"We gather knowledge faster than we gather wisdom." - William Bell

The Creative To-Do List – Why You Should Have One

Posted: September 8th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Idea Drunk's Ideas | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

I have a friend whose favourite thing in the world to do is to create lists. She makes lists of chores. Lists of places to travel. Lists of groceries. Lists lists lists. All neatly printed and colour coded in some insane organizational system. But in this myriad of lists, I discovered one list that was very interesting – a list of things to accomplish before she turned 30.

It was a wish list of activities, purchases, adventures and memories that she wanted to have before the her 30th birthday. Interesting. It started me thinking on something else. I should start a creative to-do list.

A creative to-do list is the wish list of things that you would like to accomplish creatively. Instead of a normal listing of chores or mundane tasks, it’s an opportunity to catalog all of the creative outputs you want to produce. Put plainly, it’s the list of things you want to make.

People sail through life and get inspired to make things. But that inspiration lasts a couple of minutes. And then we get distracted by something else. So that desire to CREATE something gets buried. Which is why I’ve started to write all of those things down on a list. I call it my creative catalog because it contains everything that I want to accomplish creatively.

Here’s what I have so far:

- Build a piece of furniture
- Write a book on creativity
- Build an app
- Restore a Triumph motorcycle
- Design a poster
- Film an inspirational short based on ultimate frisbee training
- Design a pair of shoes
- Decorate a bar
- Write an article that gets published in a (print) magazine
- Develop a unique cartoon style of drawing

Now, I want to make it very clear that the LEVEL of the final product does not matter to me. The key is actually going out and doing it. Trying it once. I could find out very quickly that I’m an awful craftsman when it comes to building a coffee table. That’s fine. The purpose is to try it out. To see if you can do it. And if you can’t (or you do a crappy job), the point is then to gain an appreciation of the level of skill, dedication and learning that goes into the art of creating.

Creativity comes from gaining new perspectives and trying new things. The most creative person in the room is not always the person who has mastered one specific craft. Often, it’s the person who has tried many things and can bring the the learnings from all of those experiences together.

But you’ll never know until you start trying. And the first step is to write down your creative to-do list. What’s on yours?

- Christian

The First Draft

Posted: April 7th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Idea Drunk's Ideas | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

The hardest part of the creative process is the first draft.

You’re fighting with your brain. Trying to squeeze out the thoughts in your head. Wrestling with them to compose something articulate. All you have to do it get it down on paper. Express it in the world for the first time. Deal with the details later.

You take that glimmer of an articulate idea and write it down. You start filling in a blank page. And you write and write. You keep going until you loose steam.

And all of a sudden you’re done.

The pages aren’t blank anymore. They’re filled with your ideas. And those ideas are real because they’re on paper. And you’re kind of scared to read it because you don’t know if it’s good enough.

But whatever – you did it.You finished the hardest step and now you have ideas on paper. And you have something real to show for it. So you can start editing. You can begin molding it to become exactly what you want it to be.

I just went through this.

Yesterday, I finished the first draft of my book. To be honest, it’s probably crap. But I’m happy that it’s done. And I now  have a healthy respect for the people who do it everyday. I have no illusions. I know that there is a lot of work to get from a first draft to having it in your hands. But I feel like the hardest part is done. Now there’s something physical to show for the efforts.

It’s not easy. It’s not glamourous. But it’s fun. And after you’re done that first draft, you definitely deserve a drink.

- Christian

Free Pie

Posted: March 31st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Idea Drunk's Ideas | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Nothing is better than free pie. It’s a delicious treat for your mouth and your brain. A gift. And gifts are fun to get. They’re even more fun to give – although that is definitely one of the top five signs that you’ve become an adult. And the digital world has made giving gifts easier than ever. There’s reduced friction to buying, sending or creating your own gifts. Etsy even makes it easy for you to find someone to create a customized gift for you.

But, how many of us take advantage of the new ease of gifting? How often do we actually give outside of the expected holidays? I recently finished reading Seth’s book Linchpin. He spoke about creating value for yourself by giving freely. By giving without an expectation of reciprocation. By doing it simply for the internal satisfaction and for the reward of the craft.

That spoke to me. So I started giving.

And through that, I found that there’s a variety of free pie that you can give away. There’s a scale. There are the easy gifts. The ones that take no more than 5 minutes and a little bit of effort. There are the medium gifts. The ones that require some thought and emotional effort to create. And there are the hard gifts. The gifts that take a whole lot of passion and drive to complete.

But where do you start? What are the best types of gifts to give? Here are some of my favourite examples of the gifts that you can give.

