All disruption starts with creativity. In this conversation will million-book selling author, Gregory Godek, we talk about how he disrupted the publishing market and how to use his creative techniques to disrupt your market.
Author, High Performance Creativity
Take three minutes, read Gregory’s LinkedIn profile, and call him if you want to talk about becoming mildly brilliant, or you want to kick around some creative approaches to some problem that’s bugging you — otherwise known as a half hour of free consulting/brainstorming. Gregory Godek • 619-665-7177
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Creative Disruption: Maximizing Your Team’s Creativity to Disrupt
Mark S A Smith: Today, on the Selling Disruption Show, is Gregory Godet, who I met decades ago, at a National Speakers Association convention. Where, I was completely impressed he was the author of “1001 to be Romantic”. And of course that was really capped, when Jay Leno, used that as one of his opening jokes when he said, “If a thousand ways don’t work, do you thing that last one is?” Making Greg absolutely infamous in my world.
Greg is a bona fide best-selling author. A lot of people today claim to be best-selling authors because they sell 300 units in one day on Amazon. Greg has sold over a million copies of his books. He is a creative genius. The reason why I invited him too. The Selling Disruptions Shows his ability to create his legendary, extraordinary, and now teachable. Welcome Greg to the Selling Disruption Show. I can’t wait for you to share your disruptive, creativity with my people.
Gregory Godek: It does go back a long way doesn’t it?
Mark S A Smith: It does. We’ve been doing this for a long time.
Gregory Godek: Is that when I had the RV?
Mark S A Smith: You were just doing the RV. Bona fide book tour in an RV.
Gregory Godek: We’ll talk about this a little bit later. The two year cross country book tour, aboard a custom 36 foot RV. Here’s my main piece of advice to people. Don’t do it! It was great for branding. It was horrible for finances.
Mark S A Smith: It was a bad lifestyle, but great for building your brand.
Gregory Godek: Oh my, oh my.
Mark S A Smith: One of the things that you have worked on, being a mildly brilliant, you resurrected an old idea about simple Simon. Let’s talk about Simple Simon for a minute. Because I think that’s absolutely brilliant. Simple Simon was disruptive.
Gregory Godek: One of the things that has always struck me as power story. And I didn’t do that at first with the “1001 Ways to be Romantic”. The disruption there was, a blinding fight for the obvious. One of my favorite phrases is. It’s the title of an upcoming book and it’s just a great concept.
I had taught romance for ten years in Boston. As an adult-ed class. And believe you me, no one makes a living teaching adult-ed. But, it was a lot of fun. I started teaching this “1001 Ways to be Romantic” and tried to write an early copy of the book, probably in year two.
It wasn’t working. I didn’t know why. After ten years, some circumstances came about. One of them was attending my first National Speakers Association meeting. Where I had the insight that, “Oh, if I had a book and I could speak on this topic, I got a career.”
Mark S A Smith: Yeah.
Gregory Godek: I dropped my clients and I went off and lost my mind and went off and self-published this book. My other blinding fight for the obvious, that course had always been called “1001 Ways to be Romantic”. I took it literally. The book is a numbered listing. One through one thousand and one. And not that I’ve checked every book, but if you go on Amazon and you type in ‘1001 ways to’, you’ll find I think it is 442 books.
Mark S A Smith: There’s still some room.
Gregory Godek: To love your cats. You know it’s everywhere. I haven’t seen them all, but I think I’m the only one that’s actually numbered them. It’s just a little thing isn’t it.
Mark S A Smith: Well if you’re gonna make the promise, why not prove the promise.
Gregory Godek: Right I mean. It’s a nice metaphor. It means a lot. Back to simple Simon, and storytelling. My life has been about creativity. From kindergarten as far back as I remember. I have a creative writing degree in college. I went into advertising. Creativity has been at the center of everything. And actually, here’s the tip. You can forget the one thousand and one. Here’s the one. Being creative in the context of your relationship, that equals romance.
Mark S A Smith: Interesting. Creativity equals romance.
Gregory Godek: Absolutely.
Mark S A Smith: We can also apply this to business. Romancing your customer. Being creative around your customers creates customer experience.
Gregory Godek: Definitely. I’ve toyed with writing that book, but it somehow not my thing.
