CreativeMornings & the Art of Active Listening


There is something about the morning that seems to draw out creativity. Renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright seemed to do everything but drafting during the day. He lectured students, took phone calls, and wrote letters but was never seen near his drafting table. When asked when he envisions and sketches his buildings, he replied between 4-7am, claiming that it’s when his mind is clearest. Ernest Hemingway was known to rise at first light to write in the comfort of his Key West home, even after his flagrant nights of drinking. So many influential creatives have been early risers and we now know there's a scientific reason why creativity peaks in the morning. Studies have shown that the connections in our brains are most active right after waking. Now it makes sense why Reddit's 'shower thoughts' are so abstract!

To be completely honest I'm more of a night owl than a morning person but a lecture series called CreativeMornings caught my eye. This monthly event invites creatives from all practices and disciplines to gather, enjoy some breakfast, and engage with a guest speaker. What better way than to start your morning by networking with passionate and inspiring Portlanders!? The coffee was strong, the people delightful, and the talk given by former W+K executive creative director Jelly Helm was very thought-provoking.

One thing Helm covered during his talk was the value of active listening. Active listening is when you aren’t planning out what to say next, or waiting for your turn to speak. Helm emphasized that this type of listening takes effort and practice to master. This resonated well with me. In our line of business active listening is integral to what we do. The interactions we have with our clients are always a 2-way conversation. When our team is having a brainstorming session we make sure every voice is heard because you never know where the next great idea will come from. Being in the creative agency world gives us the opportunity to take our individual passions and talents, and apply them as a team to benefit the brands we work with.

Everyone took something different away from Helm's talk and I think that's the way CreativeMornings is designed. Speaking from experience, it's easy to become self-absorbed with our creativity and that's why active listening can be such an asset for those facing creative obstacles. If you're looking to optimize your creative process, take advantage of what the morning has to offer. The sense of community CreativeMornings provides is a great place to start. We're definitely looking forward to the next one!