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Category: William Childs

William Childs is an accomplished creative leader with a history of delivering award-winning campaigns for a variety of businesses. Relentlessly dedicated to the skillful and creative translation of strategic business objectives, he’s known as a collaborative mentor and champion of fearless creativity. With a career spanning three decades, Childs knows how to take an acceptable idea and turn it into an exceptional one. His reputation of setting high creative standards while helping to create a culture of genuine collaboration and engagement is one of things he’s most proud of across his career. Recognizing and mentoring talent, and building high-performing, cohesive teams is one of his passions.

What a slice of pumpkin pie taught me about the importance of mastering your craft; by William Childs

Inspiration is everywhere if you are open to it. Sometimes, it may visit you when you least expect it. It happened to me recently at a lunch meeting at a restaurant in King of Prussia, PA called J. Alexanders. I was meeting with Mr. Ed Harris, the Chief Marketing Officer of The Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau, and an adjunct professor, of marketing strategy at Saint Joseph’s University. After we finished eating, Ed remarked to me that I might want to try the pumpkin pie.

Not wanting to disappoint Ed, I agreed. Before the pie arrived, Ed warned me that it would be the best pumpkin pie I would ever eat. A bold statement, to be sure. I mean, I trusted his judgment, but the best ever? Well, I found out how correct that statement was after I took the first bite. I realized immediately this was no ordinary pumpkin pie.

I gently put the fork down while attempting to maintain my composure. Ed looked over at me with a satisfied look, and asked, “Well, what do you think?” I had to admit, that was indeed the best pumpkin pie I have ever tasted, and I only needed one bite to realize it. Now, I believe that most people, given the proper ingredients could probably make a decent pumpkin pie. I’m just not sure everyone could make a life-changing one. Or at least one that could make me contemplate the meaning of mastery and craft and how some of us function at levels of greatness that few ever reach. 

Whoever made the pumpkin pie that day was no ordinary baker. They created something remarkable and so delicious that I couldn’t stop thinking about it for months afterward. It made me think about what separates the ordinary from the extraordinary? What are the essential ingredients of success? I found a compelling answer in poet Reyna Biddy, who said this, “Trust in your craft enough to admire it, study it, perfect it, breathe it. Never stop getting better at whatever it is that you love to do.”

I don’t think it matters if you’re flipping burgers, writing screenplays, conducting orchestras, teaching high school science, roasting coffee or painting houses. We all should be following Biddy’s advice. Far too many of us are content with the status quo, and I find that unfortunate. Mastery does not reside anywhere near mediocrity. Yes, you can earn a good living being average. But why would you want to? Seriously. Nobody should ever be content with average. While I can appreciate that not everyone is prepared to do whatever it takes to master their craft, I believe that mastery is attainable for those who work hard at it. 

There are a myriad of factors that are involved in an individual’s journey to mastery, but there is one essential that is the fuel you’ll need to get you to the Promised Land. Passion. Without it, you won’t be able to sustain the energy and drive required for the road ahead. The ability to find your passion is really about finding your authentic self. You will also have to add in some resolve, a heaping amount of determination, equal parts optimism, and top it off with some love and bake it for 30 years.

Harris knows how mastery plays a role in both education and marketing. “As educators, we should never stop learning. In fact, the power of knowledge will continue to be a key ingredient for success. Students need to remember that learning doesn’t end when you receive a diploma. Whether you’re marketing experiences, apparel, or even food, the best companies understand that consumers seek value and quality. When you have quality products that are unique in some way compared to the competition, it makes our job as marketers easier to craft a memorable story that connects with an audience.”

I will always be grateful to those who consistently show up every day willing to put the time in, who are always looking for ways to improve their skills, and who are profoundly invested in the outcome of the service they provide or product they make. Those who take the status quo and turn it into status whoa! They never settle for good enough, and they are always looking for ways to improve both themselves and the people they work around. If it weren’t for them, the world would be a pretty average place. In that world, I would never have had the opportunity to experience how amazing a slice of pumpkin pie could taste when it’s baked with mastery.


