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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.

With great delight, we will be having the amazing Marcy Sutton as our September speaker. Tickets are available August 31 and the event will be held at Galvanize in Pioneer Square.

Marcy is an Accessibility Engineer at Adobe and an AngularJS core team member. Her background in photojournalism, art and web design combined with a passion for web accessibility helped her to become a persuasive storyteller and public speaker at conferences all across the world.

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
Creativity is original thought and problem solving. In my work as an accessibility engineer, creativity and user-centered design play a huge part. Design in this practice goes beyond the visual to also include semantics and multi-modal interaction. I’ll ask questions like, “what would a delightful screen reader experience sound like?” Or, “can we tweak this approach slightly to be more feasible in the time we have?” When creativity is really flowing, the answers to those questions will inform other things I’m working on, such as blog posts or conference talks. When I can see patterns and connect the dots in different areas of my life, I feel the most creative.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
I find the most inspiration when I travel to new places. In transit, I put my headphones on (a.k.a. my comfort blanket) and listen to music, naturally feeling inspired to catch up on projects. On a perfect day, I’d head to a place where I could bike to a modern art museum and scout out street art along the way. These moments help me stay fulfilled for months at a time.

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
Don’t be so hard on yourself if your skills don’t fit neatly into a box, especially as a developer with a creative side or a designer with a technical side. Do work you’re passionate about and your talents & strengths will emerge.

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
I would love to hear from Matt May, my colleague from Adobe. His background as an accessibility evangelist paired with his sermons for the Buddhist church could make for something really interesting.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Recently, I was asked to emcee one day of Cascadia Fest, a web community conference at Semiahmoo Resort north of Bellingham. When I arrived the night before, someone suggested I do costume changes. I happened to be staying with a friend with a basement full of costumes, and my destiny was written. I introduced 11 speakers, including Q&A and announcements, with 9 costume changes including a Canadian Mountie, Mexican wrestler, Batman onesie, pirate, and full-sized bear. If I had any shred of fear of public speaking before that, it’s surely gone now. The most rewarding part for my self-humiliation was hearing comments like, “costume changes make me happy” and “this was my first conference; you made it very special.” These are the things that will make me smile when I’m old and grey.

Where is your favorite place to escape?
I escape into nature any chance I get, no matter the season. Living in Washington, we are truly fortunate to have such beautiful trails in our backyard. As my work and public speaking career have continued to blossom, I have to build time into my schedule to unplug and turn off all the notifications and distractions. The wilderness is my favorite place to do that.

Growing up, Kyle Kesterson and his family hit the lowest of lows moving in and out of homeless shelters and standing in line at food and clothing banks. It led to frequently moving, attending 14 different schools, becoming one of the worst kids in the school district and finally dropping out after being told by teachers that he’ll “most likely end up flipping burgers, in jail, or dead.”

Discovering art and creative expression saved his life and put him on a path towards carving his own path and ultimately creating positive impact around him. You can get tickets hear his upcoming talk on ACTION August 7 at the Olympic Sculpture Park.

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
Creativity to me is just seeing something for more than what it’s labeled to be. Approaching an object or challenge with, “it could be this, or it could be this,” and playing with how it comes together, allows for that creative lens to stay flexible and flowing. It gets applied in every facet of my career, from solving problems, to building products and creating content, to managing teams and building culture, and to how we communicate internally and externally.

Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
My best creative inspiration comes right after reaching what I call the ‘butthole pucker factor’. It’s that threshold where comfort and fear meet, and after identifying the fear, I hold my breath and step into it as boldly as I can. It’s in those moments I am truly present, learn the most about what I am capable of, and come back with new ideas and energy. Lately it’s been adventuring through the wilderness with my dog, Bean.

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
I wish I had learned earlier that purpose is birthed from struggle, and the more intense the struggle, the more of an opportunity for deeper impact. Knowing that would’ve shifted my experience to embracing the challenges and hardships as gifts for developing character and perspective.

Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
Richard Tait, Founder of Cranium / Golazo

How would you describe what you do in a single sentence to a stranger?
I make fun of everything.

What’s the most recent thing you learned (big or small)?
When your world is small, your problems are big. When your world is big, your problems are small. Dave Cole, former CEO of Redbox/Coinstar told me that, and has pushed me to make my world very big.

What myths about creativity would you like to set straight?
Creativity is not art, painting, design, sculpting, crafting, building. Those are just technical expressions of creativity. With creativity being just looking at something for more than what it is labeled to be, everyone is creative.

What has been one of your biggest Aha! moments in life?
Recently I’ve noticed that much of my creativity comes from avoiding pain and discomfort. If I happen to work myself into a comfortable situation, where I have little to no stress, I self-sabotage in a way that allows for chaos and challenges to surround me. That tension that builds lights me up and I reach new ways of seeing and thinking, which leads to fresh ideas and solutions.  

What is the one movie or book every creative must see/read?
Orbiting the Giant Hairball, Gordon MacKenzie