New podcast: Karen Salmansohn

Self-help needs help. It can be tedious. It can be preachy. It can be dull and holier than thou. It’s an embarrassing part of the book store to be caught in.
Unless you’re with Karen Salmansohn.

She is a former copywriter (in fact, she named the Burger King Croissanwich®) and she has great knack for reducing wisdom to pithy memorable phrases. Her Facebook page is full of things like “You are a fine piece of china. Don’t let anyone treat you like a paper plate,” “If 2 people love each other, nothing is impossible (Except deciding where to eat)” and “If you are in a relationship and all you do is cry, you need to stop and ask yourself, are you dating a human being or an onion?” Her preoccupations may seem to be love and food but there’s a lot more to her too.

Karen has sold over a million copies of her wonderful and hilarious self-help books, gorgeously illustrated books like How to Be Happy Dammit, The Prince Harming Syndrome, and The Bounce Back Book. She’s a contributor to Oprah, Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, Lifetime TV, a relationship expert for match.com, and a radio host on Sirius. I am lucky to call her my friend and to have her share her wisdom with us on this week’s podcast.

We talked about Aristotle, optimism, perfectionism, masochistic equilibrium, breaking bad habits, changing your neural pathways, and the bucket list from Hell. Oh, and she defines “flawesome.” It’s a funny and fascinating conversation.

Monkey of the Week: The Fuggedabout-it. It’s that voice that says: Tomorrow’s another day. So’s the day after next Thursday. That tells me to quit doing anything that seems to be making a positive difference in my life. It’s an exhausting and boring beast.

Here’s the episode:

Or better yet, subscribe to the whole series on iTunes (and leave a nice review).

Or you can visit monkeypodcast.com and listen to the episodes right in your browser.

What’s your experience with your monkey? How has it affected you, and how have you overcome it? Record your Monkey Tale at dannygregory.com/monkey.

New Podcast: Jonathan Carroll

Every artist has their own way of working — tools and techniques they’ve honed over years of practice. We each figure out what works for us, what we need to do to pull an idea out of the recesses of our minds. Every artist faces obstacles and self-criticism along the way and being productive means figuring out ways to dodge the arrows the monkey fires at us as we settle down to work.

Some people start work at the crack of the dawn, while the monkey is still groggy and unable to put up a fight. Others work late at night when the monkey is exhausted. Some have stringent rules for how they work, what pens, what software, how cool the room, how hot the coffee. Some plunge into work like lemmings off a cliff; others fret and bustle about, sharpening pencils and brushing lint off their smoking jackets.

It’s fascinating to learn about the processes we each devise, but there’s no one correct way to proceed. Each person’s monkey erects a different set of road blocks and each of us has to figure out our own way to navigate around them.

One of the cool things I’m discovering about making this podcast is that it’s a great excuse for meeting people I admire and asking them all sorts of questions about their private doings.  I happen to discover that one of my favorite novelists, Jonathan Carroll was following me on Twitter so I tripped all over myself to invite him to join me at the microphone.

What a treat! We talked about how he starts a novel, why writers need to read, how the wrong day job can leech your soul, what it was like to grow up in an intensely creative family (his dad was a screenwriter who wrote The Hustler (what a flick!), his mom was a star on Broadway, his half-brother is the genius composer Steven Reich), what it’s like to read your own books, how to judge an artist’s work, how to become friends with your inner creator, and the joys of writing books by hand.

Here’s the episode:

Or better yet, subscribe to the whole series on iTunes (and leave a nice review).

Or you can visit monkeypodcast.com and listen to the episodes right in your browser.

What’s your experience with your monkey? How has it affected you, and how have you overcome it? Record your Monkey Tale at dannygregory.com/monkey.

Jonathan also pointed me to this great video of Francis Ford Coppola showing the manuscript for The Godfather:

 

New Podcast: My monkey made me write this.

I had big plans for this week, clearing the decks so I could focus on doing some writing and drawing. Instead the monkey managed to help me find a million distractions.

He and I have been having a lot of discussion about why I need to force myself each week to A) make a podcast, B) make a newsletter and C) write a blog post about it as well. He insists that I need to be consistent about it or else I will disappoint my dozens of fans. I would rather be a bit flexible and play it as it comes but, as you can see (because you are reading this), he won.

