Creating Together in a Post-Coronavirus World

We’re still right in the thick of this mess, the Coronavirus pandemic, and with no signs of it letting up. In fact, it’s just the opposite; more cases are reported daily, around the globe. Just about a week ago a little less than 200,000 people globally had been infected while over 7,500 people have died.

In order to try and stop the spread of the virus, the globe’s inhabitants are retreating inward, at least most of them. “Stay home, stay healthy” seems to be the motto of the day. If ET were to re-visit Earth right now, he’s probably wonder, “Where did everybody go?”

Businesses are shutting down and boarding up, as if they’re dealing with some big storm surge. Eating places are delivery or take-out only, if they’re even open. Schools are closing until further notice and most modes of transportation have ground to a halt or have severely curtailed their routes. Grocery stores have become almost barren, especially the paper goods and beverage aisles.

Most everyone is self-quarantining. Very few people are on the roads unless they just have to be.

Yet, the virus persists and is spreading. Damn!

TogetherWeCreate

Image source: Unsplash.

Writing from Johannesburg, South Africa, Rohan Reddy says, “Our hands have never been cleaner, human contact is being frowned upon, people are getting sick or dying. We don’t care much about advertising or design anymore; mortality is our reality, we care about surviving.

The executive creative director for the McCann Africa network continues, “When 2020 comes to an end, the world we live in will probably look very different from the one we said goodbye to in 2019. And it is impossible to predict what this new world will look like.”

I agree with him. The world is in uncharted waters with this virus. We’re doing good to react, let alone react in some timely manner. Forget about planning and acting on the plan. This stage is in its infancy, though it is forging ahead.

making more masks

Some corners of the world are doing better than others; Italy seems to have their act together while the U.S. is falling behind and will be doing good to “fight a good fight.”

Reddy again, “Creativity will save the world. People will look to our poets, our artists, our musicians, our dancers, our inventors, our architects, our engineers, our writers and designers to redefine humanity’s purpose post-Covid-19. Businesses will look to their advertising agencies and design studios to redefine how we consume everything from food to fashion to travel.

“Because, at the end of 2020, it will not be business as usual. It will be something completely different. We will spend our money differently, we will save our money differently and we will probably make our money differently too.”

buildingnewhospitalinWuhan

We won’t have to wait until the end of this year for business and living habits to become different. That is happening right now. Our lifestyles and business practices are changing, out of necessity, right before our eyes. We will be “ever-adapting” continuously through the rest of this year and into the near future.

Creativity will play a vital role in how we think, solve problems and present solutions. Creativity won’t be the exclusive territory of advertising. Hopefully, creative thinking and development will be in hyper-drive so that society can be the benefactor.

I think most intelligent people will adopt a much more sincere form of togetherness, a true multi-partisanship. We, as a society, really have no choice. We have to create through togetherness since our survival depends on it.

Past actions of stupidity and greed will be looked upon incredulously. There will be no room for them in our future. Disease, like this COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate when it comes to these fallacies; it also doesn’t play politics.

italy on lockdown

No matter how long it takes to save ourselves from this pandemic, creativity will and must play a part. That’s creativity in all forms, not just in the creative arts.

Together we need to rebuild into a better, much more aware future. The creative minds among us have a responsibility to craft a sound and viable and livable future for our society.

I agree with Mr. Reddy. As a creative, I can’t do this on my own. I can, however, do it together in forming a creative front to help lead us in progressing forward. We owe it to ourselves, our children, their children, as well as the planet.

Let us create together!

IABC WEBINAR: Crisis Management & COVID-19 – Recording Now Available

This is a special edition of the Ideasnmoreblog featuring a recent webinar by IABC Houston on the Coronavirus and the impact it’s having on the communication industry.

The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has disrupted the global markets and the pandemic is now impacting many within our own community. Schools have closed, local businesses have shuttered, and many are unsure of the long-term implications to their careers and personal health.

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In this time of uncertainty, how can we navigate the COVID-19 crisis as communicators? Join IABC Houston and our panel of experts for an informative discussion on crisis management during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our panel will share insights into their corporate response, working remotely, and the importance of maintaining a focus on mental health.

Thank you to all who tuned into the Crisis Management and COVID-19 webinar yesterday! If you missed it, you can watch the full webinar on Facebook or YouTube. Feel free to share the links with friends and colleagues as well.

