How to collect 7 gems of Intercultural Creativity now!

This week in the Dojo, we chat with Genein Letford author of the 7 Gems of Intercultural Creativity, keynote speaker, neuro creativity speaker and fellow podcast host. 

Looking at creativity through multiple lenses is key to unlocking your full capacity to create, and Genein helps walk us through what it means to truly tap into each of the 7 gems. We’ll talk a little about video games, a little about sports, and a lot about finding the best creative version of yourself.

We wonder where these gems are in your life, and what secrets they hold to unlock your creativity…? 

Be sure to connect with us for more great content, and to extend the conversation:
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Transcription Below

S4E7 – Genein Letford – Intercultural Creativity

Tue, 6/28 9:39AM • 52:35

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

people, creative, creativity, thinking, brain, gems, leader, skills, avocado, called, grew, arts, cockroach, curious, game, curiosity, world, jp, research, explore

SPEAKERS

Seth Anderson, Genein Letford, The Biz Dojo AI, JP Gaston

The Biz Dojo AI  00:00

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JP Gaston  00:21

It was shortly after the Second World War, and the Treaty of San Francisco, also known as the Treaty of Peace with Japan had just come into force. Though they remained at war with the Soviet Union for another four years peace was beginning to return to the region. And for one family, this bright future was made even brighter by the arrival of their second child. On November 16 1952. Shigeru Miyamoto was a boy like many others growing up, he loved to draw on color, and always seem to have a pencil and paper in his hand. He often got in trouble at school for not paying attention as he spent so much of his time creating sketches and doodles in his notebooks. When he wasn’t drawing, he was often exploring the world around him. Miyamoto would walk for hours through the forest and fields near his home. He came across New Towns and villages and would connect with the people who lived there. He discovered rivers and lakes and hidden waterfalls. He’d even find caves along the hilly terrain and despite initial reservations, he’d eventually get up the courage to take his adventure inside to explore the mazes within. This time spent outside and exploring the world around him, led Shigeru to learn as much about himself as he did about the world. In 1970, she gurus art would get him accepted to the Canada College of industrial arts, and by 1975, he graduated with a degree in Industrial Design. After college she grew was unsure of his career path, but his father eventually arranged an interview through a mutual friend. And in 1977, Shigeru Miyamoto landed his first design job as an artist with Nintendo. It was here that he would hone his skills as an artist, he had never really thought about getting into video games wasn’t really his thing. But in 1981, Nintendo of America was in a financial crisis, and Shigeru had been assigned to the task of redesigning a failed video game into something that would be more compelling to American audiences. She would develop a game that would kickstart Nintendo of America to become a dominant force in gaming around the world. The game he had developed was Donkey Kong. This new game also featured a character that became Shigeru signature character across many games. His name was Mario. And in 1985, the release of Super Mario Brothers would solidify she grew his place as one of the most legendary game designers of all time. But this wasn’t his only work. In fact, as he developed Super Mario Brothers, he was also working on a second much more personal game that would be released the following year. hearkening back to his time spent exploring the rural communities north of Kyoto, she grew wanted to recreate that sense of adventure and wonder for the gaming community. The result would see players venture across the first ever game world and would lead them through caves, fields, forests and towns, just like in shoes childhood, it would compel the player to stop and interact with people that they came across and would reward them for exploring with secret gear and other valuable items hidden throughout the game. She grew also found inspiration in novels, or perhaps adjacent to novels, as the name of the game was inspired by the wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald. And with that, The Legend of Zelda was born. It would become one of the most iconic adventure games ever created, launching an entirely new genre of gaming in the process and changing the face of the gaming industry forever. She grows curiosity and his time spent in nature helped him tap into his creative self. In this episode of The Biz Dojo, we’re chatting with GeneinLedford, author of the seven gems of intercultural creativity fellow podcaster and speaker on neuro creativity. So grab your sword your shield and your sense of adventure as we explore to find those seven gems hidden throughout our own worlds

Seth Anderson  04:47

so this week in the dojo we are joined by Genein Letford. Genein, welcome to the dojo. Where are you? Where are you dialing in from today? Actually, I know it’s in the US but

Genein Letford  04:57

thank you. I just moved to Phoenix, Arizona about Six months ago from Los Angeles, California.

Seth Anderson  05:03

Oh, amazing. I must be beautiful. It’s it’s probably like just getting really hot there. It’s been hot for last few weeks.

Genein Letford  05:09

So we’re hitting the 110s 112. You know?

Seth Anderson  05:14

We don’t really know in Canada, yeah.

JP Gaston  05:18

It’s eight Celsius here today. So

Seth Anderson  05:22

well, it’s a pleasure to have you Genein. And so you are a very creative person, a leader, author, speaker, you’re also a fellow podcaster. So we always love it when we can jam with a fellow podcaster. And I know JP already commented on the mic, you’re rockin over there. So just maybe we’ll dive in, you’d kind of shared with us a little bit about your creative process. It’s very comprehensive, and the seven gems of intercultural creativity. Really, I thought today, it’d be kind of cool to kind of dive into some of that, but how did you? How did you start your journey into creativity? Maybe we start there, because I’m always kind of curious how people find out that they even are creative in the first place.

