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The War of Art – Conversations with Steven Pressfield

Steven PressfieldIf you only read one book about creativity, I tell my clients, make it The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

It contains the distilled wisdom of a bestselling novelist and Hollywood screenwriter, who has both the scars and trophies of a life spent wrestling with creative challenges.

This book has been an inspiration to me for years, so I was delighted to have the opportunity to speak to Steven and record an interview with him for Lateral Action. In the course of an hour, we covered a range of topics relating to creativity, work, entrepreneurship and life in general, including:

  • Why is it so hard to pursue our dreams, and get started on the creative challenges that mean so much to us?
  • How can we overcome our inner Resistance to doing the things that matter?
  • What rewards can we expect from persevering in the face of difficulties?
  • What are the creative opportunities — and pitfalls — of social media and digital publishing?

As you’d expect from an accomplished novelist, Steve is a great raconteur; I was spellbound in his company and I think you will be too.

You can listen to the interview with Steven Pressfield over at Lateral Action.

Make sure you check out Steve’s website, StevenPressfield.com, which should be very appealing to Wishful Thinking readers.

Finally, ‘conversations’ plural wasn’t a typo in the title — Steve has very graciously returned the favour by interviewing me about creativity, productivity and entrepreneurship. It’s a slightly surreal experience being interviewed by one of your heroes, but Steve asked me some very stimulating questions that made me think about things from a fresh angle, and I hope you’ll find the interview of interest.

Many thanks to Steve for his generosity and inspiration.

Video Interview: Mark McGuinness Talks to Philip Patston

cm 27 Mark McGuiness Interview from Creative Momentum on Vimeo.

I recently recorded this video interview with Philip Patston, an entrepreneur, consultant and comedian from New Zealand.

Philip did a great job of drawing out my thoughts, and we covered a lot of ground in the 30-minute conversation. Here’s Philip’s summary:

we caught up with Mark via Skype and canvassed a vast array of subjects from secret societies, fads, Michelangelo and brands, to Van Gogh, freezers and poetry! And beware – Mark advises against being too unique.

Philip has compiled a rich collection of creativity resources on Creative Momentum, including video interviews with other creative people including Sir Ken Robinson.

Twitter users – you can also connect with Philip on Twitter.

Thanks Philip!

Interview with Rajesh Setty About My Motivation E-Book

I’ve just been interviewed by author and entrepreneur Rajesh Setty, about my e-book How to Motivate Creative People (Including Yourself).

Rajesh is a very thoughtful and creative guy who has not only achieved success himself, but works hard to help others achieve their goals. He asked me some great questions about the e-book and my reasons for writing it — as I say in the interview, he made me look at my own motivations afresh!

The interview appears on Rajesh’s blog Life beyond Code, which is a great read for creative and entrepreneurial people — highly recommended!

25 Years of Creative Whacks – An Interview with Roger von Oech

Roger Von OechRegular readers of Wishful Thinking will know that I hold the work of Roger von Oech in high esteem. Roger was one of the original sparks behind the creative revolution in business; his books and card decks, and more recently his blog and Ball of Whacks, have brought inspiration to thousands of people worldwide.

Roger’s classic A Whack on the Side of the Head is always the first book on creative thinking I recommend to clients. So when he e-mailed me a few weeks ago to let me know he had prepared a revised 25th Anniversary Edition of A Whack on the Side of the Head, I couldn’t resist asking him for an interview. Roger kindly agreed – you can read his answers to my questions below.

Regarding the book itself – if you haven’t yet read Whack, this is definitely one you should have on your creative bookshelf. It’s a thoroughly good read – funny, challenging, useful, unsettling and inspiring. If you already own a copy, then you’ll be pleased to know the new edition is still recognisably the same book, with all the old favourites still in place – but with new ideas, techniques and ‘Whacks’ added for good measure. My experience of reading the new edition was an enjoyable combination of familiarity and surprise. I was also delighted to see that I make a cameo appearance in the book – in a footnote on p.115 (I won’t spoil the surprise by telling you what it’s about).

