James Taylor, The Speaker Show

Episode 242

James Taylor, Award-winning entrepreneur, author and inspiring keynote speaker on a global mission to unlock creativity, increase productivity and accelerate innovation

Episode 242

James Taylor, Award-winning entrepreneur, author and inspiring keynote speaker on a global mission to unlock creativity, increase productivity and accelerate innovation

James Taylor – How to multiply your creativity by the power of 10

In this episode of #TheSpeakerShow, Maria Franzoni interviews James Taylor.

James Taylor is an award-winning speaker and internationally recognised leader in creativity and innovation. For over 20 years, he has been teaching entrepreneurs, educators, corporate leaders, writers and rock stars how to unlock creativity, accelerate innovation, and adapt to change.

As the founder of SuperCreativityU, SpeakersU and host of The SuperCreativity Podcast and TV Show, he’s taught thousands of individuals in over 120 countries through his online courses, books, videos and keynote speeches.

Today he provides speaking, consulting and executive coaching services to many Fortune 500 companies including Apple, Visa, UPS, Dell Technologies, IBM, Cisco, McDonalds and Johnson & Johnson. An in-demand business creativity expert, he has been featured in countless media outlets and was the subject of a 30-minute BBC documentary about his life and work.

In this fascinating episode, we discuss:

  • SuperCreativity
  • Innovation
  • Multiplying Creativity by the Power of Ten
  • Keynote Tailoring
  • Trends in the Events Industry

Episode audio & transcript

Connect with Speakers Associates

Maria Franzoni (00:17): Hello and welcome back to The Speaker Show with me your host, Maria Franzoni. Today, we are talking about SuperCreativity. The Speaker Show is brought to you by Speakers Associates, the global speaker bureau for the world’s most successful organizations, providing keynote speakers for events, conferences, and summits. My guest is an award-winning speaker and internationally recognized leader in creativity and innovation. For over 20 years, he has been teaching entrepreneurs, educators, corporate leaders, writers, and rock stars. How to unlock creativity, accelerate innovation, and adapt to change. As the founder of SuperCreativityU, SpeakersU and hosted the SuperCreativity podcast and TV show. He’s taught thousand of individuals in over 120 countries through his online courses, books, videos, and keynote speeches. Today he provides speaking consulting and executive coaching services to many fortune 500 companies, including Apple, Visa, UPS, Dell Technologies, IBM, Cisco, McDonald’s and Johnson and Johnson. An in demand business, creativity expert. He has been featured in countless media outlets and was the subject of a 30 minute BBC documentary about his life and work. Please welcome my guest and friend James Taylor, James, it’s lovely to see you again. I’ve only saw you a few hours ago. Didn’t I?

James Taylor (01:41): We’ve got to stop meeting like this, Maria.

Maria Franzoni (01:44): I know people are gonna start talking. So let’s move on quickly. James, tell our audience how you got interested in creativity. Where did it come from?

James Taylor (01:55): Well, first of all, I believe that we’re all born with this unlimited creativity, but often gets knocked out of us over the, the course of our schooling and our educate great speak like Ken Robinson kind of spoke about this so well where I kind of got interested in the topic of creativity, I guess as a something that could possibly be spoken about was first of all, going, seeing probably on his 14, 15 years of age, a gentleman called Edward de Bono. And he was very, very gifted communicator and kind of a, like a pro almost a professor university Don type professor. But the thing that really impressed me was the ideas that he shared about creativity. And I was passionate about that, but also the way that he shared them, he used a lot of, of visuals, diagrams acetates people remember acetates.

James Taylor (02:45): And I remember them thinking that point. Wow. Imagine what it must be like to have a life like that, where you get to travel around the world, talking about something you’re really passionate about in his case creativity fast forward. I started working in managing the careers of a lot of high profile rock stars. My father’s a musician, my grandfather’s a musician. My wife is a musician and very early in my, my twenties or so I started managing their careers or different artists careers. I then had opportunity to work with members of rolling stones, lots of Grammy award-winning music artists, specifically, either on the management or the agency side. And then 2010, I moved to California to work in the Silicon valley world where what I was doing is for some of these great brands, these great artists, I was creating their online academies, their online school, so they could teach whatever it was, whether it was Nathan ne who’s a bass player with Darth punk and Eric Clapton teaching or, or whoever the, the, the teacher was.

