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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Moments of Conception 102 -- The Car Scene from Groundhog Day

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.

And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today's clip comes from the car scene from Groundhog Day:



What can we learn?

Engage in possibility for its own sake. The greatest moment in a creator’s life is when we realize, wait a minute, this is art. I can do whatever I want. It’s a hard gift to give ourselves. Especially with the cacophony of critical voices drowns out our inner sense of permission. But once we realize that we have complete lexical freedom, once we discover that we are accountable to ourselves and nobody else, and once we accept that nobody is looking out for our career anymore, we enter into an environment of unlimited creative possibility. We invent not only our play, but the parameters of the world we play within. Phil knows he’s trapped in a time loop, and so he does whatever he wants. He seduces women, learns town secrets, steals money, drives recklessly, attempts suicide multiple times and gets thrown in jail. But halfway through the film, his attitude shifts. He starts to help people, learns to play the piano, makes ice sculptures and befriends strangers. It’s an interesting contrast. A fascinating case study about what one might use their creative freedom to accomplish. After all, that’s why we make art in the first place. To do whatever we want. How would your work be different if you created without feeling dependent on circumstances?


Keep adding to the collection. In the first three years of my career, I experienced an asset imbalance. I had all the attention I wanted, but none of the equity I needed. And I’ll never forget when my mentor told me, you need to focus on building assets, not being famous. So I started writing. And writing. And writing some more. All day, everyday. That was my life. I was ruthless. I lived and breathed and ate and shit writing. And after a few years, it actually started to pay off. I was growing my body of work, not just my body of affection. Writing was becoming the basis of all wealth. Volume was becoming the ultimate catchall. And production was becoming the linchpin that activated everything else. Finally, new opportunities were finding me because of achievement through artistic skill, not attention through promotional savvy. The point is, time doesn’t care what we do with it. We alone control the amount of work we do. We alone determine how busy we are. And so, if we’re unhappy with our asset imbalance, we have to change the pattern. We have to stir the pot, practice fertile idleness, leverage downtime, cut our own path and find work for ourselves. What did you add to your body of work this week?


Getting restless right on schedule. Phil has what everyone craves. Complete schedule flexibility. The freedom to do whatever he wants, whenever he wants. Which is enjoyable for the first week, but after a while, purgatory starts to lose some of its charm. And that’s the downside of having too much downtime. It starts to cripple motivation, heighten procrastination, activate depression, hinder direction, foster complacency and destroy perspective. As creators and communicators of ideas, we have to impose our own structures and schedules. We have to stimulate our own uptime, to steal a mechanical engineering term, which is the period of time when our creative machine is functioning and available for use. I have an actor friend who struggles with this phenomenon. He works in television, so his earnings are episodic. He mainly works in small, short bursts, and often experiences several months of downtime between projects. And so, he crafts a weekly schedule that includes acting classes, community performances, writing sessions, networking opportunities, and physical training. He builds his own uptime. That way, he doesn’t go crazy. Is your creative instrument tuned for the world to move through you?


* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter. 
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

Now booking for 2014-2015.


Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of The Nametag Guy in action here!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Moments of Conception 101 -- The Fishing Scene from A River Runs Through It

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.
That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.

And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today's clip comes from the fishing scene from A River Runs Through It:



What can we learn?


Define reality in a more direct way. Seinfeld once said that that the most fun game is one you’ve never played and you’re inventing as you go along. I couldn’t agree more. Creating art is one thing, but the more sophisticated experience of categorical creation, that is, inventing entirely new mediums, crafting innovative ways to circulate our ideas and thoughts and feelings, now that’s really exciting. Even when you’re fly fishing. Paul breaking free of his father’s instruction, falling into a rhythm all his own, watching himself softly become the author of something beautiful, that’s exactly what every artist should aspire to. A few years ago, I got burnt out on writing books. And I knew there were useful strategies for influencing the environment that I was not taking advantage of, so I took initiative to find a new way to do what I do. The result was a documentary that combined four of my favorite things, singing, storytelling, socializing and sermonizing. Going in, I knew the project was going to be ambitious, complicated, expensive and extensive. But I also knew that by shedding the popular view of my own artistic reality, new possibilities would emerge. And they did. Hook, line and sinker. Where have you misread your own reality?

