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how to master inspiration

How to master inspiration

500 tabs opened in the browser. That's how browsing the internet looks like for some while in search for inspiration. The problem is, inspiration is a state of mind and a practice.

"I just put the music on and start drawing!"

Never mind that.

Inspiration comes from having ambitions. Which is contrary to what most people think of. According to the Harvard Business Website, inspired people share certain characteristics, such as being more open minded to new experiences and having conscious goals. Having a positive mindset does not equal being more inspired, however inspired individuals do have lower negativity. That's because inspiration involves having involvement with the task at hand with high levels of positivity. When one has goals, he or she is more likely to act and procure ways to make it happen, often resorting to creativity to find new ways and unexpected solutions–hence the open-mindedness. According to studies, the relationship between goal setting and inspiration was reciprocal: goal progress also anticipated inspiration for future goal setting.

People who are in an inspired mindset have a more positive look towards life, and are more grateful.

First of all, inspiration cannot be evoked. That's why the recurring habit of putting music on and collecting artwork doesn't work as inspiration–it's just a ritual to start working and referencing as to bias the brain to reach a certain conclusion, respectively.

Inspiration assists creativity. People that are constantly inspired view themselves as being more creative. Creativity requires no constraints, whilst inspiration is a set up of circumstances that assist in achieving a state of mind that allows it to be affected positively, with clarity and awareness of new possibilities. Moreover, both inspiration and creativity must be acted upon.

Preparation, and not inspiration, requires effort. Preparation might come in various forms. Reading, exercising, meditating, and a personal one to me, writing. All of these practices literally reform your brain and help you be more inspired, and are considered preparation. We, artists and designers, think a simple moodboard will suffice. Nah-nah. That's just referencing. The brain is way more complex and needs to connect information together so it can be used anew later on.

An overlooked trigger

There is just so much a piece of work can teach you, because it shows only the final result and not the process, but it can also inspire you. As we've seen, the major triggers for inspiration are preparation and work mastery, therefore, for creatives, it means reps, reps and reps, until a skill is mastered. That's why we collect objects –and online artworks. That's the common path everybody takes when learning something new.

However, because inspiration is a mindset and not an evoked feeling, it's worth surrounding oneself with inspiring speakers, industry leaders, and other role models. Personally, diving into people I admire who are successful allow me to learn a behavior and a mindset that I want to attain for myself, as well as giving the courage to do new things. Remember that thing about open-mindedness?

Inspiration x reference

Inspiration is a state of mind. I particularly read, write, exercise, and meditate to find my prime self. That requires a lot of discipline and it might take a while to delve into the habits, luckily those are practices that might already be incorporated into your life.

Reading about your own line of work is not sufficient: you won't be attaining different sets of information. It's more fruitful to connect different subjects in order to come with something anew up, rather than reiterations of the same subject, over and over.

Collecting and organizing references

Gathering references with intention, because it will affect how your brain functions in regard of what you've just experienced. What you consume prior to a creative work will work as data input. Everything we do, we do because we have been exposed to it, one way or another. Controlling how (and from whom) you consume work will affect how your brain mixes and remixes what you've seen, which when done right will result in better solutions.

By focusing on the problem, you are able to expand. Here comes the dichotomy: focus on the issue, but let your imagination run free. Making free associations will help come up with better and more creative results, rather than just an obvious one.

Where you collect references is not truly important. What matters most here is the preparation and how organized you are, so you can access those files when you need them for references. When you consume something intentionally, you will remember what it is. Therefore keeping a photo, a book or an article that has proved to be inspiring in an organized way will help you trace down what it is and in which specific source it was from. That is why being inspirational takes effort–not inspiration itself.

One of the mentors I have in life, Tai Lopez, has taught me to keep my books in e-formats so that I can easily search through my library after a specific word or phrase–facilitating referencing.

When it comes to images and articles, collecting them in your operational system might be facilitated by some apps or websites, which I will list bellow.

Use referencing to learn your craft and expand your skills

I usually do this by writing aspects, doodling forms and shapes down, in order to increase awareness of a particular aspect I like–which also increases my mastery in that specific craft. In this sense, the pre-inspiration stage requires the effort of spending time and energy to understanding how something is done.

With a basic knowledge, you can apply what you've learned and create it anew with your own touch.

Tools and final words

Inspiration can be achieved with a set of habits and with great filtering, such as reading, writing, exercising, and consuming work from different industry leaders. Inspiration is a fruit that is collected from a garden that is well watered and kept.

My favorite tools to organize knowledge and references are not different than you'd expect for a designer, they are also simple to use.







Harvard - Why Inspiration matters

The Science of Inspiration [I agree only halfway with this one]

4 Practical Ways to Prepare Your Mind For Inspired Ideas


The rich mindset propels you forward

The rich mindset propels you forward

Being human is a funny thing and a confusing experience. How can I exist in this world, and what makes me meaningful? Deep questions I cannot really answer for anyone else. We all face such questioning at one point or another, I am sure, and the agony of not knowing the answer makes my head explode. I cannot control what happens externally. I got only the power to control what’s inside my head. Everyone’s mind has a pattern, many of us pay attention to how our own head speaks to us, some of us don’t and are consumed by it. Being able to determine the pattern of our mind, and help it solve its own problems is an iteration process. It requires a ton of will power and discipline. When it comes to health, happiness, relationships, and wealth, how is your approach of each individually and in conjunction?

Thoughts steer the course of our lives. The power of thinking is immense. However, it doesn’t work by itself alone. Thinking and speaking positive words are not enough to make a change in someone’s life, that measure is just a patch to cure some major agony. The real power is recognizing that positive thinking is part of a major system, called the rich mindset.

Back in 2011 I had dropped out of University to work on my move to Finland. Dropping out of college (and twice in life, actually) in my family is a drastic move and taken as an insult. Not constantly communicating my intentions was a big mistake. I didn’t particularly have a great mindset then, I just had the purpose to move to where I felt I was at home.

