Creative Ventures Newsletter
Volume 87, May 2013

The first quarter of 2013 was a fantastic mix of the three core areas of what we do:  Presentations, Education and Application (consulting).

  • PRESENTATIONS:  The new version of REPEATABLE SUCCESSFUL ACTS, ELEGANT SIMPLICITY, and DAZZLING BLUE hit the stage in Florida, Minnesota, and California
  • EDUCATION:  Our completely-updated THE POWER AND CRAFTING OF STORY was put to the test when I had the honor of working on the idea with two clients.  We have built this program into a strong strategic learning experience.  We had Interpersonal Communications and Presentation Skills delivered to two new clients.
  • APPLICATION:  This is the heart of what we do, our consulting services.  From meeting design to value add, from the development of new learning centers to presentation design, our consulting services had one of the biggest months in the past two quarters.

As you know, Colin Harvill has joined the Creative Ventures team and is running the Dallas office.  He has done some great leverage on our social media sites and you can now see new ideas at Facebook under the Creative Ventures site, so add that to your “following” to get some fresh ideas.  He has also finished his first article on the impact of working in small groups: Colin is working on developing new client relationships and reconnecting with old friends.

May has two huge projects in Dallas and Chicago, then some time at the office to finish key reports and update WHY WE LOVE THE MOVIES for a new show as well as getting THE IDEA FACTORY ready for the stage.

Google Fiber, the ultra high speed Internet, is coming to Austin.  After debuting in Kansas City, this quicksilver access portal to the wonders of the web will be burrowing its way to homes in my new town.  There is a lot of technical stuff about it, but the best way to understand its impact is with one simple little illustration.  You will be able to load 250 CD’s in under one single tick of the second hand.  That’s fast.  That’s impressive bandwidth.  It makes you wonder how fast this stuff can really get.  What kind of bandwidth speed will be enough for me?

Bandwidth is an interesting concept, and its application goes far beyond anything that travels in waves.  Its impact is seen every day in your desire to do more within the exact same amount of time.  You assume more responsibility and take on more projects and tasks, trying through technology and purported time management gymnastics to squeeze just one more thing out of the unforgiving minute.

I see this all the time.  It is the essence of Creative Ventures Law # 11, THE LAW OF EVERYTHING:  When you try to do everything, you do nothing.

By looking to expand your reach, you offer each additional layer of responsibility a smaller fraction of your attention.  The result is a series of “half results.”  You simply cannot fragment your attention and work past a certain threshold.  I see the results of THE LAW OF EVERYTHING in clients all the time.  They will send me a project and ask me for my thoughts.  I ask what is the intended outcome?  They give me an answer that’s not reflected anywhere in the project, and I realize this particular project received only a small piece of their attention.   The best example of this is the concept of meeting.

Do I even have to remind you of the mind-numbing nature of most meetings? Most meetings are the breeding ground of bandwidth poison.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a weekly sales meeting or a national strategy meeting.  The lack of planning and attention contaminates these human interactions we call meetings and creates toxic displays of the impact of crowded leadership bandwidth.

Think of meetings as having two parts, push and pull.  “Push” is the shoving of information and data at a group of people, and push makes up the vast majority of meetings.  “I need to tell you something, so let’s have a meeting.”  “I need to share with you progress on this or that.”  “I need to introduce goals that were developed on Mt. Olympus, and I need your ‘buy-in’.” (the lowest form of engagement).  “I need to ‘show you the numbers’.”  Geez.  All push.  It makes the feeling of impending doom as a meeting date pops up on your calendar even worse than that root canal next Tuesday.

Then there is “pull,” when the goal is to elicit information, opinions, and ideas from a group of people.  A better reason to meet than pushing, but  pulling  can be made radioactive as quickly as a push meeting.  A lack of planning or skill sets in how to run these types of meetings makes them disasters.  They can run on endlessly with horrific ideas smothering any really good ones.

The idea is to mix the two ideas of push/pull into a structured, connected experience that is rewarding for the meeting designer, the presenters, and the participants alike.

I recently attended a “value add” meeting in Cleveland to help a client determine if the dinner meeting idea actually added any value (Kind of the idea behind “value added” isn’t it?).  I was not involved in any of the design, only in attending and reporting.  I began with a simple question to the company, What do you think the participants remembered from this experience?  They weren’t sure.  I helped them with the answer.  During over half the meeting, the majority of participants were on their mobile devices.  The meeting was almost entirely push, introducing product.  The value received was a beautiful setting with a fabulous dinner…and only a sliver of takeaways.

A few recommendations:

  • A handout does not make a good slide.  Don’t turn you handouts into slides and think you have a presentation.  Create a two-part visual strategy:  one a beautiful image-driven presentation, and the other a follow-up handout of supporting graphs.  When I hear “You probably can’t see all of this” from a presenter, I know the slide will be catastrophic.
  • Don’t ask someone to present anything if they don’t have any presentation skills.  When a presenter is reading  slides it’s a fast track to listeners’ checking email.  Train your presenters to be presenters.
  • Would you want to be there?  Think honestly about your meeting content and delivery.  Would YOU want to sit in the audience?  Design from the participants’ perspective to gain engagement.

Bandwidth is a huge issue to you.  When in doubt, do something great leaders do all the time:  ASK FOR A LITTLE HELP!  Spread the bandwidth around and focus on IMPACT.


HEY NEIGHBOR:  The Kepler Space Telescope has a unique function, to scan the Milky Way for earth-like planets.  It recently found a couple of great candidates circling the star Kepler 62, a mere 1,200 light years away.  Kepler 62 F is a rocky planet with the strong potential of having oceans crashing on shorelines, while Kepler 62 E is the perfect distance from the Kepler 62 sun-like star to have the same temperatures as earth.  It’s probably a little early to bake a pie for our new neighbors, but in the vastness of space this is a little piece of information that helps us expand our search for life in our galaxy.


A SPECTACULAR RECOVERY:  The ability to recover elegantly from a misstep is often a sure way to create opportunities.  Netflix is a great example.  Less than two years ago they made what many thought was a fatal error when they split off their streaming and DVD delivery into two separate services.  subscribers flew the coop faster than a wolf slinking into the hen house, and the stock tanked.  Now, with creative risks from developing original programming to compete with HBO and other pay services to new pricing strategies, Netflix execs are the media darlings, having added two million streaming customers in the first quarter and seeing revenue increase 18%.  Recovery strategies that are filled with risk take a great level of discipline and corporate courage, but the results can be spectacular.


A MARRIAGE MADE IN HEAVEN:  Taco Bell just announced that it added 15,000 new employees last year and reported that most are due to the launch of Doritos Locos tacos.  These are the tasty treats with taco shells made from Doritos and Cool Ranch Doritos.  Already the most successful new food item launch in history, these Frito Lay-partnered tacos are adding jobs and will contribute to the addition of 2,000 Taco Bell stores over the next 10 years.  That is an impressive fast food impact!

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