Easter Creativity

You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” – Walt Disney.

First of all, Happy Easter, He is risen.

Ever get into a discussion of creativity with one of those, “I’m the creative one around here,” or “all creativity comes from one department?”

Well, it’s wrong.  Creativity and creative people are all around you. I’m fortunate enough to work in a place heavily populated with creativity, as this video about Easter shows. The author, writer, and producer, Mark Ornelas isn’t in radio programming or marketing, but his creativity and communication skills are unmistakable.

When it comes to creativity, my mind always wanders over to Walt Disney.  The man was not only creative, but he was so “systematically.”  He established a framework of producing creativity through the lens of three roles.

The Dreamer has the visionary, big picture role.  This is where ideas start.

The Realist is the one who thinks constructively and devises an action plan for the vision.

The Critic (the most familiar role) tests the idea, looks for problems and unintended consequences.

The best ideas come when all three roles are present, but that’s not what typically happens.  If the roles are completely separate instead of a continuum, they fight each other.  Some say that all three roles can be handled by one person, but I know more people who think they are that person than are. The best creativity necessitates all three roles being involved.

So one of three things happens.  We tilt to one role or the other roles, and miss the totality, bringing about a “good idea” that goes nowhere.  Or we outsource our creativity and innovation to people who have convinced us they are that three-in-one person. Lastly, we just stop being creative – we give up on even trying to be more creative.

Creativity isn’t a department or a person, and it’s not a collection of good ideas that, in the end, don’t “put points on the scoreboard” at all.  They’re just cool ideas.

Mark and his video showed me that creativity isn’t that elusive, it’s right under our noses if we look for it.

Innovate the Pixar way

The thing about working at Pixar is that everyone around you is smarter and funnier and cleverer than you and they all think the same about everyone else. It’s a nice problem to have.” – Andrew Stanton


Authors Bill Capodagli & Lynn Jackson, in their book “Innovate the Pixar Way: Business Lessons from the World’s Most Creative Corporate Playground,” suggest that “Pixar is a “playground” that will inspire you to:

– Dream like a child.
– Believe in your playmates.
– Dare to jump in the water and make waves.
– Do unleash your childlike potential

I don’t know about you, but I want to work in a playground like that!

One other Pixar secret is that they pay both the creative and technical people the same money.  They realize they are BOTH important to their success.  The greatest story y0u come up with isn’t going to do much if it isn’t translated through the technology.  Think programming and IT, or programming and engineering.

Everyone at your organization has a place and purpose, and if they don’t you need to get rid of them.  True leaders will understand the value of all, not just one.


A Love Letter To Your Team

“After my family, the people I love most are the one’s I work with.” – David Salyers, Author, Remarkable


“Wow, I thought, that’s an amazing point.” I was watching David Salyers, Vice President of marketing for Chic-Fil-A at the 2014 CMB Momentum conference. He was talking about the culture of his organization, which puts a huge emphasis on including living it every day. And that culture has everything to do with people.

He told us how Chic-Fil-A puts an emphasis on going beyond thinking about what we want from our people, to what we want for our people. I read the “love letter” he wrote to his employees, and again bells went off in my head. They let their people know, every day, by how they act, that they love and respect them.

“How do my people think about me?” I wondered.

Believe me, I’ll be making that line of thinking a part of my leadership.

I hear about “culture” from a lot of radio stations, but none of them have ever come this far in designing the organization around the culture. Culture means “how you will act,” not “how you will be.” It’s about behavior, not about a way of “being.”

Chic-Fil-A cultivates a culture that isn’t meant to be just for “Chikin'” but instead for any organization that wants to be…well, Remarkable!

How Your Listeners Can Kill You

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.” – Herman Melville

What do Gibson Guitar, United Airlines, DHL, Hertz, and AutoZone have in common with many radio stations? They’re all companies that have employees working at odds with the company goals, according to a study by brandchannel.com.

The bottom line is that your switchboard is one of the front lines for listener contact, but those people usually aren’t well trained or well motivated.  They’re just punching the clock and putting it time each day, and that can result in an experience that’s different from what you might want.  We tend to think of the jocks and the only first line of contact, but every time anyone from your station touches a listener, it can be good or bad.

Have you read any online reviews lately?  Social media has increased this razors edge.  Try searching for “(your station) sucks” and you’ll see what I mean.

The challenge with those companies listed above and many radio station companies, it that we’ve been great at taking the “connectivity” out of our stations so we can get better “shareholder value.”  From the obvious like voice tracking to the more subtle like IVR phone trees when they call the station, we’re eliminating an important emotional connection.

What can you do to reverse this trend?

Surprising The Audience

“Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us.” – Boris Pasternak

On America’s Got Talent, a quiet shy, unassuming Army soldier named Paul Ieti came on stage.  He was quiet, shy and looked like one of those disasters you sometimes see.  But then he began to sing, and it was a great surprise to everyone.  He was good, but what really created the impact was the surprise.

The same thing is true of our radio stations.  It’s not enough to be simply good, what really makes a difference is if you surprise the audience from time to time.    People like to be surprised, the appreciate the unexpected.

What surprises are you working on?


P.S.  The opera singer in a bikini was a surprise too, but I’m not sure if it was a good way.