We're back with Part 2 of our provocative interview with Steven Pressfield, acclaimed screenplay writer (The Legend of Bagger Vance, among others) and bestselling author of fiction (A Man at Arms, Gates of Fire), as well as several ground-breaking non-fiction works on unlocking our creative potential, including the classic The War of Art, which has sold over 1 million copies worldwide
We're back with Part 2 of our provocative interview with Steven Pressfield, acclaimed screenplay writer (The Legend of Bagger Vance, among others) and bestselling author of fiction (A Man at Arms, Gates of Fire), as well as several ground-breaking non-fiction works on unlocking our creative potential, including the classic The War of Art, which has sold over 1 million copies worldwide
After unpacking how the mythical force of "Resistance" is the dragon we need to slay, we go deeper into what it means to "turn pro" and why it is the key to doing the work we are meant to do. Then we discuss Steve's latest best-seller Put Your Ass Where Your Heart Wants to Be, and learn how his frank and pragmatic advice can be put into action. We close by digging into how to use humility to drive truly remarkable outcomes.
But first we start off with a quick update on Steve's South American trip, as well as his exotic ventures to the jungle that is Dallas' Northpark Mall to check on the state of markdowns. Then we move into our hot-takes on the latest retail news, including what to make of Target's decision to change its mandatory retirement change to keep CEO Brian Cornell a bit longer. And while Brian is staying put, we wish ace retail reporter Lauren Thomas happy trails as she departs CNBC for a new adventure. Catch her episode with us here. Lastly, we discuss Amazon's retrenchment and re-working of its fulfillment strategy.
Last chance to use our GroceryShop discount offer:
Valid for Retailers and Brands only, use code RBR1950 to access our special rate / ticket price is $US1950. Offer code expires 9/22/22.
Oprah's Super Soul Conversations
Unlocking Your Creative Genius with Steven Pressfield
Check out Steven Pressfield's work, including The War of Art, Turning Pro, Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t, Put Your Ass Where Your Heart Wants to Be, and more here.
Steven Pressfield is the author of The War of Art which has sold over a millions copies globally and been translated into multiple languages. He is a master of historical fiction with Gates of Fire being on the required reading list at West Point and the the recommended reading list of the Joint Chiefs. His other books include A Man at Arms, Turning Pro, Do the Work, The Artist's Journey, Tides of War, The Legend of Bagger Vance, Last of the Amazons, Virtues of War, The Afghan Campaign, Killing Rommel, The Profession, The Lion's Gate, The Warrior Ethos, The Authentic Swing, An American Jew, Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t, and The Knowledge.
His debut novel, The Legend of Bagger Vance was over 30 years in the making. He hasn't stopped writing since.
Steve lives and writes in California. You can following him on IG @steven_pressfield. Sign up for his weekly writing newsletter at stevenpressfield.com
"It is one thing to study war, and another to live the warrior's life."
Steve Dennis is an advisor, keynote speaker and author on strategic growth and business innovation. You can learn more about Steve on his website. The expanded and revised edition of his bestselling book Remarkable Retail: How To Win & Keep Customers in the Age of Disruption is now available at Amazon or just about anywhere else books are sold. Steve regularly shares his insights in his role as a Forbes senior contributor and on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can also check out his speaker "sizzle" reel here.
Michael LeBlanc is the Founder & President of M.E. LeBlanc & Company Inc and a Senior Advisor to Retail Council of Canada as part of his advisory and consulting practice. He brings 25+ years of brand/retail/marketing & eCommerce leadership experience, and has been on the front lines of retail industry change for his entire career. Michael is the producer and host of a network of leading podcasts including Canada’s top retail industry podcast, The Voice of Retail, plus Global E-Commerce Tech Talks , The Food Professor with Dr. Sylvain Charlebois and now in its second season, Conversations with CommerceNext! You can learn more about Michael here or on LinkedIn.
Be sure and check out Michael's latest venture for fun and influencer riches - Last Request Barbecue, his YouTube BBQ cooking channel!
Michael LeBlanc 00:05
Welcome to Remarkable Retail podcast, Season 5, Episode 10. Presented by MarketDial. I'm Michael LeBlanc.
Steve Dennis 00:12
And I'm Steve Dennis.
Michael LeBlanc 00:13
Steve, I'm catching you practically as you're about to board a jet airliner, South. So, tell people more about where you're going and what you're up to.
