Learn How to Enhance Your Own Creative Genius

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When the advance copy of Tina Seelig’s inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity came across my desk, I couldn’t wait to read it.  Read her book and you will find yourself on the front row of her always-filled class on innovation.  It’s a practical guide helping anyone improve his or her creativity.  Tina Seelig is the director of the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation and the executive director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program.  In addition, she has a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Stanford University Medical School.

Dr. Seelig recently answered a few questions for me about her work.

Are we born with a creative gene or are we able to learn it as a skill?

Our brains are built for creative problem solving, and it is easy to both uncover and enhance our natural inventiveness. The human brain evolved over millions of years from a small collection of nerve cells with limited functionality to a fabulously complex organ that is optimized for innovation. Our highly evolved brains are always assessing our ever-changing environment, mixing and matching our responses to fit each situation. Every sentence we craft is unique, each interaction we have is distinctive, and every decision we make is done with our own free will. That we have the ability to come up with an endless set of novel responses to the world around us is a constant reminder that we are naturally inventive.

Learning From Life’s Storms

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Growth in Difficult Times

One Saturday in March we had the oddest weather in Nashville.  You’ll know exactly the type of day I am describing because we’ve all seen it.  One minute it’s a magnificent sunny day, then an approaching ominous cloud unleashes a downpour of rain.  Then, as fast as it comes, it disappears and the sun returns only to repeat the process over and over again.

I usually wish for that perfect, sunny day.  Most of us do.  We don’t like the bad weather, the dark clouds, lightning and thunder.

 

“Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.” -Epictetus

 

It’s like that in life, too.  I am always hoping for that perfect weather.  We don’t want to be sick.  We don’t want to have difficulties at work.  We pray for everything to be just perfect.

As I think about my career, my life and my experiences, I can honestly say that I’ve grown more in the difficult times.  When a storm is raging in my life, I am forced to a new place.  I have to change tactics, learn a new skill, and do something differently.

 

“Be still and know that I am God.” –Psalm 46:10

 

Lessons from Life’s Storms

Here are a few storms I’ve experienced: 

An Interview With a Capitalist Anarchist

Leadership Lessons Are Everywhere

I’ve always been a believer that leadership principles and examples can be found everywhere.  You can see great leadership at work when you watch a parent interacting with a child.  (I think many of us honed our negotiation skills that way, too.)  I’ve learned great truths from watching a movie.  You can learn great principles from unexpected places if you’re looking for them.

In a previous post, I wrote about Zingerman’s, the Ann Arbor based collection of businesses mostly centered around great food.  One of the founding partners, Ari Weinzweig has written several books about customer service, business practices, and leadership.  You will find leadership principles on display at Zingerman’s.  You will also find that Ari discovered some of these principles in the least likely of places.

An Anarchist Turns Capitalist

As a student at the University of Michigan in the 1970s, Ari was influenced by the writings of 20th century anarchists.  He quotes now obscure names like Mikhail Bakunin, Rudolf Rocker and Nestor Makhno.  (Yes, it is odd that an early anarchist turned into an entrepreneurial capitalist.  If you think that’s strange, it’s just part of many ironies involving Ari.  He grew up in a kosher household and is now the author of The Guide to Better Bacon.  He even runs a Bacon Camp.) Though he obviously abandoned his anarchist roots, he adopted some of the thinking in running a business.  He is also careful to explain the difference between anarchy and anarchism.  Anarchy is a “state of leaderless bedlam” where anarchism is a philosophy based on individual respect and freedom from unnecessary authority.  In any case, it seems that his philosophy led him to a high respect for people, allowing them to pursue their own passions, and giving employees more freedom and choice because they generally will do the right thing.

Do You Make These Résumé Mistakes? 17 Résumé Don’ts from the CEO’s Desk

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  1. Don’t use a functional (non-chronological) résumé format.  You’re not fooling me with that.  Don’t make me work to figure out what you’re hiding. Even if you get far into the hiring process in a non-traditional way, most companies will still want a traditional résumé at some point.
  2. Don’t ignore metrics and quantifiable data.  Businesses exist to move the needle.  Explain in numbers what you personally did to help your organization improve.  Did you save the company a million dollars?  Did you improve sales beyond your targets by 23%?  Did you renegotiate a major contract increase by 29%?  Did you improve customer retention by 5%?  The language of business is numbers.
  3. Don’t send résumés to the CEO if you’re applying for positions deep in the organization.  Try Human Resources.  Try the hiring manager.  Maybe try the department leader.  Sending it to me doesn’t help.  Do you think I read a résumé from someone I don’t know and immediately drop everything to make a phone call on your behalf?

Is Your Brain the Fountain of Youth?

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Dr. Amen first came to my attention a few years ago. I was flipping through channels and landed on my local public television station.  There was Dr. Amen showing an audience how his brain research could transform lives.  I couldn’t stop watching and immediately ordered his books.

Before they came, I wanted to know more about him.  His background is impressive.  He has had over thirty years of experience as a clinical psychiatrist.  He’s a New York Times bestselling author and the director of the Amen Clinics.  In addition, he is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine.

When I heard that he had a new book coming out, I couldn’t wait to read it.  Here is an interview with Dr. Daniel G. Amen, M.D., author of Use Your Brain to Change Your Age: Secrets to Look, Feel, and Think Younger Every Day.

Most people think of youthful looks and they think of all of the magazine covers at the checkout stand.  We think of fad diets and strenuous workouts.  But you say “The fountain of youth is between your ears.”  How is the brain the key to making us look younger?

I am grateful for the opportunity to appear in your blog!  Thank you.

Your brain controls everything you do, including how you think, feel, act and interact.  Your brain is the organ of personality, character, and every decision you make.  The quality of your decisions is the number one predictor of longevity.  It is your brain that makes good decisions that keep you healthy and alive for a long time, or it is your brain that makes the bad decisions that kill you early.  If you want to live a long, productive, happy, vibrant life the first place to start is by having a better brain.

After performing over 72,000 brain SPECT scans at the Amen Clinics (SPECT looks at blood flow and activity in the brain) it is very clear that as we age the brain becomes less and less active.  See the chart below.  Now that I’m 57, I hate that.  But, our research has shown that with your behavior you can accelerate the aging process, making your brain look and feel older or you can decelerate it.  That is one of the main reasons I wrote this new book. I want to teach people the lessons I have learned to slow or even reverse the aging process in the brain.

Your book is so loaded with practical tips for your health.  Specifics on diet, supplements, exercise, sleep, massage, breathing techniques…what to do, what not to do.  Where do you start? 

Brain health is really very simple.  It starts with 3 strategies.