Cultivating a Creative Culture Turns 1 🎂

It’s rather surreal; it seems like just yesterday the book’s launch party was on the horizon, and now here we are: the 1-year anniversary of Cultivating a Creative Culture. What began 3 years ago with an A List Apart article has evolved into something so much more inclusive.

The past year’s purpose has been laser-focused: spreading the message from the book of empathy, egalitarianism, and tangible-inspiration-as-fuel-for-digital-work. That’s yielded many incredible experiences and opportunities, but there’s so much more on the horizon.

First, a look back at some of the past year’s highlights:


MentorBox: San Francisco (June 29th, 2017)

A sample of the full 7-part series filmed for MentorBox. View all of the workshop at MentorBox.com

In June of 2017, within weeks of the Cultivating a Creative Culture’s launch, I was invited to film a video workshop with San Francisco-based MentorBox on the methodologies of the book.

Largely geared for busy CEOs and business leaders, MentorBox’s model is best described by company founder Alex Mehr, Ph.D.:

MentorBox is an online platform for continuous business education from top nonfiction books, best-selling authors, professors, CEOs, industry disruptors, self-development aficionados and thought leaders. It’s also a monthly subscription box service which aims to reignite the spark of learning in a way that will immediately impact the trajectory of our subscriber’s lives. Along with the physical books, MentorBox uses a multimedia approach to learning, including video seminars featuring the authors themselves, laminated cheat sheets, study guides, audio summaries, and workbooks.¹
Filming (photo by Jessica Evelyn)

Appreciating MentorBox’s goal of putting education and inspiration in the hands of those who shape industry, I was honored when they asked to fly me out to their West Coast HQ. The opportunity to put essential tools of cultivating healthy creative cultures in the hands of business leaders was one I’d never pass up.

The recording session was broken into 7 easy-to-digest video segments, a quick-learning workbook, and an audio download. The video clip at the top of this article covers the Inspiration part of The New Day One, and is a part of the series of 7. All of the content is available via the MentorBox member section.

The experience was a phenomenally rewarding one, and I’m ecstatic to have had the opportunity to personally deliver the message of Cultivating a Creative Culture.

Indie Author Day: Chicago (October 14th, 2017)

My presentation at Indie Author Day 2017. Beyond design and authorship, I talked through successful promotion, publishing, and evergreen content.

I was invited to speak at Indie Author Day, a global event, which represented a phenomenal opportunity to put aspiring authors, fans of writing, and people from the publishing industry directly in touch with authors themselves.

The event is a global one, and represents a phenomenal opportunity to put aspiring authors, fans of writing, and people from the publishing industry directly in touch with authors themselves.

At my table, in between chatting with attendees

I and the other authors present each had a table to chat with attendees, sell / sign books, and talk about our experiences in writing and publishing. Amongst all the handshaking and conversations, it was such a great human-centered way to directly communicate with those who are passionate about writing.

For my presentation (video is above) — beyond design and authorship — I talked through successful promotion, publishing, and evergreen content. The final 5 minutes of the talk focused on the latter point (timely content, primarily through the lens of the Cultivating a Creative Culture web site) and unfortunately did not make it into the video. That said, you can simply visit the book’s web site to see the takeaways in practice, of course.

Design Day: Stockholm, Sweden (March 23rd, 2018)

Photo credit Alina Shchurova / Futurice

On Friday, March 23rd I was invited to speak and run a workshop in Stockholm at international agency Futurice’s “Design Day”. Under the banner of “Rethink / Refresh”, Futurice flew in all designers from their 6 offices — Helsinki, Tampere, London, Berlin, Munich, and Stockholm — for a day of inspiration, collaboration, recalibration.

I largely spoke on the philosophies and tactics from my book Cultivating a Creative Culture, and the synergy of inspiration between the tangible and digital realms. The talk’s backbone was derived from the perspectives and skillsets we already use daily in our work: empathy, objectivity, and creativity.

Photo credit Alina Shchurova / Futurice

Following the presentation, I sat down for some Q&A with the audience. The dialogue was spirited and passionate; cultural dynamics, team interactions, and client expectations represented a large portion of the chat.

My workshop in the afternoon was a direct follow-up from the talk’s concluding section: inspiration away from our laptops and devices, infused back into our digital work.


On the heels of the talk in Sweden, 2018 has lots in store:

Midwest UX Conference: Chicago (October 11, 2018)

I’m honored to have been asked to deliver a keynote for this October’s Midwest UX conference

For the first time in its eight-year history, Midwest UX comes to Chicago. It’s of course thrilling to be part of the event and engage with the heart of our industry, but even more so in front of my home town.

The Athenaeum Theater

I’ll be joining a group of tremendously insightful and engaging speakers, in tandem with an incredibly dynamic program of events. The conference itself is held across several locations, to make itself available to the varied 3-day program: speaking, workshop, and social. The historic Athenaeum Theater (pictured above) is the main venue.

More to come on the event, and my participation, as details are unveiled now through the Fall. In the interim, Midwest UX 2018’s mission:

MidwestUX 2018 will challenge us to advance our discipline through curiosity, collaboration, and integrity. Join us for three days in Chicago as we inspire and challenge one another with the fresh perspective that comes from cross disciplinary conversation.

Get your ticket now!


In honor of the book’s 1-year anniversary, you can now take the (highly detailed, full-color, 3D-printed) bird home!

The Creative Culture Hummingbird leaps (flies?) off the pages of Cultivating a Creative Culture and onto your desk! This chill, pensive, self-confident little bird from the book’s cover also leads each chapter, demonstrating the respective central theme.

As a companion in your creative space, the Creative Culture Hummingbird will not only keep you company throughout your creative process, but also demonstrate to everyone around you that you’re a champion of empathy, objectivity, and creativity.

Dimensions: 2.87 x 2.08 x 1.61 Inches
Material: Full Color Sandstone
Printed by: Shapeways

Available now!


New Creative Culture Podcast: Amy Thibodeau, UX Director for Shopify

Jason Ogle joined me as co-host in 2018, and we had the opportunity to chat with Amy Thibodeau for the newest Creative Culture Podcast! Amy is the Director of UX for Shopify’s platform team, led the launch of their design system “Polaris”, and was one of the first content strategists on Facebook’s design team. She is also a humble, human-centered, selfless leader who supports her team’s passion above all.

Shopify’s culture is something that’s oft-written about, and with good reason: across thoughtful office configuration, employee respect, and support for creative passion, it’s a tremendous place to thrive.

Listen to the newest Creative Culture Podcast with Amy Thibodeau!


But Wait, There’s More

There’s more to be told; on human-centered interactions in the workplace and the procedural means to create our most inspired work.

Earlier this month while on vacation I sat down at a quiet cafe table and began outlining much of the new content for the next iteration of Cultivating a Creative Culture.

On inclusion. Design process. Workspace configuration. Actionable and uniquely workshop-able methods. Fresh wisdom from beacons of creative culture. And much more, delivered in some rather unique ways.

It’s both nerve-wracking and thrilling to be back at this stage of the writing process once again; that is to say, “the blank page.” In one of my first Creative Director roles, I recall remarking to one of the business owners that no part of the design process thrilled me more than the blank canvas. The sheer possibility.

And this is where things will begin again.