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Feb. 14, 2022

Finding That Creative Spark...Again

As creatives, we've all been there. Maybe you're in the middle of a project and lost the energy to move forward or just finished some work that didn't live up to your expectations.


In this first episode, host Nick Harauz walks you through what it looks like to find that creative spark...again. Through a series of four interviews, we listen to industry-leading education and post-production artists as they discuss personal stories and discoveries from their creative journey. 

This episode’s special guests include:

Transcript

Nick Harauz:

Some of my fondest memories as it comes to creativity is when I was a child. I remember feeling 100% creatively free. When I was able to go out with my neighborhood friends, we would go on bicycles and ride through paths under the Don Valley ravine, which is in Toronto, and had hours and hours of fun exploring, and also getting in trouble. This creativity also showed up at home as an only child, I remember watching the movie "The Secret to My Success", and then reenacting it in the basement as a 10-11 year old boy, I had a tape recorder where I tried to recite line for line from the film, of course, unsuccessfully, and then playing it back to my parents, as I thought it deserved the Academy Award in my mind, I asked my colleague, Ben Brownlee at Boris effects to also chime in. So what's that like for you, Ben? What is? What is your memory of being 100%? Creatively free as a child,

Ben Brownlee:

this is actually a tough one, because I'm not sure I ever was 100% creatively free as a child, I think there was always something like a little, like a little voice kind of saying, you know, is, is this actually something that that is any good. There's always been a, a kind of container, to any sort of creativity. And it's, that's something that I've fought against for for a long, long time. So I think being creatively free as an adult, is actually a lot easier than being creatively free as a child in in many ways.

Nick Harauz:

To me I, as a kid, I was had those moments of freedom. And as an adult, in my work, I tried to go back to that state, or that state of freedom, where I wasn't held to creative restrictions.

Ben Brownlee:

I kind of see that. Because I suppose there's, there's, there was never any real end goal to or expectation of what you had to make, I had a lot of responsibilities as a kid that a kid probably shouldn't have had. Like, I came from a family where, where my mom was really sick. So there was a lot of pressure put on to try to, to kind of help help with the family in that way. So there wasn't, there wasn't a lot of time for kind of outdoor activities, most of the stuff that I was doing was inside. And I think that fed into a some sort of limitation of ideas as well. Because your world suddenly is is rather small. And it's only when you can realize that there is actually like a bigger, a bigger world out there. There's there's more stuff than you could possibly imagine. For me, that's where the creativity is coming from. It's it's being able to almost have the luxury of experimentation and finding what works for you what makes you excited. And I think that's, that's something that you know, something that's something that I've been trying to explore, consciously and unconsciously for for all of my professional life.

Nick Harauz:

This is something I share very deeply with Ben, that ability to explore your own creativity, and find what works for you. As we've just finished the first month of 2022. And we also approached my birthday, which will actually be the date this podcast is released. I can't help but reflect on how the pandemic has affected my own creativity, and also how I tried to find that creative spark over and over again. To explore this further, I invited four professionals to join me in this exploration of finding that spark, and what that means to them through a series of questions and their answers are now intertwined into this podcast. Hi, my name is Nick Harauz, and welcome to the first episode of Flow State: Stories From the Creative Process. In this show, we'll explore from industry experts through several creative fields including photography, design, education, and of course production and post where they share what they have learned from their collective life experiences. My first guest is Joey Korenman. He's the founder at School of Motion. Every day he wakes up and gets to help 1000s of aspiring motion designers learn their craft and develop the skills necessary to have a career. I've seen Joey teach quite a few times at Adobe MAX. And it was a pleasure to learn from him. This year, he's continuing to work and develop amazing content, using his cutting edge platform for teaching these creative skills online. I was curious, what does creativity mean to you when you hear it?

Joey Korenman:

I love that question. And I'm a big Seth Godin fan. And he kind of defines it a little differently than most people creativity, really, I think it's it's just the act of making art. And I don't mean art, like a painting, or a people NFT. I mean, taking ideas that have already existed, and maybe have existed since time immemorial, and recombining them into something new that is uniquely yours. And that could be anything obvious examples. But I like creativity, like Elon Musk, the way he approaches, the problem of self driving vehicles is kind of a novel solution compared to the way other people have done it. That is creativity. And that is art to me. So creativity is really, it's kind of the skill of opening your brain, to the collective unconscious, where ideas come from, and letting them come into your brain and then just put two of them together, and then you've been creative.

Nick Harauz:

I love that definition for myself and other creators, I found the conversation goes more towards, like you've mentioned, like Elon Musk, and problem solving and how much creativity plays a role in that, and being able to see what other people are providing in terms of a market, and then choosing a different way of either providing a better solution from what already exists.

