Posts Tagged ‘Creativity’

Flex that Creative Muscle—Work out your Imagination!

September 15, 2015


I’m a runner. More often than not, you’ll find me running countless laps around my neighborhood right after work. But, I didn’t always enjoy running. In fact, I used to be very bad at it. Back in high school, I would struggle to complete a mile in less than 15 minutes. However, after many years of conditioning and long runs, I have no problem running 5+ miles! Years of daily, hard aerobic workouts paid off, and now my mile time is around 8 minutes.

I believe it is also equally important to actively “work out” your mind. Depending on the type of mind exercises you do, you can improve your creativity and/or analytical thinking. As members of the marketing field, we need both creative and analytical thinking skill sets. So, why not set aside time to work out our minds so that we can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our creative and analytical thinking?


Specifically, since I am currently in IMC 615 Creative Strategy, I want to focus on how to improve creativity. I wanted to share a few things that I personally do to exercise my mind. These “mind exercises” have helped me to become more creative and imaginative:

  1. Change your mindset. Switch from a “I can’t” way of thinking to a “what if?” mindset. This allows you to see a problem or a certain aspect of life from new and different angles.
  2. Daydream. There is no set way to daydream, but you should practice doing it. Personally when I daydream, I like to think of “what if’s” and turn them into detailed story plots. Therefore, daydreaming allows my mind to get better at creating stories and characters. In fact, storytelling has become very easy for me, because I daydream so much.
  3. Try something new. Break away from your routine. I like to take a Saturday trip once a month to visit a new place or State Park. Doing this opens my mind up to new experiences and new scenery.
  4. Immerse yourself in art—movies, paintings, music, sculptures, dances, theater, and novels. This allows you to see and experience other people’s perspectives and ways of thinking.
  5. Learn about other cultures and try to interact with people from those cultures. Many of us have narrow scopes and perceptions about the world; I know I did before I began traveling the U.S. and the world with the military. In fact, I once traveled to Africa for a month, and that experience opened my eyes to new ways of thinking and creativity. They had completely different lifestyles and artistic styles!

What about you? Do you have any specific “mind exercises” you do to improve your imagination and creativity? Please share!

Creating Content on the Go

August 3, 2015



As marketers, we are often responsible for creating new content that is visually appealing. I recently stumbled upon an app called Enlight that allows users to edit photos on their iPhone or iPad. Enlight has several attractive features that you can find in other apps, but combines them into one easy to use app. I like to think of it as PhotoShop for your phone. While the app does cost $3.99 in the app store, it is well worth the cost! This app is great for people who work with social media and those who work on the creative side of marketing. Some of the features include:

  • Filters
  • Adding decals and text to photos
  • An “Insta Fit” feature for those photos that won’t normally fit
  • Frames and collages
  • Paint and drawing effects
  • Reshaping effects to alter the image and create some abstract art
  • Cropping, refitting, and adjusting the exposure, colors, and clarity

Here are a few examples of work from the Enlight website:

Enlight DecalsEnlight Painting Enlight Cropping

Those are just some of the features available with Enlight. This app really comes in handy when you’re traveling for work or don’t have access to a computer and need to create a new photo to use for a post or advertisement. I definitely recommend it for all you Instagram lovers out there! Whether your job requires you to work with graphics and design or if you just love to share and edit photos, Enlight is a great tool you should add to your app collection!

Three Quick Creativity Tips

April 30, 2015


Creativity can be challenging. Hard deadlines and client needs aren’t always conducive to the creative process. I’ve learned a lot about my creative process since beginning the IMC program. There are dozens of tips and tricks that can boost your creativity, but I wanted to share my top three with you.

