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Some of the best Ideaviruses Unleashed by Seth Godin

IMG_5892Much in the same way that the internet as a whole both reflects and feeds our collective consciousness, Seth Godin has a knack for both synthesising the digital zeitgeist and influencing it directly.

Godin has used many of his bestselling books to coin and spread a specific (high) concept. Those concepts have often gone on to be rapidly adopted into common parlance amongst his many supporters.

In addition, all of Godin’s ideas complement and build on each other like pieces of a jigsaw.

In the book Unleashing the Ideavirus, which was released as a free download in 2000 and is still available for free here, Godin says:

“An idea that just sits there is worthless. But an idea that moves and grows and infects everyone it touches… that’s an ideavirus.”

He also declares that

“The future belongs to the people who unleash ideaviruses.”

which he defines as

“…a big idea that runs amok across the target audience. It’s a fashionable idea that propagates through a section of the population, teaching and changing and influencing everyone it touches. And in our rapidly/instantly changing world, the art and science of building, launching and profiting from ideaviruses is the next frontier.”

That book itself amassed more than 400,000 downloads in 30 days, which pretty much proved his point in of itself.

Here are a few of the (other) most potent ideaviruses unleashed by Godin.

Permission Marketing

Published in 1999, the purpose of Permission Marketing was to encourage marketers to build what Godin calls ‘a permission asset’ instead of spamming people with ‘interruption marketing'(i.e. traditional forms of advertising like TV and radio and magazines, plus aggressive and annoying tactics online). He says in an updated introduction:

“Anticipated, Personal and Relevant messages delivered to people who want to get them is the core of marketing for the foreseeable future”. #Sethisms

The thinking behind this book is the reason why I, and thousands of other bloggers, businesses and artists only send our newsletters to those people who sign up voluntarily.

But some people are still in the dark about this concept. I still get emails sent to me by people who haven’t asked my permission first, and don’t provide an easy way to subscribe. What can you do? I just sigh, delete the email and think ‘haven’t they read this f**king book yet?”.

Buy it on Amazon.co.uk | Buy it on Amazon.com

IMG_5901Purple Cow

This is the big un. The big purple one, to be specific (oo-er missus).

In this book, Godin argues that marketing tactics aren’t enough – you have to have something remarkable to share in the first place.

As he says:

“Cows, after you’ve seen them for a while, are boring. They may be perfect cows, attractive cows, cows with great personalities, cows lit by beautiful light, but they’re still boring.

A Purple Cow, though. Now that would be interesting. (For a while.)”

Buy it on Amazon.co.uk | Buy it on Amazon.com

Tribes

There’s no doubt that the internet has given us a massive opportunity to be part of hitherto nonexistent communities, both online and off, made up of like-minded people across the globe.

In this book, Godin challenges readers to also take up the opportunity to create their own community or tribe, and lead it.

He says:

“There are organisations everywhere now, inside and outside of organisations, in public and in private, in nonprofits, in classrooms, across the planet. Every one of these tribes is yearning for leadership and connection. This is an opportunity for you – an opportunity to find or assemble a tribe and lead it. The question isn’t, Is it possible for me to do that? Now, the question is, Will I choose to do it?”

Buy it on Amazon.co.uk | Buy it on Amazon.com

The Dip

The Dip is probably my favourite Seth Godin book. It deals with the thorny issue of giving up – and it’s not as clear cut as those inspirational quotes you see all too frequently on Facebook and Pinterest would have you believe.

Sometimes, in fact, the best thing to do is to give up, especially if you realise that you are ‘flogging a dead horse’. Occasionally though, you need to keep going through the tough times that are inevitable with any worthwhile goal, in order to get through to the other side.

The trick, Godin explains, is knowing when to quit and when to persevere.

“Extraordinary benefits accrue to the tiny minority of people who are able to push just a tiny bit longer than most. Extraordinary benefits also accrue to the tiny majority with the guts to quit early and refocus their efforts on something new. In both cases, it’s about being the best in the world. About getting through the hard stuff and coming out on the other side.”

You won’t find any concrete guidance for your own situation in this very short book, but it will help you to consider whether what you are currently doing is a good use of your time or not.

