The 79-Year Master Plan for Becoming Unforgettable

The 79-Year Master Plan for Becoming Unforgettable

Reader Comments (111)

  1. Pamela, you’ve reminded us of the secret to anything worthwhile–persistence. Over time, the steady drip, drip, drip of a tiny drop of water on a granite boulder has the power to change its shape dramatically! When we remain consistently focused in the face of failure we develop stamina and the staying power we need to realize our goals. Enjoyed your article very much!

        • Ssshh: you’re spilling one of the secrets to how I take decent photos! 😉

          Thank God for digital photography … at least I don’t have to pay to develop all the mediocre shots.

          • Little did I know while living and working in my daily excursions with my camera would lead me to be published in Travel and Leisure among other magazines. Now I’m working on a book about interior design to be published by Random House. Know what, I still have a ways to go but I can travel, shoot and write for hours on end because that’s what makes me feel most alive and purposeful. Thanks for an amazing post! It’s helping write now as my main goal is to become a successful photographer, blogger and writer in my adopted home : Paris, France.

      • In the beginning, I think it’s OK to take the approach of “throw everything out there and see what sticks.” However, as you become more of a master of your craft, it may be necessary to focus on one particular niche, skillset, or whatever in order to become a legend.

  2. I was absolutely mesmerized at the PIcasso Museum in Barcelona. So many lessons to learn from this brilliant man that are applicable to all parts of life – live passionately; draw inspiration from others, but express yourself; challenge convention; go outside of your comfort zone (Picasso also wrote poetry and plays!); embrace your rivals; be loyal to your best customers (Gertrude Stein was a devoted collector, I believe); hold true to your beliefs; do what you love….really a fascinating life and career. Great post!

  3. I need to get to that museum. It’s on my short list of to-dos!

    I’ve made a beeline for the Picassos in any museum I’ve been to, but to be surrounded by that many pieces would be amazing. Thanks for the review, Ruth.

    • Dear Pam,

      Thanks for the reality check: work, work, work, work and work…
      Then something of brilliance and enduring value does appear, at first in slivers.

      We need to hope, we need to dream in our waking hours.
      And we need to sing from the depths of our heart.

        • Dear Pam,

          You’re welcome.

          Personally, I feel we need to slow down to b-r-e-a-t-h, to listen and watch life in slow-mo so that life becomes more intense.

  4. “What Pablo taught me is that not every piece has to be a masterpiece.”

    I think we get so worried about being “perfect” that we actually limit ourselves. Marketers are under the constant pressure to deliver, to prove ROI and show where the budget went. But that makes us afraid to take risks and try something that is new and unproved. That leads us to a lot of boring, repetitive marketing.

      • We have been taught to be perfect from our childhood. Perfect reports, perfect essays, perfect score card .. Perfect Perfect and Perfect. and not just being taught, the peer pressure in any competitive industry needs you to be perfect. So much so that it has caused a fear of rejection if the work is not perfect. How do you deal with this fear.

        • Ankit, I deal with it by writing posts like this. 🙂

          The great creative people in this world aren’t haunted by perfection, they are haunted by a drive to explore and produce.

  5. I like the last part about work, work, work. A lot of times, I get caught up in trying to create a masterpiece outright and that has inevitably lead to procrastination and the masterpiece only ever is in planning stage. However, if we take if from the point of view that we will screw up a lot and keep moving on, eventually, some will turn out to be masterpieces from the tonnes of failures, and those few pieces of masterpieces is all that is needed to propel someone to success in his or her chosen field.

    Thanks for a great article.

    • Thanks Ted. I agree: what good is a masterpiece if it’s only an idea? You have to implement to see results, and accept that you may not be 100% satisfied with how it turns out.

  6. Great post, informative and inspiring-two of my favorite things to read. Not only do I also love Picasso (making it an easy sell already) but as a PR specialist, the idea resonated with me. I write. And write. And write. As a perfectionist, I am always attempting to achieve the best possible work, every single time. While this is clearly impossible and unrealistic, it is hard not to try and compete at such a high level. Thank you for this post, I needed it today!

  7. Wow! What a great post (Copyblogger always has the best). It resonated with me because it’s true, because I love Picasso, and because I literally just formed a mastermind a few weeks ago that we’re calling “The Blog Posse.”

