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 by Jayme Soulati.

Two-Wheeled Innovation — Bicycles, Business And PR

English: Bike sharing in Buenos Aires

English: Bike sharing in Buenos Aires (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To honor the founder of Spin Sucks, Gini Dietrich, with news about innovations in bicycling, especially after the devastating and ongoing debacle that is Lance Armstrong, it was pure serendipity that three (all things come in sets of  three) articles about two-wheeled transport presented themselves as I was catching up on my magazine reading.

(Whew! How’s that for almost the longest sentence in the world?)

Not to ignore happenstance, especially when bicycling has become the topic of de rigueur of late, I’d like to share these stories of inspiration to see if they (and I) may inspire your innovative and creative juices to launch such a smart venture, as well:


Robin Bylenga, 47, took up her bike after a divorce left her a single mother of three peddling hair products to beauty salons. In Greenville, SC, Robin became attached to her bike seat, and took an interim job at a local cycling store.

Women sought her out to speak about proper biking gear and attire as well as which trails were great for moms and kids. Robin decided to create a bike-shopping experience for women.

She researched the market for a year and opened Pedal Chic. Putting on her PR hat, she hosted weekly group rides, “bring your own beverage and bike” and also offered Women With Wrenches maintenance classes.

You can read more about Robin’s start up in, October 2012, “Changing Gears.”


In Fast Company, July/August 2012, an article called, “Pedal Power, Plus”  shared an innovative electric bike that took away the one obstacle commuters hate about biking to work — sweat.  A mobility designer has a new electric, foldable bike from Conscious Commuter and hopes to “evangelize a cleaner commute.”

Gabriel Wartofsky’s bike boasts a simple aluminum frame (fewer pieces than a normal bike and weighs in at 25 pounds (half that of a normal bike). Imagine the savings on parking and no need to expend pedal energy because the price tag is, ahem, $2,500.


Also in Fast Company, July/August 2012, “Wheeling And Dealing,” a young woman, Alison Cohen, is pushing “a brand-new industry in the U.S,” in bike sharing. With the advent of docking stations and fee-paying requirements, Cohen’s bike-sharing network in New York City is the largest, but not the first. Four other cities with such a program include Washington D.C., Miami Beach, Minneapolis, and Madison, WI.

The purpose is to enable commuters to transit the final mile between subway, bus, or trains stops. Clever pricing ensures the bikes are used for transportation and not tourism (a hefty price tag for someone wanting to meander through Central Park prohibits this). The public-private partnership involves cities, corporations, universities, and employees, of course.


So, what’s the moral to my story about these three stories?

Get out from within your tunnel and explore what’s around you. Listen to conversation; what are people asking for? Where are the greatest needs for businesses? How can you make things easier and faster and more efficient for people stuck commuting everywhere? What common good or service can be re-jiggered to be new again?

Take inspiration from these three creative people and begin to methodically pour over your own systematic routines to see if you can tweak one or two and become an innovator, too.

(And, below, I’m trying Zemanta for the very first time! Let’s see how it goes!)

Enhanced by Zemanta

Emulate, Collaborate, Create To Drive Blog Success

Look around at the bloggers who influence you. I’m going to bet they post frequently, lead with news you’ve yet to learn, educate you about some tech thing, and generally fuel oodles of comments and engagement.

There’s something else you should take note of, too:

What new collaborative project are these bloggers announcing of late?

Let me illustrate what I’m talking about:

Gini Dietrich

A favorite blogger, author, speaker and friend extraordinaire Gini Dietrich, of Spin Sucks fame, recently announced her collaboration called The Three Things with Howie Goldfarb and Michael Schechter to run one post each Sunday about something that’s new and is meaningful.

Danny Brown

Danny Brown spins more creativity than anyone I’ve ever seen.  Back in the day, 12for12K was his pet project; it’s how I was introduced to him. Since that time, I’ve been privy to his blog changing focus, changing design, and announcing new collaborations.

His latest is For Bloggers By Bloggers, and peeps can jump in there and ask questions of leading bloggers and gain access to just about any topic.  Danny has other blogs, too, with a band of writers. Don’t forget the recent event in Toronto on social media he just put on.  Here’s a post from one of my favorite search marketing experts, Brankica Underwood.

