We don’t just need each other. We thrive with each other. How can we stay open and fresh in collaboration? Who’s exemplifying the best of creative collaboration? How can we work together to make change that matters in this world?

Inside Google Creative Labs – quick updates from a studio visit

from http://loususi.posterous.com/whitewash-and-art-protest-nyc-outdoor-creativ

Hello, Wild Pack,
I’ve spent a couple of hours this morning at Google Creative Labs for a special talk & tour called “Making Good Things Happen That Matter.” The event is arranged by the organizers of The 99% Conference, which launches later today.

Google’s changed our brains (according to some thinkers also reviewed in The Guardian) and our habits. iGoogle feeds us blog headlines each morning. Google has become for some of us the go-to reference librarian, travel agent, daily organizer, conference organizer, and more. And possibly you’ve read about Google’s 20% policy. For those of you who don’t know, Google execs insist that Google employees spend 20% of their time experimenting on their own projects. You got that? 10 hours of a 40-hour work week devoted to your own projects. That policy exemplifies the level of trust and autonomy that Dan Pink convincingly lays out in Drive as, according to 50 years of social psychology, key aspects of what motivate us human beings.

Now, I’m not naive. The organization has its run of pitfalls. Still, I was eager to goggle into the heart and wonder that fuels the world that has altered our world. How do these digital heroes work together? What values drive them? How do they keep seeing the matrix of 1 and 0 fresh? What reality-check questions make them pause?

First, highlights from the tour of only one floor.
* 2000 Google employees in NYC alone mostly in a 1932 redesigned Port Authority building (Google just bought the 30 million square-ft bldg)
* A $50 budget to each employee to “Pimp Your Cube” (i.e., make it your own quirky space)
* A worker zooms by on a foot scooter and stops to play at the LEGO arena
* The well-insulated game room is often occupied by Guitar Heroes and karaoke stars (Ji Lee loves karaoke)

Presentation highlights:
* A formula for success: little guy + champion = awesome shit
* The story of how one new employee’s playful sketch of a co-worker as an android prompted a ripple of events that led to the launch of Androidify – Google’s most successful application with 1 million-plus downloads the first week
* Stories from a former YouTube exec. on how Google/YouTube launched their most successful YouTube events from ideas by “little guys” – including YouTube Symphony Orchestra, YouTube Play at the Gugenheim, and a Day in the Life (a film produced by Ridley Scott to come out July 24)

Take-aways:
* Democratize your ideas. Engage “the people.” Have people magnify the mania and become your evangelists. The user is your marketer.
* Get credibility. Partner with the right people (and finesse how you sell your idea to them).
* Challenge conventions. Question how things should be done (e.g., YouTube and the Guggenheim??)
* We don’t do marketing. We solve problems.”
* Know the user. Know the magic. Connect the two. What’s the emotion behind the idea?

That’s all for now. A series of speaker events coming soon. Stay posted here and on Twitter.

See you in the woods,
Jeffrey

Are You a Creative Super-Hero? An Interview and a Quiz

Radio show host Grace Allison interviewed me for her show “Be Your Own Superhero.”

We cover a range of topics such as trumping the reptile brain, staying in fertile confusion to handle creative challenges, encouraging colleges to orient freshmen to disorientation, and using the single most direct and effective tool for creative superheroes.

The Reptile Brain, Fertile Confusion, and a Freshman Orientation to Disorientation: A Tracking Wonder Interview
The Need to Track Wonder During Fertile Confusion
3:05 – What ‘tracking wonder’ means and how to practice it
5:50 – The reptile brain – what it is, its role in keeping us safe & making sense quickly, and why we need to trump it for creative work
8:45 – A creative hero’s task to confront challenges & the unfamiliar
10:00 – Fertile confusion – what it is and why it’s important to thrive during creative and existential challenges
Preparing College Students for Fertile Confusion
13:50 – The need for a Freshman Orientation to Disorientation on every college campus
16:15 – The college experience as a purpose-driven quest
17:15 – The role of purpose & autonomy in creative drive
The Journey from the Center to the Page & Tools for Creatives
18:57 – Creative inspiration, perspiration, aspiration all come from the same source
22:18 – Harnessing the breath as a creative hero tool
25:15 – What creating from the center means
30:18 – Two take-away tools

So the interview prompted me to make a creative superhero quiz. Take it, let me know how you scored, and tell me what other questions should be on here. Read more

where good ideas come from: are you allowing for idea collisions?

“Chance favors the connected mind.”
– Steven Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From

I’ve been wondering about connectivity. Steven Johnson stumbled upon some fascinating insights regarding connectivity while investigating just what his new book’s title says – where good ideas come from. Most great ideas take years to develop. One person has a half idea. And that half idea takes form in a “slow hunch” – incubation, fertility. For 10 years maybe.

Then, boom. One person’s half idea collides with another person’s half idea. Now, the Internet. “The historic evolution of connectivity,” as Johnson tags it, has multiplied the potential for serendipitous idea collisions.

The other day, Will Burns of Ideasicle interviewed me to talk about creativity, connectivity, meditation, embodiment. But following his interview of me, I wanted to interview him. He pools 18 creativity experts to volley solutions to a company’s problem – and they do so virtually, in no single room, no face-to-face contact. His insights about collaboration were mixing up with some ruminations I’ve been having. Ping. Pong. Bam. Ideas colliding in delightful ways. (stay tuned for the interview)

When I hung up with Will, I buzzed. I buzzed because I connected with someone who’s spent his life in a field – marketing – wholly different from mine and yet our conversation sent ideas in me fluttering.

