In 2006 Daniel Pink wrote a prescient book–A Whole New Mind: How Right Brainers Will Rule The Future.
Oprah liked it so much, that she gave a copy to every graduating student at Stanford when she gave the graduation speech.
The message of the book is that storytellers, artists, inventors and writers are going to be in the greatest demand in tomorrow’s workforce. Yet, these abilities used to be looked upon as frivolous. If you told your parents that you were going to focus your education on storytelling, they probably would have cancelled your tuition check.
One reason these jobs have become so important is that whether people find you on the internet or not depends more on the quality of your content than on anything else. And that content is made of visual communication including video and still images and written communication with just the right words, including the ability to tell stories and make a memorable point. Over the years, Google has adjusted their algorithm to make that painfully clear. Ask anyone who thought they could game the system and you’ll discover that it’s creativity in the service of customer needs that ultimately matters.
Just using the software tools used to be enough to qualify you for a good job. Oh you can use Word or WordPress or PhotoShop? Great. But how good are you at creating original, well crafted work with those tools? Merely being able to functionally understand a tool is going to be the equivalent of being a factory worker fifty years ago.
We need to be creatively and empathetically focused on the people we want to reach. The bar keeps getting higher for earning peoples’ attention.
But what the book did miss is the one left-brain skill of analysis. Without knowing how you’re doing with all this content, you’re dancing in the dark and there’s no reason to do that when the results are available. Great analysis is not strictly a left-brained skill. Yes, you need to be a power user of Google analytics and similar tools, but you also need to be almost pathologically curious to get the real meaning out of the data and you need to be a good visual communicator to make the information accessible to everyone who needs to understand it.
How do we become more creative? The first step is to value creativity in all forms. Hang out with other people who are creative and who can inspire you. And beyond that, it’s a matter of practicing and working at it every day.
Last year, I attended an amazing conference about how to connect creativity to commerce. I found it so inspiring that I wrote about it and later agreed to become a volunteer ambassador for the May 2013 event, C2-MTL. Tomorrow is the deadline for a 20% discount, and I can offer an additional 10% discount if you use the code AMBASSADOR1316. (I will receive a free ticket for every 5 people who use the code, which I will donate.) At the May conference, you’ll hear Fred Dust, a partner at IDEO, Blake Mycoskie, Founder and CEO of Toms Shoes, Philippe Starck architect and designer and many other innovators who will inspire you and share their stories. The conference itself is designed for experimentation, stimulating thinking and collaboration and exciting the mind through interactive art. It’s an investment in the success of your business that is well worth it.