Stand Tall, Creative Giants

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checked by failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat. – Theodore Roosevelt

As part of our self-imposed brand audit last year, I spent several weeks reflecting about who we serve. A perennial challenge that I’ve had is clearly articulating who it is we serve with an easy label precisely because so many of you are neo-Renaissance that way, which I get because I’m that way, too.

Rather than tell you the exact process of how I resolved this – perhaps I will another day – I will just say that in a burst of what was equal parts exasperation and insight, I landed on the term Creative Giant.

Creative Giants are naturally compassionate, creative people who have the vision to see how the world might be, the courage to take action, and the capability to actually change the world. These people aren’t just the black-beret-wearing artists that we might typically think of when we hear the word “creative”; they’re engineers, doctors, programmers, and scientists, as well as painters, musicians, designers, and writers. Actually, because they’re Renaissance people, they’re often both engineers AND musicians.

In fact, one of the distinguishing features is that they are AND people who get tired of trying to present themselves to a very limiting EITHER/OR world. It’s not that they’re trying to be difficult; it’s that they just don’t see the world that way or show up in an easy EITHER/OR label. They always need a few extra circles for whatever Venn Diagrams people try to use to categorize them.

The aforementioned exasperation came from some past questions that interviewers who weren’t Creative Giants would say about you. “So, they’re people who are wanting to be more creative?”

Uhm, no. Being more creative is never a pain point for Creative Giants. Every breath comes with a new idea or two to figure out what to do with. Figuring out where to put the ideas and which ones to pursue is the challenge.

While not all Creative Giant are entrepreneurs, they’re almost always entrepreneurial because they’re always seeking ways to better use what’s in front of them to create more value. In organizations that employ them, they’re the intrapreneurs, linchpins, trust agents, or whatever term trends next year to describe the same thing.

Lastly, Creative Giants are usually reluctant and accidental leaders. They didn’t set out to be leaders but fell into it. Because they don’t see themselves as “the leader archetype,” they discount the fact that a) they’re leading, b) there are many ways to be an effective leader, and c) most of the principles of leadership are learnable and practicable. I know, because I’ve been mentoring reluctant and accidental leaders for a little over 25 years. (I had an early start through youth leadership programs and continued in Boy Scouts and military training.)

The Creative Giant’s Challenges

The Creative Giant’s challenges are largely a result of the ways that their creativity, intelligence, compassion, and personal power generate tensions and polarities. I’ll list the major challenges, which will help me explain where the “Giant” part comes from:

  1. They can do just about anything they set their minds to. They’re scared they’re going to pick the wrong thing.
  2. They chronically overcommit because, on the one hand, people turn to them for a lot of help or to see projects through and most things are easy for them to do. They forget the cumulative costs of small commitments, and they often forget that everything takes longer than they think it will.
  3. They half-finish things because they understand it before they finish it. It’s thus lost its appeal and they have other commitments to attend to. (See #2 above.)
  4. Their compassion gets in the way of their personal power. They suck at receiving, they undervalue themselves so that others can either afford them or don’t feel small, they can’t “win” because that means other people lose, they can’t “move on” because they have to leave someone behind, etc. They spend an inordinate amount of time either hiding their power or throttling it so that they can play nicely with others.
  5. They learn and grow quickly, so relationships are hard for them to maintain. Even when they have the patience for people who aren’t continually expanding, they still don’t understand why people wouldn’t want to grow.
  6. Because they are socially adaptable, they often struggle with keeping to their core. They adopt worldviews quickly and sometimes forget that someone else’s worldview isn’t their own.
  7. Success is an ever-evolving thing for them. They accomplish things that other people could only dream of, but it’s not enough for them because they know they could do more or they know what they could’ve done better if they had more time. They’re great builders of never-ending ladders.
  8. They crave simplicity at the same time that they reject it. Their native creativity and intelligence thrive on the tension of complexity and novelty, often times obscuring their experiential knowledge (wisdom) that simplicity, structure, flow, and sufficiency is the broad, plain path that enables them to thrive.
  9. They’ve created conceptual tension between strategy and compassion and often don’t see that being better in the world means they can better serve and lead others.
  10. Busy, accomplished people always get more responsibility than everyone else, so it’s easy for them to be overwhelmed. An evergreen problem is that they have more demands on them than they have the capacity to meet, and every time they satisfy one more demand, another one or two are placed on them.
  11. They have a chronic problem with over-delivering. Good enough is never good enough, especially if someone has paid them to do something.
  12. Cultivating their physical health has to be an intentional practice that they remain vigilant about because they work with their minds. Because they often get pulled into travel, extended projects, or caregiver roles that disrupt their routines, they easily fall off the exercise wagon.

