Sunday, August 22, 2010

What the World Wants & Creative Muscle Building

Do you remember the movie What Women Want?  The one where Mel Gibson falls in the bathtub, electrocutes himself, and suddenly has the power to hear what women are thinking as they walk by? I remember being really struck by the possibility of someone hearing your thoughts (hey, I was 19).  Another caveat: this was back when I, and most others, assumed Mel Gibson had a soul.

Regardless of the silly plot-line (it's actually a pretty awful movie when I reflect on it now), in some ways it resembles the world we live in today, and how people are increasingly expressing their thoughts in a public forum, definitely in a way that was never previously possible.  Is it now: What the world wants?  Are we hearing human idea tinkerings that were previously silent? I think this is pretty cool, in fact. I'm discovering there a lot of people out there who have some pretty rad ideas, thought processes, and in general, this makes me conclude we are as a society working out our creative muscles.

Consider this.  Ten years ago, when the average person got home from work in the evening and wanted to relax, the delivery of choice for many was the TV. Why? Because this was the only thing we were offered.  So, you'd sit there and consume, consume, consume.  Now with social media, people ar realizing rather than sitting in front of a uni-directional media box, they can participate.  And since we're social creatures, this is turning out to be way more of a turn on than our former option. Blogs, tweets, Facebook interactions, wikis, and basically online communities of any kind - this is much more our style.

So back to the creative muscle concept.  Like all other muscles, I believe creativity is a muscle you work out.  Yes, sometimes divine intervention plants an idea in our head regardless of what excercising we were previously doing (perhaps akin to someone never running in their life and then running a sub 3-hour marathon), but for many, the more ideas we participate in, learn from others, the more we become more creative ourselves.  Good thing we have sites like the99percent to help us move our creative ideas into actionable results and tangible fruits of labor.

You're Just a Sad Little Head

The greatest line in Disney movie making history:

King Julien from Madagasgar 2: "Well, you've got to march right up to this woman, right? You look her right in the eye, you lean forward, right, just a little, just almost all the way, hm, then you let her lean forward just another little bit 'til you're just a lips distance away from each other, hm, and then you just tell...her... how much you hate her."

Saturday, August 21, 2010

From the Heights at Boston College to New Heights in Life

The picture below is of Gasson Hall on the Boston College campus in Chestnut Hill, MA.  This is where I took most of my English and Literature classes.  Many people have asked me since I graduated, if I liked attending Boston College, and if so, what was my favorite aspect.  In answer to this question, I've heard others say, "good football team, school pride, academics, networking opportunities, and city to live in." To me, Boston College often felt magical.

Why? The strong Jesuit teachings, which, above all, taught me the importance of seeking balance as a means to an end of achieving happiness every day (or most days).  Through this daily exercise of striving to achieve balance, one is less likely to wander down the perilous road of any extreme, and so be more joyful and at peace on any given day.  One is more likely to appreciate a hot cup of coffee early in the morning, a beautiful view, or an inspiring interaction.  In this way, life can be experienced in a richer manner. I have found (as the Jesuits role-modeled for me), when you live a balanced life, you are more free to appreciate and notice life and everything takes on a deeper color, smell, meaning, and yes, can seem magical.  I remember walking to class early in the morning, and because I was not binging in one direction, would look up at the buildings, and they did, in fact, look just like the picture above.  Magical, in my opinion.  Granted, during finals, I probably didn't look around that much, so I guess once in a while, you do have to go to a mini-extreme to have an overall major balance.

To comment more on the idea of binging, I remember learning from a professor, Father Michael Himes, exactly why binging doesn't work.  Most things we binge on (money, power, material stuff, title, food, a person!! yikes), hoping to find happiness in the binging, were never meant to stand up to the binging in the first place, and in turn, this binging is inherently flawed.

