As passionate as we might be about exploring our creativity, the reality is that sometimes it’s difficult to motivate ourselves to take action. Whether it’s the fear of plumbing our emotional depths or just good old fatigue after a long day, there are often obstacles to overcome when it’s time to create. While flashes of inspiration are great, we can’t always count on the muse showing up on our schedule. Instead, we’ve got to make our own inspiration. I’ve put together a list of a few things that should help you keep your creative fires lit.

  1. Set up a creative space at home

As simple as it sounds, having a place to go where you can focus and be creative can be seriously motivational. Even if it’s just a small desk and a comfortable chair in a corner of your living room, the fact that you’ve dedicated it to your creativity will serve as that little push you might need. Make things as easy as you can for yourself and you’ll be much more likely to dig in.

  1. Set up a time of day to create

Routine can be a good thing even for something like creativity. If, for example, you know that every day at 7pm, you’re going to sit for half an hour and explore whatever creative project you’ve set out for yourself, then you’re more likely to do it. They say it takes a few weeks of consciously making yourself do something before it becomes a habit. A daily time to create will go a long way towards a healthy creative practice.

  1. Keep a file of unfinished projects

One of the hardest things about creativity is starting with the proverbial blank page. By keeping an organized file of your unfinished ideas and projects, you won’t have to climb the mountain from the bottom every time you sit down to create. While sometimes it feels good to start with a fresh idea, don’t forget to check your unfinished projects file from time to time. It’s remarkable how a few days or weeks can add the perspective you need to see a partially finished concept in a new light and complete it.

  1. Find a collaborator

Nothing motivates more than accountability. If someone is counting on you to show up and get to work, you’re more likely to do it. Not only that but halving the burden can make creativity a much more approachable pursuit. This is one of the many benefits of collaboration. Other advantages include having someone whose creative gifts compliment your own in such a way that you both get a better result than you would have separately. If you haven’t collaborated on a creative project yet, this is as good a time as any to give it a try. Even if it’s not a perfect experience, we all benefit from observing firsthand someone else’s creative process.

  1. Give yourself an assignment

Sometimes the idea that you can create anything is just too much freedom. Often it’s easier to work on a creative project if you have some guidelines. If, for example, you tell yourself you’re going to sit down and write a haiku about your family pet, you’ll find it’s easier to get to work. Anything you can do to give shape and structure to what you’re attempting to create will make the task that much simpler.

  1. Tell yourself you’ll only work on it for five minutes 

This is one of my all time favorites. On days where you’re really struggling to tackle your creative practice, tell yourself you’ll only have to sit down for five minutes. That way, if nothing is happening after the allotted five minutes, at least you’ve tried. It’s astonishing, however, how often those days are the days where the breakthroughs actually happen. Taking the pressure off of yourself may be all that you need to get on a roll. That being said, if it’s just not coming, stop. There’s no point in making yourself miserable. There’s always tomorrow.


Taking time to develop your own creative practice is a gift but, as with most gifts, some assembly (otherwise known as work) is required. My hope is that by suggesting a few ways to lessen the burden of getting started, you’ll be able to create more consistently and enjoy the accompanying results.


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

In order to suffer the slings and arrows which are an inevitable part of embracing your creativity, it’s a good idea to love your creativity first. I’m talking about a very specific kind of love here. What I’m not talking about is the kind of desperate, dysfunctional love where your creative ideas are so dear to you that you’re crushed if someone doesn’t love them as much as you do. The love I am talking about is where, like a good parent, you’ve put all of your experience and effort into creating a solid, well-adjusted child and you feel confident putting them out into the world no matter what anyone else says. I realize this kind of confidence/love won’t come right away and seeking out constructive criticism from more experienced creatives is a very useful part of your process. However, in the end, creativity is subjective and the most important opinion is yours. Below are three good reasons why loving your creativity can be a huge asset when it comes to growing your creative practice.

1. It Maintains Your Motivation

Creativity is hard work and requires a great deal of willpower and dedication. In the best of circumstances, it’s a tall order to motivate yourself to create something from nothing. If you don’t feel good about your work or you’re too easily discouraged by a less-than-glowing comment, it’s twice as hard to get up the courage to dig in. Regarding negative comments, you have to be thick-skinned. Very few non-creatives can appreciate what it takes to put something of yourself into your work so don’t let a thoughtless or uninformed comment discourage you or shake your belief. And, too, negative or even mean-spirited critiques from seasoned, successful creatives should be taken with a grain of salt. In the end, they’re only opinions and, as I mentioned above, it’s your opinion that matters most.