James Taylor (03:41): And so that, that was my introduction, but the thing I always kind of felt, and, and I, I can remember feeling this at one point was early in my life being, I kind, I was a musician. I played drums myself when I was younger and that sensation of being on stage and that, that joy that you have communicating with audience and that energy you have with audience. And then probably when I was, I went to college, I, I kind of went backstage and behind the scenes and I was the guy building all these brands and these, these stars and putting these massive tours together. And I got to a point, I remember thinking, you know, I really miss this stage. I really missed that ability to communicate. And so in 20, late 2017, early 2018, I was just getting asked to go and speak on stages again, but talking about creativity as a topic. And, and what I learned from spending time with these, you know, startup companies is great tech companies in California, as well as the music artist. So that ended up really me back on stage and getting to do the job that I I do today.

Maria Franzoni (04:45): Isn’t that amazing. That’s sort of like full circle. And I actually had the pleasure of working with Edward de Bono and you’re absolutely right. He did use the, the OHP projects we had to get for him as part of his tech. Yeah. Amazing, absolutely amazing. That’s incredible. I love that. Tell me what kind of companies and industries bring you in now to speak about creativity and what challenges are they trying to solve?

James Taylor (05:07): Yeah, so I would say, first of all, the challenges the, the most often they’re things like they’re looking to unlock the creativity of their people, which is primarily around improving collaboration. They’re looking for their people to break down those silos. Maybe that’s seen your partner in, in Tokyo trying to get them to work better with the, the team in New York, for example. So there’s the, the unlocking creativity. So you have all these new ideas coming out to grow the business. Other one is accelerating innovation, creativity and innovation are, are linked, but they’re not the, the same, same thing. So the way to think about it is basically creativity is about bringing new ideas to the mind. Innovation is about bringing new ideas to the world. Innovation is slightly more process orientated. So other companies bring me cause they want to accelerate innovation. They want to, to do that.

James Taylor (05:53): And probably the third reason is they want to adapt to change. And this is a big thing in, in my kind of take on stuff, which is a little bit unusual. I’m not a, a classic kind of creativity speaker because I blend creativity with how we can augment our creativity with exponential technology like artificial intelligence, machine learning robotics. And so I talk about the augmentation of human creativity, and this is a bit, then I often end up getting sharing stages with futurists, for example. So the kind of companies that bring me in or the industries maybe I’ve had a great pleasure, you know, working with a lot of the fortune global fortune 500 companies. My clients include let’s say pharmaceutical companies like Roche, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson and Johnson. A lot of tech companies, as you would imagine companies like but some of the ones you might not have heard of that are growing incredibly fast, the new unicorns companies like globe for example, the big consulting firms, Accentures of this world, a lot of financial services, banking VISA lot of banks in the first Abu Dhabi Bank for example and then kind of unusual industries that you wouldn’t necessarily think of as being like super kind of creative industries like logistics UPS is one of my clients and they’re always coming with very creative ways of how to get the vaccines out into these remote locations, for example.

James Taylor (07:26): So those, those are the big ones, I would say. Financial services, banking technology you know, pharma healthcare and things like the, the logistics, and then moving a little bit. This is strangely, I, I didn’t think this would be a big industry for me, but has ended up being a big industry, is anything in professional services. So I work with many of the, a number of the, the top 50 global law firms. The Hogan levels of this world, for example Womble bond Dickinson’s also the EYs the big account firms because they’re interested in creativity, but from a different perspective, you don’t think of accounts as being creative. But really what they’re looking to do is they’re wanting to ensure that their partners are collaborating really well. And also that they’re collaborating with their clients come up with really interesting strategies, do ways of doing things. So those are the reasons I get brought.

Maria Franzoni (08:19): That’s fantastic. That’s amazing range of organizations and it it’s interesting cause you, so the challenges they’re facing are you know, you’ve mentioned some of them, I hadn’t thought about the challenge of, you know, getting vaccines to remote areas. So that’s, you do need a creative solution to that. I like that. And also, I suppose you, you need to be creative in order to cope with what been coping with in the last two years. I like the phrase augmented creativity. Although your topic of course is SuperCreativity, which is that augmented, which is the mix of, as you said, the AI with the human to create that SuperCreativity. Whereas many of us have thought about creativity is trying to keeping it separate from the AI, but you, you believe that if we combine it, it becomes exponential. Is that, have I got that right?

