#141 Joey Cofone, Founder & CEO of Baronfig | Favorite Baronfig Products, Skill vs Renown, Daily Disciplines, Favorite Books, and More

Listen as we decode daily disciplines, favorite books, favorite Baronfig products, and more with Joey Cofone, Founder & CEO of Baronfig and author of The Laws of Creativity. We also cover the best advice he’s been given by mentors as both a founder and author.
Last updated
August 13, 2023
Min Read
More ways to listen to Outliers
Episode artwork

#141 Joey Cofone, Founder & CEO of Baronfig | Favorite Baronfig Products, Skill vs Renown, Daily Disciplines, Favorite Books, and More


About the Guest

Joey Cofone is the Founder & CEO of Baronfig and an award-winning designer and entrepreneur. His work has been featured in Fast Company, Bloomberg, New York Magazine, Bon Appétit, Quartz, Mashable, Gizmodo, and Print, among others. Joey was named a New Visual Artist and, separately, Wunderkind designer by Print magazine.

He strives to make work that appeals to curious minds—work that’s beautiful, smart, and communicative. He believes that design is the least of a designer’s worries, that story is at the heart of all tasks, and jumping off cliffs is the only way to grow.

Joeycofone.com | Twitter | Baronfig | The Laws of Creativity


Episode Guide

Joey Cofone shares the lessons he’s learned as an award-winning designer, the Founder & CEO of Baronfig, and the author of The Laws of Creativity, including why he’s fascinated with the juxtaposition between skill and renown, how he worked with James Clear to design the Clear Habit Journal, why experimentation is Baronfig’s most important value, how rock bottom taught him how to take risks, and so much more.

“There’s a stereotype of creatives, which is that they’re just flying by the seat of their pants. I’m here to tell you that it’s absolutely not true. We need to separate that from what creativity is. We need to decouple this ridiculous stereotype so that more people can blossom creatively.” — Joey Cofone

Joey Cofone's Favorite Books

Joey shared his all-time favorite books including:

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

  • The Phantom Tollbooth is a children's fantasy adventure novel written by Norton Juster, with illustrations by Jules Feiffer, first published in 1961. The story follows a bored young boy named Milo who unexpectedly receives a magic tollbooth that transports him to the once prosperous, but now troubled, Kingdom of Wisdom. Along with a dog named Tock and the Humbug, Milo goes on a quest to the Castle in the Air seeking the kingdom's two exiled princesses, named Rhyme and Reason. As Milo learns valuable lessons, he finds a love of learning in a story full of puns and wordplay, such as exploring the literal meanings of idioms. While The Phantom Tollbooth is a children’s novel, Joey Cofone thinks every adult should read it.
  • Buy it now: Print | eBook | Audiobook

Radical Candor by Kim Scott

  • Radical Candor, or how to be a kick-ass boss without losing your humanity, is a business leadership book written by former Apple and Google executive Kim Malone Scott. In the book, Scott defines the term radical candor as feedback that incorporates both praise and criticism. Unlike radical transparency or radical honesty, Scott says the management principle of radical candor involves “caring personally while challenging directly.” Radical Candor is core to how Joey Cofone and his team at Baronfig work together and how they share feedback with one another.
  • Buy it now: Print | eBook | Audiobook

Joey Cofone's Favorite Baronfig Products

Joey also shared his favorite products of Baronfig, where he’s the Founder & CEO. They include:

  • Squire Rollerball Pen: Joey Cofone’s favorite pen is the Squire Rollerball Pen, which is designed with an underlying philosophy of simplicity, usefulness, and community.
  • Confidant Hardcover Notebook: The Confidant notebook is made for ideas. Its premium cloth hardcover, high quality paper, and lay-flat design are just a few examples of the care that goes into its creation.
  • Strategist Index Cards: The Strategist index cards are perfect for lists, sketches, reminders, and more. Joey Cofone, Baronfig’s Founder & CEO, keeps a stack of them on his desk filled with all of the ideas that he wants to continue to think about and push forward. He reviews that stack weekly to make sure that every idea is something he wants to continue pursuing and investing in.
  • James Clear’s Habit Journal: Joey Cofone, Baronfig’s Founder & CEO, personally designed the Clear Habit Journal with the author of the NYT Bestseller Atomic Habits, James Clear, over the course of 6 months.

