Tag Archive: creativity


Sunday’s recommended read

I’m “implementing” a new feature in my blog. I have mulled upon it for a long while, and it is likely that I will keep it running if you find value in it.

I may even suggest CDs in the future ( I’ve been CD reviewer for musesmuse.com long enough). Perhaps be an Amazon affiliate, too.

So, here is my recommended read for this weekend:

INSIDE APPLE

http://www.amazon.com/Inside-Apple-Americas-Admired—Secretive–Company/dp/145551215X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1333873887&sr=1-1

(Sorry, it seems that the link doesn’t display as planned)!

I’m now in the middle of reading Lashinsky‘s revealing book “Inside Apple” (to be coupled with Steve Jobs’s bio by Isaacson, if you want the whole package)!

I don’t care about the naysayers. There is some value in this book you’ll find nowhere else. Really.

Tell me what you think, if you’ve read it. (Of course, not if you use it to fire start a BBQ)!

The book is available in Kindle format, audiobook, hardcover and paperback. iPad owners can read it with the Kindle app.

It isn’t expensive and, if you are like me, puzzled by how much rumors, bullsh’ and hype rule the social world… This is certainly a book you’ll like.

Yes, I love Apple, but I am not OK with everything they do. There is some scary sh*t in this book. It is not for the faint of heart! You’re warned!

What REALLY upsets me is…no more iDisk in June? Are you nuts, guys? (This is just a “sample rant”).

One more thing:

Happy Easter, folks, and thanks to all of my subscribers for following one of the most whimsical and uncompromising blog out there (shameless plug)!

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For the last two weeks, I have tackled issues, and I’m still tackling new ones.

(Have a look at my past posts to know what I’m writing about).

Needless to say: it is exhausting.

I always find myself awake at 4:30 am, super energetic (it is usually my energy peak) , and I hate wasting energy.

So, I grab my iPad and read books nobody will. at least I think so.  Would you be interested in reading a book called “Inside Apple“? Unless your are a fanboi computer geek which is interested in HR and temperaments/personalities and their pros and cons, I bet you wouldn’t.

Not a safe bet.

My health has never been great, and I don’t want it to deteriorate.

There are a few tricks that I do before giving in (and I gave in once in my life: I had a lung infection and spent a few days in the coma. OK, I digress, but bear that in mind)!

Taking a shower after having triggered my mind with an insanely intricate computer science lecture, or an inspiring TED talk, is what I usually do.

Solutions and ideas appear when you least expect them. It is common sense.

The next Joe would say the same, but I’m not the next Joe.

When you let purposely your mind wander, it will certainly bring you where it wouldn’t if you were hyper-active and focused obsessed.

My weapon of choice is a simple shower, or a bath.

I soak my hands in warm water before playing keyboards or cello. Any tension disappears, and I can warm-up, then play confidently knowing that I prepared myself.

See… This is a borrowed parallel paradigm (a term I coined a few blog posts ago and didn’t use in a blog post)!

I use a “model” totally unrelated to the task at hand to solve it. I transpose it (sorry for the musical pun).

Well, it’s time for a new TED talk and to catch up on my Stanford lectures (I have a strong disgust for the C language, and we are comparing Objective-C and ANSI C. I want to move on to the next step, yet I know that my teacher is doing what we’ll need ten lectures later).

Oh, one last thing: nothing beats a cup of Yunnan tea.

One more thing: this is the post where my 666th tag will appear. I’m an unabashed metal freak, but in no way Satanist. I just find that ending my post with something less serious could release some tension!

Which are your strategies to kick out stress and burn-outs from tearing you apart?

Do you let your mind wander to find solutions, or do you keep working until you run out of gas?

 

 

 

Everything that goes through any of our senses is stored in our memory as a mental picture.

It uses our occipital cortex. So, don’t scratch the top of your head if you can’t recall. It happens behind your head!

Just google “visual memory” and countless search pages will show up with miracle recipes on how to improve it.

This is totally uninteresting to me. However, I often take a quick look at all those self-help things, then discard 99% of them.

What is interesting is how our brain works, and thorough studies, serious stuff won’t appear on the first search page. Go further.

I find it fascinating that our memory transforms everything into a mental image. Vivid, exaggerated, lurid, hilarious… Unexpected ways are to be expected!

One of the most important aspects of it, is that if you aren’t actively participating in memorizing, your “file” (memory) will be lost somewhere into some random place you can’t easily recall, or can’t recall at all. Unlike computers, we have no indexing and search option available to find where our file is.

