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The Collective is a membership community designed to bring creators, thinkers and doers together to build social capital, leveraged around a common purpose of improving our world - and to have fun doing it. As a participant of Creative Mornings, you’re invited to the basecamp to experience The Collective’s great food, drink, ambiance and people. Sign up here to join the community by August 10th at our $100 Charter Membership enrollment rate. Be sure to note Creative Mornings as your referral, and we’ll waive your one-time $100 joining fee. Give a shout to alexandra@collectiveseattle.com with any questions or to schedule coffee and a tour!

Our Q&A with August speaker, John Cook, who will be talking on the topic of Community.
🎟 You can get tickets for his upcoming CreativeMornings talk here. 🎟

[CreativeMornings (CM)] How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?

[John Cook (JC)] Creativity takes many forms at GeekWire — from crafting a compelling story idea to hosting a new event to concocting original business concepts that drive a fast-moving media business in 2018. For me, creativity manifests itself best when you have smart people crafting new ideas. Group collaboration can help creative ideas flourish, as we’ve seen with GeekWire experiments such as our GeekWire HQ2 project in Pittsburgh or the growth of the GeekWire Summit or our new Elevator Pitch video series. At its core, creativity is the birth of new ideas — but to me the real power comes in the smart execution of those ideas.

(CM) Where do you find your best creative inspiration?

(JC) All over the place. I am not sure where creative inspiration comes from — to me it is kind of like spotting a good story. Your flag just goes up. It’s an innate sense. The hardest thing for us is balancing the creative ideas with the tactical operations of running the business. But we find creative inspiration in all sorts of places — group brainstorms, sponsors, listening to smart people, watching what others are doing, etc. And, of course, I also find creative inspiration in the shower. 

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

(JC) Don’t wait around — take action and make something happen. My only regret is that I didn’t start GeekWire earlier in my life. In my mind, becoming an entrepreneur is the most creative outlet, since it tests your mettle every day.  

(CM) Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?

(JC) We’ve organized dozens of speakers at GeekWire events over the years, and some of my favorites include entrepreneurs, innovators and iconoclastic thinkers like: Todd “The Quadfather” Stabelfeldt; skydiver Luke Aikins who jumped from 25,000 feet without a parachute (and lived to tell about it); Fred Hutch research Dr. Jim Olson who is using scorpion venom to wipe out cancer; former Navy fighter pilot Missy Cummings who is paving the way to a new autonomous world; and many more.  

(CM) What did you learn from your most memorable creative failure?

(JC) Before starting GeekWire, Todd Bishop and I stumbled with another online news organization that we created in partnership with an established media company. From that experience — kind of a mistimed baby-step into entrepreneurship — I learned that we were better off placing a bet on ourselves than relying on outside partnerships for us to find success. (CM) When you get stuck creatively, what is the first thing you do to get unstuck?(JC) My mom — a newspaper reporter for The Akron Beacon Journal who covered courts, cops and the small rural community of Wayne County, Ohio — gave me the best advice for dealing with writer’s block: “Just get something down on paper. Who cares if it is no good, just start writing.” That advice has always stuck with me, and over time I have condensed writer’s block — which I still get — from hours to minutes. I find myself getting frustrated if I am not writing something in a few minutes, and I revert to my mom’s advice and just start writing. 

Our Q&A with July speaker, Frits Habermann, who will be talking on the topic of Intention.

🎟 You can get tickets for his upcoming CreativeMornings talk here. 🎟

Frits Habermann is a Landscape Photographer and tech entrepreneur. His passion is combining technology with art and using fancy words like “leveraging synergy” to explain what he’s passionate about. Most at home with a camera in the outback running from grizzly bears or melting his shoes on lava fields, he’s more frequently seen in his hoodie at PicMonkey HQ where he serves as its CEO. He spent 20 years at Adobe, where he co-founded Adobe InDesign and later ran the Core Technologies group. More recently, Frits served as CTO for PopCap Games and CTO/Head of Product at Lynda.com. He holds degrees in both applied mathematics and computer science from Carnegie Mellon and the University of Washington. Find Frits at fritshabermannphotography.com and on LinkedIn.

