Create like Van Gogh, live like Michelangelo.
Corning is one such company that has a track record of over 150 years of innovation. It goes way back to the days of Thomas Edison: from manufacturing of light bulbs to color tubes, to LCD screens to the Pyrex glass technology and much more. No other house of glass affects our daily living as does Corning. The Reason: Innovation
How does a company keeps winning the battle for innovation for 150 years?
Frans Johansson, author of Medici Effect, asked this question to Lina Echeverria, who heads the glass research group at Corning. "I want the researchers [at Corning] to have the creativity of Van Gogh but lead the life of Michelangelo." She tells them to follow their hearts. This is where passion comes from and passion is the house for creativity. Believe it or not, there is a "creativity room" at Corning where researchers can talk about whatever is on their mind to encourage cross fertilization of ideas. This is the field of INTERSECTION. Innovation happens here. Ideas that were always seen as completely apart, merges to form this extraordinary new phenomena. Eric Lewis is one such innovator who lives and breathes at the INTERSECTION. He created a new musical identity: ELEW......it is rock, it is jazz, it is classical piano.
Experience innovation as it happens.
Now, that you have watched innovation in real time what does it mean to have the creativity of Van Gogh but lead the life of Michelangelo. Vincent Van Gogh was a starving painter of his times. He sold only one painting in 1890, the year he took his life. Yet he laid the foundations of modern art. He did not paint what he saw as reality. He created his own reality. It is an inter-dimensional concept.
When Vincent van Gogh was asked, "Your trees always go beyond the stars...?" he said, "Yes, because I understand trees. I have felt always that trees are the ambition of the earth to reach the stars. Otherwise why? To touch the stars, to feel the stars, to go beyond the stars – this is the desire of the earth. The earth tries hard, but cannot fulfill the desire. I can do it. The earth will understand my paintings, and I don't care about you, whether you understand or not."
"The emotions are sometimes so strong that I work without knowing it. The strokes come like speech." This is what it means to create from the seat of passion. It is the rhythm of the heart.
Michelangelo breathed life into stone. He was the master magician. Yet, he was painting for the church. His famous painting is God creating the world, very much in sync with the signs of the time. Michelangelo, was skilled, disciplined and had good business acumen. Michelangelo was the man living in the world, creating and helping others. Van Gogh was not of the world – he created for the sake of creation. "I can very well do without God both in my life and in my painting, but I cannot, suffering as I am, do without something which is greater than I, which is my life - the power to create." Vincent Van Gogh
Whatever you do to live in this world, live it but always DREAM. Dreams are the paintings of your passion. You will know it. It is not of this world. Give life to that which is out of the world, innovation is bound to follow.
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"The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice."
Mary Anne Evans, known by the pen name George Eliot was an 18th century leading novelist, journalist, translator and I would have to add a visionary to that tall order. Nowhere since the recorded history of mankind, were we flourished with so many choices and options with an underlying layer of sameness. The sameness is so monotonous that it looks like the flat lands of North Dakota. To rise above this tedious monotony is our strongest challenge and hence our strongest growth.
Marketers (from trade shows to social media) of today has to be entrenched in this advantageous place that Mike Gospe calls The Marketing High Grounds. When marketing leaders at every level have empathy and profound understanding of their target market, so much so that they become customers' advocate: a connection emerges and a creative path forges that cuts through the clutter and brings home the point across.
Tell Me More. These are the 3 most important words that marketers love to hear from their target audience. All marketers agree that successful selling is not about selling but story telling. And... you got it right. People will pay more attention if the story is about them: if they understand that your product will add benefits and or solve problems in their daily living. Once that is achieved, the world class marketers move on to telling their prospects how and why their products are better than any alternative. The story should always end with a validating success story and an affirmation of the of the benefit statement. Mike Gospe gives us Personas, Positioning and Messaging in his new playbook for B2B marketing professionals: The Marketing High Ground. He states, more is not better. It is normal human psychology to be everything to everybody. Marketers throw a multitude of features and benefits at prospects requiring them to sort out what’s really important. This only confuses the issue and lengthens the sales cycle. "A positioning statement challenges marketers to hone a simple statement that identifies the target market (via the persona), names the product and maps it to an appropriate category, prioritizes a benefit most relevant to the persona, and clearly distinguishes its uniqueness against the nearest competitive alternative."
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We, human species are impeccable creators.
We create our own thoughts, our will, our emotions, our perception and our imaginations. We are our MINDS. No doubt Winston Churchill stated in his speech at Harvard University in 1943, "The empires of the future are the empires of the mind." Sprint forward 60 years or so and a similar sentiment is echoed in the writings of Howard Gardner from Harvard Graduate School of Education. In his book, 5 Minds for the Future, Gardner ponders about the human mind. He says the world of tomorrow, "with its ubiquitous search engines, robots and other computational devices, will demand capacities that until now have been mere options."
To meet this new frontier, we must develop a global mind that is comprehensive, yet all encompassing. In his book he provides us with a road map that guides us in developing our 5 minds.
The disciplined mind has mastered one skill set or craft. The disciplined mind understands the intellectual rigor that goes into continuous improvement of one's profession. For example, an product designer should be in tune with the classic proportions such as golden section, golden mean and root rectangles, ratios and proportions, interrelationships of forms and regulating lines.
The synthesizing mind collects information from diverse sources, understands the information with an open mind and synthesizes it in a way that makes sense to everyone. Taking the example of an product designer who has been tasked to design a potato peeler (a mundane tool): he will understand the dynamics of color, the challenges of packaging, the texture and the plasticity of the material that will be used to produce his potato peeler.
The creating mind builds on discipline and systhesis to break new turfs. The creating mind will conjure up global ways of thinking and arrive at unchartertered territories. In our case: the creating mind will address the location of manufacturing and will mandate the usage of material that is native to that area, to come up with a design (perhaps a folding potato peeler) that cost less to ship and package, providing more value to the brand and ultimately to the end user.
The respectful mind notes and welcomes the differences among human individuals and groups, tries to understand it and works through it. Again, reeling back to our example of potato peeler: perhaps the shipping was set on a certain date. Can't be done due to some religious holiday. The respectful mind accepts it, will learn about the culture and conceivably will use this new knowledge in the new version of the design. The result might look something like a combination of a peeler and a knife.
The ethical mind contemplates the nature of one's work and the needs of the society, the planet that one lives in. This mind is unselfish and thinks for the betterment of all. The ethical mind always ask, "What kind of a world would I like to live in? What is my responsibility in bringing such a world into being?"
This book was an incredible excursion in technology, economics and geopolitics. It has taught me to explore opportunity in midst of expansive diversity.
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As designers for trade shows or any other medium, we are often required to present our ideas across, in a group environment. Our sub-conscious tend to focus on the body language of the decision maker. However, another approach might be to seek out the influencers in the group. The film below attempts to understand the basic ingredients of what makes a person influential in an esoteric way without any metric analysis. It explores the concept of the role that influencers play.
John Maxwell, the leadership guru, says, when you are talking to the group and you make a statement, observe what the members of the group typically do. More often, they look for the non-verbal queues from the influencer. For example, if the influencer is nodding his head or made an eye-contact with you, many members in the group will agree with what was presented and if the influencer is shaking his head, many members in the group will disagree with what is being stated.
To get into the habit of knowing the traits of influencers, observe people in a group setting and scrtinize how they interact with each other, whether it be a family gathering, in a shopping mall, in a cafe or in a playground. You will learn a lot simply by observing.
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In my writings I am often an explorer, a map maker, sometimes a voyager of the human mind and other times: a creator who is tormented by the inner longing to expand, express and delight !