Creativity



  • “Failure [is] the gap between where we are and where we want to go.” A Conversation with Sarah Lewis – #ComNet14 Preview

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    Sarah Lewis is the author of The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery. She will be a keynote speaker at The Network’s Communication Matters conference in Philadelphia on October 9th. Lewis is a faculty member of the Yale University School of Art, has served on President Barack Obama’s Arts Policy Committee, and been selected for Oprah’s Power List. The Communications Network spoke to her about the difference between success and mastery, how a near-win can be a good thing in the long run, and why grit matters more than talent and IQ. A lightly edited transcript follows. 

    The Communications Network: Your book is an interesting mixture of topics: creativity, mastery, and failure. What inspired you?

    Sarah Lewis: The book is about the unusual, improbable foundations that undergird our most iconic achievements, whether that’s an achievement in entrepreneurial realms or invention or creativity.

    I approached this book as a curator. I used to work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Tate Modern. I’m also a cultural historian.

    Over time, I would start to see these kind of back-turn paintings in artist studios, things that they didn’t want to show me, but I knew were integral for the work that they did want to show me, that would then go on to have a platform at MoMA, etcetera. I started to wonder if that idea of this back-turn painting being critical for masterful work wasn’t applicable beyond a creative realm of endeavor, whether I thought that it was true for entrepreneurial feats as well.

    Over time, I would just look at a set of different examples. The book looks at an atlas of about 150, but, when I began to write, I knew, at the time, that Martin Luther King got Cs in oratory class, for example, went on to become our most prestigious orator in the century.

    I knew that Fred Astaire’s screen test said in 1930s, “Can’t sing. Can’t act. Balding. Can dance a little,” and he went on to revolutionize his genre.

    These stories populate the book, but, really, they were just known to me because I’ve been just organically interested in this notion that some of our most inventive achievements have come from places that we don’t expect.

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    Indexes Are the Next Wave In Visual Storytelling

    Guest Post: Ryan Reynolds

    Indexes are handy ways to track and report progress. You can’t beat the Dow Jones Industrial Index to follow the ups and downs of stock prices. Ditto the Consumer Price Index, which compares the cost of goods and services from year to year.

    But what if you want to track progress on important social issues? Thanks to troves of data available these days, nonprofits are increasingly using indexes to communicate about their work and their underlying causes.

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    Want Your Content to Go Viral? Catch This

    Want to learn how to make your content spread like a virus?

    Catch the latest in our Zero to Ninety series.

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    A Billion Reasons To Celebrate (And It’s Not About the Money)

    At first blush, you’d think the fact that The Pittsburgh Foundation passed the $1 billion mark in assets, a major milestone in its history, would be reason enough to celebrate.

    But what if the reason for celebrating really isn’t about the money after all?  What do you do?

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    If You Don’t Know, Test

    Do you know which email subject lines work best?  How about what will make the home page of your website more likely to get your target audiences to engage?

    In the latest in our Zero to Ninety series, Chip Giller (@cgiller) founder of the environmental news and commentary website, Grist, says the only way to answer those questions is to test.

    The reason: “People don’t always do what we think they’re going to do.” That’s why, he adds, “testing is crucial in every business, including communications.”

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