Steve Dennis 00:21
So, we're recording this on Thursday, and this evening, I am headed down to Buenos Aires, Argentina, which is my first time there that part is vacation. But I'm sure I'll check out a little bit of remarkable retail while I'm there, in addition to probably stuffing myself with, with steak, and then I am jetting up to Sao Paulo, to do the opening keynote at the Latam Retail Show. Yeah, that's the biggest retail conference in Latin America. And first time for me, not my first time in Brazil, but my first time, -
Michael LeBlanc 00:55
Yeah, yeah, -
Steve Dennis 00:56
In Sao Paulo. So, I'm looking forward to that. Oh, fantastic. I look forward to hearing all about and speaking of travel, the reminder to everybody to if you're going to be in Vegas at Grocery Shop, join us high above the desert sands and there's a, an offer code in the show notes. Get yourself a nice discount. In this episode, part two of our interview with author, philosopher, screenwriter, Steven Pressfield. And we cover some of his more recent work, ‘Do the Work, Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t’ and his latest, Put Your Ass Where Your Heart Wants to Be. And we talk about a really interesting last episode, we talked a lot about this idea of resistance. In this episode, we talk a lot about his idea of turning pro and that had a big influence on you, talk about that for a few seconds.
Steve Dennis 01:41
I was I was criticized by someone that whose opinion I value very much that I was not acting as a professional in some of the work I was doing. And I was very offended by that. And as you'll hear, when Steve talks about turning pro, he means in in a very specific way. And I think a really interesting way. So, even if you think about yourself as, as being quite professional, you'll get a different and I think it’s important to take on that in our conversation. So, great book, great interview, I think everybody will be surprised. We've gotten really good feedback from folks on part one from quite a few people that weren't familiar with Steven Pressfield work. So, that's always fun to do.
Michael LeBlanc 02:23
Let's, let's, let's kick off in the news. Now, you mentioned you're going to be doing some remarkable retail store tours. When you head south you, you also recently did some (inaudible) locally. And you wanted to chat about what you saw and, and the situation that you, that met you. So, tell me a little bit about your recent store tours.
Steve Dennis 02:43
Yeah, just really briefly, we've touched on this issue of there being so much inventory in the system, particularly apparel related. And so, I decided to go out into the, the wilds of Dallas, Texas to see what was going on at a few stores. And I thought there were a couple of interesting things. The most interesting to me was what was going on at Nordstrom. Nordstrom had as folks may know or recall because we talked about it on an episode or two ago, they actually a pretty good quarter, their sales were up but they were also worried about a slowdown in spending and, and they said that they were going to be more aggressive about markdowns and, and just kind of getting their inventory situation in shape. And when I went to the NorthPark mall store here in Dallas, I noticed like pretty much the entire women's department was 40% off I have (inaudible), like and this is for people that understand more of the high-end part of retail. This is generally like September's, (crossover talk), -
Michael LeBlanc 03:40
That's not normal, yeah, -
Steve Dennis 03:42
Full price selling. So, the, the, the percentages and the degree to which large sections of apparel were 40% off was, was interesting to me. So, they're definitely being aggressive, particularly as a largely non promotional retailer. But the other side was the men's department like nothing on sale at all. So, that was disappointing since I work quite a bit more men's clothing than women's clothing. So, not that there's anything wrong with that, I'm just that was interesting to me. And then at Target I went to a couple of Target stores, and you know, there's somebody that has been, you know, had a lot of marked down already exposure already. And I've talked about that being an issue, the store looked, you know, kind of full to the brim, but I wouldn't say that the discounting was all that extensive. Which was interesting to me. So, I know a couple companies have talked about kind of this putting it away packing, I forget the term that they use where they, you know, pack it up and put it away for the next season. So, maybe there's quite a lot of that at Target or maybe there's something about those couple of stores but definitely chock-, chock-full of inventory but not, not a lot of markdowns and then there's two other quick ones Macy's, definitely looked a little bit more aggressive than I would expect but you know, Macy's it seems like you know, half the store is on sale all the time anyway, -
Michael LeBlanc 04:47
I was going to, I was going to say, what's your expectations, by the way?
Steve Dennis 05:04
Yeah, so it was hard to calibrate, really how different it would be. But again, you know, it's the time of year, we were, you wouldn't expect to see quite as aggressive mark down activity. And then down the mall at Dillard's. Now Dillard's is a regional chain. So, a lot of folks may not be as aware of them, but pretty similar to Macy's, probably a little bit more upscale, similar size store, a lot of similar brands, hardly anything on sale there. It's just really interesting to me how some companies that are, you know, pretty sophisticated at this, and in some cases, you know, the same kind of customer seem to be in, in very different places. So, I expect Dillard's will, they had a pretty good quarter last quarter, and they might, they might actually be the cream of the crop or the cream of the crap here, depending upon how things turn out.
