Category Archives: Inspiration

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011: The Web Remembers

I join the rest of the in mourning the loss of Steve Jobs. I had an iBook in 2000, when there were no software programs that worked on both PC and Mac computers. Steve’s dedication to Pixar in the early years is what creative entrepreneurs dream of. I actually shed some tears for this amazing innovator whom I never met but changed my life.

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011: The Web Remembers.

Steve Jobs' Ten Commandments

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!

Stop Climbing the Wrong Ladder: How Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling motivate the late bloomer in me

I was late getting on the train to Hogwarts. While working at Nickelodeon Networks, the head of the department was appalled that I and another co-worker had not read the Harry Potter series. So as a requirement of working in children’s television, I began reading about the boy who lived.

Harry Potter Cartoon depiction from 7-8/15-11 Special Collector's Double Issue

After reading 4,224 pages from J.K. Rowling’s imagination in about 7 months, I was exhausted and exhilarated. That woman created an entire world that was impressive and engaging. I was a Potterhead fan after book one. No holes. No contradictions. Mystery, romance, action, fantasy. She did it all in those pages.

As a budding writer myself I grabbed at anything about J.K., her writing process and her story. She is a literary role model for me. Beyond her writing skills and business prowess in the publishing world (see Pottermore news here. Gangsta!) the most encouraging thing about this author is when she started her writing career.

In this week’s Entertainment Weekly (a must read for real fans–meaning you’ve read and watched) with Daniel Radcliffe on the cover, I read something that made my heart leap:

“Rubbish.” That was the producer David Heyman’s first reaction to the long-winded title of Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone by an unknown 32-year-old author named J.K. Rowling that landed on his desk in 1997.

Isn’t that just awesome?! Do you see it? “…unknown 32-year-old author.” Whooo hoo! At 32 that chick was unknown to the world. She was a researcher, a teacher, married, divorced, a mother, poor, depressed–all before 30. Then, she completed the book that would change her life.

J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement from Harvard Magazine on Vimeo.

30 is a great age. I feel like a veil of foolishness rose from my eyes the day after I turned 30. But in today’s world where multimillionaire celebrities are barely legal and the latest billionaire dropped out of school to find their fortune, 30 sometimes feels—not old—but too late.

Maybe not for you, but for me, at times I felt 30 was too late to change course and start over. And if you are nearing 35, 40 or 50 you may feel that more than me. Those few words in that article just reminded me that it’s never too late to get started on your purpose. After $400 billion in sales, I think it’s safe to call writing Harry Potter J.K.’s purpose. Not because she made a lot of money, but because she created something that millions of people, an entire generation of readers enjoyed.

The best part is maybe she needed that time being unknown. Would she be able to write about friendship, love and death so brilliantly straight out of high school? Now I’m not dogging young prodigies that find success before they can drive. I’m just saying, don’t let age discourage you. Never feel as if it’s too late to climb the right ladder. Even little Harry Potter had to catch up on what it meant to be a wizard and we all know how that turns out. At least we’ll know today.

The point is at 32 she was unknown. Today, I’m unknown. You’re unknown. But someday you could be the owner of a cute little business that makes the news online, the employee everyone admires because your side hustle pays for awesome vacations or the retiree that lived out a lifelong dream and inspires your community. One day, I’ll be the accomplished writer/producer who quit her enviable job in New York at 32.

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PT. 2 TRAILER 2

Maybe I’m just saying this because I’m so excited to finally be on my right path that I want everyone I know (and don’t know, lol) to do the same. Free yourself from the fear or comfort that is keeping you at a position you know is out of line with your passion and purpose. Stop climbing the wrong ladder! If you are anything like me, you aren’t getting that far anyway. It’s not too late to find a way to make a living (or supplement your livelihood) that is fulfilling.

For some of you that means changing companies, starting your own or changing gears completely. I wrote all of this to say…I started this blog to say, doing what you love in an environment that stimulates your creativity and innovation is not a privilege of a chosen few–tech-savvy millienials or old heads in the corner office–it’s your right. You can get on the right path at any age. And more importantly, you deserve it. Develop a plan. Build your resources. Step out on faith. Do something. Just don’t stay trying to climb the wrong ladder.