What makes a great spy? You would certainly need to be able to handle uncertainties and remarkable amounts of stress. Being capable and intelligent is essential. But you might be surprised to hear that the number one requirement for a CIA, MI6, Mossad operative is… creativity.
IBM surveyed 1,500 CEOs in 2010. What was the most valuable trait they desired from their employees? Was it operational excellence? Financial prowess? Marketing wizardry? Nope. The trait that they most valued was creativity.
How can each of us infuse our creative spirit? Well, it seems to come down to commitment to a unit of time. For 3M they give their employees “15% Time.” Yep, it’s a rule. Regardless of their project load employees are allowed to use 15% of their time any way they choose every week. They can work out, read, sleep in their cars OR work with coworkers on separate projects. The result? Press and Peal. That’s what two coworkers came up with during their 15% time that became the Post-It. It’s no wonder that 3M has the largest number of employee patents (22k+) of any company of record. A commitment to creative time is essential.
So how can ALL of us crack the creative code and become a creature of creative habit? Let’s start with 5 Damn Minutes + try these 5 Tips. Agency people, don’t search for your billable code from your finance people. Just make time every day. 5 Damn Minutes, the same amount of time it takes you to drink a cup of coffee. Okay here come the tips.
1) Pick a Creative Hero. Mine is Seth Godin. His mantra is make things happen. When I fire up the computer every day, I read Seth. Your person should inspire you to think differently.
2) Read what your Hero is reading. Then read what those authors are reading. It’s a gold mind. It will infuse your thinking.
3) Be a Director. The next time you’re in the Starbucks line and you’re staring at the person in front of you with that crazy haircut, use your storytelling abilities. How did they start their day? What do they do for living? Why are they dressed like that? Are they happy or sad? Stretch you observational creative muscles. I promise you will instantly become more aware of your surroundings.
4) Aisle Surf. When you walk into Target, Best Buy, Nordstrom look how things are laid out in front of you. What’s on the end cap? What’s at eye level? These are trends. At Whole Foods you will find products that are gluten free, wheat free, hell coconut free. Book stores are the best trend mines. Look at the books nestled at the front door. Notice the book titles. Dissect the book jackets; notice the colors and fonts being used. Watching trends will spark your creative instincts.
5) Know your town. Grab that alternative weekly or monthly that monthly city magazine. Ignite your passions for food, art, music and the outdoors. Know everything about your city. Your clients and your boss want to know what you’re passionate about outside your job.
Just 5 Damn Minutes + these 5 Tips and I promise you will feel more creative. You will burn to share your passions. And what’s better than a passionate and inspired life?