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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Moments of Conception 089 -- The Neon Scene from Blue Chips

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 Neon scene from Blue Chips:



What can we learn?


Learn to compress yourself. What I love about stiletto heels is, they concentrate a large amount of force into a small area. Mathematically, they have an area of about one sixteenth of a square inch per foot. But at the moment when only the heel rests on the ground, each foot exerts pressure of fifteen hundred pounds per square inch. That’s greater than under the foot of an elephant. Stiletto heels, then, become the definitive symbol of compression. They remind us that our body of work doesn’t fully serve us if we can’t concentrate it into a tight little package. And so, part of our job as artists is creating stiletto moments, in which we demonstrate all of our skills at once. That’s what makes our work stick. Because once we show people our accumulated record, not just bits and pieces; once we demonstrate the firepower of our creative arsenal, not just the weapon we’re currently firing; and once we help people taste the full scope of our artistic power, not just the project of the moment, the world will know the depth of our creation. Neon’s stiletto moment happens right there on that court. Within seconds, his size, speed, strength, agility and raw power are undeniable to anyone in attendance. He’s mastered the art of compressing himself. What hidden gift or talent might you have that deserves a more prominent place in your life?


Lucky enough to get out of your ghetto. Neon has had a tragic life. He’s an only child. His mother abandoned him. His father was a fisherman who got into boating accident and was eaten by an alligator. And to make matters worse, he lives in the sticks. His neighborhood is so dangerous that people join the army just to go on vacation. But all of that tragedy is grist for his creative mill. That’s why he owns the paint. Neon’s raw talent is a product of his even rawer environment. Nobody’s ever seen anybody like him before. In fact, he has the potential to become the most dominant center who ever played the game. But only if he’s willing to play a game he’s not used to playing. College hoops are a long way from street ball. And so, if he decides to compete at the college level, everything will change. Neon will have to study and take tests and practice with a coach and play nice with others and shed a false self that’s made up of cultural constructs. Meanwhile, the people in community might become disenfranchised by his success. They might try to keep him in his lane forever, pardon the pun. That’s what makes change so hard. It requires mourning and letting go of a portion of our identities. Are you selling out or  outgrowing your origins and changing direction proudly?


Where my dreams begin to turn outward. Every once in a while, a player comes along who is so haunted by talent that we can barely look away. A once in a generation artist who makes us think, whoa, the world cannot be deprived of this person’s magic. When I encounter people like this, I just want to run up and hug them until every drop of talent comes oozing out of their nose for all the world to see. What scares me, though, is that some of those talented people will never become as successful and happy as they could be, since they won’t have the resources to take their talents on the ride they deserve. And so, it’s our responsibility to show them the replay. To grab them by the lapel and reveal what they can’t see for themselves. And to to tell them what they’ve done, why it matters, and why they need to keep taking shots, every day, forever, until it’s all over. We need to be a stand for these people’s greatness. Because without that brand of encouragement–––which costs nothing, by the way––they may never realize how bloody brilliant they really are. Will you stand idly by while someone’s talent gets trapped in a box?


* * * *
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, August 29, 2014

Moments of Conception 088 -- The Woody Scene from I'm Not There

l 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 Woody scene in I'm Not There:

















What can we learn?

Scratching itches early and often. Dylan’s moment of conception is well documented. It started with a book. Guthrie’s autobiography inspired him to begin mimicking the folk hero’s speech patterns and songwriting style. Years later, when his idol became ill, the moment of conception continued. Dylan tracked down his hero at the psychiatric hospital, played a song he wrote just for him, and the tune was met with the legend’s approval. The rest was history. Pardon the pun, but this scene strikes a chord with me. Growing up, I never needed to run away. I was fortunate enough to float on a tsunami of in house support. A family of joiners. People you don’t even have to ask. People who believe saying yes to others is the ultimate love language. People who just want to be part of everything. Whatever you’re doing, whatever you’re thinking, whatever you’re feeling, they’re happy to be there. Physically, emotionally and spiritually. On board at a moment’s notice. It’s the opposite of pulling teeth. Relentless affirmation. Instant encouragement. Endless participation. Radical acceptance. You’re never met with a tilted head. The point is, we all need a secure human base to operate from. People in our corner to support us. Even if it’s just one person sitting in hospital bed, holding our highest vision in front of us. That can be enough to send an artist on a creative trajectory that lasts a lifetime. What support system can you count on?