I was reminded of my appreciation for these Jesuit instilled values when I recently started reading Ted Leonsis' book "The Business of Happiness."  Overall, I like the book and think its worth the read, but my favorite parts are when he reflects on his time as an undergraduate student at Georgetown, also a Jesuit university.  Much like my interactions and shaping from Jesuit professors, some of the best lessons of Ted's life were learned at the age of 20 from his mentor Father Durkin.
"He passed on to me the desire to live a life which you have given more than you have taken. He taught me that the way you function should also balance with all other aspects of your life, which should include work, sports, the arts - all of the pleasures of life that enhance our humanity. Father Durkin tried to instill the desire to live an engage and fulfilling life with all the pieces in balance."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

1% Inspiration and 99% Awesome

If you map the thought patterns of the creatives out there (ie; people with ideas), especially when he/she is in his creative element/moment/inspiration, you might see something like this:

photo credit

Ah yes.  If you can relate, you'll know that when you're in this type of thinking, you feel like a monkey is swinging around upstairs happily grabbing branch after branch, with just a banana here and there for sustenance.  And, you'll probably agree, this "map" doesn't look like it ends at any particular point.  Bingo!

BUT, there DOES exist an army of creatives out there who consistently engage the monkey, and teach him to churn out quality products that drive our country forward.  How do they do it? Discipline! Indeed. They discipline the monkey and make him work for his bananas.

Now, I'd like to credit the amazing site the99percent (with their tagline - 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration, or as I've dubbed it 1% inspiration, 99% awesome) for helping out us creative folk with some tricks of the trade. Their site is dedicated to the following: "It's not about ideas. It's about making ideas happen."

At 99%, Behance's think tank, we focus on what happens after inspiration—researching the forces that truly push ideas forward. Our profiles of proven idea makers, action-oriented tips, best-practices sessions, and annual conference are all designed to help you transform ideas from vision to reality

Sunday, August 8, 2010

How to Survive the Idea Project Plateau (inspired by the99percent)

This is a fantastic video that describes how to survive the idea plateau once the initial honeymoon phase is over. Highly recommend to all who are always coming up with great ideas and need to focus on execution through final product delivery. It's even worth watching a couple of times.

How can we survive the project plateau? How can we avoid this idea syndrome?

The Creative's Compromise -

"When I went out to interview as many of the most creative and productive people and teams in the world, I really thought these people were true to their creative essence...I was do these people make these ideas happen again and again whereas most people can't? And I was interested to find that a lot of these people claim that they have made a compromise of an aspect of their very essence by taking on some unnatural constraints to their creative process. They discipline themselves against what is naturally their essence which is to love, love, love ideas and continue to generate them." - Scott Belsky, CEO & Founder, Behance

5 Favorite Aspects of Growing up in a Small Town

 Having spent the first 18 years of my life in a town that boasts only one store, no traffic lights, and a sound so deafening at night outsiders can only fall asleep by playing the "white noise" selection on their iPhone, or maybe by hooking up a fan, I can only describe it now with one word: "idyllic."

Now, (and for the past 11 years) I live in the city where McDonalds' are as prevalent as hummingbirds once were, I can purchase pretty much any item I'll ever need in a 3 miles radius, and I have my pick of five grocery stores - all within walking distance.

Being back home for a brief stint inspired me to think of some of my favorite aspects of growing up in a "cow town."

1. Eating cherry tomatoes off the vine.  These little guys are the real deal, and bear no resemblance to their supermarket counterparts, ripened artificially in the 1000 mile trek from soil to stomach.  Instead of styrofoam, these beauties taste like sun and burst in your mouth with such intensity, you can only mutter, "ah, this is what a tomato is supposed to taste like."

from my parents garden.

2. Going for a walk at night and seeing the constellations. Light pollution isn't much of a problem when there aren't any streetlamps, and most neighbors are lights out at 9:30 pm.

3. Well water. With its own distinct taste.  Maybe akin to a Budweiser brewery compared to a micro brewery. Bud essentially tastes and looks like beer, but I'd rather have something in limited production than from the city reservoir.

4. Knowing all your best friends by their handwriting (and having photos of what they looked like at ages 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25).  Being anything but completely honest with these people is very hard to do, knowing they've seen you through it all, and have a pretty good sincerity gauge built in.

5.  Having a sense of origin so firmly planted in one tiny place, no matter where you go in life, you will always feel a connection with that one, single, plot.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Très Chic

Some of the best things in life are pretty simple.  Like chanel nail polish.