by Attorney Carl E. Person
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Carl E. Person, Attorney at Law
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Copyright © 1994 by Carl E. Person. Permission is given for non-commercial users to send a copy of the data processing file for this work by electronic means to a specific individual for his or her own use, and then only if the entire file is sent, including this copyright notice, but no permission is given for anyone to copy or transmit this file for or to any person for public viewing or downloading. It is intended by the author of this work that the work shall be made available in electronic fo rm only through LawMall.
I would read a pamphlet of this subject matter if written by someone else because it is difficult to write. I have insights into creativity which I would like to share with you, the readers, and these insights should help you recognize your creativity an d motivate you to use it to profitable advantage.
Creativity can be hidden like the beauty of a plain-looking woman, plain only because she makes herself look that way. Most "plain-looking" woman, with enough work, can turn themselves into "attractive" women.
For many people, creativity can be brought out and exercised. This is the main purpose of this pamphlet, to get you to focus on your creativity and use it to your maximum advantage.
In other words, I want to show you how to make money with your creativity, and develop a confidence in using your creativity.
"Creativity" is not easy to define. The Random House Dictionary of the English Language defines it as "The state or quality of being creative" and "creative ability or process". "Creative" is defined as "having the power or quality of creating" and "res ulting from originality of thought, expression, etc."
Philosophers have written books on creativity, such as Creativity - The Magic Synthesis by Silvano Arieti (Basic Books, a Div. of HarperCollins Publishers 1979) consisting of 448 pages; and The Creative Mind - Myths & Mechanisms by Margaret A. Boden (Basi c Books, a Div. of HarperCollins Publishers 1991) consisting of 303 pages, which try to explain creativity but not in a practical way for persons seeking help in increasing their creativity. I say "increasing" because virtually all of us (or at least the persons reading this booklet) are creative to some extent, but some persons a lot more than others. Clearly, high intelligence is not required for great creativity, but a minimum I.Q. of perhaps 120 is suggested as a minimum requirement for a "creative" person. (Because of the cultural and other bias inherent in I.Q. measurement, 120 is not a reliable requirement.)
I would wonder also whether the author of this pamphlet you are reading has the credentials to talk about the subject. I have no reticence about discussing creativity in general or my own in particular. I recognize that I am creative, which has been a main factor in the career path I have chosen (or perhaps my creativity has chosen for me).
I am a high school drop out, and after serving 3 non-distinctive years in the Army (age 17-19), I left the Army to go to college, which I completed in 3 years (3rd in my class), and went on to Harvard Law School, graduating from Harvard in 1962.
I was not able to get to the top of my class of 500 students, even though I tried as hard as I could, and perhaps harder than 95-99% of my classmates. I was certainly motivated to try to wind up at the top of my class, and I cannot now say "If I only tri ed harder." I tried as hard as I could and it was not enough.
I am an inventor of many inventions, two of which I have applied for and receipt a U.S. patent, including a portable navigational system for automobiles (which in essence is a data processing system for determining how to get from one point to another), a n invention designed to eliminate which I call "map clutter" making maps difficult to read. I have various inventions ready for patenting, but the time and cost involved make patents something less than affordable for the average inventor (and causes a l oss of protection for American inventors in their own United States market).
Also, for more than 20 years I have been developing a field of law which although unofficial I refer to as "theft of idea" law, which is part of the larger field of "intellectual property". For many years I have also assisted businesses as a securities l awyer in the raising of capital, both publicly and privately.
I was the first lawyer in the world (I believe) to sue for the right to advertise as a lawyer, the first to sue for and win the right to sell shares in lawsuits; I conceived of the National Private Court, a for-profit court system modelled after the feder al courts which would compete with the governmental courts; and am currently engaged in litigation on behalf of clients who claim their submitted screenplay ideas were misappropriated by various movie studios and others when producing some highly successf ul (and some less successful) movies.
I have written some books (such as The Save-by-Borrowing Technique, published in hardcover by Doubleday), some of which are unpublished, and I created two career fields: (i) the paralegal field (having started the 2nd paralegal school in the United States back in 1972); and (ii) the "personal assistant" field, which is still unknown and something not yet completed, which could solve many of the problems of small business if the field were ever to get started. I estimate that the personal assistant field could result in small-business growth in the United States which could more than offset the country's current balance of payments problems. Trying to sell that idea is more difficult than the idea itself, and requires a great degree of creativity, perhap s more than I have.
I recognize that there are many persons who are "better" than I am, using whatever standards by which persons are judged. But these man-made standards don't take all relevant factors into account and often cause the inner worth of persons (such as you an d perhaps me) not to be valued highly enough.
In other words, you may well have a lot more creativity than one would suspect from your academic or other achievements to date. I would like to help you see if this is true.
Creativity is something very special in our society and economy and seems to be one of the main bases on which wealth is allocated to persons without capital. Also, it is the way substantial additional wealth is created for persons with capital.