THE AUTHOR: WILLIAM CHILDS | Creative Director | Brand Storyteller | Columnist | Optimist
Bill is an accomplished creative leader with a history of delivering award-winning campaigns for a variety of businesses. Relentlessly dedicated to the skillful and creative translation of strategic business objectives, he’s known as a collaborative mentor and champion of fearless creativity. With a career spanning three decades, Childs knows how to take an acceptable idea and turn it into an exceptional one. His reputation of setting high creative standards while helping to create a culture of genuine collaboration and engagement is one of things he’s most proud of across his career. Recognizing and mentoring talent, and building high-performing, cohesive teams is one of his passions. Email. Website. Twitter. LinkedIn.
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Condition your mind for innovation and the ideas will come; An essay from William Childs

Global speaker and serial entrepreneur Jeff Hoffman (Priceline.com, uBid.com, ColorJar) has a unique daily activity he uses to help him condition his mind for innovation.

I once attended a talk where Hoffman spoke about an exercise that he does every morning he called “info-sponging.” It’s the process by which he will spend up to twenty minutes a day reading. It could be from a newspaper, a book, a website, or a magazine article. It’s the one time of day where he focuses on soaking up as much new information as he possibly can. The trick to this daily ritual is that the topics he chooses are not always directly related to anything in which he’s currently working. The whole point of the exercise is that he reads material or subjects designed to open his mind to new thoughts.

Hoffman believes that the best way to stay sharp is to have a broad information funnel. He also stressed that curiosity in all aspects is a key factor in discovering new ideas. 

I’m grateful to people like Jeff Hoffman, who push past boundaries, who will eagerly sail into the unknown in his quest for new knowledge. Where would we be as a civilization if we didn’t have people who were insatiably curious, or who consistently rejected established norms to challenge societal dogma?  

The other exciting item that captivated me that he spoke about was how to look outside your industry for new ideas. Anyone looking to disrupt the industry they work in may find it daunting to do it from the inside. In other words, if you work in health care, you must look outside your industry for innovation. Hoffman explained it like this, “If you work in health care, what do you work on all day long? Health care. What problems do you solve all day? Health care problems. If I asked you, ‘Hey, I’m going to conference on banking, do you want to go?’ You might say, ‘No, I don’t work in banking, why would I do that? I work in health care.”  Hoffman would urge you to take a leap of faith and go to the banking conference.

Take for example, the drive-up window. The first recorded use of a drive-up window, was the Grand National Bank of St. Louis, Missouri, in 1930. Until then, you had to go physically into the bank to transact all your business. The first drive-thru window for food was opened in 1947 by Red’s Giant Hamburg on Route 66 in Springfield, Missouri. Is it possible that perhaps the banking industry inspired the drive-thru window for food service? I don’t believe it would be a stretch for anyone to assume that connection. It is rather interesting that both innovations got their start in Missouri. 

Innovation takes many forms and sometimes it’s difficult to measure what its true impact will be. The ride hailing company Uber was never going to be created by a taxi company. Just as Airbnb was never going to be coaxed into existence by a hotel chain. But yet, those companies have completely disrupted their respective industries.

History has shown us examples of this theory in action. Archimedes, in the original “eureka” moment, discovered a method for measuring the volume of an irregularly shaped object in relation to the gold in the king’s crown while he took a bath. Gutenberg is credited with combining the idea of block printing with a screw press that was mainly used for olive oil and wine production. His idea brought print to the masses with his Gutenberg Bible. 

So what issues or business challenges could you be solving by looking outside your industry for answers? It again comes down to getting out of your way and being willing to expand your comfort zone. 

Consider adding info-sponging to your daily ritual. Remember, you don’t have to have all the answers; you just need to be ready to take action when your “eureka” moment arrives.


THE AUTHOR: WILLIAM CHILDS | Creative Director | Brand Storyteller | Columnist | Optimist
Bill is an accomplished creative leader with a history of delivering award-winning campaigns for a variety of businesses. Relentlessly dedicated to the skillful and creative translation of strategic business objectives, he’s known as a collaborative mentor and champion of fearless creativity. With a career spanning three decades, Childs knows how to take an acceptable idea and turn it into an exceptional one. His reputation of setting high creative standards while helping to create a culture of genuine collaboration and engagement is one of things he’s most proud of across his career. Recognizing and mentoring talent, and building high-performing, cohesive teams is one of his passions. Email. Website. Twitter. LinkedIn.

Image from Shutterstock (Wachiraphorn Thongya)


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You won’t find inspiration on a spreadsheet; An essay from William Childs

Today’s risk-averse business environments do not really support creative thought and ideation the way it should. Most are great at tracking production costs, profitability, taxes, payroll, and many other essential systems that go into running a successful business. But, where does creativity fit in the overall business scheme?

Adobe released a survey where they looked into creativity and how it affects employees around the world. Its ‘State of Create’ global benchmark study surveyed business people in the US, the UK, Germany, France, and Japan. The results were shocking.