1. A Whack on the Side of the Head is a classic. Why is that?
A Whack on the Side of the Head
Roger von Oech: Whack is about the ten “Mental Locks” that prevent most people from being more creative. These locks include such beliefs as: “There’s one right answer,” “To err is wrong,” “Don’t be foolish,” Avoid Ambiguity,” and “That’s not my area.” These ideas make sense for a lot of what we do, but when we’re trying to be creative they can get in the way. Most people have an intuitive understanding of these ideas, and so it’s easy for them to think about them.

Whack has a lot of unusual and off-beat stories and anecdotes. It’s got weird drawings that capture our imagination. Also, Whack is an accessible and interactive book. People seem to like that. There are a number of exercises in it. I think that we improve our ability to be creative by using our creativity, not by being lectured at. Whack is also fun. I guess people respond to all of these things.

2. Why change a classic book?

I’ve always considered Whack to be a living book, that is, one I could update and revise over time. This 25th Anniversary Edition is actually the fourth edition I’ve done since it first came out in 1983. The last previous edition, however, was in 1998, and there were a number of insights, exercises, and stories I wanted to add and I’ve gone ahead and done so. I hope that it reaches a new generation of creative people! [Read more...]

Ed Batista Questions Mark

Question Mark

Photo by -bast-

Fellow coach Ed Batista has published a three-question interview with me. I always think you can tell good coaches by the questions they ask, and Ed’s questions prompted me to reflect on my work and explain some things I hadn’t consciously thought about before – thanks Ed!

As well as enquiring about my work and use of technology, Ed held me to account by asking how my New Year’s Resolution is going – if you want to find out whether I’ve kept it, you’d better head over to Ed’s blog.

PS – If you were following my Twitter feed you’d have heard about this interview last week, as well as the Jill Bolte-Tayor video and free tickets for Charles Leadbeater’s talk about creativity and the internet. On the other hand, you’d also have heard about me watching football on TV and using the wrong end of my Wacom pen, so I guess it all evens out.

Inspiring Boundless Creativity – an Interview with Tina Brazil, People Director, Profero

I’m very pleased to share with you this interview I recorded with Tina Brazil, People Director of the digital marketing agency Profero.

Boundless Creativity

In 2006 Profero won a Special Award for Most Innovative Initiative at the Excellence in CPD Awards of the Institute for Practitioners in Advertising. (CPD = Continuous Professional Development.) If you remember my interview with Jill Fear, CPD Manager for the IPA you’ll know that Jill and her colleagues have high standards when it comes to professional development – so Profero have obviously been doing something special to win the award.

When I spoke to Tina, Profero had also just won a coveted Gold Cyber Lions Award at Cannes, for its Mini – Follow the White Rabbit campaign – the only UK agency to win Gold at Cannes this year.

In the interview, Tina spoke about why people development is so important to Profero and how they inspire ‘boundless creativity’ in everyone at the agency – not just the creative department.

Profero’s award-winning CPD initiative included the following elements:

  • An ‘inspirational speaker’ series including Lord Puttnam, Greg Dyke, Neil Christie of wieden + kennedy
  • A ‘lunchtime speakers’ series on practical industry topics
  • Boundless creativity projects set for cross-disciplinary teams
  • People skills training from Dawn Sillett
  • A training intranet to act as an agency blog and raise awareness of available training options

For more details of the programme, you can download the Profero case study from the IPA website.

Profero Logo

Profero

Profero is Europe and Asia’s leading independent full service digital marketing agency. Since it was founded in 1998 it has delivered over 5,000 effective and innovative campaigns for clients, more than any other agency of its kind. Profero specialises in advertising, web development, media buying and relationship marketing solutions. Its client base includes Mini, Astrazeneca, Western Union, Johnson and Johnson, Central Office of Information, Channel 4, Expedia.Over 200 imaginative people work as one team out of London, Hong Kong, Paris, Munich, Milan, Madrid, Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore, Tokyo and Sydney engaging clients with the world of digital communications by demonstrating its creative, connective and brand building capabilities.

Tina Brazil – People Director

Tina Brazil is responsible for ensuring Profero’s award winning people practices retain its talented team and attract untapped talent to the agency. This forms many guises from training and development, benefits, and maintaining Profero’s all-important culture by making sure people have fun along the way.

Tina started her career as a PA in Publishing before realising that she’d like to do her job in a more creative environment. After joining Redcell as a PA Tina moved to Profero as an Office Manager where evidence of the development culture can be seen with her appointment to the operational board as People Director.

