Show Your Work! – Austin Kleon

Show Your Work! - by Austin Kleon
Show Your Work! – by Austin Kleon

ISBN: 076117897X READ: June 2016

A quick and interesting read about how to get your work discovered in the modern era. Nothing groundbreaking in the book and I found that much of it is common sense although there are quite a few inspiring and uplifting quotes throughout. It seems to be geared at people whose ‘work’ is in the realm of art and not science. Bottom line: easy read, and can be very thought provoking.


I’m going to try to teach you how to think about your work as a never-ending process, how to share your process in a way that attracts people who might be interested in what you do, and how to deal with the ups and downs of putting yourself and your work out in the world.

1. You Don’t Have to Be A Genius
Stop asking what others can do for us, and start asking what we can do for others.

In the beginners mind, there are many possibility.

Amateurs are not afraid to make mistakes or look ridiculous in public. They’re in love, so they don’t hesitate to do work that others think of as silly or plain stupid.

It sounds a little extreme, but in this day and age, if your work isn’t online, it doesn’t exist.

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in my life.” – Steve Jobs
Thinking about death every morning makes me want to live.

2. Think Process, Not Product

3. Share Something Small Every Day
Overnight success is a myth. Dig into almost every overnight success story and you’ll find about a decades worth of hard work and perseverance.

When artist Ze Frank was interviewing job candidates, he complained, “When I ask them to show me work, they show me things from school, or from another job, but I’m more interested in what they did last weekend.”

Don’t show your lunch or your latte; show your work.

Don’t post things online that you’re not ready for everyone in the world to see. As publicist Lauren Cerand says, “Post as though everyone who can read it has the power to fire you.”

“Carving out a space for yourself online, somewhere where you can express yourself and share your work, is still one of the best possible investments you can make with your time.”

4. Open Up Your Cabinet of Curiosities
Your influences are all worth sharing because they clue people in to who you are and what you do. Sometimes ever more than your own work.

Don’t try to be hip or cool. Being open and honest about what you like is the best way to connect with people who likes those things, too.

5. Tell Good Stories

6. Teach What You Know
The minute you lean something, turn around and teach it to others. Share your reading list. Point to helpful reference materials.

7. Don’t Turn Into Human Spam
If you want to get, you have to give. If you want to be noticed, you have to notice. Shut up and listen once in a while. Be thoughtful. Be considerate. Don’t turn into human spam.

If you want followers, be someone worth following.

If you want to be interesting, you have to be interested.

“Whatever excites you, go do it. Whatever drains you, stop doing it.” – Derek Sivers

8. Learn To Take a Punch

9. Sell Out
Don’t be jealous when the people you like do well; celebrate their victory as if its your own.

Whether you ask for donations, crowdfund, or sell your products or services, asking for money in return for your work is a leap you want to take only when you feel confident that you’re putting work out into the world that you think is truly worth something.

Be ambitious. Keep yourself busy. Think bigger. Expand your audience. Don’t hobble yourself in the name of “keeping it real,” or “not selling out.” Try new things. If an opportunity comes along that will allow you to do more of the kind of work you want to do, say Yes.

You just have to be as generous as you can, but selfish enough to get your work done.

10. Stick Around
The people who get what they’re after are very often the ones who just stick around long enough. Its very important not to quit prematurely.\

Author Ernest Hemingway would stop in the middle of a sentence at the end of his day’s work so he knew where to start in the morning.

When you feel like you’ve learned whatever there is to lean from what you’re doing, its time to change course and find something new to learn so that you can move forward. You cant be content with mastery; you have to push yourself to become a student again. “Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t leaning enough,” writes author Alain de Botton.


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