I’m delighted to introduce you to Todd Henry.

Todd is a thinker and writer on creativity, innovation, and productivity. Over the past few years, I’ve come to really enjoy his work. You can find his podcast among my favorites on my phone! He has a new book just out, Louder Than Words: Harness the Power of Your Authentic Voice, and I learned so much from it. We are giving away two signed copies – leave a comment below to enter to win.

I recently had a rich conversation with Todd about his book. You can listen to the audio of our chat if you’d like – included at the bottom of the post, but I want to start you off right away with 5 powerful ideas from Louder Than Words that you won’t want to miss.

1. Have you ever thought about how to “find your voice?”  Todd’s perspective is that you won’t so much find your voice as develop your voice. It is a process that happens over time, and that can happen consciously. I love that, and it’s certainly true to my experience. Nice to realize it’s not about one big epiphany, isn’t it?

2. Studying hundreds of creatives, Todd observed three common elements in those who produce unique work over the course of time and develop a real audience for what they do. He calls these elements of voice Identity, Vision and Mastery. “You have to be rooted in what you believe or who you are. You have to be fighting battles that are authentically true to you in that sense (that’s Identity). You have to have vision in terms of where you’re taking your work (that’s Vision). Then you have to have a sense of mastery of the skills that you’re going to need in order to introduce it into the world (that’s Mastery).”

3. In the development of our authentic voices, most us of go through an initial phase of emulation – when we are imitating those we admire, whether we realize it or not! This is true even of artists that you’d think of as having incredibly distinct voices, and genius levels of talent. Look back, and you can see they had an emulation phase. We naturally do that as a way to find our own footing.

Then we reach a divergent stage when, according to Todd, “You start to feel a little bit stifled by the container that you’ve built. Often you will feel contempt for your mentors. Anytime something that you’re doing during the divergence phase starts to smack a little bit of somebody who has influenced you, you’ll start to feel a little bit resentful. You’ll try to push away from your mentors and your heroes a little bit because you really want to find your own thing, your own voice. That’s a sign that it’s time to diverge.” This is when we start to really discover and use our authentic voice. I think that if we can all be aware of these emulation and divergent phases in our work, we can move through them more wisely and with much less stress along the way.

4. In the book, Todd also shares this fascinating idea, which he recapitulated in our conversation. “In Greek mythology, the Muses are the figures that inspire works of art and creativity. The genesis of the Muses is that they’re the offspring of Zeus, who is the god of gods, or the god of power, and Mnemosyne, who is the goddess of memory. The idea there is that energy applied to memory leads to creative inspiration. It’s when you apply specific energy to your memories and begin to mine the past in order to gain insight. You begin looking for patterns. That’s where most of our brilliant insights come from.” I (Tara) thought that was so powerful, and it really is true for me. It’s when I’m applying energy, attention, curiosity, and the search for meaning to what is resting in my memory that my original ideas and ways of talking about things come.

5. The 50 Notables is a framework of five powerful questions Todd uses that can help you discover more about your voice and work. Todd says, “Often as we’re pushing through our work, as we’re plowing through our days, going about the busyness of our schedule, it’s easy to lose sight of those little emotional pings, those little things that connect with us in a deep and profound way. I prescribe keeping a running list of things that seem notable to you in some way, that capture your attention, that capture your imagination, and that ping you emotionally.” (For tons of creative inspiration, grab our free download HERE. It’s a worksheet for you to record your 50 Notables, with great prompts from Todd).

Download the audio of our chat HERE

5 Big Ideas w Todd Henry-500

Join the discussion 86 Comments

  • Alexandra says:

    Tara thank you for bring todd’s 5 big ideas, I am putting on my vision board

  • Pat says:

    As an acupuncturist whose worked with seniors battling arthritic pain for many years and who specializes in anti aging facial techniques, I know that my time time is now as our country will soon have more 60 year olds than 15 year olds. But how to make my skills really help people AND earn enough money to support myself in the very expensive bay area? Todd’s book seems like a way to plan my future.

