The Summer of 2022 marked a strong return to live concerts for me. I saw 10 significant acts perform this past summer and they all rocked. One of my favorite things about seeing a live show is that it forces you to be present. It is hard to not be in the moment when you have something loud and attention-grabbing in your face. Especially when there is a chance that you will see naked body parts at any moment. #MotleyCrue
But concerts aren’t just about listening to music. They present an excellent opportunity to learn. Because concerts offer a masterclass on performance, entertainment, and creativity. Concerts also remind you that people lose their minds when you mention the name of their city or state. #NobodyRocksLike…
The Concert Reminder
When I go to concerts I’m always reminded to be a rockstar. The world loves people who go big and different. We love people who inspire and energize. We love people who break outsides the standard guardrails of normality. While the majority of humans spend their time and effort trying to fit in, we celebrate those who bust out.
To make a rockstar impression on others ask yourself the following questions:
How can I be a rockstar in my world?
How can I light up a room?
How can I go bigger?
How can I put more into my performance?
How can I offer more energy?
How can I deliver more wow?
How can I serve up more surprises?
How can I be more entertaining?
How can I inspire others?
How can I move people?
How can I trash hotel rooms without it negatively affecting my loyalty program status? (Asking for a friend.)
Find your rockstar style. Make minds sparkle. Make people light up from your bright energy, skills, and abilities. Rock their world with your ideas. Your passion. Your daring. Inspire others. And continue to define and refine your style every day.
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Sunday night I returned home from my summer vacation. And my head is filled with inspiration I picked up along the way. I consider vacations to be critical to my creativity.
To feed your creativity you have to do, see, hear, feel and taste interesting things. Then you put all of those experiences and knowledge into your processor. Which enables you to create valuable new connections that lead to new ideas and inspirations.
Here are 23 sources of inspiration I collected over the last 9 days:
The power and wonder of Niagara Falls. (And the natural ability for trinket shops to capitalize on natural wonders.)
2. How simply setting a time and place for a reunion can draw people together from all over the country. (It’s easier to create these events than you think.)
3. The thrill of learning how to wake surf, and seeing your children learn too.
4. The beauty and artistry of handblown glass at Simon Pearce. (But thinking it should really be called mouthblown glass. Or maybe lungblown.)
5. Visiting my childhood home in Norwich, Vermont, and seeing both the change and the unchanged.
6. The magnetism and fun of the Ben & Jerry’s factory.
7. The way smoke from wildfires in Oregon can eventually alter the sunlight in New England.
8. The energy of Church Street in Burlington, Vermont. (Yet there is no Church’s Chicken.)
9. A fun hike on Mt. Philo and the panoramic view of the Green Mountains, Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks. (You can tell the Green Mountains from the Adirondacks by looking at the chairs.)
10. How amazing cleaned wedding bands look when you take them back to their birthplace to be polished up. (Not like Polish Sausage.)
12. Partaking in the summer tradition of rock jumping at waterfalls into deep pools of icy cold water. And how natural swimming spots are better than man-or-woman-made spots.
13. The joy of coordinating an impromptu meetup on the side of the road with my baby sister who I hadn’t seen in 2 years because of Covid. We realized the Venn Diagram of our travels overlapped for a brief moment in Concord, New Hampshire.
14. Walking the Freedom Trail in Boston and remembering the power of rebellion.
15. Witnessing the power of the Witch Hunt by visiting Salem, Massachusetts. (Then signing up for a witch-hunting safety course.)
16. The polish and panache of the shops and establishments on Newberry Street in Boston.
17. The serendipity of running into friends and family on the street when I saw my cousin Brooks Albrecht randomly on the sidewalk in Boston.
18. The draw of a winner at Gillette Stadium and Patriot Place in Foxborough, MASS. (Go Pats!)
19. The natural beauty of Newport, Rhode Island, and the wow of the Mansions on the Cliff Walk. (People do the walking, not the mansions.)
