What busy people can learn about creativity from bumblebees.

You know my favorite way of being creative?  I call it “bumblebee sex.” It’s an effective, efficient, perfectly natural way to think creatively. Particularly for when you’re crazy busy.  Which is like – what? – 90% of the time?

You’ve seen bumblebees going from flower to flower. They think they’re sampling the buffet of sweet nectars from the garden. The flowers know better. They’re creating.

That’s a great way to work out a creative challenge. Or better yet, a few challenges at once.

Besides being one of the most effective and efficient paths to fresh ideas, and in spite of it’s seeming on-again/off-again appearance, this method is also a pretty fast way to find creative solutions.

Like my little winged friend in the striped jacket who buzzes from rose to daisy, daisy to mum, working on this creative challenge, then that one, then another, then back to one of an earlier one, and so forth… Buzzing around… Picking up pollen here, depositing it there… It’s really quite a dynamic way of bringing creativity to your thinking.

We all already do this to one degree or another.  It’s what we’re doing when we’re not applying direct creative energy to a problem.  The between moments, of which we have many.  But do we do it consciously?  Do we make it a part of our creative process?

This way of thinking doesn’t cost a nickel and it doesn’t take much time. Actually it usually saves tons of time. Plant your creative topic on the back burner of your mind, then go do something else. Your subconscious mind is always working on it even when you’re not aware of it. That’s what accounts for those ideas you get seemingly out of nowhere. You do do this. But, again, do you do it consciously and consistently as part of your creative routine? Why not?

Fresh ideas don’t come from the same place as logically deduced ideas. Thinking through a creative problem directly in real time is rarely the best way to find a truly original solution. But in this ultra busy, get-it-done-now business world, we often have little choice. I suggest you try picking up a little pollen from this challenge and go place it on that.  Do the rounds in your idea garden, and see what blossoms.

© Tom Monahan, Before & After

Tom Monahan is founder of Before & After Inc., a company specializing in training business people to think more creatively and facilitating brainstorming sessions.  B&A works with major marketers and ad agencies worldwide, including Target, Virgin Atlantic, Budweiser and Unilever, among others. Previously Tom was a founder and ECD at Leonard/Monahan, a major incubator for advertising creative talent. Tom has published The Do-it-yourself Lobotomy for John Wiley & Sons, under the Adweek imprint, he was advertising columnist for Communication Arts for over a decade and was written up in The Wall Street Journal’s long-running “creative leaders” series.

 

 

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DON’T GIVE IN TO TEMPTATION!

It’s that time of year. New ad creatives are busy trying to get that first job.  And, yeah, you’re hearing from your professors and placement department about how to get that entry level job.  You’re hearing that the advertising business is tough to break in to. That it’s a buyer’s market.  You have to have a strong plan, a focused strategy to get in.

Well, I’m telling you all of that is true, except it’s not totally a buyer’s market.  And not just if you’re amazingly creative and talented.

Getting your first job is more within your control than you might think.  This difficult-to-crack field is in some ways a seller’s market, too. That is, if you’re smart, patient, and, yes, I’ll admit, it doesn’t hurt if your portfolio displays your supreme creativity and talent.

Or, to put it another way, don’t be seduced by the first job that comes along, or even the first half-decent job.  There are a lot of lousy jobs out there.  That last thing you want to do is take one and start your career off on the wrong trajectory.  Continue reading

“That’s sooooo been done.”

Yesterday lyrics bold

Maybe not.

Just because an idea seems familiar doesn’t mean it’s been done before.

In a book about The Beatles top 100 songs, two of the top 10, Yesterday (#4) and Something (#6) were considered very familiar by the Fab Two who wrote them; Paul McCartney and George Harrison, respectively.  So familiar, that each song writer didn’t even bother to play the song for their fellow band mates initially, thinking the melodies must already have been done.

This happens to people in business quite often.  They come up with an idea, it seems familiar, or just obvious and they figure, it must already exist, so they move on,

Maybe these ideas are so right on, so packed with relevance that it seems impossible that someone else didn’t already have them.  In The Beatles examples, both Yesterday and Something were indeed broadly relevant, as both songs went on to become the two most covered songs from the entire Beatles repertoire, Yesterday the most covered song of all time, period.

So when you have an idea that feels like it might already exist, but you’re not sure, don’t be so quick to dismiss it.  Explore the appropriate landscape to see if it actually might be an “obvious” idea that everyone else just overlooked. Recognize that the very fact that the idea seems familiar might be the reason it could be so successful.  But don’t keep it to yourself.  The risk of having someone else in your inner circle confirm that it’s been done is far outweighed by the potential upside if it is original.  It’s only an idea initially.  Put it out there in conceptual form.  It could become a huge hit in the marketplace.

Note: For people who find the creative development process interesting, the above book “The Beatles 100 greatest songs,” published by Rolling Stone has a wealth of inspiration – real world inspiration, not theory. If you’re a popular music fan you might just be blown away to understand some of the method behind these creative geniuses madness.

© 2013 Tom Monahan

Tom Monahan is Head Creative Thinking Coach at Before & After Inc., a company specializing in training business people to think more creatively and facilitating brainstorming sessions.  B&A works with major marketers and ad agencies worldwide, including Target, Virgin Atlantic, Budweiser and Unilever, among others. Previously Tom was a founder and ECD at Leonard/Monahan, a major incubator for advertising creative talent. Tom has published The Do-it-yourself Lobotomy for John Wiley & Sons, under the Adweek imprint, he was advertising columnist for Communication Arts for over a decade and was written up in The Wall Street Journal’s long-running “creative leaders” series.

 

A huge negative becomes a huge positive. How big? As big as the moon.

Corona beer has a skunky odor, according to a beer industry insider, because of the distinctive clear bottle.  That’s why most beers are in brown or green bottles.  The smell happens when the beer becomes “light struck”, again according to that same brewing expert.  Supposedly the smell doesn’t hurt the taste.  But it did cause marketers of the beer to suggest the lime slice in the bottle mouth to basically disguise the stench.  Interesting.

Would these clever markers have been as clever if the stink wasn’t a problem?  I doubt it.

But, wow, has the brand and their agency Cramer-Krasselt made that lime slice an enduring branding icon for many moons!  And the hits just keep getting better, as this video demonstrates.