Creativity

To Think Out of the Box, Make the Box Smaller

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QUICK QUIZ: Which assignment do you think a creative person would like more:

  1. Write a story about anything.
  2. Write a story about a duck.

If you’re like most people (which, of course, you’re not—you’re better), you said Assignment 1. It’s obvious, isn’t it? I mean, creativity is all about freedom, no restraints, “Don’t box me in, man!” Right?

Wrong.

The surprising, non-intuitive truth is that the vast majority of creative people would prefer Assignment 2: Write a story about a duck.

Now, why is this? And ...

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Why The Best Leaders Are Out Of Control

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I recently read an interview with Marija Ringwelsky, the co-founder and COO of Remedy, a company that helps protect people from medical overcharges and billing errors. In it, Ms. Ringwelsky said:

“While I thought leadership was about influence and control, starting Remedy has taught me that leadership is quite the opposite—it’s about finding great people who share common values and a shared sense of purpose and counter-intuitively relinquishing control. If you’ve done your job right, the people on your ...

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How To Be Better Than Saturday Night Live

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“You guys are better than Saturday Night Live!”

I used to hear that all the time. I still do, although now “are” has changed to “were.”

For 15 years, I was the Executive Producer of a sketch comedy TV show in Seattle called Almost Live!. We were on the NBC affiliate, KING-TV, and for our final 10 years, we aired at 11:30 on Saturday night (we pushed SNL back a half-hour; they aired from midnight to 1:30 am in the Seattle market). ...

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Breakthrough Ideas Are Not Created In a Vacuum

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Your next great idea will not come to you out of thin air.

I can say this with near 100% certainty because that’s not how ideas work. That breakthrough idea—the one that will make you rich and famous by Thursday—will not be created in a vacuum. More likely, it’ll be the result of a collision. A collision of dots.

Huh?

Let me explain. Creativity (which is simply the process of coming up with ideas) is all about connecting dots. These dots can be ...

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Are You Missing Out On the Most Important Business Tool?

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Quick Quiz: What do the following have in common?

  • The iPhone
  • The Tesla Model S
  • Spanx
  • The self-cleaning litter box
  • The Sputnik 1 satellite

Answer: They were all the product of a creative idea. As was every single other breakthrough that made a million dollars, cured a disease, or changed the world.

They all came from a creative idea.

Every company that exists—or that ever existed—originated with a creative idea.

Every billionaire on the Forbes 400 list is there because of a creative idea. (Sometimes that creative ...

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TED Talk Secrets That Will Make You a Superior Leader

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A little over a week ago, I was on a stage in Vancouver, BC, giving a TEDx talk about creativity to 2,700 people. The video will soon be available online, where it could be seen by (fingers crossed!) millions.

The road to a TEDx talk—whether it’s seen by millions or just dozens—is a long one. At this point, of course, I don’t know whether my talk will hit millions of views, dozens, or somewhere in between. But I do know two ...

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Where to Find the Idea That Will Make You Rich

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I can’t tell you what your next million-dollar idea will be—but I can tell you, with near 100% certainty, where you’re going to find it. And it probably won’t be where you think.

In order to understand this, you have to understand what creativity is—and what it isn’t. Because your next million-dollar idea will be, by definition, a creative idea. And creativity, contrary to popular belief, doesn’t come from nowhere.

Creativity is not the “lightning bolt” that comes out of the blue. ...

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Did You Know That Mowing the Lawn Can Lead to a Cure for Cancer?

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If you’re wondering why your team doesn’t seem to be engaged in their work (which, according to Gallup, describes 68% of the American workforce), it may be because they just don’t give a crap about their jobs.

And that’s partly on you.

Among the needs that virtually all of us share is the need for purpose. We all like to feel like we’re a part of something bigger. And, sadly, many leaders do an absolutely terrible job of helping their ...

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Want Better Ideas? Then Stop Brainstorming!

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I used to be a fan of brainstorming. What could be better for generating ideas than gathering your team around a table, presenting the challenge, and then letting the ideas flow! No bad ideas here! Just open the mental floodgates and let the brilliance pour out! Each idea sparking another, and another! Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

Except it doesn’t work.

Brainstorming—despite the positive press it’s gotten, and still gets—doesn’t work. Why? Two words: human nature.

As humans (sorry puppies, I’m speaking ...

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Stop Treating Creativity as an Option

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Turning creativity into money.

That’s how I sometimes described my job as the Executive Producer of a hit comedy TV show in Seattle.

Turning creativity into money.

See, our job, week after week, was to be creative—on demand. BUT, that creativity had to lead to profit. If what we created—jokes, comedy sketches, parodies—didn’t draw an audience that advertisers would pay to reach, our creativity would have gone nowhere (and our careers would have quickly followed). But we did draw that audience, ...

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