Buy it on Amazon.co.uk | Buy it on Amazon.com

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Linchpin

Linchpin is the Godin book that’s perhaps most relevant to the Mad Genius Career Masterplan. The book’s intro even begins with the sub-heading:

“You are a genius.”

and goes on to say that

“The tragedy is that society (your school, your boss, your government, your family) keeps drumming the genius part out. The problem is that our culture has engaged in a Faustian bargain, in which we trade our genius and artistry for apparent stability”.

This book, he says, is his personal manifesto to encourage individuals to become indispensable at what they do:

“Becoming a linchpin is a step-wise process, a path in which you develop the attributes that make you indispensable. You can train yourself to matter. The first step is the most difficult, the step where you acknowledge that this is a skill, and like all skills, you can (and will) get better at it. Every day, if you focus on the gifts, art, and connections that characterise the linchpin, you’ll become a little more indispensable.”

Buy it on Amazon.co.uk | Buy it on Amazon.com

Stop Stealing Dreams

In another free manifesto (Godin is nothing if not generous with his work), the subject of school and education comes up again. As we saw in the Design Your Own Curriculum Micro-Guide, the current school system has horribly failed creative people. This manifesto seeks to create change by getting both teachers and students to speak up about what’s needed in today’s world.

“If school’s function is to create the workers we need to fuel our economy, we need to change school, because the workers we need have changed as well. The mission used to be to create homogenized, obedient, satisfied workers and pliant, eager consumers.

No longer.”

This is just a small selection from Godin’s body of work and Godin has also founded a number of notable companies and projects including Squidoo.com and The Domino Project. To find out more go to sethgodin.com.

And don’t forget to enter my competition to win a copy of his latest book, The Icarus Deception. I’ve included 11 Sethisms in this article alone to help inspire you!

Please note: links to books are usually Amazon affiliate links. I’m still waiting for my massive cheque from those buggers. I’m betting your local library will have the books too.

WDS

Vulnerability, Creativity and Redemption – WDS2012 Dispatch #3

Lovin’ It – Photo by Armosa Studios

This is my third dispatch from the World Domination Summit 2012. These are the themes which hit home for me the most from the event.

Read Dispatch #1: Change Your Life, Change the World

Read Dispatch #2: Beautiful People

Brene Brown – Photo by Armosa Studios

Vulnerability

WDS2012 was put together with an amazing amount of thoughtfulness and professionalism. It ran like clockwork, and was truly world class. Even the scheduling of each talk seemed to be perfectly planned.

Brené Brown, whose work I wasn’t familiar with previously, did the opening talk, which pulled the rug from under my feet.

She told us that our experience in any situation “cannot exceed your willingness to be vulnerable”. As she says in her TEDx talk which I’ve embedded below, vulnerability is “the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love”.

The Creativity Slump

According to Brown, “unused creativity is not benign. It turns into grief and rage”. She talked about how children, though naturally creative, were hitting a ‘creativity slump’ at around 4th and 5th grade (9-11 years old). At this age, children start to feel shame, and the criticism of teachers, parents and peers only makes this worse. But as Brown says, and I wholeheartedly agree, that no-one has the right to tell a child at that age that they’re not creative.

What Drives Me

I got a massive insight that this is actually a big part of what drives me to write this blog. As someone who lost my faith in my own creativity for several years, and then rediscovered it, I want to help adults recover from the pain of the creativity slump and believe in themselves as creative people. I met some fantastic people at the conference who want to address the problem at the source and stop it from happening to children at all – which I would love to support also. But for me, it’s helping adults who have relapsed creatively or have doubts about their own creative abilities that drives me as I feel their pain!

Contribution and the Power of Uncool

Brown emphasised the importance of contribution over criticism and cynicism. She said that she will only respond to feedback if it’s from someone who’s also in the arena, getting their ass kicked. To everyone else she just says, “suck it”.

She talked about the power of being uncool and used a quote from the film Almost Famous: “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we’re uncool.”

She got us to laugh, dance and sing, and then to do our coolest poses, to demonstrate that the former involved movement, and the latter stillness. She said that being cool involves control, disengagement and self protection, and being uncool involves movement, activity and engagement.

Brown spoke of the importance of wholeheartedness, and the need to belong instead of just fitting in. She said “who you are will always trump who you think people will want you to be”. We all got up and sang ‘Don’t Stop Believing’. The Glee version. Talk about uncool.