Ashley Kennedy:

So I actually think a lot of people sort of confuse creativity with artistry, and, and I, I am artistic, I draw I paint. I've always been heavily involved in theater men, of course, I'm a filmmaker and a video editor. And I think these are all just valuable and awesome ways that I can express myself like artistically,

Nick Harauz:

that second voice you heard is Ashley Kennedy, and she's a managing staff instructor at LinkedIn learning, you've definitely heard her voice if you've taken a video editing course, on that channel or through Linda. She's a passionate educator, creative thinker, and avid speaker and performer, she continues to share her thoughts on what creativity was like for her when she was young,

Ashley Kennedy:

I actually think creativity is problem solving. It's finding innovative ways to bring relevant and and novel solutions to problems. I think you can be a very creative person, but not really have artistic ability. And you can also be very artistic and, and not exactly creative, because you haven't actually served a purpose or solve the problem. But of course, you can be both you can be you can create amazing art that speaks to a purpose. And I think that's a beautiful thing.

Nick Harauz:

Speaking on the lines of creativity, basically, when we're younger, before the age of 11. There's this almost like creative freedom that we all have. And I was curious if you could remember, like a moment in your childhood, that reflected this, like time of like, unlimited creativity.

Joey Korenman:

I remember being a little kid and I have a younger sister and younger brother that are two and four years younger than me. So we were very close growing up. And because I was the oldest, I think I sort of let a lot of the stuff that they got into later. And so I was always obsessed with making videos and stuff like that. And I remember, so we're Jewish. And so the big holiday every year is Passover. And so of course, I said I want to make a video for Passover, my whole family's gonna come over, I'm gonna have a captive audience. And so my brother and sister and I had these like hand puppets, basically. And we made a video about the 10 plagues. And I remember basically having a production meeting with them. And I was probably I don't know, nine, you know, and I was talking to a seven year old, a five year old, how are we going to do the effect of the Red Sea parting when Moses puts the staff and we came up with, oh, we'll take some bedsheets, we'll get two blue ones. And then I'll be on this side where the camera can't see you. And you'll be on the other side. And we'll pull them at the same time. Like, and it was just, it was so clever. And I remember my parents being really impressed that we were able to come up with anything approximating a special effect you couldn't edit. So you, you have someone stand in front of the camera, hit record, and then stop it then they leave you hit record again, they disappeared. And I just remember thinking like, this is amazing because you you sit down and you squint your eyes until an idea comes and it like and you never know where the hell it comes from. You have no control over when it appears in your mind. And so I think that was really the the gateway drug for me. It was sort of that kind of that kind of stuff that we did all the time we made I was the guy that made movies for every single project. And so to me, I mean, that's interesting because I, I'm thinking about the answer I just gave about creativity. The end result wasn't very good. You know, it's more about the ingenuity involved. But to me, that's the whole game. That's, that's the reason I got into video and editing and motion design is because it's like a puzzle that you have to solve with creativity.

Jennifer Jager:

So I'm a child of the 80s. And there was always creativity in my house, I have sisters, and maybe I'm being stereotypical, but it wasn't like we were in a big sports house, we really weren't painting and drawing, I was putting on plays, I would be writing a story. I mean, I was always, always always creating.

Nick Harauz:

This is Jennifer Jagger, a creative director for Plum Productions. She's produced segments for many rural renowned corporations like Bentley motors, cotton, Incorporated, and Tao building solutions. On top of this, on the side, she runs a YouTube channel with 100,000 plus subscribers and counting.

Jennifer Jager:

And we weren't allowed to have a Nintendo like, we really were just like, my mom was like, here's your crayons or your watercolor paints, you know, here's the kitchen table and just go for it. So there really isn't like, one individual moment that I can remember feeling super creative. It was just a constant thing at my house. And I would say that of all of my siblings, I definitely was the most interested in that kind of play that creative play. And in, in our adult lives, I'm definitely the sister who's in the most creative field for sure, but I've always kind of been that way.

Nick Harauz:

Ashley Kennedy also share some similar sentiments to Jen and Joey.

Ashley Kennedy:

I think creativity as a child is the ability to imagine free of boundaries, free of limitations. I mean, you can play make believe, and you really don't place those real live restrictions on the reality that you create. I mean, I remember playing entire neighborhood games of make believe where the grass was lava and the dragon lived in the garage, and you concocted lava proof Seacraft from skateboards and sleds, and I think it's moments like those that where you just use whatever you had at your disposal, and no one thought anybody's ideas were silly, any idea that you had, everybody just went with? I think that that's that in childhood really did produce some of those 100% creative moments. And I think that's what you, you know, as an adult, sort of try to tap into when you need to sort of wake up your creative brain.

Nick Harauz:

I couldn't help but think about, like the act of improv, you know, like, how second city does it where even in their training, you go with this, like, certain type of flow with with

Ashley Kennedy:

words like, yes, and,

Nick Harauz:

yes, and and and, and then contribute. There's never really a no, or that stops that process. And I think that there's, I see those parallels, you know, when kids play that like freedom of imagination and adding to the overall process that you're working in,

Jesse Newman:

I don't have like specific memories, but I can tell it when I was in the zone.

Nick Harauz:

Next up is Jesse Newman, who is an artist using Visual Effects tools. When I had to Jesse's website, there's something refreshing about it in a section he calls connecting the dots. Through it, he reflects back on his 25 years of professional work, as well as his personal projects that preceded his career. And from it, he draws patterns from connections throughout the work,

Jesse Newman:

just by looking at old pictures, specifically, I see myself my drawing, I can tell that I've completely absorbed that I am completely focused in in that moment, you know, tapping to some kind of inspiration, or whatever you want to call it,

Nick Harauz:

As an adult, do you try to tap into that state. Like when we we talked a little bit about effects. But in the overall process, do you? Is that something that you try to replicate? Or how has it changed for you as an adult? How do you feel it has?