To be honest, we could totally switch places. I could say it’s important to commit to this and see where it leads me and he would say, take it easy, it’s 80 degrees out, let’s go eat a Good Humor bar in the park. He loves moving the

I think he’s worried that with a fat block of free time, I might come up with something really nuts to do next.

In this week’s podcast, I talk with Todd Colby, the poet, artist, and former member of Drunken Boat. We’ll discuss the creative process and the role of discipline and preparation in keeping the monkey at bay. Todd is awesome, so’s his poetry and his art and his band rocked savagely hard.

Monkey of the Week: the Paranoid. It’s that voice that says: “They’re laughing and sneering, because no one likes you. Or trusts you. Or admires you. And they can’t wait to see you screw up.” What can we say in response?

Monkey Tale: Lenore has a revelation in the shower about who her monkey really is.

All the episodes of the Shut Your Monkey Podcast are on iTunes.
To hear them, you can can either:

  • Subscribe directly from your podcast app by searching for ‘Shut Your Monkey’.
  • Or you can click this link and it will take you to the iTunes page.
  • Or you can visit monkeypodcast.com and listen to the episodes right in your browser.
  • Do you have a meddling monkey?

    Tell me about it. I am collecting Monkey Tales, stories from all sorts of people about about the challenges the monkey brought them and how they dealt with them. Real stories, real moving. If you have a monkey tale you’d like to share, just visit my website and click the red tab on the right to record it. That would be great.

New podcast: Ghosts.

After months of preparation, I gave my first post-publication presentation about Shut Your Monkey: How to Control Your Inner Critic and Get More Done. I spoke to a packed hall in Atlanta, GA at the HOW Design Live conference.

I was joined on the podium by my old pal, the Monkey.

DOG-@-HOW-2016-3He told me that people were bored, that my fly was open, that they saw through my fake expert pose, that this was surely the end of the road for me. Despite all that, the talk went very well and afterwards, I received lots of positive response —of course, the monkey told me that the applause just came from toadies and second-raters with nothing better to do.

Sigh.

This week’s podcast is all about the tapes that play in our heads that were recorded in a by-gone era. 78s that became LPs that became cassettes, CDs, MP3s, and now stream live from Spotify, but always the same old song: “You suck, you are in danger, you better watch out lalala!”

Sometimes that song was recorded before we were born, the trauma that molded a great-grand parent or an even more distant ancestor. A war, an economic crisis, a death, can mold a world-view that gets passed on through a family. We end up hearing those distant echoes long past their sell-by date and are screwed up by their reverberations.

Joining me on this podcast is Patti Digh. She’s a wonderful and wise woman,  a best-selling author who has recently been studying post-traumatic stress. We talked all about our ghosts and how to exorcise them. It’s a really useful discussion.

Do you have a ghost story? Share it with me. I am collecting Monkey Tales, stories from all sorts of people about the challenges the monkey brought them and how they dealt with them. Real stories, real moving. If you have a monkey tale you’d like to share, just go here and click the red tab on the right to record it. That would be great.

All the episodes of the Shut Your Monkey Podcast are on iTunes and will soon be on all the other places you subscribe to podcasts (as I figure out what they all are).

To hear them, you can can either:

I hope you like this episode. I hope your monkey and his/her grandparents do not.

New podcast: why the monkey messes with creatives.

There’s a terrific new episode (#4) of the Shut Your Monkey podcast going up today and I hope you’ll give it a listen. First, I talk about creativity and how the monkey loves to hate it, meddling with your creative process and throwing up blocks. Then I am joined by this week’s guest, the rock-star of graphic design, Stefan Sagmeister.

I’ve known Stefan for about fifteen years and every time we chat, I come away excited, impressed, and inspired.  He first became famous for a poster for which he carved all the type into his chest with a razor blade. That shocking experiment was typical of an artist who breaks boundaries left and right. His work for clients like Levis, the Guggenheim, Red Bull, Jay Z, the Olympics, the Rolling Stones, have won every design award and  two Grammies. He has published several gorgeous and mind-bending books (and his sketchbooks are included in my book, An Illustrated Life), and he is a legend to designers everywhere.

Every seven years, Stefan closes his studio for a year to recharge his batteries. Most recently, he used his sabbatical to explore the science of happiness which led to the most visited design exhibit ever. He has also just finished directing his first motion picture, The Happy Film.

On the podcast, we talk about the process of making it, the obstacles inherent in trying something so brand new, the important of honesty and self-exploration in making good work, the power of communication to improve lives, and so many topics that matter to us both. The conversation was quite a long one but I have decided to share it all in one episode because I think Stefan is one of the most important creative minds of our time and every minute spent with him is never wasted.

