Tag Archives: Creativity

Creativity: Top Job Skill for the Future

Creativity: Top Job Skill for the Future

By Julie Austin

According to the World Economic Forum’s “Future of Jobs Report”, creativity and problem solving are listed in the top three skills that employees will need by 2020. Critical problem solving is one of the most important attributes that employers look for in a new hire because no organization is without problems, and every industry will eventually be disrupted.

In this highly competitive world, having creative problem solvers working for you means seeing things from another angle. This is why brainstorming with a group of people is better than figuring everything out on your own. There is always something you’ll miss. Creative problem solvers are great at finding new opportunities for your organization.

Most companies say they would like to be more innovative, and innovation starts with creativity. If you hire creative employees you’re already ahead of the game. Amy’s Ice Cream in Texas has one of the most creative hiring practices I’ve seen. Here is their job description:

“Pick up a white paper bag. We ask that you take the bag home and bring back something creative. We would like you to express your artistic and creative side through this bag! Decorate it, make it into an object, write an original song on it, fill it with amazing things…the possibilities are endless! Most importantly, have fun and take your time. Show us who you are through the paper bag. It does not have to be artistically brilliant, just creative.”

This has proven to work well for Amy’s. One of their annual events, the Trick Olympics, was started after her employees began doing tricks with the ice cream like throwing it up in the air and catching it behind their back. Now the Trick Olympics is held every year and donates a portion of the profits to a local charity.

One way to hire creative employees is to give them problems to solve when they come in for their first interview. How they react under pressure and how creative they are at solving problems then will give you a good idea of how they will solve problems when they’re working for you.

Once you have your employees, create an environment for them to be creative and trust that they will find the best solution. If they’re not being micromanaged and have a creative environment, they will usually rise to the occasion and surprise you.

More about Julie:

Innovation Expert, Julie Austin is a sought-after Keynote Speaker, award-winning author, and Inventor of Swiggies – The Wrist Water Bottle by Hydrosport. Coming from a background in the TV & film industry as a commercial actor and TV host, she also has worked in the development of over 1,000 scripts. Julie knows the creative and how to sell it from a business perspective. Miko Carating of Daekyo America says, “Julie’s topic of using innovation and creativity to add value to your business was inspiring. Our Franchisees left with ways to generate more ideas of their own.” Julie knows a thing or two about innovation. She’s an inventor/innovator who turned $5.00 and a lump of clay into an international NASDAQ winning product—the Swiggles wrist water bottle, now sold in 24 countries. To book Julie for your next event, contact us today at 888-766-3155 or click here : Book Julie Austin

HOW TO WARD OFF DISRUPTION!

Know how to ward off Disruption?  It takes a special kind of person to be inspired by a mandate riddled with risk and having little margin for error, such as the one issued in the early 1990s by NASA to its Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California: “Take risks but don’t fail.

Meet Brian Muirhead, who at age 41 accepted the job as flight systems manager of the Mars Pathfinder project and with it the NASA challenge to land a cutting-edge, remote-controlled robotic all-terrain rover on Mars that would reliably beam back images, collect samples, and return scientific data on the red planet.

The only catch: he was given just three years and $150 million to do it.  No one in his or her right mind would want to manage the next Mars project, if indeed there was one.

Brian is a quiet, cerebral, and unassuming rocket scientist. Now chief Project Manager at JPL, he has a significantly bigger title,  less hair, and more white in his beard than when I first met him, undoubtedly as a result of his almost 42 years of intense involvement with high-profile missions in pursuit of JPL’s mission to push the outer edge of space exploration.

One of my all-time favorite stories from Brian is the one he told about the Pathfinder team’s approach to a “don’t fail” strategy. He tells how he was personally disrupted, by one of his daughter’s kindergarten projects. The teacher gave the class an assignment right up Brian’s alley: design a package that would protect a raw egg from being dropped off the school roof. It was an annual event, affectionately referred to as the Great Egg-Drop Challenge.