  • Shanna says:

    This gives me hope a voice can be found even at my age.

  • Corla McG says:

    Delighted to see that someone has addressed the authentic and unique voice that we each have. I have done public speaking on an amateur level for years and there is no comparison for me in the feeling of finding my creative voice through my art. I would LOVE to have a copy of this book in my library!

  • Deanna Anderson says:

    I can’t wait to hear the audio and read the book. I guess I never thought about we do emulate those we admire until we are ready to grow into our own. Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

  • Mónica says:

    Thank you for this lovely email. Just wanted to share I truly believe in the power of intuition, being a rebel who did not pay much attention to it in my younger years and of course, having paid high prices along the road. It was only when I committed myself to be silent and LISTEN carefully that “the world out there” started changing, and I as a woman started flourishing…An adventure of true recognition of how All of Us are but One divine Essence scattered in billions of tiny parts:) Many say this is only wo-wo metaphysics. Whatever. My own life – as it is most of us on Earth who choose to accept responsibility for it – is a live example of letting go, Self belief, change, growth and commitment to learn, expand (and teach) consciousness every single day. Thank you Tara 🙂

  • Marylyn says:

    Tara I have struggled to find my voice all my life. I’m now in my late thirties. Todd’s perspective caught my attention. I never thought of it in the manner he describes. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Deborah says:

    Thank you for what you offer. As a new graduate starting out in the field of architecture I am eager to push for a larger voice in the non-profit sector. To bring quality design and sustainable environments to populations who really need it, not just those who are able to afford it.

  • Lisa says:

    Remarkable insights that are so easily applied! Why do insist on making things harder than they need to be? It gets much easier when we accept the possibility that we’ve known this all along, we just weren’t ready to realize the potential. Thank you for letting us know of another way to engage what’s possible!

  • Mary Ann says:

    So glad Todd has captured the essence of true communication. One of the things I share when presenting or coaching is “Don’t be afraid of listening to the sound of your own voice”. Being heard is important.

  • Carol says:

    Love the title of the book and the cover graphic.
    My Ideas are like little clouds floating by…
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Deirdre says:

    The part about divergence creatively is especially interesting. That is when you have explored craft and technique to some extent (whatever your medium) and then need to take risks to really make the work your own…look forward to hearing more.

  • Julie Fiandt says:

    Thanks, this is so reassuring!

  • Tupe says:

    Thanks, Todd and Tara for sharing your insights. Your message on authenticity is so spot on! As a former full-time professional woman who was shocked into the tough, but creative world of motherhood and entrepreneurship, I find it is most when am in tune with who I really am at the core when I achieve my highest goals, get the best reviews and feel all-around in control/in awe of what am doing. I find also that this authentic voice, or calling is latent, it’s always there, and we can always get back to it-day or night, such that we can’t ever get tired of doing our thing because at the end of the day, that’s us! My life, and daily tasks are far from easy, with a 2 year old, but am grateful for this lesson from so far away that resonates with my own inner voice. Stay blessed!

  • Susan W says:

    I like the idea of:
    “My Identity comes from the Mastery of my Vision.”

  • Cindy Wilson says:

    Sometimes someone brings something into your life at just the right time. I appreciate your sharing this with us.

  • Sharliss Arnold says:

    Amazing! I am in a crazy season of life in my 50’s where I have allowed doing for others to rob me of what God really wants me to do. Thank you for this post and for bringing this speaker/author to our attention.

  • This is meeting me where I am at—craving out my own vision for my work, pushing back from mentors, even unsubscribing from their newsletters to percolate my next offering without the flood of their influence. At times it felt like my biz was not needed as others could do it better, now I see it is being reborn. THANKS, I had never heard of Todd.

  • The book sounds fascinating. I struggle with trying to “find” my voice — too often my experimentations seem weird or too self-conscious, whereas I tend to slip into clichés if I don’t pay attention.

