I'm coming to the end of my U.S. visit and as usually I've found a wealth of creativity as well as excesses (election season in the U.S. is not an edifying experience). Here are a few items I hope you'll find useful and inspirational:
1: Never say 'that couldn't possibly work'!
If you're familiar with my book, "Do Something Different," you know that I collect unusual ways that people promote themselves and their products. I keep finding new examples that boggle the mind. Here are three I've discovered recently:
- Unknown U.K. songwriter Jonathan Haselden used eBay to sell one of his songs line by line. Bidders got the right to use that line any way they want, and 2.2% of the publishing royalties when the single is released. He got deals with TGI Fridays, Taylor Guitars, Tussauds Group, Budweiser Budvar, and an unidentified bidder who paid $20,000 for the line, "And when you're lost, you'll always be found."
- Artist Justin Gignac collects little items of garbage from the streets of New York, packs them into clear plastic cubes, and sells them on his web site for $50. He's sold more than 800 of them so far, grossing $40,000. He says, "You can sell anything, even garbage, if it's packaged right."
- Indiana gambling laws require casinos to be on water, so a company built a lake and put a boat-themed casino on it, adjacent to the French Lick Springs Hotel.
ACTION: The next time you are brainstorming and find yourself eliminating "crazy" ideas, wait! The best crazy ideas are the ones that could attract media attention, which is itself an important part of the success of many such ventures.
2: Inspiration around the world
Getty Images conducted a poll of readers of their "Edit" magazine to find out what inspired their creativity. The results varied by country:
The top choice of UK readers was "listening to music"
The favourite choice of German voters was "wandering out and about and observing the street and random people"
The Spanish number one was "dreams and day-dreaming"
"Going travelling and seeing different things" was rated number one among all responses
ACTION: Decide which of the above you use least for inspiration at the moment, and try doing that one more just to see what happens.
3: Spread your creativity around
Generally we creative types get lectured that we should be more focused, but there was a refreshing alternative view in an article in Animation World Magazine. It was written by Joseph Gilland, who has been an animator for Disney and others for more than 30 years.
He experiments with photography, music, and writing, among other creative activities, and feels they all contribute to his skill as an animator as well as a useful release when boredom or frustration with his day job set in. Here's part of what he wrote:
"It is generally part and parcel of a truly engaged creative individual to foray into new ground all the time, and experiment with different modes of expression. The more we can all diversify and experiment creatively, the better our creative product will ultimately be…"
I would add that it's really refreshing to just fool around with some activities where you don't expect to be good!
ACTION: Are there some creative activities you've wanted to try but haven't yet? Consider spending some time sketching, sculpting, drawing, taking photos, writing a poem, or whatever you don't normally do. If you usually put too much pressure on yourself to come up with something great, make a deal with yourself: You will throw away whatever you do. That way you can just enjoy the process.
4: Beyond visualization?
I've written before about how visualizing yourself succeeding at something ahead of time can help you actually do so. In Best Life magazine, sports psychologist Terry Orlick, author of "In Pursuit of Excellence," says, "I prefer to call it 'feelization,' especially when it comes to sports, because performance is often grounded in feelings (the feel of the movement, the rhythm, the pace)."
Here's how he suggests you do it: "Sit quietly and relax and focus on something in front of you, a blade of grass or a spot on the wall. Relax and empty your mind. Now feel yourself execute a skill or a program in your mind and body. Try to re-create the mental and physical conditions that allow you to experience the feelings associated with your best performances."
This can be applied to situations other than sports. For example, making a presentation also has a movement, rhythm and pace—sometimes if I am nervous when addressing a larger group, for instance, I start talking too fast. "Feelizing" a calmness beforehand helps me to slow down when I actually give the talk.
ACTION: If there's something coming up that you want to do better, try this process, bringing in all of your senses.
5: The key to you and me is we
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania studied arguing couples and found that those who used pronouns like you and me (presumably as in, "You always…") had negative outcomes, while those who used pronouns like we, us, and our generally had positive outcomes.
I've noticed the same thing in pitch meetings: the moment the person to whom you are pitching makes a story suggestion by saying something like, "Or we could do this…", it's likely that I've sold the project.
ACTION: The above may sound obvious, but it's easy to forget. The next time you are in an argument (or a negotiation or pitch of some kind), consciously try using words like we, us, and our, and notice the response.
6: And a quote to think about…
"If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise." - Robert Fritz.