Grab Your Crayons and be Creative! Now!!!

We have a lot of creative people at HRmarketer. Just this month HRmarketer writer and media relations specialist Heath Havlick, who moonlights as a screenplay writer, learned that she won the Spirit of Moondance Award for her feature screenplay at the 11th Annual Moondance International Film Festival in Boulder CO - known as the "American Cannes".

Congratulations Heath and sorry if I embarrassed you by calling you out in the company blog :-) But I can't resist being the spirited cheerleader for the HRmarketer team - a remarkable group of talented people.

So I had no worries when a multi-billion dollar European company chose the HRmarketer Services Group to pick a name for a new "product" they will introduce to the USA employee benefit marketplace. Because we are creative.

No worries, that is, until we failed to wow the client with any of the 25 names we presented in round one.

It wasn't for lack of effort. A few members of the team put in 10+ hour days on the project and as a group we probably spent over 60 hours of brainstorming time.

But nothing resonated with the client.

After our presentation our client's CEO who was a tad frustrated told us he wanted five good names and he wanted them on his desk in less than three days.

Oh C&@P! Now what?

It took Michael Jackson only 3 minutes to write ‘Billie Jean’ and Paul McCartney wrote the theme song, Live and Let Die, for the 8th James Bond movie in just 10 minutes. So we can certainly come up with a product name in 2.5 days. Right?

I was really scared.

So I did what any company leader would do under tremendous stress.

I went home after work, ate dinner and went to bed.

Then I woke up at midnight unable to stop thinking about the project. And around 1:48am while sitting alone in a dark room a name came to me. A really interesting, creative and darn good name. The project was over. I knew it. Forget trying to come up with four more names for their CEO - this was all we needed.

After a 15-minute presentation to their team the following day we were done. They unanimously loved it. (Now we just need to make sure it gets approved by legal.)

We were all mentally exhausted. And it got me thinking about the creative process.

Can you force creativity? Or was Edison right when he said creativity is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.

This is what Chuck Frey, founder of says about creativity:
"The lore of business, science, industry and entrepreneurship are filled with references to the "a-ha!" experience of creative inspiration. In reality, however, these legendary "bolts from the blue" usually come only after many hours of research..and sometimes from lessons learned after past failures. By conducting thorough and well-rounded research - and learning from our mistakes - we're filling our minds with the raw material of the creative process. This is the "perspiration" part of the creative process. Our subconscious mind churns through all of this material and forges new connections between seemingly unrelated pieces of information. This is the "incubation" stage of the creative process. The subconscious then sends ideas to the conscious mind, usually as vague feelings or intuitions. While the average person may ignore or overlook these hunches, the creative person knows that he or she must record all ideas, no matter how wild or impractical - and evaluate them later.
Mitchell Ditkoff, in his article A-ha! Great moments in creativity says:
"What is it that enables some people to get big creative breakthroughs while others only get big not-so-creative breakdowns? Research has shown that anyone can increase their chances of coming up with new and original ideas if they would only immerse themselves in the little understood process of creation. Great creative breakthroughs usually happen only after intense periods of struggle – even madness."
And here is a little advice from Hugh MacLeod (this guy is great and so is his book), author of the book Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity on how to be creative:
The more research I did on the creative process the more two themes resonated. One is that everyone is creative. As Hugh MacLeod says, "Everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away."

The other is that in order to get those A-Ha! moments you need to put the hours in. And while it might seem like you are spinning your wheels it is all part of the process.

Woody Allen famously quipped that eighty percent of success is showing up.

He's right.

Too many of us in business don't "stay in the game" long enough to realize the benefits.

Regardless of the size or scope of the task at hand we sometimes just need to put the time in - as lousy of a predicament that may be.

Post by HRmarketer CEO Mark Willaman. Join Mark on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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