Writing

    Indigan Storytellers Debut

    Journeyman LogoI 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 all innovators would learn something important from doing. Another approach to using story is being pioneered by my KILN partner, Kate Hammer, Phd. Her StoryForms tool is another way to explore story in a way relevant to invention, innovation, and branding (@StoryFORMing)

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    Daniel Waterhouse, Storyteller

    The second reason is about the role of community formation in creativity and innovation. Culture is where creativity lives — and a rich arts culture is the prepared ground for jobs, corporate innovation, and stable communities. This is true for geographic communities as well as the communities that form within organizations. Richard Florida has done a lot of research around how innovation happens in cities and towns. Essentially, creative people move to places where a rich arts culture exists.  San Francisco and Austin are big city examples. Three Oaks, an unlikely candidate, is rapidly emerging as the small town example. Indigan is the newest reason why. A nod here to the Acorn Theater in Three Oaks as the area cornerstone for arts culture formation.

    Indigan Storytellers is creating a community of like minded artists in southwest Michigan. The word Indigan is a mash-up of Indiana and Michigan. Credit to the founders for not defaulting to Michiana. Founders include poet and consultant Roger Batton of Three Oaks, Michigan and nationally known storyteller and screenwriter, Daniel Waterhouse. Dan is from South Bend which is the biggest city in Michiana. Roger told a powerful story about self-discovery — involving a crazy sheepdog, pacifism, and rage. Dan told three stories, one better than the next. My favorite was a new story about love at first sight.

    Indigan Storytelling performers included:

    • Colleen Newquist, an award winning writer — Colleen told a well crafted story about luck and communication with departed loved ones.
    • Rick Tuttle a Three Oaks based painter and poet — told a story about the power of words to hurt, reveal personality, and redeem with laughter.
    • Mary Dean Cason also an award winning writer (www.marydeancason.com) — told a rollicking and humorous story with a grand southern drawl, about a classic mis-understanding.
    • Myself, Gregg Fraley, my contribution was a hopefully humorous story about recognizing who I am as a person, titled “Goofball.”
    • Phil Bonello, a rounder, reprobate and good family man, told a wacky story about the hijinks of grad students, and finally,
    • Stephanie Medlock, a published novelist (The Lives of Things, www.swilsonmedlock.com) gave us a Mad Men-esque vision of NYC and coming of age as a woman.

    If you are a Michiana resident, keep an eye out for Indigan Storyteller events. If you’re an innovator, it’s time to revisit the power of story.

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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!)

    Precious readers, greetings from the dark night, where I write, jet-lagged, arthritis-nagged, caffiene-jagged — but writing for you, once again, trying to provide insight, information, and ultimately value about this wacky idea of innovation. Please forgive the somewhat naval gazing aspect of this post. The good news for you is over the past year you may have missed some of my more interesting posts and the bullet list below provides some quick links to stuff you might find interesting. A request for help: Every year, Innovation Excellence, a premier portal for innovation content, has a popularity contest style “Top 40″ Innovation Bloggers of the year listing. I admit, I wish to be on the list. I wasn’t last year and

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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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    Lindegaard's Free Open Innovation Book

    You have to love a guy who walks his own talk. Stefan Lindegaard (@lindegaard) is a well-known advocate for Open Innovation. I’ve been following him on Twitter for ages and have read several of his well written articles. We’ve actually met In Real Life at the Front End of Innovation conference in Berlin. Lindegaard has made his new book, Making Open Innovation Work available free to anyone who wants it. I’d call that open, and, an innovative way to market his expertise. He’s invited people like me (i.e. other gadflies in the innovation space) to help him distribute by letting people know. I’m happy to do this because it’s great content. So, below you’ll see some links to where you

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    Gary William Murning, Upping His Game

    I’ve had the pleasure over the last week to devour a new novel from British writer, Gary William Murning.  Murning is the author of If I Never, a fine book, a thriller, I reviewed here last year. The new offering is essentially a fictionalized memoir titled Children of the Resolution. To say the least, Murning has upped his already fine game in his second major work of fiction. He did it by reaching into his past — and his heart.  The only thing I don’t like about this book is the cover art. Quite aside from the content of the book, Murning has decided to self-publish, a gutsy move, and a brilliant one in my view. His publisher (Legend Press) passed,

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