, my dad would get up every morning and sit at his desk and do math. It's not that different from what I I get up every morning, he was telling stories and numbers and I'm telling stories and words, so it's, you know, it's, you can see the link in, in in between those two, I think those two activities, what about what about outside influences beyond family, beyond household? Um especially in the early for me, I had a friend, I had a number of friends who have, you know, actually the book we're going to be talking about, the paul Simon book was done with my friend Bruce, who I met on the first day of first grade in Canada, I'm in 1969. Um and he was, his family was a lot more kind of culturally with it than mine and he introduced Speedo hole. A lot of what I know about music I know through Bruce, my family was not terribly interested in popular music. Um but I had another friend who had had even bigger impact on me. Um it's my eye by total chance. A kid is a guy named Terry who came from the family of, who had a chicken feed business and terry, neither of Terri's parents went to college, um or even I think finished high school and they later finished high school, but he was from this extraordinary family, each one of whom did something more um incredible in the last terry was and remains just about the smartest person I ever met, I met him in 10th Grade Biology Class and he was all he wanted to do. He never wanted to do the experiment, the way the experiment was supposed to be done, which in the beginning struck me as being really disruptive and problematic, and then I quickly realized was the right attitude to have. And he taught terry, taught me that you should have the confidence to, to construct your intellectual life the way you wanted to construct it. And he went on to be is now very distinguished professor at Harvard University. This kid from his dad was running a chicken feed business. Um it's really brilliant kind, but I happened that was, I happened to run into these two extraordinary people, Bruce went on to be a editor of the new york Times. So from my little town in Canada, my little farming town again, I had these two friends who I just happened to stumble into this incredibly sophisticated kind of peer network from the very beginning. Well, I did find it fascinating. I think it was in the maybe in the the prologue to the audio book you talked about. Oh yeah. And I so I called my friend who knows a lot about music and we've been friends since we were seven. Which 666? Yeah, it's like that's quite quite the friendship. And it was an interesting twist to introduce another character in the audio book. But you know, speaking of characters, the fact that that Bruce and you just have a little harem of friends from your town that do you feel like there was something that the three of you um reinforced in one another because I think it's fair to say that if I surveyed, you know, of having, I've had hundreds of guests on the show and then in parallel having talked to thousands of fans and readers and listeners and watchers, people who are inspired by the guests. And there seems to be a divide between the people who pursued the things that they wanted to pursue by hook or crook for whatever, you know, by whatever reason they managed to make their way in the world and so many folks who have listened have told me that that is one of the things that they love is that they're sort of by osmosis, understanding what it takes to overcome what is sort of professed to me. And I think it's true and popular culture, this hurdle of actually doing the thing versus doing the practical or the yeah, the easy or the available or the ready or the within arm's reach. And I think it's fascinating that all the group of you who have been friends for, I mean, what are you? 29 years old. So you get been friends for 22 years? Um, I'll let that pass. Okay, this is not journalism by the way, just that you've been close for a long time is there? I'm trying to help provide some ingredients for those people at whatever stage they are and whatever station in life, that the ability to grab the thing and pursue the thing that you want to do more than anything else in this world is available to you despite differences in privilege and you know, geography, orientation, all the different permutations that humans take. Well, it's funny, I have a couple of answers that question. It's a really good one. one is to make reference to that. You know, there's something in paul Simon's story that really resonated with me, which is, you know, he's someone over the course and I'll come back to me in a second, but he's someone over the course of his career who has felt that he had the right and freedom as a musician, two engage with any with whatever cultural tradition he wanted that to him. The definition of being a musician is you get to play music with anyone who takes music seriously. Music is a common language. So he goes to South Africa put to make Graceland because to his mind there, it's not, it's not another culture or foreign unknown scary group. People, it's musicians, they're, they're just like him or you know, he'll go then he went to brazil or early in his career. He made, he would, there's, I talk in the book a lot about, there's a time when he went to muscle shoals, the famous recording studio, muscle shoals Alabama and brings up, he's doing a, you know, a calypso themed song with a marching band from New Orleans and he imports a gospel singer from new york and he's