80% of those surveyed felt that unlocking creativity is critical to economic growth.  Another critical stat showed that 75% of employees said they are always under pressure to be more creative at work.  That’s a huge issue. If you’re feeling pressure to be more creative at work, more than likely you won’t be.  Creativity doesn’t operate like that. It works in an environment where it feels welcome.  If the situation is a pressure cooker or toxic, creativity will not grow, no matter what you try to do. 

The most shocking stat to me was the one showing that only 39% consider themselves creative.  There is a disconnect between the need for creativity in the workplace and employees not being permitted to do anything to change the company culture.   Creativity isn’t something that can be mandated.  You can’t order employees to be more creative, then criticize them if results don’t show up on your balance sheet. Spreadsheets have always been a window to the past, while creativity is the doorway to the future. 

Leadership guru, Simon Sinek, believes this, “If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.” This is not to say that you hire lemmings, but rather people who have a desire to make an impact through their work.

A company that embraces, fosters, and nurtures their employee’s creative well-being is going to have to be one that’s willing to walk into the unknown. There’s just no other way to do it.  Our society has done a terrible disservice conditioning all of us to believe that risk is wrong and must be avoided.  Especially when it comes to untested ideas. 

Best-selling author Hugh Macleod offers this blunt, yet accurate assessment. “If you’re creative, if you can think independently, if you can articulate passion, if you can override the fear of being wrong, then your company needs you now more than it ever did.  And now your company can no longer afford to pretend that isn’t the case.”

Which is why leaders struggle with bringing creativity into their business.  They are not comfortable with the unpredictable nature that it inspires. Any untested idea or solution is going to require a leap of faith and involve risk before it can emerge into a product or new service that will drive revenue. 

Albert Einstein, considered one of the 20th century’s greatest minds said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.  For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

Businesses that can tap into that power stand a much better chance of creating a vibrant culture, unlocking emerging markets, and creating new revenue streams.  Focus on creating an environment for employees to grow and develop creatively and support their efforts by allowing them to take risks. And whatever you do, do not stigmatize mistakes. Ever.  

If the Adobe research showed me anything, it’s that creativity is recognized as critical for economic growth, but it still has a long way to go before its universally accepted as a tool to drive change. 

The good news is the future only comes one day at a time.  The bad news is that if you’re unwilling to bring creativity into your business in a real and tangible way, you won’t have much of a future to worry about anyway.


THE AUTHOR: WILLIAM CHILDS | Creative Director | Brand Storyteller | Columnist | Optimist
Bill is an accomplished creative leader with a history of delivering award-winning campaigns for a variety of businesses. Relentlessly dedicated to the skillful and creative translation of strategic business objectives, he’s known as a collaborative mentor and champion of fearless creativity. With a career spanning three decades, Childs knows how to take an acceptable idea and turn it into an exceptional one. His reputation of setting high creative standards while helping to create a culture of genuine collaboration and engagement is one of things he’s most proud of across his career. Recognizing and mentoring talent, and building high-performing, cohesive teams is one of his passions. Email. Website. Twitter. LinkedIn.

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Embrace the constraints; An essay from William Childs

In Greek mythology, the nine Muses were Greek goddesses who ruled over the arts and sciences and offered inspiration in those subjects. Calliope is the Muse who presides over eloquence and epic poetry. She’s considered the “Chief of all Muses.” I know because she’s visited me from time to time. Anyone looking to engage in a creative capacity needs inspiration. But inspiration can be elusive. I will freely admit to you that there are some days when it feels like I’ve entirely run out of ideas. It’s just the natural ebb and flow of the creative process. Early in my career, that used to bother me. I thought that I had run out of ideas. Now, I know better. 

Contrary to conventional thinking, constraints are the key to big ideas. But what creates the conditions that allow inspiration to appear? Can it be summoned up at will? I believe you can set the conditions for inspiration by working within constraints. I know that nobody likes to work with restrictions, but the truth is, they can be extremely beneficial. When limitations are present, you dedicate your mental energy to acting more resourcefully. Obstacles broaden perception and open your mind to look at challenges with a renewed focus. 

A lack of options is the grit that grinds the wheel of inspiration. When your options are limited, you’re compelled to use creativity to deliver a solution that fits the parameters. Sometimes an idea can come quickly, other times a sustained effort is what’s required. The quality of your thoughts will always be in direct proportion to the amount of energy you are willing to invest in discovering them. 