It was right up Brian’s alley for two reasons: not only is he an expert on momentum, but the radical solution enabling the successful landing of the rover on Mars on July 4, 1994 addressed essentially the same problem.

Brian had an answer in a snap, and coached his daughter in a rather conspiratorial way in order for her to arrive at the same solution, which involved a milk carton stuffed with newspaper.

Together they cut up newspaper, wadded it in the carton, put the uncooked egg in a plastic bag and set it on top of the loose packing. They tested it several times of their home’s high balcony to find just the right amount of padding to allow the egg to land safely.

The whole school gathered for the event. But it was not the teacher who did the testing. It was the school principal, who tested the designs not by dropping them straight down, but by throwing them in what Brian described as a “big, high, looping arc.” Get the visual?

Needless to say, Brian’s daughter’s egg was crushed, as was his daughter’s morale. Brian himself was devastated: here he was building a spacecraft to travel 300 million miles to land safely on another planet and he couldn’t even help his daughter design a landing device to protect an egg.

Brian realized a valuable lesson from the kindergarten experience, and applied it to the Pathfinder project: inevitable, unforeseen and disruptive forces could be the ruin of the project, so there had to be a way to mitigate their potential impact.

Enter what I call the “Gremlin” strategy. Interestingly, the Pathfinder team had just lost their fault systems engineer, so Brian asked another team member to fill the spot. His name was Dave Gruel, but he eventually was nicknamed “Cruel Gruel,” because he was the ultimate Gremlin.

The term “Gremlin” was popularized during World War II, and referred to an imaginary creature that creates problems in normally reliable hardware.

With the kindergarten experience fresh in his memory, Brian tasked Dave with duties beyond fault protection: he asked him to dream up all sorts of challenges to throw at the team. It turned out that Dave Gruel had a real flair for the role, and spent his days and nights devising ways to disrupt the project.

Brian urged them to be cautious, to think things well through, and to make sure they were making the right move. His words of warning went unheeded, though…the team was certain they had analyzed the situation thoroughly, and were ready to roll.

Except…the Gremlin had come in during the night.

As Brian tells it in High Velocity Leadership:

Running a couple of available calibration checks had shown something wasn’t right. Yet the attitude of some of the rover people, so cocky, so certain of their judgment, kept them from stepping back and questioning their decision.

I see this attitude all the time in speaking and doing consulting work with leaders and companies!

In the end, the Gremlin strategy was extremely effective in enabling the Pathfinder team to learn how to deal with uncertainties in a way that positively neutralized disruptive forces. It allowed the team to build robustness, speed, and flexibility into their implementation.

The application to business is clear. If you have a successful business, the chances are very good that somewhere someone is dreaming up strategies that may just throw you for a loop.

So why not beat them to the punch?

Take a page from the Mars Pathfinder story and set up a Gremlin group in your company. Charge them with putting you out of business in new and innovative ways.  Done right, it will not only ward off disruption, it will do more to build innovation capability into your organization than any highfalutin innovation program some big name firm sold you on. Mars Pathfinder didn’t need such a program, and neither do you.

What’s amazing to me is the level of passion, verve and vigor I see inside the Gremlin teams. The level of engagement is a full click above their engagement in their “real job.” Early indications are that this may be a wonderful new wrinkle to the trend toward internal innovation and startup mechanisms like incubators and accelerators, which have replaced the older “skunkworks” approaches.

As for Brian Muirhead, an individual fond of dramatic destinations, I have no doubt that he’s hard at work on his favorite answer to the “what’s next?” question he was often asked: “I’m working on a project that will attempt to land a spacecraft on an active comet and analyze it.”

So, if the word “disruption” is being uttered in the halls of your company (as it seems to be in almost every one I visit),  gather ye Gremlins, and go to work!

(Warning: brave heart, strong will, and intestinal fortitude required!)