  • I’m a writer, and I interview new clients in order to get information about who they are, what their business is all about, what the stand is they take for their clients, etc. I think the questions on Todd’s 50 Notables are terrific, and I will be incorporating them into my interview process. Definitely am going to buy a copy of Louder Than Words! Great stuff. Thank you, Tara, for bringing Todd Henry and his work to our attention.

  • Rebecca says:

    This is very helpful, thank you! I think it’s very healthy as a creative to consider creativity something you can control and develop rather than be at the mercy of. 🙂

  • Voice is such a great topic. I just did a workshop on leadership style and voice and people are hungry for this information. Can’t wait to use this content.

  • Valerie says:

    Loved The Accidental Creative, really looking forward to this one!

  • Amy Haynes says:

    I’m gaining major traction coming out of a bumpy divergence period. I’m a huge fan of Todd Henry (and of course you, Tara) – really looking forward to the new book!

  • Allison says:

    This has described my trajectory perfectly! The emulation phase, divergence phase, developing my own voice, memory + energy (it’s EXACTLY how I knew how to diverge from my mentor). Wonderful stuff. Thank you for sharing!

  • mary says:

    I’d love to read the book! Very interesting ideas…especially love the idea of keeping a running list of things that ping you emotionally.

  • Michele Karsk says:

    I never thought about probing memories for creative inspiration. For some reason I think of creativity as something new, even from myself rather than something hidden in a memory waiting to be sussed out. I think this is an interesting idea.

  • suzanne says:

    Love the development over finding your voice, as I’ve been ‘searching’ and curiously waiting for the ‘big voice find’ to show up. Too scattered looking out there for answers. Excited about the book!

  • Jocelyn says:

    I love this idea. As I reflect on my life, I realize that there have been times where I have felt I have lost my voice, and times when I have been more intentional about finding it- or as Todd says developing it. This seems to be a central theme in my life learning. I am looking forward to listening to the podcast and reading this book!

  • The idea of ‘developing’ my voice is so much more encouraging to me than ‘finding’ it. I don’t quite get the “Notables” idea yet, but will read more about it.

  • Brenda says:

    Great timing – sounds very interesting.

  • ali wong says:

    This was very timely and a great conversation starter with my team today. #1 resonated with them

  • Shannon says:

    Thanks for this 🙂 I just finished Playing Big and got so much from it. Looking forward to learning more.

  • Bevin says:

    What incredible insights. I really enjoyed reading this post and look forward to using these ideas in my life. Whether I win a copy of the book or not, I’m pretty sure I will be reading it soon. Great convo!

  • Shelly says:

    I’m definitely in the divergent stage! Thanks for the clarity around finding vs. developing your voice!!

  • Rachel Begun says:

    I am a nutritionist and natural chef who works with the media to educate the public about food and nutrition issues. I’m at a juncture in my career where I’m transitioning my focus and part of that transition is to become, as you say, “louder” with my authentic voice of my true beliefs and opinions. The advice from this book would be invaluable to me and the public that I speak to as I make this transition. Thanks for sharing your advice on such an important topic.

  • Morven says:

    I’m in the final pages of Playing Big and now that I’ve found my voice I’m ready to learn how to develop it. Love this post.

  • Kathy says:

    Just what I’ve been mulling over the last few days! Some good thoughts to add to the pondering. Thank you Tara and Todd.

  • Todd Henry says:

    Carol, I’ve found these questions very helpful in a corporate setting as well. Please let me know how they work for you.

  • Todd Henry says:

    So glad to hear it resonated, Allison.

  • Todd Henry says:

    That’s the struggle, for sure. It’s easy to acclimate, and grow comfortable with your existing skills/medium of expression. At some point, we begin to “circle the wagons” rather than taking new ground. That’s often the most dangerous thing we can do, with regard to growth and continued effectiveness.

  • Simone says:

    Thanks for this Tara – I hadn’t been able to put my finger on what wasn’t sitting well with me; and you’ve nailed it. This concept of the divergent stage is right where I’m at. A great insight – thank you for sharing this.

  • susan says:

    Love reading Todd’s #4 tip about linking energy and memory to bring forth creative inspiration. That’s one I’ll remember.

