A little creative inspiration for us all from the US Postal Service.

Last week I needed to mail a check. Yes, this sometimes still happens. I went to the drawer where our mailing paraphernalia lives and pulled out a sheet of stamps. And I paused. I was struck by just how artful, detailed and interesting the stamps were. Then my wife Dawn said, ‘Don’t use those. I bought those for Johann.’ (My son Johann is really into trains, as you can read about in Never Be Afraid To Ask For What You Want.)

The stamps that got me thinking.

As I examined the stamps in our Stampatorium, spending far more time engaging with them than I ever imagined I would, I realized the US Postal Service could teach a master class on creativity. Because they infused massive creativity into a space that required none.

These are current US Postal stamps, as of this posting. How cool are these? I mean, it’s the sun, and the sun is super hot. But the design and idea are way cool.

The Stamp

The postal stamp has no reason to be cool or interesting. After all, its only job is to tell the Postal Service that the delivery fee has been paid. It could simply say PAID, and it would have met the minimum requirement. Heck, it doesn’t even need to do that. It could be a black square that you put on your white envelope and that would serve as a signal that the fee had been paid.

America’s first stamp from 1847. I think that is the guy from the Ben Franklin Stores. Although it looks like one of the guys from the 80s Hair Band Reunion Tour, who is now in his 80s.

Pushing The Envelope

Instead, the US Postal Service has created an endless parade of tiny works of art to adorn our envelopes. They are ever-changing, covering every season, every category of honor and commemoration you can think of. And plenty that you would never have thought of. But don’t worry, the Director of Stampology at the USPS has spent a lot of time thinking about it for you.

Some Super Stamps

As a result, stamps not only are interesting to look at, they often tell an interesting story, or teach a valuable lesson, within the bounds of a one-inch square. In fact, they do such a great job, that people collect them, trade them and sell them. In fact, my head high school track coach, Tom Jennings, had an entire business selling stamps, that all started with a stamp collection he had when he was a kid. And the only reason a kid starts collecting stamps is that stamps are cool and collectible.

Why Hello Stamp!

The Big Question

The postal service saw an opportunity to turn a tiny, forgettable touchpoint into their hallmark. Which should inspire all of us to ask:

Which touchpoints could I turn into differentiators or signatures for my business or personal brand?

As the postal service has shown us, anything can become a signature element of our brand. Just look around. Find the most boring element within your brand, or within your personal ecosystem, and do something interesting and differentiating.

Beautify America though stamps and plants.

My Calling Card

Can’t think of anything? Call me at 614-256-2850. If I don’t pick up you’ll get my voicemail greeting which always has a non traditional message. In fact, people often text me and tell me they are about to call just to hear my voicemail greeting. Which means people call me who don’t even want to talk to me because I have made something boring interesting. You can do that too.

Key Takeaway

Find your special thing. The thing that didn’t have to be special. That usually isn’t. But that you made special. That thing will not only add joy, intrigue, or interest to others, it will make you more memorable.Which means that when opportunities come along, you will be thought of first.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

Why you are less creative today, and what to do about it tomorrow.

The Torrance Test is like the IQ test, but for creativity. New research on the Torrance creativity scores by researchers at the University of William and Mary show that U.S. Torrance creativity scores have been dropping steadily since the ‘90s. (The decade not the age.)

One of the main reasons for our decrease in creativity is that we are no longer doing one of the most important things you need to do to think creatively. It is not creating Shrinky Dinks, wearing acid wash jeans, or rocking a mullet.

We no longer simply sit and think.

We don’t allow ourselves to be quiet and un-entertained. Today, we have cured ourselves of boring moments with our arsenal of digital devices, televisions, and computers. As long as you have electrical power you have something to do to fill your empty time.

But the ubiquitous digitization of our planet has a devastating effect on our creativity. It is like the burning of the South American rainforests. Or the melting of the polar ice caps. Except what we are losing isn’t trees or ice. It is our creative thinking and innovation.

So how do we solve this?

We need to be bored.

