Creativity, wisdom and laughs by Courtney Smith Kramer

Thank you Mark Fidelman for the GREAT and well-produced video review of my book!

You nailed my intentions of “you actually might learn something!” on the head #TWSS

To grab your own copy of “21 Reasons Creativity is Like Sex”, click here.

Watch more cool Fanatics Media videos.

Boy, does this come at exactly the right time #TWSS. As my last post of the year, it’s apropos that turning yourself upside down is about gaining the perspective you need to see things in a necessary and different way.

I recently got a strong dose of this while visiting our dear friend Hendre Coetzee (pronounced “Goodseeya”), who is a master business coach, facilitator/trainer, and pretty much the original most interesting man in the world (sorry Dos Equis, your bearded mascot’s got nothing on this guy.)

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Hendre is more of a wine guy.

Hendre was helping Bryan (my partner in life and business @purematter) and I build our strategic plan for 2017. You see, 2016 was a tough year for us. We made the decision to restructure our agency in June, away from how we’d been operating for 15 years as a traditional marketing agency, into an employee-free consultancy working solely with our now-contractor-former-employees. In short… we went virtual.

Turns out it’s pretty taxing to unravel 15 years of business. #dude After exercising some heady creativity of our own, six months later, we are happier, stabilizing, and looking to 2017 with a shred of optimism that wasn’t there earlier in the year.

Hendre’s life experience, amongst other things, as a theologian, and as a peace negotiator working directly for Nelson Mandela in South Africa helping to improve race relations between young adults during Apartheid, has taught him a thing or 80,000 about perspective. The man drops wisdom bombs like Angelina Jolie drops husbands.

Something he taught me that day, was the power of framing situations in a way that separates your identity from your current obligations. What I mean by that is, for example, me saying that “I am the purematter brand” instantly puts all the crushing pressure on me that the business holds. As Hendre explained, “it’s like standing on a chair and limiting yourself to that one perspective, because you can’t step off the chair if it IS a part of you.” Seeing the world from a limited perspective certainly can’t be the best vantage point to exercise your full creative potential for positive problem solving.

A better way to approach it is to reframe the situation by saying “I HAVE the purematter brand”. It’s an asset that I possess, and I understand my obligation to it, but it doesn’t own ME. I am my own self, but am only responsible – not beholden – to what I have. This sure felt lighter to me, and allowed me to “step off the chair”, move it to the side where I could choose how to interact with it, and have so much more freedom to see the world from multiple vantage points. My capacity to solve challenges in a more creative and informed way grew to infinite possibility… simply by reframing my perspective.

Hendre turned me upside down.

As you reflect on this year, how will you see things in a new way?

I recommend using the chair to change the way you do it. #TWSS

To grab your own copy of “21 Reasons Creativity is Like Sex”, click here.

Feature photo by Darius Anton via Unsplash

Anyone who has been challenged with a problem to solve and a looming deadline understands that sometimes, to really tap into your most creative self, you need a little stimulation.

Just like sex, becoming stimulated takes focus, patience, maybe a sense of humor, and a desire to see it through until the end. If these conditions aren’t present, there’s little chance your mind will stay present either – and you’ll end up frustrated, a little perturbed, and generally in a bad mood. #nothowIpictureditgoingdown #TWSS

When we create the conditions to get into what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi coined “The Flow”, we free our mind to let the really special, interesting new connections find each other in our brain, which naturally create the most interesting, special ideas to solve our most pressing issues.

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Mihaly’s Flow Model

According to Mihaly, there are nine components that must be present in order to achieve a “flow” state. To help you remember them, I describe how they also apply to sex:

