In any business, your reputation and the impression that you make plays a major part in the success of your career. Being well-respected and taken seriously as a creative will, in time, open doors and lead to work that will get your ideas and creations (whatever they may be) to a wider audience and generate income as well. However building your reputation takes time and conscious effort. Below are a few things you can do to begin building your all-important reputation as a creative.

1. Develop quality material

It should go without saying – but I’m saying it anyway – that you should be actively working on your creative craft. Coming up with consistently good ideas and results of any kind takes lots of practice. Don’t let the myth that “all you need is one good idea” distract you from working on improving your work every day. I’m of the belief that creativity is a muscle requires constant exercise in order to stay strong.

2. Present your ideas professionally

Whether it’s is fair or not, you’ve only got one chance to make a first impression with your work. Even though, strictly speaking, a good idea is a good idea, the way you present that idea counts. Creative industry professionals are exposed to a lot of ideas every day. Don’t give them a reason to discount yours by pitching a poorly prepared concept. Remember, you’re running a business and you need to make sure your product (in this case, your creativity) is polished and marks you as a pro.

3. Develop your people skills

I think it’s important to remember that your ideas don’t exist in a vacuum. Your best bet for finding a receptive industry audience for your work is to remember that interpersonal skills count. Being friendly and taking an active interest in the people you’re meeting makes a big difference. For example, if you’ve got a meeting with someone in the creative industry, do a little homework and find out about the person and their company. Take the time to get to know someone before you begin asking them to do something for you. This can also be as simple as asking the person you’re meeting with what they’ve been working on instead of immediately telling them about you and your projects. And, although I’m not your mom (I don’t think…), I’m going to remind you say “thank you” when someone has taken the time to meet with you and/or answer your questions.

4. Take criticism well

Creativity is subjective. Everyone has their own sense of what they like and what they’re looking for. If you’re hoping to get one of your ideas or projects accepted, then listening to the comments of an industry decision maker about your work can give you real insight into what they’re looking for. Responding defensively to these comments won’t get you anywhere. You certainly don’t have to agree with every comment or critique but it’s in your best interest to give them real thought and consider the source. Remember, these are the people who make the decisions about whether your creations will be put in the position to succeed. Pay attention and see if there’s a way to give them what they’re looking for without feeling like you’re compromising your creative approach. I believe it’s possible to do both.

5. When pitching your work, remember that “less is more” on every level

I understand how passionate creatives are about their projects. It’s incredibly tempting to want to show any interested person A LOT of your material. Don’t. Only present the idea or project that is most appropriate for the pitch. There’s no good reason to add a “bonus idea.” Believe me when I tell you that if an industry exec wants to know more about your work, they’ll ask. Here’s an example, if at the end of their work day, an industry decision maker sees two portfolios, and one has one concept/project in it and the other has nineteen concepts/projects in it, which portfolio do you think they’re going to review? Also, once you’ve submitted your idea, be prepared to follow up. Again, less is more. A very brief email or voicemail about two weeks after your submission is just about right. You might need to do this a couple of times (with at least a two week space between each successive contact) before you get a response. However, if you’re polite and to the point, you’ll almost always get a reply eventually.

6. Be dependable

It’s essential for people in the industry to know that they can count on you to do what you say you’re going to do. By showing up to meetings on time, following up on things you’ve discussed and generally being reliable, you can go a long way towards developing a bond of trust. When people on the creative industry side feel they can trust you, it’s amazing how many opportunities present themselves. It sounds simple but by consistently delivering on what you promise, you’ll stand out from the crowd.


There’s really no way around it. Building a solid reputation as a creative takes time and effort. That being said, a healthy dose of patience and humility will ease your path. The good news is that once you’ve established yourself in the eyes of the creative world as a solid, reliable professional, the benefits far outweigh all of the work it takes to get there. 


Find out more about my creativity & innovation workshops for business teams.

