The pandemic upended our lives and, at least temporarily, closed us off to so much—everything from the office and our friends to international travel. It also forced most of us to adapt quickly to new ways of living and working. Small businesses had to think outside the box to retain customers. Large businesses had to move whole workforces online. Universities had to educate students dispersed far and wide. In that way, COVID opened our eyes to the critical importance of being able to envision a new path forward.

You can think of creativity, then, as the new “it” skill. For an individual, it could be a differentiator in a job search. On a broader level, it’s at the core of an organization’s competitive advantage, and of a country’s enduring prosperity.

“For a businessperson, if you don’t have any creativity, what is going to happen one day, is that whatever you do will become obsolete,” Cirque du Soleil CEO Daniel Lamarre says on our latest Disruptors podcast.

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or Simplecast

The Disruptors team spent the last few months interviewing experts including Lamarre and University of Toronto professor Ajay Agrawal on the importance of creativity, for a special two-part podcast. What we learned: there are ways to embrace and nurture creativity in every line of work.

Start with a well-defined goal

It’s key to have an end goal in mind, or at least a clear understanding of the problem you’re looking to solve.

“Goals can be a great energizer to creativity,” says Agrawal, who founded the University of Toronto’s Creative Destruction Lab.

In his work advising early-stage technology firms at the CDL, Agrawal stresses the importance of individuals taking the required space and time to explore different solutions.

“Give people the resources that they need in order to explore solutions to the goal and to have the kind of mental space they need in order to explore areas outside of what might be their initial domain of expertise,” he said.

See constraints as a positive

Constraints on the creative process come in many forms. Rather than viewing them as impediments, it can help to see them as critical variables. In other words, how are you going to get around time or resource limitations and other challenges? Having guardrails around the creative process can help teams maintain focus and push beyond comfort zones.

“The minute you set constraints, now the creative mind gets to work on how do I achieve the goal, conditional on these constraints?” Agrawal said.

Think of creativity as a muscle that can be strengthened

Gil Moore, former drummer of Canadian rock band Triumph, thinks determination has a lot to do with creativity. “I don’t think that someone’s creative and they just wake up and the sun shines on them—I just don’t believe that’s how it works,” he said.

Being talented helps, but creativity also comes from practice, and learning.

“I never really believed that I had any particular skill—I always believed that it was learned. I think a lot of times a great, creative moment is just that culmination of that effort and the skills that have been developed,” said Moore.

Stay tuned for the second episode in the Creativity series featuring conversations with Lululemon, Shopify, Ubisoft, Rotman’s I-Think, and more, that explores creativity as utility in the classroom, workplace and for the country. In the coming weeks, RBC Economics & Thought Leadership be publishing original research about the emergence of creativity as a critical skill for the 2020s, one that is vital to help propel the country into a new era of economic growth and innovation.

[00:00:01] Hi, it’s John here, along with my co-host, Teresa.

[00:00:05] Hey, John, it’s great to be here

[00:00:06] and great to air quotes. See you.

[00:00:09] Likewise. So I have a question for you. Shoot. Do you consider yourself creative?

[00:00:15] Oh, no. That is such a tough question. But you know what? I think all people are creative. We just express it in very different ways. And you know what? We’ve seen that through the pandemic, whether it’s health workers or teachers or creative artists, all connecting with people in very different and difficult but ultimately creative ways.

[00:00:36] Even before the pandemic, the world was grappling with an accelerated digital revolution that was radically altering the way we all live, work and interact. And we’ve been seeing companies completely reinvent themselves and reorient themselves to address the challenges they’re seeing. And a surprising new power still is emerging.

[00:00:56] Creativity is more valued than ever before. It’s the skill that matters. I remember looking at LinkedIn. The number one skill you had to have was creativity.

[00:01:06] That was Richard Florida, the urban theorist whose book The Rise of the Creative Class, predicted this moment way back in 2002. Our team has spent the last several months interviewing experts like Richard about the importance of creativity. We’ve talked to the companies that are harnessing it most effectively and the academics who are teaching it most passionately to create an entire hub of knowledge, advice and examples of creativity.