20. The vibrancy of Dublin, Ohio, where our family called home for 7 years. Dublin continues to innovate and transform itself. (I think they are trying to woo us back.)
22. Showing my family The Weaponry’s Columbus office for the first time.
23. An appreciation for home after an extended time away.
Take your vacation time. It is critical to your creativity, mental health, energy and inspiration. See and do new things. Revisit old favorites. Stimulate your brain. spend time with friends and family. Make new friends. And profit from it all in your professional and personal life.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
A year and a half ago I had a very big lunch in a very small town. Johnson Creek, Wisconsin has a population of just 2,738. But Johnson Creek sits halfway between Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin. Which is why I met Anne Norman there for lunch at Hiway Harry’s. Conceptually and architecturally, the restaurant lies halfway between a Rain Forest Cafe and a Frank Loyd Wright-inspired supper club. Which is a very unique space to occupy.
Anne Norman had just recently been named Chief Marketing Officer of the University of Wisconsin Credit Union. She arrived at the credit union after crushing it for such great brands as Culver’s restaurants and American Family Insurance. Our mutual friend Sue Northey told us that we needed to meet each other, and helped arrange the Hiway Harry’s adventure.
When we met, Anne was looking for an agency to help her make the UW Credit Union marketing as great as the UWCU member experience. And members looooove the UW Credit Union. I know. I became a member my third day on campus as a student at The University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Anne and I had a great conversation. We found that we were totally aligned on our approach to strategy, creativity and process. We laughed a lot. And we left Hiway Harry’s excited to work together. #suewasright
Making It Happen
My advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, quickly got to work on repositioning and rebranding the UW Credit Union. Then, on February 14th, 2019 we revealed the new look and the new work at the UWCU’s leadership conference at the beautiful, Frank Loyd Wright designed Monona Terrace Conference Center, in Madison. I wrote about the experience in A fresh new look for one of the most loved brands in Wisconsin.
Exactly 1 year and 1 day later, Anne and our teams were back at the Monona Terrace in Madison for the local Addy Awards. To be clear, I am not an advertising awards person. I prefer to avoid the conflict of interests between creating work to drive results for your clients and creating ads to win awards. I also prefer to avoid dressing up altogether.
But in this case, Anne Norman knew the work we created was really good. Our key performance indicators (KPIs) told us the campaign was working as anticipated for UW Credit Union. So Anne wanted to see how the creative stacked up against other work at the Addy Awards.
We entered a few billboards and a couple of radio spots in the awards show. Soon I was notified that we had won 5 awards. We were also strongly encouraged to attend the show. And to bring Anne Norman, her trusty sidekick Justine Kessler, and their husbands Devlin and Mike. So we did.
We knew which entries had won something. But we didn’t know what they had won. Kind of like when the Dad from A Christmas Story receives his fragile crate. Except when we busted our crate open we didn’t find a leg lamp.
The first entry to win an award was a radio commercial called Cool Mom. It won gold. Which apparently is good. It’s a cute spot that was fun to make. And always fun to hear on the radio.
The winning radio commercial
But wait! There’s more!
We also entered the 3 billboards above with the additional billboard below in an outdoor campaign entry called ‘Hello Milwaukee!’ It won a Judge’s Choice Award. Which meant that one of the 3 judges felt that this was the best thing in the entire show.
Here’s what Judge Carl (no relation to Judge Judy) had to say about our campaign. (My apologies if he is actually Judge Karl.)
I appreciate the fact that The Weaponry and UW Credit Union won these awards. But we didn’t need an awards show to know the work was good. We know that the ads work. They grab attention. They make people giggle. They are remembered. And they have helped the UW Credit Union quickly drive a XX% increase in awareness in Milwaukee. Which nailed our goal. (I put XX because I didn’t ask for permission to share the actual number. But notice that there are 2 Xs and not just one! Go UWCU!)
Roll The Credits!
Thanks to our Weapons Kristyn Lilley who designed the UW Credit Union brand look. And to Kevin Kayse, the writer who helped bring these adds to life. Thanks to Simon Harper for writing a great brief with a British accent. And thanks to Anne Norman for meeting me at Hiway Harry’s. For hiring The Weaponry. And for both demanding and approving great creative work.