Related Episodes

If you enjoyed this episode with Joey Cofone, don’t miss our other interviews with creative and design leaders:

Go Deeper on Creativity

How to Reliably Get Inspired

Joey Cofone explains the two types of inspiration—passive and active—and how anyone can take advantage of them to find inspiration. He also describes how active inspiration works and how it consists of three steps: collecting, assimilating, and combining. If you’re struggling to get and stay inspired, this is a fantastic read.

Creativity vs Business

Creativity and entrepreneurship have a lot of synergies, but they can just as easily work against each other. Joey Cofone walks through how he balances creativity with entrepreneurship at Baronfig. He shares why a great creation does not equal a great seller and why, similarly, a great selling product isn’t necessarily a mind-blowing one.

The Highs & Lows of Creating Baronfig

Joey Cofone shares the highs and lows of building Baronfig over the last decade, including why the biggest challenge is handling the pulls in a dozen directions in any given moment, and how there’s always something that can be created, improved, or fixed. Building a company often feels like a never ending game of Whack-a-Mole.

The Truth About Creative Magic

While the results of creativity are often magical, the process to get there is not. The practice of creativity is as reliable as accounting and as easy as following these four steps: get inspired, research, iterate, and choose to end. Joey Cofone shares why we have to lean into systemization and systemize the hell out of our creative process.

How to Recognize Good Ideas

Joey Cofone shares his thoughts on how to know when an idea is good and how to go from an idea to the best final solution or product. For him, it involves what he calls the Grok Threshold, which is when your audience understands an idea profoundly and intuitively—envisioning how it fits into their lives and understanding it well enough to be able to share it with others.

Strategies for Personal Accountability

All of us struggle with personal accountability and honoring our commitments. Joey Cofone shares the four strategies he uses to keep himself accountable and use his time effectively. They include having contingencies, giving himself prizes when he hits certain goals, daily habit tracking, and having accountability buddies. He goes on to explain why all of these use positive reinforcement rather than negative reinforcement.


Daniel Scrivner (00:00):

Hello, and welcome to another episode of 20 Minute Playbook by Outlier Academy, where we decode what iconic founders, renowned investors, bestselling authors, and Outlier thinkers have mastered in what they've learned along the way. In each episode, we dive deep to uncover the tools, strategies, habits, routines, and hacks that we can all apply in our own work and lives, all in about 20 minutes. I'm Daniel Scrivner, and on the show today I'm joined by award-winning designer and entrepreneur, Joey Cofone. Joey is the founder and CEO of Baronfig, which is known for its incredible pins, notebooks, and journals like James Clear's Habit Journal. He's also the author of a brand new book called The Laws of Creativity, where he breaks down creativity into 39 laws that anyone can follow to become more creative. You can find a searchable transcript of this episode as well as our episode guide with ways to dive deeper at outlieracademy.com/141. That's outlier academy.com/141. Please enjoy my conversation with award-winning designer and entrepreneur, Joey Cofone. Joey, I am so thrilled to have you on 20 Minute Playbook. Thank you so much for joining me.

Joey Cofone (01:05):

Oh, Daniel, thank you for having me, man. I'm excited for this.

Daniel Scrivner (01:08):

So I'd love to jump straight into the questions on this portion of the interview, and I'd like to start out with a recent fascination. What have you been fascinated or obsessed by recently? What can't you stop thinking about?

Joey Cofone (01:19):

Yes, my wife will tell you I have unfortunate obsessions that come and go in waves, and one that's been really bugging me and then I'm just throwing big ideas out at the beginning here, controversial even, which is the juxtaposition of skill and renown. And so I'm writing this book, and I could give a crap normally about an audience that I personally have because that's what Baronfig is for. However, I've heard over the years, "Hey man, you need a personal brand," whatever. But there's this idea that I can be the greatest and the most creative person I know and actually I feel like I am, but that doesn't equal the greatest following.