[00:01:34] Yeah, it’s it’s been a really fun project to get to do. We managed to create our own definition of creativity, and we also explored how that mix up your unleashed bursts of creativity and innovation. We dug into how it manifests in people, organizations and the economy. And we looked at labour market trends, including the demand for it in sectors that have been most disrupted by the pandemic.

[00:01:58] And Teresa, before we go any further, maybe an uncreative question, certainly a one-on-one question, what is creativity?

[00:02:05] So according to our definition, it is novelty plus value.

[00:02:10] So when I stop on the local street to talk to a sidewalk artist about whatever they are drawing on the sidewalk, is that creativity?

[00:02:19] Well, if it is something new, then that is creative. And, you know, even if you don’t particularly find it interesting, but maybe the person behind you does, then that’s valuable.

[00:02:29] And maybe just the fact that we’re talking about it is all the value that sometimes you need. But creativity is about much more than art is about much more than the expression of the human spirit. Through our research at RBC, we are increasingly convinced that creativity is going to be a critical skill through the 20 20s right across Canada. And we think that our economic prosperity may even depend in the coming decades on that very ability to harness creativity. This is Disruptors and RBC podcast, I’m your host, John Stackhouse,

[00:03:13] and I’m Teresa Do RBC’s thought leadership team. And it’s our pleasure to welcome you to the first episode of a special two part series on creativity.

[00:03:29] I’m so excited about some of the guests we’ve lined up, folks from Shopify, Ubisoft and Metalworks to name just a few, but to kick off the series of conversations, it’s a real pleasure to introduce the head of a company that calls creativity its defining ideal

[00:03:45] from set creators and costume designers to choreographers and composers. Cirque du Soleil s headquarters in Montreal is filled with craftspeople and specialists and all sorts of creative fields to research.

[00:03:56] It was such a treat to sit down with Cirque’s CEO, Daniel about twice, actually, since we ran into some tech issues the first time. But as he told us, the show must go on. It takes a creative type to say that, I guess. But when we did get rolling, we began by asking him how he defines creativity and how important it is to what Cirque does not just in the big tent, but as a business every day.

[00:04:26] Yeah, for me, creativity is the ability to make or otherwise bring into existence something new, whether a new solution to a problem, a new methodology or a new device, in our case, a new artistic show. For me, my belief is that there is no commerce without creativity. For an artists, there will be a lot of creativity without commerce. But for a businessperson, if you don’t have any creativity, when is going to happen? One day is that whatever you do would become obsolete. And that’s very, very important that you were able to reinvent yourself with creativity, because if you want to remain relevant, if you want to keep your leadership, it’s very, very important that all the time you bring people, creative people, to reinvent yourself. That’s why it’s so important to invest in research and development. That’s why it’s so important to be on the lookout for new ideas, new concepts, new products

[00:05:33] all the time. That’s a beautiful way of describing it. It’s hard in my mind to imagine a Canadian organization, maybe a global organization that is more creative than Cirque du Soleil. It just embodies creativity in so many different ways. Danielle, give us a sense of how you approach creativity at Cirque.

[00:05:51] First of all, you have to create a creative environment, which means in our case, if you if you walk in the building, you will see a lot of pieces of art. If you walk in our studio, you will see artists rehearsing. It’s very, very important that it doesn’t matter if you work in finance or H.R. If you work at Cirque du Soleil, we want you to remember who you’re working for and what is the purpose of what you do. And I strongly suggest that this formula should apply to any type of industry, that when you work in the building of an organization, it should feel and breed the nature of the business you’re in.

[00:06:37] Cirque du Soleil has been successful for many, many, many years. How is the company been able to sustain that creativity over the decades?

