Our guest today: Natalie Nixon
Natalie Nixon is a Speaker | Creativity Strategist | Author. She helps people apply wonder & rigor to accelerate growth & business value. Her new book is called The Creativity Leap: https://amzn.to/3hQFzmg
Watch our interview
Natalie Nixon The Creativity Leap – How to Unleash Curiosity, Improvisation and Intuition at Work.m4a – powered by Happy Scribe
Feisworld podcast helps independent creators live their creative and financial freedom. I’m your host, Fei Wu, and I’ll be taking you through a series of interviews with creators from around the world who are living life on their own terms. Each episode is packed with tactics, nuggets you can implement origin stories to make listening productive and enjoyable. We’re not only focused on the more aspirational stories, but relatable ones as well. We also have none interview based miniseries releasing throughout the year to help Deep dove into topics such as freelancing, marketing, even indie filmmaking that will benefit creators like you.
Show notes, links and ways to connect with the guests are available on Feisworld.com. Now onto the show. Hey, hello there, this is Fei Wu from Feisworld podcast. Can I just be honest for a second, because we have recently switched our format from producing episodes in final production, only wait for weeks and then release the episode to live streaming all our conversations with our guests. I have been using a lot of what’s called a multi streaming.
We’re simulcasting software such as Streamcast or Lulla. This allows me to let my audience know when I go live who I’m interviewing. And I have gone a little bit better again, trying to be very honest and transparent here to stay up to date, updating phase WorldCom events and then announcing events on Facebook, my our Facebook page under events sometimes where at least for me, I’m still trying to figure out what’s the most effective way of going about this. How do I let my audience know and do I send them an email?
Or maybe they’re getting too many emails already as I’m publishing loads, loads and loads of content on YouTube as well. So let me know. Give me some feedback when you want to tune in or you want to be a little bit more passive and, you know, consume the content when they come out here on this podcast. So just assessing all of that. And as always, I love hearing from my listeners. And if you’re listening to this on Anchor Will Anchor made it really easy for you to submit questions directly to me so they can navigate to that and make changes and start all these private conversations and engagements directly.
My listeners, that’s why we switched. Well, before I ramble on, in addition to those, I have decided that I’m going to spend maybe the first five to even 10 minutes of some of these episodes of our regular podcast, your long form content to also talk to you guys about my life and what I’ve been up to. That’s one piece of feedback I’ve gotten. In fact, it’s something like a technique I learned from Joanna Penn, who I interviewed as a guest here.
She’s a prolific self publishing author, very well known in the industry. And she noticed something, which is after she released 400 episodes of her podcast. A lot of our listeners have been asking her about her life. You know, what she’s been up to, to get to know her more, to know, you know, the things that she chooses to read, to watch, listen to. And I want to do something similar along that line because I have found myself incredibly productive and ambitious during this pandemic.
And part of that is as my own way of helping out my friends, my family, you know, people of color, immigrants to get their voice out. And that part is really important to me because given all that’s going on right now, the political climate, you know, racial injustice, all of that, I thought to myself, OK, I have a small platform, but there’s something I can do as well. And I want to do that on a regular basis, not just on Tuesdays, not just after a certain event or certain movement.
I want to really integrate that into my regular routine as a content creator. If you find that interesting, if you have certain stories, certain books, certain resources, you would like to recommend to help our listeners out, to help my community out, please send them to me. I can be easily found everywhere on this world. Again, that is F-e-i-s-w-o-r-l-d. I know some folks still struggle to spell my name. I just feel so natural by the Chinese way of spelling my name, which exactly sounds like Fei is F-e-i.
And today guys, today I’m welcoming Natalie Nixon to the show. Natalie is a client and I want to just say that that my producer Herman and I had the pleasure to work on her new speaker. Real, by the way. Yes, she is a keynote speaker, platform speaker. She’s an author and educator as well. She just published her new book. It’s called The Creativity Leap. And the subtitle is Unleash Curiosity, improvisation and Intuition at Work.
So I am really quite impressed by this book. It’s not a very long read. So you pick up a copy and to learn things that are really important, one of which is too many associate creativity solely with the arts, even though to be an extraordinary scientist, engineer or entrepreneur requires immense creativity. So that’s really is at the core of Natalie’s book, and I respect that a lot. And I’ve experienced that firsthand of working and consulting and in creative agencies that really creativity is reserved for the chosen few.
And not only that, you know, we talk about as part of this conversation that gets. Worse, which is people tend to call themselves creative or not creative or logical, but never both. And I remember this growing up, by the way, just being educated in China back in starting first grade in late 80s, all the way through two thousand before I came to the U.S. and again, experiencing all of that in the US, starting high school and college and at work.