Mark W. Schaefer

Mark Schaefer has two books under his belt, a smashing success with Social Slam (third year upcoming), and a new collaboration with some big names in Jay Baer, Tom Edison, and Jason Falls called The Social Habit.  His Sunday post shows how Mark gets out of his box to interview  the founder of Storify…a channel I need to look into.

The SMB Collective (shameless  plug)

I’d be remiss not sharing my pet project that began with Neicole Crepeau two years ago and engaged a community of small business owners to contribute posts to The SMB Collective. I’m trying desperately to resurrect this wonderful blog (gosh, where is my time), because it’s an outlet for each of us to focus on business issues and share tips.  Let me make this my call to action for you to join me. Submit a post from the archives with links and an image if you choose, and you can earn some link love.


Continuous Creativity 

These are just 3.5 examples of leaders on the ‘sphere who are continually innovating to keep things interesting for themselves, their brand and their community. I could interview them for this piece, but I’m going to do something I rarely like to do, and that’s assume.

Here’s what I think these three blogger leaders are doing:

1. Innovation is a requirement of growth to keep fresh ideas and content in front of an audience and community.

2. With new concepts comes more attention from a wider array of audiences.

3. Without change, the blogging journey would be boring and a community would also get bored.

4. Collaborations help everyone be on top of their game and engage with the smartest minds and close the six degrees of separation forever.


What does that say about your blog:

  • If you’ve been blogging 12 months, it’s time to change it up.
  • Ensure you tweak your design every six months or else the landscaping gets stale.
  • Invite more guest bloggers to write and expand your network beyond just your own writing.
  • Do more video or try podcasting. (When you upgrade your technology, you can do podcasting much easier.)
  • Do Q&A with someone you admire or who has a high level of influence.
  • Add calls to action to the blog to encourage people to subscribe and/or download a study, e-book or something.
  • Always have something in the works. There must be a top-secret project you’re working on to drive your creativity?
  • Start  on a small scale and grow from there; people are in your tribes, in your stream, in your network…ask them to collaborate!

 Think first.

Please do emulate the leaders, but engage on a scale that works for you. With more creative juice flowing, you can also boost mojo that leads to long-term success.

The Apple, The Tree And JCP

About a month ago, I had a blog post written in long hand to post here and never got around to it. I’m glad I waited; there’s so much more proof that my admiration of all things Apple isn’t just a passing fancy.

Awhile back, I also wrote a little series on creativity. In that series, I wrote about Nest, the new thermostat innovated by former Apple executives. The website was fresh, clean, and sparkling. The product, Nest, is still on my wish list — a thermostat with a brain that programs the temperature in your home for you once you’ve entered a few settings.

Today’s post is about another former Apple executive taking the reins as CEO over at Jacque Pennier or J.C. Penney, Inc. or JCP, as it’s now commonly called in marketing campaigns.

If you’ve not seen the new JCP direct mail campaigns sashaying in your door via snail mail, you’re living under a rock. As soon as I got the first one, I couldn’t put it down; I was so impressed. Inside, within the ads for apparel and other goods, were the typical storytelling snippets introducing sections oriented to demographics.

The major thrust and branding adjustment, though, was how Ron Johnson turned the image of dowdy JC Penney into something fresh; can I almost say sophisticated feeling?

Each mini catalog I get appeals to my sense of color, makes me smile at the vibrant energy coming off the pages, and it has people talking, too. My personal trainer asked me if I knew that JCP has sale dates on the third Friday of the month now and not every day with coupons.

The point to all this is simply, the Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Innovation, creativity, making customers excited about mundane products, and turning brands upside down and inside out to rescue them from the horse’s trough is brilliant.

And, the critics had some ho-hum to say, but the company’s stock soared to $38 buoyed by a rosier outlook. I’d say when a former Apple somebody or ‘nother decides to take a job somewhere…uhmm, that’s a trading tip to run and buy some stock, wouldn’t you say?

Creative Traits Scorsese & Xerox Style

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?).