More about Matthew E May:

Matt is one of those rare finds on the speaker circuit!  His innovative and creative interaction keeps his audiences engaged
and spell bound. He is the author of 5 New York Times Best-sellers, and his work has been featured in The New York Times, Fast Company, Strategy+Business, The Rotman Magazine, Success, Inc. Forbes, and Harvard Business Review blogs.  He has appeared on MSNBC,  Microsoft Small Biz Academy, and Business Rock Stars. He holds an MBA from The Wharton School and a BA from Johns Hopkins University, but he counts winning the New Yorker cartoon caption contest as one of his most creative achievements. Matt has a deep passion for ideas that solve a difficult problem in an elegant way. He defines an elegant solution as one that is both uncommonly simple and surprisingly powerful, and that achieves the maximum effect with minimum means. To hire Matt for your next event contact us at 888-766-3155 today or
go to Matthew E May

 

Do Creative People Think Highly of Themselves?

Do Creative People Think Highly of Themselves?

By Julie Austin

A recent study on creativity showed that people who are highly creative tend to score low on tests of humility and honesty. After spending most of my life in the entertainment industry and being surrounded by creative people, I’ve run into plenty who thought highly of themselves and would score low on honesty. But I’ve also been around plenty of creative people who are also very honest and humble.

I would have to say that the ones that are still humble are less likely to make it to the A list though. Being creative and making a great living from your creativity seem to be two separate things. Unfortunately some of the most creative people never make great money at their craft and remain very humble and honest.

The study, which used the HEXACO model of personality structure, said that the people who scored low on humility and honesty were more likely to bend the rules for their own monetary gain and had a sense of entitlement. So, does this mean you have to be arrogant and dishonest in order to make a lot of money with your creativity. I hope not. And certainly the most creative people, whether they are writers, actors, artists, etc. don’t always make a lot of money.

There is another piece here besides just creativity. In today’s world you also need to be a good pitch person. And that requires a different set of skills. Most creatives are not very good at the business side. It helps to have both.

Creativity means putting yourself on display for others to judge. That means your ego will take a beating and you have to be pretty confident to keep doing it for the long haul. You have to have a thick skin to keep taking that beating over and over again. Maybe this helps to explain why creative people think highly of themselves. You have to believe in your own creativity before others will.

Julie Austin is a sought-after Keynote Speaker, award-winning author, and Inventor of Swiggies – The Wrist Water Bottle by Hydrosport.

Coming from a background in the TV & film industry as a commercial actor and TV host, she also has worked in the development of over 1,000 scripts. Julie knows the creative and how to sell it from a business perspective.

Julie knows a thing or two about innovation. She’s an inventor/innovator who turned $5.00 and a lump of clay into an international NASDAQ winning product—the Swiggles wrist water bottle, now sold in 24 countries. Call 888-766-3155 to book her for your next event!

How to Use Your Creative Spirit to Bring the #WOWfactor to Your Upcoming Event

When you’re planning an event it’s important to look for out-of-the-box ways to spice things up so that your attendees/guests are excited about attending your event. Think about the events that you’ve attended… what made them memorable?

One event that comes to mind for me is The Color Run. Marketing themselves as “The Happiest 5K on the Planet”, this never-attempted event has turned into a phenomenon. People love the idea of “being the first” and saying “I was there when it started.”  If you decide to participate in one of their events you know you’re going to have an unforgettable experience! I’d say they bring the #WOWfactor to their events… wouldn’t you?

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
~Vincent Van Gogh

Here’s some ideas you can use to bring the #WOWfactor your events:

  • Have a vision. Any time you’re planning an event, you have the opportunity to create something meaningful for those who will be participating. Put some thought into it and have a vision for your event. Decide to be daringly creative… think “out of the box”.
  • Generate a buzz about your event. When you communicate with your potential attendees/guests, get them excited about attending your event. Be creative with your invitations, announcements, promotional materials, email lists, etc.
    When you engage in new and exciting ways they’ll want to share their excitement with others.
  • Make it unforgettable. Make them feel like a VIP! The experience you provide your attendees/guests is everything! Get creative with a welcome video. Share your story… let them share their stories. Create a closing video. Take photos.
    Give them something to remember. When you do, you’ll be known for bringing the #WOWfactor to your events.