I’d like to begin by saying that I’m not a cynic. On the contrary, I’m a big believer that if your dream is to have success with your creative endeavors, then, in time, you will find that success. However, I am also a realist. There are rarely shortcuts in our line of work and being a gifted creatively, in my experience, simply isn’t enough to guarantee your success. It takes a combination of factors including patience, perseverance and, most importantly, an undeniable work ethic to rise above the masses of talented creatives all hoping to get their ideas out into the world.

  1. There are lots of talented people

If I’ve learned anything after living in Nashville and New York City over the past almost twenty years, it’s that at a certain point, creative talent is the least common denominator. In fact, the pool of gifted creatives is deeper and wider than we can possibly imagine. This is a good thing. It gives us ample opportunities to learn from each other and improve but the flip side is that talent is only a starting point. It’s all of the other things you do that will eventually separate you from the pack.

  1. Talent is something that you’re given, it’s up to you to develop it

There’s a reason talent is also referred to as a “gift.” The spark that makes us creative and intuitively wired is something that we don’t choose, we just have it. But just because you’ve got a gift doesn’t mean that you don’t need to develop it or spend time understanding it. That’s the actual work. Then, what happens when you do this work is that you will develop the ability to turn something that was previously mysterious and unpredictable into something you can do consistently in order to make your living.

  1. You’re running a business

Being a talented creative without taking the time to understand the business world is the equivalent of a company that makes a great product that no one will ever hear about because they have no marketing department. In other words, your creative output is just the tip of the iceberg. You need to remember that like any business, you’ve got to know the landscape, who the major players are and set specific goals along the way in order to get to the next level. I’m not saying this is easy but I am saying it’s essential.

  1. Your work ethic is everything

The dangerous myth about the creative world is that it’s an exciting, inspiring place where people have brilliant ideas, create beautiful things, go to parties, and then one day they wake up and they’re well known. The gritty, unglamorous truth is that just like any business, there are mundane, yet necessary, things you have to do day in and day out in order to get your creative projects out into the world. Having a solid work ethic and a willingness to get up every day and work toward your creative goals will eventually get you there. It’s not always clear along the way how these little things help but believe me when I tell you that they absolutely do and, in the end, make all the difference. There is, of course, glamor and excitement in the creative world but there’s a lot of good, old-fashioned work for you to do as well.


Creative talent is a wonderful thing and should never be taken for granted. I’m here to remind you to enjoy your gift for the amazing thing that it is. However, I’m also suggesting that talent is only one part of a bigger set of conditions that need to be met in order for you to successfully get your ideas and creative projects out into the world and to make a living doing it.


Find out more about my creativity & innovation workshops for business teams.

Learning to write songs as a way of exploring and solving problems has the additional – and powerful – benefit of providing you with a set of critical skills for facing problems you haven’t yet anticipated.  In essence, the more we open ourselves up to the creativity that songwriting introduces into in our lives and work, the more we’ll be future-proofing our problem-solving approach. Below are four ways that learning to write songs will help us with any and all issues that can – and undoubtedly will – arise in the future.

The ability to think laterally

Problem-solving approaches are infinite but it’s also human nature to rely on one particular approach which has served us well in the past. The problem is that as brokerage houses are fond of saying, “past results are no guarantee of future success.” Using songwriting to explore different ways of looking at the same problem can open up a variety of solutions that a prior “go to” approach might not reveal. Instead of thinking in our accustomed linear way, learning to write songs encourages lateral thinking which will allow us consider alternate approaches and paradigms in service of a novel solution to a novel problem.

Enhanced communication skills

Songwriting is one of the oldest and most effective forms of communication that humanity has. There’s a good reason that songs have lasted this long. They are a miraculously compact and meaningful way to communicate an idea. When it comes to solving problems, communication is a key factor in how a problem is not only described but also in how possible answers to your questions are presented. The better our ability to communicate, the greater the likelihood of convincing others to join us in our search for a solution.

