Raise your emotional intelligence for creative entrepreneurial leadership- part I

It is very important to understand that emotional intelligence is not the opposite of intelligence, it is not the triumph of heart over head — it is the unique intersection of both.”

              ~ David Caruso

While doing research for my next blog post I came across very interesting article “Poetry as a way of knowing” which was actually an introduction to a podcasts at Philosopher’s corner.

In this article Laura Maguire, proposes 3 types of knowledge: having practical knowledge which is “roughly defined as knowledge that does and shall (from a normative, prudential or moral, point of view) motivate to act in a certain way” (as described in paper What is Practical Knowledge?), and mostly is reflected in skills we have to do certain things; then, there is propositional knowledge which is a form of descriptive knowledge and mostly reflected in scientific approach where we collect facts to describe and explain the world around us (where in my previous post I went in depth what are the similarities and differences between science and poetry).

But before going to elaborate the third type of knowledge, not everything is black and white when it comes to first two types. As author Laura Maguire argues:

When you study poetry. presumably you develop many skills, like learning how to interpret a poem, which involves other skills, like how to identify and understand metaphor, how to measure meter, and so on.And maybe if you read a lot of poetry you also develop another skill, namely how to write poetry. So, in that sense, it’s easy to see how poetry could be a way of knowing.

And also through series of my posts I tried to elaborate the benefits of writing and reading poetry for the sake of developing other practical skills – crucial for our self-development. But today I would like to talk more about phenomenal type of knowledge as author Laura Maguire described it and how is that beneficial for our business undertakings.

Phenomenal knowledge is mostly related to knowledge of what is like to have a particular kind of experience. Can we learn form that? In other words, when it comes to business, can we get an insight what it’s like to be an entrepreneur, being self-reliant and building good communication with customers, for example? Can it really enhance our emotional intelligence, in general?mind clip art, intelligence, emotinal intelligence

A poem “Love My Startup More Than You” by Rizwan Virk I found on the zenentreprenur blog and goes like this:

Cindy Lu, Cindy Lu
You know that my heart is true

But my Idea is very new
And we’ll make a million dollars
If only I can prove
That the market is true!

Cindy Lu Cindy Lu
Soon I’ll be home
And put my arms around you
But first
I’m being shown
Design specs I must review!

The beta downloads are a jumping
But so are the bugs that need a thumping!

Please let me know
When the baby is asleep
Then I can show
You how we’ll avoid feature creep!

Towards you my sweetheart I’ll always feel
A never ending attraction
But right now what I really need to show
Is more customer traction!

Cindy Lu, Cindy Lu
Don’t look at me that way,
You’ll worry yourself blue!

Once we raise our series A
Our mortgage will be easy to pay!

And if the company gets in a bind,
My investors will help me find
Some folks that are keen
To assemble a management team
And we’ll be on our way
To making lots of green!

So please don’t think that I’m mean
When I say:

Cindy Lu, Cindy Lu
You know my heart is true,
But just right now, 
I love my startup
More than you!

This poem is a sort of an ode to all young and ambitional entrepreneurs in the Sillicon Valey. Virk firmly believes that poetry is a great medium for expression of entrepreneurial ideas, ups and downs that entrepreneurship brings and how it changes life. A poem is instinct with love, confusion, desire for stability and how someone is ready to “put on hold” all of his relationships- because business is the only thing that matter.

I would say that poetry is a source of knowledge and as we can learn a lot about love, death and sorrow in poetry as emotions we can learn a lot about entrepreneurial emotions too: get that practical insight of what it means to be an entrepreneur, along with all victories and sacrifices it requires.

It can help us with our doubts, fears, uncertain decision making, but most importantly it can open new windows of creative sources that are aligned with our values – making us emotionally mature and persistent in our endeavors.



Lean leader is a poetry reader

Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.

