Tag Archives: innovation

Bored and Brilliant

21 Aug

20882807_10156426551678942_8856760550458583534_n

“Saturdays, holidays, easy afternoons, lazy days, sunny days, nothing much to do.”

Our individual creativity is under attack from our hyper-connected, over-scheduled, over-stimulated way of life. Research shows that problem-solving and critical thinking require letting our minds wander where they may. Breakthrough ideas are not likely to result from thinking hard about a subject. Think about nothing and see what happens.

Planned downtime is not just for resting the body and recharging the spirit, it is also great for the brain. We need time to process inputs and make sense of the flood of data that comes our way. “Bored and brilliant” is the new mantra of the creative class.

I’ve got three simple pieces of advice for becoming a more innovative thinker.

The simplest and most powerful thing you can do to increase your creativity is to stop using your phone as an alarm clock. When the first thing we do each day is grab our phone, it creates an overwhelming urge to check and see what messages arrived overnight.

When we do this our brain starts unconsciously and unproductively working on the problems of the day. Even if you try to push those small thoughts out of the way, they creep back in. Unless you go to bed before 9 pm, or are heavily invested in Asian stock markets, it is unlikely that anything earth-shattering happened while you were asleep. Those Instagram pics of Australian models on the beach will still be there an hour later.

By keeping your phone out of the bedroom, you can give yourself thirty to sixty minutes each morning to reflect, daydream, and think deep thoughts. This way, you will not be involuntarily thinking about the minor problems of the day while you are in the shower or making coffee. Your brain will be free to wander without the distractions of email. An early morning walk without your phone is another great way to start a creative day.

My second piece of advice is to turn off all notifications on your phone, tablet and laptop. Why do we knowingly let other people interrupt and interfere with our cognitive processes? Consume inputs on your own terms. Do not let email devour day. Set aside specific blocks of time to disposition the items in your multiple inboxes.

Get a screen time tracker and set limits on the number of times a day you pick up your phone. The “You’ve got mail” notice may be the single biggest contributor to destroying your creative capabilities. Recapturing them is a more urgent matter than your friend’s less-than-insightful missive on the latest Game of Thrones episode. Most of your incoming messages are bullshit. Read them if you wish, but do it on your own terms.

Lastly, we should celebrate the deliberate act of doing nothing. We do not need to constantly be entertained. Make the snooze button your friend. There is nothing wrong with a relaxing morning spent lounging around actually savoring a cup of coffee. There will be plenty of time to catch up on your shows later in the day. Mindfulness is a sound practice that requires quiet contemplation of the task at hand. For a few hours each week you should make doing nothing a priority task and see what happens.

Technology and culture are driving us to be less creative in our day-to-day thinking. We may be extremely productive, but we are not terribly effective. Try these few simple tricks and see if they don’t change your way of thinking. Research suggests that you’ll be better off – and you are less likely to encounter a spoiler before you get around to watching that last episode of The Bachelor.

Gratitude

27 Nov

iStock_000028332104LargeThe list of things for which I am thankful is way too long to fit into a post that anyone would actually read. The past year has brought a shower of blessings that in sum represent what many would consider to be their wildest fantasies; close friends, good business, smart students, dedicated colleagues, great clients, amazing children and beautiful grandchildren, an understanding spouse, exotic travels, and a small tropical island that we get to call our own.

Yes, there are many, many things to be thankful for this year. There are specific innovations in healthcare, transportation, food, fitness and shopping that have made my life immeasurably better. However, when I dig really deep and reflect on the past year, there are two things which top the gratitude list: work that makes me feel alive and the opportunity to work with my closest friends.

Not many people get to make their living doing work that makes them come alive. I can honestly say that I love what I do and am thankful that it gives me energy. I still have the drive twenty-five years into an extremely blessed career to continue putting in regular eighty-hour weeks. Each week, I work with clients on their product development challenges, mentor staff, write about innovation, run a business, teach two college classes, advise entrepreneurs, and help market a beautiful resort. I always exercise and, occasionally, I sleep. I don’t love every minute of every day. Some of it is drudgery, but the large proportion of my work that makes me feel strong is an extraordinary blessing that I cannot ignore.

