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Doug Shaw’s session on the “Art And Soul Of Work” was probably my most pleasant surprise of Summer Brand Camp. I have incredibly high expectations for the content at Brand Camp because it always blows me away. However, I’m not really an “artsy-feely” kind of girl, so there was a cynical part of me thinking, “I’m not creative. Art doesn’t really have anything to do with my job. I’ll just Tweet a few things from the back of the room.” But then, there were crayons and colored pencils on the tables…

I’m not an artsy person, but any items even slightly resembling school supplies trigger an almost Pavlovian response of “first day of school” excitement. Remember that feeling? Your pencils, notebooks and crayons were all fresh; your classroom felt inspiring and interesting… Needless to say, I was intrigued enough to take a seat at the table. So much for lurking around in the back.

IMG_2638I’m still not sure how Doug read my mind, but in the first 5 minutes of his presentation, he addressed all of my cynical reservations and told us to suspend judgment for a while. Even if we think we’re not creative or that art doesn’t really come into our work, we might be surprised. And he said this all in his delightful British accent, so obviously we were obliged to tune in and suspend judgment.

Then Doug told us that we are all artists. I’m not exaggerating when I say at least two-thirds of the room leaned over to their neighbor and whispered, “Not me. I’m a terrible artist.” Why did we do that? We just said we would suspend judgment, but the second we had a chance to discredit ourselves, so many of us did. Doug shared a fact from Dr. Brené Brown – when speaking with 13,000 people, 11,000 of them went through a shameful experience in their education that impacted how they learned. Out of those 11,000, more than half of those experiences were related to creativity. So somewhere along the way, we were judged or told that our “art” wasn’t good enough.

Artistic work is important, and we are all artists. Doug said that all of us can draw. If you can put a pencil to paper, you can draw; it’s as simple as that. There were more than a few hesitant glances as he instructed us to take a piece of paper and draw anything, but all we were aiming for was the trash bin. The only thing he wanted us to do with that drawing was to crumple it up and throw it away. This was an eye opening experience because all too often we approach things with an all or nothing mindset.

IMG_2653The next hour whirled by with a series of lessons about how art and creativity need to be fostered in order to maximize your productivity and potential at work. I’ve already put several of Doug’s suggestions into practice. If I need to brainstorm or organize some ideas, I use colored pens and pencils on a sketchpad to write it out. If I need to determine the best way to outline a process or presentation, I write out each item on a post-it note, stick them all to my wall and move them around until I’m satisfied. While I initially thought that these things would take more time, I’ve found that it’s actually quite efficient. More importantly, it brings elements of fun into my work. I look forward to taking myself away from the screen for a moment and using colors and creativity to shape the way I work. Thank you, Doug, for literally bringing art and soul into my life.

Read more about Doug Shaw’s pre-conference session in Liz D’Aloia’s recap

*The images above are just a few of the ways Jessica has incorporated art into her daily work!