[00:06:46] That’s the daily challenge of an organization like us, because I don’t want people to feel when they will see the next show of Cirque du Soleil that they had seen it before. So the challenge is all the time to be on the lookout for new artists. So casting is very, very important to us. The other thing is we’re always on the lookout for new technologies in order to develop new scenography, new technologies and activities. So all those ideas are coming out from challenging each other about new technologies, new type of new type of music, new type of costume. And that’s how you remain relevant in our world.

[00:07:31] And who I’m curious within the organization contributes to those ideas. Do you solicit them from top all the way down, or how do these ideas get manifested?

[00:07:41] Yeah, I like to think that we have five thousand pair of eyes and ears and we encourage our people to always feed us with something, the discomfort, because sometimes it might be by reading a book, seeing a new movie, a hearing and your piece of music, or just seeing something on YouTube or on social media that could be attractive to us. And that’s why we like to have people challenging each other within the entire organization. Because even if you were in H.R. and Finance again, you might see something on social media that could be very attractive to us. And that’s what we like to do, is to create this environment where people feel legitimate to bring their creative ideas to other people within the organization.

[00:08:41] Cercas always struck me as kind of like the United Nations, it attracts people, creators from every corner of the world. I’m wondering if there are places that tend to develop more creative people than others.

[00:08:53] We like to think that Quebec is definitely a good place because we’re good as inventing new things here. The reality is, to your point about being a United Nation type of cast, I truly believe that’s one of the uniqueness of our organization, because when you walk in the cafeteria, you have the feeling that you are at the United Nations cafeteria, which is great because you have people coming from 50 different nationalities coming here with their own culture, their own ideas, their own backgrounds

[00:09:31] could probably locate itself in any number of different cities, in any number of different places around the world. What is it about Montreal that allows you to flourish? That enables Cirque’s creative dynamism?

[00:09:45] First of all, as you know, there is the influence of the French culture and also the North American culture. They don’t have the feeling that there are Montreal. They have the feeling that, as we said earlier, that there are United Nations. But more importantly, foreigners feel very welcome in Canada. You have a feeling when you come into our creative studio that you’re at home. And that’s one of the big advantage that we have as Canadians. So as we have here in Montreal, having created a very unique artistic infrastructure that brings people from around the world to come and work with Cirque du Soleil because of the approach that we have, but also because of the unique facilities that we have. Hollywood is for movie. Montreal is for circus arts.

[00:10:40] What do you think Canada needs to do to foster more of that creative energy in that artistic spirit over the next decade, especially as we come out of the pandemic?

[00:10:50] I think as a country, we’re still very well-positioned, but we’re very nice. Therefore, we’re too often in the shadow of our, you know, us neighbor. And I think what we will need in the future is to be much more aggressive about affirming our culture, affirming our values and taking a much more leadership role in the world.

[00:11:22] Which countries in the world. Do you think are the most creative? And where does Canada rank among them

[00:11:27] or the best were the best. And thus the way we should be thinking, are we the best? I have nothing to support that. But I think we should say and I think we should affirm that and we should fight for that place. Know we have created in Montreal an event which is called C to Montreal, which is which is a creative event that is happening every year. And I’m one of the founder of that activity. And when we founded C to Montreal, this idea was to become the Davos of creativity. And that’s the way you can brand yourself as a country by doing some statement, creating some event that will confirm your positioning. And I’m a strong believer that we can have the brand. Canada can have the brand of being the the best place in the world for creators.

[00:12:28] So that’s such an inspiring vision. It’s a fantastic start to our series. I like the idea of an acrobat in the lobby. It is what you would expect of a circus, but it also tells you what organizations can do to inspire creativity in their own way, in their own business. But for every employee, doesn’t matter if you’re the bookkeeper or a front line artist or performer walking through that front door, you can’t help but feel creative and probably be inspired through the day.

[00:12:57] Yeah, and it goes to show if you give people permission to be creative, they totally can be

[00:13:02] coloring outside the lines, I think is the expression we all need to do it more.

