Todd Henry: The Accidental Creative
Todd Henry is the author of six books, an international speaker and advisor, and the host of The Accidental Creative podcast. With more than fifteen million downloads, his podcast offers weekly tips for how to stay prolific, brilliant, and healthy.
Positioning himself as an “arms dealer for the creative revolution”, Todd Henry teaches leaders and organizations how to establish practices that lead to everyday brilliance. Todd’s book Die Empty was named by Amazon.com as one of the best books of 2013. His latest book, Daily Creative, offers daily sparks of inspiration and practical advice for creative pros.
Hey Todd, can you please share a few words about yourself and your work? What made you choose your current path?
I like to refer to myself as an “arms dealer for the creative revolution.” I equip creative professionals with the mindset, tools, and systems to solve problems and be creative under pressure each day. I began this work because I was a creative director leading a team of a few dozen people and was constantly seeking ways to keep them engaged, inspired, and healthy but couldn’t find many resources to help. So, in 2005 I launched my first podcast and began my consultancy.
What is your definition of success? What do you do to attain more of it?
I want to love well and die empty. That’s my definition of success. By that, I mean I want to do everything in my power to empty myself in service of others, including my clients and the broader marketplace, but also my family, my community, and my friends. My goal is to get my best work into the world where it can be of use to others, and to not take it to the grave with me.
What is one habit that has benefited your life the most? Also, what is one practice you’ve always wanted to add to your life, but didn’t?
Without question, the most valuable habit has been my study time. It’s the first hour of my day every single day, and I’ve implemented it for the past twenty years. It has massively transformed my ability to think systemically and spot patterns, and is the biggest reason why I’ve been able to write and publish six books in eleven years.
What is one belief or value that you hold as your guiding truth?
Every single person on this planet is creative. If you solve problems, you are creative. You don’t have to be an artist, a musician, a designer. If you’re an engineer or a manager or a lion tamer, it means that you are solving problems under pressure and resolving uncertainty, which means you need a fundamental understanding of how the creative process functions.
What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments —money or time investment — you’ve ever made?
Without a doubt, it’s been evening family dinners. Since our three children were young, we’ve made it a priority to have dinner together as a family every night (with the exception of when I’m traveling, in which case my wife still does) and it ensures that we have at least one substantial check-in every single day. It’s been the best investment of time we’ve made as a family, by far.
What is one life-changing book that has greatly influenced and helped you along the way? Also, who has inspired you the most in your journey?
The most influential book has been Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl. The big takeaway for me is that instead of pondering what I want out of life, I need to recognize that it’s life that gets to ask the questions. Life is asking something of me, and the challenge before me is whether I will respond.
How have you managed to overcome deep fears to achieve your goals? Also, did you find an effective way to eradicate fear from its root?
Yes. When I was in my twenties I was largely terrified to speak in front of people. Now, i routinely speak in front of thousands of people at a time. The key to overcoming this fear was my embrace of the larger value I was able to contribute through stepping into the fear, and recognizing that most people not rooting against me, but want to see me succeed. No one is sitting in an audience thinking, “Man - I hope this speaker is terrible!” The key is to lower your concern about the opinions of others, which usually happens once you realize they don’t think about you nearly as much as you’re afraid they do.
How have you managed to change some of your deepest limiting beliefs? Also, did you find a reliable process to embody empowering beliefs?
I call limiting beliefs “ghost rules”. They are invisible narratives that artificially limit risk and potential. We all have limits, but most people are afraid of testing theirs because they’d rather live with perceived invulnerability. The key to overcoming these limiting beliefs is through intentional action, allowing yourself to fail in recoverable ways, and constantly capturing your learning on the other side. AND - this is key - you must have people in your life who will speak truth to you about your strengths and vulnerabilities. If you are trying to go through life alone, you will suffer and struggle.
What is your message to someone who is about to embark on their next big mission or dream? Also, what advice should they ignore?
Find people who will speak truth to you before you realize you need them. Surround yourself with people who have skin in the game and who are rooting for your success, even if that means telling you things you don’t want to hear.
Finally, what are you primarily working on these days?
I am building out an app to help creative pros instill daily practices (aligned with my new book Daily Creative) and I’ve already begun work on my next book, which should release in 2023.
You can find more about Todd at his website at www.Toddhenry.com or on IG/Twitter @toddhenry
Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.