creativity

My 7 Easy Steps to Stay Creative and Outsmart Robots
My 7 Easy Steps to Stay Creative and Outsmart Robots 1024 576 Raymond Blijd

Some say creativity is a gift. Others may see it as a curse. I value creativity as a dreamscape and here are my notes to help you do you.

What is creativity to me? The ability to describe the invisible. To be able to recognize what is missing by seeing what isn’t there. We all are creative but sometimes we treat it as a disease. We tend to pity the dreamers who can’t capitalize on it. However, a rich imagination builds a wondrous world where anything is possible. 

Here are 7 practical tips to nurture your inception:

1. Listen to new music: I take a different run route every week. Try to mix & match outfits as often as possible and gamble on diets.

Why: Our brain is like any other muscle in our body, it only grows by resistance. Therefore you have to actively feed it new pathways and discoveries. Be wary of routines, they are the sedative to serendipity. Only use them to be more efficient in boring stuff like brushing your teeth. Or try brushing with your left :).

2. Talk to people. I listen, really listen carefully and transport myself into their universe.

Why: Introverts are seen as naturally creative creatures and their secret is listening. Have a genuine interest and empathy for others. It will enable you to have new experiences which will seed your inventions.

3. Avoid safe: When faced with 2 choices: known and unknown. Depending on the context, I always force myself to go for the unknown.

Why: It’s the only option that will provide you an opportunity to learn. It’s the main reason why established companies only manage one disruption in their lifetime. That is usually when they startup.

4. Be open: I summon my inner child and suppress my life experiences for as long as I can before I pass judgment. I like being wide-eyed wowed all the time and I don’t much care if others perceive me to be naive.

Why: You should actually always reinvent the wheel but questioned it each time. It is only a total waste if you did not learn that you don’t need a wheel. Celebrate and savor your many trials and errors because innovation is often the byproduct.

5. Force pause: Avoid pressure and take breaks. I wrote here about kicking my smoking habit. I did not mention it most beautiful side-effect: a 5 minute -albeit drug induced- charge of inspiration.

Why:  Although constraints can be a source of creativity, time pressures mostly speed up the idiocy of finding the safest solution (3). I can’t remember ever having a flash of brilliance when forced to have one.

6. Let it Flow: I shower (7) with my splash-proof iPhone so when I get hits, I immediately jot them down and shelve them.

Why: Don’t delay or get distracted in capturing your lightning. Don’t worry about getting the entire concept or finishing your idea on the spot, just trust your instincts. You eventually be inspired again and be able to piece it back together.

7. Find your dawn: Early in the morning, late at night or after each nap I get bursts of brain waves. In the shower or the bathroom..well, you catch my drift.

Why: Finally, perhaps the single most effective tip I can provide is my discovery of not why I’m creative but when. As said: we are all creative but we, unfortunately, suppress our creativity by seemingly more important thoughts. I just love to surrender my mind to fancy so please indulge your fantasies.

Remember, your ingenuity is an irrational thunderstorm of thoughts, while computers are the opposite: logically calculated algorithms.

So our creativity just may be one of our best ways to outsmart robots.

A Message To Legal Tech: 4 Signs Winter Is Coming
A Message To Legal Tech: 4 Signs Winter Is Coming 1024 683 Raymond Blijd

After a couple of record breaking months during the Hottest Summer in Legal Tech,  I believe winter is upon us and here’s why.

#1 Lots of Legal, Little Tech

While Legal Startup numbers look spectacular, the reality is that the quality of startups is more of the same. Some geographies are doing better than others (see #4). However, the majority of registering startups are marketplaces, solo’s or niche practices that use simple & little tech. As the chart below illustrates, this year started very encouragingly. In January and February, Tech was winning. Yet in the heat of summer, the lead started to melt away. Clever company names will not disguise the fact, it is not tech you’re selling, it is just legal. This September we passed 40 again but don’t rejoice: since legal tech life should begin at 40.

#2 Lacking Creativity

There is only so much spin and juice one can put on “Uber for legal” before you start smelling the rot. So I like to give a nod to Paper, who aims to automate the legal workflow associated with creating your business. By putting the legal flow in a UI instead of documents and making lawyers an “In-App” purchase. They also launched their site with an SSL Certificate or more commonly known as HTTPS. I’m not a security expert but I do feel more confident when sites have https. This makes Paper very rare on Angellist and I’m hoping to see more of them.

#3 Startup Winter

Angellist is preparing for winter because of a decelerating startup scene. They are not alone as Y Combinator, the world largest incubator, is also changing strategies. Both CB Insights (image below) and Mattermark are warning of a slowdown.  So I’m a bit bemused by the fact Legal is jumping on the accelerator. It takes, at best, 4 years for a business to find traction and 5 to flourish or exit. Moreover, if your startup is selling to the legal professionals market beware. Law firms have notoriously long sales cycles and this will only become more fickle as market pressures mount on them.

winter-cbinsightsSo when the Pro’s pause, Legal steps on the gas. And that approach may work but I do see the benefits of breaking so bear with me..

***Mr. Robot Spoiler Alert***

While my head is still reeling from Mr. Robot season 2 finale, I captured an important message dubbed “Python Approach“. One of the characters explains that a python’s primary attacking tactic is to wait for its prey to come. Patiently tracking it over long periods of time and snapping it up when the time is right. As Dom states, Pythons can go up to a year without food.

******

In short, startups should not expect Capital to be heading their way, so it’s time to bootstrap and focus on the other C: Customers. Choose them well.

#4 A Bright Spot

There are bright spots, as seen in this video: Where do Legal Startups come from? In October, I’ll publish more stats so here’s a preview: it seems the rest of the world is picking up the slack and I see quality legal startups emerging from Asia and Africa. Diversity & necessity may be better drivers for quality startups than venture capital or accelerators.