Excercise your creativity through poetry, part III

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Extensive research in area of cognitive science and intellectual skills suggests that intuitive understanding of seeing problems in new ways, analytical ability and effective communication of ideas to others are strong precursors of innovative thinking. Sternberg, R. J. (1986). in “Intelligence applied: Understanding and increasing your intellectual skills” in detail covered this topic.

In other words, sometimes is easy to come up with a good idea, but how we formulate idea, how it “goes into the world” and becomes persevered by the environment, strongly influence the possibility of the idea to become viable.

In the part I and part II of these series, I offered some suggestions on generating new ideas. Hence, writing poetry makes use of all three previously mentioned intellectual skills. Poetry can help us not only with writing and coming up with new ideas but also how to present our idea, make it more attractive to our audience or clients. That’s one of the reasons why I love poetry so much: it really help us work on our confidence, on our belief that we can contribute to something greater than ourselves, that we can provide value by sharing our knowledge and passion.

So for boosting your creative flow I have a little exercise to propose:

Next time you work on new idea, project, script – write like a small presentation of your idea in the form of a poem. Then read it out loud and imagine you have to present (“sell”) your idea to someone (agent, customers, managers ext). How does it feel? Is it empowering or you sense your idea lacks something? Pay attention to your posture: does you body naturally straights up while you read and present? Or you are quailed, with shrugged shoulders, impatient to finish your reading? Are you satisfied with the outcome or you are uncomfortable and insecure? Is your idea understandable? What else you could include in your poem? What kind of reaction you would like to provoke?

Your intuitive guidance, that inner knowing will tell you are you on the right track with your idea. If it doesn’t work try again. Between the verses is your hidden treasure to perfecting your idea.

You can go step further and organize a real audience for pitching your idea-poem. Listen and watch them. Did you capture their attention, how did they react? Your idea, transmuted through poem has to provide experience, to be uplifting, different from already seen and heard.

Note down your observation and work on the refinement of your idea. It will get you closer to your desired result – where both you and your clients enjoy the fruits of your work.

Take back this virgin page

by Thomas Moore

Take back the virgin page,
White and unwritten still,
Some hand more calm and sage
The leaf must fill.
Thoughts come as pure as light,
Pure as even you require:
But oh! each word I write
Love turns to fire.

Yet let me keep the book;
Oft shall my heart renew,
When on its leaves I look,
Dear thoughts of you.
Like you, ’tis fair and bright;
Like you, too bright and fair,
To let wild passion write
One wrong wish there!

Haply, when from those eyes
Far, far away I roam,
Should calmer thoughts arise
Tow’rds you and home;
Fancy may trace some line
Worthy those eyes to meet,
Thoughts that not burn, but shine,
Pure, calm, and sweet.

And as, o’er ocean far,
Seamen their records keep,
Led by some hidden star
Through the cold deep;
So may the words I write
Tell thro’ what storms I stray,
You still the unseen light
Guiding my way.

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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.

 

2.And…action!

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.

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.

Pantomime

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.

 

Poetry in advertising: misused or too much used?

The most common trouble with advertising is that it tries too hard to impress people.

~James Randolph Adams 

When we think of business and poetry, our first association comes to advertising. And there is a good reason for that. Many companies aware of the power of language, use short, minimal poems that often rhyme with aim to attract customer’s attention and with memorable fable just try to get “stuck” to their minds. From one point of view, poetry is the ultimate, sophisticated artful use of language, a beautiful tool one can use to express emotions, thoughts, experience, where advertising is not even a “stand alone” art. As it is described in the paper Poetry and Advertising:

it is the handmaiden of commercial motives; its name carries connotations (well earned, one might add) of halfruths, deception, and outright fraud, of appeals to vanity, fear, snobbery, and false pride…

But, we shouldn’t forget that poetry and advertising, do have much in common: a tendency for putting what we want to say in rhyme, following specific rhythm and words so precise in their “attack” on our unconscious thinking. They intent to give meaning to everyday life events and subjects, using symbolism and metaphor to express ordinary world. The emotional response that poetry retrieves from customers often means an immediate engagement and we can see how multinational corporations are using poetry to promote their products. For instance:

A narrated ad for McDonald’s (“the Gothy types and scoffy types and like-their-coffee-frothy types were just passing by“) or very good example of the use of more traditional poem like in the Levi’s commercial:   “I see their knavery: this is to make an ass of me; to fright me, if they could. But I will not stir from this place, do what they can: I will walk up and down here, and I will sing, that they shall hear I am not afraid.”

“Midsummer night dream” is a Shakespeare’s classic and here it is stripped down from its original meaning and put into a whole different context. It offers new, refreshed interpretation where a love story is translated into our modern infatuation with fashion. Very interesting approach.

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In one of the Guardian articles  they interviewed two contemporary poets and asked for their opinion on the use of poetry in commercials. Roger McGough, a performance artist from Liverpool wasn’t that happy with use of poetry in advertising, since it’s usually “distasteful and not respectful enough”.

