Moments of Conception 055 — The Bathroom Scene from Opportunity Knocks

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.

And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today’s clip comes from the bathroom scene in Opportunity Knocks:





What can we learn?



Shift your body,
shift your brain.
I remember watching this movie in my high school
marketing class. I loved it. Most of
the other students else were either sleeping or doodling in their notebooks,
but for some reason, I actually paid attention that day. Twenty years later,
this scene is still one of my favorites. The boardroom, after all, has massive
conceptual, contextual and cultural implications. It’s iconic. It’s a staple of
modern business. It’s where deals happen and decisions are made. But the
boardroom is also where creativity goes to die. And so, if we seek inspiration
to help us think about our work differently, we have to practice a little physical displacement. It takes the pressure
off, transfers the locus of brain energy and allows the mind to focus. That’s why we’re
able to see patterns we wouldn’t have noticed otherwise. Creativity is fed by emotion, emotion is fed through experience, and experience
is created through movement.
What setting
would be most inspirational if you were asked to come up with a really creative
idea?

Don’t just inform,
form.
Jonathan knows he can’t make people listen to him, but he can raise their receptivity so his ideas
have the highest probability of getting through. His strategy, then, is to be a
sleeper. To come in under the radar
and disturb the people’s worldview. That’s the only way to shift their position
on the receptivity continuum from opposition to acceptance. And so, he
introduces surprise into the equation. Because surprise creates anxiety in the
air, and that’s the best time to give people new ideas. Forcing a group of
stuffy corporate executives to hold their board meeting the bathroom might have
made them uncomfortable, but it also made them more open to what he was trying
to communicate. Whether or not this would work in real life is doubtful. But
the general principle is indisputable. The
theater of presenting the idea is just as important as the idea itself.
How are you making your ideas more
accessible?

Communication as a
relaxing experience.
Jonathan’s strategy of moving the meeting from the
boardroom to the bathroom is
a stalling maneuver, pardon the pun.
It’s a way of buying yourself time in group meetings, auditions, interviews and
presentations, so that you can collect your thoughts and build anticipation
around your message. It’s a powerful way to let the room breathe. The problem
is, as creators of ideas, our instinct is to go for speed and volume. To
overwhelm the audience with our genius. To fill every second of dead air with
words, lest we lose people’s interest. But communication can be a relaxing experience. It can feel more like a bathroom than a boardroom. It all depends on
the leader in the room. Jonathan appears stifled and confused in the beginning
of the scene, but once he finds his groove and gets the blood flowing, we see
him start to have fun and smile and relax and enjoy the experience. He’s
entirely present. The audience can’t help by follow his lead. And from this
point on, they’ll never look at a bathroom stall the same again.
How are people changed after having a
conversation with you?


What’s your favorite movie moment of conception?

Moments of Conception 054 — The Finkle Scene from Ace Ventura

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.

And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today’s clip comes from the Finkle scene in Ace Ventura:





What can we learn?



Prolific thinkers are prodigious linkers. Ventura may have overdue rent, a battered clunker
of a car and an eccentric sense of style, but when it comes to the skill of bridging, he’s undeniable. The art of making connections and noticing natural relationships between seemingly unrelated ideas is what makes him successful as a
detective. And so, he executes every strategy in his playbook to solve the case.
Gazing out the window, replaying voicemail messages, staring at the clues,
jumping up and down, pacing around the room, talking out loud to himself, even having
conversations with his pets. Anything to get blood to the brain and get the
intuitive juices flowing. But as the night progresses, he’s still firing
blanks. And by the time morning breaks, he’s totally spent and on the verge of
tears. Of course, that’s precisely when the muse shows up. She makes herself
known at
just the right time to give him just the right insight. Inspiration
is a tease like that. Only making herself known when
we’ve reach the end of our creative rope. Frustrating, but inevitable. How will you beguile inspiration?

We need you to be
you.
Wiggles is the hero of the final act. Thanks to his dark haired floppy
ears, we get a vision of the killer in a transgender disguise. We realize that
the football player and the missing hiker are actually the same person. Finkle
is a man. Einhorn is a woman. It all makes sense now. This is the eureka moment
that changes everything. Coincidence? Not at all. The pet detective was simply
doing what he did best: Looking to
animals for answers.
As he states early in the movie, he feels a kinship
with animals. He understands them. And if that makes him the laughing stock of
the police department, so be it. That’s how he’s wired, that’s how he works. And
so, it’s a gentle reminder to all the creators out there. We need you to be
you. To know your flow. To have an exquisite understanding of what sends you
into that accelerated, highly spiritual state of creative awareness when you do
what you do best. Are you currently
operating out of your passion?

