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#27. How to harness entrepreneurial creativity to disrupt markets & smash your competitors!
Episode 2714th October 2021 • Nerds of Business • Webbuzz Media
00:00:00 00:50:28

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Season 3: 'Mindset of the disruptive entrepreneur', Episode 2

Creativity is the key personality trait of entrepreneurs who succeed in generating exponential value creation. In this episode a business psychologist, a start up guru, and three entrepreneurs reveal how to be more creative.

Guest Bios:

Stephanie Thompson is business psychologist & the founder of Insight Matters https://www.linkedin.com/in/insightinitiatives/

Rachael Neumann is the founder of Flying Fix Ventures and is a board member of StartupAus https://www.linkedin.com/in/rachaelneumann/

Sam White is the founder of Freedom Services Group & Stella Insurance https://www.linkedin.com/in/sam-white-093b9b22/

Chris Brycki is the founder & CEO of online share investing platform Stockspot.com.au https://www.linkedin.com/in/brycki/

Zara Lord is the founder of healthcare workforce app, Upaged.com https://www.linkedin.com/in/zara-lord-upaged/

What to listen out for:

1.55 David Bowie has a 'malevolent curiosity'

2.50 Airbnb novelty breakfast cereal story

10.46 Clinical definition of creativity, and where it comes from

17.20 How to focus creativity on solving real problems; the of 'constraints'

20.08 The story of how U2's song 'I will follow' and how that was written on just two strings

29.15 The importance of curiosity for Zara Lord & how she fixed her first car (HJ Holden) at just 14 years

32.21 Tips for creativity from a business psychologist

35.47 'Stream of consciousness talking' - a technique for mindset & creativity

37.57 Is there a correlation between high IQ and creativity?

47.44 Chris Brycki shares a remarkable tip for 'zoning out'

Resources & links:

  1. https://pando.com/2013/01/10/brian-chesky-i-lived-on-capn-mccains-and-obama-os-got-airbnb-out-of-debt/

*****

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Transcripts

Darren Moffatt:

Hi there and welcome to the nerds of business podcast. My name is Darren Moffatt. I'm a director at Webbuzz, the growth marketing agency. And I'm your host. It's great to have you with us for episode two of our series on the mindset of the disruptive entrepreneur. We start today's show with a few mystery quotes to whet your appetite on the episode topic. Here's the first one.

Quote:

There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.

Darren Moffatt:

That's by the godfather of modern creativity, Edward De Bono. I first read one of his books in my early twenties, and I've been a passionate believer in the power of creativity ever since. See if you can guess who said these words.

Quote:

Creativity as just connecting things. When you ask creative people, how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it. They just saw something. It seemed obvious to them, after a while.

Darren Moffatt:

That was Steve Jobs, the famous founder of apple. I love his insight that creativity is just connecting things in new and different ways. Before I became an entrepreneur and middle-aged podcast host, I played in bands for years. I've written hundreds of songs and had my tunes played on radio in several countries. Any musicians listening to this will agree that there is no such thing as a genuinely new chord progression or melody. The innovation comes in how you connect the harmony, the melody, and the words in a fresh way. And it's much the same with entrepreneurship, of course, our final mystery quote comes from the UK.

Quote:

What I have is a malevolent curiosity. That's what drives my need to write and what probably leads me to look at things a little askew. I do tend to take a different perspective from most people.

Darren Moffatt:

To complete the musical theme. Those words are from David Bowie. What struck me about this quote is the term malevolent curiosity. That is such an unusual turn of phrase, but it perfectly highlights his unquenchable drive for curiosity and the role that plays in the creative process. But as we're about to hear in our opening story, creativity can sometimes take entrepreneurs on the most unexpected detours in their journey to the top.

Background Audio:

[inaudible]

Darren Moffatt:

The year is 2008, a small start-up called air bed and breakfast is struggling to stay afloat. The founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia have recently created the company almost by accident as a way to profit from a sold-out convention in San Francisco, their app allows people to rent out living space by offering inflatable air mattresses, to guests wanting cheap accommodation. After nearly a year of trying to grow the start-up, the young pair accumulate a $40,000 credit card debt. In an attempt to generate revenue and avoid financial peril, they seek to recreate the success of that initial conference. So, in August 2008, the peer set their sights on the democratic national convention or DNC for short. It's the year of Barack Obama's rise, and that event to be held in Denver, Colorado is over attended by a factor of four. The massive shortfall of accommodation in the city provides air bed and breakfast with a golden opportunity.

Darren Moffatt:

But whilst the convention does give the business a small lift, it lasts only a week or so. The founders are still broke. And by now they're desperate. One day they're sitting at the kitchen table, brainstorming ways to extend the impact of the DNC. When they come up with the creative idea that will change their lives forever. Novelty breakfast cereal. The pair create fictitious cereals based on the two presidential candidates of the time. Barack Obama and John McCain, they famously call them Obama O's and Cap’n McCain's. Chesky and Gebbia both talented design graduates, design the box artwork themselves. They convince a student at Berkeley to print 500 units of each box on the cheap, and then assemble them by hand with a glue gun before filling them with a mix of cheerio’s and captain crunch. In a dream PR move, the founders, send samples to hundreds of tech bloggers.

