Tuesday, December 22, 2015

#IndieCreative Entrepreneur Dana Parker of Butterfly Technique

#IndieCreative entrepreneur Dana Parker was able to recover from a crippling condition where she could barely get out of bed to dance tango again. Now she's on a mission to help others reconnect with their bodies and other dancers.
via John Chang's Sound Cloud

via Creative Entrepreneur Blog
Creative Entrepreneur

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#IndieCreative Entrepreneur Dana Parker of Butterfly Technique

#IndieCreative entrepreneur Dana Parker was able to recover from a crippling condition where she could barely get out of bed to dance tango again. Now she's on a mission to help others reconnect with their bodies and other dancers.
via John Chang's Sound Cloud

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Creative Entrepreneur – Kyle Macdonald of One Red Paper Clip

How creative entrepreneur Kyle MacDonald followed his curiosity on journey that started with one red paper clip until he ultimately got his dream house. For more of his story - http://bit.ly/red-paper-clip-notes
via John Chang's Sound Cloud

via Creative Entrepreneur Blog
Creative Entrepreneur

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Creative Entrepreneur - Kyle Macdonald of One Red Paper Clip

How creative entrepreneur Kyle MacDonald followed his curiosity on journey that started with one red paper clip until he ultimately got his dream house. For more of his story - http://bit.ly/red-paper-clip-notes
via John Chang's Sound Cloud

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Creative Entrepreneurs Journey - Pixie Monroe

Pixie Monroe of Monroe Casting shares the story of her passion for working with some of the best talent in the entertainment industry as well as veterans in film and television. We learn how she found her mentors that inspired her to cast all kinds of talent - even fainting goats! For show notes - http://ift.tt/1Qff6MW
via John Chang's Sound Cloud

Monday, October 5, 2015

From our Instagram!

"Hi, my name is John.. and I'm a creative entrepreneur.." Read the rest of my confession at the link in my bio. Photo: Ryan McGuire of Gratisograhy

via@jycmba Instagram

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Confessions of a Creative Entrepreneur

Warning! This post is going to be a little different.

I hope by now you don't get the mistake idea that I have all the answers.

While I'm doing the best to share what I've been learning about creativity and its relation to being an entrepreneur, I'll admit that I still struggle myself with not only learning these lessons but more importantly living them.

Over the years I've helped entrepreneurs and wannabe's with everything from simply getting started to taking their first baby steps to building teams and social media and even ultimately to selling their businesses.

The only rule is that there really are no rules - or let's put it another way. What works in one set of conditions won't necessarily work - even when everything seems the same.

As much as I believe in always doing what we can to learn from "failures," sometimes you just salvage what you can out of a situation and walk away with that box of stuff.

More recently, I've been experimenting with writing / blogging and posting on social media while testing online chats like Hangouts on Air and more recently Meerkat, Periscope and now Blab.im -

Why am I doing this? With the limited success of past launches I'm working to build a deeper relation with my audience - my 1000 True Fans.

Meanwhile, on the more "creative" side of the spectrum I'm working on some fiction and interactive media including a Twine game.

It's not easy to do these things while doing freelance work and earning whatever income I can to keep food on the table. Nope, sorry - no rich spinster playing sugar momma to this creative.

Recently, I've been listening to Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic where she shares how she did what she could to keep writing.

"I wrote my first book while I was a diner waitress. I wrote my second book while I was a diner waitress and a bartender. I wrote my third book while I was a bartender who also worked in a bookstore and who also worked as a journalist. When EAT PRAY LOVE (my fourth book) came out, I was still working at a flea market on weekends. If it wasn't for the bananas success of EAT PRAY LOVE, I would still be doing other jobs."

Gilbert implores us not to depend on our art to pay the bills - until it does.

In other words, as she puts it - “To yell at your creativity saying ‘You must earn money for me!’ is sort of like yelling at a cat; it has no idea what you’re talking about all you’re doing is scaring it away, because you’re making really loud noises and your face looks weird when you do that.”

So, while I'm saying that creative entrepreneurs need to play it safe - in fact, I've been thinking about the advice that Jim Carrey gave at that commencement speech. Like the best poker players make sure the odds are your in favor, but don't play with your rent money!

The post Confessions of a Creative Entrepreneur appeared first on Butterfly Formula.

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Top Graduation Speeches for Creative Entrepreneurs

Nothing like graduation.. and in the commencement speech the mayor of your city confuses the name of your engineering college for that tech school. You know the one that airs those cheesy commercials in the middle of the day..

Yeah, to this day I don't remember anything else the mayor said but I still remember the collective groan and wave of cringes that echoed in that auditorium.

I don't know about you but these are the commencement speeches that I wish I had heard before going out into that big wide world after college..

First up, of course, is the one and only Steve Jobs addressing the Stanford graduating class of 2005 who shares his journey as a creative entrepreneur and how "you can't connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking back.."

Next is author / artist Neil Gaiman who I recently learned about from his relation to Amanda Palmer and got highlighted on Brain Pickings -

Last but not least is comedian Jim Carrey who shares the tragedy of his own father's dream that got left behind in choosing the safer route -

So, what I find the most inspiring is the advice that no one really knows anything, and you need to do what you can to practice your art - your craft. Most of all you have to be willing to fight for that right because no one else will do it for you.

Which commencement speeches have you found to be most inspiring for creative entrepreneurs? What do you wish someone had told you as you graduated?

The post Top Graduation Speeches for Creative Entrepreneurs appeared first on Butterfly Formula.

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

From our Instagram!

What does it mean to be a entrepreneur? Link in my bio. (Photo: Pixabay - ejaugsburg)

via@jycmba Instagram

Creative Entrepreneurs – Follow Your Passion vs Show Me the Money

Following our passion or chasing the money seems to be the classic dilemma of life - especially for creative entrepreneurs.

Sure, we all know those who are not only passionate about their work but also incredibly successful. So even though this four minute mile has long been broken, we seem to believe that it’s reserved for the few and fortunate to achieve “the dream.”

Yet, when we look at 1000 True Fans by Kevin Kelly, he basically breaks down how success is very attainable to those of us without a Lady Gaga following.

My friend August gives some good advice on how to pay attention to your passions. She recommends taking time to meditate and to write down ideas.