[CreativeMornings (CM)] How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
[Frits Habbermann (FH)] For me, creativity, in the moments I’m lucky enough to find some, is more of a state than a thing or goal. It is that feeling of “flow” that ignores time and place and what’s going on around me. The result need not necessarily be all that earth-shattering, but the time in flow is the only time I can be somewhat creative. This is independent of what it’s applied to. Music, photography, writing or software development; the best work seems to come when feeling totally immersed, focused and enjoying the process.

(CM) Where do you find your best creative inspiration?

(FH) From nature, mostly water. Besides the greater context of nature that simply clears your head and puts many things into perspective, photographing water always delivers unique results. It is never a picture of what your eye sees, as a long-exposure blurs rushing water into abstract swirls and cotton-candy type effects. Every moment is different and the timing is always nature’s timing, never yours. From that, you learn patience, and usually, there are one or two results that will give you a great feeling of inspiration.

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

(FH) Malcolm Gladwell’s theory that 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” are needed to become world-class in any field. As a kid, I assumed you were either talented or not, and that if your grandmother told you-you played the piano well, well then the next likely step would be Carnegie Hall, no sweat. When that didn’t come so easily, I assumed I must not be all that talented, so I should go do something else. With a bit more life experience under my belt, I can now enjoy the learning process as opposed to the end goal. I can trace the stages of improvement through chunks of hours I’ve applied over the years to creative things I enjoy.

(CM) Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?

(FH) Jean Gang, the designer of the “Aqua” building in Chicago. To sketch out a building on paper is one thing, but to have the vision to build 80 feet of steel, concrete, and glass that creates the illusion of water rippling along the side of the building is creativity at whole different level.

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

(FH)“Timeless Way of Building” by Christopher Alexander. It’s a classic book on architecture, but more importantly, creates a pattern language around “spaces that live”. Part design system, part philosophy, but all interesting. It formed the basis for the classic “Pattern Languages of Program Design” book in computer science. Buy it in hardback because the form factor, paper, type, and layout are also of a stark aesthetic that just completes the experience.

(CM) What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

(FH) Dropped down to the edge of a volcanic crater on mountain bikes in the middle of the night to get a shot of the lava lake below. We needed gas masks to avoid the sulphuric acid, goggles to avoid the glass from the steam in the air, and careful steps around the fissures at the edge of the rim, lest they break off and fall into the cauldron below.

Our Q&A with June speaker, Brittany Nico Cox, who will be talking on the topic of Craft.

🎟 You can get tickets for her upcoming CreativeMornings talk here. 🎟

Brittany Nicole Cox is an antiquarian horologist based in Seattle, Washington. Her lifelong passion for horology has seen her through nine years in higher education where she earned her WOSTEP, CW21, and SAWTA watchmaking certifications, two clockmaking certifications, and a Masters in the Conservation of Clocks and Related Dynamic Objects from West Dean College, UK. In 2015 she opened Memoria Technica, an independent workshop where she teaches, practices guilloché, creates new pieces, and specializes in the conservation and restoration of automata, mechanical magic, mechanical music, and complicated clocks and watches. Currently, she is working on a manuscript to be published by Penguin Press.

[CreativeMornings (CM)] How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
[Brittany Cox (BC)] Like inspiration, it seems to find me. It comes in the form of problem-solving, critical thinking, adaptation, and innovation. It can be an answer to a unique mechanical problem or the concept behind an automaton or optical illusion I am making.

I find that it often comes in the form of a strange solution, like using blue tape on my lathe spindle to provide more tension when my lathe needs a new belt. It comes in the form of new patterns born on my rose engine or straight line machine, products of both past and modern aesthetics. It comes in hearing the voice of a singing bird I have brought back to life with a new coat of feathers, my interpretation of the bird’s song and the ancestry of its nest, a box formed of precious metals made by a craftsman two hundred years ago. 

