I recently interviewed a long-time friend, colleague, Creativity and Personality Type Expert and proud Canadian Marci Segal. She is most passionate and has a colorful manner in sharing her life experiences. Here are ten things I uncovered.
1. Marci founded World Creativity and Innovation Day April 21 (WCID) in 2001. Six years later, it was expanded to a week (WCIW) that begins on Leonardo DaVinci's birthday, April 15. Since that time, people all over the world have been participating in their way. 'What I see WCIW being all about is opening doors. It's getting people to feel welcome to experience their natural creative abilities - to generate new ideas, make new decisions, take new actions and achieve new outcomes. By creative I don't limit it to the arts; to me, creativity involves an expression of emotions, feelings a person has in any discipline towards making a difference - in cooking, architecture, or whatever! While preparing for WCIW each year I walk around the house, fist held high, yelling, 'Open the portal!! Open the door!!!' We all have this creating energy, and for one reason or another, many people feel it is repressed. For example, did you see the Adobe 2016 study that said that close to 2/3 of people believe the education system stifles creativity even though creativity is key to economic growth? ....Imagine creativity is our inner horse ' and WCIW is about letting the horse run free. Just let it run! Give it a good run!!!! And make space and time to let it run!!!!
2. The UN is recognizing WCID in 2017!!! "Three years ago I received a call from the UN. It was I. Rhonda King, the Permanent Representative to the UN from St Vincent and the Grenadines. She was wondering if It would be alright if the UN embraced WCID. We've regularly been conversing since that time. In her last call, she said it looks like 2017 will be the year the UN adopts WCID. She said she feels the UN and everyone needs to have a push to think differently about what they do. In particular concerning sustainability and how that is addressed. The UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 to transform the world REQUIRE creative thinking in problem-solving, and all must be concerned about using new ideas, making new decisions, taking new actions, and achieving new outcomes for the purpose of extending life on our planet. She knows I'm Canadian and both the Canadian and US Permanent Representatives favor of recognizing WCID. Our prime minister, Justin Trudeau, she said, is the new Obama. I received an email from her recently saying the World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21, is scheduled to be added to the UN days of observance in 2017."
3. WCIW began when she saw the headline 'Canadian Creativity Crisis. "In Canada in 2001, there were new millennium conferences held in Canada's capital city, Ottawa. One meeting on creativity and innovation brought together artists and scientists. They debated who between the two is more creative...as was written about in the National Post newspaper. The banner headline read: Canada in Creativity Crisis...I lost it!!!! The only way that I can tell you what I felt is by comparing to a film I saw. Did you ever see the movie Jesus Christ Superstar? The indignity felt by Jesus seeing all the money changers in the temple and how outraged he was - that is how I felt... like a total sin had been committed' How dare they debate who has more or less creativity??? That's wrong. For me, it's about that we all have creativeness in us and can we please just use it???."
4. Now in its 16th year, many around the world have picked it up and organize fascinating events. "When, in the first year, the students, alums, and faculty at Buffalo State put a big program together for the day, it helped me recognize that this World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21, is something real, more than an idea. A councillor I've never met, Councilmember Berliner, from Montgomery County, Maryland, population 1.2 million posted a video of the County Council recognizing WCIW and the creativity and innovations in his county...that was a wow! There was a company who took it on worldwide; they celebrated in each office across 26 countries. In Toronto - phenomenal - a school with 200 students - each student, took on a piece of creating a production of Leonardo DaVinci, from the book "How to think like DaVinci" it was a musical. Writing songs, the script, costumes, sets, acting all inspired by WCIW. Just now, an email from El Salvador arrived saying they are participating, a first for El Salvador as far as I know."
5. A course in art and creativity led her to Buffalo to get her Masters in Creativity. "It began at Sheridan College in a course called Creative Problem Solving thru the Visual Arts with Carol Schiffleger Bob. I liked the course so much she pointed me to Buffalo to learn more. I remember when I was telling people I was going to Buffalo to study creativity many said 'you are going where to do what' and 'can't you study something real???? "
6. Marci's work in cultural anthropology opened the door for her to study Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® Instrument because they had similar principles. After a while she wrote a book on how both disciplines connect with creativity—"In cultural anthropology, every culture is right unto itself...it's absolutely right. In Myers-Briggs (MB) I realized that every personality was also right unto itself.... when I was preparing to take the MB qualification, I read in the manual that people with particular preferences had creativity and by inference that meant that other people did not...I felt I had to right that wrong. As I gained experience, I became the MBTI¬Æ instrument person in the creativity world and the creativity person in the MBTI¬Æ instrument world. I became a qualifying instructor for the instrument; then as I taught it, I became exposed to Jungian psychology and learned about different levels of reality that I didn't know existed. In 1999, I was asked by one of the leaders in the type community to write a book on creativity and personality type. So I finally was able to take a basic framework of cultural anthropology and connect it with creativity."
7. She received her first position as a creativity expert after she sent a letter to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau--. "In 1984 Trudeau announced he was to resign. I wrote a letter to wish him well, saying I appreciated his peace initiative and, if he needed any support keeping it going, I'd be happy to help. I sent a copy of that letter to my federal Member of Parliament, Jim Peterson. With that, I included my history and current work....waxed poetic about my creativity studies in Buffalo, and asked if there was more meaningful work for me out there. The MP said he could see no use for what I studied. He said, 'Marci, there is no one in Canada who can use what you studied' (!?!?!?!?), and he also added, 'There's a guy down the street, tell him I told you to call." Peterson sent me to the head of a marketing research and public opinion company who was polling for the Prime Minister's political party. At the end of the meeting, this CEO pinched me on the cheek and said 'you've got a job here.' So I became a qualitative researcher using my facilitation skills...and then I learned quantitative research... so I pretty much just fell into this job by risking the 32 cent stamp used to send my Member of Parliament a copy of that letter I'd sent to the Prime Minister."
8. Marci has been leading people to their personal creativity ever since--- "In 2001, as well as founding World Creativity and Innovation Day, April 21, I put together a program that was 18 months long... called it Passport to Innovation...The big idea was for people to engage on a monthly basis. Action learning was just starting to come around back then. Every month we meet for a day, 1/2 day or lunch and learn with homework between each segment. The charge for the group is to work independently, in pairs or trios to execute an innovation for the organization. People are supported throughout with coaching. I work with senior leaders - VPs or lower. Over a period of 18 months, this one group went from being a locally known media/advertising shop to winning awards at the global level. It validated my total belief that is everyone has potential. Absolutely. Let that potential out, and there is no limit to achievements and success."
9. Don't expect her to bring koosh balls and toys to a creativity session. "Some creativity people whom we respect behave in ways which may be in contrast to what the environment is like in business, organizations. Because I had a brand as a 'creativity person' some companies lumped me in with the "toy" people giving the field little credibility in their eyes. When business organizations expected me to blow bubbles and throw interesting toys around and have everyone be happy and jumpy, it was a challenging time. That's not my identity."
10. Today she chooses to adopt the philosophy from an ancient Chinese fable: 'Could be good, could be bad, who knows? ''With the current US and other world affairs, I'm doing my best to maintain that attitude...I keep thinking about these times as the 'Great Turning'. We need to have our creativeness supported and engaged.''