I’m a big fan of both of these ideas. For a long time I resisted meditation - believing this to be too “passive” or just plain waste of time. In reality it is essential to creativity.

There’s been studies that one of the key reasons why we sleep is to “empty the cup.” Our brains literally need to dump their buffers filled with stuff that accumulates throughout day. According to this video and referenced study, it’s one or the other.. operating or flushing wastes..

On the other hand Mike Rowe shares why he says we shouldn’t follow our passions - he shares how his passion was to be a tradesman, but was told by his grandfather that life would be a lot more satisfying and productive if I got myself a different kind of toolbox.

That was a tough and bitter pill to swallow, but Rowe says, “I remember a very successful septic tank cleaner who told me his secret of success. ‘I looked around to see where everyone else was headed, and then I went the opposite way,’ he said. ‘Then I got good at my work. Then I found a way to love it. Then I got rich.’”

So, how can we “turn pro” as creative entrepreneurs?

While you’re building your bridge to creative life, invest in side projects. These will often be the building blocks to your future success. Felicia Day found that different skills like craft paid off when she needed to everything from graphics for her videos to promotional flyers.

Steve Jobs discovered that his passion for calligraphy helped Apple to find its niche with desktop publishers and graphic designers.

Surround yourself with creative entrepreneurs - especially those who are just a little ahead of you on the path you want to go down.

Whether it’s the new wave of film makers like George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola, or the Paris writers during the 1920s like Hemingway, you will find not only inspiration and encouragement but connections for funding or work.

Our school systems still teach the pass / fail mentality of the Industrial Age. Instead, choose to think in terms of only success and lessons. We’ve definitely talked about how fear is the death of creativity.

As Thomas A. Edison said, "I have not failed. I've just found 10000 ways that won't work."

Your creative business is a lot like tango. When I teach a class, I point out how students often get in their own way by being afraid to try a step. Being relaxed and open to possibilities allows your creativity to flow.

So where do you stand on this debate? How you feel about this decision?

The post Creative Entrepreneurs – Follow Your Passion vs Show Me the Money appeared first on Butterfly Formula.

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Friday, August 21, 2015

From our Instagram!

Local farmers markets are a great way to kick off Friday. Where do you find inspirations? I share some tips for exploration in my blog. Link in my bio.

via@jycmba Instagram

Thursday, August 20, 2015

What Does Gratitude Offer Creativity?

"Onegaishimasu." [for what we're about to receive] This Japanese expression always makes me think about AC/DC - "For Those About To Rock (We Salute You"." It's the way to invite your partner to practice with you in aikido.

We bowed respectfully to each other and began practicing the technique that Michael Gelb has just demonstrated.. although I was familiar with this waza (skill,) somehow I never saw it the same again.

Gelb had explained how the core movement was a helix & tied it to DNA - I'd learned later on that he's a management consultant specializing in helping executives think creatively..

At the time I was still working on my MBA, and ironically we ended up using his book How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci as a text book in our entrepreneur class.

Some folks may think of the whole Law of Attraction thing as a bit too "woo woo".. but if we take it on the general dynamics of this, it's the difference between being attractive vs repulsive..

Just ask any boy who grew up here in the states about the story of Tom Sawyer and he'll know how Tom enticed the neighborhood kids into painting the fence for him. Instead of chasing after others to help (being repulsive) he made them curious and ultimately the task irresistible to the others.

Seems a bit fanciful? Well, for years Cellspace weekly dances has been run on volunteer efforts.. while other tango events involved paid help, individuals came together and volunteered their time to teach classes, DJ, even set up and clean.

But what about our personal lives? How does being grateful invite in MORE - more fun, more joy, more creativity?

I've shared before how Julia Cameron's Artists Way is a chance to explore and to be curious. Hidden within the DNA of her method is gratitude..

  • Taking walks - appreciation and gratitude for nature
  • Morning pages - 3 daily meditations on what we're grateful
  • Artist's dates - enjoying what we have and again being grateful

Today I make it a daily routine to meditate. I've resisted this for a L-O-N-G time.. but finally I realized I needed to "empty the cup" - both mentally and spiritually. Only then do we have room to invite more of what we want - not only be affirming and visualizing, but with a sense of GRATITUDE.

Without gratitude we focus on the negative. We invite into our lives more of what we DON'T want that way.

Henry Ford said

whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right" Thoughts are energy.

Whatever we put our energy into we get more of.. That's just a basic law of the universe - energy is neither created nor destroyed. So, when we talk about what we put our energy into, this is what we mean.

For the longest time I've known this but didn't fully appreciate the meaning. Reading this core message of Napolean Hill's classic Think & Grow Rich (get your free copy), I didn't fully appreciate the depth of its meaning.

A wise friend reminded me how "you know, John, the problem is that it's too simple. People naturally want to complicate it." He passed away a few years ago, but this friend died a rich man in my book surrounded by a thriving family and those who will always remember his generous spirit of service.

The one thing that struck me about this creative entrepreneur was how grateful he was. From the first time that I bought him a cup of coffee at Starbucks (our default meeting place) to the birthday wishes, this friend always expressed a sincere gratitude for even the smallest gesture.

When Dave started out as an entrepreneur, he would camp along the beach with his son out of the delivery van used to deliver books to stores. Although his business was just starting out, Dave was always grateful for time spent with his family, and he said that was why he went into business.

Years later, even having grown from boot strapping into operating from a warehouse and serving clients around the world, Dave said that he still appreciated those humble beginnings.

So, I suppose that's my takeaway. We may aspire to be like the rockstars of the world or indie moguls of our industry, but to live the simple life of a humble man that valued a truly rich life with freedom and passion - that's my goal as a creative entrepreneur.

Here's to you, Dave. I'm grateful for the moments we were able to share together.

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

From our Instagram!

Love it, @thechefchrishill ! Inspired me to bring this back from the morgue files.. fun music video shoot with @ theblackeys ! La vida #loco ! #throwbackthursday

via@jycmba Instagram

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Curiosity Breeds Creativity

I was always a curious kid and asked all kinds of questions.. Things like.. Why can’t I get up on stage and start singing, too? Who’s that lady holding my hand? Where did my mom go now? When will I finally get to drive a real car? How come that farmer got mad at me for doing a dance on his hat?

