Six Phases In The Cycle of Creativity

Presentation1When you think of how you create anything, there is a cyclical nature to the entire process. Creativity has been studied for years by the academicians and scientists attempting to master innovation, the world’s most creative companies, the people with the brightest idea, and all the other elements that go into being creative.

Think of Yourself

Are you a content marketer? Does that mean you’re a blogger? How do you assess your creativity if you wear these titles? I’m going to hasten a guess that the ebbs and flows of blogging and content creation provide great rewards and serious depression, right?

I know this because my 3.9 years of blogging for my own professional blog and the additional 12 to 18 months as a guest blogger for many other blogs makes me somewhat of a poster child for this graphic I created about creativity.

Here’s a secret – I had the word “blogging” in the middle circle instead of creativity. I thought about putting content marketing in the center; however, I truly wanted this graphic to be your thought starter for whatever you’re creating…maybe you’re on the road to building a new life with a partner; perhaps you’re launching a career; how about finding your spirituality or coming to terms with who you are as a person? Or, you can be just a blogger, like me, for the purposes of this story.

Thinking About Creativity

A few clarifiers first:

    • Perhaps the elements can be labeled something else; these are my experiences to plant a seed for yours.
    • I didn’t study creativity to get to these; I made this all up, but its real from the now experience.
    • There’s a significant thought about the cycle of creativity and that’s timing. There is no set number of days or months you can rotate through these stages. Let’s hope you’ll spend more time on the positive side of growth, inspiration and empowerment; however, if you spend too much time, then you’re not rebuilding and transforming, right?
    • At any time within this cycle, you should never experience any one thing 100 percent. That would be entirely dangerous! Let’s think about that…if you were 100 percent disillusioned, you’d likely shut down your blog and never blog again. If you were growing 100 percent without an eye on being inspired to develop the next big idea, you would fail at creativity. I suggest and 80/20 Pareto Principle on this; spend 20 percent of the creative cycle asking the tough questions, challenging the status quo, and preparing to be inspired to rebuild as you’re knee deep in 80 percent of the stage you’re experiencing.
    • Lastly, if you are unable to recognize these stages in yourself (as a content marketer or blogger), then give it more time. If you’ve not been blogging two to three years straight with an average of four posts weekly, you may not have notched enough time on your belt to have experienced these elements.

Six Stages in The Cycle of Creativity

  • Inspiration. One can never be creative without the inspiration to be such. There has to be a button that gets pushed to turn on the inspiration, right? NO, actually not! Creativity is finest when someone is inspired and excited about something or someone. Passion is ignited or flamed when you listen differently or watch behaviors intently. Your inspiration comes from your spirit and how you carpe diem. I get inspiration for everything I write from current events, conversations, observations, and my own robust experiences.
  • Empowerment. When you’re inspired and all cylinders click, there comes a feeling of empowerment that is so rewarding and enlightening. The energy is fueled by a continuous injection of inspiration and light-bulb moments that are so evident in writing and creativity. It’s nearly euphoric, and the flow of production is heightened.
  • Disillusion. The pace of empowerment can last as long as your energy to create at a highly productive level. My latest stage of empowerment was six months, and then I crashed. The questions began to overtake the creativity and inspiration, and the disillusionment hit hard with the biggest question – “why am I doing this?” I encourage everyone to embrace this stage positively; if you only have a negative reaction to being disillusioned as a writer, then you will infect your writing! People read you for the positive spirit you bring. When I feel the lowest, I focus outward and find someone to profile on my blog. Giving gifts that are not monetary is such a lovely way to move out of the disillusion phase.
  • Transformation. Once you begin to ask why, instead of complaining about your malcontent, you can begin to transform. This phase includes the “what’s next” and “how do I get there” stage. It’s so highly critical and challenging because it involves a hearty introspective look at your outside self. When you hit the blog daily to find something to write about, it becomes second nature; however, when you stop caring what you’re writing about, you become disillusioned and need to transform. Spend time here because without the health transformation, you will not enter the next phase.
  • Rebuilding. Perhaps transformation and rebuilding are too similar to understand. I think this stage is oriented to take action. Let’s say I realized in my introspective state (transformation) that I no longer liked what my “house” looked like, then in the rebuilding stage, I would hire a developer/designer to spiff up my website and blog. I would also speak to the experts about things I didn’t know and hadn’t incorporated so I could seriously rebuild my foundation. This stage of creativity is probably the single-most critical element in the entire cycle. If you can’t rebuild your cracked foundation or repair the hole in the wall, you cannot thrive.
  • Growth. The hard work is nearly done; your house is in order, you are breathing deeply with satisfaction about the changes you made, and you’re ready to grow. Not that easy! Neither of these stages have an exact stop/start; in fact, they overlap quite a bit. As you transform and rebuild together, you also begin the growth phase during rebuilding as your inspiration picks up to empower you. One thing is for sure, your creativity can grow as a writer or in life at any of these stages; it just may be thwarted a bit at about 20 percent versus 90 percent. That’s a really great observation to point out, too.

