It’s a bit hard to nail down, but I’d say that 2007 is the year I began to take my craft and my business seriously. I first worked on myself (my attitude, my beliefs, my goals) and then I made changes to my work. I watched thinker-types on Ted Talks and YouTube. I read a lot of books and immediately applied a few key concepts. I listened to ideas, internalized them, and expanded upon them to fit my world. Finally, I repeated a few key reminders to myself until they became ingrained in my mind.

Here’s a list of the best from each category:

Thinkers:

Seth Godin — www.sethgodin.com

  • He says, “Be remarkable.”
  • He also says, “Don’t be the best; be the only.”

James Altucher — www.jamesaltucher.com

  • In his article “Three Trends for the Next 50 Years,” Altucher writes: “What was popular in the past will be popular for at least as long in the future… what was popular in the past will improve.” I applied this concept to how I’m innovating my ancient tradecraft of dry stone with modern design and bringing it into the 21st century.
  • He talks about the emerging trend of an “employee-free society,” which I discussed on the podcast.

Books:

Book Cover: Strengths Finder 2.0

Strengths Finder 2.0

Book Cover: The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)

The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)

Book Cover: The Rise of the Creative Class--Revisited: Revised and Expanded

The Rise of the Creative Class — Revisited: Revised and Expanded

Book Cover: The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

Book Cover: Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

Book Cover: 3 Simple Steps: A Map to Success in Business and Life

3 Simple Steps: A Map to Success in Business and Life

Book Cover: Show Your Work

Show Your Work

Book Cover: The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph (Hardcover)

The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph (Hardcover)

Ideas:

Jason Silva — www.thisisjasonsilva.com

  • On his YouTube channel Shots of Awe, Silva talks about the “adjacent possible,” originally presented by Steven Johnson in an article for The Wall Street Journal. This concept made me realize that I need to hold the long view on what I’m doing right now, and I disciplined myself to do so.
  • “Now” is a circle I stand in right now. When I intend to do something that arises from a seed-thought, action is the necessary next step–no action, probably no results. The “ring” around my “now” circle is the future adjacent possibility of results or outcomes that arise from the action I took in the “now” circle. Now, I’m “in” the new “ring” so to speak. These “rings” are somewhat infinite in my mind and are all possibilities adjacent to the previous ring. Two years or six rings from the “now circle” would have been unimaginable from the initial “now” circle where my seed-thought arose.
  • So, when I put 100% of my best self forward from the “now” circle, I know that the future adjacent possibilities will be awesome, but maybe or probably not in the ways I had imagined from the “now” circle back there. This concept is not suited for people who crave 100% certainty at all times. For those who are comfortable with uncertainty or who need a degree of it in their lives, the “adjacent possible” concept possesses a high degree of satisfaction and excellent returns.

Grant Cardone — www.grantcardone.com

  • “Grind while they rest. Study when they party. You will live like they dream.”
  • I have this quote by Grant printed on a poster-sized photo that my wife, unbeknownst to me, took of me while I was standing in front of my computer in early 2016 after a long winter day of work. I was covered in stone dust from cutting a bunch of stone with a grinder. I was on a conference call finalizing the content for a new website that would showcase my new idea — A Consortium of Craftsmen. A few months later, I landed the biggest project of my life, far beyond anything I could have ever imagined. But I was ready because I did the hard work early on. We start building it on May 1st, 2017.

The 3 C’s Platform I created is directly influenced by Richard Florida’s book The Rise of the Creative Class.

  • Creativity — I’m part of the Creative Class and I treat my trade as both an art/craft to be respected and a serious business.
  • Collaboration — Collaboration absolutely ensures a future of success for me and for the others I collaborate with. Collaboration leads to success because our species evolved from our ability to cooperate. We did not evolve from setting out solo. In my collaboration structure — a consortium of craftsmen, innovators, and thinkers called The Throughstone Group — we build upon the others’ designs until we have the best possible idea to present to our clients. Choosing collaboration requires one to push aside baseless fears and an attitude of scarcity. Instead, one opens up to the possibility of unexpected results, such as more abundance than expected, personal growth, and simply the enjoyment of working with others to accomplish a shared goal. After I started the consortium in early 2016, we landed a 7-figure project within 6 months. If I had not set up this consortium, I would not have been able to take on the entire project, because each member brought unique services and capabilities to the project that the client requested.
  • Communication — Communication skills are absolutely critical, necessary and will set you apart from the others. Most people possess very poor communication skills.

Reminders:

  • “Embrace the suck!” — United States Marine Corps
  • “Be humble. Be grateful. Speak the truth. Expose fakery.” — Me
  • “We humans need more beauty in our lives. So, what drives me onward is the motivation to design and build the most beautiful spaces, experiences and things possible.” — Me

BONUS: Resources:

American College of the Building Arts — Charleston, SC

A note from Simeon Warren (The Chair of Traditional Masonry):

The college was set up to compensate for the lack of serious training for craftspeople in the U.S. Technical colleges and high schools used to teach trades as a path. This system has been destroyed over the last 60 years. The academic system has let down people who learn with their hands as well as their minds. ACBA was built to subvert what has become the pathway developed by the academic system, in effect entering the system that has rejected craftspeople and reimagining what tech schools were originally built to achieve after the world wars. This does not negate new apprenticeships, new high schools from developing training systems. Rather, it allows young people to find a path that has been closed. We have to develop pathways for people to find avenues to learn high-level trade skills. In recent history, these avenues have been closed off or destroyed. ACBA is part of a four-legged stool. High school, Apprenticeships, College and the Building Industry, but they have to elevate the training, not degrade it.
ACBA was built by craftspeople for craftspeople.
It is a full four year program alongside the development of a new apprenticeship/internship system to feed like-minded students to companies that are crying out for qualified and passionate craftspeople. Some say “Why a college? Just send them to work.” The problem is that this system killed the development of skilled training and so companies have lost the ability to train to set standards. ACBA has set new standards based on normal skill based practices that the rest of the world still has. Our students do great stuff and gain from learning both practically and academically.

Mike Rowe WORKS Foundation

About the Foundation:

“The mikeroweWORKS Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity that rewards people with a passion to get trained for skilled jobs that actually exist. As CEO of the Foundation, Mike Rowe spends a significant amount of time speaking about the country’s dysfunctional relationship with work, highlighting the widening skills gap, and challenging the persistent belief that a four-year degree is automatically the best path for the most people.

Through its scholarship programs, including the Work Ethic Scholarship Program, the Foundation provides financial assistance to qualified individuals with a desire to learn a skill that is in demand. The Foundation has been instrumental in granting more than $3 million in education for trade schools across the country.”

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