If MMA Fighters Can Stop a Robbery, So Can You!

Penelope Trunk’s column today describes me to a “T”.

Her overarching argument about careers has always been that we often have talents and skills (though they may need cultivating) that we don’t recognize or use appropriately. You may be  a great writer, but not tech savvy, so you’d argue you’re not meant for blogging. This, in my guess, would frustrate Trunk.

First, always one for putting up rather than shutting up, the readaholic websurfer would argue you can master the tech, maximize the writing.

That’s what we’re after here, too. We all have many skills, but we’ve often become trapped in job descriptions and titles such that “that’s not in my pay grade” becomes more than a snappy comeback in a politically-infused environment where most of us believe we’re underpaid, but rather it becomes a sad attitude we perpetually manifest.

Sure, some people have strengths in areas the rest of us don’t, but recognizing how to tap your own strengths in ANY area is something most of us miss because we’re looking in the wrong ways. The truthful idiom “to do something the same way over and over expecting different results is the definition of stupidity” is the way many of us approach our skills, our resume and our work life. I’ve met many who are trained as, say, a public relations assistant. As a result, they only apply to jobs that have “public relations assistant” in their title.

Yet, in their day to day work, they do project management, make design decisions, process work orders and lead. They’re ready to move beyond assistant. Their skills are more than PR.

Long ago we talked about creative resumes as framing “housewife” instead as “domestic engineer” and that’s not just creative writing.

Envisioning each skill you have needs to happen separate from the space in which you use it.

This weekend, a story about two mixed martial arts fighters subduing a bank robber is a perfect example. Each of these men may say they’ve got a great rear naked choke hold in the ring.

Neither of them may have predicted that such a hold works not only to elevate yourself to the championship round, but also works to retain a bank robber while the cops come to arrest him.

WHAT you do, not WHERE you do it or WHO you do it for, is what you should be selling about yourself.

We can help you to identify skills versus job descriptions and show you how you can creatively position yourself as always viable, always able to work or find satisfying work, as Penelope Trunk advocates.

We can’ t show you a rear naked choke hold…yet.




Go Beyond “Interesting”

I’m addicted to Project Runway on television. I like that each week designers are presented with a set of materials and a conceptual challenge.

It’s like playing with big balls of clay and I love predicting what *I’d* do with the clay, then realizing it’s nothing like what the designers have chosen to do.

It’s an amazing reminder of how many ideas there are out there, how many ways to approach a problem.

We all need that reminder more often because we become trapped in thinking our answer is the best and only conceivable approach.

Having the mind and the confidence to think lycra and silk become part of the same outfit or that a neoprene wetsuit could be formal means you can open up to other people’s ideas and from that space, you can see better, more comprehensive solutions.

Management books teach us all this, often. But it’s rarely done because it…well, because it’s hard to listen, for one.

But there’s also this illusion that listening to these ideas that aren’t yours takes time.

That’s another reason to love the show. Sure, it’s heavily edited to fit neatly in a one-hour time slot, but the designers are given the challenge and a drop dead deadline of one day to complete it.

They still manage to fully (most of the time) dress a person in their creative vision and send them into the lights of the runway. AND THEY HAD TO SEW! 

In a business, you, too, can fully dress a creative idea in the expanse of options a great team can provide.

It doesn’t take tons of process, it just takes listening.

And a tougher vocabulary.

One other thing I noticed about the finale of Project Runway 9 was the over use of the word “interesting.”

All the judges talked about clothing, people, ideas and approaches as “interesting.”

“It’s very interesting, what you’re doing there.”

“It’s an interesting look.”

“What an interesting fabric.”

“What an interesting concept.”

All I thought about was how much growth we all could have shared together with a more descriptive vocabulary.

What if instead of interesting, what the person was doing was “well-executed?”

What if the look was “reminiscent of a Victorian image?”

What if the fabric was “plush?”

What if the concept was “revolutionary?”

Those are all such different spaces in our brain than “interesting”, yet we rely so heavily on “interesting.”

It’s a catch-all; as a descriptor, it’s lazy.

