Napoleon Hill in his all-time bestselling book “Think and Grow Rich” makes mention of the power of the Mastermind. The mastermind principle is defined as the coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people for the achievement of a definite purpose. A mastermind group can be a powerful way to achieve your definite purpose or goals. I have joined a few mastermind groups each having a specific purpose or goal where the contribution of the knowledge, experience and united spirit of all members can catapult you to the next level of achievement. Members of a mastermind group will have a common interest where each person is willing to discuss topics openly and contribute knowledge and experience. The mastermind groups that I belong to meet regularly and have formal and informal agendas for prior preparation and subsequent discussion. A number of outcomes have emerged from my mastermind groups, including sharing knowledge and ideas, creating new start-up businesses, identifying new commercial opportunities, and developing solutions for business and community problems. Some of the most successful people in the world (e.g. Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie) have relied on their mastermind groups to guide them or provide wisdom and inspiration.

Another mastermind concept is establishing your personal “Board of Directors” which involves a group of trusted people or mentors who can guide you or coach you in various aspects of your life, including business, career, personal development, financial or health. For example, when I was between jobs I had a personal fitness and conditioning coach, a career coach and a personal development coach. I would meet with my personal fitness and conditioning coach three times a week for a period of eighteen months undergoing fitness, physical endurance and mental conditioning training. I would also meet with my career and personal development coaches once every two weeks, alternating between each coach weekly. When I met with my personal development coach I would discuss my progress in building and enhancing my skills for my next challenge in life. My mentor would give me self discovery exercises, references to read and small development projects to complete between the meeting sessions. My mentor also opened my mind to a wealth of opportunities that I would investigate and develop in later months and years.

Many successful people establish their own personal “Board of Directors” by identifying key individuals who can assist them in specific areas of focus. If you need a business mentor or adviser you proceed by identifying and choosing someone who has had considerable success and achievement in business. Finding the right mentor or business coach can have a significant affect on your life. A mentor can teach and guide you through your life journey and can be one of the best ways to achieve personal success. Mentors can also accelerate your learning curve by providing the knowledge to fill the gap of “What you don’t know you don’t know“. For example, a business mentor can provide you with the tools and resources to grow your business or to teach you the strategies and processes (tricks of the trade) for a new business opportunity.

Following is a process of finding the right mentors to build your personal “Board of Directors”:

  1. Identify a person in your domain or area of interest who has been successful and would make a great mentor. e.g. a business mentor
  2. Your next step is to contact the person via telephone or a written letter and request whether they can be your mentor.
  3. Don’t be afraid; the worst thing that can happen is that they say “No”.
  4. If you do get a “No” then continue to look for another possible mentor.
  5. Once you have found a group of mentors establish a meeting schedule with an agenda to maximise the full benefits of the engagement. I find that monthly meetings over a coffee or tea is the best approach.
  6. The engagement should be a “win-win” therefore it is important that you also provide some value back to your mentor. This could be in the form of new leads, new business opportunities, information of interest or business intelligence.

Don’t hesitate. Start identifying potential mentors today and begin building your personal “Board of Directors”.

Dr John Kapeleris

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Creative Hothouses Part 2

March 7th, 2011 | Posted by John Kapeleris in Creativity - (6 Comments)

A colleague asked me to provide further information on history’s “Creative Hothouses”, such as ancient Athens, Renaissance Florence, the creative communities of the Parisian cafes and salons (early 1900s) and the German Bauhaus (1919-1933). Following is a summary of history’s creative hothouses.

Ancient Athens

The Athenians during the Golden Age of Greece (500 – 300 BC), created forms of history, mathematics, democracy, political science, philosophy, drama, architecture and sculpture, that continue to influence our world today. The hothouse of Athens was able to fuse a number of cultural domains into distinctive forms such as buildings, literature and politics. Thousands of years later the achievements of Athens played a crucial role in inspiring the Renaissance.

European Renaissance

The Renaissance Period (1300 to 1600), particularly in Florence, was characterised as the age of exploration with an emergence of new knowledge that influenced art and science. The knowledge from the ancient Greco-Roman period, that had lay dormant for a millennium, suddenly gained a renewed interest that further influenced the explosion of art and science. Advances in a number of industries occurred, including, travel, metallurgy, optics, ballistics, construction and agriculture. An exponential growth of wealth and knowledge also drove the emergence of the nation-state, each with its increased military power. The legacy created by the Renaissance Period was in the form of art. Life-like oil paintings and sculptures, the use of perspective, and the design of visually inspiring architecture was developed during the Renaissance.

