Creative Ventures Newsletter
Volume 86, February 2013
March had my head spinning!  Trips to Florida, New Jersey, Houston, and Dallas kept me jumping.  These were great projects and encompassed all three of my areas of service.  I had the honor of my second major keynote presentation for one of my favorite clients.  I did the BRAND NEW version of Elegant Simplicity, my core idea program.  Then I had the chance to teach an updated version of my 1-on-1 Interpersonal Communications class to four new groups.  Speaking of honor and opportunity, I also had the chance to launch the second program in a series I have designed for a client called THE POWER IDEA SERIES.  This was a custom two-hour program that contains some of my most current ideas around a combination of three programs, Repeatable Successful Acts, The Art of Communication and Dazzling Blue.  It was fantastic stuff, and thinking back on it makes me smile as I’m typing.

Our BIG announcement is, effective April 1, Colin Harvill (yep, my younger son) will be joining Creative Ventures, taking over responsibilities around operations, program development, and sales.  I am so excited about the chance to work with Colin, who is a graduate of the University of Arkansas (go Hogs!) and has worked around the globe, with stops in Costa Rica and Spain.  He has experience in teaching and sales that will prove instrumental in helping take Creative Ventures to a new level of impact!  Colin will be running the Dallas office and can be reached at and 214-794-1777.

So April will once again have me dancing around the country, with some stops back in Dallas, then off to Florida and Georgia, plus an additional trip to Chicago.

I know this sounds like a broken record, but I recognize the blessings I work under, and the fact that you take time to engage and read my stuff each month is about the highest honor I can have, so THANKS!
Colin at Trudy's

You can think I’m wrong, but that’s no reason to stop thinking.

[Dr. Gregory House]

He sat with his fingers pursed before him, his elbows resting on the arms of his chair.  His eyes were closed and he was on his third pipe of tobacco.  Silently he was engaged in thinking, in thoughtful repose, in mindfulness.  He was putting pieces together slowly until the puzzle was complete, and while the others hurried about the town searching for another clue to help them find a path leading to the solution, Sherlock Holmes solved the case without ever leaving his chair.

Sherlock Holmes

There is great power in thinking, in actually spending time in the process of thought.  I smile each time I think of the scene from the movie The Fugitive, when the U.S. Marshal (played by the great Tommy Lee Jones) searching for Richard Kimball comes across one of his men leaning against a table and shouts at him, “What are you doing”?  When the response comes back, “Thinking,” Jones yells at him, “Think me up one of those chocolate donuts with sprinkles,” and shakes his head in disgust and whispers, “Thinking!” as though it was the most worthless activity he had ever heard of.

Thinking is the most critical part of what I do.  It allows me to connect ideas and experience to develop strategies.  It gives me the space to play with an idea, to move its pieces around, to build one model and then test it against another.

I often get emails from clients who want to know what I think about an idea, plan, strategy, structure, or design.  They want to know immediately.  I always answer, “I can give you a ‘thin slice’ (intuitive thought from a gut response make famous in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Blink), but if you want to know really what I think, I actually have to THINK.”  I have to enter into critical thinking, and that, my friends, is a real, distinct process.  As many of you know, I have a series of operational laws I follow—“Creative Ventures Laws”--and one of these, LAW # 4, is “the law of speed,” which states, “Speed should NEVER outweigh thought.”  

There are a gazillion (well, a lot) books on the brain’s process, and though I am not a neuro-scientist or brain doctor dude, my process works for me and has resulted in everything I have designed, taught, spoken about, and applied for the past 27 years.  Here’s a synopsis of the process:

SEE IT:  Ideas and thinking work best when you can visualize them, so get the sketch paper, whiteboard, clear board (my favorite), iPad sketch program, and put pen to paper so your idea has visible form.  It is a great value to learn to do simple sketches so that what you are imagining is presented in a picture.  I spend most of my time on a project sketching the ideas in my crude but personally effective style.  I have taken many clients on this visual journey into the ideas we work on together.

Sketching on a Whiteboard
Sketching Plan B

TRY IT AGAIN:  I seldom get anything right the first time.  My style is to give it original form, then let it sit.  It’s kind of like my chili, way better the second day.  I follow the plan of “return.”  I return to my idea, my plan, and my design to see how it holds up to a second round of thinking.  This is a great example of allowing speed to take a back seat to thinking.  I move things around.  I throw things out.  I see it differently. And I know it makes the idea better.

GIVE IT THE NINJA TREATMENT:  Our blender went the way of all mechanical things, and Laura replaced it with a Ninja brand blender.  It is the Porsche of all blenders!  It throws stuff around a set of samurai sword-like blades at lightning speed.  I like the idea of throwing ideas around in a maelstrom of sharp and pointed reviews.  I share my ideas with my team.  I let them help shape the idea by a critical process.  To hell with ego, let the idea get the Ninja treatment!  Without critical punches to the belly of the idea it has only a single point of view.  At PIXAR studios, this is referred to as “The Grind,” and it is responsible for the fantastic stories they produce year after year.  I just taught the grind process to a client in January, and though they’re still learning, they love the results already.

Though your industry may be dominated by the need for a speedy response to your service, try slowing down for a second.  The future of what you do, your growth, and market separation are best promoted by your incredible ability to think!

Ninja Blender
George Whitfield Pulls Quarterback's Foot

SURF THROWING DRILL?:  I love finding creative teaching methods, and George Whitfield of Whitfield Athletix has an unorthodox approach to teaching quarterbacks.  Players from top high school and college hopefuls to pros such as Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, and Ben Roethlisberger have gone to George for help.  His unique drills are designed to mimic game conditions in a dynamic and unique manner.  They include drop back and pass drills from the surf of the ocean, the broom drill where he pokes at players while they prepare to make precision passes, and the leg-pull drill that includes a cable attached to the plant foot that gets yanked as they get ready to make the pass.  You can’t argue with his results, as his client list reads like a who’s who of successful quarterbacks.  Is your training stale and predictable?  Think like George. Look for different ways to improve your team’s skills.

Food Truck with Rotating Cupcake

DID YOU SAY, “A ROTATING CUPCAKE?”:  I recently read about Jeremy Bustillos in the Austin American Statesman and found his story fantastic.  During the housing crash Jeremy was looking for something to do and helped a client work on their bakery business.  When that client decided to take their cupcakes on the road, he asked Jeremy to help with the design and construction of their food truck, and WHAM!  JEKcreations was born.  Now a specialist in doing everything from giving your truck a Mohawk to adding a rotating cupcake to your trailer top, Jeremy is the king of food trailer design, having found the right niche at the right time, as Austin and other cities have fallen in love with food on wheels.  Don’t be afraid to leverage opportunity when it comes!

Character Riding Arrow

OH YEAH, THAT SOCIAL MEDIA THING:  One of the great outcomes of a real social media strategy is that you create “ambassadors” for your brand.  These are people who really connect with your message, service, or product.  They “feel” about it.  They are somehow emotionally attached to you.  Your business needs to have a method for identifying these people, for they are full of leverage, or, in old sales jargon, “ripe for referrals.”  Are you looking for these folks?  At they will tell you these folks are worth their weight in internet gold, heck, any kind of gold.  At your next client function make sure you seek out those who aren’t just there for the free food and drink, but instead are willing to sing your praises.  Have a strategy for protecting these word of mouth zealots, for they have in their enthusiastic commitment the ability to move you and your service to the next level.

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