Chris and Brene’s duet of uncoolness Photo by Armosa Studios

Brown is an incredible speaker, and her talk moved me deeply. I felt a shift in myself. Instead of worrying about networking with as many people as possible, I relaxed. I opened myself up to serendipity. I went with the flow. I allowed myself to be comfortable with being quiet. I sensed the same shift in the other people there. We were open to deep connections and conversation. Brown’s talk set the tone for the entire experience from then on.

Scott Harrison, photo by Armosa Studios

Redemption

And now that I was open, and vulnerable, Scott Harrison stepped onto the stage and told a story of heartbreak, of losing your soul and regaining it again. Of unbelievable hardship, and of hope and love. As a child, he watched his mother, a passionate journalist, become an invalid due to carbon monoxide poisoning. He then spent 10 years as a nightclub promoter in New York and addict to every vice imaginable. He hit rock bottom and came face to face with his own spiritual bankruptcy. Harrison knew he needed to make a change, so he joined the Mercy Corps. There, incidentally, he met a kindred soul, Chris Guillebeau.

Chris & Scott, photo by Armosa Studios

As official photojournalist he had to take photographs of people with the most horrible facial disfigurements, who had walked for days and weeks for the chance of treatment by the visiting, volunteer doctors. He watched as they were successfully treated. He learned that the common denominator that led to the spread of these diseases was a lack of access to clean water. He discovered that one billion people don’t have access to clean water.

And he decided that he would solve the problem, one well (or whatever solution works) at a time. Not only that but he would completely reinvent how charity is done. He would ensure 100% of all donations went directly to providing water for the people who needed it. He ensured that every one who donated would be informed of exactly what their money provided thanks to GPS technology. And he used his promotional prowess to create a modern, sophisticated brand.

By the end of Scott’s talk, all 1000 attendees had pledged to give up their birthdays to help bring clean water to those that need it most. During his talk, I cried. The double whammy of these two opening talks had an immense effect. Again, something has shifted within me. I don’t want to be selfish any more, or guarded, or half-hearted. It feels like redemption is possible, within reach.

Personal Transformation

JD Roth talked honestly and movingly about personal transformation, and how by improving himself he has begun to help others. He pointed out that we who were present are extraordinarily fortunate. Unlike the majority of the world’s population we have the opportunity to be independent, to learn, and take risks and chances, and make a difference.

Spirituality and a desire to give service to others are aspects of myself that I’ve repressed. Because I was scared, embarrassed, lazy. I was not being wholehearted. That will change now. I will change now.

Chris on stage, photo by  Armosa Studios

What Drives Chris Guillebeau?

I was curious about what drives Chris Guillebeau before. Whilst I chose to believe he was a positive person, I didn’t know how much of what he did was a cleverly crafted public persona.

Now I strongly believe Chris Guillebeau is deeply driven to change the world for the better. He strongly believes that this is the most important thing that we can do, and more importantly he believes that it is possible.

He has surrounded himself with people who believe the same. He has gathered 1000 people with shared values together in the beautiful city of Portland.

$100 envelope – photo by Armosa Studios

On the Sunday evening Chris walked out onto the stage. He talked slowly and purposefully, with a massive grin on his face. We knew something very (un) cool was about to happen (by the way, Chris has an unexpectedly great stage presence – and he is very funny).

He reminded us of the Parable of the Talents – in which a man distributes his wealth to three people before setting off on his travels, with varying results.

Chris Guillebeau said that what always interested him was the motivations of the man who gave the money. Maybe he was just curious to see what might happen.

He explained how, after losing a lot of money last year, this year’s event made a modest profit and also received an anonymous donation. It turned out that this amount was enough to give $100 dollars back to all 1000 paying attendees. That’s $100,000.

As we left the theatre, we each received an envelope with a $100 bill inside.

When we registered on Friday, we were all given a copy of Chris’s book – the $100 Start Up. Chris gave us each a gift, and a challenge. He left us with no excuses.

As I typed these words, sitting in a Portland coffee shop (I’ve since returned home), I feel that this has been a life changing experience. Of course, action speaks louder than words.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Competition Time!