Mark S A Smith: And you know I’ve bumped around that idea a few times as creating a romancing your customer book, but we haven’t gotten there yet.
Gregory Godek: I know. So we’ve had so many ideas together so.
Mark S A Smith: Been creative equals romance. Yes.
Gregory Godek: Well in other words, there are really only about seven ways to be romantic. Don’t tell anybody this okay.
Mark S A Smith: All right. What are they?
Gregory Godek: Chocolate, champagne, jewelry, dancing, walks on the beach, movies, dinners. I think that’s it. That’s just the cultural definition of what romance is.
Mark S A Smith: That list that you made is mostly directed from men towards women.
Gregory Godek: Here we go.
Mark S A Smith: So, is that where you’re heading with this?
Gregory Godek: You got it. Absolutely. This is our cultural bias. It’s so unfair.
Mark S A Smith: You wrote a book about what guys want, right?
Gregory Godek: Oh, let’s not go there.
Mark S A Smith: Why not?
Gregory Godek: Okay. All right. Okay. This is one of the most disruptive things that I’ve ever done. It worked in one way, and it was a disaster in another. As far as I know, I’m the only person who has written a parody of his own book.
Mark S A Smith: Yes.
Gregory Godek: In year three I think, after “1001 Ways to be Romantic”, I wrote “1001 Ways Not to be Romantic”. Under a penname, Joe Magadatz. Joe Magadatz is the least romantic man in America. It’s really funny. He said humbly.
Mark S A Smith: It’s really funny. He said realistically. I’ve read the book. I thought it was hilarious. When I first saw it, I thought it was real. I didn’t know it wasn’t real.
Gregory Godek: It was a whole lot of fun. For me, it comes out of the mindset of performance art. I’m not a performance artist, but I think that way. And putting something kind of crazy out into the world is a wonderful thing. And I even got a colleague of mine, a speaker friend, you probably know who he is, who played the part of Joe Magadatz on radio interviews.
Mark S A Smith: That’s great. The two of you are on the show fighting it out. And nobody knew. No one. And so in terms of promoting the real book, “1001 Ways to be a Romantic”, it was marvelous.
Here was the mistake though. First lesson, do not ever print forty thousand copies as your first run. Not a good idea. And what I didn’t realize, you thought I would have, but in bookstores. You remember bookstores?
Gregory Godek: I do. There are a few of them. Yeah.
Mark S A Smith: Brick and mortar. The second least visited section of a bookstore is humor.
Gregory Godek: What’s the least visited.
Mark S A Smith: Poetry.
Gregory Godek: There you go. And when people go to humor, they’re almost always looking for something specific. Garfield books, Carres and Keeler, Mark Twain. They’re not browsing for something. Here’s the other thing. The market for the parody, is only men. Because no woman in her right mind, would ever buy that book.
Mark S A Smith: Oh no. Would never be seen dead with that book.
Gregory Godek: So yeah.
Mark S A Smith: Most guys already know how to be not romantic, but you also proposed writing a book that actually told women what men actually wanted right.
Gregory Godek: Bring food. Arrive naked.
Mark S A Smith: That’s all you need.
Gregory Godek: That’s all you need. It’s a marvelous phrase. I haven’t thought about that in a really long time. I wrote that book about 12 years ago. And I’ve never published it.
Mark S A Smith: Yeah.
Gregory Godek: It’s sitting there. Wow. Now I have to do something with it. My career has evolved from the whole romance thing. To directly creativity. So now kind of jump back 12 minutes with me to simple Simon. Many years ago, I started writing these small business fables about that aha moment when a creative idea appears.
Mark S A Smith: Yes.
Gregory Godek: I created this character called Simple Simon. And he is the every man. He’s the regular guy who’s just a little more curious. He’s willing to ask the dumb questions.
Mark S A Smith: He’s a little less jaded.
Gregory Godek: I write this very short pieces. Three to eight pages. But they’re very whimsical, very fun. And they are essentially fictionalized case histories. For instance, how did Steve Jobs really come up with the idea for the iPhone?
Mark S A Smith: Why don’t you share one with us, because I know they’re short.