in at the greatest R and B. Studio in Alabama and like you would on the other side, I would look at that and say, oh my God, like six different cultural traditions, you know, colliding in one place and he would say, no, we're all musicians, it's one world and what I bring it up because the dominant metaphor of my life when I say metaphor, maybe not even metaphor real thing of my upbringing was libraries. My mom would take me to the local, we didn't have enough money for me to have a lot of my own books. So everything I read from a very early age until I went to college came from a library and my mom would take me to the library in town and the library was this incredible thing because it's the same idea that every book in that library belongs to you, right? You can take out, there's no limit on what you can take out. Like there's thousands and thousands of books and you can take out any one of them. You want to have an equal right to every bit of learning in that building. Which is as a kid, I was like, that's amazing. Why would I, why would I buy a book? I knew I had friends who would read books that were on the shelves in their home. And I was like, are you nuts? Why would you limit yourself to the, You know, the 15 books your parents have happened to have bought for you when you could go into town And then there's 10,000 books you can choose from. And then my dad would take me to the library at the university when I was very young. I would, I would, he would just pull me out of school and I would go with him and into his work in the morning and he would just plunk me in the library and leave me there And now we have not 10,000 Now, you know, not 2000 volumes, but I don't know 100,000 or whatever. It was a massive library. And that was even more of a but it's the same idea that is in paul Simon's work, which is the world of books or ideas in books belongs to anyone who wants to read the book, right? You're not limited at all in any way. And that was just the primary lesson of my childhood. And you you get to pick what book you read, right, Which means you get to pick what you think about what you learn about your and I I actually, by the time I got to college I had lost interest entirely in learning. I never went to um lecturers ever. I just had no interest in. Why would I go somewhere and have someone else could be their version? I can go to the library and I can read 10 different versions of that. History. Isen't that better? That's what I did. I was a very, very serious student, but I just didn't think that sitting and listening to someone tell me what they thought of something was a useful way to spend my time when I could go to the library and get everything. Um So anyway, paul is like that sort of the great things about paul Simon, it's like he's not a folk singer who thinks he can only work within that narrow tradition or a pop singer who thinks he can only do, or you know, he could talk as enthusiastically about doo wop From the 50s as he does about Brazilian rhythms that he discovered in his fifties to that project. Is that is there a similarity between your that this is, it's interesting to me, you're coming from paul's life to explain yours. I'm trying to go from your life to explain paul's this overlap and in the project, because I found from what I know about you and have read and and just the library, I think there's an analogy or a metaphor baked into their it is actually your life, but there's a bigger, bigger, I think, inference to draw there. But is is that what drew you two paul's project? That, I mean, you've written across a vast number of subjects and in fact, I I loved that, that bit in in the book and in Miracle and wonder where people have tried to pin folk singer on. I think it was in the chapter called something about the Queen's chapter trying to pin Yeah, I've tried to pin folk singer and he's like, no, that was I was an imposter. I was from queens. How could queens, you have to be from Minneapolis, like Dylan or you know, uh, Some, you know, some far away place in the sticks to be able to talk about that. And I'm I'm from up the street. I think he talked about it being, I'm a 10 minute train ride from where we're playing tonight and that sort of made him an outsider, but yet he was comfortable participating in any one of those through the common language of music, as you mentioned. And is that why you have chosen this? Because you're is there a parallel between you've written, you know, about high performers and about um pop culture tipping points and about, you know, that I couldn't help but think that there is this amazing ven diagram of your life there is in a number of, I think you're right, I would say what interests me the most about him, and it's not necessarily because I see a commonality with him, but I was drawn in because of his longevity, Because it's so insanely rare in his world to be someone who's musically relevant over the span of 50 years. So he's relevant in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s 90s, and arts and still making music now. But I mean, he's a central part of the conversation For 50 years. Um, and, you know, there is almost no other example of that. Um, and that's what drew me because that's something I would, you know, in my wildest dreams. I would love to be relevant for that long too. And so the question of how you stay relevant in that way fascinates me. Um, but also the, I've always his his continual desire to reinvent himself is something that I was drawn to