The Eight Steps For Creative Brilliance

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Marketing Podcast with Mark Shekter

Mark Shekter, a guest on the Duct Tape Marketing PodcastIn this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Mark Shekter. He is a Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker, and original thinker. He pioneered a new system of creative thinking that empowers Start-Ups to Fortune 500 clients to build robust and sustainable enterprises while reshaping corporate cultures for unlimited innovation and growth. 

In his new book: Think8: 8 Steps to Ignite Your Creative Genius in Business, Career, & Life, Mark shares his proven method for unlocking creativity previously only available to his global Think8 clients.


Key Takeaway:

When individuals focus on their purpose and passion, they can unlock their creative energy and achieve remarkable results in various domains of life. Creativity is not limited to artistic endeavors but can be applied in business contexts as well. The Think8 methodology has 8 steps: purpose, message, tone, character, content, structure, style, and impact, when followed in sequence, leads to optimal results. Mark emphasizes that in companies, consensus and alignment among team members with authenticity and transparency are crucial for unlocking a company’s true worth and making a meaningful impact.

Questions I ask Mark Shekter:

  • [01:42] On your subtitle: unlocking your creative genius in business, career, and life. So are you suggesting that this is a framework that you could apply if you were trying to advance your career, or if you wanted a better life as well as to grow a business?
  • [03:51] You introduce a concept of unlocking a company’s true worth. What do you mean by that?
  • [05:19] Some people may think that creativity is just the art department in charge of branding or creating some slogan or jingle. But you’re really applying a new thinking on the role of creativity, aren’t you?
  • [07:27] Almost everything we do in business takes some sort of element of creativity, doesn’t it?
  • [09:08] The first out of the 8 steps is purpose. That’s a very tough step for people because they sit around a room and say, what’s our purpose? Does everybody agree on those 8 words?
  • [17:31] The fourth step is character and unifying the company’s core values and beliefs. I think the challenge here could be that maybe the founder has beliefs and values that are not necessarily aligned with the rest of the members of a company. How do you kind of rectify that?
  • [21:10] So you finish up the steps with impact which I think it’s interesting because you can never achieve impact without the previous 7 steps, right?

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John Jantsch (00:00): This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Nudge, hosted by Phil Agnew, and it's brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals. You ever noticed how the smallest changes can make the biggest impact on Nudge you learned simple evidence, back tips to help you kick bat habits, get a raise, and grow your business. In a recent episode, Phil tested a thousand dollars on some marketing principles, some work, some don't. Uh, guest Nancy Har Hut, who's been a guest of the show as well. And Phil put these principles to test in a set of real life experiments. You'll learn what works and what doesn't. Listen to Nudge wherever you get your podcasts.

(00:52): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Mark Shekter. He's a bestselling author, keynote speaker, and original thinker. He's pioneered an entirely new system of creative thinking that empowers startups to Fortune 500 clients to build robust and sustainable enterprises, while reshaping corporate cultures for unlimited innovation and growth. We're gonna talk about his latest book, Think8: 8 Steps to Ignite Your Creative Genius in Business, Career, & Life. He's gonna talk a little bit about his proven method for unlocking creativity previously un or previously only available to his, uh, global Think8 clients. So, Mark, welcome to the show.

Mark Shekter (01:39): Thank you, John.

John Jantsch (01:40): So, I, I first want to tackle the broad nature of your subtitle, um, that, uh, um, uh, unlocking creative genius in business, career and life. So, are you suggesting that this is a, uh, framework that you could apply if you were trying to advance your career, if you wanted a better life as well as grow a business? I mean, are you appealing to kinda anyone who wants to use a process to better something?

Mark Shekter (02:08): Well, the, uh, origins of the, of the process actually became in Hollywood where I was writing and producing, and I was very curious about having a hit. My agent said, you know, just write me a hit. And I said, thank you, Elliot. He was with William Morris. I said, easier for you to say. And he said, but that's your job. So I just kind of embarked on trying to understand that element. How do I use my creative juices to up the odds, if you like? And it started there and all the research on these eight steps began there, but it then migrated because people in business outside of media said, uh, you know, could you come and give a motivational talk and mm-hmm. express how you do things? And that led to business. And then people were saying, well, you know, it reshaped the way I think about my career. And so what was happening is just this creative aggregation of ability and, and enhancement just seemed to kind of have a, a universal appeal. It wasn't anticipated that way, but it grew into that kind of application, which was a nice thing to happen, but not anticipated initially.