Darren Moffatt:

The hype begins to build. And before long, they get featured on a national television program. Demand for the novelty cereal explodes, and they end up selling 1000 boxes priced at $40 each in just 24 hours. It's enough to pull them entirely out of debt and keeps the cash flowing at a crucial time. And more importantly, the story soon becomes a legendary tale of ingenuity within the Silicon Valley investor community. And it's the final bit of evidence in convincing the start-up accelerator, Y Combinator to invest in the company that first external investment goes on to turbocharge the growth of the renamed Airbnb into the $130 billion tech giant it is today, and it was arguably all due to an astonishing burst of creativity under pressure.

Darren Moffatt:

Now, apologies if you're already familiar with that story, it is quite famous. But for me, it's probably the wackiest example of entrepreneurial creativity that I know of. Lateral thinking as Edward De Bono used to call, can sometimes take you in some pretty random directions, but if you believe as I do that, all entrepreneurship is essentially about solving problems, then it should be no surprise at all, that a highly creative streak looms, large in the best and brightest disruptive entrepreneurs. When it comes to the Airbnb story, there are actually a few interesting postscripts. The first is that Brian Chesky, his mum was so taken with the success of Obama O's that she advised him to ditch the accommodation app altogether and focus on the breakfast cereal market instead. Good thing he didn't listen to her. The second is what the head of Y Combinator Paul Graham, actually said to Chesky and Gebbia when he agreed to invest in Airbnb. "Wow, you guys are like cockroaches".

Darren Moffatt:

Graham said, "you just won't die". Chesky later realized that this was a compliment. And Graham explained, if you can convince people to pay $40 for a box of cereal, you can probably convince them to sleep on each other's air mattresses, you guys are in. So, this is a fascinating example of how creativity can also signal other attributes that investors prize in entrepreneurs, such as grit and determination. If you're running a business or preparing to launch a start-up, what can you do to leverage your creativity, to such an extent that you gain the competitive advantage everyone else wants.

Background Audio:

[inaudible]

Darren Moffatt:

This is nerds of business. We'll start the show in a minute, but first a word from our sponsor. Hi everyone, It's your host, Darren here with a special announcement. We've launched a new website for the show @nerdsofbusiness.com. You can find all the episodes, transcriptions and information on our guests at this new address. So come and take a @nerdsofbusiness.com. And while you're there, sign up to our newsletter for early access to unreleased content and special offers that we'll be releasing real soon. It's the best place to totally nerd out.

Darren Moffatt:

So, the title of today's episode and the problem we're trying to solve is how to harness your creativity, to disrupt markets and smash the competition. It's a huge show today, and we've got some super creative guests to get you inspired. Up soon, you'll hear from a business psychologist, a senior leader in the start-up world and the founder of an online share market platform with a $400 million under management. But first here's just a quick reminder that if you're enjoying Nerds of business to, please hit the subscribe button on your podcast player. It means you'll automatically receive each new episode every fortnight, and it makes it easier for us to stay in touch.

Darren Moffatt:

Stephanie Thompson is a qualified psychologist and business coach based in Sydney, Australia, with over 25 years’ experience helping executive leaders and entrepreneurs to optimize their mindset and performance. She's the founder of her practice insight matters. And she's regularly in the media appearing on the ABC ,channel nine and the financial review. So, we're thrilled to have her as our technical expert for this series on entrepreneurial mindset. I begin by asking her to unravel the mystery of creativity and to also explain why it's so important in an entrepreneur. So, from your perspective, as a psychologist, you know, what's the clinical or technical definition of Creativity.

Stephanie Thompson:

Well, creativity is about ideas, really. So, imagination and inventiveness. So, it's not arts and crafts just to be clear. Yes,

Darren Moffatt:

Yes, yes. Good point. So, it's about ideas, imagination, um, and obviously how that’s brought to bear to whatever the sort of commercial venture is at the time, what qualities feed into that, you know, like what, what goes into that creative process?

Stephanie Thompson:

It's one of the grand mysteries, but there are some features that are quite clear. So, one is open-mindedness as a trait, curiosity typically, and there also seems to be a feelings based to this kind of personality. So, a bit more right Brain fluid thinker, less compartmentalized, in their thinking,

Darren Moffatt:

Yeah. So, I think that's, I really, uh, I'm very interested in what you just said there about the sort of the fluid thinking, the curiosity. I mean, one of my pet hates is, um, what I describe, and others use this term as well as binary. You know, it's, everything's either black or it's white. So, I think I'll be, I'm pretty safe ground by assuming that most creative people are not binary thinkers, but is creativity something that can be learned?

