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.

Conclusion

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.

-Cliff

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.

Empathy

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.

Risk-Taking

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.

Communication

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.

Collaboration

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.

Conclusion

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.

-Cliff

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.

Conclusion

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.

-Cliff

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.

Conclusion

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.

-Cliff

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

Let me begin by saying that if you’re struggling to access and develop your creativity, you’re not alone. Even full-time creatives such as myself find the process intimidating and daunting from time to time. To that end, I’ve put together a few creativity hacks that make the process not only more accessible but also more fun. 

1. Designate a creative space

Creativity is absolutely environment-dependent. Attempting any creative endeavor from painting to poetry to music is significantly easier if you are able to carve out a little space in your home or office that lends itself to inspiration. Not only that but entering that space works as a kind of signal that you’ll be tapping into your imagination. I should also say that by “creative space” I don’t just mean physical space but also space on your calendar. Picking a time of day when you are less distracted and there are fewer demands on your time can be extremely helpful as well.

2.  Give yourself a time limit

Speaking of demands on your time, it is somewhat counterintuitive that having unlimited time to create is actually more difficult than having just a little time available. But creativity – ironically – craves constraint. To that end, giving yourself a limited amount of time to create will generate the best results. It’s less intimidating to know, for example, that you’ve only got 15 minutes to try to write a poem instead of the entire weekend.

3. Don’t wait around for inspiration

In the early days of my songwriting career, it never occurred to me that I could go out and get inspiration. I thought that inspiration simply showed up and then it was my job to do something with it. I think I wrote my first twenty songs that way. However, for the next 980 songs and beyond, I realized that inspiration was something I could proactively seek. This took many forms but one of the simplest and best practices was that I started keeping a small notebook on my nightstand and each morning I would take a minute and write down a single song title. That’s all. This seemingly insignificant behavior resulted in my always having an idea to bring to a writing session even on days when my inspiration was at low ebb. Think about a tiny creative effort you can do every day so that inspiration is waiting for you instead of the other way around.

4. Find a collaborator/collaborators

As an inveterate songwriting co-writer, I’m a big believer in creative collaboration for a variety of reasons. First and most obviously, it’s half as hard to be creative when you share the work with someone else but it goes deeper than that. Collaboration equals accountability. In my experience, there’s always some significant distraction or task that can get in the way of a solo creative endeavor (folding your socks or gazing at your own navel come to mind). But when you schedule an appointment with your collaborator, you’re holding each other accountable which tends to keep us honest and on creative track.

5. Be macro patient and micro impatient

This is one of the best suggestions I’ve ever heard on how to have a successful creative practice. What “macro patient” means is that any significant creative gains are, on some level, beyond our immediate control and getting frustrated when they don’t come sooner will be a futile exercise. So you should stay patient when it comes to dramatic improvement. However, you should also be “micro impatient” to do some kind of creative work every day and not wait around for things to happen. This “impatience” has the benefit of improving your creative output while also keeping you from worrying too much about the big picture.

Conclusion

Creativity can be – and often is – a truly joyful process. However, as noted psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi states in his seminal book “Finding Flow,” creativity (like the flow state) requires a certain amount of “activation energy” which can be enough to discourage most would be creatives. The above tips are ways to get you past the natural resistance to creativity and will, hopefully, serve to deepen your creative practice.

-Cliff

Find out more about Cliff’s 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.

-Cliff

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.

-Cliff

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.

Conclusion

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. 

-Cliff

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

As a professional songwriter for the past thirty years, I know exactly why I write songs. I can’t help it. It’s my way of making sense of the world around me and, very fortunately, also the way I make my living. However, for the past eight years I’ve been helping business teams enhance their creativity and solve problems by teaching them to write songs. Understandably, there is no small amount of reluctance by executives to do something so utterly foreign to them. To that end, I’ve put together a few compelling reasons why all business teams should learn to write songs.

1. Learning to write songs makes you think differently

I’ll begin by saying I’m a big fan of the Abraham Maslow quote, “if the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.” Consider exploring your ideas and objectives through the lens of songwriting as a new “tool” in your problem-solving toolkit. By examining ideas through metaphor and the emotion-rich language of lyrics, you’re opening up a new way of approaching old or persistent work challenges which will lead to novel and innovative solutions.