because I don't think I'm I'm not nearly as successful at it as he is, but I have very consciously tried to reinvent myself. I started out as a newspaper writer, then I decided, you know what, I should be a magazine writer, and then I was like, you know what, I should write books, and I was like, you know what I should be, I should have a podcast and I was like, you know what, I should help start a company. Those are all conscious steps that I didn't think it was healthy to do the same thing um over and over again, you know, never mind, I don't know if you're a sports fan, but yes, when Tiger Woods was at his peak, he would periodically reinvent his swing And there'll always be a transition period of six months where or whatever it was, where he would look awful and he would lose tournaments and all kinds of people would say, you're the greatest golfer of all time, why are you monkeying with your swing? Right, why do you go through this painful process of like, and you look awful right now, and I remember how much abuse he would get for that and I would, it's funny, I never, I always saw the logic of what he was doing to my mind, it made perfect sense. Of course you would reinvent your swing, you invent your swing because you're the best if you, if you only reinvent your swing when you're terrible when everything has fallen apart, then you're acting out of desperation. He's, he was reinventing his swing because from a position of strength, he was like, I am the greatest golfer in the world. I'm interested in being the greatest golfer in the world for a long time and I understand that the only way I'm going to do that is if I come up with new versions of Tiger Woods for each new challenge And the Tiger Woods who cleaned up at 21 cannot buy By definition be the Tiger Woods who cleans up at 31, right? I got to be a different tiger woods, I'm gonna and like that made so much sense to me like, yes, of course, try and who cares if you're, if you have six months of transition, you've once god knows how many majors, right? Right. Six years of flourish for six months of transition cares, right? So paul, Simon is that, you know, he would have been at any point of his career after Simon and Garfunkel, he could have stopped writing music and just played his old hits and made a jillion dollars, right? Just to it. You can tour forever. These days. If you're that big at some point, tons of people do that and what does he do? He continually reinvents himself at great personal cost by the way, he makes a movie, the movie doesn't do well, he doesn't pours his life into a broadway play and is devastated by the reception, even though it's a great play, write music, you know? Um He's always like that, that aspect of his life really did speak to me because it struck me as being um something that's crucial to to to to to how you continue to flourish as a as a as a creative. Yeah. I think on the show we talk a lot about there's creativity with the, you know, with the small see the arts, writing, podcasting, film making, photography, design, and then there's creativity with the capital C, which is just creativity with the small C at a different scale and pointed toward different endeavors and including the creating of one's life. That's the major theme of the show creativity with the capital C applied. And I personally was fascinated by that same thread in paul's life. Um I opened our conversation with this sort of nostalgic last few days listening to again, and we're obviously talking very overtly now about your latest project, which is called Miracle and Wonder, the audio biography of paul Simon, which was recorded as I understand it over I think nine Something 4 plus our conversations, 40 hours of tape, 40 hours a day, which I'm telling you. It's just, it's so cool because there's enough you've you've created enough material that you can really explore some of these tangents and the I love the trifecta at you and and and Bruce and and paul the different locations. It's it's just fascinating? I really, I highly recommend it for anyone who's, who's listening, but to me, what was um, the thread of invention and reinvention. And then when I obviously, let's just go tipping point in 2000, blink in 2005 outliers in 2008, uh, what the dog saw 2000 and nine. David Goliath 2013, talking to strangers, 2019, bomber mafia there. And these are you're not really slowing down. It seems like if you're looking at the gap between books, if anything, you're accelerating, you Malcolm as an artist. I found that to be fascinating about paul's world, his, you know, he had success. I think I remember a point in the book where he talks about their first hit was when they were in high school. Yeah, he's got a 100,000 when they were on American bandstand, right? Yeah. So, and then you think of the career accelerating and is there some what I'm getting at is this concept of mastery and when you, why I advocate anyone pursuing anything to master something because then you have an awareness of what mastery feels like and you're more able to then apply the same principles of mastery in one discipline, There's an analog in lots of other areas. Do you feel like mastery has been important to you. Was it important to paul or And is it important in general, in, again, speaking to our audience of listeners here to pursue the things that interest you, you talked about, you know, you sampled many things, you did lot, you've read whatever book you wanted in the library, how important is going deep