Creative Confidence – Is it in You?

Is your school or workplace divided between the “creatives” versus the “practical” people? Yet surely, David Kelley suggests, creativity is not the domain of only a chosen few. Telling stories from his legendary design career and his own life, he offers ways to build the confidence to create.

As for building confidence, afraid of snakes? This may help.

David Kelley’s company IDEO helped create many icons of the digital generation — but what matters even more to him is unlocking the creative potential of people and organizations to innovate routinely.

So give it a listen. I think you’ll be glad you did.

David Kelley giving his TED Talk

Creativity Tip #4: Trying to satisfy everybody never got anybody anywhere. Focus on what’s important, then do it.



Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for personal insights on life and its detours.

Your Creative Juices Not Flowing Due to Uncertainty?

Having trouble getting your creativity loaded? Those creative juices simply not flowing for ‘ya? “Creativity block” is something akin to writer’s block. It’s a difficult stage to get through and at times can last longer than we’d like. It’s been especially difficult developing new ideas, creating new products and launching new services in the chaotic reality of this pandemic.

subpng.com

Do times of uncertainty cause a decline in creativity and innovation? That’s not exactly a slam dunk of a “yes”. History tells us that innovation and creativity thrive even in periods of uncertainty and chaos.

Many successful companies like Airbnb and Uber, for example, were founded during the Great Recession of 2007-2009. General Electric was established and grew during the massive economic downturn in America, also known as “The Panic of 1893.”

According to this Harvard Business School article on innovation, the Great Depression of the 1930s was one of the most innovative decades in the last century. A proliferation of new technologies, exceptional innovations and inventions that pushed the world forward were conceived and created during that time period.

Inventions such as the jet engine and the helicopter were created, followed by the FM radio, sunglasses, copiers, nylons, ballpoint pens, electric razors, car radios and much more.

Accessing the mindset of creativity and innovation in times of uncertainty is not easy. When we feel as if we are losing control over our external circumstances, we start telling ourselves there is no point in starting the creative process, as nothing we do will succeed. Nothing like shooting ourselves in our creative feet before we begin!

Uncertain times are the norm. It’s always been that way. We can’t predict the future and the only thing we can control is us. We’re the source of creativity, innovation and inspiration. Nothing new there.

The stability and certainty we need to support our creative process comes from within. How can we tap into that? As I touched upon in another blog post, we need to find an inner calm so that we may better conjure up the spark to our creativity. It’s there in all of us. We just need to find that which can ignite the spark.

Hemingway ignited the spark when he had trouble getting started on writing, by writing one declarative sentence . . . the rest, he said, will start to come naturally. You’ve got to “prime the pump,” so to speak. Even the artist needs to take a brush or a pen and just start doodling, anything that will stimulate the mind.

When we find our inner calm, alongside our commitment to continue the creative process no matter what, we’ll also find the right mindset for stepping up and making progress. The more we detach ourselves from the external madness, the more we can engage the creative process. We need to “catch the wave” before we can ride it.

Recession, chaos, uncertainty, and, yes, even a pandemic or two go hand in hand with creativity and innovation. Uncertainty surrounds us whether we like it or not. So, let’s deal with it in some way, shape or form. Start creating, inventing, solving problems and adding value. You do that by thinking clearly, calmly and intuitively. Concentrate on what you can control. The rest usually takes care of itself.

This post was contributed, in part, from an article by Nili Peretz, Forbes Councils Member.

Creativity Tip #27: Never fall in love with your idea; there’s always a better one around the corner.

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for personal insights on life and its detours.

 

Rod Serling on Writing and Creativity

To sleep. Perchance to dream. To dream. Perchance to imagine. To imagine. Perchance to create. To create. Perchance to write; perchance to make a difference. Mr. Rod Serling definitely made a difference and impacted society with his unique form and brand of creativity in his writing.

One could not watch an episode of either the Twilight Zone or Night Gallery and not be moved in some way. His genius and commentary were not limited to “inside” the story lines, but could also be found in his opening and closing narration.

