Celebrating Hispanic Achievement and Business Leadership (HABLA)

You will be inspired by this story of an incredible young man, Ernesto Xavier Velasquez, whose parents immigrated from Ecuador to live in the United States. When Ernesto spoke, he brought me to tears, because in many ways his story parallels my own experiences.

He reflects the achievements and enormous leadership potential of Hispanics in our great country. He received the Verizon HABLA Scholarship in the amount of $5,000 during the (HABLA) Hispanic Achievement & Business Leadership Awards 2013.

Acceptance Speech by Ernesto Xavier Velasquez

Good afternoon. I’d like to start off by again thanking all of those who made this event possible today. The HABLA organization is doing phenomenal things by promoting achievement and

Ernesto Xavier Velasquez

Ernesto Xavier Velasquez

success throughout the Hispanic community. I’d also like to thank my biggest supporters, my parents and teachers, without whom I wouldn’t be here today.

Thomas Edison once said, “There is no substitute for hard work.” If you look around, you will see that all great achievers have put in immense hard work to become what they are. That’s why there’s nothing more important to me than giving my best effort in anything I do. So, to be here today in front of many distinguished leaders of the Hispanic community is truly an honor.

It was at a young age that I developed an affinity for school. Placed in advanced courses, the majority of my friends also had the same love for school that I did. It did, however, take a few years before I personally realized that “hey, maybe I’m not so bad at this school thing.” Fast-forward a few more years, add some all-nighters, caffeine, a healthy amount of stress, and the occasional “I give up, I’m going to bed,” and here I am today.

As a senior and leader in my school, I serve as President of my school’s Spanish club where we try to promote the Hispanic culture in school and throughout the community. I am also President of our Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) club which prepares promising students to excel as future health care professionals.

As a 4-year veteran, I am also serving as the principal clarinetist of my symphonic band. My role includes being section leader and woodwind captain. Additionally, 4 years of varsity soccer has earned me the position of co-captain. I currently sit 3rd in my Senior class of 250 with a 4.7 GPA.

Sure all these things sound nice on paper. But in reality, I’m no more intelligent than the average kid. My work ethic is the only thing that sets me apart from others. And that work ethic is what I’m counting on to keep me going.

While many of classmates have come down with a case of the oh-so-common of “senioritis,” I’m taking advantage of the fact that this is my last year of high school, my last year to leave an impression before I head off to college.

After this whole “apply, apply, apply” part of my life is over, I’m hoping that I will attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. From there I plan to get my undergraduate degree in biology. Ideally, I would like to work in the health care field, so I am also considering medical school.

HABLA 4 people (2)While concentrating on school is a must, it’s also important for me to take time to appreciate my Hispanic culture. It has shaped my thoughts, actions, and my essence. From all the times I’ve spent at church, playing a pick-up game of soccer or dancing salsa with my friends, to all the times my mom has told me “Mijo, si no limpias tu cuarto no tienes permiso para salir,” my Hispanic community has irreversibly affected me for the better. And although I wouldn’t trade my culture for anything, it has its drawbacks at times.

I have always admired my parents, seeing how much they sacrificed for my siblings and me. They left their jobs, their friends, their family, their world essentially, to come to the United States, to give us a chance. We started our life here with two suitcases and a small, one-room apartment.

My mother lived here for two months before the rest of us reunited with her only to be separated again when my father stayed to work in New Jersey while we moved to Florida. After several grueling months of separation, we reunited in North Carolina. That’s when I began to realize how hard they worked to give us all the love and support that we needed to make us believe that we can excel, that we can break the stereotype.

They have taught me to appreciate every opportunity I have had. I know that simply being in this country is a privilege. Having access to the education that others can only dream of is beyond rewarding. That being said, things haven’t always seemed so inspirational. There are times when being so far away from my Ecuador really affects us. We are so distant from the rest of our family that sometimes we feel isolated.