Gregory Godek: Wow. Gee. Maybe I have one here. This is one of the shortest ones. You’ll get a sense here. The title is “Simple Simon Met an Orange Man”. The client was furious. Simple Simon’s boss was nervous. All of which made Simple Simon very unhappy. The client represented the California orange growers who were fighting a losing battle with the Florida orange growers.
“Our sales are down. We need better ads,” the client bellowed, emphasizing his words with a pounding fist. Simple Simon’s boss stammered, “But our ads feature beautiful photos of your oranges. And focus groups say people love our ads and research proves the effectiveness of our advertising. But our market share is falling. Do something.”
All the while, Simple Simon listened quietly. Finally he ventured, “This might be a dumb question, but is there any difference between California oranges and Florida oranges?”
“Yes, dagnabit! Our California oranges have thinner skins, which makes them more delicate and harder to ship. Thus they often appear bruised. Which harms our sales. But that’s not your problem. Your problem is ineffective advertising.”
Simple Simon was despondent. Instead of going straight home, he went grocery shopping. He bought dozens of California oranges and Florida oranges. He took them home and cut them open. Sure enough the California oranges had thinner skins. He frowned and stared at the table full of oranges in cross sections. And then he knocked over his chair, as he jumped for joy.
The next day Simple Simon presented a dozen orange halves to the client. And he said, “From now on, we will advertise the insides of your oranges. We’ll show your customers that thinner skins, mean California oranges have more pulp. We’ll prove that visually and instantly, that your oranges are a better buy.”
And so the advertising was changed. The sales of California oranges skyrocketed, and everyone was very very happy.
Mark S A Smith: What a beautiful story. Well-written. And I love the idea of, hey why don’t you sell the inside versus the outside.
Gregory Godek: you know, that’s not quite a blinding fight for the obvious. Because the kind of thinking that Simple Simon employed there was basically scientific method. He was observing the situation. He did not have a hypothesis to start with, but he was curious. He was more curious than the experts. Than the owner of the orange company. He is more curious than the big shot advertising executives who were more powerful than he was. He just sat there and kind of said, “well, let me just explore.” He didn’t know what he was looking for.
Mark S A Smith: Until he found it.
Gregory Godek: There you go.
Mark S A Smith: The way we discover things is by looking for things that we might find something else but don’t quite now what it is. There’s an old saying for that, “I know it when I see it.” IKIWISI, “I know it when I see it.”
Gregory Godek: And that reminds me of my favorite definition of creativity, which is creativity is seeing something that doesn’t exist and making it so.
Mark S A Smith: Yes. We truly make things out of thin air. I love it.
Gregory Godek: Isn’t that wonderful?
Mark S A Smith: So, you’ve got some specific ideas on how to be more creative. Some disruptive approaches to creativity. What do you have in mind?
Gregory Godek: Oh my goodness. Let me talk about the two marketplaces that I’m in and have been in. One is publishing. And one is creativity, which is where I’m focused right now. In the publishing world, what I really did there, is I attacked a couple of myths. One of them is, that best-selling books don’t sell. They don’t have any credibility.
Now, this was back in ’91. A hundred and fifty years ago. Before Amazon, before digital printings, so it was real books in real bookstores. And I still would give a lot of this advice to people that, “You probably don’t want to quit your day job and write a book. Move into it more slowly.”
Now I did that. I’m a little crazy. Part of what I did, was turn weaknesses into strengths. Most people wouldn’t have gone off and self-published their own book. Now the other thing that was disruptive here, which wasn’t really on purpose, this is just me.
This is my first career was advertising. I had learned about the intersection of creativity in business. Most people don’t learn that. And then on top of that, I happened to be a writer, who not only knew marketing and promotion, but loved it. So you put those two things together, and this is an unfair advantage that I have over most authors.
Mark S A Smith: Promotion is how you sell books. Period. You don’t sell books by creating a great book. You sell books by promoting a great book to a lot of people.
Gregory Godek: Absolutely. From the very beginning, I was fiercely independent. My publishing company was called Casa Blanca Press. The tag line on the back of the very first book says, “Casa Blanca Press. A small press, playing hard ball in the big leagues.” And pardon my mindset here, but I’ve never said it this way, I set up Random House as the enemy in my mind.
Mark S A Smith: And why not? It’s good to have an enemy to go after.