Take the following, for example:

Then there’s this gem on creativity (circa 1971):

Quoting from the book “As I knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling,” by Anne Serling, (wonderful read, by the way) “In what was to be my father’s final interview, he was asked what he wanted people to say about him a hundred years from then. He responded, ‘I don’t care that they’re not able to quote any single line that I’ve written. But just that they can say, ‘Oh, he was a writer.’ That’s sufficiently an honored position for me.'”

As creativity goes, he was a master. As a writer, he was unsurpassed in this genre of storytelling. Oh sure, you have Mark Twain, Hemingway, Poe, Dickens, and Stephen King to name a few. But they were different; they each had their own style. Serling was also of another generation.

I often wonder what great works he would have produced should he have lived beyond 50 years. If King was or is the master of horror, then Serling, surely, was the master of the macabre for his generation, just as Edgar Allan Poe was for his. Not surprisingly, Poe was a great influence on Serling.

One thing to keep in mind, no matter who is or has influenced you as a creative person or a writer in particular, don’t be afraid to extend your limits, your boundaries. If you don’t think you can design it, write it or overcome it, try creating it anyway. Get to work even if you’re doing it in small, baby steps.

Even Hemingway wrote in a one sentence at a time mindset. Serling, being aware of his capacities, didn’t limit himself to actual writing of words. His generation of technology at least afforded him the dicta-phone so he could keep pace with his mind.

Write on, Rod!

Don’t Look Now, Our Creativity is Leaking

Portions of this post are based on excerpts from the book by Michael Easter, The Comfort Crisis. We spend an awful lot of time consuming digital media, lest we get easily bored. A recent study looked at what happens to a bored mind without easy access to media?

The Canadian neuroscientist James Danckert recruited some volunteers and put them into a neuroimaging scanner, and induced them into a mood of being bored They had them watch two guys hanging laundry for eight minutes. You could say they were bored out of their gords!

While bored, a part of their brains called the “default mode network” fired on. It’s a network of brain regions that activates when we’re unfocused, when our mind is off and wandering. Mind wandering is a rest state that restores and rebuilds the resources needed to work better and more efficiently when we’re focused on the outside world.

Mind wandering is also a key driver of creativity, which is why other studies have found that bored people score significantly higher on creativity tests. Research dating back to the 1950s may explain why we’re now facing a “creativity crisis.”

If I didn’t already know this was a 1950’s Classroom, I would have guessed it. Has that look and feel – BTW, where are the little girls?

Ellis Paul Torrance was an American psychologist. In the 1950s he noticed something off target about American classrooms. Teachers tended to prefer the subdued, book-smart kids. They didn’t much care for the kids who had tons of energy and big ideas. Kids who’d think up odd interpretations of readings, inventive excuses for why they didn’t do their homework, and morph into mad scientists every lab day.

The system deemed these kids “bad.” But Torrance felt they were misunderstood. Because if a problem comes up in the real world, all the book-smart kids look for an answer in … a book. But what if the answer isn’t in a book? Then a person needs to get creative.

He thus devoted his life to studying creativity and its uses for good. In 1958 he developed the “Torrance Test.” It’s since become the gold standard for gauging creativity. The TTCT (Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking) assess how creatively a child’s mind works and are often given to children to determine advanced placement or as part of an entrance examination. Instead of traditionally taught subjects such as reading or math, these tests assess creativity. Children are scored on a number of aspects, including:

  • Creative titles for pictures
  • Expressions
  • Imagery
  • and Humor

He had a large group of children in the Minnesota public school system take the exam. It includes exercises like showing a kid a toy and asking her, “how would you improve this toy to make it more fun?”

Torrance analyzed all the kids’ scores. He then tracked every accomplishment the kids earned across their lives, until he died in 2003, when his colleagues took on the job. If one of the kids wrote a book, he’d mark it; if a kid founded a business, he’d mark it; if a kid submitted a patent, he’d mark it. Every achievement was logged. What he found raises big questions about how we judge intelligence.