Why are there rewards for creativity? The answer, as I see it, is that problems exist because solutions have not been devised or recognized. This is true as well with inventions. Inventions are conceived because of problems which exist for a length of time before a solution is found to the problem. Problems can be translated into money, and the person who finds the solution to problems should, you would think, be able to prosper. But more often than not, this is not the case.
People will pay money to cure a problem. It's worth it to them to have the problem go away. Why, then, if a creative person finds a solution to a problem, isn't the creative person remunerated for coming up with the solution? I'll answer that in a moment.
Another type of creativity is in the field of show business and entertainment. Creativity is compensated with millions of dollars, but not all creative persons receive millions of dollars for their creativity. Only a very select few obtain these million s. Why is that? Is the typical creative person doing something wrong?
What we have to realize is that creativity is rewarded in relation to a marketplace, and the marketplace must be understood to try to maximize the rewards to a creative person.
A person who gives away his creativity by singing to the public on a sidewalk, with a hat to receive contributions from onlookers, will probably never obtain wealth from his/her creativity. Perhaps a comfortable (tax-free) living, but not major wealth. A person who voluntarily offers a solution to a problem receives no compensation because there is no requirement under law to pay (absent a valid patent covering the idea). The information was given away with a mere hope for payment.
A less creative person can wind up as a television or movie star and sell this lesser amount of creativity for tens of millions of dollars.
The answer to this can be found in the structure of the market for such creativity. The market in the street is pennies, nickels and dimes voluntarily donated, and doesn't amount to very much for the creative street performer.
But the market for the services of TV and movie actors and actresses is very complicated, and involves many different creative persons in many different areas of the industry who collectively get together to sell the services of the designated "star" in t ens of thousands of controlled movie outlets or thousands of controlled TV stations, with the predictable result that a percentage of the featured performers will become "stars" and command very high salaries for what essential is the work of the others w ho made them into "stars".
The creativity of the star is not what made the person a star, although to some extent it obviously helped. The star has been fortunate in winding up near or at the top of a market involving billions of dollars of distribution machinery, movie theater as sets, TV networks and TV stations, which are then used to gather billions of dollars from the home video market and other markets, both domestic and foreign.
The "star" is the beneficiary of all this, and the amount paid to the star is somewhat of a gift, during the period the star is becoming a star, and thereafter the gift becomes a market value to the star, and the star is able to command high prices to hel p others in the industry make billions of dollars of sales in movies or music which often isn't very memorable.
To put it another way, a star who makes his/her own full-length filawmall and also distributes the film, will find that the "star" is worth less than nothing. The project will ordinarily lose money, and "prove" that the star has no value. But this is so only in that type of market.
In the mainstream movie market, with 7 major movie studios, there are a few persons elevated to stardom, often having some degree of creativity, but these rewards are not paid for persons having the highest amount of creativity.
It can be said, generally, that you do not have to have the most creativity to make the most amount of money.
Some of the biggest fortunes have been made selling hamburgers, groceries and orange juice.
Accordingly, this pamphlet is not trying to make you more one of the most creative persons in your field, but to try to help you identify, control and use your creativity to bring in the rewards which are available to some, but not all, creative perso ns.
You must consider markets and their structure when you consider creativity.
I am an antitrust lawyer and economist and deal with markets and their structure on a daily basis.
I have the ability to synthesize things, which I believe is indicative of or the reason for my creativity. I'm not sure which, or maybe it is a combination of both.
I can take ten thousand facts, remember them for a very short period of time, and put together a story, picture or vision of the related or salient facts drawn from the 10,000 facts. This ability to draw from, say, 10,000 facts and use only the most rele vant or most related to come up with a story or picture (of what happened to cause a particular lawsuit) is no more than what all of us do on a daily basis.
But instead of drawing from materials in a lawsuit (such as deposition and trial transcripts, complaints, answers and other pleadings, affidavits, research and other evidence), most of us have a lifetime of specific and general knowledge which amounts to far more than 10,000 facts.
In some complicated fashion, the mind assigns importance and relationships to these thousands of bits of information, and the creative person can put the whole picture together better and more quickly than a non-creative person.
Whatever your life's education and experience is, you carry it around with you and it is what you draw upon when necessary. Some persons have lots of experiences as well as words in their vocabulary, and others have a lot less. It is more difficult for a person with a limited background to be as creative in a broader sense as the person with a broad background. Obviously, however, people who have limited general backgrounds may have highly intensive backgrounds in specialized areas, and be far more cre ative (say, in figuring out what's wrong with an automotive engine) than the more creative person without that automotive background.
The way in which you draw upon your own fund of information and experience is an essential part of the creative process, I believe.
No matter what fund of information you have to work with, the creativity I'm talking about is to take parts of the existing information and create something new, which often solves an existing problem.
If you go about life minding your own business, and not trying to find out about the way in which other people do things, you are going to be less exposed to problems. Of course, you undoubtedly do have some problems of your own which you haven't solved, but perhaps you haven't solved your own problems because you never obtained much experience in attempting to solve, gratuitously, the problems of others.
