Summer 2014 is officially dead. Nobody seems upset about that, because it was a weird one. For the first time in all of human history, there was no official Song of the Summer (stop trying to make “Fancy” happen). A movie featuring a talking raccoon made over half a billion dollars, and you loved it. Famous people poured ice buckets on stuff. As the empty calories of summer entertainment recede into the rearview, however, we welcome a far more nourishing batch of creativity. Fall is a time for Oscar bait, the return of TV, and an unwieldy number of must-listen albums dropping on the same Tuesday. In order to help cut through the clutter, Co.Create has prepared a guide to the most promising movies, shows, albums, tours, and other fun stuff coming your way in September. If you somehow manage to get bored with all these options available, well, you should be ashamed of yourself.
Sometimes a good diversion is exactly what you need to get back on track.
“In some ways distractions are a form of mindfulness—being mindful of your environment and noticing more new things. Being open to them allows for the ability to take bits of information and combine them in novel ways that are useful or adaptive.”
I have a lot of ideas in my head. And for the most part, that’s where they used to stay.
In my head. Where other people couldn’t see them, interact with them or build upon them. Where they were safe and untested and uncriticized. All mine.
Sure, I’ve created some. Some might say I’ve created plenty. But that’s only because they can’t see what I’m not creating. For example, this very post sat dormant for at least a month while I pondered, waited and nitpicked at it.
Because the riskiest, most dangerous and potentially most interesting ideas are the easiest to hold back. I would pin them down like butterflies on a mat, like art at a museum. They were in spreadsheets, in notebooks, on scrap paper around my desk.
And while it might feel creative to think of these ideas, they were dying a lonely death when I wasn’t doing anything with them. They didn’t get their chance to add anything to the world. To affect someone. To spark something.
I lost out, too, with this arrangement. I didn’t push myself to think deeper and harder. I lost out on the feedback or insight or even criticism of others. I missed the chance to discover uncharted territory within myself. I stopped before I could start.
It wasn’t the best life I could give my ideas—or myself.
So I decided to change. To find a way forward, I cataloged all the things that had ever stopped me from creating so I could shoot them down, one-by-one. It turned out to be a helpful exercise, so I thought I’d share.
Do any of these reasons for not creating something sound familiar to you?
Yeah. We know. To get to great ideas, you have to create a culture that values them.
But you can have the best culture in the world and your people aren’t going to spontaneously combust into fireballs of Da Vinci-level inspiration. You’ve got to work at it.
And, frankly, much of that work isn’t terribly difficult, although some of it is counterintuitive. If you’re ready to harness the power of great ideas in your organization, try these tips.
Matt Mira reveals the steps on his path from Apple Store to inspiring The Nerdist podcast and writing for Comedy Central hit @midnight.
People move to Los Angeles every day to embark upon careers in the promised land of show business. Most of them end up dwelling in entertainment purgatory. Nobody knows exactly which factors set people on the path from nowhere to somewhere, but talent is only part of the equation. The rest of it seems to involve some dark-arts combination of making connections and working your ass off. For Matt Mira, both happened once he became a Genius.
Firstborn’s Dan LaCivita argues that technology alone isn’t enough to prevent a preventable tragedy and issues a call for the marketing industry, startups, and others to get involved.
Each year, we hear the headlines on television news, read the stories online at our desks, and discuss the details around our kitchen tables. We shake our heads in sadness, we hug our children tighter, and we fail to comprehend how a parent or a caretaker could just … forget.
I was in one of those places, my dinner table, when my own family began discussing one of the most recent tragedies—two-year-old Cooper Harris—and his murky, but still senseless death. As my own 20-month-old son, Eli, ate (well, played with) his own dinner nearby, my wife, my mother and I discussed how this sort of thing can still happen. We asked, why, with all the amazing technology that we have in this world, is there not something for a parent to purchase to prevent this from accidentally happening to their son or daughter? Why isn’t there a device or product that has the ability to save the lives of 38 children each year?
Turns out, there are a lot of reasons why. And none of them are very good. Here are some of these “barriers” I uncovered and who can help break them down:
The author of The Doodle Revolution explains how this common “time waster” is really a creative launch-pad.
Designer and brand consultant Bradford Shellhammer's job is to help businesses unleash their creativity. The one thing he's learned after years of successful collaborations? Stop micromanaging.
Check out the video above to see Shellhammer’s philosophy on creative collaboration in action.
“A creative person has to get up and present their ideas; it’s a lot harder than dancing in front of people. We have to create an environment that’s fearless.”
Yes, it is possible to make your commute into something you cherish instead of dread.
Why are advertising students in Alaska studying climate change? The question, says Deborah Morrison, is why isn’t the ad industry studying, and putting its creative might behind climate change, and humanity’s other BIG briefs.
“Why aren’t we as an industry front-and-center in working on the great, wicked issues of our day?”
How taking monotasking to an extreme can help you tackle ambitious projects.
Every March, Randi Zuckerberg goes on a spring break. Last year she went to New York; the year before she went to Tokyo. But unlike your standard vacation, Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media (and sister of Facebook CEO Mark), spends little time relaxing. Instead, she uses the time to focus exclusively and intensely on one project. This year she spent the month of March on Broadway, performing in Rock of Ages. In Tokyo, she holed up with her family to work on her book Dot Complicated.
"I understand this is not realistic for everyone to do," the former Facebooker told Fast Company. “I call it my deep-dive creative month.”
The idea, she says, came from Facebook’s hackathons, marathon coding events where engineers work on crazy ideas and passion projects. “There is something about that intense focus,” she said. “When you sit someone down and say you have 12 hours to crank something out, you see these amazing projects.” Her March deep dive takes that general principle and explodes it into a month-long work-a-thon.
As executive director of Global Brand Marketing at General Electric (generalelectric), Linda Boff has the muscle of one of the world’s biggest technology innovators at her disposal. To cram the work of engineers and makers creating new things every day into the blip-sized limits of Twitter or Instagram is a true skill.
Watch the video above to hear how working within these sort of creative constraints help focus GE pitch meetings.
A new study reveals how hallucinogenic drugs put people in a more dream-like, “selfless,” and maybe creative state.
Scientists aren’t merely confirming that hallucinogens are fun to do. If the effects of these drugs could be harnessed, then theoretically, they could be used to deliberately fuel creative output. “It’s possible that we could learn what sort of mode the brain enters when one has creative insights on the drug and then maybe we could learn about how that could be harnessed without it,” says Robin Carhart-Harris, a post-doctoral researcher at the Centre for Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London and a co-author of the study.
One common hiring mistake: Hiring more of the same. Everyone thinking the same way doesn’t produce new results.
This is very different from finding talent who align and fit in with the culture.
I’m always confounded at the prevalence of this mistake. It limits creativity.
Another creativity-enducing nugget shared in this 40-second spot: Time away from the desk, quiet time to contemplate, talking with people who have diverse perspectives, and looking beyond your own backyard and outside your industry for new ideas.
(Consultants can also be a great source of alternative perspectives.)
For more on fastcompany:
The founder of travel startup Peek shares how she stays open to inspiration, wherever it finds her.