Mediocre ideas are usually the first to show up, followed closely by acceptable ideas. Don’t stop at acceptable. Push for the more exceptional idea. Just know that it won’t be easy. You’d be surprised how many times I improved on an idea that I had already considered solved. The worst thing you can do is to try and force an idea into existence. I’ve tried, and it doesn’t work. There are only so many hours you can spend staring at a blank piece of paper or the cursor on your computer screen waiting for inspiration to show up that sometimes it’s best to sleep on it and start fresh the next day. Plus, I think a Muse will only descend when she knows you’re struggling and earnestly in search of something big. 

When you feel exhausted, and still have nothing to show for your effort, that’s when getting some outside opinions might be helpful. In most cases, their thoughts may spark something new, and that could take you down a path you hadn’t considered. Don’t let frustration creep in and taint the process. Stay the course. I have always believed that ideas can come from anyone. Be open to outside opinions. Seek feedback, even if it’s negative. Bill Bernbach, Creative Director of Doyle, Dane, Bernbach used to carry a slip a paper in his shirt pocket that said, “They might be right.” It was a way to remind himself to be open to different opinons. Ray Dalio, the founder of investment firm Bridgewater Associates, one of the world’s largest hedge funds, offers this, “More than anything else, what differentiates people who live up to their potential from those who don’t is a willingness to look at themselves and others objectively.” 

Objectivity and constraints are huge elements that go into producing the best ideas. Idea generating is often your willingness to be ready to go when the mood or Muse strikes. That may not always fit neatly into a nine-to-five workday. A constricted timeline or lack of resources will always force creativity to show up sooner. You must still be willing to put considerable effort into solving the challenge if you hope to discover a transformational idea. At least that is what my Muse told me. 


THE AUTHOR: WILLIAM CHILDS | Creative Director | Brand Storyteller | Columnist | Optimist
Bill is an accomplished creative leader with a history of delivering award-winning campaigns for a variety of businesses. Relentlessly dedicated to the skillful and creative translation of strategic business objectives, he’s known as a collaborative mentor and champion of fearless creativity. With a career spanning three decades, Childs knows how to take an acceptable idea and turn it into an exceptional one. His reputation of setting high creative standards while helping to create a culture of genuine collaboration and engagement is one of things he’s most proud of across his career. Recognizing and mentoring talent, and building high-performing, cohesive teams is one of his passions. Email. Website. Twitter. LinkedIn.

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Improv holds the key to unlocking innovation; An essay from William Childs

Improvisational theatre holds the key to unlocking innovation.

Leaders can often get lost in the maze when it comes to discovering new techniques or processes to help their businesses become more innovative. While improvisational theatre is not new, using its principles to train workers to become more creative is, and it holds a vital key to innovation. Improv is not only a thrilling form of entertainment, but it’s also known for its ability to help foster collaboration, improve creativity and increase overall communication within an organization.  The skills needed to do improv on the stage are the same ones that can help us succeed in the workplace.

Dan Maher has witnessed the power improv can have on a person’s life. Dan’s an improviser, writer, director, and creator of the improv class curriculum at ArtsQuest in Bethlehem, PA. He’s studied improv at the famed ‘Upright Citizens Brigade,’ an American improvisational theatre and training center in New York City, founded by Matt Besser, Ian Roberts, Matt Walsh, and Amy Poehler.

Poehler, who began her improv studies at Chicago’s Second City and ImprovOlympic in the early 1990s, before Co-founding the Upright Citizens Brigade said this, “As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time them, and it will change your life.”

Companies have become more open to the idea of fostering creativity, but they still struggle how to implement the necessary training to get the most from those initiatives.  It takes consistent effort across all departments, as well as strong leadership. Learning how to improv helps foster trust, encourages risk, and sets up the conditions for people to seek common ground when working together.  It doesn’t matter if you are performing in front of a theatre audience or presenting to a new client. The ability to improv in both those scenarios is omnipresent.

One of the most significant tenets of improv is known as “Yes, and…” It works like this; no matter what your improv partner presents to you, instead of negating it, or disagreeing with it, your job is to say, “Yes, and…” That’s what helps drive the idea and the collaboration within a scene. You take what your partner presents, and you add to it. They, in turn, do the same thing back to you.  That simple, yet effective approach should be a staple in every meeting in every company in America. The courage to take a co-worker’s thought or idea and apply “yes, and… to it and see where it leads.

“Improv is an art form that doesn’t work without risk.  Because for it to work properly, you have to trust those you’re performing with to construct the scene.” Maher added.

