098: Behind the Man Behind The Muppets

Have you ever felt like the work you’re doing is not important? Do you sometimes feel like an amateur pretending to be a professional? I feel this way all the time.

098: Behind the Man Behind the Muppets

Jim Henson is most famous for co-creating The Muppets, perhaps the most iconic puppets in history alongside the characters he made for Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock. What you may not know is Jim never set out to become a puppeteer.

From an early age, Jim’s sole mission in life was to get on TV. The means to that end were the custom, hand-made puppets he created with a friend. But after making the equivalent of $750,000 his junior year of college through commercials and licensing of puppet characters, Jim was burnt out on the craft. In fact, he almost quit everything and became a painter.

Instead, Jim traveled to Europe and discovered his deep desire to create art that endured was already at his fingertips.

This week on The Portfolio Life, Andy and I talk about how to deal with doubting yourself, and what it takes to breakthrough and find your calling when you’re just not sure about yourself. Listen in as we discuss the backstory of a consummate creative, and how you can leverage your commercial work to make something that matters.

Listen to the podcast

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Show highlights

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The evolution of Jim Henson the artist
  • A common quality of magnum opuses
  • How to do commercial work that matters
  • Stealing from your influencers and innovating their ideas
  • What happens when people pursue a dream and fall into their calling by accident
  • Injecting art into where you are in order to create enduring work
  • What you’re doing may not be as insignificant as you think it is


  • Sometimes the thing you’re supposed to do, is the thing you’re already doing.
  • The work of an artisan and an entrepreneur are not mutually exclusive.
  • Don’t ever be ashamed of doing work to make money so you can make art that will endure.
  • You need an experience that shifts your perspective sometimes in order to have that awakening.
  • If you’re gonna do something, you better treat that thing like your calling. Make it an art.


Why are you trying to make money? What is your work/art for? Share in the comments