It’s hard for people to learn to listen. Help them out by providing something for them to learn while they listen.

There’s little growth available in a critique or answer that’s “interesting.”

Learn a descriptive and exacting vocabulary and find that team members want to listen more.

It’s a great pit stop on the way to building the confidence to listen back and hear what they’re doing with their [insert great descriptor here] ball of clay.


More on Why You Need Us

Liberal Arts education is taking a back seat to skilled trades jobs and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) training. (More on that in a future post).

We can fill that gap.
Imagine business consulting and team training that pulls out the creative problem solving skills that are lacking in workers so narrowly focused on tech or trade subjects?

Suddenly, your work training seminar pulls together all the principles of a general studies education!

This story from Forbes helps to point out the workplace conundrum we’ll soon be facing.




Yes…and? (Thought Leadership as an Improv Game)

Sometimes you “learn” something you’ve always known and that’s really a blessing.

You have been operating under a premise or a practice, but later in life, at the right time and in the right setting, someone gives a name to that practice and you get to see it anew. You are given the chance to use your own tools in new ways.

That’s what we’ll help you do.

My mother was the best at it and to this day, I’m eternally grateful I wasn’t abandoned on a corner somewhere because when I look back on my antics as a curious if not precocious child, I would have left me behind, that’s for sure.

My mom was the best at an improv practice loosely referred to as “yes, and?” She loved to play and she never shut things down. I heard my fair share of “because I say so” of course, but typically, when my curiosity or declamations got the best of me, she’d roll with it and that’s how I learned.

I once took all my stuffed animals and socks (apparently the two most important things in my world) and bagged them in food storage bags (an entire box full) and laid them neatly on the kitchen table. I was a latch-key kid, home only 30 minutes before her. That day was fire safety day at school and after exploring my home for known dangers (we clearly had far too many extension cords in use), I determined I needed a fire plan.

When she came in the door, beleaguered from a very long day, she didn’t ask me to clean up the table full of plastic-suffocating teddy bears.

Instead, she asked “What’s this?”

I replied, “My fire plan. When the house burns, see, we can each grab a few bags of my things, then all the animals will be saved. And my socks.”

I was so proud, I really had thought it through.

Now, here’s my mom’s “yes, and…” She didn’ t say no. She said instead, “What about my things? What about our socks, your dad’s and mine?” She jumped right into the plan. As a result, I suddenly had to strategize further than the immediate moment.


Lip bite.


And right back to her: “I ran out of bags.”

My mom then suggested we would find a better way to save my things and frankly, the house wouldn’t burn (and as long as I lived there, it never did) and we went on with dinner.

This concept–of opening up the possibility–is one we could use more of in our workspaces. Often, great ideas are shut down with “we don’t/can’t/won’t do it that way” or the age-old (ha) notion of tradition.

If instead, we opened ourselves to a sense of “yes, and?” maybe brainstorms and work meetings, project reports and problem solving would work better.

The next time someone says “I was thinking we could consolidate this process by putting these two teams together,” resist the temptation to say “That’s a lot of work; where will they work, who will manage them, we don’t have the time and that’s out of my pay grade.”

Instead, try answering “Yes! And we could move Susie Q. into that area to help staff the project. What else?”

 Life is an improv event… and it always goes better when you open up to your fellow actors.

You’ve been doing it all along; your personal life often allows you to explore possibilities and “bite” when baited. Now, deploy this strategy in your work life.

Try “yes, and?” today each time you’re tempted to say “we can’t.”

We bet you can.


The Heart of Innovation

Last night came the news that American innovator, Steve Jobs, died.

I’ve never met him, but he has had such an impact on my day to day life that he and I arguably have had a very intimate relationship.

It’s a great loss to us all, and friends and colleagues have been reflecting on their first Apple experience and how influential the technologies have been in their lives. Then, the conversation flows into this uneasy gap.

What do we do now? We’ve unconsciously come to count on techological innovations to move us to new habits, new ease, new ways of thinking and new things to accomplish. Of course, I’m absolutely aware I type this blog because of the mind of Steve Jobs…

But it’s the heart of innovation that we often forget. Who will be the next genius? Who will be the next innovator? Who will replace (as if) Jobs?

