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Freelancing, Failure, Follow-up, Risk, Reframing and the Passionate Life: Gregg Levoy Intvw Transcript Part 2

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GL: And I don't know what prurient ideas the editor had in mind when he assigned that, but people said things like I would like to spend time with Anwar Sadat you know things like that, Albert Einstein. It wasn't like Farrah Fawcet or Brad Pitt, you know? And so the freelancing, why I say I'm wired for it is that I really want to pursue what I want to pursue.

Rob: One thing you write about is follow-up and you talk about in your chapter on risk taking. Talk about follow-up and risk taking.

GL: Oh boy, risk taking is an acquired taste. I've just learned as a freelancer especially, how critical it is to follow-up, with initial forays in any arena really is that I think maybe patience and fortitude is some of the missing links for a lot of people in the success equation. The willingness to go back again and again and again, to follow up on something in order to make it happen. The fine art of just being a squeaky wheel sometimes, right? And I just think that the willingness to keep following up and keep coming back to the plate again and again and again, I mean people love to evoke this baseball metaphor for success, you know the three hundred batting average, this means you're in the hall of fame; you're top of the game, but what that actually means is that you miss seven balls out of ten. You know what I'm saying? So this equation of failure as an essential part of success is critical. I once had somebody say Gregg - I was lamenting to my mentor my fear of freelancing and because I said there's so much failure and rejection in it, I mean this is rejection that would stun a pan-handler in the freelance life and he said Gregg, if you are not failing regularly, you're living so far below your potential that you're failing anyway.

Rob: I love that.

GL: Now that's a bar set pretty high, you know, but it says that the willingness to keep coming, stepping up to the plate is essential and I think follow-up is part of that, willingness to just keep coming back and say this is why I'm here, this is who I am, this is what I'm here for.

Rob: You also talk about how, with follow-up, it's in the category of risk in which I have nothing to lose only to gain.

GL: Right, yeah and approaching editors for instance is absolutely one of those. You know, I think to myself oh, I hate getting rejected, it stings, I'm human, it stings, and yet this is so clearly one from the I've absolutely nothing to lose department. If they say no, I haven't really lost anything but a little bit of time, but what I stand to gain by getting a yes far outweighs it.

Rob: Is there an approach you take to following up with editors?

GL: An approach. Well it's also - it's not just editors, it's also people who are hiring me to speak, which actually I'm doing more of now than working with editors, but is there an approach? I hope you won't mind my persistence, but-- is a standard line of mine in my follow-ups. Hello, this is Gregg Levoy, I hope you won't mind my persistence, but I'd love to catch up with you because I have a story or something that I think would be valuable for your readers, that kind of thing. So, it's really just gently saying I realize that it's me again, this is the fifth time in six months, but I have something of value that I think would be wonderful to share.

Rob: So now, I would think there are ways that people sabotage themselves where they give negative self talk and what kind of things would you think people would say and how would you reframe it? Reframing is a concept that you discuss -

GL: Yeah.

Rob: - as well in risk taking.

GL: Yeah, absolutely.

Rob: It's also something that I've done interviews specifically on: George Lakoff who wrote the book Don't Think of an Elephant and Thom Hartmann who's written book along the same lines and it's a major strategy when it comes to politics, reframing.

GL: Reframing.

Rob: As in like instead of the inheritance tax, they call it the death tax.

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