CN: Why does creativity love constraint so much?

In this – our first ever episode of Coaches’ Notes – Seth & J.P. breakdown 3 ideas from our conversation with Terry O’Reilly. 

  • Creativity loves constraint
  • Start at the end
  • We can all drink Gatorade, but what we sweat is our own”

Terry gave some beautiful nuggets throughout our conversation, and we highly recommend going back to check the entire conversation in the main episode. Here, we’ll explore just a few of those ideas and what they mean to us or how we incorporate them into our coaching conversations, and how they show up in our daily lives. 

You can also join the conversation on these ideas and more on our social channels: 
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Transcription Below

S4E1CN – Terry O’Reilly – Coaches Notes

Sun, 5/22 10:26PM • 20:10


terry, thought, creativity, constraint, endpoint, story, button, connect, episode, stuck, chunks, mind, listening, creative, gatorade, ended, talk, bit, sharks, pull


JP Gaston, Seth Anderson

JP Gaston  00:08

Welcome to the first episode ever of coach’s note.

Seth Anderson  00:12

Just like the seven different show. I feel like

JP Gaston  00:17

for four seasons, seven shows on problem framework,

Seth Anderson  00:21

that’s probably pretty close. We just keep trying to come up with creative ways of expressing dp and stuff banter, I guess.

JP Gaston  00:32

Yeah, I mean, it fits into this season really well, we did talk about before the season. What are we going to do? We’re gonna walk the walk, we should talk the talk. Now, if we’re going to talk the talk, we should walk the walk. Yeah, that’s the one.

Seth Anderson  00:45

So I took some notes this episode that I’m looking forward to sharing with everyone. And did you take any notes,

JP Gaston  00:52

I took notes. During the episode, I took notes following the episode as we put it together to be released. I took notes when I listened to it after that. I took notes when other people listened to it around me. I have a few notes.

Seth Anderson  01:06

Well, this was this was your dream episode. So I would expect you’re never going to forget.

JP Gaston  01:11

We did actually talk about getting Terry out sooner in an earlier season.

Seth Anderson  01:18

I feel like that was one of the first conversations we ever had around guests. And I recall you talking about, you know, a dream of getting Terry on to the show. Yeah,

JP Gaston  01:29

I a lot of boxes get checked when you have someone with that extensive experience across multiple industries. Not only because he worked in those industries, but because he’s an advertising for whole hog. He also had a you know, a little bit of a tentacle in a bucket in multiple other industries.

Seth Anderson  01:49

Now I’m just thinking about tentacles and buckets. But I had to hide grass. And just like one of the most creative dudes ever, I think that was confidence, like one of the most creative minds I’ve ever had an opportunity to speak with even just for an hour.

JP Gaston  02:05

Yeah. And I feel like it was one of those things we could have jammed on forever. But out of respect for Terry’s time forever,

Seth Anderson  02:11

ever now. Now I’m thinking of the alphabet. Okay, so you guys are really getting into our brains. But so the the format of this particular show, we’re going to pull up three main ideas from the episode of the week. And why don’t you hit us first, JP, what is? What isn’t your sort of main idea that you took away from this episode or whatnot.

JP Gaston  02:31

I, he, he’s talked about it on his show a fair bit. But I really like the idea of constraint, that creativity loves constraint. I think it shows up in a lot of places in life, he did talk about how his creativity, and certainly mine too. And I know we talked a little bit earlier, as well about this. But not having constraint can really cause you to get stuck. When you have no constraints at all. And when the world is your oyster, you can do literally anything you want, it becomes really challenging to figure out where you’re like, I even equate it to figuring out what you want for dinner like you could get anything you want. And then you get stuck in this loop of what do you want? What do I like? constraint is a beautiful thing,

Seth Anderson  03:17

as you were saying that I was even just thinking about scrolling on like the Netflix channel. And when you have like endless options, it’s so hard to narrow in. And I’m gonna guess that’s part of the reason why they put those categories on there to sort of narrow your focus so that you eventually picked something. But yeah, I and I think in the episode, we jumped straight to talking about Steve Jobs, who might be the master of this, or a master of this. And I love that story. I always, I always mentioned it, just sort of in passing, but I never would have necessarily connected it to this topic, which was the whole one button thing, hey, not two buttons, not three buttons, not four buttons, one button, like figuring out how to get the iPhone to one button. And I’ve used that line at work. Many times, you know, like, here’s, here’s the outcome we’re looking for. And here’s the non negotiables, if you will. And then once you kind of create that part of the framework, you can really apply creativity to how you get there, and how you kind of fill the gaps around the one button as it were. And that’s, that’s a valuable lesson. I don’t know, like, it’s just something that shows up in all parts of life. So whether you’re, you know, whether we’re talking about coaching, whether we’re talking about business, whether we’re talking about creativity, you know, all those things are sort of Linked in one way or another. But I think that that constraint can be so valuable to getting the best creative outcome.

