How a Road Taken Can Lead to Unexpected Results

What do you do when you face a challenging situation?

I tend to mull it over and over until a kernel of an idea forms that leads to something that might be a solution. To get there, I talk and discuss with everyone around me until they engage in finding that solution. I gather information. I want to know why it’s challenging. Why has it presented itself? What are the issues? What are possible solutions? And then, in collaboration with others or on my own, I decide on a pathway to what is hopefully a satisfactory resolution.  And that often leads to surprising results.

One example: MAMMA

Challenges about mothering led to development of a MAMMA newsletter, TV series, mini-conferences and workshops.

mamma-five-cousins

The five cousins who ignited the idea for MAMMA.

Those initiatives began with discussions I had with my sister-in-law Marlene whose children were the same age as mine and  sick. Each of my three kids at that time were in the midst of taking turns with chicken pox over the course for six weeks. Hers had croup. We were completely isolated in our homes. No friends over to visit. What saved us from going nuts was our dial up telephone. In our discussions, we recognized that our situation was universal: moms at home had little to no support system.

We bandied about the idea of starting an entity that would address real issues of motherhood. We approached a municipal government organization offering family services about distributing a survey asking moms to indicate their interest in participating in and contributing to what we assumed would be a regular newsletter. Very supportive, the organization’s committee agreed. Response was considerable – and positive. We decided on an unwieldy, yet appropriate name: Modern Activities for Mothers’ Mental Awareness. We wrote articles, invited contributors to write, typed, copied and collated our first MAMMA issue.

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Each family member, from grandparents to children, took turns at folding and stapling each newsletter

 

mamma-with-kids

 

Eventually, MAMMA became a quarterly publication, edited and designed by professionals, sent to the presses for printing, and mailed to subscribers across the nation and around the world. One issue included a Directory to Home Party and Services that led to a Home Party  feature by Financial Post Magazine. A journalist with a copy of MAMMA asked to interview us and some of the home party business owners mentioned in that issue.

mamma-homeparty_issue

After capturing the attention of local and then national media, we were contacted by the director of a small cable company about the idea of a taped half hour weekly cable show along the lines of our publication. We were excited to take on the challenge.
meet-the-mammas

That gig in turn led us to pitch the idea to a major cable company of an hour long, live, interview and phone in show, once again ‘wo’manned by local volunteers.

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mamma-motherhood-gets-a-network

We became a phenomenon, especially after the airing of an interview with our camera woman – a last minute guest who – til then, it turned out, had received the largest divorce settlement  in the history of Canada! (How well do we know the people who cross our lives?)

media-coverage-decades

You never know when the solution to a problem can lead to wonderful results you never considered. You just have to take the leap.

Another example: GRADING THE TEACHER: A PARENT/TEACHER GUIDE

Challenges about my children’s education motivated me to writing a proposal for an article in one of our local newspapers. It was turned down as not suitable for that publication by the editor – with the suggestion that I expand it into a potential article for a national magazine. With that in mind, I created a report card to send with my proposal to another newspaper. That became the focus of a full page focusing on evaluating teachers, using some of the points in my report. (See the Toronto Sun headline “Marking the Teacher” in the photo below.)

The editor there suggested I use the report as the source of a book.

That led to writing an outline, submitting a proposal, taking on a New York agent, being turned down by 28 publishers, and then contacted by Penguin Books Canada!

My book Grading the Teacher became a best seller worldwide. And … as well as by most major local and national media across the country, it was featured on page two of the newspaper by the very first editor I approached with my proposal for an article!

gtt-media-coverage

Have you taken risks overcoming challenges that led to surprising results? Share your story…

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In the next post, I will describe the background of a completely new initiative I’ve just previewed this past week. Here’s a sneak look:  https://www.facebook.com/NellieJacobsSunnySideUp

Creative Thinking: Tools and Techniques Workshop

As generally happens, out of the blue I received an email inviting me to facilitate a creative thinking workshop, this time  for engineering students at the national Conference on Diversity in Engineering (CDE2016) sponsored by McGill University in Montreal,  November 18-20.

marci-and-nellie-being-funny
Marci and me having fun facilitating at our 2014 WISE workshop 

On her request in 2014, I’d partnered with Marci Segal  in developing and presenting a Creativity and Confidence workshop to female engineering students during their WISE (Women in Science & Engineering) National Conference in Toronto.