Jesse Newman:

Well, in many ways, it hasn't. I mean, I see echoes of that. And the type of work I gravitate toward today, at least in the sense that I continued to want to try to find that creative space where requires me to come up with a solution for typically, the projects I'm describing in this case would be ones where it's it's not defined yet what the visuals will be, you know, it could be something very abstract, like it has to be the radio frequency of an alien spaceship or something of that nature, where it's very nebulously defined. And I like those because in the sense that as a child, when you're drawing, you can't go wrong. If you want to draw a dog, you'll draw a dog and it's no one's gonna say, Oh, you did it wrong. And when you're coming up with something that doesn't exist, it's very freeing to so I try. I like to find the projects that kind of bring me back to the point where there's very few parameters of boundaries. There's obviously things in this case like an alien wave form, for example, that would, you'd want to have some semblance that people would recognize as imagery that relates to that. But basically, it's pretty wide open. I think I have, over the years identified, What I enjoyed most is kind of tapping back into those moments when it was pure creativity.

Jennifer Jager:

I don't think it has, I think I found a way to make money at it, which is pretty remarkable. In a really like, practical, tangible way. You know, I didn't grow up to be some sort of artist, I'm more like, I'm a business person, I'm an entrepreneur, but I'm still using my creativity in my career. I think that's great. You know, I don't really think about that every day. But you know, when I do look back, I'm like, Yeah, I can't believe I can't believe that I'm, I'm really making a living at this. And it's funny, because when I was a kid, my dad had gotten this, this new computer. And I remember, it came with like this whole stack of CD ROMs. And there was this one, and I don't remember what it was called. But it was like animation software where you could make characters walk across the screen, and you could use the microphone in the computer to make them talk and, and I used to love this thing, and I would spend hours playing with it. And I forgotten all about it. And then in my adult life, my sister, like she just, we were talking about my career. And she said, Remember, used to spend hours playing that game. And it's so funny, because it's literally what I'm doing everyday now, professionally. And it's just wild to think that, that I'm still doing what I was doing as a kid, but now I'm making a living at it.

Ashley Kennedy:

Well, you know, I think as we grow up, too often people might be scared of offering a silly or a child like idea. And so they might hold back, this might then eventually produce difference in the way that you think we're not every option is explored. And that's unfortunate. You know, because I am in a creative field, I, I guess I do try to often teleport myself back to what it was like to have that totally creative mindset and lift any either self imposed or otherwise imposed restrictions on, on my creative thinking. But I think that is the difference. When you're a kid there, there are no restrictions, you have this just magical world of possibilities. And when you're an adult, I think that you have to consciously train yourself to re enter that place of freedom you can get there, it is absolutely possible to tap into that. But creativity is this muscle that you have to train, you have to exercise you have to flex in order to really break through just some of some of these restrictions and limitations that we find ourselves in. As as we've grown up.

Joey Korenman:

You know, I'm very fortunate because I've, I've managed to find my way into a career where I still get to mostly do that same thing. Now at different points in my career, I've had to deploy that creative muscle in very targeted ways. So when you're a kid, and I'm also a musician, I played drums for most of my life. And I remember being in like my high school band. And we would write these absolutely ridiculous songs that no one would like, but we liked them. And it just felt like this free expression. And then you grow up and you get a job. And it's like, okay, I need you to use that creative talent, you have to sell toilet paper. And a lot of people get turned off by that actually always enjoyed the challenge of like, How can I sell we used to do with my studio in Boston that I ran for a while, we used to do a lot of work for progressive, the car insurance company. And actually, you could get pretty creative with how you would sort of sell such a boring kind of esoteric product. So I think the main difference is just having to aim my creativity much more specifically than I had to when I was a kid. But I've kind of embraced that. It's never, it's never really been a downside.

Nick Harauz:

If you could talk to me about some moments where you have had trouble finding the creative spark.

Jennifer Jager:

I feel like when I lose my creative spark is when I am under some sort of time pressure. I feel like deadlines can be really the killer of creativity. And during the pandemic for us. There were no more client projects for a while. And it's actually funny because that's when my youtube channel took off. And so I really just had to do this pivot of what might life look like for the next year or two if we don't have client projects, and I only have this YouTube thing. It was a little freeing. I mean what it was, to me it was like an incubator, like what a gift, you know, to have six months where you're just you've got nothing to do but work on this new idea that you've been kind of half in and half out for years. I felt like it really was energizing and exciting, and it worked out great. And then in perfect timing, we, you know, got back into in person work. I live in Florida and everything's just picked back up in the business. But that YouTube whole thing I created is still living there. And it's amazing. I think at first it was paralyzing. And then I started to see what an opportunity it was, and to have the time to

Nick Harauz:

have the time to do it too. Yeah, versus, which is a really, I think, kind of like the ultimate pause in some ways. You know, for a lot of creatives, you didn't mention, one of the big things was a deadline seemed to be like a connection of what causes a creative spark to, let's say, sizzle away. Have you noticed any other connections besides that,

