Fascinating: Sally Hogshead on Creativity and Career

What a way to spend part of my afternoon: by having an online chat with Sally Hogshead via Twitter. Sally is the author of Radical Careering and Fascinate, and she made her second HOW Design Conference appearance in Chicago last month. Sally’s full of inspiring ideas on how to pursue a meaningful design career that you love, how to work through the creative process, and how to tap into your own gifts to inspire and influence others. We covered all of that and more in an energetic hour-long conversation (search the #HOWLive hashtag on Twitter to see the whole stream, including some additional questions from the audience that are not included here). Here’s a recap:

Sally, for folks who might not know you, give a quick bio of who you are and what you do!

Since we all have a 9 second attention span, here is my bio: I help people and companies become more fascinating. I’m a keynote speaker, author of FASCINATE, and former creative director of agencies like CP+B. (Note: Catch a video of Sally’s speaking excellence here.)

Catch Design TV’s exclusive interview with Sally Hogshead, The Creative Process: 7 Triggers of Fascination.

You spoke at the HOW Design Conference several years ago, right? What’s new & exciting in your life since then?

In 2006 I’d just released my first book, “Radical Careering”—that speech was about the struggle of a well-lived and loved career.

I remember being inspired by the idea that a great career isn’t about the work itself, but about what YOU bring to the table.

In Radical Careering, I wrote a few things that have become my personal rallying cry—and here are a few favorites:

  • “Never allow the size of your mortgage to exceed the quality of your work.”
  • “Better to fail by going down in flames than by settling for mediocrity.”
  • “Being in a crap job isn’t your fault. Staying in a crap job is.” (this one is really hard.)

I dug so deep inside myself to create that book. I explored all that struggle of creative process, to apply it intelligently.

Tell us about your new book, Fascinate. What’s the Big Idea?

My book Fascinate is about the 7 hidden forces behind behavior: Passion, Power, Mystique, Prestige, Alarm, Rebellion, Trust. Here is my favorite part of Fascinate. I created a personality test, the F-Score, to launch the book. (Note: Take the test yourself and discover your own powers of persuasion.)

Well, the test turned out to be even more fun than the book. Now I love learning people’s personality, how they persuade and captivate.

It was craaaazy when we got the F-Score results from HOW Design Live audience before the speech. I had to run results twice! The audience was  43% Passion! Totally statistically improbable. But, it makes sense. People with Passion are intuitive, warm, expressive, intensely creative. The best is that the HOW audience’s main trigger combo was Passion/Rebellion.

Can I tell you why I love designers?

  • Designers defend the world against predictability, one idea at a time.
  • Designers lose sleep over whether to tweak a headline .002th of an inch.
  • Designers show us what matters.
  • Designers bring meaning to otherwise meaningless things.
  • Designers make the future more beautiful for my children.

So, speaking of designers: Let’s talk about the creative process. You give it 5 steps, right?

As I was working on the HOW Live keynote speech, I wanted something really special for creatives. Something I’d never done before. Here’s what I created just for HOW Live (catch Sally’s presentation on SlideShare here).

It’s the 5 emotional steps of the creative process, from Possibility to Agony to Epiphany. But mostly, the Agony, where ideas live.

Do creatives tend to spend too much time in the Possibility phase because it feels so damn good?

The Possibility phase is our playground. Epiphany is even better. But to get there, we have to go through Agony. (ugh)

Here is a photo of me while I was presenting this idea of “Throne of Agony” for the first time at HOW Live:

If we’re to get thru the Agony (not skip past it), how do we silence that evil inner critic long enough to move thru?

I hate that damn internal critic. It kills our creativity, our self-image, our hearts. But if we can trust the process, we triumph. I propose this to you: If you are not struggling in idea development, you aren’t going deep enough.

Would you tell about your own state of agony as you prepped for your HOW Design Live presentation?

This morning, as I was thinking about you all and this chat, I wanted to create a way to show you my 5 steps of the creative process. I wrote this post, about my own prep (and Agony) for the HOW Live keynote.

Question from the audience: So knowing our Fascinate triggers, how best to use them to our advantage? Mine are Passion/Rebellion.

Once you know your personality’s Fascination trigger, you can hone and apply it to captivate people for your work.

People with the PASSION trigger love group brainstorming, sharing their ideas, presenting, collaborating.

People with the REBELLION trigger are fiercely independent, entrepreneurial, innovative, daredevils, savvy, smartass. The Rebellion trigger is creativity. It’s stepping outside rules, deviating from tradition, experimenting.

People with MYSTIQUE are complex, understated, intelligent, deliberate, and focus on the craft. They hate drama, hate being in the middle, don’t want to see the sausage getting made. It’s too much.

People with the PRESTIGE trigger earn our respect by their higher standards. They want to improve, strive, reach higher. They’re very skilled at branding.

The POWER trigger is strength, authority, and clear vision. It’s not overpowering—it’s having a backbone. Power is the trigger that gets projects started and finished: goals, direction, influence, decisions

A trigger used very seldom among creatives is ALARM. That trigger is about sticking to a plan, following rules, avoiding problems.

The truth is: We are all fascinating. Each of us. But somewhere along the way, we were taught to dumb down our gifts.

Question from the audience: Those of us that fascinate with Prestige—does that also mean we are fascinated by Prestige?

People who fascinate with Prestige are fascinated by Prestige; however, they don’t usually like other Prestige types! Meaning, they like brands that use Prestige; however, they clash with others who also want to elevate standards. Too much mojo.

Sally, any parting words to share with everyone who’s following our conversation today?

I believe that passion is not a luxury in our careers. For creative people, it is an imperative.

A career worth loving is not an indulgence, a privilege, or a fluke. It’s a choice.

Passion is the ultimate way to add value to your clients. And your family. And yourself.

A career isn’t to be tolerated. It’s to be savored, devoured, marrow sucked and fingers smacked.

Want more Sally Hogshead goodness? Check out her HOG Blog. And catch her super-nifty new business cards.

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