Could You Change the World with $100?

I’m giving away one copy of Chris Guillebeau’s new book The $100 Start Up (read my review here) and one copy of his first book, The Art of Non-Conformity to whoever gives the best answer to this question:

 How would you use $100 to change the world for the better?

Post your idea on the Clear-Minded Creative Facebook page or in the comments below and I’ll pick the one I like best in a week’s time – at which point I’ll request a postal address from that person.

I’ll send the books to anywhere in the world, but be aware that it might take a while for them to arrive if you live outside the UK. Also please note that my choice will be entirely subjective so please don’t get upset if yours doesn’t get chosen – I’m really interested in seeing any responses that come in.

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Choose Your Story Wisely

Whether you’re a photographer, an artist, a journalist or a dancer, there is a common thread running through your creative work – storytelling.

Some of us are better than others at a particular medium and choose to tell our stories in one specific format, e.g. music, words or film.

Others, those with multiple interests, who have been described as ‘Renaissance Souls’, choose the medium depending on what best suits the story they want to tell.

If we are to be clear-minded creatives, we need to be aware that everything we put out into the world is telling a story about us and what we stand for. Especially now that so much of our lives appear online (and in many cases is recorded there permanently).

If we put out confused messages about who we are, then we can expect only confusion back from those we come into contact with (I’m working on this, myself).

Each creative work we produce will tell its own, compact story, but will also be a chapter in the story that is our overall body of work.

If we can consistently create meaningful work, we will leave a legacy behind and it will have its own tale to tell.

What story do you want to share with the world?

Related reading: The deeper root by Pam Slim

This is an extract from the forthcoming manifesto: Refresh Your Mindset, by Milo McLaughlin. To be notified of when it will be available, sign up to the newsletter.

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Why Embracing Technology is Essential to Creative Success

This evening (Thursday 31st March) I’m speaking about blogging at the Apple Store in Glasgow, along with fellow Scottish bloggers Last Year’s Girl and Peenko (us three were also amongst those interviewed by Ten Tracks about music blogging recently).

If you’re in Glasgow and around between 6 -7pm it would be great to see you (Roddy Woomble of Idlewild is playing a solo set afterwards if that helps persuade you!)

How I Stopped Worrying and Learnt to Love the Tech

I was actually quite slow to get the tech bug, for example I didn’t get a mobile phone until relatively late and I was fairly clueless when it came to computers until the last few years.  My first ever blog post was in July 2005 so I was by no means an early adopter of blogging either , although 6 years is quite a long time now that I think about it.

Since I bought my Macbook a few years ago and then an iPhone, I’ve become a bit of a fan of Apple’s products, and I’ve also become quite a geek generally. For over a year I  spent a fair chunk of each day reading blogs and trying out new web and mobile apps, and although my attention has now expanded  to many other things, I still have a keen interest in modern technology, the internet and the latest gadgets (not that I can afford as many as I’d like).

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s essential to embrace technology if you want to further your creative goals – even if you’re not a blogger.

Note: If you do want other people to find your creative work having a blog is still the best way to get the word out and connect with people online. I may be preaching to the converted on this point though!

Technology Can Help You Go Pro

Obviously technology can help you with the actual act of creation – e.g. Michael Nobbs is now using an iPad for his drawings – and there are powerful programmes like Adobe Creative Suite which are used by designers, photographers and video editors. If you put the work in, these packages can allow you to present yourself in an extremely professional way, allowing you to compete with established creative pros when selling your work.

And whilst decent tech is certainly not cheap, these days you can create things on a reasonable well-powered laptop that would have been unimaginable less than a decade ago. The fact I can now film and edit HD video on my iPhone is mind-boggling to me, not just because I’m a lover of all things Apple and shiny, but because of what it allows me to do – film footage anywhere I am, and share it to the world via my blog.

Technology allows you to connect with the world

Using Skype, I’ve interviewed some of my favourite musicians like Bonnie Prince Billy and Regina Spektor, and received coaching and seminars on a variety of topics from people I like and admire from all over the world. I’ve made a bunch of friends on Twitter, and I can keep in touch with family and friends from all over the world on Facebook. I’m old enough to remember when NONE OF THIS WAS POSSIBLE. It wasn’t that long ago.

