Creativity & The Christmas Spirit


By: Martin Grunburg

Ready or not, the holidays are upon us! As I pondered today’s topic, creativity – along with this great book I’m reading (Thinkertoys, more below) – I wanted to share my friend’s uber-creative take on the Christmas Nativity scene, which has been blowing up scores of media outlets throughout the country!

Until now, the Nativity has been a timeless and classic scene. It undoubtedly is etched into the minds of millions of people in a meaningful yet specific way, featuring the manger, crib, Joseph and Mary, the three wise men, shepherds, sheep and perhaps angels.

My friend Casey and his colleagues, however, put an entirely new, creative and comical spin on just what this scene might look like in 2016, featuring millennial hipsters. Please note, as Casey explained, this is not meant to offend anyone’s Christmas sensibilities; it is, however, meant to poke fun at a generation of millennials who can’t seem to put their latte or phone down for a few minutes.

I think what Casey and his team have come up with is absolutely brilliant (and the media coverage and sales certainly back that up). So, I was eager to get the story behind the idea and – perhaps more importantly – learn about the creative process itself.

As mentioned above, I’ve been reading Thinkertoys, so creativity has really been at the forefront of my thoughts lately. So when I heard about this “Hipster Nativity Scene” (via an online share on Facebook), and then I found out Casey was behind it, I thought it was a perfect example of how fun and lucrative creativity can be!

MG: Congratulations! This is such a crafty, entrepreneurial venture (in the best sense possible). What was the inspiration behind your creative process?

CW: It all started about 6 months ago; just some beers with some buddies and my brother [business partner] Corey. We just started playing with this idea about how various religious motifs might look in the modern era. The next day Corey walks in the office and says, you know, we ought to contract an illustrator for this; this is just too good not to investigate a little further.

The illustration bore even more life into the idea. The next thing we knew people were throwing out super-creative ideas, like Mary’s duck face while Snapchatting the birth, and how Joseph would almost certainly have a man-bun, the three wise men would be on Segways, there would be solar panels on the roof of the barn, etc. The entire process took on a life of its own and became more fun and creative the further we took it.

MG: Are you getting any hate mail?

CW: Oh yeah. But you know, I grew up in a Christian family and the intent here is not to denigrate the religion. We just couldn’t help poking fun at our generation — my generation!

MG: There are many people out there who will be inspired by this sort of creativity. What sort of advice do you have on becoming more creative?

CW: Try a lot of things and learn from them. We have so many ideas that don’t work. I think the key is not to obsess over any one great idea; just continue to try to create as many ideas as you can rather than focusing on a single “masterpiece.”

MG: Can you recommend any books or specific tools?

CW: I’m a dedicated reader and life-long learner. While nothing in particular comes to mind, it’s important to just keep learning and testing and trying new ideas.
So, there you have it, my friends. It’s been said before!

Try and try again – take action!

I’m reminded of the classic Napoleon Hill quote that I cite so often, “Action is the real measure of intelligence.”

A Great Book— A Tool to Help You Be More Creative

If you’re not familiar with Michael Michalko’s book, Thinkertoys, I highly recommend it!

The book catalogues a series of ideas and exercises to help anyone become more creative. Each section begins with a quote by Sun Tzu’s Art of War. And if that wasn’t enough to hook me, Michael continuously underscores the importance of paradox as it relates to creativity. Chances are good, if you’ve read this blog or this book, you know that paradox is a powerful theme I’m constantly drawn to and exploring.

So reading Michael’s book has been as enjoyable as a great surf session. Here’s a wonderful quote regarding paradox from Michael (this is not from Thinkertoys, but rather highlighted off

“Creativity is paradoxical. To create, a person must have knowledge but forget the knowledge, must see unexpected connections in things but not have a mental disorder, must work hard but spend time doing nothing as information incubates, must create many ideas yet most of them are useless, must look at the same thing as everyone else, yet see something different, must desire success but embrace failure, must be persistent but not stubborn, and must listen to experts but know how to disregard them.”

“But I’m not creative!” you may be saying.

Then this quote below is for you! Everyone by nature is creative. However, it’s like a muscle that must be used and reinforced to become stronger. Creativity, then, (you guessed it) can be forged into a HABIT!

“The CEO of a major publishing house was concerned about the lack of creativity among his editorial and marketing staffs. He hired a group of high-priced psychologists to find out what differentiated the creative employees from the others. After studying the staff for one year, the psychologists discovered only one difference between the two groups: The creative people believed they were creative and the less creative people believed they were not.” Martin do you want to cite source of this quote?

So when you think about creativity, you’re encouraged to believe you are in fact creative. Then you are encouraged to take action – to try out and test ideas.

After all, “the Christmas spirit” may truly mean much more than just giving. To me it means creating, which is probably the greatest gift of all.

Enjoy! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

See you next week,


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