Panelists: Judge Ed Emmett; Clint Woods; Dr. Chris Yandle

About our panel:

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Judge Ed Emmett | Rice University

Judge Ed Emmett is the former county judge of Harris County, Texas. From 1979 to 1987, he was a Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives, first from District 78 from 1979 to 1983 and then newly numbered District 127 from 1983 until 1987. After a twenty-year hiatus from politics, he was elected as county judge to head the five-member Harris County Commissioners Court, based in Houston.

Emmett has been awarded numerous awards in his career, including being named Transportation Person of the Year by Transportation Clubs International in 2005, receiving the Presidential “Call to Service” Award from president George W. Bush in 2008, and receiving the 2009 Distinguished Public Service Award from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. In 2011, Emmett was named a distinguished alumnus of Rice University.

Emmett is now a professor at Rice University, a senior fellow at Rice’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, and a distinguished senior fellow at Northeastern University’s Global Resilience Institute. He also maintains his transportation logistics consultant practice in Houston, Texas.

 

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Clint Woods | Pierpont

As chief operating officer, Clint Woods leverages more than 20 years of industry experience to ensure future growth for Pierpont Communications. In order to drive new business and deliver successful service expansions, Clint is responsible for client and employee development, setting firm-wide strategy and overseeing many functions across the agency, such as strategic partnerships, P&L growth and M&A activities.

In addition to leading Pierpont’s energy practice, Clint has worked with clients across a broad spectrum of industries including automotive, retail, enterprise hardware and software, professional services, business intelligence and collaboration tools, financial services and manufacturing. He has led or supported engagements with globally respected brands such as BP, Boston Consulting Group, Group 1 Automotive, Halliburton, Imperial Sugar, TPG Capital, and Wood Group, among many others.

 

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Dr. Chris Yandle | St. Tammany Parish Public School System

A native of South Louisiana, Dr. Chris Yandle is a former college athletics administrator and an award-winning public relations professional at both the K-12 and college level. After spending more than a decade with five different NCAA Division I college athletics programs, he transitioned to K-12 communications in his home state in 2016.

Considered among the leading communications professionals in college athletics, Chris served as the Assistant Athletic Director for Communications at the University of Miami (2012-2014) and Georgia Tech (2014-2016). He was CoSIDA’s university division recipient of the 2014 Rising Star Award. He is the author of Lucky Enough: A Year of a Dad’s Daily Notes of Encouragement and Life Lessons to His Daughter and he continues to share his daily notes on social media in an effort to help parents make non-digital connections in a digital world.

A World Tour in Images Via COVID-19, the Coronavirus

Awesome images. Deadly.

Unforgetable. Diabolical.

stock-photo-coronavirus-ncov-novel-coronavirus-concept-resposible-for-asian-flu-outbreak-and-coronaviruses-1625951248

 

Known the world over, yet we’d like to forget.

We never will.

 

 

 

Strikingly bizarre. Amazing how some life form that microscopic can wreak such havoc on mankind.

CoronaVirus

 

 

 

 

 

 

Global Enemy #1

Image 3-18-20 at 10.47 AM In some strange way there is beauty among these images. Strange and weird and deadly. Awesome.

 

Corona Virus-yellow

 

Let us never forget what we’re going through, will go through and have gone through.

The Horrors.

The ones we’ve lost and will lose.

Those of us who will survive.

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warningsigninlondon

 

 

No matter how advanced we think we are, we’re still no match for microscopic life on this planet.

 

 

moscow

Moscow

buildingnewhospitalinWuhan

Building new hospital

market fears

Stock market woes

From Hong Kong to San Francisco and Italy to Israel and all points in between, the Coronavirus or COVID-19 has made its mark and as of this writing sees no stoppage.

Make no mistake, we will find a cure.

But what of next time?

What of next time?

 

Quotes on Advertising & Creativity

Greetings and good day to ‘ya! Here’s your respite into the world of famous and sometimes infamous quotes from a variety of personalities. Any one of these could prove motivation for that ad you’re working on, tweak your imagination, inspire you or just plain bring a smile to your face.

Feel free to share.