Getting lost in somebody else’s dream. The smartest move I made in the early years of my writing career was moving back in with my parents. Their support gave me something more valuable than money, which was the ability to be brave. Since I had no debt to cover, no spouse to support, no kids to feed and no rent to pay, I could afford to invest every dollar I earned back into my business. I could take substantial risks with my creative work. And I could bear the brunt of failure without significant financial losses. Of course, that’s not the norm for many creators.  Dylan makes no mention of his family of origin or heritage in his own autobiography. As the movie portrays the mythology, he skipped town and fled across the country like an orphan with no direction home and only ten dollars in his pocket. And so, having grown up in a healthy, creatively nurturing community, it’s hard for me to fathom the psychological damage young artists must experience when they’re blinded by the dangling sword of family disapproval. Imagine trying to find your voice as an artist with a layer of disapproval over everything they do. Yet another reason to be sick with sweet gratitude for growing up with a solid support structure. If your family would support anything you chose to do, what would you do?

Quality is surprisingly overrated. Dylan couldn’t sing. Or play guitar. But that didn’t stop him from selling a hundred million records, rewriting the rule of pop music and becoming the most influential musical figure of the twentieth century. Proving, that talent is helpful, but sometimes, there are bigger creative fish to fry than simply being good. If your art represents something important, builds an emotional connection, tells a remarkable story, starts a movement, inspires a revolution, changes popular culture, defies the norm, crosses categories, gives voice to a new generation or raises global consciousness, then quality is neither here nor there. Job number one is to create an exhibition of love through your art. Dylan knew that intuitively, that he didn’t have to be great to get started, but he had to get started to become great. And that over time, his shortcomings would be eclipsed by his mighty love. Are you spending time increasing your talent or increasing your character?

What did you 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, August 28, 2014

Moments of Conception 087 -- The Operating System Scene from Jobs

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 operating system scene in Jobs:




What can we learn?

Be okay being the only one who cares. I have a friend whose chief creative block is worrying whether or not anybody will care about his work. Which is understandable from a strategic business standpoint, but ultimately, that mindset doesn’t serve his artistic efforts. It only adds a secondary layer of worries around his creative process. A smarter approach is to practice selective indifference. To save his heart for the moments that matter. To care like crazy when it counts and let the rest go. To courageously say to himself, who cares if anybody cares, and make art because he wants to see it exist in the world. Keep in mind, thought, that selective indifference isn’t about being too cool to care, it’s about being discerning enough not to dwell. It’s about refusing to push our creativity out to make room for all the backwards, soul killing mental traps that keep us from bringing new life to what might be. Because there will always time to be sensible later. Jobs knew better than anyone, nobody knows what nobody wants to see until somebody sees it. And people don’t know what they care about until somebody conjurers it into existence and makes them fall in love with it. Are you looking to others to validate your efforts or your purpose?

Give your work a singular quality. The greatest advantage in art is not giving a shit. Zeroing out our expectations about other people’s desires. That’s selective indifference at its finest, and it creates a unique brand of freedom unavailable anywhere else. Jobs became a legend for this very reason. He didn’t hole up in his office, run a bunch of market research and wait around for customers tell him what they liked. He built the computer he wanted to see in the world. Instead of shipping another product that was a little bit different from the competition, he created a new standard with his art. And as a result, he captured the world’s imagination with products we didn’t know we needed, but suddenly couldn’t live without. As it says in his biography, his job was to figure out what customers were going to want before they did. Sound impossible? It’s not. People do it everyday. Creators aren’t just creating art, they’re inventing entirely new genres, categories, mediums, platforms, industries, languages, classifications and styles for their art. There isn’t an element of their work that isn’t original. And it’s not about talent, it’s a matter of having the right amount of fearlessness, imagination and resourcefulness. Are you reading things that are not yet on the creative page?

The first sale is the one I make to myself. Our chief weapon as artists the convincing of ourselves. The internal monologue that inspires us, down to our bones, to believe in what we’re making. If we don’t believe that the art we’re creating is the greatest thing that ever was, we’re finished. If we don’t think our work matters in a massive way, we’re toast. And if we don’t think our ideas are going to change people’s lives forever, we’re done.
Jobs may have been a notorious asshole, but the man was sold on his own brand. And he kept making that sale to himself, every day, until he died. Did he believe too much of his own publicity? Probably. But creativity, at its most existential level, is about believing, against all odds and all evidence, that the art you’re making is the greatest thing that ever was. Jobs believed that in his bones. He personally embraced and internalized his vision. And that’s why his famous new product introductions always seemed like epochal moments in world history. Proving, that if you want to jumpstart the audience, you have to make sure your battery is charged first. How sold are you on your own brand?

