Thursday, November 29, 2007

Friday Fun: Now That's Motivating

Aren't motivational posters wonderful? Truly. One picture, one headline, one line of copy. For office decor, it just doesn't get much better than that.

Or does it? You tell me. Have your Friday fun at a site my husband Tom recommends ... it's motivational nirvana. I suggest you click on "random picture" to get started, because that's easy.

And easy is always motivating.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Exercise: Drop and Give Me 17. Syllables.

To instigate a little creativity today, I want you to write a haiku. It's easy -- if you can count, you can write haiku. If you can't count, you need more help than I can provide in a blog.

Just follow the haiku formula: The first line has five syllables, the second line has seven syllables, the third line has five syllables. Here's a quick example:

Driving in my car,
Radio cranked, windows down
Your voice still comes through.

There are zillions of 17 syllable possibilities. Write one. Post it if you like!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Creative Query: Got Knitting?

No matter what your favorite creative outlet is, it's good to try something new now and then -- keeps those brain cells working.

My favorite creative outlet is poetry. My next choice is collage art -- another activity with words. I'm sensing a pattern here.

So, speaking of patterns and aging brain cells, I'm learning to knit. I'm not following a pattern. I'm simply staring at some charming grandma from England on the Internet, trying to follow her flying fingers. My best friend says the scarf I'm knitting features the "Florida weave." Lots of openings for air. This is one of the many reasons why she's my best friend.

But, I digress. The creative query for the week is this: When was the last time you tried a new creative activity? If I can knit, you can .... fill in the blank.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Creativity Tip: Tell Me About ...

When a little kid shows you a drawing, do you stifle the urge to say, "What is it?" while staring at the scribbles?

Good. In this case, stifling is good. Now relax, and repeat after me, "That's great! Tell me about your picture."

More good news: The same approach works with adults. Try it. The next time someone brings you an idea you don't understand, take a deep breath, smile and say, "That's interesting. Tell me more about your idea."

Keep an open mind, and you'll be amazed at what those scribbles can lead to ...

This Blog's for You

I work with ad agencies, where copywriters and designers are commonly referred to as "creatives."

That's not a word. Or, if it is, it shouldn't be. It's a creative misnomer.

Creativity has nothing to do with a job and everything to do with a mindset. Doctors develop unique protocols to treat patients. Plumbers stop leaks, even when they don't have the one faucet they really need. Exhausted parents find the perfect mix of swaying and singing that will lull their crying baby to sleep.

We're all creative. That's why this blog is for you -- regardles of what you do. Look around and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sage Advice

Legend has it that when Thomas Edison was hiring a new researcher for his lab, the final job interview was conducted during a meal. If the prospective employee seasoned the food before tasting it, the interview was over -- preconceived notions were a deal breaker.

Your creativity tip for the day? Before you salt the stuffing tomorrow, take a bite. The cook may know more than you do. Now, there's an interesting notion ...

Happy Thanksgiving, and I'll be back with a new blog on Monday!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Creative Query: Amazing You

During this week of Thanksgiving, give a minute to appreciate your amazing self. Posts on the blog can be anonymous now, so it's easy to answer this creative query -- no need to sign in. What wonderful talent, trait, ability, skill are you thankful for?

I'll start. I'm thankful for my ability to listen. I'm a really good listener. Ask my friends. And, oddly enough, it's a skill I've honed because I'm deaf in my left ear. So, as my mom would say: Everything happens for the best.

Your turn!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Creativity Tip: Monday, Monday

I am writing this tip on Sunday night, rather than Monday morning, because I need to be at a client's office at 7 a.m. and I will not be feeling creative at the crack of dawn. On a Monday. In November. Why? Because I am NOT a morning person. At any time of the year.

Fortunately, I know a few early morning tricks to get creativity instigating:
1. Drink massive amounts of coffee. (Hey. I never said this blog would be good for your health.)
2. Read the comics. I recommend Pearls Before Swine.
3. Listen to a different radio station on the way to wherever you're going.
4. Take a new route. You may even remember how you got where you're going when you get there.
5. Park as far from the door as possible. The walk will help wake up your brain. And exercise is good for you. Or, so I've been told ...

There you have it. A Monday morning creativity espresso. If you have any comments, I'd be glad to discuss them with you. After 9 a.m.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Fun: You Can't Handle a Bigger Logo

It's been said that those who laugh, last. In keeping with that concept, Fridays will be fun days at Creative Instigation. Today's laugh comes to us courtesy of my friends in the Graphics Department at YRC Worldwide. A tip of the hat to Jade, Dave and Matt!

This video is a perfect way to end the week for anyone who's worked in a creative department. If you aren't a copywriter or a designer, I still encourage you to take a look.

And welcome to my world.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Creativity Tip: Listen Up!

Every now and then, instead of a creativity tip, I'll give you a creativity assignment. Here's what I want you to do today. Stop, look and listen. Consider it the adult equivalent of stop, drop and roll. Forget whatever fires you have to put out at work or at home. Give yourself -- and someone else -- the gift of undivided attention.

Here's the exercise: When someone asks, "How are you?" today, stop rushing around, look that person in the eye, and answer the question. Then, return the favor. Ask how they're doing and listen to the response.

What does this have to do with creativity? Everything. Listening requires focus. Creativity thrives on focus.

And, by the by, so do we.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Creativity Tip: Don't DIY

Over the years, I've received a number of compliments regarding my title: Chief Creative Instigator. My response is to smile broadly, try to look both creative and instigative, and say, "Thank you." Rarely, do I say, "Thank you. I didn't come up with it. Mike Brown did."

So, for those of you who like the title: "Thank you. I didn't come up with it. Mike Brown did."

Mike is a nationally known speaker on strategy, innovation and cool business topics (check out Among other responsibilities, he handles strategic market research for YRC Worldwide, a Fortune 500 company. He is also an essential member of my creative team.

Who's on your team? When you're trying to come up with the perfect title, a different approach, an acceptable idea for dinner, who do you ask for advice? My tip for the day: Ask someone. Don't Do It Yourself. And to get really creative input, ask someone unexpected. A four-year-old. Your significant other. The colleague with the candy dish. Take their advice, or use it as a jumpstart. Either way, you both win.

P.S. Did DIY start with the unfortunate idea of self service gas stations? And how can we call it "service" if I have to do it myself? And if I was interested in self service, would I be married? (Ah, but that's a different post, isn't it?)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

This Week's Creative Query

My creativity presentation -- Horsing Around: A Strategic Creativity Break -- begins with the lesson of Mr. O'Neill, the art "teacher" who told me I couldn't draw.

What have you been told you can't do?

Creativity Tip -- Get Outta Here!

Take a hike. And I mean that in the nicest possible way. If you've got a problem, challenge, opportunity, whatever to handle today, take it outside. Walk around your office building. Stroll around the block. Find a park and savor the colors of fall. Change your visual perspective, and you'll change your mental perspective.

Monday, November 12, 2007

See Jan. See Jan Blog.

Jan Sokoloff Harness is the award-winning creative force behind Sokoloff Harness Communications, the firm she launched in 2002. If you need to give her a title, she’s the Chief Creative Instigator, owner, President, CEO and CEB. (Take a guess.)

In all her roles, Jan brings a special blend of innovative energy and strategic smarts to her clients, her colleagues and every single project.

And those projects now include this blog. Yep, Jan is taking the big leap of faith into the blogosphere.

Hmmm. In a blog, Jan probably has to write in the first person. She'll work on that.