Many people asked us, “How did you get to all of those people?” Our strategy: Never say never. Successful people are busy people. We hit dead ends. But we never took “No!” from a handler for an answer. (At least not until we heard it for the fifth or sixth time.) We employed a vast network of family, friends, semi-acquaintances, insta-pals, colleagues, even exes, chasing down every lead, including one example of six degrees of separation when we got in touch with Camille’s sister’s high school friend’s daughter’s speech therapist whose best friend was married to a Zen billionaire whom we desperately wanted for this book. Did he say, “Yes”? No, he didn’t. But maybe we’ll get him next time. Meanwhile, we’re still waiting to hear from Hillary Clinton and Lady Gaga!
When I’d made up my mind that being the creator and editor of my own website — so that I can tell the stories and give my readers a glimpse into the lives, the worlds and closets of women who inspire and empower me/us women — is what I really want to do with my life, I started consulting heaps of books and biographies of successful businesswomen and men in the hope of gleaning all their secrets and tips on making it. Then I found this gem.
As it turned out, co-authors Camille Sweeney and Josh Gosfield were asking all the questions I wanted answers to: What is success? Who gets it? How do they do it? Why do people care about it? The best part? The husband-and-wife team got some precious insights from some of the crème de la crème of their field — people from actress Laura Linney and tennis champion Martina Navratilova, to high-wire artist Phillipe Petit (a movie, The Walk, was recently made of him, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt played him!) and CEO of Zappos Tony Hsieh. It’s a book I keep revisiting to this day.
And so, since the nascent stages of establishing Wear Oh Where, whenever I reach out to
So I did. And she said “Yes”.
Jessica told me, “I’m just a normal girl”, but I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t think about that normal girl’s ability to dream that big and make it a reality.
Who is your woman role model and inspiration in life?
Camille Sweeney: I’m always on the hunt for inspiring stories. Not Hallmark, get-you-through-the-minute inspiration, although if it works for someone else, I’m all for it. What affects me is the kind of inspiration that rattles me, an amazing writer, like Donna Tartt, a formidable editor like The New York Times’ Jill Abramson, a pop star, Beyoncé: “How the hell did she do that?” And then: “How the hell can I be more like her?”
Talking to many of the women in my book was like taking master classes with them, but one that really knocked me out (and surprised me!) was Jessica Watson, a young woman from Australia, the youngest person to ever solo-circumnavigate the globe at 16. I’m not particularly interested in sailing, and I tend to think of endurance contests as something for other people. But Jessica’s story just grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. Her preparation for the trip was as fascinating as the journey itself. How does someone get the dream at 11 of sailing around the world on her own? How does someone hold on to that dream and see it through all the ups and downs to the day she sets sail? How does someone endure the seven-month journey at sea through the crushing loneliness and boredom and terror in mountainous waves with the nearest land three weeks away? Jessica told me, “I’m just a normal girl”, but I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t think about that normal girl’s ability to dream that big and make it a reality.
Transform your disappointment into motivation, your uncertainty into an opportunity to learn, and your doubt into coming up with innovative ways of doing things.
CS: Probably the biggest asset in my career and life in general has been that I’m pathologically curious about people. What do they do? Why do they do it? How do they do it? What does the race-car driver think on Lap 29? What does the opera singer think onstage? What inspires the entrepreneur to go on after her moment of failure? My curiosity has led me to be a magician’s assistant for Penn & Teller, to teach English to Eastern bloc journalists in Prague, to report and write countless stories for The New York Times and other publications, and now to pursue my own writing projects, fiction and non-fiction, which hold my curiosity every day.
What is your advice for someone who is pursuing or wants to pursue her dream?
CS: I’ve learned a lot about how to dream from the people in my book. When most of us dream, it tends to be vague because maybe we’re not
going to get there and we’d rather keep the expectation fuzzy in case we miss our mark. (Failure and what we can learn from it is my new fascination!) But I now understand that fuzzy is a very timid place to be. When you identify a dream, it’s time to get specific because when you dream in specifics, you plan in specifics, and your attitude and habits and everything else in your life are shaped around that dream, which makes all the difference in the world.
What were the biggest challenges of starting the The Art Of Doing project and seeing it through?
CS: The biggest challenge for me working on this book was probably managing my disappointment, uncertainty and doubt. I’ve been trained as a journalist, but working on a book or any massive project, there are thousands of sub-goals that have to be achieved
and any one of them can be hard and derail your momentum.
There was everything from writing the book proposal to selling the book to getting all the people to do the interviews etc, etc. But if you can transform your disappointment into motivation, your uncertainty into an opportunity to learn, and your doubt into coming up with innovative ways of doing things, then you can pursue your goals with more confidence. And I think this applies to anyone, but writers especially because writing can be such an insular process. It can be difficult to know how you’re doing. So to writers I say: Share share share your work. Show your writing. Road-test your ideas and stories with friends and strangers. Writing is about communicating. And now it’s never been easier to share (online writing groups, blogs, etc.) You’ll get feedback and get better.