I Hear a New World Podcast 11 – March 2009 1 by gaseousbrain

Hell even MySpace, which is now dead to me, was useful at the time. I remember when there was as much a buzz about it as there is now with Twitter. My music was appreciated by a few crazy people in different parts of the world, even though most people found it unlistenable tosh!

And I’m delighted to say a bunch of amazing creative people from all over the world read this blog. That’s one of the most exciting things about blogging for me.

Staying aware of the latest trends keeps you one step ahead

Now believe it or not, I’ve never been massively comfortable with bragging about myself. The beauty of blogging and social media means you don’t have to boast about what you’ve done, you just have to show the evidence and it will speak for itself. But on this occasion I’ll make an exception (didn’t take much persuading did it?) as I want to show you how being up to date with the latest trends can be of benefit.

Here’s some stuff I’ve achieved because I’ve embraced technology and the latest trends:

  • I’ve attracted paid freelance work due in part to my blogging  and social media experience.
  • I was promoted to a digital engagement role at work thanks to my self -taught knowledge in the area.
  • I was asked to take part in a debate at St Andrew’s University with some very well respected and established journalists and academic figures, because I had written online about the future of journalism.
  • This weekend I reached 1,000 followers on Twitter for the first time – and it has happened organically just because I enjoy chatting to new people and finding out what they’re doing (and it’s helped that I’ve been on there for over two years).
  • I founded the I Hear a New World podcast for Scottish culture magazine The Skinny, which I hope helped in some way to raise the profile of some excellent but under-appreciated musicians.

And I”m not even a proper early adopter! There’s loads of people out there who are way ahead of me, but the fact is that by at least being aware of what’s going on in the world of technology, I can foresee trends and take advantage of them if I’m able to.

But Everyone’s a Blogger Nowadays

True, a lot of people have blogs these days, and not all of them are that great. But if you’re not in the game, you’re never going to win. Social networking sites aren’t going to cut it – look what’s happened to the aforementioned MySpace.

Writing for other publications is all very well but you need your own web ‘real estate’ if you want to get people to visit you and follow you over time. You need your own blog (preferably on WordPress) and you need to keep it up to date if you’re really serious about spreading your work to as many people as possible. Of course if you don’t want to to do that, then fair enough but if you’re reading this I’m guessing you probably do!

Just do yourself a favour – include a link so people can subscribe by RSS and email – and use Feedburner so that they can subscribe using their favoured feed reader without having to copy and paste the link. Okay, only obsessive blog readers like me might use RSS, but they’re exactly the people you want as long-term readers as they are more likely to share your stuff with other people.

Technology allows you to teach yourself pretty much anything

This might be the biggie. You can pretty much learn anything you want in terms of creative skills with the information that’s now readily available online.

Personally my first port of call is always books, and I now read a combination of print books and ebooks, either via my Kindle or downloaded directly from the website of the author. You can find info for free on pretty much anything if youre willing to take the time, and there are also a bunch of useful info products and subscription services which will distill this infiormation into an easy to follow guide and even provide it in audio and video formats (though you do need to be somewhat cautious about which of these you invest in).

YES, TECHNOLOGY CAN BE A PAIN IN THE ARSE.

Technology is never perfect, and I have to admit I do get frustrated sometimes when trying to use technology but that’s mainly because I either haven’t taken the time to learn something properly or am trying to do too much too quickly, without proper preparation.

And of course being online all the time does have it’s disadvantages and can be hugely distracting and that’s something we all need to learn how to deal with if we’re to stay sane and clear-minded.

What’s worse,  environmentally and ethically there are a huge amount of issues with the sourcing of components and the disposal of obsolete tech.

But it’s hard not to see the positive sides. technology and the internet levels the playing field (at least it does for the time being) and allows anyone who’s got a creative urge to set up a website and get their work out there.

Of course the amount of effort and time involved in doing that is not to be underestimated, but I think it’s fair to say that technology currently gives creative people an opportunity that even 15 years ago would have been unimaginable. Who knows how long it might last? Get on board while you can.

By the way if you’re in the UK you might want to join the protest against the Government’s proposed web blocking scheme which will erode our freedom of what we can access online – could be the start of a slippery slope..