[00:13:07] What’s next? So Circus, the company that’s embodied creativity from the start. But we also wanted to hear from what you might call a, quote, old economy business. So Kyla Lee is the face of Vancouver’s Acumen Law. She’s a tough talking defense lawyer who specializes in driving related offenses,

[00:13:26] but she’s also young Mayte and author, blogger, podcast, tick talker and singer songwriter. She admits there are some people in her industry and maybe it’s more than some who frown at this approach to social media and other. Content platforms, but she doesn’t see a big difference between creating content and arguing a case in court.

[00:13:47] I think creativity is argument when you’re creating something, when you’re putting a piece of art or a photograph or a video or any type of perspective out there, you’re advocating your position, whether it’s your position about a belief or a feeling or a legal position, and you’re creating an educational video, whatever it is that you’re creating is your argument about the thing that you’re doing, the creative work about. And so I don’t think that there’s any difference between creativity and argument. I see creativity as a form of argument. Kyla, who I honestly consider as a Renaissance woman of sorts, she makes a great case for why more, quote, old economy businesses may want to consider trying to inject a little creativity into their processes.

[00:14:37] Teresa, creativity has always been important. It’s probably how we evolved, but people might wonder why it matters now, maybe more than ever, especially as Canada looks beyond the pandemic and into some exciting and scary decades ahead. To find out more, we reached out to a bona fide expert on innovation.

[00:14:57] Ajay Agarwal is the professor of strategic management at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. He also co-founded Next Canada, a support program for the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs, which we featured on this podcast before.

[00:15:11] A is one of those Renaissance people who you were describing. But for this series, Teresa, we’re most interested in his work at the Creative Destruction Lab, which he founded at the U of T in twenty twelve. Welcome to Disruptors.

[00:15:25] Thanks very much, John. It’s a pleasure to be here.

[00:15:28] Let’s start with how you define creativity and how do you teach it in a business school.

[00:15:33] So we think of it as the process of developing solutions to problems that are better than the existing solutions and so better can be defined in a variety of ways. It can be it’s cheaper, it’s faster, it has less environmental impact. It’s more inclusive. There’s all kinds of ways for setting up the parameters for how we measure what good is. But once we set up those parameters that the creation of better solutions to problems. And so my view on creativity, how we teach in the business school is start by what’s the objective, what’s the purpose, what’s the thing we’re trying to do. And so from a creativity perspective is what’s the most efficient way that we can achieve that goal. And so when we work on creativity in the business school, effectively, the very first step is identifying what it is we’re trying to achieve in the first place. And and that sounds really easy and it’s surprisingly hard. Like, in other words, many organizations that I go to meet and tell me about all the innovation programs and I’ll say, what’s the goal? How do you know if you succeed? And you’d be surprised many times. They can’t answer the question

[00:16:41] just to build on that. Do you think that that comes from a problem where creativity is difficult to measure?

[00:16:48] Yes, if you don’t have a goal and that’s one of the reasons I think Terry said that universities are really sort of this very important institution in society because at universities there’s an environment for people to be creative and innovate. With no application in mind, it can be literally their curiosity. So curiosity driven research, which is very, very important for an overall research ecosystem. But to bring that into a commercial setting, it’s really important to have a goal and to have an outcome so that you can basically give creativity, some direction and some guardrails.

[00:17:25] You deal with a lot of tech companies through the creative destruction lab. But I’m curious, is creativity different in tech companies than in other businesses?

[00:17:36] Well, I think the kinds of businesses that I work with, John, they’re usually very small. They’re very often pretty revenue. And so the reason that there are different is that they don’t have all the bureaucracy that a larger organization has. And so they have a little more freedom to explore and they can really be problem focused. The creativity there comes in these small firms in the latitude that they can explore a very wide search space, often without a lot of bureaucratic limitations in terms of the different solution types that you might want to explore to solve the problem, that these smaller tech companies are able to do quite a like a large and unrestrained search.

[00:18:22] That’s so interesting when you think of a large organization that wants to embed more creativity into its culture, it wants to build up more innovations. What are your thoughts on their efforts to replicate that sort of startup like environment that is separate from what some people call corporate antibodies to the creativity process?

