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This week, we’re offering reflections from Betula Creative’s recent trip to Los Angeles to attend the 2015 Adobe MAX Creativity Conference. Just as its name would suggest, this conference holds creativity at its heart, and a vast amount of creative professionals from all over the world attend MAX every year. But with every graphic designer, creative director, or photographer, business owners from every other industry arrive as well—one would be amazed at just how much you can learn even if your professional title doesn’t necessarily suggest “creativity.”

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Baz Luhrmann, director of “Moulin Rouge” and “The Great Gatsby”, talks about his lifelong creative journey at the 2015 Adobe MAX Conference.

When one hears “creative professional,” many of us point to someone who is artistically inclined. But in reality, we believe everyone has a creative streak, even if you’re not necessarily “artsy”. And in business, “creativity” can also be known by words such as ingenuity, groundbreaking, imagination, resourcefulness, and adaptation. Really, in a sense, all business owners are creatives in their own way—they bring an originality to the table with their products or services that only they can provide.

So, what could a small business owner possibly take away from a conference aimed at “creatives”?

Here, we’ve outlined just a few of the points made in various sessions that could prove valuable to all industries—whether you’re a web designer, hunting guide, restaurant manager, or craftsman:

Andy Epstein, from Workgroups Da Vinci and Cella:

“Change Leadership”

  • Talent and Intellect will never be as valuable as responsiveness to changes in your industry.
  • Good “change” leadership is supportive, compassionate, collaborative, and generous.
  • Don’t make the “mistake mistake”: Don’t punish the wrong kinds of mistakes.
  • There Are Four Kinds of Mistakes:
    • made as a result of sloppy or careless work
    • made as a result of a repeated past mistake
    • made from a judgement call with good intentions, but with bad information
    • made as a result from taking a risk
      • make room for this kind of mistake, and encourage them!
  • “The Plan Trifecta”
    • Plan for Recruiting
      • make your team a destination
      • mingle with your employees and coworkers
      • attitude will always trump aptitude in the workplace
    •  Plan for Places
      • scalability: have a flexible overhead—don’t pay for what you don’t need

        • think about extra employee “space” (ie. homes, internal, or in the workplace)
        • think about the need for extra tools or equipment in the workplace
        • think about the value of bringing in more business partners or vendors
      • “The Moral of Morale”
        • do your employees have the necessary equipment?
        • do they have ample, constructive space to perform their work? 
        • do they have the necessary access to you and other assets in the workplace?
    • Plan for People: Remote Work
      • by 2050, it is expected that 50% of work industry will be contracted, potentially remote
      • there is access to a larger talent pool
      • there is more flexibility with scheduling in after hours and weekend work
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Conference attendees marvel at the latest version of Adobe Photoshop Sketch.

Panel Discussion, from  Noreen Morioka, Nicole Jacek, Joshua Davis, and Casey Caplowe:

“Creative Perseverance: Beyond the Pay Day”:

How do you stay motivated to create and inspire day after day, when sometimes the hours are long and the jobs seem tedious? A panel of successful designers, publishers, and motion artists share their secrets to staying “sharp” on the job, even during the days of writer’s block and creative brick walls:

  • Remind yourself why you do what you do:
    • to see things and interpret them in a unique way?
    • you have a compulsion to “make” with your hands or your head?
    • you enjoy pushing pre-conceived rules or boundaries in your industry?
  • Remember that failure can be paramount to eventual success.
    • “fear not having any fear”
    • if you aren’t nervous, you aren’t pushing your abilities
    • “failing” can be a good place to get lost in for a while
      • good things come from re-centering yourself and your work
  • Tools to Avoid the “Work Slump”
    • avoid complete redundancy in your work when possible
    • surround yourself with good people and good work
    • avoid entitlement in your work and how you treat others
    • ask “what can I do for you?”, not “what can you do for me?”
  • Creating Your Toolbox:
    • inevitably you will find yourself in uncomfortable situations
    • don’t settle for the tools and knowledge you already have
      • new tools and new information can come from anyone and anywhere
    • there is always a certain power in “making” your own creative tools
    • we are the only ones standing in our way when we say we want to “reinvent” ourselves or our work
  • “Words to Live By”
    • remain teachable
    • design the life you love—make it completely your own
    • be kind
    • follow your own creativity
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Performers swim across a suspended pool of water during the MAX BASH event at the end of the conference.

In closing, we would like to reiterate how valuable attending conferences just like Adobe MAX can be to business owners and their employees or coworkers. The experience alone can be just what it takes to reignite company morale or get you recentered to do your best work, and the kinds of tools and information you take away are immeasurable. Creativity isn’t just reserved for those of us who are “artistically inclined”. It’s for every entrepreneur or business person who has ever wanted to do things differently or see things in a new way.


*Photos taken from Adobe’s “Highlights from MAX 2015.”

 

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