This month's issue: Skill Development.
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Simple. Powerful. Elegant.

A Newsletter from Creative Ventures

Issue #109

Big News

What a fantastic first quarter!  We worked eight major projects and had three brand new clients join the Creative Ventures family.  Our travels took us to 10 different cities and gave us the opportunity to introduce our ideas to over 1,000 new folks.
We hit the ground running in April with our brand new strategic platform:

One of our biggest announcements is we have entered into a contract with a leading New York literary agent to represent us in all of our book work.  Repeatable Successful Acts: The Power Sales Behaviors of Million Dollar Producers will be the first title to hit book stores.

Thanks for all of the support and we hope to have a chance to see you in the future!




The Magnificence of Your Tools:

"Give good, smart people tools and they'll do wonderful things. 

- Steven Jobs

Ichiro Suzuki is one hell of a baseball player.  He arrived in America from the Japanese league in 2001 and launched his star-studded career with the Seattle Mariners, with subsequent stops with the Yankees and Marlins.  A few numbers will give you an understanding of Ichiro’s impact:
  • He holds the single season record for hits with 262.
  • He holds the major league record with 10 consecutive 200 hit seasons.
  • He was a 10-time All Star.
  • He was the 2007 All Star Game MVP.
Ichiro can play the game.
During a famous 2007 interview with Ichiro, Bob Costas noted that all of Ichiro’s bats were individually wrapped with great care and placed in a specific place in the locker room.  He asked Ichiro about them.  Through a translator Ichiro replied, “These are the tools of my professional life.  I treat them with respect and expect they will treat me the same.”

In 1609 Galileo Galilei stumbled upon a primitive telescope on the streets of Denmark.  Recognizing the potential of this tool he immediately set about improving it, and in its improvement he opened the heavens.  Using his telescope he discovered the mountains of the moon and observed the four main moons of Jupiter (the Galilean Moons) and determined they were in orbits around the planet.  All of this added to his bold confirmation of the Copernican heliocentric model (the Sun at the center of our little Milky Way neighborhood) of our solar system. 

Galileo used the telescope as the principle tool of his magnificent mind.
So, what are your tools?  I’ll bet you will define your tools throughout the day in things, as I described Ichiro’s and Galileo’s; however, the physical tools of these two geniuses were simply the conveyances to open their skills.  The bat did not provide the impeccable timing of a hit, Ichiro did.  The telescope saw only the images, while Galileo created the context for the observation.
Your great tools are something other than your computer, your pen and paper, and your phone.  Your great tools are found in two key areas:
  • Your ability to THINK
  • Your ability to COMMUNICATE
These two skills are intricately married, and when leveraged properly they are an unstoppable force in your career.  Yet I’ll bet you do not give them the care Ichiro gives his baseball bats.

We do lots of work with corporate training curricula and find many standard courses that are important to an employee.  There is financial analysis, sales strategies, product information--all important for sure--but they are only pieces to a bigger puzzle.  The foundation for the application of all these pieces is your skills as a thinker and communicator.
Despite the importance of thinking and communication skills we seldom find them in any training program as independent subjects.  You might find elements of them scattered around in other topics, but because of their relative importance, they deserve to be stand-alone subjects in the hierarchy of organizational learning.

Thinking is oddly something we don’t think about very often.  How did you come up with that idea or that solution or that observation?  You probably achieved those things through a type of thinking.  Imagine your ability to accomplish goals if you had the tools that a thinking curriculum could give you.
Likewise, the ability to communicate has been the topic of many of our newsletters, yet it seems to be an ignored skill set in many company learning programs.  I watch Hindenburg-style presentations EVERY week at various meetings…horrible examples of presentation skills.   I listen to people try to sell me something in one-on-one meetings and wonder if they are even aware how bad their pitch is.  But I know why these interactions happen.  The communicator in each one does not have the knowledge of the skills needed to be successful in their respective arenas.  They have not developed and honed their core communication skills.