2. It Helps You Spread The Word

When it comes to the unromantic, soul-sucking work of pitching your creative ideas for various opportunities, loving what you’re “selling” is a huge help. The more confident you are about your work, the easier it will be to get up every day and subject your ideas (and yourself) to the whims of the outside world. If you only love your creative work when someone else loves it, that means you won’t believe in it if someone says it’s not for them. The world is full of stories of successful creative people who were told “no” over and over again. What if they’d listened? Loving your creativity gives you the courage to try again when your work is passed over for a given opportunity.

3. Confidence Is Contagious

Loving your creativity and being confident in it works on many levels. As I mentioned above, if you love what you’re doing, you’re more likely to keep doing it. But, more importantly, confidence is something people can detect in a million small ways from your body language in a pitch meeting to what words you choose when you’re submitting your work for an opportunity. In other words, if you love your creativity, people will be able to tell and they’ll be more likely to love it, too. This explains, in large part, why your first creative “success” is the hardest to get. It’s easier to believe in – love – your work once you’ve gotten some outside affirmation. That being said, it really does begin with you loving your own ideas first.


Be patient. The kind of love I’ve been talking about is not something that happens overnight. It comes from putting in the countless hours necessary to perfect your ideas, incorporating others’ suggestions that make sense to you and ignoring the ones that don’t. Once you’ve done all that, loving your creativity, in a quietly confident way, will make your work – and your life – more fulfilling.


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

I thought I would take a moment to tell you (and remind myself while I’m at it) a few of the things we have to be thankful for when it comes to our creativity. Creative pursuits often take place in a vacuum with little or no encouragement and they are, by their very nature, solitary. Also, given that only the tiniest percentage of any creative endeavor sees the light of day, it’s easy to get frustrated. The risk is that we tend to forget what a gift exploring our creativity actually is. To that end, I’ve put together a few thoughts.

1. Your creativity gives you a way to express yourself

In the course of living our day-to-day lives, we are subjected to an unpredictable mixture of elation and sadness. No matter what, this is a lot to handle but having the ability to express those feelings is a huge advantage. Finding a tangible way of sublimating your thoughts will not only help you but also those who encounter your work which is a wonderful, constructive way of processing a life. Without the ability to create, you might never have the luxury of this kind of perspective.

2. Your creativity engages your passion

Many people go through their entire lives without finding something that truly moves them. If you’re willing to explore your creativity you will invariably engage your passion. While passion can make you crazy and plunge you into the depths of despair, it can also bring you great joy and drive you to efforts that you never imagined yourself capable of. This kind of growth can only come from the willingness to honor your creativity. Never take this for granted. Being passionate is its own reward and it’s important to remember that you’re lucky to have found something in this world that is so important to you.

3. Your creativity is a journey

Whether it’s the first time you create something on your own or the hundredth, every step of your creative journey should be appreciated. You will only have one first time to see something you’ve created genuinely move someone else. Don’t forget to stop and enjoy each event no matter how small. The danger in putting too much significance on the end game of creative “success” is that you’ll miss all the incredible moments along the way.


We all know how difficult, frustrating and even scary pursuing your creativity can be. Being thankful for all of the good it brings us can help keep things in perspective. Personally, I’m thankful for my high-school piano teacher who nonchalantly asked for the impossible at the end of one of our lessons when he said, “For next week, I’d like you to write a song.”


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


Looking back on thirty-plus years of writing songs, it’s a lot easier for me to connect the dots now and see that the things I was doing years ago would eventually bear fruit. I can safely say that nothing ever moved as quickly as I thought it would and, yet, I’m constantly surprised at the ways that my long-forgotten efforts have come around to generate royalty income. All that to say, it would have saved me a lot of frustration knowing that getting up every day and working on my craft would end up paying off on its own schedule, not mine. Here are a few specific reasons to stay patient in the pursuit of creative success.