Genein Letford  06:04

Sure, well, I am on this mission, this world mission to really just look at redefining even that term, right. My background is in elementary ed. So they come to you from the from the kindergarten classroom, right, third, third grade, and I taught third grade for three years did the music probe program for the rest of my 1014 years in the classroom. And then 2019, six months before the pandemic hit, I decided, hey, this is really important. The World Economic Forum listed creativity now is one of the top skills needed in the workforce. And the research shows that a child entering the kindergarten years are operating at about 90% of their creative genius capacity. By the time they graduate, they’re at like 10%. And, and adults around the age of 30. Maybe 2% of the population still has their creative genius that they had at elementary school. So I am trying to address this concern, since the creativity is now a huge need in the workforce. But just my background in elementary ed, and then I started a nonprofit for sixth to 12th graders talking about creative ministry, financial literacy and entrepreneurship. I taught at the local university in Los Angeles area called Cal California State University, Northridge. And then I was also on the board of Donors Choose, which is a nonprofit that helps teachers get the materials into their classrooms. But this board was like the one of most powerful boards in the US, you had the CEO of LinkedIn, the Senior Vice President of Facebook, the former CEO of essence, and Ebony Magazine. So pretty powerful hitters. So in one week, I was working with a five year old, all the way to a high school, a college and then sitting with powerful people who run multi million and billion dollar companies in one week. And so that just really put me at a huge prospective point of looking at the whole pipeline and saying, Okay, well, what are the real skills needed to really thrive in this life and be our creative best. And so that’s really what got me started on this journey.

JP Gaston  08:04

I’m struck by the percentages you shared there, and how much we suck the creativity out of people over time. 98, all the way down to like 3% Doesn’t take long.

Genein Letford  08:15

Yeah, it’s, it’s sad. And it’s now it’s becoming alarming because of where technology’s going, and then what the pandemic has exacerbated. And so now, these creative thinking skills are going to be critical.

Seth Anderson  08:29

You reference the World Economic Forum, and how they project the creativity will be one of the most important skills of the future. It’s interesting because that, that is one of the that’s what Walter referenced in his TED Talk. Right, JP, so we had a guest on a couple of seasons ago, Walter van der Velden. He’s a professor in Belgium. And he had referenced the the five skills of the future. Some of them is based on his study of the World Economic Forum, and creativity was at the top of that list. And that’s initially what really piqued my interest to deep dive it. And I’m curious, like, what is your definition of creativity now that you’ve kind of gone through all this work? You’ve, you’ve spoken about it? Like how do you define it?

Genein Letford  09:10

Sure. Well, first of all, I looked at the misconceptions. A lot of people think creativity is only the arts like and they’re walking around saying, Oh, I’m not creative, I can’t sing. I can’t dance. I’m not creative. And a lot of my work is based on the neuroscience how the brain is operating in our creative pursuits. And so when we’re saying, I’m not creative, we’re telling our subconscious, we’re not creative. And so now when it’s time to for us to actually think creatively, you know, your brains just kind of shuts down because you’ve told it for 10 years you’re not creative and so I’m trying to help redefine creativity first of all, it’s not artistry it’s of artistry is a part of it. Artistry is a subset you know, a part of it and artists are very creative. I’m like I said, I taught music and dance and everything. But creativity, the way my company is defining it and my research it’s the process of problem finding, and problem solving with relevant value and novelty. And so highly creative people aren’t just waiting for their bosses to put things in your lap. They’re out there asking questions. There’s they’re spotting patterns. They’re wondering why things are the way they are? Well, why are we doing it this way? Well, you know, they’re seeing things that a lot of people are missing, their observational skills are heightened. They’re empathetic, they’re emotionally sensitive to what is going on. And so you see, a lot of creative people are like initiators, right? And, and they’re, they’re solving problems and like the arts are a big part of that. And I’m a huge arts advocate. So I say, you know, like, don’t don’t think I’m like hating on on the arts. But part of my work is showing that even though artistry isn’t all creativity, it’s a part of it. Having an arts background increases your creative ability in non arts areas, and I have the hard research the neuroscience research, to prove that. And so we’re doing a disservice by taking away arts education from our children, because we’re literally taking away additional streamlines additional communication lines, for them to think creatively, in business, in science, in marketing, in whatever field that they want to go in. And that’s for adults as well.

JP Gaston  11:17

Well, it teaches you to explore, right, like, I’m just thinking about my scholastic experience. And I’m thinking about, you know, all the times that I spent from kindergarten right up in art or music, and it was, I guess, now people would be like, Oh, it’s just free time for the kids. But it really wasn’t, it was like this open space for you to do what you needed to do. And that’s not when you leave the school and go to the workforce. It’s not something you give people anymore. And I’ve actually been doing a lot of reading and whatnot of some of the research that’s out there as well. And that space is just so important. But we fill it with meetings and report building and PowerPoint presentations. And we never, we talk about helping people get more creative or needing more creative solutions. But the amount of time we actually give to it is so small. Yes, there’s