  8. I find all too often I get paralyzed because what I’m doing isn’t “brilliant.” This is a great reminder that there is a lot of good work out there and the “one in a million” that we are striving for is really that – one in a million. Seth Godin blogged about it today in his “Stupid vs. Lazy” post. We fall short of brilliance and assume it’s because we’re stupid or don’t get it. You can’t fix stupid. But if you reframe it as “lazy” – then there is something that can be done about that …and that’s the “work work work” portion.

  9. Different stokes for different folks. Yours is one of the most inspirational and pragmatic articles I’ve come across recently. I will print it, shrink it or find an easy way to refer to it often. I am of Spanish decent and in a strange way it helps me understand the ‘passion’ aspect you refer to.

    After reading your post, I will create a strategy so I can put together a Master Mind group of ‘passionate, fire in their bellies’ group of people who want to succeed using online marketing, social media platforms and video for service businesses.

    Have a great day Pamela and thanks again.

    • Mastermind groups have helped me tremendously. I’ve belonged to one for 8 years, and they’re one of the big secrets to my business success. (Well, I guess it’s not a secret anymore!)

      Good luck putting yours together, John. When you get the right group of people together, a mastermind group can be very powerful.

  10. Wow! Picasso understood something important just like Bruce Lee did. The beauty is in the process, not the end result. This reminds me of what my drawing professor from undergrad told our class-

    ‘Making art is like shoveling crap in a stable because with all this crap there’s got to be a pony somewhere.’

    Just make the work!

  11. Hi Pamela

    I got the chills reading the last part of your post. As a “new to the blogging world” blogger…and new to the world of writing…sometimes I feel frustrated when I go back and read posts and think, “Hmm, I could have written that better, more clearer…more to the point.” But I fight that urge to re-edit time and again…and allow those pieces of art to stand as they are for all of time. Yet, seeing how Picasso didn’t have everything perfect every time…I feel even better about resisting that urge – knowing that it is part of the process…and part of my journey as well, which is what I am writing about.

    As far as your other points in the post…I couldn’t agree more with them and find it amazing that that is what I have been doing. I haven’t posted to my blog for almost 2 weeks now – which is an eternity for me lately. However, as I struggle to get the words just right for these next few blogs…I am just resting again in the fact that sometimes I will be prolific with my writing…but at other times I have to pull back, regroup, find my inspiration and clarity from others and the world around me…so that I can then come back to my blog in a more enhanced state.

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this…I wish I could just read everyone’s blogs all day long and get paid for it!!!

    • You’re welcome: I’m glad it resonated with you! I find it very comforting that Picasso’s work isn’t consistently brilliant. His experiments are as interesting as his masterpieces.

  12. I love Picasso, a super complex human being.

    I would love to add that Picasso was inspired by all that you mentioned, but you left out “fear.”

    Why bring fear into the wonderful lively conversation of Pablo Picasso?

    To be extraordinary one must manifest their fear and turn it into unique expression – isn’t that what drives all of us? Fear of acceptance, boredom, age, and death inspired Picasso – it’s evident in his works. Hard to imagine he was afraid of anything.

    What is it that you fear? How will you manifest it in your work? Will you push for perfection or settle for mediocrity?

  13. I really enjoyed reading this. Thank you!

    One comment: I was going to share the post with my socmed circles but I changed my mind because of the title… I found it to be misleading as it is very specific (I anticipated reading about Facebook, Twitter, G+, & etc.) while the content was far broader in scope (I really ended up reading about the creative process in general). Again, I really enjoyed reading it but I clicked the email with expectations of reading something different. I would be interested to know why “…Social Media..” was chosen as part of the title.

  14. Love the way you related it to Picasso, the two most important elements you mentioned in my opinion are work and getting a posse, partnerships are key for social media and networking.

    If you can find one or several great partners for support, suggestions and collaborations you can be ahead of the game pretty fast.

    • I agree, Jamie: working with partners or a mastermind group can really propel you forward. For those of us running small businesses, your group becomes like a board of directors you can run ideas by and get feedback on. It’s very powerful!

  15. The most important thing I’ve learned from Picasso? The same I’ve learned from the work and lives of other great artists – work, yes, learn, absorb, experiment, fail, succeed, enjoy, but most of all follow your own path. Follow it with conviction, know yourself and never be shy about self-promotion, and show yourself to the world as a complex, aware, engaged human being. Something to strive for!

  16. Thats it Pamela, You put it there, the biggest lesson.

    Work Work work and then Work some more.