Apparently, a participant at that workshop recommended it to the coordinators of  CDE2016 .

I love working with Marci. She’s now living in Canmore, Alberta, so I immediately sent her a note asking if she’d be interested and available to plan and facilitate with me. “In a heartbeat!” she wrote back within minutes.

We sealed the deal with the conference team, and began to collaborate using Skype and Google Docs. An academic with an MS in Creativity, Marci has led creativity programs  worldwide (including NASA, PHD Canada, Ricoh), and is the creator of management training modalities and of World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15-21, now celebrated in more than 50 countries. I’m author, artist, and coach to creatives  who has studied art, screenwriting, and photography – and created original initiatives (such as skits, TV shows, mini-conferences, podcasts and Mining Your Creativity presentation) at virtually every stage of my adult life. Marci and I easily incorporate our different styles, background and experiences and have a great rapport in front of audiences.

After several conversations with members of the CDE2016 team as to their needs and objectives for this workshop, we came up with its title and description:

cde2016cre8-workshop-schedule-2

Marci and I pooled our resources, brainstormed ideas,  decided upon appropriate challenges for participants, chose illustrations, and  developed/designed the slides for a PowerPoint. Using Google Docs we created a logical outline and timeline:

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We also created a Twitter hashtag for posting comments (click on it to go to Twitter):

#CDE2016cre8

 The weekend was a blast, yet getting there was a definite challenge for each of us. My husband was hospitalized with severe back pain earlier that week. As a result, on Thursday, the day before I was to leave, we had to turn down a potential kidney transplant. Until that evening I had no idea if I’d be able to leave. My kids urged me to go, promising to stay with my husband as much as possible. Marci, on the other hand, was stuck that same day in a snowstorm at the Denver airport where all planes were grounded, while only 2 of 27 de-icers were operable. She thought she was on her way to Calgary after leading sessions for Peace officers in San Diego. Instead, at 3 in the morning she was re-routed to Montreal through New York. Marci slept on the floor of the airport waiting for her flight to leave.

What we do to keep our commitments!

We had a wonderful time in Montreal. We each met long-time friends, rode the Metro, ate at the famous Snowdon deli, and enjoyed watching the terrific play Prom Queen. The best part, though, was the conference. During breakfast before our workshop and during lunch afterwards, we met so many enthusiastic students seriously committed to their futures. We chatted with them about their backgrounds and motivations for choosing engineering. We were amazed to learn of the multitude of specialties in engineering today, among them chemical, material, software, project, automation, mechanical, electrical, applications, power systems, etc. and on…

cde2016-lunch

CDE2016: Lunch with engineering student leaders who participated in our workshop. Marci is seated 2nd from left.

 

Our workshop was scheduled to start right after breakfast from 9:30 until 11:00. We arrived a half hour early to set everything up. Our seminar room has a spectacular view of the city and beyond and is situated on the 37th floor of the Marriot Chateau Champlain hotel. About forty people settled in at the long tables facing the front. We were introduced. Marci started speaking.

marci-speaking-cde2016

She introduced the topic and workshop objectives:

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We gave the group our first challenge, a game: work individually or in groups to create a four word sentence connecting the hashtag #wciw of World Creativity and Innovation Week to the issues related to diversity discussed over the conference weekend.

cde2016-wciwgame-hastag

Here are some of the clever results:

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and

cde2016-wciwgame-hastag2

and

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As we’d promised, our workshop was packed with techniques and tools to think creatively, including this slide:

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Our audience listened carefully, took notes, worked in groups to address challenges, and shared their Eurekas:

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All in all, we had a great time presenting, offered tons of laughter, and received terrific feedback, including invitations to present this workshop at other universities across Canada. And afterwards, we had the unique experience studying the Trading of Crests, a long time engineering student tradition:

cde2016-exchanging-crests

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If you belong to, or know of, an organization, group or business that could use our Creative Thinking Tools and Techniques presentation, please contact me: Nellie Jacobs at Rogers dot com.

