A Toast Unlike Any Other

New Year’s has a lot of tradition surrounding it. Champagne and toasts are usually at the top of the list, right alongside resolutions. It takes a certain amount of creativity to come up with a toast, so when I came upon this toast the other day I thought it somewhat appropriate to share. I couldn’t help it, given that I’m from the Bayou State of Louisiana.

Enjoy! Cheers!

 

 

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.

 

 

Have a Happy Holiday Season, Anyway!

Whether you be . . .

And I Regret Nothing! (SVG Land)

 

Or on the Nice List . . .

By Wily Alien

 

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.

Ye Olde Creativity Survival (Tool)Kit

Last week I posted about my upcoming trek to Baton Rouge and shared a list of creative guidelines to keep in mind when enhancing one’s creativity. That was what I shared with the ad club of Baton Rouge last Friday. One of the main items I shared was the Creativity Survival Kit and that’s what I’d like to review on this post, especially for folks who have no idea what I’m talking about.

One of several different colored Creativity Kits the Baton Rouge ad club made as giveaways.

The Creativity Survival (Tool) Kit is simply any container or bucket filled with items that make you feel creative or think creatively. The contents can be almost anything depending on the individual.

They can be notes that remind you of various things, especially those items that are too large to fit into your bucket. They can be serious or silly. No judgements here; after all, it’s YOUR kit.

One of the main elements in the Kit is a stack of Post It Notes. The timed exercise, lead by a moderator, is thus: Whatever problem confronts you to be solved, needs a specific question to be asked that may help solve it. The more specific, the better.

The challenge is to come up with, say, 50 ideas in five minutes or, if you dare, 100 ideas in ten minutes. Once this is done, pick your 25 best ideas and, are you ready for this . . . TRASH THEM! Then from the 25 remaining, select your next 20 best ideas . . . and . . . TRASH THEM!

I know this is not what you’re used to doing, but trust me, this is a different take on a standard way of drilling down to the best idea. I call it the Evil Twin Technique.

Now, you’re left with five “maybe not-so-great-ideas.” For the purposes of this exercise, select three of them that you feel are good and, you know the drill, TRASH THEM. From the two remaining, trash one that you feel is better than the other one. You have one idea left. It may not have been one you thought about when you first began or one that you paid little or no attention to during this process.

You’ve come upon your Evil Twin. Whether or not it pans out as a worthwhile idea to help solve your problem remains to be seen. Your due process may bear that out. If you can combine this exercise with the more standard approach (instead of trashing the “best ideas,” keep them and simply narrow the list down to just one), it will be interesting what types of solution approaches one could come up with.  

Some other items in my kit include

and my certification

along with my alter ego, Snoopy, and his pal, the Energizer Bunny. What can I say, I have an eclectic tool kit!

As my business card states, “Crayons. The essence of creativity.” Crayons are colorful and so should your world of creativity. Similarly, your Creativity Survival Toolkit should reflect your colorful personality and lend itself to enhance your creative world.

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.

A Dozen Tips to Enhance Your Creativity

• Creativity needs to be synonymous with “FUN!”

• Idea Tub – can be a physical place or thing and/or an electronic file. It’s a compilation of all ideas
ever submitted since you started keeping track, but organized as to be readily accessible.

An elaborate Idea Tub

• Don’t let the execution bury the idea. Your message will be diluted and possibly even confusing if
the creative is too cute, too complex or just plain dumb. Think napkin, not computer.

• Realize your own sense of creativity by challenging your imagination and stimulate thoughts to lead
yourself to a new level of solution.

• The idea, for best results, should be media and discipline neutral. Otherwise, you limit yourself.

• Focus on how you’re going to make the idea work and be relevant. But, never fall in love with it.

• Don’t ever underestimate the power of the mind or your imagination. Don’t ever be afraid to ask,
“Why, Why not or What if . . .?”.

• Ye Olde Creativity Survival Kit — Any sort of container in which you place whatever makes you
FEEL creative and THINK creatively. In this industry, silly is sometimes serious business.

