When you read this, I'll be in one of the most dream-like (some would say nightmare) cities in the world: Las Vegas. It's definitely a town that thinks big, the newest hotels have more than 5000 rooms! As usual on my US trips, I'll be looking out for interesting new ideas to share with you. Meanwhile, here are a few I prepared earlier:
1: Is your cow purple?
Seth Godin wrote a book called Purple Cow, about making your product or service one that truly stands out. He says, "I'm the first to agree that the ideas in Purple Cow are really simple. Scary simple, in fact. Yet simple doesn't mean widespread. Every year, 75,000 books are published, and 90% are boring, safe, average books for average people. And they don't sell. McDonald's is big, but it's not profitable. American Airlines sells to the middle of the market, and they're a total failure from a business perspective. There's no money left in the middle anymore."
ACTION: If you suspect that what you do fits into this average slot, dedicate some time every week to brainstorming how you could make it stand out. What could be bigger, smaller, louder, quieter, more specialized, more general, more colourful, more expensive, cheaper, or just plain different?
If you draw a blank, make a list of products and services out there t hat you consider outstanding, decide what makes them so, and consider how these qualities might apply to what you do.
2: If you think you're creative…
Creativity guru Michael Michalko recently told radio host Michael Carruthers this story about creativity:
"At one company, we randomly selected employees from different departments and then told these employees we selected them because we have discovered they are the most creative employees in the company. Well, within one month the employees that we told they were creative were coming up with and suggesting 90 percent more ideas than the other employees that were told nothing - it was a change in attitude."
This mirrors a famous experiment in which teachers were told a certain group of average students were gifted. By the end of the school year, all the "gifted" kids had dramatically improved their test scores.
ACTION: Through the magic of VRWT (Virtual Resonic-Wave) testing of the brainwaves you are beaming out as you read this e-bulletin, we have been able to confirm that you are the most creative person in our entire readership, possibly the most creative person in the country. What new thing are you going to do with your amazing talent this week?
3: Do you have big friends, or friends with big ideas?
You probably saw the story in the news recently about research that showed that if you have overweight friends you will most likely also be overweight. There are all kinds of possible reasons for this, including the fact that we tend to be drawn to people who we perceive to be like ourselves. But for the people at theinnoviseguys.blogspot.com it kicked off another idea:
"Hanging out with people who have BIG IDEAS also rubs off on you. You will tend to have BIG IDEAS more frequently AND the more frequently you hang out with them. SO, find your BIG IDEA tribe if you desire to be more creative and more innovative."
ACTION: Do you have at least a few people in your circle of friends who get excited about new ideas? If not, where could you find some?
4: What can Israeli scientists tell you about creativity?
A survey of 3300 Israeli scientists conducted by the Project Mind Foundation has yielded some interesting results.
When asked to comment on the surroundings most conducive to creativity, a number of respondents described an absence of sensation - a dark room, being tired, being relieved of all stress, etc. - as sparking the greatest inspiration. Some 90% of the scientists reported that they had experienced their most potent strokes of creativity when they were in their 20's. More than 60% of the respondents expressed a strong belief that they had experienced creativity as a spiritual process.
My guess is that these all link together. The 20's is when many people have the most time with "an absence of sensation" - at least the time when they are at university, with fewer daily obligations, more time to sit around chatting deep into the night or working through the night on papers due the next day, more focus on the bigger questions of life including the subject of spirituality, etc. It's also a time when they are not yet experts, so they approach their subjects with a beginner's mind.
ACTION: How can you recreate, if only in miniature form, the conditions of your life when you were most creative? Can you take a weekend off and go somewhere that does not remind you of your daily obligations, so you can let your mind wander? Or even just a couple of hours a week?
How long has it been since you read something that stimulated your thinking - and then actually took the time to think about it and form your own ideas?
5: And a Quote to consider:
"Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can play weird - that's easy. What's hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple complicated is commonplace - making the complicated simple, awesomely simple - that's creativity."
Charles Mingus, jazz great