When my grandfather passed away from pancreatic cancer, there was nothing we could do to see him. When my grandmother was held at gun point in her own house, all we could do was pray that she would be alright. I have family that I haven’t seen in 12 years.

But when my parents first arrived in the States, they thought that everything would go smoothly. And yes, while being here is still better than living in Ecuador, there have been times when going back seemed like the best thing to do but we didn’t have the luxury of going back. It’s frustrating to see my parents struggle, especially financially, to see that a simple green rectangle with different numbers on it, something morally worthless, can have such an impact on them.

It’s even more infuriating when my parents won’t allow me to work because they want me to focus on school. They realize that what they do might not always be enough, and that really hurts them. They see that Hey, his instrument is broken and he needs a new one but they can’t buy me one. Or maybe they see that my sister really wants to take vocal classes, but it’s too expensive.

They work so hard, but sometimes they forget that. It gets to them. They break down. I break down. Sometimes, we break down together. But you know what, I’m glad that I haven’t always had the best of everything. It’s taught me that things don’t come easy, that if I want to succeed, I need to work hard. It’s taught me character, dignity and pride.

I don’t’ let my past keep me down. While it’s important to reflect on it, it’s even more important to use my past as a catalyst to help keep moving forward. I use everything I’ve learned from my hardships and turned them into positive lessons that help me grow and be a little better each day.

It’s awards like this that give me the motivation to keep going, that ensures me that all my work, all of my parents’ sacrifices, have not been in vain. This scholarship is going to help me chip away at my college expenses, but more importantly it reminds where I have come from and where I’m going. After years of hard work and dedication in and out of school, it’s satisfying to know that others value my accomplishments.

People think that they know where their limits are, but they can often surpass those expectations in ways they might not think possible. If I had one message to tell the Hispanic youth of the United States, it would be this: It doesn’t matter what background you’re from, how much money your parents make, what clothes you wear. You can do anything you dream of. Believe that there is a way.

Don’t focus on the problems at hand; look ahead to what you can achieve if you just keep going. It will always be within reach. Thank you, again, for taking the time to support the Hispanic community and for awarding me this scholarship that allows me to honor my culture.

HABLA flyer (2)

Let us all congratulate Ernesto for his achievements. He has a bright future ahead of him as he begins his journey of building his intellectual capital in college so that he can continue to provide even more invaluable contributions to our society. Well done, Ernesto, you make all of us very proud to be Hispanic!


Secret Recipe for the Good Life: Begin with a GREAT morning!

This is how to begin your day to ensure a GREAT morning. Life is Good!

You will need my secret recipe with the following ingredients:  holiday socks, warm whimsical PJs, hot aromatic coffee, pillows, and a good book. Your tactile senses will be activated in a very pleasing manner.

Gather all ingredients, wiggle your toes, arrange your pillows on the sofa, snuggle in your PJs, sip your coffee, gently and slowly glide your hand over the smooth book cover, and slowly begin to turn the pages as you savor each word and sentence.

To Sell Is Human

We are all in sales!

As you can see, my first mover copy of Dan Pink’s latest book, To Sell is Human, just arrived. I am looking forward to reading it since he selected me to be part of his Dan Pink book launch team.

I am feeling ultra-special and a bit giddy. I have seen teasers about the contents. I have high expectations from Mr. Pink who is noted as a thought leader in thinking and is one of “The 50 Most Influential Management Gurus.”

I expect his book to be a perfect storm combining creative thinking, sales, people, and technology. I think I will learn that those who are not in sales will especially need to read this book.

If you are looking for some very cool Christmas gifts for the thinking people in your life, then you will find a stocking full of goodies at Dan Pink’s website but it is only for first movers.

You will thank me for giving you the heads up! Can you tell I am an unabashed Dan Pink fan? Stay tuned and I will share what I learn.

Full disclosure: I am a member of the To Sell Is Human launch team and will be receiving the goodies above as well as the advance reading copy of the book and a signed copy of the hardcover. I am not being paid for my review (good or bad) or receiving any other compensation. I have paid for all the other copies of Dan’s books that I own as well as those I have given away as gifts. In other words, I am not in this for the freebies and accolades but because I really admire Dan’s books and ideas.