[00:18:44] Yeah, that’s a great question. Is so important, I would say so. That’s the number one question that I get when I meet with executives of large organizations. They come and they visit Creative Destruction Lab. They see how works and they say, how can we replicate or get something like this inside organizations? My view is there’s three key things. Thing number one, set a really well-defined target or goal step to give people the the resources that they need in order to explore solutions to the goal. Sometimes that is, you know, people need some time. They need some free time. If they’re kind of expected to keep doing their full time jobs, it’s hard for them to have the kind of mental space they need in order to explore areas outside of what might be their initial domain of expertize. And then third is ways to recognize success along the way.

[00:19:37] I imagine some creative types see setting goals as restrictive, even controlling of their creativity, and I think as a Google 20 percent time where the company allows employees to spend 20 percent of their time on almost anything, much of it without goals, can actually be limiting or restrictive to creativity.

[00:19:56] Well, first of all, I would love to see the data on the on the Google 20 percent. I wouldn’t be surprised if the people that have been most successful through that program are ones who set goals for what they were going to do with their 20 percent. I think goals can be a great energizer to creativity because the minute you set constraints now the creative mind gets to work on how do I achieve the goal conditional on these constraints. So right now, for example, we’ve created a not for profit spin from creative destruction left in response to covid-19, which is focused on creating a rapid screening solution.

[00:20:31] But how has the crisis challenge different approaches to creativity and which approaches seem to be excelling in this environment?

[00:20:38] Well, I guess the primary distinction has been not being able to work shoulder to shoulder with people, and a lot of creativity requires collaboration. I’ve done a fair amount of research on the role of collaboration in creativity and innovation and how how collaborations actually become increasingly important over time as fields have become more and more complex than in order to really understand the frontier of the field, you need to collaborate across multiple people who are experts in different areas. It’s very hard to be an expert across multiple areas now, and so the more need for collaboration. So I would say for covid, the biggest thing has been learning to do all this collaboration online, so much going digital. And so for us, that’s been the biggest shift.

[00:21:26] I have one final question before we wrap up. As we come out of the pandemic and look to the years and decades ahead, how do we scale creativity in our workforce and our economy, especially for people who might not think that they’re capable of being creative?

[00:21:42] That’s a great question. So, first of all, I think of creativity as a process and a process requires often a team. And so a team has people with different skills. And so I find that everybody has the potential to play a role in the creative process. It might be a different role, but there is a role for everybody in the creative process. That said, it’s not a free ride. In other words, every role requires developing the muscle to play that role. So think of like anybody can play soccer that maybe they can play at a at an elite level, but they can play. But there’s different positions and you might be more suited to be a defensive player or an offensive player, depending on a variety of characteristics about you. But regardless, even if you have a predisposition to be a defensive player, you still have to develop the muscle, the skill set to play that role. And that’s true. And creativity in the creative process. One of the muscles to develop is the ability to identify what assumptions am I relying on and are those even right. And so that just is a skill. And people with practice learn to do it. And so all of a sudden, somebody who never had really thought of how to identify one of the underlying assumptions and then how do I challenge them with some practice, they start developing the muscle to be able to do that.

[00:23:02] Thanks for being on

[00:23:03] disruptors, John. Thanks for having me. It’s a real pleasure to be here and speak with you and Teresa.

[00:23:10] So, Teresa, as Canadians, I guess we all need to start hitting the mental gym and working out those creative muscles.

[00:23:16] I am so ready. I have been wearing yoga pants for most of the past 12 months anyway. And speaking of which, we’re going to chat with Lululemon in part two of the series. But to follow up on Jay’s thoughts on the role of creativity in a post covid Canada, I want to share something we heard from Sarah Diamond. Right.