Joey Cofone (02:08):

And then you have the opposite, which this is what really bugs me, is you can have someone who is actually just a half-assed create or really just spewing out stuff that's actually detrimental to people's creativity, but they have the following. And so what's kind of getting me going these days, driving me up is that now I'm on a mission now. I'm on a mission to take them down to prove I want to compete. I want to beat people up, metaphorically speaking. And this idea of skill and renowned is something that is really driving me to understand and explore more.

Daniel Scrivner (02:42):

It's so well said. And I don't have many thoughts to add except that if you do end up finding out the root cause of that, I would love to know because I've noticed that myself as well too. And it's tough. It's tough, especially when you put so much energy and effort into what you create.

Daniel Scrivner (02:57):

I want to switch tax and ask a very different question. If people listening could shadow you for a day from the moment you wake up until you go to bed, as creepy as that might be, just kind of a fly on the wall, what do you think they would be most surprised by? And I think what I'm looking for here is something unique about your routine, the way you work, the way you live.

Joey Cofone (03:15):

I think broadly speaking, they'd be, as you know, "I'm going to follow a creativity guy around." I think they'd be surprised at how much discipline there is. I go to bed at 8:30 at night, get up at 4:30. I exercise, meditate, read, I play my trumpet, and I do a host of things including writing. And then I go to work. All right? And I kind of treat it like Kobe treated practice before practice. And I think they would be surprised at that because there's a stereotype of creatives, which is flying by the seat of their pants. And I'm here to tell you that that's absolutely not and we need to separate that from what creativity is. We need to decouple this ridiculous stereotype so that more people can blossom creatively.

Daniel Scrivner (04:04):

Was that something that was always natural to you or have you had to work at that super intentionally over time?

Joey Cofone (04:11):

Great question. I've only done what's natural, ever. And I think it's my greatest strength and my weakness. I have been absolute, to pull in some D and D terms here, chaotic good is probably where I am. I failed 15 classes in college, didn't give a crap at all. I've gotten in a lot of trouble in my life. And then I discovered design and it flipped, and I worked all the time. And I directed that chaos into powerful discipline, I suppose. And I've been specifically tracking my habits. I know it's a big thing now, but I'm going on 13 years of tracking every day, tens of thousands of habits or whatever.

Daniel Scrivner (04:56):

You're user one, I'm pretty sure.

Joey Cofone (04:58):

Dude, I'm way back man. It all came from a book. Do you remember the, I don't know if they still make them, Highlights that were in the doctor's office for kids?

Daniel Scrivner (05:06):


Joey Cofone (05:07):

Oh, they had the... It's a Highlights magazine, at least up over here where I am in New York, and I read something about. Forget what it was, and I was like, "Oh, I could do that. I'll make a little grid and track my stuff," and boom, it stuck.

Daniel Scrivner (05:21):

It's fascinating. Yeah, it all came from Highlights, which I don't think anyone will ever give that answer again. I want to ask a question about Baronfig. You're the founder and CEO of Baronfig, which makes some of the best notebooks and pins in the world, including James Clear's Habit Journal, which rose to fame over the last couple of years, and came out of his incredibly popular book, Atomic Habits. What are your favorite Baronfig products? What do you use daily and what do you love?

Joey Cofone (05:49):

Yeah, great question. So aside from the obvious ones, like the Confidant notebook and Squire pen, because those are really at the heart of what we did in the beginning, and I'll always have a soft spot. And James Clear's Journal, I personally designed myself with him, so of course there're feelings towards that. But actually, my favorite product that is non obvious, is the strategist index cards. I took index cards, I did very small upgrades. I put a doc on one side, blank on the other. I rounded the corners so that they don't get all frumpy real quickly. And these have become, really the cornerstone, of how I operate every day. Each one of them, creativity is the practice of ideas and each one is an idea on a card. And then you're able to hold your ideas and move them around and hand them to people and rip them up. And it's just a wonderful tool and it's eight bucks. Can't beat that.