How to SHOW UP! Dan Pink’s Inner Circle of First Movers

My mentor, Robbie Motter, often exhorts her protégés to “SHOW UP!” I smile as I think about the power of those words once they are implemented. I have a “Show UP!” story that will knock your socks off.


Robbie Motter

Robbie loves connecting people and showing them the POWER of SHOWING UP and ASKING for what it is they want and need.

As we approached 2013, I had to think about my goals for the coming year. What did I want to accomplish? I knew for certain that I wanted to continue to pursue my passion in creative thinking.

As I reflected about what my life would look like, I realized I was operating in separate worlds. I had my creative kindred spirits, my geek gurus, my sales stars, my professional women, and finally I had my social media maniacs. I enjoyed them all but I seemed to engage with them in separate silos.

What am I lacking I asked myself? I wish I could find a project that would engage all of my different interests. Then one evening  while I lay sleepless in bed I am still thinking about my future.

My sweet geek is travelling and away from home so I know I will engage in the forbidden. He admonishes me to never ever post or tweet in the middle of the night. Feeling a bit wicked; I softly pad over to my glowing computer and begin to scan the contents. This seems to be the perfect time to read Dan Pink’s latest newsletter.

I have been a fan of Dan Pink’s for years. When he wrote “A Whole New Mind, Why Right-Brainers will Rule The Future,” I read it and I was hooked. He validated me when he opened my eyes to the value of how I approach the world. It seems I am not crazy after all; and he helps me understand that my weirdness is good. Better yet, I learned that my particular skill set will become more valued. I felt as if he wrote his book about me!

Now Dan Pink is assembling a team of 96 hardy and creative souls to help launch his book, TO SELL IS HUMAN. Do I dare SHOW UP and fill out the application to become a part of his elite squad? After all I am hardy and I am creative. Can you think of anything better for me to do in the middle of the night when there is an empty application calling out to me? I can hear Robbie Motter’s voice in my mind, SHOW UP!

I did it, I dared to SHOW UP! Imagine my delight when a few days later I received an email directly from Dan Pink.

It said, “You’re in! We’re delighted to welcome you as one of the 96 elite members of the TO SELL IS HUMAN Launch Team. (You were selected from a deluge of hundreds upon hundreds of applicants — so hearty congratulations for making the cut.) Over the next six weeks, we’ll be relying on your talent and energy to spread the word about the book and to excite others about the ideas it contains.”

Because I SHOWED UP others in my network will also be able to partake of some very valuable freebies offered by Dan Pink but only for those who are first movers. If this describes you, then you should visit his website.

Once again, Robbie Motter, taught me to SHOW UP and a fabulous project appeared that integrates all of my various interests in women, technology, sales, and creativity. I will be blogging about my journey as part of Dan Pink’s inner circle.

Now ask yourself where do you need to SHOW UP?

Full disclosure: I am a member of the To Sell Is Human launch team and will be receiving the goodies above as well as the advance reading copy of the book and a signed copy of the hardcover. I am not being paid for my review (good or bad) or receiving any other compensation. I have paid for all the other copies of Dan’s books that I own as well as those I have given away as gifts. In other words, I am not in this for the freebies and accolades but because I really admire Dan’s books and ideas.


Lessons for MBAs from Little People about Collaboration and Creativity

There are some significant lessons we can learn from little people about the nature of collaboration by teams as shown in this TED video by Tom Wujec. If you are a bit cocky because you have an MBA, then it is time for you to reach for a Kleenex especially if you are competitive.

Imagine a challenge where different types of teams collaborate. Each team is given rudimentary materials including 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow. The goal is to build the highest free-standing structure with the marshmallow on top in eighteen minutes.

Which team do you think collaborates most effectively and wins? Would you be surprised to learn that recent graduates of business school performed the worst?