If you’re reading that list and think that everyone has those problems, I have two things to tell you: a) you’re wrong and b) you’re a Creative Giant. Welcome to the club. Coffee is in the back, the bathroom is down the hall, and we’ve been meaning to get equipment in the fitness center for a few years now.

Why “Giant”?

I recognize my limits but when I look around I realise I am not living exactly in a world of giants. – Giulio Andreotti

Now, about the ‘Giant’ part. That really comes from items 4 and 5 above, and the term addresses a recurring pattern I’ve seen for years in conversations with my clients, colleagues, friends, co-mentors, and mentors. In private conversations and workshops, I talk a lot about superheroes because the metaphor provides such a rich and clear lens for the stories we can tell ourselves AND the superhero is something that female Creative Giants have had a harder time getting into, so I started looking for more accessible language.

What so many of my conversants were describing was the feeling of having to tip-toe around people lest they end up triggering, hurting, or enchanting them. It’s as if they were giants having to pretend to be normal people so that they didn’t step on them, scare them, or awe them. Additionally, Creative Giants are just as often introverts as they are extroverts, so they may not actively have to smallify themselves, but their gianthood is not readily apparent nonetheless. Until you get them talking. (I’m thinking of Chris Garrett here, who’s a known Creative Giant, but still one of those guys I can never hear enough from.)

To add further insult to a long life of injuries, Creative Giants who show up to events and conferences that put on a big show often find themselves sorely disappointed but unable to really talk about it. While everyone else is having a great time and/or having their minds blown, they’re trying to figure out a) how not to show their internal discomfort, b) what’s wrong with them that they’re not getting it, c) whether to cut their losses and leave or hold out for that “one idea” that may be a game-changer for them, or d) how to find other Creative Giants so the trip isn’t a bust. Yes, they’re doing that all at once. (It’s for this reason that I tell Creative Giants to decide whether the conference or event is worth it if all they do is meet a handful or two of people that they click with or want to finally meet; if not, pass.)

The other reason that they’re giants, though, is because they really are powerful. As I mentioned in Foundations are to Be Built Upon, Not to Be Flown Over, this is also a perennial downfall for them: they can do so much without trying hard that they simply don’t cultivate self-mastery skills.

I’ll pause here, though, because that’s the story you want to hear. The story you don’t want to hear and be held accountable to is the one that says you’re scared of being the best version of you and you should dial it back so you don’t have to deal with the social fallout of revealing your gianthood. Mediocrity is safe for you because your mediocre level of results and performance is at the level of very good for other people. Let’s move past those easy A-minuses.

Marianne Williamson said it best:

Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure about you.

Standing Tall

So, why am I sharing this now? Since I’ve known who you are for years and have been using a behind-the-scenes name for you for a while, why share this now?

Well, I’ve been afraid that you’d hate the name. I get it, Team PF gets it, everyone I’ve talked to about gets it, but still, there’s a fear that it’s yet another phrase I’ve come up with that won’t stick.

I’ll also not side-step the truth that showing you who you are also means showing you who I am. Those 12 challenges I listed above? I struggle with them, too. I’m a lot better with some than with others, but I’m here in the trenches with you.

I’ve been bolstered by the reception you’ve given the ideas I’ve been writing about for the last few months, though. More of you have been sending me personal notes about how much you’ve appreciated what I’ve been doing. I’ve also gotten a few “I’m glad you wrote that but I’m a little mad at you for pointing it out” notes. I’ll take a little bit of groaning from you if the end result is your standing a little taller and feeling truly seen. I’ll tell you the same thing I told my troops: you may not always like me, but we will succeed and I will do my best to take care of you.