Sounding board, sounding boredom. Ventura
is an independent contractor. A freelancer. An artist and entrepreneur who runs
his own business. And with the exception of his pets, jungle friends and other
four legged companions, the man is essentially an island. This an occupational hazard. Because no matter how adept you are at
problem solving, it’s hard to play basketball without a backboard. Solitude is a nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live
there.
And so, in a time where loneliness has become the most common
ailment of the modern world, we ought to be careful to avoid prolonged
isolation. In fact, if I were starting my
business from scratch today, one of the first things I would do is secure a
desk at a coworking space. I was just reading a global study about how the
number of coworking facilities has more than doubled in the last two years.
Turns out, those people are actually more creative and productive and satisfied compared to working from home. It’s the energized environment
and added accountability of having people around. Artists and creators and
entrepreneurs are finally getting the message. It’s hard to be creative alone. What interactions give you confidence?


What’s your favorite movie moment of conception?

Moments of Conception 053 — The Manuscript Scene from Wonder Boys

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.

And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today’s clip comes from the car scene in Wonder Boys:





What can we learn?

Matching
footprints with heartspace.
Grady
teaches creative writing at the university level. But in the process of trying
to repeat the critical acclaim of his first novel, he becomes sidelined by a
severe case of writer’s block. Shocking.
It’s a classic case of the cobbler’s kid syndrome. We neglect those closest to
us. Due to our utter dedication to wider market demands, we fail to note the
needs of our intimate ecosystem.
Because nobody wants to hire
outside help in something they’re supposedly experts in. There’s too much
cognitive dissonance. And so, the kids go barefoot. What’s interesting is, this
phenomenon of operational farsightedness
is extremely common. Especially with creative types. It’s almost comical. You
don’t need a supreme sense of irony to see the humor in the blocked creative
writing professor. But it is a pointed reminder that what we’re good at, we’re
bad at.
Nobody is impervious to the peril they advise others against. Are you smoking what you’re selling?

Recognize when
life is giving you a gift.
Grady
just watched two thousand pages of his latest manuscript flutter out of the
window like a flock of white doves. Seven years of work, down the tube. What a
profoundly sad, sinking and searing pain that is. It’s like Hemingway’s wife,
who famously misplaced and lost a suitcase filled with her husband’s
manuscripts. Ouch. If you’ve never
had the pleasure of losing everything, of laboring in vain, wait a while. It’s only a matter of time
before the delete button depresses. But as the book agent suggests, it’s for
the best. It’s a sign. In fact,
the benefit of burning everything to the ground is,
you get to salt the earth and see if you can do it again. You get to test how much
faith you have in yourself. And you get to start from scratch, letting go of
everything except the person you’ve become, and reinvest that into something
new and better.
Grady’s
loss of the manuscript, devastating as it is, forces him to rework his second
novel into something even better. At the end of the movie, we watch as he
finishes typing his new book, now using a computer rather than a typewriter,
of course.
What’s your secret for finding the silver lining in
every situation?

Practice aggressive pondering. Crabtree suggests that subconsciously,
a person will put themselves in a situation, perhaps even create that situation, in order to have an arena in which to work
out an unresolved issue. It’s a covert way of addressing a problem. Love this idea. In fact, the process can
even be more deliberate. Often times when I exercise, right before I step into
the gym or the yoga studio or the running trail, I set an intention. I plant a
seed in my brain. I take a particular thought or problem or issue that I’m currently
struggling with and use that as a framing device to guide my experience. And by
the time I’m done, the mental prompt I’ve layered on top of the rhythmic,
repetitive action will produce an insight I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.
It’s the same reasoning behind traveling with your romantic partner within the
first three months of the relationship. The road, after all, is the ultimate testing
ground. The arena where the truth surfaces. The wringer through which successful
relationships endure.
How will you use your situation as a
catalyst to grow and evolve?


What’s your favorite movie moment of conception?

Moments of Conception 050 — The Dracula Scene from Forgetting Sarah Marshall

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.

And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today’s clip comes from the Dracula scene in Forgetting Sarah Marshall:






What can we learn?


Paint yourself into
an accountable corner.
Rachel forces her lovelorn friend to perform a song
from his unfinished rock opera, right there, on the spot, in front of dozens of
strangers. Peter is given no choice. He has to get up there. There’s too much
build up and too much social pressure to back down now. You can see it in his
eyes. He just wants to run away. It’s
an awful feeling. But what he doesn’t
realize is that having an audience changes the way you experience your art. He’s
been working on his musical for five years, but now he’s finally given the
chance to see it through other people’s eyes. Even if it’s just scattered
applause or sporadic laughter or a few heads nodding in the distance, he’s
still receiving witness to his work. And that’s all he really needs. Rachel,
the real hero of this scene, has createD something called a momentum device. It’s an elegant excuse, physical tool or memorable experience
that builds confidence, reinstates commitment and reinforces competence. It’s a
powerful practice for any artist looking to generate real movement in their
work. Where do you need to plant the
seeds of momentum?