Right. We feel so divided. Yet if we can learn a way and understand that fundamentally we are all creative. Right? Creativity comes in many different shapes and forms and we can respect one another because of that. So, Natalie, again, very welcoming and really joined me in this incredible conversation to share her journey, by the way, as a fashion, as somebody who worked in fashion, specifically Victoria Secret and, you know, and then later on in becoming a speaker and in between that, working as a professor.
So, you know, her journey is so expansive. And I want people to hear these stories that you are not stuck at, whatever your major is, what you’ve been chosen to do. You can actually expand your career horizon if you choose to. Yes, it takes effort. It takes faith and perseverance and all of that. But right here on Feisworld Podcast’s, myself included. But I feel like I have such prolific role models who are way more celebrated and known and experienced than I am, and be able to articulate things in ways that I’m unable to, to be quite honest.
So thank you for listening to this and I really hope you enjoy the conversation. And again, Feisworld is now a media, not just a podcast. If you want to check out so many other things we’re working on, I would say, you know what started with our YouTube channel? We’re building a fairly significant audience. You know, a few months later, we transformed our channel from three hundred subscribers to now close to four thousand. But more than that is we’re getting, you know, one hundred and ten thousand views every single month and over a million impressions.
So I am really eager to share a lot more learnings related to YouTube. Who knows? Maybe I’ll have a separate podcast for that if you’re interested. Without further ado, please welcome Natalie Nixon to the Feisworld podcast, and I’ll see you at the end of the show.
They think so, happy to be here.
I’m happier to be here because not only just released this new book. Oh, yay. What people don’t know is like, you know, when you write a book, it doesn’t matter, you know, the cover and then the the content is just this is like sweat, blood and tears. Everything that goes into a book, it just unbelievable.
It really is. And you don’t realize that deeply until you go down the path. It’s like first you have this what you think is a great idea. You don’t realize how that’s going to morph. And then it’s finding the publisher, which is a whole nother animal. I didn’t have a literary agent through the professional generosity of Joe Pine, who is half of the experience economy some people might be familiar with, and Gilmor experience economy. I had contacted them many years ago when I finished.
My dissertation is like I cited them. We stayed in touch and it was Joe Pine who graciously gave me an introduction to Neil Mallott, who is of the editorial at Barrett Culver, which is the publisher of The Creativity Leap. So yeah. So then you get a publisher lined up. That’s the business of writing. That’s the business of book publishing. And then there are so many types of editors, I had no idea. So to be at this day is like graceful.
It’s really nice. I’m happy.
Yeah. I mean, this is a I’m so grateful that we met through Stephen Shapiro give a huge shout out to Stephen, who’s so generous with his introductions. And and together we get to work on your speaker reel, which totally ah made me feel like when when it comes to writing and then reading a book as an audience member, that I was so much more even more eager to read it because I’ve worked with you, I met you and, you know, just on Zoom these days.
But it really it feels more intimate. I just feel like, wow, I, I want to know what Natalie has to say. And you have picked a topic that in a time like this, I feel like it’s so, so timely.
Yeah. And who would have thunk that these would be the times you’re in? And you know, first when March rolled around and we were all adapting to this new normal of covid-19 having to deal with a lot of financial insecurity and difficulties, that that everyone is going through those uncertainties, everything from literally being laid off to furloughs to just you and I are entrepreneurs. So, you know, it’s always risky business. But now especially but, you know, you adapt, you find your new rhythm and you keep it moving.
And then, you know, we were seeing and sequence the public posting of police brutality among some police officers, not all but police brutality against African-Americans. And then the tipping point was the murder of George Floyd. So then we have the social protests, the social justice protests. So when we talk about times like this, I, I keep reminding my clients, I keep reminding my readers that days of uncertainty are actually designed for creativity. And the way I like to explain it is that uncertainty is a characteristic of complexity.
And we have a complex situation. You can’t there’s no easy linear solution, so you can’t solve it in a linear fashion. You need to navigate complexity with complexity. And creativity is actually a complex system.
Absolutely. And I feel that it just it’s something that we all need to learn and embrace. And I love what you said in the book, that creativity is a competency that is available and accessible to everyone, not just the chosen few, not just the innovation club. Right. What do you mean by that? And why do you think that the, you know, the clarity and differentiation is so important?
