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My Chat With Seth

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My Chat With Seth

“take a look at Steve’s book… and perhaps my blog. hope it helps”

That was Seth’s reply to me. To his credit, he replied within minutes of my sending him my question. There followed a few seconds of me thinking, “and that’s all I get for my intelligent question, carefully couched so that I didn’t look like some fawning, groupee kneeling at the feet of The Great Baldy Blogger?” Then my brain kicked back in and I got on with my life.

I’d just had a brain fart. The pillars of my existence seemed to have re-configured themselves into an unfathomable origami and I’d been hoping to find someone who could unfold it, flatten out the sheet again so I could see the extent of it, the edges and the shape, laid out before me, nice and neat. But that’s not how life works. And, ironically, that’s what I tell people. I’m a creative consultant, damn it, and I know better.

It’s all part of the creative process – the not knowing. Otherwise, by definition, it wouldn’t be creative. People like Seth (and his friend Steve) can only put up signposts along the way. He does it very well, and I often take note when he jabs his finger in one direction or another. But he can’t ‘do it’ for anyone, as he, himself says. It’s a personal experience and it only happens when an individual goes through their own process. Ironically, we’re all doing it, one way or another, all the time, so we might as well learn to enjoy the process rather than living in fear of it. Routine can only keep us where we are, at best. Inspiration provides the key to moving us forward.

There’s a common theme that I see among successful business people who maintain great integrity and authenticity. I particularly see it whenever a conversation about their business processes and tactics gets down to the nitty-gritty of specific situations they encounter. If I ask them what, exactly, their approach will be in a particular situation, they say – often with a twinkle in their eye – that they have no idea. Of course they don’t. That’s why they’re successful. They have mastered the creative process and they can think on their feet. That’s why they command substantial fees.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s any easier for them than it is for anyone else. But it does mean that they are willing to go there – to take the risk of not knowing, and have the courage to work with the situation, in the moment.

Someone once said that if the pace of change inside your organization is greater than outside, you will survive. If it isn’t, you won’t. You could also say that if you love change, you have a better chance of surviving and thriving, and if you don’t, you will live in fear and will probably find surviving tough. In this world of accelerating change, such thoughts can send you into a tailspin of anxiety if you don’t engage the power of creativity and have it working for you personally, rather than trying to keep up with those who truly do.

You can see that desperate process everywhere in business, perhaps nowhere more graphically and publicly than in the world of technology. While Apple, for instance, gave us the iPad – a breakthrough product, the appeal of which many of us couldn’t even identify until we held it in our hands – Microsoft continues to lumber on, behind the curve, with clumsy products and doubtful direction, trying to appease the market for past disasters such as Vista. In the meantime, we see a plethora of ‘me-too’ iPad-type products starting to flood the market from other companies who don’t have their own understanding of the future and the courage to introduce something truly innovative.

But maybe it’s better to observe and learn, rather than being too quick to judge. I was on Broadway in Vancouver yesterday. There was a man in a suit, talking on his iPhone as he sat in his shiny, brand-new Aston Martin, parked outside a restaurant. Next to him was a man wheeling a bicycle. He had weathered features, a long beard, and he was wrapped in layers of protective clothing. His bike was piled high with his belongings. Hitched to the bike was not one, but three trailers – each heaped high with stuff, strapped down and covered in plastic sheeting. He was fully kitted out for life on the street. Which one did I admire most? Who was the most creative? Who had the better chance of survival? Given the financial events of the past few years, these were open questions.

While success is nothing to do with money, survival is everything to do with creativity. It’s an innate part of us and a measure of our ability to evolve as a species. However, we all too often shift responsibility from ourselves to others, and now there are vast industries that feed on that dependency. Everywhere you look, there are people offering you answers so you don’t have to find them for yourself. Politicians, religions, educators, snake oil salesmen… But as Seth has acknowledged, and as I was reminded, they are only signposts, and it’s so, so much better to go through the scary, rocky, uncertain and ultimately satisfying process myself. That’s true power, and when you do it, you own it.

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Lewis is an artist, author, entrepreneur, inventor, marketing communications consultant and business mentor. Fuelled by creativity and driven by a passion to provide innovation, impact and influence, his career has taken in a large variety of disciplines, skills and experience across many areas of industry and the public sector. He has worked with startups, SMEs, multinationals, rock stars, legends of film, the UN, people with AIDS and many more. All this has made him at times cynical, but more than ever confident that the future is bright if we can only empower ourselves and each of us employ our unique creativity to help achieve this. Through his service - - Lewis offers a powerful four-step programme and a range of marketing communications services aimed at improvement, transformation, increased efficiency and profitability. He also runs creativity courses and courses in currency trading ( His most recent venture ( is concerned with making complex and long-winded information on websites fun and quick to understand and act upon. His first novel, Hominine - it's time to choose ( is a powerful geopolitical thriller that fictionalized popular global concerns - and then provides answers!