Better collaboration

The use of co-writing to create a song better than any one of the individual writers could have written on their own is a direct mirror of how effective collaboration works in a business context. Bringing in diverse experiences and points of view and allowing each participant to contribute their particular set of strengths to the effort increases by an order of magnitude the likelihood of a solving a future problem that lacks the precedent of an easy or familiar solution.

A willingness to take risks

When a business team steps out of their comfort zone to learn a new skill like writing a song, they are clearly taking a risk. This risk takes the form of vulnerability, the loss of control and the introduction of a certain amount of chaos into a well-ordered and productive routine. However, when my business teams complete their songwriting assignments and end up with a finished song just an hour or so after they’ve begun, it serves as a reminder that the reward on the other side of risk can be exhilarating. Signing on to solve an unknown problem can feel equally risky but the positive experience that a successful songwriting session brings provides an increased willingness to face the challenge – and risk – of solving a new problem.


The creativity, empathy, improved communication and collaborative skills that learning to write songs brings are a set of versatile and powerful tools. These tools work both for solving current “known” problems and, more importantly, they will work for future “unknown” problems where past solutions no longer apply. 


Find out more about my creativity & innovation workshops for business teams.

The evolution in any career from novice to expert looks a little different for everyone but one thing remains the same. If you’re paying attention to your work and skillset, over time you’ll develop an opinion about what works well for you and what doesn’t. That’s very much how I came to the realization that I had something to say about creativity. After thirty years of writing songs, articles and books, I’ve found that there are certain behaviors and practices that consistently deliver the results I’m seeking. In examining my journey to this point, I’ve identified three specific reasons I came to teach creativity that might offer some insight into my process.

1. I’m not a creative genius

In my years of writing songs, I’ve come across a handful of songwriters who are so naturally gifted that it’s almost as if a finger came out of the clouds and bestowed them with a level of insight and inspiration that is far beyond what can be taught or learned. I can safely say I’m not that guy. Instead, I’ve spent decades slowly but surely developing my craft and learning how to improve my admittedly weak early creative efforts. However, my path is exactly the reason I have a deep understanding of my creative process and creativity in general. Over the years, I’ve had to learn how to consciously access and shape my inspiration in order to make it my livelihood. It is my painstakingly gradual growth that has allowed me to understand what creativity looks like from the inside and enhanced my desire to share it with others.

2. I’ve learned to break down creativity into its component parts

Creativity as a monolithic goal can feel overwhelming. For example, the task of writing a song feels impossible to my business teams at the outset of my workshops. However, I’ve found that breaking down songwriting into its component parts of metaphor, verse and chorus immediately inspires the confidence of my workshop participants to participate and, ultimately, write their songs. I’m a big believer in taking small yet consistent steps forward towards any goal and creativity is certainly no exception. I love the vicarious exhilaration I feel as my business teams celebrate their creative wins.

3. I’ve deeply examined my own process

There’s nothing like putting together a lesson plan or workshop outline to bring you face to face with what you’ve learned and how you plan to explain it. The quote attributed to Albert Einstein applies here. “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t know it well enough.” I’ve spent my entire working life examining the creative process so that I can break it down and explain it to business teams. Taking bright people who don’t think of themselves as creative and showing them that they are never gets old.


Teaching creativity to business teams provides me with an endless source of joy and satisfaction. It is precisely my years of effort including countless mistakes and failures along the way that give me the motivation to stand up in front of groups of  smart and accomplished professionals from varied disciplines and introduce them to the world of creativity. I take their trust and bravery seriously and I’m always grateful for the opportunity.


Find out more about my creativity & innovation workshops for business teams.

Creativity is scary. I know this to be true. Even after sitting down to write over 1,000 songs, I still hesitate just slightly before I start writing the next one. As if that weren’t proof enough, I’ve even been dreading sitting down to write this article about why we’re averse to creativity. However, I’m also living proof that there are things we can do to get past our initial reluctance. The observations and tips below have helped me over the years and I hope they’ll do the same for you on your creative journey.