               ~ Vera Nazarian

It’s interesting to note that many of the great contemporary 20th century poets were business professionals,. For example T.S. Eliot worked for Lloyds of London, and Wallace Stevens was a vice president at an insurance company.

Also, James Dickey that worked in advertising,  left his mark in the corporate world. So, it’s evident that business somehow has shaped and influenced last century poetry. What we often forget is how reading the verse of aforementioned professionals can enhance our own business qualities and can contribute to our well-being and self-development.kids on books

In one article of New York Times, C.E.O. Libraries Reveal Keys to Success

Sidney Harman, founder of Harman Industries says:

I used to tell my senior staff to get me poets as managers. Poets are our original systems thinkers. They look at our most complex environments and they reduce the complexity to something they begin to understand.

Unfortunately, business people are reading nowadays far more less. Life is running at such pace that reading material unrelated to business is almost impossible. The digital world is shortening our attention span and our patience to read and contemplate some abstract thought is almost nonexistent. But wide scope of reading is often a remarkable characteristic of many leaders and can initiate innovation, empathy, deeper understanding.

And how that relates to lean leadership?

An “old school” of leadership promotes the form of leadership where the notion is that leader holds the key of every knowledge and “his way of doing things” is the only way.

On the other hand, “empowering leadership” follows the crowd, doesn’t pay much attention to the rules and implies “let’s do it your way”. It’s true it can generate many innovative ideas, yet sometimes it leads to chaos and lack of responsibility.

And “lean leadership” allows for spontaneous solution to appear while focus is not that much on the leader as much on “let’s figure this out – together”.

For a successful lean leader is important to develop social skills, foster encouragement and compassion. Lean leader is able to seize the meaning and purpose  in dynamic and at surface unrelated events.

Research findings, published in the paper Does reading make you smarter? Literacy and the development of verbal intelligence, suggest that reading makes you smarter through

a larger vocabulary and more world knowledge in addition to the abstract reasoning skills.

It can enhance leader’s efficacy through improved vocabulary intelligence that comes from reading more abstract topics and genres.

So, every day try to incorporate reading some poetry in your hectic schedule, join a reading club or attend some poetry evenings – and watch your business skills improve for the better.

Tenacious Persistence by Orison Swett Marden

The force that is going to carry you to your goal,
Is coiled up inside of you , in your energy, your pluck, your grit,
Your originality, your character, and your possession of a strong,
Persistent, tenacious purpose.
Whatever you do in life, keep in an ambition –
Arousing atmosphere.
Keep close to those who are dead in earnest,
Who are anxious to do something in the world.
You will catch the spirit of your environment.


Removing your biggest obstacle towards success: fear of failure

Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life–think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.

              ~Swami Vivekananda

We’ve all been there and done that. Fear of failure. It’s a cold, paralyzing emotion that simply stops you from being what you want to be, do what you want to do – simply live your life openly, freely, without judgment and regret. So what can we do about it?

Well the truth is, WE ARE the only ones who can do something about it. Nobody can do it for us, as well as nobody can succeed except us. It’s our hard work, devotion and commitment.

And I would say that we all have to invest time and work when we want to get rid of that fear: an obstacle that can make our life miserable, sometimes making us feel even sorry for ourselves while watching other people having fun and enjoying life.

Illustration of a cloud and a ladder

It’s interesting that only one change in my daily routine gave me so many different perspectives on various aspects of my life – including success and fear of failure. When I started regularly writing poetry it opened my mind to so many possibilities and different ways of thinking that every part of my life improved for the better. At the beginning I was so happy that I just, you know, began to write. With time, somehow, doubt began to creep in and  I started to look for flaws: Could I’ve written something better? Could I’ve express myself more precise? Why didn’t I come up with that word (while reading the work of other aspiring authors)? But then, I tried to cheer myself: “I can write another poem, and another poem. The previous one is nor bad nor good. It’s just a reflection of one moment of my life, my thoughts…it doesn’t define me. Tomorrow I can do it better”.