• Thinking at Warp Speed – Generating ideas at breakneck speed is a great way to capture ideas on
Post-it Notes (one per note) in answering a specific question to solve a problem. Remember Giant
Post-its for your “idea wall” which can foster brainstorming and open-door policy idea addition.

• Drill Down Technique – Discovering THE idea. In this unusual method choose your five best ideas
and ELIMINATE THEM, choose five more and ELIMINATE THEM. The last idea Post-it may or
may not be the best, but it’s one to which you normally would not have paid much attention. Go play.

• As ideas are developed, make sure their essence is refined. Make sure your ideas are clear and
you can explain their basic value in about 20 seconds. If you can’t explain it to an 8-year old so they’ll understand it, you need to refine your idea more.

• Don’t manage creativity; manage for creativity. Provide an environment that is open and receptive
to new ideas, and that builds failure into the process. Acknowledge error or failure in a constructive
and supportive way.

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.

Death Resides in an Upstairs Room

Sometimes death takes on different forms for different people. This is a tale about one of those times.

Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.

Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.

Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was.

There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. All is well. — Author Unknown

Excuse me a moment. Believe someone’s at the door.

(Hears knocking.) Hmmm, sounds like from upstairs but I don’t have an upstairs.

(Door sounds, squeakily opens.)

“Pam?” I ask. No response.

“Pam?” I ask again. 

“I can’t come out but you can come in,” she intones.

“I hear your voice but can’t see you. If this is what I think it is, I can’t come up there now. It’s not yet my time,” I say.

Then slowly I hear a squeaky door closing. 

“Pam?”, I ask. No response. Then again; nothing.

Then, faintly, as if In the distance, I hear a door close.

I stand there, frozen and jarred by the experience.

News Bulletin from the Interdimensional News Agency:

Did this really happen? Does life exist that close to another dimension? Does just a door we cannot see separate us from the hereafter? Who knows!

Perhaps in the Twilight Zone it does, but this is not the TZ. Or is it?

Perhaps it’s simply a page-turn at the chapter’s end in the multidimensional book of life and death.

“Pam? . . . Pam?”. . . Fade to black . . .

That was over a year ago and nothing like that has reoccurred. I think back on that evening from time to time wondering if it did, in fact, happen or was I just dreaming.

This particular evening was quiet and I found myself curled up in my easy chair with a good book. I had just come to a stopping point and started to head off to bed when I heard what I thought was a very squeaky door slowly opening. Thinking to myself it came from next door, I went off to bed.

“Joe?” the voice intoned in what was more like a low whisper.

“Joe?” the voice asked again.

I froze. I just stood there, saying and doing nothing.

“Who’s there?,” I asked, not really expecting a reply.

“I can’t come out but you can come in,” the voice replied softly.

Not again, I thought. This can’t be happening.

“Joe?,” said the voice again. “Please come up and join me. I miss you!” she said .

Playing along, I said “Who is this and what do you want?”

“It’s me, Pam. Please join me upstairs.”

“I don’t have an upstairs and you can’t be Pam. My wife died over a year ago,” I said.

“If this is some sort of sick, perverted joke, I don’t appreciate it!,” I stressed.

“It’s no joke, Joe,” the voice said softly. “It is me, Pam, and you do have an upstairs, just not like you know it to be.”

Then, for some strange reason, I turned around and looked back toward the living room and kitchen area. There was a cloud-like haze inside the apartment, almost like a cloud had seeped inside hugging just below the ceiling.

I heard what sounded like a door slowly rocking back and forth on its hinges. I stood there in awe of what I thought I saw.

What was this sight I was seeing. Could it be an actual cloud? No, that’s impossible, I thought. Another dimension?

Then the voice again, “Joe, come join me. I miss you.” This time the voice was much clearer and louder, but not yelling. “There’s a room that’s been made ready for you. It’s right next to mine. Won’t you please join us?” she asked.

“Us?” I said. “Who’s us,” I asked.

No answer. Silence. Utter stillness.

