10 Reasons Your Current Job is Creative. Really!

In a couple hours, I will don my costume for the day. I call it ‘business casual.’I will sport a professional, corporate look.

I shall spend the morning and afternoon teaching sales methodology, basic manners, paperwork procedures, and a few ‘closing’ techniques.

Ladies and gentlemen: I am a corporate sales trainer.

Yet, I still consider myself a creative. Are you in the same boat? You’re waiting tables at the diner. You’re answering phone calls in a cubicle. You’re picking up endless messes from the kiddos.

We are all creative.

Today, our jobs are creative because like every prolific artist:

  1. We will influence the way people see something.
  2. We will share joy.
  3. We will connect rather than just exist.
  4. We will employ our mediums, whatever they may be, to communicate our ideas.
  5. We will think as creatives think.
  6. We will bring life to our workplace.
  7. We will entertain.
  8. We will believe that our work is good.
  9. We will help.
  10. We will contribute.

Time to put on that costume now, and I’m thankful. Thankful that it’s my choice to see this day as an artist does.

How do we, as creatives, change our thinking to make our jobs more than a mere paycheck-generator?

Would love to hear your tips below in the comments!


This post brought to you by Quitter: Closing the Gap Between Your Day Job and Your Dream Job. Jon Acuff (read his blog here) put to words what I’ve only felt and thought for many years. I highly recommend it.

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Slightly Embarassing Creative Quirks

As creatives, we all have idiosyncrasies. I’d like to know your creative quirks that play into your art and creative process. And by ‘your art,’ I mean: getting the kids ready for bed, conducting a non-boring sales meeting at work, making a meal, or designing a dream from concept to fruition.We’re all artists.

I’ll start the ball rolling before you divulge your foibles.

On the cusp of writing this list, I’ll just say this: if you could see me, you’d describe the look on my face as chagrined. (I had to look ‘chagrined’ up to make sure I was using it correctly. Geek-factor.)

Weird music tastes. My 5 most recent iTunes downloads:

    1. “The Edge of Glory” by Lady Gaga. Just embarrassing, but I love it. There, I said it.
    2. “Tightrope” (featuring Big Boi) by Janelle Monae. So. Very. Good. It’s like hearing a good preacher expound on the Bible. She makes it come alive. Joy-singer. Here’s the video on youtube.
    3. “Bennie and the Jets” by Haley Reinhart. Yes, she was on American Idol. And yes, this version is awesome.
    4. “Forever” by Chris Brown. I first heard this while watching NBC’s “The Office.” It was featured in the Jim/Pam wedding. Celebration music extravaganza.
    5. Make Your Own Kind of Music” by Mama Cass Elliot. Butter-voiced Mama Cass (of Mama’s and the Papa’s fame) belts out this lovely anthem to artists with pinpoint croonery skills.
OCD Watchdog/Mild Participator. 3 weird things:
    1. I like shows like “Obsessed” and “Hoarders.” At times, I can identify with the people on the shows. That scares me. Then I realize I’m not like them. That relieves me. Emotional journey.
    2. A ‘thing’ with odd/even numbers. When turning up the volume on the TV, I’ll often want it to be an even number. Why? I dunno. But then I think of the people on shows like “Obsessed” and I flip it to 13 or 17 and throw caution to the wind.
    3. Supersonic ears. I often wear earplugs to concerts, theaters, even churches at times. Sensitive ears.
    1. I usually sleep on the floor. Actually, I start in the bed and then, around 2 or 3 AM I end up waking up and moving to the floor. Why? I like it. It happened last night.
    2. I don’t call my wife ‘dear’ or ‘honey.’ We keep it simple: we call each other ‘babies.’ ‘Dear’ and ‘honey’ never seemed right to us. Nor does ‘deer honey.’
    3. I was invincible once. I took a Starbucks Venti Iced Americano (I believe it has 34 shots of espresso in it) into the movie theater to watch The Dark Knight. Upon leaving the theater and finding my way home, the combination of the movie and caffeine told me that yes indeed, I too was a superhero. I was Batman until that buzz wore off. I’ve not had a Venti Iced Americano since.

Enough of my quirks.

Who’s honest enough to share one or two of your creative quirks that make you who you are?

