How to be Creative, a Manifesto worth reading

Recently, I reread Hugh MacLeod's "How to be Creative" manifesto. It's lengthy, but definitely worthwhile to read. He touches on several things that I hadn't originally thought to be issues, and he isn't afraid to call bullshit.

Here's how to be creative, according to MacLeod:

  1. Ignore everybody.
  2. The idea doesn't have to be big. It just has to change the world.
  3. Put the hours in.
  4. If your biz plan depends on you suddenly being "discovered" by some big shot, your plan will probably fail.
  5. You are responsible for your own experience.
  6. Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.
  7. Keep your day job.
  8. Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity.
  9. Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.
  10. The more talented somebody is, the less they need props.
  11. Don't try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.
  12. If you accept the pain, it cannot hurt you.
  13. Never compare your inside with somebody else's outside.
  14. Dying young is overrated.
  15. The most important thing a creative person can learn, professionally, is where to draw the red line that separates what you're willing to do, and what you're not.
  16. The world is changing.
  17. Merit can be bought. Passion can't.
  18. Avoid the Watercooler Gang.
  19. Sing in your own voice.
  20. The choice of media is irrelevant.
  21. Selling out is harder than it looks.
  22. Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.
  23. Worrying about "commercial vs. artistic" is a complete waste of time.
  24. Don't worry about finding inspiration. It comes eventually.
  25. You have to find you own shtick.
  26. Write from the heart.

He gets to the niggling heart of what keeps people from creating art, which usually boils down to some strange combination of fear, self-confidence and outside approval.

Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us

In doing some research for a work project, I was referred to this video of Daniel Pink's views on incentives and motivation.

It seems that monetary incentives do not inspire performance and productivity (when the job requires cognitive reasoning).

Instead, Pink mentions 3 factors that lead to better performance and personal satisfaction in the workplace:

  1. Autonomy - the desire to be self-directed
  2. Mastery - the urge to get better at stuff
  3. Purpose - the reason behind the work

I agree with Pink. This definitely resonates with my motivations at work and in life.

What do you think? Is he missing anything?

The IBM CEO Study – A Lesson in Modern Storytelling & Cross-Platform Publishing


A few weeks ago, I attended a panel discussion during Social Media Week: The New Leadership Imperative, A Social CEO. It was a fantastic, dynamic event and the panelists were amazingly insightful. But that event is not the focus of today’s post.

Modern Storytelling – Publishing Across Platforms

The focus of today’s post is modern publishing. More specifically, I will share with you how IBM creates a consistent story and user experience – both print and digital – for its Global CEO Study.

Smart companies are realizing that creating a singular piece of content and chunking it off across platforms is not an effective way to capture reader attention. Nor is it an effective way to create emotional brand connections through the telling of a consistent, integrated story.

The IBM CEO Study is a great case study for how publishing in today’s marketplace can be creative, engaging and interactive. This example shows how stories can be enhanced, and told in slightly different ways, depending on the platform and the end-user.

Tying this post back to the Social CEO event for a moment, Ed Brill, Director of Social Business and Collaboration Solutions at IBM, was one of the insightful panelists I mentioned earlier. He had a great many things to say, and brought everyone in the audience a print copy of the 2012 IBM CEO Study: Leading Through Connections. Thank you, Ed.

The Print Experience

Creating engaging research reports is a difficult endeavor. By pairing clean design with impactful callouts, the printed study reads like a well planned website. IBM ingeniously tells the story through the use of design – by pulling out key insights and stats, which keeps readers interested.

The Digital Experience

The digital experience is not a simple replica of the printed report. IBM leverages the web to showcase extended content, creating a rich, interactive learning platform.

The website showcases industry-specific perspectives, a slew of infographics for easy info consumption, case studies, downloadable audio insights, and a series of CEO C-Suite Studies videos.

YouTube Experience – IBM Institute for Business Value

People love watching videos. IBM’s Institute for Business Value YouTube channel showcases insightful videos and interviews with various C-Suite thought leaders.

The videos allow users to navigate through the CEO study (among others) in a topic-focused way. Instead of learning about an entire trend, viewers can learn about specific topics, such as “innovation driven by partnership.”

