Tall poppy or short poppy, everyone has ideas.
Two of my aims of the trip were to paint a red apple to proudly hang on the kitchen wall and complete the Meisner acting course – did I mention my brush with Robert De Niro? The third was to be inspired by the city of New York and it’s melting pot of diverse and talented people.
Whether it was with born and bred New Yorkers, visitors like us, or those that had also chosen to take a more creative journey through the “city that never sleeps”, Angie and I set ourselves the task to meet one new person for each day of our vacational learning experience.
There are so many opportunities to meet new people every day; to learn, be inspired, share ideas, to reflect, to laugh with, but back home time always seems so limited. So our immersion in NYC provided us with the time and space to celebrate the diversity of thought that comes from this melting pot of experience and I could also put into practice all the authentic communication skills I was learning through my acting course.
It was also a great way to see how these skills might unearth some new ideas that I could build and develop as I explored the impact of immersing myself across these creative pursuits. I knew from the years of work I have done in the innovation sector that so much of the confidence and support we need to solve problems, or unleash new ideas comes from those around us.
Whether it was helping people on subways, sharing a seat at the bar – often the source of all wisdom – getting my hair cut, or smiling and saying hi, we realised there are so many opportunities to meet and be inspired, simply by being an active and present listener.
We got to know so many creative people, from dancers to musicians to actors, often juggling multiple jobs to keep their dreams alive. Business people from small start-ups to multi-billion-dollar businesses. People who had lived through the personal impact from 9/11, or a foreigner looking to support her child with special needs, to someone investing in a Hollywood movie. And many entrepreneurs working tirelessly to make a great idea come to life.
There are also so many people who have moved to New York for new beginnings, or to make an impact and many are fellow Australians. We were staying in Nolita and there was a wonderful park down the road that was like an oasis in the high-density jungle of NYC. They showed old films on a Wednesday evening under the stars to a relaxed crowd of 50 to 60 people, sipping wine, enjoying snacks in the warmth of a summers night. But the local authority wanted to close the park down. A group of local residents had come together to fight to keep the park from being developed into a housing project. Through this group, we met Poppy King – the Australian “Lipstick Queen” who also lives in Nolita and was also on the save the park team. Angie loves her and her lipstick and we had a quick chat about her business and how she has reinvented herself after selling to Estee Lauder some years earlier.
So, what did we learn through all these wonderful experiences and conversations?
So much of our creativity, inspiration, our ability to think differently and solve problems, our ideas, comes from the energy, passion and diversity of the people we meet every day. Everyone has a story to tell – that can inspire and make you think.
The techniques in the acting classes helped with my ability to listen to other people’s views, thoughts, ideas, then be able to articulate and communicate my own ideas.
The painting classes gave us the perspective to accept different interpretations, not right, wrong, good or bad and to be confident and bold to express our own creative thoughts and ideas.
Then there was time. Our immersion in NYC gave us a rare chance to reach out, to put our new friends more to the centre of thought and to reflect.
These experiences helped us create the third element of the Creative Cities 21 program, our Ideas and Inspiration Hub. In the next few weeks, we’ll explain more about how this element is going to stimulate your creativity through a supportive and interactive environment, whether it is for solving a problem, identifying and capitalising on an opportunity, perhaps unleashing a new business idea, or simply enjoying your new found creative skills.