The Parisian Cafes and Salons

During the early twentieth century, following the Paris World Fair in 1900, an industrial boom occurred in Europe and the United States, bringing new technological developments such as the horseless carriage, the wireless radio, widespread use of the telephone, and the proliferation of electric light bulbs. It was also the time when Albert Einstein published his first paper on the Theory of Relativity. During the early 1900s the Parisian cafes were social hubs fuelled by coffee, wine, and creative passion, where people would meet in an environment conducive to sharing mutually stimulating ideas and conversations. Gertrude Stein’s apartment also became one of the significant hothouses in Paris in the 1920s, with gatherings every Saturday night (salons) and visits throughout the week. Stein collected paintings of notable artists such as Picasso, Matisse and Braque before they became famous. The apartment became a salon of creativity where artists, poets and writers (Pablo Picasso, Guillaume Apollinaire, Ernest Hemingway and Thornton Wilder to name a few) came together to share their experiences and fuel creative inspiration through the process of osmosis.

German Bauhaus

The German Bauhaus (1919-1933) under the leadership of Walter Gropius provided a workshop experience for architecture, sculpture, art and design. It also became the creative hub that bridged art and business where new creations could be transformed into products for the market. It brought together the cultural and physical landscapes to develop and stimulate students through transfering the skills of the masters. Many students then became masters teaching their learnings and experiences to future students. In 1934 when the Nazis declared all modern art to be ‘un-German”, the Bauhaus moved to Chicago where it became the New Bauhaus and later the Institute of Design.

Common Characteristics

The hothouses in history had a number of characteristics that were common, particularly the ability to accomplish the following (extracted from “The Hothouse Effect”):

  1. Sustain a high level of innovative creativity for a significant period of time
  2. Draw on the knowledge and innovation of the broader cultural community to which it belonged
  3. Spawn geniuses whose achievements climax the work of many other practitioners at all levels of achievements
  4. Establish a new paradigm, that is, a new way of doing things that informs its creative products and establishes new principles, procedures and standards.
  5. Achieve wide recognition and establish a lasting legacy to which future generations continually return to emulate.

It may also be interesting to study some of the more modern creative hothouses, such as Silicon Valley, and learn how intellectual exchanges led, in this example, to the development of the “dot.com boom”.

You may also know of other creative hothouses, local regional or national, that you would like to share.

Dr John Kapeleris

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Daniel Pink quoted in one of his presentations, “Left brain thinking gets you the job, right brain thinking gets you the promotion“. Since we are living in a ‘conceptual world’ through the impact of the digital economy we need to use both our analytical left brain but also our creative right brain. However, many of us struggle to develop our creative right brains because our educational system focuses on analysis, critical thinking, and facts and figures.

A key driver of business growth and development is the ability to nurture the intellectual capital in organizations (that is, the employees, their tacit knowledge, skills and experience). One critical success factor is to enhance creativity in people and subsequently in the organization by creating a “Hothouse Effect”. Dr Barton Kunstler author of the The Hothouse Effect describes a number of ways to intensify creativity in your organization using secrets from history’s most creative communities. The book describes common characteristics of history’s “Creative Hothouses”, including ancient Athens, Renaissance Florence, the creative communities of the Parisian salons (early 1900’s) and the German Bauhaus (1919-1933).

Following is a summary of the ‘Four Dimensions of the Hothouse Effect’. Learnings, observations, behaviours and processes from the creative hothouses  are outlined that can be applied to the modern organization to stimulate new thinking, creativity, innovation and breakthrough ideas.

I. Values/Mission.

  1. Values drive organizational goals, strategies and operations and should be ‘lived’ by employees throughout the work environment both explicitly and implicitly.
  2. The organization should support the creative expression of individuals and utilize their knowledge to solve problems and capitalize opportunities.
  3. Employees are driven by the vital impact and meaning they create for other individuals, organizations and society.
  4. Highly creative groups challenge assumptions and conduct in-depth research to gain a better understanding of the situation or problem.
  5. The organization’s mission aspires to universal application in the market.