John Jantsch (03:10): Well, and I could see that, and we'll get into the, the actual eight steps, but, you know, a lot of them are things that you might actually associate with personal development. Um, but let's face it, companies are made up of people, aren't they?

Mark Shekter (03:21): Absolutely. . Well, it is all about, and you know this so well, John. It, it is the individual's own and their capacity and passion and inherent ability, uh, to just formulate solutions. And if you give them the opportunity and the tools as you know so well, to be able to tap into this and then be able to execute their dreams, their passions, and so on, it's a wonderful thing to behold. So the personal thing is always the focus, of course.

John Jantsch (03:51): So, so you actually talk, excuse me, introduce a, uh, a concept of, of, you know, rather than growing a company, uh, really unlocking a company's true worth. I wonder if you could spend some time, um, explaining what you mean by that.

Mark Shekter (04:05): Absolutely. Companies typically, uh, would start when there's an issue and they want to grow or, you know, um, expand exponentially. They'll, they'll tap into, or they'll address the thing they're making or how they're making it. And where we start is the individuals behind that, that effort. And if they can up their creative quotient to solve those problems, they can solve any problems. So the focus begins with them and the ability of the tool and why it has proven itself is that, uh, people, regardless of their background coming around a table, an executive group aboard, they, uh, through the process are able to kind of find consensus, creative consensus and formulative vision that serves them all. And then that juice, that energy then is applied to solving that specific problem. But they also are empowered to solve, you know, uh, sustainable problems thereafter. So it, it kind of aggregates that, that consensus and, uh, ultimately the alignment around all of that energy, and this is seems to be the ticket, if you can get everybody, I guess you would call it organizational physics. Yeah. Where everybody is really on the same vector. They're really pulling, you know, forces in the same direction.

John Jantsch (05:18): So you, it's in the subtitle and you use it throughout the book. Um, talk about creativity, um, and kind of new thinking on the role of creativity even. Um, and I, and I do suspect there are some people that think, well, creativity, that's like the art department or that's, uh, you know, branding or, you know, that's, that's how we, you know, create some slogan or jingle. Um, but you're really applying it in a whole different way, aren't you?

Mark Shekter (05:44): We are. I mean, it's, so, it's, it's, it's a basic, a basic capacity. Everybody has it. You, you know, the way you've created your business, you, you bake a cake, you build a business, you're, you're still using that idea of a into a something. It wasn't there before. And now it is. So if we can focus on, on innate ability and, and help somebody unlock it, and then give them a tool to execute that particular problem combined with that energy, that creative energy, it's quite remarkable to watch. And it serves them in ways that they hadn't thought about, rather than diving into, uh, how do we fix this particular problem? So it's application for business and careers, you're saying, and others is really opened up. Uh, it does offer a, a more, uh, abrasive way to look at creativity. It's not just for artists. And, and you raise a real interesting point too, cuz we bring the business of art to artists and the art of business to business. And people think, I'm not, I don't have it. I I'm not born with that. I'm sure you ran into your lap, you know, John, stay with what you're doing or whatever. And you said, no, no, I see something else. I I I have something else in mind. And the creative capacity is inherent in everybody. And they can, they can do whatever they want if they realize that they can. Well, how do you open that up? How do you open those channels up?

John Jantsch (07:03): Yeah. Well, and I, I do think that, um, and there are others that are certainly on this bandwagon about, but I do think we have to redefine certainly in business what creativity is. Uh, I mean, I think, I think making a decision , um, you know, between path A or path B is a creative process, but, but so many people, you know, look at that as now that strategy or that strategic thinking. But you know, every, almost everything we do in business takes some sort of element of creativity, doesn't it?

Mark Shekter (07:31): Absolutely. But it's a question again of where do you start on that process? Yeah. And you know this very well from your work. When a person, this was the research, this was kind of the thing that opened it up for me. When a person taps into what they really meant to do, what they have actually examined their inner talents, their abilities, innately, it does turn on the juices creatively. It's fascinating to watch because if they aren't focused on something that is meaningful to them, they think less about it. They, they don't seem to draw all their experience together to focus on a solution. So that creative energy, um, is sort of ignited when starting with just understanding what they're really about and what their worth might be. And that's a, a very personal process which is addressed in the eight steps, actually, the step number one.

