March Madness, er, uh, Quotes, That Is!

The quotations are as varied as the people who said them. Some you know, some you don’t. That’s what makes them interesting. From Burke to Burnett, Einstein to Degas; throw in a little Serling for seasoning and you’ve got a tasty recipe for March’s quotes.

 

We don’t grow unless we take risks. Any successful company is riddled with failures. — James E. Burke, Advertising Hall of Fame

Success or failure in business is caused more by mental attitude than by mental capacities. — Walter Dill Scott, Advertising Hall of Fame

Anyone who thinks that people can be fooled or pushed around has an inaccurate and pretty low estimate of people — and he won’t do very well in advertising. — Leo Burnett, Advertising Hall of Fame

If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research, would it? – Albert Einstein

If you fall in love with the imagination, you understand that it is a free spirit. It will go anywhere, and it can do anything. – Alice Walker

Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was a suspect. – Steven Wright

You must aim high, not in what you are going to do at some future date, but in what you are going to make yourself do to-day. Otherwise, working is just a waste of time. – Edgar Degas

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

How do we turn science fiction into fact? We do it by inventing our own future and figuring out the realistic steps that we need to make in order to get there. Dare to dream. Let your imagination leap. — David Shapton, Editor In Chief, RedShark Publications, 2012 to 2020

 

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

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

 

 

Live Long and Prosper, Ukraine!

 

 

Empowering the Women of Advertising – Today

Today is the day of AAF Northeast Arkansas’ panel discussion on Empowering the Women of Advertising. I’m proud to be a participant on their panel so I have a vested interest in the event’s success.

Increasing diverse participation in advertising and marketing is a business issue, and we need everyone involved. To that end, AAF Northeast Arkansas is today raising awareness about ways to involve more men in creating inclusive work environments and how women can claim their strength within the advertising realm. 

By coincidence, a British publication interviewed several key women in advertising about the current status of their gender within their industry. The timing of this report is appropriate with the timing of the Arkansas AAF panel today.

Think about the people who make the buying decisions for their households. It’s extremely likely that the majority of them are women. And they’re probably more likely to be older than younger. Now think about agency creative departments that you know of – do those teams reflect the people who are likely most efficient to market to? Probably not.

In a recent interview with LBB, a British publication, Sue Higgs, joint ECD at dentsuMB in the UK, had this advice: “I find that it’s someone else’s problem, ageism”. The stage in life Sue’s at now is a huge asset to her as a creative leader. “The great thing about being in your mid-life or wherever we are is that it’s quite liberating,” she said. “It’s quite liberating, I think, to find your strength, and your power, and your voice.”

And that liberated voice is exactly what creatives need to flourish. One thing Sue said she’s learned from her experience is that: “As you get older you learn that people lose their jobs for a trillion reasons and none of them is actually speaking your mind. There’s nothing more fulfilling to say to a young female than: ‘Just tell them. Just say it, your biggest weapon is your point of view. That’s why you’re here. Please use it.’

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Creativity Takes Courage

Fear and courage don’t seem likely bedfellows. Yet, they are showing us every day how they play together amongst the citizenry of Ukraine. When you’re fighting for survival, it stretches the limit of one’s creativity. Some may say that creativity is not even involved in warfare. I disagree.

While creativity in warfare interacts with a much higher level of courage and seriousness compared to presenting an advertising campaign, it requires effort and takes courage, as Matisse says. The Ukranian people are showing resiliency and mucho bravery. Creativity lives within that realm.

Fear and courage impact our creative thinking and expression

Even in a non-combat zone, fear attacks us everyday. Courage is what most of us try and muster to get through a day’s time unscathed by said fear. We may not be fighting to stay alive but we are fighting. We’re fighting our internal demons and our self-doubt. We’re fighting to retain some of our creativity and resourcefulness.

Author and teacher Elizabeth Gilbert admits “the only reason I can speak so authoritatively about fear is that I know it so intimately. I know every inch of fear, from head to toe. I’ve been a frightened person my entire life.”

She points out that “Evolution did well to install a fear reflex within you, because if you didn’t have any fear, you would lead a short, crazy, stupid life. You would walk into traffic. You would jump into giant waves off the coast of Hawaii, despite being a poor swimmer…

“So, yes, you absolutely do need your fear, in order to protect you from actual dangers.

But you do not need your fear in the realm of creative expression.

