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Maximizing Creativity + Navigating the Messy Middle with Scott Belsky | Chase Jarvis LIVE

September 2, 2019

– Hey everybody, what’s up? It’s Chase. Welcome to another episode
of the Chase Jarvis Live Show here on CreativeLive. You know this show. This is where I sit down
with the most amazing humans, and I do everything I can
to unpack their brains with the goal of helping
you be more awesome and live your dreams in
career, in hobby, and in life. My guest today started out
as an associate at Goldman and then, through a
radical transformation, launched his own company called
Behance, which is the place if you’re a creative to
have your portfolio online. It now has more than 12 million
creatives on that platform. He had that company, acquired by Adobe. He’s an author, he’s an investor, and he’s now the chief
product officer at Adobe. He’s my good friend. Scott Belsky in the house. – Chase.
– Thanks, bud. (gritty rock music) (audience applauds) They love you! Appreciate you. Before the cameras started rolling, we were just talking baby, Adobe Mac’s, new book, like, all in
the same 10-day period? (Chase laughs)
You look great! – Yeah, you can’t really complain. You gotta just like, roll with it. – You look great. I don’t know what’s the secret. – The book, I mean, the book
is a five-plus year project, and two years ago, a pub date was chosen, and then, you know, and
I didn’t really even know what role I would have at that
time, what would be going on. – Yeah, like planning it? – I mean, all this stuff
just is colliding at once. But, I mean, in some
ways, it’s kind of meta, because the book, The Messy Middle, is all about navigating the
volatility of a journey, a bold creative project, of a new venture, of a product turnaround, and it’s about the fact that
you want to plan and you should plan, but then you
have to realize quickly that nothing goes according to plan. So, everything is sort
of messy at this moment, which is just so
appropriate, don’t you think? (Chase laughs) – You just took my, that
was gonna be my nutshell. It’s like, and how meta is this? But it’s beautiful. I think great minds think alike. So, the second time on the show. – Yes. – First time, wildly successful, hundreds of thousands of
people loved the material, and I think it’s because,
well, let’s go back to your early book called
Making Ideas Happen. So many creatives, and I
think this is something that, the quote that I remember
putting out on social, I think it was something
like, so many great ideas die in the minds, on the desks,
and on the floors of creatives, because they don’t get
their shit together. – Yeah. – And that just hits
home with so many people. ‘Cause you know the audience,
really similar audience that you serve at Adobe,
creators and entrepreneurs, and as I was reading the
new book, which is again The Messy Middle, must buy, it reminded me that despite how messy stuff is, like, having a point of view, being flexible, and actually being organized
is really key to this. So, you’ve put a very interesting layer on the creative industry. How did you come about to look at this? Was it from inside the creative industry, when you looked around and
said, oh, this stuff’s broken? Was it back in your sort of Goldman days with your business hat on? Like, you have a very unique perspective to be a part of the creative industry. Where did you get that? – Yeah, well, before going
into the business world after college for a few
years, I was at Cornell studying book design and
business as an undergrad. And I was always kind
of torn between, do I go this creative direction, or
do I go the business route? And that’s always been the
epicenter of my interest, has been like, how business
and creativity overlap. I actually think that the
greatest companies and books are inspired by some sense of frustration. You know, Making Ideas
Happen, my first book and Behance was really
inspired by my frustration with my friends in the creative world, who had some of the most,
you know, interesting ideas and great creative talents but
just seemed so disorganized. And I realized, like, gosh,
one of the most important communities on the planet that makes life literally interesting for
all of us and helps us engage in every part of our lives is also the most disorganized
community on the planet. What do we do about this?
– Yeah. – And it was that dose of
frustration that inspired, like, 10 years of my work. And similarly with The Messy Middle, I guess the frustration that
inspired this book was how much we’re obsessed with the starts
and finishes of everything. We love talking about the
romanticism of the start, you know, when people
leave their job and start something new and take
a risk in their careers, or someone sets off to write
the next great American novel, or whatever it is at the start. The moment of conception is
fun, and it’s exhilarating, and everyone wants to tune in for it. And then everyone loves
to celebrate the finishes, whether it’s a great finish on like an IPO or an acquisition or a
launch of a project or a book or a piece of art or whatever,
or a horrible finish. People love covering bankruptcies and going out of business
and everything else. And with all these sensational
headlines and pithy sort of summaries of like,
five- to 10-year journeys, you know, we’re left kind of confused, scratching our heads,
wondering what to make of this. – Yeah. – And when people even ask
me about my own experience or my career, I’m like,
well, yeah, you know, founded Behance back in 2005, 2006, you know, bootstrapped for
five years, venture-backed for two years, acquired by
a company, integrated it. It’s like, great with like
three sentences and a bow. You know, everything looks
perfect, when in fact, as you know as well as I,
like, it’s anything but. (Scott laughs) – And I know this. (both laughing) – The five years of
bootstrapping, I mean, there were many times where we thought
of throwing in the towel. There were moments when things
were working, and then things where we felt like we were
working amidst complete ambiguity, uncertainty, and
anonymity for years on end. I was on my honeymoon
when we had three months left of runway, and I was
like, this is irresponsible, but this is also one of
the highlights of my life. Like, what the hell do I do with this? And that just continued. So, that’s the frustration
that inspired me to try to pull out the insights
for the middle volatility from a lot of the
leaders and entrepreneurs and executives and writers and artists that I most admire for their long game. – Yeah, there’s a handful of interviews in the book or snippets. I think what you just talked about, there’s a beautiful piece in
the book where you actually give your three sentences
like you did right here. Like, this is what I’ve
said for the last five years about the previous, you
know, 10 years of my life. I summarize it in three sentences. – And it tells you nothing. – And it really tells you nothing. And that’s what I find about,
you know, everything that we have here on CreativeLive
and my own personal journey. I built my individual social
following 10 years ago on the back of letting people
into the photography industry, because no one was talking about it. It was like, oh, great, it’s
like models on the beach, and then there’s just this
great finished ad campaign, or starting a film and
finishing it, the awards. There’s no real documentation
about the inside. So, let’s focus in on that
just for a second, and there’s a great, I think the book
is largely based on a graph. – Mmhmm. – And, forgive me for
oversummarizing this. And it’s beautiful. Your design sentiment
is very present here, and it’s an intersection
of design and business. ‘Cause it starts out the
start, and then as soon as you are like, beyond
the emotion of starting, you basically have a crash, and then it’s, we gotta figure this out, oh, shit, we’re gonna get better, we’re dying, and it’s just this amazing up and down. And now, you talked about
some, and I’m gonna avoid just glazing over them like
you did, like we almost ran out of money, and
I was on my honeymoon. And I’d like to dive into
some of those, ’cause I think with the goal of helping
people understand that even you, who has achieved
a lot sitting here, that there’s been some very scary moments. – Yep. – So, let’s go to the one where
you were on your honeymoon. I think you captured this
beautifully in the book, talking about 20% of your
brain not being present, like literally on your honeymoon. Help us feel aligned with you. Help us understand that
Scott is imperfect too. – Oh, man, I have to go back
to this moment in my life. Painful. No, it was, it really was about,