2. Learning to write songs takes you out of your comfort zone

As human beings we naturally lean towards preserving the status quo. It’s comfortable and gives us the illusion of control. The reality, however, is that the “safety” of the status quo is anything but safe. We may not want to change but the world will change around us no matter what we want. Leaving your comfort zone in pursuit of a new way to solve problems and examine ideas is a good reminder that the real rewards and solutions exist in leaving the tried and true behind. On top of that, songwriting as a high challenge, high skill and clear objective practice helps business teams achieve a flow state which is, in and of itself, highly satisfying and profoundly motivating.

3. Writing a song shows you that you can do something “impossible”

For most people, the idea of writing a song can seem more like a magic trick or an impossible dream. But my favorite part of what I do with business teams is that I take smart people who don’t consider themselves to be creative and I give them the tools to explore and enhance their creativity. By breaking down the process of songwriting into its component parts, I show the team that songwriting is a craft that can be learned. When a team “does the impossible” and writes a song, there’s a tangible boost of confidence that carries forward and helps the team tackle other seemingly “impossible” issues.

4. Learning to write songs improves your ability to communicate

The beauty of the lyric writing is how it requires us to communicate only the most critical parts of our ideas and say them in a way that is both clear and memorable. While the verses of songs improve our ability to use image-rich language in the service of telling a story, it’s the chorus that teaches us the skill of distilling a message so that it not only makes a clear point but also does it in a way that people will want to hear. If communication is a muscle, then writing song lyrics is a serious workout.

5. Writing songs brings teams together around a common cause

There’s nothing quite like a challenge with a clear goal to bring a team together. Above and beyond exploring ideas and objectives, learning to write songs bonds teams around learning a new way to express themselves. The finished song (and every team I’ve ever worked with finishes their song) serves as tangible – and singable – proof that the team has rallied and done something they weren’t sure that they could do. It’s like a shot of jet fuel for team bonding.

Conclusion

It is highly likely that becoming a songwriter isn’t the reason you joined your current company. Regardless, I can promise you that using songwriting as a new way to explore ideas and improve your team’s creativity and communication will make you and your team better equipped to handle the challenges you face on a daily basis. Take it from a veteran of almost a decade of work teaching business teams to write songs. It works and it works well.

-Cliff

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

If I’ve noticed anything my thirty-plus years of writing songs, it’s that there is nothing quite as powerful as a song to connect and mobilize people. To that end, I’ve begun offering a new service to my clients that I call the Team Theme.

This works in one of two ways.  First, I can lead the team through my songwriting workshop empowering the participants themselves to write a song that addresses an important objective or team mission statement. Or, based on a series of in-depth discussions in advance, I can write a song for the team that captures the essence of their goal or message.

Either way, it’s what happens next that counts.

Taking the rough recording done at the time (typically an acoustic guitar and vocal recorded into a smartphone), I can bring in the A-list session musicians and vocalists that Nashville has in stunning abundance and, together, we can create a world-class master recording of the clients’ finished song.

It’s not unusual that the players involved would be, for example, Sheryl Crow’s guitarist, Aerosmith’s drummer and a vocalist who goes on later to sign their own record deal or become a contestant on The Voice (and, by the way, all of those example are real). 

Here’s why this matters.

Not only does the team end up with a beautifully recorded song that encapsulates their values and mission but they’ve also invested in a tangible asset that they can use in future presentations, meetings, social media (which is more and more about video and sound these days) and countless other situations where quality audio will bring a presentation or an event over the top.

But as one of my favorite expressions states, “talking about music is like dancing about architecture.”  In other words, you have to hear it to believe it. 

Click the links below to hear both a “before” and “after” snippet of one of my recent Team Themes.

The Rough Recording

The Team Theme

And, finally, when the team (or entire company for that matter) hears their finished theme, it works like jet fuel for bonding and motivation.

As always, I’m happy to answer any/all questions about how the Team Theme can work for your group so don’t hesitate to reach out.

-Cliff

p.s. Team members are always welcome to come to the studio on the day of the session or, if that isn’t possible, they can access a link to the live studio stream so they can hear their song coming to life as it happens!

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