I believe that my creativity stems from actively being interested in what others do, finding out about the things which seem to be problems to them, and then as an outsider (with no preconceived notion of how to cure the problem) trying to figure out a so lution. Because of my own unrelated background, any solution I come up with is apt to be different (which can be translated into "creative" by persons who are in the industry but never thought of my solution).
With enough experience solving the problems of others (at least theoretically solving such person's problems, as an exercise), I have developed a substantial experience (as a volunteer, you might say) in problem solving, in "creative" ways, which enables me to apply the skill to any area. An insight into problem solving, which should help you to find solutions to problems, is this: The extent to which you can define a problem accurately is the extent to which you often point out (or "create") the solution.
Here is a case in point. Assume you have a 1-ton printing press on the floor of your living room or office and the problem is that it doesn't work. That is a real problem, or is it.
If you had someone look at the equipment who knows how to repair and operate such printing equipment, he would merely go over to the machine, turn it on, and tell you that there never was a problem. The equipment is in working order.
Thus, what was a problem to you, was not a problem to the other person. You had failed to define the problem to the degree that the experienced printing-press expert was able to define the problem. He looked at the non-operating press and with his exper ience in solving problems of a similar type started thinking to himself, (i) is the press plugged in; (ii) if so, has the press been turned on. He then saw that it was not, turned it on, and the press worked. If the press didn't work at that point, he mi ght then check for any blown fuses, or any shorted electrical components, and so on. But his/her experience enables the expert able to come up with a solution.
What I want you to do to become more creative is look for problems and try to find solutions. This is no more than "finding a need and filling it", which is "necessity", the mother of invention.
So, let's take a creative walk down or up 8th Avenue in Manhattan. What do you see? What do you like to see? I see stalled vehicles (a problem); persons who can't find a taxicab (another problem); road repairs in progress (another problem); long waits for the city bus (another problem); drug dealers (another problem); unemployed persons (another problem); persons on welfare (another problem); pedestrians or vehicles blocking the intersection causing traffic congestion or "gridlock" (another problem); t oo many or too few police (another problem); too few persons attending a $2 per person movie house (another problem); too many persons attending a movie house 2 blocks away (another problem), and so on.
My creativity in part is to see that a problem exists, or that there may be a problem. And then I try to figure out what can be done to alleviate this actual or imagined problem, which is putting my creativity to work to come up with a solution.
When you do this on a regular basis, you will enjoy the process. You don't have to do anything about most of your creativity, except enjoy the process and ride. You don't have to take down notes, although this is also creative and can be exciting even.
For example, if you have figured out a way to market a full-length feature filawmall which has no known star (a problem which my wife and I have), please let me know. There are various ways to attack the problem, from video cassette marketing (and by-pas sing theatrical distribution), four-walling (rental of a motion picture theater to exhibit the film), to raising money for a big theatrical opening in New York City and hope that you can beat the odds. When I get a chance, I'll work on this problem. In fact, I even opened up a school about 15 years ago called the New York Film Institute as part of my efforts in the filmmaking business. When we were mixing the sound track of the film, the sound studio we were using (V & W Sound Transfers, Inc., in New Y ork, NY) announced it was going to go out of business, and I bought the studio to enable our film mix to continue.
Your creativity and creative process should be stimulated by the exercise of looking for problems wherever you go and in whatever you do. I don't mean, however, that you should tell people you are looking for problems, or that any problems exist in your opinion. Ask about what a person is doing and does he/she have any problems. Or ask how he/she does something, and you may learn that there is a problem. Once you have a problem identified in a general sense, try to see how much you can learn about the problem to bring the problem down to its core, which probably is, or will suggest to you, the solution. This is the other half of the creative process.
Of course, doing something about the problem is something else, and that too is creative. Many of us are mere thinkers, or professors, with an opinion on anything and every thing, but with no practical way to be compensated for the creativity.
I have often wondered whether there is any truth to the saying that genius is only a short distance away from insanity.
What is meant by that saying?
I believe that a genius is different from most persons, saying and thinking things which are not expected or understood by most persons. Because what a genius says is not appreciated by most persons, the genius is looked upon as odd, different and perhap s even somewhat "crazy", in the sense that he says and does things which normal people don't do or say. The insane person acts the same way, at least to many normal people, and the difference between genius and insanity is not detectable to many people s o that to them there may be insufficient difference to make a difference.
One researcher reported that there was only a 5% overlap between creativity and insanity, and dismissed any meaningful correlation.
I find that in law there is a limit to inventiveness. Law can be found to support either side of an argument, and the judges are there to come up with a "just" decision, even though there is no law requiring any such decision. This is the argument of a small group of Harvard Law professors known as the "Crits" (short for the Critical Legal Studies movement at Harvard), who claim that there is no law and presumably that the study of law is a waste of time because judges decide cases the way they want to decide them irrespective of the law.
One last observation comes to mind. In "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", Jack Nicholson was in an insane asylum, behind a Cyclone fence, watching a motorist change a flat tire. All of the 4 lugs fell down the storm drain and the motorist was obviously perplexed. Nicholson told him to take one lug from each of the other 3 wheels and use them to secure the 4th wheel. The motorist showed his surprise that he was getting help from an obvious inmate of a mental institution, and Nicholson said: I may be cr azy, but I'm not stupid!"