Until my mom found out she had breast cancer. The blow affected my mind, and my purpose changed so drastically it was scary and painful to face what was coming ahead. The fear of losing my mom adding up with the anxiety of not feeling like I belonged anywhere, plus a dozen of other smaller pains that make sure to pop up in one’s head when things are not going well. Worth mentioning, our house was renovating, and we were renting. I didn’t have a room. A corner of the living room of the apartment held my wardrobe, my desk with my computer and a bed, that also made the role of a chair for the desk.

The responsibility of taking care of my family and running the businesses so that we could pay for the rent, renovations, and making sure my mom was healthy at all times must have flipped something in my brain. I was on the edge, whenever someone spoke to me, it was either burst of anger or tears. I didn’t know how to handle all of that at the age of 19. When you don’t feel like you are home, you don’t get that relaxing feeling when you open your home’s door. Your heart is in constant pain, sleep only comes when you are exhausted, if then. Working to get money to move away had made me motivated. Not only I didn’t have that motivation anymore, my mom was now sick. I found myself in a mental and physical prison I had no clue how to break out from.

Even as I went to Finland to do my entrance exam, amidst the typhoon. I wasn’t quite sure of anything, you can never really be, but that allowed me to relax a bit, as well as knowing that mom was out of risk. When the worst comes through and passes, you are able to think.

Taking thinking to the next level

Most likely you don’t have that much drama around you, but the state of mind is the same: a prision. Maybe you are questioning your life’s purpose, where you want to be in 10 years, the perfect profession, and so on.

The truth is, in most cases, we are trapped internally, by our minds. There is really no one stopping you to make a change but yourself. Even when there isn’t that much anxiety in our lives, we can still be defensive about the things we believe in and are challenged. Beliefs that have made true by convention and what people around us hold true. There are less external circumstances holding you back than there are internal. Even when the people you hold dear think differently, the final call is still yours. However, it’s easier to account and assess external obstacles than the internal loop and questioning in your head.

Health and the molecule of will power

Are you able to eat, drink and exercise? Do you forget to eat? How serious do you take your alimentation? Your brain works 24/7. How mindful are you of the things you eat, and drink, and the amount of exercise you do? What you eat directly affects your brain. And, well, if you want a rich mindset, you better take care of your food habits. Exercise also helps rewiring your brain for a richer life.

You want to consume vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to allow your brain to perform well. If your diet is high on sugar, your body’s regulation of insulin will impair the function of your brain, thus leading to mood swings and even depression. Eating well requires discipline, and whilst sugar and fat taste good, and you are bombard by it, they are short term pleasures.

The brain and the stomach are connected by serotonin, the molecule of will power. The neurotransmitter is produced in the brain and in the intestines, and it helps to regulate sleep, and appetite. 80–90% of the serotonin in our bodies is produced in the intestines. It regulates the bowel, mood, bone density and sexual function. Serotonin is also known to be directly related to depression, and, ironically, one of the ways to boost serotonin is to change your thought patterns.

Other methods are to eat food that is clean. Foods such as brown rice, wholegrain cereals, legumes, meat, fish, nuts and seeds are rich in serotonin and as well as all the other nutrients, minerals required to help boost your brain functions and mood.

Exercise has an antidepressant effect, and research has shown that it boosts serotonin levels. Aerobic exercise, such as running and biking (yoga apparently works as well) will both produce and release serotonin in your blood stream. Choosing to exercise, taking the commitment and not being forced by it is an enabler of serotonin production. On the other hand, being forced to exercise will not work.

Being able to recognize within your means, pace, and needs that eating clean and exercising will help you, immediately helps your mood and will.

The sun, or light, also affects your mood and serotonin levels (plus other vitamins and minerals). Having a sleep pattern that allows you to see and enjoy the sun will improve your mental and physical health. Committing to maybe walk, run, or bike in the light of the day. Just the act of not sitting in the dark can make a change in one’s mood, or opening the curtains in the morning.

Changing the way you think might be a matter of changing how you eat and how much you move. It might be a matter of eating less bottled and processed food (you want to keep your sodium in check), buying your veggies raw instead of precooked and frozen, and then going for that 30 to 60 minutes walk or run in the morning. If at the market you look at the potato chips, remember how bad it will make you feel and how bad it is for your body and mind. Remember that you have better options on the shelves for snacks, like fruits. Make a smoothie!

To me, health has been always the pillar of well being. Taking my training at the gym and my diet seriously have done a massive change in the way I progress in life. Not only have I mentally prepared myself better for the challenges in life, it has also taken me to the path of consuming content created by more intelligent, capable people, as well as meeting them. It has directly affected my power of achieving goals and creating opportunities. Being brave enough to break conventions imprinted in our heads created by society when it comes to food, happiness and dealing with problems is not an easy task.


The majority of people go have a drink on the weekend to shake of the stress of the week past them. Not only alcohol will break the rule above if consumed regularly, it will not deal with reality, it’s only a distraction. Alcohol inhibits brain function and absorption of water, minerals, and other nutrients, such as protein.

In order to change, we must understand our behavior. It requires deep down honesty. Most of our actions are a result of habit and not of reasoning, which causes us to fall back from promises and goals. Have you tried to diet by changing your habits drastically, instead of slowly adapting to a new lifestyle? It doesn’t work, right? Have you taken pleasure in cooking healthy food and exercising? Probably not, if it didn’t become a habit. Anything that comes from an introductory excitement will not last. Every change is a process, not a door slam shut.

Nothing has real meaning, only the meaning you give them. What a breakout it is to realize that whatever is around you, can have a total different meaning to you just by mere observing your thoughts and reactions towards that particular thing. The importance and meaning you place on something can be changed, you’ve only gotta realize you can do it. One way is to stop labeling things the way they are labeled by other people.

A rich mindset doesn’t have space for excuses nor give reasons. It’s so easy to cancel that dinner instead of showing up anyway. It’s so easy to pat our backs and buy the beer just because we closed a deal.