Who performs the best? It seems that recent graduates of kindergarten produce the most interesting and the tallest structures. I found this incredibly amusing and a bit distressing since I have an (MBA) Master of Business Administration.

Do you remember the program, “Are you smarter than a fifth grader?” I knew for certain that this was a challenge I should avoid. However, now the bar has been lowered and it appears that kindergarteners are better equipped to handle creative challenges than I am with my MBA.

Unlike business students, kids do not spend their precious and limited time jockeying for power.
Business students are trained to find the one correct answer. They implement their plan and build a single structure within the eighteen minute time limit. A crisis ensues when the marshmallow collapses.

Kindergarteners build successive prototypes always keeping the marshmallow on top using an iterative process. They immediately start building a prototype and then when it does not work, they make changes and build another prototype and keep repeating this process. The kids use instant feedback to learn what works and what does not work.

I believe in careful planning before implementing, so I can see where the children would definitely have an advantage over me. I am also quite guilty of often assuming a leadership role, also known as being power hungry!

Mr. Tom Wujec, says, “Capacity to play in prototype is essential.” He concludes, “Design demands the very best of our thinking, our feeling, and our doing to the challenge at task.”

What happens when teams are offered a $10,000 prize if they build the highest marshmallow structure? High stakes negatively impacted team performance and none of the teams were able to complete a successful prototype.

When teams are taught the value of prototyping and a trained facilitator is introduced, performance increased significantly.

Tom Wujec concludes, “This marshmallow challenge helps teams that are collaborating to identify the hidden assumptions. Teams have a shared experience, a common language, a common stance to build the right prototype.”

I found it fascinating that kindergarten kids significantly outperformed the business school graduates. However, there were several other surprises too that involved the performance of CEOs on the marshmallow challenge. Here is a hint; it seems that executive administrators are essential to team collaboration.

Remember, whenever it is time for your team to collaborate, use an iterative process and build multiple prototypes. If you do not know how to do this, then go find a kindergartener and watch them at play.

Do you agree with these findings of the marshmallow challenge? What other thoughts do you have about this process?


Huge ROI When Your Organization Invests in Creative Thinking

ROI Assured by Developing Creative Competence

If you are looking for some good news today, you will find it when you invest in developing creative thinking for your company. Currently your focus is on cost cutting and survival. Corporations need creativity to succeed especially during an economic downturn.

Bringing creative thinking to your organization provides you with a focused thinking framework to generate solutions. An investment in creative thinking allows your company to reduce costs, increase your team’s productivity, and increase revenue.

Creative thinking requires a mind shift on your part. First, you must understand the nature of creativity. Creativity means maximizing the potential of your brain. By deliberately using structured creative thinking systems, processes, and techniques, you can learn to generate many, many ideas in just a few minutes and hundreds of ideas in a few hours.

Our focus is on business creativity for the corporation. You must come up with a new idea before you can innovate. Innovation then is the implementation of a good idea that is successfully brought to the market and creates economic value.

Reverse Your Thinking – Reduce Costs by Spending More

How can you reduce costs and still justify your investment in creativity development for your organization? Perhaps we should listen to a creating thinking champion who has real world corporate experience.

David Tanner, former Director of the DuPont Center for Creativity and Innovation, gives examples in his book, Igniting Innovation, Through the Power of Creative Thinking, of how to reduce costs through the use of creative thinking techniques.

An information technology team posed the question, “How can we reduce costs in the information systems function?” They used a lateral creativity thinking technique and specifically applied “reversal.” This required thinking differently with a resulting provocation. “Reduce costs by spending more money.” Spending more money on fewer vendors allowed them to obtain larger discounts with each supplier. They were also able to negotiate better prices on their high volume orders.

They saved over $300,000 annually. This concept saved a similar amount when it was applied to maintenance. Now think about this accomplishment. They spent money but at the same time they reduced their corporate costs significantly. By their investment in a two-hour lateral creative thinking session, they positioned themselves to save more than $5,000,000 over a ten-year period.