Awards are nice. But they should never drive the work. In advertising the only thing that really matters is whether or not the work helps your clients grow. But if the work drives growth, like it has for the UW Credit Union, the awards are a nice cherry on top. Thank you to everyone at UW Credit Union for allowing us to join your team. We look forward to great things ahead!
Establishing a new business was much simpler before Al Gore invented the interwebs. You just established your legal entity with your state. You received a tax ID number from the federal government. Then, you got yourself a phone number from Ma Bell and listed it in something our forefathers called The Yellow Pages. Then you sat back and let your customers’ fingers do the walking across their phones to your business. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
It’s A Different World
In 2016, when I launched The Weaponry, my advertising and idea agency, things were very different. The Yellow Pages were effectively extinct. Because the Google and its band of digital buddies changed everything. Suddenly, you were expected to build a website that told the world everything it wanted to know about your business.
A High Degree Of Difficulty
For most new business creating a website is really hard. Most entrepreneurs don’t have the Bob Villa skills to build their own website. At least nothing that looks like a website you would want your business to live in. Of course you can hire someone else to design your website. But that can involve more expense than most bootstrapped startups can pay when they have no revenue.
Marching To An Offbeat Drummer
The Weaponry decided to do things differently. We created a fun and frivolous, if not totally fricken random website at The Weaponry.com. The first headline visitors read says, ‘Am I in the right place?’ And the first body copy on the site reads, ‘This is not a legit website’. At least visitors can’t say we didn’t warn them. The main image on our home page is of Laverne and Shirley from the sitcom Laverne & Shirley. I wrote in detail about the site in The story of our crazy website. Part 1: What is this?.
More Thought Than You Think
While it appears that we were just trying to be funny when we created our website there was actually a lot of thought put into the decision to create such an unconventional site. And here’s the rationale.
The 7 Reason The Weaponry doesn’t have a real website.
1. Our website is not our business.
I have met far too many entrepreneurs and non-trepreneurs who spent all of their critical, early effort thinking about their website. They spun their wheels and delayed the real work of establishing a new business until the website was complete. Which stole far too much of their valuable time when the business was still in its veal stage.
This is one of the biggest mistakes I see startups make. Instead of focussing on your website, focus on business development. Work on your network. Work on your processes and procedures. Work on your product or service. All of those things are far more valuable to your growth and long term viability than a website. Don’t fool yourself. A polished website is merely a placebo that makes you feel as if you have a real, viable business.
2. All agency websites looked the same.
Agencies love to puff about how creative and different they are. But the sites all say the same thing, which betrays the statement. If you are really different, and think different, do different. Our illegitimate website is nothing if not different. It helps us stand out. Which is the first order of business in marketing.
3. We didn’t start out with creative work to show.
Advertising agencies deal in the currency of ideas and creativity. In the beginning we didn’t have ideas that were born and raised at The Weaponry to share. I didn’t want to feature work that wasn’t conceived, gestated and birthed at The Weaponry. But agency websites that don’t show creative work feel as if the are covering something up. So we decided to avoid creative work altogether by not revealing anything.
4. Our website is meant for prospective employees. Not clients.
Websites, like any good piece of communication, should be crafted for a specific audience. The audience we most wanted to reach was prospective team members. We knew that creative thinkers would recognize what we were doing as very different. Which probably meant that the way we thought and operated was different. And that we are open to new and novel thinking. While I might not know much, I know, I know, I know this much is true.
5. The intrigue was too fun to let go.
When the first visitors found our fake site the fun began. People immediately wanted to know more. In fact, everyone told us that they read every single word on the site. We have now had that non-website for 3 years. And the stories just keep piling up. We could write a book on the stories we have heard, and the funny emails that have been forwarded to us. It has definitely created an inside/outside effect. All to the benefit of our insiders.
