Nir Bashan: “Anyone can be creative”

Anyone can be creative. It just takes a recipe that you can apply every day in your career or business. And we owe it to the world to be more creative. There is creative potential in all of us that we are born with, yet sadly, most people waste it away during their lifetime. But […]

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Anyone can be creative. It just takes a recipe that you can apply every day in your career or business. And we owe it to the world to be more creative. There is creative potential in all of us that we are born with, yet sadly, most people waste it away during their lifetime. But if we can learn to listen to the creative ideas our minds are always producing, we can have an amazing impact on not only our careers or business but also on society at large.

As part of my interview series on the five things you need to know to become a great author, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nir Bashan.

Nir Bashan (Near Ba–Shawn) is a highly sought-after creativity guru who has taught leaders all over the world how to be more creative in business. He runs a consultancy, The Creator Mindset (the same name as his new book), which helps businesses and professionals become more creative with actionable tools they can use every day.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?

I started learning that businesses needed to be more creative at an early age when I started my first business in Los Angeles. I was 9 years old, going door to door washing cars for 5 bucks a pop. And I learned then and there: if you are not creative, then you will go out of business, no matter what product or service you offer. You need to stay flexible in order to survive. No matter how polished your SOW or MSA is, sometimes you need to have the flexibility to provide a product or service to clients that may be different than what you thought. I learned that at 9 years old — because I ended up cleaning more trash cans than cars! But I still found a way to make money. And in that difference is the power of creativity to keep you ever-changing and ever-relevant as the market shifts into the unknown–especially today with COVID–19.

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

I used to work with actors in Hollywood and famous musicians on albums. Over many years, I came to realize that the people in Hollywood or in music are no different than you or I. They are not particularly more creative in any way–they just have a process to enable creativity to be repeatable, time and time again.

This most came into focus while working with hip-hop musicians who would take to the microphone in the recording studio with some of the most hard-core lyrics and passion and grit you have ever heard in your life! But then shortly after, they call home to say good night to the kids because they will be home late and yes, they would make sure to pick up a gallon of milk on the way home!

I learned that people in Hollywood or music who had a creative routine–a repeatable creative recipe–did really well. So, I took parts of this recipe and learned to apply it to any business, not just Hollywood or music. Real creativity is a skill that can be acquired — all it takes is the will to learn how to do it.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming an author? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that that other aspiring writers can learn from?

It took me just about 7 years to write The Creator Mindset. I wrote 85,000 words and thought I was done. But no. I got an agent who threw the manuscript in the trash the very first time we spoke! It takes a lot of dedication and discipline to write a book–but anyone can do it. It just takes the will to endure. Theodore Herzl once said, “If you will it, it is no dream.”

My recommendation for folks who want to write (or do anything, really) is that it’s far more about perspiration than inspiration. If you want to do something, you need to plant your butt in a chair and get it done. The world is filled with distractions and excuses. If you have a predictable path to regenerating creativity in all you do, it becomes much easier to execute on your dreams.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I showed up once to an event that I thought was supposed to be for entrepreneurs. And it turned out to be a group therapy session for, of course, Alcoholics Anonymous. I will never forget delivering a keynote on creativity to 8 people who out of politeness clapped when I was done. I truncated the presentation quite a bit and hightailed it out of there! Whoops.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I am working on putting together an outline for my next book, building my sales pipeline, and producing a ton of content — for my YouTube channel and other outlets — these days. I am very excited about the potential of a new book idea I have about how to use creativity in times of crisis.

Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?

I think the crisis is on everyone’s mind right now, and the way that Johnson & Johnson dealt with a terror plot in the early 80s with their product, Tylenol, is a great example of vulnerability, communication, and corporate responsibility. And most importantly, creativity.

In the early 80s, a terrorist laced Tylenol pills with cyanide, tragically killing people. No one knew which pills were poisoned and which were safe. Not even Johnson & Johnson knew.

