3 Important Things I Learned About Creativity from Fishing in Key West

I went deep sea fishing in Key West while speaking at a Christian Vision global conference at Duck Key. A  few of us went out on a fishing boat early in the morning. While you’re out there waiting on the fish to bite, you have a lot of time to think, so naturally, I started thinking about creativity, influence, and producing media programming that impacts audiences. Here’s 3 thoughts that came to me while I was waiting for that awesome fish in the photo:

1. It’s not how you want to fish, it’s how the fish want to bite.  You can have the best boat at the marina and the finest rod and reel in the world, but if you’re not where the fish are, it doesn’t matter. When it comes to creating media programming, it’s not about you, it’s about the audience. If you don’t get on their wavelength, your hook will come up empty every time. Too many producers create a movie or TV series and expect the fish to come to them. Forget it. The fish will only show up for what they’re interested in. Figure that out, and your chances of success shoot way up.

2. Get the best crew.   This morning we had a first rate captain and first mate. While the captain piloted the boat to the best location in the ocean, his #2 man was getting the rods ready, preparing the bait, and setting the stage for great fishing. Likewise, when you’re creating media, it’s not about equipment, it’s about people. Too many organizations today obsess over great equipment and then hire incompetent or inexperienced people to use that equipment. Start with the best people first. I’d much rather have a great crew and poor equipment than great equipment and a poor crew. Even with the best gear, without the knowledge of the guys on the boat today, I’d still be out there without catching a thing.

3. Know when it’s time to move on.   Our first location and last location were great fishing. #2 and #3 locations were dry holes. But we didn’t linger where the fish weren’t biting. A great captain knows when it’s time to find another fishing spot. Likewise, too many media leaders refuse to recognize and give up on bad ideas. If nobody likes the idea you’re pitching, or there’s no funding or interest from anyone, maybe it’s time to move to your next idea. Ideas are a lot like fish. When they’re bad, they stink – and the only remedy is a new idea. I know producers who are still out there pitching shows or movies that no one is interested in. But they just can’t move on.

Remember this – nothing is worse than a good idea – if it’s the only one you’ve got.  Always be ready to pitch something new. Learn to read the warning signs that tell you it’s time to move on.

I’m going snorkeling tomorrow. Can’t wait to see what ideas hit me on the reef…

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  1. that’s a nice fish, that pink one. My grandfather took me to Islamorada when I was 12, Bonefishing. Remember it like yesterday, yet have never been back.

  2. Good stuff (as usual), Phil. Now, do me a favor and get some sun on those white legs! The glare almost blinded me!

  3. Thanks so much for this post! So simple but so effective and true. I had a conversation with the owner of a marketing company today and he said to me, “It’s what’s in your heart and mind that gives you your skills and makes you who you are, with that you can work with gear that’s 3 or 4 years old and still make great stuff.”

    I am at a place in business where I need to buy equipment instead of borrowing it all the time because its not always accessible and it takes time away from productivity by having to drive across town to get it. With trying to get the gear I need, I have been contemplating what to buy and the cost. I have been thinking if I should do a small loan or just use the cash from projects now to get it, but risk cash flow. What are your thoughts concerning things like this when it comes to your business Phil?

    1. That’s a big question. I’ve done both, and right now, I’m in a “farm it out” mode. Technology changes so quickly, that unless you’re using the equipment on a daily basis, I don’t think it’s worth it. We’ve had 2 Avids, many tape machines of different formats, a machine room, and more. But since everything has gone digital, our machine room is pretty worthless now. Key stuff like a DSLR, a light kit or audio gear is good. But anything bigger like a 4K camera or beyond, I’m just going to rent when we need it.

      1. Thanks for taking the time to reply back. Not sure if I would of been patient enough during the tape machine days. I think the biggest but best investment will be glass since it seems to hold its value.
        Just curious, do you think it would be better to go with a DSLR or Blackmagic Pocket Cinema with a Metabones Speed Booster since it shoots Prores422(HQ) or CinemaDNG RAW for color grading? I have heard thoughts on both, but would love to hear yours.

          1. LOL well on that note, hit up an In&Out for me, Double Double Animal Style! Before you eat it though you have to look up and say this ones for Erik 🙂

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