Art is subordinate to
life.
Peter has been on a downward spiral ever since he met his last
girlfriend. And now that they’ve broken up after five years, he’s really hit
rock bottom. His apartment has become disgusting, his diet has become pathetic,
his attitude has become hopeless and his personal appearance has reached an all
time low. For god’s sake, the man wore sweatpants every day for a week. Is it
any surprise, then, that his creativity has plummeted too? Of course not. Every
artist draws a line from their life to their art. Whether they know it or not.
And so, the real job is working on the project of building a life. Otherwise there
will never be a self to express. This situation, known as artist debt, is a common struggle among creators. It’s when we
become disconnected from our primary creative joys, failing to achieve our
quota of artistic usefulness. And unless we start depositing credits back into our
account, creativity atrophies. What does
it take for you to be optimally creative?

Be a surprise, not an
expectation.  
Peter has an idea for a
rock opera. It features sad vampires who smother the women they care about with
love, and it’s performed with puppets. Huh?
Even he admits, the idea is dark and weird and emotionally overwhelming for
most people. And yet, when he shares it with the patrons in the bar, the
audience can’t help from laughing. The song is strange, but also funny and
cute. And in this moment, a light switches on inside of him. Peter realizes that
his musical is actually comedy. And that opens the whole project up. Who knew
eternal love could be so hysterical? It’s a good reminder that the human brain
loves surprises. Surprises set off chemical cascades that rearrange our inner
landscapes, affecting our view of ourselves and of the world around us. In
fact, the word surprise originated
six hundred years ago, stemming from the verb surprendre, meaning, overcome with emotion. And so, the element of
surprise is an asset. It’s the art of doing what nobody expects, but everybody
remembers. What could you do in your work that
would be a welcome surprise to your audience?


What’s your favorite movie moment of conception?

Moments of Conception 052 — The Office Scene from Sahara

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.

And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today’s clip comes from the opening scene in Sahara:





What can we learn?



Echoes the habits of
action.
Sahara was a box office failure. The critics skewered the
film in the media. Even the original author disowned the project once the movie
premiered. So what. This montage is the
most compelling opening credit sequence of any movie in years. It’s a
beautifully executed single take motion control camera that details the hero’s
history, but also alludes to the soon unfolding story. The room we see is more
than just an office, it’s an archive, a command center, a war room, a laboratory,
a playground and a creative sanctuary. You can’t help but want to jump inside
the screen. Particularly because of the substances. There’s just something
romantic about the bottles of whiskey, half smoked cigars, cups of coffee and
snack wrappers strewn about the room. Not to endorse any one of those
substances as magic bullets for creativity, but moderate amounts of alcohol,
tobacco, caffeine and protein have been clinically proven to be helpful for certain
types of tasks. The point is, you get the feeling that whomever works in this
space, knows how to slide into their working day before their procrastinatory
urges kick in. What triggers get you working
before you’ve had a chance to protest?

Create a progress
rich environment.
Look around. There isn’t a square inch of whitespace
left. The office walls are plastered with awards they’ve won, maps they’ve
conquered, articles they’ve written, projects they’ve led, even dignitaries they’ve
met. But these decorations aren’t there to stroke their egos, rather, to stoke their
creativity. Truth is, every artist needs to surround themselves with concrete
evidence of progress. Doing so saturates their consciousness with victory, triggers their creative focus and
makes them more inclined to take further action. I used to write a monthly
column for my local business journal. Published for about six years. And
although they didn’t pay me for the work, the dividends of visibility,
credibility and accountability were more than enough compensation. I even had
ritual on the first of every month. I would run to the newsstands and pick up a
hard copy to hang on my wall. Because surrounding myself with those
achievements was emotionally invigorating.
What’s on your wall?



The outward
expression of inner stirrings.
What I love most about this scene is, the
room is literally alive. Computers are humming, beakers are boiling, fans are
blowing, cigars are burning, experiments are running, faucets are dripping and
molecules are dancing. Appropriate, considering the office belongs to a
maritime archeologist. And that’s the whole point of a primary creative environment. To craft a setting that
reflects who you are and what’s important to you. To create an space
that sets a tone that says work happens
here.
That way, inspiration
can flow as a natural consequence of the surroundings. In my current workspace,
everything is an associative trigger. I immerse myself in a thicket of
visual inspiration, tools, and materials. From decorative patterns to
physical objects to customized playlists to olfactory stimulation to 
desk style, everything is in
its right place, everything is right with the world and everything helps me enter
into my zone. It’s the perfect user
interface for my brain. What things make
your creativity feel at home?