We need to stop entertaining ourselves at all times.

We need to turn our digitals off regularly.

We need to lie quietly in bed at the start and end of the day.

We need to turn our idea generators on and let them run uninterrupted for long stretches.

We need to reprogram ourselves to use these incredible digital machines as tools for creativity rather than time killers, entertainment crutches, and boredom erasers.

Creativity Tip: While you are waiting you should be creating.

Employers need to adjust expectations too. If you expect your employees to respond to emails, calls, texts and slacks quickly, you are programming them to check their digitals often. And that leads to the type of check-in habit that eliminates room to think. Instead, we should slow down our response expectations. And put a premium on regular stretches of total focus on creation, problem-solving, and strategic thinking.

Key Takeaway

The longer you spend thinking the closer you get to great ideas. Make sure you spend the time you need to get all the way there. Long, uninterrupted stretches of thinking are where the gold is. So go there. Get yours. You’ll find your quiet time pays off in many valuable ways.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

Why it’s good to explore options that sound terrible.

Yesterday I grabbed lunch at a Willy’s Mexicana Grill in Atlanta. After I ordered my go-to lunch, The Frito Burrito, I headed for the beverage area to determine how I was going to liquidate my meal.

The beverage area included a Coca-Cola Freestyle beverage mix-master. There was an iced tea section with several suitably southern options. And there was a lemonade department with both lemon-flavored (go figure) and raspberry-flavored lemonade.

I love such liquidation stations. Not just for the variety. But for the opportunity to play mixologist and create my own signature concoction.

But you know who else loves that kind of liquidation station? Little kids.

As I was prepping to Frankenstein my cup I heard a kid tell his Dad about his fun new drink concoction. His Dad wrinkled his nose and furrowed his brow at the thought of the boy’s non-intuitive flavor collision.

Then the boy said something important.

“It sounds bad. But it tastes great!”

-Experimental Beverage Boy at Willy’s

When I heard the boy’s cheery response I felt immense gratitude for humans like him. I am thankful for curious minds who want to discover new options. People brave enough to try things that sound bad, but that turn out to be amazing. Like Ben & Jerry for putting pretzels in Ice Cream. Like Willy, for putting Fritos in my burritos. And for whoever it was that first decided to try drinking the white liquid that came out of a cow. And the brave soul who thought to eat the egg-shaped thing that popped out of a chicken’s nether regions.

Key Takeaway

It is those willing to experiment that discover the great new ideas. They create new flavors, sounds, styles, designs, and processes. They create new genres and shake up industries. They disrupt categories and reveal new possibilities for growth and expansion. Thank you explorers, creatives, inventors and pioneers. And thank you to the little boy and his beverage experiment that reminded me of all this yesterday at lunch. This week I hope you try something new that sounds bad. May you be well rewarded for your curiosity.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

Why adults should tap into the power of playing Pretend.

When I was a kid we didn’t have electronics. Check that, we had one television in our living room. It had no remote control, so you had to get up and go to the TV to change the channel and volume, or to fix the vertical hold. I didn’t have any video games. Our only phone was wired to the wall. And the only fun things you could do with the phone was prank call your friends, or dial 867-5309 and ask for Jenny.

The Pretender

As a result of my Amish-ish youth, I had to find other ways to fill my time. One of my go-to activities was playing Pretend. It worked like this: I pretended I was someone else with a more interesting life than my own. That’s pretty much it.

My pretending covered a wide range of roles. Sometimes I pretended to be a farmer, doctor, astronaut, or soldier. Other times I pretended to be a professional athlete or a cowboy. I used to pretend to run a chapel in my basement. And my older sister Heather and I even used to regularly play (wait for it…) Brother and Sister! We played together the way we saw brothers and sisters play on TV, or in the movies. Which meant that we got along better and did way more adventurous stuff.

Today I am full-grown-ish, yet I still play Pretend. Because I now recognize that if you play Pretend long enough, and really commit to the part, you can make things happen for real.

How it has worked for me.

