14 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

Product development, web design, free-style rapping, writing, cooking, art, music, to the way you make your bed in the morning, what are we talking about here?

Everything.

From forward-thinking tech-product managers such as Ryan Hoover, to the barista who serves your coffee art, we all have creativity within us. Here’s a hit list of 14 things nobody told you about being creative:

1. Anyone can do it.

If you want to be creative, do it. Forget the prejudice that creativity is saved for the select few. With a willingness to learn and desire to start, you can be creative. So get going.

2. Creatives steal.

Art is theft. — Pablo Picasso

Actually, I took the concept for this column’s title from the book, Steal Like An Artist, by Austin Kleon. My title was his subtitle, and became the inspiration to write this piece. How’s that for meta?

This is seen in all disciplines, with blaring examples surfacing in hip hop. How many times have you heard your favorite rapper’s chorus, sound byte or voice in another rapper’s song?

Pablo Picasso is often quoted as saying, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” From web design, writing, music, to cooking, there are endless examples of creatives “borrowing from one another.”

 

3. Freestyle rappers should be your creative role models.

Speaking of rap: This study shows brain scans of freestyle rappers with the goal to understand the neuroscience behind the skill.

“We think what we see is a relaxation of ‘executive functions’ to allow more natural de-focused attention and uncensored processes to occur that might be the hallmark of creativity,” says Allen Braun, a neuroscientist at the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders in Bethesda, Md.

In layman’s terms, the rappers were able to remove themselves from the logical thinking that happens in their brains so that the creative side could come through. Mind — blown.

4. It can be a learned skill.

There are endless research studies that have been shown that creativity is a learned behavior. One of my favorite studies was done by George Land.

In 1968, Land tested the creativity of 1,600 children. He re-tested the same children at 10 years of age and again at 15. The results were astounding.

  • Test results amongst 5 year olds: 98 percent
  • Test results amongst 10 year olds: 30 percent
  • Test results amongst 15 year olds: 12 percent
  • Same test given to 280,000 adults: 2 percent

“What we have concluded,” Land wrote, “is that non-creative behavior is learned.”

Wow.This should give us even more reason to go against societal norms.

5. It can be improved.

Here are some ways to improve it: experimenting, exploring, questioning assumptions, using imagination and synthesizing information.

Last week I wrote a column about different activities that allow my entrepreneurial brain to be more creative.

6. ADHD is good.

Latent inhibition is a person’s ability to ignore irrelevant information in the world, an important skill in navigating such a complex place. However, people with low latent inhibition, such as those with ADHD, have less of a filter, and are more likely to notice seemingly irrelevant information around them. You could say their logic force is constantly subdued. As a result, they are more likely to make unexpected connections.

7. All ideas matter.

One idea can create a domino effect. In his book, Where Good Ideas Come From, Steven Johnson writes that “creativity happens when seemingly unrelated existing ideas collide to form new ideas.”

8. Use it or lose it.

Creativity is a muscle that can be developed with constant exercise and healthy habits.

Combining their research about creativity, Tony Schwartz and Swedish psychologist Anders Ericsson found that, “it’s possible to build any given skill or capacity in the same systematic way we do a muscle: push past your comfort zone, and then rest … it’s not inherited talent which determines how good we become at something, but rather how hard we’re willing to work.”

9. Look outside.

Most of my personal creativity comes from the world around me. The moment I try to “get in the zone” and start getting creative is typically the moment where I feel the creative block. Exploring the world eyes wide open will give you the creative fodder you need.

10. Creativity is infinite.

Everything you see is a creation. Whether you believe in a master creator or in evolution, it is all still creation. I can go off on a tangent, but rather am going to provide you a relevant Steve Jobs quote:

Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact — everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. Shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just going to live in it vs. make your mark upon it. Once you learn that, you will never be the same again.

11. Use nature for inspiration.

Have you looked outside recently? The world is full of awe, from the smallest of insects to the endless expanse that is the universe. Everything about nature is beautiful. There’s no better inspiration.

12. It is a conscious decision.

Creativity takes work, time and energy. Being creative is a lifestyle choice.

Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try. — Dr. Seuss

13. Take notes all the time.

I document everything. I have notebooks and jot down ideas. I use Keynote to sketch out product visions. I use Google docs and have endless drafts for articles, books and all of my writings (published and trashed). I save websites I like, I mock up stuff all of the time and am constantly taking notes about everything.

