- “That child is really creative.”
- “Can you put that ad creative on my desk?”
- “Leaders in business need to be more creative.”
On a personal note, if you’re reading this blog right now, I’ve thought a lot about you. (Yep, pretty creepy… but hey… it’s my job.) About how your high degree of creativity (and how you manifest it) makes you different than other people, folks for whom creativity is just a passing nod.
This concept is so important to me that it provides the foundation of this entire blog and much of my speaking and teaching… and we need a word that describes us more accurately. True creatives need a way to describe ourselves that says more than just “creative”. So I set about to finding one.
That’s when I was struck by a bolt of lighting… in the form of a made-up compound word that fits you and I to a tee.
Why We Need Our Own Word To Describe Us
Society’s Super-Creative Core
One of the most illuminating books I read last year was The Rise Of The Creative Class by Richard Florida.
In it, he uses volumes of demographic data and other research to present his findings about what he calls the creative class, a broadly defined group which he says makes up about a third of the nation’s workforce. Within this group are professions as varied as medical specialists, computer programmers, and research scientists. In Florida’s definition, this broad group tends to “draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems.” (Florida, 2002.)
There is another group within this one he calls the super-creative core… a smaller subset of people who are directly responsible for innovation, and for the creation of consumer goods and tangible products.
Here’s the really cool part: based on his findings, these people are the leading force in the growth of the economy. A social model as well as an economic one, Florida’s thesis presents a growing and continuous need for these creative workers and their importance in our society.
I was fascinated by this idea, but I also had a bit of trouble with the idea of professional creativity being “diluted” by saying that as much as a third of the workforce can be classified as such… including some professions who wouldn’t even think of calling themselves creative. While his idea of a “super-creative core” did help specify a smaller subset, I felt that I needed a tighter, more specific term for the kind of creative people I was thinking of.
Also, the idea of a professional “super-creative core” or “creative class” only addresses the economic impact of creatives who work for a living… but what about people who don’t do creative work for money? What about those who create for deeper reasons?
Demographics Vs. Psychographics
Another thing that I wanted to address with my new made-up word was the desire to express not just what we creative people do… but also how we think.
Much of the data-driven stuff about creative people talks about professions and demographic things like where we tend to live. But demographics can only get you so far… we also need to think about psychographics. This is a way of classifying people by their psychological factors such as attitudes and aspirations. This answers questions like:
- What are creative people’s values?
- What are their hobbies?
- What are their motivations?
My new word needed to dig a whole lot deeper than just referring to creativity as an external thing. After all, don’t we do creativity because we think creatively? The internal motivates the external.
They Keep Stealing Our Words
Face it: we creatives are the cool kids. We know this because “they” keep stealing our stuff.
Words like “creative” and “art” get stolen all the time. Let’s try an experiment and you’ll see what I mean.
Google “creative”. The first result for me is a company that makes sound cards for computers.
Now google “art.” A little closer, perhaps… for me this reveals a company that will print up a variety of posters for your wall.
There are a ton of books, properties, and ideas that use “art” to make their topic sound cooler:
- The Art Of War
- The Art of Manliness
- The Art of Shaving
- The Art Of Making Productive Spreadsheets
(Okay, I totally made that last one up. But believe me, I’ve seen worse.)
So, how do those of us who create because we’re compelled to… describe ourselves? What’s a word that we can use to keep the creative aspect… while amping it up and setting us apart?
The Case For The Mashup
I love mashups. They’re a way of combining two things into a new thing that can give you something greater (or at least different) than the sum of its parts.
- Chocolate + Peanut Butter
- Yin + Yang
- Daft Punk + Kanye
(Well, I thought Daft Punk was just fine without Kanye… but that’s a matter of opinion.)
We dedicated creatives need a term that’s a mashup: something that keeps the creative and adds something else that’s relevant.
Is This Just Hyper… bole?
Just for fun, here’s my shortlist of terms that I explored for our new mashup word:
- Megacreative (Too awkward to say)
- Supercreative (Too Kryptonian)
- Ubercreative (Too Norwegian… and I don’t want to deal with the umlauts)
Here’s what I like best:
I really like hypercreative because:
- “Hyper” means literally “more than normal, even excessive”. Simple.
- “Hyper” kinda has a notoriety about it… hyperactive kids and all.
- “Hyper” sounds really cool when paired with “Creative”!
Say it a few times. Kinda rolls right off, doesn’t it?
Now that I’ve made the case for adding yet another word to our lexicon (which, by the way, I’m attempting to do all across the internet starting here), let’s dispense with all the logic and talk about us… the hypercreatives.
An Apology To The “Unclassifiables”….
I feel at this point that I need to pause and offer an apology for a special subset of you that I know are out there. I know you don’t like to be classified, labeled, pigeonholed, or put in a box. I know that you consider yourselves so unique that you defy any categorization.
My reasoning is this: in order to break down what makes us unique, we also have to identify what makes us like each other. Isn’t it necessary to identify our commonalities so that we can know exactly how we’re different from most people?
We have to be careful that we’re not so unique that nobody can see us. That is, if we want any influence or income at all. I would encourage you to look at artistic movements throughout history… it was rarely one person, but a group of hypercreatives who made a significant mark. From renaissance to post modernism, we’ve always done better as a group.
So, with that said, let’s find out more about us. What are the characteristics of people who are hypercreative?
What Makes Someone Hypercreative?
Everybody is born creative. We all have a capacity to make things – pretty much from the moment we’re able to hold a writing instrument.
But not all people are hypercreative.