Daniel Scrivner (06:47):

And that's basically your to-do list for the day?

Joey Cofone (06:49):

Yeah, it's my to-do list or it's ideas. So I just grabbed from the ones I repository that I keep of things that I want to keep thinking about. And so you could see there's, I don't know, a couple dozen here where I'll just sit down on a Friday and go through them all and intention, accidents. I mean, I don't even know what this says, but it's like where does this come from? I've got no clue. But that's the beauty of it. They're like ideas. You don't have to have them perfect and ready to go and this is why I really like them.

Daniel Scrivner (07:23):

That's so cool. I've never come across that product. I was going to ask if you wouldn't mind sharing a little bit of the backstory behind the James Clear Habit Journal, because I guess what I was curious about there, one, I didn't know you designed it, so that's a fascinating thing I think I'd love to hear a little bit more about, But two, in so many ways, it seems like inevitable that along with this habit book should be some sort of a habit tracker and why not have something that's physical. But I think for some people they might be surprised that Baronfig made something that was so that focused on a book, so focused on a habit practice. Talk a little bit about the origin of that product and the relationship with James Claire.

Joey Cofone (08:03):

Well, James is a cool dude. Definitely a weird guy in a good way. We'll talk about, in the full podcast, how much I love weird. And James is the union character. And I was invited to a retreat. I met James, the whole group who was on somewhere in Colorado. The whole group got altitude sickness, got a bunch of people in their prime in their life, like 30 years old, all just so fatigued, we can't move, we're out. We spend the whole weekend on the couch. And I got to know James. We kept talking a little bit. He invited me to dinner when he was in New York and he started talking about this habit stuff. So I knew nothing about James Clear. I alternate between my silo and paying attention to things and when I need to, I control the information that gets to me and in interesting ways.

Joey Cofone (08:54):

But anyway, I didn't know James Clear at all. And that was a benefit cause I had no clue this guy was or what he was about or if he was established or not. I just liked him. And I think there was a little bit of the reverse and he was talking about this Habit journal and I said, "Dude." At that point I'd been tracking my habits for eight years or whatever it was. I'm like, "Man, there's nobody better to help you make this thing than me." And I was like, "I don't care if you choose me, but I am the man for this, so I can bring this to life." And so we left it at that. Eventually he emailed and he was like, "Cool man, let's do it." And it was a process of maybe six months just emailing back and forth. He'd send me some ideas, I'd whip it up, I'd add my ideas and it went back and forth.

Joey Cofone (09:41):

And it was almost casual because he was writing Atomic Habits at the time. And so I had to sneak it in. Of course, I had a ton of things going on, so such a low key development. And then all of a sudden it was real. I didn't ask about Atomic Habits, I didn't know it was called anything. And then he released this book and all of a sudden everyone's talking about it. I'm like, "Who the hell is James Clear?" So it was wonderful, it was nice and I'm glad it happened that way because I think we were just able to talk as two dudes, not two dudes who do X and, X and Y. And we made a great product. And of course Atomic Habits is a best seller and the Habit Journal's a best seller and it's just a pleasure.

Daniel Scrivner (10:24):

Yeah, you guys have it on your website in the best seller section. Hope to see more collaborations like that.

Joey Cofone (10:29):

Yeah, yeah. We also have, just speaking of author collaborations, since we have a new journal of what's right about writing with Roxanne Gay. And this thing is sold out already into early in its lifespan. So I'd recommend anyone check that out as well if they're interested in writing.

Daniel Scrivner (10:46):

That's amazing. We'll add both in the show notes and make sure people look at them. You're also the author of The Laws of Creativity, which is about to come out, it's available for pre-order now and it's published by Baronfig's new imprint, Barronfig Circus. And your book has over 400 pages of incredible stories, principles, examples, practical tools. So I'm going to ask an impossible question to put you on this spot a little bit, which is, if somebody came to you and said, Hey, it's amazing you got this 400 page book, I've got two minutes or a minute or 90 seconds, can you try to just get across the gist of creativity or kind of what I should take away from the book? How would you distill down the laws of creativity? And again, apologies for asking you the impossible question.

