Everything Connects: An Interview with Faisal Hoque

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My friend Faisal Hoque is a serial entrepreneur, author, and thought leader.  His life is a modern story of success, failures, and resiliency – leaving Bangladesh at 17 for the United States where he has since founded businesses including SHADOKA and others.  You may know his writing from Fast CompanyHuffington Post, Forbes, or BusinessWeek.

I previously talked with him about The Power of Convergence.  His latest book, written with Drake Baer, Everything Connects: How to Transform and Lead in the Age of Creativity, Innovation and Sustainability. Like all of his writing, it is packed with ideas.

Everything Connects

Faisal, it’s so good to talk with you again.  Let’s start with your definition of “connectivity.”  What is it?  Why is it so important? If it is that important, how do we cultivate it?

 

There is no substitute for inspiration, curiosity, and passion. -Faisal Hoque

 

Being holistic and humanistic is key to a great life and doing great work.

faisal.hoque300dpi2013Connectivity is a sense of journey to the sense of purpose — it is an individual, lonely pursuit and a collective, companionable one at the same time.

Our individual, interpersonal, and organizational working lives all interconnect. By examining these connections, we learn new ways to create, innovate, adapt, and lead.

We need to address our own mental experiences, our social interactions, and the mindset we can take to orient ourselves to this holistic, long-term view.

We need to explore understanding that leads to long-term sustainability, the way to act in a manner that promotes mutual flourishing, and how, crucially, a leader can urge us along this process.

We need to arrange our lives and our organizations in a way that leads to long-term value creation: surveying the subtle and not-so-subtle arts of idea generation, decision-making, and creating continuous value.

The newest problems of the world find solutions in the oldest timeless practices like mindfulness, authenticity, and perseverance—because Everything Connects.

Understanding Unique Motivations

“Somewhere along the way, people become convinced that stasis is safer than movement. Consistency feels comfortable; volatility is frightening.”  As a leader, how do you motivate people out of the comfortable?

I think first, we have to appreciate the interior complexity of the people that we work with. Then, we need to make the links between a person’s individual motivations and what our organizations need. In other words, link the individual–personal goals like career trajectories–to the collective group goals like innovation, revenue growth, and impacting the world.

Leaders need to connect with the emotional intelligence of their people and curate their talent to change, adapt, move forward.  There is no substitute for inspiration, curiosity, and passion. -Faisal Hoque

To do this we need to understand what people need from their work in order to do their best work–and how leaders can help arrange that for them. This distinction is rooted in intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation. If people are intrinsically motivated, there is something inside of them that pushes them to their work; if they are extrinsically motivated, something outside of them brings them there.  They embrace the unknown, volatility.  Leaders need to connect with the emotional intelligence of their people and curate their talent to change, adapt, move forward.  There is no substitute for inspiration, curiosity, and passion.

The Benefits of Meditation

You place a lot of value on meditation, calling it the “batting cage for getting familiar with the fastballs and curveballs of our conscious and unconscious habits.”  Off the top of your head, what are the top three benefits of meditating?

Seeing the Future at CES

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If you want to be more creative, get around creative people.  If you want to spark innovation, immerse yourself in the latest technologies.  If you want to envision the future, tune in to voices shaping tomorrow.

CES is the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas.  It highlights the world’s most cutting-edge consumer technologies.  On display:  Fitness devices, 3D printing, robotics, all things motion, educational technologies, cars, audio, video, gaming, sensor technologies, next generation tablets, drones, wearable technologies.

This week, I’m attending the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas, dunked in innovation, creativity and the future.  I am enjoying the opportunity to experience the latest technologies.  I’m always amazed at the benefits from attending this conference, including the opportunity to meet with content creators, technologists, thought leaders, and technology executives.  The range of people I was able to see this year ranged from librarians to publishers to university researchers.

There are literally thousands of new things to see, so my brief overview will be a random selection.  With so many interests and things to share, I set a timer to write this post.  When it rings, I will stop.  And I will try to feature a few things you may not see in the mainstream media.  Here we go:

SLEEP:

photo 1-6For those of us with chronic insomnia or sleep problems, there are a number of new apps and devices to help.  One that intrigues me is Beddit.  Beddit doesn’t require you to wear a device at night (which for me makes my sleep even worse).  Instead, you place a sensor under your bed sheet, and it connects wirelessly to your device.  It tracks sleep quality, heart rate, breathing, snoring and bedroom noise.  It then provides personal coaching to improve your sleep.