And the tension of “doing my best to take care of you” is what’s bugging me the most right now. I know there’s a part of you that won’t like the “Giant” bit. I know why that part is there: the superficial elitism of the label, your self-criticism, your seeing that you’re not the “expert” or authority, and so on. I could dance around the idea for the next few years. This morning I printed out 22 pages of notes to review before I wrote this, and most of those notes are sketches, outlines, and root ideas that I’ll be busy fleshing out for quite awhile. I could do all of that without ever directly holding up the mirror so that you see what I see and what the world would see.

But I don’t think that’s the best I can do to take care of you. I can’t encourage you to move past that A- if I’m not going to do it myself. I can’t really encourage you to Stand Tall if I’m not doing it myself.

As I mentioned in Foundations are to Be Built Upon, Not to Be Flown Over, I’ll be focusing a lot on self-mastery topics this year; I’ll talk more about this in a future post. We’re starting here because a) it needs to be done and b) it’s the foundation for everything else you do.

I want you to stand taller so you can step bigger. (Click here to share this. Thank you!)

I also want to give you a heads-up that I intend on shipping a lot of stuff out the door this year. We’ve got a show coming out soon and some new products, training, and group programs coming up, as well as professional speaking. Most of it is stuff that I’ve been sitting on over the last few years; Angela and I have been challenged with family health issues and other distractions since moving to Portland in 2010, but it’s looking like we have clearer skies and favorable winds ahead. With what capacity I’ve had, I’ve been a building, incubating, and ready-making fool.

Part of the reason we’ll have more going out the door is that I’ll be prototyping sooner and faster than I have in the past. Rather than spend a year figuring it out on my own, I’m showing more rough sketches, prototypes, and outlines to the people I’m building them for and doing this three or four months earlier than I have in the past. It’s awkward to not have it all figured out but, anymore, it’s more uncomfortable to leave the people I care about hanging. I’m leaning into the former discomfort, which means that some things might not work. I’m okay with that in those projects, as well as in sharing this post with you.

I’m going to be practicing standing taller this year, Creative Giants, and I’m looking forward to it. You do not have to crouch and play small here, nor will I look past your doing it when I see it.

Let’s do this.

If you’re interested in working alongside other Creative Giants while getting work done that actually matters, join us for the next Creative Giant Coworking Session. You’ve got all the information you need, now it’s time to get to work!

How Creative Accretion Leads to Epiphanies

If you’ve ever thought about the creative process, you may have wondered how we go from idly musing about something one day to an epiphany many days later in a completely different context. Creative accretion is one type of catalytic activity that helps us understand what’s going on.

Accretion is normally used to describe how stellar systems are formed. The gravity of a particularly heavy molecule in the void of space attracts smaller particles to it and the smaller molecules stick to the heavier one. The heavier molecule is now that much heavier, so it attracts even more smaller objects to it. Play this out over billions and billions of years and you get every known physical object we see.

As I’ve often shared here, as much as we think our own inner processes are unique to us, if we pay close enough attention, we can see how much our processes follow similar patterns to what’s going on in the world. Creative accretion works much the same way as stellar accretion – one particular idea becomes the one that other ideas stick to, and new ideas stick to it, and so on for days, weeks, months, or years until finally the idea comes out full-formed.

I was thinking about creative accretion because I shared some ideas with TeamPF this week that have been accreting for a few years, much like the post on Creative Giants. Dots were finally connected that I’ve left up in the air – or, to switch metaphors, I stashed a lot of these in my idea garden and “forgot” about them.

Except, like those stellar objects floating in the void of space, the ideas were still exerting force on me. They were still pulling other ideas to them or being pulled into other ideas to make a new synthesis.

We often don’t notice creative accretion because it’s happening below the level of conscious thought. When we have one of those Eureka! moments, it seems like it came out of nowhere, and, indeed, sometimes those insights do come from some new source. But sometimes, it’s just that accretion has been in play and it’s reached a tipping point – accretion, then, is one of the catalysts for the two dynamics of change.

Accretion is a Blind Process

Like any other natural process, though, accretion is a blind process. Think of emotional accretion, for example: a particular emotion – that person doesn’t like me – gains some mass and motion and starts to pull other emotions toward it. As those emotions get stronger, our responses to situations are altered, normally for the worse. The usual outcome is that the original impression becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It would be fantastic if accretion was always toward something that lead to better outcomes, but, alas, that’s not the way it works (without some practice).