Genein Letford  12:07

there’s so much there that you said, first of all, yes, I do have a brain on my desk, for those of you who are just listening, listening, because I feel that as this watch, the work that you’re doing is going to be paramount as well. Because as soon as a decade goes on, people are going to start waking up and saying, Oh, wait, we need to do more things for our employees in our C suite to get their creative thinking up. But where do we start. And what you mentioned is the arts. It’s a part of my of my seven gems of intercultural creativity is the arts. They increase your observational skills. And so to have your multi sensory, right, you have multiple, you have senses that your body uses to bring in information, you can’t be creative if you’re not bringing in data, right. And then another way of when you think of how the brain works. On my podcast, I have about five new neuroscience scientists that I sit down with in Episode 66. On the Creative Growth podcast, we talked to Dr. Michael Platt, out of the Wharton School of Business over and head head, Pennsylvania. And he talks about different networks in your brain, like you have your focus network when you’re doing you know, Excel spreadsheets, and you’re focused on a task. But then you have your something he calls your innovation network, the actual term is your default mode network. And that’s when you’re just sitting down and just kind of daydreaming and just, you know, you’re in the shower, you’re kind of you’re kind of daydreaming, right? That’s the time when your subconscious actually has room to get to play around with some of the ideas that have been in there and then shoot him up into your conscious. And that’s when you kind of have your eureka moments, like, Oh, what about this, right. And so like you said, if your day is full with meetings, and back to back everything, and then you go home, and then you I have a four year old, and then you’re just trying to you know, make sure the house doesn’t burn down. And you’re not giving your brain time to get into its default mode network to get into an innovation network. And so I believe that with the work, you’re doing work I’m doing corporate America is going to start to see the importance of number one, allowing downtime, this innovation network time, and then bringing the arts because, you know, I see guitars in your background. So I’m assuming you play unless you just randomly click guitars, you

JP Gaston  14:21

put a bunch of stuff on the wall in my background.

Genein Letford  14:24

When you’re twiddling around, or when you’re painting or when you’re dancing or something you know, you’re thinking about it, but sometimes you just kind of twiddle in your mind your brain goes you know, wherever and, and you’re painting and you’re just thinking about are the things that’s critical. That is critical brain, creative time and that we need to stop relegating that to fun time or imagination to us and start saying this is just as critical. As you know, other type of sales training or communication training or leadership training is just as critical for this next future of work.

JP Gaston  14:57

It’s my favorite spot to operate into we have talked on some past episodes. And Seth knows this very well. I’m not great at finishing stuff, but I sure enjoy the 75% journey, like, just getting to the point of like creating something new and trying and playing around with it. And especially with music, like, I’ll make a song and I’ll get 75%. And I’m like, Okay, I’m done with this time for the next thing like I want, I want to do something new. And I don’t want to dwell on this forever. So that’s like, for me, that’s actually the space where I feel most comfortable is just imagination playing around seeing what happens,

Seth Anderson  15:32

I really loved what you said there. And I’m gonna have to go back and listen to it. I feel like it’s gonna be an infographic of some kind, but the problem, the art of problem finding, like seeking out problems and that role, like I do find in the workplace, the people that stand out, do that, right, like they are out there. They’re not waiting for you to ask them to find like, in some cases, that’s that’s required. But generally, like they’re curious. They’re, they’re looking for a problem. And then they’re solving that problem. And I wouldn’t have necessarily associated that to creativity, but it’s totally part of the process. And I just wanted to jam on that. Because I think the second there’s another component to that. And this one was was paradigm shifting for me and JP knows, we’ve talked about it many times to the way that one of the definitions that I heard of creativity was connecting things that have never been connected before. And basically, you use your skills and experience to do that. And that applies everywhere. Workplace life, arts, sports. And I think that’s the fascinating thing about creativity, when you look at it from a little bit just like a different lens. You just see how it shows up everywhere.

Genein Letford  16:39

Yes, yes. And so when I redefined, create, so that’s my definition of creativity. And in my keynotes, I give a few of their cognitive processes that brains going through. And so you’re looking at re reframing, you’re looking at unusual associations, you’re looking at combinatorial thinking, which is kind of like what you mentioned, Albert Einstein said, the essence of all great thought is combinatorial play, right? You’re looking at metaphorical thinking I’m looking to bring that this term up into the forefront and especially into the business world, people who know how to think metaphorically, and really get to the the essence of an object or concept or product or service, whatever they’re trying to do that that is huge. And you know, in in my workshops, I even like show a picture of a cockroach right? When it dies, kind of throws everyone off because you know you’re biased against a cockroach. Normally for most of us, we don’t have cockroaches as pets or anything. They’re not loved I loved creature, but then I tell people, okay, look at this cockroach, what life lessons could you learn from this cockroach? You know, and like you said, it shifts their their perspective. And then you can start getting Ooh, resilience. And one seven year old boy said, you know, bounce back, they can drop from like huge heights and just be okay, they just keep on going. And so just in people just have their own interpretations of the life lessons from a cockroach and I say, Hey, you didn’t wake up this morning thinking you were going to get some Maya Angelou, Oprah Winfrey type of wisdom from a cockroach. And so that’s what we kind of have to do start to shift our normal routine. And look at the mundane things that we just recognize and went on about our business in a whole new way.

JP Gaston  18:22

Now, I’m thinking about cockroaches falling off.

Seth Anderson  18:28

But when you said that the first thing I thought of was resilience, like that’s like, the word that’s in my head like those, those things can get through anything. Yeah. And

Genein Letford  18:36

so you’ll see your top leaders mine, your you heard heard this first, you’ll see your top leaders as we start shifting right into shifting already have happen. But there’s even a bigger shift of leadership of, you know, no more the sage on the stage. And do as I say, and let me coerce you into doing what I say it’s that empathetic leader. It’s that sub leader who’s very self aware and that creative leader, but you’ll see leaders who know how to storytel and influence as opposed to koechers right people into doing things, leaders who know how to storytel Well, and leaders who know will know how to lead well also know the metaphorical connections on how to connect to those who they are leading. So it will be a coveted skill within this next era.