The best shortcut to being more creative: get around creative people. -Skip Prichard

HYGIENE:

In the “everything seems to be connected” category, Kolibree introduces the world’s first connected toothbrush.  You can watch your brushing habits progress.photo-23

If you wear glasses, look out for a car wash for your glasses.  At $1, it had the “theatre factor” and drew a crowd.  My glasses were clean, dry and sanitized in no time.  Look for these showing up in high-traffic areas or near the beach where everyone wears glasses.

Walking by Panasonic to see the new 4K Toughpad, I noticed a range of beauty products. At CES, you find what you are not looking for and what you don’t expect.

SECURITY:

Who can possibly remember all of the passwords required in today’s digital age?  Now myIDkey uses biometric technology to authenticate your identity and display your information when you need it.  All safely protected with military grade encryption.

photo 5-5Ever worry when the lights go out in a power outage? Worry no more with a light that senses the power is out and stays on.

And to keep your home secure, Okidokeys allows you to unlock doors with any mobile phone or a smart wristband.  Most of us are never out of reach of our mobile phone, making lost keys a thing of the past.

FITNESS AND MEDICAL:

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Are you forgetful?  Have an aging parent?  The Smart Pill Box from imedipac solves these problems.  It even allows alerts to family and relatives.

 

 

Numerous new fitness applications are on display everywhere.  Improve your golf or tennis game with a biometric analysis of your swing.  The new devices go far beyond measuring how many steps you take in a day and now monitor blood pressure, blood sugar, calculating carb intake, maximizing your fitness performance, and even detecting concussions.  Perhaps you want to wear a camera to take your coach into the action.

4 Proven Ways to Boost Your Creative Genius

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This is a guest post from David Burkus. David is the author of The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas. He is also founder of LDRLB and assistant professor of management at Oral Roberts University.

For companies, creativity is the fuel for innovation and competitive advantage. For individuals, creativity is the key to quickly and effectively solving problems. But as important as creativity is, most of us don’t understand how it works and how to enhance our own creative thinking. Instead, we tell and retell a series of myths, faulty beliefs that serve as our best guess for how creativity works. But the implications of 50 years of research into creativity are re-writing many of those myths. The results might be counterintuitive, but they are effective. Here are four evidence-based ways to boost your creativity.

1. Copy

We tend to think of outstandingly creative works or projects as wholly original. But the truth is that most breakthrough creative works are the result of copying and modifying existing works. Microsoft and Apple both borrowed the design of Xerox’s Alto to build their personal computers. George Lucas copied the theme of Joseph Campbell’s “monomyth” and blended it with concepts and visuals from Akira Kurosawa films and Flash Gordon serials to create the blockbuster Star Wars series. Even on a smaller scale, ideas are made by the combining of older ideas. Research suggests that individuals whose brains make connections between various thoughts score higher on creativity tests. Start collecting ideas, testing possible combinations, and seeing what creative ideas emerge.

Creativity doesn’t just love constraints; it thrives under them. -David Burkus

2. Study a New Field

While our most difficult problems are often given to long-standing experts, the most innovative solutions don’t always come from these experts. Instead, individuals with a sufficient background in a field, but with additional knowledge from a diverse range of fields, are those ones who dream up breakthrough innovations. Paul Erdos, the most published mathematician in history, changed his field of specialization constantly. Erdos was known for showing up on the doorstep of future collaborators and exclaiming, “My brain is open.” He’d trade knowledge with his collaborators and move on to find new ones. Open your brain and start studying new fields; you never know which one your creative insight will come from.

3. Find Constraints

10 Myths of Creativity

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The idea for the novel is not only clear, but the story is outlined and researched.  Still, the page is blank.  She is waiting for the inspiration to make it happen.

The business to create a fortune is constantly pushed to the backburner.  Magazines and books are consumed like candy as he studies ideas only to continue looking.  The idea never is good enough.

Someone is waiting for a divine moment, that flash of insight that is a near-religious experience.  Until that happens, the idea is frozen.

Creativity myths have been around for centuries.  David, you say that these myths hinder the creative process.  In fact, the subtitle of your new book is The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great ideas.  How does knowing the truth about these myths help?  Why is rewriting the myths so important?

David Burkus is the author of The Myths of Creativity: The Truth About How Innovative Companies and People Generate Great Ideas. He is also founder of LDRLB and assistant professor of management at Oral Roberts University. Find out more about David at www.davidburkus.com. He also writes for Forbes, 99U, and the Harvard Business Review. You can also follow him on Twitter.