College

In college at The University of Wisconsin, I pretended I was going to be an advertising creative. So I declared a major in journalism to learn about writing, strategic communications, and the other isms behind journals. I also declared a psychology major, because I wanted to know more about human thinking and motivation. I realized that declaring a major is simply a fancy name for playing Pretend. Just like kilt is a fancy name for man-skirt.

Entrepreneurship

In 2015, at the height of my employed career, I started pretending I was an entrepreneur, and that I owned my own advertising agency. So I started doing all the things I thought entrepreneurs do. I read books about launching and running businesses. I hung out with successful entrepreneurs. I wrote down all my plans. And I talked to people as if I was a real entrepreneur. Suddenly, real people started asking me if I could do work for them with my pretend business. When that happened, my pretend business instantly became a real business. Just like Pinocchio became a real boy. No lie. And no strings attached. Today that business is called The Weaponry.

Blogging

About the same time, I also pretended that I was a blogger. So I did what I thought real bloggers did. I went to a blogging website called WordPress.com, I created a pretend blog, and I started writing pretend posts. Then, after I had written 5 of those, I started publishing them. Within minutes people started reading them. You, my reader-friend, are proof that I am a real blogger. Because you are most certainly a real reader. (Maybe you could write ‘Real Reader’ in the comments to confirm my Real Reader hypothesis.) My blog has now been read in nearly 130 countries around the world. (Because there aren’t 130 countries crowded into one part of the world).

No ending to the pretending.

Today, I am playing Pretend more than ever. Over the past year, I have pretended to be a cartoonist, an author, a community organizer, a high school track coach, an investor, an employee of a tech start-up, a t-shirt maker, and the owner of a food business. All of these things that I have pretended to be are now in various stages of reality. Just like Kanye West.

What About You?

Are you pretending to be who you really want to be? Are you pretending to do the things you really want to do? It’s easier than you think. Just act like you did when you were a child. You knew what to do then. Simply do the same thing now. And if you pretend all the way, you will get all the way to what you were pretending to be. Just like Jackson Browne. Or Chrissie Hynde.

Key Takeaway

Never stop pretending. It is the first step to creating. It is how you activate your beliefs, manifest your dreams, and live into your vision. Because when you pretend hard enough everyone will take you seriously. Including yourself.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

To accomplish more, learn to quiet your curiosity.

Curiosity is a powerful force. It drives creativity and innovation. It fuels growth and understanding. It inspires us to challenge assumptions and explore new frontiers.

However, just as curiosity can be highly detrimental to cats, it can also be the kryptonite to your success. Because unchecked curiosity kills focus. And focus is the key to progress.

When attacking your work you need a singular focus on the task at hand. (Even if you are in a relationship.) Curiosity is constantly working to distract and disrupt your focused efforts. Like a gremlin. Or The Noid that used to ruin your pizza in the 80s.

Curiosity, paired with the access to infinite information and endless rabbit holes at your fingertips, means that a fleeting thought or a sparkle of a question in your head can be instantly acted upon. By following your curiosity you destroy the momentum, thinking, and effort that pays off in the form of progress, creation, and accomplishment.

You have to train yourself that curiosity is not to be acted upon when you are in total focus mode. Or what I call ToFo. Which is when your most important gains are made. You need to fight curiosity like you would defend your house if you wore Under Armor. Or the way you would combat an opponent during competition.

It is valuable to train your brain to take greater pleasure from defending itself against the sirens of curiosity than from the scratched itch of answering trivial questions. Learn to recognize the negative influence of ill-timed curiosity. And don’t be afraid to tell curiosity, ‘You be illin’. (Just like I told spellcheck that it must not be a Run DMC fan.)

The Question

Ask yourself, ‘If I pursuit this curiosity now, will it distract me from more important work?’ When the answer is yes, simply don’t pursuit the answer. That simple act of denial will help you accomplish more every day..