Yet, the “cloud” remained. Was it an entrance to another dimension? Was this voice talking and beckoning to me really Pam? I didn’t know. I just know that during this time the hairs on the back of my heard were still at attention and I was quite uneasy.

Meanwhile, that slow rhythmical squeaking of a door rocking back and forth on its hinges was the only sound I heard.

Until I didn’t. Then the door closed shut, rather startlingly.

“Pam? . . . Pam?” I called out.

Silence.

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Pamela’s Lantern

A short tale of life and the somewhat perversely humorous after life.

The lantern stands guard over Pamela’s cremated remains until one day magically transforms another living being into the remains the lantern is guarding so that Pamela takes new life in the other living being’s body.

The lantern stands guard constantly overlooking the ornate, Chinese red urn containing Pamela’s remains. Almost like a person, the lantern is always looking from an angle, never taking its stare away from the urn. Its duty is to protect, watch over and remain a reminder that all is calm, peaceful, okay – A little like the eternal flame at JFK’S grave site.

By all appearances the lantern is normal looking, what one might expect at seeing a candle perched inside a window-latticed, red-lacquered, nautically designed portable lamp.

It’s normal looking and serves its purpose as a lamp overlooking Pam’s oriental urn. That is, except for when it decides to act independently and transform a living body’s substance into cremated remains and then swap them out with Pamela’s.

Admittedly a neat trick that not every lantern is capable of doing. Why it performs this rather perverse ritual, if one wants to call it that, is unknown at this juncture. It just does it. Randomly. It’s as if the lantern has a sixth sense about the person with whom it selects to interact.

You might be asking yourself how I know this happens at all. Have I witnessed this rather profane exercise in transformation? Has it happened to me? It has not. Yet! Though I wonder what type of emotional ties does the lantern have with its “subjects”. I sense it wants what’s best for Pam, to bring her joy and comfort in some very strange and weird way.

Assuming this to be true, I’d surmise that my transformation would be soon to come. I am, after all, Pam’s widower.

Can a lantern get jealous?, I asked myself one day. How can it?; it’s not a living being, I reasoned. It’s more of an entity, a thing that lights up. But it’s an entity that keeps watch over a very important vase, one in which my wife’s ashes are kept. Somehow, I think it knows that. It’s seen me take them out of the vase since they’re contained in a large plastic bag within the vase. It’s watched me handle them with utmost care. It knows of their importance.

On the other side of Pam’s urn is a cute little stuffed raccoon I gave her years ago. The raccoon, nicknamed Lil’ Rocky, also stands guard. Pamela is well protected should anything bad befall her.

11:48 pm – that’s when the lantern turns itself on every night. When that happens, it casts an entirely different light on its shelf. Though it doesn’t cast that much illumination on Pamela’s urn, it does cast a lovely glow that brings about a peaceful setting in the darkness.

Every time I get up during the night, I look over to notice the lamp and to make sure all is okay. This night was no exception. The lantern automatically turns off at about 4:15 am and all is dark in the living room. I go back to bed and wake up after the sun’s up.

One morning as I was walking through the room heading to the kitchen to make some coffee, I looked over at Pam’s urn and wished her good morning, just like I always do. After I made my coffee, I started walking back into the bedroom but paused my stride and turned back to glance in the direction of Pam and the lantern.

Everything looked the same but I stood there wondering why I had stopped to glance her way. I even walked up a few steps to get a closer look but nothing appeared out of the ordinary. I just thought I was still asleep since I hadn’t even taken sip number one of my coffee.

I didn’t realize at the time I wasn’t the only one wondering if something was amiss.

As I returned to my work area later that day, I noticed nothing odd at all. I didn’t give it another thought, so to work I went. Towards the end of this day as I was winding down, I went through my routine of shutting things off and getting ready for bed. Upon leaving my study, I glanced up to Pam’s area to bid her goodnight and I noticed something was different, if ever so slightly.