Tina’s moto is: ‘It’s not what you do it’s the way that you do it!’

Click the icon below to listen to the interview.

Chris Ritke Interviews Me at 49Sparks.com

Chris Ritke of 49Sparks has just posted an interview with me we recorded last week. We talked about Wishful Thinking, coaching, people and creativity – including the use of online tools to facilitate co-creation.

49Sparks Logo

Chris is developing some very interesting tools for project collaboration at 49Sparks – you can sign up for free to check them out – and has a great series of audio and video podcasts. I originally noticed Chris’s site when he posted an interview with Neil Tortorella of Business of Design Online (where I’m a guest author).

As well as project tools 49Sparks offers social networking for creative professionals – Chris explains it better than I can, have a look at this video to see what it’s all about.

Interview with David Amor, Creative Director, Relentless Software

ResearchLast week I travelled to Brighton to talk to David Amor, Creative Director at computer games developer Relentless Software, for the latest interview for my research on Perceptions of Coaching in the UK Creative Industries.

In an industry where, according to Gamesindustry.biz, “insane crunch times and endless overtime hours … are considered to be a standard part of working in the development sector”, David and his business partner Andrew Eades are remarkable for having had “the crazy idea of a development studio that works 9 to 5 with no overtime”. Not only that, they strictly limit internet and e-mail access during working hours, and recreational games are banned from the office. Their approach has elicited protests about such ‘draconian’ measures, mixed with incredulity when they explain that in 3 years of production they have never missed a deadline or asked their staff to work evenings or weekends.

David Amor

David and Andrew founded Relentless Software in 2003 to make Social Games on traditional games consoles such as PlayStation2. Their first product, DJ: Decks & FX, was published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) in September 2004 to critical acclaim and was subsequently nominated for a BAFTA. DJ: Decks & FX is a music-mixing product that gives users a virtual DJ rig and a set of over 100 genuine dance tracks to play. It allows the user to perform live at parties as well as record their perfect mix for later sharing and playback.

In 2004 and 2005, Relentless worked on SCEE’s London Studios titles, EyeToy: Groove, EyeToy: Kinetic and SingStar. PopworldEyeToy and SingStar are SCEE’s internally developed social games that have collectively sold tens of millions of units. SCEE are world-leaders in developing and publishing this genre of products and Relentless is pleased to work closely with SCEE in this increasingly important market segment.

Relentless Logo

In October 2005, Relentless Software and SCEE released Buzz!: The Music Quiz, a music based quiz game set in a TV studio that includes four bespoke buzzer peripherals. Buzz!: The Big Quiz was released in March 2006 and Relentless continue to develop new Buzz! games for PlayStation platforms including Buzz!: The Schools Quiz and Buzz! The Mega Quiz. The Buzz! franchise has sold 4M units in its first year and continues to be an important brand in the Sony catalogue.

Relentless was honoured with Best New Intellectual Property and Best Innovation in conjunction with SCEE at the 2006 Develop Industry Excellence Awards. Later in 2006 it went on to win a BAFTA for Best Social Game. Relentless was also named 3rd highest UK independent game developer in the recently published Develop 100 which lists the top 100 developers by revenue generated in the UK. At a global ranking of 43 with a single Buzz! product, above Microsoft and Sega, this demonstrates the potential of social games and the ability of Relentless to achieve success in this area.

Relentless continues to make games that everybody can play and has developed considerable expertise in the new Social Games genre that allows people to enjoy video games without having the gamer expertise required by other products.

Talking to David, I was struck by his emphasis on the hard business value of ensuring his staff have a good balance of focused work and time away from the office. In his view this is not just a case of being ‘nice’ to people, but of providing the optimum conditions for efficient work and reducing some of the uncertainty inherent in creative production.

Relentless are currently hiring – e-mail David if you think his approach to making games could be for you.

Click the ‘AUDIO MP3′ icon below to hear the interview.

