Friday, July 31, 2009

Friday Fun: Dance Better

Jan is on vacation ... and thinks it would make Friday more fun if you look at this.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Creativity Tips: That's Some Baby

Jan is on vacation. This is a favorite post from February 2008.

A kid is lucky to have one great mother. I was doubly blessed. I have the world's best mom, Lillian Sokoloff. And, when Lynn Dougherty and I became best friends for life in fourth grade, Lynn's mom took me under her wing.

Her presence was a gift. Joyce Dougherty was one of the most creative women I ever knew. Whether she was painting, stitching or cooking, she was an artist.

She was also a cigarette-smoking, no-fools-tolerating spitfire, with rock-solid Southern manners. If that sounds like a contradiction, I'm guessing you've never been to North Carolina.

Today, I'm going to share one of Mrs. Dougherty's most creative lines -- one that you can use in any number of awkward instances:

That's some baby

What do you say when a proud new mama shows you the world's ugliest newborn? "That's some baby!" What do you say when a friend decorates a less-than-Martha-Stewart cake? "That's some cake!" What do you say when a client gives you a project from hell? Oh, yeah ... "That's some project!"

Happy day. From me. And Mrs. Dougherty.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Creativity Tips: The Airlines Know Best

Jan is on vacation. Here's a favorite post from December 2007:

Forget what you've heard. There is such a thing as a stupid question. Take, for example, the question I am periodically asked, "Are you always this happy?"

No. I am not always this happy. Which is why, a few years ago -- during a less than cheerful moment -- my daughter Kate gave me this mantra: "Breathe in. Breathe out."

Simple? Absolutely. Effective? You bet. Oxygen is the true miracle drug.

So, as the days keep wrapping you in expectations and demands, follow the classic airline advice: If you're traveling with small children or big business, put your own air mask on first.

And breathe.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Creativity Tips: Don't Do It Yourself

Jan is on vacation. Here's a favorite post from December 2007:

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. 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?)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Creativity Tips: Distance Learning

According to this article in Scientific American, psychological distance boosts creativity.

Now, as you know, I'm all about boosting creativity. So, for the next week or two, I'm going to put a little psychological distance between me and the blog. I'll be sharing favorite posts from the past -- going all the way back to 2007.

I hope you enjoy the trip down Creative Instigation memory lane!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Creativity Exercise: Updating the Blog

Hi team!

My natural temperament is happy, a state Bud captured in the photo shoot. And, lately, I haven't been all that happy with the blog.

So, I must change things. Refresh the "Fun stuff" list. Rethink the features. Maybe use my laughing picture as the profile shot. Maybe Groucho comes back.

All I know for sure is that it's your blog. So, if you have any suggestions for changes, I'd love to hear them. Are there sites you want listed as creativity links? Do you like the Quick Quotes? Want more exercises? Are you tired of the Friday Fun features? Should I offer more Creative Inspiration poems, links, etc.?

Tell me what you want, and I'll do my best to keep all of us happy.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Creativity Tips: Take a Break!

I forgot to write a creativity tip for today, and my mind is pretty much blank.

So, I'm going to take my own advice. I'm taking a one-day break. I'll be back with creative brilliance* tomorrow.

*Hey, I'm tired. Not modest. Keep it straight.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Creativity Exercise: Hi Sweetie!

My mother has a saying: Little things amuse little minds.

This may be a little thing, but it amuses me. I was watching the Food Network the other night, and saw a clip where a woman in a candy store picked up the phone and said, "Hi, sweetie." And then I realized: That's the name of her store.

Hi Sweetie TM.

It's perfect. And the next time I'm having a really bad day, I'm going to call -- for the lovely greeting, and the candy!

P.S. Let's make it an exercise. Consider your standard phone greeting, or recorded message. How could you make it sweeter?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Creativity Tips: Share Your Inspirations

Last night, I went to hear Neko Case with a few of my favorite people in the universe. Before the concert, I mentioned to several people that I was excited to go -- and they had never heard of Neko Case.

So, in the spirit of sharing, here's a Neko Case clip. If you'd like to share a musical muse, please post!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I love Tom Watson

He's a champion in the truest sense of the word.
Always has been. Always will be.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Fun: Cameroid

Well, it's been a long week, and I couldn't figure out how to do Cameroid, but my daughter Kate loves it. So, here's my gnome sweet gnome*, courtesy of the magic of Cameroid. You're smarter than I am. You'll be able to do it. Go. Play. Happy weekend!

*Yes. I am short. No. I am not short enough to have a garden gnome for a daughter. But she is a cute little gnome, isn't she. And please notice -- that's a book, tucked under her arm.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Creativity Tips: Learn from My Mistakes

I recently answered a "Request for Speakers" from a group in New York, and got a call -- they're interested. So, I went back and looked at the material I submitted for my Better Business Writing session.

The first takeaway I promise participants? "Learn the one word that can help everyone improve their writing."

Wow. That's intriguing. No wonder they're interested. Only one problem. I have no freaking idea what the "one word" is. Yep, I had a brilliant idea when I wrote the proposal. But I didn't write it down.

When you have a stroke of creative genius, WRITE IT DOWN. Trust me, you shouldn't trust your memory. And if you have any one-word solutions for this dilemma, please let me know. The only word I can think of at the moment applies to me, and it's not pretty.

P.S. Sure, you can learn from your mistakes. But isn't it more fun to learn from mine? You betcha. (Good letter to the editor, Bud!)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Creativity Tips: Take a 7th Inning Stretch

Those of you who know me realize that I know next-to-nothing about sports. But I do know this: A 7th inning stretch will do you good.

