Archives For November 2010

Was Thomas Edison a wildly creative person who became good at business, or was he a wildly good businessman who happened to be creative? Both. He wouldn’t have been who he was without his tremendous strengths in creativity and in business. I’d nominate him to be the poster boy for excellence in creativity and business.

His maxim: imagination plus entrepreneurship equals innovation, and innovation equals competitive advantage. To him, creativity and business go seamlessly together.

Times have sure changed since he toiled away at the light bulb, but over 100 years later, that maxim is still true.

In 2010, Harvard Business School’s Entrepreneurial Management Unit said the ability to respond quickly to changing market conditions demands high levels of creativity. So here’s one of our most renowned business think-tanks saying we need lots of creativity in business. Huh. A very Edisonian notion.

What about the future? IBM conducted a survey recently, and found that CEOs identify creativity as the most important leadership competency for the successful enterprise of the future.

So, gentle business reader, how and when and where will you dial up your creativity?

I grew up in a big family. There are seven of us Wallys, and I’m the youngest of five kids. From the 1960’s to the 1980’s, our Thanksgiving celebrations were big parties, with three or four families getting “gussied up” and spending the day together. Everything about it was big: the number of people, the quantity of food, the stacks of dishes, and the volume of the laughter. Within all the bigness, the biggest of the bigs was the sheer amount of joy on everybody’s face, from the Macy’s parade, to the meal, to the inevitable party crashers, to the end of the party cleanup. It was a very happy day.

There were four categories of people at these celebrations. 1) The Little Kids. There was one…me. 2) The Big Kids, which were all the brothers and sisters. There were about 15 of them. One by one, they all went off to college, so part of the terrific anticipation and excitement was because we’d get to have our families be complete again for a few days. 3) There were eight Parents. They made it all happen. In hindsight, the parents, and the Moms in particular, did a tremendous amount of work to make a beautiful sit-down meal for 30. It took days of prep. (Sheesh. Thanks, Moms.) 4) At the top was one grandparent, Grandma Lou.

Generally, the Big Kids would hang out together and drink beer and laugh. The Parents would hang out together and drink cocktails and laugh. So frequently, this resulted in The Little Kid and the Grandparent hanging out together drinking 7Up and laughing. She was grandmother to just a few of the celebrants, but still, everybody called her Grandma Lou. She was my great aunt. Since my grandparents were gone before I was born, Grandma Lou was as close as it got for me. She was an wonderful, special, happy woman. We named one of our daughters after Lucille.

There were too many of us to get a group photo every year. So the tradition became to take a group photo of the women, and then one with the guys and Grandma Lou. The one above is from 1974.

It seems the notion of thankfulness was in part driven by what The Parents had been through in their lives. The great depression, World War II, Vietnam, not to mention raising lots of kids along the way. I think those 20th century experiences, where tremendous loss and sacrifice popped up every couple of decades, gave them a greater appreciation for being alive, and on days like Thanksgiving, being together.

Time has, I’m sure, simplified my memories of the Big Day. But I remember that the focus wasn’t on gifts. It wasn’t about decorations. It wasn’t about things or stuff or fluff. It was about people. Togetherness. Spending time. Connecting. Hugs. Laughter. And recognizing that we’re damn lucky people who have a lot of good in our lives.

So it’s simple. Methinks our Thanksgiving job is to spread happiness.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Have a happy, happy Thanksgiving.

Jack London said, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

Mr. London was not talking about a 9-iron. He was talking about passion.

Take 100 people. How many of them chase inspiration with a club? How many are relentless, and possessed by a pursuit? I’d guess 10, tops. Most folks don’t seem wired to chase. But maybe they’re just not motivated.

The million dollar question – what motivates you to chase? The “eureka” moment? Accolades? Fame? Money? Personal satisfaction? The greater good? Answer that question, and understand what motivates you to chase, and you’re half way there.

Now stew on that one, and go get a club.