Gregory Godek: That’s right.
Mark S A Smith: They’re a good target.
Gregory Godek: They’re Goliath. Being a writer and a language oriented person, my phrase that still goes through my head is, running circles around Random House. You can do that with creativity. See, we all have basically four resources; time, money, knowledge, and creativity. This is what we all have to live your life, to run your business.
Now, time everybody has a certain amount of time. Random House has a huge staff. They do have more time than I do. They certainly have more money than I do. They think they have a lot of knowledge, but really I learned publishing in about a month. And I already knew more about marketing and promotion than Random House ever dreamed was possible. And then, I’ve relied on creativity.
Oh, oh. Here’s the other thing, Mark. You’re gonna love this. One of my favorite, business books of all time, is from Guy Kawasaki, beyond all time, the title is, “How to Drive Your Competition Crazy”.
Mark S A Smith: Yes.
Gregory Godek: There’s attitude, right. It’s not just about being successful. It’s about driving them crazy.
Mark S A Smith: That’s disruption.
Gregory Godek: Here’s the really cool part, Mark. I don’t know if you remember this, but the subtitle of that book is “Creating Disruption for Fun and Profit”.
Mark S A Smith: I love it. That is hilarious. I had forgotten that. It’s time for me to pull that book off my shelf and read it again.
Gregory Godek: It’s about 20 years old. That whole thing encompasses how I think. And it’s a joy to create disruption and do crazy different things. For instance, I showed up at Book Expo America, at the annual publishing conference, 35,000 people, all the publishers showing off all their books. So, I show up my first year with one little book. It’s obviously about romance. So, I carried roses with me. Long-stem roses and I just gave them to people. Mostly to women, but some guys were intrigued. This is word of mouth. It just spread. I became known for years as the guy who “Gave away thousands”, no I didn’t give away thousands, but that’s the image. “This guy gave away thousands of red roses.”
Now, my second year at Book Expo, I got a booth. A little 10 by 10 booth. I put together what was back then called a media wall. Picture nine TV screens. Like a tic-tac-to board.
Mark S A Smith: This was in the day before media walls were common.
Gregory Godek: Right. This was very rare. So, I put together this small one. No sound. It was just me on media. Granted it was me on Oprah, and it was me on Donahue. It was about a 60 second loop that simply ran. I got a lot of attention for this.
One aisle over from me was Warner books. They had created a mini theater with fifty seats and they had a ten by ten video wall. And they had a show that was magnificently produced, ran 10 minutes. No one watched it. Because if you think about it for a second. Any of you who have been to trade shows, people don’t want to sit still for 10 minutes and watch somebody’s sales pitch. No matter how good it is. They’ll watch for a minute of two. That’s another way of running circles around people.
And then in, oh what was it probably my sixth year, in publishing, my booth was an RV. The infamous RV.
Mark S A Smith: You drove your RV onto the show floor.
Gregory Godek: Right.
Mark S A Smith: Yeah and it was stickered, so everybody knew what it was.
Gregory Godek: Let me tell you how that came about. This is a great example of a number of creative things coming together. First of all, this was several years into my book publishing and promotion business and I’m always looking for something different to do. I thought about it at one point, book tours. We go on book tours. A big book tour, not officially defined, but Random House and Publishers Weekly consider 12 cities to be a big tour. Random House is sending Agatha Christy on a 12 city book tour. And they do. They crow about this. And I thought about Dolly Parton. No not for that reason. When you consider her musical ability, Mark.
Mark S A Smith: Of course.
Gregory Godek: Musicians go on tour, what do they do? They get in a bus, and they’re going for six months. Authors don’t do that. I don’t quite know why. The economics are a little bit different, but that idea sat there. About a year later, for some unknown reason, a phrase popped into my head. 50 states, in 50 weeks.
Mark S A Smith: Wow.
Gregory Godek: Isn’t that good?
Mark S A Smith: Yeah.
Gregory Godek: It’s impossible. But it’s really a great concept. Because really, unless you have a ridiculous amount of money, you just couldn’t get everywhere fast enough. And I thought, well if you were going to travel the country, you couldn’t fly really. You couldn’t drive really. I guess you’d need to travel in an RV.
Mark S A Smith: Yes.