[CM] Where do you find your best creative inspiration?  
[BC] I find I am most often inspired by stories. I draw on the energy of the oral tradition, which often holds truths layered in humor and tragedy. I spend much of my time surrounded by old things, which were made beautiful for the sake of beauty, though function was their main purpose. The ingenuity in those objects and how they were made with so few resources is incredibly humbling. I can see the hands of the past in them and know the intention behind their work. There is a long tradition in horology, generations of knowledge that have worked together to build beautiful things meant to inspire and invoke the sublime. I carry this inheritance, weaving the thread of lineage lost and gained into my work.

The world is bound with secret knots. The mystery in that and the journey of unraveling those threads provides many splendors.

[CM] What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
[BC] Don’t be afraid of failure. You learn the most from your mistakes.

[CM] Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
[BC] Tristan Duke – holographer and light scientist.

[CM]  What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
[BC] Taking on the estate of horologist Dennis E Harmon.  It was a 5,000 square foot building filled with horological antiquities and hazards beyond my wildest dreams. I was 27 and a recent graduate from my studies when I agreed to sell and assess the contents in exchange for a list of equipment and supplies so that I could start my own workshop. It took me 7 months. I was surrounded by the most miraculous things I had ever seen, the machines and tools of my heritage I had only seen in books. I was often scared of losing my career and worse, my life. I found myself standing in water trying to reset electrical breakers as the roof of the workshop deteriorated and water leaked into a chemical room containing both hydroscopic and exothermic materials. I had to maneuver tanks of cyanide, pots of radium, and more. I found at times other machinists and horologists were not my allies, and that some had placed bets on my failure. I found I was much stronger than I ever thought I could be. The story is one of success, but I learned more about myself, my career, and human nature than I was previously comfortable with. Life is a strange and beautiful thing.

[CM] How does your life and career compare to what you envisioned for your future when you were a sixth grader?
[BC] My life is pretty much the same now as it was then. I’m not sure what I envisioned for myself. I was an entrepreneur with a roadside quartz crystal stand. I lived in strange environments I built under my bed, behind curtains, and in trees, places where I could surround myself with delicate and intricate objects. Now I basically live in my workshop, a place I built from dreams and old things, surrounded by photos of my colleagues and heroes of my heritage. When I was in sixth grade I had a collection of musical boxes, watches, compasses, and other mechanical objects. Now I spend my days restoring them for collectors and museums.

June is CRAFTA craft is the instrument in which the authenticity of your being is communicated. Your craft is like a portal to your inner world, and as an artist, it’s your duty to pull it out of the vortex. Craft is a catalyst for our identity and the soil for cultivating meaning. It behooves us to realize that who we are and become—our values, beliefs, thoughts, observations—influence what comes out of the violin, sketch, or photograph, not the other way around.This month’s global exploration of Craft was chosen by our Mumbai chapter chapter, illustrated by Hemali Vadlia, and presented by Adobe

Video & Photos from last weeks event with @kelseynoonan are up on our website (link in profile). Stay tuned for details on our next event April 6th at HBO!
Thank you to our local partners that keep this engine of generosity moving @vitamintalent @edelmanseattle @mediatemple


Photo Credit: @jennydjames // Hosted at the beautiful @impacthubsea
#CMSEA #creativemornings #seattle #seattleiscreative #seattlecreatives #community #cmcourage (at Impact Hub Seattle)

Our Q&A with March speaker, Kelsey Noonan, who will be talking on the topic of Courage.

🎟 You can get tickets for her upcoming CreativeMornings talk here. 🎟

Kelsey Noonan is passionate about the design of innovative, user-focused solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems. Kelsey is an expert in behavior change for social good - combining deep insights into community and individual behaviors with the analysis of big-data to inform health and development programs. As the Director of Andara Strategies, she serves as a strategy advisor to philanthropists, non-profits and social-impact focused startups.

Prior to moving to Seattle, Kelsey spent half a decade working in war-zones. She has briefed NATO generals on the needs of communities in Afghanistan, partnered with UN agencies to expand access to food aid in South Sudan, and managed refugee programs in Syria.

