A creative awakening in the city than never sleeps.
I love to travel. Let’s face it many of us do. It’s exciting, challenging, and brings new perspective by opening our eyes to new cultures, new ideas, and new experiences.
Over the last 10 years of my career, I have been fortunate to be focused on innovation and supporting and harnessing this to make life better for communities and in turn for businesses. I firmly believe that innovation is the key to unlocking potential, for each of us as individuals and within our home and working environments.
In 2017, I took some time out to focus on what innovation, creativity, and reinvention might mean for me personally and what impact that might have on what I can contribute as a husband, father, friend, leader and colleague.
Where better to do this than in New York – the city that never sleeps. It’s where creativity can mean some of the world’s best street art, leading acting and painting studios, new businesses and iconic venues that host some of the world’s most renowned art.
And so I put together a program that enabled me to be both a tourist and learner, a learning holiday, experiencing the sites and sounds of New York City through painting and acting courses and ideation sessions with local business leaders and new friends.
So let’s start with the acting. I should make it very clear that this was not about becoming the next Robert De Niro (although I do have a Robert De Niro story I will share with you, but that is for another day). It was an appreciation that this was a course that could help me become a more authentic communicator. That by learning how to focus more on the other person, how to really listen, the influence of variation in your own voice (and silence) and the power of subtle movement, we can improve our connection, understanding, and impact in all of our relationships.
I know for many people speaking at a business event or personal celebration can be very daunting. Most of us have heard the stat that public speaking is up there in the top 3 fears, and yet by doing the course one of the most surprising take-outs for the group was that by improving our connection with our audience, by really appreciating their words, silence, movement and emotions, you actually take the emphasis off yourself, making you a more relaxed and authentic communicator.
The second element I weaved into my adventure was the painting workshops. I had included these to be truly free of formal process, right or wrong, to develop another string to my creative bow. I had set myself a goal – to come home with a red apple painted in the big apple. What our class learnt was the power of personal interpretation, of letting our imagination run a little wild and trusting our instincts. And the apple – well it might not be gallery quality but it very proudly hangs in our kitchen!
And lastly, but certainly not least, the final element of the immersive experience was a chance to tap into the tapestry of ideas, experiences of new friends and new confidence gained from the acting and painting classes. Most days we spoke about opportunities and challenges, inspirational new businesses, people and trends, and brainstormed some new ideas to take to the world.
Finding the time, confidence and energy to try new things and to immersive yourself in a creative city or environment is rare. I’m looking forward to sharing more of the journey, and perhaps inspiring you to take the time to let your creative voice sing a little louder!