Key Takeaway

Curiosity is a double-edged sword. While it drives innovative thinking, it often distracts us from our most important work. Make social media, search engines and other curiosity sucks off-limits during sessions of Total Focus in order to enjoy maximum progress. Put in the mindpower needed to accomplish the task at hand. Keeping curiosity at bay is the single greatest step you can take to accomplishing more. Focus on feeding your focus. There will plenty of time for curiosity when the work is done.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

Hey big-picture thinkers, is it a 10,000, 30,000 or 50,000-foot view?

I like to think of myself as a thinker. I think all the time. If I was a cartoon character I would be Thinker Bell. If I was a pop star I would be Robin Think. And if I was an assassin I would be John Thinkley Jr.

I think about small details. I like to consider all the little things that matter. Because, as the band Bush sang, it’s the little things that kill. I also find great value in big-picture thinking. It is immensely valuable to be able to step back and see an entire system, business, system, or opportunity.

As a professional ideator, I spend a lot of time in both micro and macro-thinking modes. It is important to be comfortable in both. I am also quite comfortable at mecro thinking, which is what I call the medium view. Or at least I have been calling it that since the last sentence.

However, I have noticed that big-picture thinking suffers from a branding consistency issue. People can’t seem to agree on a standard elevation for big picture evaluation. I have frequently heard people refer to this as the 10,000-foot, 30,000- foot, or 50,000-foot view. I would prefer not to have to develop 3 different calibrations for big thinking. So I am hoping we can settle on one standard. Like VHS.

10,000 feet

10,000 feet sounds nice and clean. It uses a nice, round, large number. So there is good rationale for using it. Plus, it’s a 10-base number, which makes it like the metric system of big views.

30,000 feet

The 30,000-foot view sounds pretty random. Like a 32-degree freezing point. Or 212- degree boiling point. However, I fly a lot. Correction – I used to fly a lot. #covid I know that airplanes typically fly in the 30,000-foot range. So it is the highest view I have ever really experienced. It looks a lot different than the 10,000 foot view. Plus, the tallest mountain on Earth, Mt. Everest, is just about 30,000 feet. And the view from the top is amazing. (I’ve never climbed Everest, but I was a long-time subscriber to Outside magazine.)

50,000 feet

The 50,000-foot view is interesting. It is the highest of the 3 options. So, therefore, offers the biggest picture view of all. Although I have never seen the world from 50,000 feet. So I have more of a guess as to what it would look like. Perhaps at 50,000 feet, we have gone too high. There is a good chance that this elevation pushes things too far to be useful. Like 6 Minute Abs.

My View

I have chosen my default big picture elevation. But I feel like I am being constantly overbid or underbid on my view, depending on whether we are playing Big Picture Christie’s Auction House or Big Picture Name That Tune. (You should be able to tell from my last statement which elevation I use.)

The Question

So what is the correct standard for big picture thinking? I want to hear from you. How high do you go? And if you know why you choose that elevation I’d love to hear. After my ears pop that is.

*If you know someone who thinks big, please share this with them so we can all get on the same altimeter.

The great value of reading through your old notebooks today.

I love great books. I have several of them lately. So far in 2021, I have read The Cashflow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki (again), Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff, Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller Sr. by Ron Chernow, and The Magic of Thinking Big by Daniel Schwartz. I highly recommend all of them. Although Titan is 832 pages. So if you are low on time you may prefer to ready about someone poorer.

What I’m Digging Now

However, I have also been into another fascinating series recently. These books are not by a well-known author. They are not flying off the shelf. In fact, they have never even been published. Because the other great books I have been reading lately are my own notebooks. Like James Garner, but without the nursing home and the dementia.

I have a shelf of old notebooks. They are filled with notes, quotes, ideas and doodles. There is humor and profound thought. Lessons and charts. There are business ideas T-shirt designs. And there are inappropriate comments I had in meetings that I wrote down and nudged over to the person sitting next to me to read.

Pro Tip: Always sit next to me in boring meetings for the notebook nudge.

Each time I crack open an old notebook I feel like I am transported to a day of discovery and creation in my past. I find so much inspiration in these books that I regret not looking at them more frequently. I also appreciate the really boring meetings more in hindsight because they filled pages with doodles and funnies.

