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Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

The Power of “WE” vs. “I”

May 12, 2010 6 comments

In a conversation with fellow blogger, consultant, thinker, coach, and innovator, Josh Allan Dykstra, he brought to my attention an article written by Pixar’s CEO called, “How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity”. Our original discussion was surrounding a blog post I did months ago as well as a TED video talking about how schools and corporations kill creativity and Josh sent me the article as he thought I would enjoy Pixar’s creative process. I not only enjoyed the article, but picked out something that we all ‘say’ we understand, but don’t. This article made me realize the difference in a good company versus a great company as well as a good manager versus a great manager. The difference is only 2 letters: WE.

While working at the Kaplan Inc conglomerate for about six years, creativity was not only appreciated but welcomed; and a team approach was sought to build out ideas into actions. When I was 23 years old, a woman named Wendi gave me one of the best pieces of advice that I’ve received to this day. She said, “Don’t ever use the word ‘I’. Always say ‘we’ when you’re talking about a success story, a new idea, anything; whether it be to a partner, colleague, or manager”. At the time, it made sense – but I thought it was kind of a ‘sales’ tactic. It doesn’t take a psychologist to figure out if you say, “we”, others are going to subconsciously feel a part of what you’re doing; especially if it’s a success story or an idea that will be successful.

It’s taken the last few years to realize the importance of that “we”. It is not merely a ‘sales’ tactic, but it defines a culture. The culture of companies like Pixar or Google. I didn’t “love” the last company I worked for and could never put my finger on the reason why; great vision, smart people, etc. but it hit me this morning…in meetings, it was always, “MY marketing campaign is driving $1 million in revenue” or “I will have the highest conversion rate”. It was a bunch of egoists. Now, I don’t have a problem with egoists as I believe most of us can be one some of the time. The reason I started blogging was so I could be an egoist…write about what I think and about what I want…but I did not bring and work hard to leave the “ego” at the door while doing business.

What I’ve learned is that Pixar’s philosophy is not brain surgery; it’s the basics of any team oriented business model. The difference is that everyone, including the CEO, buys into it. They live it, breathe it, and it has become their culture. Hats off to Pixar and hats off to anyone else who works at a company where “we” beats the “I”.

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Don’t be a HATER

April 12, 2010 Leave a comment

I got an email from Gary Vaynerchuck today stating, “Hey Guys I was wondering if you guys have read Crush IT and if you had if you would please leave your honest review on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0061914177/ref=cm_rdp_product a bunch of haters have come on in the past week and I was thinking that it’s sad that people with venom are more motivated than the peeps with Honey. If I got a review for every person that has e-mailed me how much they loved the book I would be in the ball park of 5000 5 star reviews. lol. Anyway wanted to say hi and ask for this support and more importantly wish you all well and a great week”

It amazes me how many people HATE those that are outside the status quo; that are not ‘the norm’. If we go back in time, most entreprenuers that have been successful in business have gone against the norm. Even Warren Buffet tells us to “buy when it’s not popular to do so and buy something that’s not popular”. Why does he say this? Because something that is popular in business has already become the status quo – there is already a business model out there doing what you would be purchasing. It is the “next big thing” that you need to find. There are certain business models, or sales and marketing strategies, that will forever work. Example: call centers. It is rare to find a call center business that differs vastly from the others; however, in businesses that are similar – it is the one that has the unique “business approach”. In the call center example, perhaps you can find a company that will take payment on performance rather than a fee per hour. In a business like “fast food”, maybe it’s the angle of the commercials that differ. I can assure you – whomever is doing something the furthest from the norm will be the most noticed.

In relation to Gary’s email above, why do people hate Gary? Pretty simple; people are afraid of him. The biggest (most documented) fear in the human race is fear of the unknown. it is innovators like Gary Vaynerchuck who not only figured out how to ‘market’ the unknown, but have taken the step to inspire others to pursue what they never thought they could.

So, why the haters? People are afraid of those that follow their passion; afraid of the business leaders that want to differentiate and mentor others to be creative and think outside the box…they know that the next round of successful business will come from these Gen Y businessmen and they don’t like it.

Well guess what? Suck it up.

Why Do Schools AND Corporations KILL Creativity?

April 9, 2010 10 comments

In every company I’ve worked for, innovation and creativity have been applauded…sort of.

Executives encourage innovation in business, but many times unless strategies comes across to the rest of the business as “their ideas”, the executives are not happy. I contend that this is one of the reasons start up businesses have become so popular amongst the younger generation. Gen Y does not hold back. They are ‘connected’, literally and figuratively, and have grown up accustomed to any information they want at their fingertips. In a corporation, if a Gen Y is sending his ego maniac boss an idea that may be big business, you can bet they have also IMed it to 10 other people too…just to ensure they get credit. I’m on the cusp of Gen Y / Gen X – but I say, “go for it Gen Y”. There is nothing that will slow down a company more than corralling innovation. Gen Y has been brought up in the world of “positive reinforcement” and whether this is monetary or a simple ‘nice work’ email, this is what we have been conditioned to recieve…and you can be sure that we will not sit back while someone else gets the “kudos”. I know I won’t.

Some companies truly do embrace their Gen Ys opinions and have taken the time to understand how to motivate and work with them. These companies currently have the largest profit margins. Apple is a great example of a company that serves the Gen Y population. While Mr. Jobs is running the company, he’s smart enough to know that the people that will “spend money on gadgets” – even if they have to steal it from their parents – should be a large part of all of his strategies.

If we look at how schools teach today; unless a student is part of a Montessori school or private school, they are following the same lesson plans everyone else is. The students in “gifted” classes may get a bit more leeway and have a bit more room to be creative, but not much. Conform, conform, conform is all students are taught. Read the information and regurgitate the information. Education, even higher education, has fallen into this trap as well.

Is it that our businesses have sprung into downplaying creativity because they are a product of our public school system?

Ken Robinson made a revolutionary speech regarding just that at TED 2006

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