JP Gaston  04:39

I love the apple example. Because if you think about it now, like it seems crazy that that ever would have been a challenge in the first place. But at the time, imagine yourself as an engineer sitting in the room, when Steve Jobs walks in and says Look, I know you’ve got like 15 buttons right now. I would like you to make this phone do the same thing actually more than it currently does. US, but with one single button,

Seth Anderson  05:03

who no Butano

JP Gaston  05:06

I don’t know what language that was. But you are clearly a master.

Seth Anderson  05:12

For sure. Like, and I can guarantee like having sat through enough, you know, boardroom meetings in my life that people must have gotten their backs up and been like, No, it’s not possible. Oh, yeah. Right, because that’s where your mind will go when you get thrown a challenge like that. Maybe not always. But I think that’s like a default setting for a lot of people is to go like No, can’t be done no way.

JP Gaston  05:34

Well, especially when you when you have those people in like more, you know, operational rules. Like I imagine the sales guys who were sitting beside the edge of the engineers might have been like, oh, cool, I get a chance to like, try something different and new. The salespeople were like, How in the world? Am I going to convince the general public that there’s one button will do everything they need it to do?

Seth Anderson  05:56

Yeah, that’s crazy. I now there’s zero buttons, though. And I remember as a consumer when it went to zero buttons, I’m like, No way. Like, this is not going to work. I don’t like that. I already don’t like this. And I haven’t even touched the phone yet. And sort of works works pretty good. Now Now if I were to like you have a phone in front of me that had one button on it, I’d be like, what, what is this?

JP Gaston  06:17

Just think about how we mock the phones that have well 12 button I guess setup on it like it that’s become like, Haha, that phone is so old. It’s not that old. It was not that long ago that we shifted these phones to one button.

Seth Anderson  06:32

When you when you think about creativity loves constraint, is there anything in your like immediate term future where you can see that applying and being helpful,

JP Gaston  06:41

I think, certainly for this show, you know, we’ve, we’ve really honed in this season on creativity, very, very apropos. And I think that constraint is forcing us to think a little bit outside the box and how we present things hence the show. Hopefully, our openings have been a little bit interesting to individuals out there. Like it’s, it’s, it’s got us in a new mindset. And we’re just, I feel like both of us are thriving right now in this, this new creative space. It’s

Seth Anderson  07:18

such a paradox what you just said too, because by putting it into a box, we’re thinking outside the box.

JP Gaston  07:27

That’s a trip running into the dojo.

Seth Anderson  07:32

Okay, well creative, your creativity loves constraint, we’ve got some clips about it on our social. So hop on there. If you want to see some of the creative ads, I don’t know if those are ads or what you would call them reels that we’ve been making lots and lots more to come there. But I love that as a takeaway. And I know that that’s, that’s something that I’m going to be focused on here in the in the weeks and months ahead. One for me that really stood out. And it’s kind of in the same vein, but it’s very, I think, specifically applicable, you know, on a day to day basis moreso. And that starting with the end in mind. And where I’ve found that to be particularly useful, even in just a couple of weeks since we spoke to Terry is anytime I’m feeling stuck on getting started something usually, we’ll just say what the show, whether it’s creating one of those reels we just talked about, whether it’s you know, one of the intros or even in work if I’m trying to solve a problem. And I’m getting stuck at the, you know, this first part of the equation, I’m like, Okay, well, what’s the end of the equation? Where do I want to get to? And can I reverse engineer that back to the start? And that has opened up pathways in my brain to just solve problems way? I wouldn’t say more efficiently necessarily, because I think I’m pretty good at problem solving. But it’s like, it’s just a different way of looking at it. So now I can look at it forward and backwards. And when I realize I’m stuck, it’s like, okay, well, what, where do I want to get to, and I can just pull myself out a lot quicker. And that’s, that’s what I really liked about that one.

JP Gaston  09:03

I used that immediately after the show. And immediate when we when when we were putting together the intro for it and trying to figure out how are we going to intro, Terry, and how are we going to do something because it was our first attempt. I know your first attempt is coming up in our next episode, and that it’s great as well. And, and I think you did something similar. Like, here’s the end, here’s what I need to get to. How can I get there in an interesting in, you know, in this case, it’s a story. So in an interesting and meaningful way, how can I navigate to that endpoint? So I’m going to start I’m going to start there and work my way backwards to what’s a good starting point, rather than here’s where I am now. Where will I go?