Seth Anderson  19:17

Fascinating. I love that. Maybe diving into your seven gems a little bit. And JP and I were talking about this before we hopped on and we initially thought of video games when we saw the word gems so now I’m thinking like Sonic the Hedgehog, or you’re collecting the gems and I want to go collect, I want to I want to see if I like have these in my toolkit. The first one on here, Creative Growth mindset. So very familiar with the growth mindset and the methodologies read the book, you know, mind opening, you have added creative to that what is what’s the new course we

Genein Letford  19:53

have to look at the term there the seven gems of intercultural creativity and actually in the book that I’ll need to send you both of In my opening story, because I’m a storyteller, I started with Zelda. So

JP Gaston  20:05

that is, that is where I went with it, I went straight to Zelda, that’s awesome.

Genein Letford  20:10

Is there something about collecting these gems and going from level to level, the brain needs that level two to level response, basically. But so the seven gems of intercultural creativity, what intercultural creativity is about, it’s first of all, defining creative, you know, creativity, the correct way that includes this all, it’s not just a company who has, oh, that’s the creative team, and you all are the accountant, you know, like, we’re all creative in our own capacity, right. And then the intercultural part, that’s the interesting part that I believe kind of sets me apart from just creative keynote speakers, and then di folks. So di stands for diversity, equity, and inclusion. And what my research really looked at is, you I can come into your corporation do all the creative training in the world. But if you have an environment where people can’t speak up, like there’s corrosion going on, there’s microaggressions going on. And people feel that they can’t be curious, and you’re keeping everyone in their focus network, and no one can really think and, like, it doesn’t matter what I come into, and do train you, you know, employees going to really be operating at their full creative potential. So that’s where the research came in, of your creativity is highly correlated, to the cultural climate of the organization. And also, when I say intercultural, it’s like, you know, you, you, Seth and me talking, and then me hearing your stories, and that’s making me think about my stories in new way, like we, my brain is affecting your brain right now. And vice versa. So we can be creative in a whole new way, as opposed to me being creative by myself. So there’s all these influences with your creativity. And that’s really the basis. And so the seven gems comes from the same cognitive skills needed for creative thinking to build it in further development, are the same set of cognitive skills needed for cultural competency, which is your ability to connect with people from different lived experiences. Some people are really good at bat, which I can tell you, you too, are immune to people who talk to different types of folks on a regular basis. They’re growing in their cultural competence, they’re able to observe similarities and differences with complexity, and adapt their behavior in different cultural situations. That’s a skill. And so the research shows that creative thinking is a skill. And so is cultural competency. And those skills sit on the same set of cognitive processes.

JP Gaston  22:32

Never thought of it like yes, I’m the same. There’s gonna be lots of pauses between questions because I think Seth and I are on the same plane right now going wow, I thought of that.

Seth Anderson  22:42

I asked JP, the question before the show, like, what do you what do we feel this episode is going to be? Is it going to be entertaining? Is it going to be informational? Is it going to be like what kind of vibe and I like got all of those elements but the information

Genein Letford  22:55

I can seem for you ever get entertaining? But yeah, here’s a quick quick thing before I go into the seven gyms I was 25 years old, and I was with a friend and we were at like those nice hamburger places. Not not like McDonald’s. But the nice ones where the hamburgers are like eight bucks, right? And he was like, Hey, do you want avocado on your sandwich? I’m like, avocado on my sandwich. I don’t know. Sure. Like, have you ever had avocado before? Take eight. I don’t think so she’s like, Okay, well, listen, let’s just try it. And so I tried it. And it was wonderful. I mean, you can slice it, you can dissect you could put it in everything. It was just like, where has this been? So I went home to my mom, like, Mom, why am I 25 years old, and I’ve never had an avocado before. And she looked looked at me and said, well, because I don’t like avocado. And so the main thing with that is she doesn’t like avocado, so she kept it from her children, their entire childhood. And so I could not have been creative with avocado in my foods, and you can even put in your hair and on your skin. I mean, it’s so versatile, right? And so I use that in my keynotes to show that your cultural upbringing, your cultural influence, and when I say culture, I don’t just mean ethnicity and nationality. A culture is a group of group of people with verified at an agreed upon attitudes, beliefs. And sis this is right. This is how we do it. Right. That’s the theme song of culture. The thing right? Yeah, there. Yeah.

JP Gaston  24:24

You promised it and it came.

Genein Letford  24:27

But um, yeah, so the culture, I grew up in a culture that did not bring an avocado to the home. So therefore, in my adulthood, I had no experience with avocado. And so I just use avocado as as a safe example, to say, in your home in your upbringing during your formative years, like let’s say if you live in one small town and you never went anywhere and you only stay around people who look like you believe like, like you and you know, that’s going to affect your creative thinking in adulthood because of it, like you said before creativity It’s all about the intersection of new ideas. And Fran Johansson has a great book called The Medici effect where he says, innovation happens at the intersection of fields, disciplines and cultures.

