Creative Ventures Newsletter
Volume 88, June 2013

May was an unusual month for Creative Ventures.  We had two huge road trip projects in Dallas and Chicago where we continued our work on our education curriculum, teaching both interpersonal communications and presentation skills.  But most of the month was spent in the office.  I know, weird, huh?  The reason is that we have some significant client strategy projects on the table as well as the need to dedicate time to some internal operations.

TECHNOLOGY:  Colin started the significant project of migrating everything we do to the cloud.  This creates for us a totally mobile platform where location is not an issue.  As you might imagine, put your frustration boots on as things always go wrong, but we should be done by early June.

PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT:  It is always gratifying when a new platform takes off, and THE IDEA FACTORY is in that phase, with clients booking the presentation platform.  The Idea Factory is a unique program, as it changes every time it is delivered, creating a flexibility of integrating new content after every offering.  It is also highly dynamic, a real “show.”  We also have done a ton of work on our crafting story workshop, ONCE UPON A TIME STRATEGIES.  The idea of looking at story as something other than “brochure talk” is something our clients want to explore.

NEW VALUE:  We have designed and launched a new “value add” program called THE CONTINUOUS IDEA.  This is a “post event” strategy, or what we call a “post blast”.  The concept involves providing participants in our platforms long-term connections to the ideas we present, teach, and apply.  Participants receive a regular update on the specific strategy they participated in.  It might be suggestions on exercises to increase their skill sets or perhaps a video or article around the idea.  We have launched our first Continuous Idea series with our recent delivery of our Once Upon A Time story crafting workshop.

June will put me back on the road with trips to Dallas, Houston, and Minneapolis.  Colin will be a participant in a major panel discussion on the impact of the Millennial Generation.  Good stuff!


And I’ll Make Sparks Fly Around Your Head.

[Jimmy Buffett, “The Twelve Volt Man”]

With the impact of our latest program, The Idea Factory, creating a ton of activity, I thought I would share some of the key aspects of the nature of ideas.

We are all in love with ideas.  We just become immune to their impact.  You don’t stop every time your car engine turns over (and starts) to say, “Wow, thanks Jean J. Lenoir!” (who invented the internal combustion engine) for that great idea, or “Thanks Mr. Carrier, for the air conditioning” in July, or “Thanks, Mary Anderson, for the invention of windshield wipers,” the next time you are driving in a rain storm.  We seem to take ideas for granted until we need a new one.  Here are a few of the steps in the idea creation process:

THE RULE OF CONNECTION:  Ideas are often about connections.  When we start to look for pieces that fit together, ideas are frequently the result.  The strangest things can be idea fodder.  DaVinci would throw paint soaked sponges at the wall and look for a pattern to spark an idea.  Patterns are about paying attention.  Singer songwriter Jimmy Buffett witnessed an unexpected meeting between two former flames in an elevator.  When the past girlfriend got off, the current girlfriend asked, “Who was that?”  His response was, “Oh, she was pre-you,” and Buffett then ran up to his room to write Pre-You, one of my favorite Jimmy songs.  Get in the habit of looking for connections and patterns to open the door to new ideas.
THE IDEA JOURNAL:  Ideas are invisible, weightless, and of no material substance.  They are fleeting and often pass by just out of the grasp of our memory.  We catch the flash of their value and then they are gone.  Great idea construction comes from the capture of these moments of inspiration.  Personalities from Charles Darwin to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., from Walt Disney to Bruce Springsteen, all used idea journals in one form or another to capture their ideas.  It makes no difference what form you choose, old school mole skin notebooks or iPad apps, you need a method to capture your ideas.  Once you capture them, create a schedule to review them so that you can discover their value and impact.
THE RULE OF FREQUENCY:  Here is the thing about ideas:  they are more about habit than inspiration.  Ideas are about the inglorious routine of work.  What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.  Do you have a legitimate commitment to the development of new ideas?  Do you spend time on ideas?  Is your team encouraged to work on new ideas?  At 3M, an idea giant, they dedicate 15% of their time to “tinkering” with ideas.  The results are products like Scotch Brand Tape, Post-It Notes and Scotchguard Fabric Protector, to name a few.  It makes no difference what business you are in, there is great value in ideas.  But that value is connected with plain old work.  American painter Chuck Close said, “Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”
All of us can create, develop, launch, and nurture an idea.  The best ideas, those that make impact, are worth the time pursuing.  When the pieces fit, “they make sparks fly around your head.”

SUMMER IS COMING:  With the deadly tornado in Oklahoma and savage thunderstorms across the country, the weather has been front and center in the news.  The National Weather Service gave a recent global report on tornados, and the US is #1, with an average of 1,000 tornados a year touching ground.  To give some meaning to the number, Canada is # 2, averaging 100 tornados a year.  But even with that, tornados are only the 4th most dangerous weather phenomenon.  Heat ranks #1, with hurricanes #2, and flash flooding  #3.  So, check those AC units!


THE BOO FACTOR:  Guess which genre of movies has the highest return on investment to investors?  The paragraph title gives it away, and yes, it’s horror movies.  Small budgets with huge returns make horror movies a great investment option.  Paranormal Activity was shot for about $15,000 and did $161,831,000 at the box office for a mere 539,336% return.  Though Iron Man and Captain Kirk may rule the box office, the small budget horror movie rules the ROI!


VALUE ADD BEYOND YOUR BED:  The hotel industry is showing an idea rebirth in trying to connect value to something outside of your flat screen TV and mini bar.  Here are some of the cool ideas:  Hard Rock Hotels:  Need a guitar to practice your licks?  Give guest services a call and one will be brought to your room.  Kimpton Hotels will deliver a bottle of oxygen to your room at their ski resort hotels.  Despite these neat little add-ons, though, guests still put a comfortable bed, quiet room, good water pressure and a strong internet connection as their top needs.  Get the basics right, then move to something extra.

Interested in these ideas?


You can contact Steve at or give him a call at (512) 712-5279.
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Steve Harvill • Office: (512) 712-5279 • Cell: (972) 345-9480
109 Top O The Lake • Lakeway, TX 78734