Seth Anderson  09:46

Right. And I think it was very effective in that realm. And I think it’s cool that you can you don’t have to do it one way like you can use both of those methods. I think whenever whenever I feel stuck. Now. It’s just this extra tool in my tool bag that was never there.

JP Gaston  10:04

But you know what I did that I think is kind of interesting. I actually ended up when I, as I went through that story, I picked multiple endpoints. So to your point, you can like you can do it in any direction, you can do it, however you would like to do it. What I ended up doing was the endpoints of Terry. And then I said, Okay, what, what leads into that, and I worked out that small section, now I had a new endpoint, because the start of the story leading into Terry would be my new endpoint. So I thought about that one. And then I went back. And that’s what, that’s what took me back to, you know, this ship, out of the ocean. And the person who’s trying to actually, like, make it a reality for this pirate radio. So it was interesting to use it like that as well. Because when when Terry was talking about it, I thought, oh, you know, there’s the endpoint. And you got to kind of it’s one segment, you got to work the whole story all at once, and I didn’t, I didn’t realize it till I was in it, that you can do it in chunks in it. And it works out quite well.

Seth Anderson  10:57

It’s funny, because we didn’t really talk about this before the episode. But that’s basically exactly how I ended up doing my intro as well. Because I was getting stuck trying to one take it like, you know, Daisy in the booth, you know, trying to get it all out in one go. But I kept getting stuck. And I was like, Okay, well, what if I just complete the thought into sort of 32nd chunks. And then, you know, you can use all the spinning daily things to pull it all together. And I think it’s turned out into something cool. But a lot of that is was rooted in, start with the end in mind. And so having the end in mind of the whole story, but then the end in mind of each thought, as we built that out, it actually made it less overwhelming, which was probably the most useful thing.

JP Gaston  11:38

Well, I think if I think about corporate environment, and I do a lot of, you know, project management type stuff in my in my day to day chunking out projects is like a normal thing. You know, whatever, whenever you’re going through the sort of framework of project management, you’re going to do that. But you usually start at the beginning. And you’re gonna say, what do I need to do first? What do I need to do next? And very rarely will you go and say, Okay, what’s my end product. Now let’s work backwards and chunks from there, to see how I can get back to my start point. And it’s interesting to think of it like that. I’ve I’ve done it on a few things that I’ve been working on lately. And it’s it’s definitely changed my perspective. And I’ve actually captured, more things that I need to make sure are part of those projects and thought about things that I could do that I had never thought about before. So it’s really opened my mind up to, to some new ways of doing things.

Seth Anderson  12:32

It’s very cool. I think, just to close off on this one. Last weekend, as you know, I was I was in New York.

JP Gaston  12:39

I know because I was getting text messages of random Ninja Turtles and starts as

Seth Anderson  12:45

well. And I was there with our friend Marius. They’ll go Vinson, and this will be a story for another day, though, the whole trip, which was just amazing. But I actually was thinking about the recording with Terry when I was standing on the field of old Yankee Stadium, which is just a park now. And it just occurred to me like everything ends and I was thinking of the endpoint and all that was sort of swirling around, I wrote a blog about it, you can check it out on on my LinkedIn, as well as Instagram. But you know, it sounds morbid when you say it, I guess, like everything ends, but it’s like everything is and you know, whether that’s a story or a sentence or Yankee Stadium or whatever. And there’s like a beauty to it. And if you can, you can see that or visualize that. In that regard. It’s just interesting, how different everything starts to seem. And maybe that’s, I mean, I can I can dive in deeper on that. I know, we’ve got one more, one more big idea we want to dive into but I never would have expected that that conversation from Terry standing on Yankee Stadium and having like this profound insight would all kind of connect together.

JP Gaston  13:50

There were several moments during our conversation with Terry where I could see you have a physical reaction to what he was saying. And that was, that was definitely one of them. The other one is the next one that we’re talking about, which is the Gatorade, man,

Seth Anderson  14:05

I’m, I’m never gonna forget that. He just kind of said it in passing so

JP Gaston  14:10

casual. It was just like, a normal part of my lexicon. Like, this is just a thing that I snap out. Some guy

Seth Anderson  14:17

at some point said something about Gatorade, and I was just like, whoa, whoa, whoa, like, hold on, you just blew my mind. Like, I’m gonna need a minute. But it’s like I love that. That metaphor because it just embodies like, everything from the last couple of years and my personal journey where you’re in taking all of this information from various sources. And the first thing that comes to my mind is like shoe doc, the book by the Nike founder. And like, millions of people have read that book, but the specific items from it that I took away and have applied to my life personally, like one or two sentences out of that book is totally different than you know what you might have taken away from it. And it just connected though it’s like two dots in my brain just connected in that moment. And not that I’m trying to get a product placement deal with Nike and Gatorade.