  1. Challenge-skill balance
    I happen to believe that some people are just better at sex than others. What would they see as a challenge? Can you bend this way? Can you last that long? Will there be a meal afterwards? If you don’t understand the challenge, you might not ask the burning questions. And you know what else burns white hot? Desire.
  2. Merging of action and awareness
    This is a serious one. When you merge action with awareness, that means there’s a consensual entering into said action. No matter what, both/all parties must be aware of what actions are happening around them, and what/who they are getting into.
  3. Clarity of goals
    Knowing what you want out of any sexual encounter seems like it would be important? “I need some quick stress relief.” “I want to show him how much I love him.” “I really want that new car.” “Don’t forget to empty the dishwasher.” Whatever your motivation is for doing it, being clear about the outcome leaves everyone more satisfied.
  4. Immediate and unambiguous feedback
    This is the panting “OH MY GOD THE EARTH MOVED”, or a cigarette.
  5. Concentration on the task at hand
    I don’t judge or discriminate. Concentration on the task at hand, or mouth, or leg, or whatever tickles your fancy, is always required.
  6. Paradox of control
    This is the quick smack on the ass when you least expect it. It’s what sparks sentences like, “I didn’t know you were into that kind of thing, but I think I like it…”
  7. Transformation of time
    Losing yourself in sex is like a time warp. Even though the average sex session is just 5.4 minutes from start to finish, it can seem like hours or fly by like a fleeting second.
  8. Loss of self-consciousness
    Entangled bodies can often look – and feel – like one knotted set of human earphones after you fish them out of your pocket. That level of closeness can cause us to not consciously know where one person ends and the other begins. This does not mean a “loss of consciousness”, see #2 for exactly why.
  9. An autoletic experience
    Not to be confused with an autoerotic experience, autolectic means “doing something simply for the pure joy of doing it”. We’re talking about sex here, people. It’s the way it’s supposed to be done, no matter what.

So, even though you might not want to make a checklist of conditions necessary to have great sex, understanding how to make it, and your own creativity, a consistent and repeatable process, can be a really valuable skill.

Or there’s wine. There is always sweet, sweet wine. #TWSS

To grab your own copy of “21 Reasons Creativity is Like Sex”, click here.

 

 

Create. Creating. Creativity. What does it all mean, and why do we do it?

In the first chapter of my new book “21 Reasons Why Creativity is Like Sex”, I theorized that because we are taught from the earliest of ages that “creating” something was nothing short of a sacred act, we spend our lives in eternal pursuit of creation.

We incessantly try to manifest ideas into existence, make new spaces from voids, make new life from nothingness. We feel the urge to grow companies, families, collections, friends, bank accounts. We are literally hardwired to create… and when we feel stuck in “anti-creation”, it rocks us to the core. Tweet this

Don’t believe me? It’s in the first sentence in the Bible. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Now, I’m not a super religious person, but when one of the most, if not the most, globally respected and referenced texts starts out telling us that our supposed Creator, created the Universe – something pretty important to our existence – it’s going to make a mark on our psyches somehow that creating is kind of a big deal. #Godmicdrop If God created the heavens and the earth, good luck regular people keeping up with that accomplishment! #wereallscrewed #Ablogpostwillhavetodotoday

After reading this chapter, my friend Charlie Oliver asked this interesting question:

What about rewards for doing it? Where does our desire for being rewarded for our creativity fit in here?

This got me curious. Are we inspired to create because it’s in our DNA? Or is it because of the reward of accomplishment we feel when we achieve it?

In his 1972 Oscar acceptance speech, Charlie Chaplin said, “I went into the business for money and the art grew out of it. If people are disillusioned by that remark, I can’t help it. It’s the truth.”

Mark McGuinness, a poet and creative coach, references Chaplin in his comparing reward versus creating purely out of a love and drive to create. “It’s as though art and business are parallel rails in any creative career. Both are essential for success and leaning on one at the expense of the other can be disastrous. Lean too far towards the rewards and you become a hack, churning out mediocre work to pay the bills; neglect the money side of things and life becomes too stressful to focus on your work properly.”

This is why creativity and psychosis evoke the same chemistry in the brain. #weareallscrewedagain

It’s a balancing act of the most maddening, wonderful, kind. #TWSS

To grab your own copy of “21 Reasons Creativity is Like Sex”, click here.

I’ve been asked a lot since I launched my book, “What made you write a book about creativity and sex?”

Well, the answer is, because not everyone believes they are creative.

They think it’s something only “special” people have. But like sex, everyone can do it. Some are better at it. And when it’s done well, it’s AH-MAZING!

Sex is a great metaphor to help convince you that you, too, are a celebrated, creative beingheart with interesting solutions just queuing up to get out of your head – but only if you make the time to hear them shouting at you.

Framing creativity with sex also gets you outside your comfort zone. Because your brain experiences this non-routine conversation, it requires you to pay attention just a little closer, to lean into what’s being said, to make sure you are processing the information correctly. (Plus, talking – and laughing – about sex is just plain fun. Unleash your inner 12 year old and loosen up a bit, people).

And this will help you hear what I’m saying. That everyone is creative at something – the trick is finding out what. [Tweet this]  Creativity is how we humans solve challenges in a positive way. And if you have a beating heart, your natural curiosity and imagination still live inside of you.