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Nobody has ever built a brand by imitating somebody else’s advertising.
David Ogilvy, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

In the advertising business, a good idea can inspire a great commercial. But a good insight can fuel a thousand ideas, a thousand commercials. Phil Dusenberry, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Our job is to simplify, to tear away the unrelated, to pluck out the weeds that are smothering the product message. William Bernbach, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.       Maya Angelou

The heart of creativity is discipline. William Bernbach, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

If you are writing about baloney, don’t try to make it Cornish hen because that is the worst kind of baloney there is. Just make it darned good baloney. Leo Burnett, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Fun without sell gets nowhere, but sell without fun tends to become obnoxious. Leo Burnett, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Yes, I sell people things they don’t need. I can’t, however, sell them something they don’t want. Even with advertising. Even if I were of a mind to. John E. O’Toole, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Big ideas are so hard to recognize, so fragile, so easy to kill. Don’t forget that, all of you who don’t have them. John Elliott, Jr., member, Advertising Hall of Famered-quotation-marks-vector-online-royalty-free-picture-435958

There is no material with which human beings work which has so much potential energy as words. Ernest Elmo Calkins, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

 

 

Now, paraphrasing Seth Godin, Go Raise A Ruckus!

Boosting Your Creativity – Just Like Einstein – Even in Crisis Times! Part 2.

4 Ways Combinatory Play Gets You Out of a Brain Rut, Plus Helps One Deal with a Crisis.

Now that you see how the human brain can get stuck in a rut thanks to neural pathways and a fondness for the familiar, how can you free your brain and lead it on a path to innovation? Based on research and real-life examples from great minds, here are four ways Combinatory Play can to get you out of a brain rut:

1. Cross Train Your Brain

Each cross-training activity works a different, but complementary, part of the body that will help get you stronger in the overall event, task or project. In other words, if you’re a novelist, try your hand at poetry. If you’re a painter, dabble in sculpting. If you’re a computer scientist, play around with web design.

For instance, how did playing violin help Einstein theorize about matter and energy? A study from UC Irvine and the University of Wisconsin found that giving piano lessons to preschoolers significantly improved their spatial-temporal reasoning— a key skill needed for math and science—much more than giving computer lessons, singing lessons, or no lessons at all.

So try a new activity within your field or related to it; you’ll expand your neural connections and strengthen your brain overall.

2. Take a Shower, Go for a Walk or Do Some Other Mundane Activity

First, creativity and relaxation could be linked. I’ve found that whenever I’m really tired, my creativity just hits a wall. Trying to go on is fruitless. Wrap it up and go to bed or walk away from whatever it is you’re working on and come back to it in several hours or the next day.

Depending on when you’re doing this, try something boring, like showering or taking a walk (though some folks would argue that this exercise is not boring) or go for a swim. These tasks don’t require substantial cognitive effort, so our brains are free to wander. And contrary to popular belief, a brain “at rest” isn’t really resting at all.

ZZZ's

Some researchers believe there is a positive correlation between our daydreaming state (occurring in a brain region that becomes more active at rest) and creativity. Mind-wandering may allow the conscious to give way to the subconscious, so the brain can connect disparate ideas.

Second, distractions may boost creativity. Research by Harvard professor Shelley Carson found that high creative achievement was associated with low latent inhibition, or the capacity to screen out irrelevant information, especially if the participants had a high IQ.

For the creative mind, inspiration can be found everywhere. Sometimes, you just need to distract yourself long enough to notice it.

3. Sleep On It

Regarding the process of discovery, scientists have proposed that there is an incubation period during which “unconscious processes contribute to creative thinking.” In his memoir, A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway reveals how he safeguarded his creativity through such a process:

Ernest_Hemingway_in_London_at_Dorchester_Hotel_

“I learned not to think about anything that I was writing from the time I stopped writing until I started again the next day. That way my subconscious would be working on it and at the same time I would be listening to other people and noticing everything…”

And in a later chapter:

“I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing; but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.”

In 2009, a study out of the University of California San Diego was published suggesting that sleep may assist combinatorial creativity. In particular, researchers found that study participants who were allowed to slip into Rapid Eye Movement sleep (REM)—the stage during which we dream—showed an almost 40% improvement over their earlier creative problem-solving test performances, while those who had only non-REM sleep or quiet rest showed no improvement.

The authors of that study hypothesized that when we’re in REM, our brains are better able to integrate unassociated information, which is essential to creative thinking (it explains why dreams are so bizarre).

As mentioned earlier, when you’re stuck on a problem or the creative juices stop flowing, try going to bed. You’ll have a refreshed and different perspective the next morning.