Creativity is the use of one's intelligence. An intelligent person does not have to be creative. The person may not be interested in problems or their solutions. To translate that into the performing arts, an intelligent person may not apply this intel ligence into performances which are commercial. Creativity for a performer or creative artist is doing what they do in a way which is different, distinctive and appealing or commercial.
An unappealing performance or work might have required a substantial effort, but we probably would not call it creative because it lacks appeal or commerciality.
The most intelligent performer in the world isn't necessarily the most creative, but it does help a creative person to have intelligence. Creativity can be enhanced by intelligence, but it may lead a performer to create more than the judge (the public) c an accept, with the result of public rejection of the attempt at creativity.
What we see is that creativity often fails for the creative person if it cannot be sold, so that the creative person fails in his/her creativity if the exercise of it for profit results in no profit.
I believe that there is a range of possible creativity among persons with above-average intelligence that would allow them to prosper with their creativity in many markets. It isn't necessary to be super intelligent or a genius to exercise and profit fro m creativity, and it behooves most persons who are above average in their intelligence to develop their creativity and expect to profit from such development.
Creativity can be acquired, I believe. But first of all, you should try to determine if you have it.
To do this I suggest that you try to write a few Top 10 Lists for David Letterman, picking any topics which you believe are suitable. You will be using your creativity in picking the topics, and you will use your creativity in putting your top 10 lists t ogether. Then, try your hand at coming up with 10 new business ideas or 10 funny jokes. This is far more practical and a lot of fun, once you put your mind to it. I can come up with a new business idea in several minutes, and can flesh it out in about an hour, based on the experience I have had over the years in business or as a lawyer to businesses.
Finally, try outline some short stories or novellas, or prepare some 2-3 page outlines for a movie screenplay, or try writing a song or two.
All of these are creative efforts which will allow you to experience the range of material and the process of selecting what you want from the material or information available to you.
You will be able to judge whether you are creative, I believe.
That is just a start. After you have determined for yourself whether you are creative, and to what extent, I want you to spend several days (during you non-working hours) looking for problems wherever you go, and trying to come up with solutions. This t ype of experience, on a continual basis, will train you to be creative to a much greater extent, and will enhance your creative skills through experience.
I can't act, but if I took acting lessons and practiced acting, I'm sure I could improve.
I believe creativity is similar. Practice being creative, and you will become more creative. At some point along the way (such as with trying to come up with new business ideas) try to direct your creativity to markets where you have a chance of obtaini ng compensation for your creativity.
This is a tough part to write, because some of the information I need is not available. For example, I would like to know whether a person with an 80 I.Q. is able to discern degrees of intelligence substantially higher than his/her own. This leads into the issue of whether (aside from I.Q. tests) it takes an intelligent person to recognize intelligence in someone else, and to what extent.
If you don't know what a person is talking about, what makes you believe that what the person is saying is correct (and therefore that such person is "intelligent"). It is possible that the person is not intelligent at all and is "crazy" to be making a l ot of high-sounding but inaccurate statements.
Nevertheless, with these and other pitfalls in mind, I find that intelligence can be determined inductively by:
1. The Eyes of the Person. A bright person often has a bright appearance in the eyes, as if the eyes were a mirror to the mind, which they may well be to some extent;
2. The Extent of a Person's Memory. ˙The more a person can remember the more intelligent such person would tend to be (setting aside the idiot savant problem, where a person has a prodigious memory but can't put it together).
3. Synthesis - the Ability to Put Things Together. This skill appears to be the sine qua non for intelligence as well as creativity.
4. Immersed in Subject. The creative person is often immersed in a subject which enables him/her to explore many of the intricacies, which permit the wandering mind to come to a better solution by taking more aspects to the problem into account.
5. Grasping a Point before It Is Made. The ability to jump ahead and predict what another person is getting set to say, especially if the persons do not know each other (this puts aside as a different phenomenon the relationship between close frie nds, family, married couples where two close persons can "read" each other's thoughts to some extent.
6. Inventiveness. The ability to invent things, which means that the holder of numerous patents (assuming the holder is also the inventor) would have a good chance of being intelligent. I was the attorney for a person who now holds more patents th an any other living United States citizen. My observations of him are reflected in part in this section.
7. The Ability to Detect Differences. Once, I took the deposition of the person in charge of toy design and development for a major toy company. He testified that he could look at any new toy and see what if anything was new and materials from t he thousands of toys which he has seen in his career. Lawyers thrive on creating differences, often when none in fact exist. Recognizing differences is a sign of intelligence, and leads into the next item, which is categorization.
8. The Ability to Categorize. ˙This trait is usually related to vocabulary, and enables a person who spots a difference to put such difference into a category which enables the person to file the difference in his or her mind, to enable the person to recall the difference more easily when necessary.