Michael LeBlanc 05:55
Speaking of Target, interesting news with Brian Cornell staying now that's not a typical announcement that garners much attention. You know, when someone's staying, they usually hear a lot about leaving. And there's some of that going on at Lowe's. But wha, wha-, what do you make of the Target? You know, I think it has something to do with mandatory retirement age. I mean, (crossover talk), -
Steve Dennis 06:14
Yeah, they changed they, basically, I mean, the way the story was reported, was that Target essentially changed their mandatory retirement age, so that Brian didn't have to retire. So, this will allow him to stay, I guess, about three years, as opposed to another year or so. So, so, -
Michael LeBlanc 06:33
I was interested to hear the head of mandatory retirement age that, (crossover talk), -
Steve Dennis 06:36
Yeah, right. I wasn't, I was not aware of that. Yeah.
Michael LeBlanc 06:39
On the other side, news today, our friend and she's been on the podcast, Lauren Thomas leaving CNBC. I mean, I hope she's, I hope in her future path, she stays in retail because I really enjoyed her retail reporting.
Steve Dennis 06:53
Yeah, this was a surprise to me. Lauren just got married. Congradru-, congratulations Lauren. And well, if, if you're listening, but yeah, Lauren, like you said, we've had her on the podcast, we have followed her work for the last I guess it's about five or six years that she's been at CNBC. And I feel like she kind of came out of nowhere. It's like a 23- or 24-year-old, and very quickly was, was one of the top reporters and one of the most influential voices in retail. So, yeah, I hope she stays in retail. But we certainly wish her well, whatever she ends up, ends up doing. But yeah, that was when I woke up this morning, I was like, wait, what.
Michael LeBlanc 07:29
Last couple of things, Amazon's making some moves around their distribution centers. Sounds like they're closing facilities slowing the (inaudible). We've talked about this before. Is there anything new? Do you want to comment on this? Because we, we did see this coming. Some of it was like, well, let's, let's not open ones we've planned. But did you make it anything, should we be paying attention to this?
Steve Dennis 07:48
Well, it seems like they're taking it to kind of a new level. Yeah, it was surprising, I think, to, to many of us how wrong Amazon and Shopify and a few others got about their investments in the growth of eCommerce. So, they have announced that they were shopping for some facilities and slowing things down. What's happened in the last week, is they're closing two additional facilities and putting I think it's 45 or something 42. I don't know, I can't remember the exact number, additional facilities are basically on hold. So, that's pretty significant. And they also appear to be stepping up essentially, contract services, for fulfillment and distribution for, for other companies. So, kind of a twist to they're fulfilled by Amazon third party fulfillment. So, base-, definitely a picture that they are way, way over spaced, over deployed in their distribution facilities, and apparently not expecting demand to be significant enough to, to make up for that anytime soon. So, definitely, definitely I think a, a sense that Andy Jassy I mean, I don't want to read too much into this. But, you know, Bezos was pretty famous for, for moonshots, you know, literally and figuratively, that Jassy is a much more kind of operating, focused, disciplined, ROI, kind of, kind of guy. So, -
Michael LeBlanc 09:11
And it's a different time in the evolution of the business, right? I mean, it's one thing to take it from, you know, zero to where it is today to, you know, it's just a different point in the business, I, I suppose, as well, as is we've seen, we've seen that. Now, I, I don't want to get into this in any kind of length, because I think this is a topic that we're going to we can come back to But Rob Garf, our friend, Rob Garf, and Salesforce, and some of the research is coming out talking about consumers who are freaking out a little bit about inflation. So, they were going to shop early I, I suspect and retailers I've talked to on this side of the border, are more thinking that there'd be a more normal pattern that people alternatively would say, I'm going to wait and see if there's a better deal around the corner, which is more normal behavior. Do you have any sense off the top of your head of which way this is going to break? I guess it's something I'd love to talk about over the next couple episodes.
Steve Dennis 09:59
Yeah, I agree with you, I think something to watch. I mean, my sense, sounds pretty similar to yours is generally the, the narrative, if you're paying any attention to what's going on in retail is there's too much inventory. So, the markdowns are likely to be pretty extensive. I've just seen a lot of news stories about inventory, you know, much more kind of general business coverage of the inventory issues than I would expect. And I've had people that I know just asked me about it that I would think, oh, you're not paying attention to this. So, but you know, but I think inflation has been so pronounced, and its hit so many people so hard, that you can kind of understand the fear of it, particularly if you're like, wow, you know, I really want to make sure, you know, if you've got, you know, particularly limited means, and you really want to make sure you have a great, great Christmas or, or whatever holidays separa-, you celebrate, to be fearful that you might not be able to afford it. So, I don't know, you know, the way this will actually be sorted out I think it'll be, will be pretty interesting.
Michael LeBlanc 11:09
That would be super interesting to watch. All right. All right, well, let's, let's leave it there. Let's get to our great interview with Steven Pressfield. But before we do that, let's hear from our sponsor. MarketDial is an easy-to-use testing platform and emboldens great decisions, leading to reliable, scalable results. With market data, you can be confident in the outcome of your in-store pilot initiatives before rolling them out across your fleet. In a challenging retail climate of supply chain disruption, labor shortages and dynamic customer behavior. The need for reliable insights has never been greater. Validate your remarkable ideas with MarketDial's in store testing solutions. The proof is in the testing. Learn more at MarketDial dot com. That's marketdial.com.