For most corporations the entire focus seems to be on cost cutting. We have already demonstrated you can cut costs and still make money by investing in creativity development for your organization.

Increase Revenue Stimulation by Increasing Team Productivity

However, imagine shifting your focus to revenue stimulation. How does creativity development support increasing your revenue?

One way to increase revenue is to increase your team’s productivity by identifying your employee’s thinking styles. By a better understanding of how our brain works, you can align teams to enhance their collaboration and therefore increase their productivity. By taking specific and deliberate steps to increase productivity through the diversity of thinking preferences, it has been scientifically proven that a team’s productivity can increase from 20% to 80%. (Source: The Whole Brain Business Book, Unlocking the Power of Whole Brain Thinking in Organizations and Individuals by Ned Hermann)

You can also increase revenue by developing a focused thinking framework for your sales department. As your sale’s team draws up their strategic account plans and strategies for the coming year, do they wait and hope a good idea will come to them on how they will reach their sales objectives? If you use deliberate creative thinking techniques to generate ideas, you will discover that the ideas come quickly and much more easily. You now have a creative process to generate ideas when you need them.

Creating New Markets and Business Models

Perhaps you want to develop new markets for existing products. Have you considered developing new markets where there is currently no competition? How about new processes or new applications? Creativity development can help your company discover these new markets and new sources of revenue.

Invest in Developing Your Organization’s Creative Thinking

It is now time to bring creative thinking into the corporation to maximize your organization’s ability to thrive. It is a time to design new business models, to develop new markets, and enhance your competitive advantage.

You are currently faced with important business and functional problems with no easy or obvious solutions. The solution is to invest in creativity development. Creative thinking generates the ideas for strategic corporate success by developing the thinking infrastructure needed to spark bottom-line innovations for thriving in today’s new environment.

Are you planning on investing in developing your organization’s creative competence this year?


Creativity Begins in the Bedroom

If you think this blog post is going to be about activities you can conduct in the bedroom, you are exactly correct.  Creativity begins when you are lying down with your eyes closed just before you drift off to sleep, while you are dreaming, and when you begin to awaken.

 1.)    Keep blue slips and colored pens on the night stand next to your bed.  You can then capture your random thoughts as soon as they occur even while half asleep.  Otherwise your insight may be lost forever.  I like the color blue because it reminds me of the blue sky and unimagined possibilities.

2.)    Create a loving mindset and assume the best in others.  You will then attract ideas and people into your universe who inspire you with new possibilities.  Lie in bed and think about those you love and their gifts that make them truly unique.

 3.)    Breathe deeply and relax.  Let go of your fears and anxieties.  This will allow creativity to flow through you.  As your thoughts float use the language of what is possible.  Think “I will ……….…….” you fill in the blank, smile, and then drift off to sleep.

4.)    With your eyes closed reflex about whatever it is that makes you feel gratitude.  When you feel gratitude, you create an inner life that attracts even more abundance into your life.  More gratitude leads to more creativity.  Breathe deeply and slowly.  Think and feel gratitude about what is going well in your life.   It can be about people or small events and things.  If you have difficulty thinking of something, then express gratitude because you are lying in a warm clean bed.

5.)    If something is troubling you, then think about something totally unrelated, it is helpful if you think of someone or something that makes you smile.  Now go to sleep, when you wake up in the morning you may find that you have some insight into that nagging problem because you distanced yourself from it.

6.)    When you awaken in the morning, stretch and express gratitude because you have another glorious day to be creative and to innovate as you move forward to face the challenges of this new and special day.

Creativity does begin in the bedroom.  Sleep makes you more creative.  What are you going to do when you get into bed tonight to become more creative?

Image: Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Developing Creative Competency

Creativity Expert

What are you doing to develop your competence in creativity?

Creativity Expert, Alan Black, Ph.D. posed some provocative questions to me, “What are you doing to increase your creative skills, traits, and abilities?  What are the tools you use (mental, physical, emotional, social) to increase your creative thinking?  How do you increase your creative skills?”