Why we’re averse to creativity

1. Creativity means departing from the status quo

The status quo is comfortable. It’s working just fine. Why mess up a good thing? It’s never appealing to depart from the norm especially when the results are uncertain. Doing something different from the way it’s “always been done” is a risk and there’s a part of our survival instinct that tells us to avoid risk. The reality, though, is that while the status quo may appear safe, it isn’t. Our world is constantly changing. The real risk is in failing to evolve and change.

2. Being creative risks appearing foolish in front of your colleagues

The workplace is its own universe with its own hierarchy and aspirations. The goal is to do good work, demonstrate competence and control and move ahead. Stepping away from our areas of mastery risks showing a side of ourselves that might compromise the façade of control which is unappealing at best. It should help to remember that we’re all human and failure and mistakes are a part of the learning and growing process. It takes genuine courage to put ourselves out there in a creative way.

3. It takes real effort to be creative

Creativity requires an initial investment of energy and attention – or as flow expert Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes it “activation energy” – to get started. In other words, it’s not as simple as sitting down to do a task that we already understand and control. Creativity requires focus and a willingness to accept the uncertainly around the outcome. This can be discouraging but, in my experience, it’s only tough for a moment and then the benefits of exploring your creativity begin to accrue.

What we can do about it

1. Design an environment that is conducive to creativity

Creating a physical space that is designed to lessen distractions and increase your focus makes the creative act much more accessible. But it’s not just the physical space, it’s the headspace as well. Designating a time of day – even just ten minutes – to work on your creative projects also will make it easier to dig in.

2. Break your creativity down into manageable pieces

One of my favorite expressions when it comes to any daunting task is “eat the elephant one bite at a time.” Looking at creativity as a monolithic goal or event can be too much to contemplate but breaking down your creative efforts into small pieces can make them more manageable. Another benefit of starting small is that you’ll begin to develop a tolerance for creativity making it possible to eventually do more and more without feeling overwhelmed. But, again, it helps to start small.

3. Get clear on how you’d like to approach your creative goals.

As George Leonard states in his book “Mastery,” “clarity creates energy.” The better we understand what our creative goals are, the more motivated we are to achieve them. Early on, we might not yet have refined how we’d like to use our creativity but the more we explore, the more clear the big picture will become. When this happens, the boost of energy we receive makes overcoming our aversion significantly easier.


While it may be common to discuss the benefits of creativity, it can be useful to acknowledge that we’re also averse to creativity at some level. By simply recognizing that this is the case, some of the power of our aversion is diminished and creativity itself becomes more accessible. And, by the way, no one ever said that significant rewards – like the kind that creativity offers – were supposed to be easy. If being willing to make the effort to get past your aversions is the work, then you will have earned the amazing benefits that creativity provides.


Find out more about my creativity & innovation workshops for business teams.

I’ve heard it said that the keys to creativity are practice and intention. To that end, it can help to know what to practice once you have the intention to develop your creativity. Having a songwriter’s mindset is a great place to start as many of the skills that make for good songwriting are the same skills that enhance all creativity.


Songwriters are, first and foremost, observers. By developing a keen eye for the human condition, songwriters learn to put themselves in the place of the subjects of their songs. This is the very definition of empathy. And above and beyond the intrinsic relationship value of having empathy, it’s a shortcut to improved innovation and creativity as it allows us to more deeply understand and attend to the needs of our clients.


Creativity requires a willingness to leave our comfort zones in the service of putting something new and meaningful into the world. Songwriting works as a way to inoculate ourselves agains the fear of taking risks by gradually encouraging us to show more of ourselves and our feelings…otherwise put, our humanity. This vulnerability comes with the reward of deeper connection and the motivation to take more risks in the service of your creative practice.


Learning to write songs is about the transformation of an idea or concept into a refined and compelling vehicle to convey your message. There is no better tool for refining your thoughts than the process of distilling them into a song lyric. Lyrics are about brevity and impact and all communication can benefit from those skills.