Well, in time we learned that some questions are more “acceptable” than others. Slowly but surely society teaches us to color between the lines. Unfortunately, this not only shapes our curiosity but also limits our creativity and imagination.

We often talk about thinking outside the box, and I’ve discussed creativity inside the box. But what happens when we keep shrinking the box?

How Curiosity Inspires Creative Works

Producer Brian Grazer is known for a diverse body of work. His films have covered almost every genre, and he credits his creative success to curiosity. In fact, Grazer turned his curiosity into a series conversations with anyone that he was interested in learning more about. Not only did these inspire ideas and give insights, it allowed Grazer to grow his own curiosity muscle and gain insight into how creativity and curiosity are really twin siblings.

"Curiosity is the tool that sparks creativity.. questions create a mind-set of innovation & creativity,” says Grazer. “..curiosity allows possibility that the way we're doing it now isn’t the only way, or even the best way."

Indeed we get in our own way of seeing possibilities if we’re not willing to be curious and simply ask questions. It’s when we assume that we have all the answers or that there’s nothing to learn that we’re really hearing the death knell of creativity.

How Curiosity Turned Barren Land into the Happiest Place on Earth

Walt Disney was known for his insatiable curiosity. He often went incognito and toured the grounds. No matter what aspect of the business Disney wanted to learn more about it. This was “management by wondering around” long before this became popular with the business guru’s.

Imagineer Bob Gurr who designed many of the attractions said, "Walt had a unique way of drawing out your creativity and poking holes in your assumptions. He wouldn’t push you - he would pull you.. lead you through new ideas. He would get u to ask, "What if?"

When Disney was designing the EPCOT center, he surrounded himself with books on urban planning - even experts in many fields.. So many innovations came from his willingness to explore & experiment - Disney was one of the first to embrace sound in his films, then color - even combining live action w/ animation. His commitment to quality was amplified by his constant curiosity. Disney had no problem asking even a janitor or 19 yr old operating jungle cruise about how to plus the Disney experience - how to deliver always more than expected.

How Curiosity Finds New Opportunities

You must shed the habits of farmers - complacent, repetitive, protective - and adopt the instincts of hunters - insatiable, curious, willing to destroy, says Jeremy Gutsche in Better and Faster. Ironically, one hunter that Gutsche highlights is actually a farmer.

Ron Finley grew up in south central LA and became a player in urban fashion through his curiosity. In high school he argued his way into home economics by pointing out how most chefs were male. Eventually, he turned this willingness to question the status quo when he noticed that he lived in a “food desert.”

Finley decided to do something about it. He asked what if these 26 square miles of vacant lots were turned into urban gardens. Soon others joined him, but it wasn’t long before complaints came in. This didn’t deter Finley and his group, LA Green Grounds. Getting signatures for their petition, they eventually got the support of the city.

“Why wouldn’t they be happy,” joked Finley. “Growing your own food is like printing money.”

He goes on to say, “..just like graffiti artists, where they beautify walls - me, I beautify lawns, parkways.”

I’ve shared how curiosity is the most important skill in business. So how do we actually nurture curiosity so that it grows into creative energy?

First, be open to exploring. Instead of worrying whether something is going to be a waste of time, consider that there are only discoveries and lessons - rather than “successes” or “failures.” There is nothing more destructive to creativity or curiosity than fear. But like our muscles tackling big stretches can pull something if we push too much before we’re ready.

Create the space. Your environment to be curious requires time and opportunity. Set aside the time to wander. We feel deprived - bombarded by demands. Unless we see ourselves as worth it, no one else will.

Connect with like minds. Another key part of environment is finding your tribe - those people who not only inspire and support you but lift you up. Throughout history “movements” have started with groups of artists and entrepreneurs being “curious” together - the Impressionists, the Classic period of music, the writers of the 1920s.

So how has your curiosity nurtured your creativity? or for that matter how are you nurturing your curiosity?

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

How Storytelling Inspires Creativity

Rachel and I plopped down our picnic basket. It was late in the day but we finally made it. By now the sun was already disappearing in shimmering shafts between the leaves and branches of the surrounding redwoods.

Even though we had planned on coming to this storytelling festival, both of us got wrapped up in our own "to do" lists before finally driving out. It was only 20 or so minutes across the Bay Bridge of San Francisco, but that didn't matter. For years I didn't understand why crossing the bridge was such huge deal for city dwellers, but now I was one of them and finally "got it."

Storytelling - Shared Experience of Creativity

Still here we were - spreading out a blanket and diving into goodies picked up from Trader Joe's.. prosciutto, cheese, grapes and obligatory baguette (Acme, of course)

I didn't know what to expect. Part of me pictured a bunch of quirky characters dressed in medieval jester costumes making up some tall tales with Paul Bunyan flavors.

Instead, these were very average looking folks up on a makeshift stage of some kind throughout the recreational area. Once we paid for entry into the parking area, it was "all you can eat" listening - at least until the park closed or the mosquitoes sucked us dry, whichever came first.

No, there were no exaggerated stories - although several of the stories were hard to believe. Tales of travel misadventures or routine errands gone astray.. very "real" or "normal" things that we could identify with.

So, I started learning how often storytelling isn't about making stuff up - it's about connecting with your audience and taking them on a journey with you.

Power of Storytelling in Business

Business doesn’t exist without selling, and copywriting uses storytelling to sell. We identify with the hero in the ad because the savvy advertiser speaks our language and tells the story of our biggest challenge. It's hypnotic and captivating.

Once again we connect with the journey that the business has creatively taken us on. When the big reveal happens, we see that their product or service is just what we've been looking for.

The Mad Men era shows how much power storytelling has. It can used just as easily good, as less benevolent purposes.

Storytelling in Your Art

When I dance Argentine tango, others watching me have told me that it's like I'm telling a story through movement. Ironically, I don't really understand much Spanish - much less Argentine Spanish. But I feel the stories that the songs are telling through the music and emotions conveyed by the singers.

You "dance your life" - bringing both struggles and triumphs into your steps inspired by songs that tell of lost loves, romantic bliss or heartbreaking tragedy.