JP Gaston  25:12

It’s cool that you went to food because that’s when we were talking before the show. That was actually the one of the first things that went through my head is where I see on a regular basis in my life, sort of this mix of cultures coming together is on all these new food shows that are really showing like, here’s different people, and often they grew up in similar places with similar foods, but they bring very different things to the table. And as you were talking about the avocado, just quick story on my part, all I could think about was my wife never never liked salmon, ever. She’s from Saskatchewan, of course, she hates salmon. It’s the most landlocked place on the planet. And so the very first time she had real fresh salmon, she’s like, What is this magical thing like, well, you’ve got this bias in your head about salmon, because you tried seven day old unfrozen salmon in the middle of a landlocked community once and hated it. And now you’ve just closed your mind to it. Like, let’s, let’s expand and see new things. Like, I know it’s food reference. And maybe that will make all the listeners as hungry as I am right now. But I think it’s a good way to connect to the new ideas and understanding creativity because it’s something everyone can understand.

Genein Letford  26:26

And that’s a good point that you brought up about because I had someone come up to me after my keynotes, I thought that tuna came in a canned tuna know that tuna was a fish on trees. And so I would just speak that to the leaders who are listening, you have people coming onto your teams, with these misconceptions that are affecting the way that they see the world everywhere, don’t worry, it’s not the world isn’t how it is. It’s how you perceive it to be. And we have cultural lenses. And that’s why I have intercultural creativity, because your cultural is highly affecting the way that you’re approaching this creative problem. And that’s something that leaders need to be very mindful of. And if you’re a leader who’s not connecting with your team, on a social level, as well, as a professional level, you have no idea what their what their mind maps are, you have no idea what their cultural lenses are. So you and I could be looking at the same picture and have you know, completely different perceptions.

Seth Anderson  27:23

Like I need to share food,

JP Gaston  27:26

or things, those are your two options right now is that sing or share foods

Seth Anderson  27:29

there, we have a shared experience you need I absolutely, there was never any of avocado in my house. Growing up. I didn’t know what that was. But I actually think of just sort of, on my definition of creativity, connecting things that have never been connected before. I’m exceedingly good at like finding 10 random things in the fridge or cupboard and turning it into like something that tastes good. Without like, really thinking about it. It’s just like, I don’t know where that comes from. I don’t know

JP Gaston  27:59

if knowledge comes from.

Genein Letford  28:03

You’ve learned a lot of these life skills, but your subconscious is automatically like looking at things in that’s a creative act. And that’s another thing I want people to see that creativity is literally in everything when you are deriving the new and seeing how new things can come together in a new way or old things that come back together to do way that is a creative act. So it’s important because it transfers so you doing that in your kitchen transfers to you doing that in the boardroom. And that’s why when we take away the arts and play and these other imaginative things from our youth, they’re not getting the muscle to transfer for when they’re 2535 45 in the boardroom it’s all the same thing. And so and we even bring in play in for adults, we have Lego Legos. You know, it’s like you have to, we have to better normalize nice things that we’ve only subjected to to youth insane. We need to bring Plato and Legos into the board boardroom

Seth Anderson  29:02

Have you ever had any of your kindergarten students lead a session with

Genein Letford  29:05

a great idea? Thank you for introducing that.

JP Gaston  29:10

I was actually just thinking I wonder how much like have an Amazon warehouse Yeah, you had the brain that came up from Lagos you have a gym.

Seth Anderson  29:22

Is that is that all brand

Genein Letford  29:24

new. My logo is the diamond because I’m a metaphorical thinker. And and I just don’t have a diamond just because it looks like I teach the diamond so we have our 16 diamond tools of creative thinking and I tell people shine bright like a diamond, multifaceted leadership, right? There’s so many lessons that I can do around the concept of a diamond but that keeps my creativity high because I’m looking at things from multiple perspectives and so I want people to understand that their diamonds their gifts are diamonds and they can shine bright like a diamond. And then we have the gems the seven gems right.

Seth Anderson  29:57

Pivoting into the The Gems I guess, how do you know when you when you have one of these gems like, is it a, like a tiered process? Like each gem sort of has its own journey? And you can work them all simultaneously? Or is it like, you finish a level and move on? Like, how do you kind of see that for the someone who’s looking at the sheet I

Genein Letford  30:17

believe that certain later gyms do fall on on the earlier ones, but it is a it’s a lifelong process until you you leave the earth. And so the first gem is Creative Growth Mindset, based off of the work of Carol Dweck growth mindset. And it’s understanding that creativity and cultural competence, you can get better at active, they’re not a fixed trait. They’re not like, Okay, you’re creative, and you’re not, oh, well suck sucks to be right. But if you want to, you could work better. So you can work at, you can work better at relating to people, and looking at how to shift perspective to see what their lived experiences are. And then you can work get better at working creatively in the kitchen, in different ways of how do you combine and recombine the old in a new new way. So as long as you understand because a lot of people have creative abuse coming in. So maybe that third grade teacher said your ideas were dumb or that coach or or appear just totally railed them. And I’m finding a lot of dope adults are carrying that into the workforce. And so if you’re a leader, you might have to deal with some of that, first of having them reshape their mindset about their actual creative

Seth Anderson  31:26

potential. On that note, as a leader, like how do you create space for for that click? Because I mean, I specifically remember my third grade teacher being pretty stifling on the creativity part. But like, I don’t know how to bring that to work or like create space to have a conversation that enables someone to let that go, like, what would you well, the brain