And these thoughts made me look more deeply at the essence of our fear of failure. The truth is: you cannot fail. These are also the words of my favorite teacher dr Wayne Dyer, that passed away recently. You cannot fail. You can only produce certain result. In one particular moment of time it reflects your efforts, mistakes, fears and joys. But it is not who you are. There is always another try, another poem to write, another story to tell, another project to start, another person to meet, another vacation to travel. You are never late. It’s just one moment in time, not a failure.

In this whole process I would also suggest that we should revisit our beliefs about success and failure. When I look back 20 years ago, I was very ambitious, eager. I had a lot of energy and motivation – simply I could “conquer” the world. And my notion of success in that time and now differ a lot. Now, I would do many things differently. In the first place, take care more of my health. And sometimes I wonder: “Did I really follow my goals under my terms, or somebody else’s? Because, many times society implies what is success. Yet, is that success for me? What’s expected from me – is that what I really want”?

So next time you hesitate to try something new, look at things from different perspective and ask yourself: “What is my definition of success? Am I living under my terms? Am I giving my best? What would’ve happen if I only try – without getting attached to the outcome”?

Success is counted sweetest by Emily Dickinson

Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne’er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.

Not one of all the purple Host
Who took the Flag today
Can tell the definition
So clear of Victory

As he defeated-dying
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Burst agonized and clear!


Poetry and storytelling: part II

It has been said that next to hunger and thirst, our most basic human need is for storytelling.

               ~Khalil Gibran

In the first part of this blog post series you got a glimpse of how important storytelling is for a business, especially for entrepreneurs. Today, I will discuss in more length, about specific techniques we can use in our storytelling and what poetry can teach us about that – especially narrative poems.

Narrative poem is one of the oldest form of literature and is a traditional way of capturing and delivering knowledge and experience – in the form of epic tales with exciting rhythm, rhyme, repetition which makes them easy to remember and share. And that’s what every entrepreneur wants: his story and message to be remembered and shared.

So what important lessons narrative poems can teach us and what should every entrepreneur incorporate into his storytelling?

1.Frame your story

What is it that you want to tell? You have to be very specific and craft your story around it. It also means choosing your character that will lead the audience through story, in many compellin141888-142934g ways – dramatic, funny, full of surprises. It has to deliver vivid pictures and excitement in order to keep the audience’s attention. Once you accomplish that, it’s easier to fine tune other details.



Don’t bother with setting the scene and too much explanations. Lead the audience to immediate action; overflow them with emotions you want them to experience – people always remember how you made them feel.

3.Activate all five senses

An effective story, do take care of a “big picture”, but also pays attention to small details. Give your audience the opportunity to sweat, get freezing hands, smell the roses … All 5 senses have to be activated for your story to awaken interest, experience and to be memorable. In that way your message will be understood and worth sharing.

4.Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself

Repetition is crucial in learning. Think of your key phrases and words that you can use in smart way, so your story is easier to remember. Don’t overdo it, because otherwise you can make it boring and shallow. Martin Luther King in his famous speech used the phrase “I have a dream” eight times during that speech, which made it so powerful and energetic.

The following poem is an example of effective use of narrative to describe an ordinary job, but one that can touch our hearts in so many different ways:

Sending Flowers by Hannah Stephenson

The florist reads faces, reaches into the mouths of customers.
Turns curled tongues into rose petals,

teeth clinking against one another into baby’s breath.
She selects a cut bloom, a bit of leaf,

lays stem alongside of stem, as if building a wrist
from the inside. She binds them

when the message is right, and sighs at the pleasure
of her profession. Her trade:

to wrangle intensity, to gather blooms and say, here,
these do not grow together

but in this new arrangement is language. The florist
hands you a bouquet

yanked from your head, the things you could not say
with your ordinary voice.

So next time you want to tell your story, try to implement these tips – or even write your own narrative poem – you will certainly get the wanted attention.

Are you living your fullest potential?