Table of contents for Research: Perceptions of Coaching in the UK Creative Industries

  1. Take Part in My Research – ‘Perceptions of Coaching in the UK Creative Industries’
  2. Research Project: Definition of ‘Coaching’ for this Project
  3. Research Project: Definition of ‘Creative Industries’
  4. Questionnaire for Managers in the UK Creative Industries
  5. Questionnaire for Employees in the UK Creative Industries
  6. Online questions for UK Creative Industry Staff
  7. Interview with Mick Rigby, Managing Director, Monkey Communications
  8. Research Project Featured on ‘Better Business Blogging’
  9. Interview with Ruth Kenley-Letts, Film Producer
  10. Interview with Chris Arnold, Executive Creative Director, BLAC
  11. Interview with Russell Davies, Advertising Planning Maestro
  12. Interview with Chris Hirst, Managing Director, Grey London
  13. Interview with David Roberts, Senior Project Manager, Creative Launchpad
  14. Interview with Neil Youngson, Technical Director, Cabinet UK Ltd
  15. Interview with Greg Orme, Chief Executive, Centre for Creative Business
  16. Interview with Chris Grant, Consultant, 14A Conversations
  17. Interview with Antonio Gould, Consultant, and Sara Harris, Screen Media Lab
  18. Interview with Richard Scott, Surface Architects
  19. Interview with Ben Demiri, Brand Manager, SIX Showroom
  20. Interview with Sian Prime, NESTA Creative Pioneer Programme
  21. Interview with Jill Fear, CPD Manager, The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising
  22. Interview with Terry Childs, Creative Director, Silver Chair
  23. Interview with Matt Taylor, Director, Fat Beehive
  24. Interview with Mark Earls, Advertising Contrarian
  25. Interview with David Amor, Creative Director, Relentless Software

Interview with Mark Earls, Advertising Contrarian

Research ProjectI’m very pleased that Mark Earls is the next interviewee in this series on Perceptions of Coaching in the UK Creative Industries, as his book Welcome to the Creative Age was one of the inspirations behind the project – particularly his concept of the “accelerator manager”, whose job is to “help my people get a better job next time”.

Mark EarlsMark Earls is one of the leading thinkers about brands, marketing and consumer behaviour. He has been described variously as “one of the Advertising scene’s foremost contrarians” and “the Christopher Hitchens of advertising and marketing”. But mostly he just refuses to accept received wisdom and is determined to make us all think a bit harder to get better results.

Mark has been an account planner for most of his working life. He has held senior positions in some of the largest and most influential communications companies in the world – his last job was as chair of Ogilvy’s Global Planning Council, prior to which he was Planning Director at the revolutionary St. Luke’s Communications. He was Vice Chair of the The Account Planning Group and has judged a number of awards competitions in the UK and abroad for communications and marketing effectiveness and innovation and even collaboration between arts and business.

HerdHis written work has regularly won awards from his peers and is considered by many to be amongst the most influential being written today. His first book, Welcome to the Creative Age, was widely read and discussed and has been translated into several languages. Dominic Mills of Campaign Magazine called it, “the book that Naomi Klein should have written”.

His latest book, Herd: how to change mass behaviour by harnessing our true nature challenges our Western received wisdom about mass behaviour and develops an alternative model rooted in our ‘Herd’ nature and has already received strong endorsement from other leading practitioners and theorists both in the US and the UK. The story continues on Mark’s blog, a welcome recent addition to the conversation.

Mark is in much demand as conference speaker around the world – in recent years he has spoken in the UK, USA, Argentina, France, Estonia, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Spain. He lives in North London and is currently preparing his next book and doing the odd bit of consulting for interesting companies and people.

Mark’s interview is a great way to draw the research project to a close for 2006. Early in 2007 I’ll publish the research report here as a free download. Many thanks to Mark and all my other interviewees for being so generous with their time and expertise.

Click the ‘AUDIO MP3′ icon below to hear the interview.