Happiness is relative. And happiness is not meaningful without the lows. Much of what builds or destroys our happy mindset comes from conventional truths set by the society that surrounds us, family and loved ones. We are made to believe that one size fits all, which is not true. It’s amazing to notice how much of our behavior and thinking come from our parents, and not always that way of thinking follows up with who we want to be. The key is to always surround yourself with likeminded, driven people, and be in touch with people who you look up to.

The lottery approach

The lottery approach is a term I first listened from Tai Lopez. It refers to hoping a big problem will solve by spur of luck or of the destiny, instead of taking ownership of the issue and finding long term solutions. Winning the lottery sounds easier than investing and funding, and less scary, and admittedly less work as well. Complacency and counting on luck while waiting for something to happen does not diminish one anxiousness nor helps accomplishing anything.

The grind cannot be taken off the account when building happiness in life. Expectations, shortcuts, magical solutions… They will not end up with a happy ending. Allowing yourself to read your thoughts, surrounding yourself with the right people, working on your health,  and working on rewiring your brain to seeing things in a different way will allow new doors to open, create happiness and help you figure out who you want to be. This process is scary for most and it also requires deep down honesty and humbleness.

What are the real, actionable shortcuts for success?

What are the real, actionable shortcuts for success?

If you were born in the 90s, there is a high chance you've played Mario Kart. Oh, I loved that game as a kid. The excitement of going through the little boxes to see what the next power up would be, and then finding shortcuts to jump in front of my opponents. Shortcuts and power ups feel good, right?

Nobody really taught me how to take a camera and take a great shot. It has always been self initiated little personal projects sparked by curiosity, repetitions and persistence. There is no real shortcut to perfecting a skill, only reps. Success, therefore, is part of the journey.

However, one can find assistance on the learning process of a skill or area. The tangible aspects of learning are not on the end result, but in where and how a certain knowledge is acquired. Let's say you want to drive the Kart with Bowser, the heavy turtle guy. Your friend who invited you to play with him will not tell you when to press the buttons, instead he will tell you the mechanics of the game. The rest is on you. To win the race, you will have to learn how to run with Bowser first. Dominate the basics first.

Similarly to the mechanics of the game and your friend, who played the role of a mentor, is to learn the mechanics of your skill and the business of your industry. That might mean watching others do the thing. Or even drop shadow some of the people you admire. As a result, you won't be required to figure it all out yourself, learn faster and end up making quality questions.

The quality of your questions matter

If you are going on a rollercoaster expecting to stop on top, you better tighten your belt... There isn't really an effective way to "win". The questions you ask people you are trying to learn from matters the most. If you are asking the step-by-step guide to go from A to B, instead of trying to understand a technique or a system, or what you need to know about a subject to get started, you are making the wrong kinds of questions. You should be focusing on the entry level, instead of trying to play with the end result.

Let's take as an example someone who is learning how to draw. Where would you start from with learning? By asking how to draw a complex 3 point perspective urban scene? C'mon. Do you know how to draw a line at all? Most people will ask me what pencil I use. Answer: it doesn't matter right in the beginning, work with what you have. In this scenario, a better question would be: How do you apply strokes? How do you "see" your subject? How do you draw basic shapes? How to shade? How do you check your proportion? All experts in their fields dominate the basics, well before exploring more complex grounds. People who are starting out tend to want skip the basics and call themselves masters of a craft.

Avoid asking questions that lead to a simple yes or no answer. Most likely the answer you get will be just that one word, and you won't get much out of the learning process, which is at least frustrating. Successful people ask clear, specific questions to trying to reverse engineer an issue or something they want to know in depth. For example, questions that start with "What" and "How" will provide great answers, as long as you stick to the above mindset, you will be headed to the right direction. When I was younger, I'd get to ride horses I wasn't acquainted with. I would ask their owners: "What do I need to know of its habits? Does it get distracted? Does it look too much? Does it like kicking when other horses are nearby or when it's too excited? What spooks it?" We unconsciously forget (if that makes sense) basic things that come up only when prompted externally by a person or by a not foreseen event. Even though those seem like general questions, it provided me an opening to figuring out what to ask next and what I was working with. Open-ended questions tend to generate the best answers, meaning that neither I sought for options nor a variation of an answer, much less a simple yes or no answer.

“At the end of the day, the questions we ask of ourselves determine the type of people that we will become.” ― Leo Babauta

Observing and learning from other successful people

If you really want to cut corners, your best bet would be by learning how your role models did it, their habits and their failures.

And if you really put a thought into it, there are centuries of knowledge out there. Even for free (GUTENBERG PROJECT). You just gotta turn the TV off and read less of the wrong kinds of books.

I have placed myself in a position in which I can closely observe people that I have admired since I was a kid. True, some of the glamour faded away. However, I have learned a great deal out of it. It paid off in personal growth and business leverage.

There are great people in this world that write. The reason I advocate writing: there is always someone wanting to learn from you. That includes yourself. There are thousands, millions of people you can help out but writing down, as well as there is a lot you can find out from blogs, podcasts, and books alone, without ever getting in direct touch with a specific person, even though I would advise you to.


Who have they learned from? Gold nuggets are always hidden in unusual places, otherwise they wouldn't be so valuable. And learning where and whom the people you admire have gotten their knowledge from can help you reverse engineer your own path. There are conditions you cannot mimic, personality traits that do not match yours, but still, a lesson can be taken and eventually you find your own formula.


Good habits are hard to form, bad habits are hard to break.

We've heard it once or twice.

What will work for you? I don't know. The key is to explore all kinds of possibilities when it comes to your happiness, wealth, health and relationships. Luckily, people like Tim Ferriss have collected some really interesting data on the behavior of people like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Seth Godin, Tony Robbins, Peter Thiel, James Altucher and other great names, which you can have access on the book called "Tools of Titans" and in his podcast. Other than that specific book, biographies are a great way to learn how amazing people that have walked on this planet think and what their habits were.