James Taylor (09:04): Yeah. And it is actually evolved that, that term, SuperCreativity. I remember coming up with it, my wife and I, we were in we were doing an event. I think it was in California, in Laguna beach, beautiful place. And all you, it’s funny you with, with ideas. I dunno whether you have this Maria, you really get them when you’re sitting at your desk. Only 18% of your ideas are gonna happen when you’re at a desk. Most of the time they happen when you’re out walking, walking the dog on a beach or doing something else. And so for, for me, I remember walking along this this speech and kind of lag in a beach there and having thinking about this idea of SuperCreativity, how we can augment our creativity. And I had a conversation with a friend of mine, Ron Corman, who’s a great customer service speaker.

James Taylor (09:42): And at that point I said, super creative. And he said, no, you should make it a verb, SuperCreativity. And it, because it was a bit more inclusive as a term. And then as I started working more and more, and, and you only discover this when you’re out, speaking with clients, what I actually found was almost that that bit, the human plus machine part is one side of SuperCreativity. It’s the sexy part. It’s the cool part. But actually I talk about these two other, so there’s human plus machine is a type of SuperCreativity, but also human plus human or what we think of, we call creative payers. So many of the great businesses you’ll see are often have two founders to them, two co-founders or in a business, you might have a mentor and a mentee relationship. So if you look at the gen lots of geniuses, they don’t do it on their own where it’s the sciences technology, whatever the industry is, there’s always someone else and those creative pairing can take different types.

James Taylor (10:38): So that’s another type of SuperCreativity where you can pair up with someone human plus human and do amazing things together. And you complement each other in a different way. And in the third type is human to the power of X, which is creative, collaborative teams. And this how you break down silos in organizations, how you create what we call a sense of psychological safety, a great term invented by professor Amy Edson from Harvard is that ability in an organization where everyone feels that they have a voice to put forward their ideas, to challenge other people’s ideas as well. And so that kind of brings it into a different, and, and it’s interesting post pandemic that bit there, which is that hum, that team part, the collaboration bit, that is the bit that I’m, I’m getting the most positive responses around my, my, my speaking and what, and my workshops, because that’s the bit where we’ve all kind of struggled know zoom and technology are amazing, but that ability to be in a, a, to really have a deep relationship with other members of your team to collaborate at that higher level.

James Taylor (11:47): And this is where we come into high functioning cross-functional teams now as well. So that’s what SuperCreativity kind of started as just like human plus machine. But it’s actually it’s encompass anything that can augment your own human creativity, which is often other people

Maria Franzoni (12:03): Lovely. I like that. My place is the bath , that’s where I get my, which is a problem because you can’t write things down in the bath, the water gets a bit wet, you know, the paper gets wet. So yeah, so that’s a struggle. So I have to then try and remember, and you know, the memory’s not so good. Now Let me ask you this question. So this is an interesting one, cuz I asked this question a lot of events, you know, where do you get your best ideas? And the shower morning shower comes up very, very often. And there is a, there’s a reason behind that. So are you a morning bath person or are you a late an evening bath person?

James Taylor (12:31): I’m a both. I like to do both. I like I’m super clean, not super creative. I’m super clean. So I do like my bath, which is probably not very ecologically friendly, but yeah, I do like my boss,

James Taylor (12:42): But here’s the thing. So I can tell you what’s going on. There is overnight, you might have been thinking the day before about a challenge, your problem you’re trying to solve overnight, your, your brain kind of winds down your subconscious continues, work on the idea. Then in the morning, your brain is fuzzy. It’s UNW, you’re open to unconventional thoughts. Alpha waves are rip through your brain, directing your attention inwards to remote associations, emanate from the right hemisphere. Also the bit of the brain that says that’s a stupid idea that hasn’t woken up yet when you’re in the, that morning, bath morning shower. So why you often get some of your best ideas in that morning, share that math, likewise, where you might find it in the evening. Some people get their best ideas in the week, small hours later in the evening. It’s different for everyone. Everyone has different times. Some people have it twice in the day. Like you said, maybe in the morning and later in the evening. So it’s very important. You understand from yourself, when is it that time when you have it almost that that flow state ideas come to you, things just start, you know, you want to use that time. Well,

Maria Franzoni (13:42): I think it’s probably because you’re disconnected to technology and you are relaxing and I, I think that’s probably it. So that could be it, it could be myoma therapy or, but anyway, let’s come back to your speaking cause we’re digressing a bit here, which are the kinds of event then and audiences that benefit most from hearing about SuperCreativity.

