Create Out Loud
with Jennifer Louden
3 | Anne-Laure Le Cunff: Releasing Creative Anxiety
Anne-Laure Le Cunff is an entrepreneur, and an ex-Googler turned neuroscience student who is leading the conversation around creative anxiety, mental wellness in our modern age, the delicate balance between productivity and creativity, and how we can use technology to make the world better.
In this episode:
- A behind-the-scenes look at how Anne-Laure Le Cunff has grown her newsletter and membership community, Ness Labs, in record time
- What creatives can do to be more mindfully productive
- How to have “idea sex” (as good as it sounds!)
- The concept of time anxiety and how it affects our creative lives
- Ways to create more ease and better mental health while embracing the natural challenges of being a creative
- Why you should start sharing your ideas before you’re ready, using the power of the generation effect
Anne-Laure Le Cunff is an entrepreneur, ex-Googler, and neuroscience student who founded Ness Labs, a community for “people who want to be more productive and more creative without sacrificing their mental health.”
We had an incredibly interesting conversation about how to be more mindfully productive, how to have “idea sex,” (hint: it will make you more creative!) how she’s been able to grow her newsletter community to 30,000 people in 3 years, and lots of nerdy neuroscience-based ways to create with more ease and better mental health while embracing the natural challenges of being creative.
She told me about a time when she felt lost in her career and life. She’d left her dream job at Google to found a startup, and when that didn’t work out, she didn’t know what would come next.
“I think reflecting is one of the most powerful tools that you can use. And so I decided to go back to the drawing board and ask myself, ‘what is something you would love to work on, even if you were not making any money?’
If I decoupled the material success from the work, what is something that I would still want to wake up in the morning to learn about, research, and share with the world? For me, that's always been how the mind works, how the brain works.
This is how I decided to go back to school...how I found my current path. I let it emerge, based on principles of my passions and my interests. And only after that, the business idea emerged around the passion.”
We explore that business idea and the iterative path she took to build it into what it is today—Ness Labs, a newsletter with 30,000 subscribers and a membership community with more than 2,000 paying members.
Her newsletter’s tagline: “A science-based newsletter for makers to practice self care, cultivate their curiosity, and dare to create.”
I know a thing or two about self care, having started the conversation about it in popular culture back in the early 90s. I asked her for an update on what self care means for the younger generation.
“The lines between work and life have completely blurred in the past years. It's really hard for someone who's a creator, a writer, or an entrepreneur to have the self discipline to say, ‘okay, I'm closing my laptop now. The day of work is over; this is rest time.’ And it's very easy, especially when you're very passionate about your work, to overwork yourself.
It's interesting how there used to be quite a lot of resources to help people who had burnout, because they didn't like their jobs anymore; they were unhappy. But there’s very little out there for people who are burned out because they love their job too much. And they had a really hard time drawing this line in the sand, saying, ‘I also need rest; I need leisure. Not all of my life is work. And I'm not fully defined by my work.’”
Of course, self care these days has a lot to do with shutting down screen time. You’ll appreciate what she has to say about this, and her advice for recovering from creative burnout.
Anne-Laure believes, “in order to generate creative outputs, you need creative input.” That includes rest, inspiration, reading, watching interesting documentaries, and one of the most nourishing things that you can have in your life—a good conversation with a friend. In her experience, making space for having an interesting conversation with someone who asks good questions can be where you get your best ideas.
We also discussed the importance of curiosity for creativity and well being, rethinking the idea of toxic originality, ways to develop creative agency, why you should start sharing your ideas before you’re ready, the power of metacognition in shaping your life, what’s next for her, and so much more.
Join me as we discover how Anne-Laure Le Cunff creates out loud.
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