13 Jul July 13, 2020 – Minute7 Marc Summe and Creativity Eliza Ryan
Marc Summe – CEO at Minute7 Time and Expense Tracking
We like the control that bootstrapping offers. We don’t have outsiders telling us what we do. We get to dictate the strategy. We like that freedom.
Marc Summe is the CEO behind Minute7, which does time and expense tracking for professional service businesses and got featured in Entrepreneur Magazine. Minute7 syncs with QuickBooks Online and QB Desktop, allowing its users to get paid faster. The company is bootstrapped, has thousands of users and Marx has doubled its revenue last year. Prior to Minute7, Marc worked in finance and private equity and met a lot of successful entrepreneurs along the way before deciding to make the leap himself.
Eliza Lay Ryan – Founder and Author of Supermindful – Read interview highlights here
We must allow ourselves to be in the unknown. The trough is part
of the creative process. Its like, “Nothing, nothing, nothing,
Eliza Lay Ryan is an actress, dancer, choreographer, director, artist, musician, speaker, and author. She has spent the past decade immersed in the literature of social science, psychology, philosophy, and wisdom traditions, exploring how we can make expanding our perspective playful and fun. She has served as Head of Acting for the New York Film Academy at Harvard and has collaborated with neuroscientists on studies of mindfulness and re-perception. Her goal is for as many people as possible to be supermindful. Eliza helps people connect with their own genius to shift into new ways of seeing and foster more wonder and curiosity into everyday life. Eliza has also authored a book, Supermindful: How to tap into your creativity, where she teaches her readers how to cultivate supermindfulness in order to respond dynamically and authentically to life, shift their perspective, access their wholeness more fully, and connect with each other more wholly.
Highlights from Eliza’s Interview
To start with, Supermindful is really just mindfulness plus imagination, which is really just awareness plus imagination. When you have awareness plus imagination, then you have creativity. Actually, we are all inherently creative. Children wouldn’t be able to function unless they were creative. Children are constantly looking at their environment, trying on new ways of being, seeing what works, seeing what doesn’t, just like a startup: iterating and iterating. This is our natural way of learning. For example, your children say hello when they greet somebody, they learned that by watching you. So what happens as we grow older is we stop watching the world around us and learning from it, instead we start saying, do I like this or do I not like this? Then we go towards the things we like and we avoid the things we don’t like, instead of allowing everything to inform us actively, the way that children do. So daydreaming really has nothing to do with it, it has to do with observation. experience, trying things out, seeing what works, seeing what doesn’t, opening and opening to see what other ways are there that I could think, feel, and be that could be of use to me, instead of just the ways that I’ve always done everything. That’s what creativity is, as a way of life. That’s what Supermindful is, Supermindful is really just opening up to see what else is there so we can see what else we can draw, and so we can live better lives; make better choices, create better companies, relationships, and society.
So to become Supermindful, the first thing is just practicing, pausing every so often, and connecting to what we’re feeling and what’s going on for us. Because what often happens is, we are just bulldozing through our lives, we don’t just pause and say what’s happening right now? Because the moment we pause and say what’s happening right now, a new possibility can arise; something new can happen. Because oftentimes the thing that needs to happen next is not the thing we’ve always done. So if we just learn how to interject these pauses into our lives, then we interrupt and we put little speed bumps, and new possibilities can happen. Then once we pause, we can ask what needs to happen now, and then a new possibility can arise. Then if we practice imagining, if we practice shifting into different ways of thinking, feeling, and being, new possibilities can more easily come into that gap to fill our minds so we can behave more effectively. Acquiring those new ways of thinking, feeling, and being is just as easy as they were when we were children.
For example, I was watching Michelle Obama documentary the other night, Becoming. I was just struck by how easily she filled those huge stadiums that she was speaking to. She just had this easy way about her. So since watching that, just periodically, I’ve just paused like Michelle Obama did. “Alright, let’s just sit here and take up a lot of space in an easy way for a second.” Now the more I do that, the more access I have to it. This is just how neuroplasticity works. Usually, our neurons flow in the direction they’ve always flowed based on our genetics and our life experience, but we can give ourselves new experiences by emulating other people, by imagining other ways of being, by expanding the numbers of ways we can think and feel and move through the world. So we can shift our neural pathways, increase our neural plasticity, and make our thoughts flow in new directions. In this way our intuition, not our active hard working mind, but just the intuition has more to draw on.