Can you use this for a life experience that may not be about blogging or content marketing? Switch out the center theme and insert one of your own…see if the stages still fit the wheel.

This Post Originally Appeared on Steamfeed.com by Jayme Soulati.

Do Powerful Brands Use Heart?

photo-28The full-page advertisement in the Wall Street Journal boasts a “four-layered masterpiece” describing the hazelnut swirl atop the new Hazelnut Macchiato by Starbucks. The final words we’re left with (there are only 25 words total) are “Crafted by hand and heart.”

Several years ago, I complained to anyone who’d listen that Starbucks was in bed with the Wall Street Journal. I had never seen so much publicity and positive stories in this national business daily for a brand without the power and global reach of IBM, for example.

Incidentally, IBM is one of the five stocks being attributed for pushing the Dow to record high on March 6, 2013.

The ad we’re seeing by Starbucks today is colorfully creamy with espresso blending into the white latte to show a caramel you can’t resist (I never buy those ridiculously expensive lattes that are so full of calories, too). What is an appeal, suggests Starbucks, is that every barista makes  your coffee drink with loving care — from the heart.

I’ve heard of people say that some baristas write a patron’s name on a cup with a cute little heart and a “have a great day” sentiment. I wonder if anyone has ever written a phone number for some cute customer? I think that would be too much heart.

Brands Using Heart Marketing

No other examples of powerful brands using heart come directly to mind, and (I think I just coined a new marketing field, Heart Marketing), so let’s do a scan through the last two days of Wall Street Journals to see whether heart is conjured:

  • Toyota: Toyota Shakes Up Top Ranks. Apparently, the family-owned car giant is now ready to welcome outsiders with open arms to its executive management. Think that’s a heart-felt move? Nope, just one of necessity for survival.
  • Clorox: The general counsel of Clorox, Laura Stein, researched the new CEO’s management style to learn how better to work with him. The new CEO, Donald Knauss “likes her go-getter style; ‘she will help anyone who asks for help.’” Heart or get-ahead smarts? I’m saying a bit of both. People who help have to be transparent or it’s just too smarmy.
  • Honest Tea: I wrote a post right here about Honest Tea and its CEO op-ed in the Wall Street Journal (what is it about the Wall Street Journal and beverage companies?) and in today’s paper that company gets a quarter page of top publicity with three color photos of beverages about Honest Tea’s New Soda. This company does have a heart and I know its guiding principles are about heart. Yes, a good example of powerful brands living by and using heart.

Let’s think of this a bit differently:

  • The world is a horrifying place for adults who are in touch with global and domestic news.
  • While the Dow dinks around in record territory and the housing crisis abates somewhat, students are still faced with record tuition at public universities.
  • Families are still grappling with lack of employment and other personal issues which contribute to red ink.

Is Starbucks on to something? With its subliminal copywriting that its baristas have a heart and care for you; does that work and will that bring in the patrons to order the new Hazelnut Macchiato?

Heart should not ever be taken with a grain of salt. It’s what I’m teaching kidlet — live from the heart, give to others first, focus outward, understand why someone is a bully and try to help them (well that’s a bit far fetched for a kid), but hopefully you get my drift.

Heart and Social Media

Heart computes in social media, too.

There are numerous people asking for help.

