Creativity

How To Lead a Creative Team

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I’ve never run a pre-school daycare, but for fifteen years I was the boss of ten multi-Emmy Award winning comedy writers, which amounts to pretty much the same thing. As the Executive Producer of Seattle’s sketch comedy TV show, Almost Live!, it was my job to keep a highly creative team motivated and productive. I learned a lot of things along the way, but primarily I learned that a creative team needs two seemingly incompatible things in order to thrive: ...

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Why Most People Miss the Brilliant Idea

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I’m tired of hearing people talk about “quantity vs. quality,” as if the two were mutually exclusive. [You: “Really? You’re tired of that? You’re hearing this conversation so much that you’re actually tired of it? What kind of lame parties are you going to, man? I never hear people talking about ‘quantity vs. quality!'”] Well, perhaps I hang out with a more erudite crowd than you. But the point is this: quantity and quality are not mutually exclusive.

In fact, when ...

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Do You Know What Your “Real” Business Is?

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A couple of nights ago I made sauteed chicken breasts for dinner, with a white wine pan sauce to make it a little more interesting. Briefly, here’s how you make a pan sauce (and yes, I promise this is going somewhere): you add a quarter cup of wine and a quarter cup of chicken broth to the pan, perhaps with a bit of mustard, and then boil it until the half-cup of liquid is reduced down to a total of ...

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Are You a Leader or a Coward?

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I hate to be the one to point this out, but most of the corporate businesses in America are run by cowards. [You: “Wait a minute, Stainton. I run a corporate business and I’m not a coward!”] Really? You think not? Then answer this question—honestly: What drives most of your decisions? [You: “Well, let’s see. There are many elements: the profitability of the company, the cost/benefit ratio, consumer expectations….”] Bull. It seems to me that most corporate decisions made in ...

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Are You Passionate About Your Work?

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Let’s see, what’s Paul McCartney been up to lately? Well…

  • He just kicked off a new European tour with an energetic three-hour show in Hamburg.
  • He just spoke to the European Parliament about climate change and healthy eating.
  • He just wrote a new song for the new Robert De Niro film.
  • He just announced that he’s been writing lots of new music, and will have a new CD out in 2010.
  • Oh, and he’s also planning a major U.S. tour for next year.

All of this, ...

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Why Are The Beatles Still So Popular?

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With the release of The Beatles: Rock Band game and the remastered Beatles catalog, it’s almost impossible to avoid this new wave of Beatlemania. But why are the Fab Four still so popular, nearly 40 years after their break-up? I think it comes down to three things: the sheer number of Baby Boomers who consider the Beatles to be the soundtrack of their youth (the mob), the fact that the band has achieved legendary, icon-like status (the mythology), and, ultimately, ...

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Ringo’s Drumming Skills, Part 1

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In the wake of the imminent release of the Beatles’ Rock Band and the newly remastered CD’s on September 9th, I’ve been hearing yet again the old adage that Ringo really wasn’t that good of a drummer. There are those who will tell you that his contributions to the Beatles were negligible. As a lifelong drummer myself, I’m here to tell you that Ringo Starr is one of the greatest rock drummers of all time. Don’t believe me?

Imagine  you’re a ...

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A Great Excuse, Ruined

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You know how, when you have a cold, you just don’t feel like doing anything? There’s the coughing, the sniffling, the sore throat—and they all combine to create a mood of general lethargy. Well, welcome to my world! That’s where I’ve been for the past week. And you know what I found out? Having a cold makes a great excuse! “No, I can’t go to that party…I have a cold.” “Sorry, can’t talk on the phone now…I have a cold.” ...

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Are You Playing to Your Strengths?

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Why do we spend so much time focusing on the things we don’t do well? Honestly, we beat ourselves up all the time. It seems that no matter how many things we’re good at, we choose to dwell on the weaknesses:

Alan (despondently): I just can’t hang pictures. Look at these. They’re all crooked. I’m going to kill myself.

Kari: Are you crazy? You’ve won a Nobel Peace Prize, cured swine flu, and you’re currently starring in the ...

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Why You Need to See Other People

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I think you need to see other people.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with your current relationship, or your current colleagues, or your current friends. I just think you need to see other people. We all do. Because if we keep interacting with the same people—just the same people—we’re going to keep hearing the same points of view, and sameness is the mortal enemy of innovation. Just this morning in Indiana, President Obama said, “The United States led the world’s ...

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