Joey Cofone (11:32):


Joey Cofone (11:33):

For people out there who don't know, Daniel sent over the questions for me to ponder, and I appreciate that. And I thought about this one the most because I want to share good ideas. And I came to a conclusion, a very clear conclusion. Can I distill the book to a few principles? No. It's a book of 39 laws and each is important to the whole. It's like trying to distill the dictionary. The way I wrote it, the way I intended, however, I can boil the book down to a few ideas to share, which is that you are more unique than you realize. And creativity is not magic. It's reproducible and reliable and you can master. And if you asked me, "Joey, okay, you can't tell me how all these laws work in two minutes, what is creativity?" I would tell you simply, it's the practice of ideas. That's it.

Daniel Scrivner (12:25):

It's a great encapsulation. I mean, I think that gets across a lot of the important points in the book, which we're going to talk about in depth in a second. Switching gears, I'd love to talk about areas where you have an edge or a superpower. And I know superpower may feel like a loaded term, but you know, are an award-winning designer, you've done a lot of amazing work. When you think about what might be your superpowers, what comes to mind and how does that show up in your life for your work day to day?

Joey Cofone (12:51):

And you've asked this question many times, what is your superpower?

Daniel Scrivner (12:54):

It's a great question. I mean, to be super honest, maybe the most striking answer is, simply because, and I've heard several guests have basically, have said this to me and so I'm paraphrasing it for a bit, but have said that it's really hard to try to identify your own superpower. So they just lean on what other people have told them. And something I've heard a lot from other people, it's typically when I'm working with a founder of a startup or a designer on a design team, is I can in a really short amount of time, kind of grasp the big picture and the big idea and can start to make connections and to start to be helpful in terms of helping them think about that idea.

Daniel Scrivner (13:30):

And so I would say that's something I'm uniquely good at. And the only counterpoint there is, I think a lot of people struggle with just understanding an idea. And you always have to understand an idea to be able to engage. So I think just by a lot of design work, a lot of trying to understand complex things to make sense of them, I happen to be good at that.

Joey Cofone (13:48):

Wow, that's cool. I'm glad you answered that. Thank you for sharing. I like that you also said, "People often say, 'Well, I can understand it through other people's comments about me.'" In my case, I don't feel that way. I feel like I am really good at a ton of stuff and I'm going to be upfront with you. Why is because I, we're going to get serious here. I was raised by a single woman, my mother, and she passed away when I was 13 and I had no cheerleader after that. And so I had to become my own cheerleader. And it was a tough time, but it taught me a lot about being confident, about being, if I don't say it, no one is at this point. There was no one to bring home a test to, there was no one to win an award and show it to.

Joey Cofone (14:36):

So I do have a bunch of unique skills. One of my personal favorites is the ability to apply what I learned. And I know it sounds silly when you think about it, but I'll read a book and I can remember everything that I read in the book and then I can apply it. And I have no problem taking a book and making half a million bucks out of it just by the ideas. And they're very clear to me. And I immediately see the grand picture, a lot of like what you said.

Joey Cofone (15:08):

So the conversion of knowledge into action is something that I don't see very often. And I think that's one of my specific abilities. The other one is the ability not to take anything seriously. For a point in my life, I had to sleep out of my car and that's totally fine, but man, does that give perspective. Nothing really matters as much as having a bed to sleep in and food to eat and someone to come home to. And so what that has done for me is I can take a ton of, what I wouldn't call risks and other people would, because I don't see it as risky. I know what rock bottom really is and it's not what most people think it is. And that has given me an edge, a big one.

Daniel Scrivner (15:59):

I mean, those are beautiful stories. Thank you so much for sharing those. I mean, I think your mom would be incredibly proud if she could see what you've built today.

Joey Cofone (16:05):

I appreciate it, man. Thank you.