It’s high time we wake it up. #TWSS

To grab your own copy of “21 Reasons Creativity is Like Sex”, click here.

 

It’s finally here: My book has launched.

The launch of the long-awaited (for me, anyway) “21 Reasons Creativity is Like Sex” book has happened, and I couldn’t be more excited.

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For anyone out there wondering what self-publishing a book looks like, let me paint a picture:

  1. You spend a few hundred hours researching, interviewing people, outlining, drafting, writing, rewriting, rewriting, rewriting, rewriting, editing, re-reading, formatting, designing, and finalizing your book.
  2. If you have a day job, this is done on nights and weekends, for what seems like an eternity.
  3. But that’s not the end. Once it’s in production, you have to create your marketing materials – posts, social tiles, Tweets, blog posts, share pages, social ads, and bit.ly links to track it all. This takes almost as much time as writing the book.
  4. Your internal narrative through the process sounds something like this:
    This is going to be SO awesome!
    Wow, this is taking a lot of time.

    I am really learning a lot about my subject that I didn’t know…
    Why can’t I get motivated to write about this?
    I have to stay on schedule.
    Shit, I am so behind.
    Why did I have to plan so many chapters!
    Is this ever going to get done?
    I am SO close to finishing. Ride this out.
    I’m finished! YES!!!!!!!
    Now I have to edit.
    What was I thinking?! Why did I do this.
    Who is going to read this anyway.
    I have to edit again. I am so friggen sick of this.
    Wait… I’m really done?
    I am so proud of myself! I did it!
    Now what.

A book is not a destination, it’s a journey.

An emotional roller coaster, mind-fucking experience. But SO-MUCH-FUN. It made me grow. It made me listen. It made me believe in myself in a way I never could understand a year ago.

And more importantly, it made me feel closer to what I feel my life’s purpose is: To help everyone find their own creativity, and use it to make the world a better place.

And, man, can we use some lightness in the world right about now.

So, to future self-publishers reading this:

The journey is worth it. Share your purpose with others, because we are all here to inspire others, and be inspired by others. So go write! Or at least get creative. Or just go have sex. They’ll all fulfill you in the happiest way. 🙂

You can read more about, and grab yourself a copy of “21 Reasons Creativity is Like Sex” here.

For the last year, I’ve been working feverishly on incubating my baby – my new book, titled “21 Reasons Creativity is Like Sex”. Creativity is a passion for me, as Executive Creative Director at my company, PureMatter, and I am a long time lover of all things random, eclectic, weird, strange, serendipitous and surreal.

Curiosity is strong.

Little did I know, that the timing of my book launch would coincide with one of the most polarizing and confusing times America has seen in decades. What was supposed to be a happy, light and innuendous (I made that up) experience now finds itself suffocated by sentiments of hate, contempt and inhumanity.

Well, fuck. It didn’t take me long to realize that now, more than ever, we NEED laughter. We NEED lightness. We need to be reminded that despite our politics, we are all, as humans, bonded together by our ability to be creative – and our ability to have, and to love, sex.

“Every single person in this world possesses imagination and curiosity… Which makes every human creative in their own way. I don’t care if you work at Home Depot, or you’re an accountant, or you stay at home and take care of your kids. You are finding little ways every day to be creative, because the definition of creativity is taking things that haven’t been together before and combining them to make something new.”

So that’s my new calling. Doing my part to spark that remembrance inside every human that we’re here to inspire, and be inspired. #Nopressure #Dontfuckitup

I hope you come along this journey with me and take in the so many interesting and inspirational messages jam packed into these 204 pages. I promise, there are pictures. It’s damn silly at times. And yes, I promise you will learn something new about sex.

If you want to sign-up to be notified when the book goes live on Amazon, register for my email list on my book landing page.

Let’s do this! #TWSS

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You can read more about, and grab yourself a copy of “21 Reasons Creativity is Like Sex” here.

 

Listen to Dr. Jason Richardson, Ph.D Sports Psychologist, Pan Am Gold Medalist and Mental Coach to Extreme Sports champions explores with me what it takes to have a “Gold Medal Mindset”.

We talk human-to-human, creativity, buzzwords, and of course… sex  🙂

Go listen to more awesome interviews with Dr. Jason here.

