A Conversation on Mastery - with Robert Greene

I really enjoyed the following conversation with Chase Jarvis and Robert Greene, particularly as it relates to creativity, work, and one's profession, and it was an interesting introduction to an author and a book I would normally avoid.


     I usually skip books like Greene's "Mastery" because they fall into what I consider the "how-to-business" or "self-help" catagory; a category I find percriptive and redundant––a goal or grand conceit, followed by bullett point after bullet point on how to attain that goal or comprehend the big idea.  To me, these books seem most applicable to un-nuanced business-types, or those struggling with attaining their version of power and esteem,  (see Greene's other books, "The 48 Laws of Power", "The Art of Seduction", etc).  

     So I was pleasantly surprised to find Greene engaging, interesting, and well-spoken.  On the show, he struck me as more of an artist, looking frumpy and unshaven.  A  far cry from this promotional picture I found on Entrepreneur.com. 


I'm not sure if this speaks to Greene's ability to cater his image to his audience (the host of the show, Jarvis, is a photographer and filmmaker, with a sweet disposition, and an "skater-boy" attitude) or if I was seeing the "real" Greene.  I presume it was a mixture of the two and a good lesson itself in relatability and context when thinking about how to present your work.  For example, Greene is on a show with a well-known photographer with a quarter million facebook fans, quarter million twitter followers, 2 million in Google Plus circles, and I'm assuming many of them are creative, media-savvy types; the perfect audience for Greene's material and the perfect audiance to help promote Greene's book.     
     The conversation jumped from topic to topic: from how to start over in a stifling career; the role of mentorship and how to find an appropriate mentor (this is something I never considered in my youth, and probably would have been a more valuable path for me to take in lieu of college); the role of marketing; how to think about mastering your craft; staying constantly creative; and the value of hard work.  
     As an artist/creative who recently started his own film production company, I have a lot to consider.  How do I present and brand myself?  How do I stay focused and get better at my craft, always working hard but still maintaining that life/work balance?  And what does it mean to be a contemporary artist?  
     I found the discussion applicable to a lot of things I am dealing with right now, and it was also a good reminder of the importance of how to frame your work to a specific audience   For instance, people like me, who usually avoid business and self-help type books, were able to relate to Greene in a very different way.   For me, the video interview  broke through much of the bloated language of his book, and Greene was able to talk to me simply as another creative, sharing with me the progress of his life and his discoveries.