Jennifer Jager:

sometimes you just get a project, okay? And you're like, I'm out of ideas for this. Like, it might be a client that you worked with so many times, and that you're feel like you're just doing the same video over and over. And you just need a fresh perspective, or you just have a new client that you're excited about, but you don't know where to take it or they're asking you for something, you're just I don't know how to make this work. You know, for me, what I typically do is I look for other inspiration, I start paying a lot more attention to other commercials I'm seeing I'm browsing the web or YouTube to see what other people are doing. And I'm not like copycatting, but I'm just, I just I'm always looking for something cool. The other thing I do is I play with the tools that I have, like I start playing the what if game, okay, I mean Apple Motion. I know I can do this. But what if I click this and what if I do that, and I just give myself the time to just try different things. And then all sudden, I've created a new effect I've never seen or had never thought of before. So you know, sometimes if I'm more in a pinch, I start browsing, you know, other other content to try to get ideas. And then if I have more time to break myself out of that. I'm on creative space. I like headspace I feel like I'm in I just look at the tools that I have. And I just start pushing buttons I've never pushed before and trying to try to get an idea that way.

Joey Korenman:

You know, I think a lot of times, for me anyway, I find that creative spark when there's a goal. If I'm writing music, maybe the goal is I'm going to release a five song EP like there's a very concrete thing that I'm aiming at, it's a lot easier to stay motivated for me, I think when the pandemic hit, and there was a lot of uncertainty at first with school motion with my business and with my team and stuff like that. There was a goal, the goal was survive, right. And that was like every creative every business out there. In March 2020. Their goal was just hang on, right? Hang on until this is over when you put a box around creatives. Sometimes that's helpful. I think in most cases, it's actually easier to be creative within a box. And when that box gets obliterated by some black swan event like this, well, now what? Before COVID A lot of the way that my life works, my wife and I live in Florida, we have three kids, we homeschool them, I run a business that I started, and it's a fully remote business, we don't have an office, everybody's all over the place. And those two decisions are directly related to a goal that my wife and I have, which is we want to travel a lot with our family. We want our kids to see the world. And so that creates a box around every decision that we make in our lives. Because even in terms of like, where should we live, what we need to live near major airport, how big of a house can we afford, and then something like COVID comes and it says, ah, that goal, you're either going to have to throw it out or modify it greatly or put it on hold for a few years. So now what takes place? Well, there's nothing now there's no constraint anymore. There's no box. A lot of people don't realize consciously what it is they're actually making their goal. And I realized this early in my career actually, I wrote an article about it years ago, how I had a goal that I set when I was probably 20. I'm going to start a studio, every decision I made got me closer to that. I got that goal when I was probably 32 and then realized, oh shoot, I probably should have updated my goals at some point because I don't actually like this. Right. And so now I do that regularly. And I always like to know where I'm headed and look up and say, Am I still headed in the direction I like and it's gotten harder, that's all with the pandemic, you know, just like everybody it's been like, Alright, so what's important now,

Jesse Newman:

there's, there's been times where I've done something that the client hasn't liked in once, like more versions of it. And sometimes that can be I'm thinking about one time in particular, that was I thought it was pretty, pretty cool and it wasn't received. The first reaction wasn't so positive. And in that case, it kind of motivated me to to even go to go harder. There. There are other times where when the feedback comes back where it feels like someone else as being perhaps needlessly arbitrary and some of the creative decisions, that's, that's when my creative excitement usually deflates a bit, you know, when it's becomes somebody else's kind of work, and then you just feel more like the technician, I think that's probably the times where it has affected me most when I'm not really being utilized for the problem solving, whether that's creatively or process wise. There's a lot of opportunities within the technical side of things to be very creative with, like a problem solving. But it's more of the times where you feel like you're just pushing buttons. And that's the time but it's really hard to, for me to feel motivated to put something else out there.

Nick Harauz:

Yeah, I want to unpack a few things that you just said, because I'm like, in total sync with you here. One was that feeling of being a button presser, you know, to a client versus someone who's involved in the creative problem solving or that process, the type of work that I've done in the past has been more corporate, where one example would be that, yes, we were, we had a creative sync between the person that hired me. But then as the process went further and further down the line, different people from higher up, decided to make comments on the project that cause it to steer in a completely different direction than the person that hired me. And it's a very hard pill to swallow and then continue to work on a project that has a completely different identity, from what its original attention was and what made you excited about it in the first place.