Yeah, thank you for that. Not just to the cool kids. Right. I, I have a background in cultural anthropology and fashion. I’ve done a ton of work in the design thinking, strategic design space, and I would kind of internally grit my teeth whenever I’d be facilitating a session, leading clients to something. And people say, well, I’m not a creative type because I can’t fill in the blank dad’s wasting or paint. And you know, the challenge with thinking that creativity is.
Only among the artists, eh? That’s not fair to artists, we just talked about how your mother is an incredibly talented, hard work is right behind you, but it’s not fair to put the burden of creativity, of a creative practice only on artists, and it’s not beneficial to our society at large. So the way I like to define creativity, my attempt to democratize creativity is to define it as our ability to toggle between wonder and rigor to solve problems.
We’ve ended up ghettoizing creativity among artists because artists are really excellent at the design, space and time for the wonder. They don’t poo poo it. They don’t think it’s all that superfluous stuff. They really realize you have to dream. You have to ask audacious, big what if questions. You have to pause. Right. And they also are incredibly rigorous. If you think of painters, if you think of jazz musicians, of dancers at the top of their craft, it is sweaty, tedious, not sexy work.
It’s very solitary. Right. That’s the rigor. So artists who just do a better job at sitting with the discomfort of the rigor, but all of us have access to that. Absolutely.
Yeah. I can assure everyone who all of our lives on the surface kind of tell a slightly different story. In the past few years, my life has been I feel very, very blessed. And I know luck and creativity are part of that for sure. But the documentary and podcasting for six years doing what I’m doing now and YouTube, like you said, people look at it and think, wow, I mean, this is what she has to do all day.
But you’re absolutely right. I mean, rigor and creativity have to coexist. Otherwise, like, nothing gets done, right? No, there is people don’t realize like when I do tutorials on YouTube and just recently I came across, you know, it doesn’t matter what I was doing, like OBEs and live streaming, somehow my screen recording device would just kept failing three, four times. So and then it was very frustrating because I thought I recorded it in 15 minutes time to edit, as you know, and it will take days and hours, whatever.
And and I kept having to go back to it. But I think it’s that believe that, OK, this is part of the process. You just have to bite it and and then just keep moving forward.
Well, your example right there is a wonderful point illustrating that creativity gives us permission, even though it fails. Arktos, it’s hard. It’s like, oh, I got to go back to the drawing board. I got to try this again. But it gives us permission to be experimental. And that’s what we’re not doing enough of in our organizations, that it’s exactly what we need, that we need that more experimental mindset when we’re thinking about how are we going to get through a global health pandemic, how are we going to really build equity in our society?
It’s about going back to the drawing board Alaoui. I mean, when we experiment, we also allow each other to make mistakes. I published an article in Ink recently about this time exactly what you are talking about and how the experimental aspects of creativity. We build that more to our organizations and we’re doing this tough work of equity and access that also means we and grace to each other. We’re going to not be perfect at this beginning. Right. So we we have to give each of you have to give each other our society, grace, and we’re going to stumble.
We’re going to make mistakes. We want to say the wrong thing when I say the right way. But we need to try in order to move forward. And to Channing, I’m so glad you’re talking about organizations, because I forgot to mention from the beginning right now, people who are listening, watching this are basically half half the people are working in organizations and the other half have taken the leap to establish a creative endeavor or company of their own.
But let’s face I mean, still a lot of people are working in corporate America, are struggling, because as I was reading the book in conversations with you, one thing I would love to probe and ask is there are a lot of people thinking, OK, that is the leader’s job. And someone like yourself, you go to organizations and you do coach and and speak for and really mentor these leaders. But what if people are, you know, who are senior managers or associates and who are thinking, oh, I’m I need to wait for someone else to read the book to understand and implement it.
How do you kind of help them understand the power that they have within. What about the situation?
Yeah, so it’s like power that they have within both within themselves and their ability to start shifting their mindsets and also power within the organization. So I always say culture change, which takes a long time, doesn’t happen overnight. A culture change. It starts with the shift in mindset, which leads to shifts in behaviors which then finally leads to culture change. And our brains, our minds are incredibly elastic and I mean that and that kind of chemical weight versus plasticity.
Plasticity is like a stretch. But our our neural synopsize have the capacity to reroute, to rewire if we cultivate different habits. So one day I would say to individual leaders, especially at the top of the organization, is to adopt a creativity, competency, to start exploring creativity, leave so that you can acquire what Carol Dweck calls a growth mindset. Creativity is a key way into that, but also ask for help. Sometimes we have this faux vision that a leader is this stalwart person who has the answer to everything.