and especially that moment, learning to bear the burden
of processing constantly some degree of uncertainty,
and how any creative brain has to devote some amount of itself to processing uncertainty
in the background. And it’s not that you’re
looking for an answer to a problem you’re trying to solve. It’s actually, you’re
processing the problems you don’t know you have yet,
and what those might be, and how you might solve them. It’s just like, kind of existential crisis in the back of your mind at
all times, because in truth, you’re going against the
headwinds of society, right? I mean, everything about
the construct we live in, it’s an immune system that
kills off anything that’s new. – Yeah. – And that’s actually how
we keep the water running, and that’s also how we keep our
teams productive, is we kill off anything that’s new and
anybody that’s new, by the way. And in order to sort of break
that out, break through that, you have to be constantly
processing what’s going on, and that’s just sort of a burden, right, that we all carry if you’re
creating something new. So I talk a little bit
about that in the beginning, as well as how to brace
yourself for the long game, and in some ways, short-circuit the reward system that governs you. – Yeah. – I feel like we are so used to things like the weekly salary
and the gratification from bosses or parents or
colleagues or customers, but when you have none of that yet, when you have no customers
yet and no revenue, what do you do to supplement that? I don’t think that the long-term vision of what may be five years from
now is actually sufficient. That might be enough to get
you to jump in and start, but it’s not enough to get you to continue and endure over time. – So you’re on your honeymoon,
and you have this going in the back of your mind, like, we’ve got three months worth of cash left, and do you just keep going? Like, what’s the solution,
’cause right now, there’s a thousand,
whoever’s watching this, they are doing the same thing. They’re having a child. They’re, you know, trying to leave a job. They’re trying to put food on the table, and they’ve got like, real
commitments, you know, in another part of their life. Is it compartmentalization? Is it endurance? Is it, you know, is this a
muscle that we can strengthen? So get tactical for a second. – Well, I think, first of
all, it’s about accepting this burden as part of the
creative’s dilemma, if you will, and not necessarily fighting it, because it is just par
for the course, right? I think obviously
compartmentalization is part of it. Can you do something to kind
of tend to the, you know, the uncertainty, but also,
can you limit the amount of energy you spend on what I
like to call insecurity work. There’s a lotta stuff
that we do that we do just to assure ourselves
that everything is okay, but doesn’t move the ball
forward in any particular way. – This is brilliant in the book. I love this. – Well, I mean, it’s, you
know, looking at analytics, looking at Twitter social
feeds, just consistently looking at things to assure yourself
that it’s okay, even though what you’re doing is not
moving anything forward. We have to become aware, oh,
what am I doing right now? I’m doing insecurity work. I’m doing stuff just to keep me at bay in this period of uncertainty,
and when you identify work as such, then it’s easier to actually compartmentalize it to a period of time. So actually, what I would do
is I would look at a period every day, you know, from four
to five p.m. or something, where I would say this is
the time where I can just do all that stuff that really is
just for my own self-security. – Let’s put some things in that bucket. What is insecurity work? It’s like checking your social feeds to see if you’re trending up or down. – Google Analytics. How many people came to Behance today? How many new portfolios
were actually published? How much, you know, what’s
our SEO in this area that we’re focusing on? What are our revenues in this? I mean, all these little things you could consistently look at
searching Behance on Twitter. My goodness, like how many
times did I hit that API with like, Behance, Behance,
Behance, Behance, Behance, ’cause I wanted to see, you
know, that was the source of truth for what people
thought of our brand and whether people liked
it or didn’t like it or were struggling, or if
there was a bug out there. Like, all of this stuff
surfaced from community, and I would do that all day
every day just to make myself assured and never do anything
productive in the business. So I had to compartmentalize all of that stuff to a
small period of time. – He’s talking to you. Just in case you’re listening right now, he’s talking to you, and
me, and the rest of us. – And myself.
– Yeah. – ‘Cause listen, I try to be a player as well as a coach in this department. – You did a nice job of
walking that line in the book. And so, if we’re
compartmentalizing that work, is there an antidote to that? Like, is there a realization process, or is it just up to each
of us to identify that for ourselves and put it in a bucket? Like, what are the list
of things that are not, what are the list of things
that are moving us forward? Is it just anything that’s
not in that category? – Yeah. Well, I think it’s down
to the list of things that can make an impact, and
over time, a material impact. So, most of the things
you do to assure yourself are actually, they could
be done monthly, weekly. They could be done by somebody else and reported to you if
there’s something off plan. Otherwise, just assume everything’s great. – Yeah. – But reaching out to customers, asking them how they’re
doing, are you struggling, what can we do to better
serve you, that’s meaningful. Going over all of the
to do’s and making sure that things are prioritized properly, sitting down and having
one-on-ones with people, recruiting, like, always finding
more and more candidates. What can you do to channel that
tendency towards insecurity work towards kind of productive
action is the kind of thing we always have to hold ourselves to. The hard part is that that
stuff that we’re doing, that action, isn’t living us
the assurance that everything is okay like the insecurity
work we just discussed. So this is part of that, you know, the mental challenge
that we all have to play. – And people, I find that
people like me lie to myself about no, this is, if I
don’t have this information, then I’m actually not gonna be effective, because I need to know
if the last three posts, I’m just trying to think
like all of our listeners think like, like yeah, then
I need to change my game. So this is actually really critical data. How do we, that’s a slippery slope. – And by the way, you’re right. I mean, we should know. It’s just a matter of
compartmentalizing that stuff so it doesn’t seep out into our life. Like, for example, the time limits that the new Apple iOS 12 imposes on us. I wish I could impose that
on stuff that I just do out of my own kind of
self-assurance needs, and it would be great if, if
you have an hour every day where you can just feed
yourself with everything you need to know to feel like
you’re on the right track. (Chase laughs) But then at that point,
like, it stops you. That would be hopefully the next iteration of our self-discipline software. – How are you doing with that, by the way? – I am constantly, well, it came out right before book week for me. – Yeah. – So I’m just like, 15 minutes, 15 more minutes, 15 more minutes. – Do you put a governor on it? – I did, yeah, yeah, yeah, I did, because I just wanna be, to me, it’s like, I wanna be aware of what I’m doing. I feel like that’s probably the first step towards a better outcome. – I think Kevin Rose hacked it. You know Kevin pretty well, of course. Put a rubber band on his phone, just as a reminder, around it. – Oh really? – So you could feel it when you touch it. You can see it, and you’re like, do I actually wanna pick
up my phone right now? – It’s like the red little bracelet from zen-type stuff or whatever. (Chase laughs)
– Yeah. So, anyway, I’ve been
experimenting with that. I did it last week, and I
found it really interesting, because it signaled to
me before I actually touched my phone how much we pick it up. – Yeah, yeah, yeah, interesting. – And I put that in the
bucket with distractions and I think, again, insecure,
what is it one more time? – Insecurity work? – Insecurity work. All right, so, if the start
is beautiful and emotional and spirited and the end is a great story, either good or bad, and
the middle is endurance, and you use the word optimization. – Yes. – So, I think optimization
is pretty self-explanatory. You wanna get better in
small, incremental steps. I wanna talk about endurance,