The kids who came up with more, better ideas in the initial tests were the ones who became the most accomplished adults. They were successful inventors and architects, CEOs and college presidents, authors and diplomats, etc.

Torrance testing, in fact, bests IQ testing so much so that a recent study of Torrance’s Kids found that creativity was a threefold better predictor of much of the students’ accomplishment compared to their IQ scores.

Now, according to Easter, we’ve killed off one of the main drivers of creativity: mind wandering. The result? A researcher at the University of William and Mary analyzed 300,000 Torrance Test scores since the 50s. She found that creativity scores began to nosedive in 1990.

She concluded that we’re now facing a “creativity crisis.” The scientist blames our hurried, over-scheduled lives and “ever increasing amounts of time interacting with electronic entertainment devices.”

And that’s bad news. Particularly when we consider that creativity is a critical skill in today’s economy, where most of us work with our brains rather than brawn.

Despite what productivity gurus will have us believe, the key to improving creativity might be to occasionally do nothing at all. Or, at least, not dive into a screen. We’ll think distinctly, in a way that delivers more original ideas.

Yet, ironically, society’s tech giants still deliver more advanced software to supposedly aid us in our creativity, while holding us increasingly captive. A proper balance has yet to be realized. And may not ever.

While it may sound silly, occasionally doing nothing works. At least for me, it does. Of course, my body may not be doing anything but my mind is usually traveling at warp speed. It’s usually during these times that I let my mental forces do what they’ll do. More times than not, they produce . . . an idea . . . several ideas . . . a partial script . . . something to which I can apply time-in-the-future to develop.

Boredom is just one evolutionary discomfort we’ve lost from our lives. Easter’s book, The Comfort Crisis, investigates nine others, covering what happens to our bodies, minds, and sense of self without them—and the benefits we can reap by reintroducing these evolutionary discomforts into our lives.

Seth Godin on Creativity

“To count, it needs to ship,” Seth Godin.

Whatever you end up creating, for it to count, it needs to ship. Ship in the sense that it needs to be published, displayed, lectured, drawn, invented, etc. Whatever you create needs exposure.

If you’re not that familiar with Seth or his myriad of work, go explore Seth’s site. You’ll be glad you did.

I’ve been following Seth’s podcast, Akimbo, for several years now and find it quite nourishing. I also subscribe to his emails. How he does this 365 days of the year, I’ll never know.

But, I’m glad he does.

So take a listen below to Seth’s take on Creativity if you haven’t already. Once done, choose to create something.

Then ship it!

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for personal insights on life and its detours.

Rising from the Ashes

A Macabre Tale of the Dearly Departed

I’m sort of numb, sitting in Pam’s huge, upholstered easy chair just staring into space. It’s only been a few weeks since she died and here I am staring at the forlorn-looking black box that the funeral home delivered containing her ashes.

I’m scared to open it. I’ve never even seen someone’s ashes before. Not sure what to expect.

I sit. I stare. I wonder. I need a drink! Maybe two!!

After I return with my Jack Daniel’s on-the-rocks, I put the glass down and notice some liquid residue evidently left over from a glass no longer sitting here on the coffee table. I just mutter to myself that I’ll wipe it up later.

I take a sip of Jack, replace the glass on the table and reach for the black box to open it. Opening is no problem but I see that the bag inside is tightly tied so as to prevent spillage of the ashes.

Or so I thought.

When I lifted the bag from its container and began to remove it from the box, it began to slip from my hand and spill out onto the table. Evidently, the bag was not as securely tied as I was led to believe.

Though startled, and slightly embarrassed, even though there’s no one else home, I quickly apologized to Pam for having accidentally spilled some of her ashes. When I began to wipe up the ashes from the table, I noticed some weird reaction start to take place with those ashes.

It seems that some of them spilled precisely where some liquid remained from a few drinks ago.

I sat there mesmerized as I watched some chemical reaction taking place with the spilled ashes and liquid. To my amazement, it seemed as if some sort of figure was beginning to form.

A blob. Unrecognizable. But then, my God, it’s transforming right before my eyes into . . . a . . . person.