[00:23:35] That’s perfect timing. Sarah is president emerita of what’s called Canada’s University of the Imagination, the Ontario College of Art and Design University or Oxford. You in Toronto? We had a great conversation with her about the explosion of creativity we’ve witnessed during the pandemic. But she also pointed out an interesting challenge, namely, it’s one thing to be creative and quite another to get paid for it.

[00:24:02] For me, one of the real fundamentals here is to think through how we ensure that there’s a living wage for artists and how we integrate artists into the strategic thinking of our world. Post covid-19. So the public realm, public space artists should be really part of thinking through that physical world that we’re in. And they should be paid to work with developers, with designers, with architects, with the people creating the virtual infrastructure of cities to to think about what that world can be. I do. I think we’re going to want to be outside, we’re going to want to be in that physical world of contact with each other. So how do we think about enough support for the arts that we have very strong, creative, not for profit environment as well as what I’m sure will be really the growth of for profit cultural enterprises?

[00:25:05] Our next guest knows a lot about the intersection of creativity and business and about the importance of supporting artists. He’s an artist himself, a Canadian musical icon, at least if you’re of a certain age, right?

[00:25:18] John?

[00:25:19] Yeah, Teresa, I am of that age.

[00:25:27] So Gilmore is the drummer and vocalist of Triumph, the Mississauga based power trio founded in 1975. He’s also the founder of Canada’s biggest recording studio and premier entertainment arts for metalworks.

[00:25:40] I met Gil for the first time last fall when I visited metalworks in Mississauga just to the west of Toronto. It’s this incredible hub of creativity. And as Gil and I were walking around the music studio and then the music school and then the production centers where he develops stage concepts, but also these pioneering tech approaches to maybe how we’ll see concerts in the years and decades ahead. It got us both talking about how music and more broadly creativity is not just getting us through the pandemic. It can be a real fuel for the recovery. Gil, it’s great to speak with you again. Welcome to Disruptors.

[00:26:25] Nice to be here, John.

[00:26:26] Gil Teresa has already aged to find herself. So I’m going to take this question on myself and take you back to nineteen eighty one, which I’m proud to remember, and a song called Magic Power, which had some of the most amazing lyrics of that time. It begins with the lines. I’m young, I’m wild, and I’m free. Do you need to be young, wild and free

[00:26:51] to be creative? I don’t think so. I don’t think there’s any any boundaries on creativity age wise. In fact, I feel more creative now than I did when I was younger, if only because I think about things more. So you’re tend to meander in your thoughts down different pathways when you consider things in a more complex way that leads to creativity, I believe. I think it’s a natural creativity when you’re younger, when you’re really, really focused on one thing, you’re seeing kind of the future through a straw. Nothing is bad. I think it’s good. It’s good to really drill down and try to get good at something. Whatever it is could be mathematics. It could be playing hockey. I don’t care what it is. I think it’s terrific to have focus. But I think over time you need to have a bigger lens. I think that broader lens and deeper thought leads to more creativity, although I will say that focus of youth, it leads to sometimes an explosion of ideas in a small area guild.

[00:28:02] Take us back to your youth. When did you realize you were creative?

[00:28:06] I don’t know that I did. I always thought I was pretty slow learner.

[00:28:10] Isn’t that often the case with creative types?

[00:28:13] I think that’s all over the map. I think, for example, if you have someone that’s a virtuoso, which I was not, then you can see the explosive growth in their talent. And it is kind of like a natural repository of of creative juice that just flows. They have this mojo that the ninety nine out of one hundred people don’t have. And then you have the rest of us, you know, as Gordon Lightfoot once famously said, you know, it’s it’s ninety five percent perspiration and five percent inspiration. I would find that through repetition and through gaining skills that you’re then able to harness creativity. If you don’t have any skills and you haven’t really harnessed any energy in a certain direction, you can’t be very creative because you’re you’re you’re sort of flummoxed at that point. You’re like, I want to I wish I could have that, you know, but shoulda, woulda, coulda eventually loses out to someone who really, really does the ten thousand hours. And then through that process of the ten thousand hours, this is where the creativity starts to emerge.

