Translator: Oriel YuReviewer: Queenie Lee By a show of hands.
How many of you believe youcould replicate this image of Brad Pitt with just a pencil and piece of paper? Well, I'm going to show youhow to do this.
And in so doing, I'm going to give you the skill necessary to become a world-class artist.
And it shouldn't takemore than about 15 seconds.
But before I do that, how many of you believeyou could replicate this image of a solid gray square? (Laughter) Every one of us.
And if you can make one gray square, you can make two, three, nine .
Truth of the matter is, if you could made just one gray square, it'd be very difficult to argue that you couldn't makeevery gray square necessary to replicate the image in its entirety.
And there you have it.
I've just given you the skills necessaryto become a world-class artist.
(Laughter) I know what you're thinking.
“That's not real art, certainly wouldn't make mea world-class artist.
” So let me introduce you to Chuck Close.
He's one of the highest-earning artistsin the entire world, for decades, he creates his artusing this exact technique.
You see, what stands between us and achieving evenour most ambitious dreams has far less to do with possessingsome magical skill or talent, and far more to do withhow we approach problems and make decisions to solve them.
And because of the continuousand compounding nature of all those millions of decisions that we face on a regular basis, even a marginal improvement in our process can have a huge impact on our end results.
And I'll prove this to you by taking a look atthe career of Novak Djokovic.
Back in 2004, when he first becamea professional tennis player, he was ranked 680th in the world.
It wasn't until the end of his third year that he jumped upto be ranked third in the world.
He went from making 250, 000 a yearto 5 million a year, in prize money alone, and of course, he did thisby winning more matches.
In 2011, he became the number oneranked men's tennis player in the world, started earning an averageof 14 million a year in prize money alone and winning a dominating90% of his matches.
Now, here's what's really interesting about all of these veryimpressive statistics.
Novak doesn't control any of them.
What he does controlare all the tiny little decisions that he needs to makecorrectly along the way in order to move the probability in favor of him achievingthese types of results.
And we can quantify and trackhis progress in this area by taking a look at the percentageof points that he wins.
Because in tennis the typical point involvesone to maybe three decisions, I like to refer to thisas his decision success rate.
So, back when he was winningabout 49% of the matches he was playing, he was winning about 49%of the points he played.
Then to jump up, become number three in the world, and actually earnfive million dollars a year for swinging a racquet, he had to improvehis decision success rate to just 52 percent.
Then to become not just number one but maybe one of the greatest playersto ever play the game, he had to improvehis decision success rate to just 55 percent.
And I keep using this word “just.
” I don't want to imply this is easy to do, clearly, it's not.
But the type of marginal improvementsthat I'm talking about are easily achievableby every single one of us in this room.
And I'll show you what I mean.
From kindergarten, all the waythrough to my high school graduation – yes, that's high schoolgraduation for me – (Laughter) every one of my report cardsbasically said the same thing: Steven is a very bright young boy, if only he would justsettle down and focus.
What they didn't realize was I wanted that even more than they wanted it for me, I just couldn't.
And so, from kindergartenstraight through the 2nd year of college, I was a really consistent C, C- student.
But then going into my junior year, I'd had enough.
I thought I want to make a change.
I'm going to make a marginal adjustment, and I'm going to stop being a spectatorof my decision-making and start becoming an active participant.
And so, that year, instead of pretending, again, that I would suddenly be ableto settle down and focus on things for more than fiveor ten minutes at a time, I decided to assume I wouldn't.
And so, if I wanted to achievethe type of outcome that I desire – doing well in school – I was going to actuallyhave to change my approach.
And so I made a marginal adjustment.
If I would get an assignment, let's say, read five chapters in a book, I wouldn't think of it as five chapters, I wouldn't even think of itas one chapter.
I would break it down into these tasksthat I could achieve, that would require me to focusfor just five or ten minutes at a time.
So, maybe three or four paragraphs.
I would do that and when I was donewith those five or ten minutes, I would get up.
I'd go shoot some hoops, do a little drawing, maybe play video games for a few minutes, and then I come back.
Not necessarily to the same assignment, not even necessarily to the same subject, but just to another task that requiredjust five to ten minutes of my attention.
From that point forward, all the way through to graduation, I was a straight-A student, Dean's List, President's Honor Roll, every semester.
I then went on to one of the topgraduate programs in the world for finance and economics.
Same approach, same results.
So then, I graduate.
I start my career and I'm thinking, this worked really well for me.
