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.

 

 

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

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

The human brain can get stuck in a rut thanks to neural pathways and a fondness for the familiar. So 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 Play can 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. Continue reading

Obsession with Productivity Can Kill Creativity.

Don’t Let It Kill Yours!

How would a “productive day” compare to a “creative day”? What would, if anything, they have in common? Chances are not much.  One might think a productive day would be closely aligned with scratching off items on a to-do list. On the other hand, someone’s idea of a creative day might not even have a to-do list. 475px-The_Scream

Our current work world is obsessed with productivity. We are inundated with books, articles, white papers, to time block this and time block that; all just to do more work. But our relentless quest to be productive is undermining one of the most important abilities in today’s workplace: creativity.

What of the future, though? Will machine learning and artificial intelligence perform the routine aspects of our work at the expense of our ingenuity and creativity? So how do we create the right conditions for creativity, particularly when we are trying to deal with a to-do list?

Consider this comment from screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (the mastermind behind the television show West Wing and films like Moneyball and The Social Network). He told The Hollywood Reporter that he takes six showers a day. “I’m not a germaphobe,” he explains but when his writing isn’t going well, he’ll shower, change into new clothes, and start again.

Sorkin’s trade relies on him minting something fresh on a regular basis. And it occurred to him that his best thoughts were not happening in moments of fevered concentration, but when he was in the shower. So he had a shower installed in the corner of his office and makes regular use of it. He has described the process as “a do-over” for triggering original ideas.

In 1939, James Webb Young, a Madison Avenue advertising executive, wrote a definitive guide to the process of creativity, A Technique for Producing Ideas. In this short book, Webb Young reminds us, “that an idea is nothing more nor less than a new combination of old elements.” In his view, the skill of creativity is the ability to spot new connections between familiar thoughts, and the art is “the ability to see [new] relationships.”

Fifty years later, Steve Jobs observed something similar: “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.” Webb Young also lays out a remarkably simple technique for creative thought. It involves stimulation. Continue reading

Quotes Times Ten . . .

The ones who see things differently…who are not fond of rules…they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. — Steve Jobs

Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative place where no one else has ever been. – Alan Alda

Where there is shouting, there is no true knowledge. – Leonardo da Vinci

I think it’s better to be overly ambitious and fail than to be underambitious and succeed in a mundane way. I have been very fortunate. I failed upward in my life! – Francis Ford Coppola

Meetings are all too often the burial grounds of great ideas. — Keith Reinhard, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

You cannot force ideas. Successful ideas are the result of slow growth. Ideas do not reach perfection in a day, no matter how much study is put upon them. – Alexander Graham Bell

The most dangerous phrase in the language is, We’ve always done it this way. – Grace Hopper

If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it. – Albert Einstein

We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely. – E. O. Wilson


There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. — Ernest Hemingway

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 of Historical Perspective

From Steinem to Van Gogh to Serling and more, these quotes cover a multitude of personalities and perspectives. Enjoy as you read through the history makers, some of our time, some not.

Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning. Gloria Steinem

You cannot rely upon what you have been taught. All you have learned from history is old ways of making mistakes. There is nothing that history can tell you about what we must do tomorrow. Only what we must not do. Edwin H. Land

What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything? Vincent Van Gogh

It isn’t enough for a sole voice of reason to exist. In this time of uncertainty we’re so sure that villains lurk around every corner that we will create them ourselves if we can’t find them. For while fear may keep us vigilant, it’s also fear that tears us apart. Rod Serling

Rod Serling

An important idea not communicated persuasively is like having no idea at all. William Bernbach, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

In writing advertising it must always be kept in mind that the customer often knows more about the goods than the advertising writers because they have had experience in buying them, and any seeming deception in a statement is costly, not only in the expense of the advertising but in the detrimental effect produced upon the customer, who believes she has been misled. John Wanamaker, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Creativity is so delicate a flower that praise tends to make it bloom while discouragement often nips it at the bud.  Alex Osborn, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Good advertising is written from one person to another. When it is aimed at millions, it rarely moves anyone.  Fairfax M. Cone, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

The scientist has marched in and taken the place of the poet. But one day somebody will find the solution to the problems of the world and remember, it will be a poet, not a scientist. Frank Lloyd Wright

Creativity Tip #36: If you can’t explain your idea to an 8-year old, it’s too complicated.



