Susie: Here’s to Different Drummers

I have always been fascinated by those who refuse to be limited by contemporary thinking and beliefs. I love to read about people who change things, change perceptions and in turn compel the world to think and act differently.

My heroes are Thomas Edison, Louis Pasteur, Marie Curie, Buckminster Fuller, Sister Kenny, Helen Keller, and more….  I love to read about them and my list continues to grow…… Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Elon Musk.  People who didn’t (or don’t) always see eye to eye with ‘the system’. The ratbags. The crazy ones. In short, I love the ‘ratbags’ and crazy ones.

I admire them for their belief and fierce commitment. Their stubborn persistence despite being unpopular, laughed at, ridiculed, vilified and ignored. Obvious character attributes aside, how does it happen that these people seize upon an idea that so consumes them? What makes them persist in the face of so many overwhelming obstacles?

The answer is … they think differently and see things in a different light. They are curious. They are observant. They question the status quo. They believe in their own ideas. They are prepared to explore, experiment and fail repeatedly until they are able to prove beyond all doubt that their ideas are the ‘right’ ones. Maybe, just maybe, they are indeed crazy.

An iconic sixty second Apple ad, ‘Here’s to the Crazy Ones’ created in 1997 by the Los Angeles TBWA\Chiat\Day advertising agency pays homage to 17 iconic 20th century personalities featuring (in order of appearance) Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King Jr., Richard Branson, John Lennon (with Yoko Ono), Buckminster Fuller, Thomas Edison, Muhammad Ali, Ted Turner, Maria Callas, Mahatma Gandhi, Amelia Earhart, Alfred Hitchcock, Martha Graham, Jim Henson (with his creation Kermit the Frog), Frank Lloyd Wright and Pablo Picasso.

When I first saw this brilliant ad, I was delighted to see many of the ‘ratbags’ whom I have long admired. While watching, I realised immediately that this was the first time I had ever seen such positive public recognition for so many ‘misfits’. And all at the one time! I saw them being honoured as world changers and positive role models. Thanks to Apple, Chiat Day and of course YouTube I can (and do) watch this ad over and over!

Craziness aside, one of the descriptors many use to define these world changers is ‘creative’. This word is currently being bandied about the business community with an evangelical fervour, proclaiming it as the panacea for many economic ills. It is obvious to us all that we face an increasingly diverse, dynamic and challenging workplace, which demands new approaches, particularly in agile and imaginative thinking. To give you some idea, a quick Google search of the word ‘creativity’ will give you 211,000,000 hits in .91 seconds.

But what IS creativity? Who is or isn’t creative? What does it mean anyway?

Just to confuse things a little more, several eminent researchers have felt the need to define it, which is ok I guess, but whose definition resonates best with you? I take issue with the rush to compartmentalize and quantify it.

In looking at all this research, I am trying to find answers that make sense to me. I have always been driven by curiosity, and fascinated with learning as much as I can, from as many and diverse fields as I can explore. This has meant an eclectic career mix including public relations, graphic design, advertising, publishing, hospitality, retail, business management and (more recently), academia. From my first holiday job in a crazy carwash, through being a copywriter, through retail, to working as a designer for several publishing houses in the UK and Australia to my present career as a Senior Teaching Fellow at a leading Queensland university, I have always been determined to understand the world around me, always asking both ‘why” and “why not?”

I have decided to share the amazing adventures and findings from my research, and believe that the best way right now is through a blog. So, welcome to the journey and remember…“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do”

Curiously yours,