Stephanie Thompson:

Um, I would say to some extent, there are quite a lot of techniques. If you Google, how to be more creative, there's a lot of stuff. There are techniques. People have written books on how to be more creative. I do tend to think though that what we think of as these brilliant examples of creativity, there's something usually quite innate about that trait. And also, the difference interests me between ability and inclination in that all of us probably have the capacity, the ability to be more creative. We can learn these techniques and apply them, but it strikes me that you either have the inclination or you don't.

Darren Moffatt:

You know, in, in your consultations with various entrepreneurs and business owners, um, what strikes you as being the main reason why creativity is so important?

Stephanie Thompson:

I think it depends on the kind of business. The one obvious one perhaps is that many businesses begin with a seed idea. So, the entrepreneur tends to have the seed idea. They are the supplier, the impetus for the entire venture. There are also businesses. I'm thinking of a, one of my coaching clients who is a very, very creative person and his business by its very nature, has to continue to produce creative output. And he's very much the creative energy in the system still as the owner of the business, but he's still a really the creative driver. So, it's everyday problem solving for his clients done very, very creatively.

Darren Moffatt:

Yeah. Yeah. Fantastic. Um, and I'm guessing, you know, like particularly those disruptive entrepreneurs that are taking on, uh, established players, you know, really, um, uh, often with much larger balance sheets and more resources that, you know, having that really strong creative drive and that different way coming at a problem must be that that must be the key to the, to the, to those, those entrepreneurs that are sort of really taking it up to the big players. Yeah?

Stephanie Thompson:

It absolutely is actually thinking of the same business. Um, they, uh, have gone from a small entity, a very small entity when I first knew him to now having these massive contracts and they've beat out some serious competition purely from just having very good, clear ideas about how to do things better.

Darren Moffatt:

So that's the psychological perspective, but what does a seasoned venture capitalist have to say on the topic? Rachael Neumann is the founder of Flying Fox ventures, an early-stage venture firm for angel investors based in Melbourne Australia. Prior to that, she was the managing director of Event Brite for Australia and New Zealand, and the head of start-ups at Amazon web services, where she worked with literally thousands of entrepreneurs. Uh, she's also served as the chair of start-up Oz, Australia's national start up advocacy and lobbying group. So, she's a highly respected leader in the start-up ecosystem who knows exactly what it takes to be a disruptive entrepreneur. Rachael is about to share some fascinating insights on creativity and some really interesting success stories that we can all learn from.

Rachael Neumann:

Especially when you are building something that doesn't exist today, when you are trying to imagine a world that doesn't exist as it does today, creativity is really paramount. And that's why so many early-stage founders and their early-stage products are misunderstood, because the general population lacks the creativity to see the world differently. And I can say that I personally, um, whenever I feel like I'm in a rut, I go and look at art. I don't know if you can see the, this is obviously on voice, but I have paintings just stashed back there. So, I, I, it, you know, one of the great privileges is I also sit as a, uh, on the board of trustees of the NGV, um, here in Victoria. So modern art is something that's really important in my life. Um, and that's because it moves me. It gets me out of my head and gets me into my feelings.

Rachael Neumann:

And when I'm walking through an art gallery and looking at art, I'm activating a part of my brain that really compliments the part of the brain that is decoding pitch decks and meeting founders. And it allows me to be open to the unknown and open to possibilities as they don't exist today. The thing about creativity is there's a saying that says creativity loves constraints. And the constraint that I like to put on creativity is a very real customer problem. So, when you deeply understand the customer problem, there are many degrees of freedom that you have to come up with the right solution. That's where creativity comes in, but where I've seen companies fail, where I've seen founders pitch to me and I've passed, is when I can tell that they've just had an idea, like I just had this idea and then now I'm building it.

Rachael Neumann:

It's like, whoa, whoa, whoa. The idea needs to come from, wow. There is a problem to be solved here. And then how can I think about the right way to solve it? Um, and so that's just my tip on creativity is give yourself the constraint of a customer problem. Um, it means that you have someone who will buy that thing, right. Um, so even like the most innovative products, you know, I think, you know, when they talk about the iPhone or I'm sorry, the iPod, it was, people didn't know that they needed an iPod until it was there, but there was a problem. There was a problem, which is people are fanatical music lovers and they don't stand still, and they want to bring their music with them. And the previous technology was clunky, it skipped, it had at max, you know, 12 songs. Um, I'm talking about a disc man and a Walkman for those younger listeners.

Rachael Neumann:

Um, and so the iPod obviously was a very innovative product, but it was still, um, you know, solving a very real customer pain point. So, um, always give your, your creativity a little bit of a constraint. It will make your, you’re thinking so much better. The other thing that I'll just say is I'm a huge believer in this feedback loop between customers telling you, um, you know, giving, giving you feedback and you iterating that to build your product. There's a really important thing that some people miss. And I always say that customers are terrible product designers, right? So, customers will say, I want you to do this and this to your website, or I want your product to have a red knob. Now don't listen to them. You have to hear them, but you don't have to listen to them. So, what what's the difference hearing is when they said they have, they want a red button on the website, they're not saying put a red button.