I'd advise you to try one good habit at a time, or breaking a bad one, and moving on to the next when the previous has become unconscious to you.

The key is to explore. Use the lives of the people that have done great things in this world and act accordingly to your own mindset, dreams and goals.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” ― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

Once you find one great person, you will end up with a branch of other great people to study and learn from.

And who do they hang out with

Who do you hang out with? We are the average of the 5 people around us. So if you hang out with 5 average people, you will be an average person. BAM. I might have just called you average, I am so sorry.

Successful people hang out with successful people. How did they get to hang out with successful people? They either went where the successful people they wanted to mimic went or were already at. Then most likely they asked to be mentored by them. Like, literally, go to a coffee shop, a restaurant, a neighborhood. Start taking yourself physically to the place you want to be. Eventually, your reality will align with your mindset.

For instance, connecting, gaining trust and learning from someone who is ahead of you will allow you to shift the rule of the average 5, as long as you aren't a leech and you are genuine about it. Finding one mentor opens a door to other mentors or people, that is leverage.

Seek people out. Sometimes who we admire are busy, so I wouldn't advise approaching them directly. Not everyone is Gary Vaynerchuk. The best option you'd have would be to contact the person directly underneath them, like a secretary. That way you gain the entrance respect, and who knows, you might be shadowing someone you admire just because you had the guts and humbleness to politely ask for it.

“What a wise person teaches is the smallest part of what they give. The totality of their life, of the way they go about it in the smallest details, is what gets transmitted.” ― David Brooks, The Road to Character

Uncovering the unknown unknowns

One of my financial mentors is called Tony Robbins. If you haven't learned from him, you are living under a rock. He has mentored Hugh Jackman, Bill Clinton, Mother Theresa, Princess Diana... Oprah Winfrey calls him superhuman.

One of my most loved nuggets from him is:

"We live in an uncertain world and face not only the risks of the known unknowns but also the unknown unknowns—the ones that we don't know we don't know. Despite these risks, if we are to have any chance for meeting our long-term financial goals, invest we must." - Tony Robbins for Time Magazine

Investing your time, money, attention with intention is the best way to uncover the aspects of life, business or skill mastering we don't know we don't know. We mostly don't know anything.

Another way to grow and learn...

...Is to teach.

Learning can take so many forms. I have learned a great deal of English with video games and music, simply because of the interest on the stories and the urge to understand what was being said and sung.

Since I've known how to hold a pencil between my fingers, writing has been a major breakthrough to understanding myself, my craft, the world around me, where I want to be in 5, 10, 40 years. Writing allows a level of detachment in a situation and an unemotional approach to problem solving, goal setting and learning. The first step to making something is to writing it down, the very first spur of growing an idea.

“You can make anything by writing.” ― C.S. Lewis

There is value in writing any form of text. Whether you are just spurting out messy thoughts or you are writing a valuable article to teaching someone everything you know, or a text message, or trying to figure something out in your life.

You will surprise yourself on the level of knowledge you have in your head, once you commit to writing what you know about your craft. The return you will obtain for people trying to obtain that very information is at least rewarding.

All of these aspects of acting and learning must be done consciously and simultaneously.

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.” ― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Patience and work

I have this urge of learning 666 things at once. It's really not about how much you learn but how well you execute what you've learned. Being curious is a good thing, but it can lead to learning without never acting on the knowledge, which is the exact opposite you want to be doing.

It does not suffice to just learn, or to just act without ever reinventing or looking with another perspective; one of the hidden benefits of learning is to be able to acquire some knowledge without necessarily agreeing with it, so that your view of the world, and thus, possibilities, expands.

There is, in fact, no shortcut that leads to success. There are practices, habits, and people that we can lead and be led by. Therefore, expecting the easy solution or the lottery win will not bring you a great, lasting return.

It's not about success, it's about the journey

It’s not about success, it’s about the journey

We all try to seek our life's purpose, but most likely end up frustrated and thus, giving up on our dreams. Seeking passion is not necessarily a way out either. Not everyone will be able to seek their best version of themselves, simply because they are scared of the journey. Success, and fulfillment are just products along the way, the tips of the iceberg of life. The bottom of the iceberg is the journey, what supports the success.

Most people don't seek out to walk their paths for being scared of the world. They die in regret. It's cliché, but go spend two weeks at a retirement home talking to old people. Their hearts are filled with regrets.

All of us have passions and skills. The key is to find one that serves both, and walk down the discovery road, and building upon it. Combining a skill you know with a passion is your ultimate chance to start walking on a path. The next step unveils itself.

Personally, I blame the system. You are taught biology, chemistry, geography... But you aren't taught finances, extensive philosophy, communication, and other soft and hard skills to empower you to take hold of your life's direction. They give you a set of directions to follow, and if you get a bad grade, oh boy! I remember the drama in high school. The class arranging system, where whoever was better at the quarter went to a certain classroom. Instead they grade you if can or cannot do the pythagorean theorem.

Then you go to University, to become someone you don't want to be. You get a job and live 9-5 waiting for the weekends to come, only to despise Monday.

Wouldn't it be better if the day of the week didn't matter? Wouldn't it be better if instead of despising the next work day, you'd be able to feel like you are going somewhere in life and enjoy the journey?

If your job doesn't align with your values, why partake with it? If the people around you don't align with your values, why keep them in?

You cannot steer a parked car. To evolve as a human being, you gotta find value in your actions. How can you help other people? If you don't like something, you change it. Try different things. Break the pattern.

Go down the discovery road. Don't be afraid to try new things just because the system tells you've gotta have a degree and have a 9-5 job (unless that's what you want), instead of doing what you feel pulled towards to.

What are the things in your life you cannot live without? Now, how can you weave that with a way to bring value to people? There's no worst life failure than regret on the deathbed.

What's the next fear you are going to face? Learning finances? Learning how to speak in public? Sky diving? What is it? Go do.

