Next Seattle speaker

Jenny Wilkson

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June 9, 8:30am • Facebook (SEA) •

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We’re excited to have Electric Coffin speaking on the theme “Weird” for our August 12th CreativeMornings Seattle at Oxbow Seattle. Be sure to register for your tickets here

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
Creativity is being able to be adapt and apply a diverse range of inspiration to guide you through your problem solving process. It’s being able to visualize the end goal and work through all the roadblocks that will inevitably pop up. Everyone can be creative, as long as they are willing to be patient and get out of their own way. Another part of being creative is being resilient, because to truly explore you will encounter a lot of trial and error.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
Our best creative inspiration comes from collaborating, sharing, and conversations. We also are always looking, whether we are in the studio, on a road trip, walking through the market, we keep our eyes peeled for things to jump out at us.

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
Being a professional creative means being creative professionally. There is no set career paths for artists, you need to define your own path. That and charge more for work.

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
Anyone with a good story!

What is the one movie or book every creative must see/read?
Stefan book: Dancing with Wu Li Masters
Justin book: Skinny Legs and All
Duffy book: The Outsiders
Taylor book: Truck Nest, a record nine years in the making

We’re excited to have Hum Creative’s Shirley Hendrickson speaking on the theme “Broken” for our June 10th CreativeMornings Seattle at The Impact Hub. Be sure to register for your tickets here

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
To me, creativity is the outcome of an innate, relentless desire for change, for newness, for a solution that leaves the world better off than before. Slightly more beautiful, more true, more meaningful. Being creative is a way of saying thank you to the miracle of our own existence—the fact that we humans get a chance to create, to put something new out into the universe, as we spin around temporarily in its endlessness, is a gift.

The key word is “outcome”. To use an unromantic term, creativity is a product. Ideas aren’t creativity. Think about the root word—"create". Something has to get made from all those crazy synapses firing inside of you. You have to do something with your ideas. I used to overthink everything, agonizing over making my ideas perfect before making them real. Now, I try to remember that making creative work is really an exercise in part fearless mind-barf, most part ruthless editing and crafting. Get it out, however painfully and imperfectly you can. Then you can worry about how to make the barf into something pretty and amazing.  


Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
Creative symbiosis. Surrounding myself with brilliant people who are much smarter and more talented, soaking in their experience and their secrets, and doing whatever I can to return the favor so they’ll let me stick around. I love reading biographies and learning the stories, and specifically the processes, of great creative people—the people who have actually done the work to turn their crazy ideas into the things that have changed our lives.

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
Growing up, I was the kid who was always drawing things, making things, starting businesses, teaching myself new techniques. When I got to college, there was no other path I’d considered—it was all art, all the way. I was accepted into a good design program, but two years later, I quit. I was debilitated by intimidation. I was surrounded by other art kids who were far better than me, and I choked. I thought I had no ideas anymore.

I would have told myself to quit it already with the jealousy. Jealousy is the death of creativity. It’s petty, it’s not a good look, and it kills what makes you different. I would have said, “Little Shirley, there is plenty of room in the world for their ideas and your ideas. In fact, let their ideas inspire you and motivate you. Steal their secrets. Don’t run away. Also, don’t take yourself so fucking seriously. Jeez.”

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
Beyoncé. Duh. 

Polymaths really interest me. Beautiful, sexy, unapologetic polymaths. Beyoncé has been constantly creating since she was 8, exploring endless personas, genres, media, businesses—and has never felt the need to choose, to let herself be labeled as one thing or another, or to do things the way people tell her it should be done. She’s a woman who’s built her life creating on her own terms, and she continues to put out her ideas without looking back. She has a clear vision, and she surrounds herself with mind-blowing talent to help her realize it. In the case you can’t get in touch with Bey, there’s a creative force of nature here in Seattle named Linda Derschang (of Linda’s, Tallulah’s, Smith, Oddfellows, etc.), who’s like our Beyoncé of hip-as-heck restaurants. Linda is the shit. What are you reading these days?
At any given time, I’ve got five or six books I rotate through. I’m currently reading and underlining every page of 99U’s series (Managing Your Day-to-Day, Maximize Your Potential, and Make Your Mark), which I enthusiastically recommend to every creative professional. Also, A Short History of Nearly Everything by the ingenious Bill Bryson, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (his language is mind-blowing), The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar by Roald Dahl (for the hundredth time; it’s my favorite short story), Warsan Shire’s Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth (she’s the poet responsible for the incredible spoken-word interludes in Beyoncé’s Lemonade), Lindy West’s Shrill, and probably a handful more that I’m forgetting. Is book ADHD a medical condition? There’s got to be a book on it. 