Usually, when we talk of things like decision inertia, accretion is the catalyst for that inertia. When people come to me for advising, they often come with a lot of decision inertia, and one of the challenges of what I do is to not accept the assumption that the course of action my client is working through is the all-things-considered best course of action. If I don’t question that, we find that three months down the road, we’ve been working on the wrong thing. If I question and confirm that it seems to be the best course of action, then we can recommit to that course of action with enhanced clarity.

When I look at courses of action that aren’t actually the right fit, what I normally see is that there’s some compelling part of the course of action that has been stuck to other parts. For instance, the founder or executive might be getting pressure from long-term employees that have been treated functionally as partners without the power and compensation of partners, so the company’s big squeaky wheel becomes whether or not to make those employees partners. When you look under the surface, though, you can see poor executive leadership, business strategy, and a chronic avoidance of tough conversations that’s gotten stuck to the idea of partnership, when in fact, there are many different components of the problem that have been merged into one big one (partnership).

It’s easy to see this with hindsight, experience, and distance from such a problem, but it’s really hard to see it when you’re going through it. It’s hard to read the label when you’re stuck inside the jar.

5 Ways to Catalyze Your Creative Accretion

I’ve been thinking a lot over the last few quarters about ways to nourish the incubation process. I think of it much more like planting seeds: the seed is going to develop on its own schedule, but you can give it the proper nutrients and environment so that it’s going to be stronger and healthier when it grows.

To be clear, there are some ways that you can accelerate your creative process, but I’ll leave that discussion for another day.

Here are a few ways to foster your creative accretion:

  1. Consume broadly – the more broadly you consume information, the more likely you’ll pick up an unexplored idea that sticks to the ones you’re already considering
  2. Give yourself time and space – it’s a bit like the lost keys phenomenon. When you’re looking for your keys, you can’t find them. When you stop looking, you remember that they’re in your pocket.
  3. Tend your idea gardens – every once in a while, tend your idea gardens. You’ll see creative cross-pollination and likely make some new combinations of ideas that you can then let grow on their own for a while.
  4. Keep vision/concept boards and mindmaps in your field of view where you work – I’ve heard quite a few of my author friends mention that they place the table of contents or their mindmap in a few places around their house and offices so it’s top of mind. I think an unintended benefit of this is that it gives the project creative mass so that it enhances the accretive process. There’s also an upshot here that the accretive process is biased towards things that matter.
  5. Play with snippets without forcing them to be done – sometimes ideas come in small snippets that you don’t know what to do with. Allow yourself some time just to play with that snippet, whether it’s writing 200 words about it or building a mindmap around it. If it seems to finish itself, great. If not, kick it back to your idea garden so it can accrete. You never know what it’s going to stick to or what will stick to it, but the fact that it came up for you is a good indication that it’s been accreting for a while.

I don’t mean for the list above to be the definitive list of ways to foster your creative accretion – you may have your own ways to do it. What I most wanted to highlight here is the same thing I discussed in Demystifying the Creative Process: when we understand the creative process and its subcomponents, we can take steps to more constructively harness and cultivate our creativity.

The more you catalyze your creative accretion, the more frequently you’ll have rich epiphanies. (Click here to tweet this – thank you!)

Good Strategy and Leadership Helps You Sleep At Night

“You read a book from beginning to end. You run a business the opposite way. You start with the end, and then you do everything you must to reach it.” – Harold Geneen

I found the LinkedIn article “What’s Keeping CEOs Up At Night: Six Facts That Will Surprise You” to be interesting on its own, but also interesting to consider in light of its similarity to what keeps so many small business owners up at night. Like the author of that article, I’m going to hand-wave that sales and revenue are perennial challenges.

Here are the six facts he shares:

  1. Surprises – 38% of CEOS have been blind-sided by a negative surprise in the last 90 days.
  2. Not enough data – 71% of CEOs we spoke with feel frustrated about the lack of meaningful data in their organization.
  3. Performance of the top team – 45% of the CEOS were not satisfied with their executive team’s performance.
  4. Moving too slow – 82% of CEOs feel like their team isn’t acting with enough urgency and this was affecting the company’s ability to get things done.
  5. Lack of control – 64% of CEOS don’t have full control over their company’s direction.
  6. Employees don’t get it – Only 22% of CEOS have confidence that their employees get it.