On the other hand Nick Toczek welcomes the exposure that advertising offers poetry:

Shakespeare would have thought commercialism was worth it. Populism is good. The more language matters to people the better.

At the end of the day, good poetry is a sincere appreciation of sadness, love, joy – and even death. And that appreciation comes both from poet and the reader. It’s hardly ever going to be found in the cheeseburger or a bowl of candies, because as poetry did get its role in advertising, the real purpose of poetry is to convey something much more deeper and bigger.

Poetry and Creativity: crucial blocks in building leadership qualities

Hand holding two matching white paper jigsaw puzzles which written leadership word

To lead people, walk behind them.

– Lao Tzu

Success and power can easily hinder our good intentions, making our egos rise like skyscrapers and constantly generate that insatiable need for more. Many of those who fall into this trap, simply never look back, who they are leaving behind, creating unbridgeable gap between themselves as a “leader” and their peers.

But it has never become more clearly as in nowadays modern organizational structures that a good leader cannot be someone who imposes false authority: leader needs to inspire, guide, set an example for other coworkers. A good leader needs to have and foster a dynamic personality, be able to seize the opportunity, recognize talent and bring the best out of people.

I usually think of good leaders as magnificent puzzle solvers: they have that ability to utilize available human resources and reorganize their team in such way that each problem/situation can be managed – like solving the puzzle.

Now, how that relates to poetry?

Poetry can awaken those subtle human qualities that we need to develop in order to become good leaders. It helps us live and understand human experience which is a crucial part of creative process: taste of life and our perspective of the world motivate us  to generate more ideas and innovative solutions.

Organizational life can be draining and sometimes makes us hardly cope with everyday activities. Poetry reconnects us with those forgotten parts – instead of just surviving the working week, it can help us remember who we are and how to thrive, focusing on our best qualities.

In my opinion there is a quite similarity between leaders and poets. Leaders just as poets initiate thoughts and conversation about ideas, causes, motivation and engagement. Both poets and leaders have that ability to touch our souls, minds and connect us on the most intricate levels.

Our world is too complex with overlapping issues and processes: poetry has that magical ability to simplify things and life in general. In other words, reading and writing poetry can support any leader to better conceptualize the world and communicate it.

Furthermore, poem can provide wisdom and insight in the most difficult times. I hope that poem below will inspire your work, persistence and help you seize your value in every team, every relationship, every situation:

Focused Effort Prevails by Henry W. Longfellow

The heights by great men reached and kept

Were not attained by sudden flight,

But they, while their companions slept,

Were toiling upward in the night.

 

We have not wings, we cannot soar;

But we have feet to scale and climb,

By slow degrees, by more and more,

The cloudy summit of our time.

Poetry and storytelling: part I

No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.

-Lewis Carroll

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In these series of posts “Poetry and Storytelling” I will try to explore possibilities of using poetry as a tool for effective way of storytelling, especially for entrepreneurs and small businesses.

On the one hand entrepreneur as a storyteller and entrepreneur story as a cultural phenomena is already intrinsically established in the group consciousness (especially within the emerging social media networks), yet poetry as a narrative technique and genre is rarely considered as a mean of explaining entrepreneurial journey.

Through literature we can find a lot of evidence where entrepreneurial skills, behavior and entrepreneur’s relationship with the world comes in the form of narrative fables like picaresque tales  which McKenzie, B (2002) in “Understanding Entrepreneurship: A Definition and Model Based on Economic Activity and the Pursuit of Self-Identity”, so beautifully demonstrated. The study describes the use of oral narrative by entrepreneurs to exchange important information and induces a new definition of entrepreneurship: an economic activity undertaken by social individuals in their pursuit of self-identity.

O’Connor, E., in the paper “Storied Business: Typology, intertextuality, and traffic in entrepreneurial narrative”, states that “entrepreneur needs to be a storyteller”, an ‘epic hero’, capable of offering emotional connection to his audience, a character with whom audience can identify with, rejoice, suffer, celebrate, fail – simply experience everything. In other words, successful entrepreneur is giving tangible experience through his business story and that’s what makes his story and business alive. Use of mythology, eulogy, metaphor, epic and fairytales, permeated with humor and sudden twists is a winning recipe for a business story that captures attention.

Rationalists, wearing square hats by Wallace Stevens

Rationalists, wearing square hats,

Think, in square rooms,

Looking at the floor,

Looking at the ceiling.

They confine themselves

To right-angled triangles.

If they tried rhomboids,

Cones, waving lines, ellipses—

As for example, the ellipse of the half-moon-

Rationalists would wear sombreros.

These verses clearly signify the importance of creativity as an entrepreneurial skill. Words are empowering and encourage us to think “outside the box”, outside our limited senses and borders given by societal norms.

This poem in particular was used by Price Waterhouse Management Consultants in an advertisement (Sunday Times, 22.10. ’95) to attract open-minded (entrepreneurial) individuals with creative abilities, ready to question and challenge everything that is predefined and ordinary.

Poetry evokes emotions, stimulates thinking and inspiration. In the posts to come, I will further research how successful entrepreneurs have used poetry to communicate their business ideas.