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A Tip of the Hat to the Cat in the Hat! (and his creator)

Happy Belated Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

As you may have gathered by now, this post is an out-of-the-ordinary-one. It celebrates one of our nation’s top word sleuths, a master of reduced vocabulary and a penchant for a feline sporting a floppy chapeau.

His birthday was yesterday but his creativity, particularly with and for children, certainly merits more than just a mention in this creativity blog. He is, of course, Dr. Seuss, and with that brief introduction comes some background that some of you may not know.

Theodor Seuss Geisel (March 2, 1904 – September 24, 1991) was an American children’s author, political cartoonist, illustrator, poet, animator, and filmmaker. He is known for his work writing and illustrating more than 60 books under the pen name Dr. Seuss. His work includes many of the most popular children’s books of all time, selling over 600 million copies and being translated into more than 20 languages by the time of his death.

Geisel adopted the name “Dr. Seuss” as an undergraduate at Dartmouth College and as a graduate student at Lincoln College, Oxford. He left Oxford in 1927 to begin his career as an illustrator and cartoonist for Vanity Fair, Life, and various other publications. He also worked as an illustrator for advertising campaigns, most notably for FLIT and Standard Oil, and as a political cartoonist for the New York newspaper PM.

He published his first children’s book And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street in 1937. During World War II, he took a brief hiatus from children’s literature to illustrate political cartoons, and he also worked in the animation and film department of the United States Army where he wrote, produced or animated many productions including Design for Death, which later won the 1947 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.

After the war, Geisel returned to writing children’s books, writing classics like If I Ran the Zoo (1950), Horton Hears a Who! (1955), The Cat in the Hat (1957), How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1957), Green Eggs and Ham (1960), One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish (1960), The Sneetches (1961), The Lorax (1971), The Butter Battle Book (1981), and Oh, the Places You’ll Go (1990). He published over 60 books during his career, which have spawned numerous adaptations, including 11 television specials, five feature films, a Broadway musical, and four television series.

Geisel won the Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1958 for Horton Hatches the Egg and again in 1961 for And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. Geisel’s birthday, March 2, has been adopted as the annual date for National Read Across America Day, an initiative on reading created by the National Education Association.

He also received two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Children’s Special for Halloween is Grinch Night (1978) and Outstanding Animated Program for The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat (1982).

Geisel’s most famous pen name is regularly pronounced /suːs/, an anglicized pronunciation inconsistent with his German surname. He himself noted that it rhymed with “voice”. Alexander Laing, one of his collaborators on the Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern, wrote of it:

You’re wrong as the deuce
And you shouldn’t rejoice
If you’re calling him Seuss.
He pronounces it Soice (or Zoice)

Geisel switched to the anglicized pronunciation because it “evoked a figure advantageous for an author of children’s books to be associated with—Mother Goose” and because most people used this pronunciation. He added the “Doctor (abbreviated Dr.)” to his pen name because his father had always wanted him to practice medicine.

So whether or not you heard Horton’s Who or salivate over his breakfast suggestion of Green Eggs and Ham, take a moment and say Thank You to the one main character to whom millions of kids have related to for years, Dr. Seuss.

The Shadows: a Short Story of Ghastly Gatherings

Today is a different kind of blog post. I’m using it to introduce my newest piece of short story fiction. It took me a longer than expected amount of time to complete it, but I finally did. Hope you enjoy it!

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Welcome! This is a profile in the macabre. It’s a short story about a family who lived in the 19th Century. They lived a rather normal lifestyle back then, aside from a few setbacks in life. They’ve survived but not in the way you might expect.

Introducing the Graybeers: Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan and Priscilla Graybeers, and their two children, Tony and Stephanie, ages 14 and 16, respectively, at the time of death. Tony was shot in the head while Stephanie was downed by an ax. Back in 1862.

Mr. and Mrs. Graybeers committed suicide, each at the other’s hands. In 1863, following a tumultuous year of mental anguish over the loss of their children. It seems mental illness takes its toll.

Looking back, they were a typical northeastern suburban family, college educated, upper middle class, sports-minded.

In present day, they’re like most other families of similar ilk except for one thing: they can disappear. Oh, yes, one other thing: they don’t really have human form; they’re not ghosts, they’re shadows from their former life. They even live in a mansion called The Shadows, which is near a cemetery.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is the-cemetary-by-jaroslav-gebr.jpg
The Cemetery by Jaroslav Gebr

Aside from select social occasions, the family rarely leaves the Shadows. The mansion has been in their family for centuries. And the location next to the cemetery has always been a family favorite, so no one has ever thought of selling the property.