  • In fact, a 16-year-old asked me this week two questions about his brand new social media agency. Did I believe his prices were solid and how could he earn some credibility because people didn’t want to work with someone so young. I gave him my thoughts more than once and I invited him to write a guest post for The Happy Friday series.
  • How about the young man who found me locally who was writing a book and wanted my help publicizing that book? Now, mind you, that book of his was ensconced with one of those you-pay-we-publish businesses that just wanted his money; however, I spent time with him and counseled him and wrote a website and did a video with him. No charge.

What does your heart look like? How do you live it?  I’m not talking about how much love you have for your offspring or spouse or partner. I’m talking about the values with which you live at work. Do you spout off about having heart, “C’mon, have a heart already!” or do you seriously come from a genuine place filled to the core with nurturing and caring and a desire to help, teach, support, share, and develop solid relationships?

Powerful brands can try to use heart to appeal to a patron who is down in the dumps; you, however, have the opportunity to make that a reality — a genuine and authentic reality.

What’s the outcome of all this? When someone you don’t know says to someone you do know who shares it with you, “You know what? I really like that girl, she’s the real deal.”

Enough said. Show me your heart…there’s a place for more love in business and social media. The scuttle butt I’m seeing, reading and hearing hasn’t been from the heart; perhaps it should be a guiding principle for each of us.

By Jayme Soulati

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Eight Reasons Why Blogs Can’t Go Dormant

credit: en.blog.wordpress.com

A recent conversation with a small-to-medium business (SMB) included the question, “If my business is booming, then why should I keep blogging?”

Great question because blogging takes a boatload of consistent time and attention. Not only is a blogger responsible for creating and publishing genuine and authoritative content, that blogger needs to nurture a community and comment on others’ blogs, too.

I get it; but, here’s what I said to my peer, friend and colleague:

  • If your blog goes dormant, you can’t walk the talk with clients.
  • When you disappear longer than four weeks with no activity, people stop coming to check in and you’re forgotten.
  • Prospects that want to check out your work expect to see up-to-date product. If a date on the most recent blog post is 60 days prior, then that sends erroneous messages. You may lose a lead if a blog is inactive.
  • To compete, you need to stay inspired. A blog gives SMB brands an opportunity to differentiate from the competition.
  • Becoming an authority is no easy task; keep the insight fresh and trendy, and the brand will benefit.

8 Tips To Get Back On Track

1. Post from the archives — there is content no one has seen in 12 months; select a favorite, add a more current opening paragraph, and voila — a fresh post!

2. Write shorter pieces. Blog posts should average about 500 words, give or take. If you’re trying to get back on track, write 350 words (you can do those in your sleep!).

3. Acknowledge your community with a list of the last 25 commenters and their blog urls. That pingback will bring peeps back to your house in droves to welcome you back.

4. Aim for one post weekly for a few weeks to get your mojo working again. Anyone who has blogged more than 12 months knows how to get back to it; just like riding a bike.

5. Remember that community you built? They’re not gone; just dormant, too. But, if you call them back with consistent posts, you’ll earn the traffic once again.

6. Think about SEO juice — what’s the number-one rule? Fresh, frequent content to boost organic attention.

7. You can’t be a one-channel wonder. Great that you’re on Facebook, but where did you really get your start? Twitter. What happened next? Blogging. Where are your clients, community, employees and prospects hanging online? A little bit of everywhere, so you need to engage equal parts Twitter, Blogging, Facebook and Google+.

8. Feeling down and out? Remember the ‘raderie your blog community inspires. There’s absolutely nothing like a good ‘old #TeamBlogJack to raise the spirits of bloggers who’ve been dormant awhile.

So, what do you say? C’mon back! You’re missed!

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Three Things Threatening Authenticity; Do You Agree?

(This post originally appeared on Spin Sucks August 8, 2011, written by Jayme Soulati). And, the 162 comments (love that!) are worth their weight in gold.

credit: Modern 8

Public relations practitioners strive to develop authentic relationships; we want genuine and sincere romance with our tiered audiences, and we get there with engagement.