How to master a skill in 4 steps - The Four Stages of Learning

How to master a skill in 4 steps – The Four Stages of Learning

When we work in creative industries, we often find ourselves trying to learn a bunch of new techniques and even new programs, sometimes all at once. More often than not the learning process gets messy. It does get frustrating when we eventually hit a wall. That wall tells us we know we know, but somehow we cannot achieve the results we desire. Our capabilities feel limited. That happens to everyone, and it's normal. Once we understand the four stages, it makes challenging skills to learn enjoyable since we know what to expect of the process.

However judgmental we might be of our own capabilities, the reality is that we cannot expect professional looking results if we are just starting out on something new. When producing something new, instead of focusing on the bad feelings we get, we should focus on repetition.

That's right, doing it over and over again.

You must break through the third stage to the fourth stage. Don't quit where most people do.

I have recently talked to a few creatives over at Will Paterson's Discord group, and over and over again I talked about the 4 stages of learning and mastering a skill. Understanding them helps deal with the "creative block" that comes when we hit the all. This concept has been widely discussed among top designers and business people, but it seems that very few actually know it exists at all.

This how it looks like in a nutshell:

1º stage: Unconscious incompetence, I call it discovery

The first contact, discovery and excitement. We are ignorant fools trying to learn something new and amazing. We often don't know we don't know how to do that particular task.

2º stage: Conscious incompetence, I call it learning

This is when we find out we have no idea to execute that particular task, but we are committed to figuring it out. This is when we ultimately go through a bunch of tutorials in a blissful and fulfilling randomness that entices us to learn everything at once. This is the stage your browser has 50 tabs open on the same subject.

3º stage: Conscious Competence, I call it the mighty wall

When we know the technical stuff necessary, but we don't feel we are good enough yet. If previous step was uncomfortable, this one will be even more. That's why I call the mighty wall. The key is to keep repeating and getting comfortable and messing around with the skill.

4º stage: Unconscious Competence, I call it mastery

We finally dominate the skill. This is when you don't have to think too hard when executing simple tasks. Then it's just practice, practice, practice.

The key to break the mighty wall is to achieve 50%, not 100%.** You get better as you practice, but if you quit, well, guess what, you learn nothing.

Some of my mentors, like Sean and Gary Vee, talk about this in their own ways. Sean and Gary talk about doing a massive load of work. Quality over quantity, while documenting your process. No matter what, you've gotta show up and do the work.

You will never master a skill if you don't do the loads of work required to master that skill. There is no shortcut, just work, work, work. Tutorials are actually one way to cut corners, in a sense. Instead of spending hours and hours trying to figure something out, it's smarter to find someone who already figured it out and learn it from them.

why you should take a risk when there is a crisis

Why you should take a risk when there is a crisis

Brazil, where I come from, is going through some serious troubles. Macro and microeconomics are crashing. There has always been the social issue. The media is bombarding everyone with chaos. Dadadadadada. Some old, same old.

But how is it that so many people are actually thriving? The media won't show it of course, chaos writes more news headings than prosperity. But I know some of them of these people personally.

A crisis is a great way to find your way out through innovation. The people the tune off and seek out innovation are the ones who will thrive. There is no other way.

A crisis is a moment to start a company because the market will need innovation, it's very likely that lots of people will be closing down and there will be a demand. You just have to open your eyes. Don't use "crisis" or any other external reason to not thrive. That's bs.

However, there is also the internal crisis. Maybe your old way of doing things is not working anymore, or that business partner or a sales person is not pushing the company forward. You've got the same opportunity here. Maybe you can seek out someone better to run the business with you or find better sales force.

Tune off

Going through crisis is part of life. Whether in business or in personal life, there are always ups and downs. What does your instinct tell you to do when there is a crisis? Run in the smallest sign of discomfort? We see this so clearly with social media: everybody needs to say that they are "sad" or "going through hard times". Denial. And then they consume exactly what aggravates that paralysis: media.

Guess what, your Facebook feed is media as well. So are your friends. Tune off.


Don't write anything that might undermine your success. Don't read any comforting thoughts from other people. Don't think any less of yourself. Your focus should be elsewhere.

What you should do is talk to someone close to you, a mentor, so the issue becomes detached, in your brain, from emotions. And then you sit your bum down and plan. And then you press play and execute.

Plan your escape

There are thousands of great books that can lead you out of whatever misery you are going through now. Identify your problem and make it an opportunity. Is it lack of money? Read books on how to make money. Is it lack of clients? Read books on how to attract people and persuade them from buying. Is it about innovation? Read books on how to innovate. Seek out specialists in the area you are struggling. Hear their opinion. Work with them.

Pain and competition is good. It makes the willing thrive. If there is competition in your field, you have a high chance to stand out if you stop doing the same things (that led you to a crisis, remember?) and actually find a new system, a new process, a new feeling to what you do and even who you are. Things will never change if you don't make a change. It sounds really cheesy but it's simply true. Most people only talk about change... They rarely act on it.

Once you identify your problem and figure out where do you want to be, it's easy to plan an escape.

The big bold reason

If you are in a crisis, chances are you have everything at stake. And if you have everything at stake, doing something different will not undermine the state of affairs. It's counter intuitive and scary.

Most people don't realize that keeping things the same is actually a bigger risk than trying something new and unusual. And that's why they lose and become media news.

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Building self discipline to be successful in everything you do

How to build self discipline to be successful in everything you do

The best way to achieve big things in life, whether they are in the realms of health, wealth, relationships and happiness (the famous 4 pillars of life introduced to me by Tai Lopez) you need discipline. As US Navy Seal Jocko Willink says, discipline equals freedom.

We have been hardwired by the ages and the modern life. Most part of what we know to be a normal behavior, is not necessarily the best path to success or for true freedom. When it comes to what the media sells, there is no denying that we don’t salivate when we see a juicy looking hamburger ad or a bar of chocolate. Those are easy ways of consuming sugar and fat — they hit our ancestral instincts for survival, but it doesn’t mean they are healthy habits. The level of awareness and attention you give those impulses determine your success.