Actively participating means “abstracting” the (usually) boring stuff. You’ll need to find ways to get mnemotechnic in remembering things. It will take some time and practice, but it is worth the sweat!

If you just absorb, you are not memorizing. You are listening, watching, smelling… but not memorizing.

When memorizing, don’t lay on a couch and repeat ad nauseam the same thing, hoping it will get into your memory. You have to add emotion to it to work properly.
Being on a couch is not what I call an emotional trigger (unless you get laid, but that’s another story).

Stand up. Read aloud. Repeat each syllable many times. Let the music come.

Don’t worry, your music will anyway be associated with a mental image. Not a mere image, but a mental one. Those are discrete things!

I hope that by now, you start figuring out why I called this post “our memory is a GUI”. Yes, it is a graphical user interface. Touch this icon / click on it, and it will react.
An icon is an object which has properties. Exactly like our memory.

I am still studying this overlooked aspect of our memorizing process, so expect an update or another post as soon as I have new and relevant content.

Meanwhile, know that nobody has a bad memory. If you want to have a really hard time remembering faces, events, sounds, etc, keep saying to yourself that your memory is poor, or bad, or that you suck.

I encourage you to do your own search. I want us to discuss and debate around this topic.

Well. I’m going to find ways to memorize five high-level programming languages. I’ll focus primarily on Objective-C.

The meaning, the syntax, the words or signs used all have some potential for visual memorizing. What can I do with @synthesize ? Split it into syllables and repeat them until I find a way to relate what is on my screen to what it means. Make music out of it (“synth” could already be “synthesizer”. Or maybe should I try to merge “sin”, “in”, “the”, “size and visualize a huge cock)?

I told you that the more exaggerated, gory or porn, the better and easier to remember. Summarize it into a vivid mental image (not an image like a photo) and link it to its meaning (meanings aren’t obvious in programming). That is why Stanford has a “programming abstractions” course, in my opinion.

Again, don’t merely absorb, but stand up (to stay alert) and actively participate in memorizing.

In those big “memory contests”, they give you energizing beverages. It is not a coincidence, is it?

 

What I mean by a “borrowed parallel paradigm” is that a paradigm out of my field of study or biz can help me shape – or reshape- my thinking and my doing.
It broadens my vision, or help me see the world through new lenses.

If I use Apple’s biz paradigm (mainly, a platform, to be studied) to improve my creative musician skills, it’s a win. However, it is not easy to draw parallel lines with those unrelated areas.

To create, to innovate, to shape, call it what you want, you need to borrow or shamelessly steal from unrelated industries, areas, businesses -even if the models are outdated- to make your very own product, be it a symphony or a startup.

That’s what Google does, what Amazon does, what a schmazillion of other successful people do. They succeed at what they aim for.
Success is not a one-size-fits-all word!

A pattern can be transposed successfully if applied in a clever way. If you stay in your area, you are likely to learn nothing. If you go where everyone else goes, you end up doing what everyone does. Is it what you want?

Picasso famously said that great artists steal. Is Picasso a great artist? This up to you to judge. The statement is true, though.

Today, the word artist has a broader meaning. A VP or a CEO can be artists, not because they are hobbyist painters or musicians, but because they -the succesful ones- totally pour themselves into what they do. Stravinsky used to say that a succesful piece of art is 99% work!

As far as I am concerned: I come from a very complex background.

I am a musician. That is the core of my being. 26 years of mayhem, and counting!

I sing, I play snare drum, timpani, vibraphone, drums, cello, viola da gamba, guitar, harpsichord, piano, organ… All those instruments have one thing in common: they require the use of fingers (in this case, parallels are drawn quite easily. Starting small is not a bad thing), and demand a very high degree of commitment.
I also produce, edit, mix and master. I started as a FOH engineer, but moved on to my comfy studio more as my back pain increased with FOH muck work. I am now settled.

However, I read business books, blogs about education, biographies, I love CDs and LPs artwork and do my own, I hang around with TED speakers, I study iOS programming and programming abstractions (courtesy of Stanford University). I read other people Ph.Ds’ stuff, too, no matter the subject.

How does all that relate? How does one model applies to the other to foster creativity? I’m diligently working on it.

Easy is not a word I can use to describe that task. I have to learn critical thinking, which is not taught at school/college.