The opportunity to work with my closest friends is another gift that I count as a treasure. One of the reasons I am so excited about what I do is because of who I get to do it with. The talented professionals that populate my life bring me joy, vitality, and a sense of purpose. There is nothing more gratifying than watching a young leader grow into a fully formed professional adult that possesses presence and confidence. My colleagues at Kalypso, Housley students, Stelos Alliance stakeholders, advisory board members, and my team at Royal Belize are all part of a family that I hold very near and dear. They make me look smart and I cannot imagine life without them.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday. I am so grateful for all of life’s blessings and hope that you will find fulfillment and happiness in the year ahead. Gratitude is a powerful thing. Spread it around and see.

Getaway2Give

10 Nov

G2G Logo

I admit to being a spoiled traveler.

Especially when it comes to vacations.

After years of cramming our growing family into hotel rooms, we began to rent houses when we traveled with the kids. We quickly learned that the home rental market is full of people that are better photographers than housekeepers. After a couple of memorable debacles, we invested with an equity-based destination club named Equity Estates. We were truly spoiled by the amazing, multi-million dollar homes in the portfolio. The business model is great, but getting in requires a large upfront investment.

When the Equity Estates sold out their first fund, two of the principals I respected launched a new vacation home portfolio named Getaway2Give. I immediately signed on as a member, investor, and charity partner. The G2G model is simple with much lower upfront costs and more variety. You become a member with a one-time fee, half of which goes to the charity of your choice – like, maybe, the Stelos Alliance. You receive a tax deduction for that portion of your membership fee.

After that, you have access to a diverse and rapidly growing portfolio of luxury vacation homes at discounts that range from $800 – $1500 per night. You can use these properties on an unlimited basis. No more cramming into hotel rooms and no more “vacation rental by owner” stress. You know that every aspect of your stay from the planning service to the on-site concierge to the home itself is going to be fantastic. Oh, and the company continues to support your favorite charity by donating 5% of your nightly rental fees to the organization you select.

The business model is even better than I can articulate here. G2G can offer big discounts off market rates by eliminating marketing costs and increasing the utilization of the homes in the portfolio. There are a number of add-on options available like the City Club that gives you free unlimited access to the properties in New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Chicago. The portfolio of homes continues to grow with the membership in the collection. We have never been disappointed by a G2G vacation home.

I highly recommend that you look at the Getaway2Give offering. Ask yourself if you and your family would enjoy supporting your favorite charity while making memories and spoiling yourselves in a luxury vacation destination. You will never regret these experiences. Call me if you are interested and I will answer any questions you may have. Aloha!

Favorite Things of 2012

1 Jan

Kalypsonian of the Year

10 Sep

I get a lot of email. On rare occasions, I get an email that has a meaningful impact on my life.

Seven years ago a former colleague of mine sent me such an email. It was a short note referring his younger cousin as a potential candidate for our new and growing innovation consulting firm. She didn’t have much to offer in the way of relevant business experience, but my friend assured me that she had a strong character and was willing to work hard to make a difference. We needed help, and she didn’t make much money, so we took a chance and offered her a job.

We’ve made a lot of mistakes over the years. Hiring Pamela Soin is not one of them. She joined the team as a smart, inexperienced young lady a couple of years out of college and quickly made herself indispensable. In the intervening years we have traveled the world together, serving clients in exciting cities like Seoul, Sydney, San Diego, Amsterdam and even Appleton, Wisconsin. We have shared a lot of laughs, a lot of love, and more than a few tears.

Watching her grow into an accomplished professional advisor with personal eminence and business stature has been one the great privileges of my career. Some moments in life create indelible memories. My repertoire of stories from a twenty-year career in consulting is pretty large. Pam is the principal actor in many of the best and funniest stories I have in my collection. She is one of the original Kalypso “characters with character”.

The Kalypsonian of the Year award is reserved each year for the team member that embodies the ideals of the Kalypso consultant; that leader behind the leader that demonstrates a healthy lack of respect for hierarchy and positional authority. Pamela Soin believes that innovation combined with action can change the world for the better. She is passionate about what she does and knows how to have fun at work – and after. Most importantly, she genuinely cares about the success of her colleagues and goes to extraordinary lengths to help them. Pam is a true professional and a personal role model for us all.

After seven years I am honored to call her a colleague, a friend, and our 2012 Kalypsonian of the Year.

%d bloggers like this: