2 posts categorized "Creativity"

June 24, 2014

Your Schedule Is Killing Your Creativity

Most people I know sabotage their career by being to efficient with their time.  They fill up their daily schedule with meetings and phone calls, thinking that they are being highly productive.  The result is a week of conversations, with little time left to "work on work."  

A recent IBM survey of over 1000 CEO's found that creativity was the top skill required for leadership success.  This makes sense, as innovation is the prescription for dealing with a highly disruptive business environment.  Technology, media, globalization all come together to put creative demands on leaders and manager everywhere. 

The problem is, creative thinking requires a lot of white space on your calendar.  It's not something you can schedule or squeeze in on a long flight or a Sunday afternoon.  Filmmaker David Lynch believes that "It takes four hours to get one hour of creative work done."  By that he means that we must enter into a problem consideration mode for extended periods of time to induce free association...which leads to innovative business solutions. 

But if your calendar is full of every call request and meeting invitation that comes your way, you won't have any time to think.  This is why I block out two hours of unscheduled time daily to work on my projects, research problems, white board solutions and passively think creatively while doing low mental-requirement tasks.  It's in these gaps where our breakthroughs occur.  

As a leader, you aren't paid to meet or talk to others.  You are paid to think.  Einstein, Edison and Jobs put their feet up on their desk or took long walks to actively consider solutions – and that's where their eureka moments happened.  

Make every meeting and calendar item fight for its life.  Pick the ones that are truly business drivers.  Limit your "getting to know you" lunches and out-of-office meetings to one a week and make them count!  If you find enough time during your most fruitful mental states (M-F days), you'll achieve the creative breakthroughs you need to make your mark. 

August 21, 2013

Few Want To Buy From A Stuffed Suit, So Be Creative


If you are a creative person, don’t hide this fact in your sales life.  No one gets up wanting to buy something from a stuffed suit.  They’d love to do business with an artist who also sells or delivers a world-class product.

You don’t need to stifle creative endeavors in your life.  They are your greatest assets for solving the deal.  For those of you sneaking off to write music, capture breath-taking photos, paint or draw…I’ve got a message for you.  You are successful because of your creative tendencies and not despite them.

For too long, I segregated Tim the sales guy from T.S. the lead singer in a rock band.  Several of my bosses thought they conflicted with each other, and encouraged me to leave them behind along with my youth.  They were dead wrong.  When I proudly took my artsy ways to work, and applied to complicated situations, the difficult became easy (and remarkably fun).  As one of my mentors told me back in the day: Integrity is when you are singing the same song on the outside as you are on the inside. 

Integrity sells.  People gravitate to the real, from what they watch on TV to whom they invite over for burgers on a spare Sunday.  No one wants to journey with a conflicted soul.  They want to do business with the real deal: brimming with passion, but fueled by a unified purpose you can smell.  You aren’t a good enough actor to fake it…especially with the customers you respect the most.    

Bring creativity to work.  Let your freak flag fly.  Walk it past product and marketing, dropping off a little in legal and finance.  Make sure it ends up, with your backpack, in the sales department.  The next time you are in the field, be creative when it comes to helping your customer succeed at doing business with you.  Be a little foolish.  Don’t be afraid to tinker with the system.  Cajole your hot prospect to do the same, for the sake of the future.  No one is married to the structure, just the outcome. 

You’ll not only solve-the-deal, you’ll find rays of joy at work.  Yeah.  Not just with the pitch, but also in the stitching of the enterprise: Where budget, procurement, policy and ambiguity collide to create barriers to all but the imaginative.  You will stand out as a creator in a world of funnel squeezers.  Your passion will trump their closing skills (which are more manipulative than creative).  You’ll bring your customers with you, enriching their lives at the same time.

And they will remember you.  They will want to introduce you to their friends and even their boss.  You aren’t just money.  You are fiscal fun.