Creativity Coaching & Corporate Culture

Dear Cultivate & Create followers,

I’m sorry I’ve been absent!

I’ve spent the past week or two reassessing, rejuvenating and reinspiring. As the last post notes we’re also repositioning here at The Creativity Campus.

Part of this means marketing less, learning more and creating in our own lives to better inform our understanding of clients. That said I wanted to share with you some amazing developments.

We’ve begun one on-one-creativity coaching this week. This work, aimed at those who are struggling in some way to bring their best ideas to life, is incredibly fulfilling and interesting.

Though very flexible it currently entails a weekly meeting (in person or on the phone) with a client to discuss their work and their concerns. From there we offer support and strategies to help address the obstacles.  These can come as routines, activities or simple conversations. The programs are custom fit to each client and their needs.

Right now I’m working primarily with writers and designers but this coaching is also intended for entrepreneurs, CEOs and professionals whose work is dependent on coming up with or presenting ideas.

It is also beneficial for those who are looking for stimulation or support when developing corporate strategies or workplace processes that call for innovation at a deep level. So much of this is about environment, staff programs and leadership so it often includes office visits and work with relevant staff members.

With this in mind I have spent the morning mentoring a new cohort of entrepreneurs at a local incubator. It was incredibly inspiring. The energy and openness of the founders was infectious and I feel very lucky to be working with such a great group of smart and ambitious people.

As part of this experience I spoke much about corporate culture and the importance of leadership and passion. When I got back to my office I opened one of my favourite blogs and read this article, 30 Lessons for Living.

It’s full of great points collected from thousands of interviews with “the wisest Americans”. So much resonated but the advice on work was particularly interesting.

Find Happiness at Work

One of the most striking points is what the thousand-plus experts didn’t say.

No one— not a single person out of a thousand— said that  to be happy you should try to work as hard as you can to make money to buy the things you want.

No one— not a single person— said it’s important to be at least as wealthy as the people around you, and if you have more than they do it’s real success.

No one— not a single person— said you should choose your  work based on your desired future earning power.

You need Interpersonal Skills

Their consensus: no matter how talented you are, no matter  how brilliant— you must have interpersonal skills to succeed.

Everyone Needs Autonomy

Career satisfaction is often dependent on how much autonomy  you have on the job. Look for the freedom to make decisions and move in directions that interest you, without too much control from the top.

So much of what matters when one looks at successful corporate culture is soft skills based. It’s not about firmly quantifiable metrics or dollar based CBAs. Culture is what makes employees love their work and want to stick around to make sure it’s delivered in the best possible way. It’s what helps them feel proud of their achievements and encourages them to band together as a team to address challenges when times get tough.

The best leaders recognize that amazing human capital is the most rare commodity and that holding on to it is difficult and important. They invest in professional development and recognize their employees are unique and human and have a range of needs and priorities that should be acknowledged.

I’m not suggesting that companies should spend willy nilly, handhold excessively or indulge unreasonable demands or poor attendance however it is often meeting the smallest requests (like flexible work hours) or instituting seemingly tiny sentimental incentives (acknowledgement for an imaginative idea, strong pitch or effective community building event) that fosters the greatest loyalty.

The advice above really reflects that.  People want to love the company they work for, to enjoy their office and to feel ownership and pride in their work and the fact is – the CEO, company or founder is the first to reap the rewards if they do.

Thanks for subscribing and for being patient with our Campus as it grows. We love our work and helping our clients achieve their dreams.

Do get in touch with any questions, curiosity or feedback – we’d love to hear from you!

Happy Tuesday!

Laura

30 Lessons For Living

Navigating Changing Winds…

Dolly Parton once said, “You can’t change the direction of the wind but you can adjust your sails.” Those of you who registered for our summer camps will have received your email this morning letting you know that we’re adjusting ours.

Though we’ve received great support and interest in our summer program it’s become clear that the costs aren’t lining up quite as expected and, as a result, The Creativity Campus is changing tack.

Instead of focusing on the daily camp this summer we’ll be honing in on our weekend workshops for parents and children and our Harnessing Creativity events for adults.

I’ll also be coaching entrepreneurs as a corporate culture mentor at one of Toronto’s leading technology incubators.

In keeping with the passion behind The Creativity Campus, we’re exploring, creating, inspiring and connecting.

Our first parent and child workshop will be on July 20th at a particularly fruitful space (more details to come!) and many more unique events are on the way.

Just as I began writing this, trying to come to grips with sharing the news and feeling a little disappointed, Oprah’s 2013 commencement speech at Harvard crossed my desk.  She encountered her hardest professional moments after she launched OWN last year and in the speech talks about how she intended to turn her ship around.

No surprise, it’s an inspring address. Thank you Oprah, for the reminder that life is just trying to move us in another direction…

Today’s a day to remember, those who succeed see challenges as opportunities for innovation and growth. We’re taking this as a chance to focus in, to get more specific and deliver even more valuable strategies to kids, parents and business people.

