Creative Advice You Need to Hear


One of my favorite writers has always been John Gardner, author of Grendel, October Light, Mickelsson’s Ghosts, and others.  His books, The Art of Fiction, On Becoming a Novelist, and On Moral Fiction are required reading for serious writers.  In his book The Art of Fiction he gives some advice that, although it’s primarily for writers, it’s just as true for other creative endeavors.  In a world of puffy, cheesy creative quotes, this is some of the best, most realistic, and encouraging advice I’ve ever heard:

The Power of a Leader’s Vision


What are the most important attributes you need as a leader?   The Creative Group did a poll that indicated that 34% of executives felt strategic vision is the most essential quality for successful leadership.  That poll was taken a few years ago, but I think it’s still worth thinking about today.  In the poll, advertising and marketing executives were asked, “In your opinion, which single quality among the following is the most essential for effective leadership?”  Their responses:

Goals Are Dreams with Deadlines


“Goals in writing are dreams with deadlines.”  -Brian Tracy, personal success coach.  Whenever I feel my dreams losing steam, I always think of Booker T. Washington. Born a slave in 1858, his childhood years were anything but pleasant. The family’s farm cabin had no glass windows, and any opening to let in light also let in the freezing wind in the winter.  The floor of the cabin was dirt. The life of slave was back-breaking work that started before the sun came up and continued long after it went down again. His childhood was also lived out during the Civil War, which created turmoil, fear, and uncertainty in the lives of Southern slaves and added additional pressure to an already hopeless state of affairs.  But in spite of that desperate situation,

Want to Be More Creative? Try Boredom


Looking back over the history of my ideas, the best ones didn’t happen surrounded by a creative team, in a cool environment, or working for a great organization. The ugly truth is – while I believe in all those things – my best ideas usually happen when I’m bored to death.  Listening to a really bad sermon at church, driving across town, waiting for a movie to start, or sitting in the doctor’s waiting room. For whatever reason, when I’m bored, my mind starts to

The Power of Solving Problems


Taking your eyes off yourself is the first step to making your dream happen in life. That’s why one of the greatest keys to becoming successful is to do something for someone else. Problem solving may be the single most important task you will ever undertake. Solve someone else’s problem and it will change your life. Want to be rich? Become more valuable to others. Want to move up in the company? Become indispensable. Solving problems is what makes you

Is “Occupy Wall Street’s” Strategy Working?


Whatever you think about the Occupy Wall Street Movement, it’s instructive to take a look at their strategy.  Today, anyone who needs to engage the larger culture to share an important message needs to think seriously about issues like perception, platforms, competition, timing, passion, and more.  At our company, Cooke Pictures, our first job is to help our clients get noticed in a crowded, cluttered marketplace of ideas.  Then, it’s to get that target audience to embrace or act on those ideas.  From that perspective, here’s a few

When Strategy Kills


I’m a big believer in strategy.  In fact, the case could be made that most organizations fail because they lack a real strategy for success.  After all, plenty of leadership experts have taught that success doesn’t happen by accident.  Great planning is critical for the realization of any project or organization.  However, I’ve encountered numerous businesses, churches, and nonprofits that were in bondage to strategy.  They feel that strategy is so critical, they don’t dare make a move without it.  As a result, they miss great opportunities to act.  Strategy is a powerful tool for long term success, but the truth is -

The Miracle Theater Takes Out Another National Ad

The Miracle Theater in Pigeon Forge, TN, continues it’s very expensive advertising campaign, promoting their petition “standing up” for Jesus Christ. The AP estimated their original USA Today full page ad cost nearly $100,000, and today while I traveled through Ohio, another ad appeared. At least today’s ad was more of a statement, rather than an attempt to sell tickets, as I commented on in my earlier post. I appreciate their boldness and their desire to honor God. The question (as it nearly always is on this blog) is one of strategy.