You can listen to the whole episode right here.

Better yet, subscribe on iTunes so all the future monkey-shutting-goodness goes right to your device as soon as it’s outta the oven.

As always, I am interested to know what you think of the show. Please leave me a comment below if you are so inclined.

The monkey podcast is here!

Today I launched the first episodes of the Shut Your Monkey podcast. And with it, the Shut Your Monkey podcast newsletter. And with them, this Shut Your Monkey podcast newsletter blogpost.

If you’d like to subscribe to the podcast, then skip all the rest of this for now and just go to iTunes and grab it.

If you forgot to subscribe to the newsletter or it ended up in your spambox, here’s what you missed (better sign up for future issues as they will be even more awesome).

First it was an irritating voice in my head. Then it was a blog post. Next it was a book. Now it’s a podcast. And a newsletter. What next?

It seemed like a simple idea, right? Pick a few pages from my book, Shut Your Monkey: How to Control Your Inner Critic and Get More Done, read ’em into my computer each week, post it online, and call it a podcast.

But no.

Thanks to the monkey’s perfectionist meddling, I had to get fancy. I had to get all slick and get theme music and guest stars and turn a little side project into the StarWars/TonightShow/CollectedWorksOfFreud of podcasts. Then I had to rewrite it, remix it, design logos and endless fiddly bits that threatened to delay the release until well into the fourth term of the Trump presidency.

But finally I shut my monkey and got it done — and it’s gonna be awesome.

I have already lined up an amazing roster of guests to talk about the creative process and the inner critic. Designers (Stefan Sagmeister), novelists (Jonathan Carroll), poets (Todd Colby)  artists (Sabrina Ward HarrisonLisa Congdon,Michael Nobbs), self-help gurus (Karen SalmansohnJen LoudenPatti Digh),  not to mention all sorts of psychologists, creativity coaches, business coaches, and loads of other wise and insightful folks — you’ll hear them all in the weeks ahead

And I am also collecting Monkey Tales, stories from all sorts of people about about the challenges the monkey brought them and how they dealt with them. Real stories, real moving. If you have a monkey tale you’d like to share, just visit my website and click the red tab on the right to record it. That would be great.

There’s a bunch of other treats and stuff too, some of which is in the current episodes, some of which is coming up, and lots of other stuff I haven’t dreamed up yet but will if I ever stop fiddling with the layout of this newsletter.

Today: 

I am kicking things off with a bit of a splash: the first three episodes are launching together and you can hear them right now. After this I’ll post one new episode every Friday, starting on May 20th. That should keep your monkey busy.

itunes_logo-1024x382The first three episodes of the Shut Your Monkey Podcast are on iTunes and will soon be on all the other places you subscribe to podcasts (as I figure out what they all are).

To hear them, you can can either:

  • Subscribe directly from your podcast app by searching for ‘Shut Your Monkey’.
  • Or you can visit monkeypodcast.com (yes, I bought the URL before anyone else could snap it up) and you can listen to the episodes right in your browser.

In other SYM news:

— the first run of the print books sold out but my publisher tells me a warehousefull of new ones are just back from the printer.

— the ebook version is now available. It’s a handy thing to keep on your phone and flip to when bananas start to fly.

— I am giving my first big talk about the book at the HOW Design Live conference in Atlanta on May 22nd. It’s a little daunting figuring out how to present the monkey to thousands of designers but the presentation is coming along well and I feel prepared. My monkey is very not happy.

— Various foreign versions of the books are being made. For example, yesterday I learned there’s to be a Russian audio version. (обезьяна is ‘monkey’ in Russian, if you were wondering).

I hope you subscribe and enjoy the podcast. And that your monkey hates it.

If you have the time, drop me a line and tell me what both of you think so far.

XO

Danny

Another sweet, chunky chat

I really enjoyed this new podcast interview. So did my chatmate, artist Addie Hirschten. She said of it,

“This interview is one of those that gave me many chunky nuggets to take and put in my pocket.

As much as I love creating art my head often swims with the many reasons why I love it, why we keep creating. Danny Gregory’s fresh perspective seems to have been knocked into place by the tragic events in his life.  This breath of fresh air is the sort of thing that happens when someone is frank, honest and open.”

Listen to it yourself and enjoy the chunkiness. It’s here.