What are the traits of creative people? Not sure I can nail this, but I’m going to present and discuss characteristics of two people, one a Hollywood producer/director, and the other a CEO of a Fortune company. These two respected professionals come to us direct from my fave ‘zine you all know, Fast Company.
Let me introduce you to some of the personality traits of Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox and the “first African-American woman to lead a U.S. company of Xerox’s size and influence,” according to Fast Company. Extracted directly from Fast Company, these are the words and phrases written to describe this accomplished woman:
>>She has the courage to tell you the truth in ugly times.
>>Being direct is her calling card.
>>She’s not a protocol kind of person, and is always willing to push the button herself.
>>She had an early aptitude for math; has guts and intelligence with outspokenness and keen business insights.
>>She has radical honesty she doles out, but with an overlay of Zen.
>>She has become a listener-in-chief, and she’s had to learn to temper her outspokenness with the help of good coaching.
>>Her mother influences her to this day, and Burns tells of the woman who washed and ironed clothes for money and bartered for services to provide healthcare for her three children. She says she recalls her mom as supremely confident and someone who expected great things from her kids.
You may wonder if Ms. Burns is really creative or just a #RockHot business woman. She has obvious traits that support that premise. In my earlier post this week, Thinking About Creativity, I ponder whether creativity is instinctual, innate or intelligent. With the example of Ms. Burns I’m thinking YES. (I could’ve featured Conan O’Brien here, too; another poster child for creativity.)
Martin Scorsese is the December/January cover story for Fast Company, and upon reading half his story (How To Lead A Creative Life) he inspired this post. After all, who else can be labeled the most consummate creative and greatest film director ever? Interestingly, from the story on Ms. Burns it was easier to extract her exact character traits; however, this list, about someone undoubtedly creative, is more esoteric about character. It ought to get you thinking, though.
(Again, these words and phrases are extracted directly from Fast Company.)
Martin Scorsese was interviewed on the eve of creating his first 3-D kids film, Hugo, and here are some of the things he and his colleagues were quoted as saying about him:
>>Panicked about hitting a deadline and has to tame the neurotic beast of self-doubt and frets every little detail.
>>Can’t make up his mind, still gets obsessed, still gets crazed by the same kinds of things that make any creative type nuts.
>>He’s in the business of crafting a creative life, and he adheres to a few rules:
………….Respect the past.
………….Trust your confidants, (a director’s creative process is largely collaborative) but not too much. (Important to know when a collaboration has run its course as well as when to accept criticism and when to say no.
………….Play the corporate game (Sometimes you have to give in to the system.)
………….Defy them when you must.
………….Find another outlet, or eight.
………….Give back and learn.
>>He was never interested in the accumulation of money and never had a mind for business (direct quote).
>>He is a generous mentor; a regular guy and finds something positive with everything.
If I didn’t know which list belonged to whom, I’d pick the Scorsese list for Burns and vice versa. My observation is that Scorsese adheres to a set of survival guidelines for his creativity to thrive, and Burns’s personality and character are from where she derives her creative business style. After reading about Ms. Burns, she reminds me more of marketing or PR type (we’re often labeled as creatives).
This could be a royal stretch in futility, but it was fun — to quote my fave Aussie curmudgeon Leon Noone.
Certainly creative traits for “creative” (who says) people cannot be nicely packaged, yet there may be a common thread and I’m going to call that…(please complete this sentence…what word describes the common thread?).