Perform Naked! You Can Do It With Your Clothes On

February 2, 2012

Posted by James Navé

A couple of days ago, I was standing on the subway platform at Grand   Army Plaza, Brooklyn. The electronic sign above the tracks announced the train’s arrival in two minutes.

Since I’d been thinking that performing naked made the difference between an exciting public reading/presentation and a boring one, I decided to synchronize the recording of my thoughts with the arrival of the train.

I stood close to the edge of the platform. Watch what happened: Perform Naked!

Using Mind Maps to Brainstorm Blog Content

November 25, 2010


A mindmap is a diagramming process that can be very useful in creative problem solving and in the generation of ideas for blogs. Arranged around a central key word or concept, mindmaps are visual tools that allow you to identify and sort through the structure of a given subject while visualizing how different pieces of information relate together.

Mindmap by Paul Foreman

In addition to general brainstorming, mindmapping is great for developing social media content–especially blogs. The process can assist you in developing, visualizing, structuring, and classifying ideas, as well organizing information, solving problems, and making decisions. For your blog, you can use mindmaps to:

• Make connections between different topics

• Focus your story ideas

• Explore your story from different perspectives: this is very useful in social media as it’s important to speak to your audience’s interests, not just your own.

Tips for Making Your Own Mindmaps

• Use single words and simple phrases

• Use color to separate ideas (yellow is supposed to enhance short-term memory)

• Use pictures: pictures are easier to remember than words

• Draw links: cross link ideas to reinforce how one idea relates to another

Some Mindmap Examples

How to Twitter” mindmap by Adam Sicinski

“Choosing a Blog Topic” from

Getting the Message Across” from

There are also numerous mindmapping software applications available, some free:







Personal Brain:

In The Blog Workshops we engage participants in a number of creative exercises, including The Imaginative Storm process which James Navé developed from the Artist’s Way Creativity Camps he’d been teaching with Julia Cameron, bestselling author of The Artist’s Way. The Imaginative Storm work frees you from that negative inner critic and from the “shoulds” that inhibit you from stepping outside of yourself to create fresh ideas. It is an improvisational creative process based on two principles:

1. The imagination will give you gifts, if you let it
2. Look for energy, not perfection

Do you have any techniques you’d like to share for developing ideas?

Blogging at Mother Earth News Fair

November 12, 2010

We were honored to be invited in September by Mother Earth News to offer two short blogging workshops at their fair, which drew more than 9,000 visitors to the Seven Springs Resort southeast of Pittsburgh.

If you missed this inaugural Mother Earth News event, you’ll have a chance on the west coast where they’ll be hosting two fairs next year. The hands-on sustainable lifestyle event features an expansive eco-friendly marketplace, organic and local food tasting, live music, plus dozens of practical workshops from the leading authorities on gardening, green building, renewable energy and more.

The Most Important Leadership Quality for CEOs? Creativity

October 11, 2010

The following article is reprinted from Fast Company, May 18. 2010:

For CEOs, creativity is now the most important leadership quality for success in business, outweighing even integrity and global thinking, according to a new study by IBM. The study is the largest known sample of one-on-one CEO interviews, with over 1,500 corporate heads and public sector leaders across 60 nations and 33 industries polled on what drives them in managing their companies in today’s world.

Fast Company‘s annual list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business just took on a whole new depth.

Steven Tomasco, a manager at IBM Global Business Services, expressed surprise at this key finding, saying that it is “very interesting that coming off the worst economic conditions they’d ever seen, [CEOs] didn’t fall back on management discipline, existing best practices, rigor, or operations. In fact, they [did] just the opposite.”

About 60% of CEOs polled cited creativity as the most important leadership quality, compared with 52% for integrity and 35% for global thinking. Creative leaders are also more prepared to break with the status quo of industry, enterprise and revenue models, and they are 81% more likely to rate innovation as a “crucial capability.”

Other key findings showed a large disparity between views of North American CEOs and those from other territories.

For example, in North America, 65% of CEOs think integrity is a top quality for tomorrow’s leaders, whereas only 29-48% of CEOs in other territories view it as such.

Ironically, while company leaders in North America will bring more integrity to the job, they also expect far more regulation than foreign heads — both presumably reactions to negative public perception and heavy government intervention following the recession. A full 87% anticipate greater government oversight and regulation over the next five years — only 70% of CEOs in Europe hold this opinion, and 50% and 53% in Japan and China, respectively. Meanwhile, nearly double the amount of CEOs in China view global thinking as a top leadership quality, compared with Europe and North America.

The area of focus the regions can all agree on is customer focus: 88% of all CEOs, and an astounding 95% of standout leaders, believe getting closer to the customer is the top business strategy over the next five years.

This article is from Fast Company, May 18. 2010. Hat tip to: Center for Creative Emergence.

Sidebar image via LitReview.

The Whole Brain Behind the Blog Post

June 3, 2010

Whole Brain Thinking

Reprinted with permission from The Fertile Unknown by Michelle James

In today’s rapidly changing business environment, leaders and entrepreneurs are required to be more adaptive, responsive, and innovative than ever before. Assessing situations quickly, developing novel solutions and flexible strategies have become a requirement (or invitation–depending on how you see it) for all of us.