Daniel Scrivner (16:07):

Bear And Fig. I want to ask a question about values in standards. And I think as a creative, as a designer at heart, myself, my background's in design, I think this idea of values and standards, you think about that a lot as a designer, because so much of your work is about the standards that you hold yourself to. So the question I wanted to ask is, what values and standards you bring to your work every single day? And this could be the work you do personally, this could be working with your team at Baronfig, what comes to mind?

Joey Cofone (16:35):

Sure. I'm going to keep this one short and sweet. The most important value at Baronfig, aside from one's like respect and trust, which are fundamental human standards, so it's not even up for discussion. This standard, the expectation that we have, for everyone, is one of experimentation. Everything we do, we have to understand, is an experiment. And it's small things like, "Hey, we're going to try this product or that, sure, whatever." But it's also things that affect the team's life. We have a four day work week at Baronfig. That was an experiment last September that we ran September through December with the understanding that if it didn't work out, we were going to go back to five days. And we laid out what that meant for the team in terms of success and failure. And we're very upfront. I'm candid with my team in the sense that I don't want to work five days if I could work four. I'm not an addict to my office chair at all. But at the same time, we have a job to do. Apologize for the siren out there. So experimentation, that's the value.

Daniel Scrivner (17:43):

I love that value. I also, just reflecting on that, just thinking about it as you were saying it, what comes to mind is, I think as a designer you get very comfortable with experimentation because that's how you land on good ideas, it's how you find great ideas. But what I've noticed is that most people that I think don't have that relationship to experimentation can be very uncomfortable because I think they interpret experiments as nonstop change. And so they have this almost immediate adverse, visceral reaction to doing experiments and then being in experimentation culture. Do you have any tips for people or have you done anything with your team to try to get them comfortable with experimentation?

Joey Cofone (18:24):

I explain the premise of why we look at it that way. It's that we're not going to get things right at the first try. And human beings, for some reason, our logical side understands completely. "Daniel, I know I'm not going to get it right the first try." I mean, you're, you're a designer, not that we're unicorn creatures here, but you understand, like you said. But at the same time, when we don't get it right, or when most people don't get it right on the first try, even though logically they know they shouldn't, they get discouraged, they get disappointed, they get frustrated. And I have open conversations with my team all the time about what that means, especially back when we first started. Now it's sort of in ingrained as new people come along, everyone once sweeps them up in this. So really just keeping an open dialogue.

Joey Cofone (19:13):

And the other thing is, I share my failures and I'm like the first dude to share failures at Baronfig. "Look at the crap I just made today. Look at this garbage I wrote." Or if I made a bad decision that is only able to be identified six months or a year later, even though no one's asking, I talk about it and I'm like, "Oh, my God, I wish I didn't do that." That's the best we did at the time and who knows what the best we're doing today that won't be good. It's fine. If I'm not mad, why the hell would you guys care? If I don't get mad, I hate to use this word, but if the boss isn't getting angry, what the hell are you getting angry for? If I'm like, "No big deal," let it go.

Daniel Scrivner (19:51):

Yeah, well said, well said. And I think by leading, by showing your own experimentation and the output that you create, good, bad, ugly, hideous, whatever it is on that given day, I think is obviously very empowering as well too. I want to ask a question about habits. And the way I typically try to ask this question is, what tiny habit has had the biggest positive impact on your life or work? And obviously you're someone who has tracked habits for 13 years. I think you probably have a pretty interesting answer to this question.

Joey Cofone (20:20):

Yeah. I've had so many habits over time. The habits are basically the precursor to skills and so designed right, whatever. But the one I've kept the entire time is one I call maintain, and all it is every day in order to check off that box, I just do something for my personal life. It's small as take out the trash, make a doctor appointment, so on and so forth. And it sounds easy in one of the things that I just said, but what happens is when you do it every day, you start to run out of the things that need to get done and then you become really proactive. I have to check this box off today, so I'm going to go take the hinge off this door and go to the hardware store, figure out what it is and improve it even though it's totally not necessary. And that tiny habit has made everything else in life so much easier because my personal life is not on fire.