    In life you do not get what you want, you only get what you deserve!

    If you do something you like, then Work = Play and then instead of Work, Work, Work…

    It becomes

    Play, Play Play….

    That doesn’t sound so horrid, now does it ?

  17. I feel like Pablo would like this so much he would paint all over the writing, and it would still be able to have the profound effect.

    Great comparison, great read.

  18. LOVE IT, Pamela. I whole-heartedly agree, (and I embody and live many of Picasso’s qualities.)

    Embrace change.
    Focus on providing quality + value.
    Do it with style.

    Amen 🙂

  19. Another inspiring post Pamela! I have also been a fan of Picasso for a long time. You are right, some of his stuff does look like he was just practicing. And of course a lot were masterpieces!

    The number of 50,000 pieces of art is going to stick in my mind for a long time. Hmm, maybe I am not too tired to do another hour of work!

    • I knew he had created a lot of work, but it wasn’t until I started my research for this post that I realized just how much he’d done in his lifetime. He worked for almost 80 years, and continued to try new things until the very end. Amazing, huh?

      • I agree, it is amazing. Maybe he got to 80 because he was innovating all the time and never got stuck into old ways.

  20. Thank you for sharing this. We have a lot to learn from the old masters, even dead though they may be. I think you hit the nail on the head with the prolific objectives – if you want to create a masterpiece, you have to practice by generating some less-than masterful works, first.

    • ¡Exactamente!

      I’m not convinced it’s a linear process, either. I think we’re capable of creating less-than-masterful stuff at any point, but especially when we’re experimenting with something new.

      What I love about Picasso is he never let that stop him. He just kept churning out the work.

  21. Great article. And perfectly timed for me as I’m always going through new changes and looking at ways to improve my work.

    However I don’t agree with the photographers taking lots of shots and only showing the amazing ones. True, they do only put the best out there, but the real photographers do it right, with less shots. Sometimes in one shot because that’s all they’ve got time for. It’s mostly amateurs that luck out and get an awesome shot just by snapping everything. A friend of mine once said, “Even a stopped clock is right twice a day” It applies in this instance. Nevertheless, taking more and more shots is what will make you better, hopefully. And it’s those gems that will make you lust to create more of them.

    In golf, you can shoot balls into the woods for 17 holes then on the 18th you sink a 25 foot put. It’s that one put that brings you back to play more golf.

    Find your passion and never stop learning and evolving it.

    • I agree with you, Dawe. The only reason I get decent photos is because I stumble upon them by taking a lot of shots. If I was more adept at using all the bells and whistles I have on my camera — and I understood more about lighting — it wouldn’t take me so many tries to get a good image.

  22. Everything that I get from Copy Blogger is useful – and this piece was no exception.
    This particular article is a great follow on to the one about writing, writing, and then writing more.
    It would be great to know how to produce the perfect piece every time.

  23. 632 pieces a year!

    That’s loads and loads of work.

    Some of us (writing creatives) get just about done by the fifth article 🙂

    Thank you for this piece…truly encouraging!

  24. I luv the idea of drawing inspiration from sources around you Pamela. Nature works for me, daily interactions work for me, most stuff works for me. The lesson is in the moment. It’s up to us to find it.

  25. I think one of the main lessons that I learned from your story is this: it’s OK to publish crap. As long as it’s a revolutionary piece of crap! (I just stole and adapt this quote from Guy Kawasaki :D)

    “The less you fail… the more successful you are.” That’s what they taught us at home. At school. At our job. Everywhere. So, what’s the best way to fail less? NOT TRYING!

    This is a lesson that entrepreneurs around the World, fortunately, didn’t learn well! We know that the only way to fail is if we quit trying!

    It’s awesome to know that Picasso had the same attitude toward his art!

  26. When I read “He was always searching, never satisfied,” I immediately thought back to Mr. Steve Jobs and how he quoted Whole Earth in a speech awhile back, saying: “Stay hungry, stay foolish.”

    Just a connection I thought I’d share 🙂

    – Jared

  27. Your post was truly inspiring Pamela. It reminded me of a dance teacher I had when I was in high school and with no dance background a group of us decided to take classes to get in better shape, needless to say, we uh..well to put it nicely we weren’t good…we pulled muscles, looked clumsy, and had five year olds laughing at us. But our teacher would rap out “If you fall, fall reaching!” over and over again. I’ve remembered this saying my entire life when I’ve been faced with a new task and it seems like I’ll never master it… she taught me a lot, seems Picasso had more to teach me as well. Thanks for the post!

