Thoughts on Creativity

Today, within the span of an hour, something interesting happened. It is directly related to something we discussed in episode one of the podcast with Kareem Fort, which is the right and wrong way to contact someone. Of course there is more than one way to do something, but when someone does the wrong way, in a sense it is almost painful — like nails on a chalkboard.

I am pretty open with potential guests on the podcast. If you reach out and say hello, I am usually going to browse your page and if I think you are a good fit, invite you to be on the podcast. Even if I don’t feel it is a good fit, but I see you’re working on something that shows potential, I will check in here and there until the time is right. I don’t really care about how many followers you have or what celebs are in your pictures, it is more about inspirational people and stories. That being said, here are a couple of examples — both good and bad — of how to reach out to people.

The Wrong Way: “Yoooo! You NEED to have me on your podcast!”

We all have an interesting story to share. However, getting messages like this rubs me the wrong way. It signals that you’d like to use whatever someone else has to offer and/or built in your favor with little in return. It says you’d like to exploit every opportunity you come across for your own gain.

The Creative Masters platform was founded in the spirit of community. If you are involved and active in it, showing yourself often and contributing, you are much more likely to have opportunities presented such as sharing your story with the community via the podcast.

The Right Way: “Hi! I am a fan of the podcast and I find it very inspirational. Would you mind if I send you my press kit for consideration on your show?”

I like this approach so much better. It is professional and it shows that you’ve actually done a bit of research (i.e. actually listened to the show), and you feel that you would be a good fit to share your story. It also signals that you have your stuff together. You have a press kit you can send people so they can learn more about who you are and what you do, making it easier for bloggers, podcasters, influencers, and whoever else you are trying to reach to get to know a bit more about you. This method also doesn’t leave a bad taste in people’s mouths, either. Even if you weren’t a good fit for a particular opportunity, if leaves the door open for other opportunities in the future.

That being said, I challenge everyone to be a bit more professional and strategic in the way you reach out. Yes, you can just throw random things to the wall and see what sticks or you can slowly and methodically build relationships and over time, the opportunities will start to come to you.

Onward.

 

As a creative, I feel that consistency is key. 2.5 months ago we released the first episode of the Creative Masters Podcast, and today we dropped the 10th episode. I also set out to start writing my thoughts on creativity, and I have to admit I have failed with the consistency aspect of the blog. I could make excuses, but there is no room for that. I set a goal, made a statement, and didn’t follow through — and for that, I apologize.

The good news is though, there is no better time than now to start (or start again). When it comes to building something, whether it be a career, business, or a community such as Creative Masters, it can often be overwhelming when you think about what you should be investing your time in, especially when you have other things on your plate. Here are a few things that help me push through the wall of procrastination or fear to complete the work that needs to be done.

Prioritize

Decide on what is most important, and focus on that first. When this podcast was created, my number one priority was to reach out to as many inspiring creatives as I could and I asked to interview them. That was it. I wasn’t concerned with social media (it’s easy to get caught up in the whole “I’m about to do this…”) thing. I didn’t focus on the website and I didn’t focus on sponsorships, just the content.

Once I had some content in the storehouse, I then started to work on some of those others things. If I am being completely honest, that is why these blog posts fell by the wayside. I simply overcommitted and was unable to keep up. Prioritization is key.

Let Go of Perfection

I will be the first to admit it, I am a perfectionist. Sometimes that can be a good thing, other times not so much. I feel that I am a decent speaker, but I definitely know I am far from a great one. If you listen to the podcast you probably notice that I say certain phrases a lot. I am aware of this (it drives my fiance crazy), and I am always working on it, but if I would have waited until I thought I was a perfect speaker, we wouldn’t even have a podcast right now.

You have to just start. There will never be a perfect time to do anything, so if you have an idea, work on it now.

Forget What People Think

Another reason this blog stalled early is because I was worried about what people may think of me. Who am I to share my thoughts? I had to really come to grips with the fact that I have the right to share my thoughts and experiences with the world if I choose to. I am a huge proponent of getting out of your comfort zone and facing fears.

Writing blog posts is a huge pain point for me and it requires massive amounts of vulnerability on my part to share them with the world. Heck, I even deleted my entire personal blog with about 40 posts on it out of fear.