* * * *
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!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Moments of Conception 086 -- The Busking Scene from Once

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 busking scene in Once:


What did you learn?

This is what you’ve waited for. Watching a man surrender himself like that, screaming the top of his lungs, in the middle of the night, in the middle of the street, standing out in the cold, is the most moving opening sequence of any movie I’ve ever seen. His voice isn’t perfect, but who cares when you have goose bumps? Glen is a freight train of raw, naked emotion, which is exactly what ever songwriter should aspire to be. In fact, this scene ended up becoming my moment of conception. After we saw Once in its broadway premiere, this musical was responsible for kickstarting a creative transformation in my own life. Glen’s story inspired me to finally publish my original music online. Which urged me to crawl out of music hibernation. Which compelled me to start performing in public again. Which gave me a platform to play weekly concerts in my neighborhood park. Which provided me with a source of power I did not have before. Which inspired me write music that was more muscular and soulful. Which inspired me to write, produce, direct and star in my first concert documentary. All from hearing one three minute song. Too bad I can’t repay him. Guess I’ll just have to pay it forward. Perhaps my work will inspire the next songwriter. Which art inspires your art?

A chance to even up the score. Glen explains that during the daytime, people want to hear songs that they know, songs that they recognize. And if he played this song, they wouldn’t listen. That’s a common conundrum among street performers. We’re tempted to use other people’s songs to lure in the crowds. Bu the reality is, there’s no cover bands in the rock and roll hall of fame. If you want to make a name for yourself, you have to make your own music. And that’s what the songwriter does throughout this movie. Once he lets the animal out of the cage, once he gives himself clearance to be completely free with his art, the one person who needs to hear his song, does. And she changes everything. The whole course of his life pivots on that encounter. She turns love around for him, and she does it in five days. That’s the beauty of performing in public. There are no limits. It’s a permissionless platform. An honest canvas where we can play and sing and purge whatever we want, as loud we want, as much as we want, and we stick around and continue to be yourself, eventually, the correct people will find us. Will you still be around when the world is ready for you?

There are no emergencies. I’m amazed at certain people’s ability to involve themselves with every controversy, news story, celebrity scandal and inconsequential social drama the world has to offer. It’s an addiction. An emotional high. A cycle of feeding off of other people’s misfortune. Almost like they’re leading someone else’s life for a short period of time. And what’s sad is, that time could be reinvested in making art. Bringing something new into the world. But instead, they allow the ambient hysteria to infect their brain and poison their creative well. They allow other people’s drama to bait them into a life of worry. And that’s what I love about this scene. Glen chooses to maintain a serene distance from most of life’s commotion. He knows the more time he spends participating in other people’s drama, the less time he spends on himself. And so, he intentionally steps out of the current. He finds his sanctuary. He doesn’t allow other people’s shit to stand in the way of his art. What a great lesson for any creator. Impose your own order on chaos. Have you found a way to prevent the world inside of you from being contaminated by the world outside of you?

What did you 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!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Moments of Conception 085 -- The Focus Scene from Deconstructing Harry

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 focus scene in Deconstructing Harry:




What can we learn?

Your personal pause buttons. When the quality and frequency of your thoughts determines your livelihood, panic is always right around the corner. The life of the mind may be a dazzling and voluptuous operation, but it’s also a territory for which there is no roadmap. And if you don’t have a personal, portable toolbox for reducing the experience of anxiety on a moment’s notice, you can end up overdosing on yourself. Harry feels like a blob and a blur, just like one of his fictional characters. His brain burns with the color of anxiety. And yet, the more he tries to calm himself down, the deeper he descends into an infinite loop of neurotic hell. Cookie, aptly named, knows exactly how to nourish her friend back to life. She has an armory of anxiety reduction strategies to talk him down, including drinking tea, eating snacks, holding hands, making jokes, telling stories, talking about sports, taking deep breaths, all of which help reassure, relax and restore him back into focus. If more of us had a toolbox like that at our disposal, panic would come and go like a revolving door. What are you willing to try to heal yourself?