because that is a thing that I, the more I talk to
people in our community, they believe falsely that
these are overnight successes and that once you have a success, that equals success in the long-term. – Yep. – Talk to me about your own journey in as concrete a set of terms as possible and how endurance played
the role in your success. – Sure. Well, I think when you think
about the volatility, right, the lows are where you have a need to obviously endure the pain
that comes along with them, and the highs are the things you’re doing, whether it’s in your product, your team, or just your own intuition
and approach to leadership that you should continue doing as well. What’s strange is that
we have this saying of, you know, don’t fix it if it ain’t broken, which suggests that anything
that’s working, you should not focus on, but we both
know that that’s the opposite. – Literally the opposite. – To make a great
organization and product, and they’re related, you have to be doing more of everything
that’s actually working, and that’s what optimization’s all about. But the other realization with this graph, and then we’ll go to
the endurance question, is that we are not our best selves whether we are in the
valleys or the peaks. When we’re at those lows, we start making decisions out of fear. It’s like, oh my goodness,
something’s not going well. That taints our judgment,
and we start to, you know, copy a competitor and
make an inferior product, or we just start to churn our own roadmap and disappoint or confuse
our team, and it’s, we’re really not our best selves. We’re also not our best
selves at the peaks, ’cause when we’re at
the peaks, first of all, we start to get high on ourselves;
the ego gets in the way. – Yeah. – And we start to falsely
attribute the things that we did to the things
that work, and that’s when companies lose their
sense of self-awareness or people lose their
sense of self-awareness. So, I think that that’s, you
know, that’s some concept of why the volatility is so tricky, right, ’cause we’re not our best at
either the lows or the highs. Now, let’s talk about
endurance for a little bit. Endurance is really about bracing yourself for the long game, and
when it comes to your team, narrating your team through this journey. The analogy I use in the book is it’s like driving a 10-day
road trip with your team in the back seat with
the windows blacked out. They can’t see where they
are or if they’re sitting in traffic or if they’re
making any progress, and you and your narration of the journey, we’re crossing state lines,
there’s a monument on the left, we’re making progress,
we’re a third of the way, anything you tell them actually
makes them stick it out and not go stir crazy in the backseat. And that narration is
extraordinarily important. It means that we have to
merchandise progress to our teams. – I like the merchandising. It’s not like you’re hiding or
showing or flaunting or not; you have to merchandise. You have to package it
for them to consume it. – Right, and I think the
assumption that people will just see the progress
we’re making is wrong, and I know a lot of great
founders who I think are really great leaders, but they’re
so efficient and they’re not promoters at all, and as a
result, they fail to merchandise to their team the progress
that we’re making. In the book, I talk about
this research by a professor at Harvard Business School
named Teresa Amabile who had thousands of
people do these journals and journal entries every day
talking about how motivated they feel and kind of what
feedback they got that day and basically found this
correlation with progress being the best kind of
motivator for future progress. And so it’s just like
chicken and egg thing. You need to feel you’re
making progress to make more progress, and when you’re
enduring those lows, nothing is more powerful than being
told, we are making progress. Now, that being said, you
can’t celebrate fake wins, and I also talk in the book about how. – A lot about that. – How dangerous it is, right? We look for things to motivate our teams, and sometimes, we actually
manufacture fake ones. – Or celebrate the wrong things. – Or celebrate the wrong things. Like, everything you are celebrating, and you should make up all
sorts of celebratory moments, but they should all be
towards the end, right? They should all be things that
condone the right behavior, as opposed to paying for
an award, and then my team. – I think you say in the
book, you say pay for press and then celebrating
the press that you got. (Chase laughs) – Yeah, that is actually incentivizing the exact wrong behavior, right? We don’t wanna get fake
press and then celebrate it. But, you should make up your
own milestones, by all means. I mean, I talk about, in
the book, you know, the fact that even in the early
days, Behance, you know, was a made-up word, and we
would type it into Google, and it would always say,
do you mean enhance? Do you mean enhance? Do you mean enhance? – Do you mean Beyonce?
(Chase laughs) – Yeah, right. We were like, why can’t we just
not be a mistake, you know? And so, lo and behold, like,
that was one of our first goals that motivated our SEO
efforts and also motivated, more importantly, us to
get more creatives’ work on the platform so that
we would have more links and more link backs, and lo
and behold, six months later, Behance was a recognized
term in Google’s index. So there are all kinds
of fun things we did that motivated us in the right way. – Got it. So, if we’re thinking
about, you talked about, you just framed that really
elegantly in terms of a company and a founder, but when you
are on your own road trip, and you’re a solopreneur,
an independent artist, it can still feel like
you’re on a road trip with the windows blacked out.
– Totally. – So, help me map that same sort of narrative onto an independent. How does an independent,
’cause what you just talked about is merchandising for
some people in the back seat when you can see where you’re going. So, what about the independent creator, because we’re scared. We don’t know where we’re going, and we kinda get glimpses
out the windshield, but. – Well, listen. In some ways, I can relate
to that in this process of writing the book,
because I was doing it amidst a full-time job and
everything else in my life. It’s a solo project, and what I had to do is
hack my own reward system to stay up to the beat
of where I needed to be. Part of that is finding some
folks who are advisors to you who you can look to for
some accountability. I hired a woman named
Georgia to be an editor in the process, and I kinda said to her when we first had coffee,
one of your biggest jobs is just to hold me
accountable to a schedule. Like, nag me, please. Nagging from other folks is
a form of natural selection. It just gets you to start paying attention to the thing that you’re
being poked about, and I recognized that I
needed some dose of that. And I think anyone who’s
working on their own benefits from community to some extent, even if you don’t have a team. The other thing is to
just make those milestones for yourself and your
own rewards for them. So, if you are planning on
going to Europe in three months, what do you promise
yourself you’ll get done before you get on that
plane, or otherwise, you can have no pasta
while you’re in Europe. (Chase laughs) There was a woman I met,
an independent illustrator, who was talking about putting
up her own website and making herself official as an
independent illustrator for hire. And she told me that she promised herself that in some period of months,
she would have that up, this is a woman in her
late 20s, or she would force herself to write a letter
to her high school guidance counselor saying that she
ultimately became a failure. And she said that that was
such an awkward concept. Like, what would she say? How would she find his address? Like, the thing, in her mind,
the story was so strange that she became extremely scared
of not getting her website and launching her sort of
shingle up on time, you know? And so that was just a mental hack, right, that we use to keep ourselves on track. – That’s beautiful. You’ve got this endurance metaphor. I don’t wanna leave that
alone yet, because you haven’t given me some of
your personal endurings. You talked about being scared
about running out of money, but one of the best
things, I think in the book you actually reference this,
but one of my favorite books as an entrepreneur is The
Hard Thing about Hard Things. – Mmhmm. – Written by someone we
both know, Ben Horowitz, Andreessen Horowitz, and
what I loved about it is every other book, business book, it tells you a story of what
it’s like when it’s perfect. Like, when you start out, do it like this. Of course, you would