Don’t let what others may think of you determine what you know in your soul you should be doing. As Bernard Baruch once said, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

In closing, these are things I feel we all have to deal with. Don’t let these things stop the greatness you want to build. Always push through the discomfort — life is much better on the other side.

 

Onward.

 

In this day and age, the value of creative work is often devalued and many times people want you to do work at discounted prices – or even for free with “credit” – so you must be able to answer the question of why someone should hire you.

In retrospect, I may have missed out on opportunities because I didn’t clearly articulate what I could bring to the table, which is always a real bummer after I worked so hard to get into the room.

A couple of years ago, a small business I created had come to an end and out of necessity I had to venture out into the corporate world. While running my small business – which taught teens music production and songwriting aligned to state education standards – I learned a bevy of skills. I did everything from new business development and closing deals to creating online content for teachers to designing marketing collateral and our website, and of course teaching classes.

Even though I had collected this diverse skill set centered around creativity and business, when it came time to explain to a decision maker what I could offer and why they should hire me, I fell flat. I know this because I didn’t get the job.

Although it was tough, I used this feedback to my advantage. If a potential employer said “we would love to hire you but…” I took whatever they said and figured out how I could become better in that area. If I answered an interview question and I got a lukewarm response, I would prepare for when I was asked that question again.

I also started to become more proactive in learning how to answer difficult questions. I then would listen to podcasts or interviews of great speakers and pick up on phrases and words that caught my attention or tapped into an emotion and added them to my arsenal.

In addition to all of that, I started to research topics such as business and creativity to figure out what was needed next in corporations I wanted to work for. That is when I picked up photography. I put my head down for 10 months, submerging myself in the art and waited for the perfect opportunity to arise so that I could pounce on it.

One day such an opportunity arose, and I found myself interviewing for a newly created position with The Home Depot that combined not only my freshly acquired photography skills, but also my music, video, design and marketing skills, This time I was ready and prepared to articulate exactly what I could do and bring to the table – and I landed the gig.

Can you think of an opportunity you may have missed out on because you didn’t properly communicate what it is you do? This doesn’t only apply to job interviews, it can also be relevant if you are courting a potential client for your business or freelance work.

I challenge you to take some time to become a better communicator. If you have taken the time to learn valuable skills, you can literally speak doors open when you can properly explain what it is you do – I know from experience.

Onward.

Yesterday we were at the pool enjoying the final day of spring. As my daughter and I were hanging out with my Fiancé and her nephew in the shallow end – which was about 3.5 feet deep – we began to take turns jumping in.

When it came time for my daughter to jump in, we began to count down, and I could see she was scared. Her lips quivering and knees shaking. When the countdown hit 0, she bent her knees to jump in and froze in fear.

As I thought about that moment, I began to ponder if there are areas in my life that fear grabs a hold of me and I freeze up. I’ve come to learn that as an adult, my knees may not shake and adrenaline may not pulse through my body, but fear can cause me to lock up in other, subtler ways.

For example, when we launched the podcast a couple of weeks ago, I told my good friend that I wanted to get back into writing. It is something I’ve done before on a regular basis, but in my head I told myself I was too busy. If I wasn’t busy, I was too tired and opted for a few FIFA matches on Xbox before bed.

In retrospect, I wasn’t really tired or busy, I was just fearful of putting myself out to the world again as a writer. I even deleted my old blog which documented many of my personal challenges and what I’ve learned from them, because I was fearful of what people would think – even though people would message me to say how much the posts had helped them in their own lives.

To me, that is the most dangerous kind of fear, this is the kind of fear that will hold you back from reaching your full potential. It may not smack you in the face, but it whispers in your ear like a light summer breeze, lulling you to sleep, and before you know it, what you intended to accomplish is nothing more than a “I wish I would have done…”
As creatives, we must be aware of this. Yes, sometimes we do need to take a break to go for a walk or listen to music to catch a new wave of inspiration, but we also must learn when we need to fight through feelings of apathy or an uninspired state to create something great.

As we progress on this podcast journey, I will bring this concept up with the people I speak to along with exploring this concept through my writing. In the meantime, ask yourself if there is an area in your life that you are using as an excuse that is really fear disguising itself.

Something I say often is that we are only here once – there are no do overs. Which is really more important, living the kind of live you want to live or Netflix & chill?

And to answer your question, my daughter did eventually jump in, with the help of daddy’s hand. 🙂

Onward.