Even when I hosted events as a DJ at Cellspace, I would create an evening with a story created by the song groups called tandas. On nights when we hosted events with a story like "beach party tango," these would always draw the biggest crowds.

Storytelling in Relationships

Whether it's dating or friendship, getting to know someone really comes down to asking - "what's your story?" Even that typical business networking question, "what do you do?" is really a version of "what's your story?"

That gal working at Starbucks turns out to actually be the lead vocalist of a girl band that does covers of the Chrissy Hynes and the Pretenders - now that's a story we want to learn more about..

Of course, we don't always feel we have the time or attention in this harried world to listen to others' story. That's why the greatest gift we can share is giving someone your undivided attention and caring about their story.

Connecting the Dots with Storytelling

Since Biblical times storytellers have drawn us into experiences with tales. They grab our attention, and we don't want them to let go. ip us like a trance and stay with us because they're memorable. The real power is how they inspire curiosity, and we want to learn more.

If creativity is how we connect the dots, then storytelling is the picture created by these connections.

"..go where there is no path and leave a trail.." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sometimes it amazes me how many stories walk among us. It's said that there are "no new stories - only the same ones told again and again." Sure, "the hooker with a heart of gold" sounds so trite but skillful storytelling captures our imagination.

So what's your story? How does it inspire your own creativity?

For more on curiosity and storytelling visit my Linked post..

The post How Storytelling Inspires Creativity appeared first on Butterfly Formula.

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From our Instagram!

Guess what I discovered to be the most important skill in business? #entrepreneur #success Link in my bio for limited time.

via@jycmba Instagram

Thursday, July 23, 2015

From our Instagram!

Tonight Chef Chris Hill is back to talk about the upcoming launch of his new restaurant - we'll hear about his hopes and challenges. Link in my bio. #entrepreneur @thechefchrishill

via@jycmba Instagram

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

From our Instagram!

Everybody gets stuck from time to time.. but what do you do about it? I share my top 10 ways to get out of a funk - link in my bio. (Thanks to @mcguiremade for another cool photo - check him out!)

via@jycmba Instagram

Top 10 Ways to Get Out of Creative Funk

From time to time we each get stuck - here are my Top 10 Tips to Get Out of a Creative Funk - http://ift.tt/1MIRP1Z
via John Chang's Sound Cloud

via Creative Entrepreneur Blog
Creative Entrepreneur

The post Top 10 Ways to Get Out of Creative Funk appeared first on Butterfly Formula.

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Top 10 Ways to Get Out of Creative Funk

From time to time we each get stuck - here are my Top 10 Tips to Get Out of a Creative Funk - http://ift.tt/1MIRP1Z
via John Chang's Sound Cloud

Top 10 Ways to Get Out of a Creative Funk

Monday, July 13, 2015

From our Instagram!

So many choices for summer reading! Have you read this classic, The Alchemist? I share why it's required reading for entrepreneurs and any business bookshelf - link in my bio.

via@jycmba Instagram

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Why The Alchemist is a Must Read for Entrepreneurs

I share why this beloved novel by Paulo Coelho is a must read for entrepreneurs and any business bookshelf.
via John Chang's Sound Cloud

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Push the Creativity Envelope

I share how to push past your limitations by pushing your creativity envelope and become the creative entrepreneur you're meant to be. Here's the blog post - http://ift.tt/1FPTbC8
via John Chang's Sound Cloud

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Push the Creativity Envelope

150 ft.. 100.. 50.. WHAM!

"I have the controls!" said my instructor pilot (IP,) as we bounced back into the air. We had come down so hard with my attempt at a landing that we went airborne again.

"You have the controls," I replied.


With that I watched the stick and throttle take a life of its own, as if some phantom pilot had now taken over the cockpit. In reality it was the instructor making adjustments to settle the T-34C until we rolled off the runway.

We taxied to our parking spot with barely a word.

Trying to lighten the mood, the IP asked if I was okay. Dejected I muttered something about being fine - with a "sir," of course.

Back in maintenance control, we signed in our bird. The lieutenant made a few comments that things went well overall. It was my first flight and my first attempt at a landing.

I'm not sure what came over me, but as I entered our flight data, I asked the IP, "Sir, should I count that as one landing or two?" He look surprised and chuckled, "Let's go with two - we'll each get one a piece!"

Creativity is about taking risks. Although we try to push ourselves - grow in our comfort zone of the risks we're willing to take - at some point we just need to really stretch.

I often refer to the model the Heath brothers talk about in Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard (affiliate link - thanks for your support!) that we must master this dance between our emotional side the "Elephant" and our rational side the "Rider."

Although the Rider is greater at figuring out where we need to go, if we fail to appreciate the power of the much larger Elephant, the Rider is going to lose.

Rider1 Rider2

As a creative entrepreneur, this means you need to lower the bar and "Break down the change until it no longer spooks the Elephant.” How can you do this? Find the one thing you can do today towards progress.

Got a business idea for a new book?  Brainstorm questions and an outline. Thinking about making a video? Write out a rough draft. Picturing a new design for your product line? Sketch out the key elements. Start there.

Take action. Then do it again. Build on this until it becomes a habit that's second nature.  As you progress, surround yourself with those who not only support you but encourage and lift you up. Success breeds success. The more momentum you build, the more it impossible it will be to fail.

Surviving that first landing allowed me to finally push my limit. As I connected with my fellow student pilots, we shared everything from study tricks to "gouge" on each instructor. I learned to build my confidence and face my fears each step of the way.

Similarly I've learned to surround myself with other creative entrepreneurs. By watching and sharing I've gained more confidence in many areas - from building a website to create animated videos and even graphic design.

How do you stretch your own comfort zone? What inspires you to go further each day?

The post Push the Creativity Envelope appeared first on Butterfly Formula.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

How a Rising Tide Raises Your Creativity

We're the average of the five people we spend the most time with, as Jim Rohn says. Here's how our surroundings influence our creativity. Read more here - http://bit.ly/risingtide-creative
via John Chang's Sound Cloud

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

How a Rising Tide Can Raise Your Creativity

“What is that?” asked the passerby.

“It’s tango – Argentine tango,” I replied. A couple of other gals were doing their mock version of the typical Fernando pose complete with invisible rose in their teeth that people associate with the dance.