Jesse Newman:

I have to say one of the most important things I've found as far as like developing creativity for myself is doing these personal projects. And that is when all that is stripped away. I mean, there's you literally can't go wrong. And there's something so free about that, you know, I'm working on the rebirth of guy video. Now, you know, I made this video about 10 years ago, the the, the potential to invent the storyline as I'm going so liberating that and so I think that that's a really good antidote for those times of your life where you feel like you're just a button pusher, we've all kind of had to do it. Most of us, I would assume, just don't get to go to work and do whatever you want me the way to recharge, it has just been to take the same tools that I learned in network, go home, and then just, you know, let your imagination run wild. Well,

Ashley Kennedy:

I work a lot on documentary projects. And the thing about documentaries is that you have an enormous shooting ratio, where you're combing through 50 hours of footage, and you're creating a an a one hour long product or more. So there's no script, you are literally crafting the narrative as you go. And it is a wonderful empowering process, a documentary that I worked on, I shot the documentary, I edited it. And then I also used that to create some courses for LinkedIn learning, and editing a 30 minute documentary by myself, over the course of several months, while I'm actually also creating a course about the process of editing the documentary, at times did feel lonely, and I, I became too close to it. And it was a it sort of locked me in to this internal perspective, when I'm working from home and have my collaborators are in a different part of the world. It requires just planning an organization to put it in a in a format that is easy to consume and give notes on and to organize screenings and to go through the process of hosting various feedback sessions. And I think there was a point within that process where, where I didn't do it as much. And I it just you just sort of like second guessing yourself, start rethinking all of your decisions, and you don't realize that you get there until you're there. And then you just got to kind of take a deep breath, step back and say, You know what, I need to shake things up, I need to get outside perspective, I need to show this to people I trust, and see where I'm at the sea of footage that you're swimming through. When you're when you're doing something like a documentary, you can feel like you're drowning, and it's just important to come up for air and get help when you need it.

Nick Harauz:

First of all, wow. So you're trying to make an amazing documentary. Right, like a final product. And then the final product is also part of a course. Yeah, these are being developed at the same time. You know, having edited some long form projects myself, I wanted to tap into the fact that not only are you like going through all of this footage to try to find these raw moments that you connect with, based on your overall time But as you watch them over and over again, in some ways, as an editor, you lose perspective. Like, you've watched all the raw footage, now it's down to 60 minutes, and you've probably hundreds of hours have been sunk into you watching frame after frame. And you're just, there is no objectivity for you. It's just subjective. But I think it takes tremendous effort to to then show it again and try to find or continue to craft that story. And it brings me to my own like learnings with with Walter merch, and how he was so specific about writing down your raw thoughts whenever you saw the footage the first time. I really thank you for sharing that with me because I there's so many little antidotes there. For I think that people can can learn from and continue our conversation. Where do you think creativity lives?

Ashley Kennedy:

I do think that, that creativity, and creative thinking is truly something that that anyone can do. I think some people who just you know more naturally have more curiosity or wonder about the world may wear their creativity more openly than other people. Some people maybe through the nature of their work or relationships, or through the repetition, or busyness of daily tasks, they may not think that they're creative. But creativity is something that can actually be learned, you can train yourself to do it. You can explore creativity through play or by like, you know, forcing yourself to combine two different ideas into something new. Through invention, many times you have to get out of your comfort zone. To do that you need to watch news that you wouldn't normally watch, you need to talk to people whose viewpoint is very different from your own, you just need to kind of put yourself in a place where you're going to have new thoughts and embrace it. And creativity lives in all of those places.

Nick Harauz:

I continue with Jennifer, Jesse and Joey looking at where creativity lives.

Jennifer Jager:

I mean, for me, creativity lives. In a space where I'm feeling relaxed, you know, that, to me is my ideal creativity mindset. It's being specifically in my space in which I'm comfortable physically, like my office in front of my computer. And it's having the time and the focus, to really try to create something new. And I think it's in a place where I'm not feeling over scheduled. As a business owner, you know, I've got almost every night of the week, I've got some events, I have to go to where I'm on three nonprofit boards, and I do feel very stretched thin a lot of the time. And so it's really in those kind of lulls in my schedule where I'm really feel like I'm hitting on all cylinders, and I have the the freedom to just play around a little bit.

Nick Harauz:

I love that. I love that. That place of feeling relaxed. I think it's also where ideas have the ability to flow. And I want to go back to something that you said earlier where one place with that creative spark sizzles is with time. And there's something that infuriates me as a video editor that I was told when I was younger, and I think that a lot of people are still told, and that is that the video project is always due yesterday, I I feel that this is so non serving to people, because it's impossible, how can you have a video project that was due yesterday, there's no way for you to catch up on it. And it also adds like a form of anxiety and stress. I'm personally speaking, that's not required, I get this idea that content needs to be created and you need to see it produced. But it's almost like you're you're putting a creative or let's say someone that in the terms of video editing, or motion graphics are at a disadvantage because they're always trying to catch up with something that they never will be able to catch up to.

