Creativity and Modern Times

A couple days ago, I was doing some work on my laptop at a little cafe in Boulder.  Taking a sip from my Cafe Americano, I looked up to realize I was surrounded by people who seemed completely hypnotized by the light of their computers.  Then a group of high school students came through the line, texting and talking away.  With a quick swipe of a credit card the baristas had them out the door and on their way.  I couldn't help thinking, "My, how things have changed!"

These modern developments have, no doubt, allowed us to be more efficient in many ways.  Still, I have to wonder, what have these times done to the quality of our creative output? How will these modern attitudes affect our traditional  business practices and relationships within the community?

Looking back on old-world philosophies and values, I feel a great sense of Italian pride.  The original master pizza chefs knew how to do it right.  They never sacrificed quality for quantity and they took their time crafting beautiful pies from the freshest ingredients.  How do we take the lessons of these great artisans and translate them into working business concepts in this day and age?  Well, perhaps it's a lot like crafting the perfect pizza: strike a harmonious balance between classic ingredients and forward thinking fusions.  Drawing on some important lessons from artists and successful businesses, past and present, I began thinking about creativity, investments, and customer service.  It's not one ingredient alone, but the way these concepts are combined that will move us forward in business and life.  Let me elaborate:

One day, a couple partners sat at a table kicking around ideas for the name of their new business.  They decided on "Google."  Google?  That's not even a word (well, maybe it's a number). Guess what? It doesn't matter.  There are no more rules or limits when it comes to creativity whether it’s in business, art, or food.  Put pineapple on a pizza? You bet! Never before has creativity been celebrated from such an open-minded perspective.  The Berlin wall of creative boundaries has fallen.  Everything is fair game, no matter how unconventional your creative expression or your business concept may seem. 

Still, keep in mind where you spend your ideas; time and money are called investments for a reason.  Seeing your artistic vision or business concept manifest into something tangible will require investments of all kinds including energetic, emotional, and financial.  Technology tempts us to think that, since we can find anything online almost instantly, we should also see an immediate return on our investments.  Not so.  Many years ago, before social networks and high-speed Internet, Dale Carnegie told a young Napoleon Hill to spend his life interviewing 500 of the wealthiest, most powerful people alive and turn it into a book.  Hill invested his time and energy in this project for 20 years before he saw any return.  When he finally finished, his investment reaped rewards beyond his wildest imagination as he became one of the popular motivational leaders of the 20th Century.  Do what Hill did.  Let the seeds you're planting grow and mature before you expect them to produce fruit. 

Customer service has always been an extremely important aspect of business.  In today's world, it's important to adopt a customer service model that is bigger than your business.  Nordstrom's is an example of a business that thinks outside the customer service box.  One day, a "customer" walked in to Nordstrom's to return a tire.  The clerk was a bit confused because Nordstrom's doesn't carry tires.  Still, she took the tire, refunded some money and the customer left satisfied.  When it comes down to it, customer service isn't just about keeping your customers happy; it's about making your potential customers happy.  By going above and beyond, Nordstrom's has built a reputation as the best provider of customer service in the industry.  This service model inspired young businesses to do everything in their power to take on customer service models that will evolve and grow with their business.  What would you do in the name of customer service?  Would you take the Domino's Pizza box out of the hands of your potential customer and replace it with your best handmade pizzas, for free?  If so, you just gained a lifetime customer. 

In short, creative freedom and success in life comes from carefully combining traditional principles with today's freshest ideas in a modern mix of classic creations.  Business owners, chefs, and artists must now have the courage to conceive of wild ideas and invest in them whole-heartedly, with plenty of patience. Look how long we had to wait until someone came up with the idea of cracking an egg on a pizza!



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