9. Vocabulary. A person who has a good vocabulary is more apt to be intelligent (or more intelligent) than a person with a limited vocabulary. Granted, there is often a social bias to vocabulary, and if so, then there is a social bias to creativit y and intelligence. But be this as it may, a person with a good vocabulary has the ability to put a name to a category which he/she perceives, and to juggle around complicate concepts by the manipulation of ideas expressed by words or phrases, rather tha n by more complicated non-verbal reasoning. It is no accident that judges have the largest vocabulary of all occupations in the United States, followed behind them by lawyers who are not judges. I find that my vocabulary, which is extensive (as is the v ocabulary of most lawyers) enables me to understanding more of what I experience, because the vocabulary enables me to categorize things which I perceive and put them into a socially or economically useful context more readily. Researchers have determine d that childhood memories are forgotten if the child did not develop the vocabulary to categorize (and recall) the memories.
If you want to build your vocabulary, which is obviously one of the best things to do, whether you intended to be creative or not, you could do what I did, which is read the entire New York Times each day (Monday through Saturday), and underline in red ea ch word you don't understand, and then look up each word. You'll develop a vocabulary at a very fast rate, and find that within perhaps two months you will stop looking up all but a few words.
10. Spelling. A creative person often has the ability to spell correctly. Someone who isn't able to spell to well may have a dysfunction, or may not have had a good education, or in some cases would not benefit from a good education to make much of a difference with his/her spelling. I assume that for most persons who do not spell too well, the problem is one of education and application, and that the deficiency can be corrected by attention to the problem. Thus, for persons who want to be creati ve, any perceived deficiency in spelling or any of the other areas for detecting intelligence should be worked on, to improve one-self by developing the skills which are used in and are a probable sign of creativity and intelligence. One way to work on s pelling would be to use a word processing program such as Word or WordPerfect to write a story (which would be developing other creative skills), and then use the spelling-check feature to point out and correct your spelling mistakes. You no longer need a teacher to do this for you.
11. Non-Verbal Reasoning. Various tests exist which test people for their non-verbal skills, which tests results can be used to indicate intelligence and to a lesser extent creativity.
12. Crossword Puzzle Expertise. It seems to me that the creative process is brought out in the successful completion of crossword puzzles (at least the difficult ones). The skill is one of running through your mind to try to come up with words wh ich fit the given "concept" or definition, within the parameters provided by the puzzle, such as a 5-letter word the middle letter of which is "j". I'm not sure how an idiot savant would make out with crossword puzzles. He/she would have a dictionary at his/her disposal, but may not be able to sift through the words the way a computer could do to sort out the words which meet the requirement of the puzzle.
13. Anagrams and Unscrambling Words. These are words which are scrambled and which must be unscrambled to be solved. The person who succeeds in unscrambling the letters goes through a process similar to the person who does crossword puzzles. There are shortcuts, I am sure, which persons take when they leap to a conclusion faster than others. My 10-year old son is able to unscramble the letters in the movie theater faster than I can, which sometimes ticks me off when he shouts out the results, sin ce it bring to an end and ruins my own creative processes.
14. Plays Chess Well. A chess player, or at least a good one, uses creativity and intelligence to be able to look ahead and plot the moves and alternative modes needed to counter the moves of the opponent. This takes a great degree of creativity, I believe.
15. Quick-Witted Responses. Another sign of creativity is an ability to respond quickly in situations with witty or other appropriate statements. Thus, the way in which a person talks with you is indicative, to me at least, of the other person's c reativity. Various researchers have pointed out that comics tend to be very creative, or presumably get nowhere and leave the business. Thus, there may be a certain amount of selectivity which accounts for the conclusion that comics tend to be more crea tive than others. Maybe its only the more successful comics.
16. Ability to Recite Long Passages. A person who can remember numerous lengthy passages of prose or poetry exhibits a quality which is often found in creative persons.
17. Generalized Sensitivity to Problems. A person who is sensitive to the feelings of others is sensitive to the problems of people, and this sensitivity extends to other types of problems as well, creating the environment for the person to come u p with solutions to the problems to which he/she is sensitive.
18. Idea Fluency. The ability to generate ideas upon demand within a set period of time. This ability indicates that a person is creative.
19. Flexibility. A person who is flexible is able to adapt to changing situations, which is a skill the creative person uses to find a solution when running over a series of ideas to solve a problem and abandoning all but the solution.
20. Motivation. A person who is motivated to create is more apt to create than less motivated persons because the motivation forces the person to examine and discard more ideas until coming up with the creative answer.
There are many more factors which can be argued are indicative of creativity. It would seem that a person who work to develop or improve the traits which creative people enjoy would make themselves more creative. It should be noted that not everyone agr ees.
One researcher sent a questionnaire to inventors who recently had been awarded patents, asking them what traits they had which contributed to their inventiveness (i.e., creativity). The responses were, in descending order of importance, (i) perseverance, (ii) imagination, (iii) knowledge and memory, (iv) business ability, (v) originality, (vi) common sense, (vii) analytic ability, and (viii) self confidence. Perseverance received more than twice as many responses as imagination.