So, they enacted a policy of creativity. They became vulnerable. They communicated with the public, admitting they had no idea what was going on, but they were working to uncover it. They told people to throw away their supply of Tylenol. They started a 1–800 number so that people could dial in and ask questions. No one ever had ever done these things before. Johnson & Johnson effectively created the first recall in history. They got creative. And over a period of a few weeks, they were able to isolate the cyanide poisoning to just a few locations and destroyed the tainted pills.

In just a few short months after the incident, Tylenol went on to become the best-selling pain reliever in the US once again. Johnson & Johnson did it by using creative principles each step of the way to allow for trust to be rebuilt. Some of these same practices are still with us today. Each time you open a tub of cottage cheese or a bottle of Tylenol, you rip the safety seal off the package. This was invented as a result of this horrific act of terror, and has undoubtedly saved countless lives thereafter.

What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?

Anyone can be creative. It just takes a recipe that you can apply every day in your career or business. And we owe it to the world to be more creative. There is creative potential in all of us that we are born with, yet sadly, most people waste it away during their lifetime. But if we can learn to listen to the creative ideas our minds are always producing, we can have an amazing impact on not only our careers or business but also on society at large.

Based on your experience, what are the “5 Things You Need to Know to Become a Great Author”? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Never Give Up

There cannot be any quit in your game. You need far more grit than talent to be a good writer.

2. Have a Sense of Humor

Things are so much easier when we look at the funny side of life. It allows us to ease up the crushing weight of deadlines and self-doubt (see #5) that stop so many good things from happening. Try humor in looking at your work.

3. Listen to Your Editor (She knows way more than you do.)

Hopefully, you will have an editor working with you. If you do not, then get one. Editors are the lifeline of a good writing project and their opinions and thoughts will only make your work stronger. A good editor will force you outside your head for the benefit of the most amount of readers. I was lucky to have an amazing editor at McGraw-Hill. Thank you, Cheryl, for making my writing so much better!

4. Write Your Passion

I am not a great cooking buff. I hardly spend time in the kitchen making haute cuisine. But some people love this stuff. It is their passion. And it’s worthwhile. So, when you write what you are excited about, you tend to want to do it. And wanting to do it is half the equation for success.

5. Fight the Self-Doubt Monster

Each and every word you write down will be subject to the strongest force that humankind has ever known: the self-doubt monster. This is the monster that has kept us from curing cancer. And from landing a woman on Mars. And it’s keeping you from writing your book. It is the strongest force of the analytical mindset that takes us away from our creative selves and forces us toward crushing self-doubt. Overcoming this self-doubt is critical in order to get your work out the door. And it can be done!

What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft, study) Can you share a story or example?

I don’t know if I qualify as a great writer, but am honored that you think I am. I wrote my book on nights and weekends, a half-hour here and an hour there. I also wrote a fair amount of the book in airplanes as I traveled to visit clients across the country, and any delays became welcome extra time to get more pages out the door!

I guess my habit would be sheer grit. And the will to move forward. It takes effort, but at the end of the day, it’s so worth it. You are worth it. Your creative voice needs to get out into the world. Because no two people ever practice creativity in the same way, your writing is needed. Trust me. Now, go out and do it.

Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?

I believe there is a renaissance in nonfiction business titles. I am inspired by the work of Adam Alter, Emily Balcetis, Adam Grant, Wayne Baker, Amy Edmondson, and so many other great nonfiction writers who create actionable books that can improve how we conduct business today.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would start a movement to bring creativity to the forefront of business thinking. That is my #1 goal! For too long, we have been dominated by the analytical side of the brain and the love of data, spreadsheets, and logic. But without combining that with creative thinking, we are forever short of our full human potential! Forever bereft of full entrepreneurial endeavor! Imagine that?! It’s like driving around with a half tank of gas, wondering why we never arrive. However, if we combine analytical thinking with creative thinking, we awaken a long-dormant part of the mind to allow us to solve problems that were previously deemed “unsolvable.” And I think that’s a pretty darn good movement. Want to join me?

How can our readers follow you on social media?


- | Online Community
[email protected] | insta
[email protected]_Bashan | twitter

– | LinkedIn

[email protected] | email

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspiring!

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