Gregory Godek: Now, that’s what I’d classify as a stupid idea.
Mark S A Smith: And you did it anyway.
Gregory Godek: Well, yeah. Stupid ideas is a great place to start thinking. You want to hear some stupid ideas?
Mark S A Smith: Well, sure. Why not?
Gregory Godek: 45 years ago, self-service gas stations. Hey, everybody. Let’s get rid of the guys that pump your gas, and wash your windshield and are friendly to you. Let’s let people do it themselves. It’s a stupid idea.
Mark S A Smith: Yeah, I think so.
Gregory Godek: It is a stupid idea. Now, a pet rock. Let’s you and I start a business. We’re gonna collect rocks. We’re gonna put them in a cool little box. We’re gonna sell them. People will buy them for $12.95.
Mark S A Smith: Hey, I’ve got a stupid idea for you. Let’s make a telephone without any dial or any buttons.
Gregory Godek: Absolutely.
Mark S A Smith: It’s stupidest idea I’ve ever heard.
Gregory Godek: Part of that concept is, let’s create a product that nobody needs. Nobody’s ever thought of. They wouldn’t even know what to do with it. That’s a stupid idea. How about, adhesive tape, that doesn’t work well?
Mark S A Smith: Oh, yeah.
Gregory Godek: They’re called post-it notes.
Mark S A Smith: That’s it.
Gregory Godek: Here’s my favorite. Here’s stupid idea. Let’s create a sitcom, based on some American prisoners of war in a Nazi POW camp. You remember?
Mark S A Smith: Oh yeah, “Logan’s Heroes”. There’s no way that could work today.
Gregory Godek: No, I don’t think so. We need some different stupid ideas.
Mark S A Smith: That’s right.
Gregory Godek: Here’s the opposite. Here’s some obvious ideas, any of you could have had. These are really easy ones. You ready for this? Rolling luggage.
Mark S A Smith: Oh, what a great idea.
Gregory Godek: For thousands of years, human beings carried around trunks and boxes. Here are a couple of facts, the wheel was invented in around 35 hundred BC. And the first time anyone attached roller skate wheels to a suitcase, was 1970.
Mark S A Smith: Isn’t that amazing? Sometimes, it takes forever for us to disrupt.
Gregory Godek: Honest to goodness. Here’s one. This is very interesting. Backpacks have been around for, centuries. Here’s a new market that no one thought about until about ’82. Hey, let’s have students carry their books in backpacks. That opened up a huge, huge market. But I remember, Mark, when we were back in school, do you imagine how kids would have teased us if we walked through the high school halls carrying books. What are you a camper?
Mark S A Smith: Exactly right. We carried them in bags.
Gregory Godek: That’s right. In our arms. Well, I was such a nerd, that I actually did have a leather briefcase.
Mark S A Smith: I had a book bag, yeah.
Gregory Godek: Okay, well there you go. Nerds unite.
Mark S A Smith: Yeah that’s it. That’s exactly it.
Gregory Godek: Anyways, so back to Dolly Parton. So, I thought about this. We had a big book tour, and you’ve got what musicians do. Well one day, I see in “The Wallstreet Journal”, a photo in an article of a test market of a new product that 3m had come up with. In which they wrap buses, in essentially a plastic wrapping, that you can print advertising on. Which of course now is commonplace.
Mark S A Smith: That’s right. Today, it is. Back when you did it, it was unique.
Gregory Godek: It was brand new. It was in three test markets. And I said, “That’s it. I’ll take the RV. I’ll wrap it in these incredible graphics. I will travel around the country.” Long story short. I traveled the country with my wife for two years. Criss-crossed the country four times, visited 43 states, 287 bookstores, and I’ve lost count of, I don’t know how many media interviews that I conducted.
In terms of branding, it was mildly brilliant. In terms of financially, oh my god. RVs are so expensive. They are just crazy, and the maintenance is insane. So, please, take it from me. Do not do that.
Mark S A Smith: You achieved and awful lot. You became best-seller, you sold millions of books, you became known as Mr. Romance.
Gregory Godek: There you go.
Mark S A Smith: And so it did work. It was quite an investment. Now let’s play with one of your creative strategies for coming up with creative ideas very quickly, that you call pick three.