Rachael Neumann:

What they're saying is, I don't know what the call to action is here. I'm lost guide me. Yep. And so, when all of a sudden you realize, they're saying red button, their pain is given me something to do. All of a sudden, you have a few different ways to creatively and strategically think about the solution. But if we just go ahead and throw the things on that, our customers say we're going to get a pretty clunky and ugly product because that's not their job. Your customer's job is to show you their pain and it's your job to translate that into an elegant solution. So that's just another hot tip that I give a lot of my founders.

Darren Moffatt:

Well, I really love that one. I mean, um, I, uh, played in bands for a lot of years and, um, I was a songwriter. And, um, there's a little story I can share with you that the listeners might find interesting also, that notion of constraints on creativity, um, there's a band, a little band called U2. I don't know if you're familiar with them

Rachael Neumann:

Once or twice. I actually went to a big concert at a stadium here back when that was a thing.

Darren Moffatt:

All right. Yes. Okay. Well, I went to their last tour as well. And, um, uh, so this is quite, uh, not that well known, but it it's a genuine, uh, anecdote about one of their songs. So, one of the earliest songs called I will follow, uh, from about 83. Um, they actually wrote that on a guitar that only had two strings on it. And so, you know, and, and The Edge, who wrote that wrote that song, uh, he, he has talked explicitly about having limits, limits, create new ways of doing things, which is essentially exactly what you're saying. Right. So, yeah. So, for only music fans out there I will follow was only because I had two strings on the guitar. And that's exactly what Rachael's saying. If I could put words into your mouth, um, about creativity. So yeah, it's a good little anecdote.

Rachael Neumann:

And listen, Darren. I mean, look at what the constraints that COVID has put on us as a society and as workers and parents and community members. I think that it has, I mean, many people have said this, I'm not the first, but it has accelerated so much of what we call inevitable, you know, inevitabilities, um, it has just accelerated it to today, whether that is, you know, remote working or, um, you know, video conferencing, it's such a blessing that we don't, there's so much that we don't have to do, face-to-face. My last year at Amazon, I was on a plane 52 weeks of the year. Um, and you know, I just love, listen. I don't want to say I love COVID at all. It's been, you know, challenging for so many people in so many ways, but I do think that the constraint that COVID has put on companies, um, and on people has in some instances driven better ways of working, better ways of living and more productive work environments.

Darren Moffatt:

And now for the first of our entrepreneur guests. Chris Brycki is the founder and CEO of share investing platform, stockspot.com. Based in Sydney, Australia, they've got $400 million under management and they're scaling fast, have a listen to what Chris has to say about the role of curiosity in his creative process. So, Chris I'm really keen to learn what personality traits do you find yourself drawing on most in your journey so far?

Chris Brycki:

Um, they'd be a few. So, I mean, one of them, I kind of find that I draw on all the time is just a curiosity to understand different things. Like I really have a love of learning new things and, and it was definitely something that excited me about starting a business is I went from my old job, was trading shares essentially where you're in front of a screen doing the same thing every day. I did find it very engaging and interesting, but you didn't get a lot of variety. In starting a business, you have to learn marketing, you have to learn operations, you have to learn, um, human resources. You have to learn so many different things. And, and I think, um, you know, typically entrepreneurs take really curious about learning these different things. So, whether it's really getting into the weeds on attribution for digital marketing, for instance, or how to build a great process or how to build a great culture. Yeah. I find that these are all really interesting, even though they're outside of my kind of natural field of expertise. So, I would say, I mean, curiosity would be one.

Darren Moffatt:

And what about you mentioned before, you know, maybe putting some noses out of joint with this model that's disruptive, um, you know, that indicates the courage to be disliked. Okay. Um, and that is often a key trait in disruptive entrepreneurs. They are not afraid to be a bit unpopular with, uh, established or entrenched industry players. Uh, is that, is that a part of your makeup or is that a, is that a part of it you don't enjoy?

Chris Brycki:

Yeah. I mean, no, I, I do enjoy it. Like I, um, yeah, I think even, um, like growing up as kids, like we were encouraged to kind of challenge the status quo or ask why, or not just accept things for what they are. And it's probably a characteristic of, a lot of entrepreneurs is they're always asking why or why not. Or, and in the early days of the business, like I found I was doing that a lot. And even today I do. I mean, I remember when I was building the first version of our product, almost every vendor, or supplier I talked to said we had to get wet signatures. And I was just saying, why what, what year are we living in like 1950? Like, why do we need wet signatures to set up an investing account? That's absolutely.

Darren Moffatt:

Oh, the nerd bot's gone again, Chris. I mean, she's very active today. Um, uh, must be that, uh, that, that purple jumper you've got on, it's something, something in the air now, uh, wet signatures. Can you explain to us what that is?