Pamela’s Voice imagerpy from The Night Gallery

I watch, amazed, not knowing what, if anything, to do. I am utterly transfixed on what is happening right before me. Then to my astonishment, it stands there and speaks, “Hi Joe!”

“It” is Pam, and I faint.

ii

“Uh, Joe,” she says. “It’s me, Pam, I think, though I’m not sure how I got here. It’s kinda fuzzy to me.”

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” I muttered, slowly beginning to regain consciousness.

“Do you remember dying?,” I asked. “You know, you really screwed up my day, not to mention yours!,” I stated as flatly sarcastic as I could.

“I don’t know. I mean, I remember laying on the bed, semi-asleep and then, well, nothing. It’s as if everything went black,” she said.

“I don’t want to dwell on your death, Pam. I’m still in some kind of shock. It was I who discovered you, thank you very much,” I said.

“That moment was my worst nightmare come true,” I retorted.

“I’m sorry, but I didn’t exactly plan it that way,” she said. “But enough of this! How the hell did I get back here and what am I doing in our living room?”, she asked.

“Well, I was handling your bag of ashes and they slipped out of my hands with some spilling into a little residue of liquid there on the table. The mixture began some sort of chemical reaction and the next thing I know, you formed into, uh, you” I explained.

“You mean I was sort of resurrected from my ashes?,” she blurted out.

“That’s pretty much it,” I said.

“Well, that explains the gritty taste in my mouth,” she said as she sort of spit out some sandy-like substance.

“Why are you looking at me that way?” she asked.

“It’s not everyday, Pam, that I bring the dead back to life!” I said. “And,” as I stumbled for words, “you’re much younger looking than when you died,” I explained. “You look like you did when we first met, about 30 years ago!” I confessed.

“Maybe your appearance has something to do with your transformation,” I offered. “Whatever the explanation, I’m glad it has taken place” I admitted.

Evidently, unknown to me at the time, the mixing of the liquid with ashes that produced the chemical reaction also transformed the liquid somehow to create a person. This has resulted in forming a human, in this case, Pam, as I recall her from when we first met.

Oh, man, do I have questions, I thought. Does simply mixing a little of the ashes with any liquid produce this magical transformation to a “living being?” Is this magical elixir the solution for bringing the dead back to life?

“Pam, why don’t we take a little walk outside and get some fresh air? You’ve been bagged and bottled up for too long,” I suggested.

She agreed and off we went. However, as soon as we began to walk out the front door, she screamed in agony. We both immediately stopped and I looked down in horror.

She had begun to disappear!

iii

Her feet and ankles were dissolving and were starting to leave behind some dust reside. Thinking quickly in almost a reactive sort of way, I grabbed hold of her and immediately yanked her entire body back inside the house.

Within moments, thankfully, the shape of both feet and ankles began to return to normal appearance.

“Whew, thank God,” I exclaimed in shortness of breath. I was still holding on to her and sort of afraid to let her go. We eventually made it back to the living room where we both sat down in utter relief, she on the table and me in her overgrown chair.

“What the hell was that all about,” she screamed. “I started to disappear,” she said.

“Yeah, I know” I said. “I have a theory,” I suggested.

“Perhaps once the person leaves the house or the dwelling she occupies, she begins to dissolve and then disintegrates. In other words, she can’t venture outside or else she returns to dust or ashes in your case,” I theorized.

“You mean I can’t go outside or physically leave this house?,” she exclaimed.

“Not this way,” I said.

“Damn!” she retorted.

“Well, after all, you’re dead, remember?” I told her.

“As you have said on more than one occasion, my dear Joe, ‘minor little detail!'” she deadpanned.

iv

My now-growing list of questions boggles my mind: Is this chemical reaction trick a way of always producing Pam whenever I wish? Even though this creation is evidently limited to exist within the boundaries of my home, is that enough to satisfy me or to counter my longing for her? Could I bring her back in a different setting if I began the process from a different locale?