  1. You’ll enjoy the process more

There is nothing more frustrating than waiting for something to happen that’s beyond your control. For example, you’ve read or heard about a “last-minute” opportunity and they have to have your work right away. The reality is that nothing actually happens “right away” and everything is “last minute.” So after submitting your work, instead of constantly scanning your emails and sleeping with your phone, simply put a note in your calendar to follow up with an email in a week or two (not before) and forget about it. I know this is easier said than done but it will keep you sane. By the way, the easiest way to forget about one thing is to be working on something else. 

In other words, you should have as many irons in the fire as possible so that you’re not waiting on any one thing to happen. By “irons in the fire,” I mean looking for other outlets for your work, new collaborators and any one of a million things that you can be doing to have success in your creative field. If you’re patient, your day to day will be a series of small steps and tasks that will keep you focused and productive without allowing you to linger on any one thing for too long. Also, that way when something does come through you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  1. You’ll keep your perspective

Given that there is absolutely no such thing as a “quick buck” in the creative world, your best bet is to think about why you’re pursuing your creativity in the first place. If it’s only for the money, you’re in for a rough road. Even the most successful creatives put in years of unpaid work before the money begins to flow. If, on the other hand, you’re creative because you can’t help it and you love the feeling of putting something uniquely your own into the world AND you also hope to be financially successful, then your day to day will be the pursuit of something meaningful to you that also has the potential to generate income. If you’re patient, you have a much better chance of keeping that perspective while you’re pursuing your dream of creative success.

  1. You’ll build better industry relationships

We all know that relationships with creative industry insiders are highly prized for the connections and potential opportunities they bring. However, just like any relationship, it’s extremely difficult to build something of substance quickly. If you’re patient and don’t try to force feed your ideas to every person in the industry at every opportunity, you stand a much better chance of developing the kinds of contacts that move you ahead in your career. These relationships take years to develop (not five minutes at the hotel bar of an industry conference). What if instead of launching into a ten-minute, spoken-word bio the next time you meet someone in your industry, you tried asking them what they’re working on? Learn a little more about them and, in time, if you’re doing great work, they’ll get to know about you, too. 

By not treating every interaction with someone in the industry as a do or die situation, you’ll feel less pressure to make something happen immediately and enjoy getting to know them. Then, in time, you’ll have someone receptive to your work when there’s an opportunity. Here’s another small tip. It’s the administrative assistants and receptionists of today who will be the heads of their businesses tomorrow. Don’t ignore these folks in your search for someone more powerful who can help you. Take your time, build your industry relationships slowly and organically and watch what happens.

  1. It’s out of your hands anyway

While there is a lot you can (and should) do on your own behalf every day, the creative industry goes at it’s own speed no matter what you do. In my world, the journey from an idea to a royalty generating copyright is as mysterious to me now as it was when I wrote my first song. So, given that it’s out of your hands once you’ve created something, why not be patient and keep filling the pipeline with new ideas and creations? Work on developing your creativity and craft as much as you can and one day you’ll look back to see you’ve got a critical mass of excellent work that’s actually generating income. 

I once heard a hit songwriter say that he wrote one of his hits in “three hours and twenty-five years.” In other words, while the song took three hours to write, it was his twenty-five years of patiently refining his craft and developing his career that made it happen.


As long as you’re not planning on being a creative for this week only, take a deep breath, work on your craft and career a little every day and enjoy the ride. You’ll be amazed in a few years when you look back and see how far you’ve come. Good luck!

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

I’ve heard baseball described as a “game of failure,” which means that even the greatest batters in the game miss close to seven out of every ten tries. Well, using that same math, creativity, too, is a game of failure where the greatest creatives who have ever lived have had success with only a tiny, tiny proportion of their efforts. Given that this is the case, it might be worth your while to make failure your friend since, as an aspiring creative, you’ll be keeping pretty steady company. Stay with me here as I show you a few reasons why failure as a creative can ultimately be a good thing. 

It thickens your skin

One of the hardest lessons to learn as a creative is how to toughen up a bit when it comes to our ideas. Part of what helps us create is our sensitivity to the world around us. This is all fine and good when it comes to the creative process but when it comes to comments about our work, well that’s a little different. The reality is that not every creative effort we make will connect with people the way we hope it will. However, the more we realize that as creatives the only people we really need to please is ourselves, the easier it will become to hear less than kind comments about our work. Better yet, the more we hear those kinds of comments, the thicker our skin will become so that we can go about our business without letting unkind words get us down for long.