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  • Great post Lewis. Really enjoyed it. Here’s my takeaway: “While success is nothing to do with money, survival is everything to do with creativity”. nI would also add “Creativity is everything”. It’s the only light that keeps you motivated and moving forward regardless of any financial condition and it’s the perfect magical spark that can move others too. The problem is that the majority of people in this world think they are nor creative. Simple go and ask any random person: “Do you think you are creative?”. No wonder a lot of people say “I don’t have any good ideas” (Why don’t they start piling up all the bad ones they have?)nCreativity is a process in which you need to constantly put something in practice, challenge yourself in order to see your it appear and grow. I didn’t know I could be creative until five years ago.nThe boundaries are in our heads, not in the system.

  • Lewis, nnThis is not only one of the best blog posts I’ve ever read, it simply one of the best pieces I’ve ever read. You’ve encapsulated in this post what many of us struggle to communicate, it’s a wonderful talent! nn”They have mastered the creative process and they can think on their feet. Thatu2019s why they command substantial fees” nnSo true, and often very difficult for the traditionals, the establishment and organisations to come to terms with. nn”But it does mean that they are willing to go there u2013 to take the risk of not knowing, and have the courage to work with the situation, in the moment.” nnI would also add understanding that it is also the right thing to do, we should always flirt with failure, LIVE by it’s edge! for it’s only there that great things can happen.nnGreat post Lewis and one that people should read and then re-read until it’s message is clear.nnThank you so much for sharing, nNiall

  • Anonymous

    Brilliant post Lewis. I concur with Niall – one of the best I’ve read in a long time.nnAs I read it I could help but think about some of the work I’m currently doing in my workplace. Our team are trying to encourage and help employees and teams to collaborate and communicate more effectively with customers, partners and each other, by taking advantage of the new ways of working offered by Social Media.nnIt’s fascinating to see how many people/teams come to us expecting us to provide a silver bullet that will solve all of their woes. What I’ve found is that the success stories we see are coming from those in which people create the time and space to actually think about what they need to change and then generating creative solutions to their problems. nnI believe that half the battle is actually taking the time and space that gives you the opportunity to be creative. We are all guilty of being too busy doing things and then we complain that we can’t be creative. nI’m starting to learn that creativity requires time and space and a lot of patience.

  • Facundo

    Very inspiring after a tough week Lewis. I agree with the lads’ takeaways and also wanted to show you this Have a look at minute 1:55. We spotted the same kind of guy recently and had a very similar feeling to yours (“Wow, this guy got creative and can do anything”).

  • I too love this! It is so thought provoking and inspiring at the same time. As someone who promotes getting out of our comfort zones as a way of life this hits home with me. There is something of the tortured artist in this post that yearning for more and not being understood enough. I think routine can hold us back if we stay with it, however in the beginning routine can set the pace to make the changes we need to make the differences we want in the world and in our businesses.

  • Anonymous

    Wow! I am humbled and very thankful for all the wonderful comments, Tweets etc about this post. Thank you all! To be honest, I was stuck for ideas and I knew I had to do something before the end of the month. So I guess I threw caution to the wind and wrote from the heart. One of those rare moments. :0)nnIt’s late, and I have to get up early to go back to a conference all day tomorrow, but I really want to answer all of you properly when it’s finished. I thought you’d all be watching the wedding….

  • Anonymous

    Well said, Lewis.

  • Anonymous

    Quite right. Fred!nnMany thanks for your thoughts.nn:0)nLewis

  • Anonymous

    Creative ideas tend to come when you are relaxed and enjoying yourself. I hear this all the time. And no, our culture doesn’t seem to promote that, does it. Many thanks for your comment.

  • on a sidenote: I can only begin to imagine the amount of calls, emails, and communications someone like Seth Godin receives each day. Once a thinker/writer/blogger crosses-over into ‘very popular,’ then it’s always a delight when they make the time to reply, and forgivable when they can’t.nnsometimes the — what I playfully refer to as — ‘social media police’ insist that we engage and converse without exception or rest, and the very real fact is: that each of us has practical limitations to our time and physical energy.nnthis is part of what makes *reciprocity* such an adventure in the digital era!nn { twitter = @danenow }

  • Anonymous

    I couldn’t agree more, Dane. He’s a great example of someone who does it right!

  • Anonymous

    Many thanks Mairu00e9ad. And you’re right – actually, there’s more than a little of the tortured artist in there!nn;0)nLewis

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