On the weekends, Kelsey moonlights as a big mountain climber and skier. She partners with leading outdoor brands to promote the conservation of wild places as well as greater diversity in outdoor sports, and she is happiest in alpine environments.  

[CreativeMornings (CM)] How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
[Kelsey Noonan (KN)] While a creature of routine myself, I think creativity is the ability to hold space for the disruption of patterns, rote behaviors, and conditioned responses. It’s so easy to fall into daily patterns that aren’t terribly efficient and to fail to evolve with changing life circumstances. In my career, I look for behavioral insights into why we make those choices, but I also make space for “disruptors” – including new music, literature and people, that can challenge my choices and inspire change in myself.

[CM] Where do you find your best creative inspiration?  
[KN] I balance an office job with a lot of time in the mountains. I find that covering distance on trails, thinking while moving, allows for new thoughts and ideas to surface. When living overseas in places like Afghanistan, I didn’t always have easy access to the internet or social media to fill downtime, and I find that weekends “unplugged” outdoors provides that same creative space. It becomes necessary to turn inwards for inspiration and generative thinking, which is hard to replicate in our typical tech-enabled lives. 

[CM] What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
[KN] Sometimes childhood daydreams will manifest as an adult in the most amazing real-world ways. As a kid I lived inside books, and particularly loved books with knights, dragons and swords. As an adult, I recently climbed Dragontail Peak in a mountain range called the “Enchantments,” with some sword-like ice axes. I think my 10-year-old self would have been thrilled that I could bring those imaginative stories to life in such a different but relevant way.

[CM] Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
[KN] Priya Frank - ‎Associate Director for Community Programs at the ‎Seattle Art Museum, and all-around amazing human being.

[CM] What are you reading these days?
[KN] I just finished a book about the daughters of Genghis Khan: “The Secret History of the Mongol Queens” by Jack Weatherford. It challenged a lot of what I had learned about Mongols in history class, and it was an absolutely fascinating window into a part of the world I don’t know very well.

[CM] What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
[KN] South Sudan, where I used to work, has an incredibly high concentration of venomous snakes, to such an extent that snake-bites were categorized as an “office hazard” because they would frequently be found inside buildings and under desks. I was so afraid of being bitten, or having one crawl up the leg of a chair, that I spent a full six months working while sitting cross-legged on a rubber yoga ball to avoid having my feet on the ground!

March’s theme is COURAGEWhen researching or writing about courage, other traits fall into the mix: risk, vulnerability, curiosity, empathy, and action.It seems, then, that courage has nothing to do with your title or level of expertise. It’s not for the few or the gifted. It’s an act of humanity, of choosing to take an action that is risky because it demands vulnerability and curiosity.Courage has no specific form and knows no bounds. From starting a side project to the act of listening when you would rather interject, every day we are wrapped in opportunities to exercise courage.We need your courage. It’s going to be risky and will require vulnerability. A posture of empathy and curiosity will empower you. And above all, you must take action.This month is presented by our global partner WordPress.com This month’s global exploration of Courage was chosen by our Oakland chapter and illustrated by Annie Wong.

February’s theme is Curiosity

Curiosity is many things—a trait, a mindset, and a skill. To wonder about the things you don’t know and to actively fill those gaps with knowledge is to consciously enrich your life.

It’s also the secret sauce for creativity. Curiosity silences ego and encourages us to ask why. By constantly asking why we keep the channel open, allowing inspiration, perspectives, and ideas to mold our work and ourselves.

The more you practice being curious the more opportunities abound. Sometimes all it takes is tilting your head up and just marveling at this thing called life.

This month’s global exploration of Curiosity was chosen by our Malmö chapter and illustrated by Oelwein.

February Event



Our Q&A with February speaker, Traca Savadogo, who will be talking on the topic of Curiosity.