Chris Brycki:

So, yeah, a wet signature Darren is just a, like a physical signature. So, wet guess is describing the, the ink from the pen perhaps.

Darren Moffatt:

Um, rather than a digital signature.

Chris Brycki:

Rather than a digital signature. So, I wanted to create a completely digital product. I just thought one of the biggest frictions to doing anything is if you have to send in paperwork and have to print out forms, and no one wants to do that in, in, in, in, uh, in the years that we live in now. And in, if you look at great digital experiences for other products, whether it's online, shopping or travel, I mean, there's no way that you have to print off forms anymore. So, it was one of the first problems I had to solve. As you know, when I was setting up the businesses, every financial service provider I was talking to was saying, yeah, we can help you open up these accounts for your clients. Here's the paperwork you're going to have to get them to fill out. And I said, there's no way I'm getting my clients to fill out paperwork.

Chris Brycki:

I can't work with you if you're going to require me to do paperwork. So, um, yeah, I mean, definitely asking why and questioning why. And I mean, I remember back then, they all said, oh, you know, you just have to do it that way. And I said, why? I mean, I've read, I went and read the legislation. I said, look, the legislation changed in 2001 there's, there's no legal requirement for it. And often it would come back, oh, our compliance department says you have to do it all. So yeah, I think you have to be kind of questioning why and, questioning the status quo a lot. Um, yeah. And, and I, I think that, I mean, plays out in, in different ways as well, because you also have to accept that and you've kind of touched on it already. Like you, you're not going to be popular with everyone and not, everyone's going to gravitate towards your idea.

Chris Brycki:

I think I read or heard early on in my sort of journey of setting up the business that like on day one, as an entrepreneur, you're the only one with the vision and the idea. And so, you can't expect everyone else to kind of understand it or see the vision. And it is really your job to bring on other people into the journey. And so, I remember taking that to heart and, and, and therefore never really feeling too bad when people kind of disagreed or said it wasn't possible or said it was a waste of time because I said, well, that's great. I mean, that, that means I'm onto something that, you know, that no one else has already thought or, or no one else has thought is worth doing. Um, and it's, you know, it didn't reduce my motivation actually increase my motivation.

Chris Brycki:

And I think maybe that's a characteristic that's probably similar for a lot of entrepreneurs, as well as you need to accept that you're going to get a lot of no’s and, um, you know, look for learnings rather than look for the disappointments of nos. Um, because yeah, there's going to be a lot of doors that get shut in your face and a lot of paths that get blocked and you've got to have the resilience to keep on fossicking for the next door that can open for you and, and never give up. And yeah, I mean, that's another, I guess thing that I was always instilled to me as a, as a kid. I mean, we did a lot of sport as, as kids and yeah, definitely growing up that they're not giving up mentality was something that was drilled into us.

Darren Moffatt:

Well, I can say that. Yeah, it's, it's pretty evident already. Uh, and, and so, um, that's what you've just touched on. There is something

Chris Brycki:

I would say is probably how most people describe it, Darren.

Darren Moffatt:

And this was backed up by another entrepreneur that I spoke to for this series. Zara Lord is the founder of Upaged.com, which is an app connecting hospitals and clinics with nurses to solve their staffing problems. She's disrupting the conventional labour hire model in the health industry. And it turns out her childhood growing up on a remote station in North Queensland was the perfect preparation. So, as you know, this series Zara, is, is, uh, is about the mindset of the disruptive entrepreneur. And you obviously classic case of that. It's wonderful to have you on the show. Um, I'm very interested to uncover, you know, the, the main personality traits that you find yourself drawing on the most in this journey so far, you know, so, you know, it's, it's, it's a huge thing to be a disruptive entrepreneur. Um, and, and it's, it's really, it's a very tiny cohort of the population who can, um, not only respond to the calling and get in there and have a go, but who can succeed, right. It's even smaller. So maybe share with us what personality traits in your own character that you've found really kind of calling on and getting you through this struggle.

Zara Lord:

Um, I'd say there's two. Curiosity is a big thing, right? From a young age, I've been okay with what I don't know, because I've been surrounded by, um, really handy people on the station, um, that, that knowing how to do stuff. And so it was, it was all about curiosity on how to fix things and having that. I think I was 14 when I fixed up my first car, I pulled a 1986 HJ Holden out of my parents don't yard and sent to work getting it going. Uh, and while I was really curious to understand how it worked under the hood and fix it myself, I also knew that it takes a community as well, that there's people around you that know that. So, I've never been afraid of what I don't know, because there's people around me, there's software developers, there's marketers, there's, um, there's the whole works of, of support out there, um, that helps you get to your end result.