James Taylor (14:01): Well, I personally love speaking to people that don’t consider themselves to be creative. That’s why I probably speak a lot to accountant, big accountancy firms. O only about 40% of people will consider themselves to be creative. The vast majority of people do don’t consider themselves to be creative. When I then explain to them what creativity can really be, that figure often changes. And I, I actually can share them. In fact, we can even measure it. When I do workshops, I can measure a team’s creativity at the start of the meeting, using something called the deterrence test. I can teach them some tools and by the end of it, we can measure their creativity levels again and we’ll actually see them in. So I love like doing those events where you’ve got a mix of people. Really, I would say I would get booked by a company who’s like a creative ad agency because they all consider themselves to be creative.

James Taylor (14:48): Anyway, you know, they, they don’t feel that they often need any help. In terms of the types of the sizes of a, there’s an interesting one because the there’s a joy and this may be the performance side of me of going up. I was talking to a client yesterday about doing an event for them in Eastern Europe in, in Poland and it’s 7,000 people. So there’s that, that great joy. You kind of do the Freddie Mercury thing a little bit. When you’re on that stage, it’s a different energy. You need a different kind of, you’re using your body. You’re blocking, you’re doing more kind of craft in that type of presentation. And that’s great. And you can influence large numbers of people, but equally valid, perhaps, maybe even more so is when you could, are gonna do those very small events. So these are the 50 60 persons.

James Taylor (15:33): I’m actually doing one, I think in two weeks time, there’s nine people in the room, but they’re all the CEO, the country CEOs of this large organization. Now the interesting thing you do, you, you have a different kind of conversation about creativity and innovation with a group like that, but things are able to get done because really then what you’re talking about doing is you’re talking about building a culture of creativity in the organization. When you change that terminology to building a culture of service or culture of creativity, and they say, this needs to be part of our DNA. This creativity, innovation needs to be part of our values as an organization. Then that client will often then bring me into work with all the other parts of the organization. So I, I, I don’t mind. I mean, I, I, I actually, personally, probably my favorite, I would say is a room of 150 people.

James Taylor (16:23): And, and I love doing these blended bit of keynote and then we maybe have a coffee break and then I do a breakout and we do almost like a workshop style. I love that. That’s fantastic. And that’s just in the real world, but obviously we all know we’ve been living in virtual times the past two years. And so, you know, you’ve, I’ve kind of adapted to that. I I’m very lucky I have a great studio here. And so I actually kind of put almost double the number of speaking engagements I did because I can, you can just do more in a day. That’s not gonna continue like that obviously, but with virtual you can do some things are slightly better that you can do. And other things a little bit more, more challenging. And I certainly feel going back and doing live events in person events. Now there’s a, there’s a different energy. People are excited to be back together again,

Maria Franzoni (17:12): Absolutely gets hugged. Some people fantastic. So tell me, because obviously, I mean your surname’s Taylor, so I’m expecting that you tailor things, but I’m expecting you to not only tailor, but also to be very creative when you work with your clients, because you talk about SuperCreativity. Yes. How do you work with a client then to prepare a session? Because I’m imagining you’re not going to do the same thing for everybody. You’re gonna be creative, right?

James Taylor (17:37): Yeah. Correct. I mean, it’s the, this is the way that I think about it. If you are going clothes shopping, you can either go to a shop and you can buy that suit or that dress off the peg you’ll know exactly what it looks like. You can try it on the shop, you know, you know how it’s gonna be. There there’s, there’s not really, there’s very little risk in that for doing, for doing now as a customer, but for many of my clients, the experience that they really want with me is more like when you’re going and having a tailor made dress to a suit made, you’re going to Saal row in London. And if you’re doing that, it’s bespoke it’s made for you. There is no other one that suit that’s gonna be like that is made for you. Now, from my perspective, as a speaker that puts some additional things I have to do in order to make that work.