Plan A Revisit

Make sure to find time to read YOUR old notebooks. There is gold in them thar quills! And it is waiting to be cashed in by you.

Whether you keep notebooks, sketchpads, journals, diaries, or even notes on your phone, make sure to revisit them regularly. Because once you begin filling the blank pages, they are transformed into books you have written.

Your notebooks are full of inspiration, reminders, lessons, and quotes. They are sprinkled with great ideas you’ve had, or heard. The ideas captured in your notebooks are likely your most powerful, memorable, and important. They spring from your greatest moments of inspiration, and the depths of boredom. And either will do.

They may contain plans you’ve had, strategies you’ve considered, or challenges you faced. They may hold the schedules of days in the past, that you can look back on and see when important steps were taken that positively impacted your path. They may serve as your personal history books of dates, plans, tasks, priorities, meetings and obligations. With the gift of hindsight you can determine the value of your actions, and perhaps the cost of your inaction.

Notebooks from talks, presentations, seminars are particularly useful. Because at those time you were exposed to new people, ideas, lessons, methods, and insights. Often times the value we reaped in such situations goes unrealized until we revisit our notes again.

Only You Can Think That Thought

Your life experience and perspective create thoughts that only you could have. Which is why they are so valuable. But you are also so busy that a fleeting thought is often gone forever if not captured in your notebooks. Which means that your notebooks are often full of gems you never would have rediscovered any other way.

Key Takeaway

Some of the best ideas you have ever had are found in your old notebooks. Make sure to revisit them. Remind yourself of your best lessons, thoughts, and plans. They can serve as inspiration, comfort, or humor. Of all the books that you should reread, the books you’ve written yourself often hold the most value. Keep them close. Read them often. And profit from the rediscovery.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.

Why it is so valuable to wonder as you wander.

In 2005 I spent a week working in Iceland and never saw the sun go down. While in the land of the ice and snow (with the midnight sun where the hot springs flow), I enjoyed a few closeup experiences with icebergs. In fact, one day we filmed my friend Thor Kjartanson waterskiing among freshly-calved icebergs. Which made Thor the most badass Viking since Fran Tarkenton.

Icebergs are magical creations. They are beautiful. Like floating sculptures. Icebergs are always moving and always transforming. However, as magnificent as one of these floating masses of Titanic-sinking ice art is to look at, roughly 90 percent of an iceberg is below the surface, and thus goes unseen.

Below The Surface

I feel like an iceberg. On a typical day, 90% of my activity is below the surface and goes unseen. Because my mind is always going somewhere. I am always thinking, wondering, and building in my brain.

Mental Jogging

One of my favorite hobbies is mental jogging. I simply start to think about anything I am interested in. Then I quickly jump from topic to topic and idea to idea, noting the connective tissue between each. It’s an enjoyable and useful form of mental parkour. (If you don’t know what parkour is check out this video explanation and the hilarious twist on the sport from The Office.)

Valuable Thinking

I spend a large percentage of my time thinking. But I am not just thinking about things I need to do or remember. I am exploring, creating, ideating and wondering as I wander. Like Fred Savage.

But despite the millions of miles of mental jogging that I have logged, only recently have I ever thought that not everyone does this. Which I think is a form of thinking bias I didn’t think I had.

I can jump into full ideation and creation mode, anywhere, anytime. I have made a career out of it. Heck, I have created two businesses out of it, including my t-shirt business, Adam & Sleeve, and my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry.

This person has magical feet that leave the footprints of many people.

Get Quiet And Get Thinking

I can think of new ideas, adventures, inventions and connections all day long. You can too. But do you? It simply requires a little quiet spot in your day. You can find time while you drive, or shower or lie in bed. Don’t fill your quiet moments with digital distractions. Allow yourself a little boredom, and let your thinking fill the void.

Thinking is the most valuable activity you can do.

