Tag Archives: creativity

Creativity by John Cleese, and Your Next Five Moves: Master the Art of Business Strategy by Patrick Bet-David – for the December 4 First Friday Book Synopsis on Zoom

For Dec., 2020 FFBS meetingFirst Friday Book Synopsis December 4, 2020 — on Zoom
Time: 7:30 am (Central Time)
Two Books: 
Your Next Five Moves: Master the Art of Business Strategy by Patrick Bet-David — Delivered by Karl Krayer
Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide by John Cleese – Delivered by Randy Mayeux
(Zoom link below)
Please invite one and all to participate in this session.

You are invited to learn the key content of two good books, in a fast-paced presentation, complete with comprehensive, multi-page synopsis handouts.

During Pandemic Season, we have continued to average well over 100 people gathering each month on Zoom for the First Friday Book Synopsis..

On December 4, we have again selected two important books.

Karl Krayer will present his synopsis of Your Next Five Moves: Master the Art of Business Strategy by Patrick Bet-David. This will be Karl’s first presentation after his stroke a few years back.  We are glad to have Karl participate in our December session.

I will present my synopsis of the new John Cleese book:  Creativity:  A Short and Cheerful Guide. To say that he is one of the creative geniuses of the era is an understatement.  This book will provide much thought, and plenty of transferable principles.

If you are like many, you do not have time to read all of the books you would like to read.  The First Friday Book Synopsis is designed for you.

Of course, it would be better if you read the books on your own. But, our synopses are comprehensive, thorough, and they will give you plenty of the key content and principles found in the books.  You will learn, and be able to ponder the ideas in a useful way.  And, if you have read the book, our synopses will help you remember more of what you read.

Come join us.


Here is the Zoom info for the December session:

Randy Mayeux is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Dec. 4 First Friday Book Synopsis
Time: Dec 4, 2020 07:30 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting:


Meeting ID: 864 2553 8410
Passcode: 480416


Imagine by Jonah Lehrer – My Takeaways

At the end of each of my book synopsis presentations, I give a few of my takeaways for the books I present.  For Imagine:  How Creativity Works, I had a much longer list than usual – sixteen takeaways.  So, here they are.  If you want to be more creative, then take a good look, and ask, “what do I need to do differently – what changes do I need to make in the way I work?” 

• Sixteen “lessons” (some behaviors to adopt – a longer than usual list of take-aways): 

1)    Paint the walls blue (but hire an accountant wearing red)
2)    Make people interact
3)    Connect more.  Collaborate more.  A lot more.
4)    And, to connect, you need lots of face-to-face interactions.  There is no substitute for face-to-face! (proximity matters a lot!)
5)    If the idea has not come at all, get off task – way off task
• take walks; take showers; have a drink or two…
6)    If the idea has come, get focused – very focused… (until you need another idea – then get off task again)
7)    Embrace – insist on – debate!  (traditional brainstorming, focusing on the positive only, does.not.work!)
8)    Get outside.  Way outside! – and collaborate with outsiders; lots of outsiders.
9)    Play a little (or a lot) – At least, look with new, outsider, child’s eyes…  (familiarity/jargon – these are enemies of creativity)
10)  Only after expertise is developed can you stray from the traditional, and improvise… (think Yo-Yo Ma).  Thus, expertise precedes great breakthroughs…
11) Travel – far away from home… (and pay attention when you travel)
12) And, aim for diversity (and weirdness) in your connections
• embrace the city
13) Walk faster…
14)  Treat breakthrough performers more like athletic superstars
15)  Get much better at your powers of observation
16)  Provide “15 percent time” (or its equivalent) – use your 15 percent time to play around with new ideas……

From Yo-Yo Ma, Your Communication Tip of the Day – “Make People Care What Happens Next”

I’ve finished reading Imagine by Jonah Lehrer.  It is a treasure, with story after story worth pondering.

Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble

One of his exemplars of creativity is Yo-Yo Ma.  Here is a brief excerpt.

For Ma, the tedium of the flawless performance taught him that there is often a tradeoff between perfection and expression. “If you are only worried about not making a mistake, then you will communicate nothing,” he says. “You will have missed the point of making music, which is to make people feel something.” Instead, he reviews the complete score, searching for the larger story. “I always look at a piece of music like a detective novel.” My job is to retrace the story so that the audience feels the suspense. So that when the climax comes, they’re right there with me, listening to my beautiful detective story. It’s all about making people care about what happens next.” (emphasis added).

“Make people care about what happens next.”  Now this is your communication tip of the day.  In your speeches, your presentations, your blog posts, your articles, even your emails, make people care about what comes next. Always.

Is It Tougher To Come Up With Ideas When You Work Alone? (A Few More Thoughts on Creativity & Innovation)

America seems to be suffering a decline in innovation advantage.

America seems to be experiencing an increase in the number of people who work alone.

Is it possible that these are connected?