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Fuel for Creatives: Time (Part 3 of 3)

Coffee is morning fuel. Gasoline is car fuel. Sunlight is plant fuel. What is fuel for creatives?Ideation + freedom + time = creative fuel. (Read Part 1, Ideation and Part 2, Freedom)Time.

While training as an actor, our troupe garnered loads of great instruction from John Barton’s video series “Playing Shakespeare.” Actors such as Ian McKellen, Judi Dench, and Patrick Stewart played the text wonderfully, showing us newbies how it’s to be done. Our English accents would have to come later. (Much later. Even now, my English friends say my faccent (fake/accent) boasts a Mike Myers feel. Ah well.)

One thing I took away from Barton’s teaching is this: the word “time” is the most important word in Shakespeare. I’ve said that word differently for the past 15 years because of Barton’s instruction.


The word itself is weighted with permanence and sobriety. It is not a flippant word.


The word is a gift, or a curse, depending on one’s vantage point.


We must make time. We must guard this precious resource. We must take the time we have been given and use it doing what we love: creating.

Yes, we can come up with a great idea and have all the freedom in the world, but if we don’t make time, our creative process stops short for a week. A month. A few years. Then decades. Then…. a lifetime.

Make. Time.

Our mantra:

We have all the time we need and more. We will spend our time doing the things we were created to do. We will not settle for excuses. We will not blame our schedule, our friends, our families, our jobs. We will use our time to create and share our expressions. Our creativity is a God-given expression that brings vibrant life to ourselves and to those with whom we share our creativity.

In Steve Jobs’ much quoted 2005 Stanford Commencement speech:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”


Fuel For Creatives: Creative Freedom (Part 2 of 3)

Ideation + Creative Freedom + Time = Fuel for Creatives. Read part one on ideation here.Now that we have our idea, we gotta mix in a little freedom to create the idea and add a healthy dose of time to let it steep and brew.Freedom first. A picture = 1,000 words. So here’s my words on creative freedom:

“Freedom” by Zenos Frudakis

Zenos Frudakis’s vision for his sculpture “Freedom,” now roaming the streets of Philadelphia:

I wanted to create a sculpture almost anyone, regardless of their background, could look at and instantly recognize that it is about the idea of struggling to break free. This sculpture is about the struggle for achievement of freedom through the creative process.

Defining ‘freedom’ would be a daunting task even for Webster… we’ll not even bother looking it up. Instead, we’ll ask ourselves a few questions in regards to the Frudakis sculpture.

  • What do you see in this picture?
  • What do you see in the four figures?
  • Where do you picture yourself?
  • How did that last figure finally break out of the ‘mold’?

I have to first want freedom in order to put in the word to get freedom. We must define creative freedom for ourselves, otherwise it’s someone else’s freedom… and that’s not freedom at all.

So if we all desire creative freedom, what is holding us back?

Leave a comment below and we’ll converse on it a bit.


Fuel for Creatives: Ideation (Part 1 of 3)

My wife got me thinking. It’s one of her gifts.We chat about her skin care line, Sugared Beauty, and sire some some ideas for the fall season.

I come alive.

Last week, an executive of a multi-million dollar company asked me for some ideas for his business. A new plan emerges from the brainstorming session.

I come alive.

I sit down to a blank computer screen to write a silly little story using a kit called The Writer’s Toolbox.

I come alive.

Are you the same way? Do you love coming up with new ideas, fresh perspectives, and that movie-plot twist on a hum-drum, same-story approach to life and business that put’s you on a thrill ride at Six Flags?

If you’re reading this you are. There’s a word for idea generation: ideation. (Spell check just told me that word doesn’t exist. You’re behind the times Mr. Spell Check.)

As creatives, ideation is the starting point, the spring board, the appetizer to sharing ourselves, via our creative expressions, with the world.

A bit of boldness: that unbirthed idea, the one that you have that just needs to be unearthed, may change the your home. Your community. Heck, it may change the entire world. That is why it is so imperative to get your idea out.

It must be shared.

What if…

  • Your idea saves a business and thousands of jobs.
  • Your painting changes the way people see the world.
  • Your parable resonates with people, metamorphosing them into believers.

It all starts with that idea. We’ll chat about part two and part three of this creative fuel process later this week. Hint: part two doesn’t involve fear. Just sayin’.

What change can you bring today with your gift of creativity? To your kids, your business, your spouse?


Can I get a “Do Over”? Remember Rosanne Barr?