Obviously, some modifications need to be made to fit the context for small businesses and startups. Without having the quantitative data to back it up (right now), my experience shows that it’d look like this:

  1. Surprises – same as above.
  2. Not enough intelligence – same as above, but magnified by #5 below. I’ve changed this to “intelligence” rather than data to highlight the fact that it’s not that there’s not enough data, but that it’s not organized in a way that drives action on the business’s proirities.
  3. Founder’s effectiveness – The founder is usually spread too thin, both with what they’re doing and with what they’re responsible for. The latter tends to be where the stress is coming from, not the former.
  4. Moving too slow – Same as above.
  5. Unclear or non-existent strategy – the big difference here between corporate CEOs and small business executives isn’t the absence or diffusion of power, but the lack of a clear idea of where they’re really taking the company. Running the business tactically – i.e. responding to opportunities, challenges, and crises – tends to take precedence over running the business strategically.
  6. Employees don’t get it – same as above.

I didn’t reorganize the list in a causal flow, but it wouldn’t take much to see which of these is the root cause: an unclear or non-existent strategy. Without that, it’s hard to lead effectively and strategically, so the owner defaults to tactical management, which means other people aren’t learning how to do it and thus can’t do it in the future. A business’s strategy helps prioritize and cohere the data into purposeful intelligence so that the team can assess results and also predict future results. Because that data isn’t being consolidated, negative surprises happen more frequently. Because it’s not really clear what’s going on, teammates lack the clarity and confidence to move quickly and thus it appears that they don’t get it.

Because the employees don’t get it, the founder then has to do everything, and the cycle repeats. Founder’s mojo is both caused by this cycle and, later, keeps the cycle going.

We could do a similar reorganization for the corporate context but it wouldn’t be as simple given the overall complexity of leadership and operations in a corporate environment. There are simply too many competing power centers – both internal and external - in a large corporation that cause friction and stagnation to point solely to their strategy, although I will say that an over-complicated, incomprehensible, and non-prioritized strategy is worse than not having one at all. A 200 page strategy document with fancy 2×2 grids that a consultant was paid to make lulls many a corporate team into thinking that they actually have a strategy.

Whether you’re an executive in the corporate context or in the small business context, the reality is the same: work on what matters during the day or have it not being worked on keep you up at night.(Click to tweet this – thank you!)

Create Focused Time to Start Finishing What Matters

I’m just returning from an out-of-country trip, and I’m happy to be home and back into the flow. I’d be even happier if some of the stuff that piled up while I was gone finished itself up, but, alas, that’s not the way it works. That’s why it’s so important I create the focused time needed to get the stuff done that actually matters now.

Regardless of whether you’ve been out of the flow, though, you likely have a pile of stuff to work through, as well. There are frogs you haven’t swallowed yet or things you know are really valuable and important but you just haven’t gotten around to. Creative Giants always have multiple items that fall into both categories precisely because our work is never done, even before someone else gives us their work, too.

When are you going to create the focused time to start finishing those items up? No, really, when? More often than not, it’s not that Creative Giants don’t know what needs to be done, it’s that we get sidetracked by the Bright Shiny Object Syndrome and fail to create the focused time needed to make serious progress on real goals.

Since it’s hard for so many of us to create focused time, myself included, I’ve started something I’m calling Creative Giant Coworking Sessions. Join us for our first Creative Giant Coworking Session next Monday to convert those someday/maybe items to “started finishing today” items.

What Creative Giant Coworking Sessions Are All About

In case you missed our announcement last month, the Creative Giant Coworking Sessions are a 3-hour block of time where we come together virtually to actually get our work done. You probably don’t need more information or thinking about something as much as you need space and time to do what you know needs to be done.

You won’t just have a three hour chunk of time to figure out what to do with yourself, though: I’ll be guiding the work session. We’ll start with planning, then move to doing something important that you probably would otherwise put off, then move to doing something fun and future-oriented, and then wrap up by doing some more follow-on goal setting.

You’ll be paired with a buddy who’ll help hold the space with you. Yes, we’ll separate the Chatty Charlies from the Quiet Quincys.