Zara Lord:

So, I think curiosity, to find out the information you need and not being afraid of what you don't know, but the other big thing is your network. So, I like to think I'm a fairly big people person. Um, and I have the most incredible support team around me, unofficially, um, of all the start-up founders, other people who've, who've been extremely successful in businesses or worked for large companies in a myriad of different industries. And when I get stuck on something, I think I'm surely not the first person to have come across a challenge like this. Who can I reach out to? And I, I go and have a coffee with someone and we, we nut it out and I walk away feeling a little bit clearer. So, I think those two things have been really key for my journey anyway,

Darren Moffatt:

Wonderful. Now that says a lot that entrepreneurs can take from that. Um, so to summarize, uh, obviously curiosity is a big one, but the willingness to ask for help to go and go and tap that network, you know, that, that depth of knowledge that, uh, your community has. And I think, you know, that's something that a lot of people are often quite reticent to do, you know? I mean, but it's, it's very important to get out there.

Zara Lord:

I think it goes two ways though, as well. It's very, I've found it a very generous environment to be in. I've had people from all levels of business, some really senior people that are happy to make an introduction or giving half an hour of their time to, um, to give me some advice. And I think it's been very generous, but then likewise, I've had plenty of other people reach out to me that very early on their journey. And, uh, I naturally want to give back, uh, and share a bit of my journey, if that helps someone else along this, um, I'll make that introduction. But I think you've also got to value that introduction. So, if someone does make an introduction, honour it and, and really treat that relationship with respect because you never know when you're going to need them again.

Darren Moffatt:

I've found over the years that many businesspeople don't identify as creative. It's something they struggle with or even feel threatened by. But according to business psychologist, Stephanie Thompson, there are some powerful methods that anyone can learn to stimulate creativity. There's even a pretty wild technique called stream of consciousness. Talking, check this out.

Stephanie Thompson:

I would say one thing is get off screens and go back to paper pens, use your hands, write, draw. That's one simple thing. Also, the asking of questions of oneself and targeted questions that are problem solving focused. So, for example, a very unconstructive question would be, oh, why can't I think of something, blah, blah, blah, a constructive question asks, how can I, how can we, what could we do to X, Y, Z? And just leave that in the mechanism, because there's an interesting thing that happens. Sometimes we can't come up with ideas straight away. We need to let the computer, the mind work on it for a while. And we're not necessarily aware of that process. And an example of this I like is, I don't know if it's ever happened to you, Darren, that you see somebody that you kind of recognize. And you think, I know that guy from, I've seen him before somewhere, I just can't place him.

Stephanie Thompson:

And then you forget about it. Two days later, you're brushing your teeth and it goes, blink straight onto the mental screen, you say, oh, I know he was the guy that was dating my friend so-and-so back in 19, whatever that was him. So that gives away that if you ask a question of your mind, clearly in us, it will work on it in the background for you. So, I there's a really nifty with no guarantees, but it's a really nifty creative technique to ask yourself constructive questions and then do a little, leave your brain to process it. Yeah.

Darren Moffatt:

And what about, um, you know, that process where you can be any process, um, but where you distract yourself, your mind away from the everyday. So, you know, when someone's in the process of working, you know, often these days that involves looking at a screen and doing lots of, sort of trivial and mundane tasks, whatever you're in the process of working, you've got a bigger problem off to the left here that you're thinking about, you're trying to solve. Um, what about, you know, a lot of the entrepreneurs I've spoken with have said that they often have that breakthrough when their mind is distracted, when they're not in the work they're, they're in a, almost like a translator is slightly dreamlike state. Can you explain what's happening there with the brain? Cause it, it has come up consistently.

Stephanie Thompson:

Yes, exactly. Well, that was going to be my next suggestion actually. Yes. It's meditation or variations on that theme. Okay. So, it's like having a blank sheet of paper, but it's the mental blank sheet of paper. So, you go back to a clean slate and removing all of those distracting thoughts and really calming the entire nervous system down so that the brain can then hum at its optimum functioning setting. And it tends to throw out these ideas from this baseline of peace and clarity. Yeah.

Darren Moffatt:

Yeah. I love it now. I've that that's happened many times myself over the years. Sorry. You were going to make another point there.

Stephanie Thompson:

No, I was going to give you another suggestion. Get, I'm getting excited now I've got another idea for you

Darren Moffatt:

Go

Stephanie Thompson:

And which is a bit opposite to that actually. So, meditation is a wonderful process, but another one I rather like is stream of consciousness talking, which is a little strange.

Darren Moffatt:

That's very nerdy Stephanie. Is it? Yes. You've uh, worked. You've awakened the nerd bot there. Stream of consciousness talking. Is that right? Yes. Please explain that to us.

Stephanie Thompson:

Yes. I feel slightly afraid now. Yes. So, um, you, you might want to do this privately, do it in the car. People will think you're on your phone or maybe when you are walking the dog down a quiet street and it's just to speak the contents of your mind, just let it flow. And it sounds a bit ridiculous, but it's really, really interesting sometimes what emerges from that. So, you're talking to yourself on purpose. Yep.

Darren Moffatt:

And whatever is in your mind, whatever is in your mind, you're verbalizing.

