Category Archives: Creative Thinking

Hit the ground running!

A cure for the unemployment blues is when you get that new job hit the ground running! That is what I have done, but I did not mean to neglect you all. My new job was less than a month from launching a new promotional campaign and needed some immediate creative direction.  On day two I was meeting with the creative agency the company hired. They needed some immediate feedback on new directions for the look and feel of subsequent work. So I just finished week three and I have directed four products from conception to production without taking my coat off! Truth is, I love it! I could not be happier to be needed. When we launch, I will share.  The best part of my new job is the fresh energy of the team I’m a part of. Newly hired, ranging from almost a year to 3 weeks it is a talent storm! I have learned a lot and made new friends I know I will have for years! What a perfect storm, I know I will be smarter for having worked with this marketing dream team! Watch out Twin Cities here comes HealthEast.

Navigating change.

Another great lesson I was reminded of at the seminar I attended this week was the concept of embracing change. One of the biggest hurdles to moving forward with new ideas and innovation is the fear of change. As humans, we have a natural tendency to fear the unknown. Knowing what the future holds is a gift most of us don’t have so, being fearful of change can be crippling. Plain and simple fear of change leaves us unprepared.

In 2006, I was charged with the task of helping my staff move into multimedia production. While I was naturally nervous about what this new change would mean for my staff, I embraced the change because I knew I would need to be an example for my staff to get the buy-in I would need from key players in my department. I not only needed the agreement of my happy learner types, I specifically needed the buy-in of the unspoken leader of my staff.  The unspoken leader, while a whole other post topic, is the person whose constancy at the time was comforting to the staff. As there had been many leaders before me, the photo department had chosen their own d-facto leader whom they trusted to always be there.

This particular veteran photographer was a man of very few words but distinct actions. He was a professional he did stellar work consistently and I could tell that having his respect was extremely important to his colleagues. He had literally been shooting photos at the newspaper, for longer than I had been on Earth. This is how I knew he was great at embracing change.  He had been through the era of the newspapers transition from black and white printing to color, the darkroom transition from film processing and printing to digital scanners. He used the first digital SLRs in the newsroom and survived the introduction of PhotoShop, Quark and the pagination era. So, I started with him.

Our first multimedia endeavor was to produce audio slide shows with Marantz recorders. Many thought I was crazy to ask the oldest person on my staff to begin producing audio slideshows first, all the assumptions were that the veterans never wanted change, but the truth is, they understand change better than anyone on the team. They have lived through it and are still there!

Fast forward  3 years to 2009; the unspoken leader on my team retired. I threw his going away party at my home and took the time to share how much his constancy meant to me. He gave me a small hand written card that is still one of my prize possessions.

Make Way for Ducklings SculptureIt said “Thank you, I can go now because there is someone here who will help them navigate the changing waters,  you are a great Mother Duck”

This was in reference to a conversation we had once about my favorite children’s book inspired by my hometown of Boston, “Make Way for Ducklings!”  While looking for a safe place to raise their ducklings This mother duck enlisted the help of others to lead her flock to a new home. Who knew a children’s book would be such a great lesson about change and navigating the world we live in. Change is just a new home, and if you enlist the help of those who know it well to help you, you will most often get there safely.



Yes, and…..brilliant!

One of the most difficult tasks in business is brainstorming new ideas. The wonderful workshop I went to yesterday at the Brave New Workshop TheaterInnovating at the speed of Laughter” tackled the problems a lot of companies have with encouraging employees to think outside the box and share their ideas. They point out that one of the biggest hurdles is self-judgment. People are naturally apprehensive about feeling foolish or saying the wrong thing. The often talk themselves out of sharing good ideas because past experiences of idea sharing resulted in a long litany of reasons why their idea won’t work. John Sweeney, co-owner of the theater, conducted the workshop. Sweeney’s idea is for people to change their thinking toward ideas. A positive response can go a long way to encouraging more ideas being shared. One good way to do this is by starting your response to an idea with “Yes, and….” This shows you are both listening and still open to the idea. While every idea may not be feasible or appropriate, you goal here is to encourage the behavior of idea sharing.  So you response could be “Yes and I appreciate you sharing that idea with me” or “Yes, and can you tell me a little more about that?” Such a simple change from the usual “Yes, but” can help the ideas keep flowing!

How do you receive new ideas? Do you kill them before the person sharing leaves your desk? What are some ways you keep yourself from staunching the flow of ideas?