Genein Letford  31:47

we have social brains. So the brains learn from people, the brains are highly affected by the people who were around. So definitely want to be mindful of your, your influence circle. But as a leader, what I do is I just number one show vulnerability, I show my I basically have the people see what’s going on in my head, they get to see me try things, take risks, and then say, Oh, I messed up on that one, let’s, let’s learn from it and move on. So I’m not like hiding the fact that I’m growing, and I’m trying new new things. And as a parent for for those of you all of the better parents. That’s how we teach kids, they can hear what you’re saying, Don’t do this, don’t do that. But they’re watching more what you’re doing. And so as a leader who’s not being vulnerable, a leader who is not sharing their losses and their wins, you know, the leader who’s taking all the credit for the wins and pointing the finger for the losses, the leader who’s not allowing people to be curious, Episode 74. On my podcast, I bring in a doctor of curiosity, from out of a USC, and she talks about how people are saying, Oh, we want curious companies, right? And if you’re not curious, you end up like Blockbuster and radio, Radio Shack, right? That’s, that’s what happens when you’re not curious. But are you creating an environment where Curiosity is celebrating? Because we say one thing, but then we don’t allow people to be curious, we slap their hand, if they try something, and one thing goes wrong, guess what, they’re not going to try anything ever again. And so we teach people how to act by through our actions.

JP Gaston  33:19

The other thing I’ve seen a lot of is we create so much around the execution of being curious, like, you must measure all of these things. And you must show me this, and you must business case that and like, all of that just It’s understandable that people want some sort of structure around it. But it also is stifling to the to the creative brain.

Genein Letford  33:41

Yes. And that’s why I think Google had their like, 20%, right, curiosity time. And I think that’s key. But is that in your workforce? And in your life time, you know, in your at home life? Do you just go wander off into the trees, and we’re just here?

JP Gaston  34:00

That’s funny. Have you mentioned Google too, because like Gmail, which I feel like just about everyone uses and if not is very aware of, was developed in that 20% time. Because they just gave the space for someone to explore a new idea. And I mean, I’m sure that it was mostly developed in the 80% time, but it started in the 20% time, and then someone went, Hey, wait a minute, this needs to be a thing.

Genein Letford  34:25

And we need that 20% Time to get things to get our brain to just kind of say, hey, well, what about this, you know, sometimes you’d have to get bored for your brain to get into to that and that’s why taking it you know, there is research this is taking a walk around trees around the greenery. The back part of your brain is this little thing here called the cerebellum. It’s used to about balance you in help you walk and stay upright. But what the current research is showing is it also monitors your prefrontal cortex and this is where you make decisions where you imagine you you, you do a lot of force thought. And so if you if you ever, like got stuck on a thought and you just get up and walk around, you kind of feel like you can think a little bit better. Because you’re activating your cerebellum, which is helping your prefrontal cortex be a little bit more efficient. That’s why movement is important. So once I think leaders get this information, you know, there’s a great book called The leaders brain by Dr. Michael Platt, I highly recommend any leader, anyone who’s leading a human being with a brain should read should read it. And if they want to go check out the podcast, it’s six 666 online. But we cannot leave people anymore without understanding what’s going on in the hood. And don’t ask people to be creative on your team, if you’re not giving them the space, and the support and some examples to do it. That’s not fair.

Seth Anderson  35:47

I was just thinking about even this conversation we’re having right now. All genesis of me going for a walk and having a random idea, but seemingly random idea to start a podcast and thinking of JP because I knew he was good at

JP Gaston  36:01

he likes to call it the spinny daily things.

Seth Anderson  36:05

But it’s funny, just like that random thought in that moment to happen because the space was there for it to occur. And like everything that spun off of that is,

Genein Letford  36:16

and think of all the impact you’re having because of a quote unquote, random to me now nothing is random things happen for a reason. But imagine all the ideas that aren’t kind of come to fruition because no one gave them the space. So someone gave you the space or whatever structure that you’ve set up, where you gave your brain the time to allow me to be here.

Seth Anderson  36:36

Is there an element to as an individual of giving yourself that space? Like I think that’s one thing as a leader, like I’ve even found, like it’s like, okay, like, you can have the space, but I think sometimes people are afraid to kind of take that step and like really lean into that. And I’m sure there’s lots of cultural elements that play into that. But like, if you’re struggling with that, how do you give yourself permission to just like, go for a

Genein Letford  36:59

walk, sometimes people just have to schedule it in. I’ve heard of one leader just they put it on their Google like deep think time, as opposed to like daydreaming, you know, and people may in duplicate language is very powerful. What you call things affects how you perceive them. So some people put deep think time on their Google Calendar. For me, coming from from a faith based perspective, we have something called the Sabbath. So from Friday, Friday evening to Saturday evening, no work is just family time, you know, and some people go as far as like no electronic, you know this. But when I do the research, and when I see what’s really important, and how to have a great life well lived, you start to see why these be priority, your brain needs time to rest, you need time to rest and just connect with people and get off machines. And you’ll see your brain will thank you for it.

Seth Anderson  37:52

There’s a question I’ve been wanting to ask all season, and I feel like you that you’re a good guest to try. I’m curious about the dark side of creativity. And like, you know, we you know, JP and I talked a lot about the benefits of it, the positive elements are talking about the gems, but on the dark side, and someone highlighted this to me one day, like, at some point, someone connected the fact that this plus this would equal an atomic bomb. So yeah, what do you have any thoughts or anything kind of come to mind on that?