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dream of meeting your heart’s longing.


I must admit, this question bothers me from time to time. Am I giving my best? Would I like to spend my time differently? Is this all there is? Am I truly pursuing my purpose and passion?

life-purposeThe list can go own and unfortunately we all have that little worm of doubt that likes to dig around our consciousness and play with our thoughts. One thing I know for sure: that kind of thinking will not take us anywhere. Yesterday doesn’t exist and tomorrow is too much elusive. So instead, I try to ask my self: “Am I giving my best in this situation, in this particular moment? Am I present enough in what’s going on around me? What would make me feel better – right now?” And when you rearrange things like that – are you your best version from moment to moment, with little effort put on improving yourself  – I think we are living our purpose and giving our best. Just as long we are honest about who we are.

Often, we tend to be too judgmental towards others and ourselves as well. Instead, try to be more empathetic towards your mistakes, wrong decisions, poorly made choices…with everything that you think is wrong with your life. It’s so easy to be a critique, but about being your greatest supporter and fan?

The cumulative effect of feeling good as frequent and long as we can is what actually counts; how much we are satisfied with ourselves. The poem bellow so perfectly captures the importance of those valuable moments and I’m certain it will give you courage to improve “your bits and pieces”, from moment to moment, to your full life.

Compensation by Edgar Albert Guest

I’d like to think when life is done
That I had filled a needed post.
That here and there I’d paid my fare
With more than idle talk and boast;
That I had taken gifts divine.
The breath of life and manhood fine,
And tried to use them now and then
In service for my fellow men.

I’d hate to think when life is through
That I had lived my round of years
A useless kind, that leaves behind
No record in this vale of tears;
That I had wasted all my days
By treading only selfish ways,
And that this world would be the same
If it had never known my name.

I’d like to think that here and there,
When I am gone, there shall remain
A happier spot that might have not
Existed had I toiled for gain;
That someone’s cheery voice and smile
Shall prove that I had been worth while;
That I had paid with something fine
My debt to God for life divine.


Exercise your creativity through poetry, part II

When you invite people to share in your miracle, you create future allies during rough weather.”
― Shannon L. Alder

In this post I intent to recommend some interesting writing exercises, but they are supposed to be done in groups. So grab some of your “pen-friends”, painted-cartoon-of-two-people-talking-for-kiki-by-katy-973x1024play together and see how can you inspire and help each other become more creative.

These exercises can be also performed in the business setting, they’re fun and can be a great way to break out of the ordinary working routine.

Inspired by discovered

Each of you, players, has to write down a rare fact about yourself that most people don’t know about (it can be a secret 😉 ) on a piece of paper, fold it and exchange it with others randomly. Caught by surprise about unknown facts you may find your own fountain of creativity! Write a poem about it and see where it takes you.


Let one of your friends or coworkers gesture with hands: your task is to describe what you see, what you experience and jot it down in words in the form of poem. This can be quite intriguing way of stimulating our creative capabilities, as is discussed in this article, using two hands to explain something prompts the brain to consider issues from multiple perspectives. To spice up a bit, try everything that you write to put in rhyme (in my previous post I explained the benefits of putting boundaries during our brainstorming sessions and how that can stimulate creativity further).

What’s wrong with this picture?

Visual stimulation can unleash your imagination in the most exciting ways. You can pick some random picture and each of players has to make a story in the form of poem, inspired by the picture. Afterwards, you can all debate and see whose story is the most interesting or you can take it step further and compile all stories into one: it has to be believable and follow some logical structure. It’s best suited for groups of two, three people.

With certain moderation you can use these ideas for your own creativity exercises. If you by any chance try them, share your thoughts in the comments below.

It couldn’t be done by Edgar Albert Guest

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
    But, he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
    Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
    On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
    That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
    At least no one has done it”;
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
    And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
    Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
    That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
    There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
    The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle it in with a bit of a grin,
    Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
    That “couldn’t be done,” and you’ll do it.