Both the lantern and the Chinese urn were exactly the same but the little raccoon was different; she was now turned to a position where she was looking down at me, where I usually work. I kind of shook my head thinking I was viewing this in a bit of a haze. Upon another gaze, I realized I was seeing things correctly. The raccoon had definitely changed positions. How? I didn’t have the foggiest idea!

I just stood there, staring up at the bookshelf where I had placed her. Without thinking, I reached up and turned her back into her original position at a slight angle, looking more at the Chinese urn than in my direction below. After doing that, I turned around and marched off to bed, turning off lights as I went.

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Stopover at the Majestic.

A time traveler with his magic walking stick that, among other things, makes him invisible on demand and also serves as a teleportation device, travels back to 1965 to visit the Majestic Hotel in Lake Charles, LA. Just before it’s torn down. Unbeknownst to him, however, he’s not the only one who made the trek.

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Dressed in a three piece, white linen suit with straw hat, the Visitor was no stranger to style. His cane, or walking stick as it is sometimes referred, is black with an ornate, brass top as if to resemble the crown on an office building. A green button is displayed in its center.

He slowly gazes around the elaborate lobby as if he’s expecting someone; either that, or he’s casing the joint for future opportunity of financial gain. Somehow, I rather doubt that.

There seems to be electricity in the air today as if all those gathered here anticipate some grand event. No doubt many a grand event has been held in this majestic old hotel. Yet this day seems different.

He stops a nearby guest and inquires, “I say, pardon me, but what’s all the excitement around the lobby today?” The reply is anything but cordial. “Excitement? What excitement?” exclaims the guest.

“Don’t you know?” asks the guest. “Why the Majestic is being torn down. After all these years the grand ole dame is being reduced to shambles and rubble,” he says. “Damn shame if ya ask me!” he sniffs.

The Visitor sits there, expressionless for the most part. He studies the lobby and its inhabitants. It’s not like they are a vengeful mob about to attack. It’s more like they anticipate the destruction without knowing when.

The Visitor senses this and begins to move about, first, though giving his cane a friendly glance.

Slowly, deliberately he begins to meander throughout the lobby, gradually making his way toward the front door and eventually onto the lobby porch or as it’s more commonly referred, the South Porch.

The Visitor stops and simply stands there, weighing in on the sights in the street before him as well as the few men seated in the many rocking chairs along the porch. It’s a mild Summer day and not nearly as warm as would normally be the case in Southwest Louisiana.

The Majestic Hotel was quite the luminary in its day, having hosted Harry Houdini, the Barrymores, General and Mrs. Eisenhower and Jackie and John Kennedy. It had its own power plant and water system, as well as ceiling fans in every room. It had a popular restaurant and was alleged to have hosted every president from Theodore Roosevelt to JFK, though not necessarily when they were president. Yet despite all this, it was deemed “obsolete” in 1965 and was demolished for parking.

The Visitor gazes down at his cane and wonders to himself, “Hmmmmm . . .”

“Damn shame about the pending destruction of the Majestic, doncha think, Mr. , uh . . .,” queries the porch stranger as he approaches the Visitor. “Can’t you do anything about it?,” he asks, assuming the Visitor is in management with the hotel.

“Sir, I’m just a guest, like you. I don’t know what to tell you. Oh, the name is Curtis, Mr. Curtis,” replied the Visitor. “But I will say I tend to agree with you in that it is a shame about the hotel’s destruction. It’s especially true if they aren’t planning to build another fine hotel in its place.,” said Curtis.

Our Visitor knew and thought to himself that, according to the Space-Time Continuum, the destruction of the hotel could not be changed. It will go as planned here in 1965. Curtis can’t change that nor does he want to do so, even though he does think it’s a mistake.

Perhaps it’s time to return to a period when the hotel was at its roaring best, he wonders, the Twenties.

Gradually making his way back into the lobby, our Visitor ventures down a hallway leading, eventually, to a row of guest rooms. After he makes sure he is alone in the hall, he quietly but directly speaks into the crown of his Walking Stick, “Majestic Hotel, Lake Charles, Louisiana, Lobby Bar, circa 1925.”