I believe you can be creative by developing the skills which I list in the preceding section, by practicing problem identification and problem solution, and by trying to do other types of creative things such as by outline and writing stories, developing new business ideas on paper, even though you don't intend to start up a business, associating with creative persons and not feeling awkward that you are attempting to become creative.
In other words, you can become creative or more creative by doing what creative people do, and more importantly by trying to market your creativity which gives you some feedback as to how creative you actually are. The marketplace for ideas is what helps reward persons for their creativity and warns them that perhaps their creativity is not commercial or, worse, not creative in the eyes of many others.
I wouldn't worry to much at the outset as to whether your ideas are accepted by others. In fact, I would worry if you find that your ideas have near-universal acceptance. This would signal to me that you are not creative at all and are catering to the l owest common denominator.
Persons who are in the same field in which you are trying to be creative can often help you in deciding whether you are creative, or sufficiently creative for purposes of the field. Of course, some people will say anything to avoid hurting your feelings, and others may deter you to try to enforce an agenda of their own, such a a friend of yours who feels that he/she may lost you as a friend if you become successful through your efforts at becoming creative. The marketplace is one way to test creativity. But it is not the best. My feeling is that creativity should go beyond the existing marketplace, and that the marketplace must catch up to the creativity which persons use to produce the new products and se rvices which have made this country great.
Test your creativity by doing creative things, and then try to market the results of your creativity. But bear in mind that nobody has ever said that you will be rewarded for fantastic creativity. The marketplace is a discipline in which certain types o f "creativity" are rewarded, such as making sure you don't rock the boat, stealing ideas which have been developed by others and getting away with it, and helping the rich and powerful control the economy in spite of the efforts by others to improve thing s.
If I were you, I would try to figure out a creative area which I could concentrate my efforts once I was ready to put my newly-developing creativity to work for my profit. Thus, if my desire is to write novels or short stories or magazine articles, I wou ld go to the bookstore and library to find books on these subjects, read them, and start developing ideas for sale to the publishers. Finding a good subject to write on is often finding a problem and proposing a unique solution (at least what you think i s unique, bearing in mind that perhaps one million other persons may already have thought of the same idea, but did nothing to write about it).
To create the proper atmosphere for your creativity, try to get away from influences which would disturb your concentration (and fun, I might add). Creativity requires concentration with as little interruption as possible. Try to focus on a subject by thinking about it as much as you can, and by learning as much as you can through books, magazine articles, databases, and even discussions with persons in the field. This immersion gives you the fund of information you will n eed to draw upon when you create solutions to problems that you have creatively ascertained.
Also, try to associate with other creative types, even though they are not necessarily in the same area of creativity.
Now that we have looked at creativity, what can you do to profit from your creativity. The technique for doing this, I believe, should be by setting goals of 3 distinct types. These goals are important because they permit you to set up your own private regulations of your life which you can try to follow, which are designed to move you along the pre-determined path. Setting goals determines the route you choose to take, and it also identifies the roads you do not choose to take. It is up to you to pur sue your goals, but first you have to set them.
Long terms goals are both easy and difficult to articulate. The long-term goal can be something like becoming a millionaire, or becoming a major-league baseball player, a commercial airline pilot or engineer, or become a university professor of political history or economics; or having a loving spouse, a home in the country, and three children who manage to grow up without violence, drugs or AIDS.
Persons spend many years trying to decide what they want as their long-range goal, and often change their goal, sometimes after it is reached, but more often before the goal is reached.
You should make that determination of what your goal is, otherwise it is difficult to go on to setting the intermediate and day-to-day goals.
If your long-range goal (or one of them), for example, is to become a successful businessperson and be worth at least $1,000,000, you have to decide on what major events will take you to your goal. These major events or stops along the way should be unde rstood by you, otherwise you won't know how to plan your day-to-day goals.
To accomplish your long-term goal set forth in bold type above, you would probably want to do some or all of the following things, which would constitute your intermediate goals:
1. Graduate from college with a good liberal arts background or a bachelor's degree in accounting or business;
2. Take a master's degree in business at Harvard Business School or one of the many other fine business schools throughout the United States;
3.˙Work for a business in the area in which I am interested to get experience at the expense of someone else which I can use in my own business later on;
4. Set aside money (i.e., capital) with which to establish my own business, or raise this money from persons who seek to invest in new companies (called venture capitalists);
5. Base my business on some unmet significant need which needs to be fulfilled or acquire an existing business which can be improved by me and made more valuable;
6. Sell the business, and start up one or more other businesses; and, finally,
7. Retire with financial independence.
The real effort, however, is the daily routine of planning your next day with your daily goals. I spend an hour per day making these plans, and often putting them into my computer for ready access throughout the next day. Part of my planning for the nex t day is to list what I must do according to my calendar (which contains existing obligations of things I must do on or before specific dates. Then, I add the things which I can do (often smaller matters) to get such things out of my hair and not have to inventory them and take them into account ever again. To this growing list I add the things which I would like to do to accomplish one or more of my intermediate goals, but only the most important of such things. I don't list everything. Just the item s which I feel are most important to put on the list at this time.