Innovation at the speed of what?

Marketing in the 21st century requires more creativity and technological savvy than ever. I have a unique opportunity today to attend a workshop sponsored by the Brave New Workshop Theater  in Minneapolis. This workshop takes a unique approach to inspiring creativity through improve exercises followed by brainstorming sessions. This unconventional approach is one of many ways to open one’s mind to new ways of problem solving. What are some of your creative jump-starts? Have you looked into ways to get out of your own box? Local workshops are a great way to meet new people and share how you approach the problem solving process. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Writing workout!

While cruising the web I found some interesting writing exercises. Since writing this blog I have become more and more aware of my writing style. It is a bit conversational. While this is fine for a blog, I found myself looking for ways to stretch my creative thinking and writing. I found this list of exercises that I am enjoying. Writing a 250 word, grammatically correct, sentence is hard, but interesting. You find yourself pulling out punctuation you only read about in school.  Take a look at these exercises for fiction writers.

Have you met TED’s app?

Streaming TED talks is now easier than ever.  First if you don’t know what TED is you need to. TED is an idea consortium. They offer great talks and presentations for free and motivating workshops for a membership. Memberships are not cheap but are beneficial if you want to allow your business to incorporate TED talks into training. TED now has an app that allows these presentation and talk videos to be shared on mobile devices and tablets. It also allows you to save and organize your favorites so you can easily get back to them for reference.  I have used TED talks to shape the ideas behind what kind of leader I want to be, how to maintain happiness as I work and how to motivate others to do their best. Check out if you want really great resources for effective leadership and team building.

Pinterest, what’s all the fuss?

While Pinterest doesn’t need any press from me I thought I’d spell out a couple good uses I’ve found on the new social site. It is a great way to share ideas and create your own pin boards of things you like. If you are a visual person like I am then you know seeing it is a great for reminders and ideas. I like to share design ideas or get inspired before working on a new design and Pinterest has a bookmarklet that allows you to pin photos and images that you see on any site with the push of a button. So if there’s a  font you love or a technique you want to remember but don’t have the time to jot it down, just push Pin It and the image will be save in a visual thumbnail with a link to the original source.

As a creative this is priceless, pictures spin through my brain at a rapid pace and I love saving things for inspiration, now I can do it without saving every magazine I’ve ever read or tearing out the pages and taping them to the wall. Simply put Pinterest is like getting to browse thousands of magazines and dog ear the page and share it with your friends with the push of a button. No more looking for the specific edition of the magazine that had that great recipe in it, it’s right there on your foodie pin board!

Transformation through visualization

True transformation, requires having the end goal in mind. Do you know where you want to go? I recently watched the documentary “The Secret” which teaches the laws of attraction. It outlines how all the “Lucky” people attract good things to them by only putting their goals out into the atmosphere around them. They remove all the negativity and don’t even use negative words to describe what they want. Through focus and visualization, they materialize their goals. It was an amazing concept and I have to believe it is at least good for your health to be positively focused.  An example would be removing the word debt from your vocabulary when speaking about your financial goals. Setting your sites on the pure goal and not even worrying about how you achieve it. So instead of saying “I want to be debt free”, you would focus on “Money comes abundantly, easily and often” or instead of saying “I don’t want to be sick”, you visualize a healthy you living well into your 90’s.

While I’m not passing judgment, I will say that I began to focus on the career I want for myself and focusing on a phrase related to my job search last Friday. I had three job interviews this week. Maybe a coincidence, but it’s worth a try! If you are a reader, there is a book about “The Secret” that is available in the iBooks library.

What do you want to transform in your life? What’s your phrase? Are you focusing on it? Can you visualize it? Right now I’m visualizing my children playing harmoniously……. I’ll let you know how it works!

Creativity, not just for creatives!

We all benefit from creative thinking. Yet we all hit mental road blocks. I know a lot of the posts on my site seem geared towards the naturally creative but the truth is you are as creative as you feel. It is all about how you express that creative solution. A unique approach to a problem is as creative as a sculpture. It’s all about the medium you choose. For me photography and Design are my creative releases, yet the right brain exercise helps me think of unique solutions to every obstacle in my life and career. Creative exercises really get the juices flowing. Here are two great articles about simple exercises to help you find your passion.

Five Creative Exercises to find your passion.

Creative thinking won’t put you in a sweat!