Jonathan's Blog

Jonathan's Blog

Mindful Leadership and Technology


Creativity Leadership Innovation

Creativity, A Theme

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I've recently been talking with my son about all the ways in the world there are to be creative. This stems from some rivalry with his brother and his feeling that his brother is somehow more creative than him.

He's 10.

So, I guess it is good to have these conversations now. I had similar conversations with my father a few years back about the ways in which he was creative in his career. His own feeling was that somehow he wasn't creative because he wasn't painting or writing or poetry or something in the fine arts. This is in spite loaning money to business throughout the community and fighting for what he believed was the right way to do this. And he was very successful at it.

That's very different than what I do, but it's still a creative endeavor. It helped a lot of people build a lot of businesses. It's probably more creative than what I do.

We had these conversations after he was retired.

We probably all have days where we don't feel creative enough. It's possible that what you do is not creative in the same way as others and not creative in the same way as some Big-C Creative endeavor. If you're worried about it you might reconsider who you're comparing yourself to. It might be more creative to look at the world and look at the ways you're having an impact, whether you're inspired that day or not.

The truth is my son is pretty creative in his own ways, and I do my best to reassure him of this (as I did my father). It's interesting that it is something that he feels strongly about at a young age - that's good and its a place to build from.


Leadership Creativity

Creativity and Habit

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Being creative is a habit.

If it's a habit that's hard for you, never fear. It's simply a matter of developing the habit.

Here are some things you can do to start a habit of creativity:

  1. Write a blog post
  2. Tell your kids a story
  3. Learn to fix something you've never fixed before
  4. Draw an org chart for your team or company that looks different than what you have today.
  5. Talk to a friend about a new opportunity
  6. Start a club or meeting
  7. Take a class in something you're interested in
  8. Learn a new language
  9. Build a website
  10. Introduce two people who you think could be friends

Sure, some of these are harder or easier than others. But the difference is a matter of degree or scale, not in the fundamental creative act that sits behind them.


Leadership Creativity

Leadership, Budget, and the Speed of Light

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You always have a budget.

Anyone who says, "There is no budget," isn't a leader and hasn't met the CFO.

Budgets can be a great driver of creativity and a path to finding the winning solution.

Don't look at your budget as a limitation. Look on it as the form in which you create, like a sonnet, a canvas, or the force of gravity (for you sculptors and architects out there).

The trick is to know your budget and understand how it drives your creativity.

What's your budget?

  • Money?
  • Your personal time?
  • The calendar year or fiscal year?
  • Composition of your team?
  • The speed of light?

Influence Writing Blog Creativity

Dissecting Seth's Blog - Part 3 - Taking the Broader Perspective

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Here is the 'Toward Civilazation' blog post from Seth's blog:

Toward Civilization

This is Seth at his most profound, making a case for something important. What intrigues me about this is how he links these posts into his primary theme. I mentioned in my initial intro that I sum up his primary theme like this: 'Creativity in the workplace.'

Here is the link in this article: the challenges to the agent of change (the person thinking creatively about a problem) are the same whether you are seeking to make a change in a workplace or in the culture at large.

And the forces of the status quo or inertia or 'we've always done it this way' apply the same back pressure, regardless of where the conflict arises.

Because of these similarities Seth can take his theme (creativity in the workplace) and carry it to a much broader audience on a much broader stage (creativity in the culture and its generally civilizing influence).

As a writer, it is very appealing to have this freedom, and by choosing your core themes carefully, you can find ways to do it.

But even more important than what you choose as a theme is your own thinking and writing. How you execute and what you choose to write about affects your ability to do something like this.

You might choose the theme desk chairs. If you mostly blog about the price of desk chairs at local stores, it is hard to make the leap to suddenly consider the importance of sitting in civilization.

But, if you choose to write sometimes about price, sometimes about design, sometimes about your personal experience, sometimes about the experience of others, and sometimes about the desk chair you saw on the side of the road, then you give yourself the freedom, and your audience the mental latitude, to consider desk chairs in a broader perspective.

By writing this way, you also give your audience a vision of themselves as part of something larger. In Seth's case he is saying, "You can see that what we do is part of something bigger. Our desire to make things better is part of the civilizing influence which ties us to the forward movement of mankind and the great motion of history."

That is a powerful method to motivate people in their own individual struggles and to keep them coming back to you for more thoughts and more writing.

Here is my favorite quote. It is worth thinking about, on its own:

Every day, with every action, to make something more civilized.


Creativity Leadership CMS Google Cloud Datastore

Using Google Datastore for Content Management

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I have a small site I am building with my kids. It's a simple site based around a story that we've been working on together. I'll provide a link to it, though it is not professional looking, polished, or completely working.

The point of bringing it up is two-fold -

  1. It's the next step I'm taking related to the creative exercise I mentioned last week.
  2. I'm using Google Cloud Datastore for some basic content management.

For number 1 the basic idea is to show them things like you can own a domain name and you can create HTML pages and here is a way to do something more with those creative ideas than just write them down. It's a little bit interactive.

For number 2 I've been leveraging Google Datastore (a really simple data storage mechanism from Google) to store small blurbs of text, references to images, and a little bit of HTML. The site can then pull this stored content with some basic API calls.

It's a nice way to get some simple content management for a very inexpensive price (free!), which I could see using on a single page site, basic site, or even integrated with a simple application.

It does not have as nice of features as Contentful, but it's a bit simpler and faster. Features that it lacks are: previewing HTML, management of unpublished content, and nice integration with uploaded media. So you wouldn't want to hand a back-end like this to (most) marketing departments, but for a technical person or someone willing to learn it is fine.

What I'm building is a fast, bare-bones kind of a thing, so I don't care if I have any of the nice content management stuff. The site is Chuckles The Dirt-Chip Muffin. It's probably more violent than what is appropriate for a 7 year-old and a 9 year-old, but it was their idea and we are enjoying working on it together.


Creativity Leadership

A Creative Exercise

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If you have kids, make up a bed time story for them every night.

I have been trying to do this for 5 years.

I certainly haven't succeeded in doing it every night (my guess would be that I do it about 60% of the time), and many of the stories won't win any literary awards.

But its a great challenge.

It forces you to think creatively, it let's you tell stories you want your kids to hear, it shows them that you place a premium on creativity, and it's a opportunity to spend a little additional time with them.

Also, you'll surprise yourself with what you can come up with.

Good luck!