Back to Work

Back to Work

Back to Work is an award winning talk show with Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin discussing productivity, communication, work, barriers, constraints, tools, and more.

Hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.

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118: One-Step Corn Kerneler

May 7, 2013 at 4:00PM • 1 hour 35 minutes • Wiki Entry

TOPIC: Toward an (Admittedly Dubious) Unified Field Theory of Creativity

This week, Dan and Merlin consider a framework for understanding the basic modes and focal lengths involved in producing creative work.

Why and how do we get so hung up and frustrated about getting good at what we do? Why's it so hard to take an abstract idea for making something great, then end up feeling pathologically stymied when we struggle to actually make it?

The boys return to the classic topic of expertise, especially the frustrating ironies that separate the pro from the amateur from the, as they say, "failure."

Also under consideration is Roger Von Oech's fascinating modal, character-based approach to making stuff—acknowledging the very different work of the Explorer, Artist, Judge, and Warrior. But, critically, also striving to keep those characters in the right order and on the right parts of the right task at the right time. Then, knowing when to change things up.

Finally, there's a bit of discussion on Merlin's squirrely obsession with focal length—to not only choose the right mode at the right time, but to stay open to the idea of alternately zooming way out and way in at each step of the process. Accepting the benefits and trade-offs of switching between your macro and fish-eye lenses.

It's a really good episode—at least way better than it sounds. And, the hosts agree that, until you find a better model for understanding How to Make Stuff, you could do a lot worse than giving this admittedly Byzantine method a spin for yourself.

This week's episode of Back to Work is kindly sponsored by Shutterstock (use code "BACKTOWORK5" for 30% off).

Show Notes & Links Presented by CacheFly

Merlin's Unified Field Theory on Creativity

Merlin's Shutterstock Camping Lightbox

One-Step Corn Kerneler