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Green Imagination: Creativity as a Commodity

The following is an excerpt from the book What Color Is Your Imagination? (WCIYI). WCIYI uses color symbolism to describe the various creative environments and problem-solving strategies we use in our personal and professional lives.

Green Imagination is an environment where creativity is seen as a commodity and therefore is impacted by personal motivations and incentives. It is

impacted by lack of faith in one’s own or others’ abilities. Low self-esteem, fear of failure, procrastination, nervousness, lack of time can all impact creativity. It is also negatively impacted by many of the “isms” of life: sexism, racism, classism, ageism, et cetera.

Robert Kiyosaki, author of the Rich Dad, Poor Dad series has purported that “[c]ommodities such as gold and silver have a world market that transcends national borders, politics, religions, and race. A person may not like someone else’s religion, but he’ll accept his gold.” This may be the case for commodities like gold and silver, but for those who see creativity as a commodity, acceptance of innovative ideas is very much influenced by the origins of that creativity.

We see this in so many environments – from the sciences to business and politics, to even within our own families and communities. We reject ideas based on who comes up with them, not based on their merits. We often reject ideas that might significantly change our lives for the better, simply because of who originated them.

I’m reminded of an episode from the television show Mad Men in which a company chose not to increase their sales because of the population from which those sales would come.

The character of Pete Campbell, an executive within the fictional advertising firm of Sterling Cooper, was pitching to a television set company on how they could increase their sales. Based on his market research, the Negro market (as African Americans were called during the period of the 60s when the show was set) was one of its more promising and most loyal markets. The character Pete suggested that if the company increased its advertising to the Negro market, they would see an exponential increase in their sales relative to the investment.

Despite the clear and rational argument and despite the potential increase in profits, the television company executives were incensed by the suggestion and were defiant in their resolve not to market to the Negro community.

While this is a fictional account, this was a regular occurrence in the 1960s and continues to happen today. Most reasonable, rational people who seek to be successful in their business would agree: more sales equals more profit. Therefore, if one has the potential to increase sales to a particular market, one should further cultivate and court that market. Unless there is a legal or moral reason why a business should not sell to a population – think cigarettes and alcohol to children -- it should do that which will increase its sales and, by extension, its profits and success.

Just as this fictional company rejected the idea to increase sales based on bias against the African-American demographic, many organizations erroneously reject new ideas because they come from a less esteemed team member.

The above is an excerpt from the “Green Imagination” chapter of the book What Color Is Your Imagination? © It is the first of three books by Nadine Owens Burton based on her proprietary quality improvement themes.

Nadine Owens Burton has been a teacher, a university administrator, a non-profit board member, a director of a school readiness program and a Mompreneur. She is the founder and president of Owens Burton Consulting, a quality improvement training and speaking services company. Her book, What Color Is Your Imagination? © is available at Amazon, Bookbaby, Barnes and Noble and other booksellers. It is the first of three planned books based on her proprietary workshops and keynotes. The next in the series will be The Power of CARE™ followed by The Promising Professional™.


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