on one thing relative to your life or career arc? Yeah, well, he's um so one of the things that's fascinating about paul is that he comes, you know, his father was a professional musician, so he's raised in a household where music is a craft, craft and a profession. Um and he begins, I think his understanding of music through that lens, it was something that you studied and you learned and you mastered that allows you to do much more creative work on top of that kind of um proficiency. And there's nothing, you know, there's some people when you talk to them about creative work and they use all kinds of kind of, of flowery and um ethereal language, there's nothing in that with paul. I mean, you really feel like there is a process and it's all very concrete, which is not to say that he doesn't appreciate the magic of creativity, but the point is that his he approaches it with a seriousness of purpose, the way a professional does and his respect for other musicians is based on he's when he sees someone who shares his seriousness of purpose, they win his respect and that all the collaborations that he's done over the course of his life, we're with other musicians who had that kind of that, you know, the people who put together for Graceland, he goes to South Africa and he basically auditions the leading musicians of South Africa and says, okay, you you're who I want, you're you you don't work, you, you know, he and because he's looking for that same kind of um uh gravitas, right? That's, and I keep saying seriousness of purpose, it really is, he's not messing around, right? He's not, you know, you get that sense from the book for sure. It's this is his, this is his career and he's attending to it and he's and he has enormous respect for the complexity of the job that he's taken. I have a similar I also responded to that because, you know, writing to my mind, if you sit around waiting for inspiration, you will wait for your entire life. It's not what you do. You you you go and you have to put in the work, you have to master all aspects of storytelling. You have to be one of my favorite things I used to do. I haven't done in years. Whenever I found it, read something I really loved, I would ask the person who wrote it, how many drafts did you do? Because what you would discover is the stuff that you like the most, that you think is of the highest quality has the most drafts. So When the person who wrote it says, Oh, I did 15 drafts then you're like, okay, that makes sense to me. And by the way, they're not shy about admitting that because some people would say If I did 15 drafts, it makes it sound like I'm you know, they think it's much more romantic and um self congratulatory to say. Yeah, I mean, I just wonder I just poured out of me is perfect. No serious writer ever says that they say the opposite. They understand that When you say you did 30 drafts, what you were telling the person you're talking to is that you're serious writer take this seriously and you understand how hard writing is, right? So that like I do, I'm in the middle of writing a new thing now and I do new drafts. Even when I'm not sure there's anything wrong with the draft, you have to do a draft, you have to, you got to go back and rewrite it. Even if you think there's nothing wrong with it, there is something wrong with you just haven't seen it yet. So you have to like commit to taking the time you sit with it and read it and think about it and you will figure out what's wrong with it, right? If you go by your intuition, you know, it seems right to me, no, you know that's not the way it works, it's like their trust me, there's something wrong with it, right? Because writing is hard and I think that's true of any high achiever in any field I've ever talk to shares that attitude, there is a kind of relentless perfectionism below the surface that forces them to go back over and over and over what they're doing until they get it right. Is that contribute go to your, your audiobook about paul. Is that tenacity? The thing that, is that the sole thing that has kept him relevant as you said for more than 50 years? Is there, is it a is it science and art alchemy? Like What are the ingredients that have gone into his relevance? Given that that was one of the things that originally attracted you to him. Clearly you've you've peeled the onion, you spent 40 hours talking to the man, what what are the ingredients that you think has gone into this? Is it an insatiable Itty for relevance or is it just a focus on the craft and like what, what's, what's the alchemy? It's some combination. I did a whole chapter of the book um ah about memory because I thought memory, I wonder, I've come to believe that memory is a kind of under theater plays an under theorize underappreciated role in creativity. I was struck by this fact. I'm just so people know, you know, the way the book works is we sat down with him, had conversations with him, took those conversations, edited them and then added commentary. So it's this combination of us Bruce and I talking with Bruce and me talking with paul and or Bruce and I talked with paul and then sort of analysis arguments, you know, there are moments where I kind of try and interpret what we're listening to. So it's a sort of an unusual kind of book is this, um but uh, one of the things that struck me from the beginning was he has this uncanny memory for sound. So he can, Here he is at 78, he can recreate for you the experience he had listening to a piece of music