Friday, August 21, 2015

Nashville as the South's next creative hub?

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Nashville, Tennessee. It was my first time in what I guess would be considered the "Deep South". And I have to say that the experience was very different from what I expected.

Actually, to be honest, I wasn't entirely what to expect. I am currently writing a book on creative people and thought that Nashville would be an interesting place to visit, as it seems to be the creative hub of the southern US in a lot of ways.

But before I get into the creative individuals who I had a chance to meet, I need to first write about the food. THE FOOD. Now, as you now know, I have never been anywhere in the south. Maybe this is simply the caliber of restaurant cooking throughout the area, in which case, wow.

Firstly, compared to where I was spending the previous year, New York City, the food here was cheap. And delicious. If you have ever read about Nashville then you have heard of Jack's Barbecue. Jack's is an institution, having first opened in 1976. I got a pulled pork sandwich that was absolutely amazing, and massive. I couldn't finish it, and I pride myself on having a strong appetite.

The coffeeshop scene seems to be booming as well, with a lot of creative types sipping on cappuccinos throughout the city. Apparently the frontman of the Black Keys lives here, as does Jack White, the singer of the band The White Stripes. White called Portland home for a long time, and I have to admit I questioned his decision to relocate to Nashville when I heard of it, but now I understand. I really do.

The music scene is another plus that Nashville offers. We saw a seriously wide range of bands perform during our week long stay in the city. And if you are into Bluegrass- forget about it! This is the city for you.

In fact, I think it might be an even better city for music than Austin, Texas, which is saying a lot.

But the real purpose of my trip to Nashville wasn't just music and beef brisquet. It was to help a friend's aging mother get situated with assisted living there. My friend's mother is a widow and is in a wheelchair, and while she had been receiving homecare from an excellent provider (thanks Marty), it was time to move her into assisted living. It is also a city that my parents have been considering as a possible retirement destination, so I was keen to check it out.

It's not ALL good though. For example, locals complain that prices have gone up a lot in recent years. And the weather is seriously humid in the summer. Really gross. I'm not sure about levels of crime but that is something I always research before moving to a new city.

So we'll see. My parents might well end up here in 10 years. Even if they don't, one thing is for sure- I'll be back, if only for the beef brisket.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Creativity of Steve Jobs

If there is one individual who I find myself looking to more than any other for inspiration, it is Steve Jobs. A lot of people consider Jobs to be a great entrepreneur, but I don't really fit him into that categorization for a few reasons. Let me say that more clearly: Steve Jobs was not one of the great entrepreneurs of the 20th century.

Following is my argument for why that is...

Jobs founded three companies in his lifetime: Apple, Next, and Pixar. We know that Apple was the big winner of the bunch, with over $100 billion in CASH sitting in its coffers. The massive success of Apple outshines that of Next and Pixar, but these have both been very successful companies in their own rights. Personally, I'd be thrilled to create just one company of Next's caliber, and Jobs created three in the course of his lifetime. Pixar went on to be acquired by Disney and Next, the "loser" of the bunch, was still eventually acquired by Apple for nearly half a billion dollars.

So if Jobs has created three multi-million dollar companies, how can I say that he isn't one of the greatest entrepreneurs of the 21st century?

I say this because, while jobs had moments of great entrepreneurial inspiration, he also worked in the companies that he founded for extended periods of time. On the entrepreneurial spectrum, Jobs would sit somewhere between a one time founder like Phil Knight and the frenetic non-stop founder of Richard Branson.

I don't say this to discredit Jobs in any way. In fact, I believe Jobs deserves recognition as being one of histories greats. And there is one thing that Jobs has done better than anybody else in the history of the world. And yes, I mean it.

Steve Jobs was the greatest product manager that the world has ever seen.

Jobs has repeatedly built products that have spanned categories and even created entirely new ones. He was the first to understand the direction that the music industry was going in and he capitalized on it with iTunes.

His ability to do so is testament to his vision and unique understanding of the time he lived in, a time of collapse and disruption when an electronics company could become a publishing company nearly overnight.