As I write this (Tuesday night), I've been sitting at my desk working, for about 10 hours. And I have one more deadline to hit before I call it a night. It's definitely time for a stretch. I'm going to walk around, get a glass of cold water, then get back to writing.

I'm also going to really and truly, physically s-t-r-e-t-c-h. Why? Because it will get both the blood and the ideas flowing again. Try it the next time you've been working too hard, too long. After all, 80 gazillion baseball fans can't be wrong!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Creativity Tips: Good Enough Never Is

There are times when I'm ready to wrap up a project, and I hear this voice inside my head saying, Good enough never is.

Let's dispense with the disturbing fact that I hear voices, and proceed to the heart of the matter. The voice is wrong. Sometimes, good enough is. You can't pour your heart and soul into everything. Time, money, and creative resources just don't allow it.

However, we should never settle for good enough on everything. That's a lazy and insidious* mindset certain to corrode creativity.

Today, consider the projects on your plate, at home and at work. Ask yourself: What deserves my absolute best? Then, pour it on!

*I knew I was spelling insidious wrong, so -- since good enough never is with spelling -- I looked it up on NinjaWords. What a cool dictionary. It took my misspelled word and instantly gave me the correct spelling and meaning. Gotta love it.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Creative Inspiration from Kermit the Frog

Let's start the week with words of wisdom from Kermit the Frog, sharing his guide to life:

  1. It starts with a dream. Dreams are how we figure out where we want to go. Life is how we get there. Always allow time for traffic.

  2. Never get too settled. When you spend too much time resting on your laurels, all you get is a sore backside.

  3. Let loose! You can't amaze the world unless you first surprise yourself. And remember, time's fun when you're having flies.

Excerpted from Before You Leap by Kermit the Frog; TM and Copyright 2006, The Muppets Holding Company, LLC. Published by Meredith Books.

P.S. Thanks to Kate for the idea!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Friday Fun: Retro Ads

One more reason why I don't eat pork.

Take a look at these ads! (I would have used the "Free for Chubbies" ad as the illustration, but that was hitting a tad close to my childhood...)

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Creative Shout Out: Cover Boy!

My friend Steve Popkes is featured on the cover of the new Asimov's Science Fiction. Very cool! Buy it. Read it. Print is not dead.

P.S. This is a good chance for me to remind you that one of the joys of blogging is having an easy venue to celebrate success. I saw the Asimov cover on Steve's blog, but don't wait for me to stumble across your good news. If you have something fun to share, let me know! I charge the same for cheerleading as I do for blogging.

P.P.S. Speaking of fun to share -- CI team member Burcu from Istanbul is getting married! Congrats!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Creativity Exercise: Name that Quilt!

Here's the chance to put your brilliance to work for a good cause. Vicki asked me to help her come up with a name for this gorgeous quilt she made. She thought of Square by Square, but isn't thrilled with that. I suggested Square Dance, but that's already been used.

Hmmmm. How about Home Run? There's my idea for the day. Post yours!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Creativity Tips: Move Abroad. Think Better.

I recently suggested you change your space to boost creativity. Turns out, I was thinking small. What we really need to do is change countries.

The report is in, and people who live abroad enjoy a real boost in creativity. Here's the scientific report in the APA Journal of Personality and Social Psychology*. For those of us with two-second attention spans, here's a well-written summary.

I know at least two CI readers who should take this as a good sign to go.

*And you wondered if I still study ... tsk, tsk, tsk.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Creativity Tips: Sparkle

This is mom, enjoying a sparkler at the family's annual Fourth of July blowout at Les and Eva's house. Mary's laughing in the background.

This is why you always bring a camera. Or a notebook. Or a sketchpad.

Because moments like these sparkle. And they burn out far too fast.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Friday Fun: Got Games?

If you got time, now you got games.* Enjoy Get the Glass.

Thanks to hubby Tom for the link!

*I really shouldn't sink to this grammatical low, should I? Oh well ... Happy Independence Day to our American readers, and happy weekend to everyone!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Site Seeing: Whimsy

I read this wonderful line on Whimsy the other day:

I wonder how much beauty we pass by in our hurried, busy lives?

Take a look at the beauty Leslie found, hidden in a field. And consider what beauty -- or whose beauty -- you may be rushing by.

Technology Update: It's Not Me, Babe

Hi all ... The Chief Technical Officer (that would be the hubby) looked around and discovered there is a systemic problem with Blogger that is hitting a lot -- but not all -- blogs, and inhibiting the pre-post function. So, that's why my posts aren't publishing at the time associated with one of my favoritest days of the year, my birthday: 4:22.

Blogger is working on it.

And, speaking of favoritest days and favoritest people: Happy Birthday, Angela!!!!!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Creativity Tips: Go Tell Aunt Janet

To mark the completion of his first book in piano lessons, my nephew Sam played a recital of all the pieces for the family -- fun for us, and a chance to applaud his talent and dedication.

His wonderful teacher, Ann Stein, made the event better by having Sam write a story, using all the song titles in the book. That unified the performance -- and gave Sam a chance to use a different creative tool. (My favorite part of the story? Changing "Go Tell Aunt Rhodie" to "Go Tell Aunt Janet.")

It also made me wonder: What creative tools are we using that could be strengthened by tying them together? Writing and photography? Knitting and karaoke? Baking and painting?

Think about it. Then, go tell Aunt Janet.