ARTIST IN THE OFFICE

Can You Be Creative and Work Full-Time?

Watch clocking. Image by Poolie

There are lots of blogs which encourage people to give up their jobs and live a fancy-free ‘location independent’ lifestyle but it’s not that easy for everyone and often there’s a lot of planning that needs to happen before that transition can be made.

Why I Won’t Apologise for Having a Day Job

I thought long and hard about whether to start this blog before I had achieved my ultimate aim of being a full-time freelance writer or working in some other line of work that could be defined as ‘creative’. After all, although my current job actually does involve some creativity as I’m working in digital communications, the nature of working in the civil service means that bureaucracy will always trump creativity on a day to day basis.

But over the last ten years I’ve achieved quite a bit creatively alongside my full-time job, whether it’s writing for local magazines and blogging, doing my own radio show and podcast or playing my own songs live. Each thing I’ve done I’ve enjoyed for its own sake, even if there weren’t financial rewards.

Time is more valuable than money

In the latest step in my mission to becoming a Clear-Minded Creative, I’ve recently requested to cut back my hours at work so from next month I’ll be working four days a week instead of five. I’m hoping that this will give me some extra time to write and also to teach myself some new skills. Of course it’s also going to have a financial impact and I’m going to have to be much more frugal than before.

It’s not as dramatic a decision as someone like Nicola from The Redundancy Experiment who has taken voluntary redundancy in order to set up a freelance copywriting business. But I feel like it’s a real step in the right direction. Whilst I’ll still be able to cover my essential costs like my mortgage and bills, I’ll be losing a substantial chunk of the disposable income I’ve come to rely on. This will hopefully give me the extra kick up the arse I need to find some paid writing work rather than working for others for free which I’ve done too much in the past.

But what if the problem is me?

According to the beautifully illustrated book The Artist in the Office: How to Creatively Survive and Thrive Seven Days a Week* by Summer Pierre “your job is not the problem”.  It might be that what’s making you miserable is in fact your own outlook on life or personal issues.

“it finally dawned on me that it didn’t matter how much money I was being paid, or what kind of environment I was in, it was still me coming to work: depressed, sarcastic, adolescent me. I realised if anything was going to change, it had to start with me.”

She takes the reader through a process of reframing your negative thoughts and seeing things in a new positive light, suggesting making a list of all the things your job provides for you. So rather than saying “it allows me to pay the rent/mortgage” you instead focus on the concrete benefits, e.g.  “it allows me to live in a flat with a telly and broadband internet access, it allows me to have a decent social life, be a member of a gym” etc. From this exercise you can realise that you’re not a victim or ‘wage-slave’, you are actually getting some serious benefits from having a job.

So despite my recent decision to cut back my hours, not everyone has to give up their job or go part-time to fit creativity in. In her book Pierre suggests a few small creative projects you can fit in around work, and I’m sure you have your own suggestions and experiences doing this too.

Tips on Finding Extra Time & Fitting In Creative Projects

Here’s a tip which writer and cartoonist Blythe Robertson posted on the Clear-Minded Creative Facebook page on using the daily commute to get things done:

“I’ve been getting a lot of good work done on the bus and train, lately. Things like editing the previous day’s pages or working on plans and outlines – the boring tasks that quickly mount up. Generally, if you can organise things so you can keep tasks small, you can cram creative bursts in to the most unlikely places. Technology and connectivity does help, so you don’t get yourself tied up in knots with having different versions in different places (still not quite mastered that one fully, yet).

Rory the Roar-Quacker by Blythe Robertson

I’ve also been working on dialogue sections and have found it REALLY useful. I don’t mean from eavesdropping purposes (although that can sometimes be hilarious) but from the point of view of being able to reference how convincing your dialogue is against the different accents and cadences you here from snippets of conversation.”

You can see some of the results over at Blythe’s blog (as you can see, he is very much a man of letters). He also drew the wonderful illustration of Rory the Roar-Quacker you can see here.

And photographer John Sinclair replied to last week’s newsletter to say:

“My tip is aimed at people taking photographs and is an idea that resulted from a challenge I set myself just t’other day. To beat procrastination over what photographs you should make or which project to do next set yourself a quick topic and aim to get thirty pictures in thirty minutes. It will force you to look hard and look fast and think quickly about what you’re doing.