Genein Letford  38:23

I do. I do. And there’s a great article that I will send to your LinkedIn that talks about just just different elements of whatever you however you construed the quote, unquote, the dark side, and I say Hitler was very creative, in a demonic way. But he knew he knew how to storytelling. He knew how to influence the masses. And he said, and I agree, agree with him. If you want to control the people don’t control their armies don’t even control their government control their stories, because stories move people and so sadly, his creativity was used in a very, very demonic way. But imagine if if it was if it wasn’t imagine if it was used in a very beneficial way, you know, and then you have your Gandhi’s in a lot of people who I don’t know their names, who have done great things for people and moved our, our nation forward. There’s another research article that I read that talked about creativity and also mental illness a lot, lot, lot of times you see maybe a lot of artistic creativity, there’s some people who have been dealing with a lot of mental illness, but it communicated through amazing art. You know, my own brother Brother dealt dealt with some, like bipolar ish issues, and he’s a fantastic pianist and a painter, and he works for NASA, and doing great work there. And we can also talk about creativity and like the sciences, but there’s, I don’t want say a dark side, but there’s a more complex side to it. And there is research I’m not, you know, well researched in that area, but I can tell some I’m currently forwarded to you about how some people kind of process some of their emotional and mental struggles through it. And I think we all do it to a certain extent, right? I know I’ve cried in saying to tone Toni Braxton when someone broke my heart, right? It’s just kind of emotions kind of whipping through it. But yes, yes, I will say that there is an area for that discussion. And I will,

JP Gaston  40:27

that’s a ton of information. And we’ve got, I feel like probably partway through Jim one.

Genein Letford  40:33

Like as well, I do have have a shortened version. So I can kind of give you a quick synopsis. And then you can ask me a question on anyone you want, might want to dive into deeper? Sure. Yeah, sure. Okay, so Jim, one is a creative growth mindset, you have to understand that both creativity and intercultural cultural competence are things you can get better at their skill. Jim two, I call the empathetic way. And so the number one indicator of a highly creative person is someone who is open to new experiences. But we also found out the number one indicator of a highly culturally competent person is someone who is open to people with different lived experiences. And so those parallel and so when you are open, you’re more empathetic, because you can shift perspectives and kind of see what people are going through and build that skill. So empathy, and that’s a big word in leadership today, right? Jim, number three, observation. Like I said before, you can’t be creative if you’re not bringing in data through your senses. And a lot of times, we don’t even use our others, like our taste or smell, we did, the eyes are taking control. And so sometimes I have people close your eyes and just do different things to kind of get there’s other senses to take the lead. And being aware of what’s around you, and paying attention to things that are normally mundane, paying attention to them in a new way, especially in nature, a lot of creative ideas that you can bring to business, which we’ve already done. It’s called biomimicry, right? Where we copy what’s going on in nature to invent new new things in society. Gym, the next gem is cultural curiosity. Like I mentioned before, with the doctor that I sat down with curiosity for the year C suite, is the number is a, I wouldn’t say the number one but one of the top three indicators of the survival of the organization. And that’s because not only are they using and exploiting the resources they have in front of them now, but they’re able to for to future think and use your imagination and kind of almost predict what’s going to go on in the future, even though we know we can’t fully predict right, but at least they’re doing it so people who aren’t curious. That’s a huge negative effect on the life and potential of your work or organization

JP Gaston  42:39

is that a newer skill set? Like I’m just thinking of C suite executives and like the 70s, probably didn’t have the same skill set, because they’re like, of course, those skills are constantly developing, and we understand better what we need, especially as technology is introduced and whatnot. But is that something that is sort of newer and that we’re gonna have to unlock from current C suite executives? Or is it something that likely many of them have, and they need to figure out how to disseminate to the people that they’re leading?

Genein Letford  43:10

Well, you said you had a little one at home, right? Yep. Did you? Did you need to teach them how to be curious? Are they just just did they just come here? And exploring everything on their own?

JP Gaston  43:20

Mostly on his own? I have to teach him what not to explore. So it’s kind of the opposite. Yeah.

Genein Letford  43:25

Yeah. Cuz his main job is to figure out what’s going on in his world. That is his focus on how is the world work working? And that’s another article that I were read, the older we get, we just see the world working. But children say, Well, why is it working this way? And how does it work? And so for C suite and your leadership, we just we just kind of like dust those skills back off exactly what you said, because they’re already innate, you’re born with these curious skills. And if you look, and we do now our research on infants, and then see how we can bring that back into the leadership and so asking questions, looking at multiple perspectives, going on these walks around your orange work organization and seeing these normal services you see all the time, like an alien, would you become an alien in your space and because routine could blind you. And another thing we have to understand is the higher you go and hierarchy in your organization, the less creative you could be, couldn’t be unless you take initiative because power blind you to the plight and lived experiences of those below you unless you’re a great leader and you take initiative to make sure you’re connecting on every level level. And that’s not me. That’s the neuroscience.

Seth Anderson  44:43

Like we should start a consultancy with a bunch of kids.