6. I didn’t want the business to grow faster than I grew as the leader of the business.
This is the most important reason we don’t have a real site. When I first launched The Weaponry I had a lot to learn. And I didn’t want the agency’s growth to outpace my own. It would likely lead to disaster. Unhappy clients, unhappy partners and unhappy employees.
I knew the business would grow. But I didn’t want the pressure of additional demand before we created the systems and processes to accommodate for it. So a magnetic website with great SEO and a sharply-honed paid search strategy, like we implement for our clients, would have actually worked against our long term plans.
7. My Own Rebelliousness
I simply like doing things differently. And I wanted to prove that even in the digital era you can grow a multi million dollar business without a website that shares a dot of data about you. Which is exactly what has happened.
What is even better is that smart businesses trust us to design and build their websites, despite the fact that we don’t have one ourselves. That will provide a great hook when I finally write the book about my experience. #MarketingBakedInFromTheStart
There are no absolutes in business. There are multiple ways to do everything. If everyone else is zigging then you should zag. Or zog or zeg. Because breaking the rules always gets you noticed. And getting noticed is the first step to making a sale. So learn all the rules. Then decide which ones are worth breaking. Then break away. It may just provide the break you’ve been looking for.
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There is a large sign on the wall in my office that features a quote from General Douglas MacArthur. It says, ‘You are remembered for the rules you break.’ That quote really resonates with me. Obviously. It is printed on the wall of my office.
I have always liked it when people break rules unapologetically. I like a rebel who insists on doing things his or her own way. They always make me wonder why more people don’t ignore the rules. Then I call up Colin Kaepernick. And he reminds me why.
The Exceptional Exceptions
I love the exceptions to the rule. Like short basketball players, doctors with clear signatures and Amish electricians. They inspire me with their unwillingness to be governed my the laws of the masses.
You Don’t Have To Do Anything
When I launched my advertising and idea agency everyone said you have to have a website. But I don’t put any stock in conventional thinking. In fact, just because everyone expected me to have a website made me not want to have a website. #RebelWithoutAurl
But there was more to it than that.
It isn’t as if I never wanted a website or never expected to have one. In fact, an important factor in deciding on the name The Weaponry was that TheWeaponry.com domain name was surprisingly available. Kinda like I was surprisingly available when I met my wife, Dawn. #youarewelcomebabe
When I secured theweaponry.com from GoDaddy for about $12, I had what I needed to launch our agency’s ‘@theweaponry.com’ email address. And that’s all I really wanted to do with it in the first year or so. However, I knew that people would naturally look at TheWeaponry.com to find out more information about us. So instead of leaving our little corner of cyberspace naked, I decided to have a little fun.
I Wanna Mock!
I created what is essentially a mock-website for The Weaponry. I put slightly more thought into the mock site than it may appear. In fact, before I created theweaponry.com I laid out 5 basic requirements of the site. I wanted it to:
Appear as if it was plausibly a website for The Weaponry.
Not offer a single bit of information about The Weaponry.
Make visitors laugh.
Make visitors visit every page and read every word.
Offer a sense of our brand, even without any real information about us.
First Break All The Rules
At the risk of stating the obvious, we have taken a non-traditional approach to creating our business website. In fact, I frequently read lists of things you must or must not do when designing and developing your company website. And we are cleanly on the wrong side of every single point.
What You See
If you have not yet visited theweaponry.com, it features the words The Weaponry at the top of the page. Which makes it seem legit. However, the first words of body copy on the site are ‘This is not a legit website.’ It just devolves from there.
The home page features Laverne and Shirley from the classic television sitcom Laverne and Shirley. The Our Philosophy page simply features the lyrics to the Laverne and Shirley theme song.
More Than Meets The Eye
We admittedly send site visitors on what appears to be a wild goose chase. (What fun is there in chasing a tame goose?) But there is a method to the madness. What we are actually doing is entertaining and intriguing visitors. We are revealing an important insight about our agency. And we are demonstrating that we know how to shepherd a visitor through a website, all the way to the Contact Us. And many do.