The word “authentic” itself begs for definition. It was used in a variety of ways by a variety of practitioners when I launched an effort awhile back to define public relations on my blog. Social media allows for creating real communities with give and take, with nurturing and education, and with growth by engagement. Combined, these contribute to authenticism (I often coin words).

Enter automation.

My growing fear is social media automation is quickly winning over authenticity. If you follow me online, this statement comes as no surprise. I have been lamenting scheduled tweets, the success of Triberr, and the disappearance of Twitter banter (nowadays that’s just about anything without a link!).

  1. Automating Tweets: I freely admit I schedule tweets on occasion; in fact, I was encouraged to do more of it to push attention to the blog. You can’t get traffic if you tweet a new post once. So, I did, and lo – more traffic. I also use Triberr religiously. I automate post distribution in the three tribes I’m in. In fact, I’m kind of jazzed; I recently launched Globe Spotting – a tribe with seven bloggers from seven countries.
  2. Optimizing Writing: I’m struggling with the whole optimization thing; it compromises authenticity! (While optimization is not automation, there are enough automated tools to enhance optimization, so they’re, like, kissing cousins.) A recent blog post over at Live Your Love by Brankica Underwoodhad me stewing. (She’s an expert about writing with keywords and measuring web analytics.) Bran shared how she wrote a keyword rich post and watched the traffic roll in. Then, she increased her traffic by writing a how-to post because keywords and search terms told her the market was seeking that information.
  3. Quantifying Influence: How about Klout? I predicted recently that employers and clients would begin reviewing Klout scores and select candidates with the higher scores. I just read a blog post where that prediction rang true. People on Twitter who schedule unique content, RT consistently, and write about keywords can automatically boost Klout scores – even when the keywords for which peeps are being considered influential mean nothing, such as “cougar,” “heavy metal,” or “sheep.”

All my fears for the future are likely a yearning for the past. As I’ve been pondering this preponderance of push marketing, others have stated, “nothing stays the same…to grow we need to automate.”…OK, but at what expense?

 

 

How Much Transparency Is Too Much?

My pal I miss so much because she works full time and can’t banter with the best of us has decided to visit here again with a spot-on GP (that’s guest post). Please welcome a familiar face from this community and someone I love dearly, Jenn Whinnem (who recently tied the knot in ever so much secrecy without inviting us to the party; look there she is on her special day!).

Jenn Whinnem says:

I lost my glasses recently. They were either in my home, or at the lake on the property. Several searchings of both turned up nothing. Until, a week later, one of my neighbors turned up with the glasses in hand! “My granddaughter found them while she was snorkeling,” she said.

Yes, dear readers, I went swimming with my glasses on. How on earth I managed to do this is still making me worry about my brain.  Now the lenses are foggy and I need new ones.

This, and Danny Brown’s recent hacking, got me thinking about transparency. Please note upfront: I’m not in the habit of blaming the victim, ever. It’s simply not on Danny that someone hacked his account. I’d wager that someone is very sick, but I’m not qualified to diagnose. Whoever this person was, they had a lot of information about Danny and his life. Danny has been pretty open about many of his life details (again, not blaming the victim). And that’s what got me thinking, again.

About two years ago, I wrote a post for Jayme about having cystic fibrosis. Jayme had asked me to write it, and I wanted to help out a friend, forgetting that the internet is mostly not a secret place. That post ended up getting much more traction than I intended. Usually I don’t make that information so public, because I worry it will prevent employers from hiring me. An ugly reality.

Since sharing that, and worrying about the repercussions, I’ve been careful with what I share. I don’t mind telling you a story about swimming with my glasses on, as bone-headed as that makes me seem, because I think it’s funny, humanizing, and something others can probably relate to. Not many people are going to use that against me for anything other than a joke at my expense.

I read a post a few months ago where someone used the Batman/Bruce Wayne example to discuss how, thanks to the internet, nobody gets to have a secret identity anymore. (A Google search is not helping me find this post, because apparently there is a song called “I am not Batman.” If you know it, tell me, I’ll update the post). I vehemently do not agree. I advocate for a persona, and for never confusing the persona with the self.

Back to those glasses. I can see through them, but they’re just blurry enough that I really shouldn’t drive with them on. They’re a great model, though, for the kind of transparency that makes sense on the internet.