I have read a lot of books on innovation.  And a few on creativity.  (Bob Morris, our blogging colleague, is good at reminding us of the difference between the two).  And I think about these subjects, creativity and innovation, a lot.

And, right now, on my reading list is the new book The Idea Factory, about the Bell Labs, and the new book by Jonah Lehrer, Imagine.  (Imagine is getting a lot of buzz, and I will present my synopsis of this book at the May First Friday Book Synopsis).

So, here’s my latest thought about our innovation deficit.  A lot of us are in a deficit position.  Why?  Because we work primarily alone.

I am an independent consultant.  Though Karl Krayer and I have hosted the First Friday Book Synopsis together for fourteen full years, we spend little actual time together.  We each office separately.  And though I work with other folks in a few different ways, I do most of my thinking and pondering alone.  My “coffee breaks” lead to little business interaction.  And yet, all of the new research seems to say a lot about the enormous value of the forced and not-so-forced interactions in idea factories of one kind or another.  Being together, rubbing elbows together, just talking in “unscheduled” run-ins, can lead to breakthrough thinking.

Why?  Here’s a quote from Imagine, which Bob Morris quoted in his review of the book:

“Sometimes a creative problem is so difficult that it requires people to connect their imaginations together; the answer arrives only if we collaborate. That’s because a group is not just a collection of individual talents. Instead, it is a chance for those talents to exceed themselves, to produce something greater than anyone thought possible.”

And don’t forget — “together” actually does require some time “together.”

The Bell Laboratories provide an example of a true idea factory. So too with Pixar, and Apple, and other entities that profit from smart and creative people being together.  And it is the sum of all of these many interactions, constantly occurring, that leads to breakthrough ideas.

And, yet, so many more people now work in “alone” settings.  The very people that, if they had more interactions, might produce more great ideas.

I “interact” virtually.  I read widely.  But I’m not sure it is the same as the company cafeteria and ping pong tables and simple coffee breaks…

What do we do about this?  I’m not sure.  But I think this is a problem worth our attention.

Steve Jobs Took Things Seriously

Serious:  not joking or trifling; being in earnest


Here’s a simple truth about Steve Jobs.  He took things very seriously.

Every task; every word; every presentation; every-thing.  Though he made his presentations fun, you got the distinct impression that they were very important to him.  He took them seriously.

Where did this come from?  Where did this trait, and this practice, come from?

I have read the first couple of chapters of the new Steve Jobs book by Walter Isaacson.  (I hope to present my synopsis at the January First Friday Book Synopsis).  This paragraph grabbed me.  When he was six or seven years old, he told a girl who lived across the street that he was adopted.

“So, does that mean your real parents didn’t want you?”  “Lightning bolts went off in my head, according to Jobs.  “I remember running into the house, crying.  And my parents said, ‘No, you have to understand.’  They were very serious and looked me straight in the eye.  They said, “We specifically picked you out.’  Both of my parents said that and repeated it slowly for me.  And they put an emphasis on every word in that sentence.”  (emphasis added).

We will spend a lot of time, and read a lot of pages, trying to figure out what made Steve Jobs Steve Jobs.  But there is little doubt as to what he was.  He was a serious, curious, creative one-of-a-kind multi-hit wonder.  I’ve long thought that curious and creative were the critical traits.  I think “serious” might be the trait I had not yet grasped, or seen… It might be the true foundation for all the other traits.  (But, I’ve got a lot more to read…).

Five Skills Separating the Most Accomplished Innovators from the Rest – Insight from Josh Linkner’s Disciplined Dreaming

I am deeply immersed in the book Disciplined Dreaming:  A Proven Guide to Drive Breakthrough Creativity by Josh Linkner (Founder & Chairman, ePrize).  This is my selection for this Friday’s First Friday Book Synopsis.  (yes, I know that this is the 2nd Friday — we postponed due to the holiday weekend).  Bob Morris posted his review of this book here, and his interview of Linkner, the author, here.

This book presents quite a challenge — it drills into the reader just how hard it is to shake free from the “we’ve always done it this way” thinking.  It is so hard to be creative on purpose, and practically on demand — perpetually.  But without the discipline to practice disciplined dreaming, we, and our companies and organizations, will be left behind.

Here is just one terrific slice from the book:

• Five skills separating the most accomplished innovators from the rest:
1)    Associating – creating links between seemingly unrelated items
2)    Questioning – questions are at the core of creativity
3)    Observing – raising your level of awareness, observing in greater detail what is happening in the world, and then imagining what could be different
4)    Experimenting – be unafraid of failure
5)    Networking – finding diverse people whose ideas challenge your own thinking and expand your perspective


If you are near the DFW area, come join us this Friday, 7:00 am.  Just follow this link to register.  This book is a terrific book, and I think my presentation will be worth your time.  And my colleague, Karl Krayer, will present his synopsis of Onward by Howard Schultz, the man behind the success of Starbucks.  It should be a good morning of learning.