Steve Dennis 11:51
All right. Well, we are back with part two of a great conversation with author extraordinaire, novelist, screenwriter and sort of part-time self-help guru in some respects, Steven Pressfield. Welcome back, Steven.
Steven Pressfield 12:07
It's great to be back, Steve. Thank you.
Steve Dennis 12:09
We also, we also decided that your official title is servant of the muse or something like that on the, on the last episode. But so, what we're going to try to do today. So, in the last episode, we spent a fair amount of time talking about Steve's first nonfiction book, The War of Art, a classic book sold over a million copies. And this idea of resistance, as a force that needs to be overcome to do our best work, we'll probably pick up on some of those ideas again. But I thought this time we'd talk more about some of your later work, including your latest book, Put Your Ass Where Your Heart Wants to Be. But maybe we could talk first about this idea of, "Turning Pro", it's the title of one of your books. But this idea of being a professional, I mentioned on the last episode that I got a little bit offended by a mutual friend of ours accusing me of not being a professional, but it's, it's not about getting paid for your work. It's about some other kinds of, of disciplines in how you approach your work. Could you just talk for a minute or two about this idea of, "Turning Pro"?
Steven Pressfield 13:18
Well, when we were talking earlier, Steve about resistance with a capital R, meaning the the self-generated force of self-sabotage, that works against us all the time, that will distract us, make us yield to self-doubt, to fear, or on the other side to perfectionism and arrogance, whatever it takes to stop us from doing our work.
Steven Pressfield 13:42
And so, the logical question that comes out of that, after you talk about that, is, well, how do you overcome that? He- , here's what has worked for me, I find that if I beat myself up and say, you know, you're, you're a chicken, you're, you're immature or whatever, and that's why you can't overcome resistance. That's no good. Because it's a self-judgment thing and it only beats you down. Or if you say to yourself, oh, there's something wrong with me, you know, in my upbringing, blah, blah, blah, that’s another form of self-judgment.
Steven Pressfield 14:15
So, what has kind of worked for me is the, the concept of the difference between an amateur and a professional. And I'll define that as we go along. So, I would say what the malady is what the, the problem that at least for me now, I was getting defeated for seven years easily by resistance, trying to write and just running away from it, failing, etc., etc. Not, not failing in writing but failing even to sit down and write, failing even to get to the, to the starting gate.
Steven Pressfield 14:25
And what worked for me was to say to myself, Steve, you have been thinking and acting like an amateur. You've been acting like a weekend warrior. You've been dabbling, you've been just on the surface of this thing, and the solution to that is to turn pro. And what I mean by that it's not, it's, it's only flipping a switch in your mind, it doesn't mean you have to get paid for anything like that. It just means that you start to think of yourself in whatever it is you're doing. If you're an entrepreneur, if you're in business, if you're a writer, you're an artist, or whatever it is, and you're being defeated, by your own tendency to self-sabotage, is to just think of yourself as, as a professional, and what are the rule-, what, what are the rules that are professional? Or how does a professional act?
Steven Pressfield 14:42
For instance, a couple of models for me would be Michael Jordan, or Kobe Bryant, or Tom Brady. I tend to think in athletic terms, and you say to yourself, what is a professional do that an amateur doesn't do. And one of the things that a professional does is he shows up, he or she shows up every day, there's no, Stephen King writes 365 days a year, Christmas, his birthday, Fourth of July, everything. A second thing a professional does is he or she stays on the job all day, or at least as long as, as they can, you know, in an effective way. They don't show up for 10 minutes and then flake out, they don't show up for two hours and then flake out.
Steven Pressfield 15:03
Another thing a professional does, is a professional plays hurt. If you think about an athlete like Kobe Bryant, or Michael Jordan, or Tom Brady, they don't, you know, if they've tweaked a hamstring or something like that, they find some way to play. And the same thing for us. When, when we think like an amateur, if we run into any kind of adversity, we'll fold. You know, it's just too hard today, I've got too much stuff going on with my family, I've got this and that distractions, I've got other things I must take care of that an amateur will fold when faced with that sort of thing. But a professional will say, okay, I've got to deal with this crap. But I'm going to deal with it, I'm going to get my time in today no matter what it is. So, it's a, it's a more of a hardcore attitude. But it takes the self-judgment out of, out of the thing. So, I just try to think of myself as a professional and that makes all the difference in the world.