What’s your favorite movie moment of conception?

Moments of Conception 051 — The Studio Scene from O Brother Where Art Thou?

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.

And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today’s clip comes from the studio scene in O Brother Where Art Thou:


What can we learn?



Dishonesty is underrated. Everett and his friends lie
about everything. The name of their band, the location of their hometown, the
color of their skin, the genre of their music and the number of players in
their ensemble. And it was worth it.
Their single became a hit and their sins became pardoned. All because they
lied. The question is, where does an artist draw the line? Spielberg famously snuck onto the lot of a major movie
studio, commandeered an empty office and worked there for months until producers
and directors noticed him. Universal just assumed he belonged there, so they checked
out his first independent short and the rest was movie history. That was a lie. The greatest director of
all time, whose films have grossed over eight billion dollars to date, told a
lie. But does that make him a bad
person? No. It just makes him a person. Steven did what he had to do to make
his dreams come true. Because there’s a
time to be honest, and
there’s a time to sell cars. Sometimes you have to tell people what they need
to hear to get what you want.
How could you make something just true
enough not to be a lie?

Let your why drive. Look into the lead singer’s
eyes. He has no idea what the hell he’s doing. Everett isn’t a blues singer,
he’s an escape convict in search of buried treasure trying to get back into
good graces with his estranged family. And yet, he confidently plunges into the
vortex of uncertainty. He pulls the band together, pulls the engineer’s leg and
pulls the song off exquisitely. Everett may be a man of constant sorrow, but
he’s also a man of solid execution. This scene reminds me of a mantra that’s
guided my creative work for more than a decade. Don’t be stopped by not knowing how. How is overrated. How is a
dream destroyer.
How has no bearing on whether or not our dreams become
realities. It’s just a matter of will. When
I wrote my first book, I didn’t know what I was doing. When I gave my first
speech, I didn’t know what I was doing. When I launched my online training network,
I didn’t know what I was doing. And when I began preproduction on my first
documentary, I didn’t know what I was doing either. But what I did know was why I was doing it. That was enough. And
I trusted that the how would come in time. What
event will serve as your catalyst to start a favorable chain reaction?

Counting your creative chickens.
This movie
contains multiple levels of spiritual symbolism, cultural allusion and ancient mythology.
One of the themes that particularly resonates with me is expectation. How life
is
under no such obligation to make us happy and grant us what we want,
only to give us what we need.
In fact, early on in the film, a blind man driving a trolley prophesizes that
the three convicts will find a
fortune, though it will not be the fortune they seek. What a perfect message
for someone pursuing a career in the arts. Never
count your creative chickens before they hatch.
It’s not healthy
when your work depends on things out of your control. The reality is, the drug of choice most dangerous to artists
isn’t heroin, it’s expectation. Because despite your best laid plans, best
deployed efforts and best held intentions, your career as an artist will probably
feel like the movie you never saw the trailer for. Which doesn’t make it a bad
move, it just not the fortune you sought. Being okay with that is difficult.
How are your expectations helping or
hindering you in accomplishing your artistic purpose?


What’s your favorite movie moment of conception?

Lessons Learned From My Last 5,000 Days Wearing A Nametag

The word project
comes from the word proiectum.

It means “something thrown forth.”

This is the core of what it means to be prolific. Throwing
things forth. Melting the glaciers within you. Finding a productive obsession that
galvanizes you and serves your meaning making efforts. Brainstorming and
creating and organizing and executing ideas and enlisting smart people to help
you fulfill your vision. Not to mention, discovering the ecstasy within the
process of the work itself and experiencing sublime joy of seeing things come
together to produce an artistic whole.

That’s a project.

The best part is, we respect ourselves when we do something
we said we wanted to do. After all, one of our goals in life is to make
ourselves proud. And we do that through endeavors that define our time on
earth.

In celebration of my five thousandth day of wearing a
nametag, I wanted to share a collection of the projects I’ve worked on in the
past sixteen years. 

More importantly, I wanted to share the stories behind
them, the lessons attached to them, and the questions you might ask yourself
because of them.

Hope they inspire you to throw something forth:

1998 – Spare No Heaven: Recorded my first
album in our basement on an eight track digital audio tape recorder. Enlisted
my dad to engineer audio production for the master. Found the only guy with a compact disc burner on
his computer and paid him five bucks per copy. Sold the product to my friends
and family. The songs weren’t great, but they were mine.

What if there were
bigger creative fish to fry than quality?