 

 

My Journey to Self-Publishing: Marketing 1-My Press Release

Igniting Imagination with Nellie Jacobs Internet talk radio show is now celebrating 10, 600 listeners …and growing more than one hundred listeners a week! Take the Listener Challenge! Click here for details and stat updates.

On Tuesday, I checked the printer’s proof of Making Opportunity Knock, and it’s a go! The book will be shipped to the warehouse book distribution centre in the next two weeks.

As part of my marketing plan, I have taken considerable time and re-writes to develop two letters.

One is a personal email to be sent to my friends and wider network, telling them what I’ve been up to, with details about Mining Your Resources series of books and in particular  Making Opportunity Knock, the first to be published this month, who it’s for, what it’s about, and that it can be currently be purchased on my site. I’ve attached two pdf documents:

1. Click here to see/read beautiful back/front bookcover of Making Opportunity Knock
 2. Click here to download/print “Mining Your Resources” bookmarks to use/distribute.

I ask friends and relatives in my network to forward that email to their networks.

The second letter is a press release to be sent to media.  It is copied below-and images added:


 For Immediate Release

Upheaval in Publishing = Infinite Opportunities

With such venerable institutions such as book distributor H B Fenn—Canada’s largest independently owned book distributor—and publishing house Key Porter shutting down, and Borders filing for Chapter 11 in the United States (effectively closing about a third of its 674 retail bookstores), what future does an author face?

“The publishing world is definitely experiencing an upheaval,” says best-selling author Nellie Jacobs, a former Newsletter Chair of the Writers Union of Canada. Jacobs believes that these events in the publishing industry reflect what is happening in other fields around the world. Yet, she says, these devastating changes can be blessings in disguise.

 “Just as the economic downturn forced all types of businesses globally to retract, downsize or collapse altogether, fantastic new opportunities are emerging for both companies and individuals in any industry.”

Jacobs concludes that because so much is unpredictable and unknown today, there is no one expert who can tell you the right thing to do or path to follow. Everything is in flux. It’s all about transformation, rejuvenation—and making opportunity knock.

Jacobs knows about such things. During most of 2010 she underwent tests and appointments in preparation to donate her kidney. To calm anxiety about the upcoming surgery, she immersed herself in a frenzy of creative activity. One outcome is the upcoming “Mining Your Resources” series of books she is proudly self-publishing.

 Click here to download 12-page 2011 full colour catalogue.

“There are no distinct rules or business models right now. Think about what happened to the music industry, and how songwriters and performers must keep adapting ways to reach an audience in an ever-changing environment.”

Studies indicate that “52 percent of all books are not sold in bookstores.”[1] In considering what marketing and market opportunities might be available, Jacobs says she was motivated by the individuals who generously shared their personal stories and lessons learned in interviews for her inspirational, self-help series.

 

Determined to follow their entrepreneurial spirit, she decided to market the series’ first book in new ways, starting at a grass roots level.  While approaching Canada-wide non-traditional retailers in addition to traditional bookstores, Jacobs expects to market with book signings/talks through home parties, book clubs, study groups, businesses, schools and organizations as well as offering online presentations and interviews. She’s taking advantage of social media networks. To spread the word and reach listeners—and potential readers—worldwide, beginning in mid-March she will be co-hosting a “How Have You Made Opportunity Knock?” phone-in series on her Internet talk radio show.

She is also chronicling her self-publishing journey on a blog.

Continually mining her own resources, Jacobs is an award-winning artist who has designed her own business cards, bookmarks*, 12-page full colour 2011 book catalogue, and website.

“Mining Your Resources” Business Card

“It’s all about creative thinking and innovative solutions. It’s about mining the vast resources within you, along with identifying and taking advantage of infinite opportunities available out there.”

March 21, 2011 is publication date of Making Opportunity Knock, volume one in the “Mining Your Resources” book and workshop series developed by Nellie Jacobs.  For more details, visit www.nelliejacobs.com. A portion of proceeds from these books will be donated to Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation to support ongoing research for the Kidney Transplant Program at Toronto General Hospital.


You are welcome to make comments.

All the best!