Where’s your opportunity today?

A Smooth Sea Never made A Skilled Sailor

My Creative Experiment – 7 Days of Silence

So – seven days, no speaking.

I woke up in the middle of the night to turn on the air conditioning and fend off the inevitable Toronto humidity and realized that I was technically allowed to speak.

I had no desire to do so.

One would think I’d have hummed a little song, made a big noise or at least tested out a sentence but in this week I’ve realized that for a person who speaks so much I really do enjoy the quiet.

There’s something in the stillness, in the discipline, that brings a sort of peace and steadiness that I’ve never experienced before. It brings a calm that is foreign to my overactive mind and mouth.

Though it’s been frustrating and at times lonely it’s also been a gateway into my own passions, communication and relationships.

The inability to speak leaves limitless space for others to express themselves. Sitting back and watching another inhabit that space, occupy a verbal place that is shared but that they are the only actor in is actually quite beautiful.

It seems that the small nuances are magnified. In myself all of the little reactive noises that I make are amplified and my actions and expressions are bigger and more dramatic. Yesterday reconnected me with my love of acting, of physical excitement and creation. But in others I witnessed other amazing characteristics grow larger and more evident.

My mother’s generosity, warmth and kindness exploded as the week passed. Her fierce love was still ever present but, typically quiet and subtle, her support was more expressed.

On Wednesday I went for tea and a movie with my best friend and realized we didn’t need language. Only a few moments in we were laughing and joking and she too was communicating mostly in gestures. It felt so good to know that even without words we have so much and can spend hours together loving the company and laughing from our bellies. Our friends, as chosen family, are such an incredible gift and it was amazing to have this chance to really witness the power of our friendship in small but significant glory.

Last night was spent with someone new(ish). I think both of us were quite concerned that it would be awkward, spending hours together when I couldn’t speak, being so close to the start of our friendship but it was really wonderful.

Not being able to verbalize responses, leaving more space for his expression and focusing our interaction outward brought out a side of him that I’d not seen before. It brought out mutual silliness, new forms of expression and shared stillness. It was so much fun.

I’m not sure that this is doing such a great job of explaining my experience of silence. Maybe I’m still too close to it or maybe it isn’t meant to be expressed in words but I am proud that I made it through and I am happy that it’s over.

As a creative exercise it’s been deeply valuable and I’m excited to start creating – to paint, to sing, to write and move with this in my physical and experiential memory. I already feel it lending fresh energy to my life and my perspective.

I’ll definitely do it again, but maybe next time it will be outside of the city. I get the feeling that being surrounded by nature, by quiet and earthly beauty will bring a whole new experience to the fore, allowing for more active creation, for the work to be the focus rather than the result.

Happy weekend beauties, I hope you get out in the sunshine and remember to play…

xx

29 Ways to Stay Creative

Here’s a great video with 29 easy suggestions presented with compelling typography by TO-FU… Why not try some of them out today?

29 ways to stay creative

Why Google’s Chairman Says Everybody Needs a Coach

Summer camp registration is now underway so now we at The Campus are pushing forward with our coaching and workshops.

Coaching is a bit ambiguous, especially when it comes to creativity, but I think Eric Schmidt, Google’s chairman and past CEO, hits the nail on the head in his chat with Fortune.

Before I started my silence experiment I had a long chat with a friend who is looking to start her own business. She has a great idea but was struggling with the realities of executing and the details. I reminded her that she had just come up with the idea, that, in fact, she was still in the creation phase where ideas come up and should be written down and enjoyed. The creation phase is not the time for focussing in on the realities but rather the stage at which one should be thinking expansively and without limits. It’s the time to keep every thought and allow time and space for more to bubble up.

It is rare that the first ideas are the ones that we stick with but it is ALWAYS the first ideas that lead to the second, the third and so on. Along that train of thinking will be the gem and if you cut off your flow of ideas with analysis too early then you’ll likely miss the great one you were heading toward.  She responded by telling me that I was the right person to call, that she needed to talk to a coach. I was so very complimented, but it hits on a deep truth.

Through school, sports and childhood we have parents, teachers and others to help encourage us,  help us pick ourselves up when we’re down and to hold a mirror of reality in front of us when we’re caught in our own, sometimes narrow, point of view. As Schmidt says, “One thing that people are never good at is seeing themselves as others see them. A coach really, really helps.”

Creativity coaching does just this, sure it’s hand holding but it’s also exercises and strategies to help you harness the gifts that you might not realize you have. It’s help knowing when to let loose and when to reign in and analyse. Lastly, it can offer clarity about what your creative strengths are and what and how to improve those areas that might need a bit of work.

Here’s what Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, has to say on the subject…

Eric Schmidt

Keeping Creative: Fishbowl Inspiration

Creativity is like a muscle, we need to work it out to keep it flexible.