Daniel Scrivner (21:13):

It's fascinating. I have a similar one I call Level Up, and for me it's basically a challenge. I don't know, it's just, might sound super cheesy, but I read a book a while ago and one of the quotes that stuck out to me is, "Every single day you have a chance to go for gold, don't settle for silver." And so this Level Up's basically a challenge to myself that I have to do something that I'm uncomfortable with. And so it can be as simple as, it's the end of the day, I really don't want to go to the gym, if I go, I'm only going to have 15 minutes, so I've got every reason in my mind to say no, but I'm like, "No. I'm going to force myself to go and I'm going to try to have the best workout I can in whatever amount of time I have." And it's things like that. And it has been incredibly powerful. Just that daily reminder of do something that challenges.

Joey Cofone (21:55):

I love that. That's awesome. Level Up,-

Daniel Scrivner (21:57):

Maybe me add that.

Joey Cofone (21:57):

...Did you come up with that terminology?

Daniel Scrivner (22:00):

It's what I use. I mean, it's a big world. I'm sure multiple people have had the same idea.

Joey Cofone (22:05):

Sure. No, it reminds me of video games and leveling up and all that.

Daniel Scrivner (22:08):

Well, that's the whole I idea is every day I have to do something to challenge myself to level up a little bit. I love to ask guests about their favorite books. I imagine you probably have a lot of design books or creativity focused books that come to mind, but you may not. You may have fiction books, you may have crazy off the wall stuff. When you think about favorite books, both things that maybe people have heard of and people haven't, what comes to mind? What do you love? What do you recommend to others?

Joey Cofone (22:36):

Sure. I'm going to preface this by saying that I was an English and Philosophy major and books-

Daniel Scrivner (22:42):

Which explains why you're such a good writer. So, that's good to know.

Joey Cofone (22:44):

I appreciate it. I end up doing eight years of school by accident and I have a lot to say about books in general, but I'm going to stick with two specific ones. Number one is the Phantom Toll Booth by Norton Jester. Have you ever heard of it?

Daniel Scrivner (22:58):


Joey Cofone (22:58):

It's a kids' book and it embodies what creativity is. It's a quick read and instantly reminds you of what it thinks to be, what it's like to think with curiosity and see things in a way you wouldn't normally look at them. And I think it's especially powerful as an adult to read a kid's book, sort of reminded about what you have lost. And the other one is just Radical Candor by Kim Scott, because I think the world can use more candor in everyday situations.

Daniel Scrivner (23:25):

I am writing those down. Those are great ones. And the Phantom Toll Booth is one that I should probably read, but I would love to buy it. We've got two little boys, so I'm sure at some point they would hopefully like to read that book. One is for the other one's almost two, we're kind of in a counting by months phase, I don't know, but almost two. So it's big.

Joey Cofone (23:42):

That's beautiful.

Daniel Scrivner (23:43):

Big stuff. Big stuff. Starting to become big boys.

Joey Cofone (23:46):

Very cool. Well, good luck.

Daniel Scrivner (23:47):

Thank you, man. Yeah, good luck is about the best advice you could give anyone with kids. You never know what's coming. Two more questions. Second to last one, what do you wish someone sat you down and told you before Founding Baronfig and or writing your book? And what I mean by that is when you set off towards these ambitious goals, you throw yourself into them, you often don't know what they entail and you kind of learn that in the process. Is there anything you wish someone had sat you down and told you before doing either of those things?

Joey Cofone (24:22):

I've gotten a lot of great advice from a lot of people for Baronfig and more recently, The Loss of Creativity. James Clear sat down with me more than once. Josh Kaufman, the author of the Personal MBA, Roxanne Gay. And I've got a lot of guidance, which I appreciate. I think for Baronfig in business, for business wise, my barber has given me the best advice. Guy owns his own business. I was having a bad day, not recent, thank you, thankfully. And he owns his own shop and he said to me, "Hey man, if you're ever not having fun at work, just change the work." Because I can. And I had almost become a victim to the idea that I had created a machine that now ran me. And he was like, "Dude, this is your thing. Change it." And dramatic results from that piece of advice. And for my book, the one thing that stuck with me was actually something I had heard Malcolm Gladwell say which was, "First you have to be entertaining and then you can be informative." I really like that.