If you think about it this way, if you’ve always thought, “I can, I’m just a capable person. I can do things, whatever I do kind of works out”, your intuition is always drawing on that. If you think, “I can’t, one of the things I tried did not really work out”, your intuition is always drawing on that. But if you have access to that whole range of being from I can’t to I can, your intuition can draw on the whole range of being. So I can’t can also become valuable, because some things we can’t do and it’s helpful to be able to ask for help. So we need to make all ways of being neutral, the way that things in nature are neutral. You wouldn’t say a rough piece of sandpaper is good or a soft piece of sandpaper is bad, a soft pillowcase is good or a rough pillowcase is bad; rough and soft are neutral. But when we apply those to ourselves and other people, we usually label them and judge them, instead of using them to be creative and expansive and effective.
So actually in the book at the very end, there’s a section called Applied Supermindfulness. It is actually a format for brainstorming using the practices. But I think that you need two things present. The reason why I bring up children a lot is because they play and they go towards things that frighten them. So first, as adults, we need to make ourselves feel comfortable. Basically, the more uncomfortable we feel, the less playful we are; the more afraid we feel, the less playful we are. So the mindfulness aspect of Supermindfulness is really how can I show up with ease in myself for whatever life is throwing at me. Once you do that, once you are able to make yourself comfortable, then you open yourself up to be a little bit more playful, and so you can adopt new ways of thinking safely. So the first thing I would suggest is pausing, just pausing periodically. The more you pause and become present to your actual experience, the more you reinforce yourself that you’re able to be present for your actual experience. Oftentimes, we avoid ourselves because we’re like, I don’t know what I’m going to find. But the more we show up just saying what’s going on and become present to ourselves, the more strong we feel, the more we realize, I can show up for whatever is happening, that’s no problem. So exercising that muscle of just being present to ourselves is the first thing.
The next thing is allowing ourselves to feel resourced. So allowing ourselves to just feel our feet on the ground, feeling our breath, just including that as part of the pausing. “Okay, look, here I am. In this room that I’m in, these are the things in this room that I’m grateful for.” Not in a ‘Oh, I’m so grateful’ kind of way, but in a really tangible way like, “These things are beautiful and they are around me, how lucky is that? How lucky is that that I have woke up this morning?” Just connecting to the fact that you’re a resourced individual, supported by the world around you. So awareness, being resourced, and then play.
So one way you can play is, on my website, I have a million possibilities practices. So a million ways to shift through playing around with, shifting your mind, shifting your healing, shifting your physical self. They are one to three-minute practices that you can do anytime and anywhere with your eyes open. They’re actually the practices that I used to teach actors and realized could be helpful for anyone. But the other way you can do it is just through emulation. So we have these mirror neurons. The way that I use my mirror neurons with Michelle Obama was to say, “I see you, you’re doing something cool. I’m going to internally model that and do it myself.” We can do that anytime, we can do it listening to the radio if we hear somebody’s voice we like, we can internally model that and try it on ourselves and just make it part of who we are, expanding our own selves authentically. Because I’m never going to be Michelle Obama, but I can be more useful and take up more space as Eliza. So usually, we use these mirror neurons to compare what we’re seeing with what we would like to be seeing. We use our mirror neurons to judge expectations; are expectations being met or they’re not being met. But we can use our mirror neurons to internally model and to increase our neuroplasticity. That’s what your children are doing, all children have internally modeled you and that’s why they can say hello, and probably many other things. You probably see yourself in them a lot because they’ve internally modeled you a lot, but it depends on the child too. Because they’re not using it actively. That’s a really important thing, we’re using all of these functions actively. As adults, we’re able to choose, that’s our most powerful superpower, is the ability to say, “This is how I am, this is how I want to be. How can I choose that?”
If you want to help someone achieve creativity, it really depends on who they’re, but I think the first question always is to ask why. Why is somebody being rigid, why is somebody not opening up to different ideas? Once you understand the why, then you can interact with them as individuals. So our own creativity, our own curiosity is the start of all future creativity. So oftentimes, if we want somebody to be more of something, we have an agenda for them like, I need you to be more X. So the first question is, why are they how they are, what’s the benefit of how they are? What needs are they fulfilling through how they are, and what else do we need from them? How can we expand them from where they are and do we even need to? Sometimes we think somebody needs to be more like that, but instead, we can engage our curiosity and our creativity and ask, how are they functioning as they are; that’s sometimes the more effective thing. Because oftentimes or pretty much always, we’re judging other people against who we think they should be, rather than starting off with where they are and with their why.
