Monday, June 11, 2012

Colorful Creativity

"Creativity is seeing an opportunity for more than what it appears to be."

This quote came to me as I was sitting in my favorite coffeehouse writing spot (Cast Iron Waffles), listening to the Coffeehouse satellite station (Into the Mystic by Van Morrison was playing), and working on an upcoming keynote.

I furiously typed it up hoping not to lose it before it leapt out of my mind unable to be remembered. Know what I mean?

I speak about creativity in my keynote presentations and I was trying to figure out how to wrap it up nice and neat with a bow to get an “aha” moment from the audience. I’ve learned while growing up and being earmarked as a “creative” person, that there are whole loads of people who don’t think they are creative beings.

Boy, are they WRONG! Everyone is creative (quit shaking your head – yes, YOU, are creative!) in some unique way - whether you are a chemist, engineer, farmer, marketer, or writer. But that’s another article. Right, Andy Horner?

Anyway, this quote came as a result of this story:

I wrote an article on Pinterest.
A man, Tony Frank, emailed me with three things: praise, a Pinterest request, and an offer:

“I own a small business that develops custom cartoons to market ideas, most specifically gift planning to non-profit fundraisers like myself. If you ever find yourself needing a cartoon to convey an idea, lemme know. We'll work one up for ya, no charge. (”

Hmmm…I thought. And thought. And thought. For eight days before I replied:

“I just thought of a great way for you to help me.  I'm getting married in a few months and we are having an adult’s only reception EXCEPT for my fiancĂ©’s 10 nieces and nephews. I had been planning on putting crayons and coloring books on their reception tables to keep them entertained. But you know what would be even cooler?  If you could draw a black and white cartoon of my fiancĂ© and I for them to color in that day!  It would be something we could keep.”

And he did. And we used it. And it was a HIT!

Now most people would have only saw it for face value (a cartoon to use for my presentations) and stopped there. Most people think I have audacity for asking for more than the favor offered. Most people are followers. Not me.

I was presented an opportunity.
I thought about it.
I formed a vision.
I asked.
I received.
And they colored.

Do you think Tony is upset that I asked for something a little different than he originally presented to me? NO! He is now the inspiration of a quote, an article, and the colorful joy of ten children.

Here are the elements that I believe lead to creativity:
1. Think. Taking the time to view anything from another perspective can lead to a creative response. They don’t call it thinking outside the box for no reason. Just drop the box, that doesn’t matter, stretching your mind to think beyond the obvious, beyond what appears, is when the light bulbs get invented. What are you thinking about?
2. Environment. I think best in certain environments, usually coffeehouses. Shocker, I know! I’m creative in these places for two reasons; they make me happy and they eliminate distractions. The atmosphere boasts happiness: music, espresso machines, milk being steamed, and the aroma of coffee and specifically where I go, fresh baked liege waffles! The atmosphere omits distractions: television, John, Dunkin! The hardest element is figuring out what atmosphere you need to get your mind right for creative inspiration. Where is your distraction-free happy place?
3. Confidence. You must have the confidence and willingness to ask, to risk, and to open yourself up by sharing your ideas out loud. Many fear rejection more than they seek reward. I like reward. I’m confident in my thoughts and ideas REGARDLESS of others opinions of them. Some are nutty, some are pushy, some are bitchy, some are genius, and some are all of the above. I’m confident in asking for what I want (did you read Ask Kisser?) and I’m confident enough to risk my feelings in an effort to be creative. How confident are you in your ideas?
4. Experience. The more creative ideas you come up with the more they will continue to flow. Just like with any skill, the more you work at it and experience it, the more it will come naturally. If you hang around creative people they will rub off on you, they will inspire you and they will transform you. How are you experiencing creativity?

Shh…my very secret key to creativity is simple. Capture it! So often I don’t take the time to write ideas or thoughts down when they occur. And then, in a fleeting moment, they disappear. Thankfully, this one I caught and framed.

Want to see the fabulous cartoon by Lance Andrew? View it on my Sales Barista Facebook Page.

I’m your Double-Tall, Non-Fat, No-Whip Sales Barista. How may I help you help yourself?

Stephanie Melish, one of the few, hand-selected, Gitomer-Certified Speakers is the ONLY Double-Tall, Non-Fat, No-Whip Sales Barista in the world! Stephanie trains, sells, and speaks to companies and associations all over the country. To book Stephanie for your next event, please visit or contact the friendly folks at Buy Gitomer via email or by calling 704-333-1112.


  1. My God, this is just pure drivel. Your personal stories are as boring as your articles and provide no real word sales knowledge. You wouldn't last 30 minutes in our office where real sales take place.

    1. Sounds like a challenge. 30 minutes in this guy's office, Stephanie? Please Youtube it. I'd like to see him eat crow.

    2. Caelan - I'd love to but I don't know whose office to go to!

  2. Hey "anonymous" asshole. Your comments are of ZERO value and you post on this blog like a poltroon!!!

  3. @John and @Anonymous
    Both your comments are innapropriate to this forum. The whole idea of Stephanie's column is to help. If you don't think she is succeding in her mission, help her by suggesting better ways to get her point across. Be creative!

  4. I hear the voice of Stewie from "The Family Guy" when I read anonymous' comment.... perhaps there's a connection.. maybe annonymous has a full diaper?

  5. Stephanie:

    I really enjoyed this! Super cute idea to take up cartoonist's offer in a nontraditional way. (Might have to use it myself--if he ever decides to pop the question!)

  6. I like to read ideas on creativity. Thanks for sharing yours. That drawing sounds like a great idea for both the guests and bridal party.

  7. Draw a cartoon "of I"? Incredible poor grammar.

  8. Oops...incredibly poor.

  9. Hi Stephanie. I love your articles. They inspire, motivate and energize. Keep up the great work!

  10. Thanks Stephanie,

    I agree with the right environment and being creative. Sometimes my ideas flow and sometimes I can stare for hours at my work.
    I love it when my mind is alive with creative ideas. I haven't found the right environment yet but by tracking my environment when the ideas flow, I can finally find what works best.

    Thank you for the idea and inspiring article.


    1. Jeri - Let me know when you find it! It took me a while, but once I did, it's been very helpful!

  11. Great article. Most people only talk about theory and concept. I find it very difficult to apply that to the real world sometimes. Your story telling of real life and the lessons you find are extremely valuable and worth my read every time. I often visit your blog the most out of all the articles in the Sales Caffeine.

    1. Thank you Internet Medicine Man! Love your creative handle.