What’s the most recent thing you learned (big or small)?
Facts about the universe and existence never cease to explode my brain to pieces—if I could go back, I’d be an astrophysicist. Recently, I learned a fantastic description of how recent and lucky human history is, from Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything. Here goes:

Stretch your arms out as far as you can. Imagine your arm span as the timeline for the entire 4.5-million year history of planet Earth. From the fingertips of your left hand to the wrist of your right, that’s the Precambrian—the time before complex life. Complex life is your right hand. And with the single stroke of a nail file, you would eradicate human history. 

Say whatttt. 

Guys, we have the Wizard of Moz the one and only Rand Fishkin, speaking at our next CreativeMornings on RISK. Tickets will be available at 9:00am on Monday, March 29. If you don’t know Rand, he’s founder and former CEO of Moz, co-author of a pair of books on SEO, and co-founder of Inbound.org. Rand’s an unsaveable addict of all things content, search, & social on the web, from his multiple blogs to Twitter, Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, and a shared Instagram account. In his miniscule spare time, he likes to galavant around the world with Geraldine and then read about it on her superbly enjoyable travel blog.

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
For me, it’s the concept of invention applied to ideas. My job is to identify which ideas are new, and which are new to me or new to my field/work, and then find ways to filter them, prioritize them, and apply them. That goes for the software we build, the presentations I create, the content I share, the updates I post to social media, and the ways to craft a company culture and set of processes.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
Perhaps not surprisingly, I get my best ideas from the world of social media. I read a tremendous amount - often via my Twitter feed, Pocket’s recommendations for me, my Nuzzel account, and other aggregators like Hackers News, Reddit, and Inbound.org. Out of a few hundred articles I peruse in a week, I might apply 2 or 3 directly to my work.

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
I wish I’d learned more about coding and compsci. I believe a lot of my potential and creativity, especially earlier in my career, were limited by my lack of knowledge and experience in the field of computer science and software programming.

What’s the most inspiring talk you’ve ever heard?
Not quite a professional talk, but the documentary, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, certainly ranks near the top for me. The idea of dedicating oneself to perfecting a craft, to putting years into every detail, to relentless focus, and to expressing the utmost standard in one’s work is greatly inspirational.

What fact about you would surprise people?
I’m an introvert. I spend a lot of time talking on stage and interacting with people, but I need a lot of alone time to recharge in order to have the energy for those social interactions.

What keeps you awake at night?
I fear that I’ll always be an underachiever - someone who, with smarter or greater effort could have done more for others, but was limited by a lack of dedication or a failure to learn from past mistakes.

For this month’s theme of CHANGE, we’re pleased to have Seattle’s first-ever Civic Technology Advocate, Candace Faber, who will bring us a talk called “"If not this, then what?“ Tickets are available here.

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
Creativity is the willingness to be fully immersed in something and still allow it to unfold in ways you can’t control. I find this to be true whether I am writing a poem or designing a project at work. I often find myself approaching huge, abstract challenges, such as "How might we end homelessness?” or “How can we empower young women?” The only thing that keeps me sane is to accept whatever limitations exist and allow myself to flow freely within them. When I stop being upset about the infinite list of things that are not possible, I discover possibilities that are even better than I could have imagined.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
Planes, trains, and ferries. The key is to be able to disconnect from expectations, deadlines, and structured thinking and simply rest inside some block of time and non-space. I have had many of my best insights and written some of my best pieces while in transit. 

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
Not to judge my own work or others’ reactions to it. If you love something you’ve created but it doesn’t resonate with others, there’s nothing wrong with you. If they don’t love it, there’s nothing wrong with them – they’re not idiots who are blind to your creative genius, your work just hasn’t connected with them yet. Just keep doing what you love, and you will get better. I wish we all had the courage to just be who we are and make what we make – life would be so much more interesting, and I have no doubt the world would be a better, healthier, more socially just place.

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
Hands down: Jon White. He is a cartoonist, a poet, and an oddball in the best possible way, and best of all, he is a civics nerd like me. I have watched him evolve as an artist and human for more than a decade while never straying from his ground truth. His own unique works and his shameless fandom of other people’s efforts fill me with joy even when I know nothing about the subject.