2001 – The Comfort of Discomfort: This
album had significantly more production value and instrumentation. I did all
the audio engineering myself, this time on a sixteen track digital recorder.
Paid my graphic designer buddy two hundred bucks to design the album cover and
linear notes. Snuck into the design department computer lab to print out a
hundred booklets in full color. Irritated a few teachers, impressed few girls.

What are the exceptions
to the rules that helped you succeed?

2002 – HELLO, my name is Scott: Written
during my senior year of college. Edited by my friends. Cover photo shot at the
family portrait studio at the mall. I ambitiously printed three thousand copies
on the first printing. Hand glued two free nametags on the back inside cover of
every book. Gave almost every copy away for free. Totally worth it. Because my
first book wasn’t a book, it was a brand. It went viral before viral was viral.

Are you worrying about
being the finest, or being the first?

2004 – The Power of Approachability: Got
the idea for this book while sitting on an inner tube in the lazy river.
Researched my face off. Fell in love with the production team I still use to
this date, including my art director, cover designer, editor and printer. Learned
just how obsessive compulsive I truly am, and that the occasional book typo is actually
a great marketing strategy to connect with readers.

Have you learned how
to live with imperfection?

2005 – Rent Scott’s Brain: Nobody really
knows what coaches and consultants do. Because of low barriers to entry, minimal
training requirements and mass market saturation, these are poorly defined
service offerings. I launched this program as a radically honest, contrarian
answer to that problem. Highly profitable. Plus, it allowed me to set a
boundary to keep the bloodsuckers and timewasters away.

How explicitly are
your service offerings defined?



2006 – How to be That Guy. My best selling
book to date, and yet, the most polarizing title. Interesting. Either way, this book was an early turning point in my
writing style. I started to feel like the me I always wanted to be. What’s
more, I learned which corners in the book production and marketing process were
worth cutting: Most of them.

Are you willing to
polarize to monetize?



2006 – NametagTV: Back when I thought online training was the future of corporate learning
and development, I invested massive amounts of time, money and energy building
my own production studio and proprietary video platform. Never made a dime. Barely broke even.
Officially a failure. Then again, did build something I was proud of and that I
can point to. So not a total loss.

Have you accepted that
failure is what makes life a story?

2007 – Make a Name for Yourself: Only full
color book I’ve ever written. Weighs twice as much as the black and white books
because of paper and ink weight. Expensive as hell, but it’s a gorgeous
product. Always been one of my favorites. On a side note, I stole the cover
idea from an early edition of one of my favorite books, Velvet Elvis.

How much energy are
you investing in being a beautiful organism?

2007 – Sun Sessions: After taking a tour
of the legendary Sun Studios, I had no choice but to record my next album
there. The nostalgic energy in the room was palpable. The spirit of the blues
was alive. And the barbecue afterwards was delicious. It was a rite of passage
and one of the great creative experiences in my life.

What happens
to someone like you at your spiritual best?

2008 – The Approachable Series: The sole
purpose of this book trilogy was to create a licensing and certification
program. My vision was to scale my brand without the need to physically be in
the room. Unfortunately, that process required way more legal, organizational
and managerial wherewithal than I could muster. So while the books ended up
selling pretty well, but the bigger idea died on the vine. Oh well.

What are the key
capabilities and resources required to execute your strategy?

2009 – Live Your Name: I wrote this book
because I was angry, needed to blow off some emotional steam and wanted give
myself permission to be radically honest. More of an therapeutic exercise than
a project, but it sure felt good to get all that darkness out of my system.

Are you willing to
selfishly create?

2009 – Search Scott’s Brain: In an effort to create a
destination, not a website, I hired a development team to create a custom
search engine for my entire body of work, including all my writings, videos and
other media. I was never more excited about a feature of a website in my life.
Turns out, I was the only one who was
excited. Nobody cared. God damn it.

What happens if you
build it and they never come?

2009 – Stick Yourself Out There. Not a
book, a symphony. Structured with movements, codas, interludes and the like. So
much fun to write. Two books in one. Engaging cover in an innovative flip flop
style that several other authors subsequently stole from. Absolutely drove my
design team crazy. Total pain in the ass to produce. Then again, it’s hard
cover, and it feels super fancy and credible.

Are you creating something you
would put in your coffin?

2010 – Able. Another concept book. Most
people didn’t get it. But composing the chapter titles at my weekly sushi club
with my two friends made it worth the price of admission. Funniest table of
contents of all time. No regrets.

Are you focused on the
creative process, not what the creating produces?




2010 – Ideas Are Free, Execution Is Priceless.
I wrote this book because I was tired of hearing people complain about how they
had ideas, but never did anything with them. It became the first of many daily
devotionals, which became my trademark book style. Strong content. My dad gave
me the idea for the title.