Another game of blame roulette. When a subject starts to become fuzzy and soft and blurry, the default response is to blame the junky camera. Or the dirty lens. Or the inclement weather. That’s the human instinct. We externalize blame. We expect the world to adjust to the distortion we’ve become. We artfully find all the ways everybody else was wrong, which makes you innocent through process of elimination. When the reality is, we are the one that need sharpening. We are the one making ourselves blurry. Which is both the profit and the peril of being a professional creator. Since we’re the only ones here, should we fail to discipline ourselves, fall short on our goals or ship mediocre work when we know we could do better, there’s no assistant to hide behind, no intern to scapegoat and no coworker to blame. Technically, it should be our fault and ours alone. Then again, who’s going to find out? If we don’t take the blame, it not like there’s a boss or a supervisor or a manager standing over our desk, breathing down our necks. It’s almost like our own private version of the honor system. We have to find ways to make the fuzziness our fault. Are you building the emotional muscle of ownership along your creative journey?

We are connoisseurs of chaos. Anxiety makes true creativity possible. If we were perfect, we wouldn’t need to make art. And so, we acknowledge and accept that inner turbulence is part of the process. We give thanks for our psychological stirrings. But we also understand that the discipline of creating while anxious is essential to our success. That our sense of interior stability is what allows our work to thrive. Harry can’t keep his peace from being stolen away by anxiety thieves, so he drinks and pops pills. Which certainly helps him return to homeostasis in the short term, but ultimately, it’s a losing system. Because when creators give themselves a crutch they don’t need, they develop a limp they shouldn’t have. And so, what each artist needs is to develop an early warning system. A personal seismograph that helps them take preemptive action against impending inner turmoil, without the aid of outside influences. Because unfortunately, there won’t always be a prostitute on the couch, standing by to give us a pep talk off our ledge of anxiety. Calmness is on us. What positive coping mechanisms do you regularly use to lower your stress level?

What did you 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!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Moments of Conception 084 -- The Destruction Scene from Star Wars

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 destruction scene in Star Wars:



What can we learn?

Move matters to a higher ground. A pivotal moment in the creative journey is when we finally let go of the illusion that we can control anything. There is no control. There is only the work we make. Our job as creators is to put everything we’ve got into the task of creating, and then let it go. Our job is to focus on the labor, and then let everything else flow from there. Sound frightening? It most certainly is. But it’s also freeing. Because there’s a deep release and relief when we empty ourselves of expectation. And once we stop burning calories worrying about things we can’t control, our mind is free to move matters to a higher ground. Specifically, to principal creation, which is the primary work unit of our creative process. Whether it’s typing words on the screen, writing new melodies on the piano or clicking the shutter on the camera, principle creation, the one thing we can control, has finally become job number one. It’s creative nirvana. The imperturbable stillness of mind after the fires of desire, aversion, and delusion have been extinguished. Luke is surrendering to the facts of existence. He shuts down his targeting computer and stops obsessing about hitting the target. And in return, he actually gains the energy and desire to achieve the impossible. Are you focusing on outcomes or what needs to be done right now?

Force nothing, allow your work to lead you. Luke has enemy fighters unloading on him from every direction, his master’s words of wisdom ringing in the back of his mind, the base captain screaming into his headset and a limping, smoking droid hanging off the side of his jet. Talk about a crowded environment. Does your creative life ever feel like that? If so, that’s normal. Because number of variables affecting any given outcome is near infinity. If we produce and publish our new landscape painting, for example, there’s no telling how the marketplace will respond. They may give it an active resonance, a dull thud or a shattering silence. It’s completely unpredictable. And so, do we really want to waste time trying to make that calculation? No. We’re better off staying in motion, making more art, making more contributions to the world’s reservoir of truth and beauty. That way, we can allow new opportunities find us through the attraction of working, not the agony of worrying. The point is, we can’t make things happen the way we want. We can only create. When was the last time a more interesting result happened when you decided to go with the flow?

Just when you get there, there disappears.
This four minutes of cinema is better than all of the prequels combined. I remember replaying this scene over and over again as a kid, and it still gives me goose bumps three decades later. What’s interesting is, it wasn’t until my late twenties until I truly understood the productive and calming power of letting go. Taoists call it the law of polarity, whereby any over determined action produces its exact opposite. Like quicksand, the more your struggle to get out, the deeper you sink. That concept will fundamentally alter the way you do your creative work. Learning how to turn toward anxiety, instead of trying to eradicate it. Learning how to view stress as a gift, not a condition. When you work a nontraditional job with erratic income, sporadic employment, feast or famine cycles and lack of job security, these kinds of strategies are the closest thing you’ll ever find to the force. Are you putting your enemy against the wall, only to force him to fight harder?


What did you 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!