14. F–k opinion.

Van Gogh, Thoreau and Edgar Allen Poe were all ahead of their time. Who’s to say you aren’t?

Create what you want, write what you want to read, build what you want to use, cook what you want to eat and share it with the world. If the world responds positively — cool. If not, who cares? At least you’re doing what you enjoy. Maybe the future will appreciate you, and maybe not. Learn how to be creative for you.

Author: Andrew Medal

This article was originally published on Entrepreneur. 

There will always be a place for pop music, but we here at The Sampler make it a point to give light to those talented artists you may not hear on the radio. We’ve compiled 7 artists with cult followings that have been consistently putting out great music just inches below the radar.  Check out some of their most recent releases below.

PARTYNEXTDOOR May Have a Collab EP With Hit Producer T88 and Releases “Party at 8”

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 9.03.43 PM

Here’s a collaboration that we didn’t see coming. But now that we’ve been warned, we couldn’t be more excited. Atlanta producer TM88, the king of horror movie trap, has just announced a forthcoming EP with OVO’s mysterious slayer of forward-thinking R&B, PartyNextDoor. We were lucky enough to get one single “Party at 8” to hold us over until we get more information. Stream it below.

 

King Krule Releases Experimental LP A New Place To Drown and Documentary

Zoo Kid

King Krule unexpectedly releases a project with little to no warning (besides one Instagram post), called “A New Place to Drown. Compared to his past work, this album definitely shows an experimental side with new electronic/hip hop beats. His previous albums had a more classic rock, bluesy, reggae blend. If you’re a KK fan, it definitely takes a little getting used to. Stream A New Place to Drown here.

Alongside the album, KK also released an art book and a mini documentary that speaks to the direction they went on this one. You can check them out here.

Ro James XIX “New Religion”

ro james

Ro James isn’t a new kid on the block behind the scenes. The singer had a hand in co-writing for Miguel and has now decided to step out on his own. He has the edginess of Miguel and a voice similar to Frank Ocean. You can’t beat that mix. Check out his new single “New Religion” below.

 

Bryson Tiller Releases “Self Righteous”

bryson tiller

Following his album “Trap Soul” that was heard on every R&B lover’s snapchat across the nation, Bryson Tiller is back with a new song “Self Righteous”

Abra Release Video for “Fruit”

Earlier this year, Awful Records songstress ABRA came into her own as a solo artist with the release of her debut album Rose. With her breakout year coming to an end, ABRA has shared a video for Rose cut fruit. The hazy visual is brought to us by JMP, who shot the piece. You can check out the clip for “Fruit” above. Last month, ABRA shared a new single entitled”Sick Girl.”

 

DIIV “Under the Sun”

diiv

This past weekend, DIIV released a brand new track from their upcoming album Is the Is Are. Titled “Under the Sun,” the single follows the previously released songs “Dopamine,” “Bent (Roi’s Song)” & “Mire (Grant’s Song).” The album is due on February 5, digitally on iTunes and physically from Omnian Music Group. Listen to the track below.

 

 

Migos “Case Closed”

migos bnw

Offset, the third and missing piece to the Atlanta trap trio that is Migos, was finally released from jail. Their newest single “Case Closed” is the first track to have all three members together since Offset’s arrest. You’ll definitely be dabbin’ to this one.

yellow flower

9 Ways To Dramatically Improve Your Creativity

 

creativity boosters

Creativity is like a muscle. It must be stretched, challenged, and occasionally pushed past its comfort zone.

In a previous column, I shared nine ways you can become more creative in just 10 minutes. I’ve also shared four must-watch TED talks on creativity in business.

Now it’s time to stretch your creative muscles again.

Here are nine ways you can dramatically improve your creativity.

1. Learn Through Collaboration

Curiosity will lead you to creativity.

Andrew Ng, formerly of Google and now of Baidu, is one who doesn’t believe innovation is due to unpredictable flashes of genius. Rather, he saidyou can become more creative and innovative systematically.

“In my own life, I found that whenever I wasn’t sure what to do next, I would go and learn a lot, read a lot, talk to experts. I don’t know how the human brain works but it’s almost magical: when you read enough or talk to enough experts, when you have enough inputs, new ideas start appearing.”

Indeed, collaborating with and learning from others may be just what you need to give your creativity a boost.

2. Do Something You Love

Stuck for ideas? Not sure what to do? Your life needs some balance to ensure your creativity doesn’t suffer.