 

“Simply” Sue Speaks! has the best speakers, presenters, trainers & entertainers on the planet!  We’re known for bringing the #WOWfactor to events.

garyrpalin“Simply” Sue Speaks! – Team Member Spotlight:

Professor Gary Palin is known for bringing down the house! Clients RAVE about being moved to action amidst their laughter while he’s presenting. His passion explodes when he steps on stage.
Gary is not a “one size fits all” speaker. He thinks out of the box. He can customize & tailor the vision you have for your event and make it unforgettable.

It’s easy to hire great talent for your upcoming event!

Contact Us today for more information.

It’s Freelance Friday with “Dr. Woody” Woodward

Keeping Values in Your Cereal Bowl

cer1Being a successful entrepreneur is all about finding a void in the marketplace and filling it.

And that’s exactly what Corin Mullins, founder and CEO of Holy Crap Cereal, did.

At the recent Annual EY Strategic Growth Forum and Entrepreneurial Winning Women Program (EWW), women entrepreneurs from all over North America gathered for the awards ceremony and shared stories and business insight.

At the conference I had the opportunity to speak to Mullins about why she launched her business and got her best tips for budding entrepreneurs. Here’s what she had to say:

Dr. Woody: Where did the idea for the cereal come from?

Mullins: Our cereal is a chia-based cereal and we originally started the cereal itself because my husband has problems with wheat and swallowing, so chia is a seed that you mix with water and it becomes pudding like. It’s very easy to take. The name [Holy Crap] came from one of our customers. We used to sell the cereal at a farmers market at a little table and three days after they bought the product they called us and said ‘holy crap this really works!’

It’s very high fiber, has your omegas, it’s non-GMO, and it’s gluten-free.

Dr. Woody: So, the phrase “Holy Crap” caught you.

Mullins: It did. It caught both of us. Of course my husband said let’s use it. But I didn’t want to use it. He convinced me to do it for the summer because we were semi-retired. And he said that all our customers would be tourists that we’ll never see again.

So, we were doing everything at home and that’s what we did. The first day I was selling Holy Crap Cereal I sold 100 and I never looked back. I haven’t looked back at all. It’s in the name and it’s a phrase that people use, it’s an expression.

Dr. Woody: So, as part of the journey you’ve now gone from idea to entrepreneur to now running a business. So what have some of the challenges in that transition been for you?

Mullins: One of the challenges was staying where we were in a small town and having everything brought in. We were heavily criticized because it’s so expensive to bring everything in, but what we do is called back-hauling. So, the trucks are going back [out of the town] empty, so [instead of going back empty to their distribution centers] they take our product back [to go to market]. So everything came into place. So that was a challenge we overcame in a very positive way.

We’ve hired all our friends and family, which is another challenge in a different way. We have 20 full-time employees and two contract employees.

Dr. Woody: For you as an entrepreneur and now a business leader, what are some of those core values or guiding principles that are personal to you that you have relied on to make this journey through a lot of uncertainty?

Mullins: I wanted to give our customers a sense of confidence that we were honorable honest people. Whatever I put out to them I eat at home and all our staff eats at home. This was very important to us. Really all you have is your word. Once you’ve lost that no one is ever going to trust you again. So for us, it’s our honor, our word, our integrity. These are all old-fashioned words, but they are still true today because if you lose any of that you lose credibility and that’s all you have is your word.

Dr. Woody: How do you take that and instill it in the organization and the people working for you? Because it’s one thing to have these values yourself, but as the organization grows how do you make sure it reflects you values?

Mullins: We like to hire slow and fire fast. We’ve been very fortunate in that for the three years we’ve been in business we’ve only asked two people to leave out of almost 25 people that we’ve had come and go through the company and we still have 22 with us. They are like-of-mind and have the same core values. We all believe in the product. We are very excited about it and we all take pride in what we put out there.

