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

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

Getting Ready for the Summer Season

So how does all of this talk about creativity translate when it comes to the programming at The Creativity Campus?

Well today we’re building our summer camps and thought we’d give you a bit of insight into the process.

We’re designing each day so that kids not only have fun (#1 priority) but they learn (#2 priority) and they have something to take home to their parents and for themselves. Something they’ve created that they can be proud of and enjoy (#3 priority).

These priorities actually make organizing the camp fun for us too – we look back into our own childhoods for the games and crafts and activities that we enjoyed the most, then we look at what they taught us. Did they build skills? How?  We also dig deep into our research. There are some amazing resources that come in the form of books, classes, workshops and experiential lessons that can inform how we interact, learn and enjoy life together. All of these are important to building creativity and the skills that come along with it.

Also important is keeping things fresh and varied so we incorporate music, dance, art, discussion and language into play and games throughout each day.

If you have a look at our links page then you can see some of the researchers who influence our work and the theories we’re building from. For each skill set there are specific methods of development – as we plan we are constantly checking that the activities are nurturing those skills, priority #2 is what makes our work interesting and seeing the results is what keeps it fulfilling and fun.

One of the first quotes that popped up on my screen this morning when I went to update our facebook page was from Benjamin Franklin.

Tell Me and I forget, Teach me and I may remember

It’s so true, isn’t it?  The more we enjoy the activity, the more we engage, the more ownership we feel and the more we learn. We learn from doing, we learn from getting our hands in, asking questions and getting involved.

For each of the days that are in the works there are going to be a variety of different ways of getting involved. Each activity is about connecting with different learning types and opening up different learning pathways and “mindsets” for kids while they have fun and explore. Each day will have physical play and, weather permitting, we’ll head outdoors for at least 45 minutes to have fun as we develop our soft skills.

The really special part though, is that we’re learning too. It’s special because it enhances our commitment to teaching and connecting with everyone who takes part.

As we build we draw from what the experts say, what we enjoyed and what is expected but as the kids play and participate we learn even more.

If something’s not working, we’ll adapt it and try something new on the spot. If they have different interests or their own ideas about how they’d like to incorporate creativity then we’ll see how they line up with the research and give it a shot. Flexibility is important to us because everyone who crosses the threshold at The Creativity Campus learns differently and has something unique to offer.

We’re also we’re committed to sending home the products of the kids time and play for parents to check out. The best way for kids to get excited about learning and to engage in actvities is when the people they love are interested too.

If we come to all of this development and education with minds that are open to learning from each other then not only does it validate the kids, their work and their confidence but it allows us as adults to regain some of the perspective of children that is so valued in professional development and innovation today.

The Facts About Creativity

There’s a lot that’s ambiguous about creative work but there are two definites.

1) Creativity takes courage

2) Mistakes are mandatory

In my mind creativity is about coming up with a new idea or approach and expressing it. It is essential to let the work out to the world, to your friends or to your colleagues and that can be really scary.

For most of us our creative lives started when we were little kids with make believe, storytelling and pretend games. The wonderful thing when you watch kids creating is that they really get involved. They see one friend coming up with ideas, performing or acting silly and they get right into it themselves. There is no time made for thoughts other than – “That looks fun!” or “I have an idea too!”.

Really, they have yet to grow the part of their social brain that says “Keen isn’t cool” or “What if I make a mistake? That would be embarrassing.”

This is why creativity is ballsy. It’s why it’s work. We have to fight the experiences of our past and discouraging voices that make us want to stay quiet.

The great thing about doing workshops (I was at an amazing Tom Schlesinger one this weekend) is that you realize that you are not at all alone in this. We all want to express ourselves in some way and we’re all kinda freaked out by actually doing it.

Much of the reason I get worked up is that I’m used to striving for absolute perfection. The thing is, that’s impossible in life and even more impossible in creativity. One thing I keep noticing though is that the more that I am brave, the more mistakes I’m ok with making, the more those around me get into it. The more they try, the more they express themselves and the more they realize that mistakes can be silly and fun but they can also be valuable in both work and life.

The most important part of creativity is taking risks and making mistakes.  Original work means there will be nothing to compare it against in order to define the standards of perfection. We’ve been trained against it, but really, do you think symphonies are written in one try? Great novels in one draft? Amazing businesses with the first plan or executed task? We are supposed to learn as we go.

What makes it easier is that original work comes from inside of each of us and is a result of our own mix of experiences, knowledge, passions and, sometimes, pain. This means we’re not only hardwired to create because we’re human but we have all of the material we need to make completely unique work!

I know we’re not all artists or writers or actors or ad men but we are all human and there are creative ways to do math, walk dogs, write news, deliver papers and approach our businesses.

Today join me in my challenge and find a way to stray from your comfort zone and be courageous with your ideas.

Trial and error is recognized everywhere else – why not give it a chance in your life too?

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)