Ever want a complete 100% do-over?
As in…
  • I totally botched that (fill in the blank) project.
  • That was the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done. What was I thinking? Hmmmm. I guess I wasn’t.
  • I wish I were never born.
After nightmare experiences like these, we’ll sometimes make a slimy, nasty vow. Not the wedding kind, but they’re just as full of commitment, and they can stick to us like leeches. Leeches I say!
Enter Rosanne Barr. She’s well known for her crass 1990 version “sung” at a San Diego Padres game. Barr humbled herself this past summer, took a few singing lessons, and debuted a respectable version of the Star Spangled Banner for a small group of spectators at a girl’s softball game. Read the Huffington Post article here.
Her do-over version is quite touching. Wait, gulp, is that a tear starting to well in the corner of my eye as I watch this? There, I said it. I ‘might’ have cried a little when I saw the video. I was happy for her. Happy that she made things right. Happy that she learned from her mistakes. Happy that she knew it needed to be done and she did it. Barr admits she wanted the do-over to show her grandson that even if you make a huge faux pas, you can make it right.
As a creative, you’ve been there right? I know I have. Projects gone wrong. Job opportunities missed. Disappointing people. Man, it’s depressing even writing just a few things that needed a do-over. If we’re all honest with ourselves, there’s a lot of things we wish we could do over. 
But then there’s that leech-like vow that tells us:
  • You botched it once–don’t do it again loser.
  • Remember how embarrassed you were? You’ll feel the same way if you do it again. Don’t do it!
  •  Just go sit in your cubicle like a nice kid, don’t make waves, just get through the day.

And a day turns into a month, then a year, then a decade, and before we know it, that nasty vow keeps us from our do-over. It took Rosanne Barr about 20 years.

Why not begin your do-over now–before this week turns into a month, then a year, then a ‘never?’

Time to make a new vow. . . and smash that other one to bits while singing “oh say can you see…”

Big Fat Loser Confession: The ‘I’ll Try’ Enemy

I’ve said it at work while training sales consultants: “I’ll try” is a disease.After teaching, coaching, and seeing an employee experience a eureka light-bulb moment, I’ll sometimes hear two dreaded words: “I’ll try.” I honestly wish they’d just say “I won’t and I can’t.” No commitment, no change, no results. Just be honest with your life.

Now the confession: I’m sitting on my can, watching NBC’s The Biggest Loser. I often feel a bit guilty watching this show. Shouldn’t I be burning some calories, learning something, working on that project, I’ll think. Heck, at least I’m not downing chocolate and pizza… yet. Anyway, there are a couple big losers on the show and I’m not talking about their weight; I’m talking diseased minds.
My blood boils when I hear one of them say “I’ll try.” As in:
  • I’ll try to do the workout.
  • I’ll try to finish.
  • I’ll try to eat better.
  • I’ll try to make a change.

One of the participants just ate 37 mini doughnuts. Thirty. Seven. Doughnuts. That’s where the “I’ll try” willpower gets us–nowhere.

As creatives, let’s harpoon the “I’ll try” from our vocabulary and our mindset.

I’ve had a number of readers mention the encouragement they get from these posts. Fine folks who’ve hung up the paintbrushes, the pen and paper, the auditions etc. As they say in High School Musical, “We’re All in this Together.” I’m so sorry I just wrote that last sentence. My apologies.

If I’m honest with myself, I have to spear the “I’ll try” every time I seek to ideate and create. That’s why I’m writing this right now. I will write. I will contribute. I will inspire.

No more “I’ll try.”

I will. I can. I have something to share. I can bring a change. My work comes to good.

A heck of a lot different than “I’ll try.”

Why do you think we like to say “I’ll try?” What’s your new mantra to replace your “I’ll try?”

Writer Has Sore Throat, Loses Voice in Social Media Frenzy

I was performing at a theater. Acting. Costumes. Makeup. The whole nine yards. Livin’ the dream and getting paid to do it. Unfortunately, the toll of doing multiple shows a week did not agree with my vocal folds.They wanted a voice rest vacation.

The ear, nose, and throat doctor-guy informed my talking parts that they got to get the vacation they wanted: two weeks of no talking while they rested and I learned to communicate with no phonation. It was odd being at the checkout in Wal-Mart, trying to communicate with the cashier that (using gestures and read-my-lips word-mouthing) “I’m not talking.” Like an English-speaking American in a foreign land, I was treated like a non-native right there in my local Wal-Mart. She proceeded to talk louder and slower, assuming I was deaf or didn’t speak Wal-Mart-ese.

