In conversation with Chase at the HOW Design Conference in Boston

In conversation with Chase at the HOW Design Conference in Boston

Chase Jarvis is an award-winning photographer, director and entrepreneur. He has shot campaigns for Nike, Apple, Samsung, Google, and Red Bull and his photographs have appeared in nearly every major network and media outlet, including the New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning story, Snow Fall. Cited as one of the most influential photographers of the past decade, he is also the founder & CEO of CreativeLive, the world’s largest online education platform for creatives and entrepreneurs with over 10 million students worldwide.

Chase hosts the Chase Jarvis LIVE show that includes three shows:

1. cjLIVE: A weekly show with world's best creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs.

2. Daily Creative: Your questions on career, creativity, and living the life you want answered

3. cjRAW: A series exploring creativity, hustle + other stuff.

Chase's second book, 'Seattle 100'; a collection of black and white portraits and biographies of people defining Seattle's culture became the basis for an Emmy-nominated documentary.

I recently had the chance to meet Chase in Boston. He embodies everything he talks about and more. His energy is infectious. Chase is someone you want to keep having conversations with. Enjoy his candid and straight from the heart answers!

"If you can empathise and connect with someone who's close, it's very hard to hate. You can understand, have differences when you're face to face but closeness sort of kills the opportunity for negative feelings."

If you could be rich with one thing, what would it be and why?

Gratitude, because it makes the world go round. This is the easiest question for me because it's what I wake up and think about every morning, before I do anything. And when you’re in a state of gratitude you realise that life is happening for you instead of to you and that is the first step in making anything possible. Because you realise that every second is a gift, every moment and opportunity is a gift. To be able to be rich with gratitude sums up everything.

If you could give more of one thing , what would it be and why?

Gratitude is one of those things that I just mentioned. Even if I have it in abundance I am always seeking more of. And then I think the cousin of gratitude is empathy. Dr. Brene Brown is a good friend and she has been on my show and presumably she would be on your list of people who’d be incredible to have. She talks about connection, compassion and all those things that fundamentally connect us. And what she talks about is, if you can empathize and if you can connect with someone who’s close, it’s very hard to hate. You can understand, have differences when you’re face to face but closeness sort of kills the opportunity for negative feelings. It feels like it’s alright to be different. Infact diversity is something we need to celebrate. Not just diversity of age, skin, orientation, geography, culture and language but diversity of thought. I would have to say that empathy and the ability to see one’s life through another’s would be it.

(And he goes on to add..) Oh, and you also said, what you wish you had more of, and as a leader, what can you give, right?

Me: yes, i did.

I feel like I am doing a pretty good on the gratitude scale and every time I think I am doing good at empathy, I am in contact with someone who just oozes in a way that is profound and makes me want to do a better job.

What do you have that you think others should too and why?

Positivity. Optimism. It's a core value we have on Creative Live. That's not an accident. That has been a virtue of mine for as long as I can remember. I think in many ways, that’s part of what makes impossible possible. And as I mentioned earlier, it's having the perspective that life is happening for you not to you.

There's a great saying that goes, "the person who doesn't think something is possible should stay out of the way of the person who is doing it." And I think, I have learned through my life to fall in love with the mind. It's not my mind. It's the mind. Because It's a 2 million year old organ that's actually not meant to keep us happy, it's meant to keep us alive. We have to master our mind. And part of mastering the mind is the ability to guide its thoughts. Again, it's not meant to keep you happy, It's meant to keep you alive so what can we do to master that? To me positivity is an amazing tool. It generates life force. You can feel it. It's energy. It connects people. It can motivate, move, inspire, connect, create. Without those things, what would we have?

I'd also add energy, like literally the ability to move one's body to get up, to play through things both physical and mental. It goes hand in hand with positivity to me. But nothing happens without energy. You can want something and if you can't actually take action then you really have nothing. (I think) Actions are a much better indicator of someone's life force than just thoughts.

So, the combination of positivity and energy, I think is so powerful. There's another saying "having a gift and not using it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." It’s almost like it didn’t happen.

Do you recall a specific experience when your action created an observable impact on your team? If yes, can you tell me how?

Of course. Whatever happens is there for you. And so any obstacle any road block, it’s there because you are supposed to play through it. Look at every challenge and opportunity, even the horrible things, that's life's way of continuing to build character and strength.

It's not that it happens. It's what happens as a result of that thing, what your actions are and what do you do. 

I think whether it is in business, life, career or creativity, those blockers just become constraints that you have to work around. And it does go back to the mental energy, the positivity and the way I see the world. I have been the captain of every team I've played on and in some shape or form, the founder of several companies. And in each of those instances hard things happen. It's what you do with those hard things and on the leadership table, I think it's okay to grieve.

To go back to Dr. Brene Brown, it's like we want to be able to feel those things. We don’t want to shut them down. We want to feel them, process them fully and move one. And how short can you honestly and in integrity make that moment in transition where you actually process it, is what she calls the gold plated grit. Where you tell them ‘oh yeah, that was really hard and you are on to the next thing’.  Even if takes, whatever amount of time where you have to actually grieve and work through it or understand where you’ve gone wrong, you should do it. 

The ability to recognise that in the moment, to guide others through that experience, is something I constantly need to be reminded of. But what i’ve noticed over and over again is that if i can bring that to the awareness of the people I work closely with on my team or if others can bring it to me, it's a better place.