Should you be creative when you teach creativity?

A couple of weeks ago I was asked by the Alumni Association of my Alma Mater to deliver a lecture on creativity and change management together with a very good friend of mine - Yordan Zhechev, Creative Director at DDB.

So we sat down at lunch and started thinking about how we can do it in a way that will be both pleasant for us, and an interesting, learning, impactful experience for the audience. Being two natural humans, of course, we first started discussing what we DON’T want to do. It is funny how we often think much better in the negative spectrum. It is so much easier to say what you don’t like or how you don’t want to see something evolving, rather than the opposite. Anyhow, we went past this very quickly and made the following two decisions that would, from then on, serve as our design principles when creating the so called lecture, or grandiloquence, as I lovingly called our endeavour.

Photo by: Nikolay Trifonov

Photo by: Nikolay Trifonov

Design Principle No 1: If you cannot make your kid or partner listen to you talk continuously for more than 15 minutes, then no one else will.

Basically this meant that having a traditional lecture is out of the question. I also realised, that we all have become so multi-channelled, multitasking human beings, especially in recent years, that it will be very, very difficult to engage only one of your senses – your hearing – and be interesting and impactful. This means that in our grandiloquence we have to compete with your email, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.  We would lose 9 out of 10 cases for sure. So we had to eliminate these distractions. How? Through involving the rest of your senses.

Photo by: Nikolay Trifonov

Photo by: Nikolay Trifonov

Design principle No 2: If people are not impacted by what we do, there is no point in doing it.

And this is when I remembered my favourite saying by Confucius: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

See, I am convinced that the thing about creativity is that it is as much connected with your hands, body and physical activity, as it is connected with thinking and using your brain (perhaps even more). So we decided to make our audience the co-creator of our lecture. Instead of listening to us telling them what creativity is, they would literally ‘work it out’.

Practice what you preach.

Photo by: Nikolay Trifonov

Photo by: Nikolay Trifonov

So, after the Hello and Welcome’s we immediately split the audience of around 70 people into teams and gave them the task: “Take two unconnected objects and create a sex toy. Write a quick manual”. Lucky for me, when I asked them whether I should explain what a sex toy is, they said no :-). This is a game my partner Kalina Zhuleva read a long time ago in the "inGenius: A Crash Course in Creativity"book by Tina Seelig and we’ve wanted to experiment with it since. And boy, we did. We had a blast. We expected that the audience will not participate (because this is so much out of most people’s comfort zones), that there will be resistance.

Nothing of the sort. This was such an appreciative, open minded and friendly group. We enjoyed each other’s creativity and, I think, disrupted the sex industry quite a bit with some of the team’s inventions - like the Pleasure Multiplier and the Helping Hand. We laughed a lot and learned a lot. Together. By trusting each other and by doing.

Photo by: Nikolay Trifonov

Photo by: Nikolay Trifonov

Here's a short teaser that will give you an idea of the vibrant mood and the vastness of ideas that we had going around. And, of course, of all the fun and laughter.

Thanks to Andrey Andonov for the help with the editing. Music: Jazzanova - Theme from Belle Et Fou

Photo by: Nikolay Trifonov

Photo by: Nikolay Trifonov

If you’re curious to find out what we learned, you can read in the second part of this post (coming soon).