He presses the green button atop its face and . . . he’s gone!

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de Bono on Creativity

As you may know, Edward de Bono recently passed away. What he leaves with him is a vast treasure trove of creative insights and reminders of how and what we might do to strengthen and enhance our own creativity. Here are some select quotes from him provided by the World Creativity Innovation Week/Day and Prady, whom we thank for letting us further promote the creative thoughts of Dr. de Bono.

More de Bono quotes:

A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely unhappen.

Most executives, many scientists, and almost all business school graduates believe that if you analyze data, this will give you new ideas. Unfortunately, this belief is totally wrong. The mind can only see what it is prepared to see.

Creativity is a great motivator because it makes people interested in what they are doing. Creativity gives hope that there can be a worthwhile idea. Creativity gives the possibility of some sort of achievement to everyone. Creativity makes life more fun and more interesting.

Creative thinking is not a talent, it is a skill that can be learnt. It empowers people by adding strength to their natural abilities which improves teamwork, productivity and where appropriate profits.

The need to be right all the time is the biggest bar to new ideas.

Bonus Quotes:

Humor is by far the most significant activity of the human brain.

It has always surprised me how little attention philosophers have paid to humor, since it is a more significant process of mind than reason. Reason can only sort out perceptions, but the humor process is involved in changing them.

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.

Special Edition: Creativity Mastermind, Father of Lateral Thinking Edward de Bono Has Died

I couldn’t let the week go by without a Tip-o-the (Six) Hats to the truly creative wizard I had the pleasure of meeting back in 2005 at an international creativity conference.

Creative thinker Edward de Bono has died less than a month after celebrating his 88th birthday. De Bono died last Wednesday morning and the news of his passing was announced by his family. 

I really didn’t know anything about him before I met him at this conference in Austin, Texas. He was one of the featured panelists at the conference and, one could argue, probably the most famous. He was also unassuming as he sat there on the panel giving out advice and counsel based on his many books, especially Six Hats.

Edward de Bono photo: Roy Zhao

That’s one of several he autographed for me as we visited for a brief bit following his presentation.

Born in Malta, De Bono graduated as a doctor but went on to study psychology and physiology from where he developed an interest in thinking processes.

He fathered the phrase lateral thinking, which has an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary, and developed multiple thinking strategies, including the Six Thinking Hats method.

In a statement, his family described de Bono as a global citizen, who returned to Malta in his final years.

“This has always been his home. He lived an extraordinary life, inspiring, encouraging and enabling all of us to be better and more creative thinkers. He wrote in his book The Mechanism of Mind: ‘A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely unhappen.’ May the memory of Edward live on and inspire many future generations,” the family said.

De Bono received his initial education at St Edward’s College and the Royal University of Malta, where he achieved a degree in medicine. Then as a Rhodes Scholar at Christchurch, Oxford, where he gained a degree in psychology and physiology and a D.Phil. in medicine.

He holds a PhD from Cambridge, a DDes from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and a LLD from Dundee. He has had faculty appointments at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, London and Harvard. 

Thanks to the World Creativity and Innovation Week/Day

He has written over 60 books and programs, with translations into 43 languages, has been invited to lecture in 58 countries and has made three television series. Included among these 60 books are Serious Creativity, Creativity Workout, and Handbook for the Positive Revolution, all now displayed in my library with his autograph.

His ideas have been sought by governments, not for profit organizations and many of the leading corporations in the world, such as IBM, Boeing, Nokia, Siemens, 3M, GM, Kraft, Nestle, Du Pont, Prudential, Shell, Bosch, Goldman Sachs, Ernst & Young and others.

The global consultancy, Accenture, chose him as one of the fifty most influential business thinkers. In a 2004 interview with MaltaToday, de Bono even proposed a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as he launched his thinking centre in Malta.

In 1994, de Bono was made an officer of the National Order of Merit by the President of Malta.

Thanks to Kurt Sanson of MaltaToday for material upon which this blog is based.

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.