The better question is “How can we all tap into the passion and drive that Jobs had that allowed him to be successful AND SATISFIED in his life?”

Part of why we identify with him so easily is he had public failures–his own company fired him at one point, only to hire him back later and soar to new heights with him at the helm. He dropped out of college and learned and learned and learned. He chased ideas and desires in ways we think we aren’t allowed to. But look at Steve Jobs! Look what happens when you chase after the life and work that you want to do!

Though he is truly a shining star, a unique entity among us, we can all master our lives as Jobs mastered his.

Known for his commencement address at Stanford where he references how he mastered his life, how he lives passionately and makes his work what he wants to be doing, Jobs had a handle on what the three of us have become good at as well.

Recognizing your vulnerabilities, recognizing honesty within yourself and knowing what you want to give your work and what you just won’t give to your work are important realizations. They take time, they take focused thinking and they take bravado.

The end of Jobs’ Stanford speech harkens to The Whole Earth Catalog of his youth and a final back cover that says, as caption to a seemingly endless dirt country road, “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.” The sentiment is available as book titles, posters, t-shirts and more and is often credited to Jobs, but he was citing those before him with the same imagination and sense of adventure. Perhaps the best tribute to someone who demonstrated what work-life was–not balanced it, but made it extraordinary–would be to do just that.

Stay Hungry.

Stay Foolish.

We can help.


Life Coaching is my obsession!

Well, to clarify it is one of my many obsessions. It goes along side poetry, theater, puppets, creative empowerment, yoga and self-help books. I believe that I have been life coaching myself and close family members since I was in highschool.  I never really knew what I was doing had the fancy name of “life coaching.”  I have just always been very positive, down to earth, practical and pretty much fearless.  I am a poet who has a love affair with words. If I don’t know anything in life I believe with all my heart that words are truly life altering. Words hold extreme power and with that power everything and anything is possible.

As I incubate and manifest Creative Bravado with my two other genius friends I am thinking big. Why not? I have always had a vision of working with organizations suffering from low staff morale and brainwashed into the limited thinking that says, “Work is work, so it shouldn’t be enjoyable. Just grin and bear it. Just do the work.” I have been working since I was 15 years old and have been amazed at how many leaders and managers truly believe that the energy and morale of  staff has no relationship to the success of organization. The same principle applies to all of us as we navigate our own personal lives. I have been in a transition stage in  my own life that has me thinking creatively about ways to craft the life I want to lead. A life that is empowered and aligned with my natural passions.

Creative Bravado came into my life at the perfect time. I want to share my over 15 years of training, professional development and program management experience with small and large Arts and Education organizations with you.  I want to blend my love of theater, performance and writing with staff training, self-development and strategic planning for your organization and life.

I dream of leading a staff retreat with your employees that provides the space to use performance and art to build innovative ways to grow the organization and to empower you. Who says that staff retreats have to be filled with the same team building exercises? The best way to build anything is through honest collaboration that is unique and out of the box. Its time to try something new. Time to blaze a new path to growth. I’m here to dream with you. Think of me as that friend that never says no to any adventure you propose. I am always down. Lets fly together.

So, let’s get started now. Share with me any business books or websites that get you pumped and hyped up on fulfilling your dreams.What works for you? How do you stay motivated to walk the path towards your dreams?

All the best,


Building Our Space

We’re doing this virtually so far.

And I love that.

So, here we are in the blog…incubating in cyberspace and now we can incubate in real time with our Twitter account.

Follow us at @createbrave and let the world know that you’re watching three women parlay their skills into a consulting business that truly serves business, management, leaders and inspires people to make their work work!

Follow us at @createbrave and tell the world that you respect training and coaching that brings the arts, humanities and personal connection to the business world and acknowledges that the best leaders don’t just have highly effective habits, but have highly cultivated artistic minds.

Follow us at @createbrave and see just where we take this art-meets-business-meets-consulting-meets-the-world project!