Now, in a case where you’ve lost your creativity, just be in the space of not knowing because you can’t know until you know. Usually, creativity is not there because we are in a state of fear, so if we can just allow ourselves to be in the unknown. What’s so amazing if you read about the creativity of the literature is, this is a part of the creative process, the trough is part of the creative process. It’s like nothing, nothing, nothing, a breakthrough, nothing, nothing, nothing, another breakthrough. So what’s happening is, our left brain or our logical brain is always like, I need to know, and creativity is inherently the unknown. If it was known, it wouldn’t be created. So being in the unknown is part of the creative process. Those two steps that I talked about first: connecting with the moment as it is and being resourced, those are what help us be in the trough, in the discomfort of not knowing, so the creative idea can actually be born. So that’s one possibility when you’re in the creative trough.
Another possibility when you’re in the creative trough is just to play around, just trying lots of different things, just to play around with a lot of different mindsets. The brainstorming process in the book is, you learn how to shift your mindset in a lot of different ways. So the brainstorming tool in the back of the book is to create three different mindsets, and ride a stream of consciousness from those mindsets on a problem, and then synthesize those three different mindsets into a new solution. So I would say, either choosing to be in the creative trough, kind of like the circadian rhythm. Around mid-afternoon, you’re really tired and you want to drink seven cups of coffee, that’s because we have a natural circadian rhythm. So sometimes you have to drink a cup of coffee, sometimes you are like, “No, I have seven meetings, I need to barrel through to drink the coffee.” But the natural thing is for you to drink it. So that’s the same with the creative process, there’s a natural trough that occurs. So if you’re going to be with the creative trough, that’s great. If you can’t be with a creative trough, you’re like, my client needs this pitch strapping next Thursday and I got nothing, then I would just say bombard yourself with a state of playfulness and just try a million mindsets. Like the coffee, let that zoom you through.
Now sometimes you’re going through this creative trough where you have no idea at all, and then suddenly, a great idea presents itself, it’s called shower inspiration. So your unconscious mind is always working, that’s the amazing thing. I had this experience during the pandemic, I needed to redesign something for my business. I was like bombarding myself with it, I kept doing it, then I was like, I just have no idea, so then I just stopped. Then one day, I saw a Facebook ad, I clicked on the Facebook ad, I saw this website, and I was like, “Oh, this, this is the kind of thing.” Then, there it was. So I think oftentimes, it’s just allowing things to percolate. It’s a different muscle, this muscle of listening to the world. Because usually we’re kind of talking to the world, but what it sounds like I did was just listen to the world, so actually a new thing can come in. It’s very much like the emulating or the imagining or your children learning, it’s allowing the world to inform you, rather than you thinking that you need to come up with it. Because you can’t come up with it, you can’t get there from here using the same mindset that got you here. So it’s the same thing. You just let the world inform you, and then over time, it’s synthesized into your solution.
I remember reading once, Thomas Jefferson said that he was totally incapable of functioning unless he just walked for two hours a day because that was where he got all of his ideas during these blocks. I was thinking, we walk for maybe 30 seconds a day. So that’s why I think it’s really important to just infuse our lives with these pauses and these moments, where we’re just being. That’s actually in a way what the time of isolation has done. In some cases, people have been on Zoom for 12 hours a day. But in other cases, it’s given people a time to pause and new solutions, whether it’s a treehouse or their career or a relationship with their family has been able to incubate. It’s really an incubation and gestation. You don’t get pregnant and then have a baby the next day, you need to let it occur organically.
It’s this idea that we can make ourselves better, and that our brain is in our whole body. So we can change our brain through just how we move, through what we do, through the actions we take, through how we change our environment; it’s all this integrated system. There was this one hedge fund that would just slightly change the lighting every 20 minutes, the lighting would just very slightly change. Because there are studies done that show that with these changes in light from pink to blue to yellow, it increases the elasticity of your brain. So they added lighting and they noticed a huge increase in their productivity and in the creativity in their traders. So there are so many environmental ways that we can increase our creativity. Once you tune into the fact that you’re a creative agent in your own self, you naturally want to do all these things, because life becomes fun because you’re not trapped in the straitjacket of your habits.
You can go to Amazon to get the book, Supermindful: How to Tap Into Your Creativity. You can also find out more on my website, www.supermindful.co.