Writing

    Confederacy of Creative Effectiveness

    b317d9051fe38da3074ef24d40c319ceCreative Effectiveness 2017

    What if 2017 turned out to be the most creative year of your life?

    More than creative, what if 2017 was the most creatively effective year of your life?

    There’s a difference.

    You can be incredibly creative in terms of self-expression and ideas — without being creatively effective.

    What good is creativity if it doesn’t get done? Doesn’t find an audience? Doesn’t get put into play?

    Let’s make 2017 the year you put projects over the goal line. That is, finish projects.

    There are a lot of horror stories when it comes to great creativity but no finish. A heart breaking example is that of John Kennedy Toole, who wrote the incredible picaresque novel, A Confederacy of Dunces.” The book is a master stroke of comedy and satire. It was published posthumously — Toole committed suicide at the age of 31 — unable to get his book out. The world would never have seen it if Toole’s mother hadn’t found a carbon copy and taken it to Walker Percy. It was published and it won a Pulitzer prize. Toole might have been reaffirmed as a human being had he somehow gotten the book out on his own. He might also have written more books to secure his legacy. Toole was highly creative, but on his own, not creatively effective.

    To borrow from Toole… you need a Confederacy of Creative Effectiveness. When it comes to Creative Effectiveness, we can all be dunces. We allow anything and everything to distract us. Here are some ideas on how to do better this year.

    Create a Confederacy of Creative Effectiveness, 10 Ways:

    1. Don’t just randomly create, create on a regular schedule. Do what you do every day, or at least at some regular, frequent, interval.
    2. Do it whether you feel like it or not. The idea that creativity is what happens when you are inspired is harmful to creative effectiveness. Sure, maximize inspiration, but you’ll find that if you keep after it even when you’re not inspired, that lighting will strike more often.
    3. Think in terms of projects. Make your creative effort into a project. Give it a name. Put it on your calendar. Work towards a finish date. Check your progress and adjust to meet your date.
    4. Don’t be so nice to yourself when you fall off your program. You should feel guilty when you’re not doing your work. We are all such great at rationalizing; there is always a reason to not write, paint, invent, do. Acknowledge you are letting yourself down and get back to work.
    5. Find what you care about, that’s where to focus. It’s tough to get something important or complicated done. One of the things that keeps you going is your inherent love for what you do, so, focus your efforts on those things you love. Find, and do, your passion.
    6. Get started as soon as possible. Procrastination is the enemy of creative effectiveness. So is perfectionism. Strategy, plans, and refinement are important, but not at the expense of action.
    7. If you get blocked, get help. There are a thousand reasons to stop a creative project and even one can hang you up and ruin your chance for a creative effectiveness win. If you find you’re blocked get what help you need, be it; advice from an expert, pure encouragement, food, coffee, technical help, yes, even love. Don’t be afraid, ask for help. Pay for it if you have to (not the love part).
    8. Be Bold and Confident even if you’re faking it. Everybody has doubts. About ability, about confidence, about talent, project selection, etc. Fake it till you make it, and just keep going. It’s amazing what a lot of hard work will do to improve your product or project, so keep at it and adjust as you go if necessary. Doubt but Do.
    9. Stay off Social Media. At the very least leave this to a time of day when your focused creative work is already done. Social Media is a distraction, unless your business or work Is Social Media.
    10. Get Into a Flow. Great creative work happens when you are in flow. Extend the flow from the creation to the revision, and to the implementation. Flow through projects, just keep going until it’s done.

    Best wishes for your creative and effective year.

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    Five Ways to Gain Story Fluency

    Story Fluency and Innovation Every time I blink these days I see another article on story. It’s something of a too popular buzzfad, but for good reason. Clearly, story is important in many aspects of marketing, communication, and innovation. The current literature tends to focus on understanding story, and, aligning a story with a brand, or an organization. There is also the related trend of story telling, ala The Moth. I’ve been involved this last year with a similar regional group, Indigan Storyteller here in Michiana, and its been a transformative experience. I’ve written a business novel (Jack’s Notebook) and I can tell you this, I’m still learning to create and tell stories. Story is a saw we can all sharpen. What doesn’t




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    Indigan Storytellers Debut