JP Gaston  15:09

I mean, we won’t say no.

Seth Anderson  15:12

But it just it just like it just clicked. And that’s the beauty of some of these conversations is like, we know, we may know some things, or we may have ideas on things, but you just get to having a conversation with this, this other person, and all of a sudden, they can connect dots for you that you never really expected.

JP Gaston  15:31

Well, and when you hear something like, you know, we all drink, we can all drink Gatorade, but what we sweat is our own. You don’t necessarily think about creativity, right? Like, that’s not necessarily where your brain goes in, in the same way. You know, when I, when I started listening to Terry show quite some time ago. It’s very much, you know, it’s marketing stories. And the intent isn’t that it’s just about marketing. But I think from the outside, when you’re looking at it, you might be thinking, Oh, it’s a marketing podcast, or it’s a Marketing Show, I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna connect with it, I can promise that you that is a show that you will very much connect with, because it impacts so much of your life. And in the stories they’re like, they are very much like that saying they connect with you in interesting ways. And hopefully, much like our podcast, you’ll take away, whatever, whatever you hear here, you will, you will take away and make it your own. And, you know, combine it with the other things that you’ve learned over the course of your life, and take it away and make it your own.

Seth Anderson  16:36

Absolutely. And like these are just a couple of nuggets that we pulled out of the episode. We’d love to hear what you’ve pulled out of the episode as well.

JP Gaston  16:43

We already have a few of those we’ve had, we’ve had some DMs and some some comments on a few of our posts that have talked about what people are taking away and it’s it’s already, you know, different and interesting. I love it.

Seth Anderson  16:54

For sure, for sure. And just to plug Terry again, like his his show is amazing. I’ve only listened to a few episodes. So I feel lucky. It’s like when I stumble upon like a great musician or a great artists that I never knew about. And it’s like, now I’ve got this whole catalogue to kind of go back and tap into which is very exciting.

JP Gaston  17:12

Well, it’s one of those things right like I have described it to you before and you know, you didn’t really get into it at the time you had some other things on the go and you know you weren’t you weren’t inspired to get into it. But now that you’ve connected a little bit more with it, you listen to a couple episodes, you talk to Terry all the sudden you’re like wow, I’m I’m pulling things away from this I never thought that I would connect with and you’ve got you’ve definitely got a library to catch up on. I think he’s got 267 episodes.

Seth Anderson  17:40

One just to maybe leave the folks with this i i was listening to a podcast he was on within his own podcast networks, we as the apostrophe, Podcast Network, and I was listening to one of the shows on there. And he was talking about his new book, which I also just bought on Audible and I know you I think you might even be done it already.

JP Gaston  17:56

I’m about three quarters of the way through yet. Yeah, the

Seth Anderson  17:59

best mistake. Is that what it’s

JP Gaston  18:01

called? Yes, but my biggest mistake, but on the cover biggest is scratched like the IgG is scratched. So it says best,

Seth Anderson  18:08

right. And so on that podcast that I was listening to him talk on he was talking about the book, and he was talking about Jaws, the movie that we’re all familiar with, and how they had bought these really expensive like three mechanical sharks. They had tested them all out in the in freshwater. And you know, long story short, they take them out to Cape Cod, or wherever it was that they were recording the movie. They put them in the saltwater, and they all malfunctioned. And basically like the rest, yeah, so they had this big, like production plan, all these really expensive fancy sharks, and then they didn’t work. And Steven Spielberg asked himself the question, though, what would Hitchcock do? And that question, spurned what ultimately ended up becoming one of the greatest movies of all time, where you only actually see the shark once at the very end, and they created that entire element of surprise, out of the constraint that was caused by the mechanical sharks not working. And so that kind of just brings it all home. And now I find myself asking like when I get into a difficult situation, which I’ve been in a couple, even just since we’ve talked to Terry, it’s like, what was Hitchcock do or what, what what creativity? Can I drive out of this constraint that has now occurred in front of me?

JP Gaston  19:21

There are definitely some situations that I would say don’t do what Hitchcock especially in the corporate environment, that might not be the best decision.

Seth Anderson  19:31

Or maybe it is. Well, that’s this week’s coach’s notes. Like we said, Any, any insights that you have, we’d love to hear about them. You can catch up with us on all the major streaming platforms Instagram, LinkedIn, even Facebook and Twitter. We’re kind of on their team. Yeah.

JP Gaston  19:48

Well, and let us know what you think of the new format, the new coaches notes segment. And where you grew up your creativity. We’re asking all of our guests that so we want to know where you get your creativity from today.

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