  1. Learn and trust your creative process. This was especially difficult for me to understand. I was very focused on deadlines and setting aside a specific amount of time for homework that I wasn’t allowing myself to move through my own creative process. It took me a while to understand what my creative process was and what I needed to do to allow myself to be creative. It’s not always easy to allow yourself to move naturally through the process, but it’s important to try to trust you instincts. When I first started the program I would carefully set aside time to do homework. (I’m the kind of person that plans out my free time.) Now I know that in order to produce my best work, I need to let my brain “digest” it for a day. I usually write papers, edit photos, and do my design work in a time frame that allows me to revisit it the next day. I still work to set   aside time, but I understand that it may change and evolve as the project does.
  1. Take a break! Part of the creative process is knowing when you need to walk away and take a break. Getting away from what you’re working on refocuses your brain and allows inspiration to hit. Try going for a walk, reading a book, getting coffee, or taking a nap to free up your brain. (Naps can be very powerful things!) Research suggesting that you start to lose efficiency if you work on something for more than 90 minutes at a time. If your creative process dictates that you work well under pressure, you may want to schedule a short break so you don’t lose steam!
  1. Accept Feedback. Asking for feedback can be challenging. What if you have to start over? What if the message is confusing? What if I run out of time? All of these thoughts can prevent us from asking for and incorporating feedback into our work. Feedback can be very helpful in further developing ideas and expanding on what you’ve already accomplished. Build time into the process to get feedback. Plus, the nature of our industry is that you’ll never be working on an entire project by yourself. Learning to accept feedback now will help you be more successful at work.


Everybody’s creative process is different and it’s important to take time to understand yours. What other creativity tips have you found?

Image created by Heather Zeutzius

I took a walk.

May 5, 2014

With the end of term nearing, I sometimes feel like my “creative well” simply can’t meet the demand required by final projects.  For a step towards inspiration, I walk.

Mark Zuckerberg does, too.

As simple as it sounds, walking really works. It’s actually proven. Stanford researchers even tested whether it is the change of setting or act of moving that promotes the creative boost associated with walking. They found that moving—whether outside or on an indoor treadmill—benefits creativity.


One of my favorite places to walk (when I visit!) is Georgetown.

Where do you find creative inspiration?


Start here

February 25, 2014

Earlier this week I was watching a fantastic interview between photographers Chase Jarvis and Brandon Stanton.    During the interview they talked about ideas and how to get started with a project. We’ve all been there.  We need to find the next big idea, the next great ad campaign, but we often get overwhelmed because we’re starting at the end.  We are trying to start at “the big idea” and not at the beginning.

Brandon was a bond trader in Chicago when he lost his job.  He moved to New York with 2 suitcases and the goal of taking 10,000 portraits.  I completed a project where I took a photo every day for a year – 10,000 portraits would be much more difficult. He didn’t have a lot of money, he slept on a mattress on the floor, and now he has a New York Times #1 Best Seller.  His 10,000 portraits project turned into Humans of New York, which is a phenomenal photo project that has earned him more than 3.2 million likes on Facebook and has provided us with an amazing glimpse into the lives of every day people living in New York.

Screen Shot 2014-02-21 at 9.49.23 AM

During the interview, Brandon said some amazing things that everyone can take to heart.

You have to be your own fan first. When Brandon said this I thought, well yes, obviously you have to be your own fan first. Then I realized that I’m not always my biggest fan.  I thought back to a year ago when I was in the Creative Strategy & Execution class and remembered how frustrated I got trying to come up with great advertising ideas.  I always liked my ideas, but didn’t always believe they were great until I read my professors comments.  Why did I expect him to like what I was doing if I didn’t love it?  Why would I even bother showing it to someone when I didn’t believe it was great?  At times, I think we are scared to say we like or even love our ideas because we’re afraid they’re not good enough.  It breaks my heart when I overhear students in my office talking about doing a project in a particular way so that their professor will give them a good grade instead of doing what they really believe is great.  Stop it!  

When I started asking people if I could take their photo two out of three people said no. Can you imagine this?  I’m working on a new portraits project now and have tried to go up to strangers and ask to take their photo and am terrified they’ll say no.  They are strangers, what’s the worst that can happen?  They say no and I ask someone else.  Can you imagine if every time you presented an idea, 2 out of 3 people said no?  You’re not presenting to strangers – these people hold a place in your life.  Their opinion means something.  What would that do to you?  Would you second guess yourself?  Would you change your project?  Please refer to the above paragraph for the answer.  If you don’t love what you’re doing and believe in what you’re doing, how can you expect someone else to love it?  When you’re starting a project, or when you have an idea, it doesn’t take 2 out of 3 people to say yes – it starts with one.