never do it like this. Do it like this, and when you do it like this, it works perfect. Then do it like this,
and it works perfect. But the reality is, appropriately titled, The Messy Middle is 99% of
things don’t go as planned, and you’re always adjusting,
and what Ben did well in that book, and I recommend
it for anyone who’s in that sort of world is he talked
about things like how to fire a friend, what to do when
you have no money, what to do when you, you know, there’s
like, just a list of stories. So can you give us two or three
of your personal anecdotes around what you found
that you had to endure, and the lesson that you learned from it? – Yeah, and, you know, I
include some points from Ben in the book because he brought
to the surface some of these, you know, extraordinarily
awkward yet critical moments. – Yeah. – One of the things that
I talk about in the book is when I did have to let someone go or kill a product that was working. There were a number of
moments where there were very difficult decisions to be made, because they, in some
ways, weren’t obvious or were always easier
to kick down the road. – Yeah. – And when you fail to
make a decision, you create what I talk about in the
book as organizational debt. It’s the accumulation
of decisions that should have been made, but weren’t.
– Yeah. – And your job is a leader
is to just make them. So, there were instances
where I had to let someone go. We had a popular product
called Action Method back in the day, which is a task
management tool for creatives, and we had, I think it was
like 16,000 paid customers. It was growing at a decent
rate, and we were using it ourselves, but it wasn’t the
promise of a Behance network. It wasn’t this notion of a
single place for creatives to showcase and discover creative work. In our team, the energy was divided. Everything that we were doing
on one of those products was 50% of what it could have been, right? – Yeah. – And I kept feeling this
inkling of people thinking, we just need to pick one,
we need to pick one, we need to pick one, and everyone
kinda knew what that one was. We knew it was Behance. And the thought of
disappointing our customers and giving up a revenue stream that we so desperately needed at the time
was impossible to reconcile. I kept putting it off, like another month, another month, another month,
and finally, with a lot of candid discussions with
the team, it became clear, like, Scott, you just
have to make the call. And it was around that time
where I would start whispering to myself on frequent occasions,
Scott, do your fucking job. – Beautiful, D-F-Y-J. – Yeah, DYFJ, right? DYJF, and I’ve said that
to myself over the course of my career many times,
and it’s really what I say when I know what needs to be done. I know that a great leader would do this, and I know that my own
either sensitivities or desire to wait for whatever
reason is all that’s getting in the way from doing what
needs to be done, and I will just whisper that to myself,
and then I will do it. And I think that’s an important
trait that we all have for ourselves and our own self-discipline, is to recognize those moments,
because a lot of creators get hung up with this
cognitive load of I know what needs to be done,
but I’m not gonna do it because of a million excuses. Just DYFJ. – And if you’re an independent,
it’s exactly the same, but just applied to your own universe. You know you need to finish your milestone before you go to Europe.
– 100%. – DYFJ. – Or you have to fire that client. – Yeah. – You know, a lot of independent
creatives that I know will talk about sort of
a lifeline of support from a client that just
takes them off their game or makes them do work
they don’t want to do, but they feel that they just can’t sort of cut the
umbilical cord, so to speak. Yet, when they do, they
creatively open up. They become more permeable
by other opportunities. It becomes one of the most
important things they’ve done. – Yeah. – And it’s like, just do it. I mean, really, sure, do the mental math of whether this is something
you should be doing, but if you know it’s something
that ultimately will happen, you’re like, yes, we will
no longer do Action Method, or this client is not the right
client for me or whatever. Why are you holding up
your career and your life? Like, do it. – Yeah, that’s organizational debt. – It is, yeah. It’s accumulation of decisions that should have been made but weren’t. – What’s one of the
hardest things that you did not expect in your journey on Behance? You didn’t see it coming,
one of the hardest? And I know, as someone who
gets interviewed a lot, like, superlatives drive me
crazy, like your favorite book. I’m like, come on. But just one that was very unexpected, because I’m trying to
help people understand, you can be as smart and
prepared and all this stuff, and we all feel like we get ambushed. – Yeah. – And I’m trying to bear a few. – There were a few themes,
right, or things that didn’t, that weren’t expected, that
were very difficult to manage. One was just 2008. We were a small technology
company in New York in 2008, which was a time of a brief
kind of hiatus of growth and investment and
everything else in the world. The revenues we were
making on talent recruiting and other parts of the
Behance business lines, sponsorship of our annual conference, which were ticket proceeds that we used to fund ourselves ’cause we
were bootstrapped dried up, and suddenly, I had to realize, wow, like, we have to make due with what we have. We can’t hire those
three new devops people and the one new designer. Like everyone, we all need to do what we’re doing a bit more with less. And that was a, first of all, it was a negative message
to send to the team, ’cause they were like, I
thought we were growing. What’s going on? How do you get people to stick
it out long enough to figure it out, and I think it was
during this period of time where I learned to value
resourcefulness over resources, you know, resourcefulness
being this muscle memory of how to just manage any situation, versus resources, which are like carbs. You know, you can blow through ’em. Any amount that you have,
you can just throw ’em at problems, and they
go away for a moment. – So true. – And so, I think that going
through a period of time like that, which is why,
if companies that I advise are not bootstrapped at all,
I actually encourage them to give themselves a
slightly constrained budget. Like, give your team the opportunity to develop the muscles of resourcefulness, because they will always,
always serve you over time. – And I don’t know anybody
who doesn’t ask for or want more resources.
– Of course. We all wanna have the
easier way, you know? We all want a little sugar,
and we all wanna do that. – But the reality is
constraints drive creativity. It’s the same thing. Again, Scott’s framing a lot
of this in a company setting, but the same is true for you. What can you do with limited
time, limited budget, only make it purple, make
it less than five feet tall. What are some constraints? – By the way, I remember
when I was interviewing a lot of creatives for
Making Ideas Happen, and I would always ask
them in the interviews, gimme a sense of what your
worst project ever was. What just was one of
the hardest, you know, setup to fail type of
projects you’ve ever had, and a number of people
talked about a brief that was unlimited from a client. The client basically said,
listen, at this point, no budget, no constraints. Like, where do you wanna go with this? Like, big, open brief, and that,
oftentimes, was the answer. And my takeaway from that
was the power of constraints, as you said, Chase, for creativity. – Yeah. All right, nice job throwing us some, like, that’s a hard thing, I get it. Let’s flip over to the optimization side, and I don’t wanna talk about optimization of business processes and
products for a second. I wanna go to a point that you made in the book about optimizing your person. – Mmhmm. – Of course, you harken our
good friend Tim Ferriss, who’s the ultimate.
– Ultimate optimizer. – Optimizer, body
hacker, and share with us a little bit about, first
of all, the concept, because I think optimizing yourself, I expect people to be able
to layer on this answer to their own problems,
so don’t go specifically with what Scott’s saying,
but what did you mean by self-optimizing, and
then I wanna get a couple of examples of what you specifically do. – Yeah, sure. Well, the self-optimize
section of the book is about crafting your own
instincts and evolving them. It’s about recognizing when
you become less permeable to your colleagues and to the industry you’re in or to the movements. It’s very easy, especially