II. Ideas/Exchange.

  1. The organization provides recognition and respect for thinkers and the products of thought.
  2. Create a system to facilitate the circulation and flow of ideas throughout the organization.
  3. Intellectual exchange inputs into the evolution of organizational culture.
  4. Employees tap into the expertise across disciplines and teams, and utilize other fields of knowledge.
  5. Mentoring relationships are cultivated throughout the organization.
  6. Hubs of creativity are encouraged which proliferate throughout the organization.
  7. The organization continually analyzes the impact of core technologies on all aspects of operations, development and strategy.

III. Perception/Learning

  1. The organization encourages and actively promotes education for all employees.
  2. Employees have access to tools and problem-solving methodologies to perform their work and deliver services to clients.
  3. Perception-based methods are implemented into the employees’ daily work lives.
  4. Creativity training is provided to employees to better understand the creative process, consisting of immersion, incubation and illumination.
  5. The organization and its employees maintain an open mind to external opportunities, networks and collaborations.
  6. Employees are encouraged to enhance their mental operations through various activities, including ‘thinking about thinking‘ and “design thinking’.

IV. Social/Play

  1. The organization has a strong business model that provides the resources and structure to encourage and support creative activity.
  2. The organization continues to develop its future leaders.
  3. Crises draw employees together and release hidden reserves of energy and creative inspiration.
  4. Playing with ideas, information and material encourages experimentation and removes the fear of failure.
  5. Social activities are planned imaginatively and promote social interaction and rapport.

The knowledge and practical approaches are available for any organization seeking a competitive advantage in this interconnected global arena. The challenge lies in the commitment and implementation strategy.

Dr John Kapeleris

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The interaction with people throughout your life can influence and determine your future path. My parents and grandparents were a strong influence in my younger years, guiding me and providing me with direction and knowledge. Many of my values and beliefs originated from my parents and grandparents, predominantly through story-telling in the evening and during bed-time. My parents and grandparents were my mentors in my early life.

Throughout my education and career I would source new mentors who would continue to influence me and guide me through my learning and development. One of my career mentors was Dr David Wyatt who was also the Chief Executive of a company where I worked as a senior manager. He was a person who could inspire you to seek new ideas, and continually learn and develop. He would motivate you in your work and make you feel positive and energised. David was also a wealth of knowledge and creative inspiration. He provided me with frequent articles of useful information that would challenge my thinking and provide me with new knowledge. David would also challenge me to think beyond the immediate problem or opportunity. When I was working for David I just couldn’t wait to get to work on Monday morning so that I could experience something new, exciting and motivating. My personal development at that time in my life soared significantly.

In another example, after leaving a company that I worked in for 12 years I employed the services of a personal development mentor to guide me through my next career transition. I would meet with the coach on a weekly basis over three months and discuss my progress in building and enhancing my skills for my next challenge in life. My mentor would give me self discovery exercises, references to read and small development projects to complete between the meeting sessions. My mentor also opened my mind to a wealth of opportunities that I would investigate and develop in later months and years.

Finding the right mentor or business coach can have a significant effect on your life. A mentor can teach and guide you through your life journey and can be one of the best ways to achieve personal success. For example, a business mentor can provide you with the tools and resources to grow your business or to teach you the strategies and processes (tricks of the trade) for a new business opportunity. In a recent experience, without the influence of an internet business coach I would not have been able to develop my internet-based business skills. Can you identify a person in your domain or area of interest who has been successful and would make a great mentor? Your next step is to contact the person via telephone or a written letter and request whether they can be your mentor. Don’t be afraid; the worst thing that can happen is that they say “No”. If this occurs you then look for another possible mentor. For additional mobile information, consult the experts when it comes to samsung galaxy specifications.