Jobs genius started with the Macbook, but went mainstream when he unveiled the first generation of the iPod. Looking back on this product now, it seems a bit clunky and obtuse, but Jobs was at the cutting edge during the time it was produced in the middle 2000s.

From the iPod, Jobs set his sights on his next great innovation, the iPhone. It was the iPhone that was the clearest expression of Jobs' appreciation for minimalist design, sleek lines, and no clutter. To our eyes in 2015, the design certainly appears overly skeumorphic, but at the time it was first released in 2007, the iPhone not only met the standard of the day, it set it.

Product management requires an appreciation for several disciplines. One must work with marketing to understand precisely what the end user wants, and coordinate with engineering in order to bring those specifications to life. Jobs had an innate understanding of this that even the best product management guru in Silicon Valley can teach.

So there you have him, Steve Jobs. Not the greatest entrepreneur in the history of the world, but the greatest product manager of history, bar none.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Welcome to my website! My name is Peter, and it is my goal to bring you the best instances of people living creatively from all over the world. This is me on the right, cheers!

While truly creative people might be the minority in 2014, it is my sincere belief that it is only going to be more and more important to live creatively as the world becomes increasingly competitive, global, and in need of constant innovation.

At Living Creatively, we essentially believe in two things:

1. Being creative for the sake of creativity. There is value in being creative for no other reason than to be creative in the same way that a kid is creative, for example.

2. We also believe in being as a means of achieving more with less time, resources, and energy. Simply put, there is too much that each of us is expected to do these days, and it takes true creativity, flexibility, and personal honesty to remove the clutter and focus in on only the essentials. We like to say here that "creativity clears minds."

Friday, December 13, 2013

What is Rugged Creativity?

I have been writing a lot of haikus lately, and they have gotten me thinking about Rugged Creativity. What is Rugged Creativity?

In a sentence, Rugged Creativity is the creativity you need to survive in a rugged world. That hiker who had to gnaw his own arm off when he was trapped un a boulder represents rugged creativity. The Ethiopian entrepreneur who went from a shack to a mansion almost overnight because of her inspiring idea to create internet access for all of Ethopian citizens? Rugged creativity.

It is creativity born of necessity, the kind of creativity that helps you to survive and does not compromise. If it is soft, it is not rugged creativity. If it forgives, it is not rugged creativity.

If it allows you to think unfiltered and unhindered thoughts, doesn't bend the the will of any man, and tastes like the whiskey on Hemmingway's breath. That, my friend, is rugged creativity.

May it be with you too.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Creativity in a Global Context

We are truly living in an age of globalization and technological disruption. Are you going to ride these waves, which are bigger than anything we have seen before, or be left behind.

I would caution you against being left behind. While tech might not be "your thing", the truth is that we are going to be facing greater and greater economic disparity that is already growing rapidly between those who embrace technology and those who don't. Think about it this way- are you more productive on a typewriter or a computer? Do you work better when connected with literally everyone in your office, or when you need to send carbon copy letters by snail mail that takes weeks to arrive.

I think the answer is obvious, and while I am NOT going to say that there is an impending apocalypse, I am very aware of the social unrest that technological is accelerating. You need only look as far as the Arab Spring to see the huge role that Twitter played in the unveiling of the government.

So how do you survive by playing this new game of globalization and disruption. The first thing is that you need to learn to engage in the outside world. If you can't speak multiple languages and communicate wit people regardless of their culture and socioeconomic background you, my friend, are going to be left behind. Thankfully, there are options for you. For one, you can find global work placements more easily than ever before. For example, you can start a company in China like my friend Scott did, or you can strike out on your own as a freelancing "digital nomad".

You should also be working to pick up as many skills as possible. In this day and age, there is simply no excuse not to be improving your skills and knowledge at a rapid pace. After all, people in Bangladesh are, why can't you, dear first world citizen, be bothered to? The truth is that The West has rested on its laurels for decades and arguably even centuries, but now, thanks to a flattened playing field, we are now facing competition from places we never had it before.

I welcome it personally. You should to. After all, the rewards for the innovative, the global, and the disruptive are potentially great, and if you are willing to study at a website like Coursera or Udemy you can also improve your skillset rapidly. If you don't- trust me, you will be left behind.