Daniel Scrivner (25:32):

On that Malcolm Gladwell quote, why does that resonate with you and why do you think that's so true? That you can't lead with...it's almost like it sounds like you have to disguise the information insides and it's like a junk food rapper that people want to go and engage with. Is that the idea?

Joey Cofone (25:47):

It is. I think you have to give people a reason to listen before you tell them what you want them to hear or what you think they need to hear. So my book, False Creativity is 39 Laws. Each one starts with this story before I get into any principles whatsoever. And I'm so glad that I read that from him because that was a direct result.

Daniel Scrivner (26:11):

That's amazing. Last question. If you could go back to the start of your career and whisper some advice, a reminder words of wisdom in your ear, is there anything you would tell your younger self?

Joey Cofone (26:21):

No. No. I've seen Back To The Future, I know what the Butterfly Effect is. I know how it works. I love where I'm at, and the missteps have contributed just as much as the successes. I'm appreciative of where my life is, so I'm going to say that no, I wouldn't change anything. If I had to speak to that to someone to give a piece of advice, I would say that your failures are probably more important than your successes and appreciate it.

Daniel Scrivner (26:54):

I feel like that's true. I've also heard many people kind of pair it the opposite, that only through success do you learn what works. Can you give an example or think of something where failure just contains something that was really valuable?

Joey Cofone (27:09):

I think it's the failure is in what you learn that didn't work is as important as not. So for example, when I wrote this book, I wrote the intro. I wrote 5, 6, 7, 8 different intros and had people read them and I was able to, I personally, they didn't know, but I had kind of broke them down into modules that I was moving around like A B tests and I could isolate through when a person was totally unmoved and I was able to isolate better what moved people then by what people pointed at. Because when it moved them, there were still unmoving pieces within. So then the combination of unmoving pieces actually helped me better fit the moving pieces. Is that clear?

Daniel Scrivner (27:52):

Yeah. Yeah. That's so interesting.

Joey Cofone (27:54):

So that's one example.

Daniel Scrivner (27:55):

Yeah, it's a great example. Thank you so much for joining me on 20 Minute Playbook. It's been great to have you on Joey.

Joey Cofone (28:00):

Daniel, thanks man. Appreciate it.

Daniel Scrivner (28:03):

Thank you so much for listening. You can follow Joey Cofone on Twitter at Joey Cofone. That's Joey C O F O N E, and you can subscribe to his newsletter@joeycofone.com. You can also see all of Baronfig's incredible products at baronfiig.com. You can find a searchable transcript of this episode as well as our episode guide with ways to dive deeper@outlieracademy.com/141. That's outlieracademy.com/141. For more from Joey, listen to episode 142 where we explore his new book, The Laws of Creativity, which includes 39 laws that anyone can follow to become more creative. You can find that episode@outlieracademy.com/142. That's outlier academy.com/142. For more from Outlier Academy, follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, and TikTok. Subscribe to our YouTube channel at youtube.com/outlieracademy or visit outlieracademy.com for more incredible 20 Minute Playbook episodes. We'll see you right here with a brand new episode next Tuesday.

On Outlier Academy, Daniel Scrivner explores the tactics, routines, and habits of world-class performers working at the edge—in business, investing, entertainment, and more. In each episode, he decodes what they've mastered and what they've learned along the way. Start learning from the world’s best today. 

Explore all episodes of Outlier Academy, be the first to hear about new episodes, and subscribe on your favorite podcast platform.

Daniel Scrivner and Mighty Publishing LLC own the copyright in and to all content in and transcripts of the Outlier Academy podcast, with all rights reserved, including Daniel’s right of publicity.

Enjoy reading this? Share it.
Be the first to receive new articles and episodes as soon as they’re released.
Popular Articles
Be the first to receive new episodes when they’re released. And get our favorite quotes, tools, and ideas from the latest episode.
You're in! Thanks for subscribing.
Hmm, something went wrong. Can you try again?
By subscribing, you agree to our privacy policy.