Viola Spolin, was an accomplished actress, educator, director, and author, considered the industries first pioneer of improv, created something called’ Theater Games’ – a system of actor training that used games she devised to teach the formal rules of the theater, said this, “Play touches and stimulates vitality, awakening the whole person – mind, body, intelligence and creativity.  The techniques of the theater are the techniques of communication.”

Maher agrees and adds,  “Improv helps me stay in touch with my creativity. It helps me make sense of the chaos and encourages my sense of play, which I think is missing in a lot of people’s lives.  What’s important to me is the pursuit of the craft. I want to do this thing well, and I want to share it with others, and if I can do that for the rest of my life, I know I’ll be happy.”


THE AUTHOR: WILLIAM CHILDS | Creative Director | Brand Storyteller | Columnist | Optimist
Bill is an accomplished creative leader with a history of delivering award-winning campaigns for a variety of businesses. Relentlessly dedicated to the skillful and creative translation of strategic business objectives, he’s known as a collaborative mentor and champion of fearless creativity. With a career spanning three decades, Childs knows how to take an acceptable idea and turn it into an exceptional one. His reputation of setting high creative standards while helping to create a culture of genuine collaboration and engagement is one of things he’s most proud of across his career. Recognizing and mentoring talent, and building high-performing, cohesive teams is one of his passions. Email. Website. Twitter. LinkedIn.

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Do work that feeds your soul, not your ego; An essay by William Childs

Of all the terrible traits that have the potential to damage your career or prevent you from earning respect from your peers, a giant ego is at the top of the list.  To be clear, I’m not talking about confidence; I’m talking about an exaggerated sense of self-importance. Confidence is healthy; an out of control ego is not.

Confidence says, “I’m valuable,” while ego says, “I’m invaluable.”  Big difference. Doing creative work often involves a certain amount of risk and vulnerability.  Having an over-inflated sense of self can be extremely limiting to that process because ego feeds off of your fear.  And when you’re operating from a place a fear, you won’t be very effective. Dr. Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston who has spent the last thirteen years studying vulnerability said this, “Vulnerability is not weakness.  That myth is profoundly dangerous. Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.”

If you’re unwilling to be viewed as vulnerable – which can be an essential component if you hope to do serious, groundbreaking, and fulfilling work, just as failure and success are linked, so is vulnerability and strength. People with amplified egos are not comfortable asking for help or admitting they don’t possess specific skills. Their egos take over, and they tend to judge everyone and everything based on appearance, possessions and other superficial aspects.

Ego is dangerous because it rejects the truth. There’s an excellent scene in the film ‘Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade’ when Harrison Ford, playing Indiana Jones, must choose the right Grail to save his dying father, played by Sean Connery.  The villain picks first and chooses a cup adorned with rubies and emeralds, beautifully shaped and what he thought would be representative of the cup of a King. “He chose poorly,” says the Templar Knight standing guard as the villain dies a hideous death.  Harrison Ford then remembers that Jesus was a carpenter. He looks for an old, deformed, dirty cup that looks worn and used. It turns out to be the one that saves his father’s life. He chose wisely. I think people can be like those cups.

Don’t be the one that represents ego, pride, greed, or narcissism.  Be the one that represents humility, gratitude, and vulnerability. It will make a huge difference in how you approach people and your work.  My strategy has always been to work with those who are better than me. I’m at peace with the fact that I will never know everything there is to about my craft, but I’m smart enough to know that strength comes from humility and gratitude towards my co-workers and the work we collaborate on.  

I’ve had the pleasure over the years of working with some of the most talented artists, designers, copywriters, videographers, photographers, actors and directors and I learned something from all of them. Those of you who do creative work need a certain level of confidence to help propel you forward into the uncharted waters where the best ideas can be found.  Early in my career, I sometimes struggled to keep my ego at bay. These days, I keep it in check by having an attitude of gratitude. I surrender my need for control. I work on being a better me and less on trying to be better than everyone else around me, and I’m open to constructive criticism.  Plus, I’m wise enough to know that if I’m the smartest person in the room, I’m in the wrong room. While these might sound like simple tactics to employ, they’re effective at keeping my ego in check. Besides, we should all strive to do the type of work that feeds our soul, not our ego.