What emotion is the
ember of your initiative?

2010 – The Approachable Leader: This was a
book about yoga disguised as a corporate leadership text. At the time, I had
just begun practicing yoga, but it had already changed my life in myriad ways. And
so, I took the principles of breathing and flexibility and vulnerability and
applied them to the business world. My spirit animal made the cover.

Are you keeping all
your passions in play?

2011 – Brandtag: One of the most exciting and risky projects I’d
attempted thus far. Much of my inspiration for this project can be attributed to
Hugh Macleod’s cube grenade. Learned how to infect people with a vision.
Learned how to diversify my service offerings as a business. Learned how to contain
an idea before it was ready to hatch.

How much longer will you allow feedback to bounce you
around like a pinball?

2011 – Heartbreakthrough: Every songwriter does a breakup album.
It’s in the job description. The process was painful and bloody and liberating
and confusing. And although I can’t bring myself to listen to or play any of
those songs again, I got it out of my system and moved on. Good riddance.

Do you have a creative
gasket to purge everything?

2011 – The Nametag Manifesto: I heard an
interview with an award winning novelist who said American writers
were afraid of imagination. That really bothered me,
so I write my
manifesto, which reads like utopian narrative. More difficult and fun that I
expected. I plan to use it as the foundation for a novel and/or screenplay in
the future.

Are you starting projects that can
kick open creative doors to other artistic worlds?

2011 – The Nametag Principle: I only carry
one book in my briefcase when I travel, and this is it. Perfect design. Perfect
content. Favorite book I’ve written. Problem is, I’m scared that I may never
top it. Woops.

Are you always on the
lookout for flaws to be improved on?

2011 – Watch Scott Write. People often ask
me about my writing process, but instead of trying to explain it, I thought I’d
just show it. I hacked a video screen shot software and created this series of
time lapse videos of my daily writing process. Didn’t make any money, didn’t
get any attention, but it’s really, really cool.

How could you make the
invisible inescapable?

2012 – Let the City Crumble: My dad, once
again, gets the credit for title of this record. The cover photo is especially
meaningful to me, as it’s a picture of the two lovebirds my wife and I
encountered while on vacation in Mexico. They’ve become a symbol of our
relationship ever since.

What
is worth blowing up for love?

2012 – Sentence Junkie: I’ve been
categorizing and indexing the record of everything I’ve done for the past
twelve years. The problem is, I feel unarmed without it. And so, I created this
online database and search engine to give myself access to my creative inventory
when I’m away from my primary writing environment.

What’s your
intellectual inventory system?

2012 – Thinkmaps: During my fifteen month
stint at a digital agency, I invented an accelerated strategic framework called
thinkmapping. It’s where research, narrative, strategy and insight collide. I wore
an orange jumpsuit and looked like an escape convict.

How are you enlarging
your concept of work?

2012 – Adventures in Nametagging: When I
was a kid, I wanted to be a cartoonist. Ironically enough, I ended up becoming
the character of the cartoon, not the creawtor. Funny how life works out
sometimes.

Are you living a life
worth writing about?

2012 – The Kindle Series: I released eight
digital books in one day. The goal was to flip the digital bird to the
mainstream publishing industry. Unfortunately, nobody paid any attention. Or
money. Which really upset me. Interestingly, on the walk over to the chicken
wing bar to eat my feelings on the day of their release, I bumped into one of
my readers. She thanked me and said she downloaded every one of my new books.

How many audience
members do you need to feel okay with yourself?

2013 – Let Me Suggest This: I’m really proud of this book.
Didn’t sell very many copies, but it marks a new level of maturity and
insightfulness in my writing, and that’s all you can really ask for.

Are you
playing in a manner that creates growth, no matter what the score is?

2013 – Zen and the Art of Wearing Nametags:
Before writing this book, I spent about six months researching the hero’s
journey, mythology, narrative structure, screenwriting and the like. Then I sat
down and hashed out my nametag story from a cinematic perspective. The process
was challenging, fun and inspiring. Be ready for the movie.

What are you doing
research on?

2014 – TEDx: A career highlight, no doubt.
Spoke in my hometown to all my friends and family in my favorite local venue.
Turns out, it’s surprisingly hard to prepare an eighteen minute speech.
Especially when the countdown clock of death is staring back at you the whole
time.

When was the last time
you introduced constraints into the creative process?

2014 – Moments of Conception: I heard an
interview with an actor who mashed up three bad movies into one great movie.
That inspired me to being deconstructing moments of conception from my favorite
films, along with a series of creativity lessons we can learn from the
characters. It’s like reliving my childhood.