No, I mean, I really Simon Sinek had a great interview this week, and I posted this interview where he was saying one of the things leaders can do right now is to ask for help. Is is is that a question which sideways into what I call the three eyes creativity, research, inquiry, improvization and intuition. That inquiry is curiosity. So being able to kind of step outside of oneself and ask a different question at this gnarly problem, but broadly, more broadly, in the organization, there are emergent leaders, right?
So there are leaders who can be found on the margins, who if you are at a huge company that has call centers or it’s a fast food restaurant, it’s the people who are interacting with us, shmucks, the consumers every day. And it’s also the newer people who are on the margins. They might be new to the organization who might come in with all this other knowledge from their experience. So it’s about also valuing emergent leaders and the only way leaders at the top learn that is they get out of the office, they walk the floor.
There’s a lot, lot lot of models for leading by walking through the through the building, getting out of the office, getting out of the building, asking different questions is the real way to build leadership for creativity.
I’ve seen there are a lot of videos as I was going through assets on your wall of footage from the past five years or more, I noticed like something that just shows me that will be something more effective and more adaptive, which is you don’t just sit there and coach leaders and sea level folks only. But I’ve seen a variety of people among your audience, including very young people. Look they look to be college students as well as people who are more senior.
And there are people in the middle. And you’ve done these very collaborative workshops where people are experimenting, thinking on their own, as well as thinking groups and teams. What did you learn or like observed from people were actually working together? Were they shocked to be like, oh, my God, now we have this opportunity? We never thought it was possible?
Yeah, it’s so interesting because as you point out, when I work with university level students, whether they’re undergrads or graduate students, because, you know, if a big chapter of my life, I want to do this. I was a professor for 16 years. And what I love about working with with I would just that not even just students, but when we allow ourselves to be not just people who are students formally, but when we allow ourselves to be in a student mode, is something that unlocks our minds almost like, OK, I’m a student.
So I allowed myself the permission to to let go of a lot of my assumptions by the time we get young people at the university stage. So there’s still a lot to teach. Sir Ken Robinson and the UK, he’s a he’s one of the foremost thought leaders about creativity, the future of learning education. And he references all these cases and studies where you talk to a bunch of kindergartners. You ask how many of you want to be artists? Everyone’s everyone’s it.
Right. I only want to be a dancer. I want to be in a rock band. Right. Middle school. That half of sloughed off high school. It’s like the weirdo kids in the back of the room. It’s really bad. And and again, that’s the assumption that creativity is only in the arts. Right. But. What I found, especially when I was teaching mainly, is that asking questions wasn’t acknowledged as a way of thinking, which is what Warren Burger likes to say.
Right. He’s the author of My Beautiful Question. But asking questions is the way I think is that, yes, it’s a sign of ignorance. I don’t know something to ask the question. So what? Right. As when I’m coaching and consulting with full fledged adults who’ve been in corporate America for some time, working some time. It’s it’s a combination of things. It’s this relief that, oh, I don’t have to know the answer. Oh, it’s all about process.
This is about right. Is a relief there. At the same time, there’s there’s also a fear of like, what will this really get to the serious stuff? Yes, it will, because creativity is a productivity play. I had a I had a great conversation and a podcast with a woman named Jen Devor. Jen is with the Economy League of Philadelphia. And she said something that was so important. She said, you know, ten years ago we were told that if your company is in a tech company, then you really should be in the tech business.
As you said today, it seems like you really should be in the creativity business. And I love that. It’s so spot on. And you really should be in the creativity business today because of the way it helps our minds to work in a much more lasting way.
Mm hmm. Yeah, exactly. I really love the idea that you don’t have to be in a certain title. You don’t have to be seen a certain way. And somehow that just what you said reminded me of literally two people, one developer, one designer at my older company, Arnold, and they just got together and said, you have this new office space. And together with one designer, one developer, they made an interactive seating chart. And I remember that nobody asked them to do that.
As a project manager, I actually wanted to make sure they had enough time carved out for this wasn’t very much time at all, maybe 10, 20 percent. And this tool becomes something that not only everybody use, but becomes what they were known for. So I think I think, like you said, there is an opportunity for people, even if they’re not given the title, even though their leaders may or may not believe in this or read the book.
But there is still power within themselves that they can take advantage of, right?
Yeah, there’s there’s two things that you said there that I want to just touch on. First is you said it was a coder and a designer, right? Yeah. You guys get it. So what I love about that example, it reminds me when I worked in the fashion industry and global sourcing, I for a short time, I lived and worked in Sri Lanka and Portugal. And so I was really up close in the mills, the knitting mills, the weaving mills, wool underwear.