“Really?” she marveled.

“On Wednesday night we have a dance near the Mission,” I explained, handing her a postcard flyer. “There’s a free dance lesson at 8 am and dancing ‘til midnight. Come on by.”

“Cool – I’ll check it out!” she said.

“Sorry about that,” I said turning back to my partner.

“That’s okay,” Deanna said. “Part of the job right?”

She was right, of course, but I’m not sure how it happened.

A Rising Tide Raises All Ships v3 – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires
(photo courtesy of Norm Davey)

Somehow what started off as a joke – a merry band of misfits calling ourselves “The Secret Tango Society” – became a movement.

Occasionally, we held these “hit and run” guerrilla milongas (long before flash mobs became popular) that were coordinated via email like some covert ops cells.

These were the start. Next came weekly tango events at a funky studio performance space ironically called Cellspace. That’s when things really took off. I quickly realized the need to organize and filed for 501(c)(3) non-profit status as an arts organization.

What started out as a hobby became my mission to promote this art form.

But how did this happen?


On long drives to job sites as a project manager for a IT consulting firm, I would rehearse moves from tango class in my mind.

Tango music itself was definitely an acquired taste. At first I found had a hard time relating to it. The complex antiquated music with its many layers was often too subtle for my untrained ear, – and sometimes hardly bearable due to the scratchiness of old recordings.

Occasionally, I would switch to more contemporary hits, and that’s when it hit me – what if we danced tango to modern music?

So pinging a few dancer friends, we conspired to meet on the weekend. Brainstorming on locations, we decided on spots that were public enough to attract attention but not so much that it would cause a “disturbance.”

We settled on the Palace of Fine Arts. While lovely it was wrapped in typical blustery cold San Francisco weather, and the gravel floors were less than ideal for pivoting. Strike one.

Next we decided to give Union Square a try. There were plenty of shoppers and tourist rushing to their destinations, but occasionally a few took notice. Although we experimented with a few other spots, this became the fallback spot for meeting.

Once we started having weekly dances, that’s when the “Old Guard” took notice. These folks believed that the purity of the dance was preserved by playing nothing newer than songs from the Golden Era in the 1940’s. To dance tango to covers of Metallica “Nothing Else Matters” or bluesy Norah Jones was considered sacrilege of the highest order.

But we were no longer just some upstart rag tag quirky anomaly. Slowly but surely our ranks swelled. Suddenly we were a force to be reckoned with.

‘You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.’ – Jim Rohn

Besides just having fun, our dancing improved as we became comfortable enough to both try out different sequences and share techniques. Soon we were the ones teaching beginners and helping them get started on their tango journey.

In Switch the Heath brothers talk about how cultivating a sense of identity leads to change. We were the misfits of the traditional tango world, but we were also the future of tango evolution.

Traditionally artists have influenced each other’s creativity. Movements like the Impressionists or modern artists like Dali and Picasso were born from mutual respect and admiration for each other while their contemporaries often regarded them with, well, contempt.

“Good artists copy, great artists steal.” – Pablo Picasso

The Heath brothers also talk about rallying the herd and how behavior is contagious. I knew that our little movement had come of age when one of the largest events in the country added a “alternative tango” event. (a term we coined for what we did) For more on mastering the dance of creativity..

Now in my work as a content marketer I am constantly finding ways that we influence each other. While we often think of more artistic fields as requiring creativity, but have you ever tried to come up with 1001 ways to sell bath and body products? Never mind struggling with writer’s block – it’s like finding a way to make sausage making interesting!

Recently, Mark and Philomena Timberlake shared how to repurpose content in a Google community of online educators I follow. They said that they had been inspired by Scott Scowcroft. Meanwhile, I shared this on another forum for content marketers.

Here’s a video of what I shared –

So, you see, there’s almost a neverending ripple effect of influencing each other. I definitely love connecting with positive, motivated creative entrepreneurs. Not only do I enjoy the connection but we’re constantly learning from each other.

Who’s in your inner circle of inspiration? How do they inspire your creativity?

The post How a Rising Tide Can Raise Your Creativity appeared first on Butterfly Formula.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

From our Instagram!

Sometimes our addictions are just substitutes for what our souls really crave!

via@jycmba Instagram

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Creativity - Inside the Box

Contrary to popularity, creativity actually requires "Inside the Box" thinking - here I share some key lessons from the book by Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg.
via John Chang's Sound Cloud

Monday, June 8, 2015

From our Instagram!

What does chicken marengo and catching your next flight in 10 min have in common? @lunachomper knows! Thanks so much to Scott Danzig & the lovely Luna for lending a hand to spread the message - to think INSIDE the box! To read more check out the link in my Bio!

via@jycmba Instagram

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Putting Creativity Back Inside the Box

We tend to think of creativity as some wild thing that needs to be captured or tamed. Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg argue that “outside the box” thinking is not only wrong but keeps most of us from benefiting from being more creative in our lives. Their work points out how creativity is really a skill that can be learned.


Creativity Inside the Box Photo of Luna: Scott Danzin

“Outside the box” thinking became all the rage in the 1980s after a management consulting team used a nine dot box puzzle to illustrate their point that employees needed to look farther beyond obvious things, and to try thinking beyond them.

While this seems like good advice, it is actually harmful because this goes back to our need to tame the Elephant by making things more concrete and clear-cut, rather than wide open and limitless.

In other words, as Barry Schwartz points out in the Paradox of Choice, often having more choice actually keeps us from moving forward.

Recently, Boyd and Goldenberg published Inside the Box: A Proven System of Creativity for Breakthrough Results which shows case study after case study of folks who have used this methodology whether they knew it or not.

Although they broke this down into five key thinking tools – Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Task Unification, and Attribute Dependency – I’d argue that in true Pareto fashion 80% of the creativity solutions come from using Division. So, that’s what we’ll cover in more detail to show how to apply some of the key principles.

Basically, Division uses the idea that by dividing a product and/or its components and rearranging them you can form a new product with greater capabilities than the sum of the parts. By considering different structures – either as a whole or individual components – and dividing into different pieces allows you to rebuild in new novel ways.
For example, normally the airline check-in process was considered a linear process – until Southwest looked at ways that the steps could be changed. In fact, this approach allowed them to accomplish 10 minute turnarounds while the industry standard was one hour.