I have now (mostly) recovered from SXSW and am having so much fun rehashing (rehashtagging?) all the fun that went down last week in Austin. For us, it’s a chance to be in proximity with the top brands and thinkers, as you literally don’t know who you could be having a conversation with or who you might run into (Keegan Key from Key & Peele, for one!)  For those of you who have never been, it’s literally impossible to describe the experience; it’s a cacophony of sound, people, brand takeovers, light sabers, pedicabs, free drinks, and this year – virtual reality headsets. You couldn’t swing a dead cat without running into a VR demonstration!

Virtual reality and brand takeovers

My favorite virtual reality experience was at the Dell #social360 Lounge (less a lounge and more a complete restaurant takeover), where in addition to witnessing a few social famous folks like Bryan Kramer, Brian FanzoAri Lightman and Mark Schaefer play a hilarious game show onstage at their “Unconference”, we could experience an immersive, sensory deep dive1914666_10153279572251612_6075838137811617261_n under the ocean to learn about the plight of the whales battling pollution, at their “Lonely Whale Project” experience. This impressive effort is in partnership with celebrity Adrian Grenier (of Entourage fame), who helped develop the script and story for the technology with Dell, to raise awareness about the effects of the human footprint on the whales. This was such a great example of “show not tell”, as we know you cannot care about something you don’t understand. This is something I will never forget and will share often.

Another impressive restaurant takeover was the IBM Cognitive Studio, complete with Watson cognitive cocktails based on your personalized flavor profile, crowdsourced

Good peeps at the IBMCognitive Studio

Good peeps at the IBM Cognitive Studio

artwork, and Star Wars’ “BB-8” robot. No one owns the AI/cognitive machines space like IBM, and this was a cool way to show how the technology gets smarter over time (read: if they had allowed more than one Watson-inspired drink personalized based on how I answered a set of questions, my “drink profile” would have gotten smarter with my feedback. Thank God Watson was intuitive enough to know that I *probably didn’t need another drink at that time.) This is also where we got said lightsabers, which led to some shenanigans later that night.

Now, I am not sure how I got onto Friskies cat food’s radar, but they tweeted me asking if I would swing by their press event at their Friskie’s Lounge, where they were launching their #CatConcoctions new line of cat food. Now, I don’t even have a cat, nor did I particularly feel one way or another about them (I am a full-on dog person, so Purina, when you come out with your #DogConcoction line of food, I am all over it) but I do respect and appreciate a team with a sense of humor and appreciation for the obtuse. Their images for “Clam Lamb”, “Bacon Cod” and “Chicken Crab” were super funny and made me giggle. 

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I (almost) met the infamous Grumpy Cat (a miss that made me a little grumpy) but had a great fun exchange with their social team, who showed me that they understand what this social media community-building thing is all about. 

Meeting social friends IRL

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Mia and Christin!

One of my FAVORITE things about being at SXSW this year was connecting in person with many online social friends for the first time, and this year was no different. In addition to meeting @convince awesome community manager Christin Kardos, I got to spend a lot of time with the inimitable Mia Voss! I gotta tell ya, rarely have I met anyone who is a true soul sister from top to bottom – inappropriateness and all. She made the experience so much more adventurous and ridiculous than ever, and is the reason I had no voice left last week thanks to my constant cackling Michigander laugh. 

Monday we were at Brand Innovator’s #BISummit at Lambert’s BBQ, where Bryan Kramer was moderating an Employee Advocacy panel sponsored by Dynamic Signal. While Mia and I were enjoying some time off our feet in between sessions, I got a chance to show her my new obsession – Bitmoji. Now I realize I am kinda late to this party, but DAYUM, is it FUN! For those of you unfamiliar, Bitmoji is a free app where you can customize an avatar to look like you, and then have your “person” in all sorts of funny memes that you can use in social and in your Chrome browser (if you download the extension.) We spent probably an hour customizing her avatar and giggling at the various sayings and since then have only texted each other pictures instead of text in an effort to crack the other person up.

What I find fascinating about Bitmoji as a marketer is you can choose an outfit for your digital self from a variety of real world

Guuurrrlllllll

Guuurrrlllllll

fashion brands – Steve Madden, Bergdorf Goodman to name a few – and the New York Times just announced on March 17 that high fashion brands are also joining the party for what I assume will be “pay-to-wear” fashion – Calvin KleinMichael Kors, Zac Posen, Alexander McQueen, Calvin Klein and Diane von Furstenberg, to name a few. Currently you can pay .99 to bling out your memes (turning the color white to gold) and unlock additional “Foodmoji’s”, but this additional of real world fashion brands into this digital world is an exciting example of the sharing economy at play. These physical world brands now have a new channel to make incremental money and integrate their brand into new audience’s personal avatars at a very low cost to entry. Customizing avatars is nothing new, but distributing it as a mobile app and not a game is (as far as I know) and making it available to the masses is a brilliant thing. I may not be able to afford a Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dress, but my Bitmoji can – and she looks FIERCE.