Here are 14 Reasons Why:

  1. Thinking is what creates new ideas.
  2. Thinking is where winning strategies are born.
  3. Thinking leads to paradigm-shifting innovations.
  4. Thinking is where entertainment comes from.
  5. Thinking solves problems.
  6. Thinking creates opportunities.
  7. Thinking creates advantages and helps reveal them.
  8. Thinking changes perceptions and outlooks.
  9. Thinking inoculates you from a sense of helplessness
  10. Thinking provides freedom.
  11. Thinking creates adventure.
  12. Thinking turns the tables
  13. Thinking develops habits
  14. Thinking can give your courage, and heart, and a brain, and helps you find a lift back home.

Key Takeaway:

Thinking is the seed from which all great realities are born. To improve both your situation and your outlook, improve your thinking. Make a habit of thinking, and your thinking habit will make you.

*If you know someone who you think would benefit from this message, please share it with them.

It’s time to enjoy a taste of the holidays, with Sprecher.

Sprecher Root Beer is the best root beer in America. That’s not just my opinion. The New York Times said that. (And so did my kids, over and over.) Because Sprecher root beer is just that good. But like wassailing and dressing like an elf, Sprecher root beer is even more popular at Christmas time.

That’s why Sprecher Craft Soda approached The Weaponry about creating a new ad campaign to run throughout the 2020 holiday season. Now it’s the holiday season! So hoop-de-do and hickory dock. And don’t forget to hang up your sock so Santa can stuff it with Sprecher.

The Insight

Sprecher sodas taste great every day of the year. But research reveals that Sprecher lovers strongly link the great taste of Sprecher to the holidays. For anyone who grew up drinking Sprecher, there is a great sense of tradition, nostalgia and comfort in these brown bottles of deliciousness. When creating the new work, we tapped into that feeling like a keg of root beer.

One of the new ads, featuring the Family Truckster and a big ole bottle of Sprecher Root Beer.

Delish You A Merry Christmas!

If you have never had a Sprecher, Sprecher is to root beer what Krispy Kreme is to donuts and HoneyBaked is to ham. Once you’ve had one, it will spoil you for all other root beers. Which is why I believe Jesus wants me and my family to have Krispy Kreme, HoneyBaked and Sprecher on our table on Christmas Day. #WWJD

The More The Merrier!

Families have celebrated the holidays with Sprecher sodas for decades. But it’s not just the root beer. The Cream Soda is smooth, like a Barry White Christmas. The Orange Dream is, well, dreamy. And both the Ginger Ale and Ginger Beer leave your mouth ting-ting-ting-a-ling too. (Sorry, there is no Mary Ann Ale, Gilligan.)

The Secret Sauce

Why is Sprecher Craft Soda so darn good? First, it is made with honey. How cool is that!?! Then, they brew the soda, like beer. It’s the fire-brewed caramelization process that really adds the flavor like Flavor Flav! #YeahBoy!

I have to leave 2. Or 3.

The Backstory

We have Randy Sprecher to thank for these great flavors. Back in the late 1900s, Randy traveled to Germany and fell in love with the taste and craft of German beer brewing. Apparently the Germans have the beer thing figured out. Hence the giant steins and gemütlichkeit .

Randy came to Milwaukee and began brewing world-class beer under the Sprecher Brewing Company banner. But at home Randy applied the same brewing techniques to the special homemade root beer recipe he created for his young daughter Kecia. Once Sprecher began serving Randy’s root beer in the taproom, sales took off. Today the root beer sales even outpace the award-winning beer.

Yule love it. And so will Yul Brynner.

The Next Chapter

At the beginning of 2020 a team of investors, led by CEO Sharad Chadha, recognized the enormous untapped potential of Sprecher sodas, and decided to invest aggressively in growing Sprecher sodas on a national level. Their renewed focus on promoting the brand through strategic marketing and sales efforts is already on display this holiday season.

The Campaign

The holiday campaign features a combination of billboards and mobile display ads that are served up near retail locations through the end of the year. The ads tap into the strong connection the brand already has to holiday celebrations.