Bullied by conditions, buoyed by creativity. Norman says that many of us would probably be better fishermen if we did not spend so much time watching and waiting for the world to become perfect. His words couldn’t be more relevant for the modern creator. Because once we realize that we don’t have to do everything right, we’re free. That’s the mindset that allows us to remain prolific in our work. When we admit that we’re never fully ready, the work is never completely finished, and the world is never in the ideal conditions. Paul exemplifies this mindset. He literally steps out of his comfort zone, wades into deeper waters and designs his own way forward. It’s an inspiring reminder that we have our own rivers to cross, our own rapids to ford. And that success is mostly a matter of vision. I’m reminded of another scene in the film, where the narrator says that all there is to thinking is seeing something noticeable, which makes us see something we weren’t noticing, which makes us see something that isn’t even visible. Paul exemplifies this mindset too. He knows that’s all creativity is. Seeing what isn’t there, wading across uncharted waters and boldly bringing life to what might be. Have you gone public with your vision yet?

Build a permission free vocabulary. The most persistent and pernicious barrier to creativity is permission. It’s a term that describes any mental construct of notenoughness that prevents, delays or derails the progress of creative work. And it’s the number one reason so many artists die with their music still in them. They’re too busy twisting themselves into psychological pretzels to actually create. I struggled with this construct for many years as a writer and performer, primarily because I was always the youngest and least experienced person in the room. But with the help of mentors, therapists and coaches, I learned an assortment of affirmations, mantras, incantations and cognitive reframing tools to shift my mental perspective. And once I started saying to myself, I trust my resources, I am equal to this challenge, I am the person who can do this, I am worthy of this dream, it completely drowned out any trace of permission from my thinking. Paul is the hero of the film because he’s his own source of worthiness. Walking across the water, you can almost hear him say to himself, who I already am is enough to get what I want. What dream are you not allowing yourself to follow?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter. 
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

Now booking for 2014-2015.


Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of The Nametag Guy in action here!


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Moments of Conception 100 -- The Pool Scene from The Invention of Dr. Nakamats

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.


And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today's clip comes from the pool scene from The Invention of Dr. Nakamats Invention:


What can we learn?

Put something good in the story. Is it any coincidence that the people who create ideas worth spreading are the people who have lives worth living? Of course not. All prolific creators know that art is subordinate to life, not the other way around. That’s why they constantly put themselves an intercept path with interesting experiences. And not in a contrived, disingenuous, I just did it for the story kind of way. It’s just that good art, like a good story, doesn’t happen by accident. And so, it’s simply a matter of expanding their field of vision, which allows them to better notice the opportunities that lead to better stories. It’s not mind over matter, it’s using your mind to allow more things to matter, so you can expose yourself to the best life has to offer. Nakamatsu is a master of this process. He holds over four thousand patents. And even though several sources do not list him among the world’s most prolific inventors, watching his documentary is like taking your brain to a playground. You experience his creative process firsthand, as he invents products like a creative thinking recliner, a custom pushup bra, a brain enhancing cigarette, a pillow that prevents drivers form falling asleep behind the wheel, even a wig that functions as a self defense tool for women. Boring people never invent stuff like that. Who wants to make a documentary about your life?

All art is selfish art. Nakamatsu is eighty years old. He sleeps four hours a night. He exercises every morning. He eats dinner with the family every evening. He is never in a bad mood. He only wears custom tailored suits. He is beloved by his community. He is revered by his customers. And of course, he claims that his life is only half finished. The man is equal parts superhero, urban legend, insane person, creative genius, eccentric millionaire, comic book character and alien from another planet. Totally inspiring. But what I love most about the good doctor is, he creates inventions to help him come up with other inventions. He has the privilege of treating himself as a client. It’s a solid example of productive selfishness, since he’s scratching his own itches, making the art he wants to see in the world, using creativity to perfect the very creative process for which he is renowned. He’s selfish, but in the service of the greater good. Nakamatsu channels his selfishness in a direction that benefits civilization. What could you do for yourself right now that would be obscenely but productively selfish?

Get a grip on your mind. Most artists are bad bosses. They beat the creativity out of their own brans. And they say things to themselves they would never let somebody else say to them. That’s stupid. You can’t just do that. That’ll never work. It’s too late. You’re not ready. That’s not logical. As a result of this negative thinking, artists smother their heart’s finest impulses, dramatically shrink their creative output and eliminate hope for innovative thinking in the future. The secret, then, to eliminating these negative thoughts is to hear them for what they are and to substitute more productive ones. I have a brilliant guitarist friend who’s known around the world for his innovative approach to composing music. Mike says that whenever he’s working on new material, his strategy is to ask if a new song is cool, not if it’s possible. That way, he doesn’t talk himself out of his next great idea. What a powerful way of talking to yourself. Nakamatsu would agree. Are you treating yourself as you wish to be treated?What can we learn?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter. 
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

Now booking for 2014-2015.


Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of The Nametag Guy in action here!




Saturday, September 13, 2014

Moments of Conception 099 -- The Telemarketing Room from Boiler Room

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.


And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today's clip comes from the telemarketing scene from Boiler Room:



What can we learn?

You can’t sell from an empty wagon. Every creator should schedule time to do business. Even if you’re like me, someone who’d rather be heard than paid, an artist who doesn’t sell, suffers. Period. It’s a part of the job description and it can’t be coughed away. The irony is, before we even think about darkening people’s doorsteps, we need an inventory from which to sell. Otherwise we’re just visiting. I’m reminded of my very first website, which went viral before viral was viral. Thanks to a slew of major media interviews, the site ended up getting so much traffic that the server crashed. Which was exciting, but also frustrating, because none of the traffic was converting. No customers. No sales. No click throughs. No exciting new business opportunities. Just a mountain of squandered attention. Angry and confused, I called my marketing professor to ask what I might be doing wrong. And he said something I’ll never forget. I don’t think you know what your product is. He was right. I didn’t have an inventory. I was trying to sell from an empty wagon. Seth’s telemarketer wasn’t. He had a great product to sell, he just hadn’t yet mastered the tools to sell it well. Are your customers asking to buy a product you don’t presently sell?

The art of creation selling. Every salesperson has to demonstrate a valid reason for their persistence. Otherwise they’re just an annoying interruption. However, the economic advantage that artists have over other types of salespeople is, their inventory is as vast and varied as their imagination allows it to be. They actually kill two stones with one bird, leveraging the process of creation to expedite the practice of selling. Consider the young freelance fashion designer. She is disciplined enough to carve out a predictable, repeatable time to make art, every day. And she is savvy enough to publish new sketches and designs and ideas and experiments on her online portfolio every single day. But while her daily gift to the world builds up a huge surplus of goodwill in the marketplace and helps people discover the trail of breadcrumbs that lead back to her paid work, more importantly, she is creating an recurring cycle. With every new piece of art she makes, she earns herself another opportunity to sell. And with every new piece of art she sells, she affords herself another opportunity to create. Certainly beats cold calling strangers. Are you bloodying your knuckles on doors that won’t open, or going where the doors are already open and leaving a package on the welcome mat?

Mattering is a choice. In the same way that the solar system is not obligated to provide us with the sun, the marketplace is under no such obligation to embrace our next creation. It’s nothing personal, just an existential reality. The universe is not built to care about us. Life pays no attention to what we require for it to be meaningful. Understanding this, however, can become a powerful creative motivator. Each of us can decide to take responsibility for our creative stake in the world. Instead of waiting for the market to create our work, we use our work to create the market. And instead of waiting on other people for permission to be creative, we use our art as instruments to force our way into the world. That’s why I love this particular scene. Seth is under no obligation to listen to the telemarketer’s pitch, just like his customers are under no obligation to listen to his stock tips. It’s all a matter of choosing to matter. How comfortable are you creating what you create, without knowing if anyone is going to pay for it?

What can we learn?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter. 
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

Now booking for 2014-2015.


Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of The Nametag Guy in action here!




Friday, September 12, 2014

Moments of Conception 098 -- The Trainwreck Scene from Super 8

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.


And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today's clip comes from the trainwreck scene from Super 8:



What can we learn?

Develop second order imagination. The prolific creator has a profound opportunity agenda, which is an inherent enterprise to notice creative opportunities, apply force and propel them into interesting directions. He is obliged to carve his own path. To build his own leverage. To penetrate his boredom with himself and engage his own interest, lest the first whiff of meaninglessness derails him as he stands in the void between projects. I remember the first time I strolled through the tunnel under the historic arch in my neighborhood park. The aesthetics were inspiring, the architecture was stunning and the acoustics were shattering. There was no way I wasn’t coming back with my guitar. Three years later, I’ve not only become a weekly performer in that space, but I also wrote, produced, directed and starred in a concert documentary about that place. The point is, making art is work, but so is creating the opportunity to make it. Charles, the kid director of the low budget zombie movie, doesn’t have that little voice inside of him that says not you. He’s not waiting around for somebody to greenlight his creativity. He doesn’t don’t have to ask permission to innovate. And so, he takes advantage of his invaluable production value. That’s second order imagination. How could you manufacture your own creative opportunities?

