Tuesday, May 26, 2015


By: Jennifer Quarrie
Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.
- Rumi
 Spring is in the air!  Tis the season of creativity!  While creative thinking is an everyday affair, springtime boasts many of the worlds top creativity conferences.  The creative community is abuzz with events that are blooming with new ideas, and people turning over new leaves. 

What is it that makes creativity conferences especially vibrant?  It could be the extensive cross-pollination of domains, or the way that creative problem solving produces such impactful results in a brief time.  Yet from my recent experience at CREA in beautiful Sestri Levante, Italy, it largely stemmed from the way the conference was created.  Participants were not simply invited to attend and listen, but to bring their most valuable experiences forward to apply and share.  Participants joined with facilitators to combine compelling concepts with galvanizing experiences in ways specifically intended to break open their minds to think in entirely new ways. 

It takes a special climate and set of conference-goers for such groundbreaking work to occur, but when it does, they create a type of conference that lasts well beyond those five days on the Riviera.  This type of conference sows creative seeds that continue to bloom for years to come.  Looking to experience just such an event?  Here are five ways you can create a conference that will break your mind.

Set Intentions
Why attend a creativity conference?  There are hundreds of reasons under the sun, from absorbing new thinking skills, to solving a tough problem, to making connections.  No matter what it is, the intention you set will gear your experience.  Be courageous.  Look to find what you need.  The more you invest, the more you and your fellow participants will get out of it.

Connect Beyond Networking
A creativity conference is truly a meeting of the minds.  The experience begins with the beauty of assemblage; new colleagues from across the globe mix and build connections with wildly different backgrounds, yet amazingly similar passions.  By the end of a few days, participants have witnessed personal growth in one another that exceeds what most see in work colleagues over the span of twenty years.  Those in and of themselves are rare and valuable connections.

Learn Beyond Limits
 On top of those dopamine blasts you will get from absorbing blazing new concepts, there is far more opportunity for learning.  Inherent to the topic of creativity, you will likely swim in a metacognitive state much of the day.  Yet beyond thinking about concepts and thinking about thinking, you will escape the cognitive realm altogether.  It is the same science that brought foosball tables into Google: kinesthetics and play are incredible pathways to learning and creativity.  The added bonus?  You may learn a lot about yourself in the process.

Break Your Mind

Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties. - Erich Fromm

While certainties make very efficient operating guidelines, they can also act as unnecessary limitations.  To see or create things in a novel way depends upon breaking down barriers that may prevent insight.  Bringing in the new often requires letting go of the old when it is no longer helpful, and that takes courage.  Once you experience the freedom and creativity that can stem from letting go, approaching life in a way that deliberately seeks new mind-shattering viewpoints is the next step.  This is an incredible way to live and the perfect mindset to get the most out of a creativity conference.

Become Yourself
When do you most deeply feel like yourself?  Chances are its not when you are sitting at the office
or picking up groceries.  At a basic level, attending a conference helps you to passively escape the weight of the daily grind.  Attending a creativity conference invites you to actively engage and share your viewpoints in ways that help you realize, express and be accepted for who you are.  As a result, it becomes easier to live mindfully and behave ways that are authentic to yourself.

The age of unprecedented digital connection has made in-person conferences that much more valuable.  Global resources are at your fingertips to build a personalized path toward finding your tribe and actualizing yourself along the way.  Looking for your next big step?  There are a few more creativity conferences coming up in June and August Creativity Experts Exchange (CEE), CreativityProblem Solving Institute (CPSI), and Mindcamp.  Take a chance and create true conference through creativity.  And while youre at it, maybe youll be lucky enough to break your mind.

 Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever you go, there you are: Mindfulness meditation in everyday life. New York, NY: Hyperion.
Meier, D. (2000). The accelerated learning handbook. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Puccio, G. J., Mance, M., & Murdock, M. C. (2011). Creative leadership: Skills that drive change (2nd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Bio: Jennifer Quarrie is a dynamic innovation strategist and creativity expert with a visionary outlook and a knack for metacognition, facilitation and listening. With a BA in Cognitive Science from the University of Virginia and an MSc in Creative Studies from the International Center for Studies in Creativity (ICSC) at SUNY Buffalo State, she incorporates budding areas of mind and creativity research into all of her work. As a leader and speaker she inspires wellness, fosters transformation and emboldens self-actualization.