In a letter to his son, Albert Einstein provided a great bit of fatherly insight when addressing his son’s interest in playing the piano that is applicable to losing yourself in the creative process: do something that pleases you.

“That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes,” Einstein wrote. “I am sometimes so wrapped up in my work that I forget about the noon meal.”

Love and creativity are intertwined. A hobby, such as playing an instrument, running, or collecting memorabilia, can help you relax and fight stress while giving your creativity a boost.

3. Find Inspiration From Other Industries

Your next idea won’t come from copying what a competitor has already done. So look for innovation in different industries and niches.

Research what businesses are dominating. Why

What businesses are you most loyal to? Why?

How can you transfer what worked for businesses outside your industry to your own market? Maybe you can improve on these ideas.

Taking inspiration from other industries is a great way to boost your own creativity.

4. Unplug (Or Just Do Nothing)

As Alan Cohen once wrote, “There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.”

Sometimes your best ideas will come when you’re not wracking your brain trying to come up with the next great idea.

It could be while you’re sleeping. A good night of rest will help you be more productive and creative.

It could be while your mind wanders in the shower that you get a great idea.

Maybe your next innovative idea will come while you’re driving, exercising, hiking, shopping, sitting on an airplane, or watching the sunset.

If your creativity is lacking, unplug. Relax. And let your brain do its magic.

5. Walk

The average person sits between 7 and 15 hours every day.

Crazy, right.

That’s terrible for your health and your mood, which means it can be terrible for your creativity.

Stanford research has indicated that walking improves creative thinking. In a follow-up study, HBR found that people who take part in walking meetings are more creative and engaged.

Priceline Group CEO Darren Huston, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Western Union Co. CEO Hikmet Ersek, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, and scores of other business leaders and entrepreneurs regularly have walking meetings.

While walking during work won’t solve our national sitting crisis, it’s a step in the right direction.

6. Set the Right Mood

A lack of ideas or being unable to solve a problem can be extremely frustrating.

Unless you value complete silence, music can be the thing to give your mood, and your creativity, a boost.

Steve Jobs used music to change his moods and keep himself creative.

It could work for you, too.

7. Use the Six Thinking Hats Technique

Sometimes you just need to start over. Forget everything and begin anew with a blank slate — break it down using six different colored “thinking hats”.

Using this process could help you look at things in a different way. It gives you the option to look at things in a “just the facts” manner (white hat); where things could go wrong (black hat); and possibilities, alternatives, and new ideas (green hat), for example.

By looking at a problem from several unique perspectives may be just what you need to find a solution.

8. Ask For Advice or Feedback

Sometimes you’re too close to a problem to figure out a creative solution all by yourself.

Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. Ask for help and advice from friends, peers, and people from your personal network that you trust and respect. Every person has a unique skill set, experience, and knowledge.

A fresh outside perspective, or three, or five, may be just what you need.

Even if you don’t use their advice, it may spark some new, creative thinking that will get you where you need to go.

9. Pick a Terrible Idea

Step away from whatever idea you’re stuck on for a few minutes.

What’s the most useless idea you can imagine? Make a list of the worst ideas you can think up.

Now the real challenge to stretch your creativity: what are the best features of these terrible idea

Perhaps looking at these terrible ideas will spark something creative that you can transfer over to your excellent idea.

Bonus Ideas to Stimulate Your Creativity

Check out this infographic for some more ways to get your creative juices flowing.

Credit: Shout.

Originally published at www.inc.com.

About The Author

Larry Kim is the Founder of WordStream. You can connect with him onTwitter, Google+, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

kk smoking

King Krule unexpectedly releases a project with little to no warning (besides one Instagram post), called “A New Place to Drown. Compared to his past work, this album definitely shows an experimental side with new electronic/hip hop beats. His previous albums had a more classic rock, bluesy, reggae blend. If you’re a KK fan, it definitely takes a little getting used to. You’re thoughts?

Alongside the album, KK also released an art book and a mini documentary that speaks to the direction they went on this one. You can check them out here. Watch the documentary below.

Why Being An “Employee” Is As Crucial As An Entrepreneur

7 Rules to Follow to Acknowledge That ‘Your Business Is Your Boss.’

 

You’re an entrepreneur. But who’s the boss in your business?

It’s not you. It’s your business.

 

One of the most profound and game-changing moments for me as an entrepreneur was when I finally realized who was in charge. As an entrepreneur and cofounder, I had thought I was calling the shots and making the decisions. And, from the perspective of the organizational chart, I certainly was. But, from a smart business perspective, I owed my allegiance to a more authoritarian boss — the business itself.