- Your attention (like reading a blog or watching a video)
- Your recommendation (for an article or a song)
- An email to an old friend to reconnect
- A phone call to your parents
- A friendly demeanor towards strangers

- Writing a blog post
- Recommending someone on LinkedIn
- Sharing pictures on Facebook or Flickr
- Penning a REAL letter
- Sharing your industry insights and knowledge with someone

- Challenging the status quo at work
- Creating art to be exhibited and criticized
- Writing a book
- Embarrassing yourself to show the truth
- Remaining polite and positive in stressful situations

The hardest part of creating gifts is the emotional labour behind them. But it’s worth it. The effort and passion show that you care. Some gifts take a lot of time to create. You spend time mining insights and thinking, adjusting and rethinking. But once you get there, all gifts are easy to give.

So why not start giving? You’ve already given me the gift of your attention. Just keep on going from there. And if you can’t think of anything, there’s one gift that is always appreciated – free pie.

- Christian

10 Things I Learned From My Little Sister

Posted: February 2nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Idea Drunk's Ideas | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Sometimes you learn the greatest lessons from your family. My sister and I have been teaching each other things for over 25 years. Over a quarter century, I’ve learnt a lot from her. Here are the top ten nuggets of awesome that she’s dropped:

1. People tell the truth more often than you think.
You just have to listen. When given a choice between honesty and dishonesty, the default thing to do is usually tell the truth. It’s in our human nature. It’s coded into our social DNA through years of conditioning. And even when people are lying, the easiest lie contains elements of the truth. Listen closely and don’t be afraid to trust.

2. It’s alright to have a bad day.
Don’t feel guilty about it. It happens to everyone. Just accept that the day is going to be shit and you just have to get through it. If you’re able to, cut the day short. Head home from work and close yourself off from the world. Take a nap. Watch a movie. Read gossip websites. Tomorrow will be better.

3. It’s good to dream.
Ever since Christmas, my sister has a dream to own a farm. With chickens. And some goats. And maybe even a cow named Isabelle. Is she anywhere near acheiving that? Probably not. But she’s working towards it every day. And having the dream allows her to find happiness in the everyday things. For example, she had to take out the compost. But figured that instead of a chore, it was training for when she owned a farm. The result? Instant happiness.

4. You can change your dreams.
This builds on point #3. It’s okay to change direction in life. Approximately six months ago, my sister’s dream was to go into space. She even started a savings account to put away a couple bucks a week so that in a decade or so she could afford to buy a ticket. Now she wants to own a farm. Both make her happy. There’s nothing wrong with changing directions once the circumstances change and you discover something else.

5. Life experience is better than work experience.
Lots of people take summers to “build” their resumes. We try to gain work experience as interns surfing the internet and filing papers in an office. But you never learn from that. You learn from traveling. From trying new things. From meeting new people. From expanding your network. When people are interviewing you they’re looking for stories, not lines on a resume. They’re looking for social intelligence, passion and adventure. In my last five interviews, I’ve talked about how much I loved beer. I told stories from when I went to Oktoberfest in Munich. And each time I got an offer.

6. Take your time to find your path.
Some people know what they want to do with their life in high school. Some people figure it out in college. Most people start down a path, find out that it’s not for them and then course correct. There is no timetable for you to find what’s right for you. There’s no correct timeline mandated by society. There’s no deadline. Everyone gets there eventually. Some people just need a little bit more time to find their path.

7. It’s more important to be happy than to listen to people’s expectations.
People like to judge. They like to compare. They like to measure you against their expectations. They like to tell you what you should be doing with your life as if they know best. And that can get into your head. It can make you doubt yourself. My sister has the uncanny ability to pick herself up and let those expectations wash over her like a rainstorm. It sucks for a couple of minutes, but then you towel off and get on living life the way that you like it.

8. Fashion is wearing what you like.
Whatever you like. Not labels. Not what matches. Not what’s on Gossip Girl (or whatever the kids are watching nowadays). It’s about finding a personal expression and wearing what makes you happy. If that’s a big sparkly bow that looks like you have a disco ball strapped to your chest, rock on. Fashion is for yourself, not for others.

9. Sometimes you need a muse.
A couple of months ago, my sister decided that she wanted to practice writing. So she started a blog. But then she found that she wasn’t inspired. She needed a muse to spark her creativity and put her in a writer’s mindset. She figured that this “muse” would be a pipe. A smoking pipe. Not to smoke. Just to chew on and to look cool. And to inspire her to write.

10. Poop jokes are funny, even in the most serious of situations.
What? They are.

The great thing about having siblings that they can teach you so much. They teach you about people, about interactions, about love and about the world. They give you the opportunity to learn every day as you’re growing up. And we’re all still growing up.

- Christian

5 Creative Gifts To Give (Or Gifts That Require Creativity)

Posted: December 7th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Idea Drunk's Ideas | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Last year was the first time that I made Christmas gifts instead of just buying them. Let me point out that I’m not a naturally crafty person. I’m not the  guy who enjoys making homemade thank you cards. Or bake goodies for everyone.