THE AUTHOR: WILLIAM CHILDS | Creative Director | Brand Storyteller | Columnist | Optimist
Bill is an accomplished creative leader with a history of delivering award-winning campaigns for a variety of businesses. Relentlessly dedicated to the skillful and creative translation of strategic business objectives, he’s known as a collaborative mentor and champion of fearless creativity. With a career spanning three decades, Childs knows how to take an acceptable idea and turn it into an exceptional one. His reputation of setting high creative standards while helping to create a culture of genuine collaboration and engagement is one of things he’s most proud of across his career. Recognizing and mentoring talent, and building high-performing, cohesive teams is one of his passions. Email. Website. Twitter. LinkedIn.

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Creativity is the fuel needed to drive education reform; An essay by William Childs

It always hurts my soul when I hear that a school is forced to cut back on creative classes, like music and art.  After all, allowing kids to be creative in school helps set them up to become creative adults – where creativity can lead to innovation in the workplace.  

The current public educational system in the United States was developed in the 19th century, primarily to meet the demands of the industrial revolution.  The spread of industry necessitated mass schooling to produce a skilled workforce. The system worked — factories had workers and workers had permanent jobs.

Today, the global economy demands new ideas and innovation, but our educational system doesn’t encourage entrepreneurial traits like creativity, risk-taking, or leadership.  The system is set up to teach kids how to take standardized tests; not to help them nurture their passions. I don’t blame the teachers; I blame those who refuse to admit that the world has changed and that we should keep doing the same thing over and over and expect different results.

Irish poet, William Butler Yeats gets it right, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” A wonderful example of what  Mr. Yeats is referring to is in Jack Foster’s fantastic book titled, “How To Get Ideas,” where he writes about an exercise he calls, “What is half of 13?”  The purpose of the exercise is not to find the correct answer — Foster already knows the answer is 6.5. Instead, he’s more interested in seeing if we can solve it creatively.

Since schools are not required to encourage creative thought, it’s hard for us to imagine how to solve the challenge.  When you view it through a creative lens, the clues begin to reveal themselves. The number 1 is half of 13. The number 3 is half of 13.  What about ‘thir,’ How about ‘teen.’ What if you wrote the number thirteen and erased the bottom half? What about roman numerals? Thirteen is written like this: XIII, so ‘X’ is half of thirteen. ‘III’ is half of thirteen.  The exercise is designed to show that when you look to solve a challenge creatively, you must be willing to look at it from different angles and be open to new possibilities, which is precisely what young children do effortlessly.

Think back on your childhood, and how you could play for hours with an empty refrigerator box. You could use it to create a boat, a car, a rocket ship, a castle. Endless possibilities. That’s the beauty of imagination and creativity, which is why, if you can reach back into your childhood, you can taste genius.

Children’s book author and creativity expert, Vince Gowmon states, “Children do not move, think or speak in a straight line, and neither does imagination, or creativity.  Sadly though, our standardized pathways of education still do.”

In one of the most viewed TED talks ever given, ‘Do Schools Kill Creativity?’ Sir Ken Robinson, who led an advisory committee on creative and cultural reform, said, “Our children and teachers are encouraged to follow routine algorithms rather than to excite that power of imagination and curiosity.” He also adds, “young children are wonderfully confident in their imaginations … Most of us lose this confidence as we grow up.” 

The next few years in our country are going to be crucial.  It’s time for creativity to be granted its proper status in education.  It’s every bit as important as math, science, history, and social studies.  While the industrial revolution is over, now is an excellent time to re-engineer how we structure our curriculums.  Curiosity, wonderment, and imagination are no longer child’s play. Those attributes must be encouraged and treated with respect at every grade level if we ever hope to change the current outdated educational system and put students on a path to success.

(Photo via Shutterstock.com)


THE AUTHOR: WILLIAM CHILDS | Creative Director | Brand Storyteller | Columnist | Optimist
Bill is an accomplished creative leader with a history of delivering award-winning campaigns for a variety of businesses. Relentlessly dedicated to the skillful and creative translation of strategic business objectives, he’s known as a collaborative mentor and champion of fearless creativity. With a career spanning three decades, Childs knows how to take an acceptable idea and turn it into an exceptional one. His reputation of setting high creative standards while helping to create a culture of genuine collaboration and engagement is one of things he’s most proud of across his career. Recognizing and mentoring talent, and building high-performing, cohesive teams is one of his passions. Email. Website. Twitter. LinkedIn.

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Welcome to the creative age; An essay by William Childs

Imagine a power so strong that no army can defeat it. Imagine that this power never gets depleted. In fact, the more you use it, the more you have of it. Who wouldn’t want that type of unlimited power? Well, that very power resides inside all of us. I’m speaking of course about creativity.