Gregory Godek: Oh thanks for bringing this up. I love this. Jump to my current marketplace, which is creativity, and teaching creative strategies to corporations. There are, as you might guess, more than one thousand and one ways to be creative. Hey, that’s a good book idea, hold on. Let me write that down. And I do have them listed. The book will be out, probably in two years.
Mark S A Smith: Well you only have to come up with one creative idea a day to write that book.
Gregory Godek: That’s right. There you go.
Mark S A Smith: So.
Gregory Godek: So, that’s one way to do it. There are thousands of different approaches to being creative. Only one of them being brainstorming, which is where everyone goes.
Mark S A Smith: Yeah.
Gregory Godek: My first tip to people is to stop. Stop brainstorming. Don’t do it. It rarely works. Studies show it. And people don’t really know how to run a true brainstorming session. Brainstorming has become generic for, I just think up lots of creative ideas. Good news, there are thousands of ways to be creative.
Mark S A Smith: Yes.
Gregory Godek: The bad news is. You can’t keep them all in your head. How would you chose among them? What I’ve done is, first of all I’ve taken a subset of the one thousand and one ways to be creative, and I’ve put together a training program, which is called “365 Days of Creativity”. Here’s the theory.
Mark S A Smith: It’s a system.
Gregory Godek: That’s right. And this is disruptive in the marketplace too, because other training programs, usually you kick off with a rah rah keynote speech, which I love to do, and that’s a good thing to do. But then there’s a video training, and it’s probably once a week, and there’s all this feedback and so on and so on and it’s a training program. Well, I go old school very often. Old school says, if you want to learn something new, what do you do? If you want to learn how to play the piano, do you hear a motivational speech and then practice once a week? And you get good?
Mark S A Smith: Yeah, actually the motivational speeches. If you don’t sit down and practice, you aren’t going to get any desert tonight.
Gregory Godek: I like that. I’m gonna write that down. Withhold desert from your employees. My lessons are five to eight minutes long, they’re audio, they’re podcasts type lessons. So that people can listen to them in their cars, when they’re walking down the street and so on. And here’s the idea. One a day. One simple different kind of creative strategy. So people are spoon fed creative ideas. Many of which they’ve never thought of before, and coming back to you know the pick three. Here is the invitation to people, and the promise to corporations. Each person, individuals we are talking about here, they will come away with three that work for them.
Mark S A Smith: Beautiful.
Gregory Godek: And here’s the process. First of all, we go through the 365 over a year’s time. This is going to take time. If you want your people to really learn something, they’re not going to learn it in a week. So let’s chill out, and let’s go through this program.
Here are just a few of the creative strategies that people need to be introduced to. Because part of the hold up with creativity, is people simply don’t know that there are so many options. For instance there’s thinking in terms of the scientific method, there’s logical thinking, lateral thinking, emotional thinking, intuitive thinking. There’s thinking in terms of math, in terms of story or metaphor. There’s improv, there’s failing. You know failing is a great thing when it comes to creativity. And my real favorite on that is, fail faster.
Mark S A Smith: Yes.
Gregory Godek: The faster you can fail, the sooner you will come up with better ideas. The concept of zag. Zag is, whenever everyone else is zigging, you zag. A little bit of this is, even though yes I have digital books, but when everyone else is selling kindle books, I want to sell people physical books.
Mark S A Smith: Sure. Tangible, physical books, that you can lay your hands on.
Gregory Godek: They are physical, they are real, they mean something different. Another line of creative thinking is, think like Einstein. Here we are, we have this problem. What would Einstein do? What would he think? Or Picasso. Or Dr. Seuss or Batman or a kindergartner. How would a kindergartner solve your problem? And so, these are just a few of the 365 concepts and approaches that they weren’t aware of it. Most people have not thought about, “Oh, let’s do some lateral thinking here.”
Here’s the methodology. Pick a style, a tool, a mode of thinking, that is your natural place to go. What’s your Mark?
Mark S A Smith: A natural place to go for me is figuring out what’s valuable.
Gregory Godek: Figuring out what’s valuable? What does that mean?
Mark S A Smith: What it means is that’s what my clients hire me to do, is to find out what’s valuable. Then message that value, most people don’t realize that what they have is valuable because it’s so common to them.
