Don’t Deprive Humanity—CREATE!

Creating from what is inside your soul and can be imagined by your mind is boundless. It is a gift if you embrace it. It will lead you to great adventures and push you to new heights you never dreamed of or thought possible before. If you repress it however, it will remain a source of frustration, a continual burden, a constant regret.


By stuffing creativity, you shortchange yourself by not experiencing the exhilaration that can only come by embracing it. Moreover, you shortchange everyone else by not letting them experience your creation. Do you think it’s a ridiculous thought that by not embracing your creativity, you are depriving others? OK then, let’s reverse the scenario because, as with many things in life, it’s easier to see outside of yourself.

What if yourfavorite movie, painting, song, app, book, commercial, game, gadget, speech, play, musical, invention, joke, dance, documentary, act, video, drawing, picture, show or series (We’re talking Game Of !#@! Thrones here, people!)  simply never existed?

That’s right. The movie line that you and your friend always laugh about, the song that you play to get inspired before a workout, the play that has become a Christmas tradition for your family and, alas, the joke that you find hysterical but refuse to laugh because your spouse is sitting next to you. Yes, this is what we’re talking about.

How many times have those creations lifted us from our emotional abyss? How many times have they given us joy and fulfillment?  How many times have they connected us with other people thereby initiating or deepening our relationships?  And how often have they got us through a dreadful Monday Morning meeting? Dammit Jim! Don’t you see it? This is the magic of life! And, if those individuals had never embraced their creativity they would have unknowingly, but nevertheless, literally deprived our lives.

So, once again, if you don’t embrace your creativity, you will deprive yourself and everyone else. Don’t make me use another italic word here! Seriously people, don’t do this. It’s really dumb. We need you. We need your creativity. Signed, The Entire Human @!#! Race.


Leaders: Don’t Touch That Dial…Yet!

Whether it’s creating a new solution from the ground up, enhancing an existing one or fixing a proverbial train wreck, it is imperative that a leader is very intentional on where s/he invests his/her time.

Think of any effort that a leader engages in as a series of interconnected gears in a concentric construct:

  • Center Gear or conceptual center “The Why”– This is the key gear that will ultimately define the pace and path for every other interconnected gear.  In a business context, think of this as representing the leader(s) whom articulate(s) the conceptualvision which articulates why we are doing this and what success looks like for the entire solution.
  • Inner Circle or planning layer “The What”– Concentrically outward from the center gear, these gears get conceptual direction from the center gear and, in turn, engage with the outer circle gears to execute accordingly.  In a business context, think of these gears as representing the planners or solution architects working with subject matter experts to plan the solution.
  • Outer Circle or execution layer “The How”– These are the numerous gears that manifest the solution. In a business context, think of these gears as representing the executioners or project managers, operational contributors and contractors that work with end users to realize the concept.

At the conceptual center, before you add the planning and execution, you are working with concepts only and perhaps a few key leaders.  Although paramount to the success of the operation, a change at this time will only impact ideas and few individuals.  However, once you start adding the planning and execution layers, a change at the conceptual center will impact exponentially more individuals as well as end users.  You can see from this construct, once all layers are in play, any change to what success looks like for the solution are overwhelmingly frustrating, confusing and expensive.   This is too often how deliverables are unsuccessful, timelines are missed and budgets are blown.

Not only do some leaders not spend sufficient time at the conceptual layer, they actually miss it altogether and go directly to planning or, worse yet, execution.  How will we know if a solution is successful if it’s not articulated through a vision at the conceptual center?


As leaders, take the time to focus your efforts at the conceptual center.  Make sure that the ideas are sound and key leaders are completely aligned on the “why”, articulating what success looks like before you add the planning or execution layer.  If you can articulate and align the inner circle to a conceptual vision, the planning and execution layer are enabled with a conceptual target and therefore set up for success.  Yes, it does take time to go through this process but, as this framework demonstrates, it is much more efficient, effective, fun, motivational and less expensive than making a conceptual change after the fact.

Stand-Up Comedy 101: A Lesson In Doing Great Business


I have always had a passion to do stand-up comedy because I love to connect with people through laughter.

In spite of my desire, however, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I actually got the courage to take a class and get out there on stage. Since then, I’ve learned some very valuable lessons as a hobbyist stand-up comic. While these lessons are necessary to hold your own in stand-up comedy, I believe them to be invaluable in business.