This shift in mindset changed the way I approached and worked on the business. Instead of interacting with it as an authority figure, I deferred to the interests of the business.

I believe that this change has made me a better businessman and a better manager, and has contributed to the success of my ventures. Here are seven requirements that I suggest every entrepreneur keep in mind, recognizing that your business is your boss.

1. Make one-on-one time with the boss.

Successful managers know that they should spend substantial quality time with their senior managers. In addition to mentorship, you have the necessary tasks of planning, strategizing and growing the business.

As an entrepreneur, you need to spend quality time with your boss, the business. Here’s why: Many entrepreneurs fritter away their days working in their business, but not on their business. It’s conventional business advice to work on, not in, but practically, the distinction is difficult to achieve.

For this reason, I suggest taking intentional time to work on the business. This is not meeting time or email time. This is “”you-and-the-business” time. Prioritizing this time will allow you to make major strides that will advance the business to the next level.

2. Put in the hours.

Whether salaried or hourly, most employees are expected to put in their time. Entrepreneurs have long passed their clock-punching days but are still obligated to put in the hours to complete necessary tasks.

Be intentional about your schedule, recognizing that you owe your boss a certain number of hours each week and each day.

3. Watch where the money goes.

If you had a boss who was breathing down your neck about the budget, would it change the way you did business? Well, you do, and it should. Take careful stock of every penny you spend, every investment you make and every purchase you authorize.

That money belongs to someone — your boss, the business. As such, you are accountable for achieving that ROI.

 

4. Get to know the customers.

Sadly, your boss is an impersonal chap. He (or she) is a bit elusive, hard to get to know and monosyllabic when it comes to talking. That’s where you come in. You’re the face of the company in the absence of your demurring boss.

Knowing your customers on a personal and face-to-face basis is a powerful way to understand the reputation and status your business has, and deal with any accompanying concerns. In short, the time you spend with your customers is seldom time wasted.

5. Create and defend the goals you’ve set.

A successful quarter, month, week or day begins with goals. Envision yourself talking to your boss, explaining what your goals are, why you’ve set them and how you intend to reach them. The simple act of creating goals allows us to more effectively reach them. Of course, we may not always reach them, which is okay.

It is always wise, however, to put the goals in place. In that way, we will at least possess a powerful process for moving forward.

6. Show progress toward those goals.

Speaking of moving forward, you should show some accountability as you work on your goals. Goals are intended to move the needle on the business. Are your goals taking the business in the right direction? Are you actually making progress? Have you shown substantial forward momentum as you pursue these actions?

Show your boss that you’re achieving what you’ve set your mind to do. Like any competent boss, he (or she) is counting on you.

7. Do whatever is necessary and appropriate to earn revenue.

The purpose of a for-profit business is to make money. The purpose of a boss is to make sure that happens. Your boss is expecting your actions to earn revenue. So, do what it takes.

Too many startups are satisfied with coasting. They don’t coast in the lazy way that a corporate behemoth might coast, but rather in a way that depends on the influx of funding, and a way that’s dependent on an overblown valuation.

Tech startups are already in serious trouble, and other industries are following suit. With the availability of VC cash and business loans these days, it can be easy to forget that a business is meant to turn a profit, not just to “get funding.”

If your business has a hyped-up valuation, that fact means nothing if you’re not making any money. So, work toward that goal, and your boss will give you a smile of approval.

Conclusion

Treat your business like the boss. Pay attention to it. Respect it. Work for it. Sure, your boss can be as ogre-like as they come. But he or she is still your boss. And the better you treat your boss, the better you’ll be treated in return: Massive profits. Insane rewards. An enduring legacy.

That’s what you have to look forward to when you work hard for your business-as-boss.

 

Author: Niel Patel, Entrepreneur and Online Marketing Expert

This article was originally published on Entrepreneur.

 

3 Techniques to Get Your Online Content Noticed

3 Classic Journalism Techniques That Will Improve Your Content Marketing

Is your content marketing falling flat? The reason may be, well, your content itself. To be effective, content marketing depends on more than just a snappy “click-bait” headline. It depends on your story.

 

And the stakes here are getting bigger: As more businesses have turned to content marketing, the field has gotten crowded. For next year, 2016, 77 percent of B2C marketers and 76 percent of B2B marketers expect to produce more content than they have in 2015, according to Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report.