(08:22): Um, but it is, it is basic to all, by the way, definition we use of creativity in business, but in life and career is . And you'll love this cuz it comes from learning, you know, in Hollywood ideas abound, uh, an idea fully executed. Mm-hmm. Just get it done. And that's genius to me. Anybody has an idea and they go, you know, I think I'd like to do this and that. And I go, well, here you go. Here you go. And they go, did it. Yeah. I just, hats off. I'm an admiration of that process.

John Jantsch (08:52): But that's the, that's a great definition too, because mean the graphic designer can say, well that's really what I'm doing with the logo , right. Is I'm, you know, fully executing an idea. So I mean, it, it certainly applies to the more traditional creative arts as well. So let's, let's get into the eight steps. And you, you hinted at the first one being purpose. Now I have to, um, I have to challenge you on this one only because, um, you know, every business book you pick up today says . Absolutely. You've gotta find your purpose. And I don't know anybody who really has, actually no, I shouldn't say that. That's a very tough step for people because they sit around a room and say, what's our purpose? Okay. Is everybody agree on those eight words? Good

Mark Shekter (09:31): ? Well, it is the question and yeah, how many, you know, we go on site and you type in purpose, of course you get this millions of, the way we define it, uh, is really an impassioned reason, impassioned reason for wanting to create something. We keep it very simple, but we also make a distinction between a product purpose or product y and a personal why. Oftentimes, uh, people will jump in and go, well I wanna create this, uh, toothpaste because it whitens teeth. And we come back and go, why are you into the teeth whitening business at all? And it's fascinating when we sit down with a group of executives and we say, what's the purpose of your business? And they'll say, um, I want to build a car. I wanna build a really good car. I wanna build a family car. I wanna build an inexpensive sports utility car.

(10:22): We have never had the same answer just asking that question from an executive team. But that's just the beginning because behind their choices to be in that business, in that place at that time, they're coming from life and experience and something that if you can tap into the real motivation behind their work, you know this so well, something happens and then when that thing happens, it is beyond the purposefulness of the tool or the item or the service or the consulting. It's something that is meaningful to them. And I think the biggest thing we find, cuz our work has also been adopted into business schools where people have never asked themselves, I'm chasing an opportunity, but is it, does it matter to me? Is it meaningful? Mm-hmm. And they've never, they don't seem to get access or nobody ever asked them why they're into accounting or doctoring other than I wanna help people. But that's a very general statement. It's steeper than that. We,

John Jantsch (11:16): I I was gonna say is what the interesting thing about that is a lot of people would just tell you, I don't know. I mean it's like, this is what presented itself when I was in school, and so it seemed like a path and I did this and 30 years later, I don't know why I'm doing this.

Mark Shekter (11:32): Well, what we'd have them do in the process is we're very tactile. Yeah. Uh, while we have a platform digitally doing this, we also on site have them actually write down without overthinking the things that come to mind. Yeah. And there's a whole process that we employ that I developed with my wife, Nancy Kin, who co-developed old program, and they put it down, put it down, and the things that come out are the craziest and wonderful things. Sure. And there it is, but it's, it's, it is the process we take them through. Your, your question is absolutely dead on. I don't know. I don't know, but you know what, it's buried and we can go back and tap in and we find it, we always find it, but it can be very buried or somebody said, that's silly or get real. You know, you know what that, that's like be real. You honestly not now, not time. It's the world isn't ready for you and you're going, I gotta follow this thing. Yeah. So, uh, it's there to be found and, and we've been very fortunate to be able to actually unlock it.

John Jantsch (12:33): And I think one of the great things about a process like this that is very structured too, is, you know, I, I think the real challenge, especially for like business owners is we sometimes just don't give ourselves the space or permission to have these thoughts. Uh, you know, because nobody asked us. They're asking us like, how do we get the order out the door ?

Mark Shekter (12:50): Exactly. Well, yeah. One of the interviews that you held and so on, I thought the questions were really wonderful, Nemo and so forth, any of us asking and trying to understand your past. And when you start to answer the question, if I read about you and didn't understand that part, I would've missed the whole part. Yeah. Because what was coming out was your journey and your passion and what made you just stick with it. Uh, there are people that come to us that have done everything. I mean, you know, all of the major consultancies and so on, they've been through it all and they go, I don't know, you know, we've got the bottom end. We seem to kind of understand systems operations, but something isn't turning over. We have a mission statement, we have a, you know, these various things mandates. And I go, do you love it? Do you just love it? And they go, nah, . Uh, and uh, and we learned this again coming from, uh, Hollywood background stuff. You pitch an idea to somebody and they'll go, this is really great. I'll get back to you . And if you have the confront, you go, you don't love it. You really don't love it, do you? No. No. I think it has real. No, no. Honestly, if you loved it, you'd be screaming up this chain and so on. And so you see the

John Jantsch (13:58): Tip. Get, get get me Matt Damon on the phone, right? .