But I will enjoy the occasional side art project that allows me to create something that I can’t buy in stores. Something that only exists in my imagination. And mostly, it’s for an inside joke. Or for self-amusement. (But I guess that’s an inside joke with just one person on the inside – me.)

I’ve written before about the Top 10 Gifts For A Creative Person so I thought we would switch it around. There are times when you’re wandering the mall and can’t seem to find the perfect gift for that someone special. There’s nothing that expresses exactly what you want to say. Nothing pops out to showcase how special they are to you. And that’s when it’s time to get creative. To harness your creative energy to make them something unique and special. Here’s the list:

1. Write a short story about them. Make them the hero. Create a grand adventure. Incorporate references that only they would know. Make it personal. Make it epic. Show them fulfilling their greatest dream. Because everyone likes to be the hero. And it’s even more awesome when it’s on paper.

2. Make them a customized skate deck. Go to your local skate shop and get a blank skateboard deck. If they don’t have any there (or they’re ridiculously expensive), but a cheap one from Wal-Mart or Toys R Us and paint over the designs with a couple coats of white paint. Then paint it how you want it. A deck is an awesome canvas to display art. Even if the person that you’re giving it to doesn’t skate. It’ll still make them feel cool and it’s a dope piece of art.

3. Design an “inside joke” t-shirt. This one is an oldie but a goodie. Pick something that only you and the person that you’re giving it to know about. A funny event. An inside joke. A crazy secret. Then put it on a t-shirt. I’ve definitely done this in the past – there’s a t-shirt that I have that only two people in the entire world know exactly what’s going on in it. It’s basically a t-shirt with my friend’s kid on it. At the time, we were trying to convince him to name the kid “Baby Carlos” because of The Hangover. So basically, it’s just a picture of his kid and some text over it that says “Not at the table Carlos.” It’s awesome. And everyone asks me about the t-shirt when I wear it.

4. Knit them something. I’m not really a knitter. But I can respect a good knit job. But when knitting, don’t make them something lame like a scarf. Skip the boring. Knit them something with a cool design. Something that’s either hilarious or creative. Personally, I’m a big fan of ugly holiday sweaters. Hilarious. Warm. And good for the holiday season.

5. Create a movie poster for the story of their life. Like I said with the short story idea, everyone loves to be the hero. Consider this is the same gift as #1, but for someone who is a better designer than a writer. Get it printed and framed and you’re done!

The great thing about making a Christmas gift for someone special is that it doesn’t have to be perfect. People value the personalization, the insight and the story behind the gift. I used to cope out and just buy a DVD set of their favourite TV show. Not anymore.

- Christian

Thoughts On Handwritten Notes

Posted: November 23rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Idea Drunk's Ideas | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

When was the last time that you got a handwritten note? Or wrote one? When’s the last time that you posted a real letter instead of sending an email? The key to marketing is standing out. So, if everyone fires off hundreds of emails a day, the person who really stands out is the one who sends a letter.

Because letters take time. To craft. To write. To post. The recipient knows that you took more than five minutes in thinking about the communication.

And you leave the person with a real physical object. That they can toss or treasure. That they can recycle or remember.

The first time that I dropped off a thank you letter after an interview was also the first time that I got hired in advertising. I’m not saying that the letter did it. But it helped me stand out from the pack and reminded them about me a couple of days later after they had met all of the candidates.

The holiday season is coming up, and I think that there is a real value in writing proper cards. And personalizing them with real messages for the person you are writing to. There’s nothing worse than a generic family card that just says “Best Wishes From The Smiths” inside. I mean, if you’re not going to take the extra effort, why waste the paper? Send an e-card instead to your entire mailing list.

Idea Drunk has been fortunate enough to get a flood of thank you’s and compliments on the posts.  Not to get all soft, but they mean a lot and they’re awesome to get. From now on, I’m going to make it my goal to write a proper thank you note to everyone who emails me with their address. I can’t promise you that it’ll be pretty. I can promise you that it will be on paper and written with a pen.

- Christian

It Started With Thanksgiving…

Posted: October 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Idea Drunk's Ideas | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

This weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving. A family tradition that started a couple of years ago is to go around the table and say what you’re thankful for. This year, I’m thankful for all of the opportunities that life has thrown my way. In my career. In sports. In my personal life. It’s strange and amazing how momentum just seems to carry through from one aspect of your life to another. And this year has been a constant cascading waterfall of amazing choices.

I’m also thankful that I had the balls to say yes to a lot of these opportunities. And I want to take full advantage by living them to the fullest. By going all out at every chance I get. I think that holding back never helped anyone achieve something great. Restraint in boring. It’s pedestrian. It’s average.

