Constraint Breeds Creativity

As I write tonight, I am looking out at the majestic Potomac River on a beautiful sunny evening in National Harbor, Md. It has been a packed day at the American Marketing Association’s Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Ed. I have learned a lot but perhaps the best lesson from today came from the morning’s keynote speaker/bestselling author Andrew Davis.

As I write this, I am looking out my hotel window at the Potomac River.

Perhaps his message resonated with me so much because it doesn’t have to be marketing-specific. Trust me, I am a marketing nerd who enjoys concepts that only people in my field would find remotely interesting. But I also appreciate marketing principles that transcend concepts such as ROI, KPI, and CPC. Truthfully, I have a soft spot for marketing lessons that can be applied to everyday life.

Andrew Davis is brilliant! (photo is courtesy of his Twitter account….@DrewDavisIsHere)

Today, Andrew Davis introduced the Cube of Creativity. Its overlying message was that constraint breeds creativity. In a marketing industry and in a society where unlimited budgets, excess, bells and whistles, complexities, and add-ons run supreme, his message was different…but refreshing.

Davis’ Cube of Creativity was born out of the pandemic but its components might be even more necessary in present day. Whether you want to run a marketing campaign, throw a party, get in shape, beautify your lawn, or start a podcast, his four-step model can help you. It’s tenets are…

1. Stop all non-critical work activities – Eliminate the unnecessary
2. Define the outcome – Which single result defines success?
3. Limit the options – What unreasonable limitations can we apply to whatever project we are working on?
4. Raise the stakes – What will happen if we do not achieve the outcome?

A photo I took this morning of Andrew Davis entering his physical Cube of Creativity.

These four components are meant to cut down on waste and lead to activation. You want to get in shape? Who says you need a year to do it at a fancy gym? Couldn’t you set parameters based on a 6-week program that you do at your home?

Or who says you need to plan out a whole year of content for a podcast and meticulously shop around for the best podcasting platform before you begin? Couldn’t you, um, just give it a shot?

And do you really need a couple weeks to prep and prepare for a dinner party with your neighbors? Couldn’t you just send them an invite on Thursday and host them on Friday?

In life, long-term planning is necessary. However, what if we don’t have the luxury of time? Do we just throw in the towel? No. As Andrew suggests, you might have to kill a couple of current projects if it means achieving the objective that is currently most important. We can’t let our “business as usual” routines prevent us from achieving crucial goals.

Thanks to AMA for inviting Andrew Davis to this year’s symposium. His advice can be practiced both within our jobs and outside of the office. Don’t Blink.

Here I Come, 2022 AMA Symposium!

I am off to the East Coast! Today I am traveling to National Harbor, Md., an area about 15 minutes from Washington D.C. However, the purpose of my cross-country trek isn’t to sightsee in our nation’s capital. Rather, this is all about business.

Over the next couple of days, I will be attending the American Marketing Association’s Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Ed (longer names just sound more important, right?). This truly is the premier conference for higher education marketers and I am psyched to return after a three-year hiatus.

I attended and presented at the 2019 AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Ed. I am excited to do the same at the 2022 version.

But I guess I should add that I am just not merely attending the AMA Symposium, I will be presenting at it as well. On Tuesday, I will be sharing the Gaylord National Resort stage with Victoria “V.” Mendoza and Andy Thompson, my much-esteemed Pac-12 counterparts from USC and the University of Utah, respectively. We will present on TikTok and I will focus primarily on the paid advertising capabilities of the platform. Joining us for our presentation and bringing an extra layer of firepower will be Katie Camacho Smith, who leads TikTok’s higher education outreach.

I am speaking at the AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Ed. Honored to share the stage with Victoria Mendoza, Andy Thompson, and Katie Camacho Smith.

The magnitude of this opportunity is not lost on me. To present with my talented colleagues in front of the best marketers in higher ed on a sizzling hot topic is a dream come true. The fact that it is taking place in a beautiful facility only a stone’s throw from our nation’s capital only adds allure. Pressure? Nerves? Sure, there is some of that…but hopefully it will just help me rise to the occasion.

The Gaylord National Resort will be the hotbed for higher ed marketing over the course of the next few days. Honored to have the chance to present within these walls.

I look forward to the next couple days of learning and professional development. I am grateful to Washington State University for the opportunity to attend and present. I also extend my gratitude to the American Marketing Association for facilitating this forum for higher ed marketers to assemble and grow. Special shout out to my co-presenters—Victoria, Andy, and Katie—we have been working hard at this for a few months now. Alright everyone, not much left to say but let’s go! My plane is heading toward Regan International and I can’t wait to touchdown in D.C. Don’t Blink.