The Types of Activities You Might Need Focused Time For

Here are some of the types of things you might want to work on:

  • Finishing your taxes (Don’t kill the messenger!)
  • Starting to develop a process so next year’s taxes aren’t done last minute next year
  • Rewriting one of the pages on your website that you’ve been meaning to get to
  • Reviewing your analytics
  • Fleshing out the table of contents for that book you’ve been mulling over (for plotters) or just sitting down and writing the overview for it (for pantsers)
  • Finishing a performance review for one of your teammates
  • Writing the job description for one of your teammates
  • Figuring out your strategic plan for the rest of the year
  • Doing some email triage
  • Invoicing your clients
  • Chasing down clients and customers who haven’t paid you on time
  • Writing a progress report for your supervisor
  • Writing one of the people who owe you that progress report to tell them to get it to you
  • Reviewing the progress report that was sent to you
  • Scheduling appointments for the rest of the month so you don’t have to be at their office at 7:30am because everybody else got the good times
  • Finishing your taxes (repeated intentionally)
  • Working through your prospect and lead list to figure out who should actually be on your sales board and who’s turned cold
  • Actually processing the Paper Stack of Doom rather than continually looking at it
  • Finding a place for those books that have been grabbing your attention for the last three months
  • Cleaning off your virtual desktop
  • Backing up your critical files (which may mean you figuring out what’s critical)
  • Sketching out or finishing posts or articles
  • Creating some of the design mocks that you’ve been wanting to do or are avoiding doing
  • Emailing the five friends you’ve been meaning to talk to for a while to see if they’d like to hang out sometime this month
  • Researching and ordering a gift or preparing a surprise for your loved ones
  • Figuring out what you want to do with that Amazon gift card you’ve been thinking about using for 3 months
  • Reading a part of a book you’ve been meaning to get to

I could go on, but you get the idea.

Finishing the stuff that matters – whether it’s “work” or “play” – requires you to make space and time to get it done. (Click to share this – thanks!)

That’s what our coworking sessions are for. I hope to see you there in a few days.

Click here to learn more about the Creative Giant Coworking Sessions. Our first session starts Monday, April 7th at 12pm PT.

The Free Planners for April 2014 Are Available


Welcome to Quarter 2, 2014! What projects have you made progress on, what new projects have you added to your to-do list, and what old projects need to go because they no longer align with your plans and goals?

I hope you’ve also noticed your energy, enthusiasm, and motivation start to pick up. That tends to happen around Spring – a renewal of sorts to get you moving on the stuff that matters most.

The free planners for April are available on the Free Planners page. (Click to share this – thanks!)

Click here to download your April planners.

And we’re FINALLY excited to announce that our printed planners are now available! Check out our Premium Planner options and invest in a printed PF planner today.

Why Timing is So Critical to the Success of Your Launch

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Strategy and timing are the Himalayas of marketing. Everything else is the Catskills. – Al Ries

While getting your launch’s timing right won’t guarantee your success, getting it wrong will definitely make it harder for you to be successful.

Getting your timing right is one of the most important things you can do to have a great launch. (Click here to tweet this. Thank you!)

In today’s video, I discuss why timing for launches is so critical and point out the things many people – including my team – routinely forget or don’t leave enough time for.

I have a lot more I want to share about the strategy of launching and I don’t want to bombard everyone with all of it, though there will be another video or two in the next week. To that end, I’m hosting a no-cost webinar this Wednesday for people who’d like to know more.

If you liked this video, grab our Epic Launch Playbook and start crafting your own epic launch by clicking here.

Softly Singing Giant Spirit – A Poem by Jonathan Mead

Editor’s note: Long-time friend, fellow Creative Giant, and contributor Jonathan Mead had this treasure pour out of him one morning and he shared it with me via email. I’m sharing it here with his permission.


Stand tall, creative giant

and the world is at your back

Pretend to be small

and you perpetuate the lack


Rise up, creative giant

Embrace your precious gifts

Stretch a little more

and the universe will lift


Be still, creative giant

Your power is at the core

Don’t fear your calling

Step through that scary door


Move bravely, gentle giant

Ahead lies great things

Give courageously

And your spirit will softly sing


Stay true, awesome giant

The course never ends

Take heart in your smile

As you watch the world bend


Band together, all you giants

You’re stronger when together

Lift each other up

You’ll grow taller with each other


Don’t play small, dear giant

Make the child in you proud

Live the truth you know

Be bold, brave, and loud


Click here to boldly, bravely, and loudly share this on Twitter. We thank you.