[00:29:29] Could you expand on that, Gil? I’m thinking of someone like you who found success with your skills in the broader mainstream market, let’s say, compared to maybe someone with comparable skills, but who ends up being a busker. What’s the difference in how you achieve that success?

[00:29:46] Well, this gets into this interesting conversation about what creativity really is. And if it was just all about creative skills. I’m just talking about music right now. It would be easy to define success because you would be able to look at the performance capabilities. I’ll call them the athletic capabilities that are kind of commodities that you can grade. But that isn’t what happens. What happens is the circumstances, the way the ball bounces, so to speak, come along that have nothing to do with those those skills. And that’s where I think you get the. Opportunities, I think that the music world and I and I really apply this to just about anything is it is a bit of a Snakes and ladders game. So if you are super creative, it might allow you to actually see the ladder, whereas someone is has creative skills in a certain area like, let’s say, musical skills, but they don’t have the creative skills in business to see the difference between a snake and a ladder. So that’s why I think you end up with people that are phenomenally talented, phenomenally creative, that are massive failures, and you also see mediocre talents that don’t seem to have, you know, the eye of the tiger in terms of creativity but are tremendously successful. And then there’s those that seem to have it all.

[00:31:18] What is that secret sauce that makes someone incredibly creative?

[00:31:22] I think determination has a lot to do with it, which is not what most people would say. I don’t think that someone’s creative and they just they just wake up and the sun shines on them. I just don’t believe that’s how it works. I believe that the result of determination and perseverance have a lot more to do with creativity than one might surmise, particularly if somebody is thinks of themselves as not being creative. So they have a job that is really mundane and repetitive. They can be very creative in that job and not even realize that they’re creative because they think of creativity as art, music, some form of the creative arts. That to them is is they’re unfamiliar with it. They feel intimidated by it. Let’s say another example would be I don’t think athletes necessarily think they’re creative. I think athletes are incredibly, incredibly creative people. If you look almost almost anywhere, whether we talk about Tom Brady and you think about those split second decisions that he’s making before he launches his pass, those are creative. Those are subjective decisions. I mean, that requires that visualization, I suppose, of that ball, whatever is in his head at that moment, if he’s visualizing how he releases the ball or how it lands and hits the net, you know, great golfers are like that. They visualize their shots. And so look at look at that through the creative one sports, the business I was reading about Warren Buffett today. What does Warren Buffett know about creativity? Well, I would say he knows a lot. So a lot of people would say, what are you talking about? He’s an investor. Investors aren’t creative. Well, I would say, hell, yeah, they are. You know, the really good ones. I think that knee jerking and quick reactions are lead to failure in life and in business, having patience and being able to listen to others, process the information and then make what I’m going to call a measured response. And by that, I don’t mean slow and I don’t mean becoming bound up and calcifying. I just mean that patience to really digest the information, let it resonate, let it marinate and allow you to make a creative decision.

[00:33:58] Speaking of marinating or stewing, maybe it feels like we’re in my two hundred and forty of the pandemic, which has led to an explosion of creativity and a lot of ways. But it’s also led to a lot of pain. How much of a role do you think pain or hardship place and creativity and what implications does that have for where we are and

[00:34:20] where we’re going? I think pain and hardship lead to creativity. I think fear leads to creativity. I think hardship leads to creativity for different reasons. I think it’s spread into us. You know, it’s it goes back to the flight or or flight response in animals like that is almost has to turn on the creative spigot instantly. Where I think we get into a situation where creativity is extinguished, it’s not in the mode of pain or despair. It’s in the area of anger. And there’s a lot of anger that goes along with a pandemic. People are angry about this and they’re angry about that. I think the minute that the human mind switches into anger mode, that the ability to create goes right out the window. I have never found that if I let emotion, the emotion of anger kick in, that I have anything creative to say or any creative juice whatsoever. At that moment, you just become a cement block.

[00:35:25] So how do you businesses avoid that inertia, especially at a time when, like you said, so many people are feeling frustrated or stuck because of the pandemic?

