how to accomplish great things quickly: when quick n’ dirty is totally genius

Sir Bob Geldolf wrote the lyrics to Do They Know It’s Christmas Time? in the back of the limo on his way to the recording studio. Between 11am and 7pm, with melody samples from Tears for Fears, and Boy George being flown in by Concord, Do They Know It’s Christmas Time? was in the can and ready for release. The now classic song hit #1 and helped galvanize a global awareness campaign for famine relief.

An even greater feat of creative swiftness, Geldolf pulled LIVE AID together in about seven months. It was one of the largest-scale broadcasts of all time, with a global audience of nearly 2 billion. In terms of production planning, it happened at the speed of light.

One of the greatest portrait painters alive, Francesco Clemente, says that if he can’t finish a painting in a day, he’s not that interested in it. Jack Kerouac believed that his uncorrected spontaneous prose, “visionary tics shivering in the chest,” were the most artful.

Fast can make something that lasts.


1. Let yourself be moved. Swept up. Spurred. Taken.
Geldof saw a report on Ethiopian famine on the nightly news and sketched out the LIVE AID plan that night. Don’t hold yourself back. Do not censor your passion. Fuck being practical. Do not be logical. You do not have to know how you’re going to pull it off. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. Think of all the greatness-makers who have said, “If I knew what this was going to take, I wouldn’t have started.” Just be seized. Go with it. This wave of “I gotta do this!” will lead you to a strategy. [WhiteHot backup, read: On Bright Faith And Why Falling In Love Is Totally Uncool]

2. Simply believe that you CAN — and will — do incredible things in a very short amount of time. Not all the time, of course. But more often than not. Creativity doesn’t need to be a process that is drawn out — contrary to what a lot of perfectionists and self-sabatogers think. Hell, sometimes it doesn’t even need to be thought out well. You just need to get it out. This requires that you…

3. Trust. Trust hard and trust strong. [WhiteHot backup, read: Open up anyway.]

4. Be on the watch for for synchronicities.
When you fully commit to pull something amazing off in short order, angels hear the alarm and slide down the cosmic fire pole to give you earthly assistance. Trust that people will be placed on your path and they will get you where you need to go faster than you could get there by yourself. Think of crazy deadlines as compressed magic time.

5. Set seemingly impossible deadlines. I did it for The Spark Kit. I wrote/filmed it in 11 weeks, it lead to a book deal, which we sealed in a few days time. And Your Big Beautiful Book Plan — which is massive. We pulled a team together to launch in 8 weeks. In both cases, I announced the launch date before I’d started on the projects. [WhiteHot backup, read: Time Kills Deals and 7 Other Points on Making It Happen]

6. Focus like your life depends on it.
The faster you drive, the more you have to focus. [WhiteHot backup, read: Super Hero Syndrome + The Practical Response To Crazy Ambition]

7. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT DEVALUE SOMETHING YOU MAKE BECAUSE YOU MADE IT QUICKLY AND EASILY. This is the most nasty killer of unfurled greatness. We think that because it came so swift and easy, it mustn’t be as valuable. Hogwash. When you’re operating from a place of your True Strengths — it’s easy. You’re more productive, happy, and…faster.  [WhiteHot backup, read: The Manifesto of Encouragement]

So, no kidding: I’m just about to hit “publish” on this post, and I get this email from my creative compatriot, Alexandra Franzen: “In a bout of mania, I made a mini-product this morning: FIVE SCRIPTS TO FILL YOUR CLIENT DOCKET. It’s fun. It’s $15. And hopefully, it’s hella useful. Here’s a copy for YOU. ‘Cause, ya!. Today’s theme is: getting shit done, lightning fast.” See.

And now, here’s a copy for YOU to get manic with.

Believe in the possible, the swift, the power of lickety split.