Creativity

Don’t Ignore the “Small” Opportunities

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How many opportunities (including BIG ones) are you leaving on the table because you’re ignoring the small game?

I was just reading an interview with Paul McCartney’s bass player, Brian Ray (and what kind of pressure must that be—playing bass for one of the greatest rock bassists of all time?!). The interviewer asked the obvious question: “So, how did you get the McCartney gig?” I think Brian’s answer is a great business lesson for all of us. Here’s what he said:

“In ...

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Stop Lying About “Going to Work”

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There’s a guy at my gym whom I call Burl. Not because he’s burly, like you’d expect a gym regular to be, but because he looks like Burl Ives. (For you younger readers, Burl Ives was a rotund, congenial-looking man, whom you may know as the voice of Frosty the Snowman. He was not known for his rock-hard abs.) Burl is there every morning, sitting on an exercise bike, watching TV. Not actually exercising, mind you. I’ve never seen him ...

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How Good is Your “Satellite” Team?

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We all know their names: John, Paul, George, and Ringo. (If there are any children reading this who don’t know what I’m talking about, these are the names of the Beatles. The Beatles were a pretty famous musical group in the 60s. The 60s was the coolest decade ever, and you missed it. So there.) These four guys changed history, but they didn’t do it alone. Here are four other names:

Brian, Neil, George (a different one), and Mal.

These are just ...

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Why You Don’t Need to Solve Every Problem

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How much time are you wasting trying to solve problems that could simply be eliminated?

I once spent nearly an entire summer trying to solve a problem. But when I finally came around to eliminating the problem instead, the “solution” seemed so simple! Here’s what happened.

I was the producer of a sketch comedy TV show in Seattle called Almost Live! We were a one-hour show, airing Sundays at 6pm (a terrible time for sketch comedy, by the way). In addition to ...

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Are You Preparing for Success, or Just Waiting?

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Are you preparing for success, or, to paraphrase Shakespeare, waiting for success to be thrust upon you?

My first job in television was basically that of a glorified secretary (and by “glorified” I mean “unglorified”). My primary function was to answer viewer mail. At around 2:00pm on my first day, while I was answering the 50th inane request for the Chicken Kiev recipe that some local chef had made on our morning show the previous day, I recall thinking what a ...

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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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