If you approach a new situation with the your habitual thinking, it’s impossible to generate new ideas, visions or solutions. Your thought patterns will travel down the same neural pathways in your brain the same way they always do–and the outcome will be the same ideas you typically have. Thinking in novel ways requires new connections within the brain. New thinking requires pattern breaking. Research shows that by actively engaging the brain’s capacities from both hemispheres, you have a larger “playing field” from which to create – there is more cross fertilization between neural synapses which leads to original ideas and “A-ha” moments.

The “left brain” organizes what already exists and thinks linearly. There is a sequential, analytical process toward a specific outcome. The “right brain” imagines what can be and thinks in nonlinear interconnections. It has immediate access to insights and novel connections. Cultivating the use of both sides leads to breakthrough leaps and the ability to think on your feet under pressure.

I developed a simple Whole Brain Dimensions chart of the generally accepted differences. You can use it to get a glimpse into your dominant thinking approach. The words in the left hand column are typically associated with the “left brain thinking,” and the words in the right hand column are typically associated with “right brain thinking.” These are simple generalizations, designed to get you thinking about your habitual thinking patterns. The more integrated your brain hemispheres are – accessing and using the elements associated with both sides of this list – the more effective you will be at generating elegant solutions and developing new, generative visions. Most individuals and most organizational cultures lean more toward one side or the other. Which are you? Which is your organization? Which are valued in your work culture? Which are invisible, repressed or even criticized?

Whole Brain Thinking: Dimensions Dominance Chart ©

Quickly scan the list for the words that apply to you.

Don’t think about it – go by initial instinct even if you are unsure about what something means. Answer intutively. Keep track of how many words in each column describe you. You don’t have to choose between the 2 columns – just check off each word that speaks to you as part of your own process, even if they seem opposite. For example, you may find you already use both detailed and big picture thinking in your work. If so, check both.

Add up the totals on each side to become aware of your dominant thinking approach.
What are your natural gifts, trained skills, habits or growing edges?

Whole Brain Integration Techniques
The flowing are some quick and simple exercises you can use anytime to begin to integrate the hemispheres and strengthen your less dominant side.

1. Opposite functions
Spend some time doing everything with your non-dominant hand. Every time you break a dominance habit, you create new neural pathways and give the brain more options. It become easier to think in new ways throughout your day, and easier to adapt, respond and create in high pressure environments.

2. Color and No Lines
Instead of using lined legal paper and a pen in meetings, brainstorming sessions or any other work related functions, try use unlined paper and colored markers. Lines have a subconscious effect on us which keep the brain locked in habitual thought patterns. By removing the lines, the brain is more free to think visually and instead of just in words. Using colored markers has a stimulating effect on the brain because the right brain thinks in color.

3. Sensory Immersion
Engage all of your senses in your ideation process instead of coming to a situation from analytical thinking alone:

 The more senses you use simultaneously, the more the brain sides work in harmony and the information you receive. Immerse yourself in right-brain touch, taste, smell, imagery, movement, sounds and music while focused on your project and you can unfold more insights, awareness’ and novel connections.

4. Embodiment
Become the project, problem, vision, product and act from its point of view. New ideas will flood your mind. This is easy to prove. First, try imagining new features to add to any product in a certain time period, i.e., 5 minutes. You will come up with a number of features. Then, pretend you actually are the product – become the product -and start talking as the product, again for 5 minutes. You will learn exponentially more about what additional features it “needs.” The act of becoming a product or concept will give you new insights and awareness’ into the product, and therefore, potential new features, that you cannot get from just thinking about it.

About the Author
Michelle James, Creativity & Emergence Catalyst, Consultant and Coach, is CEO/Chief Emergence Officer at The Center for Creative Emergence, which offers consulting services,
workshops, programs, train-the-trainer, retreats, coaching, presentations, and events on all aspects of business, personal and organizational creativity–from individual emergence coaching and team co-creativity to organizational culture development.

We’ve Launched Into the Blogosphere!

May 4, 2010

We had 12 fabulously interesting participants generate wonderful content at our first workshop, April 24,  in Greenwich, CT. Navé jump started everyone’s creativity with the Imaginative Storm exercises and we then moved from The Storm to The Creative Form. We were amazed by the boatloads of great material our participants wrote – content they could easily use for their first blog posts. From the feedback we received, our maiden voyage was a success. One workshop participant, Kelly Crisp, has already launched her blog, Karma & Consequences. Bravo Kelly!

Some of our participants requested an ongoing series to further fine tune the creative process. We are thinking of launching a series in CT, and will let you know. Others inquired about one-to-one blogging consultations about content, design, and technical aspects. Robin is available to work with you by the hour or can develop a customized plan to address your individual needs.

Stay tuned for more. We are exploring future workshops in New York City, Taos, Paris, and Los Angeles. Please let us know you have ideas for other venues, we are open to suggestions.