Steve Dennis 17:19
So, I wonder, and maybe this is an unfair question, because I know you don't spend your time in corporate worlds very much. But one of the things that I've come to believe with innovation, as it's practiced at a lot of corporations, is that people think of innovation, or you know, kind of creativity within the business world is almost like a bolt of lightning strikes them, you know, it's an idea. And just having a good idea is successful. But what I've come to believe is, you know, ideas are important. But, but, but doing the work, all the steps that it takes to get a raw idea to, to commercial success. You know, it's quite an involved process. And my observation and Michael, you know, share your thoughts here as well is that lots of companies don't approach it as professionals that, that innovating consistently is a real job, and you're and you're no more likely to run a marathon without training, than you are to come up with the next new great product, just because you know, you have a bolt of inspiration hits you over the weekend, and suddenly or an innovative company, is there, does any of that kind of parallel thinking makes, makes sense to you?
Steven Pressfield 18:32
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, in terms of, of let me use the, the writing metaphor, rather than a corporate metaphor for me. It's one thing to write a book, it's an entire other thing, to publish it, to promote it and to market it. And that's kind of the, the phase that you were just talking about Steve, you know that once you have this bolt of lightning, that's just the beginning, right.
Steven Pressfield 18:41
And again, I think what a trap a lot of us fall into is we think like amateurs, and we think, well, it's going to be hard. I really don't know the people. Who do I reach out to and how do I do that? That kind of thing, right? I don't, I've got a steep learning curve. That's amateur thinking, if you allow that to stop you from doing what has to be done. The professional knows that he or she has just got to do it. They might not like it.
Steven Pressfield 18:59
Resistance works just as hard once you've had the great idea against you, as it did, you know, to get the idea in the first place. But a professional just sort of buckles down and knows that this is the kind of crap that has to be done. You might not enjoy it, but you have to do it. And so again, if you can flip that switch in your mind, the great thing about turning pro as an idea, is it's free. You don't have to take a course, you don't have to get a diploma, nobody has to validate you or ratify you. All you have to do is flip that switch in your mind. Now that ain't easy. We're talking in the first half of this thing about does it take a crisis just to make you change? And I think a lot of times it does take a crisis for somebody to, to turn pro to really think, you know, I've got to stop my amateur ways and adapt a whole new attitude.
Michael LeBlanc 20:13
Is there some training or some exercise or some idea that can help you in that transition, that gets you there, as opposed to this, you know, snap of the switch? Or the idea that I'm just going to do it. Do you think about it in that way? I mean, you, you did everything from driving cabs to writing books. I mean, your, your transition was over time, but was there a moment where you knew, boy, if, if I could do the following things that would help me get to pro faster?
Steven Pressfield 20:39
Well, I will tell you a story that I think this is in the War of Art, it might be in Turning Pro. This is a story from Rosanne Cash, the singer, in her book, “Composed”, which I highly recommend, which is kind of a sort of an autobiographical thing. And she had a moment, this was her "turning pro" moment. She was already a success, as Johnny Cash's daughter, and in her own right. And she had had an album that had four number one songs off of it.
Steven Pressfield 20:44
One night, she had a dream. And in the dream, she was sitting at a party and Linda Ronstadt was on this kind of bench with her. And in between the two of them, was an older man that she somehow knew that his name was Art, capital A R T. And Art was in an animated discussion with Linda Ronstadt, who had always been kind of an eye-, an idol for Roseanne, and that she always wanted to be like that. And Roseanne kept trying to break into the conversation. And Art just kept ignoring her and finally, he just sort of turned to her. And with withering scorn, he said, we don't mess around with dilettantes.
Steven Pressfield 21:01
And she said that she woke up from that dream, shaken to the core. And she felt like I am a dilettante. I have, I've always wanted to do albums, where I'm the song, right, or I'm creating it. And I haven't done it. I've been covering other people's material for years. And so, she said, there's a great passage, I wish I had it there to read. But she said, from that moment, she changed her life, she changed the way she sang, she said, she began training almost like an athlete to her, she began studying painting, she signed up with a, with a great couple of great singing teachers, because she had never taken that seriously. She tried, she realized that she used to, when she would be dealing with new ideas, she would, she would be always kind of superficial about them.
Steven Pressfield 22:23
And so, she sort of understood that and began to force herself to go deeper into these ideas. And she said that she had a bad habit of daydreaming. And she said she had to, that was a form of resistance for her that she had to break out of that, you know, just make herself snap out of it, and get to work. And so, she just basically just kind of changed her life. So, there was no kind of, she changed, in other words, the regimen of a day for her, you know, instead of just sort of hoping that a song would come that she could write, she would really take, take the time and sit down and work with good people, and so on and so forth.
