Madeleine Dore is really good at bringing people together and building communities that ignite creativity the same way a car key ignites it’s engine. She builds creative communities in-real-life and virtual events for people to connect, reflect and take charge of their own personal creative journeys. As the founder of website Extraordinary Routines, Madeleine aims to demystify the creative process one interview at a time by analysing the extraordinary routines of impressive, extraordinary people.
Through her interview series, Madeleine’s on a mission to help others who want to achieve their own creative fulfillment but feel stuck or overcome by the fear of failure or simply putting things off because they can, and in the process developed her community event series Side Project Sessions. As a thoughtful and innovative creative entrepreneur, with Side Project Sessions, Madeleine hosts an in-real-life event where creatives gather to work on their individual passion projects while also being accountable to and supportive of each other.
Madeleine’s energetic output has most recently manifested in a podcast series called Routines & Ruts, where she explores the relationship between the two through the personal stories of creatives. We recently spoke to Madeleine at her Brunswick studio on the art of getting things done and discovered this woman is a beacon of wisdom, when she speaks you simply want to write everything down (which we did, so you don’t) and reflect on it for a while to come.
Hi Madeleine! Let’s start at the beginning. What were you like as a child that kind of foreshadowed the work you do today as a creative entrepreneur?
When people used to ask “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I always responded by saying “everything”. There wasn’t a place card job that appealed to me and there was something really exciting about this idea that you could pick and choose what you wanted to be and create your own job.
So how did this ‘everything’ manifest when you were little?
I would do all kinds of things. I would put on plays in the living room and charge fifty cents for admission. I wrote lots of short stories, painted, and played a lot of dress ups.
And then what happened in that middle part when you’re at the tail end of high school and about to enter the big, big world? How were you feeling?
I remember feeling indecisive about whether I wanted to start straight away or take a gap year. I ended up jumping in and chose to study journalism because I was told I was good at writing, and there’s a safety in that. A few years in, I was still drawn to dressing up like I was as a kid and vintage fashion, and wanted to start my own business so decided to leave my course and study creative entrepreneurship.
This decision ultimately led you to Copenhagen, how was this a defining moment in your career?
Before I left Melbourne I was doubting my writing ability but everything came full circle when I was finishing my creative entrepreneurship degree in Copenhagen. I found this amazing opportunity at a creative agency and became editor of a magazine where I was writing about creative locals, and this is where my interest in people’s routines started. I was always really drawn to asking people the same question: What is a typical day like for you?
What was it about this question that unlocked this curiosity?
Because I didn’t know if I was doing it right and there’s so many amazing ways to live a day. I was always inspired and comforted by the variety of answers.
You finished your studies back in Melbourne and then while trying to find a job started a side project called Extraordinary Routines, what motivated you to do this?
I graduated and was trying to find a job for a few months and saw some amazing friends start side projects and saw how that really helped them find a job. I started Extraordinary Routines when I couldn’t find work and it eventually helped me find work. The basis of the website was to explore in minute detail ‘what a typical day’ looks like for a variety of creatives, not only to build myself a portfolio but also guide me as I forged my own creative career. It was a very mystifying subject and this website was and still is about demystifying that process.
You’ve now been running the site for six years, congrats! But can you tell us how you originally got the gumption to get the idea off the ground?
I had the idea for ages and people were really encouraging, so I did my first interviews but sat on them for months and months. It was some advice from my friend that really sparked something inside of me: “Done is better than perfect.”
What does this idea of “done is better than perfect” mean to you?
A lot of people can struggle with procrastination, perfectionism, self doubt and imposter syndrome. All of these feelings are really tied to fear and can stop people from getting started and give them a reason to put things off. For me this was definitely the case, and this advice by my friend showed me that putting something out there actually means you then have the opportunity to keep working on it and improve it. Perfect isn’t something you ever reach so it’s better to just begin, learn and grow.
This idea of starting rather than sitting connects to your next entrepreneurial venture that explores the creative process, Side Project Sessions. How did this come about?
I had been running Extraordinary Routines for about four years and from having all of these conversations with creatives observed this two-fold thing where personal projects were definitely the thing that helped people’s career trajectory the most. Everyone I really admired had some passion project that then unexpectedly led to opportunities. It wasn’t about the hustle, but rather following their curiosity or doing something for the love of it. I saw the importance of passion projects but the second element I observed was also these projects were the things that kept falling at the bottom of the to-do list because there is no deadline and no one to hold you accountable. Side Project Sessions is not only a tribute to the importance of side projects but a space to get that accountability, to have that deadline and time, and to be able to focus on the things that we are most passionate about.
You’ve recently just launched your podcast series Routines & Ruts that lifts the veil off the sometimes glorified creative process. What is it about the podcast format that benefits this type of storytelling?
I’ve always strived to not just focus on the glossy side of a daily routine and delve into the extra-ordinary. So I thought audio format, perhaps more than written, could really show this side to the conversation in a nuanced, unfiltered way. I really want to show there’s ebbs and flows to the creative process, it’s not just a static routine. Sometimes a routine can become so monotonous it puts us in a rut and sometimes in a rut we actually need a routine to get out of it, and this podcast explores how both of these things overlap.
Your current podcast faves?
I highly recommend ‘How to fail with Elizabeth Day’ and recently got into ‘Longform’, there’s a great episode with the writer Ashley C. Ford. I try and listen to them on my commute to the studio or just in-between moments.
Number one 3pm-pick up snack?
I’m going to borrow this one off the florist Fleur McHarg I once interviewed: cheddar cheese on a slice of apple.
How would you describe daily work uniform?
I really enjoy dressing in my logo colour palette, so really stick to colour blocking pastels. I’ve often got multiples of the same shoes, pants and tops in different colours so I can mix and match without too much fuss.
And how would you describe Gorman to a friend?
The clothes with the amazing patterns and iconic artist collaborations!