Seven C’s Lightening Round with Ivy Ross


One of our traditions on The Stories of Creative Leadership Podcast is to invite our guests to offer a pithy quote about each of the Seven C’s of Creative Leadership. In the season one finale, Google’s Ivy Ross served up a bunch of wisdom and inspiration in her lightening round. Enjoy!

Communication: “The glue that holds ideas together.”

Curiosity: “Asking the “What if?” question or, “But why?” and “How did things work?”

Creativity: “Seeing things beyond what they appear to be and being free to make new connections.”

Connecting: “I think that’s how the brain makes new ideas, so it is imperative.”

Culture: “Be immersed in it and be the observer of it at the same time.”

Change: “Or die. I think the only thing guaranteed is that things will never stay the same. There used to be an invention every ten years, now it’s every ten seconds.”

Courage: “Nothing new will ever come about if you don’t have it.”

Listen to the entire conversation with Ivy.

We hope you’ll join us on The Stories of Creative Leadership–a podcast series devoted to uncovering the leadership attributes and behaviors required to lead innovation and change. You can follow the series HERE.


The Tension Between Here and There

By Tony Vengrove

Railroad  track points

Leadership is courage. To lead is to feel comfortable providing direction and marching forward without knowing exactly where things will wind up—all while reporting into superiors who want to know precisely where everything is going at every moment. The pressure is even more imposing when there’s a requirement to produce something new and novel. An objective and deadline are assigned, now it’s time to step up and knock the ball out of the park. A battle ensues for our mind’s attention: are we to focus on the present moment or worry about future outcomes?

 “Nothing in the affairs of men is worthy of great anxiety.” — Plato

This tension between here and there has the power to paralyze; it’s like being stuck in a tar pit. Many choose the path of worry and procrastination until there’s no other option but to become present at the eleventh hour and frantically do whatever it takes to deliver—even if that means pulling the proverbial all-nighter.

 “The foundation for creation is alignment with life—presence.” – Eckhardt Tole

The sensible solution, of course, is to embrace the here and now long before time constraints force us into a creative sprint. The first step is to relinquish the future as a psychological concept. By doing so, we prevent the ego from conjuring up fear and other toxic emotions associated with its illusory predictions. When we’re aligned with the present moment, we open ourselves to the inspiration of our environment, our experiences, and we can access our creative chi.

“I always thought that inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work. You sign onto a process and see where it takes you.” – Chuck Close

When we create with mindfulness and without melodrama, we enter the realm of play. We relax the inner-judge and start—then see where it all goes. We embrace improvisation; a spark of a concept presents itself and we attempt to fan it into flame. Like a child, if there’s no flame, we happily move on to the next spark that arouses our curiosity.

When we’re one with creation, we give our ideas the mindfulness they deserve. So lock your inner-judge in a closet and throw away the key! Don’t allow concern or criticism to enter the conscious mind; the ego will gladly take charge and rue the day.

Be cautious of self-censorship. The only time to properly assess the utility of an idea is after it’s been given a chance to sprout and take hold. Be careful not to kill ideas that are still stuck in your head. Better to get them out of the mind and onto paper where others can take a look and help polish into diamonds.

 “You can’t connect different things together if what you’re seeing is always the same. The gap between what you already know and what you’re exploring is often where the best ideas pop up.” – John Hunt

Play is improvisational exploration—a journey of sorts. If we continue to play with the same game pieces or on the same playing field over and over again, we’ll quickly lose interest. Sameness is rarely a friend of creative thinking. So, if we’re trying to get someplace new, we’d better explore the areas we’re least familiar with. By embracing the unknown we’ll unleash our curiosity, which will inevitably ignite a flurry of ideas.

When we focus on here versus there, we free ourselves from the mental gridlock that shackles our creative genius. When we embrace presence from the get-go, we reward ourselves with precious time to explore and create, which means we’ll ultimately generate an array of ideas to choose from. And, we’ll have the time we need to pause, reflect, and refine our ideas so they can reveal their fullest potential.

A sprinter may keep her eyes on the finish line, but flows in the presence of each stride. She lets go of nervousness; she stops fretting about the result awaiting her at the finish line so that she can focus on executing her movements with seamless perfection. The only way one can enter the zone is to let go of there and focus our attention here.

 “To be fully free to create, we must first find the courage and willingness to let go:

Let go of the strategies that have worked for us in the past…

Let go of our biases, the foundation of our illusions…

Let go of our grievances, the root source of our victimhood…

Let go of our so-often-denied fear of being found unlovable.

If you stop letting go, your creative spirit will pass out.” – Gordon MacKenzie


When you feel the tension between here and there, become aware of how you’re feeling. Acknowledge it for a moment, and then move on. Take a breath, let go of your anxiety (for it’s only an emotion created by the mind), and soar!

Miles Finch Innovation helps companies navigate the messy territory of corporate innovation. We’re strategic thinking partners who can help you get unstuck and identify creative solutions to your toughest challenges. We also love to train and speak on the subject of Creative Leadership. Email us or call us at 860-799-7505 to learn how we can help you you unlock the creative potential of your employees.

Related Posts:


Know Precedes No

On Curiosity


Gordon MacKenzie On Courage

© 2015 Miles Finch Innovation

“Ah! Courage, courage, courage. Courage to cross boundaries. Courage to admit idiocy. Courage to acknowledge impasse. Courage to open up to being rescued. We need much courage if we are to respond successfully to the consequences of exploring beyond authorities’ sometimes-beneficial, sometimes-detrimental boundaries. And, if we are to grow, explore we must.”

~ Gordon MacKenzie, Orbiting the Giant Hairball

The Stories of Creative Leadership: Mark Fernandes

By Tony Vengrove


Welcome to the Season Two premiere of The Stories of Creative Leadership on the IntrepidNow network! We’re coming out of the gate strong with our first guest of 2015: Mark Fernandes, Chief Leadership Officer at Luck Companies.

In the discussion, we discuss their framework for Values Based Leadership and the journey Luck Companies took to embrace and demonstrate their core values. Some highlights from the conversation include:

  • Why Values Based Leadership requires vigilance, intention, and purpose.
  • How Luck Companies unearthed creativity as a value and how they fostered creative thinking in an aggregates business. If they can do it, why can’t everyone do it?
  • Companies need both a business plan and a culture plan. At Luck Companies, their culture plan is larger than their business plan!
  • The day their engagement survey results come in is treated as the biggest day of the year.
  • On culture and leaders modeling the way: “People are professional boss watchers; the culture will be the shadows of leaders.”
  • Mark’s advice about caring for employees: 1) Love your associates to death, 2) give them something to believe in, and 3) Obsess about them becoming everything they can be.
  • On courage: “If you lack it you’re going to walk the earth needing from others versus giving to others.”

Mark is an inspiring leader and speaker. I’m sure you’ll love this interview–be sure to have a pad and paper at your ready.

We have a lot more exciting guests coming down the pike. Our next episode will feature Lt. Col. Raphael Hernandes, the CMO of your United States Marine Corps.  You won’t want to miss it!

Be sure to bookmark our new series landing page so that you never miss an episode!

Founder, Miles Finch Innovation LLCMiles Finch Innovation helps companies navigate the messy territory of corporate innovation. We’re strategic thinking partners who can help you get unstuck and identify creative solutions to your toughest challenges. We also love to train and speak on the subject of Creative Leadership. Email us or call us at 860-799-7505 to learn how we can help you you unlock the creative potential of your employees.