I have to ask for mentorship, sometimes. I have to ask myself the right questions. It’s exhausting, and I already wanted to throw the towel many times. I didn’t, because I’m passionate about what I do.

Of course, it is easy to get lost into all those unrelated areas. Focus on your primary one and look around. How can you improve or change your existing model?

Borrow paradigms. Shamelessly. The more unrelated, the better.
Get the broadest scope you can get, yet keep in mind that you want to raise the bar of your primary activity, foster creativity and get smarter at what you do.

One last thing: don’t lose sight of your own goals.

I’d love to hear from you. You are encouraged to share your experiences and thoughts. Your personal info will never be shared.

Discipline is freedom

Most of us have an insanely wrong image of discipline.

If you have ever been bashed, humiliated, mistreated in the name of “discipline” then it wasn’t discipline at all.

Babies are the most disciplined creatures ever.

They experiment diligently, fail many times, but always figure a way out (including moving on to something else.)

They reap the benefits of this behaviour by gaining more and more knowledge and discernment. They become more and more disciplined.

Discipline is about loving to learn.

Grown-ups can get that feeling of “acquiring” as well as babies.

Bottom line is: you will grow more and more free if you have the will to acquire knowledge and discernment in your life.

Money put aside, who wouldn’t get more of life by acquiring more knowledge and discernment, so more freedom?

I don’t know any sane being who wouldn’t.

Also: there is no freedom without a frame (or it will be the chaos.)

In the case being, discipline is the frame required to acquire more (relevant) knowledge and discernment, so more freedom!

Discipline is the key to freedom!

[More later about “skills”. You will throw off your misconceptions!]

Strategies of Genius

Robert B. Dilts, in his book Strategies of Genius, mentions the use of words known as “connectives”. Basically, connectives are words or phrases that link one idea to the next. An example of a connective would be the word because. Here’s how this works. I can make the statement, John is a frustrated person. If I follow that statement with the connective word because, we now have to complete the statement, and in the process we learn something more about John…”why” he’s a frustrated person. John is a frustrated person because he feels unappreciated. Now let’s add the connective phrase only when to the statement. We now learn yet another dynamic of John using this new connective phrase. John is a frustrated person only when he’s not truly tuned into the reality of the moment. Now we know that John feels unappreciated and has a need to closely watch how he handles himself. How much more might we learn about John (or “John” learn about John) by continuing this process with different connective words and phrases? This is an excellent exercise to help discover more about a person, a problem, ourselves, or a need we may have…and to my point. We’ll use this technique by Dilts using some of his connectives (and a few of my own) for you to diagnose and better understand your relationship with your creative-self. Finish the following statements as honestly as you can.

I feel I lack creativity because………………………………………………………..

I feel I lack creativity only when………………………………………………………

I feel I lack creativity after……………………………………………………………..

I feel I lack creativity along with………………………………………………………

I feel I lack creativity whenever……………………………………………………….

I feel I lack creativity except…………………………………………………………..

I feel I lack creativity although………………………………………………………..

I feel I lack creativity if…………………………………………………………………

I feel I lack creativity in terms of………………………………………………………

I feel I lack creativity in the same way that………………………………………….

Now…take a break. Get away from the page and relax, clear your head, and get yourself ready to come back and objectively look at your responses. What have you learned about yourself that was not evident to you previous to this exercise? What responses were frighteningly (as in I better address this right now) true? What responses in retrospect look utterly ridiculous, something you could easily handle? What do these responses in their totality tell you about yourself and what you need to address in terms of your “creative” standing with yourself? The first step towards being able to create change in any aspect of your life is your “awareness” of what you’re uncomfortable with. Complete this exercise, and learn.

Alternatives to the blank boring stuff

Honestly, if I were to hire somebody for my company, I’ll go totally nuts in a few seconds.

Imagining I would have to review several hundreds of the exact same white sheets would bore the HELL out of me.

So much wasted paper.

Surprisingly enough, I’ve put my feet in the shoes of a biz owner.

People are told to do EXACTLY what bores biz owners most. No wonder if there’s unemployment.

Let’s be brutally honest.

Would YOU want to read the same stuff over and over?

I crave some humanity. That appeals to me.

The dull white pages with a lenghty description of what people did is a nightmare.

Why can’t people grab a webcam, a DVD-R, record a compelling video and BE THERE?

I don’t want to know what people did. I want to know who they are.

Real HUMAN life stories I can relate to delight me.

If I can relate to your life, you can consider yourself as hired.

That is how it works in my World.