Dixie Darr

Archive for September, 2007|Monthly archive page

In creativity on September 5, 2007 at 10:37 am

Curiouser and Curiouser

“If a young Leonardo were alive today and attending grade school, he would probably be on medication.” Michael Gelb

I teach a class where we study some of the great creative minds throughout history, including Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci and Maya Angelou. One of the traits they all share is curiosity. When my students ask me how they can increase their creativity, I tell them to be more curious. Ask more questions.

Mickey Hart, drummer for the Grateful Dead, is a great example of this. His interest in drums led him to collect percussion instruments and become a renowned expert on the history of drums and drumming. He has written four books, testified before the U.S. Senate and was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. A member of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function at Beth Abraham Hospital, he continues to investigate the connection between healing and rhythm. Not exactly what you’d expect from a drug-soaked rock and roller.

You can use your curiosity to delve more deeply into any subject that interests you. As a writer, I have studied the history and process of papermaking, ink and printing in addition to pursuing a hobby of hand bookbinding.

Here’s an assignment I give my students. Visit a local museum and find an idea you can adapt to your personal or professional life. One woman visited the Titanic exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science and came away with the idea that you always need to have a backup plan, no matter how safe you think you are. Imagine if the Titanic captain had asked, “What if this isn’t the safest ship on the sea?”

© Copyright 2007 Dixie Darr. All rights reserved

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In creativity, self-employment, work on September 4, 2007 at 7:36 am

Against the Grain

“I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.”
G. K. Chesterton

If you’re looking for an innovative idea to make your business stand out, think about doing the opposite of what everybody else is doing. If the conventional wisdom in your industry is to market products to giant corporations, maybe you could find an untapped niche in the small- or medium-sized market.

In this age of globalization, some companies make a distinct regionalism work for them. The Buckhorn Exchange restaurant in Denver is one example. It is our oldest restaurant, in continuous operation since 1893, and holds Colorado’s first liquor license. Thumbing its nose at political correctness, the historic building unabashedly displays hundreds of hunting trophies, Native American artifacts and Wild West memorabilia. The menu features buffalo, elk, pheasant and pot roast. People come from all over the world for this unique dining experience.

If you wrote a business plan today for a restaurant like this, funding agencies would probably laugh you out of the office. Much like Hollywood producers, banks are looking for the sequel to McDonald’s, not something completely different.

If your idea flouts conventional wisdom, chances are good that you will be on your own. That’s okay, because it also means that when you hit it big, you will reap all the profits. The thing about conventional wisdom is that it is so frequently wrong.

© Copyright 2007 Dixie Darr. All rights reserved