But more importantly the idea is not to look at limits as obstacles but as opportunities to find creative solutions.

Instead of looking at the few ingredients available in the kitchen how can you create a new dish? I’d argue that some of the most popular recipes have their roots from simply using what the cook had available to them.

Chicken marengo is said to come from Napolean’s chef foraging in town and creating the dish from what he could gather after the Battle of Marengo.

According to legend, the Emperor enjoyed the dish so much he had it served to him after every battle, and later when the chef was better-supplied and tried to substitute ingredients like adding wine to the recipe, Napoleon refused to accept it, believing that such changes would bring him bad luck.

So next time instead of trying to look “outside the box,” try looking at your situation, not as limits but possibilities.

So what are ways you can be more creative by looking “inside the box”?


The post Putting Creativity Back Inside the Box appeared first on Butterfly Formula.

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Monday, June 1, 2015

From our Instagram!

What does your creative soul crave? Share your thoughts and visit my blog post (link in bio)

via@jycmba Instagram

Creativity - Addiction

Too often we confuse our craving for fame and other addictions with our need to be creative and do meaningful work not just for ourselves but those we serve.
via John Chang's Sound Cloud

Creativity - Addiction

Often our struggles with addiction to fame and other substitutes is really need to find meaning in our creativity. photo credit: Unsplash
via John Chang's Sound Cloud

Creativity – Accept No Substitute

“Who am I? Why am I here?” Two hundred plus dancers from around the country – and beyond – sat captive. It was the last night of an event that exceeded our expectations. Somehow our tribe had grown from a handful of hacks to so many others that shared our values and ideas of community.

After months of planning and hard work three massive days of sharing and bonding had finally ended, and it was time to celebrate one last time together before scattering to the four winds.

Part of me asked those questions as much for myself as for the audience. It reminded me of that Talking Heads song that goes “you may ask yourself.. well.. how did I get here?”


Who doesn’t want to be on Oprah or win an award like the Oscars?

But, with the deaths of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Williams still fresh in our minds I’m reminded of how often artists and creative entrepreneurs chase after fame and fortune – only to come up short in both heart and spirit, sometimes with tragic results.

Today the image of hard-drinking writers has been replaced by musicians and celebrities pumped up on drugs. But the idea is still the same – many still believe that being an artist means that you have to struggle with some kind of addiction.

A friend recently shared his blog post on Facebook and talked about recognizing his own unhealthy obsession with fame. Realizing this in himself is a big deal.


I remember driving to yet another tango event and gripping the wheel of my car as I finally broke down. What was I doing?

Night after night I had been going from one dance to another. Sure, most guys start dancing to up their social life – to find some willing partners for dating and romance. What was I looking for?

A friend of mine used to have this questionnaire – much like the kind you find in any issue of Cosmo magazine. You’d score yourself for things like “you divide your friends between those who dance tango and those who don’t.” I pretty much aced that like some high school geometry pop quiz.

It’s funny how the most profound changes always happen so gradually you barely notice them. Sure, things started innocently enough. One dance class a week turned into two.. which became dancing 3-4 times before the weekend.

Next thing you know it’s a seven days a week, listening to scratch old songs to fill the other 24 hours when you’re not on the dance floor. Still, my friends and I would joke – at least it’s a “healthy addiction.”

Julia Cameron based The Artist’s Way on the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous after her own bouts with addiction led her to realized this connection between addiction and creativity. She contends that we can’t learn creativity. Because our education system trained it out of us, we must recover it.


When they run a medical test the doctors inject a radioactive iodine tracer. If your body has enough natural iodine, the substances just passes through. However, if you lack iodine in your system, your body absorbs this toxic mimic.

No real food around? We grab fast, junk food. Yet, instead of satisfying our hunger, our body craves more and more because it’s not getting what it needs – real nutritional substance.

A friend shared an article that points out how, contrary to popular belief, drug addicts really crave real, meaningful connections.

Creativity is about connecting the dots in a meaningful way. We may crave recognition or reward but I’d argue what really nourishes our soul is creating work that matters to those we serve.

Whether it’s a blog post, a song, a painting or video, we need to know that somehow someone’s life is better for the work we’ve done.


So, that’s the paradox – on one hand we need to know that our work matters, on the other chasing after recognition is a road to nowhere.

I didn’t plan to be a co-founder of a non-profit for tango dancers. But the need was there for someone to help organize.

I didn’t plan on running weekly events that still continue to this day. But each week about 40 to 70 dancers congregate.

I didn’t plan on putting together a national reunion of dancers. But this group needed to connect with others who share their values.

Least of all I didn’t do it for fame or fortune.

“Fame is the excrement of creativity, it’s the shit that comes out the back end, it’s a by-product of it. People think it’s the excrement that you should be eating. It’s not. It’s the creativity and the audience and being there in the moment.” – Bruce Dickinson, Iron Maiden

Yet there’s still a choice. That’s what separates the hero’s journey from being just a narrative. You must choose to accept your role to go on this journey

That friend is choosing to travel and get away from LA. Sometimes a change of scenery is just what we need to get new perspective. In Switch this is actually pointed out as one of the ways that folks can tame our irrational Elephant side. I hope he finds some clarity – sometimes distance does offer perspective.

What is it that your creative soul crave?

The post Creativity – Accept No Substitute appeared first on Butterfly Formula.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

How To Avoid Writers Block V1

I share some of my best strategies to avoid writer's block and to get into flow. Check out these links as well http://bit.ly/writers-block-steps LinkedIn - http://bit.ly/writers-block-bye
via John Chang's Sound Cloud

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Top Three Inspiring TED Talks on Creativity

There are lots of amazing TED talks on a variety of topics. Here are my #topthree favorites on creativity.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love, talks about how the Ancients may have gotten it right about Creativity –


Sir Ken Robinson shares how our Education system may be killing Creativity in our children –


J.J. Abrams talks about his infamous “Mystery Box” and its role in inspiring his Creativity..

The post Top Three Inspiring TED Talks on Creativity appeared first on Butterfly Formula.

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

3 Easy Steps to Avoid Writer’s Block

If someone like Michael Hyatt struggles daily with writer’s block what hope do mere mortals like the rest of us have?