3 tips to get your creative leadership to the next level

In the simplest terms, a leader is one who knows where he wants to go, and gets up and goes.

              – John Erskine, author 

When my mother taught me how to cook, she used to say that I should always think from the end: “prepare every pot you are going to use, preheat the oven,  go wash and cut your groceries” –  so I wouldn’t mess the kitchen cabinets with my oily, floury hands. And she was right: it shortens the time of cooking, cleaning and the stress that arise from hurry and clumsiness.

Pretty much the same is with business. Whenever we are able to envision where we want take our project or business, it’s much easier to plan the steps along the way. But in certain times, we don’t have that clarity in which way to turn, what is the desired outcome.

That process of breakthrough ideas – “envisioning” is a rocky journey, full of ups and downs, sometimes with obstacles and sometimes is a smooth sailing across the quiet sea.

Creative leadership can benefit from those bursts of innovative thinking and

Leadership concept on white background. Isolated 3D image

for the sake of project/business idea, the focus should be to emulate, produce and sustain those conditions as much as possible. Poetry as a tool can help us a lot:

  1. Follow the hunch

When the idea is still vague, undeveloped, but you have a hunch, a feeling – write a poem about it. Write about your successful project, the benefits it will bring, how you would feel after accomplishing desired results. This type of writing can stimulate positive mood and enhances your creative abilities.

  1. Combine and play

Creating something new can mean rearranging the existing parts into something different – with different order, structure, introducing new elements. To connect seemingly incompatible in new ways, we can produce something extraordinary and give answers to questions we have. Einstein called this Combinatorial Play.

You can summarize all of your ideas, mix them, connect in every impossible way – in poetry. There is no logic needed, there is no judgment, there is no need for “it doesn’t work” statements. Combine and Play:  you might be surprised with the innovative solutions you come up.

  1. Look at the big picture from a detail perspective

Creative leadership is able to recognize unexpected perspectives, keeping in mind the “big picture” – end result it wants to achieve, but pays attentions to detail, and how the change in tiny, almost invisible parts can make the whole difference.

One useful example is the story of Velcro:

In 1948, de Mestral happened upon his most enduring discovery while hiking. He and his dog returned from a hike covered in burrs from the plants along the trail. De Mestral examined the burrs under a microscope, studying their structure. He began working to develop a synthetic fastening system that mimicked the hooks and loops of the burrs.

The fabric went through a number of phases before it was finalized. De Mestral worked with a weaver in France to create hooks and loops strong and durable enough to cling together as he intended. Originally crafted from cotton, the fabric ultimately proved more successful when made out of nylon. In 1955, de Mestral unveiled his innovative new material: Velcro®. The name is a combination of the French words “velours” and “crochet,” translated to English as “velvet” and “hooks.”

source: biography.com

How poetry relates to this? While examining the world around us, analyzing ideas, exploring available resources – especially in poetry where no rational and logical thinking is required, we can accelerate our ability to see through things, how they work, connect, respond, to understand their background. It’s an unleashed creativity that process of focused logical elimination can jump-start our innovative process.

The idea by Mark Strand

For us, too, there was a wish to possess
Something beyond the world we knew, beyond ourselves,
Beyond our power to imagine, something nevertheless
In which we might see ourselves; and this desire
Came always in passing, in waning light, and in such cold
That ice on the valley’s lakes cracked and rolled,
And blowing snow covered what earth we saw,
And scenes from the past, when they surfaced again,
Looked not as they had, but ghostly and white
Among false curves and hidden erasures;
And never once did we feel we were close
Until the night wind said, “Why do this,
Especially now? Go back to the place you belong;”
And there appeared , with its windows glowing, small,
In the distance, in the frozen reaches, a cabin;
And we stood before it, amazed at its being there,
And would have gone forward and opened the door,
And stepped into the glow and warmed ourselves there,
But that it was ours by not being ours,
And should remain empty. That was the idea.