Gregory Godek: Oh. You know what? A creative strategy that some people don’t even think is creative, is common sense.
Mark S A Smith: What. Isn’t that the truth.
Gregory Godek: Sometimes the answer is staring you in the face, and no one sees it. First you’ve got your favorite.
Mark S A Smith: What’s your favorite?
Gregory Godek: My favorite is metaphor. I’m a language person. The metaphors we use and think by, determine the kinds of answers we come up with. For instance, we are talking about a corporation. You’ve heard people saying, “Oh you know, we need to hire all the best people and it’s only because we can’t have a weak link.” If you have one weak link, if that link breaks, you’re screwed right.
Mark S A Smith: Yep. And that’s a metaphor.
Gregory Godek: Okay. There is a metaphor. Here’s a different metaphor. Bicycle wheel. Spokes. You lose a spoke, what happens to the functionality of the bike?
Mark S A Smith: It still works.
Gregory Godek: It still works. You wouldn’t even notice it. You could lose several spokes before things start falling apart. This is a totally different kind of way to think, than the weak link.
Mark S A Smith: Right.
Gregory Godek: So, metaphors really can lead people to different types of answers. So, first we’ve got what your favorite is. Here’s the second one, go to the polar opposite.
Mark S A Smith: Polar opposite?
Gregory Godek: So for me, I’m a language person. Logic? I can think logically, but its not the place I normally go. That’s an opposite for me, and it is uncomfortable. If you don’t feel somewhat uncomfortable, you’re not picking the right one. Cause I mean opposite. The place you don’t go. You don’t do. You’re an engineer and your logical place to go is numbers and analysis. Your opposite might be poetry.
Mark S A Smith: Yeah, it could be.
Gregory Godek: And I can hear the engineers go, “No!” Do you have an opposite?
Mark S A Smith: I think probably my opposite is art. Drawing that takes a lot of effort for me to sit down and draw pictures of any thing.
Gregory Godek: Okay. Just think about this. When we were kids, we drew all kinds of things.
Mark S A Smith: We did. All the time.
Gregory Godek: Stick figures and armies, and plants, and suns, and all kinds of things. Pretty much my drawing is the same. I’m sorry. Still stick figures. I’ve learned language. I’ve learned business. I’ve become sophisticated in a lot of areas, and so have you, and all of you out there. Some of those areas will really bring back some of that creativity that we lost when we were kids.
So we’ve got one two in terms of twos three. The third one is among the 365 you’ll be exposed to over the year. Chose one that just looks fun. It resonates with you for some reason. You think it’s cool, or it makes you laugh. For me, it’s think like Dr. Who.
Mark S A Smith: Yeah.
Gregory Godek: Now if you don’t know the BBC show “Dr. Who”, this isn’t going to mean anything to you, he’s this wonderful science-fiction character who, in so many crazy ways, comes up with solutions all around the universe.
Mark S A Smith: Mr. Creative.
Gregory Godek: What would yours be, Mark?
Mark S A Smith: Think like food-network chef.
Gregory Godek: I tell you Mark. That’s one place I never would have gone.
Mark S A Smith: That’s why we’re friends.
Gregory Godek: What that means is, there’s a time pressure there. There’s a creativity, that’s acquired.
Mark S A Smith: That’s right you have to forecast what something’s gonna taste like before you create it. I think the concept of forecasting taste is extraordinary. I love that idea. Most of us can forecast numbers. Most of us can forecast what somethings gonna look like. Very few people have the ability to forecast taste, and then assemble that taste. I think that’s just a really cool concept.
Gregory Godek: That is an amazing concept. Gee I want to talk to you about that. In terms of creativity, I hear a couple of insights and maybe myth-busting. Folks I’m sorry, but you cannot think like Leonardo Di Vinci.
Mark S A Smith: Nope. Nope.
Gregory Godek: He is the definition of a Renaissance man. Out of all human.
Mark S A Smith: You probably can’t think like Elon Musk. Cause he’s sort of the modern day Leonardo Di Vinci.
Gregory Godek: Right. Right. But you can think like yourself.