  28. First time reading this blog and I loved this blog post!
    A Picasso exhibition is coming to the Art Gallery of NSW Australia in November which I will be seeing!
    My little business that is in its early stages is selling my own art and writing my blog. I really love how your tied in business thinking with an artist!
    Thank you!

  29. Thank you for sharing this. We have a lot to learn from the old masters, even dead though they may be. I think you hit the nail on the head with the prolific objectives – if you want to create a masterpiece, you have to practice by generating some less-than masterful works, first.

  30. This was a great post. I learned a lot about Picasso that I had not known before. It would have never occured to me that Picasso would have created so many pieces, which is inspirational. Sure, I might write some bogus pieces, but people are going to remember the stunning prose, not the lacking. Too often people get caught up in trying to be creatively good, instead of being creative. You simply cannot progress if you only do one painting a year when you could have done over six hundred.

    I also really like your idea of a mastermind group. I am going to start one amongst my contacts.

  31. I love the connection and the lessons – keep trying things, keep experimenting. And do a lot. I liken business and marketing to baseball. You can’t sit and wait for a single home run to be successful. You need a lot of at bats, and a lot of baserunners and hits. As Herb Kelleher said, “We have a strategic plan. It’s called doing things.”

  32. Love this post. I love the metaphor of the different periods and careers. My career to date has had different periods and themes so I think I’m going to have to write a blog post about it.

  33. HI Pamela

    What an inspiring post. I love the phrase work, work, work. I built my business up and made it successful in quite a short time and a lot of people say how lucky I have been. Me on the other hand don’t think it is lucky, it was do to the amount of hard work and dedication I put in to make it successful.

    I love the idea that not every concept and in fact I saw a fantastic image today, saying if plan A doesn’t work there are 25 more letters in the alphabet to go through.


  34. Wow.. never knew Picasso had a very long name to start with. I love his Cubist and Surrealist works though. Your advice here makes a whole lot of sense and I’d say to win the game, one must not only think outside the box – but, get rid of the box completely and start from scratch. When the canvas is a clean slate, that’s when you are compelled to think that anything is possible. To apply this concept in the social media marketing world is to come up with great content that’s totally fresh. Now, that’s a real challenge that only a few can master.

  35. I really love this sentence: “What Pablo taught me is that not every piece has to be a masterpiece.” It’s really true – I was previously hampered by my obsession for perfection to the extent that it kept me from creating/writing. No creation, no imperfection, right?

    Oh boy, how wrong I was. Now I am bravely venturing out into the world of imperfection and I can’t wait to see what inspiration the next mistake will bring me. 😀

    Thanks Pamela for this summary! I was just thinking about studying Da Vinci’s work to see how creative masters work and how I can emulate them. Looks like I also have to add Picasso to my list of people to study.

  36. Being prolific in the internet world is the name of the game. More links, more content, more products, more, more. The work never stops, but at least it’s rewarding

  37. Inspiring post Pamela. It’s amazing Picasso was willing to reinvent himself over and over. To walk away from prior success. Most people search for a safe niche they can park themselves into for life.

    Not Picasso. He was the living embodiment of Goethe’s quote: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”

    Too bad his politics were so polarizing.

  38. I feel privileged to have read this post. It describes my personal philosophy precisely, but it is mystifying to nearly all peers and colleagues. Very reassuring. Thank you.

  39. The idea of producing lots of stuff to ultimately produce great work is something I’ve been contemplating a lot lately.

    It’s easy to delay things chasing perfection, but if you’re forced to ship something, say weekly, you’re forced to push yourself and grow. And inevitably, some of what you make is going to be good. (Some will also be not so good, of course.)

    Anyway, this post really resonated. So thanks for the encouragement, Pamela!

    • That’s one of the beautiful things about content marketing, IMO. Shipping on a regular basis gives you a reason to keep producing. And the more you make, the better you get. 🙂

  40. Hi Pamela,

    Awesome stuff right here, changing your game could be crucial for us. New trends every year, new methods, new techniques, etc. We need to keep pushing forward, keep learning and improving each day because we can’t stick with something thinking it will work forever.

    Even a small change from Google or a Social Network can make our results quite different and we need to keep it up with the new trends and follow the herd.