When I talk about success, it’s not only at work or business. Your health, your relationships and your overall well being is at stake. Sure, failure is equally important, you cannot have the first without the later.

It’s your self awareness and discipline that will determine whether you will succumb to your consumer instincts and to your modern life temptations. The world is now programmed to have you buy and do what they want you to do. That is what capitalism and branding wants you to do: consume what makes you feel fulfilled, even if it’s something that depreciates quickly. Whether it’s good for you and help you reach your goals, it’s up to you to determine.

Stop reasoning things out

“The problems with reasons is that they’re just excuses prettied up.” - The Achievement Habit by Bernard Roth

Be dead honest with yourself at all times. Most of our actions are results of habits. However, we still are capable of “convincing” ourselves to take certain actions and give an excuse that will deviate us from our end goal. How much bullshit are we telling ourselves? Look forward to rewiring your brain to good habits instead of “excusing” yourself of thought things.

In order to make the switch we need first to understand the source of our behaviors. When you wake up, what’s the first thing you do? Why do you grab your phone instead of readily jumping out of bed? You need to ask yourself difficult questions.

Reasons and excuses are as bad as complaining. That’s because they are all inhibiting your power of action or putting your mind in a place it doesn’t need to be. Reasons give you space to behave dysfunctionally.

The reason you are tired? Lack of discipline with sleep, or too much stress. Thus, meditate. Use less electronic devices. Sleep more. Sleep better. Eat less sugar. Have discipline, and you will increase the quality of your life and actions without giving yourself and people around you putty reasons for not doing something, or even for complaining about something. That way you have more time and energy to focus on what matters and thus, thrive at a higher rate by cutting the bs and, to surprise of many, stress. “Discipline equals freedom”.

What’s the bigger picture?

Do you want to lose weight? Do you want to become better at a skill? Do you want to establish yourself as a professional in your field? What’s your goal?

Arnold Schwarzenegger wrote his goals everyday. Grant Cardone writes his goals everyday. He had a vision, a big vision, and then he reverse engineered it. Set big goals for yourself — whatever “big” means to you. As Sean McCabe says, “a million dollars is not a lot of money”. The point is, once you get the big picture, you can define it with clear steps (or short-term goals) and you begin to work on it. The purpose of setting goals is not to wish for and dream about them, but to calibrate your actions towards these goals. It’s not motivation, it’s discipline that will help you get out bed when you are supposed to.

Discipline builds habits

I am a big weightlifting fan. I spend only one hour at the gym, but if I could, I’d do Arnie’s 6 hours everyday. One of the pillars of “the good life” is health. I may have been influenced by my mom, who has always loved working out herself, and the fact that I was brought up doing a lot of sports.

Discipline came easily to me then, but only in the areas that mattered. I hated school, so I wasn’t disciplined enough with that. But still, I felt the need to be on time and to do what I got to do, even if I sucked at it. Discipline.

I was committed to at least go to school — I still found much of it interesting, really. Physics and biology always fascinated me even tho when it came to hitting the mark, I sucked. Because of my commitment to school and thinking it was somewhat fun to learn (who cares about grades) I jumped out of bed 1,5h before the class started, at 5:30am. It wired me to like waking up early. It made it a habit.

Nowadays I have pushed it to 4:30, but if not, I wake up at the same old 5:30 automatically. I get so much done by 12:00 it’s unbelievable. Some people don’t even feel awake by that time.

Good habits are hard to build. Bad habits are hard to break. For both you need discipline and an end goal.

Attention with intention

Paraphrasing the stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius, “a man’s life should be valued according to the value of the things to which he gave his attention.”

Attention with intention is something I have adhered in my life as part of the rewiring of my brain. Be intentional about what you think and do, pay attention at your own words, thoughts and actions and you will find yourself learning and realizing things in an honest, self critical way.

Let’s say that, you want to change your job, but you come home and turn the television on instead. Are you spending your time with attention and the intention towards your goal set?

Or, you want to loose weight or eat less sugar, but at the market aisles you only look for the sweets and the baking goods. And you buy them.

How you spend your “aware thinking” time should be intentional. That means, when your mind isn’t focused on a task, you are intentionally directing it to the good habits you want to build, the bad habits you want to break and making sure you aren’t giving yourself reasons (read excuses) to do the stuff you know aren’t taking you forward.

You can choose intentionally what you pay attention to. This might mean turning the TV off or focusing at one task at a time for an optimal workflow. A 2 minute meditation a day should help your attention span and you can practice intentionality with your thoughts. You choose to think certain things and you give them no more than the attention they deserve. Discipline in your head.

Keeping it simple to achieve more

Keeping it simple is hard, because we tend to look out for perfection, which doesn’t exist. Perfection is in our minds.

Keeping things simple is an act of discipline. Sometimes, you have laid out a job pretty well but you keep working on it, when you don’t need to. You are looking for reasons to not give the paper away, to not give the work to the client or to not submit that blog post.

That’s making you lose time. It will frustrate you and burn you out.

You are looping around a problem that’s probably already solved or that can be less complicated than what you are making it. It’s typically a result of rushing or lack of attention. A rushed task or a task that is done with lack of attention, or both, is a waste of time. Isn’t it easier to just asses things first and look for the simpler way of solving an issue?

Jocko Willink and Leif Babin have a great chapter about this in their book “Extreme Ownership”. Paraphrasing, when solving a problem, it’s better to keep it simple so everybody involved in it can commit equally, because they understand it and assimilate it better. Productivity enhanced.

Discipline builds confidence

When you work on goals with discipline, you eventually achieve things. Even if it means that by the end of a tougher day, the only task you’ve accomplished successfully was. making your bed (thanks, Tim Ferriss for that one). You can intentionally pay attention to that and tell yourself proudly that “you survived another day, and you’ve made your bed successfully.” A small achievement. Not only you notice something you are grateful for, but you’ve also payed to an achieved, even though small, task. This discipline of achieving small tasks helps you to ground yourself.