You know, you take these big concepts, these complex ideas, these big assignments, you break them downtoo much more manageable tasks, and then along the way, you make a marginalimprovement to the process that ups the oddsof success in your favor.
I'm going to try and do this in my career.
So I did.
I started out as an exoticderivatives trader for credit Swiss.
It then led me to be global headof currency option trading for Bank of America, global head of emerging marketsfor AIG international.
It helped me deliver top-tier returns as a global macro hedge fundmanager for 12 years and to become founder and CIOof two award-winning hedge funds.
So it gets to 2001, and I'm thinking, this whole idea, it worked really well in school, it's been serving me wellas a professional, why aren't I applying thisin my personal life, like to all those big ambitious goalsI have for myself? So one day, I'm walking to work, and at the time my commute was a walk from one endof Hyde Park to the other, in London.
It took me about 45 minutes each way, an hour and a half a day, seven and a half hours a week, 30 hours a month, 360 hours a year, when I was awake, aware, basically wasting time, listening to music on my iPod.
So on my way home from work that dayI stopped at the store.
I picked up the first 33 CDsin the Pimsleur German language program, ripped them and put them onto my iPod.
But I didn't stop there.
Because the truth of the matter is, I'm an undisciplined person.
And I knew that at some point, I'd switch away from the languageand go back to the music.
So I removed that temptationby removing all of the music.
That left me with just one option: listen to the language tapes.
So ten months later, I'd listened to all 99 CDs in the German language program, listened to each one three times each.
And I went to Berlin for a 16-dayintensive German course.
When I was done, I invited my wifeand kids to meet me.
We walked around the city.
I spoke German to the Germans, they spoke German back to me.
My kids were amazed.
(Laughter) I mean they couldn't close their jaws.
But you and I, we know, there is actually nothing amazingabout what I've just done.
I made this marginal adjustmentto my daily routine.
This marginal adjustment to my process.
(German) Und jetzt, ich sprecheein bisschen Deutsch.
And now I could speak some German.
And so in that moment, I'm thinking, it's not supposed to be this easyfor a guy like me – an old guy – to learn a new language.
You're supposed to do thatwhen you're a kid.
And yet here I had done it.
This marginal adjustment.
So what other big ambitious goalsI've been holding onto, putting off until retirement, that I could potentially achieve if I just made a marginaladjustment to my routine? So I started doing them.
I earned my auto racing license.
I learned how to fly a helicopter, did rock-climbing, skydiving.
I learned how to fly planes aerobatically.
Well, if you're like me, back in 2007, you might have the same goal I had.
I was just moving back from London.
I was about 25 pounds overweightand out of shape, and I wanted to rectify that.
So I could go to the typical route, you know, I could write a checkto a gym I'd never go to.
Or I could swear to myselfthat I will never again eat those foods that I love but are doing all the damage.
And I knew that going that routerarely results in the outcome you desire.
So I decided to becomean active participant.
I thought about the habits and passionsthat I've developed in my life, and I thought, can I make justa marginal adjustment to them so that they work in my favoras opposed to against me? And so I did.
I've got a habit where I've been walking an hourand a half a day for the last seven years, and I've got this passionfor being in the outdoors.
And so that year, I didn't actually set the new year'sresolution to lose 25 pounds.
I set a resolution to hike all 33 trails in the front countryof Santa Barbara Mountains.
And I'd never been on a hikebefore in my life.
(Laughter) But the truth of the matter is, it's not about the 33 trails.
You have to break this big ambitious goal down into these moremanageable decisions – the types of decisions that needto be made correctly along the way in order to improve the odds of achievingthe type of outcome you desire.
It's not about even one trail.
It's about those tiny little decisions, you know, like when youare sitting at your desk, putting in just a little extra timeat the end of a day.
Or you're lying on your couch, clicking through the channelson your remote control, or scrolling through your Facebook feed, and in that moment, make the decision to put it down.
You go put on your hiking clothes, you go walk outside your front door, and you shut it behind you.
You walk to your car, get in, drive to the trailhead.
You get out of the car at the trailhead, and you take one step, you take two steps, three steps.
Every one of those stepsthat I have just described is a tiny little decision that needsto be made correctly along the way in order to achieve the ultimate outcome.
Now, when I say I want to hike33 trails in the front country, people think about the decisionsat the top of the mountain.
That's not what it's about.
Because if you don't makethe right decision when you're on the couch, there is no decision that occursat the top of the mountain.
So by the end of the year, I'd hiked all 33 trailsin the front country; I did them a couple of times each.
I even did a few in the backcountry.