  • Amy says:

    The 50 Notables list is a good reminder to stay emotionally connected to the things that inspire and bring passion into our lives. It is easy to get so busy in the thick of living that we lose sight of these important triggers. Thanks for the interview!

  • Jennifer says:

    Thanks for this Tara and Todd!
    The part about embracing your divergent phase really resonated with me, and you have given words to help me articulate how I’m feeling as my teaching methods evolve.

    I found Playing Big very helpful, and look forward to reading Todd’s new book as a next step!

  • Livvy says:

    Thanks for this Tara – it’s exactly what I’m currently working on for myself professionally. I recently read your Playing Big book and will add Todd’s book to my reading list.

  • Adrienne says:

    Another fantastic piece of inspiration. Thank you! I am lucky to be in an exciting new role within an amazing growth industry that is calling for new models and ideas. Feeling out of my comfort zone I bought your book at the airport and it gave me the clarity I needed. I especially loved the visualizations. I would love to read Todd’s book and will listen to pod cast today. xxx

  • Angee says:

    I could so identify with the divergent stage. Would love to learn more.

  • Stacy says:

    Thank you for such a powerful resource! I’ve downloaded the 50 notables and can’t wait to get started! With the knowledge you’ve shared in the 5 Big Ideas I can only imagine what a wealth of knowledge is in the book. Thank you for the chance to win a copy!

  • Rebecca Prosser says:

    Yes yes yes. I am both intensely curious and energized by this work and these findings. It is true, I feel a divergent phase kick in when I feel compelled to deviate from what I know and what is familiar into a realm of unknown through active self-discovery – experimentation, self-inquiry, risk taking and seeking out edges outside of the boundaries. This energy is heightened by active phases of inquiry, discovery, experimentation and mastery. Love to learn more, I’m an open vessel and thrive on these opportunities to embark on new, unchartered waters.

  • Vicki Fach says:

    A resounding ping from energy romances memory. I had started a book on becoming a widow and kept running into brick walls until I realized through a writer’s intensive retreat that what I wanted to write was the story of my marriage and the 30 years of daily love letters that burrowed into our struggles, challenges, romance, growth and passion as we chose to deepen and strengthen our love for each other for 38 years.

  • Lisa Johnston says:

    I’ve been thinking a lot about discovering, uncovering what I like as a means to understanding who I am, and sloughing off the parts that are not my authentic self. It’s amazing to me how much work this is. But when I drop the judgement, it’s really rather engaging, and I feel that emotional resonance, and for me, softening, that Todd talks about in the 50 Notables. Thank you for sharing his work with us,

  • Tahlee says:

    Ahhh, what a sigh of relief that your “authentic voice” is developed rather than simply found.

    I’ve been thinking about all the musicians I admire and how they seem to have a “sound” that is replicated across many albums. It’s distinctive and unique. Yet I feel like my craft is quite scattered – like I haven’t quite “found” my true sound.

    How inspiring to realise that this is cultivated and honed over time rather than stumbled across… 🙂

  • Stella says:

    I particularly like the idea of the Muses

  • Diane says:

    I’ve even asked to mentor many times and it is so refreshing to read that it’s not me but them when they have grown too big for the box they have built and that I can help them through this stagnant stage.

  • Evelyn says:

    I’m a writer of fiction, memoir and poetry. This article and interview really resonated with me. Even the comments related to business can be applied to writing. I’m sharing this with my writing group…finding our voice, finding creative inspiration and finding the meaning in our writing projects are all frequent topics when we get together to share and critique our work.

  • Willoughby Parks says:

    I am looking forward to reading this book. Basically I am retired now and look forward to using the worksheet. One thing I noticed after reading your wonderful post was the pleasure I get from seeing the structure my five-year-old grandson built on the living room rug yesterday. I have left it there for awhile since it does gives me a ping to see it.

  • Sheena R says:

    Hi Tara/Todd,

    As always, I opened your post with the child-like excitement of getting a new gift of wisdom and this time too I was lucky. Thank you for sharing your story and that of others who have already tread and mastered the path that I have just ventured into.