After that, I add whatever other items come to my attention, which should be done right away. These matters may be added by reason of telephone messages, correspondence, review of files, discussions, and various other ways in which "to do" items find the ir way onto a typical "to do" list.
After the items are listed (often in my computer, and specifically in a database or word processing program), I then decide in which order I am going to do these items. If someone has help with a secretary, messenger, assistant, or other employee, the or dering of the events is a little bit more complicated.
In any event, I am now talking about the necessity of placing a priority on each of the items in your "to do" list, so that when you start off in the morning you will know exactly what item to begin on. The problem, as millions of people know, is that th ere are things which happen along the way which deter you from doing the items on the list in the order in which you planned to do them. For example, you may get a call from home that your garage is on fire, which immediately may change your listed prior ities. You should fee free to re-evaluate your priorities and adjust them as necessary or desirable at any time, so that your list is current, and you do the things which are most important for you to do at the time that you are doing such things.
The computer makes it easier to prioritize a to-do list because through indexing the item with the lowest number (say "1") will appear at the top of the list, and the item with the highest number (for example, "39") will appear at the bottom of the list a nd be lowest in priority. You should learn how to use a computer and apply the technology to management of your to do list.
When you are organized in this way, you will always know what you should be doing at any moment, which will help you get things done. The key is for you to know what items to put on the list.
I recommend that people have on their daily list things which don't have to be done, which things are to advance your intermediate goals. The reason for this is that if you don't do this, you will find that your list will only contain the humdrum day-to- day items which will never get you anywhere. You must make room in your busy day for doing something for yourself, over and above the work to which you are already committed. This is the way in which many "busy" persons are always able to get things don e. They can't get everything done, but they can always add one more selected item to their to do list. I do it all the time, including the writing of this pamphlet, and the trips to the library and bookstores to find some relevant information.
Everyone can tell you stories about they alawmallost did something and would have achieved greatness had they only followed through with the opportunity presented to them. My father had a chance to invest in the first credit card company, as well as the first paperback book company. Alas, he did neither. I had a chance to invest in oil when crude oil was only slightly more valuable than water. An analyst friend of mine kept pushing oil to me as an investment opportunity back in the mid 1970's, and I n ever did anything about it. I don't want to calculate how much money I might have made if I had followed his repeated urgings to me. I cannot blame my friend for trying.
What I want you to do is to act now, and not wait for some appropriate time for making New-Year's resolutions. Make it a point to start now, as if today is the first day of your life, and start working on your creativity today, assuming you need or want to do this.
Many people are sufficiently creative that this pamphlet will not be of much help to them. Perhaps some points can be leaned, but nothing earth shattering for them. But others, perhaps including you, may feel the need to become more creative, and want t o do something to improve yourself starting right away.
Why don't you decide on an intermediate goal and go for it? For example, if you want to start a business, why not start thinking about the type of business you would like to start, and take the steps necessary to get started. If I were going to open another business, I would do the following things (as well as many other things too numerous to mention):
1. Think about the kind of business I would like to be in, and what prospects I would have if I started such a business. I would want to take my interests, family, savings, education, training, experience and other factors into account.
2. I would like the business to be novel or different. The reason for this is that I would like my business to fill an existing need, and this may require a new type of business to be founded. The need exists because existing businesses somehow are not filling the need. I would like to identify an important need and found a business to fulfill such need. The uniqueness of the business makes the business less competitive, and gives you the opportunity of offering goods and services in a market which is not too competitive. In other words, by having a unique product or service, you can offer your goods and services at higher markups than would otherwise be possible in a competitive marketplace. Higher markups attract capital, which you would need for expansion.
3. Take a spiral notebook or legal pad and jot down your ideas for development of the business. You might want to specifically consider:
What I am saying is that the way to get started is to start. One of my best friends is the best I have ever seen in this aspect of business. He doesn't sit around and wait for the right time to start something. He said to me, ok, let's catch a plane to Washington, D.C. and see if we can sell it (the paralegal field). The next day we were in Washington, D.C. knocking on doors in an effort to see if the paralegal field could be sold in Washington, D.C. (several years before the field became popular in N ew York City). We failed, I might add, but not because we didn't try.
You should note that most things do not work out, but the experiences you have in learning what doesn't work out will stay with you a long time, perhaps forever, and make you a better businessperson for having gone through them.
A question which you might be interested in is whether you can be creative as an employee, working for someone else. In many cases you'll find that you can't, but don't let that detract you. You don't have to be creative in everything you do. In fact, you might not want to be creative during the day time for your employer because you want to save up your creativity for yourself in the evening and during weekends.
But if you do want to be creative while working for someone else, you may have to learn to control your creativity. Most businesspersons, such as myself, have more than enough creativity to go around in the small business, and are not looking for anyone to come up with ideas for me to execute. I have too many ideas of my own and I don't want to be distracted by a cons tant infusion of ideas from my employee when I'm in no position to do anything about these ideas.