Steven Pressfield 23:15
So, there was no like course that she took or a program that anybody put her on, it's sort of what had to be personal. And I think it does have to be personal for all of us, because we each have our own demons and resistance shows itself in our lives in its own peculiar way. Its own idiosyncratic way and we sort of have to learn, have to find a kind of a way to do that. And a big part of it, I think, is habit. And establishing kind of an everyday way, just as what a professional does, right, a professional shows up every day, you know, and shows up at the same time shows up at the same place, and, you know, sits down and does their thing, whatever it is. So, I think maybe there's some course or something somewhere, I don't know where it is. I think we, we each kind of have to evolve in our own self, you know, based on what form our own resistance takes to stop us from following our dream.
Michael LeBlanc 24:08
It's such an illustrative story. Because there you have a by anyone's measure of successful artist who's got four what did you say, (crossover talk), you know, -
Steven Pressfield 24:17
Four number one hits, (crossover talk), -
Steve Dennis 24:18
With one album or number.
Michael LeBlanc 24:19
So, does it ever does just help me define when, does anxiety creep in that you're never good enough? Like this is the opposite end of the scale? Like, I, I guess, in some ways, if you, if you work at that, that's a very positive like even elite athletes say, I can always improve on something, right? Is it, is it, do you see it as a journey with a point of arrival? Or is it a journey and I guess the, my roundabout way of asking is how do you not drive yourself nuts by just saying, I'm never good enough and I keep, I need to keep improving? Is there a point where you, you need to be happy with yourself and what you've done, yet still have that pro idea that it can always be better?
Steven Pressfield 25:00
Well, like I think in Rosanne's case, she really felt like, she really wasn't living her dream. Her dream was to be a songwriter, as well as a performer. And she wasn't doing that. So, it wasn't the case that she had taken it to level 99% and was only wrestling with the last 1%. In her mind, she was probably at like, 30%. So, she felt like I've, I've, I'm not doing what I, what my dream is, I'm not doing it.
Steven Pressfield 25:10
So, but I do think that the dragon must be slain anew every morning. And I think it, it is a journey, it's a it's a hero's journey. And but I don't think we have to worry about, oh, I'm driving myself crazy, because I got 99%. And I'm, and I am trying to push myself to 99.9. I mean, most of us are at like 50 or 40, or something like that. Plus, I do think that this is what life is all about, if you ask me, it's this journey, it's this process. You know, it's, it's, you climb a mountain, and there's another mountain after that, you know, and there's always another mountain after that.
Steven Pressfield 25:24
And I think that's, that's what life is about. I know, just I know, sometimes people will ask me, since I've been doing this for like, 50 years writing, does it get any easier? Does the resistance you know, go away? And the answer is absolutely not. It even gets a little bit worse, the more (inaudible), because it's, like I say it's an intelligent force. And it's very nuanced and very, very subtle. It's like the serpent in the Garden of Eden, you know, it's very seductive, and, an it will fool you. So, but that is the process that the dragon has to be slain and new every morning, not just, to me, that's just reality.
Steven Pressfield 25:39
I mean, even if you think of the animal kingdom, you know, if up here, I live out in the country, there are a lot of coyotes and there are a lot of hawks and hawks are sailing around all day and the coyotes are all night they're out hunting, you know, they, it never gets easier for them. They've got to make a kill every day, they got to make another kill. And so, why should be, should it be any different for us?
Steve Dennis 27:13
Well, and I think they're in a weird way like there's freedom and accepting the reality, right? Like you don't have to fight, fight that just like you don't want to fight gravity, like gravity is there, it doesn't care. You know, as I say in my book, you know, sort of cheekily like, you know, gravity doesn't care whether you like it or not, right? Gravity's there, it is what it is, and, and it's our job to, to deal with that situation. So, maybe this is a good chance to segue to the book that you put out earlier in the summer, “Put Your Ass Where Your Heart Wants to Be”, which is one of my favorite titles of all time, by the way. Even better, (crossover talk), -
Michael LeBlanc 27:47
I do like, “Nobody Wants to Read Your Shit”, -
Steve Dennis 27:50
Yeah, ‘Nobody Wants to Read Your Shit’ is also great. So, So you're like this ninja level? Titler, is titler a word? I don't know. But in any event, tell us what, what was the inspiration for “Put Your Ass Where Your Heart Wants to Be”? Has it built on what you've written about in the past? And what are some of the key messages you're hoping to instill in that work?
Steven Pressfield 28:12
You know, Put Your Ass Where Your Heart Wants to Be, is a phrase that I've kind of had in the back of my head for, like 10 years or something like that. And it's really just another way of saying "turn pro". And what I mean by that is that what I define the word ass, as in this thing, in terms of putting your ass or heart wants to be is commitment. You know, when you put your ass on the line, you're committed, right? You take a step where you can fail, you put yourself in, in the area of risk. But it's like that, that old saying that your dreams lie on the other side of fear, right? The fulfillment of your dreams lies on the opposite side of fear.