Hypercreative can either describe an individual (i.e., “She’s really hypercreative“) or a state of being (i.e., “I’m feeling hypercreative today.“)
A person who is hypercreative would possess a higher than normal degree of creativity. A hypercreative typically has a considerable amount of energy and passion for what they are creating. While someone who isn’t typically hypercreative can get themselves into a state of higher-than-normal creativity, a hypercreative is habitually, even impulsively creative.
Hypercreatives can either be professionals or hobbyists, and they will be creative whether they are paid for it or not. Pros with marketable creative skills are typically are found in the creative industries, or as professional creatives within various fields. They might also be found as solo “creativepreneurs”, entrepreneurial creatives who have built their own business around their creative pursuits.
A hypercreative person by necessity has to be emotionally connected with what they are making. This makes them different from an employee or knowledge worker who’s just in it for the paycheck, or just going through the motions of working. Hypercreatives desire challenge and to make a difference. They love to be recognized for their work and when properly supported they enjoy sharing it with others.
Let’s further break down the hypercreative person by separating them into what I believe are three main areas:
The rest of this article digs into these three areas in more detail. Also, you can download a handy mind map of these three areas that I’ve made for my Hypercreative Members. (See the link at the bottom of the post for this special bonus content!)
The Strengths Of Hypercreatives
Hypercreatives have a great deal to offer… this is why companies are actively seeking their talents to improve their products, add value to their services, and boost their marketing prowess.
They are naturally charismatic by just being their creative selves. They are like attention magnets, and people are always wanting to know what they’re working on. They’re passionate about what they do and so they bring a very personal quality to their work.
They are risk-takers, always pushing the envelope of what “common wisdom” says is possible. They’re natural innovators – never taking things at face value, but questioning what’s below the surface. In this way they encourage any organization to look deeper and dig for that extra bit of innovation. This gives a company savvy enough to harness this power a decidedly competitive advantage.
They are creators of value, as they not only add value to existing products and services, but they also create something completely new out of what wasn’t there before. They synthesize input from various sources and curate the best of what’s out there. They’re tastemakers and culture-shifters, and in this way they exert a degree of cultural influence that can’t be ignored.
They’re very productive and self-motivated when sufficiently supplied with enough room to work and the tools to work with. For the manager with the right management style, they will strive to bring their best effort every day, requiring little guidance. They often get into a hyper-productive flow state when left alone, maximizing every ounce of their time spent working.
The Challenges Of Hypercreatives
Due to the enormous amount of themselves that they put into their work, hypercreatives who haven’t developed sufficient emotional maturity may be especially vulnerable to criticism, even to the point where their sharing – or even creating – stops. This creates a state of frustration and can lead to other pervasively negative emotional states about their work (and since they are so connected to their work, about themselves as well.)
Since hypercreatives are constantly receiving ideas and inspiration from various sources, they rarely require extra incentives or coaching to come up with ideas – rather, the problem is more often too many ideas. This means that in order to be effective they need an internal filtering system in place to help them sift through the constant flow of ideas and curate the best ones to focus on.
Another tendency for many hypercreatives to overcome is abandoning their current project or idea when another newer idea comes along. They need the diligence and discipline to be able to focus and maximize their efforts in order to accomplish their creative goals. This can be especially difficult when challenges come up, therefore problem solving skills are also an essential trait of successful hypercreatives.
Since hypercreatives love their work so much, they’re not usually focusing on their income. This has the unfortunate side effect of many of them being under-compensated for the value that they bring to a company. The underpaid creative has, as a result, become such a common thread in society that it’s become a cliche.
In a similar vein, hypercreatives may experience a lack of support from their superiors or coworkers due to their forward-thinking ways. Many companies are stuck in the status quo, with virtually immovable policies. New and innovative thoughts may become quickly wrapped up in red tape, leading to frustration. They may as a result experience a lack of resources, credibility, and freedom.
Hypercreatives, due to their sensitive nature, might become vulnerable to negative emotional states such as cynicism, apathy, depression, and frustration. This might even lead to negative physical states as well.
The Desires and Goals Of Hypercreatives
Hypercreative people value a diverse work environment and a variety of people to work with. They tend to like institutions, cultures, and cities that are tolerant to many different viewpoints and lifestyles. This isn’t very surprising, given their nature as people who like to sift and assimilate many different viewpoints.
They tend to be very socially conscious, valuing their part in the overall sphere of humanity. They are aware of social issues and sensitive to the situations of people who have had a different history than they themselves have had. Perhaps this is due to their empathy skills, which they employ to sustain their imaginations.
Hypercreatives also value lifestyle and experiences. You’ll often find a group of them talking about a vacation they took unlike “normal” vacations… they love to absorb the world through personal experience. This has the side effect of helping them generate new ideas from the new world viewpoints they’ve experienced.
As seekers of significance, they tend to look for deep meaning in everything they work on, and frequently ask questions about the “whys” of a project. The more they know about this, the more they are able to put themselves into the work.
Hypercreatives value the creative communities they’re a part of, and so it’s important for them to be able to share their work and ideas with their creative peers. Personal relationships and professional relationships often merge as they seek deeper meaning with other people. Connection and even love is very important, whether it’s in a work environment or outside of their work.
Are You Hypercreative?
Do any of these descriptions resonate with you?
Can you identify with the values, desires, goals, and challenges that have been presented?
If you don’t identify with all of them, that doesn’t mean you aren’t hypercreative. These traits are an informal collection… and while this ongoing research is based on both 20 years of personal experience and on many works of authors and other creatives, there’s always room for exceptions.
If you are hypercreative, then welcome! You’re in the right place. I receive your “quirkiness” with open arms. Know your value, your special abilities, and your unique qualities make you very important. Never forget it!
Let Your Voice Be Heard
This article isn’t finished… it needs your voice! Please leave your thoughts or questions in the comment area below.