What did you learn from your most memorable creative failure?
Here’s an example: In fourth grade, I started learning to play the piano, mostly self-taught. My school had an arts competition, and I decided to enter an original composition in the music category called “A Wild Imagination.” It was basically me sitting there and playing whatever sounds delighted me while recording it on tape. I did not yet know that I could draft and revise my creations, so I entered it as it was. When my teacher played it for the classroom, it sounded disjointed even to me, and everyone called it–and me–"crazy.“ I felt very ashamed and vowed never to fail like that again. The next year, I played it safe and made a poster with pictures of obscure musical instruments. I remember hating every second of that project, even though I made it into the final round of competition.

It took me many years before I realized that it’s better to do the hard work of refining and polishing what you love than to make something empty that "wins.” If you try to make things based on what you think others will like, you will run out of energy very quickly. But if you keep honing your voice and stay connected to the world around you, eventually your work will strike a chord.

What was the best surprise you’ve experienced so far in life?
How easy it is to find allies when you just start doing something. There’s a saying in Pashto: “Pe harakat kay barakat day.” It means, “In movement, there is blessing.” If you ask for permission to love what you love or try what you are dying to try, most well-meaning people will caution you not to take risks. But if you just start moving forward, you will find other people who want to do the same (or you will discover the limits of your own desires, which is just as insightful). Every time I have trusted my convictions and stepped out into uncertainty, people have swarmed around me in support, just like I do for them. It is a truly beautiful thing. 


What object would you put in a time capsule that best represents who you are today?
My favorite outfit from 5th grade: an oversized Esprit t-shirt with rainbow-colored letters, teal cotton leggings, and a pair of earrings that had a pencil for one ear and an eraser for the other. The closer I am to living this life in the colorful, unabashed way 11-year-old Candace wanted to, the happier I am.

Our ace speakers for February’s theme of ETHICS are Berit Anderson and Brett Horvath. They’re the founders of Scout, which combines near-term science fiction with investigative reporting to cover the intersection of technology, economics, and morality. Sign up for the waitlist right here.

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?


Berit:Creativity is a deliberate decision to do things differently; a decision not to repeat the same ideas and steps and actions you already know. Successfully stepping into that void requires three things: The willingness to be quiet with yourself for awhile, the intuition to recognize your own great ideas, and a surprising amount of discipline.

Brett: It’s too bad society has come to treat creativity as some gift from a mystical narwhale muse…even though it is. I started having more breakthroughs when I began treating creativity in myself and others as a skill-set, something that can be refined and developed, rather than an inherent character trait. I call it a disciplined imagination. That framing helps remind me that when my writing or ideas are stale, it’s not necessarily some mega-existential question or blocker. It could be that I’m sequencing my questions in the wrong order, or drinking too much caffeine, playing too much of the wrong kind of board games, or repeatedly telling myself unhelpful stories.

It’s also helpful to remember humans evolved to be imaginative so that we could avoid predators or plan group attacks of woolly-mammoths.  Imagination isn’t a nice-to-have, it’s a must have. 

Where do you find your best creative inspiration?


Berit: Alone. Usually in well-lit, clean spaces. Or outdoors: Nature’s original well-lit, clean space.

Brett: Epic movie soundtracks, long midday walks, and active dreaming. Even if what I’m working on isn’t particularly awesome, just being reminded that life itself is epic helps bring me back to center, and movie soundtracks like The Fountain, Interstellar, LOTR, and others help in a big way. I also practice a form of dream meditation called Active Dreaming which helps with reflection, emotional awareness, and creativity. Various forms of it have been used by all sorts of folks like President Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Jung, etc. I practice it in both waking and sleeping states. It’s a lot of fun and very powerful.

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?


Berit: If you can see a better way, create it. 

Brett: Publish earlier than you feel comfortable with. Whether it’s a start-up idea, an article, a story, or asking someone on a date. Deep introspection and alone time is key to the formation of great ideas and things, but it’s not until you get it out of your head that the real growth starts happening.

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?


Berit: Ursula LeGuin, David Harris, G. Willow Wilson.

Brett:Denis Hayes, Eric Rasmussen, Sarra Tekola

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?


Berit: Getting married to someone I met on CraigsList. And then starting a company with them.