I was selling myself Victoria’s Secret idea of the knitting mills and the factories. That’s where the incredible stickiness and creative abrasion would come when designers would start talking with the yarn engineers about a different twist of yarn to to accomplish a certain hand and feel the fabric. And the only way they would have those conversations was when they could be in person and just kind of be walking the floor being very experimental. So, yeah, the the the what’s called the cognitive diversity, the creative abrasion, it comes from people who are just playing around with ideas is really important.
And the other thing that you said, which I thought was was interesting here in this example, you said they didn’t have a lot of time. And a lot often when I’m working with clients, they’ll say, oh, we don’t have a ton of time or we don’t have a lot of money or we don’t have all the right talent in place. Well, guess what? Creativity loves constraints. Creativity loves constraints on time. It loves constraints on budget, constraints on people, talent.
And we all have been in situations, I think, where we realize we are down to the wire when it’s this bottleneck process or even the process of writing this book. There is so much that was marinating in my mind in my head, like the writing part was almost like just 20 percent of it. So it’s a beautiful thing. Sometimes we have to use time as a constraint.
I love where you’re going with those because it triggers something that you and I talked even before we hit the record button. I said, can we take this opportunity and talk about people of color and how creativity plays in the as a role in their lives and. Then earlier this morning, I thought, I think immigrants and people of color in general, and to add on top of that, people who are or are not as financially strong or in a financial more superior position tend to be more creative, because trust me, I’ve been I’ve had the most fun going to some of my friend’s home parties.
And they’re not financial advisers. They don’t they’re not hedge fund managers. Yet the parents have done such creative work when it comes to the party is the most amazing, the most fantastic, extravagant food or decor. It just it was awesome, everybody. So chill, relax. I’m blown away like pool parties. You know, people realize that they could be like, oh, where people call themselves I’m blue collar. I go, I do a very mundane type of job.
You go to their party, you be like, wow, I see it right here.
Absolutely. I so gosh, so much from that statement of observation. Yes. It is absolutely related to this idea that that creativity loves constraints. Often when we are limited resources, we have to expand the space that we have to think out of the box. You know, the dancer Twyla Tharp famously wrote, Before you can think out of a box, you have to start with the box that I love that because like she’s pointing out, the rigor and the constraints you need.
But, you know, and one example I shared in the book and then a personal example, I talked about how in the nineteen eighties we were seeing some of the most drastic we it was a drastic touch point in American society of withdrawal, of funding, of arts education. And this was significantly adversely affecting urban public schools, which happened to be schooling a lot of black American children. Interestingly, as music education inside the classroom was drying up, what did you start to see emerge as this really incredibly improvizational instrument, the turntable right in the middle of the of the it was it was we were on the crest of the rise of rap music in the early eighties.
And all of a sudden, you know, these young brothers had turned the turntable and the needle scratching a sound into a percussion instrument. So what another example of creativity coming about because of constrained resources. And a personal example. I grew up in Philly. My parents own my, my, my my dad passed away, but my mom’s still there in a two storey duplex. Those two apartments I grew up in a two bedroom apartment. I didn’t have my own bedroom until I was a sophomore in college.
So I was like, wow, all this room I felt growing up, you know, my sister and I had to share space. We had to learn to negotiate. We had to learn time management, all these things in a small amount of space. And I marvel now when I look at what my mom did as she was she was an interior designer. She she did space design like I’m amazed when I go back home now and she’s that room for a completely different way.
That’s her music room. But the space that she created for us to put to rest, do read, to study, to carve out our own creativity was just amazing. So, yeah, I love that observation.
Yeah. I love you sharing that story. I did not read from the book.
No, I did not include that one now. Yeah.
Yeah that’s that’s absolutely lovely. Having your own space and where I mean the space that we’re living in now, you know, you’re used to being on these Quitno stages and now you’re making just as much impact for live streaming, which what we’re doing and you have this whole series of events. One involves new stuff going very soon. And last night with King. And it just that is just an amazing endeavor, because I know that to actually talk to us about did you feel any sense of friction or discomfort when you have to shift your platform?
And trust me when I say, oh, my God, I’m learning a whole lot every single day, I’m trying to teach everything I know about life, dreaming and Zoom. This is not trivial stuff. A lot of people think it should be really straightforward. How has it you.
Yeah, well, first of all, I want to say that people are not already subscribe to our YouTube channel. I mean, you are teacher. You really do break things down. I mean, you you’ve taught me a ton just in the short span of time. We’ve been working together. So kudos to you because it does require a lot of rigor and a lot of patience. For me, I will say that when March rolled around and we realized that we were having to shift into a different type of work, that my keynote requests were shifting to be much more virtual keynotes.