If I’ve learned anything in my three-plus decades of writing songs, it’s that my creative process benefits greatly from collaboration. By pairing myself with people whose songwriting strengths shore up my weaknesses and vice versa, I’ve built a catalog of songs that are far  better than any songs I could have written on my own. My co-writing experience mirrors any good collaboration and being open to sharing your process can lead to gains far beyond what we can do alone.

Problem Solving

Taking the seed of an idea and turning it into a finished song  requires a variety of different creative tools. Each attempt to “crack the code” of a song strengthens our problem solving muscles in a way that gives us increased confidence the next time we face a similar – or  different – challenge. Songwriter’s are wired to solve problems and simply thinking that way is half the battle.


You don’t need to be a professional songwriter to benefit from thinking – and behaving – like one. The simple act of learning the component parts of what makes songs work and trying for yourself can unlock your access all of the above skills. It’s always inspiring to see how quickly the business teams I lead through the process of learning to write songs not only catch on but also demonstrate each of the elements of the songwriter’s mindset to the benefit of their songs and their continued creativity.


Find out more about my creativity & innovation workshops for business teams.

In my experience, it’s much more likely that corporate executives would describe themselves as “productive” than “creative.” While I firmly believe that we are all creative, this article is going to take a slightly different tack. Instead of thinking of productivity and creativity as being at odds, let’s consider the likelihood that as an executive, you can leverage your well-developed productive abilities to rekindle your innate creativity. To that end, I’ve thought of three (there are many more) ways that productivity makes creativity easier.

1. Discipline Enables Creativity

One of the hallmark characteristics of productive people is their iron-clad discipline. It takes discipline to keep the machinery of business moving in the right direction. What you might not have considered however is that creativity requires an equal amount of discipline. Enhancing your creative ability takes focus and the will to bring attention and intention to whatever creative endeavor you choose to undertake. Inspiration, for example, is not something that working creatives can afford to wait for but, rather, something that they actively pursue. On top of that, when exploring your creativity feels daunting, it’s your discipline that prevents you from walking away or giving up. The conscious pursuit of creativity and creative ideas is a direct function of applying your discipline.

2. Organization Makes Room For Creativity

The image of the stereotypical creative is someone surrounded by chaos and disorder from which their amazing new ideas and products arise. However, while creativity does make room for chaos, creatives need to make room for creativity. There is only one way I know to have a meaningful creative practice and that involves making room both physically and emotionally for creativity to happen. This takes organization. Given that organization is one of the cornerstones of productivity, why not use that organizational ability to carve out time and an actual space for creativity. Then, within that safe space, be a little brave and allow chaos and disorder to roam free for a little while.

3. Consistency Sharpens Creativity

Not only does it take discipline and organization to nurture creativity, it also takes consistency. This is yet another natural skill for most productive types. Being creative isn’t a one-off dramatic event, it’s the cumulative effect of dozens or even hundreds of small creative efforts that when combined over time can have dramatic results. By introducing a 5-minute “haiku writing break” into your day, every day, you’ll have amassed three hundred and sixty-five poems by the end of a year. This is only one example of countless ways to tap into your creativity consistently which, in time, will strengthen your creative muscles much more than taking a full day to “be creative” which, incidentally, rarely works.


Discipline, organization and consistency are qualities that successful productive people have in abundance. By simply applying those well-developed productivity skills to your creative practice, you’ll find that creativity does, indeed, become easier.


Find out more about my creativity & innovation workshops for business teams.

Although I have made my living for over thirty years as a songwriter and musician, I have to admit that I have a somewhat conflicted relationship with creativity. There are several reasons for this and also several reasons why creativity will – in spite of everything – always have an important place in my career and life. I thought that by confessing that creativity is complicated even for this full-time creative, I might shed some light on why as adults we’re often resistant to creativity and why we should strive to incorporate it into our lives regardless.