What was the best surprise you’ve experienced so far in life?

Berit: There’s actually a secret society of grownups out there that has agreed never to stop acting like kids. I’m a proud member. 

What is the one movie or book every creative must see/read?


Brett: Pathways to Bliss by Joseph Campbell. Many people are familiar with Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” writing, but Pathways to Bliss is a beautiful distillation of his incredible life’s work trying to find patterns in all of the world’s mythologies. Learning to interrogate and embrace ‘the shadow’ was a powerful part of the book for me.

What was the best advice you were ever given?


Brett: My mom once told me: You teach people how to treat you.

James Adams is the founding principal of 5IVE CREATIVE.  He has an extensive background in retail planning, brand strategy and environmental design.  He has lead design efforts for Polo Jeans Co., Bank of America, CVS, Armstrong World Industries, B. Dalton Bookseller, Esprit; Porsche and Starbucks to name a few. You can get tickets and more info for his January 15th talk right here.

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
If insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results then I think creativity can be defined as doing something for the first time and getting the desired results. Doing something different by itself isn’t creative, at least not in my work world. Doing something different to achieve a specific result, a planned result, that is creative.  

Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
Everybody is a creative inspiration. Collaborating with people in any and all areas of expertise generates ideas. Always. I’ve never known anyone locked up to a desk in a nicely isolated room to maximize creativity. They may be highly productive in that setting but creativity is people fed. Talking to people always inspires creativity and if no one is around, I can always talk to myself.

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
Failure is just part of the process. If you aren’t taking enough risk to fail then you aren’t going to succeed in a meaningful way either.  

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
Lauren Weedman, she applies a creative twist to everyday life events and she’s from Seattle.

How would you describe what you do in a single sentence to a stranger?
We connect companies with their customers through 2 and 3 dimensional design.

Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did that person teach you?
Tom Calvey, he was a general contractor I worked for over a 4 year period. He taught me that schools mostly taught us to memorize information but the real lesson was in how to apply the knowledge.

Jonathon Colman at 2014 IA Summit in San Diego, California.
Photo © Jennifer Jefferson (@uxjenn)

Guys! We have one of the best introverts around speaking at our December event! The theme is TIME and Jonathon Colman is going to bring a great talk on Wicked Ambiguity and User Experience. Tickets are currently waitlisted.

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
In the past 20 years, I’ve had at least 11 jobs in over 6 fields, from improv performer to Peace Corps Volunteer to user experience architect.

In all that time, I’ve only learned one thing about creativity that always works: take the opportunities as they come. Don’t save up your creativity for a rainy day. Move fast and you won’t lose your gumption.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
Science and nature—if my nose isn’t in a book then it’s outdoors, taking in the rare air of the Pacific Northwest.

I walk everywhere. That’s when all my best ideas come to me, when I’m moving about on my feet. That’s the only way you get to see a city and know its people. That’s when you realize that the world is darker, stranger, madder, and better than you’d ever hoped.

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
It’s OK to not be perfect. Perfection is a myth, an impossible ideal that stagnates progress and destroys creativity. I wish I’d been taught that failure isn’t just to be expected, but that it’s also required for discovery and inspiration. I wish I’d known that failure would come to define the things I care about most.

I don’t want to celebrate failure, but I certainly want to reward learning. That’s how we keep growing as creators and leaders—by learning new things and then daring to apply our knowledge.

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
In Seattle, I’d love to see Candace Faber and David Harris of Hack to End Homelessness and Hack the CD. Tom Kundig, principal of Olson Kundig, would be amazing. Batya Friedman, a professor at UW who focuses on value-sensitive design, would be inspiring. And my childhood idol, Gary Larson of “The Far Side,” would be like a dream come true.

If you were on an episode of “Jeopardy!”, what would your best categories be?

  • Ska-Punk of the 1990s
  • Advanced Procrastination
  • Dogs, Dogs, Dogs
  • Introvert Hacks
  • “Doctor Who” Quotes
  • Fun With Coffee

What keeps you awake at night?
My dog, chasing things in her sleep. I wonder what she’s chasing. I want to chase it, too.

Stuck on November’s waitlist? Don’t want to watch the live stream by yourself? These folks are hosting viewing parties starting at 8:30a:

Startup Hall (1100 NE Campus Parkway, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98105 ) in the way back lounge. Ask for Steven Chau. Coffee will be available.