The way that achieving goals builds discipline is that you prove yourself that you are capable of doing things, big and small. That is something that must be nourished and fed constantly. When you set out to read a book, not only you are smarter, but you’ve also achieved a small goal. This builds your confidence and also makes you feel more empowered.

There are three stages of discipline and habit creation that will lead to confidence. The first stage is the easiest, because it usually involves excitement. The second is the deal breaker: most people give up because results will show more slowly. This is when discipline, attention with intention and all of that kicks in. The third is when you break the wall of the hardship and it becomes a habit. You stop thinking of it as a task and it becomes second nature.

Measurable results help build confidence. Discipline towards tasks and goals, attention with intention will help you build confidence. You set milestones, you achieve them and you feel great afterwards. You begin to understand your weaknesses, to work around them and you learn to leverage your strengths instead. You achieve a greater level of self criticism, awareness and confidence.

“Discipline equals freedom.” - Jocko Willink

Lists of books that inspired this article:

Extreme Ownership - Jocko Willink & Leif Babin

Total Recall - Arnold Schwarzenegger

Tools of Titans - Tim Ferriss

The 10x Rules - Grant Cardone

Thoughts of Marcus Aurelius - Marcus Aurelius

The Achievement Habit - Bernard Roth

A Harvard paper on Stress and Mental Control

How much should you be consuming vs creating?

How much should you be consuming vs creating?

We creative peeps loooove seeking inspiration. Oh, God bless the Pinterest boards, right? I personally create private boards for each branding project or small projects. There's a lot of value to it, otherwise it wouldn't have become so popular. But how much is actually too much? When it blocks you.

The value of inspiration

I love Harvard stories and researches because they have facts funding them. Anyway, we could say it's common sense that nothing is new, everything is reinvented. When a fruit rots on earth's bed, it provides nutrients for another to grow instead. It's cyclical.

In the "Why inspiration matters" article in Harvard's website, it's laid out that, according to two Psychologists, Todd M. Trash and Andrew J. Elliot, Inspiration has three main qualities.


Evocation means the inspiration comes unintentionally.


We are limited beings, therefore, inspiration can come from a sudden awareness of new ways to solve issues. It's what we call "vision".


Being inspired however does not make anything real by itself—and I like to point that out to my "I have a million-worth idea" friends. It is not worth being inspired and having a great idea if you don't act on it: make it real.

Inspiration, therefore, is a kickstarter to creative problem solving. And that's all. You have to be careful, that, in order to innovate you don't consume too much of what inspires you, so that you don't become biased by what you've seen. I've heard of many Designers who use that Pinterest moodboard strategy only at the beginning of a project. The issue with coming back to whatever you use as inspiration is you may be inclined to copy details, aspects and even the feel instead of creating something more authentic and with your personal touch.

When does inspiration become a creative block instead?

As we know, inspiration is a kickstarter for creativity. It sounds odd that it could block it instead. Have you ever experienced creative block? I have, and I do often as a stupid mistake I keep repeating. I know the source of my creative blocks: over consumption of other people's works. It causes me to compare my skills with other's instead of developing my own. And then, this is when the value of becoming slightly more mindful of what and how much we are consuming comes in handy. It can be we are just consuming too much and doing too little, as well as when we have to deal with something hard or with a fault with our own skills, that cause us to compare them with someone else's. That's a huge block recipe right there. Unnecessary, self induced pressure due to lack of confidence.

Have you ever heard Gary Vee saying that you shouldn't dwell on your weaknesses? That's exactly it. We tend to be too pushy with ourselves which causes us to compare.

The threshold: consuming and creating

Another thing he says is more, more, more. But more of what? More of doing. When does inspiration become threatening to creativity?

You can have a large amount of inspiration. At some point however, you have to execute it. You consume, absorb, stop consuming and go do. If you mix that up, chances are you will get stuck with over analysis.

Try that for yourself, find what inspires you. Consume it like a delicious dish, savor each bite. When I look at type, I look at the curves, the edge, the way the line goes. I intentionally process it in a way I will remember later, so that I don't have to come back to it during the creative process of a process, no peeking allowed. Attention with intention.

The beauty in this process is that it's cyclical. Meaning, once you get onto a new stage, you can basically allow yourself to intentionally seek more inspiration for another part of a project, as long as it doesn't interfere with what you've done. It's a dangerous lane to walk on.


The best way to eliminate competition

The best way to eliminate competition

"Look for ways to be inclusive rather than competitive—for ways to help the whole team win rather than just one individual. As much as possible, it behooves you to erase the idea of competition in the workplace from your mind."

Excerpt From: "The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life" by Bernard Roth.

The idea of community within an industry is counterintuitive because it's new, but highly necessary in today's world.

I love being around and interacting with other branding designers, logo makers and letterers. I learn from them. Just because someone follows you, doesn't mean that they can't follow someone else as well. You don't like just one type of food, do you? There's no win or loose. Whether your lead a community or you are part of one, you will only benefit from it.

Your Tribe

In a tribe, you share the same space with people from different industries or of the same as you. There, you are able to share interests, knowledge, fears and whatever else, with likeminded people.

For instance, an animator within a community who shares techniques with other animators do not necessarily share the same geographical characteristics or even a niche with them. But instead of seeing them as so-called competitors, she sees them as partners. While she is animating lettering, one of the others is animating icons and the is animating characters. It's not because you share the same "title", you are direct "competitors". And even if you were. The internet is a big enough place — the world is a big enough place — to hold all of you.

Actually, do yourself a favor and eliminate the concept of competition from your mind. A well defined brand has a well defined target audience and market. Your problem is not what someone else is doing, but what you ought to be doing. Erase the externals and reinvent the internals. I am not asking you to alienate your brand, but to secure it. Be ahead instead of following.

Selling and Being sold

Brands are not sold anymore, they are bought. That means that if a certain individual doesn't resonate with Apple, they are not bought into it, therefore they don't buy from it. It's not just Apple that doesn't sell to them.