This faux website does a great job of attracting the type of employees we want to attract. Every week, creative thinkers, rebels, innovators and people who like to laugh share how much they love the silliness that is our website. As a result we have become an attractive option for those we are trying to recruit.
There are no hard and fast rules. Do things your way. Don’t be afraid to zig when others zag. Especially if zigging leaves you in an open space, away from the crowd. Because putting more space on the perceptual map between you and your competition is exactly what marketing and innovation are supposed to do. So do things differently than your competition. Take chances. If you simply do what everyone else does you won’t be remembered. General Douglas MacArthur taught me that.
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#If you haven’t checked out our silly little website yet click here. (This link may or may not take you to our website…)
I love ideas. In fact, I love them so much that I create new ideas for a living. And I can’t think of a better job. As a professional creative thinker my ideas help sell products and services. My ideas help name products, build brands and solve problems of all sizes and shapes, except hyperboloids.
Seek A Professional Opinion
In the same way a medical doctor is sought out to offer medical advice, businesses seek me out for creative advice. And I have written some pretty funky, yet effective prescriptions. Like filling a Prevost bus full of ping pong balls with Danica Patrick for Nationwide Insurance. And claiming that a Ski-Doo MX-Z snowmobile is so responsive it knows which butt cheek you’re flexing. And dressing 100 Argentinian men in pink bodysuits for Snickers.
Things I Hate
As much as I love a great idea I hate it when non-professional creatives share their ideas. You’re probably thinking that I am a typical creative A-hole who thinks no one else could possibly have a good idea. (See ‘The No A-holes Rule”). But, Au contraire, mon frère!
Where Great Ideas Come From
I know with 100% certainty that great ideas can, and do come from anywhere. And anyone. There is no monopoly on creativity in a creative department. No, what I abhor about non-creatives sharing their ideas is the way they typically do it.
You’re Doing It Wrong!
I know that probably sounds like I am judging people on their idea sharing etiquette. Or shaming people for the poor idea sharing technique. But that’s not what I am getting at.
What profoundly bothers me when non-professionals share their ideas is how they often discount the idea before they even unwrap it. Nothing takes the punch out of a great idea like introducing it with one of the following phrases:
‘This is probably stupid but…’
‘I’m not creative at all but…’
‘Feel free to shoot this down…’
“I’m not the creative person here…’
“Here comes a bad client idea…’
“Ok, bad account person idea…’
‘What if… no, never mind, bad idea.”
Share Without Apology
These type of apologetic disclaimers are poison to the creative process. Just as improv works on the ‘Yes-And’ Rule, meaning that every idea shared is embraced and built upon, a strong creative development process requires us to embrace fully-baked, half-baked and raw idea as they are presented. Because there is something to build on within every idea.
Connect The Dots
Creativity is about connecting disparate elements. So we should all throw our unique thoughts and ideas on the table. Not just the professional creatives and strategists. Clients, account people, media, technologist, sales, engineering and accounting can all add a very valuable perspective. Spouses and children who know the problem to be solved can too.
Loud and Proud
We all need to contribute our ideas without apologizing. Because when you eliminate the disclaimers, and stop unselling your work before you share it, you’ll get a much better reaction. Which makes everyone more comfortable exploring and sharing their ideas in the future.
Great ideas can come from everywhere. There is no monopoly on creativity in creative departments and creative businesses. Which means that no one should ever apologize for having a good thought. The best idea wins. It’s that simple. So share your thinking without discounting it. Encourage others to do the same. And let’s recognize and value all the disparate thoughts that helped us build to the best final idea. When you do that you create an environment that generates more great ideas. I should know. I am a professional.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
In a normal year my family and I would be heading to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina this week. Unfortunately, our family’s August vacation tradition looks like it has come to an end. Because our kids’ sports obligations have locked us at home for the month of August for the next 9 years. Boo.