After some reflection I developed these responses and realized that this is how I develop my creative competency.  It is my hope that this will spark some ideas for you to develop your own creative competency.  After all, creativity is a skill that can be learned, just like riding a bicycle.

Traits – I am daring and I am unafraid to reach out to people who are so out of my league it is laughable to think they would have anything to do with me.  However, sometimes they respond back to me and it is great fun.  I am passionate about learning as much as I can about creativity and how it can be applied to business, science, and technology.  Traits I possess are, I am daring, unafraid of failure, passionate, and I have the philosophy that if I am not having fun then I need to go do something different.

Abilities – I am always thinking about ways to promote creativity through the use of technology.  I have a Master in Business Administration; therefore, I am always on the lookout for how to justify creativity with (ROI) return on investment because that is the language business people understand.  I am always looking for examples of language to use that will make creativity theory understandable to “rational” people such as those in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).  I am often told that I am not rational (by my husband); I take this as a high compliment.

Tools – I read books about creativity and then I contact the authors and invite them to engage with me.  Oftentimes they ignore me but I have had some phenomenal successes.  Sometimes the authors find me and initiate the contact.  Michael Michalko did this and he invited me to write an endorsement for his new book, “Creative Thinkering” so I did. 

I use the public relations tools provided by (WITI) Women in Technology International to announce my latest creativity adventures.  They have a market reach of two million.  I am on their leadership team.  I also do webinars on creativity for WITI.  I am the Chief Creative Advisor to the President of Sedaa’s Global Brain Trust, which is a community of over three hundred in the field of (OD) organizational development.  I write blog posts about creativity on their site and how it relates to OD.  I also do webinars for them on social media and creativity.

I am an avid fan of Tony Buzan’s iMindMapping computer software and I use it for all my presentations.  I met him at the American Creativity Association conference in Singapore that I helped to organize.

I learn as much as I can about social media and then I implement what I have learned to promote creativity and connect with others who are interested in creativity.  I go where I have never gone before, for example, I am now a radio talk host on live radio for a program called WomenMen.  It is a new adventure and I am learning as I go along.  I plan to use this as a platform to apply creativity to everyday living and to make others aware of the field of creativity.

I am also constantly promoting RobotLab’s process developed by Lars Ringe that provides training in creativity to build high performance teams.  Our most recent success was his presentation in Copenhagen, Denmark of our white paper, “Mastering Creative Problem Solving within Teams” at the International Association of Science Parks conference.  We will soon begin our new book incorporating the ideas of tomorrow and the management solutions that create and maximize high performance teams by using creative problem solving.

I write blog posts about creativity.  I became a guest blogger for the Front End of Innovation, IIR USA and travelled to Amsterdam and wrote 19 blog posts about design thinking.  I continue to read and study design thinking to gain a better understanding of what it really means.  I recently connected with Roger Martin on facebook, the author of “The Design of Business, Why Design Thinking is the next competitive advantage.” 

Mental – I exercise five times a week.  I sleep eight hours every night.  When I am on the treadmill I zone out and often think about creativity.  I watch the news and think about how creativity might impact some of our world issues.  I am an insatiable reader of books, e-books and periodicals.  My reading ranges from the latest on Harvard Business Review to the latest historical romance novel.  I connect and hang out with international people; they are fascinating because they see the world differently than many of us.

I travel internationally at every opportunity.  Last year I went to Amsterdam; this year I am going to Ireland.  I will be going to China; therefore, I am educating myself about China.  I attend lectures and read about China.

Physical – I play with my two year old grandson on the floor and pay close attention to the way he perceives the world.  He reminds me of how fresh things once were to me and how innocent he is now.  I love to play with him and it leaves me filled with joy and new energy.  He loves to look at plants and animals and wonders about them.  My six year old grandson is just so brilliant; I love to have conversations with him about how he sees the world.  His perspective is so fresh and insightful.   They both make me start to think again about life with a fresh perspective.  When I am with them I take the time to look carefully at a plant, a flower, or to watch and think about the ducks. 