Although on rare occasions, an unwitting realtor will appear at the door only to be “greeted” by Mr. Graybeers himself. But being a shadow, he really can’t be seen so the realtor leaves his card and walks away, seemingly unaffected by the opening and closing of the door — by itself.

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To Quote is to Speak, to Listen, to Learn!

The subject matter may vary. The speaker may vary. The quote may still be memorable no matter who says it. Keep that in mind when reciting any one of the quotes below. It will make for a memorable occasion.

 

Advertising becomes a dialogue that becomes an invitation to a relationship. — Lester Wunderman, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Thinking about ourselves isn’t related to knowing ourselves. — Lauren Esposito, arachnologist, co-founder of 500 Queer Scientists

Nothing comes merely by thinking about it. — John Wanamaker, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Regardless of the moral issue, dishonesty in advertising has proved very unprofitable. — Leo Burnett, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Attract attention, maintain interest, create desire and get action. — E. Elmo St. Lewis, member, Advertising Hall of Fame


Rules are for people who don’t know what to do. — Keith Reinhard, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

I don’t like closed doors. Creativity flourishes best in an environment of open doors and open minds. — Keith Reinhard, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Advertising is what you do when you can’t go see somebody. That’s all it is. — Fairfax Cone, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

 

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

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

 

A “How to” for Improving Your Creativity

Usually every week I come across an article or narrative on creativity, its many facets and how better to utilize one’s own creativity. Such is the case this week.

One of the subscriptions I maintain (zero cost, but there is an option for minimal cost) is with Medium. I’ve even posted some of my writings on the site.

This week I came across a posting having to do with noise and the role it plays in creativity. It was written by Donald Rattner, Architect, and since it has some very interesting points, I’d like to share it with you. . .

. . .Maybe it was inevitable, but after years of touting the virtues of the open workspace, people who plan and use them appear to be having second thoughts about its effectiveness. Among the biggest drivers behind the mounting backlash are complaints about noise, especially in the form of overheard conversations, ringing phones, and clattering machines.

But before you jump on the “silence is golden” bandwagon, it might be worth taking a step back to assess the problem with a cooler, more objective eye, especially if you spend some part of your day in creative problem solving. The reason? A modicum of noise has been found to boost idea generation, rather than interfere with it.

Noises Off or Noises On?

Credit a team of researchers drawn from several different universities for daring to challenge status quo thinking.

In 2012, the trio published a paper documenting a series of lab experiments they ran to study the effect of noise on creative task performance. Their methods were pretty straightforward: Subjects performed various exercises designed to measure ideational fluency and open-mindedness while a soundtrack played in the background.

The track played at either a low (50 decibels), middle (70db), or high volume (85db). A fourth group performed the same exercises without any accompanying soundtrack to establish a baseline from which to measure the collected results.

Contrary to expectation, the people in the quiet sessions did not achieve the top scores. That honor went to subjects exposed to midlevel noise (70db).

Illustration: The author

As a point of reference, 70db is the rough equivalent of the din at a bustling restaurant or coffee shop. It also approximates the loudness of a running shower, which is probably one reason why we so often get good ideas while under the spigot.

It’s evident from the data that the right type and level of noise can literally change the way our creative minds work. But how? And why? And how do we harness this information to boost our creative output in real-world settings?

Guilford’s Model of Creative Thinking

A model of creative thinking first developed in the 1950s might be the most effective vehicle for providing answers to these questions.

The model was the brainchild of the psychologist J.P. Guilford, an important figure in the history of modern creativity studies. Its basic premise is that creative thinking comprises two styles of cognitive processing: divergent and convergent.

Divergent thinking corresponds to what we variously call right-brain or generative thinking. It is generally abstract, big-picture, intuitive, nonlinear, and inward-focused in nature. It induces us to see things as they could be, rather than as they are.

Convergent thinking is nearly the mirror opposite. Unlike divergent thinking, it is rational, objective, sequential, narrowly focused, highly detailed, and concrete in character. It looks outward rather than inward for answers, such as when we apply the external laws of mathematics to calculate the sum of two plus two, instead of drawing from our imagination.

For Guilford, the creative process is neither one nor the other alone, but both styles working in tandem, and nominally in sequence.