Exploring Our Backyard
But when life gives you lemons you have to squeeze them for all they’re worth. That’s why we have been using our weekends to explore interesting attractions closer to home. In the past couple of weeks we have been to the Milwaukee Air and Water Show, The Milwaukee Zoo, The Wisconsin State Fair, The Chazen Art Museum and more state parks than you can shake a state park pass at.
The House On The Rock
This weekend we hit one of the most mysterious of midwestern attractions. The House On The Rock. I had heard about this place since I was a small child but really didn’t know what it was, other than the obvious information I gleaned from the name itself. Because I am smart like that.
Imagination At Work
The House On The Rock turned out to be extremely interesting, fun and weird. As the name implies, there is a house built on a rock. But there is a whole lot of interesting stuff housed adjacent to the rock that is hard to wrap your head around, or put into words. So I won’t attempt it here. Suffice it to say The House On The Rock is the product of an active imagination.
Meeting My Quota of Quotes
One of my favorite spaces at THOTR was a room full of inspirational quotes focused mostly on the power of imagination. As an advertising creative I have spent my entire career mining my own imagination. As an entrepreneur I have seen how an entire business can spring from the blueprints of our imagination. So I am sharing some of the quotes I found here. I hope there is something that resonates with you.
Your imagination is your most valuable asset. It can help you create wealth, happiness and comfort. It can get you into the places you want to be in. And out of the places you want out of. Use it. Protect it. Value it. Build your life on it. Like a house on a rock.
*If you know someone who could use some inspirational quotes (#everyone) please share it with them.
I am a self-proclaimed Early Owl. This rare avian species is a cross between an Early Bird and a Night Owl. Which means I love to go to bed late AND get up early. It’s how I am squeeing* as much as I can out of life. (*Squeeing is just squeezing without the required Zzz’s).
I don’t sleep nearly as much as I should. But I recognize the value of good sleep. Whenever I force myself to get a little more of that night magic I feel even better. Lately, I’ve been going back to school on the power of sleep. My coursework includes the writings by born-again sleep evangelist, Ariana Huffington, including her books Thrive and The Sleep Revolution.
I have learned that only 27 percent of American grown-folk get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night during the week. Only 10 percent prioritize sleep over other daily activities. And I want to be in that number, when the saints come marching in.
Your Best Bet Is A Better Bedtime
The key to getting more sleep is going to bed earlier. In fact, going to bed early is the adult version of sleeping in. Historically I have had serious trouble with this. And I have identified the main cause.
My late nights are not a result of drugs or alcohol. I never found the on-ramp to either of those hobbies (although they look fun). I don’t stay up late playing video games or studying pornography (although they both look fun too). I don’t guzzle coffee or energy drinks. Unless you consider chocolate milk an energy drink. I just call it delicious.
My sleep problem is a result of a chronically curious brain. At night, when my wife and three children are in bed, my curiosity and I are ready to party. I love to read. I gobble up books, magazines, and online articles like a turkey. My curiosity helps me chew through online videos, social media posts, and Netflix programing like a starving goat. My curiosity will devour everything and anything. The whole world is interesting to me. Which makes my curiosity the #1 enemy of my sleep.
If my curiosity is allowed to run feral, it will sprint past midnight, and well into the early morning hours. But my alarm is always set for 6am, whether I go to bed at 10pm (never) or 2am. I typically get under 6 hours of sleep. But I am working hard to up that to 7 hours.
The New Plan
I have come up with an idea to help me sleep more. It is borrowed from an idea that has been around since the invention of the teenager. I have implemented a self-imposed Curiosity Curfew. As of 11pm on weeknights, I have to put the books, magazines and iPhone down. I turn my TV/Netflix/Internetting device off. If I have work to do I can still do it. But no more exploring the world. It is the best thing I can think of to get my head to bed earlier.
Sleep is important. It’s how you refresh, recharge, rebound, reenergize and regenerate. If you are going to bed too late, identify the cause, and implement a curfew on the offender. It will help you increase your overall sleep. And getting enough sleep is both a health and quality of life issue. As good as you may think you are with little sleep, you are always better with more.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this story, please share it with them.