Creativity messes things up

Let me start by saying I truly love order. I can be described – only somewhat tongue in cheek – as the kind of person who wakes up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and makes the bed. For me, creating order is not only soothing but also my way of establishing focus in my work and life. One of the problems I’ve found with creativity is that it’s messy. The act of creation involves trial and error (lots of error), tension, vulnerability and no small amount of discomfort. And for a guy – true story – whose kindergarten teacher told my mother that I didn’t want to finger-paint because I didn’t want to get my hands dirty, this is a serious challenge. And yet I’m still drawn to creativity. The way that I reconcile this is by looking at creativity as messing things up so I can then put them back together again but better.

Creativity is scary

Even though I’ve been writing songs for over three decades, I still feel a slight tremor of fear every single time I sit down to write. So I can only imagine what it must feel like for someone who doesn’t explore their own creativity with any regularity. However, leaving your comfort zone is supposed to be scary. What I mean by this is that the fear that you feel when confronting creativity is exactly what you need to break out of your old, familiar routine. Also, I’ve found not only with myself but even with business teams that when I take them through my songwriting workshops, the fear is temporary. Once you’re absorbed in the creative process, everything else falls by the wayside in service of your creative effort.

Creativity takes effort

And, speaking of effort, it’s not an easy thing to begin a creative project of any kind. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book “Finding Flow” refers to the effort it takes to begin any creative endeavor as “activation energy.” The difference between flopping down in front of the television and actively engaging in a creative exercise is significant and ofter enough to discourage even the most intrepid creatives. However, like getting past your fear, once you’ve exerted the effort, the rewards far outweigh what it took to get started.

So, let’s talk about those rewards…

Creativity adds meaning to life

A life built on maintaining the status quo and avoiding challenges may seem appealing at first glance but, in reality, will be almost unspeakably dull and unsatisfying. I’m not suggesting that everyone needs to become a painter or dancer in order to have a meaningful life but the act of having a hobby, telling a story or raising a child (one of nature’s original creative endeavors) adds meaning and texture to our lives. We need creativity to become the fullest expression of ourselves.

Creativity fuels productivity

Productivity – that coveted skill that all businesses require – is based on having something to “produce.” So without the creative act there’s really nothing to be productive about. In my experience, I’m always much more motivated to be productive when I’ve created something I’m proud of that I want to share with the world whether it’s a new song, workshop or book. In the end, productivity is in service of creativity.  It can be helpful to remember that productivity for its own sake is an empty exercise.

Creativity leaves a legacy

I’ve written about this before but it’s important to repeat that creativity isn’t the domain of a select few “anointed” ones but, rather, something that we are all born with. All of us are responsible for adding our unique creativity to the collective whole. Our reward for this is that we leave a little bit of ourselves behind. This means that a part of us will continue even after we’re gone. Whether it’s a made up story for your child or a song people sing, your creativity will outlast you and that is a powerful reason to brave the discomfort and fear that are only temporary.


Find out more about Cliff’s creativity & innovation workshops for business teams.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across bright, motivated executives who – when asked – say they’re not creative. Similarly, I don’t know how many times in my talks, workshops and writing I have said that we are ALL creative. I believe this to be true without exception. I believe that part of the problem when it comes to people downplaying or outright dismissing their own creative ability is the standard for what counts as “creative.”

Just as it feels like common sense to say that we are all endowed with a certain amount of creative ability, it also makes sense not to compare ourselves to the icons of creativity in various fields. In other words, it is reasonable to say that anyone can tell a story but not everyone is Stephen King. More importantly, we don’t have to be Stephen King to benefit from incorporating storytelling into our communication.

The reason I bring this up is twofold. 

First, by comparing ourselves to the exceptions (the genius, full time creative types), we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment and – perhaps worse – discouragement. This is an unnecessary comparison and one that doesn’t do anyone any good. On top of that, just because you’re not Steve Jobs doesn’t mean that you can’t contribute to the creativity of your team. Teams need creativity – and creative awareness – at all levels in order to function at their best.

