November 1, 2022


I heard a quote recently that really resonated with me. “Creativity starts with an empty calendar and ends with a full one.”

With all the demands of work and life, it’s very easy to fill up every waking minute with focused and productive activities. I have also noticed over the course of my career that doing this is counterproductive over the long run.

There is no question that putting in maximum time and effort are very important… but a brute force approach misses something important. To solve complex problems and create value, we need to come up with new ideas. This is creativity, and it isn’t a function of more effort. It requires time and space.

There is no simple recipe for creativity, but certain things clearly help. A change of scenery, time for play, or time spent doing nothing all help me come back to work with some of my best ideas and most creative solutions.

It’s not hard to see how play and fun can lead to creativity. But the important part is to let your mind wander freely. Too much structure all the time keeps us in our same old patterns.

The ability to relax and improvise is incredibly valuable in business. No one is enthralled by a presentation where someone is reading the deck. It’s way more powerful to connect with your audience, and be confident going a little off script. This takes creativity… the kind that brute force approaches cannot achieve.

The same principle shows up in Alliance’s deals. Many times, we have taken on messy deals with issues that scared off most other investors. Our willingness to dig deep and be creative has enabled us to find great solutions that ended up delivering great returns for our investors.

This kind of creativity has to be cultivated. At Alliance, we need happy, healthy, and confident teammates… who come to work relaxed, refreshed, and full of ideas.

I have also been boosting my own creativity recently by seeking new relationships, and even mentors. My podcast and social life has introduced me to a lot of inspiring people whose different approaches to business and life have helped me see my own work with fresh eyes.

People aren’t machines, built to repeat the same thing again and again with maximum efficiency. We have tremendous capacity for creativity, if we choose to use it. In my view, finding new and better ways to do things is better than relying on brute–force. In the long run, making space for creativity is a great investment.

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