Tag Archives: creativity

The Future Can Be Better, And You Have Great Control Over Your Future – 9 Lessons from David Brooks

David Brooks

I caught the Fareed Zakaria interview with David Books this past Sunday.  Zakaria is a terrific writer, and an equally effective interviewer.  David Books is…  well, he’s David Brooks.  The “conservative/right of center” columnist for the New York Times, author of Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There (which I presented way back at the July, 2000 First Friday Book Synopsis), his new book is The Social Animal:  The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement.  It is in my “to read” list, and I have read through the free sample portion from iBooks on my iPad.  There were some real gems in the interview.  (You can read the transcript here).  Here are some excerpts:

• On creativity and innovation – Brooks:

…that’s actually what creativity and innovation is, merging two things to create a third thing.

• On traits of the most financially successful people – Brooks:

The average self — the self-made millionaire in this country had an average collegiate GPA of 2.7, a C plus. The A students can get into law school or something and they have secure roots to decent affluence, but the ones who really take risks are the ones who are sort of down below and they’re more risk takers and they don’t fit into the cookie cutter model of education. But they have commonly several traits. 

And there’s no one formula for success. But they tend not to be too charismatic often, but they tend to be — and they have done studies on this. The charismatic types, you get occasion, Jack Welch, somebody like that. But — but most tend to be ordered, disciplined execution. They tend to do the same thing over and over again in a very reliable, predictable way. And so they’re really into detail, execution and order.

Those are the sorts of personality that more often than not lead to business success. Not flashiness, but just doing the thing and having a compulsive need to get it right. And then an awareness of how to work in groups, groups are smarter than individuals. Groups that meet face to face are a lot smarter than groups that communicate electronically. And so some people have a compulsive need to soak up information from people around them.

• On individualism and optimism – Brooks:

But I would say it’s first individualism does encourage the sense I can rise ferocious — a sense — if you tell people these two things, the future can be better than the present and I have control over my future, those are two powerful ideas that not all cultures are born with and those are powerful ideas that motivate people to change.

• On President Obama:

ZAKARIA: — politically. Is he (President Obama) a social animal? 

BROOKS: Yes. He’s multiple animals. You know, I would say we’re all — we all have multiple personalities. My psychobabble description of him is he’s a very complicated person who has many different selves, all of them authentic, but they come out in different contexts. And he is — has always has the ability to look at other parts of himself from a distance, and so it means he has great power to self correct and I think it gives him power to see himself. It means that he rarely is all in. 

You know, President Bush didn’t have as much — many multiple selves, so when he made a decision he was all in, he was just going to be there. But as I think President Obama is much more cautious, because he’s a man of many pieces and many parts and not all of which I understand or I think anybody understands. But it may — it leads to that caution that we see time and time again and almost a self distancing I see. 

• on the “soft” (think “soft skills”) – Brooks:

My argument is the soft leads to the hard. So if you want to really do well in business, say, make a lot of money, you really have to understand people and it’s through the emotions you do that.

• On morality and fairness – Brooks:

…we have a folk wisdom that we think through principles and come up with right or wrong, but that’s not actually how morality works. Morality is more like taste. You instantaneously know whether something is fair. Nobody needs to tell a 2-year-old what’s fair or not.

• On honest self-evaluation – Brooks:

So 96 percent of college professors think they’re above average teachers. And 94 percent of college students think they have above average leadership skills. We tend to overvalue ourselves, so — and this is particularly a male trait. Men drown at twice the rate of women because men think they can swim across that lake and women know they can’t. And so — but building boot straps for yourself to prevent yourself from acting on that overconfidence is tremendously important.

The lessons (my list — from the interview):

• To be creative and innovative, we have to learn to merge two things to make a third thing.

• Groups that meet face to face are the most effective.

• Disciplined execution is all about doing the same thing over and over again in a reliable, predictable way. People who are good at this are “really into detail, execution, order.”

• Morality is about simple fairness – and you know if you are being fair, or not.  (at least, you certainly should know!)

• The soft (think soft skills) matters greatly!

• Be authentic – and master the discipline of self-correction.

• Cultivate individualism – and, be genuinely optimistic (The future can be better!), while taking control of your own future.

• But, be honest and realistic in your self-evaluation.

• And, keep learning!  (“soak up information” from those around you).

There’s a lot more in Brooks’ best-selling book, but this interview offered much!

Our Crash Courses are the Way to Go

One of our unique services at Creative Communication Network is our ability to offer training on important topics based upon the information that we derive from books that we present at the First Friday Book Synopsis.

