Tag Archives: creativity

Innovation, Inspiration and Infants

We are all born creative. We just got it educated out of us. -  @ThamKhaiMeng

Born creative

I spent Tuesday at Internet World promoting the new .London domain on the Dot London stand which I was pleased to be doing as it’s probably one of the most promising of the new top level domains being released this year.  However, If you’ve ever manned a trade show stand for any length of time, no matter how interesting the product or solution you’re promoting may be, the experience is generally  less than joyful lol.

The highlight of my day was in fact the arrival of three young boys aged between about 11 and 13, at first I thought nothing of their presence until I heard them speaking quite articulately to one of my colleagues about domains, their website, a game they had created and how the three of them had formed a partnership to realise their idea.

I actually felt so emotional and filled with pride at their enthusiasm, determination and creativity that anyone would have thought they were related to me and not three strangers that I had just met (I think that type of emotional overflow is one of the weird side effects of motherhood). According to the father that was with them, under 18′s aren’t typically allowed to these trade shows and they had to apply especially for the rules to be waivered,  I was so inspired by them it got me thinking about how kids inspire me in general.

I just love that children are not deterred by barriers; their natural inclination is to get under them, around them or over them and there is much we can learn from this attitude.

We often hear that if you want to be great it pays to follow and take notes from those that have tread the path before us, I believe that there is great value in that  and it’s one of the reasons business mentors are so important. However, I also think there is much to be learnt from our children and young people,  so I thought I’d share 3 things I’ve learnt from mine:

1.   They are totally unrealistic

We as adults are often hindered by what we feel is ‘realistic’, that is what is ‘sensible’, ‘practical’, ‘achievable’ and ‘expected’, which is fine but limiting if you want to achieve anything significant in life.

Children just flow with their imagination, and embrace the possibilities, the issue of whether or not something is ‘realistic’ never pops into their heads. As we get older we loose this ability to think freely and often impose invisible boundaries on ourselves. I am by no means encouraging recklessness, there are indeed times when realism serves us well. But, we’ll also do well to  free ourselves from what is ‘realistic’ sometimes and pursue those things  we once dreamed about. If others have done so and succeeded why not you?

Richard Branson certainly wasn’t thinking about what was realistic when he founded Virgin Galactic and decided to make space tourism a reality.

2.   They have mastered the art of  ‘bouncebackability’

Children just aren’t discouraged by failure, they just get up and go again. Often we’re paralysed by failure or the fear of it, but there comes a point when you’ve just got to feel the fear and do it anyway. In the words of Tim Storey a set back is a set-up for a come back”.

3.  They have an incredible capacity and willingness to learn

Children have such a thirst for knowledge and never stop asking questions, I’m often fascinated by my children’s capacity to learn and retain information, their brains are indeed like sponges.  As we get older our thirst for knowledge tends to cease and we get bogged down in what we already know, which can limit not only our thinking but also our prospects. There is an extricable link between economic prosperity and the ability to acquire knowledge.

One of my favourite Bible verses is 1 Corinthians 2:9 which says:

But as it is written: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.”

I believe there are things that God has for us that we haven’t even imagined.

I’m reading a book at the moment called ‘Faith For Like: Overcoming Everyday Challenges’ and in it Bishop Keith A. Butler says:

“God gave you imagination not so that you could make movies with nine-feet tall blue people in a tree. God gave you imagination so that you could see the promise in advance.”

Richard Branson could see the reality of space tourism in his minds eye probably way before he founded Virgin Galactic. Today, not only has the commercial spacecraft been built, but as seen in the video above it has just completed it’s third test flight into space.

So finally, my question is – what can you see on the inside of you and what are you going to do about it?

Speak soon,
Katrina

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Finding your flow

flow

There are times when I open up a word doc and my mind and fingers are in total sync, the ideas just ‘flow’, I’m typing and it appears great things are happening because I’m in that particular mental state. Perhaps you can relate?

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi a Hungarian psychologist coined the term ‘flow’  to describe this mental state and describes it as follows;

“being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.”

Here’s a brief overview of the theory:

The benefits of finding flow

  • Flow enables you to produce high quality work with relative ease
  • Flow gives you a feeling of satisfaction and happiness
  • Flow takes the struggle out of work
  • Flow enables you to maximise your time
  • Flow increases your productivity
  • Flow enables you to have focused concentration on a task
  • Flow makes work easier and I’ll even go as far as saying joyful
Evidently our lives would be a whole lot easier if we could set our minds to a task and just ‘flow’. However, often ‘flow’ evades us, and it can be a struggle to concentrate long enough to find that flow. As mentioned in a previous post, some days with all the will in the world productivity and focused concentration eludes me.

So the question is how do you find your flow?

  1. You have to have a passion for the work and the task at hand
  2. It has to be challenging yet not too hard

Hence, if you are persistently struggling with the above in a particular area, maybe it’s because it’s not the right work for you. Quite simply you can’t flow in something that you’re not passionate about or gifted to do.

So the question remains what are you gifted to do? Well, what are you naturally passionate about? where do your natural strengths and talents lie? What occupations exist that will enable you to bring your passion and talents together? If you’re struggling to answer these questions, I highly recommend that you read the Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, it’s a really good place to start.

I’d like to add a caveat at this point, just because you are good at something doesn’t mean no work is required or that as soon as you set to work you’ll ‘flow’, but what it does mean is that even if it takes time you’ll be able to ‘flow’ eventually.

Here’s an example from my own life; I believe God has gifted me with the ability to write and speak in a way that compels others. However, that doesn’t mean that I can write a blog post or article without spending time thinking about it, or stand in front of a group of people and present without preparing thoroughly. In fact I often ponder ideas for days if not weeks before I actually put pen to paper or present. However, once I’ve prepared I find it quite easy to flow.