James Taylor (18:25): For example, I am not the kind of speaker who’s going giving two or three keynotes a day. That’s not, that’s not me. There’s other amazing, amazing speakers that can do that because they have a, they have a type of way of speaking that does that. For me, I treat working with a customer like I’m measuring them for I’m creating the most beautiful creative piece, something for of them to have. So what I’m doing is on that first maybe discovery call, I’m asking a series of questions. And then if, if we decide we’re a good match for each other then, then we move forward and then I have a document I send out, they fill that document, that the, the basic things I need to know about the event, who the audience audience objectives. This allows me. When I jump on the first of usually three pre-event calls, that first one is I’m able to get, I, I don’t have to cover that stuff.

James Taylor (19:19): We’ve already covered it in the document so I can get much deeper, much quicker with that client. So I’m asking them a different set of questions. What is keeping, you know, you know, what is your, what is your, your team up at 2:00 AM in the morning, just now, what are the big things that are going on in your industry? I’m kind of going a few steps further with them. What’s, you know, some of the, the challenges. So that’s almost like what I’m doing is I’m. If you’re going have a ha a, a handmade suit made, that’s the first where they’re just gonna measuring you up. You’re just getting the basic measurements. The, then what I will do is I will go away. I will do separate research. Some clients will have me sign NDAs cause they want, especially if it’s innovation, they want me to look at certain types of new things that are in the work cause they don’t wanna have public.

James Taylor (20:02): So happy. I do that. And then I go and I basically start crafting the first version of, let’s say, if it’s a keynote, it’s a keynote. And then we come on on online, we come and do a, a virtual and I actually walk them through the first fitting of their keynote. And I walk them and said, okay, this is what it’s gonna go. And this is where we’re gonna, this is the shape of it. And this is where we’re gonna go here. And this is the emotional journey we’re gonna take the audience on. This is the bit we’re gonna, and at that point, it’s not me saying, this is how it is. I’m saying, okay, this is a co-creation process. Now, you know, what, what resonates with you? I said, oh, that bit there, we had an example here. And I think it would be great if maybe if you spoke to that partner, that VP there, cuz he was doing something or she was doing something around that.

James Taylor (20:50): And so I’ll maybe have conversations with other members across the organization of their team. So I can pull in that story that maybe the organization, people in that room didn’t even know and it’s from their own company. So I’m a storyteller. I can tell that story on behalf of that person, if they don’t consider themselves a storyteller. So we first fit, we kind of go back and forth. We like, we like that. Could we have a bit more of that, a bit less of this. And then I’ll do a second fitting, which is, is pretty much there. It is basically. It’s what it is. And then the third fitting is often where we’re doing the technical check of some sort or in the day, if I’m traveling to a place, it might be the night before I’ll do a technical check or we just gonna go through the final things.

James Taylor (21:28): And at that point I’m doing, if it’s an in person, I’m feeling at the stage, the space doing what we call blocking as a speaker, knowing the bit, if you are using a cameras, if you’ve got multiple cameras for a screen, what is my camera? My closeup shot. So when I deliver that key important line, I wanna be having my eye in that camera, cuz it might be a virtual event, a hybrid event. You might have people watching a virtual and I wanna be making eye contact with them at that stage as well. So these are all the things to craft bit. But as I say, you go into this, this is what we call creativity of risk, not creativity of certainty at the very beginning, you don’t know exactly what gonna get, but we’re gonna co-create this together. And the highest praise I can get is I, when someone says to me, this we’ve never worked with a speaker like this before I had this, we’ve never worked with a speaker like this. That’s customized to this level for us. It almost feels like you are a member of our organization. That’s high praise for me, cuz that means I’m getting my ego out of the way. And I’m client centric, I’m focused on their challenges and I’m bringing everything I can bring to that game.

Maria Franzoni (22:37): You live up to the name Taylor, because you’re absolutely right. You know, I’ve been in this industry for a long time, as you know, and there aren’t many people that would go to that level of tailoring customization. Do you involve machines at all when you’re preparing your speeches?