Show and Teach: What We’ve Been Building

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In the conclusion of Stand Tall, Creative Giants, I mentioned that we’d be shipping more stuff. Well, it’s time to show you what I meant.

Today’s video is part announcement and part teaching. You’ll see the new stuff we’ve made or are just about done with, and the teaching part shows a great framework for figuring out how to think through and present what you’re building. It’ll likely help you think about what you’re making and how it fits into things.

In the video, I credited Pam Slim with the “Learn – Do – Feel” model. I called her before I posted this to make sure I gave credit where credit was due. She applied it to product development in her amazing course, Power Teaching. I’ve applied it to business model development here. It works both ways beautifully.

I’d appreciate if you’d share this post so others could see how they might work through the development and presentation of their offers. Click here to share this post via Twitter

In case you wanted to check out the offers referenced, the links are below.

The Epic Launch Playbook Live course is open today. The Principles of Project Planning course and two month’s access to the Creative Giant Coworking sessions are available for the first 50 and 25 (respectively) people who join us. If you’re thinking about what you’ll be releasing or launching this year and don’t know how to put it all together, join us in Epic Launch Playbook Live.



  • Email Triage - practice an email management technique that helps you focus on what matters most
  • Premium Planners - aids that help you use the most of the time, energy, and attention you have available
  • Creative Giant Coworking Sessions  - the time, space, and community you need to actually start finishing the stuff that matters


  • The Creative Giant Show - learn how to thrive as a Creative Giant, with a specific emphasis on the backstory of creative and professional success
  • Living the Good Life - motivation and inspiration when you need to reflect more about being than doing


Who’s the Project Owner?

I was talking to some clients today about a project that I could see getting stuck between people. Both of them were collaborators on the project, but it wasn’t clear who the project owner was.

Rather than go through a lengthy explanation of the chief difference between a project owner and a project collaborator, I’m instead going to show a very short 23s video that will make it immediately clear. (Sorry, no infographs or two-by-two grids today.)

That first puppy that bails in the first four second? He’s not on the project anymore.

Those other two puppies are in throes of what a lot of creative collaborations look like. All fun and play, with no sense of direction.

The puppy with the ball is clearly owning the project that is the ball she’s playing with. You can bet that she’d run off the other puppies if they started interfering with whatever agenda she has for the ball.

Projects don’t finish themselves – people finish projects. (Click here to share this via Twitter – thanks!

One of the principles of project planning that you’ll want to take seriously is project ownership, for without it, that fantastic plan amounts to a great mental exercise, but no more.

The closer you get to the the red zone of a project, the harder it actually is to get the project done. It’s a natural tendency for people to end up playing/fighting in the corner like the two puppies mentioned above.

If you really want to push the ball forward on a project, you’ll need to get clear about:

  1. Who needs to get off the project? (The first puppy.)
  2. What needs to happen for to convert all of the thrash and chicanery into actual progress? (Making sure that puppies playing don’t stop progress.)
  3. Is there someone or something else that will help push this project forward?
  4. Who needs to own the project? (The puppy with the ball.)

That last question about project ownership is the most important of all, but is often the one that goes unspecified or unasked when projects start going sideways. Even worse, when a project finishes smoothly and ahead of schedule, we often forget to celebrate the person who stuck to the ball.

Again, it’s not rocket science - but knowing it doesn’t translate to doing it. (And when it does, I’ll be out of a job. I think I’ll just film puppies at that point.)

The Free Planners for March 2014 Are Available


We’re now entering the 3-month mark of 2014. It’s about this time when momentum really starts to pick up in our businesses and in our lives. Rather than getting dizzy with overwhelm, sit down and take some time to plan how you can use momentum strategically to get more stuff done.

Depending on where you live, Spring is in the air. For many people this signals renewal, rebirth, and clean-up. For us, it signals reviewing the plans we made for 2014. Now’s a great time to really sit down and assess where you’re at, where you want to go, and what specifically needs to happen to get there.

The free planners for March are available on the Free Planners page. (Click to share this – thanks!)

Click here to download your March planners.

P.S. – I know we’ve been saying this for months now, but the printed Premium Planners really are coming in a week or so. Be on the lookout!