Jennifer Jager:

I agree and I feel like clients do themselves a disservice by by putting those expectations on people and you do yourself a disservice by not pushing back. I feel like I do have my creative work. When I'm like brushing my teeth, or washing my hair because I'm always thinking and, and that's where I'm coming up with ideas. I write so many scripts in my head in the shower, you would be shocked. Like that's just when you know you just but I guess that's true because those are the moments of the day where I really just have time that I'm on autopilot doing whatever it is I'm doing driving in the car in silence or, or you know, just getting dressed in the morning where I have. I can work on those things. And then when it comes time and I need to type out that script, my fingers just fly because it's already there. There's something thing to be said for not letting your work like creep into your off times, like I do think there needs to be a balance. But sometimes it's just how you have to do it and how how it works and comes together without email in front of you without these distractions,

Jesse Newman:

there are things I do that help to cultivate that creative space, and one that has become, you know, to the forefront in the last year and a half has been boundaries, children, and with them, you know, being bring your kids to work here, it was kind of it was a bit of a challenge at first, because, you know, I had always said to myself, I can't get enough of these guys, you know, like, you know, I could have a little bit of a break, I had to come up with a comfort level of putting in some of those parameters. Because the creative space I think, is enhanced, sometimes just by for me being by myself. And I think that it's just feeling like you can work for a few hours uninterrupted. You know, another thing I have found helpful is to walk away to get some fresh air, I have found that I have these times in my day that I'm sort of required to, to get a pick up the kids from school or something like that. And oftentimes, it's when I'm driving there, the solution hits me, it's kind of been evading me all morning. And so I think it's important to kind of mix it up and break out of your routine.

Nick Harauz:

I think the pandemic and you know, a forced parenting staycation is a lot to take in, especially when you're used to creating by yourself that definitely throw something out of balance, there's something about being alone, and being able to practice that allows for creativity flow. But then there's a balance side to that, where you've also got to step away from that get away from your computer, or your technology or a piece of paper that you're writing on. And ideas, surfaces resonate away from the mechanisms that are used to actually create the end product.

Jesse Newman:

Yeah, it's kind of counterintuitive. When we're actually on the computer and After Effects. That's just like, the way I see a lot of times, that's just like the final part, the final touches. I mean, a lot of times for, you know, for a lot of these projects, you know, there's pre production, you can have to get the ahead of time, I think it does help to to step away. And it for me personally, one of the strategies that has helped us just with the kids at home so much in the last year, I had to come to terms with all my own guilt being okay with, you know, saying, Hey, I can't play right now. And realizing that it's actually good for the kids, I mean, they need to be able to be by themselves to kind of foster relationships between themselves as well as to see their own time as valuable and learn to cultivate time but themselves at the same time, it's important for them to to see that I value my own time for my creative space. And that that's something that they should value in their own time as well. I don't want them to grow up and not follow their dreams, you know, I want them to put to tell their kids, hey, you know, I need some time. And so on a practical level, they're allowed to generally come in here, but then I'll say, you know, just don't say the word Dad, you can sit next to me, you can draw, you can sing, we can both listen to music, we can be next to each other, but that is working. I've come to realize over the years, that it really is more about the moments than about be accessible 24/7 Because their desire is insatiable, you could you could spend five hours with them come upstairs and start working, though five minutes later, will you play with me in the basement, you know, it's not ever gonna be enough. So the tools have been around for a long time to communicate an idea, an idea digitally, if anyone is out there and kind of hesitating to start something because they're waiting for the next version of this or next version of that. Just keep in mind that whatever versions out 10 years from now is going to blow everything away. That's so cool today that you see on LinkedIn or whatever, you know, if you want to communicate an idea, I would say not to wait, you know, just to kind of dive into it and every sort of big project to start with that first step and just kind of see where it leads. You have to what do you want to communicate? What do you want to share with people?

Joey Korenman:

I'm a big believer in this idea that you have a finite amount of mental energy when you wake up. And once you've used it up, it's gone for the day, especially when you're making difficult decisions which being creative. Typically, that's like the whole game is make difficult decision after a difficult decision. If you've done that, and you're out of ammo, you have to stop for the day. It's not going to come back and you're not going to be doing good work. And that's one of the reasons also I'm a big fan of this book. It's by Brian Tracy called Eat Got frog. And one of the key points of that book is do the hardest thing, you have to do that day first thing in the morning, because that's going to use up a bunch of that mental energy that you have. But that's the most important thing. And so if you save it till the end of the day, you don't want to do it, it's like writing your quarterly tax check to the government or something, you just don't it's painful to do it, you probably won't do it. So it's about energy management, and then physical energy to

Nick Harauz:

Cool, I like that perspective of trying to get the most difficult thing done first, in the way that I manage my day, I'll have like a list of 1000 things to do in a morning, when I look at the overall list, I'd become overwhelmed, right, because it seems like so much is what I'll actually do is try to get rid of the things that take me two minutes or less to get done. And then I'll get the big like one of the big tasks that I don't want to do done, it's almost like building some confidence before it's like, okay, this is not going to be as bad as I anticipated to be. In certain cases, there's like, almost like a resistance in the middle of a project that you might have. Because you need to basically take care of yourself, I used to be the king of this procrastination. But now it's like, every month, you know, there'll be a day or a morning that starts by and I'm like, Oh, wow, I'm like really getting into like, this movie that's on iTunes, or this article. And all of a sudden, you know, it's like three o'clock in the afternoon, I'm like, on those days, I've learned to do something, I call it the 10 Minute Rule, sit down and just do one thing for 10 minutes. That's it, sometimes I find easy for someone to just throw away a day, because they haven't been productive. And they're like, Oh, I'll never catch up, I find that like this 10 minute trick in my own brain, it works. Because it's never just 10 minutes, it's like you sit down for 10 minutes, and all of a sudden, you want to do a little bit more.