Emotional – I have been married for over 40 years and I am fortunate to be surrounded by a stable and loving family.  I do not take this for granted because some of our friends and extended family have the opposite situation.  I think about the creative skills required to stay married and to raise well adjusted children in such a turbulent society.  I am writing a book about my life’s journey entitled, “Mind Shift, Migrant to Main” and a second book entitled “Unconventional Corporate Mom.”

Social – I seek out creative people on social media networks and engage with them.  I became the President of the American Creativity Association – Austin Global.  It is a virtual community.  I seek out other leaders in creativity.  It is my intent to build a collaborative community using the latest technologies to promote creativity.  I envision scientists, software developers, engineers and other “rational” professionals meeting with creatives in one easy to use friendly collaborative virtual space.  I invite everyone to connect with me on LinkedIn, facebook, and Twitter and I engage with them.

What ideas do you plan on implementing to develop your own creative competency?


Best Place to listen to the Drifters, Motown, and eat Cuban food is at Mojitos Cuban Cafe in Greenville, SC

Mojitos Cuban Cafe

Fun with friends and the mic!

I love listening to music and sitting with friends over a great meal and drinks. 

However, the economic meltdown has made me much more conscious of finding a place with great value that also serves excellent home cooked food, and is loaded with a relaxed, friendly and warm ambience.

Much to my delight I found such a place at Mojitos Cuban Cafe.  You will not be surprised to learn they serve authentic Cuban food.  However, you will be surprised to learn that the original drummer for the Drifters provides entertainment as a DJ and as a singer every Saturday evening beginning at 8:00 p.m.

Mr. Magic
Listen to the sounds of the Drifters and Motown with Mr. Magic – Richard Baxter

As a young man, Richard Baxter, known as Mr. Magic, played drums for the Drifters when he was eleven years old.  He also played drums for Aretha Franklin as well as with Sam & Dave well known for “Soul Man.”  Richard Baxter was part of the history making effort when “Soul Man” defined soul as a genre.  This was one of the first songs by a black group to top the pop charts using the word “soul.” 

Mr. Magic, singing since he was four years old, now shares his remarkable voice with you and you can feel his energy, his passion for his music, and his caring for the audience.  If you wish, you can also have a turn at karaoke by the side of Richard Baxter or alone at the mic for the more daring.

This is a place filled with the aromatic smell of Cuban food prepared by the proprietor, Mimi.  It is a casual atmosphere and if you wish to dance, then you are welcome to do so.  My sweet geek, who never dances, could not resist and invited me out to the dance floor to shag to some beach music. 

Time for friends, fun, and music!
Only three blocks past River Falls Park

If you want a very inexpensive night out on the town eating authentic fresh Cuban food while  listening to fantastic music by the Drifters, and Motown, while spending time with friends, then you must go visit Mojitos located on the West End.  It is  just a few blocks from downtown Greenville on your way to the ball field.   You will receive a warm and caring welcome.

For more information please click here.  Are you coming out to Mojitos this coming Saturday?  I plan to be there.  The music begins at 8:00 p.m.  Come join us!


Six Creative Ways to Persuade Your Team to Implement Your Innovation

Solve the puzzle on how to move your innovation forward!

Have you ever wondered why it is that some people are persuasive and are able to move their innovation projects forward?  Why is it that some of us are able to persuade others to understand and accept new concepts?  Some innovators are able to inspire and influence a team to accomplish a common goal. 

Some of us have had the benefit of a significant investment in training to learn how to be persuasive.  However, even though we were taught the techniques, we never understood why some of these techniques worked.

I recently read the book, Influence, by Robert B. Cialdini.  As I read, I finally understood why these persuasive techniques are so influential on others.   Why does our brain instinctually react to certain situations?  Why are we then persuaded to do things we ordinarily would not do?

You will find some practical tips here on how you can immediately create influence and become more persuasive in your efforts to move your innovation projects forward. 