So it only makes sense that there are lots of exercises that can be used to keep you tapped in to your imagination, working out your mind and pushing to create.

One that I use daily and that is incorporated in to Creativity Camp is the idea fishbowl. Find a bowl or basket that you can keep just for this purpose. As you flip through magazines, read books or wander the streets collect images and phrases that inspire you.

They could be happy and light or sad and dark – the trick is to aim for variety as you select them. Obviously if you think of a great line or string of words that you want to work with you should include that too.

From there you need to physically cut them up into small pieces that can be folded away and placed in your bowl. (For an example see the photo below)

Here comes the important part. You need to set aside time everyday pluck an idea out of your bowl and write. Set a timer for 15 minutes and let the phrase or image guide your writing.

Remember don’t stop writing – even if it means blabbing on about how frustrating it is to be unable to write. When I hit a block I often look up and grab a colour or shape from the room then write it repeatedly until it leads me to a new thought or word. (We’ll talk about the power of association another time!)

The key here is that your writing probably won’t be good. It’s not supposed to be. In fact, if it is really good maybe you need to think about loosening up even more!

You are writing from a place in your mind that you probably don’t use very often. It is not about censoring and grammar and word choice but rather about teaching your mind that it’s ok to run free and play. It’s about being as loose as possible and allowing your mind to flow and produce without boundaries or criticism.

No one is going to read this writing unless you want to show it off – so get collecting…

Idea Fishbowl

Why is Creativity Important in Education?

Hey!

So this is the first blog post coming out of The Creativity Campus and I thought it only natural to build it off of the company’s initial inspiration.

Sir Ken Robinson is a world leader in creativity and education. At TED in 2006 he spoke about how schools are killing our creativity. It has since become most watched TED talk with over 14m views as of August 2012.

Recently Sir Ken sat down with Adobe to talk about why creativity in education is so important from an economic and business perspective. There were a couple of real, standout points for me when I watched the video.

First, Sir Ken notes that we shape our curriculum on what we deem important today as the workforce skills of the future. We determine this on the assumption that the future will develop along a linear path, that we can predict what is to come.

As I’m sure you’ll agree, nothing is further from the truth. Over the past 25 years we’ve witnessed enough revolutionary technological change to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that predicting the future doesn’t work.

I was educated in the 1980s and 1990s. There were no classes on the value or implications of social media, I didn’t have the chance to learn to code or even consider the possibility of using an ipad in the classroom, let alone the workplace. Keyboarding and words per minute were the only computer connections one made and yet, for my entire working life the internet has been an integral source of information and tool for marketing, career development, research, learning and social connection.

Though I went to an amazing alternative school for high school the fact remains that most of what I learned, the facts, dates and important names and theories, can all be accessed with a few finger taps on my iPhone.

Realistically, what we can count on as consumers, parents, CEOs and members of society is that the world will change in ways that we have no way of predicting or preparing for. I couldn’t be educated about social media because social media didn’t really exist.

As support Sir Ken refers to this survey by IBM of over 3,000 CEOs which notes:

What we heard through the course of these in-depth discussions is that events, threats and
opportunities aren’t just coming at us faster or with less predictability; they
are converging and influencing each other to create entirely unique situations.
These firsts-of-their-kind developments require unprecedented degrees
of creativity—which has become a more important leadership quality than
attributes like management discipline, rigor or operational acumen.

A more important quality than management discipline or operational acumen? Creativity is more important to CEOs than business skills?  This is yet another aspect of the future that most of us wouldn’t have predicted.

But, clearly, if thousands of CEOs are so focused on creativity than we should be too.

Whether we’re looking at career advancement for ourselves, entrepreneurial growth as business owners or the preparedness of our kids as we send them off in to the workplace the research shows that creativity is something that deserves at least a little more focus.

Unfortunately, in an learning environment of limited resources and increased standardization this is actually the opposite of what is happening in many cases. So the question becomes – how do we cultivate these skills for ourselves? How can we build activities and exercises into our daily lives that nurture the qualities that employers want?

I guess that’s why this is the first post and it was certainly the inspiration for my work. I was a super creative kid who thought that I had to give up the fun, imagination driven stuff that I enjoyed in order to get a job and make money. My building of this campus is as much for my creative fulfillment as it is for that of every  participant. I want a life that is fun and purposeful, that serves a greater need while giving me a space to build and create and interact with new people as they grow and explore their potential.

We were all children who had amazing creative powers, whether it was the ability to come up with the best games at recess, the quickest path to the value of X in algebra or the prettiest sounding ditty on the recorder. Creativity doesn’t come in one form and it’s not restricted to artists.

As far as I can tell, if we don’t break down those limited views of the value of a creative mind then we’ll be doing our children, our employees, our businesses and ourselves a disservice.

But that’s just me, what do you think? Have I drunk too much of the Ken Robinson kool-aid?

(For more Creativity resources check out our Links section)