Mark Shekter (14:01): Exactly. Precisely. I've had people chase me down the hallways to close a deal that I pitched as opposed to, this is really interesting, mark, thank you so much. You know, we really appreciate your time. And you go, it's a no, you know, just let's just deal with it what it is. That's not to my mind. You know where we're going for, we're going for that really intense, passionate purpose, but it is findable. Everybody carries it. Everybody.

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(16:19): So as we've mentioned numerous times or eight steps, I'm a little disappointed you couldn't come up with an acronym. Um, you know, that seems to be the the thing to do in, in, uh, consulting to call it something. Um, but you know, then you're like twisting words to make 'em fit into plus plus an eight letter Scrabble word. I mean that, that'd be a tough one anyway, wouldn't it? ?

Mark Shekter (16:39): Well, what's happened in business is it's become a verb. Yeah. Literally, I've been in meetings and they go, we did a think eight on it. A noun in a verb. We think aid it. You gotta think aid it, it is, you know, looking for those words. Duct tape by the way. Brilliant. Looking for that. And who is you? So I couldn't give duct tape eight didn't go there. . Right? . But, but I went, um, well what is it about it? And it is different way of thinking about things. It is the new thing and the work we do, and then the training we give to executives and so on, we talk about new think and all things. The old thing being the more conventional be real type of thing and the new things in terms of just going for it and out of a passion and a desire to do something significant, you know, so we just stuck with think and eight were the eight steps. So, you know, it, it just, it went together and that's how it's growing. You know, you sort of hit it and people just use it and use it and use it. But we're delighted. Of

John Jantsch (17:30): Course. So, so I'll run through, uh, quickly, purpose, message tone, character content, structure, style impact are the eight. Um, obviously pick up the book because that's where you're gonna get the full description. I wanna focus on number four for a minute, uh, character and you define as the company's core values and beliefs. Do I, again, I don't think anybody would argue that that's an important step. That's another one people really struggle with. Uh, you know, it's like, these sound good , these should be our beliefs, right? . But I think another challenge that I, that I see a lot is, you know, the founder has beliefs. That's not necessarily everybody who's drawn to the visions beliefs. It's not the stakeholders, the shareholders, it's not the customer's beliefs necessarily. How do you balance kind of the, the fact that you almost need multiple, I don't wanna say multiple beliefs, but you, you, you're providing value to multiple audiences in different ways. How do you kinda rectify that?

Mark Shekter (18:27): Well, first thing to understand, and it's new obviously, uh, for you in terms of your acquaintance, but those eight steps form a scale, a sequence from top to bottom. So by the time we get to character, we have examined purposefulness. They're, uh, level of commitment, but basically what they stand for, what they're trying to tell their public, the way they're emotional engagement, which is the tone when we get down to character. And, and keep in mind by the way, it might be for an individual we're doing this, but for a group, they're all putting their thoughts and ideas and they find something that holds it a piece of everything that they're talking about. So consensus is really fundamental to the process and alignment. And so when the executive senior management have all contributed, sort of democratize that process, rather than having it given to them by a branding company or a PR company, yeah.

(19:17): They've worked it out and they're saying yes, that, that, that's a piece of it. Yes, yes, yes. And they have that agreement and it is possible to get it. We do it. Then when they hit character, this is the support, the foundation where they go, well you've been talking about cars, but what do you feel about automobiles? What do you feel about, you know, EVs, what do you feel about the economy, the worldview? How do you feel about money? How do you feel about helping people? Social responsibility? Mm-hmm. , what happens is you start to get into the heart and soul of the business. And it's quite interesting. Everybody carries this, but they don't really, like you said, they don't have the forum to express it. We give them the forum when all of that's in place. Those top four are really about them. The bottom four get into the more traditional product structure.

(20:04): That's the content and the structure. But again, that sequence really makes it possible. So it doesn't become the, the, the conclusion isn't, we have a mandate, we're gonna do the cheapest and the best for the maximum amount of people and da da da da da da. Nobody loves that. We've been in meetings, I'm sure you've seen them, where they're sitting there in the middle of the meeting, another memo comes out and it's another mission statement, . And they look at each other and we've had it happen in Europe. We were right in the middle of it. They go, what's that? And they all gathered around and said, oh, oh boy. And they closed the computer. And person aside, there's nothing motivational. Now, when the management knows who they are, to your point about how to respect stakeholders and, and lower management and those on the floor, they the vision of a business and there's something they can decide to roll with it, or they disagree, they can leave. Honestly, they can, but their stakeholders, they feel the energy. PR companies, ad companies can work with it because the brief is clear and there's a commitment, there's an authenticity. So character, transparency, authenticity are synonymous.

