Books, Non-Fiction

Show Your Work by Austin Kleon – Book Review

Show Your Work by Austin Kleon is my first book review on this blog and many more to come in the future! I hope I’ll be able to convince you to pick it up by the end of the review. ?

Why I picked ‘Show Your Work’?

I have been binge-watching Ali Abdaal’s Youtube videos for quite some time now and that’s where I came across this book. I highly recommend you watch his videos if you haven’t already! He is an absolute joy to watch and learn from. ?

Now, let’s get started!

We all want to boast about ourselves when we do something or create something on our own, isn’t it? However, 99% of the time, people just don’t take that step towards showing off their hard work. Few people share their work with close friends or a really small group of well-wishers and that’s it. Their work never gets known to the public. They might either feel it’s not worth showing it to a large crowd or just think it’s not worth the effort.

I was one of many people who belonged to this category a few months ago. I simply post it on one social media and leave it there. But, this book convinced me otherwise. Don’t get me wrong about getting obsessed with increasing my number of ‘views’ or number of ‘subscribers’. It is about the quality you’re bringing into your own life when you start showing your work to this world.

“Don’t show your lunch or your latte; show your work.”

Don’t be shy.

Show your work, and when the right people show up, pay close attention to them, because they’ll have a lot to show you.

If you’re one of those people who are shy to show your work despite working hard on something, I would like to ask you, what’s the scariest thing that could happen to you if at all you decide to publicize your work on every social media? A mean comment from someone who did not even attempt what you did? No one appreciates you after sharing? But you just started sharing, isn’t it? Rome wasn’t built in a day, remember that.

If you keep the worst things aside for a while, think about the best things that could happen. It all starts with 1 share, 1 like, 1 comment, and 1 single subscriber. People of your frequency will eventually find you and would want to connect with you. They would want to collaborate with you and grow their network along with you. Wouldn’t that be awesome? Isn’t that worth the effort of showing off your work?

“Anyone who isn’t embarrassed of who they were last year probably isn’t learning enough,” writes author Alain de Botton.

If you’re someone like me who is always wanting to learn something and waking up every single day to improve skills, then showing your work only accelerates that. There are people who are going to deny what you wrote, what you agree upon. I think Alain de Botton perfectly summarizes the importance of learning every day with the above quote.

Create a system.

The people who get what they’re after are very often the ones who just stick around long enough. It’s very important not to quit prematurely.

One of the biggest mistakes you can do as a beginner is to quit prematurely. Do not expect miracles because life isn’t magic. Create a system and stick to it.

The day I started this blog, I did not expect other than 2 close friends to sign up for my newsletter for the next 3-4 months, now I have almost 20 people signed up for my weekly newsletter in just 1 month! I couldn’t have done that without one simple habit. Consistency. Putting that 1% effort every single day. I’m thankful that I have decided to do that and I highly recommend you do the same. All you have to do is start small, read for 5 minutes or exercise for only 5 minutes if you’re trying to build these habits. Apply the 5 minute rule for anything you want to start and continue doing it.

Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. The same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them.

Ignore trolls.

A troll is a person who isn’t interested in improving your work, only provoking you with hateful, aggressive, or upsetting talk. You will gain nothing by engaging with these people. Don’t feed them, and they’ll usually go away.

You might now be wondering, what if people simply decide to make fun of your work just because they can? Yes, there are people out there whose sole job is to make fun of other people or troll other people’s work. Do you think people like Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Malala Yousufzai, etc., don’t face trolls on a daily basis? Do they stop and read every mean comment about them? No, right? They just let their work speak for themselves. That’s one thing I’ve learned from these people. No matter what, keep going, and let your work speak. Never defend yourself and your worth if the other person’s intention is not to give you constructive criticism.

Do you have a troll problem? Use the block button on social media sites. Delete nasty comments. My wife is fond of saying, “If someone took a dump in your living room, you wouldn’t let it sit there, would you?” Nasty comments are the same—they should be scooped up and thrown in the trash.

Care about what the RIGHT people have to say about you, not what EVERYBODY thinks of you.

Austin Kleon, author of Show Your Work, talks about something known as ‘The Vampire Test’. It’s a simple test to know who you should let in and out of your life. If, after talking or hanging out with someone makes you feel worn out or depleted, then that person is a vampire. If, after hanging out with someone you still feel full of energy and enthusiasm, that person is not a vampire. Have you ever come across a person who fits the category of ‘Vampire’? If yes, do yourself a favor and banish them forever from your life. They are not worth your energy or time.

Connect with the tribe.

“Part of the act of creating is in discovering your own kind. They are everywhere. But don’t look for them in the wrong places.” – Henry Miller

Since the day I started writing and discussing books, I’ve come across many people who read and love to write! This blog is just another step closer to such people who like to learn more about Data Science and keep themselves up to date with AI and Machine Learning. These book review posts are my attempts towards getting closer to such people who love to read books. Talk about the things you love and you’ll attract people who love that kind of stuff. That simple!

Don’t be creepy. Don’t be a jerk. Don’t waste people’s time. Don’t ask too much. And don’t ever ever ask people to follow you. “Follow me back?” is the saddest question on the Internet.

If you expect to have any kind of community building around you and sharing your work with that community, you should be willing and usually the first one to share and appreciate others work. Do not just blindly expect people to share your work with others if you’re not willing to reciprocate the same. If you want to get, you have to give. If you want to be noticed, you have to notice. Once in a while, you should listen instead of talking.

“When people realize they’re being listened to, they tell you things.” —Richard Ford

An important question to ask yourself as we’re almost at the end of this post, what is stopping you from showing your work? What is stopping you from creating your own content and learning? What is stopping you from encouraging others by sharing their work? ?


I hope I’ve convinced you enough to pick up the book Show Your Work by Austin Kleon. The author goes on to talk more about amateurs, sceniuses (opposite of geniuses) and gives some amazing advice on how you can get started in showing your work! Why don’t you go ahead and it on into your Amazon cart for your next purchase?

I will conclude this review with one last quote which truly inspired me to start showing my work on this blog.

Imagine if your next boss didn’t have to read your résumé because he already reads your blog. Imagine being a student and getting your first gig based on a school project you posted online. Imagine losing your job but having a social network of people familiar with your work and ready to help you find a new one. Imagine turning a side project or a hobby into your profession because you had a following that could support you.

Interested in reading more such articles? Why don’t you subscribe and join the tribe to learn along with them? ? Subscribe to my weekly newsletter and follow me on social media!

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