The first use of the word “creativity,” was by the 17th-century poet Maciej Sarbiewski — but he applied it only to describe the creation of poetry. For over a century and a half, the idea of human creativity was rejected, because the term “creation” was reserved for creating “from nothing.”

Human creativity has been being studied and explored in countless books, podcasts, websites, magazines, in both the public and the private sectors. We’ve crossed the event horizon where creativity is now an accepted way to drive change and innovation.

The fields of music, science, technology, architecture, art, business, education, literature, medicine or engineering are necessary for our country’s continued growth and prosperity. People like Steve Jobs, Louis Pasteur, Nikola Tesla, George Washington Carver, Marie Curie, Frank Lloyd Wright, Miles Davis, Ayn Rand, Emelia Earhart, Maya Angelou, Pablo Picasso, among countless others. They all used significant amounts of creativity to break through the limitations they encountered to make invaluable contributions which enhanced our world. They were all ridiculed.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a Nobel Prize-winning physicist working on the Higgs boson particle or a middle school student working on your next science fair project. Both must access creativity if they hope to stand out from everyone else. Today, the demand for people who are willing to lead us beyond what we think we’re capable of achieving is in high demand.

We need those people who won’t accept the ‘Well, we’ve always done it that way’ mentality. Good leaders know that sometimes they’re going to have to bend a few rules to help us push us past our limitations. No of us will change the world by being safely ensconced inside our comfort zone. Innovation is messy. It doesn’t follow a straight path and certainly won’t track neatly onto a spreadsheet.

We need to consider that our world has seen more change in the last one hundred years than it has in the last billion years and creativity is leading the charge. In his groundbreaking book titled, ‘The Rise of the Creative Class, which recently just celebrated its tenth anniversary, author Richard Florida, who is considered to be one of the world’s leading experts on economic competitiveness, and technological innovation explored the rise of creativity as a fundamental economic force, and discovered that creativity is indeed experiencing a renaissance.

“Human creativity is the most spectacularly transformative force ever unleashed, and it is something that all of us can draw on to one degree or another. If the rise of this new order and new social class poses tremendous challenges, it carries the seeds of its resolution as well,” said Florida.

Thankfully, even though creativity is now being taken seriously as an economic driver, more work needs to be done before creativity receives the full status it deserves. The old stereotype of creative people sitting around on their beanbag chair looking for meaning through the incandescent glow of their Lava Lamp still lingers.

Creativity can be intimidating to the people who don’t fully understand it. Ask Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras how it went for him when he proposed the radical idea the Earth was not flat in 500 B.C.

Every revolution has its critics. This one is no different. Accessing your creative resources is one of the best options anyone can use to separate themselves from the dross of mediocrity that often permeates society. I’m excited to see more examples where creativity gets the proper status it rightly deserves. The most challenging part anyone will ever face when trying to bring creativity into a workplace is the knowledge that not everyone is going to share your enthusiasm about it. Don’t let that stop you.

The world needs people with the guts to stare down their fear of failure and move forward anyway. Stay positive, stay humble and never settle. Remember, we’ve all been programmed to avoid failure because of the criticism that usually follows it. Don’t be fooled; it’s the critics that carry all the fear.


WILLIAM CHILDS | Creative Director | Brand Storyteller | Columnist | Optimist

Bill is an accomplished creative leader with a history of delivering award-winning campaigns for a variety of businesses. Relentlessly dedicated to the skillful and creative translation of strategic business objectives, he’s known as a collaborative mentor and champion of fearless creativity. With a career spanning three decades, Childs knows how to take an acceptable idea and turn it into an exceptional one. His reputation of setting high creative standards while helping to create a culture of genuine collaboration and engagement is one of things he’s most proud of across his career. Recognizing and mentoring talent, and building high-performing, cohesive teams is one of his passions. Email. Website. Twitter. LinkedIn.


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5 keys to a creative culture, by William Childs

I would have thought by now; more business leaders would be using the transformative capability of creativity to invigorate their companies. Instead, creativity remains widely misunderstood, and I’m not sure why.

Column by William Childs
Uninspired leaders may think that buying a couple of bean bag chairs or a foosball table for the company break room qualifies as a creative culture. Fortunately, creativity doesn’t work that way. I guess since creativity doesn’t follow a predictable formula, it can cause trepidation and an unwillingness to embrace its influence.