4. Feed Your (copy) Cat

Is anything truly original? Uh, doubtful. In fact, according to artist Austin Kleon, the answer is no. Kleon presented a TED Talk “Steal Like an Artist” and a book of the same name, in which he asserts that nothing is original and all artists build upon previous work.

With this in mind, don’t plagiarize someone, but get inspired by and improve upon someone else’s creations. In this Age of the Internet, one can’t help “borrow” from someone else’s idea. That’s in part why I’m both sharing this article from Amy Rigby and the Trello blog but also adding some of my own perspective.

Suggestions:

  • If you’re suffering from writer’s block, buy a pack of those word magnets and rearrange them until you come up with creative phrases on your fridge;
  • As previously mentioned, break your concentration, especially when it’s hard for you to focus, and go for a walk or go to bed (depending on the time, of course);
  • If you’re not sure how to move forward on a project, bounce ideas off of your teammates and see if you find any hidden gems in their suggestions;
  • If you’re building a product and stuck in the design phase, search for competitors who have made similar products, find where their customers are unhappy, and design something new that solves the problems your competitors failed to address;
  • Step back from your computer or tablet or canvas or whatever tool you’re using and try and get a bigger or completely different picture of what you’re doing. Go wherever your mind wants to go. Although you may want to continue working on a particular piece of creative, your mind may not. Try doing what it wants. You’ll end up with a different perspective, and, maybe even a new project or topic.
  • During crisis times, our emotions seem to be at their peak. Don’t let them get the best of you, but learn from them. You’re already jacked so let your new-found motivation help guide you to your (new) goals; what was important yesterday may not be as important today.

We all get stuck in a rut at times, even the greatest minds in history like Einstein did. If you need a new way of thinking, use Combinatory Play to give your brain a boost:

  • Participate in creative cross-training to expand your brain’s neural connections;
  • Let your mind wander by doing something mundane or even boring;
  • Go to bed and let your subconscious mind connect the dots during REM sleep;
  • Use another person’s work as a springboard for inspiration and improvement;
  • Go where your mind wants to go and gain a different perspective.
  • Emotions tend to peak during crisis times; learn from them.
Abstract design made of human head and symbolic elements on the subject of human mind, consciousness, imagination, science and creativity

“Diversity of the Mind” Thanks to iStock Photo


Thanks to Amy Rigby in

Boosting Your Creativity – Just Like Einstein – Even in Crisis Times! Part 1.

Even during times of crisis and major uncertainty, creativity is very useful. The outbreak gripping the world at present, the Corona Virus (covid-19), is causing all sorts of interruption globally. The pandemic is causing us to think like we’ve never thought before or at least in a very long time.

Creativity brings itself to the forefront once again. How we use it to solve some almost unthinkable problems is up to us. Fortunately, we have viable resources upon which to fall back.

In the continuing process of exploring the myriad aspects of creativity, I was intrigued by this article from the Trillo blog regarding how Albert Einstein used a certain kind of “play” to enhance his creative streaks. What’s appealing to me is that all of us can learn from this, whether or not we’re engaged in a global pandemic.

I dare say everyone wants to boost their creativity. Now especially. How about boosting it on a par with the likes of Einstein? Well, it has to do with what’s referred to as Combinatory Play.

What the heck is Combinatory Play?

“Combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought.”
– Albert Einstein

The term “combinatory play,” also known as combinatorial creativity, was perhaps first coined by Albert Einstein in a letter to French mathematician Jacques Hadamard. In an attempt to understand mathematicians’ mental processes, Hadamard asked Einstein about how he thought.

Einstein-final

Einstein’s letter reply, later published in Ideas and Opinions, explained that his thinking process transcended what could be communicated in the written or spoken word, but that there was “a certain connection between those elements and relevant logical concepts.”

Huh?

Well, Einstein was known to play violin whenever he was stuck on a tough problem and often spoke of how music influenced the way he thought about math and science. His sister, Maja, said that sometimes after playing piano, he’d get up and say, “There, now I’ve got it.”

Albert Einstein quote

Call it combinatory play, combinatorial creativity, or intuition—we’ve all experienced that flash of insight, that fleeting moment when a solution we’ve been grinding away at reveals itself in an unexpected place. Playing violin helped Einstein theorize about time and space. What might be your Combinatory Play?

“Creativity is just connecting things.” – Steve Jobs

Steve+Jobs

Stuck in Traffic on the Neural Pathway to Nowhere

Understanding why Combinatory Play boosts creativity, means we should look at how the brain works.