To eliminate the concept of competition: regardless of what happens externally, you need to be able to recognize what motivates you. This means that, if you love tech and you are always on top the game, knowing what's going on and applying what you know, who then can do it better than you?

Be obsessed with finding out what you don't know. Community is a great way to do that, because there will be people with different knowledge levels and backgrounds who will help you with finding resources and genuinely caring about what you do. Seek diversity.

However, it has to be two ways, otherwise you are an opportunist and a selfish leech in a group of genuine people. Teach what you know, so that more people can grow. If you are constantly learning, you will be ahead of the game. Being inclusive means taking care of the newbies as well as the intermediate people.

You can teach and find community in various forms. But mind you, for it to be worthwhile it has to be reciprocal. You need to share and you need to listen. Whether you pay a membership to someone who owns a community, whether you watch YouTube, listen to podcasts and read books. When you are simply consuming content, you have an extra step to take, because then it's not an environment of community but rather straight forward gaining knowledge. The key is to find ways to interact with other people and share value.

Quick wins:

  • Being inclusive rather than competitive brings the most rewards;
  • Being part of a community means getting touch with a multitude of knowledge only possible through diversity;
  • The internet and the world are big enough places: just because you share an industry with someone doesn't mean that you can't share knowledge;
  • External factors should not dictate your actions, rather, you should find what motivates you;
  • Brands are not sold, they are bought;
  • Be obsessed about knowledge;
  • Be genuine and use reciprocity in life and community;
  • Teach what you know, there is always someone who knows less than you do.

Start Growing

How to look professional as a creative person

How to look professional as a creative person

You are creative, but not a loonie.

Or maybe a little bit.

However, it’s important to also have the feet on the ground.

For instance, business situations, specially if you are speaking to your clients directly, you need to be assured you are doing the right thing, building your business and growing your brand’s awareness.

Even if you are a photographer, a designer, a musician or an illustrator, you have to learn to speak business.

Learn to speak the language of biz and get the most out of a project

I understand that business lingo maybe even scary to some. On the other hand, informations in the internet is so vast, there is absolutely no reason to deny it.

Here’s the black and white: you have to sell, selling is business. Learn it.

Your project, whatever it is, is not about you. It’s about who you are selling it to. You are trying to sell a better version of the people you are aiming. Thus, you need to speak their language, and not them yours.

A spooky alien in their planet will be fought or ignored, instead of welcomed. An alien is typically a strange body in a strange world. Once you make that not a reality, things start to flow.

That also means that maybe you will have to learn how to speak gastronomy lingo if that’s what your client’s project is about. Adapting to your prospects’ environment gives them confidence in you and a better depth and wider perspective for your project. It shows how engaged, interested and curious you are. That is also a business — or people — skill.

At some point, I hope you will be able to outsource this.

Asking about them and their business, not their budget

Money talks are always weird, right? Right. Been there, done that. But, I quickly (and painfully) learned that money is an exchange currency to your job. No value, little or no money and big waste of your time. And if it’s a job well done, it’s worth more, and there is not a reason for you to think that you aren’t worth it.

Best way to push the anxious “pricing” questions forward is to get to know them and their business/project as well as possible.

Right away, by asking key questions.

I have many times declined prospective clients that spoke about the “budget” all the time. They wanted to rush in. That’s because if the money is that “budgetty” to them, they are concerned to invest in your product or service (this is different from negotiating).

Clients that push you through their budget are not interested in the value of your work, but basically who has the lowest rate in the market. That’s the truth. Accepting to work with people that don’t value what you do is not professionalism, but a shot on your feet. And it’s your fault, not them being “bad” clients.

I’m not going too deep into pricing and negotiation techniques (although I could recommend you to read “Never split the difference” by Cris Voss and “Influence” and “Pre-suasion”, both by Robert Cialdini to give you a head start).

Say no when you have to

Tied with the previous point is knowing when to say no.

No to a client or a project that is not going to end in a sale. That’s a 100% gut decision, by the way.

No to a night out with friends when you should be staying in putting on work.

No to a person that is trying to get the best off of you or trying to take without giving.

No to things that aren’t valuable to you.

Have people understand that by saying “no”, you are not telling them you don’t love them. This might include your mom.

Having a contract

It might even sound dumb that I mention contracting in a post about professionalism. In many creative industries however, I have seen “professionals” working without this protection. A contract is supposed to tell exactly what is expected of the parts involved in a project. It’s also a legal warranty.

In most contracts, you also include a detailed briefing. This means that you specify each characteristic of your project, the deliverables and so on.


Hard Skills vs Soft Skills

When we attend a school or an University, we learn and develop our hard skills. We learn how to do math in school, and how to create an art work or a building in University.

Very little is taught about soft skills. And that’s why most people don’t “make” it or why they say “artists starve”.

You don’t have to be one of these people, as long as you take ownership of learning your soft skills.


You don’t know everything. Learn to find gold everywhere. And when I mean everywhere, I mean like: “oh my, what a horrible situation! What can I learn from this?”

Self awareness and confidence

Know who you are. Be confident within yourself. But never stop seeking growth.


“Why do I speak like this?” “Why do I bite my nails?” Pay attention to yourself, ask yourself questions and find your answers within yourself.

Organization and discipline

Because everything costs you time and money, and you want to be effective. And you want to achieve things.


Learn to talk. Learn to be clear. Communicate. Ironically, shut and listen before you speak.


Part of being organized and mindful, it’s to be clear. Where are you going? Why are you doing this? Write it all.

No excuses

Stop whining. The time you spend whining you could be doing that hard thing.

Combine it all, and synthesize it within your brand’s values. I recommend reading Stoic books (my favorite stoic is Marcus Aurelius, but there is also Seneca and others) and 7Jenny Blake’s “Life after College”.

Being professional does not mean that you wear black suit and white collar. Being a professional means setting down your values, goals and systems in order to have your workflow helping you instead of creating problems. Having standards, values and discipline make you a professional.

The Branding Girl • Y-Tunnus: 2791209-3

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