Sunday, February 14, 2010


What about that company that when you buy a pair of shoes they give a pair to someone in need? Or the companies that let you custom design your shoes or the one that prints your designs on a pair of shoes? Those are creative ideas. They add value to a purchase. That puts them in a new category for me. I've never tried on their shoes, and I generally get my shoes used. However, even on my budget, if the shoes were amazing enough I might buy them.

You really only need three pairs of shoes, right? Four max. Something dressy, something to exercise in, something to wear on normal days, and maybe something for the summer. Ok, depending on what you do you might need more than that. Or less.

Still what if someone put together a company that:
1. Significantly increased the quality and longevity of the shoe.
2. Allowed for customization to your foot.
3. Allowed for customization of design.
4. Made a valuable charitable contribution as part of the purchase (one that makes sense and looks longer term).

Wouldn't it be way better to have one pair of shoes like that than 4 or 5 pairs that do the same thing badly? Not if we're driven by style, surely, but it seems to me that there must be a place for quality, innovation and generosity that doesn't change with the season.

Why do I suddenly care about shoes?
I don't that much. But I care about new ideas, potential, excellence, creativity. And it seemed like a good place to start when imagining how I to put feet to these ideas about creativity and the economy.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Creativity and the Economy

We're at a place in our country that we can not expect to shuffle the cards we've already got, make a few budget cuts and minor adjustments and be ok. Our debts are too large. Even major cuts in expenditure alone won't do it (and I'm talking both about individuals and the larger culture here). We've got to be creative as well.

We've got to come up with new ideas, practices, approaches, and yes, even products and services. We've got more stuff than we need, but a lot of it is junk. There are inventions not yet thought of or produced that will cut out all sorts of unnecessary waste. There are songs that haven't been written that people actually need to hear. They will create markets of some sort. Maybe people won't pay for the songs, but they'll invest something of value to hear them.

I see in myself and in the US right now the human tendency to become afraid, defensive, angry and/or withdrawn because of the economic climate. We have been overextended in unhealthy, greed-driven ways. However, fear of loss in no better a motivator than greed -- both are destructive roots that eventually bear unhealthy fruit. Generosity and love, however, are good roots that end up creating something. When paired with wisdom and diligence they often create something of substance and value.

As strange as it sounds, right now we need to create! Ideas, processes, and yes, new and better stuff. And less of it. (If you've ever had really, really good chocolate you don't need much of it.) So bring it on. The sooner the better.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Four Great Lines

The Mississippi delta
Was shining like a national guitar
I am following the river
Down the highway through the cradle of the Civil War

- Paul Simon

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Coaching Creativity and Learning from Pioneers

Today I spent time with three people on the phone, helping them develop their visions and creativity. One of them is a first time college professor. The second is working on her first novel, a science fantasy epic. The third is a veteran band member turned front man who is developing his first real solo gig.

I enjoy helping people clarify vision and wrestle with the creative process. I draw on my own experiences and things I've learned over the years watching and walking with all sorts of people: leaders, musicians, missionaries, painters, writers, entrepreneurs, pastors, students. Some things that are common to any creative venture, stuff you can learn about doing things for the first time if you do new things a lot and watch serial pioneers.

Not everyone is wired or called to be an entrepreneur or artist, but everyone is creative. Not everyone is a pioneer, but everyone from time to time must try something new. Doing something for the first time or going somewhere you've never been is different than doing something you know or being you're used to. It takes different resources: muscles, attitudes, skills, and expectations. And while not everyone needs to live their life focusing on the new, everyone can learn something from those who do.