    I had the pleasure of participating in the debut performance evening of the Indigan Storytellers group last Friday night. As Rocky Balboa once said “you shoulda been there.” It was an intimate evening of exquisitely told stories coupled with fine hand-crafted whiskey. The location was Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks, Michigan. The room was packed and a good time was had by all. I report on the event here for two reasons. First, because Storytelling as an art form is creativity of the highest order. Innovators of all kinds have much to learn about the craft as a method to elaborate new inventions, messages, and brands. Learning how to write and then perform a 10 minute story is an exercise




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    Reading Widely Means More Dots to Connect

    People ask me what I read. I think this question is inspired by my citing some arcane fact or that I make a weird connection now and then. I am a voracious reader, but I think what I actually read might surprise. Most of it is NOT directly about creativity and innovation (that’s a way to guarantee you’re boring!) Reading widely provides more dots to connect. Broadly, I’m thinking I’m improving my database by reading a lot of varied and weird content. There is some science to this; one can make more conceptual blends if one has more to blend. And, concept blending, new connections, are where innovation comes from. So, this is a snapshot of what I’m reading, for




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    Yes, I Tweet a Bit (Innovators Use Twitter)

    I was just named as one of the Top 50 Innovation tweeters by Innovation Excellence. A tweeter is one who uses Twitter. It’s a fairly informal sort of top 50 list — I don’t think there is a great deal of analysis around content or reach, but still, it’s nice to be recognized. I crossed the 10,000 follower line about a month ago, and weirdly, it felt like a real accomplishment. Then I saw that my friend and colleague Dr. Cindi Burnet (@Cyndiburnett) is over 50,000 followers and I didn’t feel quite so glamorous. And, you get out of Twitter what you put into it. I’m happy with my results at my current time-investment level. 10,000 feels like a “very




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    Dying is Easy, Starting Creative Projects is Hard

    I’m in Cincinnati visiting for Christmas and coincidentally have been invited to the First Annual Cincinnati Comedians Homecoming Show. I’ll be going to Funny Bone Newport, KY tonight and hope to see a few of my old colleagues from the early 80’s, back when I was doing stand-up. People often ask me what doing stand-up was like, so, here’s the story, but with a twist. I’m going to relate it to starting anything creatively challenging. In the late 70’s and early 80’s comedy went from a somewhat quaint and staid art practiced mostly in the Catskills and New York City to something more akin to rock and roll. The influence of Saturday Night Live and the late, great, seminal comics




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    Reach Out for a Lost Soul

    It’s time to reach out to the lost souls around us. No, this is not a blog about innovation. I would like to share an idea. If it resonates, please pass this along. Like nearly everyone I’m working through complex emotions related to yesterday’s events in Newtown, Connecticut. The sad truth for me is that I’m not shocked. This kind of event has become normal. Death by gunfire is an everyday thing in America. As an American I am simply ashamed. My mind is flooded with memories of countless assassinations and other insane killings of my lifetime. JFK, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy, Kent State, John Lennon, Columbine, Gabby Gifford — and so many more. As the years have gone




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    Top 40 Innovation Blogger? (Top 10!)

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    States of Innovation, Going Gonzeaux Tour – 2012

    I’ve decided to take the battle of Doing Innovation to the streets. Literally. Okay, it’s not a battle, it’s a conversation, but it’s definitely a road trip, and definitely about the Doing. I’m heading down to Orlando, FL to attend the Front End of Innovation Conference (FEI) taking place May 15, 16, and 17. Instead of doing the boring (and convenient) thing of taking a cheap flight from Chicago to Disneytown, I’m opting to drive through the heartland and a bit of the south — I’m going Gonzeaux (“GAWN zoe”) on my way to FEI. FEI is an amazing event, and, wouldn’t it be great if that innovation “conversation” was happening all over? And online? As I Go Gonzeaux I’m going




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    The Most Creative Blogger in the World

    Apologize in advance for the mis-leading title of this post, but I have a motive, and a point (and an ego). On a lark I decided to Google “the most creative man in the world”. Here is the somewhat surprising result. Juan Carlos Solon may not be the most creative man in the world (he’s a damn good illustrator) but he deserves credit for a good blog post title. I’d give the real title to Sir Jony Ive. — but that’s just me. Then, to be fair, went over to the fair sex and Googled “the most creative woman in the world.” Here is the rather silly top entry. The second listing was a bit better, if dated to 2010, a




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