The brain’s building blocks are neurons: nerve cells that receive and transmit signals along neural pathways. In Harvard professor of psychiatry John Ratey’s A User’s Guide to the Brain, certain pathways are forged at birth, like the ones that control your breathing and heartbeat. Others can be manipulated by learning. So when you’re stuck in a rut, your brain’s neurons could literally be stuck on a neural pathway you’ve carved out through your behavior.

The good news is you can get your brain unstuck by choosing to make new connections—forge a new neural pathway. Ratey explains, “A person who forcibly changes his behavior can break the deadlock by requiring neurons to change connections to enact the new behavior.”

If you’re frustrated by mental processes that lead nowhere, it’s kind of like your brain is taking the same old route to work every day because that’s what you’ve trained it to do. But if the highway is congested and you’re sitting in traffic, it’s up to you to tell your brain that there’s a new route it should take to get to where you want to go.

Comfort In Familiarity

Your brain is continually striving for order and predictability, and as a result, can get pretty set in its ways. While reverting to familiar paths can keep you safe and comfortable, it can also hinder your creativity. Therefore, it’s important to quiet this part of the brain if you want to invent new solutions. Combinatory Play can help you do this by relaxing your mind.

The Brain’s Inclination for Seeking Patterns Encourages Innovation

As clinical psychologist Victoria Stevens explains: “Our pattern-seeking behavior is an essential part of creative thinking, although it can also produce false assumptions and biases when previous experiences lead us to beliefs we do not question. In addition, finding links, connections, and patterns between apparently dissimilar things is essential to creative thinking.”

Your pattern-seeking behavior can benefit you in creative thinking. Just remember to:

  • Question your assumptions
  • Try to find patterns where it seems like none exist

Combinatory Play allows you to zoom out, see the bigger picture, and spot the patterns. This is especially true at times like this. Think and act creatively and responsibly, not out of fear or panic but out of rational, logical thought. The calmer we are, the better.

Continued in Part 2 . . .


Thanks to Amy Rigby in

Special Friday the 13th Edition: Rod Serling – In His Own Words.

The Man. The Mind. The Mentor.

The Dad. The Television Star.

The Host. The Creator.

Mr. Twilight Zone himself.

Night of the Meek

Christmas is more than barging up and down department store aisles and pushing people out of the way. Christmas is another thing finer than that. Richer, finer, truer, and it should come with patience and love, charity, compassion.

Somewhere between apathy and anarchy lies the thinking human being.

Violence does not spring from a vacuum. It’s born out of other men’s violence. It gets nurtured and it grows in a soil of prejudice and of hate and of bigotry.

Every writer is a frustrated actor who recites his lines in the hidden auditorium of his skull.

Serling-Judge him

A basic ‘must’ for every writer. A simple solitude– physical and mental.” ~ AS I KNEW HIM: My Dad Rod Serling

More than a man has died…More than a gallant young President has been put to death. What has been assassinated is a faith in ourselves. What has been murdered-a belief in our decency, our capacity to love, our sense of order and logic and civilized decorum.

Our greatest responsibility is not to be pencils of the past…

This is what I learned at Antioch-when something was wrong, I could get up on my own two feet and make comment on it… I think the idea of questioning is not only a right, it is a responsibility.

Serling-young

Remember that your salvation is in your capacity for human warmth–in that remarkable propensity for love.

I found that it was all right to have Martians saying things Democrats and Republicans could never say.

My dad said in a final interview, “I’d like to write something that my peers, my colleagues, my fellow writers would find a source of respect. I’d rather win a Writer’s Guild award than almost anything…

No moral, no message, no prophetic tract, just a simple statement of fact: for civilization to survive, the human race has to remain civilized. Tonight’s very small exercise in logic from the Twilight Zone.” –             The Shelter

Serling new pic

Rod left us way too soon. Not surprisingly, he is still today someone we look up to, someone we admire. From The Twilight Zone to the Night Gallery, he put his imagination on display for millions of fans.

As a writer myself, I’ve often wondered what kind of morbid, macabre mysteries would have come alive if Rod Serling and Edgar Allan Poe had lived in the same century. Deaths-Head Revisited, Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Monsters Are Due on Maple StreetAnnabel Lee, A Stop at Willoughby, The Fall of the House of Usher, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet and, of course, The Raven.

All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream. Because this, you see, is the Twilight Zone. Quoth the raven, “Nevermore!”