We call these Crash Courses, and you can look for the first offering, focusing upon Change and Innovation very soon.  Don’t miss the opportunity to register for this first course.  We will send an e-mail to you that announces the date, time, location, and method for registraiton.

In these Crash Courses, we take principles from several best-sellers on a particular topic and transform these into skill-based activities, facilitated discussions, assessments, and self-reflection.  You won’t find anything else like them anywhere.  We are putting the final touches on this first course right now.

We have  two major components in our first course on Change and Innovation, with these objectives:

Part One:            Creative Thinking

Objective 1:      Identify strategies to actively seek out and hire people with diverse backgrounds and thinking styles

Objective 2:      Explore steps to effectively manage resistance to novel or experimental proposals

Part Two:             Demonstrate how to develop processes, products, and services.

Objective 1:      Describe how to evaluate new opportunities unconstrained by existing paradigms but keeping an eye towards organizational goals

Objective 2:      Identify and describe steps to maintain the organization’s competitive edge with breakthrough solutions and disciplined risks.

In this Change and Innovation course, we draw upon principles from these books that we have presented at the First Friday Book Synopsis, and others:  

Kelley, T., Littman, J., & Peters, T.  (2001).  The art of innovation (lessons in creativity from IDEO, America’s leading design firm).  New York:  Doubleday.

Kelley, T., & Littman, J.  (2005).  The ten faces of innovation : IDEO’s strategies for defeating the devil’s advocate and driving creativity throughout your organization.   New York:  Currency/Doubleday.

Mauzy, J., & Harriman, R. A.  (2003).  Creativity Inc.: Building an inventive organization. Boston:  Harvard Business School Press.

Sutton, R. I.  (2002).  Weird ideas that work: 11-1/2 practices for promoting, managing, and sustaining innovation.  New York:  Free Press.

Tharp, T.  (2003).  The creative habit:  Learn it and use it for life.  New York:  Simon & Schuster.

Look for information about this course really soon! 

We hope you make plans to join us.

Take Time to Read – A Great Program Targeted for Children

Since you obviously know that I believe in reading as a core value, I wanted to share with you a program that is exciting to get children off to the right start in this activity.

Take Time to Read is a program that is a joint partnership between the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children and the Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas.  It is a great investment that gives these organizations the opportunity to demonstrate their care for the future of Texas children. Since the program’s inception, both organizations have worked together to develop and distribute promotional materials at no charge.  

Many Scottish Rite members go directly into Texas public schools on a regular basis and read to children in the classrooms.  The activities are coordinated by a special committee authorized by the Masonic Grand Lodge of Texas.

I thought you might be interested in reading this information about the program that I pulled directly from the web site of the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, which is located just southwest of downtown Dallas on Maple Avenue.


Reading experts agree that reading aloud to children may be one of the most important activities adults can do to prepare children for success in school. Reading aloud for as little as 10-20 minutes each day can provide tremendous benefits in helping children develop a better understanding and appreciation of language.

Benefits of Reading to Children Include:

  • Encouraging children’s imagination and inspiring creativity
  • Helping children develop good listening skills and expand their attention span
  • Preparing children for success in school
  • Helping children develop critical thinking skills
  • Creating a bond between adult and child

Tips for Reading to Children:

  • Take time to read to your child every day for at least 10 minutes.
  • Establish a regular reading time.
  • Make sure your special reading time isn’t interrupted. Your undivided attention is important to your child.
  • Guide your child’s reading selection by choosing a variety of books you find appropriate. Allow your child to choose from this group.
  • Talk about what you’re reading. Discuss the story to make sure your child understands the story and the words in the book.

For more information, please contact the Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia at (214) 559-7800 or (800) 421-1121, ext. 7800, or e-mail .

“Collaboration is the Stuff of Growth” – Sir Ken Robinson on Changing Education Paradigms

Sir Ken Robinson

I have read, and presented my synopsis of the Element:  How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything by Sir Ken Robinson.  I have blogged about him here.  I have watched the videos from his presentations at TED, Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity and Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the learning revolution! He’s a real champion of creativity, with lots of freedom, in education.

Here is a terrific RSA Animate (white board illustrated) of Changing Education Paradigms, a presentation he made at The Royal Society of the Arts.  It is just over 11½ minutes, and has had over 800,000 views.  It is worth the time.  (I learned about this from an exceptional financial adviser at an event this week).

Take a look.

Declining Creativity: Holy Mackerel, This is a Big Problem!

First, a quick “how did I find this?”  One of the blogs I read almost every day is Larry James’ Urban Daily.  Larry is the CEO of Central Dallas Ministries, and though he writes most often about social problems and social justice (poverty, homlessness), he also has some great surprises.  This morning, he excerpted this article from Newsweek. — his colleague, Dr. Janet Morrison, (who works with “underprivileged inner city students” – she is a marvel!) pointed him to the article.