As creatives, haven’t we all been there?

We’re standing at the checkout line in life with insights and ideas we want to share, yet we can’t seem to find our voice. We stumble around, make a few mistakes, and start to feel emotionally flooded. We don’t often know how to get our creations into the world.

Do I blog? Should I tweet more? What about making a video? I gotta get an agent…

Welcome to the land of Overwhelmed. Overwhelmed-land takes us on a journey similar to a roller coaster ride: quick thrills, getting nowhere, back to where we began, no real progress.

Too many choices often leads to no choice at all. I think the glory of all this social media stuff is that we have multiple ways to express our ideas, rants, and opinions. At times, our intense desire to express them amounts to sitting in front of a television as one show bleeds into another; we watch other people’s handiwork rather than creating our own.

If you’re reading this, you are a creative. You have something to express. The only way to so it is to dive in. Right now.

Make all the mistakes you want. And keep making them. Maybe your blog posts will stink. Maybe your next ten auditions will get you nothing but rejection. Maybe your painting will never be in a gallery.

But what if your writing didn’t stink, you got the job, and your art changed how someone saw the world? What if you moved forward? What if you got off that roller coaster and took a step in a new direction? What if your movement created momentum?

“Half of the world is composed of people who have something to say and can’t and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it.” Thank you Mr. Robert Frost.

You and I have a voice. Even if we don’t know how to fully use it… yet.

What do you have to share with someone today? How are you going to express it?

The sky is not the limit.


The Writer’s Toolbox, an Exercise in Creative Bravery

My wife, ever the cheerleader (thanks babies!), bought me a wonderful gift that I didn’t bother to even open. How rude. Yes, but the time had to be right. Tonight’s the night!The gift, The Writer’s Toolbox, by Jamie Cat Callan, is both a book(let) and several simple inspiring exercises to get the brain jogging into the land of twists, turns, conflicts, descriptions, and plots.

Today’s exercise: using the sticks!

1. Draw a “First Sentence” stick.” Write for a few minutes.
2. Draw a “Non-Sequitur” stick. Write a bit longer.
3. Draw a “Last Straw” stick.

Here’s what came out… my ‘sticks’ sentences are underlined.


On Tuesday, Margaret told me she liked the little oranges with the seeds better than the ones I bought.I hated her for that.

Her distaste for anything ‘unnatural’ drove me to commit mind murder, the likes of which I’d not experienced since grade school. Kenny Malich, not Margaret, was the object of my half-rage then, but it felt the same now as is did back at Glen Heights Elementary in Canton.

We were celebrating Thanksgiving. My parents made me a pilgrim-like collar out of four sheets of thick black construction paper cut to form a circle around my neck. Sticking out awkwardly from my shoulders, the collar looked like a umbrella missing a few strands in it’s DNA. I pulled my socks over my pant cuffs and half way up my calf to further compliment my colonial-ness. There’s a shadowy memory of a hat and an odd belt buckle, but I can’t be certain at present. My costume, though complete, was anything but authentic, real, and natural.

Kenny was an indian. Oh yes, he got it all. He had the moccasins, the war paint, and even a hatchet. So cool. They were all the read deal too. Even the hatchet.

So why did I hate him and why did Margaret’s comment about the seeded clementines set me reeling back to childhood?

“You could make a living doing that kind of thing.” I suppose I could, but I had never thought about it, until then.

Produce aisle. Frozen for who knows how long. Holding oranges. I didn’t even know if I was blinking. It could’ve been five seconds or ten minutes. From the looks of my meager audience, my journey to elementary school and back to my seeded clementine selection had transformed me into a stick-figured mime.

I should’ve passed a hat and collected a few bucks.

“Yeah, well, woulda coulda shoulda ya know.” It was the first thing that came to mind. I would’ve felt more comfortable walking out of the grocery store half naked.

Maybe she felt that way because of the oranges, maybe she just didn’t like me because I forgot to pay her back for one too many lattes. Perhaps she even felt the same way I did about Kenny.

The past seems to be sinking down on all of us Margaret.

Got the creative juices going!
Try it. I dare you.