Mark S A Smith: You sure can. So we have a problem we’ve got to solve. We’ve got a competitor that has a brand new capability that people are raving about. They love it. So we take this pick three, we take a look at that capability. Just like Simple Simon looked at the oranges, and we run through it three different way. How would we create value, how would we draw this, and how would we like a food-network chef around this particular problem? Is that how you suggest we use these pick three to generate new creative and disruptive outcomes?
Gregory Godek: There are two broad categories here. One is thinking on your own, picking up ideas and so on. And the other is in a team. It works marvelously both ways. On your own, if you have these in mind, you can always go to any of the three at any time. And you have these, and you know what they are. You’re familiar with them. It’s like sitting down with a particular instrument and playing it. I play the piano. I know what to do here. I don’t play the trumpet. That’s not one of my things. So, you’re skilled at some of it and the opposite one I was talking about. That’s the one that stretches you. That one takes you out of your comfort zone.
And so you think about problems in that different way. And then you have the third one in the middle, like say your chef thing. You’re faced with a problem here, and you’re, “Okay. What are the ingredients? What is our time frame? What might this taste like from my experience?” Those are your go-to places. The pick three. These are mine. This is me. Now if we jump over to teamwork and what people, shudder, tend to call brainstorming. We’ve got 10 people in a room.
Mark S A Smith: First of all, there’s too many people in the room. That’s the first problem.
Gregory Godek: That’s probably true. Probably six to seven.
Mark S A Smith: Yeah right.
Gregory Godek: So many companies over pack. It’s deadly. There’s so many mistakes people make. But so we’ve got these seven people here. Each person has their personal three. Let me tell you something. The chance of any of those seven people, having picked the same three creative strategies, is something like 17 quadrillion to one. We are all unique individuals and this is something that I stress in my romance classes and books and I stress here too, this is about you. You, your personality, your temperament, your education, your experience, your knowledge. You don’t think like anyone else.
Mark S A Smith: Right.
Gregory Godek: You put together a group of people, who are all confident and familiar with a set of creative strategies, and genius emerges. Because for a while, one person will be talking, and everybody goes down that road of metaphor. And then a little while later while everybody is thinking of this crazy chef of yours. And the mix of ideas that will come out of this, it’s something that you can’t predict.
Mark S A Smith: That’s right.
Gregory Godek: That’s one of the challenges actually for management. It’s like, “Oh what’s my ROI on this?”
Mark S A Smith: What is your ROI on this if you don’t, is really the question you should be asking.
Gregory Godek: Oh hold on wait, wait, wait. I am writing that one down, Mark. There had been some attempts made scientifically and business wise of measuring creativity and there are bits and pieces of it. But really what this is about is standing back and taking a look at, “Well where has all this innovation come from?”
Mark S A Smith: Usually making mistakes.
Gregory Godek: Right. Faster and faster hopefully.
Mark S A Smith: That’s right.
Gregory Godek: Where have all new products come from? It all comes out of creativity.
Mark S A Smith: That’s right.
Gregory Godek: And something else I remind the executives is that, creativity enhances every other field, every other position in the company. Everything that you take on. If you are more creative with it, well maybe except for accounting, let’s not go there.
Mark S A Smith: I love it.
Gregory Godek: Those guys are exempt okay. Creativity is and overlay, that can enhance everything else.
Mark S A Smith: Yes. It is what creates disruption. Greg what a great conversation with you. Thank you for sharing your ideas on how to disrupt with creativity. So do you have something to offer our listener, and how do they get a hold of you if they want to talk about your 365 day of creativity program?
Gregory Godek: Well let’s just connect. Either by phone, or through LinkedIn.
Mark S A Smith: I think that’s a great idea. That’s a great way to start the conversation.
Gregory Godek: It is. It’s about conversation. It’s not about throwing out ideas, concepts, pitches and so on. Because in order to help someone, we need a real interaction. Connect with me on LinkedIn. Gregory Godek, and of course there’s a link on the show page. Or call me. 619-665-7177.
Mark S A Smith: And that’ll also be on the show page.
Gregory Godek: Very good. Awesome.
Mark S A Smith: Excellent.
Gregory Godek: Yeah, I look forward to talking to some of your listeners.
Mark S A Smith: Yes of course, they’re interesting people. That’s for sure. Thank you for joining us Greg. And my friends it’s time for you to go get more creative, so you can disrupt your market.