Recently arriving in New York City to lead the first Creative Cities 21 experience, it’s hard to believe that it’s 12 months since our last visit, one that would result in us developing and launching a new business.
Back then I decided to take a sabbatical from work. A chance to refresh, recharge and explore my own creativity. I have been fortunate to work in the innovation sector over the last 10 years and have seen first-hand how powerful innovation and creativity is in unlocking our personal potential and those of the organisations we work in. I wanted to take the time to explore this more and combined with my passion for travel, I set off with my wife Angie for New York City – one of the world’s most creative cities.
I put together a program that enabled me to both learn and explore, and at the same time enjoy all the city has to offer from health and wellness activities like yoga, to great restaurants, the coolest bars, famous street art and galleries, and talking to inspiring creatives, business and community leaders.
The key learning elements combined painting and acting courses and ideation sessions with local creatives and business leaders. I connected with so many new and different people with interesting and stimulating perspectives which helped me learn and grow.
The courses, the people, the tapestry of new thinking and new ideas, and exploring all the city has to offer provided an immersive and amazing experience where I not only recharged and refreshed but was able to build my creative confidence.
Angie and I left New York energised and inspired.
By giving ourselves the time and space to be active learners and immerse ourselves in the experience we returned home with not just new skills but new habits – many of which continue to benefit us in our day to day lives.
And the more we shared our experience with others and researched creativity and its powerful impact, the more we could see an opportunity to build a business that would benefit anyone needing a creative escape to refresh and recharge.
In my business life we often spoke of the need to ensure we always put the customer experience at the centre of everything we do. There is nothing like starting your own business to understand how truly important this is. We talked to so many people from so many walks of life to ensure we were building a business that was focused on what people need. From family to friends, work colleagues, contacts in the tourism industry, acting and painting teachers, business leaders and innovators, and all the new connections we continue to make along the way, we could see a fantastic opportunity.
We also read about the rapid increase in the number of people looking for vacations which were more enriching. From wellness tourism which is growing at twice the rate of other tourism to learning holidays, there is a desire for vacations which deliver more impactful experiences with longer lasting benefits. And when it comes to the benefits of creativity, there is growing evidence that people who focus on building their creativity report significantly higher levels of happiness, energy and fulfillment.*
Out of our time here last year, the insights we gathered and our passion to make a difference Creative Cities 21 was born. As we embark on delivering our first program and getting to know the people who have travelled from different corners of the globe to join us, it’s a great chance to look at what we have learned as our idea has come to life.
It’s been a combination of tenacity, focus, dealing with ambiguity, being open to new ideas, building connections, learning new skills – and more than a few 12-hour days. We’ve put into practice the active learning skills we developed on our last trip here to ensure we put the customer at the heart of everything we do. And we have felt the love of our children, our family and friends who have embraced our vision and given us their input and support.
As we embark on our 2018 New York City experience we are so excited to see the dream become a reality and most importantly to watch how the Creative Cities 21 program is going to enrich the lives of those who are joining us. We are looking forward to continuing to share the journey with you.
*Adobe State of Create 2016
Creative Cities 21 re-energises people through 1, 2 and 3-week creative learning experiences in great cities of the world. By combining the benefits of acting, painting, innovation & travel, we ignite your creativity, helping you realise your personal and professional potential.