Steven Pressfield 28:44
So, I find that putting your ass where your heart wants to be, thinking of it in those terms is, is a way of defeating resistance. Now the way, the first level interpretation to that is, if someone were to say to me, how do I want to write how do I write, I would say, put your ass in front of a keyboard, put your physical body in front of the keyboard and don't let yourself get up for four hours. And there's magic in putting on your physical body. If you want to be a dancer, put your physical body in the studio. If you want to be a painter, put your physical body in front of an easel. And there's, there is definitely a magic to doing that. But it's a simple way again, kind of like the idea of "Turning Pro", of getting past any ideas of self-judgment. In other words, do you want to solve that problem, sit down and do it? You know, put your, put your physical body there and get to work.
Steven Pressfield 29:52
It's actually like the book that I did with Seth, our mutual friend Seth, that the title of it is, Do the Work, same sort of thing. How do you get the work done, do it. You know, it sounds crazy, but it's true. It's like, it's like in AA, what's how do you stop drinking? Stop drinking. Can I elaborate on this a little bit further?
Steve Dennis 30:09
Michael LeBlanc 30:10
Steven Pressfield 30:12
There's a, there is a discipline in, in Jewish mysticism in Kabbalistic thinking, and it's called Mussar, M U S S A R. And it's the fir-, the first two steps are one, identify the sin, and two, stop doing it. And what's great about that, to me is like it's the opposite of psychotherapy, we, we sort of have fallen into this. Not that I'm knocking psychotherapy, but psychotherapy is kind of like, you have a problem. So, you sit down, and you work with a therapist, and you try to find out well, where did this come from, was this in childhood, you know, my mother did this, my father, blah, blah.
Steven Pressfield 30:33
And the theory is that if you can finally get to the bottom of, of, of that, of the mechanism, whatever it is that, that will cure you. The other way is to just go straight to this, identify the sin and stop doing it. And so, "put your ass where your heart wants to be", is, is exactly that. It says, do you want to climb Mount Everest, get a ticket to India, get the stu-, the stuff you need, and do it, you know, or if you want to start, you know, a smaller, start on the process of climbing a small mountain and a little bigger mountain and learn and become a pro and do it. So, that's what “put your ass where your heart wants to be". That's what it means it's a lot deeper than that, as you know if you've read it. But anyway, that's, that's my answer to that question.
Steve Dennis 31:42
Could we just maybe briefly touch on,” Nobody Wants to Read Your Shit”, which I read when it first came out. But I've been listening, but I actually just got done listening to it on, on Audible. And I find it very inspiring for some of the writing that I'm starting. But there's also an aspect to it and, and tell me if I'm reading this correctly? Is, is it kind of this humility that you need to have? And the way I think about it, in the context of what we talk about, you know, what I've written about in, “Remarkable Retail”, we talked about on the podcast is this idea that, like, nobody's getting, I don't believe anybody's getting up in the morning, looking for a new sweater fundamentally.
Steve Dennis 32:03
Like there's a lot of stuff in the world that, you know, we as, like my, my ex-wife used to, it is really a tangent here. But my ex-wife used to work at Kraft Foods in brand management. And you can probably relate to this because I know you talk a lot about in that book about your, your history in the advertising. business is like nobody really cares about these products. Like if we work there, we care a lot about it. But like just getting somebody's attention about some of the stuff we're trying to sell is, is really not so hard, you've really got to do something truly breakthrough or remarkable, as I like to talk about it, just to even get people's attention, much less engage with you. And I think there's a certain humility, and just reality that comes from understanding that. But anyway, I'm projecting some of my stuff onto your work. But wha-, what are some of the core ideas of “Nobody Wants to Read Your Shit”, beyond just the, the great advice you have for writers and creators in terms of the practice of, of doing the work?
Steven Pressfield 33:19
Well, I think you pretty much explained it really good Steve. But one of the things like that, the first thing you learn in advertising, if you're a writer or an art director in advertising is that nobody wants to read what you're putting out, right? Your ad for Preparation H, you know, your commercial for Budweiser, nobody gives a shit, they just want to hit the remote and get past it, right. And nobody wants to go see your one act play. And nobody wants to, you know, go to see your gallery opening, you know, that kind of thing. And so, it's not that they're bad people, they're just busy, right? We're all busy, right? So, what comes out of that, from the point of view of the creator, like you said, is humility, is you have to say to yourself, if, again, this is a form of resistance, right? That if I want somebody to read my ad for Preparation H, I better make that ad, so, good, so, interesting, so, unexpected, right?
Steven Pressfield 33:58
So graphic that they can't not read it. And, and that gives you a certain humility about what your task is. And the other thing is that you realize that any form of commerce or art is a transaction. You know, what we're hoping to get from the customer is their attention and their money, right? And in return for that, we have to give them something you know, a lot of times and that's something better be great. So, we've got to beat our brains out to get there. That's why it's "Nobody Wants to Read Your Shit”. It's just a, is the basic ground level assumption that you start from in any kind of creative enterprise.