This is a fantastic way to parcel the complete story into digestible bits of insight.

Additional Experiences

A trendy way to tell complex stories is through the visualization of data. Infographics allow readers to understand a large amount of information in a compelling, easy to consume manner.

Check out the handful of infographics IBM created for its CEO study:

And, if those publishing examples were not enough…in 2010, IBM published an Interactive Version of their CEO Study.

I hope you enjoy consuming this insightful content across all of the platforms I’ve highlighted. Happy discovery! 

Image Source: Screenshot:

Originally published on HBG's Brand Innovation for Health blog.  

Marketing Trend: Behind the Scenes – Levi’s Inspiration Video

by Breean Miller. Originally posted on HBG's Brand Innovation for Health blog.

In our networked, connected society, consumers are demanding more transparency than ever. 

It’s not a “nice to have.” It’s a “must have” for companies of all sizes. In response, companies have to stop developing “messaging,” and start telling authentic stories.

Digital media allows brands to create an ecosystem of touch points where consumers can explore, engage with company stakeholders, and peer behind the curtain. Consumers get a firsthand look inside, a behind-the-scenes, all-access brand experience. And this experience allows them to connect with brands on a whole new level – an emotional level.

Levi’s is one company that’s getting things right. They tell stories – through their advertisements, both print and video.

They recently produced a video showcasing the inspiration behind their Fall 2012 collection, focused on authenticity and featuring coastal craftsmen and handcrafted traditions.

But Levi’s didn’t just produce a groovy video. They also reached out to their fan base and invited influential bloggers to join them on a journey of inspiration. 

A select few bloggers discovered coastal Maine, taking in the sights, sounds and sources of inspiration for the Fall ’12 collection. They made memories and connected with the brand on an emotional, guttural level. And when they relayed the Levi’s inspiration story, they told it from their own perspectives, in an authentic way.

As transparency becomes a necessary function, companies have to spend time (and money) realigning their brands with their corporate culture. If companies aren’t living the brand – if they are not authentic and genuine – then consumers can see through the clutter of messaging and marketing jargon.

Starbucks Evenings – A Brand New Customer Experience Concept

by Breean E. Miller. Originally posted on HBG's Brand Innovation for Health blog.

As a card carrying Gold Rewards member at Starbucks, I get insights on upcoming events and product launches the company is rolling out. 

One such email included an invitation to the launch party of Starbucks’ new concept – Evenings – that offers customers beer, wine and small plates at select stores.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the evolving corporate vision of Starbucks. Starbucks’ new Evenings concept is an interesting result of this evolution.

With a mission to “inspire and nurture the human spirit,” Starbucks is giving consumers a place to enjoy their evenings.

You might think of Starbucks as the place where you enjoy your morning ritual, grabbing a coffee on your way into work. Or, you might associate Starbucks with meeting colleagues, small gatherings with friends, or with brief, quiet moments with The New York Times on Sundays.

But, you might also use Starbucks as that nebulous, neutral zone, where you meet friends before grabbing a bite to eat. It’s likely that afternoon respite from running errands. Basically, it’s an in-between place. A third place where you feel comfortable that isn’t home or work.

With Starbucks Evenings, you have a new place to grab after work or pre-show drinks and nibbles. Instead of being a stop-off on your way to another destination, Starbucks is the destination.

This is an interesting evolution of the customer experience and the third place environment that Starbucks works so diligently to create for its customers.

Their website says it well:

“The place you love during the day now has more reasons to love it at night. We’ve always been your neighborhood spot where you can take a moment to unwind, grab a well-deserved treat, and meet up with friends. But sometimes, you just want a glass of wine and a delicious bite to eat without going to a bar or making a restaurant reservation.” 

Starbucks Evenings is a great example of a new service that fits perfectly within their business model. It’s something that their customers want; it adds value to the customer experience. Kudos, Starbucks.

Chicago Ideas Week - Storyboarding


Yesterday, I attended a Chicago Ideas Week lab at Gravity Tank, an innovation consultancy.

We learned about story-boarding and how it helps us to understand consumer experiences and pain points.

These insightful scenarios highlight potential opportunities where innovation and new thinking can be applied.