Sunday, March 16, 2008

Suite 101 Book Review and Tulsa World Article

I wanted to share an excellent review of my book, Make the Right Choice. I am thrilled with the article because it is one of the most complete reviews that I have received. The reviewer really captured the book's combination of fun and key messages.

Enjoy the review:

Also, here is a very good article about my presentations from the Tulsa World:

Finally, be sure to set your DVRs to Fox and Friends Weekend this Saturday, March 22. The Fox and Friends team will interview me about my book and "recession proofing" your job. I know. I can't wait to hear what I am going to say, too. The interview should be between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. (Eastern).

Have a great week.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Creativity for the Individual

I had big intentions of blogging about the Oscars. Then I got sick. I had even bigger intentions to blog about American Idol. Still sick.

So, this week I am posting a revamped creativity article. A friend who runs an excellent blog for photographers ( asked for an article that focused more on the individual rather than creativity in a team environment.

So, for all the freelancers, artists, writers, photographers, telecommuters, and anyone else who doesn't work in a team environment, here are eleven ideas to enhance the creative process.

And if you want to see the article on the photography blog, please visit

Eleven Ideas to Enhance the Creative Process

It is time to think about reenergizing our creative process. We know how our minds create. All creative minds, such as photographers, artists, and writers, know what works best to inspire their creativity. What happens when we start bad habits? If we are in a rut, can we jump start our creativity?

I think we can all find new ways to energize the creative process. Creativity needs positive energy for fuel. If we make a few slight changes, improve our creativity habits, and just have more fun, our creative energies will increase. Here are a few tips that hopefully will inspire the next great idea.

1. Relax, and create ideas each day. Sometimes we are so focused on the current project or our business, we forget to step back and think. We rush. We move from one project to the next. We start to do things the same way because it is easier. Take five minutes each day by yourself and think. Don't think about anything in particular. Just think. Take a walk around the block. Go sit on a bench. Leave your cell phone and Blackberry on your desk. Now, just think. Stare at a tree. Don’t think about anything in particular. Your mind knows what you need. Each time you do this you will have an idea. Sometimes it will be a little idea. Sometimes it will be a big idea.

2. Expand your possibility box. If the box is bigger, there will be more possibilities. When people want to create ideas, the first instinct is to shrink the possibility box. If you shrink the box, there will be nothing there. Try to expand the possibilities. Remember: try not to create rules where rules do not exist. I will give you an example: take five minutes and write down every animal that starts with the letter “T”. Okay, how many animals do you have? If your list does not include made up animals (such as the tutu, teegee, or tylops) or animals with adjectives (terrible lion, terrific owl, tasty fish), then you did not expand the possibility box. You created rules for the game (no made up animals, no adjectives in front of animals). If you expanded your possibility box, you would have included adjectives, made up animals, and mythical animals.

3. Notate everything. Yes, it is a pain to write every idea down. If you don’t, you will forget. We always forget. Take notes or use and audio recorder. Send yourself e-mails. No idea is too small to notate.

4. Change your location. Creativity wants variety. Take a walk to another floor in the building, go outside and sit on a bench or stand around the parking lot. Go to a nearby museum, store, mall, coffee shop or park to think. Use your surroundings to inspire and motivate you to create. Get out of your normal surroundings and experience something new.

5. Create fast brainstorming sessions. Do not linger. Use quick energy bursts. Give yourself 15 minutes and create as many ideas as possible. And then stop. You can even run in and out of the room to create a sense of urgency. The shorter time will force you to focus on the task and create more energy. Also, the shorter session will force you to make better choices in the creative process. There is no time to judge, analyze, or second guess. There is only enough time to create ideas. Do this several times a day. Use that positive energy to focus and produce ideas.

6. Stop creating rules where rules do not exist. If someone says, “This is the way we have always done it,” run away in horror. You are not safe. He or she is a creative zombie and may infect you.
7. Eliminate some of your fears (the fear of failure, the fear of making a mistake, the fear of looking foolish) and your creative energy will increase. Nobody is keeping score. Every great idea in the history of the world was foolish or stupid. How many people walked by Orville and Wilbur Wright’s workshop to tell them they were fools?

8. Find new ways of doing something. There is always more than one path and way. Don't be so quick to judge.

9. Stop trying to analyze and create at the same time. It is impossible. Our first instinct is to create an idea and then analyze it to death. As soon as you start analyzing, you have stopped the creative process. You are figuring out if one idea can work (do we have the budget, the time, etc.) and have stopped creating ideas. Our minds cannot do both at the same time. Separate the two activities. Focus on the creative process and building on ideas. When you have finished creating, then you can start analyzing. Creativity wants momentum and energy.

10. Don’t worry about who gets the credit. One of the biggest obstacles to the creative process is ego. Even as an independent photographer, you still have to work with others to create a finished product. Successful teams understand it takes many people, groups, and organizations for an idea to become a reality. Spend more time figuring out how to make the idea work rather than who gets the credit.

11. When you do work with a team (art director, client, advertiser, etc.) build on each other’s ideas. The most successful creativity sessions are when everyone is participating, contributing thoughts and building on ideas. Be open to each other’s ideas. When everyone has ownership and responsibility for an idea, the energy will fuel success.

Hopefully, these tips will inspire you to create. Don’t be afraid to try something different in the creative process. Find what works best for you. Most importantly, have fun creating ideas. Even when we are trying to create very serious ideas for very serious business clients, creativity still wants energy. Fun will invigorate the creative process. No matter what, don’t let the creative zombies zap your energy.

Joel Zeff ( is a national workplace expert, speaker and humorist. His spontaneous humor and vital messages have thrilled audiences for years. Corporations and organizations nationwide seek him out to motivate and energize their employees on such topics as work/life balance, passion at work, creativity, communication, teamwork, and leadership. His first book, “Make the Right Choice: Creating a Positive, Innovative and Productive Work Life” was just published by John Wiley & Sons. For more information on his book, please visit

Joel Zeff and Joel Zeff Creative retain the ownership and rights to this article. If you would like to reprint, publish, post or use this article, please contact the author to obtain written consent. Otherwise, we would be very unhappy.