Creatively Yours,

Nellie

Next Post: Marketing 2 

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LINKS:Website: http://www.ignitingimagination.com

Internet Radio Show: http://blogtalkradio.com/igniting-imagination

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/nelliejacobs

Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/nelliejacobs

Twitter: http://twitter.com/nelliejacobs

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[1] http://selfpublishingresources.com/resources/books-news-and-publishing-industry-statistics

Creativity: Questions & Answers-Part 7: Barbara Florio Graham

Now celebrating 5, 773 listeners …and growing one listener at a time! Take the Listener Challenge! Click here for details and stat updates

This is the seventh in a series featuring worldwide creative-thinkers’ responses  to questions about creativity posted previously on this site.  

Please welcome Barbara Florio Graham, a writer, teacher and communications consultant. Her book “Musings”  was a winner in the 2002  Cat Writers’ Association, Inc. communications contest. Visit Barbara’s website at  www.SimonTeakettle.com

 1. What is a creative environment?

Any environment can be enhanced to stimulate creativity. If you work all day in a small cubicle with neutral walls decorated only with calendars, charts, and the occasional family photo, it’s very difficult to think creatively.

 How do you define it?

 A creative environment is full of things that stimulate your right brain. The ideal surroundings include plants, running water (perhaps a table fountain), a view outside where you can see nature (my office overlooks a large pine tree and bird feeders), and lots of visual images: not just photos, but posters, drawings, abstract as well as conventional art.

What do you need to be at your creative best? How do you/can we develop a creative environment to promote day-to-day creative-thinking and solutions at home, school and in business? (You can refer to physical space, attitudes, systems, beliefs, etc.)

 In addition to the surroundings I’ve described above, anyone can move into a space that’s more right-brain friendly, such as the courtyard or lobby of a building where there is art, plants, a fountain, and different kinds of seating from your office chair. Taking a walk outdoors is helpful, and those who work at home (or tend to brainstorm problems while they’re at home) will find that taking a shower or a bath can help. Water is a great stimulant for the right brain. 

 2. What are the common obstacles and fears people commonly face when called to use their creativity?

I mentor writers, and many complain about writer’s block. But that is almost always caused by fear. If you don’t attempt something, you can’t fail! Thinking you might not be able to do something is a sure way to shut down and become more frustrated.

 What solutions do you have?

 I teach an online course, called Tapping Your Innate Creativity, that has received rave evaluations from participants since I first began to offer it in hands-on workshops two decades ago. The lessons and exercises are original with me, and everyone who has taken the course tells me they really work.

3. What strategies are available for people to access their creativity?

I describe a great many in my course, and work individually with participants to help them along the way, because each person  is different.

4. In what ways are you creative?

 The best testament to my creativity is my famous cat, who owns the company, has been featured on radio and TV, wrote an award-winning book, and has a blog. I created the persona more than 30 years ago, and the third (real) cat to carry the name Simon Teakettle heads a MEWSical Society with 33 cats from six countries plus a parrot. He now has a Facebook Fan Club, and the fan page on his website includes several dogs, birds, a rabbit, an alpaca and a llama. How creative is that!

In what ways do you contribute to the creative process/outcomes for others?

By working with writers and entrepreneurs I mentor, and through my online course.

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Your comments and feedback to this posting are more than welcome.  

If you would like to send your own opinions, ideas and experiences, click here for the questions. When you’ve completed them, click here to send your responses and contact details 

You and your story may be mentioned in my book-in-progress about mining creativity, with acknowledgement and reference to you and your contact information.

 Please forward the link to this site to anyone in your network who might be interested in reading them and/or participating.  

 All the best.   

Creatively yours,        

Nellie 

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To listen to call-ins discussing “Creativity and Innovation in Our Homes, Schools and Workplaces” with co-host World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15-21 co-founder and Creativityland CEO Marci Segal, click here to tune in to Part One on Episode 29 and Part Two on Episode 30

* Nellie cannot guarantee the safety or reliability of any linked website. 

For information about upcoming radio broadcasts, creative opportunities/events, and news, sign up on this site in the right column to get notification of a new blog posting. 

Twitter:@nelliejacobs  

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Upcoming Book Launch: Order Now/Pay Later!!!
    

 

 

Nellie’s newest book “Magical MousePainting®– A Tool for Computer Creativity” . One book/two covers. You choose. Details:  http://bit.ly/31ZE8Z