Archives For creativity

brainCreativity is Essential

But where does creativity come from?

Success comes to those who are truly creative, but how many people do you know, that you can truly say have great, creative ideas?

My 13 year-old son and I were discussing creativity and inventions just yesterday. Who actually invents something or comes up with an idea that turns into millions or billions of dollars? Much of it is technology today and Steve Jobs is a great example. Read his life story and you’ll see some character attributes you may not appreciate, but you can’t deny he had some genius in him. Is this creativity limited to just a few people? Or can you build your capacity to create?

Creativity is a character trait. Some may be more creative  than others, but don’t for a minute believe that you can’t become creative, or more creative than you are right now. Here are three things to consider if you want to be more creative, and therefore achieve greater success.

Taking Time To Build and Organize Knowledge

Napoleon Hill calls each one of us  to become learners – but not generalists. He calls out the university system as broken. The university system would have you believe the lie that a broad, general, liberal arts education is what you want if you’re going to lead. They have also instilled in us the lie that you need a professor to master something. This is not the case. Hill says, “No, you want specialized knowledge – to be an expert in something.” And that comes from research, reading, and organizing knowledge as you learn it.

Greg McKeown agrees in his book Essentialism.   He stresses the importance of choosing to either know a lot about a lot of things, and therefore be mediocre in all of them, or to specialize and become the expert; the advisor. Of course he urges us to choose the latter. Choose to be an expert in something that matters.

Hill encourages us to be reading every month and to subscribe to online courses (what he calls home study courses) that give us that specialized knowledge in our field of choice.

Taking Time To Brainstorm

Seth Godin, well known author and former VP of Marketing for Yahoo (back when they were a stock you’d want to own), tells us that great ideas are the few that pop up in the midst of hundreds of bad ideas. In other words, taking time to brainstorm and write out ideas leads to lots of bad ideas and a few good ones.  Those who don’t have good ideas, don’t actually have any ideas. They just don’t take time to think up ideas.

Before Thomas Edison solved the lightbulb problem, he first came up with a thousand things that don’t work. You can’t expect to have great, creative ideas, unless you first spend time coming up with all kinds of ideas, good and bad.

Hill points to our inherent fear of failure as the hurdle that keeps us from creating. It’s one of the six major fears common to all men according to Hill. No one wants to be different. But being the same just means you’re average. If you want to be more successful, you have to somehow be different.  Again, it was likely the school system, where the oddly dressed person was the outcast. Everyone had to be the same – same clothes, same music, same hair style, same lingo. Different was bad…Just ask Bill Gates.

Taking Time to Rejuvenate

Finally, McKeown compares us to our cell phones. If we’re not charged we won’t perform. Looking back at the industrial revolution he describes our mindset as one that values constant work, not creativity. The idea of a machine being down simply means it’s broken. So when it’s time to take time off for renewal, we cringe. It’s seems like a waste of time. The guy working next to you, who never takes any sick or vacation time, and who works 80 hours per week, is seen as more valuable. The truth is, creativity is worth more than any machine can produce. And more than the average workaholic will produce.

McKeown schedules his vacation days first. Days to completely let go of work, put away the phone, and ignore check email. These are days of renewal, to reset the mind and prepare him for great things.

Taking McKeown’s advice, I am, right now as you read this, trekking through the most northern mountain range in New York with my 13 year-old son Josiah. There’s no cell service out here, and no place to charge a laptop. Our only electronics are GPS and a satellite phone in case of emergency. It’s a time for relationship and renewal – one that will lead to greater self-awareness, productivity, and creativity.

If you want to be creative, and therefore more successful, start reading, organizing knowledge, brainstorming from that knowledge, and taking time off to renew your mind.

© 2016, David Stelzl




Uniquely Yours…

March 29, 2011 — Leave a comment

Photo taken by David Stelzl

As I mentioned yesterday, when someone requires you to deliver ROI or TCO numbers as part of the red-tape process, the sale really isn’t based on ROI or TCO, but rather this is just a protocol the company has for vetting possible providers.  In most cases they will have a format or model for doing this, and your best bet is to work with them, using their models to make your case.  However, don’t fall into the trap of believing numbers are the deciding factor.  They rarely are.   The lowest price only wins when offerings are equal.  So what are you doing to set yourself apart?  Anything that can be documented can be commoditized.  And anything that can be commoditized can be computerized.  And anything that can be computerized can eventually be done on an appliance or smart phone.  Creativity and perspective are yours uniquely.   But make sure they are uniquely great.

© 2011, David Stelzl

Creating Business

July 20, 2010 — 2 Comments

Tomorrow I’ll be presenting the opening Keynote at Ingram Micro’s vertical symposium – health care and finance, in Dallas.  As I’ve prepared for this, I’ve recounted numerous conversations over the past year concerning the economy, cloud computing, business struggles, and managed services.  What’s working and what isn’t.  The majority would say, not much is working…

Creativity might be defined as approaching a task or idea from a different or unique perspective.  It’s a simple concept, but often misunderstood at the deepest level.  We have creative teams, creative people, creative software, and Adobe’s creative suite…but what’s so creative about these things?  Most of the time, nothing.  I see thousands of websites, data sheets, and even resumes sporting the same meaningless esoteric language.  I love how Goden, author of Lynchpin describes the education system of our country – we learn to use #2 pencils, dress the same, write the same, follow instructions, take notes, take tests, forget the material and move on.  Failure is not an option, and so the idea of creating and trying new things is not permitted.  Being a home educator I can really see this in the materials offered to us.

Instead, I’ve opted to largely ignore traditional books in place of creative problem solving, team oriented learning, and building entrepreneurial enterprises with my kids.  Business is getting harder to conduct, competition is greater, and price pressure is killing us (and of course taxes will finish us off).  Going the traditional route is not going to succeed on average.  In fact, history shows us, of the thousands of companies that start, only about 4% (according to a recent business conference I attended) make it to ten years, and this says nothing about profitability.

So what are we going to do differently to stay in the game?  Creating business has to to be part of it.  Understanding how to build effective messaging and move people from prospect to client, is fundamental.  Finding more efficient ways to buy and sell, and delivering greater value through discontinuous innovation, is needed.  Intellectual capital is important, but those who tend to be risk adverse are destined to fail – the entrepreneurial spirit has been stripped from us.

I’m just coming off of a 4 day planning and strategy sabbatical with lots of ideas and enthusiasm.  Hopefully you’ll be in Dallas tomorrow to hear about it.  Either way, start thinking outside the box – start practicing creativity.

Don’t miss this week’s podcast at – The final chapter on what is happening in the cybercrime space.  We’ve had some major hits this month including Heartland, WorldPay, Checkfree, and more.  Find out 5 things companies are doing wrong – five areas you could be focusing on to win more business.

Also, we’ve had a tremendous response to the upcoming March 26th Teleseminar – Making Money in a Miserable Economy.  Make sure you register at while there’s still time.  I’ll start at 11:30 AM East coast sharp!  The material for this event is fresh and relevant to our current market – this will open up new ideas for success in the coming months.  Read more on my website (link above).