How to Become the Big-Idea Creative

For much of the last 150 years of economic history, the smartest people gravitated to where the money was. The money, today, is looking for where the smartest people are. To stay relevant, every venture of any size is looking for creativity. Because wherever you find creativity – and, by extension, wherever you find talent — innovation and profits soon follow.

Dan Pink, in his book, A Whole New Mind, put it this way: “The last few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind — computer programmers who could crank code, lawyers who could craft contracts, MBAs who could crunch numbers. But the keys to the kingdom are changing hands. The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind — creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers. These people – artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers – will now reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys.”

So how is one exactly supposed to respond to all that? I think there are two areas where we can learn to become more proficient: one can loosely be labeled “high concept,” referring to the personal aptitudes we can develop that foster creative thought and action in ourselves, and the other is “high touch,” referring to many of the skills and practices myGreenlight teaches that enables people to expand their networks and thus their access to other creative people.

Management guru Bill Taylor, a recent guest on the Social Capitalist, was particularly astute when it came to ideas for improving our high concept aptitude. Specifically, he introduced a profound idea that suggests all kinds of exciting ways to improve creativity: Continue reading

Change Your Career by Changing Your Perspective

Check out an excerpt from the transcript for The Social Capitalist interview featuring Bill Taylor. Please access the audio recording here. Click here for the full transcript: Social Capitalist Transcript – William Taylor. Enjoy!

TAHL RAZ:     So let’s get in to, I mean it is possibly the hardest thing to do and let’s get into the mechanics of why it’s hard and some of the tactics that you used to overcome it.  One of the hardest parts of change is figuring out how to make sure that what you know and how you do things today doesn’t limit what you can imagine tomorrow might be like.  One way that problem is overcome, you write, is with the skill called vuja de.  What is that?

WILLIAM TAYLOR:    First of all, full confession and I say that I stole the language from the late great George Carlin, the comedian who in his standup act in Las Vegas of the 70s is probably under the heavy influence of LSD.  He used to to come out of the audience and say, I’m experiencing a sense of vuja de and everybody is laughing like they know what’s he’s talking about.  What he explained, I think he’s rolling over his grave that I’m using as a management pundits but –

TAHL RAZ:     Yes,

WILLIAM TAYLOR:    What he meant to say is, you know, we all know déjà vu and you know, you walk into a room and you feel like you’ve been there before, the unfamiliar seems strangely familiar.  Vuja de is the opposite of that.  Can you look at an industry you’ve been in for 20 years?  Can you look at a company you’ve been in for a decade?  Can you look at a set of customers you’ve been working in and been working on for years and years?  And somehow, look at them as if you’ve never seen them before.  And with that new line of sight, develop a whole new point of view about the future.  I mean what are the, what are the challenges of trying to make change in an industry or in a company or in a setting you’ve been part of for a long time is you just have so much expertise.  And obviously, that’s a great, great thing.  Who would argue against expertise?  But the challenge and almost the kind of unknowing challenge for a lot of people is not to let that expertise get in the way of innovation.  As you said, not to let what you know limit what you can imagine about new services you can offer, new ways you can engage your customers, new strategies you can embrace to achieve what you want to achieve.  And it really is so hard for people who’ve been in organizations, particularly, reasonably success.  I mean if you’re in deep crisis, and you know, you’ve got a near-death organizational experience, I think a lot of stuff can get shaken up.  But when you’re in an organization that’s basically doing okay but you kind of feel deep inside we could be doing so much better, be so much more relevant, so much more effective, it’s hard to overcome the kind of tunnel vision that expertise often imposes upon us without us even knowing it. Continue reading

Bill Taylor’s Advice for Success Today

Check out an excerpt from the transcript for The Social Capitalist interview featuring Bill Taylor. Please access the audio recording here. Click here for the full transcript: Social Capitalist Transcript – William Taylor. Enjoy!

TAHL RAZ:     So you do make a point, so let me push you on that and just say, it’s not just enough to be smart and it’s really actually I think you make a point that it doesn’t – this economy doesn’t reward you to be smart at many little things.  You make a point of saying you need to be the most of something to stand out.


TAHL RAZ:     Can you talk about that?

WILLIAM TAYLOR:    Well, I think this is true of organizations but it’s also very true of individuals.  It’s very easy, particularly in these kind of fast-changing, risky times, to get comfortable operating in the middle of the road.  That’s kind of what feels safe and secure.  That’s, in theory, where all the action is.  So you say okay, I’m in the hospital business or I’m in the airline business or I’m in the banking business.  And we know there’s kind of a conventional playbook for how to be in that business as a company, a conventional playbook for what an executive or leader in that industry looks like, and that’s what I’ll do.  But then I’ll just try to be three percent smarter or five percent faster.  We’ll chip away at the margins.  But everybody wants to be kind of in the middle of the road.  But today, where so much change, so much pressure, so many new ways to do just about everything, the middle of the road really has become the road to nowhere.  So what I urge organizations and individuals to do is to say to this, it’s not good enough anymore to be pretty good at everything.  You really have to become the most – it could be the most elegant.  It could be the most simple.  It could be the most exclusive.  It could be the most affordable.  It could be the most brash and colorful.  It could be the most easily accessible.  You know, for you as a person coming, you’ve all go to make your own choices.  But today, being successful requires getting outside of – the you know we had Rick Perry have his famous brain freeze last night at the debate.  One of the funny but true kind of homey pieces of wisdom from Texas is the only thing in the middle of the road are yellow lines and dead armadillos.  And I think that’s true on a Texas highway and it’s also true for all of us as leaders, innovators and individuals today.  You’ve got to figure out, why am I interesting and compelling to people?  Why should people want to hurry up and get energized and figure out how to help me succeed at whatever endeavor I’m trying to do?  How do I conduct myself as the kind of smart person that other smart people want to rally around support and contribute to?  And that requires you at some level to be the most of something in whatever environment you’re after. Continue reading

Let Someone Else Solve Your Problem

On this month’s Social Capitalist webinar, agenda-setting writer, Fast Company co-founder and entrepreneur Bill Taylor explained what he calls “vuja de.” We all know what déjà vu means: the feeling that a new situation already happened. Bill flips the term to describe the experience of examining the industry you’ve been in for so long — and suddenly seeing it differently.

The need to continually self-evaluate and evolve is necessary to be truly successful, especially in this economy. We all get into routines in every aspect of our lives and find ourselves doing things a certain way because that is how they’ve always been done. Don’t let your expertise get in the way of innovation.

Your Mission: Pick a current professional challenge you’re facing. You can make this as big (raise company’s sales revenue) or small (payroll went out late) as you want. Instead of going to your staff or coworkers for advice, call two contacts in different industries and ask for their input. Have they had similar problems with solutions that could be adapted to fit your scenario? Note how these conversations change your perspective. Did they produce new insight you couldn’t have come up with on your own? That’s the goal.

What practices do you use to get fresh perspective on something?