The first thing I did actually is I went into a complete mode of sharing and giving. So I just started doing all these free collaborative Zoom. And I remember the first collaboration I did with my buddy Christopher Plant, who is also an entrepreneur. He’s the founder of Kismet Coworker in Philly and Radio Kismet. And I called him. I was like, Hey, Christopher, I think I want to just start sharing out ideas about creativity and design thinking.
And would you help me? Because he’s is really like a genius producer, dude. And he’s like, sure, let’s let’s try it. And I remember sending out stuff, all Langton’s stuff on Twitter if I don’t have a huge following on Instagram and Twitter is modest and LinkedIn is better. And I was hoping that we would have 20 people who would register and then maybe a dozen people would show up. Now we had maybe like one hundred and ninety eight people who registered one hundred and fifty people who showed up.
We were totally fumbling around in the technology. We had to be super apologetic. We weren’t sure where everything had gone. We save it to the cloud. At first. What was constant is we had a sense of humor about ourselves. We had this willingness to just try. So so it shifted for me. Like the silver lining, a blessing in disguise during this challenging time is that I just get to share my ideas differently. I get to learn something.
I’m able to collaborate like this. Collaboration with you right now is awesome. I’m able to collaborate with people in a much more experimental and expansive way. What Christopher and I learned we did we did two together. I did one later with Ralph has this really cool project called The School Becoming. I did so still case I did stuff with a social impact. Investing groups, just a diverse range of entities to explore these ideas about strategic foresight and scenario planning and creativity.
This book launch would have been way more tame if we were to covid-19 like what I had planned to do was fine, but I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to talk with you. Last week you said Seth Godin later this week. That lead Arielle this morning. You right now tonight looking great. It was going to be a fun book launch party. I was going to bring out the the rooftop of the free library, fill it out because I’m a geek girl.
I’m a nerdy girl growing up. I love the library libraries very close to my heart. And when we have a day and celebrate. Right. And that would have been fun. But like now I’m learning stuff. I’m talking to a wide range of people and you know that it’s all good. It’s all good. Yeah. And I think it’s important to stay flexible. Right. And that is such an important message to especially people who travel for a living, speakers and coaches.
And I remember, you know, I had everybody, including me, you know, I worked with a lot of speakers and consultants and I remember that challenging time where to be was like, my work hasn’t really changed very much. I’ve always worked from home. I am not a platform speaker at all. But I saw this drastic shift for everybody else involved and I saw that everybody’s grasping onto something to say how do I replace that income with something new?
And I saw a very a very much lack of patience. And I I understand people want to replace that income. And therefore, as a result, some people I have encountered and I really just I love them. I adore them dearly. They are trying to find a way to, again, just make money right away. And there is that gap. And you talk about Gap and patients all the time, like how would you know as a coach, as as a speaker to say to say to them, like what?
How do you how do we shift their mindset to say maybe that’s not how it works and this is what you have to prepare yourself for? And still today, a great question. And it actually ties in really nicely with wonder and rigor. It’s something I posted on my website, a PDF about the value of the pause. So one of the elements of wonder is pausing and it’s about being able to appreciate one of the challenges. I also have heard from people and clients they admitted to being patients is like, oh, this feels like Groundhog Day every day.
Well, that’s because we have to. Redesign our relationship with time. We have to have new rituals, we have to figure out new markers that mark our morning or afternoon or evening. I personally, actually, through the encouragement and I’ve been learning a lot. I’m going to be launching an online course on creativity in a couple of months, maybe a month. We’ll see. And I’ve been learning from Dynamo, young woman named Daniel Leslie, who teaches development some online courses, and she encouraged us to create a morning ritual and patting myself on the back.
I actually have stuck to my ritual for about six weeks now, and my ritual requires that I get to sleep by 10:00. I wake up at six, I really rest. I get eight hours of sleep. I don’t allow myself to hit snooze in between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. every morning. I do my ablutions, my hygiene. I get dressed, I pray, I journal, I do some meditations and I stretch my body. I studied dance for many years as I age.
I just really want to make sure that I remain like I think there’s a connection between remaining flexible in your body, flexibility of my SO but this new ritual. A, I feel like a tiny bit of success every morning because I kept a promise to myself and I believe there’s a there’s a there’s a transition is a translation that happens when we in these times and change are just willing to design new rituals to help our minds to shift. So one thing I would really recommend to people is you’ve got to do whatever the ritual is for you.
