past event
Around the Institute

Murdock Mind, Body, Spirit Series | The Real Work: On the Mystery of Mastery

Featuring Adam Gopnik, staff writer for the New Yorker and bestselling author, in conversation with Vivian Schiller, executive director of Aspen Digital at the Aspen Institute. Gopnik will discuss the findings of his latest book, The Real Work: On the Mystery of Mastery, in which he investigates a fundamental human question: how do we learn – and master – a new skill? In The Real Work, Gopnik explores how mastery can happen in our own lives, and ultimately, why we relentlessly seek to better ourselves in the first place.
Live event, Paepcke Auditorium

While attendance at the events is free and open to everyone, registration is required, and capacity is established on a first-come, first-served basis. Register here.

Parking is very limited. Please carpool, walk, bike, or ride RFTA. Ride WE-cycle for FREE to and from events at the Aspen Institute and Aspen Meadows. Download Transit in the app store to unlock a bike and access unlimited rides of 30 minutes or less May through October.

You can purchase his book The Real Work: On the Mystery of Mastery here. Books will also be available for purchase at the event. Book signing to follow.

“Wise, companionable, and often extremely funny.” —Oliver Burkeman, The Atlantic

Adam Gopnik has been writing for The New Yorker since 1986. He is a three-time winner of the National Magazine Award for Essays and for Criticism and of the George Polk Award for Magazine Reporting. In March 2013, Gopnik was awarded the medal of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Republic. He lives in New York City with his wife and their two children. His books, ranging from essay collections about Paris and food to children’s novels, include Paris to the Moon, The King in the Window, Through the Children’s Gate: A Home in New York, Angels and Ages: A Short Book About Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life, The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food, Winter: Five Windows on the Season, At the Strangers’ Gate: Arrivals in New York, A Thousand Small Sanities: The Moral Adventure of Liberalism, and, most recently, The Real Work: On the Mystery of Mastery. He lectures widely, and, in 2011, delivered the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s fiftieth-anniversary Massey Lecture. His musical, “Our Table,” opened in 2017, at the Long Wharf Theatre, in New Haven, and his one-man storytelling show, “The Gates,” played at the Public Theatre in New York.

Vivian Schiller joined the Aspen Institute in January 2020 as Executive Director of Aspen Digital, which empowers policymakers, civic organizations, companies, and the public to be responsible stewards of technology and media in the service of an informed, just, and equitable world. A longtime executive at the intersection of journalism, media and technology, Schiller has held executive roles at some of the most respected media organizations in the world. Those include: President and CEO of NPR; Global Chair of News at Twitter; General Manager of; Chief Digital Officer of NBC News; Chief of the Discovery Times Channel, a joint venture of The New York Times and Discovery Communications; and Head of CNN documentary and long form divisions. Documentaries and series produced under her auspices earned multiple honors, including three Peabody Awards, four Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Awards, and dozens of Emmys. Schiller is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations; and a Director of the Scott Trust, which owns The Guardian.

Support Aspen Community Programs

Did you know that we host more than 70 days of public programming each year? If you appreciate what we do for the Aspen community, we invite you to become more involved with the Institute by joining as an Aspen Community Donor today. Your contribution will support affordable year-round programming for the Roaring Fork Valley and beyond, as well as scholarships for those in need. Learn more at

Event information
Fri Jul 14, 2023
6:00pm - 7:00pm MDT
Paepcke Auditorium
1000 N. Third St.
Aspen, CO