NightGalleryArtMinds

I have no clue at this point. The quest for clarification is now upon me. Where will it lead? Am I flirting with another dimension? Where is Rod Serling when you need him?

I think I’ll pour me another Jack Daniel’s and sit, contemplate . . . and chat with Pam.

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for personal insights on life and its detours.

Quotes From The Twilight Zone and Other Time Portals

Back again with a number of different quotes but this time, unintentionally, I’ve included several from Rod Serling. These even include a submission by his daughter, Anne. Interestingly, some reflect our current times and are not, simply, torn from a script of The Twilight Zone, though they could be quite applicable.

Offered up for contemplation and reminding, that some things never change. However, it’s still up to us to bring about that change no matter how painful and uncomfortable the process is.

Creative imagination — the lamp that lit the world — can light our lives. – Alex F. Osborn, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. – Aristotle

If your advertising goes unnoticed, everything else is academic. – William Bernbach, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

When we are too timid to risk failure, we reduce the opportunities to succeed. And we eliminate the chance to learn. – Keith Reinhard, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

A sickness known as hate. Not a virus, not a microbe, not a germ but a sickness nonetheless, highly contagious, deadly in its effects. Don’t look for it in #TheTwilightZone, look for it in a mirror. Look for it before the light goes out altogether. – Rod Serling (March 27, 1964)

Imagination leads to curiosity leads to creativity leads to innovation. In everything you write, write something that is brave enough to be hopeful. – Amanda Gorman, poet, first National Youth Poet Laureate 

Human beings must involve themselves in the anguish of other human beings. This, I submit to you, is not a political thesis at all. It is simply an expression of what I would hope might be ultimately a simple humanity for humanity’s sake. ― Rod Serling

The Quotes Just Keep on Coming

In a continuing effort to highlight various modes of thought by different folks through the ages, the following quotes are offered up to enlighten your imagination and, perhaps, even tickle your funny bone. Then, again, maybe they’ll make you think. Enjoy!

You have to be noticed, but the art is getting noticed naturally, without screaming and without tricks. – Leo Burnett, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

The mind that opens to a new idea never returns to its original size. — Albert Einstein

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.

. . . And . . .

Human beings must involve themselves in the anguish of other human beings. This, I submit to you, is not a political thesis at all. It is simply an expression of what I would hope might be ultimately a simple humanity for humanity’s sake. ― Rod Serling

Inspirational quotes for folks who don’t like them:

On fighting the urge to follow the herd:

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. — Oscar Wilde

What you think of yourself is much more important than what others think of you. — Seneca

Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world. — Lucille Ball

On finding the beauty in chaos:

If life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavor. — Eleanor Roosevelt

I would rather die of passion than of boredom. — Vincent van Gogh

Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny. — Stephen Hawking

In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart. — Anne Frank

RIP John Aguillard: AAF District 10 Legend, Memorial Services Announced

Image 5-15-20 at 3.26 PM

We, the American Advertising Federation District 10, lost a good friend and a true-to-form legend (and not in his own mind) when John Aguillard passed away a few days ago. If you ever met him at a district conflab or national convention, consider yourself both lucky and blessed. If you didn’t, too bad; you really missed out.

John was a prankster and a very passionate one at that. You also needed to know how to take him. Some folks didn’t and paid the consequences. He was a very quick-witted and smooth-tongued conversationalist, and loved to lure you into one of his “controversial” conversations. He also had a wicked sense of humor.

One of the first times I met John, he dished out some satirical remark, and I responded in a rather direct and satirical manner, and, for a brief moment, John wasn’t sure what to do. He quickly shot back his delight in getting that kind of reaction from me and remarked to a friend sitting next to him, “I like this guy!”

One of my fondest memories was when we were involved in a major discussion one year in Dallas in the Hospitality Suite until about 3:30 in the morning. I was joined by Frank Kopec (Dallas), John (San Antonio), me (Houston), Darrell Boyd (Lake Charles) and one or two others. I was proud that despite the late hour (or early depending on your perspective), there was plenty of respect to be had. Continue reading