Well, don’t give up just yet. Here are my three favorite strategies to banish writer’s block for-EVER!

First, you have to address mindset. Unless you begin with the end in mind – and a successful picture at that, you’re starting off with a huge handicap.

Even if you’re not a big fan of the Law of Attraction and visualization stuff, let’s face it. Science has shown that the mind can’t tell the difference between experiencing something “real” and something imagined.

Most of all, what are you doing as a writer? You’re sharing moments and ideas with your readers – helping them to go through what you want them to experience.

Second, now that we got out of the way you’re definitely not going to like this one. “Writers write.” Period.

It took me a while to grasp the significance of this but all the writers who nurture fledgling writers say this – Lamott, King, Pressfield, on and on.

There’s simply no avoiding the reality that you MUST practice your craft. Daily. Not once in a while, or when the mood strikes you. Hone your craft and seek out opportunities to do it better. Then do it again. And again.

Creativity is absolutely a muscle that you must exercise daily. And speaking of exercise.

Get away from the laptop. Go. Take a walk. Do yoga. Or practice tai chi or chi gong. Check out these short exercises which are my favorite in the morning and often during the day. They are easy, quick and effective – my favorite combo!

Most importantly, it’s not about building Arnold Schwarzenegger size muscles or jamming like a world-class athlete like Michael Jordan. It’s about feeling good – I can’t stress enough the importance of overcoming the stereotypical hard drinking Hemingway image clacking away with a bottle of bourbon next to the typewriter.

If you follow Julia Cameron’s Artist Way, she shares how important the ritual she calls the Artist’s Date is. (Coincidentally, her daily practice of writing three pages first thing in the morning is what got me started years ago..)

What Cameron is sharing is the importance of feeling good with ourselves in developing our creativity. I’ve definitely experienced this in my life – both on the dance floor as a tango teacher and artist, and off as a writer / entrepreneur.

So, let me know if you have a favorite tip on how to stop writer’s block from stopping your creative juices from flowing! Comment below or contact me directly.

The post 3 Easy Steps to Avoid Writer’s Block appeared first on Butterfly Formula.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

From our Instagram!

Thinking about how we face our fears in being more creative brought me back to my flying days! (link in my bio)

via@jycmba Instagram

Facing Our Fear in Creativity

I share my own experiences in facing fear and learning to be more creative. Here's the blog post - http://ift.tt/1OzNMES
via John Chang's Sound Cloud

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Your Results May Vary..

We’re on our lunch break on the last day of the Internet Prophets Live event. It’s been a great three days with more than the typical pitchfest where speakers sell – sell – SELL their info products.

joel comm jycmba

I don’t always get up this early on a Sunday morning but when I do it’s to connec with great Internet minds like Joel Comm – stay thirsty my friends!

I’ve been to a lot of these events over the years. And skipping discussions about the total ripoff’s – you know which ones I’m talking about – the standard disclaimer applies, right? “Your results may vary..”

Even if you’re not a blogger or internet marketer, we all need to upgrade our knowledge. When I danced tango, I would take workshops and attend festivals that had teachers I wanted to learn from.

And often at some point the pitch was “money is not the problem,,” Actually, it is – or more precisely it’s how you look at it.

Most of us think in terms of making money vs. spending it. A creative entrepreneur looks at ways they can invest it. Until you have this mindset no matter what your billable rate is, you will always be capped by the number of hours in the day, which last I checked is 24 hrs – for all of us.

Someone once pointed out that it’s about converting cash to assets to cash, and so on. This is the only way that you get out of the feast or famine mindset.

Otherwise you will never have the money to get the training you need to improve your website copy for your sales pages. Or you will never have the money to upgrade your camera or laptop. Or you will always wonder how will things ever be different.

This is something that no one really talks about.

If you’re struggling to just pay the bills, it’s not just really hard to think about investing thousands of dollars in some guru’s coaching program. You’ve tapped out credit cards – even borrowing from friends and family is not any option.

So, it’s time to dust off some of those assets – that expensive binder from that marketing course, those accounts giving you access to coding classes, or even games you never play or books you won’t read since it’s on Kindle now..

And convert them to assets – because you need cash for that Fiverr gig so you can get a decent logo done or hiring that freelancer to tweak your website.

Assets that will make you more money – because guess what? Money loves momentum. And the world needs your unique gift.

What will you do to take yourself to the next level as a creative entrepreneur?

The post Your Results May Vary.. appeared first on Butterfly Formula.

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Monday, May 4, 2015

Creativity Lessons in the Kitchen

Creative Lessons from the Kitchen

I glanced at the label, not sure why I bothered. Everything was in German – a language that even a pre-schooler had more mastery than me. “Bio” turned out to mean “organic.”

Somehow I volunteered to make dinner for one vegetarian friend and three more hungry companions.

Ok, chicken for four, and one.. tofu? Hmm.. the firm texture might stand-in for white meat. Could batter it the same way and make it work?

So, not only am I in a foreign country barely able to read or speak.. I’m trying to improvise a recipe. Luckily, I’ve made this recipe enough times that I had the basics down. Batter the meat, fry ‘til golden brown and bake, finish with melted cheese and sauce then serve with pasta.

Well, if I blow it, there’s always pasta..

As I’ve talked about, my love of Italian food led to a thirst for learning about the country. (Here’s more on that – http://ift.tt/1OW5UhE )

Along with my massive report we also had project booths for an international fair. We were supposed to design a display of things about the country, including a food item. I decided to bake an almond flavored bread that I made into the familiar boot shape of Italy. For mountains running down the seam I used almond slices that were sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar.

Not all my experiments were successful. Once I tried to make my version of “Irish stew” by cooking potatoes with a mix of available sauces. I was the only one willing to try that one!

Still, over time I found recipes that taught me patterns – like the scales that musicians play or writers use to create stories that keep us spellbound.

I learned elements that in a pinch I could use when only the barest of ingredients were available. For example, the “Holy Trinity” of Asian cooking is garlic, ginger, and green onion. just these three alone can turn a bland piece of meat into something elegant.

When I started to dance tango, I was eager to jump to the cool, “advance” stuff. As mentioned in this previous blog post – http://ift.tt/1z4H5Zn  we get tired of walking exercises.