when things are going well, to kind of shut ourselves off
to all the new opportunities. I like to say that in any
craft or business or project, self-awareness is the ultimate
competitive advantage. – Yep. – ‘Cause it’s understanding
how people see you and how that’s changing over
time, and whatever you think, again, worked because
of what you did before versus timing and good
luck and other people. It’s amazing; we think
we’re so self-reliant in the beginning, and then we realize just how much more reliant
we are on others around us. We think that when things
work well, it’s because of us; when things don’t work
well, it’s because of. – Them. – Timing, market, customers, other people. It’s other people’s problem. So, the self-optimization side of this is really about recognizing
that that’s wrong and asking yourself at
every turn, you know, what is it that I could
have done differently? How do you get that feedback
as a form of compensation. How often, our folks who are
listening who have clients, even if you’re an independent
creative professional, how often are you asking
your clients for feedback? And not just on the finished
product, but hey, did my cadence of communication
work really well with you? Is there anything that
I didn’t set up properly in terms of expectations in the beginning? What are the things you can ask for and get some gold that you can leverage to make yourself the
ultimate person to work with. We oftentimes leave that on the table. – For sure.
– It’s so obvious. – Two things I wanna in there
from my personal experience is one, when you ask someone for feedback, you have to ask it in a
different way, ’cause normally, you just say, you know,
how was the experience? People, in that moment, when they’re just about to walk out the door
will say, they’ll just say fine, it was awesome, so good, thank you, because they just wanna get out of there, versus if you frame the question like, can you give me one piece of
feedback, or 21, or whatever, but one piece of feedback, that if we could do anything
different in this project. – One nugget. – Yeah, just give me one nugget. And people, I find that
that just completely flips the script, and
they’re like, awesome, ’cause I wanna give you this nugget, and it’s usually something,
again, I’m thinking of the independent creative
here, but it’s usually something that is not related to the
creativity and to the art. It’s usually process-related,
for most people who are starting their own businesses
or a solopreneur or whatever. And to me, that is how I shaped
my career as a photographer, and all of that, I was
able to then carry forward into CreativeLive and ask
every instructor who’s ever been on here, like, what’s one
thing that you would change? That’s sort of like their exit interview. – Yeah. – And to me, it’s been
radically successful. – It also builds the relationship. – Yeah, there’s trust. You do talk a little bit
about trust in the book and about being able to
connect with your customers, your peers, and especially
the people you work with. Can you talk about that a little bit? – Yeah, I think, and it’s also related to the self-optimization
piece, and it’s also related to the product section of optimization. It’s just continually gaining more and more empathy with your customer. I get frustrated when people
go off and build a company or a product based on their passion for a solution to a problem,
which actually seems like what most people would do. The problem with that is that
you can, through your passion, be so, you know, thrusted
into one particular direction that you end up with something
that’s 30 degrees off of what the customer actually
needs, and that’s actually what gets in the way of that most. That’s a common
product-market fit conundrum, whereas if you are seeking
empathy with the customer suffering the problem, if
you’re constantly trying to understand what their struggle
is, shoulder to shoulder, you will always have a
product that is more in line, right, with what they really need. And so, getting more and more empathy. And how you prioritize the
time you spend with customers and the questions you’re
asking, and how do you reconcile passion versus
empathy, because in truth, a lot of us as entrepreneurs
especially and creative professionals, we’re
passionate about our work. – Yeah.
(Chase laughs) – Another thing is around
conviction versus consensus. You know, how do you make sure
that we do want everyone’s feedback, and we just talked
about soliciting feedback. You know, at the same time, some of the most important
decisions we ever make. – Is ignoring that.
(Chase laughs) – Right. It’s like ramping up the
volume of your own intuition. – Yeah. – And how do you reconcile
those two things? You know, we talk about in the book also, conviction over consensus,
and knowing the difference between cynicism and criticism, knowing when to gain
confidence from being doubted, as opposed to recognizing that you’re just on the wrong track
and everyone else is right. And that’s part of the, you
know, the crafting of intuition that self-awareness is all about, and optimization’s all about. – Yeah, so let’s keep on
this self-awareness tip. You’ve mentioned several times just in the last, you know,
20 minutes, intuition. The word intuition’s probably
been said five times. To me, it’s the most
powerful thing that we have, and when you go against it, you pay. I’m a loud advocate of
this, and the question that I most often get asked
in response to that is like, how do you know when that’s
intuition or something else? – Yeah. – What’s your answer to that question? – Well, it’s a good question,
because I actually feel like there’s a common argument
against intuition these days. There’s so much data, right, everywhere. And there’s a common set
of beliefs these days that intuition is simply
bias, and that bias is bad. Having any bias is just an
emotional flaw, if you will, and it also is the kind of
thing that creates a lot of prejudice, and a lot of
bad decisions that people make come out of bias, which
inherently is intuition. – Sure. – This goes down to the art of business and the science of business, or the art of a craft versus
the science of a craft. And I actually think that in most cases, we should be focusing on the data. We should be really scientific,
and in most instances, for example, when you’re
building a product or anything, use familiar patterns. Don’t try to be creative. Just use whatever’s out there
that people will recognize. That’s a guidebook for 90% of the journey. However, the art is seeing an edge that will someday become a center. The art is recognizing something that others don’t notice or value, yet. And where does that come from? It comes from the biases that we carry, generated from our past experiences. The things that fascinate
you, because of the unique shape of the kitchen cupboard
around you growing up that don’t captivate me, you
know, the mistake of the eye that I see that you fail to see. It’s those things that we
carry that make us notice and invest in things that aren’t rational. And when people are
irrational or unreasonable about something, you know,
that is how innovation happens. You’re pounding the table
about something that I just don’t think is logical,
and then you see something that I don’t, and that
becomes that new center. So, this is the conundrum here. We should be scientific;
we should be data-driven, yet, we should be curious about the things that fascinate us that others
overlook, because sometimes, that is the edge. – Beautiful, super well said. And continuing on this
thread of the self-awareness, you reference the zen a lot. What’s your connection to zen? Why is it a pillar in the
book, and is it a pillar in your life, or are you just
looking for great quotes? (Scott laughs) What role does this play in your life, and is it something, you
know, I’ll leave it at that. What role does this play,
and how is it useful? – Well, I think I’m fascinated by how forces balance each other out. – You just used that, art and
science, data and intuition. – It’s all about this
kind of war constantly between different forces
within us and around us. And I think, I don’t like the
notion of quelling this stuff. I like the notion of letting it rage, but have a balance within us. I think that that’s interesting. The greatest creative
partnerships I’ve had in my past are with people
that are very different. And my co-founder from Behance,
Matias Corea from Barcelona was a typographer by background
and a graphic designer, and he and I were so different. And he was on some extremes,
and I was on other extremes, and from that partnership,
I really learned the benefit of having two
very, very powerful forces opposed to one another,
