This month's issue: The client experience in times of change. 
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Simple. Powerful. Elegant.

A Newsletter from Creative Ventures

Issue #131

Big News

Well, our office time is over and it’s time to hit the road again!  The time we spent working on projects was very impactful:
  • Colin took over all support operations for Creative Ventures, and will also renew his stage presence, with six presentations on the books. 
  • We revamped the entire internal structure of Creative Ventures, with Colin and his team rising to the occasion, and they hit the ground running.
  • We have three new products in the pipeline, creating our first opportunity to share our methodologies and the tools we use with our clients and readers.    We will have available in the very near future:
  1. A complete package of all of our Elegant Simplicity forms that we use to manage everything from conference calls to projects.
  2. Our Once Upon a Time Project story notebooks, complete with a “how to” section so that anyone can learn to capture and leverage story as a strategic tool.
  3. And, of course our new book from Simon and Schuster, which hits the shelves in September but is available for pre-order now.

We have projects in Vermont, Dallas, San Diego, and Austin coming up!  A great start to 2017!

The 2016 Top 10 and Bottom 5 Movie List is ready.  If you want a copy, simply send either Colin or me a note at or
Here is the latest Over Coffee Video.  It’s a sketchnote edition!



The Idea




"I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails. " 

- Jimmy Dean

Did you know that with all the computer power available at the time, Apollo 11 was only on their planned course to the moon 3% of the time?  They were adjusting and readjusting their course 97% of the time!

Change is an interesting concept, indicative of our human condition.  It is as constant as the ticking of your watch and the rising and setting of the sun.  It has two inevitable conditions:

The world as it is.
The world as it will be. 

It is our job to navigate between these points.  We need to pay attention.  We need to move, when moving is the right thing to do, and we need to hold fast when that makes sense.  The problem, of course, is when to do what!
We are seduced by the speed at which we perceive everything happening in our world.  Sure, it seems like everything is a Porsche:
  • An Apple App is downloaded every millisecond.
  • Executives at Fortune 500 companies get over 400 emails a day.
  • Data are inundating us like Niagara Falls.

It seems the enemy of our success is the unforgiving minute hand.  We don’t know whether to jump on board or defend the status quo.  We are consumed by the media’s interpretation of the destruction of all we know, but if you dig a little deeper you might be surprised. Let’s take just two of the speed-obsessed, new age darlings, Uber and Airbnb.  Though disruptive to a point, they are not necessarily the dominant giants you might think.
  • If Uber’s $2 billion in sales were ranked globally, they would be the 3,882nd biggest publically traded firm.
  • Airbnb represents about 1-2% of the hotel industry.
Disruptive, but not dominant.

In our Dazzling Blue strategic platform, we provide a laser-like focus on the relationship between change and the critical aspect of the client experience.  How can you navigate these shifting speed-based changes and needs?  Here are a couple of ways to think about it and apply action to those thoughts.



Do This!

WORK ON YOUR SKILLS: Despite the problem created by Moore’s Law (the estimate that technology doubles capacity every two years), what you do and how well you do it is a HUGE factor in determining your success.  If you want to create foundational relationships with your clients, make it a point, a goal, to get better at what you do.  I have been presenting my ideas on stage for over 30 years and I still watch videos and attend every part of a meeting I can in order to see what else I can learn.  Work on your communication skills, which are instrumental to your success.  Become a better thinker.  Yes, you can learn to think better. The recent political issues are demonstrating, on all sides of the perspective, bad thinking patterns.  Bolster your skills, and speed will not be the only determining issue in your success.

HIT THE PAUSE BUTTON: I know the world appears to be spinning faster than ever, but the good news is it’s actually spinning at the exact same rate it always has, 18.5 miles per second around the sun and 1,040 MPH at the equator.   Sometimes when the pace of the day seems to be working at light speed and you feel the apparent need to add this piece of technology or that software package, hit the pause button.  Take some of that valuable time and apply it to thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of the idea.  Make a simple list of pros and cons.  This is a great pause strategy.  One of the Creative Ventures Laws from our first book, The DNA of Creative Ventures, is that speed should never outweigh thought.    Hitting the pause button allows you the check your course and make sure the moon is still in your sights before you make any changes you need.  You will be surprised at the impact a strategic pause can have.

IT'S ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE: When we start a Dazzling Blue project for a company, we never start with a client-centric review.  I know that sounds like sacrilege in today’s customer-driven battlefield, but our experience is that it is impossible to deliver an extraordinary client experience when your first focus is in the wrong place.  Focus on your TEAM first!  Make sure they are prepared, they have all the right skills, and they have the deep knowledge necessary to deliver a Dazzling Blue experience.  I don’t care that you have the most advanced client management software and technology available when the person leading the first point of contact doesn’t know how to smile!  I don’t care how fast you can get me to my room when your lobby has trash on the floor.  The experience, no matter the need for speed, is all about how your humans treat your clients.  Build really good humans!



SPEAKING OF AIRBNB...: Looks like they are continuing to disrupt the market with a pretty big move in the works. They are closing in on acquiring Tilt, a social payment system that allows users to exchange funds in an app at the click of a button. This looks like an attempt to control the whole Airbnb experience moving forward, from booking/renting to payment. Easy to book a pad, even easier to pay. Up until now they’ve been relying on PayPal as the payment medium between their clients. This new acquisition would allow them more control of how groups of travelers can split costs, open up cross-currency exchanges, and ultimately allow them to hone in on creating an unforgettable user experience. Pretty dazzling if you ask us!

REI WANTS YOU TO BE HAPPY: REI is revered for their incredible user experience. REI? Yes, REI. How, you ask? By challenging the conventional wisdom of where to start addressing the client experience. A lot of companies only think externally when it comes to the user experience (product, process, website, etc.) but REI starts in-house with its own employees before anything else. They understand that the employee experience is just as important as the customer experience. To that end, REI focuses on redefining the relationship between corporate and in-store employees. By creating a happy and fulfilled workforce they create an army of employees eager to spread the greatness of REI. What else do they do? Follow this link to learn a little more.

NO SPACE? NO WORRIES!: New York City has always created some unique challenges for up and coming businesses. One is the need for space. Where can a startup on a budget find a home? Well, Happy Bones Cafe decided they were just going to take it, and that’s just what they did. This hip coffee shop, serving ethically sourced coffee and offering in-house composting, took over an unused alley in SoHo and made it home. With a little bit of paint on the brick and some killer decorations, this new hot spot became an instant favorite of locals. It helps that they make a hell of a cup of coffee, source local artists for the artwork on the walls, and provide interesting niche publications for their patrons. Talk about cultivating their “cool” factor.

Pretty cool stuff ...

"Creative Ventures did an incredible job working with our executive management and client development team to fine-tune our core mission, messaging, and executive coaching. We also used Steve for a communication training session focused on conflict management, barriers, and effective communication. Steve's program was not only effective but by far the best program we ever invested in."

Lisa Riding, EVP/Chief Operating Officer.


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