Tag Archives: Personal Development

5 Ways to Spark Your Creativity

logo

Feeling stuck or mentally blocked? I find that there are a number of ways that help me get the creative juices flowing.

Here are my top 5 tips to stimulating the creativity muscle:

1) Spend time in silence

I meditate most days and even spend time driving around in my car in silence. Stopping for a few moments and taking a break from absorbing information or concentrating on a project really helps me open up to new ideas and methods for tackling a project.

2) Writing

I use Julia Cameron’s technique of writing morning pages each day to clear out the mental junk in my head and open up space for creativity. Check out the “Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron for more information.

3) Having Great Conversations

This is a really helpful practice to getting you inspired and energized. I find that if I’m feeling blocked, and I have a great conversation with somebody, I immediately benefit from the inspiration and ideas that come to me. My 30 day challenge idea came from a great conversation.

4) Cross functional activities

If you focus too much on one area, you’ll find that your creativity is limited. Try exposing yourself to new books, activities and people. I got really into rock climbing last year, and it was a fantastic way for me to learn about myself and also think about things differently.

5) Read good books

I usually read a lot of non-fiction but recently I started reading more literature. I finished “Pride and Prejudice” and now i’m working on “The Great Gatsby”. Good books are awesome at stimulating the brain in different ways.

You should follow Matt on Twitter!

Should I Get an MBA ?

bg_MBA

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about whether or not I should consider getting an MBA. In conversations with business people, academics and friends, I’ve gotten pretty mixed responses about what the perceived value of an MBA is. There are tons of articles out there siting both the benefits and disadvantages of an MBA.

A mentor of mine who has an MBA in addition to a number of other credentials states he thinks the market is saturated with MBAs and so I’d be better off getting a more technical credential such as an accounting designation. His reasoning is that these days, specific skill sets and applied education are more marketable to employers.

Part of the reason why I want to get an MBA is because I would like to get some more formal education. I learn a lot from reading, keeping up to date with the latest industry trends and having great conversations, but it isn’t quite the same as completing a MBA. I remember when I was finishing my undergraduate degree in business administration and I took fantastic class on business strategy. Working with my professor and with my peers, I challenged myself in ways that I just don’t get to do anymore. There was something invigorating about trying to solve business problems with a group of people who are all highly invested in the outcome.

Josh Kaufman wrote a great book called “The Personal MBA“, which delves into this subject at length. The primary idea in his book is that an MBA can be useful; however, it depends on what you want to do with it. He argues that if you want to be an entrepreneur, then classroom learning might not the right fit. As an entrepreneur, I’ve always learned best by trial and error. Another factor he raises is cost. The reality is that MBAs can be extremely expensive these days and depending on the type of job or project you work on after graduation, it could be years before you recoup the benefit from lost time and money.

At this point, I’m still on the fence on whether or not an MBA is the right choice for me. I do want to work towards building a venture but i’m not sure if an MBA will get me there.

You should follow Matt on Twitter!

3 TED Talk Playlists I’m Watching Right Now

18292_logo

Last year, I made a commitment to try to watch a TED Talk every morning while I ate breakfast. This lasted for a few weeks but in that time, I absorbed an enormous amount of ideas, inspiration and actionable steps for creating great work.

Recently, I noticed that TED now has playlists which are organized by topic or by an individual. This is awesome! I normally find TED Talks by browsing or clicking on a link through Facebook. Having a collection of videos on one topic, in one place is great for absorbing tons of ideas worth spreading.

If you’re looking for a little Sunday motivation, check out these three awesome TED Talk playlists I’m watching right now. (I’ve noticed you can’t embed playlists the same way you share individual talks so the playlist links are embedded in the titles) I’ve embedded my favorite video from each playlist into the post.

1) Work smarter (11 talks)

Work smarter is a fantastic collection of TED Talks including some of my favorite authors such as Simon Sinek (Start with Why), Shawn Achor (The Happiness Advantage) and Jason Fried (37 Signals).

2) The Creative Spark (10 talks)

The Creative Spark includes inspiring talks by Elizabeth Gilbert (Your elusive creative genius), Ken Robinson (Schools kill creativity) and David Kelly (How to build your creative confidence). Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk is one my absolute favorite TED Talks.

3) A Better You (11 talks)

The A Better You playlist is a collection of success masters ranging from John Wooden to Tony Robbins. Make sure to check out Matt Cutt’s talk on “Try something new for 30 days”.

You should follow Matt on Twitter!

3 To Do List Apps That Will Change Your Life

todolist

Today kicks off my 30 day challenge to write a new blog post every day. I’m pretty excited to see how it turns out!

I frequently write about productivity tools I use, but today I’m going to tell you about the 3 essential tools I use for keeping my To Do lists from overwhelming me.

Each app has different features and benefits but together, they make for a kick ass team of organizational mojo.

unnamed

1) Astrid

Astrid is a standard to To Do list app that allows you to create lot’s of different lists and reminders. Out of the three tools, I use Astrid the most because of its accessibility of having both iOS apps and a web app. Once you set a reminder on Astrid, it will pop up on your phone with funny messages if you don’t check it off before the task is due.

895-teamly-master

2) Teamly

Teamly is a web app that encourages you to try to set your top 5 priorities for the day. In the early days, Teamly would actually restrict the number of items on your list to 5. That function seems to be gone now but it is still a very useful app for establishing your daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly priorities. I use this app for project planning and to keep focused on what my key priorities each day. One great feature of this app is that you can move items forward in time so if you don’t get to them today, you can add them to tomorrow’s list. It’s great to get a snapshot of what your key priorities are for both your short and long term projects.

unnamed

3) Producteev

Producteev is similar to Astrid; however, a major feature that sets it apart from other to list apps is the ability to create sub-lists within your main list. This is really helpful for project work and for assigning other team members with tasks. I use producteev a lot for collaboration on projects as well a capture tool to allow me visualize all the small critical path items that need to get done in a project. The email feature which allows you to send tasks to other people is great for assigning responsibility right after a planning meeting.

You should follow Matt on Twitter!

Start a 30 Day Challenge

I had lunch with my good friend Alicia yesterday who was telling me about her recent commitment to 30 day challenges. I was immediately intrigued by the idea. I’d heard about lot’s of 30 day challenges for a wide variety of things including yoga, weight loss, reading and goal setting.

Alicia’s commitment was to implement a beneficial habit, ritual or project every 30 days to make sure she kept up the momentum with her goals.

Check out Alicia’s blog at the Goldsmith Project.

So I’ve decided that I’m going to adopt the same commitment to 30 day challenges. Starting this Saturday, I am going to post new content on The Pinstriped Suit every day for 30 days. This will be a great way for me to kickstart my creative juices and get my ideas out there.

I’ll be writing about a number of different topics over the 30 day challenge including: books, marketing tips, digital marketing, goals, personal development, fashion, and inspiration.

Another brilliant idea that Alicia challenged me to do was to post my goals on the website. That way, it will keep me accountable for sticking with my intentions and moving my goals forward.

In order to put these two challenges in action, I’ve set up new pages where you can see and comment on my goals and 30 day challenges. I’m looking forward to updating all of you on how it goes and you’ll be able to watch my progress starting on Saturday.

Wish me luck!

You should follow Matt on Twitter!