but respecting one another. – Yeah. – And in some ways, I think
that that is, when you think of yin, yang, and just
sort of the different Eastern philosophies of the forces dictating life and movement
and everything else, there’s a lot there to
mine and to relate with. – Oh. And I think there’s a
quote that you pulled out, I think it was somewhere in
the first third of the book about in order to sort of be on the path, you have to become the path. Can you reorient me to that? Is that right, did I say that right? – Yeah, it was something
along the lines of, it was something along the lines
of that everything we make is, the DNA of that final
product or service or creation, is a reflection of the
path taken to create it. – Yeah. – When you use a product
and it doesn’t make, like the software, hardware
just don’t seem to take each other into account, you
know it was done by internal factions at a company that
don’t talk to one another and have different
processes and whatever else. When you see creative
collaborations between a brand and a creative and you
know that it was for money and not for, like, passion or
purpose, like, you can tell. You’re like, oh, that brand just wanted to look cool and paid this woman to do something
really interesting for it. You can kind of, you can
distill from things we use what actually, the chemistry behind it. And so, in some ways,
what I was trying to say is that how we choose
to navigate this path, how we choose to navigate
the volatility and make the tough decisions and
develop the self-awareness and everything along the way,
actually impacts the product. We typically think that that’s
not true, for some reason. – Thank you for that. Going back to our friend Tim,
time, I find, is something that I’ve written a lot
about and how important it is to manage it and how graceful
it is when you get some and that it’s a requirement
for so many creative processes. There’s a little story
in the book about Tim and how to say no and
ranking how important is this for you on a one to 10. – Tim Ferriss is the master at this. – He’s the master. So, but I would like to
hear your explication, and just to signal about
the contents of the book. You don’t have to do the whole thing. But just signal for us your view on time, the management of it, the
defending of it, ’cause I think the first book was very much
about getting shit done. It’s like managing, but
there’s another part of time that you have to allow
space for creativity. And so, talk to me about time. You can reference Tim. I was just mostly hearkening to that. – Yeah, no, and I’m not
an expert on this one. I am fascinated by how do
we better protect our time, how do we, I talk in the book
about how interesting it is that we’ll trade time for
money when we’re young and then money for time when
we’re older, and how this shift happens at some point
in people’s lives oftentimes because of how precious it is
and how we’ll never, you know, we’ll never get it back. The calendar is the ultimate
reflection of your values. If you go back and see how
you spent your time this week. – Time and money, right?
– Yeah. And that is ultimately
the source of truth. If you’re gonna audit yourself,
which is a somewhat painful thing to do, what you’ll
find is that some percentage of your time is spent doing
things as favors for others ’cause you couldn’t say no,
even though you wanted to. – Yeah. – And I do talk in the book
also about the types of things we do that we did because we
wanted to or because we felt compelled to and how to kind
of navigate or balance the two, and when those trades are
worth it, and when they’re not. And I’m still trying to figure this out. I’ve also been thinking
recently, and not in the book, but I’ve been having a few
conversations, including one friend who’s a very famous
YouTuber and video artist who is considering taking
a major sabbatical. And you know, I think about
someone like Stefan Sagmeister, for example, who every
seven years takes a year off and just totally unplugs, and
that is his well of creativity for the next seven-year
period of his life. How do we, what’s the benefit
of time for creativity? We think we can just output. We think we’re just chemistry, and it can kind of trick ourselves
into staying with it, but in fact, there is some
replenishment that happens, and it’s a reality, and I’m still trying to figure out how to manage
that in my life as well. – What are some things you do do? Like how do you audit your calendar? When you audit your calendar, what do you typically find
that you wanna change? – I think it’s hard to say no
to people who you care about. And so everyone always wants
more time, and it’s like, you know, I have a
family now, I have kids. – Congratulations on that. – And there’s never enough time, right? And so it’s, and then I have
my own interests I wanna feed, and I have my work commitments to my team, and there’s just some time that you spend one-on-one with somebody
that can’t be economized. And so, how do you say no to more? How do you just say no to more, and I do think these days about,
and Tim talks a little bit in the book about, how you
can explain to someone, this is where I am right now. I’m underwater. If you really, really need this of me, because you’re a friend,
I’ll be there for you. Otherwise, like, it’s just a bad time. And put people in that position. And he says, like, his
close friends understand, and if they really, really need it of him, he’ll do it for them. – That’s called clarity, right? I think, ’cause we all ask so many things. Our culture is very social. We’re a social people,
especially with someone that you like and respect and admire, but those are also the people
who, if they’re really those people, will understand that
if it’s a 10, I’ll be all in. I’ll do all of this for you. But if it’s like a four and you just need an introduction to this
person, like, I don’t have it. – Yep. And I think we both
probably struggle with this, where people reach out and say, I love 10 minutes of this or that. – How many coffees have you had? – Right. And on the one hand, I wanna be generous, because there were certain
people that were generous to me when I was getting started. – Of course. – And so I’ve established
some of my own filters in my life to make sure
that I still do spend some time with people that
I wanna mentor or whatever, but that it’s a little bit higher touch, and it’s a little bit more
sacred and thoughtful. – Yeah. – But it’s, I think it’s
something we all are working on. You know, I wish I was
an expert in this front, because I do, though, find
that the calendar audit is a very interesting
exercise, and I try to do it usually every few weeks,
I’ll find myself on a plane, and I’ll literally just go
through the last few weeks and just try to understand, what did I do? Why did I have that meeting? Did I get anything out of it? Did I give anything during it? Should it have ever happened? How do I start to learn? – I actually have my EA
do that, because I found that I couldn’t honestly
audit my own stuff, ’cause I would credit that
meeting, that one-on-one, with, oh, I think that helped me unlock this. And so I would credit
that to productivity, and having somebody else who objectively. Maybe it’s a teammate
or something like that, but I think this is a
super-healthy exercise. So, I think it’s interesting that we shared this obsession with time. What is something that you
spend a disproportionate amount of time on, that
either you surprise yourself or other people would
be surprised to know? Like, what do you over-index on? Is it reading or meditation or consuming product
briefs from your team? What is something that you
way over-index on, relative to your peers or that
surprises you or other people? – Well, I think there’s
different parts of my life where there are different
answers to that question. – Okay. – If you ask the teams that I
work with, they would probably tell you that I have an obsession
with what I like to call the first mile of experience
that customers go through. I think, whether it’s a
retail brand or a store, you know, I was on the board of a company called Sweetgreen for some period of time. – Amazing, yeah. – Just different, it doesn’t matter. I really am obsessed with
that initial experience that customers have in anything, and I think that it’s largely
overlooked, what that is, because people are so focused
on the core experience that they don’t think
about kind of the biases people come into an experience with. What are the defaults? What do people see first? What are they told first;
how are they told it? Are they given something to make them feel successful up front,
or are they trained? Do they have to be trained,