DROP IN THE HUT:
What about you? Have you connected with someone that led to a potential idea collision?

See you in the woods,
Jeffrey

Other ways to connect:
Snag a copy of The Journey from the Center to the Page.
Subscribe to the monthly e-letter “On the Right Track” – with a monthly wonder tip (See box on the right).
Download the Tracking Wonder handbooks (See box to the right).
Call me. Seriously. You can. 845.679.9441.
Convert reactivity into creativity.
Listen to the Magic, Meaning, & the Wonder of Everyday Living interview.
Become the facilitator of your dreams.

The challenges of being a crafty creative hero & some crafty tools to help

From Ralph Nader's article on praising those who work with their hands http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/09/03-11

Crafting an authentic, creative life is challenging. But that is just what you choose to do – you who refuse to make a cookie-cutter family or live in a predictable relationship or function like an automaton at your job or spend your weekends doing default mass-non-think activities.

You choose to craft this one wild life.

That’s what I’ve been saying lately to a fresh entrepreneur who no longer wants to ‘cobble’ a freelance existence but wants to flourish and be free. It’s what I’ve said to a geologist who’s been building her first exquisite and rich novel – for three years. It’s what I’ve said to myself.

Crafting requires work. And patience. And skill. And a whole lotta self-love and world-love and imagination. Oh, yes, imagination. Because you don’t want this life turning out to look like a Martha Stewart cut-out or even a Seth Godin cut-out (although if you had to choose…you’d probably take the Purple Cow Life or the Lynchpin Life over the Gingerbread House Birthday Cake Life). Read more

You Want to Have a Remarkable Voice? Listen.

Click on the photo to hear a distinct voice.

Note: We’re hungry to master our craft. At least judging from the questions readers and clients have sent me, we are. And judging from the research about what motivates us, we are. The following is the third in a series of articles about mastering that slippery thing called “voice.”  Have fun.

* * *

Part I: Don’t Waste Your Time Trying to Find a Voice. Create it.
Part II: How to Kiss Your Readers with the Syntax of Things

* * *

You want to be remarkable? Or taken seriously? Or “show your freak self” as a blogger or writer or web entrepreneur?

Then get voice. Read more

The Conference as Catalyst for Creative Action

Philharmonie Haarlem, site of Creative Company Conference

Organizations are wising up to the value of hosting their own dynamic conferences. And these conferences aren’t the drab, flat talking-head, name tag, cheese-n-crackers affairs.

You’d be wise to add “Attend Creative Conference” to your Creative Action Checklist for 2011. Read more

The Wild Pack & The Tracking Wonder Handbooks

Wonder is pervasive yet evasive. This point became remarkably clear again when some 3,000 bloggers responded to the prompt I offered for Gwen Bell and her team’s sensational Reverb10 Project: Wonder. How have you cultivated a sense of wonder in your life this year? According to the posts, wonder filled many bloggers’ year. Others bemoaned its scarcity. But numerous bloggers weren’t really sure what this emotion we all talk about is.

Hence, Tracking Wonder Handbooks to help you recognize its signs and feed it. Not one guide, but two. We’ve created two Tracking Wonder Handbooks designed for creatives, creative entrepreneurs, educators – anyone who’s hungry.

TRACKING WONDER HANDBOOK ONE offers you five surprising ways to bring more delight, curiosity, and deep connection into your professional and personal life. TRACKING WONDER HANDBOOK TWO presents 20-plus resources and links to innovators in numerous fields to tease your sense of serendipity and keep your creative mind and action fresh through the year.

Designer Monica Gurevich has drawn upon old Boy Scout and First Aid handbooks as inspiration. That seems apropos since we think tracking wonder is the ultimate survival skill for the 21st century.

In my lifetime, there’s never been a more obvious need to cultivate an ongoing relationship with wonder. We can welcome wonder into our work places & studios, living rooms & kitchens, playgrounds & classrooms. Wonder is at the heart of all creativity. It’s at the heart of wisdom. It’s at the heart of emotional decision-making (which is all human decision-making).

So whether you think wonder pops in for tea each morning or has avoided your route for a solid 15 years since you left adolescence, these handbooks might be right for you adult wonder-trackers.

How to get your two free Tracking Wonder Handbooks:
Simple. Send an e-message to jeffrey [at] trackingwonder [dot] com with WILD PACK in the subject box. We’ll send them both to you.

Oh, and all I ask in return is that you send 10 creatively hungry people back to this page or to trackingwonder.com.

Drop in the Hut
Let us know what other kinds of resources, information, and ideas you’d like that would help you open, innovative, and productive.

See you in the woods,
Jeffrey

Gratitude, Creativity, & The 30 Days/300 Things Gratitude Challenge

Does receiving gratitude inspire you to more creative action? Is it easy for you to express it? Is it easy for you to receive it? Dare I ask, are there ‘advantages’ for creative practitioners and entrepreneurs to practicing gratitude? Those questions I’ve been living in for a few weeks.

Entrepreneur and perspiration guru Scott Belsky learned the power of appreciation from a storyteller. The author of Making Ideas Happen describes his experience at storyteller Jay O’Callahan’s storytelling workshop in Cape Cod. As part of a workshop exercise, Belsky told a story. O’Callahan respond with genuine enthusiasm, and other participants did likewise. Belsky was riveted and warmed, but he was ready and eager for the critique. The critique never came.

Read more