Stephanie Thompson:

Yes. Ever. It is and just let it flow. Okay.

Darren Moffatt:

Wow. Okay. I'll uh, I'll give that a go. That, yes. That must be a pretty odd feeling. The first time you try that. Yeah. Because it's sort of, um, you know, uh, people have sort of, lots of mundane kind of everyday thoughts, uh, getting, being hungry, feel like a coffee. Uh, got to put the rubbish out. Um, yeah. Okay. Um, have you had any, any clients like do that in your office? Like have you, have you listened to other people do that?

Stephanie Thompson:

Well, no, it's something best done without an audience. And if it feels odd, that's a good thing. If it doesn't feel odd at all, that might be not such a good thing. Yeah. Uh, in general, obviously I get to hear people's inner talk. Their self-talk a lot, but usually in a more, um, uh, a particular way where we're looking for a particular piece of Inner self talk that this is an exercise that is just, it's like a, it's like improvised movement, but it's just verbal.

Darren Moffatt:

And I also asked her a question that I've been curious about for a long time. Is there a correlation between high IQ and creativity? Her answer might surprise you.

Stephanie Thompson:

Oh, that's a multi-faceted question. There is apparently a correlation between creativity and IQ, but only up to an IQ of 120 and thereafter it ceases to have a relationship, whether spending more time produces the same outcome, theoretically it might. But if you're spending more time with the same rigid mind, what are the chances? I would suggest that, uh, to get that fluidity of mind or something resembling it, you could use many minds brainstorming, tossing ideas around with multiple minds rather than just being stuck within the boundaries of, of one's own.

Darren Moffatt:

Okay. So, hang on. I need to break that down. When you say many minds, are you saying collaborate with other minds or are you saying explore different ways of thinking within your own mind?

Stephanie Thompson:

I'm saying use other, other people, other minds contrasting perspectives and thinking styles and bounce ideas around that way instead

Darren Moffatt:

This is the benefit of teaming and collaboration. Yes. As Stephanie mentioned before meditation and physical activity can really help get the creative juices flowing. This was also a theme of my chat with British entrepreneur, Sam White, Sam is the founder and CEO of the UK based freedom services group, where she's disrupting the state old world of insurance with multiple brands, such as Pukka Unsure and Action 365. In 2020, She launched Stella insurance into the Australian market. And it's the first company to offer insurance for women by women. Let's hear what Sam does to get into what I would call peak creative flow.

Sam White:

Yeah. So, when I was younger, obviously broken leg to testify that there was obviously. I've kind of, I've changed as I've got older, quite a bit. I've gone from being a night owl, more of a morning person. Um, but I've also picked up various different habits along the way. So I am that annoying person that exercises every day, because I can't function, If I don't, I think it's really important. It doesn't really matter what it is. You know, if I'm particularly tired, it might just be 20 minutes of brisk uphill walk just to get the blood pumping. Um, but I, I exercise 5, 6, 7 times a week because it's, it's good. It's good for me. It's good for my mind. Um, I've also just started meditating. So, I've been doing that for a couple of months and, um, I've been enjoying that, and I found that that really does help with my, my routine.

Sam White:

I make sure I get a good night's sleep. I sound so geriatric now, young Sam will be really annoyed with me at this point. I can't stress enough how important it is to take care of yourself. If you're going to put yourself under a lot of duress. And if you don't, you just won't, you won't get to where you need to get to. But I think that the most important thing for me, and I've always done this, um, is actually giving myself space. So, some entrepreneurs think that, um, if they're not doing 16 hours a day, then they're wimping out and you know, is this macho ism? I hate to say, but the, you know, the more hours you put in, the more productive you are, and it's just not true. I went traveling around the world for a year when I had my business for, for four or five years, um, left the team in charge and used to phone them from the beach in Thailand.

Sam White:

How you doing, how you getting on. Um, and everything was fine. The business was absolutely fine. And when I got back, I doubled the business in the year that I got back because I changed, I'd evolve. My brain was working in a different way. And now, you know, I've got kids, I make sure that I carve out time to spend with them. And I put it in my diary. Um, you know, um, I'm very kind of, um, managed with my diary to make sure that I've got that time to exercise, to get my head straight, to spend time with, with people that love. And I just think it's so important because if you allow your brain, I actually read some way that the brain is incapable of connecting the dots without being bored. So, what happens is we get sort of sparks of different ideas, and you know how people always say in the shower, they are suddenly this idea comes to them or they're on the treadmill and this, oh yes, of course I need to do this, that and the other. And apparently that's because all these clusters of neurons need you not to be focusing on a particular task in order for them to naturally kind of lock together themselves. And so, if you don't give yourself that time where you're not actually in something and focused on it, your brain can't do the heavy lifting for you.