Our first #H2H House party

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Bryan interviews Cox Business “Get Started” winner Remmi Smith

This year, PureMatter finally got a spot at the grown-ups table and threw an official event at SXSW! We wrapped up Tuesday in the #H2H House sponsored by Cox Business at the Red Room, with 3 hours of yummy wine and food and an incredible discussion with young inventor Remmi Smith, 16, winner of Cox Business “Get Started” young entrepreneur competition. Her invention, CHEF Club – available at select Whole Foods – includes a monthly subscription that provides members with a box of healthy snacks to eat throughout the month, a recipe card from Remmi’s cookbook, and a health-related “surprise” from a sponsor, such as a jump rope. We then heard from Robert Scoble, tech evangelist who made headlines in Austin by announcing he had left Rackspace as their brand evangelist and jumped to entrepreneur-in-residence at UploadVR. He blew our minds as he described the future applications and possibilities of Virtual Reality (see above) to a live audience in the house and on Periscope, broadcast by the awesome Brian Fanzo. Spotted also interviewing select guests was Comedian Tim Washer, as seen on “Last Week Tonight” with John Oliver, SNL, Conan and Onion Sports Network, and Martin Jones from Cox Business, our generous sponsor. We also met some new friends from Go Daddy, who helped us carry the party torch as we late-night tweeted for the Karaoke Truck to come and satisfy our desire to sing badly (which never happened – it was 2 am people, even Karaoke truck drivers need to sleep.)

Final thoughts

So. Many blisters, empty glasses, business cards, #H2H stickers and a multitude of laughter later, it’s another SXSW in the can. It may take another year to fully recover, but it will be worth it when it comes around again in 2017, just to see more incredible technology, inventions, and meet more new friends in real life. Serendipity required.

Click here to watch a recap of SXSW on Mia Voss’ Blab show “Power Chat” with me and a bunch of other hilarious people.

Moms – it’s time to chill. And I’m talking about me. Life is a constant stream of crazy, so it’s time to talk me off a ledge with this advice from me, that I need to hear NOW:

  1. Your kids will still excel and be smart and surprise you. Even if you don’t volunteer at their school or even worse {*gasp!} still send them to public school. They came from you, and you are smart, so trust in that – from independence comes responsibility and more importantly, from learning, comes falling down and more learning. (and grades aren’t everything, remember… your 3.34 never impeded your ability to own a successful business.)
  2. Delete Facebook on your phone. It’s not a true representation of what everyone is doing, what’s going on , or how people are feeling. Context is everything.
  3. Drink wine. Don’t apologize for it or rationalize your consumption. Wine is a gift and it’s so sweet on the lips, it makes us happy and better.WB2001_EMERGENCY
  4. Your identity doesn’t depend on the fitness of your body. We all love you, and your kids are awesome. Your husbands think you’re hot, no matter what, even if there’s stretch marks. Be healthy for you and remember your brain is a muscle too, and it’s the center of your sexy place – work on that.
  5. Take time for yourselves. No kids, just husbands (or wives). See the world. Gain a new perspective, as long as it’s outside our neighborhood. Be present with your honey, your kids will understand and watch and file it away for later.
  6. Understand. Everyone has shit they’re dealing with. Have compassion, you never know who might be there to pick you up when you need it.
  7. See the world through your kids’ eyes. They’re wide-eyed, curious, and haven’t been beaten down by the world yet. They have fun, make the best of things, and we can all learn from it.
  8. Love what you do. And do what you love, even if you’re not getting paid for it. I write screenplays in my spare time, but haven’t made a dime off my passion. Someday? Maybe. For now, I get to help my clients be awesome but have a secret love to tell other fantastical stories that don’t sell anything. The soul needs feeding, so feed it! Everyone’s creative, find what feeds you.

Please hear me – being human is our greatest gift. Let’s make our Modern mom lifestyle more real, connected, and something to be revered by the rest of the world.

Sent from my iPhone typing with one finger (yes, the irony is not lost on me.)

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