1.)    Ask for a ten minute appointment instead of a longer appointment with executives.  It is far more likely they will grant you a small request for time.  Ten minutes is sufficient time to convey your concept at a strategic level.

 2.)    Quantify and present your idea or initiative in terms of how much money the company “will lose” if it is not adopted instead of how much it will save.

 3.)    To successfully implement your innovation be aware that others need social proof from their respected peers before so they will know how to react to your innovation.  The best way to accomplish acceptance is to identify the most respected individuals within your peer group and persuade them first.  Acceptance of innovation comes from the side not from the top.

 4.)    Explain the benefits of your innovation to team members.  Ask them if they support your initiative.  When they respond in the affirmative, ask them to describe to you why they support your innovation.  You must gain a voluntary commitment, they must be actively engaged, and they must declare their support.  Now you have significantly increased the likelihood they will support your innovation within the organization. 

 5.)    Customize your presentation to each unique receiver.  Use the first letter of that executive’s name or a phrase that sounds similar in the title.  For example:  If their last name is Smith, then begin with an “S.”  To increase the likelihood you will gain their mind share, you might name your presentation, “Sailing into the Future or “Smile on your way to the Bank.”

 6.)    Name your innovation or initiative with a word that is simple and easy to pronounce.  Think of Apple or Google.  If it is hard to pronounce, you have immediately lost your audience before you even began your presentation.  Keep your language simple and straightforward during the rest of your presentation.  Many of us use polysyllabic words in an effort to impress.  The end result is confusion and a loss of persuasiveness.  Remember to keep it simple.

I know these persuasive techniques are effective in moving projects forward.  I have used them many times with superb results.  Try them and let me know if they work for you. 

What other ideas have you used to be persuasive and influential?

Connie Harryman is President of the American Creativity Association-Austin Global.  She is the CEO of Applied Concepts Creativity and identifies herself as a Creativity Developer.  You are invited to connect with Creative Connie on LinkedIn, facebook, and Twitter.


Happy Mother’s Day, Mema!


My mom is an angel now. She left us about four years ago. As I reflect upon how she prepared me for life, I am filled with gratitude. I wish you had known her. She was filled with joy and sunshine. She was incredibly feisty and laughed easily.

She taught me to face life and the many challenges you encounter along the way. Although she believed that she should submit to her husband, she often whispered to me as we washed dishes together, “Connie, you go get your education. This way you can make your own decisions about the kind of life you will live. You do not need to always be at the beck and call of a man.”

My mother was a Mexican-American migrant farm worker. She often cleaned offices and the homes for the parents of my classmates. I was quite embarrassed at our lowly station in life. She taught me how to clean toilets properly. As we cleaned the toilets, she taught me the value of how to excel at whatever you do. To just do a good job cleaning the toilets was not enough.

My mother taught me that we must exceed expectations and leave these toilets so sparkling clean that they would be the envy of anyone who saw and used them. She taught me I must always do any job that I took on with the utmost care and diligence. To not leave the toilet sparkling was simply unthinkable.

I remembered this value as I cared for my multimillion dollar clients in the corporate world many years later. I always took care of them in such a manner that their company using our services would be the envy of all of their competitors.

My mom was very social. She drove me nuts. I could not walk downstairs in our modest home, without encountering a multitude of her friends. It did not matter what time of day it was. My mom had an open door policy, the door was never locked, and our friends and neighbors would walk in and make themselves at home. They knew they would be welcomed and would benefit from my mother’s love of cooking.

Sometimes, we do the opposite of our parents. I do not cook and I tend to be a very private person at home. It is rare that I invite anyone inside. However, I did observe my mom and learned how she made others feel welcome. I always put this skill to work when I go to business networking events. I am often told people gravitate toward me and that I light up a room with my presence. I smile inside because I am applying the lessons I learned from my mother.

To my mother, who is now an angel in heaven, I simply want to say, “Thank you and Happy Mother’s Day, Mema!”