Creative thinking requires you to fill your head with interesting stimuli. This takes effort. Because life’s most interesting elements don’t just show up on your doorstep like Ed McMahon, with a giant check, balloons and a camera crew. That’s why I make a regular point of visiting museums.
Long before social media and hipster shopping sites made curation seem like a cool new idea, museums around the world began curating facts, images, stories, ideas and experiences. Museum-style binge-learning helps you stretch your mind in unexpected directions. This is good for everyone. But essential for professional creative thinkers, like me.
I visit the Field Museum and the Museum of Science and Industry at least once a year. But there is so much to see that I always find new things to tickle my brain. Here are a smattering of things that caught my attention this weekend.
9 Things That Stretched My Brain
1. Sea Dragons
2. The Helicoprion
3. Vertical Farms
4. Our Proximity to Space
5. Zheng He’s Treasure Ship
6. The Rate of Extinction
7. The Tiger River Stingray
8. How Sue Got Its name
9. How They Got The Boeing 727 to The Museum
If you want to think in new and more interesting ways, you have to continue to feed your brain new and more interesting food. There is no better way to expand your thinking than exploring a museum. I encourage you to find one near you with a reciprocal membership that offers access to museums in other cities. That way you can see great museums whenever you travel. Or better yet, you’ll have great new reasons to travel.
Bonus Points: Can anyone name the art museum in the featured image at the top of this post? Leave your guesses in the comment section!
When I was a child I was fascinated to learn that the brain is not one solid organ. The brain is actually divided, down the middle, into two hemispheres un-creatively known as the right brain and left brain. The brainispheres have different job assignments. Essentially they work like a great team, dividing the responsibilities of braining for humans into separate but equal parts. Which means your brain works like Siegfried and Roy, Abbott and Costello or Dumb & Dumber.
People often talk about being either right-brained or left-brained. If you have not heard such talk, it goes like this: The right side of the brain is thought to control your creative and artistic thinking. While your left brain controls your logic and rational behavior. As with politics, when it comes to braining, people often identify with one side or the other.
I have spent my entire career as a professional creative thinker. I started out as a Copywriter and progressed to the title of Chief Creative Officer. Every title I had for 20 years had either the word writer or creative in it. So it’s natural to sort me into the right-brained team. People do it all the time. In conversations I hear people say ‘You right-brained types…’ or ‘Us right-brained types…’
I have never thought of myself as being right-brained. Not once. Ever. I have never thought of myself as being primarily a creative thinker. It’s not that I don’t think creatively. I know I do. But I also use careful analysis and logic every day. I love the scientific method and the absoluteness of math. I enjoy calculating my taxes. But I don’t enjoy stereotypes. Except for Bose. Those guys make great types of stereos.
The latest role in my career has been as an Entrepreneur. As the Founder & CEO of the advertising and idea agency The Weaponry, I am required to use all of my brain at work. While our service offering is unquestionably creative, everything else about the business is decidedly based in the left brain. I have to think about our accounting, finances, benefits, and human resources. I have to establish processes for project management, account management, and invoicing.
There is not an element of business that I don’t I feel comfortable with. I understand, appreciate and enjoy all of the thinking that goes into starting and running a business. I see it all as a big system of constants and variables. Some disciplines require more creative thinking. Others require very practical analysis. I am thankful that my brains get along like Bert and Ernie. Their daily cooperation helps me function as one whole person.
It is limiting, if not damaging to label people, including yourself, as right-brained or left- brained. According to Dr. Daniel G. Amen in his book Making A Good Brain Great, it is a myth that we only use 10% of our brain. Our entire brain is on and working our entire lives, even when we sleep. If you were born with, and still have, both hemispheres of your brain, use them. Some skills and processes may come more naturally. But that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t work to develop the others.
The danger in the right-brain, left-brain labels is that you will start to believe that you can’t do things. Then you won’t take on tasks or challenges, because you have told yourself you are no good at them. But you can be. You just have to make sure you are not limiting your thinking.