You’ve got to design a new ritual that helps you to take stock of the present. So it’s the value of the pause is about three hours. It’s about first restoring. It’s kind of taking stock of the present state and doing you restore. So you got to throw stuff away. You have to edit. You’ve lost. The second hour is to reorient its thinking about with that future state that I want to be in and make it enormously aspirational because you can always edit off later.
And the third hour is to reboot. You’ve got to prioritize and figure out what’s the first thing to do with the next thing going to do. So that’s that’s what I have been helping a lot of people work through.
I think I can use some of that help and some of that clarity. You know, I feel like one of my personal struggles I’ve been thinking about a lot is I you know, these days there are a lot of like these virtual workshops popping up. And I really appreciate what they’re doing. A group of people. I did it for the first time. It’s Cave Day. I’m interviewing the founder, Jake, very soon. You know, it’s a it’s a ginormous workshop.
One hundred people. Then there’s somebody who is timing it. So you have these forty five minute sprints and then you do yoga poses together and people love it. And you’d be told. I know exactly. I’m like at the beach. I was like, huh.
Yeah, totally fake.
This is like really people really love that. And to be honest I would enjoy that maybe once a month. I don’t need it every single day because I think both of us have a lot of rigor in our style. But I think I, I think of the on the other side of the spectrum, I think at times that I work a little bit too much too hard or that I don’t have that reboot state really clearly defined. And I’m energized by my work.
I love what I do so, so much and it’s incredibly difficult to pull myself away from it. Oh yeah, I, I, I have to tell you. Because I love Netflix, TV has never been better but to pull myself away and. Make myself. Dim the lights, turn it down. It’s nine fifteen, nine thirty, like it’s making a difference in my mind set. And again, I’m realizing I’m reading a bit more on neuroscience of the brain and the value of rest and sleep like this thing in our noggins.
This organ is so it uses so much energy in me, so much energy, like the role of rest is important. The other thing I do, which I used to be shy about saying this out loud, but I think I think I said it in the book. I definitely did say in a lot of interviews is that I actually I timed daydream breaks. So I make sure that I have at least one five minute long daydream a day. I think I did do because I write about how I am a mighty daydream, like when I was a little girl in elementary school.
All the comments on my report cards were like, I’m Nathalie’s doing fine, like how we were in class. She daydreams a little too much out the window. But I realized, like, that’s how I’m wired. And it’s actually it’s where all the good ideas get to to marinate. So I encourage people, use your smart phone device, set a timer, look out the window at the clouds. I’m from Philly, so we have a lot of front step culture.
Go outside to sit on the steps and just like look at some blades of grass. Like you have to allow yourself to rest until that becomes a habit and habits form. Habits need a feedback loop. It has to be a catalyst to start and then there has to be a reward for me. The reward why I keep daydreaming is that I just feel refreshed. I feel like a little lighter, and then I can go into the deeper work. So it’s just a matter of you just got to create more wonder rituals and that will that will counterbalance all the rigor.
Yeah, absolutely. Like different system we designed for ourselves. One of my two of my friends who drink coffee at three little kids and the older one is thirteen. Not too little but their two little ones. Yeah. And I, they show me the board that they have created during the pandemic for their kids. So each person has a board and they put on little stickers or stickers to kind of reward themselves when things get checked off. And somehow as a grown up, I got to say that I remember a time where I was consulting and I would force myself to go swimming.
I absolutely love swimming, but I always have so many excuses not have time to do it because you have to travel to a place, shower, come back. And every time I did it, I gave myself a little flower because when I was in elementary school, I always get a little flowers on our shirts. We did something right, so I just put on a board like a whiteboard, something that’s visible. So at the end of the month, like, wow, I treat myself.
I took care of myself.
Yeah. Taking care of yourself. Yeah, I love that. And as women, it’s so important and especially as we get older. I love that reward. I got my two favorite physical activities are dancing and swimming, and I don’t swim as regularly as I used to, but I used to so long as I swim like four mornings out of the work. Week three minimum. Yeah, I used to get up at five a.m. sometimes five fifteen. I’d be in the pool by 6:00 a.m. so that I could shower and everything and be ready for work.
And it was around that time that I was reading the work of people like near a gal right there for my book. I love writing, love writing. Charles Duhigg also wrote about habits and and so when I was learning more about hooked in habits, I was like, why do I go? Like, what is getting me out of the bed at that ungodly hour? And I realized my reward. They were I have I love perfume, so I would have really sweet smelling shower gels and lotions.