It’s a sign you’re putting yourself out there

If you’re “failing” when it comes to getting your work out there, that actually means you’re doing the right thing. If you don’t fail, that most likely means you’re not taking any risks and, I assure you, not failing is NOT the same as succeeding. So take heart. The more you hear no, the closer you’re coming to hearing yes. 

You’re being given an opportunity to learn

It can be discouraging when you feel like you’ve worked on something creative that isn’t up to par but the good news is that even if that particular project never gets better, you’ll take away the lesson. The more you can analyze what isn’t working in your efforts, the better able you’ll be to avoid those issues in subsequent tries. Learning from mistakes is the hallmark of growth in any career.

It forces you to recommit to your goal

Nothing strengthens commitment to a goal more than repeatedly picking yourself up from a failure and moving on. Developing your creativity is not for the faint of heart but if you’re willing to recommit each time things don’t go your way, you’ll build up a resilience that will serve you well throughout your entire career.

It makes you appreciate success when it comes

When creative success does come, it’s generally the result of what I like to think of as a critical mass of effort – and failure. What this does is give you a much deeper appreciation of what it takes to have any kind of creative success. That kind of gratitude goes a long way towards motivating you even further.

It keeps you humble

On the flip side, all that failure keeps you from ever feeling like you’ve totally got the whole “creativity thing” licked. In my case, I’ve written over a thousand songs and I still get nervous before I write. That’s a good thing.


So, if something doesn’t go your way, take a deep breath and try not to take it so hard. This is tough to do when you’re as passionate about your work as most budding creatives are. Creativity rewards those who can weather the storm of failure and come out the other side better, stronger and more grateful.

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.

Since I firmly believe that creativity and productivity work best when equally developed, I’ve been giving some serious thought to the ways that I’ve actively structured my life and career to balance the two. It’s not simply a matter of honoring both the creative and productive elements in our lives but the clear proof that each element improves and enhances the other. To that end, I thought I’d start with the way that I’ve balanced my songwriting career with my work as a recording engineer.

Being a songwriter is about unbridled creativity

I started writing songs from a place of sheer inspiration. After more than ten years of classical piano training as a kid (and never having written a song), I taught myself to play guitar my freshman year of college and wrote my first song just a few years later. Something about the freedom to discover a new instrument on my own terms unlocked a desire to express myself creatively. Now over thirty years – and more than a thousand songs – later, I’m still moved to put new songs into the world. Writing songs is about channeling inspiration which, while exciting, is still – even after all these years – emotionally taxing. I love the feeling of “going to the well” of creativity but there are times when it simply feels better to dig into something clear and predictable. Hence, without knowing exactly why it was important to me at the time, I also built a recording studio business in tandem with my work as songwriter.

Being a recording engineer is about nuts and bolts productivity

For me (and I’m sure many of you), there is something deeply soothing about knowing exactly what to do and when. That is the essence of engineering in the studio. Whether it’s reading a four-hundred page manual to learn about a new piece of equipment or figuring out which cable to connect to which device to make everything work, audio engineering has always scratched my productivity itch. I love the precision and predictability of engineering and the satisfaction of knowing that if done properly the results are undeniable. That being said, too much precision and predictability can feel somewhat dry and uninspired which then leads me back to the emotional spelunking of songwriting.

How being a songwriter and recording engineer work together

Now here’s where things get good. My experience shows that knowing I’ll be able to capture a beautiful recording of my new song in my studio will give me the confidence and bravery to tolerate the short-term emotional chaos that songwriting brings. But, at the same time, the awareness that I’ll be writing new songs to record, provides me with extra motivation to make sure my studio equipment is updated, properly connected and running smoothly. It is in the development, maintenance and interplay of my creativity and productivity that they both flourish.


I’m certain that I was simply exploring things I found interesting when I started writing songs and putting together my first recording studio. And as a result, it wasn’t until much later that I began to understand how my right brain-inspired creativity and my left brain’s desire for precision informed one another. However, I can now say with complete confidence that they absolutely do. This is but one of many examples of how creativity and productivity work together. I’m also convinced that those of you who lean far to one side or the other on the creativity/productivity spectrum can benefit greatly by incorporating even small elements your less-developed side into your lives. The goal, in time, is to honor and grow both creativity and productivity so that they can not only help on their own but also in the way they inform one another.


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