Passion is contagious. It’s electrifying. It can spread from one small part of your life to make your entire daily routine amazing. I want to build an excitement army. Just groups of people that spread passion and excitement throughout their daily lives. And they spread it to themselves. To each other. To strangers in the street.

The sole goal of the excitement army is to ignite the passion of yourself and those around you. And encourage people to live life instead of sitting on their sofas watching 30 minute comedies on a Thursday night. Get people to create. Create art. Create ideas. Create connections with new people and old friends. Create memories.

Today is a new day. I invite you to live it hard and with no regrets.

- Christian

The Power Of No

Posted: August 4th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Idea Drunk's Ideas | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

I was talking with my old director about a business presentation he was in and we came across an interesting topic. There have moments in history that have been defined by a single word – no. And these moments have changed the world for the better.

They could be as big as England saying “No” to the Germans in World War 2. It could be as small as a kid saying “No” and taking his toy back from a bully that’s stolen it. In both cases, the power of no is being employed.

No means you stand for something.
No means that you’re not there to appease.
No means you’re not a pushover.

No means you’re brave.
No means you don’t accept the situation as is.
No means you have options.

No means you have the power.

People like to be liked and hate to be hated. And the easiest way to achieve that is to say “Yes.” But there are times when “No” is much more powerful. It means you won’t compromise. It means you’re striving for the best. It means you don’t accept the easy out. So don’t be afraid to say “No.”

- Christian

Don't Wait To Be Pushed

Posted: May 11th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Idea Drunk's Ideas | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

I came across this thought on Seth’s blog:

The fearful brain demand reassurance and coaching and even a push before it is quiet enough to permit us to do the difficult work our economy demands, before it will allow us to create art that changes others.

So it’s logical to wonder how to build systems that encourage legions of people to find that reassurance, and it’s encouraging to imagine that we could build a school or a coaching program or other external forces that would create more artists.

And yet most mentors and coaches and teachers will tell you that few of their students ever do, not in comparison with their potential. A few break through and change everything, and we celebrate them, but what about everyone else?

The artists are different. They took a leap.
They weren’t pushed. They jumped.

I thought about it, and it’s true. For a while now, I have wanted to write a book. Not a novel. Not a masterpiece. Just a book. Some ideas on printed paper. So what did I do? I went to talk to the two best writers in the agency.

I figured that they’re writers, so they should know about writing. And books involve a lot of that. Logical steps, right?

What I got was an awkwardly honest response. They asked why. They told me that it would be really hard. They brought up the difficulty of being publish and successful as an author. They said that most people think that they have important things to say, but the truth is that their audience won’t give a shit. Fuck.

I walked out of there and I was bummed. These are nice guys, but they were just being honest. Speaking their minds. Too bad it wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

I thought that I was going in looking for guidance on how to do something. Tips on how to structure a story, an argument and a book. But what I was really looking for was reassurance and encouragement. Coaching and mentoring. I was waiting for a push.

But to Seth’s point, why wait for a push when you can jump? So I decided to do it. I started writing my book. I don’t know what the “proper” structure is. I don’t know what the “correct” steps are. But I don’t give a shit. I jumped in and put pen to paper. And now I have five pages. It’s not a book, but it’s a start.

- Christian

5 Signs You've Become An Adult (And What To Do About It)

Posted: January 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Idea Drunk's Ideas | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

I hate maturity.

It kills creativity. Instead of seeing a world of possibilities, you start being “realistic”. What that means is that you’re content to deal with what the world gives you. Not daring to dream. Not daring to question the norm. Not curious enough to ask “Why?” And despite all efforts, maturity eventually creeps up on you. Here’s how to spot it:

  1. This Christmas, you enjoyed giving presents more than getting them.
  2. You and the bank successfully co-own a house. It also means that the bank independently owns your balls.
  3. You have started to take a multivitamin. Not the Flintstones kind.
  4. You no longer wear sweatpants outside of the house (unless you plan on actually sweating).
  5. You’ve convinced yourself that you “like” salad. And vegetables.

If you find yourself moving swiftly towards maturity, here’s what to do:

  1. Go to Toys “R” Us. Buy a toy.
  2. Create art and give it to your parents. It can some fancy photography or a macaroni picture. Nothing brings back your childhood like the feeling that your work is going on the fridge.
  3. Eat a Happy Meal. And make sure you get a sweet toy.
  4. Play in the dirt.
  5. Take notes in crayon.

Maturity is the enemy of creativity. In order to foster a fruitful creative environment, you have to think like a kid. You have to be curious. Because the secret to creativity is curiosity. Look at the world in wonder. See the possibilities.

And don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you should grow up and become an adult.

- Christian