when he was 12 and he can tell you. But that song, even if he hasn't listened to that song in 70 years, he can say, Okay, there's a point in that song where this happens and then we play it. And sure enough, exactly what he remembered was true and I was reminded of, I've come to believe this is a common occurrence in very creative people. I did a, you know, the director Ron Howard, who is very similar to paul, Simon in many ways, in that he has maintained he has been relevant in popular film for almost not quite as for almost as long as paul has been relevant in popular music that, you know, directors do not have long shelf lives, they have a moment and then they're, they're often they're making projects that no one lives. Ron Howard's making commercially, You know, for 30 years now, it's been going on. And I say he had a book came out and I interviewed him and his brother about his book that they just wrote. And what I discovered was that they had the same thing, particularly Ron Ron isn't, but it's not for sound or music. It's a memory for character and conversation that he can recreate his childhood in a way that astonished me. I don't remember anything of my childhood. He remembers everything. He wrote a book that is full of this book that he wrote with his brother. It's a recreation of their childhood. And it's as if these are two guys in their 60s and they're writing about it, like it happened yesterday and then I was reminded, and we use this a little bit in the book. We quote this little bit from Lebron James being interviewed after a game and someone, someone brings up some moment in the basketball game and Lebron recreates not just that moment, but everything around it, just off the top of his head, he says, okay, and he just, he does like five minutes on absolutely everything that happened on the court, in that Little two minute window of a game that just happened, like, and you realize there's a reason why all those three people at the top of their game, and it has in part part only in part to do with their memory that when you have that kind of precise memory, then you have a kind of archive in your head that you can draw from, you know, in Lebron's case, it's almost easier to describe their because and the same thing is true by the way of Larry Bird, all these great players can do this and what it means is it's like a chess player, you can look at the board and they can they can summon that exact position from memory from some other game and remember what happened next in that previous game. Right? The name that's called chunking. Is that so Lebron could be in a situation in a basketball where everyone on the court is in a certain position and because he has perfect memory, he can say, okay, I've been in this exact position on a basketball court 12 times, 10 of those instances I did, You know, I did 10 different things over those 12 instances. nine of those 10 things didn't work, but one of them worked brilliantly. Okay, I'm going to do the one that worked brilliantly. Right? So he's got this kind of encyclopedic, I think a great, great entrepreneurs do this without realizing they're doing it. That mental maps and models, they have these models. They built up over time that are incredibly specific and incredibly useful. Okay, this is, this is what I'm what I'm in right now. Looks really scary and new, but in fact, I've been here before, I have been in an analogous situation and here's what I did, or here's what someone I was observing did, and that gives me a guide to how to decipher my current situation. Well, Simon's doing that with sound, I'm in the studio, I have a challenge. How do I bring certain this certain moment of this particular music to life? Well, I go to my memory and I have 100 analogous moments to draw on, and I can take those 100 bits and recreate them and make something totally new out of my memories. Now, if you don't have that memory, if you only have 10 things in memory, you're you can't do it, you're not a genius, you're digging, you're making something familiar and Derivative. And but if you have 10 times the musical memories in your head, then you could do something that sounds wholly new. Is that something that we can cultivate? Or is that a natural gift? I think it I think it's a combination. I think the reason these people have all described have this precise memory is that they value their experiences. So, on some level, when they go through an experience as opposed to dismissing it, they're storing it. So they're mindful of their So when paul listens to a song, he doesn't listen to a song, the way we listen to a song we listen to a song and say, oh, that's great, let me go on with our life. He listens to a song that's okay, what did I just hear? And I think the, you know, the entrepreneur who has an experience, they have the same thing, They were like, well what did, what just happened and they they they they go through the experience and break it down and store it deliberately in there. Kind of memory banks, that's the difference. They understand they're not playing around and they're not trivializing their experiences. Their understanding of their experiences are the source of their creativity. If you I'm going to try and extend this concept a little bit. So I have found, I have learned from so many different people, different types of people, any number of lessons you can learn from anything, anybody and if there is, you know paul has this genius in music, you have it in writing. Is it a matter