James Taylor (22:51): Yes I do. I sometimes I won’t, I won’t necessarily let the client know that I’m doing this. Clients have different feelings about it, especially if it’s, if it’s an event for, let’s say a hundred plus people and especially I would say really great if it’s an association or trade association type event, I will use an artificial intelligence to analyze the audience in the room before I go and speak to that room. Now, the reason I do this is I want to understand the psychometrics of the room. I wanna understand, you know, if I’m gonna speak in a room, but this is, this is an audience they value trust very highly. So I’m gonna, you use more social proof, more case studies for example, or this is an audience that is kind of authority challenging. So I wanna be a bit of a contrarian in my speech.

James Taylor (23:39): So basically what this does is companies like IBM Watson there’s number of companies that do this. Now, all I need is that organization’s let’s say Twitter account, if it’s an association or if it’s maybe if it’s a smaller grabbing, I just asked them for a couple of people in the, in the audience, the key people, maybe people that are representative of that organization. And then I will go and do the research and I will find that they’ve written publicly. So all I need is a thousand words. Someone has spoken or written and I can give that to an artificial intelligence and it’ll combine all these things. And it basically gives me a psychometric map of the people in, in that room. It tells me this is their needs, their values, their want systems, 72 different factors. And so the, the impact for the old is not just like, wow, James, you know, you really kind of, this is a really powerful topic.

James Taylor (24:31): He’s a great speaker, but James really gets us. You know, he really understands I’m, I’m, I’m hitting their hot buttons, but I’m using technology to help augment me to do this. But once again, AI’s not gonna write my speech for, for me, it’s not doing that, but it’s just making me a better communicator. And usually when I share this, let’s say, especially the sales groups, the first question and the question in the Q and a is like, what is that technology you’re using? Cuz I wanna be able to use that so I can analyze that decision maker before I meet them on that next sales call. And I share that with the audience as well.

Maria Franzoni (25:05): And, and I know because I asked like exactly that question, I was in the audience and you did it. And I was just absolutely blown away. It was brilliant. I’d never known anybody else to do it before. So it was really cool.

James Taylor (25:15): And, and there was a real kicker in the story recently, I was doing an event in Ras Al-Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates for a client at bank. And I, I was telling this, I was sharing about this as well, an idea, something they could do and because I’d gone in and I’d, I’d actually flown in the night before and I’d spent some time really networking with people in the organization. And I actually found a young, new recruit to the organization who had come from IBM from the IBM AI side. So he knew exactly how all this stuff works. So what I did is in my presentation and I said, and people was like, what is this? How can we do this? How can we do this? I said, I can’t remember what his name was. Christoff. Where are you? Christoff put your hand up. You have someone in your organization who knows exactly how to build this for you. Everyone go and speak to Christoff after this cuz he’s gonna build it in your organization. And Carol Christoff got Dell huge by that we’re gonna build it for their company. So sometimes people don’t know what’s actually in the organization, the talents that there

Maria Franzoni (26:14): That’s true, absolutely true. The bigger the organization, the harder it is to know. So absolutely true. Tell me what sort of trends are you seeing with regards to clients in terms of conferences and meeting themes around this topic of creativity?

James Taylor (26:29): I’m seeing a couple things. I think collaboration is, is probably the, the main thing. I’m seeing for many of my clients, I would say north America, they are coming to me with a slightly different challenge because they’re seeing the great resignation happen. And they’re thinking about, they’re asking their people, what do you, what, what do you want to the kind of, what do you want to do? What, how do you want us to invest in you in terms of your learning and development? And many of them are coming back and they’re saying, we want you to, to help us develop our creativity. There’s loads of studies now showing that especially this younger generation come coming in or any generation under 30, they’re more likely to go and work for organizations that value their creativity and will give them the opportunity to express that creativity.

James Taylor (27:11): And they’re much more likely to go and work in organizations where creative is part of a culture and the organization. And they’re working with colleagues who also have this culture of creativity as well. So for that reason, I’m seeing a lot of those companies who are coming to me because their people are just, just crying out for this. It just, they, they, they want this. They might not use the word creativity. They might use a different word for it. But that’s, that’s a key key one. So collaboration, creativity, the, the the other one I get, I guess I see as a kind of, which is a broader, which is, is kind of adapting to change. And there’s a UVA Noah Harari, who I think you’ve brought with as well. Great speaker and wrote SAPs and the less 21 lessons for the 21st century.