Secondly, in a business context, even if someone on your team IS brilliantly creative, that feels like a risky way to incorporate creativity across a department or entire company. For example, that brilliant creative might have a creative slump or even leave your company all together. Might it not be better if everyone were to explore their own creativity so that at the very least they can understand – and contribute to – the creative conversation? I’m not saying that everyone has to contribute equally but I am saying that putting all of the creative weight on just a few shoulders could cause problems down the road.

I’ve spent my entire working career in the arts and while there are countless ways of finding and harnessing inspiration, there are also creativity-damaging behaviors to avoid. First on that list is comparing your creativity to the creativity of those around you. Better to explore your own creativity, celebrate the creativity of your peers and idols and know that there is room for all creativity.


Find out more about Cliff’s creativity & innovation workshops for business teams.

The longer I spend guiding business teams through the process of learning to write songs, the more I’ve come to understand the surprising and powerful benefits. In a previous article, I enumerated some of these benefits which include learning to think differently, leaving one’s comfort zone and improving the ability to communicate concisely. This article will pick up where my last piece left off and go even deeper into the exceptional business advantages that learning to write songs provides.

1. Learning to write songs demonstrates that we are all creative

It is my firm belief that we are – all of us – creative. That being said, as we progress through life there is an emphasis placed on productivity that, unfortunately, comes at the expense of exercising our innate creativity. So much so that by the time we’re established in our careers (unless your career is in the arts), our creativity has often been left to atrophy. By breaking down songwriting into its component parts and giving clear direction to a group of obviously intelligent – if a little uncertain – business executives, my songwriting workshop simply provides a road map to access the creativity that is already there in each one of us. It’s hard to describe the joy, motivation and increased energy that comes from a business team when they emerge from a songwriting session having proven to themselves that they are, in fact, creative.

2. Songwriting teaches us how to methodically access our creativity

It’s one thing to believe we are creative and another altogether to know how to access that creativity. What songwriting provides is a clear and predictable structure to explore ideas and communicate them to others. Above and beyond the final product, songwriting is a means of tapping into our creative selves consistently and repeatedly. And, like any craft, the more that it’s practiced, the greater the results and the benefits. The ability to access creativity will pay dividends far into the future as business challenges will always require a degree of creativity.

3. Writing a song helps teams get over a generalized fear of failure

Any time a team comes together to work on a project, there is a chance that the project won’t succeed in the way they would like. This is especially true when the project – writing a song – is something the team has likely never done. That is exactly the point. By demonstrating to a team that a daunting task like writing a song is something they can do together, my workshop reinforces the idea that facing your fears can – and most likely will – have a successful outcome. This increased confidence carries over into any and all projects the team will face going forward.

4. Songwriting is a shortcut to the emotional crux of any issue

Often in the workplace, there is a reluctance to face the genuinely human and emotional aspects of the work we do. The fear is that we will appear weak or ineffective when, in fact, the opposite is true. Having the strength to include what makes us all connected as human beings (i.e., our emotions) gives a team a deeper and more robust connection. By exploring any idea through the lens of songwriting, a team adds emotion and humanity to what otherwise might feel like yet another clichéd business challenge. One of my favorite examples of this was the group of airline executives I worked with who instead of simply putting together a PowerPoint Deck about coordinating their disparate teams, wrote a song using the metaphor of geese flying south for the winter. This way, the idea of true teamwork and survival became a tangible part of the vision they were trying to achieve.

5. Learning to write songs takes seasoned executives back to a beginner’s mindset

By presenting a business team with a challenge in an area where they lack experience, learning to write songs will encourage seasoned executives to go back to a beginner’s mindset. Looking at new and genuinely creative ways to approach and solve problems is a skill that will endure long after the songwriting exercise is done. It’s a reminder of the unexpected and lasting benefits of examining challenges with a clean slate instead of the standard – and unfortunately overused – problem-solving approaches.


There you have it. Another five reasons why learning to write songs is a great decision for business teams. And perhaps I shouldn’t assume everyone knows this but above and beyond the clear and compelling business value, learning to write songs is also a tremendous amount of fun. 


Find out more about Cliff’s creativity & innovation workshops for business teams.