So much of social media is stage managed. This is the most accurate depiction of social media I’ve heard yet.  Brandon is right.  Social media is becoming a series of carefully orchestrated words and sentences designed to sell products, but fall under the guise of being social and building relationships with community members.  On the Humans of New York Facebook page, Brandon shares very short responses from the people he photographs.  They’re beautiful snippets of their lives and the reason they’re so amazing is because he cares enough to ask questions and tries to get to know people, even for a short amount of time.  Above all, we need to remember that social media is social.  Yes, there are so many business benefits to being on social media, but promise me this…don’t get into the habit of bulk uploading and scheduling your posts and tweets.  Don’t take the social out of social media.

Thousands of very tiny evolutions created Humans of New York.  This simple concept was like an electric shock to me.  Whether it is photography, marketing, advertising, public relations, or branding, we think we have to come up with the big idea right away.  We see another company make a stellar ad and suddenly that’s what we’re aiming for.  I’m not saying don’t aim high, but start small.  When I started the IMC program, when I started taking photos, and when I started blogging, I assumed that everything I did had to be my life’s greatest work.  It wasn’t until recently that I realized how ridiculous that sounds.  (I’m not even 30, I pray I haven’t done my life’s greatest work yet.)  Great ideas are built, they are not born fully developed and foolproof.    Great ideas take time and they change and grow.  As a process-orientated planner, that is absolutely terrifying.  I think we all need to slow down, enjoy the process, and concentrate on each next step as it comes instead of trying to jump to the end.  Don’t be afraid of the little steps.

The interview is worth watching no matter what field you are in or want to be in.  It reminds us that there are little things we can do that will make a big difference in our lives.  Most of them start with not being afraid and believing in yourself and your ideas.  After all if you don’t, why would anyone else?

Hello Capstone.

January 9, 2013

We are WVU

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” – Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Perspective is a principle thing. Your vision is a catalyst for the prolific. One of the most beautiful elements of an academic journey is the ability to stop and take some time to look back and soak in the highs and lows. Enter IMC 636 Campaigns. Some say it’s the journey not the destination that counts. Here’s a little perspective into my capstone journey in the IMC program at WVU. Hold on tight. Grab a latte because it’s a wild one!

Home/office converted into an ideation lab? Check. Mock whiteboards? Got you covered. A full arsenal of colored whiteboard markers? You betcha! Email conversation with a senior advisor to none other than the Knight Foundation, a leading champion of transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts? Thank you Mr. Newton. A full online survey with over 50 responses powered by Survey Monkey. 84 references containing unique insights.

Real Ideation

So…that’s how you come up with the big idea? Hello research. Hello Pinterest inspiration board. Focus group comprised of story completion tests, word association, q&a, and drawings. Now that’s a bit much que no? How about actual business cards to promote my new mock multicultural youth marketing agency Unrivaled (I call first dibs on that one. I might actually use it in the future!) All part of an effort to soak in the full graduate experience and put into practice everything learned and explored over my tenure in the IMC program. Of course, heading to New York on official business would be the ultimate cherry on top!

Capstone Campaign

The IMC Campaigns experience is a great opportunity to get that agency feel and understand what it’s like to put together a proposal and plan for a stellar pitch. Unfortunately, a real agency probably wouldn’t have been afforded the luxury of nine weeks.

SWOT Analysis

Overall, the energy put into this project is the energy you can expect. It’s been a real blessing to participate in what has been a great capstone experience. I look forward to continued momentum and what lies ahead as a WVU IMC graduate and a champion of bold ideas, prolific communications, and impactful engagement. As a token of respect to my fellow IMC graduates and those about to begin the capstone journey…may I present to you none other than the entertainment of the one…the only Hovercat!!

Hello entertainment.