And so that was my reward that I was tricking my brain into like every morning and most mornings getting up and doing that swimming. So, so interesting how whatever we need to do to take care of ourselves, do it.
I I’m glad you bring that up. And I love how you’re leaning over to the video. I love the frame of you on my screen, so feel relaxed. And I think another thing I want to Kholoud, like as a woman who’s writing this book, I think another thing on a call out, as I’m in conversations with so many women, with children between the age of five, six, all the way up to about college age, life happens so, so fast.
And I’m hearing a lot of women kind of reserving creativity only for their husbands and their children or other anyone else but the. Ourselves, because I think it’s a there’s a real situation going on and I’m not a mom, I love kids. And, you know, you’ve done a lot of work creatively. You’ve taken a lot of roles that you’ve traveled the world. And what is your some advice or some feedback or ways of thinking that women are now, you know, having these ungodly or like completely unrealistic hours and all the chores at home and a full time job in America and everywhere else in the world like.
A lot of they’re going crazy. It’s like so unfair balance with what’s the joke that more women need wives, wives to to help us with? It’s the details, right? It’s the details that we are more often than not left to take care of and. I do think it has to do with choosing like I’m not I’m I’m fifty years old, so I’ve been around for a minute and my, um, Gen X. So I’m actually the generation that the feminists got really pissed off at because it was my generation.
So the feminists of the sixties and seventies that worked so hard for equality in the workforce and blah, blah, blah. And then my generation came along like, yeah, I know I have an MBA or a master’s degree, at least college educated, but I want to actually stay home with my kids now. I don’t want to have to do both. Right. So that caused a lot of tension. But my generation kind of said, well, but wasn’t that the point of feminism for women to have a choice so that I could choose if I wanted to try to balance out having children and working and all that comes with that or compartmentalize my life and say this of kind of B chapters.
So at this age and stage in my life, I am a big fan of the work of of course I have. I always had a singing lesson, Greg McKeon, who’s the author of Essentialism. But I really think there is something to having to make hard choices because otherwise we can be stretched too thin. And at the end of the day, that’s just not we won’t be better to ourselves. We won’t be better for our children, we won’t be better for our spouses.
So we really need to choose and you have to ask for help, which is something that was really hard for me to do up until about. I think I’m still getting good at I think I started getting mustard. I like only five years ago, like, you got to know how to ask for help. Like it’s OK to ask if it’s OK to not be great at everything and to say no. Amy Poehler said no is a complete sentence without offering explanations and apologies and yet to say no or not right now or I don’t have the bend with a smile.
It’s your truth and stick with it.
Mm hmm. Yeah, that is so important. Thank you for sharing that. What a such a pain point, because I feel like you should probably feel OK to ask for help from from your husband or getting help from outside the house. It just I do witness a lot of the inequality at home that women are expected to like. Yeah, you’re supposed to change the diapers. I mean, you’re supposed to cook, right?
Like the kitchen, cleaning the house clean. Yeah. Like I said, we don’t get to have wives. So it’s also having conversations with our husbands, our spouses and I kind of just being transparent about expectations and and being honest.
Yeah, absolutely. It’s been such a pleasure. Natalie, I’m so glad to chat with you about you.
Thank you so much. Yeah, happy to be. At this moment, I’m really grateful to you for sharing your platform. And and I know we’re going to continue working together. You are a real joy to work together. And like like you said, shout out to Steven Shapiro, who the first connected us. And let’s just let’s just see if we can keep encouraging people to make creativity leaps because our health depends on it. Our organizations depend on it, our our families.
And it’s actually how we are hardwired. We’re suppressing that. It’s not something that only artists get to do it. All of us can exercise.
I love that message. And I think it’s such an opportunity now during the pandemic, you know, depending where you are in the in the States or outside of the US, you know, take the opportunity to read a book that you have not read before or a new concept, a new mindset shift and connect with people on Zoom, fifteen, twenty minutes at the time making connections, make introductions and then commit to meeting new people. Because I personally do not believe in friendship and collaboration simply by proximity.
Get out of your comfort zone, your original network. Maybe the network no longer serve served you anymore, you know, branch out. Thank you so much, Natalie. Thank you for your book, your hard work.
So can we do have you back? This episode of the First World podcast is brought to you by First World LLC, our marketing service agency created for independent creators and businesses. We offer website development, video production, marketing, mentorship to people who want to tell better stories, level up and create a profitable brand phasor podcast team. Our chief editor and producer, Herman Silvio’s associate producer, Adam Lefort, social media and content manager, Rosta Leon transcript editor Allena Almodóvar.
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