At the same time, digital media consumption has increased by 49 percent since 2013, reports Contently.

So, if your content marketing is not delivering the ROI you expect, it’s time to look outside the marketing silo and take a closer looking at how journalists create their content. Journalism and marketing are not mutually exclusive fields, after all.

In fact, there’s a lot marketers can learn from journalists. Consider the following three lessons for improving your content marketing.

1. Pull from the headlines.

From pop culture to sports to current events, what are the major trends making news right now? Your content marketing doesn’t have to be exclusively about this topic, but it’s a smart angle to use to stand out in a sea of the same content.

In October, Volkswagen made headlines for manipulating software in its cars to hide emissions problems. Journalists nicknamed the scandal “Diesel Gate.” And some companies took note: Binary Options Reporter, for example, smartly tweaked its content marketing strategy to address this hot topic.

Binary Options Reporter even published a blog post titled “Volkswagen Diesel Disaster Continues.” The post focused on the latest revelations from the VW disaster before subtly referencing its own company’s service, binary options trading. The focus was on how consumers could handle any VW stock they might hold, as part of an investing strategy.

2. Don’t ‘bury the lead.’

“Don’t bury the lead” is a popular saying in journalism, and it certainly applies to content marketing. Burying the lead means forcing a reader to plow through several paragraphs in an article, post or story before reaching the main point. No one wants to open a newspaper and read through three paragraphs in order to find out the big news.

The same is true for content marketing. Your target audience members have a short attention span. They’re scanning your blog content while waiting in line to order their coffee, commuting to work in the morning or downing mouthfuls of lunch at their desks. So, get straight to the point. Content marketing (even white papers) are not an academic paper in college: Brevity and clarity are to be rewarded. Keep content scannable: Make headers, bullet points and numbered lists work for you.

 

3. Be a storyteller.

Great journalists find a human angle for their stories and you should, too. Don’t hide behind a brand or idea. Put a human face on your stories. For example, if you’re writing about a common problem affecting many of your clients, open your piece with a brief story about how Client XYZ addressed this problem.

Always ask clients, of course, for permission before sharing their stories. You may be surprised by just how positive the feedback is and how many clients want to be part of your case studies!

Remember, each piece of content you produce should support your business’ long-term marketing and branding goals. This means that in addition to each piece being a great stand-alone story in itself, your various pieces must work together to tell one larger coherent story about your business.

Not sure how to get started? Content Marketing Institute published a fantastic guide to business storytelling last year and its key points remain relevant today.

Bottom line: As your business prepares for 2016, it’s easy to get swept up in the new marketing trends and the growing demand for visual, interactive content. Before you add those bells and whistles on to your own content marketing strategy, be sure that that strategy is solidly grounded in the principles of journalism.

Create a great hook by pulling from the headlines. Never bury the lead. And bring a human angle to every story you tell.

Author: Brian Hughes of Integrity Marketing

This article was originally published on Entrepreneur.

 

Quote of the Day

Andre 3000 is the Only Feature on Erykah Badu’s New Album But You Cain’t Use My Phone

andre and erykah

Erykah Badu releases a much anticipated and what seemed like an overnight album But You Cain’t Use My Phone. She recently released a single (dedicated to Drake), called “Phone Down” right on the heels of releasing the full project. Included on the release was a track entitled “Hello” with a lone feature from her ex beau Andre 3000. You can preview the single and full project on iTunes now.

Leon Bridges Soundtracks Will Smith’s Upcoming Movie Concussion, and Guest Features on Macklemore’s “Kevin”

If you’re not familiar with soulful crooner with a vintage sound, Leon Bridges, now is the time to get acquainted. His style (dress and music) will remind you of bluesy soul straight out of the 60’s.  Something between Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, and the Temptations. You can stream his latest stuff below. You can stream his other single “Better Man” here.

 

Coldplay Releases “Everglow” From Upcoming Album

coldplay-a-head-full-of-dreams-album-art-560x560

Following their single “Adventure of a Lifetime”, Coldplay hits us with a second track “Everglow” from their upcoming album A Head Full of Dreams.

Travi$ Scott Previews New Song On Tour

Travi$ Scott was in Montreal this week, continuing his supporting role for the ongoing Madness Tour with The Weeknd. Scott apparently was in the holiday giving spirit as he surprised fans with a new, never-before-heard song which one concert goer was able to capture and post on his Twitter