then for those listeners who want to tap into this very important part of themselves, is it more than about understanding your genius and discovering your genius or is it just some people are better at X and should do why? For a profession and this? I'm trying to find this inter relationship between you being willing and able to read any book, whatever interests you and the path that most people choose. Again, we're talking about his greatness, Lebron James Malcolm, Gladwell paul Simon, I'm very happy to do that, you're on my show now, but just we're really trying, I'm really trying to solve problems for the listeners right now, they are going to go and they're going to listen to two the book they're going to they're going to buy miracle and wonder and they are going to get to taste this. I am trying to incent them if anyone is on the on on that the cusp of like I'm I don't know what I found so freaking compelling about that book, about the other works that you have created is there is a certain genius and when you hear genius, when you're close to genius, you hear what it sounds like. I believe that that's in everyone in some capacity and what where we stumble is in the discovery phase you were willing to read every book. Most people are shown a book and their household of shelf and like choose from these five books, help us connect the dots between the work that you've done with paul Simon in recording this Miracle and wonder and the relevance to the audience. Like what you're hearing is genius on display. And is that is that another thing that attracted it to you? And is that possible for others to tap into? I mean, I do think there is, I mean is it possible and don't sugarcoat it by the way, sorry to interrupt. But like if you don't believe it's true, I don't like I'm not asking you to assuage my question No, I mean, is it possible for an ordinary musician to be paul Simon No, I mean he is a once in a million, but that doesn't mean it's not useful or you can't greatly improve your performance by studying people like that. Um So to talk about this memory thing for a moment, what is, what is at the root of that with someone like him or Lebron or Ron Howard or whatever? Um it is there willingness to be introspective about their own experiences to start. So it's this understanding that in order to move forward and do something new, I have to understand what I've already done. So you can't there, this is I mean this is a fascinating point that I used to think, but the really creative person is someone who was relentlessly focused on what was ahead on the next thing. That is true, but it misses this crucial element which is in order to be sophisticated and smart and open to new experiences. You have to really understand where you've been and you've got to understand what you have learned and the only way to for example, the only way to learn from a mistake is to dwell on the mistake, really dwell on the mistake. Alright, so what like and be willing to two, it's painful and but it's necessary you you have to actually think about, okay, well why did that go wrong um what does that tell me about myself and the way I approach a problem and it's that kind of and so what were what we were revealing in miracle and wonder with paul Simon is we we caught someone at in in middle age who has done a lifetime of this kind of reflection, right? It's been a he's been reflecting on his career from the beginning of his career, right? Because he understood how central that kind of reflection was too evolving as an artist. So now he's got years of reflections and we were just on we were just like running the tape recorder as it came out. But he's thoughtful About a record he would have made in 1964 as is about music he's writing now, you know, there's no difference in his mind if if he if he has done it, it's worth him thinking about it and trying to learn from it, you know? Um You know, he was hilarious and he doesn't like the song sound of silence, which is everyone always considers that to be one of his classic songs, doesn't he's just he's just not like just thinks it's juvenile, but like it's still he still thinks about it, you know, it's like it's been he wrote that in when did he write that 1963 or something? It's now 2021 It's still he's still willing to go back there and say, okay, well why does that song not work for me, right? That's a question. That's a conversation he will have with himself. And that's like, that's to me the that's the crucial lesson here. Yes, maybe we need to spend more time on this kind of of self reflection um on in our chosen um field well know thyself, right? That's the uh goes, I think it's pretty far back in history and uh I think it's pretty relevant. I wanted to ask you experientially, what was it like and you recorded in a number of different locations. I think not all nine recordings were in different locations but everything from like I think paul's backyard was one you can hear the pitbull barking in the background, you know, there's all these different hawaii, we were in this hilarious little basement studio in Hawaii where it's only claim to fame was that Mick Fleetwood had recorded something that once I found that fascinating. Yeah. And but um how did the various locations manifest themselves in the material that you were able to grasp? And was that something that you would do again or would you change or constrain that or was it the unconstrained geez paul will record anywhere we can get you for five hours. We'll