Darren Moffatt:

Well, that, that was, I've got to pay some, some kudos there, Sam, because that's the first time I've had a guest use the phrase cluster of neurons on the show. And I just love that. Right. But I mean, there was so much about that answer that I love. So, the problem we set out to solve in this episode was how to harness your creativity, to disrupt markets and smash the competition. Our mindset experts, definitely Thompson revealed the psychological theory behind creativity and our start-up guru, Rachael Neumann explained why it's so important in a founder. And we've also heard some fascinating, real-life stories from our entrepreneur, guests, Sam White, from Stella insurance, Chris Brycki from Stock Spot and Zara Lord from Upaged. I hope their wisdom and insight have given you ideas to crack the code to growth in your own business. For me, However, there are three key learnings we can all take from this episode.

Darren Moffatt:

Number one, curiosity is essential for creativity. We heard again and again, why a strong drive to understand how things work is the key to creativity and problem solving. So, if you're not a naturally curious person, this is definitely an area to work on, if you want to be more creative. Number two, ask questions. As Stephanie said, the simple process of asking yourself questions can act as a kind of stimulant for curiosity, and to kickstart the creative process. Number three, explore constraints as a powerful method to generate creative solutions. As we heard in my chat with Rachael Neumann and in the U2 story of their song, I will follow, sometimes the best ideas come from doing more, with less. Going back to the Airbnb story. At the top of the episode, a strong creative streak in an entrepreneur is highly prized by leading investors, launching and scaling a venture is all about problem solving.

Darren Moffatt:

So, your chances of success are just that much higher. If the founding team live and breathe creativity. I have perhaps a controversial view that I'm going to share with you now, I believe that if many of the iconic global billionaires that we all know such as Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos weren't entrepreneurs, there's a good chance they'd be successful artists because the creative impulse that drives both artists and entrepreneurs comes from the same place. Richard Branson is a case in point, look at all the hundreds of crazy PR stunts he's done over the years. They're all brilliant examples of creative marketing, and they get millions of dollars of free media for his Virgin brand. There's even an argument to view his public life as one long piece of performance art. And on the flip side, consider David Bowie, no one doubts his artistic integrity, but he was also the first rock star to innovate the standard music business model by securitizing his song writing royalties.

Darren Moffatt:

A lot of people don't know that, and people don't think of him as an entrepreneur, but needless to say, he made an absolute fortune by applying his creativity commercially rather than artistically. So, in my view, there shouldn't be anything elitist or sniffy about creative thinking. It's an incredibly powerful skill that we should all be encouraged to master because if one thing is clear, becoming a disruptive entrepreneur without a strong creative drive is almost impossible to imagine. We're coming to the end. But before we go, we've got a special treat today. Chris Brycki from stock spot shared with me the most remarkable tip, for stimulating creativity that I've ever heard. So, check this out.

Chris Brycki:

To me, uh, I've always found like great ideas, never come sitting at a table or sitting at a desk. Um, and it's probably, it's probably not uncommon. So, for me, it's always getting out there for a run or doing sports somewhere where the blood's pumping around your body, um, where you can have a clear mind and that's where the best ideas usually come. Um, and then for me, the other unusual one that I do, which is if I am trying to focus on something and it's usually not the sort of creative side, it's just, you know, wanting to get stuff done. I'll actually put one song on repeat. And I have the amazing ability to listen to one song on repeat, probably for six hours straight and not get annoyed by it. Although my wife and others in the house, if it is not on my headphones do get annoyed. Um, but for me it you'd be, you kind of get into this sort of zoned out area where you no longer pay attention to the words and the music keeps on playing, but it really allows you to focus very well.

Darren Moffatt:

Well, that is an amazing tip. I've never heard anything like that before. Not only am I going to try that I'm certainly going to annoy my family with it, but, uh, I'm gonna, I'm gonna advocate for other people trying that. And, um, and I'm also gonna give you a little bit of homework, Chris. Um, next time you try that technique. I want the song; I want you to use that with his total eclipse of the heart by Bonnie Tyler. Um, so I want to see how, how that, how that will work with that particular song.

Chris Brycki:

I think it would work. I mean, it's a great song and there's, I think there's my favourite version of it is there's a, uh, like, I think it's called like the visual, uh, the visual version of online, where they put on new lyrics. Um, but the problem is if it's a song that has too many highs and lows and makes you want to sing along, you can be a little bit distracted.

Darren Moffatt:

So, thanks for listening to episode 27 of the nerds of business podcast. If you've enjoyed it, please leave a review on apple, Spotify, Google, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. It helps us climb up the ranks and become more visible to other people just like you. Remember, we want to help as many entrepreneurs and businesses as possible. If you've got a question, awesome feedback. We'd love to hear from you. Of course, you can engage with us at our new website, nerdsofbusiness.com, that's nerdsofbusiness.com. So, feel free to reach out and say hello. I want to thank all of our guests and the team at Webbuzz by helping me put this show together, we'll be back in two weeks with our next episode, which is on the topic of entrepreneurial confidence and the subtle art of bending rules until then I'm your host, Darren Moffatt, and I look forward to nerding out with you next time. Bye for now.

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