Years later, when I ended up teaching beginners at our weekly event,


I would point out how you just needed to master a few fundamental steps to create interesting patterns and most of all be musical.

“Is it okay?” I asked nervously.

“It’s good!” my friend declared.

I breathed a sigh of relief, and we all tucked into the chicken / tofu parmesan, passing the generous bowl of pasta around.

  • Passion inspires action – it was my passion for Italian food that led to curiosity and the desire to learn more. That continued into other food explorations anytime I visited a new part of town.
  • Experience provides inspiration – just opening myself up to new sights, sounds, tastes ignited sparks for creativity. Sometimes it’d be a new Food Network video. Other times it might be something I found on jycmba on Pinterest.
  • Learning to adapt teaches us to be open to possibilities – missing an ingredient or needing to adjust a recipe sometimes creates the circumstances for us to experiment. And more often we discover that we would’ve otherwise miss.

How have you learned ways to be creative through other skills or passions?

Join me in chatting with Chris Hill tomorrow and hear his creative journey from the corporate world to the kitchen. More details here –


The post Creativity Lessons in the Kitchen appeared first on Butterfly Formula.

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From our Instagram!

What making a mean chicken parmesan taught me about creativity - link in my bio.

via@jycmba Instagram

Thursday, April 30, 2015

From our Instagram

Instant gratification in a noisy world.. what happens when we slow down? Tango is what happens between the steps.. this blog post was inspired by@paxtandon (link in my bio)via Instagram jycmba Instagram
(Photo Credit: Ryan McGuire of Gratisography)

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From our Instagram!

Instant gratification in a noisy world.. what happens when we slow down? Tango is what happens between the steps.. this blog post was inspired by@paxtandon (link in my bio)

via@jycmba Instagram

Monday, April 27, 2015

What Tango Taught Me about Creativity

“Okay, last one to finish wins!” declared our teacher.

Last One Wins

It was another tedious set of walking exercises, and the heat from our brains working overtime added to the exhaustion, never mind trying to be creative with our steps.

The point was that we rush through everything in our daily lives. Dance like any craft involves patience in process and practice. There was no point in dashing to the finish line.

I had thought that I could half-ass learning Argentine tango, and quickly learned as Ron Swanson says, “Never half-ass two things, whole ass one thing.

Sure, I’d learn how to fake my way through swing dance and salsa. So I figured how hard could tango be?

Somewhere, somehow I got the crazy idea that I wanted to improve my aikido technique and learn how to move more fluidly. Dancing swing was fun, and it provided some of the energy of randori techniques.

But still something felt.. missing..

Then, one day I walked into a Berkeley dance studio, and the closest way I can describe it was that I felt was finally home at last.

Despite my initial struggles I eventually took to tango – or it to me. It grew on me, and I shed my former shelf. In fact, tango led to many unexpected experiences in my life – How Tango Taught Me to Find My Tribe and Start a Movement

A short while ago I moved down to Los Angeles, and it’s amazing how different the community is down here. I suppose that it may be due to the image conscious nature of Hollywood. Or just the disconnected nature of Southern California life where freeways and daily commuting separate us.

To be fair I’ve only been willing to put in only so much energy into being involved here. Still this was not the tango I knew. It reminds me of the sentiment of Supreme Court Chief Justice Potter when asked for his definition of pornography, “I know it when I see it.”

Recently, a discussion between Facebook “friends” turned into less than kind words. What started out as disagreement about results from a dance competition led to very personal attacks.

This was not the tango I signed up for.

Tango is about connection and community through art and expression. I can understand wanting to say this dancer’s technique is “good.” Or that one’s is a great example.

Well, as we’ve talked about, fear is the killer of creativity. Once we start comparing and defining.. it’s no longer about the art, no longer about connection, no longer about community. To give out awards and encourage even more competition?

What’s the point? Last one to the finish line wins!

The post What Tango Taught Me about Creativity appeared first on Butterfly Formula.

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Facing Our Fear in Creativity

“You have the controls.”

With that the instructor pilot sitting in tandem behind me took over. He started yanking and banking.

Suddenly, I was no longer flying in a T-34C turboprop trainer. Instead I was back on the Great America roller coaster ride near our school – yelling at the top of my lungs with each thrilling, stomach churning roll –

Up, down, left, right!

T-34C Mentor (source: Wikipedia)

We did this for a good number of minutes before the instructor asked, “Okay over there?”

“Yes, sir!” I replied, barely able to contain the ear-to-ear grin.

“You don’t get sick for anything, do you?”

What was wrong with me? I’m sure the instructor was really doing his best to see how I handled the most extreme aerobatics he could throw at me.

This was my aerobatic solo check ride – meaning after I passed (if I passed) I was cleared to take a bird all by myself! So, the instructor wanted to make sure that if I got myself nauseous, disoriented or worse yet possibly passing out, I could still fly home safely.

But so far, his plan wasn’t working. The instructor tried again. “I have the controls.”

Again, we did loops and rolls, pulling G’s – nothing.

At this point I guess the instructor was satisfied that I could do almost any aerobatic maneuver and make it back to base.

For most of my life I’ve taken on things that other people consider “scary” – without much thought. Even when I was a kid, I had no fear of getting up on a stage of a night club and creating my own act.

Once I applied for and got a job as a delivery driver – without knowing how to drive stick. Fear – Trial by Fire or Fuel for Motivation

In college I took a swim test for joining the navy – without knowing how to swim! (that’s also in the blog post above)

So, when it comes to creativity, I don’t really let fear stop me. I know that what separates the good artists from the great is their willingness to face fear. Inspiring Ted Talks on Fear and Creativity

You can’t be creative by playing it safe. Our schools teach us to draw within the lines, but what we really need today is to learn which rules still matter and what rules it’s time to break.


Traditionally, entrepreneurs and their small businesses have been the backbone of this nation’s economy. Now more than ever the world needs their creativity  because the days of earn your degree, get a job and retire are long gone.

Creative entrepreneurs not only create opportunities by seeking problems to solve.  Their courage inspires us all to share our unique gifts – whether it’s a book to be written, a film to be made, a piece of art to create.

And our lives are better for this!

How do you let fear drive you or does it hold you back?

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