John Jantsch (21:09): So you finish up the steps with impact. Um, and I think that, um, it's interesting. There are a lot of people that maybe they go into business thinking impact, but at some point they wanna make impact. And I, and I think this is a little bit, um, if we're gonna be cliche and use the sort of the Maslow's hierarchy, right? Right. I mean, you're never gonna achieve impact without the other stuff. Are you? I mean, the other steps have to, you can't just say, I wanna make this impact and here's how I'm gonna do it. It's like you gotta get, you know, the, you can't transcend , you know, without having, you know, food and water. Right,

Mark Shekter (21:41): Exactly. But in your case, okay, coming back to you, do you recall a moment when you saw the totality of where you're going? Like when you said, I'm doing this, but I think I can do, and actually opened up, you hadn't, you hadn't arrived yet, but you saw where it could go. Did did you have that kind of a moment? Do you know what I'm talking about?

John Jantsch (22:03): Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, I can, I don't know that I've arrived yet. Uh, but I would say that, um, um, you know, when I started seeing the impact that some of my writing was having on people, so it weren't people that I wasn't meeting had never met, you know, and their writing to me saying, you know, my business is what it is today. You know, because of some words on paper, um, that if nothing else to me really drove home the point of look at this sort of permanent impact you're having.

Mark Shekter (22:32): Right. But even in the present, even though you haven't arrived at it, if you took the time, and I'm sure you, you, you, you're a thoughtful person. So if you look at where you would like to go, the reason I ask is that when we sit down with executives, when they hit that spot mm-hmm. or an individual or an entrepreneur, I just don't wanna limit it to executives. It's like you say career and people in life and whatever, they have a tough time with that question because they tend to minimize mm-hmm. their dream. They'll literally start with, there's a wonderful purpose. And they get down to the impact and you'll go, well, what do you think? And they're going, well, I'd be happy if, and then I've seen the crossfire going, what do you mean you want this? Why don't we 10 x that?

(23:13): Well, I don't, you know, let's go step by step, but what are you dreaming? What are you dreaming? So the impact is really a statement, the way we approach it of an ideal scene, the ultimate result of all of their efforts. What do they wish it to be? And if they wish it, they can make it. So, but they tend to shy away from the wishing it's surprising. It's really, but if they do it and they actually have to be coaxed into this, it's quite a music we find. And then suddenly they go, yeah. And then suddenly everything kind of shifts in that company and the systems change and the com communication changes cuz they're all going for it. Yeah. It's not dreaming. It's actually the last point of having worked through all of that. So it's hard to jump to that without, again, that sequence. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

John Jantsch (23:59): Yeah. It's, I i I think a lot of times when, you know, people might think of it as a dream, you know, what they're, what they're really doing is just being very intentional, um, absolutely. About where they're going. So. Absolutely. So, um, mark, you wanna tell people where I appreciate you something by the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. You wanna tell people where, uh, where they can connect with you, find out malware about your work, and obviously pick up a copy of Think8.

Mark Shekter (24:23): Well obviously the website, uh,, um, Amazon, the book is there, and on the 24th of May, um, the soft cover comes out. We have that digital download right now, the Kindle version. And uh, you know, I thank you for the opportunity, John. Um, as I said, you know, and have been through processes and I know you love processes and you know, when people, uh, talk to me about process and they go, how can creativity be a process? And I explain everybody has one. They may not articulate it, maybe in the shower, three cups of coffee, but they have their process. Yeah,

John Jantsch (25:00): Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Awesome. Well, thanks so much again for, uh, stopping by and, uh, hopefully we'll run at, into in the road or in Montreal one of these days.

Mark Shekter (25:09): , it'd be a pleasure. Thank you.

John Jantsch (25:11): Hey, and one final thing before you go. You know how I talk about marketing strategy, strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it can be hard to understand where you stand in that, what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we created a free tool for you. It's called the Marketing Strategy Assessment. You can find it,, dot co. Check out our free marketing assessment and learn where you are with your strategy today. That's just marketing I'd love to chat with you about the results that you get.

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network.

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