For anyone who has watched stand-up, you will recognize the need for the basics:

  • First, you have to know the material you are going to say (the ‘What’)
  • Second, you have to know how you are going to deliver it (the ‘How’)

As I started out, I worked very hard on these two things. I rehearsed the material to where I was a walking Memorex of it. I also practiced the delivery over and over to where I had just the right incantations, inflections and timing. I did this rehearsing right up to the point where I got up on stage. My mental measuring stick for how well I was going to do on stage was, of course the obvious, how much I made the audience laugh?

The big night finally came. The last thought I had before grabbing the microphone was something like “Dear God, please don’t let me forget this material. Please don’t let anyone I know be in the audience and, if they are, please have them struck on the head with a medium-sized object, you know, like maybe a waffle iron. Something to where it won’t do any permanent damage but will make them forget this night…quickly.”

I got up on stage, I presented the material just as I practiced and in return got the wonderful sound of…silence. I went back and looked at the recording. Hmmm…I said all of my material and had all of the rehearsed timing. It was funny in rehearsal, so what happened?

After some time and silent audiences later, my instructor Kurtis Matthews, asked me this simple question, “Chris, why are you on stage in the first place?” While, albeit, not a confidence booster, it was thought-provoking. I responded, “I want to have fun and connect with people through laughter.” His response, “Then do it! If you can have fun and connect with people on stage, everything else follows.”

Sounded crazy but I tried it. I even adjusted my evaluation criteria. If I get up on stage and have fun, then I was successful. The big night came. My name was called. The last thought I had before grabbing the microphone was this, “Dear God, I just want to have fun. P.S. I may need you later.”

I got on stage. I had fun. I laughed. I presented some funny material and they laughed. I forgot a punch line and I acknowledged it, they laughed even more. I was having fun. I was connected with them and it was amazing!

Why did this work?

I learned that in stand-up comedy, if you focus on the material (‘what’) or the delivery (‘how’), you are cementing your feet together and throwing yourself in the river hoping that someone will see you and come to your rescue…or just laugh. Either way, you have no way to react and no way to adjust because you’re not really there. You’re inside of your head with one clear goal in mind…deliver this material (‘what’) in a very prescribed way (‘how’) and then get off stage—quickly.

However, if you focus on your main goal of connecting with people and having fun, (the ‘why’), it will be alive and well in your approach. After all, the audience is not there to ‘listen to material’ or ‘observe perfect timing’; they could get that from Netflix! They are there to have fun as well through connecting with a live comedian. Therefore, when you are having fun, you are immediately connected and already successful because you both share the same ‘why’. Sure you need to have a plan but if your plan is not working, you will adjust because you’re focused on the right ‘why’.

OK, But How Does This Apply In Business Again?

Too many times, I’ve seen individuals and teams focus on ‘What’ they are delivering and ‘How’ they are delivering it, when they’re not even clear on the ‘Why’. “We need to implement by region!” OK great, what’s the ‘Why’? Is it to make salespeople more productive or is it to connect sales to marketing or connect service to sales or…? Whatever it is, articulate that ‘Why’ to everyone and make it abundantly clear for them. The ‘why’ will impact the day to day approach as well as the overall success of the program. Also, if the ‘why’ is articulated, people can immediately and constantly add value in that domain. Why does value need to be postponed until go-live?! For example, if the ‘why’ was to make salespeople’s lives more productive, information gathered to date, suggestions for process improvement and workarounds for pain points can all help in the interim (as can shortening that 2 hour meeting). Best of all, by articulating the ‘why’, you get people to start thinking on how they can deliver the value of the objective instead of being stuck in the ‘what’ or the ‘how’ which is a recipe for disaster…and crickets.

A vision is nothing more than stating your ‘why’ and then specifying what success looks like within that ‘why’. In stand-up as well as business, articulating that vision puts you on a path towards your objective using every subsequent ‘what’ and ‘how’.

Know The “Why” To Succeed!


“If you know the why, you can live any how.”

– Friedrich Nietzche

According to an IBM Study, Over 60% of corporate projects fail!  Along with that failure, a tremendous amount of time, resources and opportunity costs are also wasted.  So, what makes them successful?  According to that same study, 92% of successful change is attributed to ‘top management sponsorship’, the dominant factor identified in the study.  What is the most effective way to get top management sponsorship?  Co-defining and aligning on a unified vision.

By including those key sponsors in the process of defining the end goal or vision, they will understand the ‘why’.  And, because they help define it in the first place, they will actually help you enable the ‘how’s’!

Then again, there’s always the typical default, “Sigh…why are we doing that”?

Bring them in, imagine and build a vision together and get them pulling with you!