    I am now in the “divergent stage” where I was feeling like a rebel because I wanted to step out of my mentors’ shadow and do something on my own. I felt like an apostate and virtually hated my blasphemous attitude on one side whereas on the other side the prick to move towards authenticity was too painful to ignore.

    Now, I found peace in the one sentence that described my situation “You’ll try to push away from your mentors and your heroes a little bit because you really want to find your own thing, your own voice.” Cannot thank Todd and you enough for that.

    While I always knew that memories had the answer to all my questions on inner-voice I never had thought about applying energy to it.

    “Playing Big” was like a beacon and I am sure “Louder than words” will be an alarm bell that holds out warning boards whenever I deviate from my journey.

    I’m not sure if you folks realize the magnitude of positive impact you have on people like me who are battling a war within while trying to seem “normal and fine” to the outside world.

    Keep up the great work.
    All the best.

  • Veronika says:

    I love this. Especially the part about spending energy on memory to get to creativity. I believe you are the most creative and authentic when you are working from your own experience.

  • Liz says:

    Thank you – timely and inspiring post, I was losing motivation through the process, but ‘naming’ the stages truly helps !

  • Rachel says:

    Ooh, I’d love to have the opportunity to read this book

  • amina says:

    Todd’s guidelines are helpful but limited in a way that have the potential to disempower. They are helpful because they are simple, focused and clear. The conceptualization of Identity, Vision and Mastery are rooted in some problematic assumptions. First, “identity” in this sense is more like personality not a deeper connection to one’s soul. Without a spiritual basis, this “identity” is just another construct, and the advice to commit to it would seem to encourage falseness not authenticity. As an artist, I don’t feel like my work comes from my “identity” rather by following my spiritual path I make the space in myself to allow creation to emerge. my “vision” is fluid and ever-evolving, to pin it to a poster board would suffocate the source. Second, the concept of “mastery” of skills and knowledge comes from the conceptualization of knowledge as commodity, ie something to be aquired, measured, owned; it is inherently violent and isolating (I have “mastered” this, I have this knowledge and if you pay me I will give it to you, the passive learner). Skills and knowledge building are experiential and communal events Imagine having “mastered” an understanding of a poem: what a sad approach! “Mastery” also creates a world of experts- people who know a lot about a little but little about the world. “Mastery” also implies a relationship with others as one of competition rather than solidarity. Todd’s guidelines are clearly identified with a capitalist for-profit individualist male-centric linear framework- one he has apparently mastered. This is not the platform from which I would choose to create neither my art nor our world. Peace.

  • Velvet says:

    This is so inspiring. Thank you both for the fuel!

  • Erin Menut says:

    Thank you for sharing this interview, Tara. I’ve been thinking a lot about creativity since reading Brene Brown’s gifts of imperfection and I’m getting ready to launch a retreat this October called “Rekindling the Creative Fire” – I think of creativity as an essential ingredient in a life of joy – whatever unique contribution we stand to make in this life will come out of the creative alchemy of our authenticity, our ways of making meaning out of memory, and the courage to follow our calling. Thanks for being an inspiration to me and so many others. -Erin

  • Annemieke van der Poel says:

    What a great post. I am very curious about the book. I have learned that indeed you have an inner voice. Several even. Ones that give you advice in a good way but also the little pirates who keep you from harm but in that way also can prevent you from new things, grasping opportunities. Is this book also helping you recognize those different voices? By recognizing and knowing when it is ok to trust your inner voice.

  • Lise says:

    The past few years I have been on a path of “full self-expression,” or what I think of as finding and using my own voice. I have felt stucker than stuck on a particular blog project. Playing Big has helped a lot. I also really like Todd’s idea about developing one’s voice rather than finding it. That’s a helpful mental shift. Thanks to both of you!

