Thursday, September 21, 2017

Spotlight on CEE Presenter: Marci Segal

This year the United Nations declared April 21, World Creativity and Innovation Day (WCID) to direct global attention to use creativity in problem-solving to make the world a better place. I had the honor and privilege of interviewing Marci Segal, the founder of WCID, and World Creativity and Innovation Week (WCIW) which is April 15 – 21.
Marci is globally recognized for contributions to the fields of creativity and psychology, and for partnering with leaders and teams to achieve new results through her Passport to Innovation® program. Marci is a dynamic speaker, thoughtful writer, and masterful facilitator and coach. She holds a M.S. degree in Creativity and Change Leadership from SUNY College at Buffalo, International Center for Studies in Creativity (ICSC).
How did you hear about the Creativity program at Buffalo State?
In 1975 I took a one-year art fundamentals program at Sheridan College, Brampton, Ontario called CPS for the Visual Arts. I’ll never forget this. On the last day of class the teacher sat on her desk and said “I’m going to tell you about Buffalo”. She spoke about CPSI and said if we were interested in going it was going to cost us $250. My hand shot up straight. I didn’t care how much it cost. I learned about the program at CPSI.
I worked in civil service as a file clerk and I hated my job. After returning from CPSI I said “I’m going to Buffalo to study creativity and then coming back to help change civil service.” That was 1977. My family said “You’re going where to do what?”
What are some of the fond memories that you have from being at Buffalo State?
Ruth was amazing. She was “Mother Ruth”. A freshman suite-mate, who was a dancer, did this warm up exercise in our room. I told Ruth about it and she said “Why don’t you lead it here?” so I did. Ruth was our mentor. She opened many doors. I remember when she saw me she would say, “Here comes trouble. The status quo is about to shift. Some kind of change is going to take place.” I was forever challenging assumptions and asking questions. That hasn’t changed.
What’s the history behind WCID/WCIW?
May 25, 2001 I saw the headline, “Canada in Creativity Crisis” in one of Canada’s National Newspapers. My reaction was that there is plenty of creativity in Canada. People just don’t recognize it when they see it. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if people knew how to use their natural ability to generate new ideas, make new decisions, take new actions and achieve new outcomes?” WCID and WCIW were born that day.
What is your CEE Talk about?
A tiny idea is now on the world stage. The U.N. adopted a resolution for WCID to become one of their days of observance. The word creativity used to be taboo. UN Ambassador I. Rhonda King, Permanent Representative from St. Vincent and the Grenadines called for the use f critical thinking and creativity in problem solving to reach the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals because new thinking is warranted. She found the website while searching for information on creativity to further the UN platform.
Because the public says “I don’t know how to be creative” or “I’m not creative,” we in the creativity community have an opportunity to bridge the gap through stories for a new future. The public often also says there’s no time for creativity. Now there is a date, April 21.  It’s already celebrated in over 50 countries around the world.
What is your definition of creativity?
Even though the conversation about creativity is changing I find the word creativity stirs emotions as if it were taboo, so in the work place, I often don’t mention the word creativity. I talk about new ideas, new decisions, new actions and new outcomes. I let people know they don’t have to be creative to do creative things.
Ruth used to say “a true facilitator is a guide by the side, rather than a sage on the stage.” Everyone has the capacity to make new combinations. We are born from a creative act; we have the natural energy to nurture what is within us.
How would you describe what you do as creativity professional?
Have you seen the cartoon Sid used to use of the two bound prisoners behind bars with the caption “Now here’s my plan”?  I help people use their brain in new ways to tackle the challenges of today and tomorrow. I free people’s thinking so they can create new futures
Some of my favorite phrases are “New ideas need a soft place to land” and “creativity is like water it seeps in everywhere, let’s make space for it.”
Your website says “creativity is needed to help the transition from chaos to clarity”. What does that mean?
It’s about resilience. There is a definition of creativity that talks about our abilities to overcome self-imposed constraints, to go beyond feeling stuck to feeling free. Ruth talked about CPS as “channeled freedom”. Creativity involves using our minds in ways they haven’t been used before. The phrase “Wouldn’t it be nice if…” opens the heart and elevates the spirit.
What do want your legacy to be?
I hope Ruth would say that “I was a guide by the side”, that I mentored people and helped them grow using a facilitative framework or two, that I helped Ruth happen on a global level and that I helped bring the spirit and energies of Alex, Sid and Ruth to the new creativity conversation. Oh, and I think it’s neat to have a small idea born from passion, taken to the world level, and adopted by the United Nations.

The vision of the ICSC is “Igniting creativity around the world.” Marci Segal is doing the best she can to help set that world ablaze!

--> Spotlight Interview conducted by Latise Hairston. Dr. Hairston is the Founder and Chief Creative Officer of HOPE Consulting. She has held a position at the SUNY College at Buffalo for over 20 years collaborating with organizations to develop creative strategies and products that strengthen, energize and empower customers. Latise holds a M.S. in Counseling and a Ph.D. in Leadership and Policy (concentration in Organizational Development), as well as certifications as an International Coaching Federation coach and FourSight facilitator. She is currently completing a M.S. degree in Creativity and Change Leadership at the SUNY College at Buffalo.

1 comment:

Nellie Jacobs said...

Great questions and provocative answers. I often refer to Marci as a Creativity Guru. She certainly challenges thinking...