The thing about ‘flow’ is that once you’re flowing the end result will have elements of what you prepared but will often look quite different. Reason being when you’re flowing in your gift it will sometimes take you places you hadn’t prepared to go, so by all means prepare, but when what you have prepared goes awry, don’t sweat it, just go with the flow!

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has a lot to say about ‘flow’ and a great deal of it is useful, but I’ve found that I flow best when I simply let go of all worries and concerns and cast my cares on God (1 Peter 5:7). What I’ve found is that God has placed a treasure trove of gifting’s on the inside of me and when I let go and trust Him to bring those gifting’s out, that is when I really find my flow! Likewise there’s a treasure trove of gifting’s in you.

Blessings,
Katrina x

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Social Media Love: Pinterest

I am undoubtedly a social media fan, but I’m selective about my choice of networks and tend to use them for different things. I associate each social network with different personality types and tend to use them accordingly, here are my 5 fav’s in rank order:

Network Personality Use
Twitter The chatterbox. Fast and full of timely knowledge Knowledge and network building
Pinterest The creative thinker. Intelligent and beautiful Inspiration and visualisation of ideas
Google+ The undiscovered talent. Interesting and powerful but underused To connect with particular interest groups (i.e. circles) and capitalise on Google’s clout
LinkedIn The professional. Conservative and quiet Updates related to industry news & career development
Facebook The popular kid. Necessary but boring General social media updates

 

As you can see Pinterest has fast become my second favourite social media spot. In case you’re not familiar with Pinterest, it’s simply a tool for collecting and organising all the things you love, it’s essentially a virtual Pinboard with photos of your favourite things grouped together un themed boards.

I actually joined Pinterest a couple of years ago but it dropped off my radar until recently. I had forgotten what a great social media platform it is. Here are a few reasons I’m such a fan:

1.       It stimulates creativity

For me it’s important to take time out and get creative, free your mind and play around with ideas. Pinterest helps me do that

  • I use it as a mood board to visually brainstorm ideas I’m contemplating
  • I use it to tell and build stories 
  • I use it to gain inspiration from others
  • I use it to share and provide information in a light and visual way

2.       It’s versatile

Pinterest doesn’t dictate how you use it, the design of the platform encourages freedom and flexibility for you to use it in whatever way you see fit. This has led to some stunningly creative boards, check out this Mashables post 10 Innovative Uses of Pinterest for some great examples.

3.       I just love pinning

The Pin-It button is a permanent feature on my toolbar it enables me to capture things that interest me as I travel the web so that I never lose or forget the many gems I find. I always have a notebook with me wherever I go because I find that good ideas hit me at the most random moments and it’s always good to have a pen and paper to hand. Pinning is like the virtual equivalent of this.

 4.       The layout is beautiful and inspiring

It’s like a treasure trove just waiting to explored.

If you haven’t already I encourage you to check it out, you can find my Pinterest boards here, I’d love to connect with you there.

PS: Speaking of creativity if you want to get more creative  John Adair’s 100 Greatest Ideas for Amazing Creativity is a really good place to start.

Speak soon,
Katrina

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Master Marketers Master Simplicity

World renowned advertising agency M&C Saatchi has a moto that I really like ‘Brutal Simplicity’ according to joint CEO Carrie Hindmarsh in a recent article in ‘The Marketer’ this means; “Sorting the Wheat from the Chaff, working out the single most compelling message and saying only that”.

Apples ‘Think Different’ campaign exemplified this masterfully

There is clearly an art to simplicity and in my view it’s one of those relatively rare traits that all the best marketers have - the ability to say much with little.

I give my team a task each month to put together a PowerPoint presentation of scanned competitor ads and together we critique them in order to learn from them. Without fail the best ads are always the simplest.

The question is, how do you reach the point of ‘brutal simplicity’? Here are my top 3 tips:

1.      Become a master of the product or service that you market

In order to be able to simplify your message you first have to understand the complexity of your product, in order to aptly convey it in the simplest terms.

Question; if a marketer is not 100% sure of what their product does and how it does it (in more than just general terms) how can he or she expect to market it successfully? And yet often this is the case.

All too often marketers lack understanding of the products and services that they market and this is reflected in the standard of the marketing they produce. Copy is often full of Jargon, sweeping claims and generic creative. Joe blogs could probably tell you more about a product than the person that has been tasked with marketing it, and then there is a wonder why marketers lack credibility in some circles.

Marketers need to work closer not only with sales, as is commonly spouted, but also with their techies and product departments. No matter how complex a product is, it is a marketers job to get to grips with its complexities in order to market it successfully.

2.       Think differently

As an in-house copy writer for quite a few years I know how easy it is to fall into the habit of writing about the same set of features and benefits, in the same way, using the same jargon. Sometimes this is just sheer laziness and other times, time pressures stifle creativity and this is just the easiest option. I challenge all marketers to avoid this rut, change your perspective, think of ways that you can convey your message in a different way, a simpler way.

3.       Consider your product from your customers perspective

Quite simply, what is the one thing that customers really want that your product or service can deliver? Say this as succinctly as possible. As Michael Porter says; being the best is over rated it’s about being unique:

Managers who think there is one best company and one best set of processes set themselves up for destructive competition. “The worst error is to compete with your competition on the same things,” Porter said. “That only leads to escalation, which leads to lower prices or higher costs unless the competitor is inept.” Companies should strive to be unique, he added. Managers should be asking, “How can you deliver a unique value to meet an important set of needs for an important set of customers?” (Knowledge Wharton).

 I’ll leave you with a few great examples from an article entitled ‘26 Brilliant Minimalist Print ads’ that demonstrate clearly that ‘master marketers master simplicity’.

It's the hat

 

strong marriage ad


 

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