James Taylor (27:58): He spoke about this, basically four skills soft skills that we need to develop to, to take us through this century that we’re in just now and those top four skills. And there’s lo loads of research. That’s born this out creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication. These are the four skills. So my thing comes, I focus primarily around collaboration and the creativity piece sometimes touch on a little bit on the, on the critical thinking about how you have a, if you have a bunch of people, you have a bunch of ideas, how you take those ideas and then critically assess those ideas and say which ones we’re gonna take forward and prototype. But basically those two, those creativity and collaboration, if you are someone that’s listening to just now in your your leader of your organization, you’re in HR, learning and development people for your business, and you are not providing some type of training on creativity and collaboration. You are missing a trick here because this is what they’re gonna need, regardless, whether they work for your organization or other organizations start doing, whether you bring someone like me in or someone else’s lows, other great speakers and trainer around this topic. But really you, this is something you wanna be doing now, cuz these are the human stuff. This is the stuff that machines aren’t gonna do for us.

Maria Franzoni (29:14): That’s good news. That’s good news. There’s something we can do that machines can’t do. That’s a relief. Tell me, so obviously you’ve, you’ve worked in, I think it’s 25 countries in 2019 and, and probably more virtually is there a difference in terms of how people react to creativity are certain nationalities more creative or do you have to alter your, the way you deliver the content to, to different countries? Are they are some more open than others about creativity?

James Taylor (29:40): Yeah I mean, I think there’s cultural things. I, I would say as a speaker, especially as a global speaker, the stories that I tell in the case studies I tell are global stories. I see this from maybe we move from American speakers because they primarily speak in the United States. Often the stories that they tell are of American company, the Teslas, the Elon Musks. And I, I find, I mean, there’s are great stories, but I, after a while, they’re kind of bit boring, especially if you’re speaking to a global audience where you’ve got all people coming together from, from a company. So I tend to use a lot of global examples talking about things that are going on in China and, and Latin American, just unusual things. When it comes to the creativity, basically everyone is born creative. There’s no difference there.

James Taylor (30:27): We’re all born with this unlimited creativity, different education systems in different countries, knock it out of it at different ways. So I would say if I’m speaking, say Indian companies, their education systems, more kind of road learning it’s changed actually changed in the past five years. They’ve really started to open up more a broader type of learning, but that’s a little bit more challenging if I speaking to Western north American audiences, they’re very much more open up to creativity. If I speak to, let’s say audiences in China, Japan can Eastern year, I have to tweak things slightly because they have a different often a conception of creativity. If, if you were to say to, to many people there, you know, do your study yourself to be creative. The, the notion of creativity, the Western notion of creativity that we often have is, is a little bit different.

James Taylor (31:19): And so I’ll give you an example and there’s a reason for this in, in the west. Our concept of creativity comes from the fact that we are a judo you know, Judaic Christian background for many cultures in, in these places. So in the tradition of those religions, creativity is something that comes from nothing. The world is created in seven days, for example, in the Christian tradition, in the Asian, more, the Eastern Asian tradition, they come from a Confucius or a Buddhist background. So they believe that that something doesn’t come from nothing. It’s always there. It’s just being remixed reorganized in some way. So for those audiences, I really can speak more. This idea that creativity is something that’s, it’s not this come from nothing, but we are kind of reconstructing things in different ways. We’re taking things and we’re, it’s like a remix of different things.