Almost anyone in the world can throw and catch a round ball, but give someone unfamiliar with (heck, or even familiar with) the strange shape of an American football and ask them to throw a spiral.  They don’t know how to hold the ball or when to release it and snap their wrist.  It’s pretty unreasonable to hold them accountable for zipping a spiral without training.  It is not surprising however, that if you give them a few pointers, show them a grip and allow them to screw it up a few times, they will--maybe sooner than expected--be able to throw a spiral “pass.”

Just because your company might not offer the opportunity to work on thinking and communication skills is no reason to abandon their development.  They are your necessary tools.
It’s time to treat your tools with Suzuki and Galileo care!


Do This!


OK, if your company doesn’t provide much in the way of training or development, that doesn’t mean you can’t start building your thinking and communication tools.  You simply have to challenge yourself.  All the great content is out there, go and get some!  Very few colleges or universities have the content available that YouTube does (I’m on my third quantum physics lecture).  Want to learn how to think like a scientist using the scientific method? Well, there are thousands of videos that will help you.  Want to know how to prepare a presentation?  There are lots of folks that will help you.  Oh, and there are still books to read.  Create a YOU University where you pursue your skills outside the walls of your office.  The investment in yourself is the best use of your time in the universe.  Start small, one book a month or an hour of video a week.  In no time you will  be moving forward in your career while everyone else is watching cat videos.

TEAM UP -  One of the things you miss without a traditional classroom set up is the creative interaction so vital for opening up understanding and learning.  Despite the importance of quiet time and the amount of learning this focused aspect of your education can bring, other people can create a different set of learning opportunities.  So, set up study groups.  Find people who want to expand their performance and collaborate in improving their skills.  Watch those YouTube videos together and stop the video to discuss key points.  Pick a subject and create a simple three-part series.  For instance, let’s say the creative process is on your list (this falls under THINKING).  Start with the book Caffeine for the Creative Mind (  Then try a video (  Next hold a final meeting to discuss all the stuff you learned and discover ways to apply it.  Move on to the next subject.

You have heard this from me countless times.  Write stuff down!!!!  There is an elegant connection that happens in the brain when you commit an idea to paper.  Yes, old fashioned pen and paper still work.  Despite all the electronic tools that exist, your favorite notebook and pen are still important.  It is vital to find the right notebook, paper and pen.  I like a spiral style notebook so that it can lie flat when I sketch. I like an extra fine pen (Pilot Precision V5).  I do a LOT of note taking and find it imperative to my learning.  It is not uncommon for me to admonish (sorry) an audience when I see people coming to a session with nothing to write on.  Your notes are your map, and to find your way back to an idea nothing is more important.



It’s always fun to throw out a few March Madness numbers to get your head spinning.  About 40 million people will fill out a bracket with about $2 billion bet on those choices.  A staggering $9 billion will be the approximate total bet on the games.  The odds of a perfect bracket:  9.2 quintillion to one.  Wow, hit that and you have some real beer money!  90% of the NCAA’s $800 million budget comes from the tournament and related licensing.  Business is the big loser during March Madness, with about $1.9 billion lost in productivity and distraction.  Maybe they should just budget a big hoops party and you can do business during the time outs.

Fortune Magazine annually publishes the results of their annual Best Places to Work survey.  Here are a few of the characteristics found in the top places to work:
  • Give your work meaning.  Find a way to connect to more than just a paycheck.
  • Trust and empower.  Great places to work allow people to use their judgment.
  • Provide growth through development.  People want a chance to get better, so give it to them.
You will find these in each one of the great places to work.  The list is constantly shifting, and only 12 companies have been represented on the list all 18 years.

Michael Dubin had an idea about shaving.  It started when he kept noticing the shaving blades were being kept behind a locked cabinet, making it damn difficult for guys to buy the blades, not to mention the outrageous price of the blades.  In 2012, he started the Dollar Shave Club as a membership service that provides blades, razors, and shaving cream.  First year sales were $4 million, followed by $19 million in 2013, and $65 million last year.  The company could exceed $120 million in 2015.  Dubin has his eyes on more than shaving and plans on attacking the entire men’s personal care industry.
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