Think about subjects near and dear to you or things that you wouldn’t dream of tackling. My first project was discarded xmas trees on the murky streets of Edinburgh. The outcome should be thirty pictures that wouldn’t cause you great shame if they were stuck up on a wall with your name beside them.”

He’s even just set up a brand new Flickr group for anyone who wants to take part in his challenge.

What do you think? Are you able to fit creativity around a full-time job or are you looking for a job that allows you to be creative full-time? Share your experiences in the comments.

*Amazon.com affiliate link. Buy from Amazon.co.uk

Main image credit: Poolie

I Want to Believe The Hype - Stallio

Is Your Scepticism Holding You Back?

Image: I Want to Believe The Hype by Stallio

A massive thank you to everybody who has commented, spread the word on Twitter & Facebook, or emailed me with feedback about the first week of The Clear-Minded Creative – the response has been fantastic.

The blog was even featured on The Guardian Edinburgh, which amusingly attracted my very own “hater” in the comments, who described me as “like Anthony Robbins meets Adrian Mole”.

Unfortunately for my hater, I actually take that as a compliment – I was a big fan of Sue Townsend’s geeky creation as a kid, and I also think Anthony Robbins has a lot of good things to say.

What?? I hear you gasp!

Wait a minute – don’t tell me – might you be hugely sceptical or cynical about self-development?

If so, I can totally relate. It’s hard not to be in the face of an ever-increasing queue of self-appointed ‘gurus’, lining up to sell you the ‘secret’ or ‘hidden key’ to success, or a miracle cure for your insomnia/low self-esteem/alektorophobia (fear of chickens) – especially when you have to remortgage your house to afford it.

Anyone who sets themselves up as a guru immediately sets alarm bells ringing in our minds. Nobody’s perfect after all, so if someone’s selling us their lifestyle or personality as something we should be aspiring to, I for one can’t help wondering what they’re not telling us about this perfect life of theirs, like what skeletons they have in their closet or bodies buried under their patio.

Okay, I have an over-active imagination but you might have the same nagging sensation that the image they’re portraying is not quite the whole truth.

Throughout my adult life I’ve fluctuated between wide-eyed naivety (or open-mindedness depending on your view), and a stubborn cynicism. The truth is though that I regret the extended periods where I was most sceptical and closed-off to the possibilities of self-improvement.

But Surely It’s Good to be a ‘Healthy Sceptic?’

Now I do believe that there is such thing as healthy scepticism, because people need to have a sense of when people are trying to con them and scepticism of generally accepted “truths” can be a very healthy thing. We need to challenge pointless traditions and out-dated systems and opinions.

However if a person is too sceptical about things that could be helpful to them surely it is counter-productive.

Old-School Self-Help

We’ve all heard of self-help gurus who have become hugely successful such as Anthony Robbins, Deepak Chopra and Brian Tracy. Whilst the advice these people offer can often be very helpful for anyone willing to put in the hard work to implementing it, they also often charge a premium for their services and use pushy sales techniques which could put people off.

And many people can come away disappointed because they thought there would be an easy answer to their problems.

Despite this, I personally have benefited from the advice of these old school self-help types because I gave them the benefit of the doubt and listened to the useful things they had to say.

And the likes of Anthony Robbins have inspired others, such as life coach Tim Brownson who is bringing self-help kicking and screaming into modern times with his no-nonsense, but highly effective approach. You can tell just by reading his excellent blog that Tim is no ordinary life coach.

Aesthetics are Important

These days, someone like Chris Guillebeau who uses fresh and modern design is more likely to get the trust of the modern creative person than someone like Brian Tracy with his old school aesthetics. But sometimes it’s worth pushing past your preconceptions.

The Advantages of an Open Mind

This excellent article on the same topic at The School of Life suggests we need to reclaim a sense of ‘sceptical optimism and down to earth happiness’.

With an open mind you can look past things like aesthetics and find some useful information.  And no-one’s saying you have to agree with everything a person says to get something useful out of it. Each person is unique and a critical eye is of course necessary in order to pick out the specific things that apply to your own personality, talents and life situation.

Do you agree or disagree that there are benefits to having a more open mind? Have your say in the comments.