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!

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!

Continue reading

Variety of Quotes, Variety of Thought.

Just when you thought I had run out of quotes, I found some more. I tend to come across these every week from a variety of different sources, some of which are quite surprising as are the quotes. In any case, enjoy, and don’t be surprised when you’re surprised.

There are two kinds of men who don’t amount to much: those who can’t do what they are told and those who can do nothing else.  Cyrus H. K. Curtis, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

When you reach for the stars you may not quite get one, but you won’t come up with a handful of mud either.  Leo Burnett, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside of them was superior to circumstance. Bruce Barton, Advertising Hall of Fame

Creativity is so delicate a flower that praise tends to make it bloom while discouragement often nips it at the bud.  Alex Osborn, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Good advertising is written from one person to another. When it is aimed at millions, it rarely moves anyone.  Fairfax M. Cone, 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, Advertising Hall of Fame

It is easier to tone down a wild idea than to think up a new one.  Alex Osborne, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

The ultimate obscenity is not caring, not doing something about what you feel, not feeling! Just drawing back and drawing in, becoming narcissistic. Rod Serling

The Quotes Return. Enjoy!

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!

Every advertisement should be thought of as a contribution to the complex symbol which is the brand image. – David Ogilvy, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

It is easier to tone down a wild idea than to think up a new one. – Alex Osborne, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

People are very sophisticated about advertising now. You have to entertain them. You have to present a product honestly and with a tremendous amount of pizzazz and flair, the way it’s done in a James Bond movie. But you can’t run the same ad over and over again. You have to change your approach constantly to keep on getting their attention. – Mary Wells Lawrence, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Question everything. Learn something. Answer nothing. – Euripides

If you can’t turn yourself into your customer, you probably shouldn’t be in the ad writing business at all. – Leo Burnett, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Never write an advertisement which you wouldn’t want your family to read. You wouldn’t tell lies to your own wife. Don’t tell them to mine.  – David Ogilvy, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. – Albert Einstein

Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist. – Pablo Picasso

After a certain high level of technical skill is achieved, science and art tend to coalesce in esthetics, plasticity, and form. The greatest scientists are always artists as well. − Albert Einstein

Some of the biggest advertising mistakes are people who imagine they know what the problem is, or they’re not even thinking about; they’re just coming up with that brilliant idea and trying to force the problem to fit it. – Mary Wells Lawrence, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Obsession with Productivity Can Kill Creativity.

Don’t Let It Kill Yours!

How would a “productive day” compare to a “creative day”? What would, if anything, they have in common? Chances are not much.  One might think a productive day would be closely aligned with scratching off items on a to-do list. On the other hand, someone’s idea of a creative day might not even have a to-do list.

475px-The_ScreamOur current work world is obsessed with productivity. We are inundated with books, articles, white papers, to time block this and time block that; all just to do more work. But our relentless quest to be productive is undermining one of the most important abilities in today’s workplace: creativity. What of the future, though? Will machine learning and artificial intelligence perform the routine aspects of our work at the expense of our ingenuity and creativity?

So how do we create the right conditions for creativity, particularly when we are trying to deal with a to-do list?

Consider this comment from screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (the mastermind behind the television show West Wing and films like Moneyball and The Social Network). He told The Hollywood Reporter that he takes six showers a day. “I’m not a germaphobe,” he explains but when his writing isn’t going well, he’ll shower, change into new clothes, and start again. Sorkin’s trade relies on him minting something fresh on a regular basis. And it occurred to him that his best thoughts were not happening in moments of fevered concentration, but when he was in the shower. So he had a shower installed in the corner of his office and makes regular use of it. He has described the process as “a do-over” for triggering original ideas.

In 1939, James Webb Young, a Madison Avenue advertising executive, wrote a definitive guide to the process of creativity, A Technique for Producing Ideas. In this short book, Webb Young reminds us, “that an idea is nothing more nor less than a new combination of old elements.” In his view, the skill of creativity is the ability to spot new connections between familiar thoughts, and the art is “the ability to see [new] relationships.”

Fifty years later, Steve Jobs observed something similar: “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”

Webb Young also lays out a remarkably simple technique for creative thought. It involves stimulation. Continue reading