Creative or Reactive: Which One Are You Right Now?

Creative or Reactive: Which One Are You Right Now?

Creative and Reactive

Same letters.

Different order.

Very different results.

These are strange times.

A relentless stream of news and updates are coming at us, warning us about COVID-19, a declining stock market, rising unemployment, and the financial crunch facing millions and millions of individuals and families.

On the other hand, we’re also getting daily notifications from companies about what they’re doing in the face of all of this news, tips for working from home and maintaining our mental health, and encouragement to support our friends, families, neighbors, and strangers in new ways.

Should we be scared or stoic? Isolated or connected? Hoarding or sharing?

Whatever you choose (and it is your choice), I encourage you to also be creative.

I’m not talking about being creative in the capital C way and take up painting, sculpting, composing, or any of the other activities we typically associate with the fine arts.

I’m talking about calmly assessing your situation, clearly acknowledging the constraints that are requiring change, and then exploring the “new normal” you can create.

This is what innovators do and you, yes YOU, are an innovator.

Innovators know that creativity thrives within constraints. If anything is possible and everything is permissible, you can do whatever you want! But that’s not how the world is. Not now and not before COVID-19.

We, people and businesses, have always faced constraints because we’ve never had infinite resources, money, or time. But we acknowledged the constraints and created within them. That’s what we have to do now.

Here’s some inspiration:


Devil’s Food Catering: From event caterer to consortium offering takeout meals

Caterers have to order food well before events take place so when events are cancelled, caterers are left with a lot of food that they’ve already paid for and without the event income that was going to cover their costs.

Devil’s Food Catering in Portland OR faced exactly this situation. Instead of letting the food go to waste or trying to become a take-out shop on their own, they created Handbasket by teaming with other with other Portland area restaurants, breweries, distilleries, bakeries, and other providers to create “handmade menus for quality in-home dining experiences during this of social distancing.”

Gyms, Fitness Studios, and Personal Trainers: From in-person to on-line communities

Some people are gifted with the motivation to workout and some of us, well…aren’t.

In-person classes and personal training are often the solutions we rely on because we feel a sense of connection with our instructors, trainers, and classmates. As gyms close and social distancing becomes a way of life, the loss of live workouts can deepen our sense of isolation.

Recognizing this, local gyms, studios, and personal trainers in cities across the country are offering livestream classes so that we can continue to feel connected AND healthy AND active from the comfort of our own homes.

p.s. the link above is for the Boston area but I found similar articles for Philly, Washington, Houston, and even Wyoming

Speakers Who Dare: From Broadway event to Livestream to Movie

Spears Who Dare bills itself as TED meets Broadway, “a groundbreaking speaker series produced like a Broadway show, featuring speakers from around the world who want to ignite change and inspire new ways of thinking.”

Scheduled to take place on March 24, the organizers recognized that, like many other live events, their original plans for a live Broadway event needed to change. Last week, they shifted from live to livestream, planning a 6-camera shoot of each speaker and performer sharing their messages and art in an empty theater.

Then NYC closed the theaters. Within hours the organizers shifted again and asked each speaker to record a “mini-movie” that could be edited together to create “a full-blown Speakers Who Dare Film” to be shared with a global audience, viewing together on the original event date.


Seeing your coworkers when you can’t (or don’t want to) videoconference

Homemade games for when you’ve already played all the games you bought

More homemade games for when you really need to interact with people outside your own home

How and what will YOU create today?

Just in case you need a nudge…find the perfect gif starring the perfect celebrity expressing the perfect emotion and send it to someone who needs it

h/t to Kate Dixon and Megan Shea for sending their suggestions

10 Moments of Innovation Zen

10 Moments of Innovation Zen

I don’t know about you, but I’m rather tired of the non-stop hysteria that seems to be occurring these days. Between COVID-19, politics, the economy, and the state of Tom Brady’s contract (sorry, I live in Boston), it seems that the world is having a panic attack.

Namaste, people. Namaste.

In an effort to not contribute to the panic, instead of writing something topical and relating it to innovation, I’m simply going to share images of something that makes me extremely happy and peaceful and relate them to innovation.


I love books. I love reading them, looking at them, talking about them, and just being amongst them. In the days before Amazon, I would go to bookstores and simply sit in the aisle because it was the most calming and energizing thing I could think of. Don’t even get me started on the sheer joy of going into The Stacks in a library.

But as Amazon grew and the big chain bookstores shrank or went out of business, my opportunities for moments of book-filled zen became fewer and far between.

That’s why I love what independent bookstores are doing. They are innovating too, by changing the business they’re in. They’re no longer in the book-selling business (Amazon won that battle), they’re in the book experience business.

The Book Experience business is everything that can’t offer — discovery, community, an environment that stimulates all your 5 senses. Don’t believe me? Why do you think Amazon is opening physical book stores?

Yes, it takes time, money, risk, and resources to re-define the business you’re in but it’s worth it because it not only keeps you in business, it creates a competitive advantage that lasts.

And may even create moments of zen.

An interior view of the Zhongshuge bookstore in Chongqing, Oct. 22, 2019. VCG

People browse for books at a new store with wraparound shelving units in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, April 21, 2019. IC

An interior view of the Sanlian Taofen bookstore in Ningbo, Zhejiang province. From @设计美学志 on Weibo

An interior view of the Zhongshuge bookstore in Beijing, June 26, 2019. VCG

Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice

Livraria Lello, Porto

Shakespeare & Co, Paris

The Last Bookstore, Los Angeles, United States

Cook & Book, Brussels Belgium

Saraiva, Rio de Janeiro