or do they have to be just, you know, and I find I
probably over-index in my professional life in that area,
’cause I just have a strong conviction that that’s
something that’s really special. I think I also look for
unexpected experiences. I don’t know how else to frame it. Every now and then, I will
get invited to give a talk in some place I’ve never been
or whatever, and I do find that if you don’t build
one or two opportunities for adventure every year,
that they just won’t happen. – Yeah. – And the more established
your life becomes and family and every other responsibility. – Isn’t it weird how
those things just like, they just crop up? – Well, and you start to limit the opportunity for
something to surprise you. It’s almost like everything
becomes like, you know, scheduled and planned, and I
try to preserve those periods, and it gets increasingly
hard, but it’s important. It’s part of the inputs of creativity, and it also keeps me on
my toes a little bit. – Can you give me an example? – Yeah, I mean, a few years
ago, I accepted an invitation to speak at this school called
Kaospilot that is in Belgium, I believe, and it just, you
know, a small little town in the middle of nowhere, and
it was a group of students who were all into studying creativity. And I first of all wanted to
understand what that meant. Like, what does it mean to
say, even in high school and college age, like, I
wanna study creativity? And it wasn’t design. It wasn’t like an art specifically. It was just creativity. It also went against kind
of my beliefs that it’s less about the ideas and it’s more
about the execution, and so I kinda wanted to challenge
myself with what an environment at the other end of the spectrum
would look like and feel like, and I landed in this
town that I’ve never heard of with signs I couldn’t
recognize, and I was solely relying on maps to figure out, where
am I supposed to go here? But it was just one of
those external experiences. Didn’t expect it. A lot of stuff hit me that I didn’t know already and it was, one example. – So that’s in the macro. Now let’s talk about in the
micro in your personal life. Not professional. I think that’s one of the
reasons I’m probing here, is ’cause I love that. Knowing that you’re obsessed
over the first mile, I think that’s something
that people wanna know, and then it’s nice to know
that you want these big adventure moments, but what
about in your day-to-day? Like, what do you
disproportionately spend time on? And I’m sorry to keep pushing this. – Probably the answer
is pretty easy, cooking. – Yeah. – You know, I do like to, I
like the sort of meditative aspects of like, making
something, and it’s not always the most efficient thing
from a time perspective, – It’s easier to press the
button and have food show up. (Chase laughs) – And these days, you know, with all these different services that
deliver ingredients, or obviously delivery
services and whatever else, but I just enjoy the
process of making stuff, and cooking is an excuse
to do that whenever I can. – All right, we talked
about the beginning is joy, the middle is messy, the
title of the book obviously. We’ve got endurance, and we’re
optimizing, we’re fixing. The end, as you said, is
always, even if it was a horror story of if it was this, we’re standing on the
mountain, everything is great. So, what about these end
stories should we keep in mind to keep us going in the middle, because are we just
waiting for a good story? Like, you talked about being
the middle, the messy middle, and trying to like, what are the things that are keeping you
going to that end state, be it fiery death, or we would
all like to be successful. But when you’re tunnel vision,
is it eye on the prize? Is it the greatest good? What keeps us going to the starry finish? – Sure, and there are a few things. I mean, first of all, in the
book, I talk about, I call it the final mile, and there’s
a period towards an end, and it’s not always the end. It just be an end.
– An end. – Right?
– I love that, yeah. – It’s a different sport
altogether; a lot of stuff changes. One of those things that you
have to do is stay in the early innings, and you know, at
Facebook, when you go around, there are stickers that
say like, we’re still in the first inning, we’re
still in the first inning. There’s a mentality at a lot of companies and for a lot of creatives
that we have to stay grounded with stuff we don’t
know, with the questions as opposed to all the
answers we’ve learned. There’s a sense of killing
off the work you have done in order to enable new work to take hold, and I think a lot of artists and designers know exactly what I’m talking about. As soon as you become
well known for something, it becomes almost like a
constraint that you feel you have to do more of
and stay imprisoned by. And I think a lot of weird stuff starts to happen towards the finish line. There’s a sense of identity
crisis as you associate yourself with your work,
and they become one thing. And that’s tough, because
how can you then ever hope to do something better, if
you feel like what you’ve done is you, and you just kinda
get stuck a little bit. So this notion of recognizing, you are not your work, and separating. It’s very hard after a
five- to 10-year journey. – Yeah.
– Self-sabotage. There’s a lot of weird stuff
that happens with people wanting to obstruct their
own success, ’cause they feel subconsciously that they don’t deserve it. And I talk in the book about
some stories of employees who, towards the finish
line of our journey, started to really act
out and do weird things in their personal lives
or in the workplace, and I became convinced
that they were doing this because they were, in some ways, uncomfortable with the outcome that they were about to have, and
why does that happen? So that’s some of the final mile analysis, but the truth is is we wanna
stay in the messy middle. To be done is to die,
to quote Umberto Eco. – You’re either growing or dying. – Exactly. And I think that part of the challenge is to stay in the thick
of it as much as you can. – All right. One more section, and it’s just gonna be a speed around
about Scott Belsky. But before we do, I would
like to ask a favor. Would you look into this camera,
or, for the folks who are listening, just keep doing
what you’re doing right now, and give the nugget of advice
that was not in the book, because afterwards, when
you’re promoting the book now, you’ve written it, you
actually finished it probably, if I’m guessing, based on book publishing, about a year ago.
– Right. – So there’s some things that didn’t make it in there or one thing. It doesn’t have to be the
superlative, again, but like, what’s a thing that’s not in
there that if you could snap your fingers and put it back
in there would be there? – Hmm, that’s a good question. – We’ve got time. I’ve got a whole cup of water here. We’ve got time. Don’t feel.
– Yeah, yeah, trying to think of, what
didn’t make the cut. – ‘Cause you’ve learned something. Presumably, this might help narrow it. Something’s happened in
your life since then. – Sure. – Maybe it’s your new role at Adobe. Maybe it’s, you have a new
child, so you have a new sort of vision on, I
don’t know what it is. But maybe it’s something that’s happened that you didn’t have. – I think that one of the
things that I have learned recently in my life through the
process of being an investor and then writing this book
and, I’m looking at the camera? – Sure, yeah, deliver. – I think one of the things
that I’ve learned more recently in my life is the desire
to feel fully utilized and how, in some ways, maybe happiness is not about retiring and having time off, or just being able to
bask in your creativity, or having the life you think
you aspire for, because it would be less tense, less
anxiety, and more relaxing. What if, in fact, happiness
comes down to the sensation of feeling fully utilized,
where your skills are being put to the test, where you’re
being continually challenged? And that’s one of the things
I thought about a lot more recently, because during the
book, I was fretting the idea of writing more and more
while having a full-time job. I felt too overwhelmed, and
actually, what I realize now is that I was happier
feeling fully utilized than I am feeling partially utilized. And maybe that’s the whole
notion of a side hustle, and of people investing in
side interests and making sure that your life is full, and
full, and when it’s full, you feel like you wanna take it easy, and maybe we think we
do, but maybe we don’t. – Beautiful. Speed round. This is about you, okay? You’re very good at answering
these existential questions. I like to know that you like to cook. What are you cooking? – Well, I’m a lifelong vegetarian. – Yes. I’ve heard you also