I am the general in my small business and I need some privates to do the work, not any additional generals to plan strategy.
Businesses larger than mine may have some room for your creativity, and you should explore with your employer the extent to which your employer can use your creativity. Of course, if you are working for a comic-book publisher, you are being hired (say, t o create comic books) for your creativity. But an editor in a book publishing company is not being hired to write books, and his/her efforts to write books may be in conflict with the interests of the publisher and the authors represented by the publishe r.
A few years ago I was asked to address the graduating class of intellectual property students at a local law school. My lecture came as a surprise to them. I advocated that they become cab drivers or open up a laundromat. My reasoning to them was that having either of these 2 sources of income would give them the freedom to take cases which were high quality, and not just cases to pay the rent. An additional advantage was that by earning money in the non-creative area of driving a cab or operating a l aundromat business, the young graduate would not burn out, and could focus his/her creativity on the few good cases.
The way that I am suggesting you can put your creativity to work is to try to find a way to market the creative activities that you perform. Thus, if your creativity is in the writing of music, you should try to use your creative (problem-solving) skills in figuring out a way to sell your creativity. If you write children's musicals, you might want to rent space in a restaurant and put on your show in a "dinner theater" setting. If you are a comedian, you might want to acquire or start up a comedy club . If you paint paintings, you might want to learn about mail order and try to sell your paintings by mail, computer, or the Home Shopping Network, for example.
The main thing I am trying to say to you is that creativity itself does not normally make any money. You not only have to be creative in the substantive area of your interests (such as in poetry, music, screenplays, songwriting, acting, directing, comedy , investment banking, insurance, law, medicine, piloting aircraft, software design) but you have to figure out a way to obtain income for your services. This is very tough for many creative persons because of the vast number of persons who want to be act ors (for example) and the highly limited number of persons who are producers. If you can become a producer, then you can guarantee that you can perform creatively as an actor.
This is what I mean when I say that you must be creative in your creative field, but also in the way in which you market your creativity. It is easy to be creative, but it is difficult to get people to part with their money for your creativity. You have to figure out a way to do this.
Creativity is important in obtaining money because of competition. If you are doing or offering the same thing as many others, there is far less reason for a customer to buy from you. The way you change the odds is to be different, and create some type of monopoly or monopolistic competition for yourself, which gives you an exclusive or near exclusive in the marketplace.
Creativity is what permits you to do something which is different. It allows your to conceive a new product or service which has not real competition, and creativity permits you to find a marketing angle which can bring your product or service to the att ention of the purchasing public in a way that is novel or unusual and, therefore, subject to less competition.
If your product is sitting on the shelf of a variety store with 10 similar (competing) items, your percentage of the market will be less, and your price will be lower to capture some of such market. But if your product is unique (such as a device which p revents ice cream cones from melting in a hot day), if persons want to buy such a product, there is only one available to them, which is yours.
Better yet, if you can be creative in the marketing of a red metal bar which inhibits car theft, you can achieve a high percentage of market share even though the product is virtually the same as competing metal bars designed for the same purpose. What t he person has done, creatively, is get the public to perceive that there is a difference when in fact there may be no significant difference. Thus, creativity can directly lead into sales and income for yourself, even if the product or service itself is not of the highest creative order
The way to develop your skills in the marketing of your creativity is to think about the ways in which creative persons of various types could market their creative output. Be observant on how some creative persons are selling their output. Collectives of craftspersons is one way. Painters sometime live communally and sell their output to a marketing organization. Doctors gather together in practices, to share office and advertising expenses. Hotels or motels get together under a common name and mark et this name national. Movie producers may try to market video cassettes when they can't obtain theatrical distribution of their filawmall.
Identify various types of creative persons and envision how they handle the offering and sale of their creative services or output. In other words, identify problems and try to create solutions. After a while, these solutions will become sort of a check list for you to apply to other problems which you come across, giving you a quick response to a problem, alawmallost before the problem is completely articulated to you.
The creative process is part of a continuum, running from little or no creativity to an enormous amount of creativity. The more creativity that's involved, the more potential your activities may have in the marketplace, if you have a way to sell them, wh ich is what you must work on. Don't be creative without taking care of the marketing end, because you will often wind up with nothing as a result, but a lot of unsold creativity.
Lightning does strike creative persons from time to time, but more often than not there is more than luck to the success of a creative person. You don't know what happened and may believe that the creative person lucked out. I see it instead the some cr eativity in marketing took place, perhaps by a person who is creative in marketing but not in the substantive field involved (such as painting or movies).
If you have any questions about creativity or marketing, give me a call. I won't charge for the initial consultation, and maybe I won't be able to help. But I do want to help creative persons, and you might try calling me to talk over some creative prob lems you have, or think you have. Meanwhile, I hope that this pamphlet on creativity has been of help to you.
Carl E. Person
325 W. 45th Street - Suite 201
New York NY 10036-3803
Tel: (212) 307-4444
Fax: (212) 307-0247
Copyright © 1994 by Carl E. Person (extended copyright notice set forth above)