Monthly Archives: July 2011

Creative Challenge 1.0–Go Analog

Experiencing art in its original or classic form can re-introduce you to nuances that are lost with the convenience of technology. Give your mind and soul a chance to sense something new and hopefully reveal a feeling or perspective that will spark more original thoughts in your daily/professional life. These suggestions are influenced by an article I read in New York Magazine’s July 11th issue. Thanks guys! And the trend seems to be catching on other places. Check out the analog underground in Chicago.

1. Instead of keyboards, try a typewriter.
2. Trade in your mp3/iPod for vinyl and turntables.
3. Make a celluloid movie on a Super-8 camera instead of your flip cam.

4. Visit a printing press or a publishing festival before you buy your next e-book.
5. Try film photography instead of your camera phone.
6. Go back to your vintage video game console for a day and give the Farmville or Xbox a rest.

Now some of these will require a little digging in your neighborhood or ironically, online. Others a little instruction. It might be worth it, you may stumble on a new hobby or better, discover a new talent. If you think of something not on the list, give it try. Go retro and enjoy it. If you do, please share.

Here is a video I found about the dying art of the darkroom. Dudes is a little scary, but still a little cool.


Creative Challenge: Bill Cosby and Sandman Simms showed us the way

The majority of books that profess to teach you how to increase your creativity, are all preaching the same sermon: New and different ideas are the result of new and different thinking. It all begins in the mind.

Imagine your mind is a car driving down a road. After time, because age, comfort or sheer laziness, we tend to travel down the same roads. Those individuals that we admire as being inventive and innovative intentionally steer their cars down different roads, paths not usually taken or even apparent.

It’s a skill that anyone can learn. Sure some people have a natural gift for it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t re-train your mind to navigate through the uncharted territory of your imagination or environment. So where to begin?

With small, simple but entertaining and engaging tasks, start taking your mind down a different road. Give yourself permission to do a familiar task in an unfamiliar way. Then, allow yourself to experience people, places and things that are completely new to you. These two actions will build your creative muscle.

The goal is that over time your mind will naturally bring you ideas, thoughts, solutions and perspectives that are increasingly original and alternate to the norm because it’s in the habit–and quite comfortable and confident–of thinking outside the norm.

Does this really work? Is this the secret behind folks like Steve Jobs and the like? Will come up with awesome ideas in meetings and solve problems in new and amazing ways? Well, there is only one way to find out.

Of course, I’ll share my adventures and please feel free to share yours. Every new challenge and any follow-ups will be a post first, but then archived on the Creative Challenges page. In case you forgot how good a healthy artistic challenge can be, here is Bill Cosby and Sandman Simms to remind you. Challenge!

What do you smell like at the office? BOOK REVIEW: Ignore Everybody by Hugh MacLeod

Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity

I enjoyed this book. I recommend it for anyone who is looking for a pick me up while working on a project or anyone contemplating leaving their job for a more “creative” one. Hugh takes his blog postings and card cartoons and expands them into what I took as mini-lessons about what it means to live and make a living as a creative.

I didn’t agree with all his assessments. He says not to quit your day job. Too late for me. But Hugh makes some excellent points about how to own, asses and manage your creativity, your process and your ideas in the marketplace. My favorite chapter, was #29.

Power is never given. Power is taken. People who are “ready” give off a different vibe from people who aren’t.”

Wow. That hit me in the face. I had to close the book and let that settle in me for a few days. I started to think about what vibe I give off. When I started working a new job in New York (I’ve had three. A blessing.) I gave off the intelligent and eager vibe. By the time I left each one, I gave off a “I could care less vibe.” Ha! I can laugh now, because I was fortunate to have employers that could still remember me when I smelled of talent and promise.

What vibe do you give off? Is it obvious that you only come in for the free bagels and the good dental plan? Does your body language and vocal intonation express timidity in meetings? This is what you have to know. When you are a ball of energy in the building, everyone will tell you. They’ll compliment you on it and anticipate your presence in the hallway. But when you reek of complacency and have “checked out after breakfast!” on your forehead—guess what–very few people will tell you. They’ll just talk about you behind your back.

If you have a good boss, they’ll sit you down and ask about you. If you have a great boss, they’ll tell you they know you are better than this corporate zombie they see everyday and challenge you to pick up the pace.

But if you have a boss who knows her job, but doesn’t know how to manage, they’ll wait till review time and drop a bomb on you. They’ll slowly and systematically shift good projects away from you so that when layoffs come around, the work will already be re-allotted. Trust me. Very few people like confrontation and fewer are courageous enough to still do it.

So instead of sitting at your desk playing Angry Birds or daydreaming about the lottery (which I used to do a lot) pick up this book. It will help you transition from being a one-dimensional slave to Outlook by giving you permission and principles to own your creative energy. From there, he gives many tips and warnings about the road to creative living and livelihood.

For someone of you, it means getting back on track. Maybe you like your position but you’ve lost the romance between pseudo brainstorms and the ever evolving power point deck deadlines. Others of you will need to start that side hustle or pick a creative passion back up. It will revitalize your office hours and provide a creative, and possibly financial, reward.

Hugh talks about the difference between dreaming and really being ready to step into your creative calling. (My term, not his.) He explains the challenges and prepares you for temptations, like what he calls “pillars.” “Pillars” are things we claim to need to work, but are really self-made excuses nurtured by fear to keep us from moving forward. “I need a better computer before I can write.” “Once I upgrade my camera, I’ll go back to shooting.” Hogwash!!!

Another quote that I am dying to share and proves my point about Hugh pysching you up is

The best way to get approval is not to need it.

Whooo! If we were at church, I’d have to jump on that one. I’m not waiting on anyone to tell me I’m gifted or smart or unique anymore, baby. I know it and for your sake, I hope you get on board. The same goes for you my friend, change your office sent to confidence and competence TODAY! You know your skills set, mentally bathe in it every morning. Your mind, body, soul and everyone around you will be forced to inhale the whiff of your creative force.

Hugh calls ’em like he sees ’em. So don’t expect too much sugar-coating. But do expect your confidence to build. If you like it, let me know. If you don’t, share that too. Here is a visual of Hugh discussing his second book, Evil Plans. Enjoy!

Up next on my reading list? The Accidental Creative.