Creative Ventures Newsletter
Volume #91 - September 2013
FINALLY!  We are so jazzed to announce the release of our first eBook, The DNA of Creative Ventures – Our 21 Building Blocks of Success.  The concept is a result of consistently being asked “Where did that idea come from?  when we would apply these principles to a project.  We have always captured the core ideas we use, and these became a logical starting point for our first venture into publishing.  So here they are, 21 building blocks that form the very DNA of Creative Ventures.  The book is available in both paperback and Kindle editions.  The Kindle edition will set you back $5.

In addition to the eBook, we’ve had a lot going on:
  • THE ACCOUNTABLE LEADER is our leadership- based curriculum for the work we do in designing internal learning models for our clients.  We recently had the honor and big time success of launching two customized versions of this program for two different clients.  Many participants claimed it was the finest learning experience they had ever been involved in!
  • THE IDEA FACTORY hits the stage in September.  This program, based the value of strategically positioning idea development, is the most ambitious platform we have created in our 27 year history.  I am so honored by the many clients who have engaged in the value of committing resources to idea development and have chosen this platform to be the foundation for their efforts.
  • THE ONCE UPON A TIME PROJECT  platform is now in regular rotation. It revolves around the power found in the development of story and teaches how story goes beyond marketing messages to become a cultural identity.
  • Updates are done for Elegant Simplicity, Repeatable Successful Acts, and Dazzling Blue.  New content, exercises, ideas, and dynamic delivery tools keep these strategic platforms on the cutting edge of extraordinary performance.
Colin’s hand is in all of our new programs and strategies, including the entire production side of our eBook.  All the consistent social media work you are seeing and the new blog postings have his strategic touch!  In late October look for his first presentation, THE MILLENNIAL UPSIDE, addressing the positive impact of the next generation of leaders.

"It's the little things that are vital. Little things make big things happen."

-John Wooden

Every year the new basketball players at UCLA were shocked by the first day of practice.  They sat expectantly in the grandstands as their already legendary coach, John Wooden, walked across the gym floor to kick off another season.  In this first meeting Coach Wooden always gave them Lesson #1: “How to Put  on your Socks and Basketball Shoes.”  Huh?  We are the cream of the crop of hoops talent and Coach thinks we don’t know how to put on our shoes?

Coach Wooden calmly explained, “Basketball is a game played on a hard wood surface where change of direction and pace are instrumental to success.  I won’t have anyone unable to do these key fundamentals due to a blister.”

The little things matter.

During a recent value-add project for a client that owns a series of medical clinics in Florida,  I recommended we begin with their CURRENT CORE value.  Start with the current reality of their value proposition:  How do your clients experience your company?  Forget about adding value, first look at your existing base value.  You have to get that right before you can embark on adding value.  This is simplicity in practice.

I asked my key contact to meet me in the parking lot of one of the buildings they owned.  When he arrived he asked what was going on.  “We have a meeting to get to.  When are we starting?”   I told him we’ve already started.  This space, this part of the parking lot was only ONE of his Points of Contact (POC) that start the client experience.

I asked him what he saw.  He looked around and said with annoyance, “A parking lot?”  I asked when was the last time the parking space lines had been painted?  I told him to look at a row of cars that belonged to visitors to his company.  More than half were parked OVER the lines that demarcated parking spaces.  They were not people taking two spaces due to their perceived value of their cars, but instead because they had no idea where to park!  In addition to that, the signage that directed people to guest parking was nonexistent.

Next we walked up the steps to the office door.  I had him stop and look at the entry doors.  They had 8½” x 11” announcements scotch-taped to the door.  They were in small fonts.  No one would stop and read them.  I asked who they were for.  He hadn’t noticed…he goes in through the employee garage!  They were clutter.  In fact, one was about an event that had happened a month prior.

Next we opened the door to the lobby and the reception area.  I stopped him and asked if the receptionist was a little person.  He said, “No, why?”   All a person entering could see was the top of her head as she sat on a very short stool and the reception desk was covered with stand-up signs advertising new products or events.  Not the best way to greet a client.

Each of these simple points of contact was speaking to how existing and potentially new clients experienced the company.  They seemed like small things, but in the scope of an experience, they were cumulative impact points… and not positive ones.  Here is a simple exercise.  Do this task to give yourself a strategic starting point for your client experience:

IDENTIFY:  Put together a small team of people from different parts of the company and ask them to list ALL the points of contact a current or potential customer to your company comes in contact with.  Do it on a flipchart or whiteboard so you can see them all.  I want ALL of them, from email to your marketing material.  From walking in to your office to the web site.  From business cards to the way you answer the phone.

ANALYZE SEPARATELY:  Take each POC and look at it independently.  Does it represent your products, your culture, and the way you want to be seen?  Define areas where improvements will create impact, and map out each improvement for each POC.

CONNECT:  POC’s have a tendency to connect to one another.  The way the phone is answered connects to how a client is greeted at the front desk.  The web site connects to almost everything.  Try drawing connection lines from one POC to another.  This begins to reveal a picture of how the small things are really important.

Value-add starts at the beginning, with the little things.  So, ask yourself this:  what are your shoes and socks?


HELLO, NEIGHBORS:  Its official, the Voyager spacecraft has left the solar system.  Out little universal greeting card is cruising into the great unknown with the greatest mix tape of all time.  Not only was the Voyager filled with scientific experiments, but it also has a special message to our yet mysterious, potential neighbors.  A golden disc carries greetings in 59 different languages, some binary math, a little geometry, music from ancient Chinese strings, to Bach, to Chuck Berry.  It has pictures of us humans and even a whale song.  So, citizens of the cosmos, hello!  I hope you dig Chuck Berry.


THE NATURAL LAWN MOWER:  What do Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, Haverford College in PA, and the Congressional Cemetery have in common?  Goats.  These disparate places are all using goats to control landscape growth.  Goats R Us (I kid you not) supplies goats to companies looking for an alternative to mowing and to eliminate traditional landscaping maintenance.  At Haverford College they needed to clear over 100 acres that were infested with poison ivy (goats can eat it!).  Goats are perfect natural mowers, as they really don’t stop eating.


THE WORLD WIDE LEADER IN SPORTS:  For the 14th consecutive year ESPN was voted the #1 TV station for the huge hunk of demographically significant views lumped together as “men.”  They generate $6.5 million in subscription fees, and when you add advertising revenue to the money stream you get the most valuable media property in the US.  Their 34- year formula for success is elegantly simple:  buy rights to show sports.  Show sports.  Repeat.  You’ve got to love a 3 part idea!  Is it any wonder FOX just launched its new competing sports channel?

Interested in these ideas?

Follow Creative Ventures on

See more at and
Office: 512-712-5279

Steve Harvill • • Cell: 972-345-9480
Colin Harvill • • Cell: 214-794-1777