Moz (1100 2nd Ave. STE 500, Seattle, WA 98101). Go up to the 5th floor and ask for David O’Hara. Coffee and donuts will be served.

Lineage Solutions (11111 NE 8th Street, Bellevue, WA 98004) Meet at the fireplace by the Bravern valet parking (map). Jana Gering will be bringing folks up to the office at 8:45a. Coffee will be available. Email jana (at) lineage.solutions if you get stuck downstairs.

If you’d like to invites some creatives in your space to watch Jessica Hagy’s talk, let us know on Twitter!

We’re delighted to have Jessica Hagy as our November speaker on the theme of WORK. You can get more info on the event here.

Jessica Hagy is an artist and writer best known for her Webby award-winning blog, Indexed. Her work has been described as “deceptively simple,” “undeniably brilliant,” and “our favorite reason for the Internet to exist.” Her style of visual storytelling allows readers to draw their own conclusions and to actively participate in each narrative. “Her images don’t always tell us what to think; quite often, they elegantly offer us ideas to think about.”

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
Creativity is taking what lying around and turning it into something interesting. If you can’t do that, wherever you are and whatever situation you’re in: your creativity is just hiding inside a fog of frustration. I try to always look for little, odd, details or big, strange things, that are hiding in plain site: those are the observations that translate into work people can really relate to.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
I wander around. I lurk. I am Sometimes 10, 12 miles a day. I can sit at a desk and take maybe, 12 steps in my brain. Walking around? With some paper and a pen? I can take hundreds of steps and actually think myself into somewhere strange and novel. Getting myself home, sometimes that takes a while (and a vehicle or two), because getting lost (physically and mentally) is part of the process. I am a very suspicious looking person, especially when accidentally trespassing.

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
That there are some people who want work toward big ideas, and other people who want to work toward getting promoted. Ideas are more satisfying than cash, but cash follow ideas, so any creative career is game theory with feelings. Would you rather be Harper Lee or the dude in her hometown who made a decent living selling cars to her neighbors? Right.

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
Super badass working-mom, super-designer, so-insightful-it-hurts, she’s amazingly bold and never not hilarious: Kelsey Hanson: founder, Vocal Design. If you have time, look her up. If you have money, throw it at her amazing sense of composition and on-point style.

What was the best surprise you’ve experienced so far in life?
That you can choose the people whose opinions matter. Life’s far too short and statistically unusual to be someone else’s punching bag (physical, emotional, or professional). And if you think no one will care about you and what you have you offer? You’re just not talking to the right people yet. Keep shouting.

What practices, rituals or habits contribute to your creative work?
I draw, write, and paint every day. Every day, even if I just jot down ideas during Thanksgiving dinner. About a third of that is for myself to share, another third is for clients, and another third is for the future. So basically, I have decades of work waiting for a pseudonym to embody. I intend to reitre my name before I retire my person. That breakdown is creatively freeing and gives me an “out” for thoughts that don’t fit into pre-built buckets.

For October’s talk on SHOCK, we’re pleased as punch to have Mike Gaston, As the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Cut.com. Mike’s work has been featured in everything from The Wall Street Journal to TMZ. Recent projects include “The Primary Instinct,” a full length concert film that premiered at SIFF starring Stephen Tobolowsky and the “100 Years of Beauty” series which was showcased at TED 2015. He is most often recognized for a video about weed. Tickets for the event at Seattle Art Museum are currently waitlist-only.

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
Creativity is like irritable bowel syndrome. It’s a name we’ve given to a bunch of different symptoms, whose triggers vary from person to person, and no one really knows what causes it.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
I’m most productive in the bathroom. 


What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
People don’t really care about your work. They care what you think about their work. (That would’ve saved me some time in writer’s workshops.)

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
David Mikula (bff.co). I want to know what’s behind that beard.

What are you reading these days?
Alain de Botton’s The News, Milan Kundera’s Encounter, and René Girard’s Violence and the Sacred.

When you get stuck creatively, what is the first thing you do to get unstuck?
I make a decision or I move on. Writer’s block isn’t a real thing. You aren’t actually out of ideas or words. You’re out of creatively satisfying ideas and words. Being stuck is your ego paralyzing you from making a decision. I decided a while back that everything I made was pretty crappy. Once I detached the work I was producing from the expectation it had to be good, making decisions including moving on, became easy.

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