Joey Korenman:

Yeah, I love that. And I've heard that trick described a million different ways. You know, I think it comes down to like, the the mental energy required to context switch, especially if you're editing something with like, 10s of hours of footage, you have to get everything placed in your brain, just so so that you can actually start editing, it's the same if you're working on a complicated After Effects comp, it has to all be sitting in your brain just right. And that is the hard part. Once it's there, then it's the fun part. It's that it's like you got to climb the mountain first before you can ski off the end. And so most people just they freak out, they say I don't even know, it's just too much effort. And I've heard I think it was I think his name's Steven price, he runs stache. And he said, you know, the best trick is to just don't commit to doing the work, just get close to it, just get close to the work, just open the file and stop when I have to go on long runs sometimes, and I don't want to, I'll say I'm just going to run a mile. And if I don't feel good, I'll turn around and come back. And of course you never do you run a mile and then you feel better. So you keep going, you know,

Nick Harauz:

I now go back to actually Kennedy where we start to discuss the intersection between creativity and motivation, think

Ashley Kennedy:

of creativity as solving a problem or serving a purpose, then you've actually got to bring your idea into action, I think a lot of the time you, you may get that creative spark and you start down the road of engaging and creative thinking to solve the problem. But then if there you know, isn't a deadline or a specific mandate attached to it, it can peter out, I actually think it's very often important to be able to manage your creative projects in a way that you do impose motivational milestones to keep you going. So if I'm writing a script for a play, and I don't set a table read deadline, that unfinished play might linger for months or years. But if I set a table read for two months away, I know I've got that deadline that kicks that motivation into gear real fast. So for me even though I am a creative person, I'm very much a box checker, I like to get things done. And so I do often impose those deadlines on myself, even when no one else has to make sure I'm able to move things along and keep the motivation strong creativity will sort of start the car but the motivation you your it will get will get you to the finish line. So you need to sometimes make it a self imposed thing if it doesn't exist naturally. And I do that all the time. In fact, I do that even on daily tasks, you know, to setting small goals in order to reach large goals. I know that I need to do XY and Z today to power through so that by Friday, I've reached my my ultimate goal. So I need to kind of set early goals in order to reach larger goals and and that's all part of motivation and making sure that it happens.

Joey Korenman:

I love this question. I will give you the advice that I got many years ago when I started On the path towards school motion and running this companies and has really impacted my life in the most positive ways of all. Motivation often comes from having a clear goal. And I think most people kind of sleepwalk through life after a certain point, especially if you have gone the traditional route, where in America anyway, it's go to school, go to college, get an internship, get a job, get a promotion, this and that. And eventually, you'll hit a point where you're like, why am I doing this? What is this for? So I hit that point, and someone told me to do the perfect day exercise. In a nutshell, it's sit down and imagine that it's five years from now, and it's some random Tuesday, and you wake up and it is the perfect day, it's the best day of your life. And then try to describe every step of that. So I wake up, who am I in bed with? Is the bed like a king size? Is it really comfy you? How big is the bedroom main like a big house? Was it look like outside? Is it snowing? Is it Sunny? I look at my body? Am I Am I covered in muscles? Am I like really lean like a runner? What do I look like? And then I checked my bank account how much money is in there? And then oh, it's time to go to work? Do it? Am I working? What am I doing? And you you basically try to like, just write down what feels like would be the perfect answer to those things. Once you're done, you'll have this little story of your perfect day in five years. And you can very easily at that point, look at the path you're on and the things you're doing. And you'll be able to tell if they're aiming there. Or if they're aiming in the total opposite direction. And a lot of people find as I did, that, the things I said I wanted, I was doing the opposite of what it would take to get to it. And that creates incredible motivation. Because then you have a goal, and a lot of these really tough life questions, and they are hard. And this isn't easy by any stretch. But questions like Where should I live? Should I sell my house and move? Well, the answer for me was yes, because in my perfect day, it was warm outside. And I was living in Massachusetts, every decision was made through that lens. And it made a lot of things a lot easier, actually. And it felt like motivation was just endless. At that point. To be honest, I'm kind of looking for that again, like Guys, I need I need to sit down and do the the perfect day exercise. But that's in my life been the most effective thing I've ever done. As I

Nick Harauz:

listened to Joey's answer a few times during the Edit stage, my eyes can't help but direct themselves to the left of this room where I have a dream board filled with positive affirmations, as well as things they want to bring into this life, including travel experiences, healthy food, and an overall lifestyle of health and wellness. I can't wait to put pen to paper and write the perfect day exercise. If you were to talk to your younger self 10 years ago, and you wanted to give her a lesson in creativity about finding creative spark, what would be the one message you would would you pass over?

Jennifer Jager:

I would say, don't be afraid to let other people do the jobs that you're capable of doing. Because it's going to give you the time and space to regain that creative spirit. And that I don't think I knew always, you know, especially 10 years ago, I was really starting the business. And I was just running and gunning, trying to get my name out trying to meet people, you know, there was a lot of work to be done. And I think that I don't think I was making the total connection between time and creativity. And I think now the reason that, you know, it's not just me freelancing and I've hired other people, is because it gives me the ability to really take one project and really focus on it and make something better, because I, you know, maybe yeah, I'm not making as much money because I'm paying other people to do work, but, but I'm proud of what I've done. And so I would say let go of that fear, and allow yourself the space and the time you need.