Building networks of people who can add value, share ideas and build collaborations or alliances should be one of your key goals, if you are going to succeed in any business or creative endeavour. Your networks will become a source of ideas, knowledge, support, motivation, channels to other networks, access to markets, and even revenue sources. How do you then set about building a network? The first step is to become a better networker by improving your networking skills and overcoming fear and low self-esteem. Following is a simple six-step approach to networking:

  1. Identify networking opportunities and events such as meetings, luncheons, seminars and conferences. Target specific events with a topic of interest related to your definite purpose or goal.
  2. Take the responsibility to interact first. Remember the worst thing that can happen to you is a polite rejection. Network the room as much as possible. Don’t stick to a single person, or remain alone at the outer perimeter of the room, which is common amongst people with low self-esteem. Try to join a group of people who are already interacting or look for someone who is alone.
  3. Have a topic of interest to discuss e.g. a topic from the seminar or conference, or ask the other person a question about their job or work. I always like to begin with “Hi, my name is John and I work for …”. After the other person responds with their name and organisation, I immediately follow with a question or statement related to the seminar or conference. If the networking occurs before the event I tend to ask a general question such as “Are you looking forward to listening to the speaker?”, “What attracted you to this seminar?” or “What do you do for a living?”. It is also a good idea to have a prepared 2-3 minute “Elevator Pitch” describing what you do. For example I say, “I put money into people’s pockets by helping them take their ideas to market”. This generally grabs the person’s attention.
  4. Exchange business cards or contact details. This is generally done during the introduction or after you have found out more about the person. Ensure that you offer your business card first as the other person will generally reciprocate. If the other person does not have a business card write their contact information in a notebook or on a piece of paper. It is also a good idea to write where you met and any follow-up action items or notes about the person on the back of the business card. Don’t forget to record their details, as soon as possible, in a contact database together with notes about the person, where you met and any follow-up actions.
  5. Cultivate your relationship through maintaining regular contact. This could be done through the use of a combination of tools and processes, such as regular email, the online tool LinkedIn, a contact database or by periodically catching up face-to-face for coffee, lunch or at upcoming meetings and seminars. I use LinkedIn quite extensively as this allows me to build a network of people very easily. It also has an email function that allows me to send individual or group messages, and also includes a short message function linked to Twitter. For more specific profile building of my contacts I use a database such as Microsoft Business Contact Manager which is linked to Outlook. I like to use a Relationship Maintenance Schedule (in spreadsheet format) for my more important contacts where I build in a schedule of activities, including periodically sending my contacts articles of interest, links to interesting internet sites, or provide them with business leads and new opportunities.
  6. Become a network architect for others. The ultimate goal is to become the “go-to” person for introducing others to people you know. You essentially become the “intellectual gravity” or thought leader for a given domain and its networks, by attracting like-minded individuals or people seeking knowledge and inspiration.

Napoleon Hill in “Think and Grow Rich” described the power of the Mastermind. The mastermind principle is defined as the coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people for the achievement of a definite purpose. A mastermind group can be a powerful way to achieve your definite purpose or goal. I have joined a few mastermind groups each having a specific purpose or goal where the contribution of the knowledge, experience and united spirit of all members can catapult you to the next level of achievement. Members of a mastermind group will have a common interest where each person is willing to discuss topics openly and contribute knowledge and experience. The mastermind groups that I belong to meet regularly and have formal and informal agendas for prior preparation and subsequent discussion. A number of outcomes have emerged from my mastermind groups, including sharing knowledge and ideas, creating new start-up businesses, identifying new commercial opportunities, and developing solutions for business and community problems. Some of the most successful people in the world (e.g. Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie) have relied on their mastermind groups to guide them or provide wisdom and inspiration.

Another example of a mastermind alliance is that of the creative community which dates back to the Middle Ages. For example, Leonardo da Vinci worked in a master’s studio (Verrocchio’s workshop) with like-minded people to learn his trade, and share knowledge and technical skills, including drafting, chemistry, metallurgy, metal working, plaster casting, leather working, mechanics and carpentry, as well as the artistic skills of drawing, painting, sculpting and modelling. The Parisian Salons of the 1920’s and 1930’s are other examples of creative communities, where people like Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso and Thornton Wilder would get together informally at the Parisian apartments of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, to fuel their creative inspiration. You can also locate and join a mastermind group or creative community that focuses on your domain or area of interest. Searching the internet, reading trade journals or popular magazines can identify mastermind groups or creative communities. You can also ask your contacts through your networks if they belong to any mastermind groups or creative communities. If you cannot locate a particular mastermind group or creative community then you might consider forming your own.

Make it a great life!

Dr John Kapeleris

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