Genein Letford  44:50

Not a bad idea. So the next gym is perspective shifting. We’re looking at the neuroscience behind those who know how to perspective shift. There’s another network in your brain called this Social brain network, you’re born with it, some people have a more complex one, some people can work at it. Once again, we always can work at these things. And people who know how to perspective shift Well, I mean, your brain literally changes structure when you work at this skill. And so reminding ourselves that our brains are plastic is just not when our when we’re for your brains are plastic up to the day that you pass, they’re just more plastic from zero to 12, or zero to four for for sure. And then the next gym is authentic adaptation. I don’t know about you, but have you had to adapt in the past two years? Not at all. I have. And so if you look at a lot of the business journals coming out the skill of at adapting in new situations, especially situations that you don’t really know what’s coming up. That’s key, but I put authentic there. Because for you to adapt, you need to know who you are. And you need to know where you’re adapting from and where you’re shifting from. And so if you haven’t done any self awareness work, any value work, like what do you believe? And what do you stand by, because you don’t want to be adapting to something that’s totally against your values, right. And so for people to adapt well, but still be true to themselves is key. And then the last gem is being a bridge. And your top employees, your top team member members are the ones who can we call it Boundary Spanning, sit on the boundaries between cold cultures, right between disciplines, between fields between departments, because those are where your innovative ideas are coming from, because they’re seeing what other people are not seeing. They’re seeing connections. And if they’ve worked on these other gyms, bam, there’s your most innovative organization. I

JP Gaston  46:49

feel like they’re also the ones who are most likely to help the creativity for those who might not feel they’re creative. Like they’ve they’re in this unique space, where they are a leader who’s doing well, they’ve probably got the idea of creativity down pretty, pretty well working their way up the org, and they are probably in the best position like the leader is one thing. But the person who’s likely more influential on the team for creativity is probably a peer who is performing particularly well, provided they’re, you know, being creative, and that’s why they’re performing well. And they’re not just managing scorecard numbers. And

Genein Letford  47:25

once again, they’re having face to face time with with people who are on the front lines with the community with the stakeholders there. They’re just getting all these perspectives. And there’s there’s your soup, back to food, right?

Seth Anderson  47:40

Like I think it’s we all know corporate culture loves, loves a good scorecard loves to measure things, outcomes. How do you measure creativity in the workplace? Is that not even able to crack it?

Genein Letford  47:53

Well, when we define creativity, the word value is in there, right value creation, everything look around you like look around your room right now everything you see came from someone’s imagination, imagination is creative to me. And unconscious bias stops you from seeing and stops you from imagining and stops you from connecting. And so that’s why di work is so critical for your creative health. And measuring, I just think we got to step back as don’t forget, I taught in the K 12 school system. And it’s all about you know, your math scores, your science scores. No one’s saying, Well, what’s your curiosity scores? Have you seen that report card yet? But we’re going to see in this next decade, you heard it here, here, folks, that we’re going to be looking at these things that are a little bit more difficult to measure. And so we’re going to be looking at the Wellness levels of people, you know, the growth, do you is this a company that you feel you can grow at? Because growth is Creative Growth, right? And so it may not be hard numbers, like your sales calls or your sales numbers, it may be wellness, it may be just subjective things yet, I really don’t know where this conversation is going to go as far as this question, because we’re going to see, but what I do know is people are going to see that even though we can’t measure it in black and white, it’s still going to be critical for us to implement, and to have more of a subjective qualitative conversation about it as opposed to a quantitative spreadsheet.

Seth Anderson  49:31

I like that personally, I yeah, I’m all in on that. So if someone’s interested in learning more about the seven gems, intercultural creativity, having you as a speaker like what what’s sort of your process and we’re sure people had to

Genein Letford  49:47

have as you can feel in my spirit, I love talking about this. I can talk about this all day, if they wanted to just they can go to Geneinthat for.com or cafe strategies, CA FFE strategies and the book kind of It goes through it all, and has funny stories and stuff. And then my son and I wrote a book together, it looks like a children’s book, and you can use it for your kids. But it’s also targeted towards adults as well. Because don’t forget, our main goal is to get adults back to their childlike way of imagining and imagining and being curious. So it’s just a fun book that we wrote together. He was creative, and I just wrote, wrote down what he was doing, and things like, like, like that. And I just do keynote speakers and and I’m also doing a lot of training and workshops, so people who need a lot of di, but I’m switching it up, and bringing in teaching unconscious bias and teaching all of these elements with a creative twist. So your employees are improving their creative thinking, while they’re improving their ability to connect and work with people with different lived experiences. So you’re getting two elements at the same time. So I do a lot of keynote speaking and corporate and training and school districts as well. I’m kind of odd, where I have my foot in both arenas.

JP Gaston  51:05

Awesome. I can’t help but think to myself, anyone who wants to get more creative. either have or borrow like a two to five year old and just do whatever they want to do for a day just mimic what they’re doing. And like instantly be will be drawing my my little guy drew a bus the other day, I’m pretty sure it had 75 wheels on it, because he just really likes drawing circles right now. It will really open your mind to creativity. Yeah, so

Genein Letford  51:34

I will, I’ll be sure to send you a book. But that’s actually one of my to do every chapter. I have, you know, here are a few things that you can do to improve observation or curiosity. And I say go go hang out with a kid if you don’t have one borrow mine.

Seth Anderson  51:51

That’s funny. My daughter, she, she saw the show on YouTube, where they called the three marker challenge. So now, when I’m working, she will draw out the same picture twice, and then give me three markers. And then we have a competition to see who colors it better. And that’s thing all these muscles. I haven’t used them a long time, but it’s a lot of fun.

Genein Letford  52:09

There, Kate. Oh, yes. Let the children lead. Lead us.

Seth Anderson  52:14

Thank you so much for your time. Genein, this was an absolute pleasure. And yeah, we look forward to connecting with you again down there. Thank you.

Genein Letford  52:21

Awesome. Thanks for having me and stay creative.

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