#ShowYourWork a book review

Show your work! by Austin Kleon is the inspiration behind my blog because I dislike self-promotion. The best alternative? A website for documentation. In this article, I'll be sharing the best life-lessons I found from each chapter. It'll be like a 5-min quick guide and big thanks to Austin Kleon for sharing what he's learnt!


Chapter 1 - You don't have to be a genius

  • Whether you're an expert or a beginner, it is worth sharing what you've learnt because it can be useful to at least one other person

  • Death is an inevitable event which should be celebrated because it grounds us, reminding us that we won't have enough time to do what we want in life

Chapter 2 - Think process, not product

  • Consumer culture has focused us to how money is converted into a product. If we are unsatisfied with the product, we become angry and frustrated. However, we forget about the process, the journey that brought us to the destination. I believe that the destination keeps us on the journey but the journey is what we really take away from the whole experience.

  • Keep on documenting and sharing your process even if it's a small step towards the product.

Chapter 3 - Share something small every day

  • This is what I've set myself to do, to share something regularly on this website!

  • There is always something to share when you embark on any journey, just don't make it worth while for people.

  • There is flow and stock. Flow keeps people interested day by day but it can't always be the "best" material you've ever produced. Stock is the foundation of all of your work where it keeps your followers always supporting you because it is pure gold content.

Chapter 4 - Open up your cabinet of curiosities

  • What we consume largely affects what we produce whether you like it or not.

  • Don't self-edit too much! It can be detrimental to your life of sharing. Just share it, be proud of it, be honest, and elaborate.

  • Always give credit where credit is due. It's the online world, the least you can do is put the link down.

Chapter 5 - Tell good stories

  • People care about the "behind-the-scenes", or the story behind how something was made. However, I think we only care when we are aware and grateful. For example, a starving person would not care about how the piece of bread in front of them was produced, they would just eat it. A lot of the times, we easily forget the beauty of how things came to us and we should really appreciate the little and big things in life.

  • It reminds me of listening to "How I Built This" where people explained how they built their startups. For example, I'm definitely more inclined to support Dropbox or Chipotle because they were self-made entrepreneurs who we're just as clueless as I am now. It just feels good to support companies that are backed by genuinely good people. (people still use Amazon, including me but I'd probably pay more if Amazon supported good causes)

Autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful
  • This was an interesting quote I stumbled across. Honestly, it does seem compelling.

Chapter 6 - Teach what you know

  • Be open and transparent about what you learn. Just because you teach doesn't mean people will learn. There are intricacies in what you do that can't be taught and only learnt through many hours of practice. So don't keep it all to yourself, ya greedy person.

  • It reminds me of how someone said that to master something takes 10,000 hrs and do you really think every person you share your knowledge with will spend 10,000 hrs? Probably not!

  • Being open and talking about what you're passionate about is effectively making your community bigger. I remember that at SHAD, we were told to tell any stranger we found about global warming. If "you want to be change that you see in this world", you have to start talking about it all the time.

Chapter 7 - Don't turn into human spam

  • Don't be human spam! If you want to contribute, you also have to consume and be part of the community first! You can't just aimlessly want to publish something in that community. It's about the journey not the destination. If you publish for the sake of publishing, it means nothing.

Chapter 8 - Learn to take a punch

  • Keep on putting work out in the open for people to criticize because honestly, it's an honor to be judged. However, be aware of the TROLLS and what criticism you listen to.

If you spend your life avoiding vulnerability, you and your work will never truly connect with other people
  • This is a deep life-lesson you could also apply to relationships. By being vulnerable, you allow your walls to be broken down so that people who care about you can support you. It's the same with your work, so stay true to who you are and don't be afraid to put yourself out there.

  • Having a comment feature can be a bad or good thing for you. There is no comment section under paintings at the art gallery, neither are there at the end of books. So, if someone really does want to reach out to you, they'll email you.

  • This is kind of funny because from the get-go I wanted to have a comment section for my website. I think it's because I'm pretty good at taking people's criticism and I appreciate it too. So leave a comment down below ;)

Chapter 9 - Sellout

  • If there is an opportunity to do more that's aligned with your goals, just say yes! However, if there is an opportunity that allows you to make more money but strays from your values, then say no!

  • Don't worry about money when it comes to your work, but do keep a backup plan for money because no matter what, it's important no matter who you are.

Chapter 10 - Stick around

  • If you want a happy ending, don't end your show early because you'll never get a happy ending without sticking around.

  • Finding new motivation can come from what you've finished last. If there was something you missed, or a flaw, or an interesting idea that could be explored from your previous project, then you should embark on a new adventure from there.

Anyone who isn't embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn't learning enough Alain de Botton
  • Keep on striving to be a student because we should never be content with mastery.

My 5-min guide of Show your work! tackles some big themes and deep thoughts, so let me know if you want to open a discussion, I'd love to hear what you think!


Thanks for sticking around ;) If you've learnt at least one thing, consider subscribing to my mailing list!

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