It all starts at the top. A inspired leader will set the tone for the company, which ultimately affects the culture. If the culture is one of collaboration, trust, patience, mutual respect where everyone has a clear idea of the mission they signed on for, then creativity is more likely to make its presence felt. The best leaders know that for creativity to work, certain conditions must be in place if they want to see trackable results. A note of caution. If the sole reason for setting up a creative culture is to just make more money, it’ll fail pretty fast. Money is an outcome, not a strategy. Yes, I realize that money is essential to maintain and grow a business, but it shouldn’t drive every decision.

Here are five essential elements that go into setting up a creative culture. They all work together to set the conditions for creativity to flourish.

1. Authenticity. I believe it’s the one element that must be present inside the people leading the company if there’s any hope at all of creating a culture where innovation can thrive. If management is constantly reminding people how they are not living up to their potential or that everyone needs to work harder, or spends their day making people feel uncomfortable, the business will struggle to survive. That approach may have worked during the height of the industrial revolution, but not anymore. People today want to work for companies who value their commitment and dedication they bring to their career.

2. Vulnerability. There’s nothing worse than a boss who thinks they have to have all the answers. The best leaders empower others to find solutions. Leaders that trust the people they hire will be amazed at how those individuals will rise up to solve the businesses challenges. Author Brene Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston who writes and lectures on the topic of vulnerability, said this, “To declare oneself “not vulnerable” would be inauthentic and would leave a leader living in a perpetual state of denial and stress. So it’s better and more courageous for every leader to acknowledge the fact that vulnerability is there.” When you embrace vulnerability, you shouldn’t be surprised when members of your team, immediately step up to offer their help and assistance.”

3. Risk. One of the absolute worst things a leader can do is stigmatize mistakes. Everyone make mistakes. It’s a part of the process of coming up with big ideas. Not everything you try is going to work, and that’s okay. Success and failure are not opposites, they are two sides of the same coin. Some of the world’s most significant discoveries happened due to unintended outcomes. The wheel, the printing press, post-it notes, the microwave oven, penicillin, teflon, play-doh, were all created by accident while their inventors were working on solving a different problem. Creativity will not prosper in any organization if everyone is terrified of making a mistake. British Comedy legend and Monty Python member John Cleese agrees. “Nothing will stop you being creative more effectively as the fear of making mistakes.” A leader who allows people to risk being wrong, is one who understands that mistakes can often be a stimulus to a better idea.

4. Flexibility. A crucial element in creating the right conditions in a creative culture, flexibility allows managers to be open to trying new approaches. Flexibility breeds innovation and a sense of excitement within the organization. People do their best when they are empowered and encouraged to seek out new alternatives to issues and challenges without fear of reprisals. In any worthwhile business endeavor, it’s important to remain steadfast in the mission, but flexible in the approach. Business author and management consultant Tom Peters sums up flexibility like this, “Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else.”

5. Diversity. Our differences will always make us unique. If everyone is looking at a problem from the same perspective, more than likely no new insights will emerge. In problem-solving, it’s important to know that ideas can come from anyone. A diverse environment will go along way in helping people look at problems from multiple angles. Try not to put people in silos. Value everyone’s opinion, because the more input, the increase the odds solving the challenge. Stephen Covey, author of ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, said this, “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.”

While this may seem like common sense advice, too many business leaders are not willing to invest in the creative health of their employees. My hope is that in the coming years, that will start to change.

In 2014, Forrester Consulting was asked by Adobe® to quantify and qualify just how creativity impacts business results. The study was surprised to discover that companies that embrace a creative culture outperform peers and competitors on many key business performance indicators, including revenue growth, market share, and talent acquisition.

I’ve outlined just five of the elements that go in to building a healthy, creative culture. In the best companies I’ve worked in, all five elements were present. Yes, it’s a process that requires everyone’s full participation, but one where the benefits far outweigh the risks.


WILLIAM CHILDS | Creative Director | Brand Storyteller | Columnist | Optimist

Bill is an accomplished creative leader with a history of delivering award-winning campaigns for a variety of businesses. Relentlessly dedicated to the skillful and creative translation of strategic business objectives, he’s known as a collaborative mentor and champion of fearless creativity. With a career spanning three decades, Childs knows how to take an acceptable idea and turn it into an exceptional one. His reputation of setting high creative standards while helping to create a culture of genuine collaboration and engagement is one of things he’s most proud of across his career. Recognizing and mentoring talent, and building high-performing, cohesive teams is one of his passions. Email. Website. Twitter. LinkedIn.


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