We’ve been writing myths for thousands of years. Myths are attempts to describe the world around us, everything from where sun comes from to the creative process. But myths are dangerous because they’re often not true, or at least are half-true. So it is with the myths surrounding creativity. They help us explain a little bit, but because they aren’t totally true, believing the myths in entirety can actually limit our ability to express our creativity. If we question them, find the truth, and rewrite them, then we stand a better chance of reaching our full potential.

3DCoverWileyYou are rewriting and busting these myths, but they are legendary in some ways because we love them.  That “falling apple” moment or “lightning strike.”  Why do we love these stories?

I think we tell a lot of these stories because they let us off the hook. If some outside force, a fallen apple or a lightning strike, is responsible for our creative insight, then the pressure is taken off us to generate great ideas. But creativity doesn’t come from outside ourselves, it comes from inside and from thought patterns we’re all capable of, as long as we believe we are capable of them.

Your new book The Myths of Creativity outlines ten creative myths.  Let’s walk through a few of these myths. Starting with the Expert Myth, aren’t trained experts the best source for creative solutions to dire problems?

Creativity doesn’t just love constraints, it thrives under them. David Burkus

Not always. In fact the research shows that many times professionals in a given field reach a peak early or mid-way through their career and then their contribution to the domain lessens. In Physics for example, it’s commonly held that PhDs will make their greatest discoveries before the age of 30. (Einstein was 26 when he published the paper that won him a Nobel Prize.) The reason is that expertise is important, but truly creative ideas often come from people on the fringes of a domain. They have enough experience to understand problems, but don’t have enough experience to write off “crazy” ideas without testing them. They don’t know what won’t work; so they try everything. The lesson is to keep learning and gaining experience in a variety of domains because you never know what field your breakthrough insight will come from.

Let’s talk about The Constraints Myth.  You write “constraints shape our creative pursuits.”  Give an example of how constraints encourage creativity.

We tend to assume that when we’re having trouble coming up with a viable solution to a creative problem, it’s because we’re too constrained. In reality, constraints actually help us find solutions. It’s impossible to solve a problem without understanding the structure around it. We can generate lots of wild ideas, but without the constraints of a problem, we’ll never know if those ideas are also useful. That’s why a lot of companies actually force constraints. Companies like 37Signals mandate small project teams and put limits on the amount of features their products can have. And it’s paying off for them. Creativity doesn’t just love constraints, it thrives under them. It’s like G.K. Chesterton suggested,  “Art consists of limitation. The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame.”

3 Myths About Creativity

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Do you think of yourself as creative?  Or do you think you missed that gene?  You admire others who paint or sculpt or write or create, but it’s not for you.  Or maybe you remember a teacher encouraging you as a child, but that was long ago and you no longer think you’re very innovative.

David B. Goldstein and Otto Kroeger argue that everyone is creative.  In their new book Creative You, they give readers the opportunity to understand their creative potential.  When you take the quiz, you discover which of over sixteen personality types you are and how you can harness your unique creative power.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with David about his work and what he has learned about creativity and personality.

 

David, most people only use a fraction of their potential creative ability available.  What do you say to those who say they don’t care whether they are considered creative or not?  Why is it so important to understand your style and become more creative?frontcover_final_CU

Great question, Skip! Everything is changing quickly and each day we all have to solve unprecedented problems at home and at work. To survive and to compete we need to be creative. Creativity isn’t just about making art or music; it’s about inventing better ways to do our jobs, and if we leave creativity up to others, we will be left behind.

 

 

You bust myth after myth about creativity.  I think you list twenty myths.  Let’s talk about a few of them.  Would you share just three of these myths and why they are wrong?

Yes, there is much mystery around the creative process and the myths that many of us accept harm us by holding us back. Here are three:

1.  “There is only one type of creativity.”

A critical mistake many of us make is in assuming that we’re all the same. Did Henry Ford have the same kind of creative style as Picasso? Ford was conservative and created within a rigid model; Picasso was much more fluid. We all have unique knowledge, can learn techniques, and are capable of creating in our own way. Give a classroom of children a topic and ask them to write an essay, and then see how many variations you get. Each of us sees the world in our own way, and we act accordingly. Our creativity is as unique as our fingerprints and leaves an impression on whatever we make.

 

Creativity is about inventing better ways to do our jobs. -David Goldstein

 

2.  “Creative people are spontaneous, untimely, and unstructured.”