Nick Harauz:

In hearing Jen's answer, I can't help but think I might give myself the exact same advice 10 years ago. And it also brings me back to Jesse's website, and how he shares the personal projects that he's worked on from his past in order to inspire and give insight to other creators and artists. And if you take a look at what you've shared, one thing that is very dear to me is that sometimes when you see an artist's work you see the Mona Lisa, you don't see that process or glimpses into it and those common threads as a creator to another I want to thank you for being able to share that.

Jesse Newman:

Oh cool. I wasn't sure how it was gonna be. I was I was kind of doing it you know, I for my for myself for it was so helpful for me and then I was thinking it would be interesting to people who might see rebirth of Gaia too. kind of understand that, you know, I was just a guy with colored pencils in college that I was going to have a girl. And then like, you know, discover Photoshop, all those things are pretty interesting when I look back on it because I didn't connect those dots until like two months ago, when I was like, Oh my gosh, the first time I opened a Photoshop was when I found Emma was on the way, like, it's so crazy how those two events life events happened the same month. And you know, cuz I had all this stuff to express. But now instead of drawing my face from scratch, I could just take a photo and start putting stuff on top of it. And as it was so liberating. That's one of the reasons why I look at technology today. And I don't mind if things crash, I don't mind. If it takes forever, I did rebirth of guy on my 2007 laptop. And it's 30,000 by 10,000. It took me a long time, but it was better. Looking at from 2021 benchmarks. 2007 Stinks. But looking at from 1995 2007. It's amazing.

Nick Harauz:

So as I listened to this podcast during the Edit stage and approach the end, I can't help but think about how much information there is to unpack. And one of the things that I seem to draw parallel from all of the people who participated in this podcast is that creativity is an action sport. And really to be active, you need a form of motivation. Motivation, in some cases isn't enough. If you are not checking in on that motivation, in order to have creativity be actionable. You need to constantly check in with yourself and make sure that that motivation is enough. I don't know, Ben, what parallels did you draw from this from the podcast? After listening to it?

Ben Brownlee:

I think the the main thing that I got was that we have all of these different stories, but we have so many common threads that run through, like whoever whoever is actually speaking, I think the thing that really struck me is people were finding that optimal creative state, you know, there there's that there's something free and challenging. Something that's not to open, but at the same time. You know, it's it's not too known. It's not too it's not a solved problem. And, you know, we keep going back to that idea of problem solving.

Nick Harauz:

I think problem solving. And then also there's this, this form of rolling with the punches as you go through the process, because every creative process is going to bring up new hurdles and challenges. And I was I was wondering, was there anything in the podcast that is challenging some of the assumptions that you had towards creativity?

Ben Brownlee:

I think, I think when we started with this idea of creativity, and that and the idea of creative freedom in childhood, I kind of pushed back against that. Now I'm thinking of revisiting that and thinking that that's probably where most people have a supportive space to try new ideas without fear, something that's challenging enough. That you're you're not feeling that you're just button pushing, but not something that's so free that you don't have any any sort of good starting point, there are rules to every childhood game. So there are those creative boundaries, people, people aren't sort of completely free. But there's enough freedom to act and there's there's enough freedom to have that sort of constant feedback loop with your friends, to say what's fun, and, and when that game stops being fun, what breaks the game. And I think if we transfer that into this sort of creative design space, like you said, the catalyst for creativity comes through action. It comes through playing the game, it comes through, eating the frog doing that thing that you didn't want to do early in the morning. And a good result comes from playing with the right people. But you know, you need good feedback to see whether it's actually still fun for the other people that are playing the game.

Nick Harauz:

I totally get that in terms of especially creativity is somewhat of a collaborative sport. When I look back to some of the things that are challenging, some of my assumptions really come down to the fact of in the things that I am still struggling to do, in terms of creativity are the motivations that are in place strong enough and stronger than some of the stories that I have made up that might not be serving where I want to be, and and what's going to be that trigger to make things actionable to what I want. And that's only going to come from a large goal check.

Ben Brownlee:

That's right. I think I think you're right. I mean, creativity has to be nurtured. You know, not every not every child had the most creative opportunities. But I think everyone start to think about problems that they they want to solve, whether it's a problem in design a problem with philosophy, a problem that you perceive in your own life, I'm not going to say that those solutions are always going to be good. But that creativity that you have used engaged to actually come up with those solutions is obviously going to help to build on and spark new ideas and new creativity in the future.

Nick Harauz:

But I want to thank you so much for your time and participating in this podcast. I also wanted to give a big thank you to each of my guests Jennifer Jagger, Joey Korenman, Ashley Kennedy and Jesse Newman, this podcast could have been possible without your insights and sharing from your personal story. So I want to thank you so much. If you're curious to find out more information about any of the people who participated. I'll be providing links below in the podcast, you can check out their websites, as well as some of their content that they've created through their various channels. This podcast could not have been possible without Boris effects. And until next time, you're listening to flowstate stories from the creative process.