were, one of the prizes that you hung out there
for your team was that if we get this thing accomplished,
if we ship this product, I’ll try this strange meat. Is that true?
– That is. (Chase laughs) It’s called hacking the
short-term reward system. – Yep. – For some reason, the team
felt especially motivated by me eating meat, so. – Okay, sorry. I just thought that was a
hilarious line in the book, so. So what are you cooking? – Yeah, no, I love all kinds of, all kinds of vegetarian creations. I’m just trying to make food tasty. So, stir fries and wok extravaganzas. – Asian? – Asian fusion type things, great Italian meals, making pasta. – Do you make your own pasta? – I have.
– Nice. You talk about bold outcomes. What’s a bold outcome from your career? – Well, I think a bold outcome means making something that exceeds
your own expectations. – What exceeded your own
expectations in your career? – The reach of Behance
exceeded my own expectations. I think the reach of my first
book, Making Ideas Happen, certainly exceeded my
expectations, and also, the people that I brought
on the team and the people they’ve now become as leaders,
whether they’re still working with me or in other companies
or have started companies, whether it’s people like Michael
Karnjanaprakorn who started Skillshare, and then, you know,
is onto something new now, or whether it’s people in my
team who have become really well-known designers in
their industry or have become leaders in the engineer
organization at Adobe. I never anticipated what
type of team would come out of this endeavor and what
these people would end up, you know, doing and contributing through. That was also like, an
exciting thing of this journey, is to see the people
that it would develop. – What did you, there’s
a line in the book I love about don’t optimize
for the short-team deal; optimize for the long-term. What is a thing that Scott Belsky gave up in the short-term to
have a long-term success? – The hardest part, I think,
was the five or so years of explaining to people what I was doing, and they’d never heard of
it, and just them being like, yeah, yeah, cool, you
know, and me thinking that they were thinking,
oh, good luck, man. And also being asked, oh,
well like, who’s your VC? It’s like, oh, no, we’re bootstrapped. Oh, you know, and having the
implication behind that be, you must not be able to raise capital. Having to put up with
that five years or so, especially in the bootstrapping phase, hiring people, going to events,
you know, meeting people. I think that that was, it
built some sense of internal confidence to balance out the
external sort of cynicism. – Yeah. – And I think that was tough, but an important part of my journey. – A lot of the book is
focused on creators, entrepreneurs, people
starting businesses, and yet right now, you’re the chief
product officer at Adobe. You have thousands and thousands
of employees who report to you, 128 billion, 130
billion-dollar market cap company. What is different for you in
this world than the other one? – Well, I’m always trying to find a way to be challenged in the areas
that interesting me most. I find that that makes me fully utilized. It makes me feel that sense of happiness from feeling fully utilized. I’ve always loved building
for creative people. I feel like that’s one of
those things I felt I was made to do, and I think I can do
that in the context of a startup and as an advisor, especially
on the product side. I think that being in a company like Adobe building all these creative
tools for the creatives of the world, I felt
like there was a chapter that I was the right person
to lead, and that was what kind of brought me back
and made me excited about it. And it’s also a new suite of challenges. Like, I wanna learn how to
manage a very large organization. I want to think about what culture change and product innovation
means in a large context. So in some ways, my learning
curve is now steep again, and I think that’s where I’m happiest. – What’s next? (Scott laughs) – Well, I have some products to show. (Chase laughs) – Actually, can we talk
about that for a second? So, for those, you could be
listening to this in 2025 or, which, right now,
it’s the fall of 2018, and we’re a week out from Mac. I will see you there. Looking forward to
seeing you on the stage. – Yep, excited about it. – Is there any preview,
can you give us anything, or what’s in the news? – Sure. Yeah, well, I think that
the theme for this year is going to be, and this
is my version, my version of the theme for this year is
that we’re really delivering on the promise of this
thing called Creative Cloud, which was the subscription
offering of all of the desktop tools that creatives
know and use and love. But, so far, creativity’s
very much been bound to the desktop, and also, I
think these desktop products still function as
individual kind of products you download, install, and use. – Yeah. – And it’s taking years
to redo the architecture and to rethink what the
customer experience should be, not only for creative
professionals, but also for enthusiasts, anyone that
wants to learn new products. And that’s another thing
that we find, is that a photographer will want to
get his or her hands dirty with a product like Adobe XD
or Premiere Pro or whatever, but they’re just like so daunted by learning a new framework.
– Yeah, totally. – So that’s one of the
things we’re trying to change that we’re going to announce next week, some really exciting changes there. And I think what we are
going to do now is just lay a new foundation of what
people should expect from us for the next few years,
and this is the first kind of step of the inflection
for all of the products. I’m excited about it.
– Congratulations. That’s a huge, huge, huge step for you, huge step for the company,
and I’m super excited to hear some things that are coming out. Messy Middle, congratulations, beautiful. – Thanks, Chase. – I was looking forward to this. I love what you’ve built, just
the inventory of knowledge that CreativeLive has become, and what people turn to it for and why. It’s nothing short of amazing. You’ve been in a messy, volatile journey yourself building something. – And you helped me plenty of times. (Chase laughs) – I’ve tried, but I just
admire it, and it’s so cool. And also what I love about
the content is it does really apply to leaders of different
situations, whether you’re leading yourself through a
creative journey, or whether you’re leading a small team
or a large organization. So it’s really a pleasure. – Well, something that
you said in the book resonated with me as I’m
applying it to my own life, and that is, so many
things, it’s not really just the tactics, or it’s
not specifically the craft. It’s so much of the other stuff. That’s what we’re seeing with the data, what people are, you know,
emotional intelligence, body language, having tough conversations. We think it’s just the
craft, and it’s not. I think the same is true, and it really comes out in the book. That’s why they call it messy, right? It’s not just about like,
the pixels and the design. It’s managing so many other things. – Well, hey, listen, the
mess it meant to be mined. There’s a lot there. – Appreciate it. It’s just, you’re @belsky, right? – @scottbelsky, yep. – @scottbelsky on everything? Awesome, thanks so much
for being on the show, bud. I really appreciate you.
– Thanks, Chase. (steady electronic music)


  • Reply Michelle Jenniges October 17, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    "Being fully utilized and continually challenged" so great!

  • Reply Evan Green October 17, 2018 at 11:35 pm

    How is the messy middle different from steven pressfield's "resistance?"?

  • Reply Bart Edson October 18, 2018 at 12:41 am

    Amazing conversation! Thank you.

    I’d like to ask Scott if he would consider a metered usage model for any of the Adobe products?

  • Reply BenyQuinonez October 18, 2018 at 3:46 am

    I learned that less sleep meant more creativity for me O: but I need to rest, I am conflicted!

  • Reply Brone October 18, 2018 at 10:26 pm

    love this. a lot of nuanced points he makes that are very helpful!

  • Reply Rickie Peete October 19, 2018 at 10:33 pm

    Another terrific talk! Thanks Chase. I loved it when Scott looked directly into the camera and spoke to the audience.

  • Reply Carol Almeida October 26, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    essa porra apareceu como anuncio na hora em que eu coloco musicas infantis para as minhas filhas dormirem. vtc*

  • Reply Conrado de Sá November 25, 2018 at 12:22 am

    please Chase, make one with SADHGURU.

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