5 Exercises to be Innovative and Creative

This article is about some of the exercises I do to be more creative. Most of these synergize with each other so that’s nice.

Write down Solutions

This is a throwback of last week’s article. If you’ve watched the news recently, there is probably a problem stated every 5 minutes whether directly stated or inferred. What if for 30 minutes, you could take a segment of news, write down all of the problems, and then take time to figure out the solution? Or how about going on facebook, write down the headline for every problematic facebook article, and form a solution to fix that problem?

The point of this exercise is to mainly build your creative muscle. By identifying problems and then solving them you are pretty much doing what every single business in the world is trying to do. Most businesses have specific problems that they want to solve which is why people pay for them. Writing solutions will train you to be a problem solver, not just someone who complains all day. Don’t be one of those people!

Ask Questions

The quality of your life is determined by the quality of your questions. — Dr. John Demartini

When you ask questions, you become curious, and that also means you are looking for solutions. Asking questions gives you more information, and more tools to use in the future.

I’ve noticed that after 50 episodes of asking questions, I’ve become much better at it and not just on the podcast, but in life. My questions show I’m more involved at work, relationships, or meeting complete strangers.

So how do questions make you more innovative? Not only are you a more interesting person, but by asking better questions, you are identifying better opportunities where you can write down solutions.

Collaborate with other Innovators

I wish I could say I know about flavors and how to flavor my products but I am but a novice. This is why I ask and collaborate with flavor houses to find the best solution to my problems. Whenever I talk to a flavor chemist, I get really vague, yet specific. If you ask for a chocolate flavor, you are going to get a wide array of chocolates that will be a waste of time or resources.

If you ask for possibly: a rich, fudgy emulsion based liquid flavor, non-GMO, natural, organic that would go good with pea protein, now you have something here.

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I pick out 5 pieces of content from the latest food industry news to the greatest new products and leave my snarky comments every week.

Same goes with private labeling and co-packing. It is much better to work together on a product than bossing people around. If you are the owner of the product you made in your kitchen and you have no food industry experience, you should really collaborate and work together with your co-packer to get the best results.

But watch out, not everyone (on both ends) will have the same mindset as you! In fact, it’s very dangerous when one end is stubborn, unreceptive to change, and in some cases, only profit-focused. You will get a lot of these people on both ends. Choose your collaborators wisely.

Join Different Things

I like Asian festivals so I sometimes crash these Asian festival committee meetings. Though most of the info is different, you might pick up on a few nuances that might help you innovate.

One example is a Chinese Festival that have only retired people in the committee. I thought these guys were the most structured non-profit I’ve ever met. They got stuff done so fast! I took some ideas from their meetings and decided to implement them on my own meetings which allowed me to save so much time and energy and actually getting stuff done.

No matter what industry, or organization, people are the same. Even though people have different methods on running meetings, or creating products, we are still collaborating for a greater cause and it’s important to connect the dots so you can see what overlaps, and what doesn’t.

And whatever doesn’t overlap… what can you do to make it overlap?

Make Little Bets

If you read any self-help, startup book, this is a common thread. The point of making little bets is that you have to actually do something for you to be truly innovative. Yes, to actually become the definition of innovative, you actually have to start something!

This might sound scary, but it gets easier the more times you do it. Not only does making little bets make you more creative, but it builds up your confidence and thought process where you can execute great ideas over and over again.

I’ll talk about an example. In the past, I was in a group of product developers. We conceptualize new products. Before, there was old management who would shoot down every possibility because in theory, it sounded dumb, or other political BS. But once we started actually making the product and then doing a sensory test of 20 people, people started to change their minds

Another example I give is from small projects. People are usually overwhelmed with huge goals. For example, starting your own Tech Company, or grocery store, or national soda brand. They think they have to start with a million dollars in capital to succeed. However, if you just learn to open up a jam store at the farmer’s market, you can spend less than $1000 dollars to learn so much more.

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