  • Erin says:

    I loved reading this! It’s got me very excited to read the book. I really like Todd’s reflections about divergence. It so often seems a time of awkwardness in the teacher/student or mentor/mentee relationship, and framing it as a natural process, (which can be done with more or less grace) is inspiring. I’m at a place of individuation and divergence myself, and these words about it make it seem somehow less uncomfortable. Recognizing the stage in myself “Oh, resentment and irritation makes sense, it’s a sign I’m at this healthy stage!” is kind of like seeing my 5-year old son’s developmental stages clearly – it makes the emotional content less disturbing and more seen as the necessary grist for the mill. Thanks for sharing, Tara and Todd. Perfect timing for me! 🙂

  • Kristen says:

    Would love to win this book since I am in a stage of my career where I am trying to finding “my voice”

  • Brenda Smit says:

    I’m on the threshold of adding my voice to my website. Not just my voice, but also my person and my being. There is much here that resonates with me. Thank you, Tara, for bringing this book to my attention.

  • Josiane says:

    Yes, developing our voice is a much better way to talk about this than finding it. Even when people who talk about finding our voice add that we can only find it through practicing and using it, the very word they use suggests something else, a sudden switch of the “now you don’t have it/now you do” variety, whereas the idea of developing it keeps us more grounded in the process and seeing the gradual shifts happening.
    The idea of inspiration as a romance between energy and memory is intriguing! I’ll be curious to explore what it means to me.

  • Peggy says:

    I first encountered Todd’s work and wisdom through a workshop with Jeffrey Davis and Tracking Wonder – I’m looking forward to seeing this new book – Todd is inspiring!

  • Lenora says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this post, Tara. I immediately felt a big YES as I started to read, and the more I read, the more that YES grew! I can’t wait to check out Todd’s podcast, and his book sounds wonderful–so on target for me. I really appreciate you bringing his work to my attention.

  • Aesha says:

    Thank you Tara for sharing this and introducing his work. I resonated immediately with the 1st one – that we “develop” our voice.

  • Emily says:

    Thanks for this post and for the downloadable worksheet! Such good information, and I love having an action item to keep me moving.

  • Lisa says:

    I’m ‘developing’ my voice rather late in life, but it’s never too late. Thanks for sharing this fascinating perspective. I look forward to exploring it more!

  • Suzanne Holt says:

    I always appreciate encouragement to be true to what I am called to be. Action step ideas are particularly helpful. Thank you for bringing this author to my attention.

  • Brittany says:

    Tara, this was an unexpected breakthrough for me. I spent my grad school years writing short stories, and expected to compile them into a book. I’ve been staring at them for two years, just willing myself to revise them and get on with it. It’s been painful because I feel blocked and don’t know who I am as a writer anymore. But after reading this, I’ve realized that maybe I’m just in the divergence stage. Those old stories don’t ring true to me anymore. I think I do just need to embrace this stage and let go of the old stuff. Thank you!

  • Kjirsten Mickesh says:

    Thank you for sharing! I love the idea of developing my voice. I don’t need to find it…it’s always here and available! I’m looking forward to reading the book.

  • charlene says:

    Thanks for this article. I look forward to diving into his work!

  • Karen Bota says:

    I cannot wait to listen to the audio conversation. This made so much sense to me and resonated!

  • You and Todd happen to be a couple of my favorite people to follow, and I really look forward to reading his new book. I just printed out the 50 Notables too to start tackling that. I always worry about the “Mastery” part but I also know part of that comes from limiting beliefs and the cultural story, and your book Playing Big has been extremely helpful for me in that regard. Thank you Tara & Todd!

  • Lisa says:

    I love these “five big ideas” and can’t wait to have a read of Todd’s new book. Thanks for the interview!

  • Gail Gaspar says:

    Particularly like the ideas of tapping the well of memory to generate creativity and that “our voice” is not a destination but an evolving process. Much more approachable this way. Thanks for the intro to Todd and his book!

  • erika deridder says:

    This was just what I needed today. I am impatient to see the changes I want to make in my life. It is always good to be brought back down to earth and realize that they don’t have to happen in one big moment, but that it takes time and work for the really good things to become true.

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