I lost the 25 pounds, and I capped the year off by doing the hardesthalf marathon in the world – the Pier to Peak.
In 2009, I got really ambitious, ambitious for a guy who still, to this day, cannot settle down and focus on anything for morethan ten or ten minutes at a time, and that was to read 50 books.
But again, it's notabout reading 50 books.
It's not even about reading one book.
It's not about reading a chapter, a paragraph, a sentence.
It's about that decision when you're sitting at your deskat the end of the day, or when you're lying on the couch, or flicking through your Facebook feed, and you put down the phone.
You pick up a book and you read one word.
If you read one word, you'll read two words, three words; you'll read a sentence, a paragraph, a page, a chapter, a book; you'll read ten books, 30 books, 50 books.
In 2012, I got really ambitious.
I set 24 new year's resolutions.
12 of them werewhat I call giving resolutions, where I did 12 charitable thingsthat didn't involve writing a check.
But it's not without its failures.
I tried to donate blood, and they rejected mebecause I'd lived in the UK.
I tried to donate my sperm;they rejected me because I was too old.
I tried to donate my hair, and it turns out nobody wants grey hair.
(Laughter) So, here I was trying to do somethingto make myself feel good, and it was having the opposite effect.
So anyway, I've also hadthese 12 learning resolutions, to learn 12 new skills.
And when I was done with unicycling, parkour, slacklining, jumping stilts and drumming, my wife suggestedthat I learned how to knit.
(Laughter) And I'll be honest, I wasn't allthat passionate about knitting.
But one day, I'm sittingunder this 40-foot tall eucalyptus tree that's 2.
6 miles up the coldspring trail in Santa Barbara, and I'm thinking, that tree would lookreally cool if it were covered in yarn.
(Laughter) And so I went home and Googled this, and it turns out it is a thing people do, it's called yarnbombing: you wrap these publicstructures with yarn.
And, the second annualinternational yarn bombing day was just 82 days away.
(Laughter) So for the next 82 days, no matter where I was – (Laughter) if I was in a board meeting, on the trading floor, in an airplane or in the hospital, I was knitting.
One stitch at a time.
And 82 days later, I had done my first ever yarnbomb.
(Applause) And the response to it blew me away.
So I kept going .
(Laughter) with bigger, more ambitious projects that required more engineering skills.
And in 2014, I set the goalto wrap six massive boulders in Los Padres National Forestat the top of the mountains.
But if I was going to pull this off, I'd need help.
So at this point, I had a fewthousand followers on social media as “The Yarnbomber.
” (Laughter) And I started getting packages -lots of packages – 388 contributorsfrom 36 countries in all 50 states.
In the end, I didn't wrapone massive boulder, I wrapped 18.
(Applause) So I kept going with bigger, more ambitious projects that would require meto work with new materials, like fiberglass, and wood, and metals, which culminates in a projectthat is currently at TMC, here in Tucson, where I wrapped the Children's Hospital.
(Applause) Along the way, I stopped knitting.
I never really liked it.
(Laughter) But .
I like crocheting.
(Laughter) So, I started making theseseven-inch granny squares – because that'sthe standard granny square – and I thought along the way:why am I stopping at seven inches? I need big stuff.
So, I started makingbigger granny squares.
So one day, I come homefrom a business trip, and I've got this really large granny, and I went to the website of Guinness.
I was curious what's the world'slargest granny square.
And it turns outthere's no category for it.
(Laughter) So I applied, and they rejected me.
So I appealed, and they rejected me.
I appealed again, and they said fine, if you make it ten meters by ten meters, we'll create a new category, and you will be a Guinnessworld record holder.
So, for the next two years, seven months, 17 days, one stitch at a time, I finally reached morethan half a million stitches, incorporated more than 30 miles of yarn, and I am now the officialGuinness world record holder for the largest crocheted granny square.
(Applause) (Cheering) Along the way, I've garnered an awful lotof attention for my escapades.
I've been featured in Newsweek magazine, Eric news, which iskind of the Bible for artists.
But what I want you to realizewhen you hear these things: I'm still that C- student.
I'm still that kid who can't settle down or focus for more than fiveor ten minutes at a time.
And I remain a guy who possessesno special gift of talent or skill.
All I do is take really big, ambitious projects that people seem to marvel at, break them down to their simplest form and then just makemarginal improvements along the way to improve my odds of achieving them.
And so the whole reasonI'm giving this talk is I'm hoping to inspire several of you to pull some of those ambitious dreamsthat you have for yourself off the bookshelf and start pursuing them by makingthat marginal adjustment to your routine.