    “Draw inspiration from the world around you” I like this very much, doesn’t mean that we need to steal something or just copy and paste it, we can make something totally new and original based on something as inspiration, maybe could be an idea, an image or anything to inspire us so we can create something from scratch when our mind was not working at all.

  41. Thanks for this article.

    I was struck by your “work some more” section too. As a blogger, I’ve read advice out there (more than once) that says that if your work isn’t “epic” you shouldn’t publish it. I’ve been guilty of reading this as “If it isn’t epic you shouldn’t create it.”

    The trouble is – how do you come up with epic work? How do you know what’s going to resonate (yes you can do all the keyword and social media research you want, but if you’re being epic, you’re doing something truly different). So if you’re aiming for epic every time, you end up with a serious case of writer’s block.

    I love Picasso’s approach. I’m sure he didn’t aim for bad. I’m sure he didn’t say, “We’ll, I’m just going to do this piece to get it done because I need to have something for my fans this week.” And neither should we. But (I’m guessing) he experimented. He did what felt good. He did what he liked and what he wanted to see. He was an ARTIST. And that’s what we should be too. Being an artist – as you point out, isn’t about being a genius from the beginning, but about always experimenting and creating and not being afraid to show your work. Ultimately deciding what to publish and promote what works and understanding how to target and market your work is what begins to make you an entrepreneur, but you have to start by being able to be free to create, and I love that you point out that we need this permission. Thank you!!!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed this, Jessica.

      After seeing so much of Picasso’s work, I firmly believe that his epic work happened as a result of the sheer volume of work he produced. If you look closely, you can see how one piece lead to another, and another. And every so often, something epic and groundbreaking appeared.

      I think we can do the same! Keep working and pushing our limits, knowing that every so often — because of the work — we’ll produce something epic.

  42. I had a lot of these same ideas when I saw the Rodin exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts this summer. The man produced just an astronomical amount of work. Sometimes he would just also just work on one small piece, like a hand or an arm, instead of the whole body. He did miniatures before making big projects. He did tons of little sketches and experiments. If memory serves, I think he redid his sculpture of Balzac dozens of times (and it was still rejected! Ah, even genius doesn’t always serve its audience!) His work is a great example of how bits and pieces of “content” work together and separately. And one of his secrets that a lot of people might not know is that he had a whole workshop of sculptors working for him who would start a sculpture based on his ideas. He would oversee them and make the final chips and cuts. Amazing how we can learn a lot from artists, perhaps even more so than from writers, because it’s so much easier to see their process.

  43. Well done! Just what I needed today. I really like that we are commenting today and the first comments were in 2011. It’s great when our work starts taking on a life of it’s own! I also love Picasso and all his many experiments and that he was always trying to go further and learn more. One thing I’ve always wondered though and I’ve had the conversation with many different people who stand in front of one of his works and complain and say “I could have done that.” (you think so, but you didn’t and he did!) We have to remember that with a name like Picasso, his paintings will go for big bucks. Not all museums can afford those and we will end up looking at things that the man himself would have used to line a bird cage! Sure his experiments are fascinating but sometimes they are presented as more than an experiment. But I agree. We can’t wait for the day that we are inspired. We can’t wait for the epic work. If Picasso had waited for the moment of inspiration to produce his masterpiece, he wouldn’t have had the basic skills to pull it off!

    • Pretty cool to be able to comment across so many years, isn’t it? Thanks for your thoughts, Patt.

      And I agree: we can’t wait for perfection or inspiration. Those come when we work — a lot.

  44. hi Pamela,

    I would definitely want to know his full name (hahahaha)

    one word in which I can describe this beautiful piece of art

    one word is : maturity

    • you mean
      Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso

      Now what to each one of these words mean?

  45. Hi Pam,

    Great article! I like the way you use Picasso’s life and times and connect his experiences to the experiences of people in the world of today! The cycle of life goes round and round, only the players are different! We should ever be open to growth and change. It’s all around us. Life is a daily experiment and as we learn we should embrace the frustrations that go hand in hand with the journey of becoming. My learning curve is shooting straight up in several of my endeavors. It’s exciting and yet intimidating. I agree, not everything can be a masterpiece, nor can we wait for the elusive perfection. If we wait for perfect before we “press the send” button, it will never be pushed! Thanks for the post, I found it enlightening and inspiring!

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