Michael LeBlanc 35:03
Well, you're, you're doing a great discussion. The next question is kind of a strange one: you've done so much, written so much. What's next? You know, I want to get into the multiple ways that people can keep up with what you do, whether it's Steve referenced earlier, you know, from blogs, to podcasts, but to what's next, when you when you sit down and think, and look ahead, what do you what are you working on now? Can you give us some teasers on that?
Steven Pressfield 35:29
I'm actually, I've got like a bunch of things going on. But one of them is, in my books, like The War of Art and Turning Pro and things like that I've kind of alluded to in passing to certain phases in my, you know, time in the wilderness, you know, driving trucks and things like that. And but, I've never really talked about that. So, I've got a book coming out, that's really sort of an autobiographical thing, where I really kind of talk about the things that I never talked about before. So that if anybody ever wanted to say, well, what, how exactly did you go, get through 27 years of failure? This is, this is what that book is about. So, it's kind of an, it's a memoir.
Michael LeBlanc 36:08
Oh, fantastic and, and where can people go? And we'll put some links in the show notes. But where can people go to the obviously, you can find your work on all the major book retailers, in person or, or online, but is there a place you can point us to, to keep up with the your latest thinking, and, (crossover talk), thoughts, -
Steven Pressfield 36:25
I have a website, that's just my name, stevenpressfield.com. And I'm on Instagram, you know, that I'm always doing videos and stuff like that on Instagram, you can follow me there. And those get, you know, passed on to Twitter and Facebook and that sort of stuff. Every Wednesday on my on stevenpressfield.com, I do a thing called, ‘Writing Wednesdays', which is sort of like a, each blog is like another chapter in The War of Art, that I didn't write in The War of Art. So, it's about writing, it's about resistance. It's about entrepreneurship, that kind of thing. Every, every Wednesday on, on my blog.
Steve Dennis 37:00
Yeah. And it's, it's, it's really terrific. I would encourage people, I mean, obviously, I'm a huge fan, but I think you would be sup-, many people would be surprised. I mean, certainly, if you are a writer, or you know, sort of a traditional artist, you'll get a tremendous amount out of Stephen's work. But the, the thing that has really struck me is how universal his, his nonfiction work is. We didn't talk about the fiction side of things, which is also terrific. And you've had amazing success there. So, please go check out what, what he's up to, I think you'll be incredibly inspired, you'll learn a lot. And the last thing I'm going to say is that your ability to boil things down in a concise way is, is really impressive.
Steve Dennis 37:44
You know, these are not, as Michael alluded to, I guess in our part one of this, you know, these, these are not 800 page books that you got to slog through or feel like, oh, this could have been an email, I mean, it's just, you know, the right, the right length to give you some depth, but not, not just sort of bludgeon you with a lot of extraneous information. So, that's, that's something I'm trying to learn my comments here being long winded notwithstanding. It tends to be more brief, as is probably obvious to anybody who's ever heard me talk or met me. So, anyway, but I appreciate that very, very much about your work. Well thanks, thanks so much, (crossover talk), we both can learn from our mutual friend Seth Godin, who is a master of delivering, you know, massive amounts of stuff in, you know, very few words. Absolutely.
Michael LeBlanc 38:25
Well, it's been a fantastic conversation. Steven Pressfield has been our guest on these past two episodes, Stephen, a real treat to, to get to read your material and, and to hear your words and hear your voice. So, thanks again for joining us.
Steven Pressfield 38:39
Well thanks Michael and thanks, Steve. And, you know, anytime you want to do this again, I'm happy to do it.
Michael LeBlanc 38:45
If you like what you heard, please follow us on Apple, Spotify, your favorite podcast platform, so you can catch up with all our great interviews, like our discussion with Seth Godin on what retailers can actually do to fight climate change. New episodes of Season 5, presented by MarketDial will show up each and every week. And be sure to tell your friends and colleagues in the retail industry, all about us.
Steve Dennis 39:04
And I'm Steve Dennis, author of the bestselling book, ‘Remarkable Retail: How to Win & Keep Customers in the Age of Disruption’. You can learn more about me, my consulting and keynote speaking at stevenpdennis.com.
Michael LeBlanc 39:18
And I'm Michael LeBlanc, Consumer Retail Growth Consultant, keynote speaker and producer and host of a series of retail trade podcasts including this one, plus the host of the popular YouTube cooking show Last Request Barbecue. You can learn even more about me on LinkedIn, or meleblanc.co.
Safe travels everyone.
retail, resistance, Steve, professional, book, people, talk, read, Steven Pressfield, pro, remarkable, thinking, hear, mandatory retirement age, idea, store, good, turning, work