We take very good care of our employees as well. We are on a medical and dental plan. We make sure that all the families get weekends off so they can spend it with their kids and take their kids to soccer or hokey or whatever. It’s very important to us.

Click here to watch the entire interview 

 

Sebastian's First Birthday PartyMichael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is a CEC certified executive coach trained in organizational psychology. Dr. Woody is author of The YOU Plan: A 5-step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economy and the new on-line course The YOU Plan for Career Change on Udemy. Dr. Woody is the founder of Human Capital Integrated (HCI), a firm focused on management and leadership development. Dr. Woody also sits on the advisory board of the Florida International University Center for Leadership. To book Dr. Woody for your next event contact Sue Falcone at sue@simplysuespeaks.com or call 1-888-766-3155. 

Why Your Corporation Should Hire a Creativity Keynote Speaker! by Julie Austin

creativity keynote speaker

Today’s markets are so saturated that the only way to differentiate yourself from the crowd is through constant and consistent creativity and innovation. According to a recent Fortune Magazine poll, most CEOs say that innovation is their #1 priority. But the truth is that most companies don’t innovate until a crisis hits.  I’ve found this to be true as a creativity keynote speaker over the past couple of years. To truly set yourself apart and generate giant leaps in innovation, you have to create a culture of creativity and innovation in your company, which includes all of your employees, not just those at the top. A good creativity keynote speaker can inspire, educate, and instill a creative mindset in your employees that literally turns them into idea and problem solving machines.
Here are a few benefits you’ll get from hiring a creativity keynote speaker:New products and services – You may be number one in your market now, but if you don’t innovate, you’ll lose your ranking. The marketing industry is full of stories about companies who had a hit product, but rested on their laurels and eventually went out of business because they didn’t continue to innovate.

  • Boost your bottom line – Innovation isn’t just about coming up with new products. Creative, problem solving employees will also be able to spot areas where your company could save money. This translates into a leaner, more efficient way of running your business.
  • Unique marketing ideas – Word of mouth is the best form of advertising your company can get. It’s also free. But you won’t get people talking about your company if you don’t have something unique and interesting for them to share. Creative employees will naturally generate unique marketing ideas. By turning your employees into innovators, you instantly double productivity while saving money. Make creativity fun and embrace creative failure and you’d be amazed what they will come up with.
  • Improve your pubic image – Innovative employees will come up with unique ideas for corporate social responsibility. If you involve them in the creative process, they’ll also be more excited about participating in community volunteer projects, which will elevate your company’s public image.

Hiring an entertaining and educational creativity keynote speaker for your next meeting will give your company an excellent return on investment by instilling in your employees the techniques of creativity and innovation, and making the process fun.

Julie Austin

Julie Austin is an award-winning author, inventor, and innovation speaker. Her patented product, swiggies, wrist water bottles, have been a NASDAQ product of the year semi finalist and are currently sold in 24 countries. Julie and her products have appeared on The Today Show, The Queen Latifa Show, HGTV, Lifetime, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX News, and the Wall Street Journal, along with dozens of TV shows, magazines and radio shows around the world. She’s a go-to business expert, innovation speaker, creativity keynote speaker, innovation seminar leader, creativity seminar leader, innovation trainer, and creativity trainer.

Her new book “The Money Garden: How to Plant the Seeds for a Lifetime of Income” is currently available on Amazon.

Julie comes from a background in the TV & film industry and has had jobs as diverse as commercial actor and TV host to TV/film distributor/writer, so she knows the creative, as well as the business side, and customizes most of her speeches for the audience she’s speaking to.

She will deliver a dynamic, inspiring, and entertaining speech that is customized for your audience. Corporations will benefit from her knowledge of innovation and entrepreneurial thinking to expand their markets and grow sales. She’s an underdog who’s bootstrapped her way to success from nothing and loves to inspire others to do the same.