Embrace the importance of sustained movement. Charles may be obsessive as a director, but it’s only because he’s competing in a film festival against kids twice his age who have better stories and access to cars. Without production value, his movie has nothing. And while that particular phrase becomes annoying to hear over and over during the film, I can appreciate his plight as a creator. Because every project has its own version of this. Some idea, some moment, some opportunity, that’s going to pass the artist by if he doesn’t act on it, right now. Creativity, after all, isn’t just knowing a good idea when you see it, it’s executing that idea before anyone else sees it. Timing isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. That’s the only way to extend your artistic reach. By grasping the significance of something, leaping on it with everything you’ve got, making sharp and decisive strokes without being sidetracked by secondary thought, and then trusting every purposeful action that follows, while maintaining deep belief that your initiative will be rewarded. Quick eyes, quicker feet. What ideas do you have that you’re afraid people will steal?

Create a self to express first. If you have to resort to some gimmick to let people know you’re still around, you’re not really there. But if you keep doing things worth writing about, you will keep writing things worth talking about, and if you keep writing things worth talking about, you will always have an audience for your work. And so, I’m a firm believer in gradualistic creativity, which rejects the notion of the elusive eureka moment and favors an existential and holistic approach to the creative process. It’s about living your life in a way that your art gets done over and over. That’s something I loved about this movie. Once the train derails, a dangerous presence releases into town and strange events start happening. Every dog runs away, certain people go missing, all the electronics are stolen, and even the military comes to evacuate everyone to the nearby base. Spooky. But that’s the whole point. The kids weren’t just making a horror film, they were living inside of one. And that’s why the project ultimately gets done. Are you keeping the line between your life and your art short and clear?

What can we learn?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter. 
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

Now booking for 2014-2015.


Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of The Nametag Guy in action here!



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Moments of Conception 097 -- The Standup Scene from Funny People

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.


And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today's clip comes from the standup scene from Funny People:



What can we learn?

We all leave behind a trail of fail. I’ve written books that never sold, launched websites that were ignored, delivered performances that bombed, produced videos that were snubbed, executed products that tanked, even pitched a few television shows that were laughed at. Big deal. Creativity without failure, isn’t. Failure is fertilizer. It’s what makes us work harder, which makes us get better. And as long as we keep getting better, we become successful eventually. Besides, what’s the worst thing that could happen if we did fail? People who never tried get to laugh at us? Fuck those people. Failure means we risked failure. Doing something makes us right. That’s what I love about this character. George is a rich and successful and famous comedian, and yet, he throws himself into failure as a new and soaring creation. And nobody can stop him. As uncomfortable as this scene is to watch, it’s still an inspiring reminder for the next generation of creators, people whose job it is to fail, repeatedly, until they don’t. What have your failures and missteps qualified you to do?

Granting meaning to your failures. Shakespeare famously wrote that there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. I’ve always loved that passage. It’s ethical relativism at its most basic. But it’s also a mature, stoic strategy for approaching failure. It’s a reframing device that removes the subjective stain of judgment and expectation and projection and interpretation from our experiences. If a jewelry maker, for example, spends two hours forging a steel bracelet that winds up looking nothing like the original drawing, he could view the piece as a failure. He could allow his discouragement to globalize and devastate the whole of his experience. On the other hand, the designer could make the proclamation that there are no success or failures, only the consequences of experiments. And he could choose not to automatically assigning meaning to his experience, thus breaking the addictive cycle of interpretation. The point is, when you’re a fundamentally affirmative, relentlessly optimistic person, failure is only as devastating as your lack of imagination. Just because you can’t celebrate the victory, doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the effort that went into the failure. If your perception of and response to failure were reframed, what would you attempt to achieve?

Fail often enough to get good. The reason standup comedy is so difficult is because it’s a binary construct. It’s like pregnancy. There’s no preheat setting. You’re either funny or you’re not. The crowd is either laughing or they’re not. Period. And so, not even the most seasoned veteran can hide behind the delusion that he’s brilliant when he’s bombing on stage live. Comedians are craftsmen. Their performances force them to reckon with the infallible judgment of reality, in a venue where their failures can’t be interpreted away.
But that’s a good thing. It reminds the artist that greatness awaits, but only through the refining fire of failure. That when they fail in search of something bigger, it’s easier to reconcile the discomfort of the moment. Because in the end, art is a long arc game. We can create for a lifetime. There is no expiration date on our imagination. And so, as long as we stay in the game long enough, we can eventually aggregate enough failures and experiences that failure is no longer on the table. In the meantime, we can celebrate the sincerity of the effort, the passion in its pursuits and the care in its execution. Even if nobody is laughing. How can it be mathematically possible to fail at expressing yourself?

What can we learn?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter. 
scott@hellomynameisscott.com

Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

Now booking for 2014-2015.


Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of The Nametag Guy in action here!