The article: The Creativity Crisis: For the first time, research shows that American creativity is declining. What went wrong—and how we can fix it.

The article describes how CQ (Creativity Quotient) may be more important than IQ in determining future success.  And the article gives details about data regarding this truth, going back to some legendary tests conducted with the “Torrance kids,” a group of nearly 400 Minneapolis children who completed a series of creativity tasks newly designed by professor E. Paul Torrance.

The correlation to lifetime creative accomplishment was more than three times stronger for childhood creativity than childhood IQ.

  Like intelligence tests, Torrance’s test—a 90-minute series of discrete tasks, administered by a psychologist—has been taken by millions worldwide in 50 languages. Yet there is one crucial difference between IQ and CQ scores. With intelligence, there is a phenomenon called the Flynn effect—each generation, scores go up about 10 points. Enriched environments are making kids smarter. With creativity, a reverse trend has just been identified and is being reported for the first time here: American creativity scores are falling.

The entire article is a terrific read.  Here are more excerpts:

The accepted definition of creativity is production of something original and useful, and that’s what’s reflected in the tests. There is never one right answer. To be creative requires divergent thinking (generating many unique ideas) and then convergent thinking (combining those ideas into the best result).

With creativity, a reverse trend has just been identified and is being reported for the first time here: American creativity scores are falling.

“It’s very clear, and the decrease is very significant,”

The necessity of human ingenuity is undisputed. A recent IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the No. 1 “leadership competency” of the future. Yet it’s not just about sustaining our nation’s economic growth. All around us are matters of national and international importance that are crying out for creative solutions, from saving the Gulf of Mexico to bringing peace to Afghanistan to delivering health care. Such solutions emerge from a healthy marketplace of ideas, sustained by a populace constantly contributing original ideas and receptive to the ideas of others.

Overwhelmed by curriculum standards, American teachers warn there’s no room in the day for a creativity class.

Creativity has always been prized in American society, but it’s never really been understood. While our creativity scores decline unchecked, the current national strategy for creativity consists of little more than praying for a Greek muse to drop by our houses. The problems we face now, and in the future, simply demand that we do more than just hope for inspiration to strike. Fortunately, the science can help: we know the steps to lead that elusive muse right to our doors.

A few comments from me:

Creativity and Innovation are different, but related.  Creativity precedes innovation, and both are critical to future business and societal success.  By the way, in the article, the definition ties the two together: “To be creative requires divergent thinking (generating many unique ideas) and then convergent thinking (combining those ideas into the best result).”

Recently, I spoke to a man who helps people start and buy businesses, and he observed that a much, much higher percentage of business purchases these days are franchise businesses than they used to be.  He offered a few implicaitons of this trend.  Here’s one – there’s more of “the same” and less of “ the different.”  Different comes from creativity and innovation  The same is… the same.

It really does appear that we have a need for a creativity and innovation resurgence.  And, the article warns us, it has to start with the right training in school and family at a pretty young age.  So, this may take a while!

Read the article.  Really.  And then… work, more, more often, on nurturing creativity.


Let me remind you that my favorite book from the 12+ years of the First Friday Book Synopsis is by Twyla Tharp, the award-winning choreographer:  The Creative Habit:  Learn It and Use it For Life.  You can order my synopsis, with handout + audio, at our companion web site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.  But, I strongly recommend that you actually read the book for yourself.

Our Future Depends on…Creativity – Insight & Challenge from Richard Florida

I am deep into The Great Reset by Richard Florida, which I am presenting this Friday at the First Friday Book Synopsis.  I am thinking, pondering, and wondering just what the future after the current Great Reset will be like.

Mr. Florida is chronicling his “predictions” on the Atlantic site.  (See the list of topics here – they are worth reading).  Here is a paragraph from one of his recent posts, Where the Creative Class Jobs Will Be:

At bottom, a jobs strategy needs to start from a fundamental principle: That each and every human being is creative and that we can only grow, develop, and prosper by harnessing the full creativity of each of us. For the first time in history, future economic development requires further human development. This means develop a strategy to nurture creativity across the board – on the farm, in the factory, and in offices, shops, non-profits, and a full gamut of service class work, as well as within the creative class. Our future depends on it.

“future economic development requires further human development.”  Reading, thinking, learning in every way possible – this may be the only path to a prosperous tomorrow.  We call the folks who gather at the First Friday Book Synopsis a community of learners – because life-long learning is now a job and life skill that is no longer optional.