🎟 You can get tickets for her upcoming CreativeMornings talk here. 🎟

Traca is a catalyst whose mission is to amplify ideas and bringing people together. Described as the Seattle Freeze Buster, Traca has an innate ability to be able to talk to anyone about anything. What helps her do that? Authentic curiosity, care, and compassion. She has a proven track record of making sh*t happen. Here are just some of her ideas successfully executed: She founded a Master Class Series for documentary filmmakers, helped launched the Dinner with Your Muslim Neighbor series, and created a Women & Negotiation series in partnership with the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington. Traca also works closely with Startup Grind, featuring fireside chats with leading entrepreneurs.

She is the author of an interview series called Curiosity Conversations and in 2017, was the official interviewer for TEDx Seattle.

As a writer, photographer, and world traveler, Traca’s dove with sharks, sailed with a jaguar hunter, crossed the DMZ with the Thai military, dated a secret service agent, and met a nuclear particle physicist working on the world’s largest experiment (CERN) at a hostel.

From the ordinary to the extraordinary, life’s most profound moments are sparked by curiosity.

[CreativeMornings (CM)] How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
[Traca Savadogo (TS)] For me, creativity is often a synthesis of ideas from diverse fields. Something that’s common in one field can be truly novel in another, so I’m constantly gathering ideas, linking them together over and over again.

[CM] Where do you find your best creative inspiration?  

[TS] In mundane, quiet moments–like the shower, driving in my car, or early morning when I journal. For me, the less stimulus the better. It creates room for new ideas to flourish. (Earplugs are my favorite accessory.) 

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

[TS] That it’s okay to be a work in progress. You don’t have to know where you’re going before you begin. Detach yourself from the outcome. Be open to detours, curves in the road, and pivots. My friend, Crescent Dragonwagon, is an award-winning writer who has written over 50 books. When you call, her voicemail quotes E.L. Doctorow, “‘Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ I confess, I’ve called her many times, hoping to get her voicemail. 

[CM] Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?

[TS] Miguel Edwards is a photographer and a sculptor. He’s fearless about trying new things, and putting himself in situations that force his own growth. Once, he accepted a commission on a large-scale steel and glass public sculpture. He’d never done anything of that scale before and by his own admission, the math on it almost killed him. But he perservered. And now, there’s a 3 ½ story sculpture in Greenwood (on 85th across from Fred Meyer) that will outlive him.  

[CM] What books made a difference in your life and why?

[TS] Listening is an Act of Love - from the StoryCorps podcast
In these brief conversations, people ask deep, and truly meaningful questions like: How would you like to be remembered? and What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life? There’s a whole list of questions on their website. Rooted in the questions are the type of answers people look for after someone has died. They try to piece together significant moments of someone’s life after they’ve gone. What’s beautiful about StoryCorps, is it provides a framework for having those kind of conversations now. It had a profound impact on me first, because they provided the framework, but most importantly, because of StoryCorps, I gave myself permission to have the kind of conversations I always longed for. 

Letters to a Young Artist: Straight-Up Advice on Making a Life in the Arts - by Anna Deavere Smith
This book is incredible–especially on audio. The format is based on a series of letters from a working artist (Smith) to a student in the arts, trying to find her way. Smith addresses issues around self-esteem, confidence, procrastination, and The Man. "The Man has the power to make or break your career. You need to know who The Man is.” She’s a gifted storyteller and weaves her own experiences with no-nonsense advice that often takes years to learn on your own. 

[CM] If you could interview anyone living or dead, but not a celebrity, who would it be and why?

[TS] Preston Jackson is a prolific artist, and growing up, he lived in my neighborhood. I had a paper route, and his house was the last on my route. Often he’d have the garage door open, listening to jazz, or working on his latest sculpture. He’d call out my name in a lyrical way, like I was the most incredible person on earth. He was a black belt in karate, and taught free classes to the kids in the neighborhood. Recently, I looked him up. He’s still producing work, and is highly acclaimed in the Midwest. Preston is African American and I vividly recall my dad thinking the neighborhood was going to go downhill when he moved in. That never made sense to me, because Preston was the most educated and accomplished person I’d ever met. I’d love to talk with him about his experience, and his work. He’s had a profound and long-lasting influence on me.