Table of contents for Research: Perceptions of Coaching in the UK Creative Industries

  1. Take Part in My Research – ‘Perceptions of Coaching in the UK Creative Industries’
  2. Research Project: Definition of ‘Coaching’ for this Project
  3. Research Project: Definition of ‘Creative Industries’
  4. Questionnaire for Managers in the UK Creative Industries
  5. Questionnaire for Employees in the UK Creative Industries
  6. Online questions for UK Creative Industry Staff
  7. Interview with Mick Rigby, Managing Director, Monkey Communications
  8. Research Project Featured on ‘Better Business Blogging’
  9. Interview with Ruth Kenley-Letts, Film Producer
  10. Interview with Chris Arnold, Executive Creative Director, BLAC
  11. Interview with Russell Davies, Advertising Planning Maestro
  12. Interview with Chris Hirst, Managing Director, Grey London
  13. Interview with David Roberts, Senior Project Manager, Creative Launchpad
  14. Interview with Neil Youngson, Technical Director, Cabinet UK Ltd
  15. Interview with Greg Orme, Chief Executive, Centre for Creative Business
  16. Interview with Chris Grant, Consultant, 14A Conversations
  17. Interview with Antonio Gould, Consultant, and Sara Harris, Screen Media Lab
  18. Interview with Richard Scott, Surface Architects
  19. Interview with Ben Demiri, Brand Manager, SIX Showroom
  20. Interview with Sian Prime, NESTA Creative Pioneer Programme
  21. Interview with Jill Fear, CPD Manager, The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising
  22. Interview with Terry Childs, Creative Director, Silver Chair
  23. Interview with Matt Taylor, Director, Fat Beehive
  24. Interview with Mark Earls, Advertising Contrarian
  25. Interview with David Amor, Creative Director, Relentless Software

Interview with Matt Taylor, Director, Fat Beehive

Research ProjectThis interview for my research into Perceptions of Coaching in the UK Creative Industries was with Matt Taylor, Director and Producer at Fat Beehive and Fat Beehive Films.

Fat Beehive is a small web developer based in the heart of London’s New Media cluster around Hoxton Square. Established in 1997, it has built up a strong reputation for creating accessible and engaging websites for charity, NGO, Faitrade and sustainability organisations. Its client list includes The Sustainable Development Commission, Crisis, GamCare, Global Witness, Compass Network, People Tree and Union Chapel.

Fat Beehive logo

Matt is one of the founding directors of Fat Beehive – there are now seven members of theteam including fellow director Tom Moreton. They have recently launched Fat Beehive Films, taking advantage of their film-making skills and the growth of the corporate film marketing, driven by the expanding broadband network. As well as the actual filming and editing, Fat Beehive Films offer video hosting and live webcasting services. You can see a selection of their films on their website.

I spoke to Matt in the relaxed surroundings of a cafe on Hoxton Square, where he described the importance of social skills and peer learning in a small new media agency. He also offered some amusing observations about the way management terms such as ‘coaching’ are regarded in the Fat Beehive office!

Click the ‘AUDIO MP3′ icon below to hear the interview.

Table of contents for Research: Perceptions of Coaching in the UK Creative Industries

  1. Take Part in My Research – ‘Perceptions of Coaching in the UK Creative Industries’
  2. Research Project: Definition of ‘Coaching’ for this Project
  3. Research Project: Definition of ‘Creative Industries’
  4. Questionnaire for Managers in the UK Creative Industries
  5. Questionnaire for Employees in the UK Creative Industries
  6. Online questions for UK Creative Industry Staff
  7. Interview with Mick Rigby, Managing Director, Monkey Communications
  8. Research Project Featured on ‘Better Business Blogging’
  9. Interview with Ruth Kenley-Letts, Film Producer
  10. Interview with Chris Arnold, Executive Creative Director, BLAC
  11. Interview with Russell Davies, Advertising Planning Maestro
  12. Interview with Chris Hirst, Managing Director, Grey London
  13. Interview with David Roberts, Senior Project Manager, Creative Launchpad
  14. Interview with Neil Youngson, Technical Director, Cabinet UK Ltd
  15. Interview with Greg Orme, Chief Executive, Centre for Creative Business
  16. Interview with Chris Grant, Consultant, 14A Conversations
  17. Interview with Antonio Gould, Consultant, and Sara Harris, Screen Media Lab
  18. Interview with Richard Scott, Surface Architects
  19. Interview with Ben Demiri, Brand Manager, SIX Showroom
  20. Interview with Sian Prime, NESTA Creative Pioneer Programme
  21. Interview with Jill Fear, CPD Manager, The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising
  22. Interview with Terry Childs, Creative Director, Silver Chair
  23. Interview with Matt Taylor, Director, Fat Beehive
  24. Interview with Mark Earls, Advertising Contrarian
  25. Interview with David Amor, Creative Director, Relentless Software