What was your creative moment of conception?

2014 – The Prolific Framework. This
project originated as a course curriculum for the continuing education program
at a local university, but later evolved into an intellectual property
development system. What I love most about this project is, it’s highly
research driven and very left brain. That was hard for me.

Are you elevating, or
just executing?

2014 – Tunnel of Love. We officially started production for my
documentary this past weekend with a live concert. I’m the writer, producer, director
and star of the film. It’s the most ambitious and expensive and expressive art
project I’ve ever undertaken. Premiering this fall.

Once you find a home
for all your talents, what will be possible?

Five thousand days. Those are the projects I’ve thrown
forth.

What’s your list?

Moments of Conception 049 — The Mess Around Scene from Ray

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.

And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.
Today’s clip comes from the piano scene in Ray:





What can we learn?



Mashing up multiple
frames of reference.
Ray was a master of creative convergence. He was the
original mashup artist, whose playing reflected influences from diverse genres, including blues, jazz, rhythm and blues, country, gospel, even
orchestral music. That was the magic of his work. The whole was greater than
the sum of its parts. And his convergence not only created a unique inimitable
style, but also pioneered an entirely new genre of music. He left behind an
artistic legacy without which the history books could have been written. Ray’s
meaningful contribution, then, was a function of masterful combination. That’s
the power of creative promiscuity. His music provided multiple entry points for the audience. And through his continuous,
voluminous level of output, he
multiplied his reach. But had he stuck
with one genre or style his whole career, we might not know him as the legend
he is today. How are you integrating
diverse influences into your work?

We are remembered for
the rules we break
. Sixty years ago, nobody had the audacity to break the genre
boundaries. Music was completely compartmentalized. Gospel was for religious
people. Classical was for old people. Country was for white people. Blues was
for black people. Ray, on the other hand, wanted to integrate both race and
style. He wanted to make it okay for
people to sing songs they once thought were off limits to them.
Perhaps
that was his true genius. Musically, he was certainly a brilliant songwriter
and performer. But culturally, his contributions were even greater. Charles smashed
musical and racial barriers. He
paved the way for a generation of artists who may ever have crossed those lines
without his help. It’s like he was the first musician to run the four minute
mile. Because once he crossed that finish line and the rest of the world saw it
was possible, everybody else started breaking the record too. It’s a powerful
reminder that our
function as artists is to warn people what is
dangerous and possible out there. What
barriers are you famous for breaking?

Nobody wants another
anybody.
When your fiercely independent southern mother insists you make your
own way in the world, cover tunes aren’t an option. The only true art is the
visible manifestation of the soul’s journey. That’s what people want. Not a karaoke machine of oldies. Not a
hacksimile of the rockstar du jour. Just a person who’s willing to slice open a
vein and bleed their truth all over the page. Ray did that. He cracked himself
open and poured out his pain and poverty and guilt all over the keys. And yet,
he never did it from vitriolic or sanctimonious posture. Charles knew that originality
wasn’t about trying to prove something to those who doubted him, it was about speaking
with his own voice and doing the best he could. It wasn’t about demanding his
rights, it was about deploying his gifts. And in the end, that’s what allowed
him to compete in clean air. Are you
accepting the marketplace conditions or work to create new ones?


What’s your favorite movie moment of conception?

Moments of Conception 048 — The Radio Scene from That Thing You Do

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.

And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today’s clip comes from the radio scene in That Thing You Do:







What can we learn?



Scaring success into
hiding.
Every artist should expect to fail. It’s in the job description. If
you’re not failing, you’re not making art. However, that doesn’t mean you
shouldn’t still prepare to succeed. Because you never know. The odds may be
stacked against you, but if your bags aren’t packed when the world is finally ready
for you, you’ll either miss the boat completely, or, worse yet, get taken on a
ride before you’re ready to go on one. And like the dog chasing the car, you
won’t know what to do with success once you catch it. I’m reminded of a family
vacation I took about twelve years ago. We met a guy on the beach who worked
for the biggest talk show in the country. Naively, I gave him copy of my
recently published first book, hoping he might find my story interesting enough
to warrant an interview. He didn’t. I never talked to the guy again. But in retrospect, that’s probably good
thing. Because I wasn’t ready. Had I finagled my way onto the biggest talk show
in the country, I would have left behind wake of
missed opportunities, wasted attention and underleveraged exposure.
When the big kahuna comes along, will you be in a position to ride it?

