Creativity Camp at Soho House!

This past weekend we hosted our first Creativity Camp for Families at Soho House Toronto. It was such a great event. We had kids of all ages, parents, grandparents, twins and sibling groups dancing, playing and collaging together.

Though this weekend’s programming was aimed at kids aged 6-12 we had two super toddlers get in on the action and they were great. They drew and toddled and explored. It was a fantastic reminder that creativity is about having fun first and that age limits certainly don’t apply on that front.

As mentioned we had an awesomely adventurous pair of twins who were bubbly and full of stories about their favourite arts activities as their dad and grandmother shared in the fun. Two brothers and a sister brought their dad  too which was great and not only did they make some amazing sketchpad collages but the boys got straight down to work filling the books with awesome drawings while their little sister showed off some fantastic dance moves.

I don’t know if you know this but Soho House has a great photo booth. One superkid headed straight there and he and his dad took photos which they incorporated into their collages. It was such a great idea and is already inspiring future activities at the Campus!

I had SO MUCH FUN creating and playing with this group and Soho House was a welcoming and supportive venue to work with so hopefully we’ll be working with them again to host future Creativity Campus workshops.

What inspiring or creative stuff did you get up to this past weekend? Care to share?

Happy Wednesday!

L

The calm before the storm - supplies for our Creative Selves collages before the families arrived.

The calm before the storm – supplies for our Creative Selves collages before the families arrived.

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

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

What’s Your Shake? Limitations & Creativity

Embracing limitations can open up incredible creative horizons…

Here’s a great TED talk from an artist who used a physical ailment expand his artistic expression instead of crushing it

Also – Doors Open is on today in Toronto, maybe you should explore in the sunshine??

 

Embrace the Shake

 

My Creativity Experiment – No Speaking, One Week.

That’s right. No speaking, at all, for one whole week.

Anyone who knows me this is a pretty extreme experiment, I’m nothing if not chatty, but I’m spending the next week in silence so I can explore.

It started with a suggestion from Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit, an amazing book that outlines her routine and methods for staying creative over almost fifty years as a choreographer. She is innovative, award winning and incredibly disciplined and has produced more than one hundred sixty artistic works: one hundred twenty-nine dances, twelve television specials, six Hollywood movies, four full-length ballets, four Broadway shows and two figure skating routines.

As Tharp says, we diet elsewhere in life so why not in our creative lives? Her reasoning behind not speaking is that it forces one to look at what is worth saying and what is not. As a starting point that’s fascinating but for me I’ll also be using it as an exercise in discipline, an exploration of what I could be creating but am not because I’m distracted and an opportunity to become a better listener, observer and communicator.

So – the logistics, right? How will I ask for coffee? Order dinner? Make plans? What am I going to do without speech?

Well, I’ve sent around a little email to close family and friends explaining the experiment so they know that I won’t be picking up the phone and that I can only use text messaging to make and confirm plans – not chat. I’ve also printed up a couple of cards to aid me on my journey and help explain for those people who want to hear more.

I’m still going to be working, posting for The Creativity Campus and communicating to keep the business ticking along but, as unless I can’t avoid it for work, I won’t be speaking again until the evening of Friday May 31 when I head out to celebrate the birthday of a wonderful friend.

In the meantime – here are the cards

Happy Friday everyone!

Have an amazing weekend

xx

L

I'm Not Speaking

May I Please...