James Taylor (32:09): And when you express creativity in that way, they go, yeah, I to, I am totally creative. I’m, I’m always boring ideas from that thing. And then thinking about how it applies to that. So that’s the big difference on creativity. And then the other thing, which is just a I guess a craft piece is if I’m speaking to audiences where English, isn’t their first language, if I’m speaking in Latin America, my pace of my speaking will slow probably to by about 20% or so, because at that point they’re often listening, using translation and different languages translated different speeds. And so when initially when I’ll start, I’ll talk to the translator or the interpreter, I’ll, I’ll say these are the kind of important words, or this is when I get, I’m gonna get to a joke. Does this work in this language? How is it gonna work? And I’m the listening, I’ll have a headset and I’m listening to him or her translate sometimes in their, their language, even just for the first part, because that gets me into the rhythm of their language. And I know, ah, this point I can speak at my, my regular pace or maybe I need to slow it down a little bit or, or change things. So that’s just kind of stuff that you get to learn as a, as a speaker, when you speak to more global audiences,

Maria Franzoni (33:22): I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t have something else in my ear when I’m then trying to think of my next sentence. Oh my goodness. I couldn’t do that at all. I like the fact that you said remix for the Eastern Asian audiences, cause also makes me think about your music background. So that, that fits really nicely. So just finally, because we had a lot of your time and I’d really appreciate it. I’m expecting again, another creative answer from you. I’m putting you under a lot of pressure. What else can you do? What other value do you bring in addition to a keynote? And again, I’m expecting a super creative answer.

James Taylor (33:55): Yeah. I mean, this is, what’s been so fascinating about this time we’ve been going through because needs have changed from, from clients. And so initially I thought I would just start out really as a, as a keynote, you know, as a more classic keynote speaker where you’re going in, you’re the opening keynote speaker or you’re the closing speaker. And then if you put the customer at the middle of the client in the middle and you ask them, how else can I help? You know, what else can I do then all these other things come up, but then it’s up to you to side whether that’s right for you or not. So I would say that the very obvious one is the workshops. So many clients will come to me and say, initially, we bring you for a keynote and I’ll say, how are you bringing your people together?

James Taylor (34:33): What your workshop type of things. And then often on the same day or the day after I will then do a workshop for them as well. And that’s, that’s a really easy one to do to more kind of creative thinking, creative tools, I’m teaching them things and we’re getting ’em to collaborate together and break down silos. Other ones I’ve been asked to do more recently is I would say kind of more virtual training more broadly and something I didn’t expect to do, which I ended up doing a little bit last year is virtual MC , which came out of completely nowhere. And I I’ve run a lot of online summits before and because I’m very comfortable with the technology, I’m very comfortable with a director speaking in my ear and all those things that are kind of going on and having that background, it was just, I, I kind of moved into it and it’s not my main thing, but there’s, there’s a, there’s a real pleasure of doing, being like a virtual MC for what we call client advisory boards.

James Taylor (35:29): So this is where a, a client will bring their top 50 client customers into a very private type of virtual space. They might bring in a keynote speaker, but really what they’re doing is they’re, they’re having a conversation with their top clients about how they can do things. Now, these are very obviously confidential discussions that you’re having, but my job there is to be the glue, to hold things together, to write the script for this whole, this whole event to ask questions, to be, you know, the facilitator, the moderator of this. So that requires lots of different skills and, and it’s a, it’s a little of blend. And so it’s not my main thing, but I’m, I’m actually been enjoying it doing some of them just now. And cuz it kind of use a different skill set, but I would say keynotes workshop and, and the virtual MC and now even, you know, hologram, which is kind of mad, but now starting to do the hologram keynotes and that opens you up to another, another area.

Maria Franzoni (36:29): You’re a super speaker. You see it’s James plus technology equals super speaker. How fantastic James is been an absolute pleasure to catch up with you again. I hope you’ve enjoyed yourself and it wasn’t too painful.

James Taylor (36:40): No, my pleasure. and please reach out to the team and love to come and speak one of your future events.

Maria Franzoni (36:46): Lovely. Thank you. And thank you everybody for listening to The Speaker Show. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave a rating on Apple podcasts and you can keep up with future episodes on the Speakers Associates website, which is speakersassociates.com or your favorite podcast app. And if you would like to invite James to speak at your next event, please get in touch with Speakers Associates in plenty of time to book him. So you won’t be disappointed cause you can hear he’s very busy and he needs time to prepare for every session as well. I will see you all next week. Thank you for listening.

Live interview

Maria Franzoni

WITH OUR PODCAST HOST

Maria Franzoni

Maria Franzoni is an established and recognised speaking industry expert and one of the most experienced speaker bookers in Europe.

As well as working with speakers, Maria also hosts live shows and podcasts. She currently hosts The Speaker Show podcast for Speakers Associates.

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