come to you like, you know, just I was fascinated by what role that may have played in the creative process. Well his studio, he's a studio in his backyard and that one's he's used for years and is full of a lot of his pictures and instruments and so he would often at the beginning of our conversations just walk around the room and pick up things and that would trigger memories and things. So that was when very distinct experience. And then when he was when we were in Hawaii and we were just in this random studio up in the hills, he had none of those kind of props and which is not a better or worse, it's just different. So there he was almost forced out of his comfort zone and I found that some of the most emotional emotional stuff we got was from the Hawaii sessions when he's he's just alone and he was he was an hour from his house, um more than an hour and he would drive himself and he had a new test that was very happy with and he was driving. First of all what Rockstar drives himself an hour to meet in the studio in the middle of nowhere. Like I was like paul, did you miss Rockstar training school? Like anyway, he would show up and I think he was so we show up in this strange place he'd never been to before after an hour driving and it just made it more kind of reflective and so I think you're right, I mean if I was doing it again, You can't do this for logistical reasons, but I would love to do one of these where it was 10 different sessions in different places because I do think it does make a difference as the listener. I was fascinated, I could feel the different energy and of course your your crafting the narrative with the sound bites and editing, but there was definitely very distinct emotional arcs from the different locations. The first one you guys meet, he's wearing a, you know, a sweatshirt and a Yankees baseball hat and then you go to Hawaii and then you're in his backyard and the, you know, the pit bull is barking in the background and like and just it I know obviously you're a master storyteller, but it just created this really interesting emotional resonance with me and where I'm going with this line of questioning is now to audio specifically, you have shifted as you mentioned earlier, this concept of invention and reinvention popular on the show. I'm interested in. It personally talked about being a newspaper writer than a magazine writer, than a book writer than a podcaster. Now, audiobook reader and this new what is a fascinating, I don't know if I'd call it a genre, but with with Pushkin and you're the president of Pushkin, um what is are we perhaps are you trying to, in your own way create a is at a tipping point to reference your own book with audio because I was just, it felt like, you know, again, sitting I was sitting largely in a dark room with the fire just listening to this amazing story unfold? Is that part, is that what are you trying to do that Or is this just an exploration of another medium? We're trying to push, we think there's so much kind of room for reinvention and creativity and audio. Um you know, I'm doing a book right now um and a new a new audio book will be with a print book and an audio book. But I'm thinking about the audio book 1st and without going into the details of what the book's about. There's a moment in the book where several of the key characters in the book are all gathered ad a church in south central and in Los Angeles and we got tape. So if you're writing the book for print, you just, the place where they are is not is important, you'll describe it, but you're interested in what is said. If you have the audio, then all of a sudden your entire understanding of that scene changes because I I looked and hunted and finally got tape of that evening. It's in the evening. And one of the tapes and you're listening to somebody speak. And of course it's Black Church. So there's there's a kind of vibe, right? And as a person is talking, the organist is of course, as you do in those in that tradition, the organist accompanies you as you talk, right? And when you pause and you learn the rhythms exactly, and all of a sudden you listen to this tape and I was like, oh God, this is amazing. This is amazing. And my understanding of and I realized the audio experience of listening to this is totally different from the print experience of reading about it. Not better necessarily, but different. You can do something different. I can I can communicate the emotionality of that moment in this whole different way. And when you hear the crowd going, uh huh and then the organ playing and then the person responding to those rhythms and you're getting into and you're realizing that they're about to say something that's very, very emotional and painful and difficult. And man, that's different. That's just like, you know, I've spent my life telling stories that print way where what you were interested in is in communicating the ideas. And now all of a sudden I'm in a form that allows me to communicate the emotion that's exciting. I've been a visual artist my whole life and I'm fascinated by audio because our eyeballs are now taken up with so many screens in the world and there's this opportunity to my guests communicate in audio that allows people to move through the world. And, and it's sort of there's less competition and there's more room for innovation. It feels like it feels rich, which is, I think just the the essence behind my question, so it doesn't come out of left field for you. I was just