The campaign provides a simple reminder that while there are many traditions that simply aren’t available this year, we can still enjoy a Sprecher with our families. And it’s those little things that make the holidays feel, and taste, like the holidays.

These are Sprecher’s Gold, Frankincense and Root Beer.

If you can’t find Sprecher at a retailer near you, you can always order online at sprecherbrewery.com. And if you can’t find it there, it’s because I bought everything they brewed. Sorry.

Roll The Credits:

There is a great crew at Sprecher who have been supporting this effort including Sharad Chadha, Kecia Sprecher, Craig Burge, Jenny Nyquist, Tom Aslin, Doug Cullaz, Katya Alexeeva, Lauren Price and guest star Carl Cahill.

The Weaponry team behind the new work includes Kristyn ‘L-Lil’ Lilley, Joe Kayse, Simon Harper, Adam Albrecht and Cat Boland.

In The Wild

Santa knows, Sprecher Craft Sodas always make a great stocking stuffer.

Why right now is the perfect time to create outside the lines.

If you want to develop as a creative thinker you have to color outside the lines. I don’t mean the way a young kid does when they have no sense of how to stop themselves when they get to a delineating line on a piece of paper.

What I mean is that creative thinking can not and should not be contained. To improve your creative thinking don’t simply create when and where you are told to create. Don’t create only when a teacher gives you a creative project. Don’t create only when a boss says they want you to help develop a new idea for the summer picnic (which was a fun event we used to have pre-covid, or what I am now calling PC).

As a creative thinker, you should create all the time, because you can’t help thinking, creating and making stuff. And we should all see ourselves as creative thinkers.

Since the initial covid lockdown back in March, I have written over 80 blog posts. I started an illustrated cartoon series called Kirky. I have written the manuscript for a book, which I am deep into the second draft of right now. I am working on bringing a new brand to life in my spare time with my son Magnus and friend Dan Koel. And I have been using Moleskin notebooks the way most people use mousetraps to catch my ideas and make sure they don’t get away.

I always ask people interviewing for creative jobs what they do creatively in their spare time. This isn’t just a curiosity. It helps me tell if you are a true creative thinker who can’t help but develop ideas and bring them to life. Or if you are someone who wants a fun job. But if they tell me they like to make furniture and lampshades out of human remains I know not to hire them. #SorryNotSorryEdGein

One of the women who freelances for The Weaponry (whom I hope to hire full time) is regularly sharing her extracurricular creative projects on social media. I love that. It shows me that she is really a creative thinker at her core. Those kinds of thinkers don’t have to be spurred into action. They can’t stop the thinking and the valuable actions that follow even if they wanted to. Those are the most valuable thinkers to have on your team. And they can’t be replaced by an app or a monkey, or automated by a machine. #JobSecurity

My great friend Betty Garrot, who lived across the street from me in Atlanta, is a Pediatrician by day. But Mrs. Dr. Garrot as we call her at our house, because her husband Crain is an Oncologist, paints a lot. Her home is full of beautiful paintings she has created of scenes she has witnessed around the world. But she paints so much that I expect she has a secret self-storage space stuffed full of paintings that she doesn’t have wall space for in her home. Betty is an amazing painter. But she rarely paints for money. Because it removes the joy of creating. Which is why she does it.

However, I have recognized that some people simply don’t know that they can think and act creatively when they aren’t asked to. They don’t realize that they can create their own assignments and deliver their own ideas.

So here is your reminder to create. Write, paint, photograph, draw, bake, cook, brew, garden, dance, make music, design, develop a business idea, host, decorate, or whatever you like to do to tap into and express your own ideas. Do it even if no one asks you to. Even if no one is watching. Even if you are not getting paid. Even if you are not great at it at first. Because it is great for your brain and your mental health.

Key Takeaway

When I visited Iceland several years ago I met a man named Sven (of course), who told me that Icelanders embrace the short and dark days of winter to engage in their creative activities. Now that we are to our short days and long nights in the Northern Hemisphere, I encourage you to do as the Icelanders do. And make the darkest days of the year the brightest days for thinking and creating.

*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.