The evolving
landscape of art.
This movie takes place in an era when the mass market still
mattered. When radio play was the royal road to fame and fortune. When a single
disc jokey held the keys to a band’s artistic future. But that was fifty years
ago. Now we live in a direct to consumer era. Where the need for the middlemen
of the world is quickly vanishing. Where the fans are actually becoming the gatekeepers. And so, our job as
artists isn’t to get on the radio. It isn’t to be all things to people. It’s to
narrowcast to a small, specific audience. It’s to go out and create the market
for what we love. It’s to figure out which of the mainstream hoops are not
worth the time, money and effort to jump through, and then forge ahead without
stopping. Think of this way. Shakespeare didn’t open in twenty countries. He
had one theater and one audience. The people cherished the art. The artist
cherished their attention. And together, they made something magical. Outside
of that sacred space, nothing else mattered. Are you still buying tickets for the starving artist lottery?

Little things make a
big difference.
There’s something inescapably joyful about watching this
scene. It’s every rockstar’s dream. It’s exactly how you would react in the
same situation. And it’s a game changer. Their moment has come. As of right now,
these four men will never be the same again. Ah, the elusive tipping point. The
moment of critical mass. The irreversible ignition of momentum. Burn the ships, boys, there ain’t no going
back now.
We should all be so lucky. Campbell originally named it crossing
the threshold
, in which the hero enters into the field of
adventure, leaving the known limits of their world and venturing into a dangerous
realm where the rules are not known. What artist doesn’t dream of it happening
to them? The only problem is, it’s still a movie. As iconic and romantic and
inspiring as this scene is, we can’t let it skew our relationship to reality.
Because any veteran will tell you, there
are no big breaks.
Only an accumulation of small breaks that eventually accrue
enough weight to get you noticed. It’s volume times consistency to the power of
timing. How will you know when you’ve
entered your zone of magnified creative power?

What’s your favorite movie moment of conception?

Moments of Conception 047 — The Jazz Scene from Collateral

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.

And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today’s clip comes from the jazz scene in Collateral:




What can we learn?



Answer the call to
adventure.
Being born is our biological moment of conception. Everyone
experiences that. But realizing why we
were born, that’s our artistic moment
of conception. And for those fortunate enough to have that realization, nothing
is more inspiring. It’s our principal identity achievement. The awakening of
the soul. The point of no return. The first step into egoic tension as we start
the journey of love finding itself in us. Campbell famously named this moment
the call to adventure, in which the hero goes forth of his own
volition to accomplish the adventure. And what’s interesting is, it doesn’t
always come crashing in like a wrecking ball. The call can come through a
blunder, a gradual realization, even a cataclysmic event. Daniel’s moment of
conception was a concert. His call to adventure commenced on a smokey
underground bandstand during the swinging sixties. When was yours? The point
is, every artist has one. And it’s their responsibility to honor that moment of
conception. Doing so implants the necessary humility to stay both sane and
successful in the arts. Are you running
away from your gifts?

Become a friend of
flow.
Daniel’s story is about an artist entering flow state. How a person
can become focused, fierce and absorbed, enclosed in their musical headspace, experience
pure spirited essence, behave as if the thermostat on his imagination was set
permanently on high, and disappear into his work while staying completely
relaxed in the process. I’m reminded of a fascinating documentary called Happy,
which explores human happiness and the newest findings of positive psychology.
I particularly enjoyed their research on flow, which proved that people who
experienced flow on a regular basis were happier. Turns out, activities in
which we have very clear goals, and know, moment by moment, what we’re supposed
to do, help us feel in control. The secret, then, is twofold. First, building a
diverse repertoire of activities guaranteed
to provide the experience of flow. That way, you can step into a healthier,
happier state when sadness creeps in. And second, keeping an ongoing and
cumulative record of the flow activities you manage to accomplish each day.
That way, you create a progress rich environment that
emotionally
invigorates you and prompts continued creative action. What experiences make you disafuckingppear from plain sight?

Find your homebase.
Daniel knew as a young player, what mattered was being around the music. For
him, it wasn’t about making money from
music, it was about making a life in
music. Treating creativity as a holistic experience and existing in a way that his art got done
over and over. But that’s not just music.
His approach applies to any
art scene. It’s not about having a hit, it’s about having a homebase. A place where you can commune your your fellow artists
and audience members. A place where you can surround yourself with a vision of
what you might one day become. A place where you can lock into the historical,
societal and institutional frameworks of the artistic world. And the best part
is, it doesn’t even have to be a physical place. Homebase can be analog or
digital. What matters is that you’re not alone. That you’re consistently
cocreating with others. Gruber called this a gradualistic
approach to creativity, whereby the creative product is subordinate to the
creative moment, the creative moment is subordinate to the creative process,
and the creative process is subordinate to the creative life. Have you invited yourself into a community
of good fortune?


What’s your favorite movie moment of conception?

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