[00:35:35] I don’t think that businesses, even if they’re creative businesses like metalworks, can remain static. You know, life’s dynamic businesses has to be dynamic. Innovation in everything is the key to moving the needle. So I never feel like, oh, we got it. No, we never we never got it. We’re at a certain base camp on the mountain. There is no God at like the summit of the mountain is still somewhere where we’re headed. We don’t know exactly how we’re going to get there. We hope we know. We think we have a map, you know, oops, we made a wrong turn. These are all the fundamentals of business there. They’re creative necessities of. Business, all businesses, no matter whether what business, RBC and banking, they have to iterate their banking model. And that’s, you know, needs to be powered by creativity for you to read or die. That’s how I see the processes of business

[00:36:34] iterate or die. Spoken like a true rock star. Gil, this has been a great shot. Thanks so much for your time.

[00:36:41] Thank you, John. I enjoyed every minute of it.

[00:36:45] Teresa, we’ve heard more than a few rock stars on disruptors over the years. Granted, most of them are from the tech space. And now we’ve had a real rock star, Gilmore, the drummer of Triumph. I was really struck by what he said about the importance of repetition to creativity. I kind of thought, you know, coming from the music world, he had say that most creative types, certainly musicians are kind of born that way. And he stressed that, no, you practice, practice, practice, and that’s how creative types, they’re not born. They’re made.

[00:37:18] Yeah. That that really resonated with me about the importance of having learned experience and knowledge to be able to generate more complex ideas. And it also reminded me of what AJ said about how collaboration is so important, because you can’t be an expert in multiple areas now like you might have been able to before. And so the need to work with other people, you know, the notion that creativity is a team sport are so fundamental to be able to think about how to embedded into our economy.

[00:37:48] And of course, it’s a real team sport when it comes to the circus. It was fascinating to hear Daniel Lahmar from Cirque du Soleil talk about how they approach creativity. And it surprised me how they see it embedded in every job in the organization, not just the people we see on center stage under the big tent, but the finance. And our teams back at headquarters in Montreal are as much a part of the creative enterprise as the performers. Maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise, but it’s a great message to all of us that creativity is something that exists probably in everyone. And we certainly need to find ways to draw it out from everyone if we’re to thrive as organizations or teams or even as individuals heading out of this pandemic. How we do that is going to be the subject of Episode two in our two part series. Teresa, who do we have lined up for that?

[00:38:43] Oh, we have so many fantastic people lined up. I am really excited to hear from Shopify. You know, they are Canadian, darling, and to be able to talk to one of the key founding members of their exponential growth, that is going to be awesome. How about you?

[00:39:00] I’m keen to hear from Ubisoft, the gaming company. Of course, gaming is all about creativity, but it marries narrative storytelling and technology in ways that I think every sector, every organization should be learning from

[00:39:13] in the 20s. Yeah. So we made a compelling case for creativity in this episode. And then we get to hear the how and different parts of the economy for the next. It’s shaping up to be a real good series.

[00:39:23] Well, as those creative types often say, stay tuned until next time. I’m John Stackhouse

[00:39:29] and I’m Theresa Do. This is Disruptors and RBC podcast. Talk to you soon.

Disruptors and RBC podcast is created by the RBC Thought Leadership Group and does not constitute a recommendation for any organization, product or service, it’s produced and recorded by Jar Audio for more disruptors, content like or subscribe or ever you get your podcasts and visit RBC Dotcom Slash Disruptors.


Jennifer Marron produces "Disruptors, an RBC podcast". Prior to joining RBC, Jennifer spent five years as Community Manager at MaRS Discovery District and cultivated a large network of industry leaders, entrepreneurs and partners to support the Canadian startup ecosystem. Her writing has appeared in The National Post, Financial Post, Techvibes, IT Business, CWTA Magazine and Procter & Gamble’s magazine, Rouge. Follow her on Twitter @J_Marron.

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