Illustration: The author

As a linear progression, Guilford’s model translates into a five-stage process composed of the following phases:

  1. Definition of the problem to be solved: (?).
  2. A period of divergent thinking, during which you open up your mind to as many ideas for potential solutions as time, budget, energy, or creative capability allow. Brainstorming is a technique for inducing divergent thinking.
  3. A point of inflection where divergency ceases and convergency begins.
  4. A period of convergent thinking, during which you narrow down your options to zero in on a potential solution, which is then tested and validated.
  5. Realization of a final solution: (!).

In real life, of course, the creative process rarely travels in an uninterrupted straight-line trajectory from (?) to (!). More often than not, you find yourself going backwards one or more steps before getting to your goal — if you reach it at all.

But as a conceptual model, Guilford’s paradigm gives a pretty accurate picture of how our minds work in the course of working out feasible solutions to creative problems.

The Value of Noise

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Special Edition: World Cancer Day Tomorrow

It comes around only once a year. However, research and breakthroughs take place 24/7/365. Tomorrow, February 4, is World Cancer Day and as a survivor I thought it best to interrupt my weekly creativity posts with this special alert.

Those of you currently battling cancer or know of someone who has cancer, this info is for you. Dealing with cancer is traumatic and expensive or it can be. Seek out a clinical trial and a non-profit foundation for support and assistance. Your oncologist and the social services department of the hospital can be of tremendous help.

World Cancer Day held every 4 February is the global uniting initiative led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). By raising worldwide awareness, improving education and catalysing personal, collective and government action, we are all working together to reimagine a world where millions of preventable cancer deaths are saved and access to life-saving cancer treatment and care is equitable for all – no matter who you are or where you live. 

So this year’s World Cancer Day’s theme, “Close the Care Gap”, is all about raising awareness of this equity gap that affects almost everyone, in high as well as low- and middle-income countries, and is costing lives. 

 

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

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

What of Creativity in the 21st Century?

A lot of people have, over time, written about creativity. They’ve tried to define it, rationalize it and better understand it. There are opinions galore. The article I reference in this post offers another perspective on the subject of creativity in the here and now.

Creativity can be wonderful in its use and experience. Everyone enjoys that potential even if they don’t recognize it as one of their assets. It can also be quite frustrating during its process. Just think of giving birth to an original idea. Then developing that idea into something useful and meaningful. That can be rough sledding. It can also be a helluva lot of fun!

In so far as the state of creativity in the 21st Century, I ran across an article posted on Medium.com that addresses this subject. It’s quite interesting and I want to share it with you. See link below.

In his discussion, the author elaborates on three traits he feels are essential to develop a creative process that works for us and the people we serve:

  • Harnessing Flexibility is a Prerequisite
  • Seeking Collective Confidence and Collaboration
  • Having Empathy is the Key

Also, here’s a video clip from the late Sir Ken Robinson who was an expert on various aspects of creativity, especially how best to apply it in education.

Here’s the link to state of creativity in 21st Century.

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

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for a different kind of playground for creativity, innovation and inspiring stuff.

Select Quotes From Advertising and Education

Here’s a sample of select quotes from some of the great minds in advertising and education.

 

The arts, sciences, humanities, physical education, languages and maths all have equal and central contributions to make to a student’s education. – Ken Robinson

You can be creative in anything – in math, science, engineering, philosophy – as much as you can in music or in painting or in dance. – Ken Robinson

Whether or not you discover your talents and passions is partly a matter of opportunity. If you’ve never been sailing, or picked up an instrument, or tried to teach or to write fiction, how would you know if you had a talent for these things? – Ken Robinson

You can’t be a creative thinker if you’re not stimulating your mind, just as you can’t be an Olympic athlete if you don’t train regularly. – Ken Robinson

Every area of trouble gives out a ray of hope, and the one unchangeable certainty is that nothing is certain or unchangeable. -John E. Kennedy, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

Brand value is very much like an onion. It has layers and a core. The core is the user who will stick with you until the very end. – Edwin Artzt, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

When you are through changing, you are through. – Bruce Barton, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

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

Creativity is no longer about grabbing attention or raising consumer awareness. Its goal is to remind consumers about what is fundamental and gratifying about a brand. – Peter A. Georgescu, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

We pay just as dearly for our triumphs as we do for our defeats. Go ahead and fail. But fail with wit, fail with grace, fail with style. A mediocre failure is as insufferable as a mediocre success. Bruce Barton, member, Advertising Hall of Fame

 

Hoping to make a ruckus, one blog post at a time!