fascinated again, tipping point, you know, referring to your own work and audio, like of all the things that you could pursue, presumably you could be doing films, pals with Ron howard. You could be making the next movie written based on one of your books or whatever, but you're choosing audio. I found that really interesting. One of the last areas I'd like to press on a little bit. It's a little bit um it's a little bit selfish, but I would say the, I think they're in chapter 10 of the book about minutes in there's a phrase that echoes a phrase that's also very popular with our listeners ship and and one that I've championed for a long time and I want to get your take on it and it's this concept of different, not just better. I'm wondering if you recall the moment in the book in chapter 10 about 10 minutes in Um and chapter is the chapter on the cameo with Erin Lindsay Bridge over troubled water. And I'm wondering if I say that phrase being different, not just better. What does that mean? And just off the cuff, you know, how does it resonate with you if so how ah is if memory serves, Is that in this, is that a description of the Aretha franklin version of Bridge over troubled water that it's, it's different. Not just better than Yeah, I just made a note here because it's a phrase that I'm constantly throwing out into the world and it seemed, yeah, it's just this, the originality, the fingerprint of the individual being unique and taking these unique, unique lens that we all have on the world. And you know, our version of it is more important than a better version. Something you know, that's sort of the, the, I like that idea a lot that particularly with art that what is crucial is your relationship to the work and not just the works kind of objective value, um which is not to say the objective values are important, it is crucially important, but there has to be truly powerful. Art is work that connects on both those levels that has some that reaches some standard of understood of of of understandable excellence at the same time touches your heart in this very specific way. You know, I'm reminded in and that those two components in combination are what creates something that's memorable for a, you know, we would have these discussions periodically with paul in the book about what were his favorite songs and what were our favorite songs. And what's striking of course, is that, you know, you don't, everyone has a different list of favorite paul, Simon songs to our point that and it's not that no one would claim, I'm not going to claim that my list of what my favorite paul, Simon songs is is a better list than yours. It's different. It's a different list than yours. These are the ones that speak to me and part of the reason I would have great pleasure in sharing that list with you is that I'm genuinely curious to find out how your list differs from mine, not, not resembles mine. There are cases where we do, we do look for concordance in our lists, where it's really important to know. You know, if I'm asking you what the best baby seat is, I don't want some put the baby seat, you have an emotional reaction to. I wanted to objectively. I want to know which baby seat is the, you know, the easiest to install the safest, right? I got, you know, but arts different arts, not that. And in the beauty of it is in that case when it comes to art. I genuinely want to know why your list is different than mine and why you why and the reasons for it. Why did that song touch you. You know, and I'd love to explain to you why this other song touched me in a way that, you know, that's where the conversation starts to get really wonderful. Speaking of wonderful conversation, this has been an amazing conversation. Grateful for your time. Congratulations on another work of genius, Miracle and wonder you and Bruce and the legendary paul Simon. It was I don't say this often. It was one of the things that I didn't want to end. I just I listened to a couple of things a number of times. And thanks for setting me up with an advanced copy. It was an absolute treat. I absolutely recommend it to everybody and I know it's going to be successful. And congratulations on this journey that you're on with audio. It's really fascinating to watching you explore new, a new medium and Reagan's re emerging medium. Uh and I know this is going to be super successful. I really appreciate you for your time signing off. Is there anything that you want to champion in this particular work of yours that that we out there in the world aren't championing for you? Is there something that's slipping through the cracks as you're giving interviews and talking about the work? All? All good. All good. Yeah, I just, I mean, I I hear the enthusiasm in your voice and that's enough for me. Awesome. Well, signing off from South Canada. Um I really enjoyed our conversation Malcolm. Thanks again, Congratulations on the work. I know it's gonna be a big success and until next time. I appreciate it. Thank you. Chase. Yeah, cheers. Mm hmm. Yeah,

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By far the best classes on Creative Live!! Thanks Chase Jarvis for bringing so much greatness to the table for discussion! Just LOVE it!

René Vidal

@ChaseJarvis - love chat with Gabby about hope and the "relentless optimism" you share at the end of Creative Calling. Many thanks. -- René Vidal McKendree Tennis


Excellent interview with thoughtful questions. Thanks!!

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