Hi event planners. Hope you’re staying safe. Don’t forget to watch your hands, both before and after reading this post. Cause you never can tell.

Anyways, we had a question and answer segment with Mr Mario Muller. For those who aren’t familiar with the name, Mario Müller is a German coach for leaders, teams, and creatives. He is a professional improviser with a focus on physicality and the body. He studied computers and the brain.

You can check out his blog by clicking HERE

This segment though done for our WhatsApp writing school is really applicable in almost all aspects of life. It’s encompassing and the principles can be applied in events planning, business management, motivation and even human relations.

We’d be dropping excerpts from the interview, but we would also be taking quotes from this in subsequent articles. Do well to share to your friends, they’d need this:

  1. How can I keep my creativity flowing?

Creativity is about perception. These images are from a training tool Mario Müller created with artists from Africa and three other continents. Learn how to use them below.”

Like all forms of art, creativity is based on perception. Like all forms of craft, creativity is based on practice. Look at the world and at things with a sense of wonder, stay curious. Combine things. Divert things from their intended use, ask open questions.

For example: A friend of mine, an artist, creates animal sculptures from everyday objects; boxes, screws, hinges,
hooks. To do so, he needs to look at any object as if he wanted to make an animal out of this one.

There is always something in his mind trying to find the animal in every thing. Try this, look around and find the animal in the things around you, try to see which part of which animal it would be.

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These images are like clouds, but more colourful. Look at them as if you were looking at the clouds in the sky and start seeing things in it. Faces, creatures – whatever you find is okay. It is a natural ability and after finding the first things, you will find it very easy.”

Let the remote be the beak of a bird. What would the entire bird look like? Practice this and it will completely change the world you are walking through.

Why not use a fork to stir your coffee, if it is the closest thing? Reinvent the usage of things. If you want to practice strategically, take a random object and find 25 things to use it for. If you find something that can not be done with it, how would you need to change it so it would do the job?

Or how about this one: If this very moment, the moment I am experiencing right now was a sign, a metaphor form my life or for what is important for me now, what would it say? What would be a hidden hint on how to deal with things?

“Practice by showing others what you see and where you see it. Describe it, until they see it, too. These images are from Wolkentraining. The 99 cards are very different in aesthetic and level of difficulty. Write us if you want to see more.”

Don’t be too serious with this one and with the other advice – stay playful, play by the rules you choose. Change them the way you like. Have fun!

This will change your perception – if you do these things regularly, it will change your perception forever and ideas will come to you like breath. All great minds use their inner “graphics card“, their visual imagination.

2.  How Do I motivate my team when working remotely?

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Motivation is about purpose, about the why. If your coworkers do it only for the money, that’s difficult. Money is only a means, no purpose in itself, it is empty.

If you want to motivate people, include them. Let them argue, invent, propose, decide as much as possible. Listen to them. Actively consider what they are proposing and add to it. And then, after unfolding the implications and walking the idea with them until you really see it – make a decision.

Accept the gifts they are bringing to be part of the process. If they are not allowed to offer what they have, they will pull out – and do only what they are told to, out of frustration or defiance.

People want autonomy, they want to contribute, to be part of the process, and earn honor and respect by contributing, by adding to the process. They want to be able to say “we“, not “they“, when they talk about their work.

People want to excel at something, become better and more experienced. They want to be recognized and respected for their efforts.

Ask them for advice, ask them for opinion, truly consider their opinion. Publicly praise them for their contribution in an appropriate way. Say please and thank you. Give feedback. Give constructive feedback, showing that you are on their side and team up with them to help them get even better.

Give them feedback which you have thoroughly prepared, sit down with them and give feedback in the way they are supposed to give feedback to you. These are general rules and apply both for face to face work and for working remotely.

3. How do I handle creatives or freelancers?

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Both creatives and freelancers on average crave a high degree of autonomy and freedom. They are used to be responsible and to put a lot of themselves into their work. They are used to see their  contribution in their creations and identify with them. They are proud to have their name on something they made. Working in a team, they will still want to see their contribution to the final product.

Make sure that ideas and solutions don’t have the “brand“ of individuals in your team. Why? If you have three competing ideas brought forward by three people and you have decide for one, then two drop out and “lose“ – that’s a typical process in a male dominated, competitive environment.

Let everybody contribute to every idea early in the process and hear everyone before deciding which way to go – that way nobody loses their entire investment and stays on board.

Use their expertise, ask them questions. Ask them for a lot of different proposals and keep the ones or aspects that you like. They must learn that only the best ideas can make it and that they are required and invited to keep delivering.

Create an atmosphere that is friendly and respectful, so that constructive feedback can be brought forward directly, without hurting egos. If you like something they came up with, tell them.

They come up with crazy ideas, first listen carefully until you understand. Ask questions. Add to it, think it further, even if you can’t see where it is going. Often, it might not go anywhere, but it builds trust and connection. And if you work like this, you will find some very unexpected gems.

4. How do I get the motivation to complete writing boring jobs?

Things happen to get more interesting the closer you look at them. If something is boring, usually you don’t know enough about it yet. There are interesting and fascinating aspects to everything – or aspects to fit. Everything you write is read by someone who cares, who is interested in it.

Mario Muller

Mr Mario Muller

Why are they interested? What fascinates them about it? What could be interesting about it if you had to imagine someone who is obsessed with it?

If the task looks too huge and overwhelming, break it down to smaller steps. Or do just what is necessary. Because once you have done the indispensable part o fit, you are done. Especially in writing, do just what is necessary, not more.

If nothing else helps, reward yourself. Make a deal. “I will write the first chapter/column/paragraph and then work on what I love doing for half an hour (or go jogging/have ice cream, whatever gets you going).

But my main advice is: Look at the topic through the eyes of someone who is fascinated by it. You can be fascinated by anything.

5. Sometimes I try to write but I get headaches. What do I do about it?

A fit is a real, physical headache: drink water, go for a walk, breathe, stretch, eat. If all this doesn’t help and you are way too tired, take a nap of 15 to 25 minutes maximum.

take a walk

If it is a metaphorical headache because you are squeezing and squishing your brain but nothing comes out: There is only so much pressure that still helps. You can squeeze a tube of toothpaste as hard as you want if it is empty. Before torturing yourself endlessly (I’ve had writing days where I pushed myself for five hours – ending up with three lines oft ext which I deleted the next day) – take a break and do something that motivates you. Get your body going.

Also: Analytical thinking is not creative, because it dissects elements, it doesn’t add them up. Being playful is creative and additive. For that to happen, you have to start the process somewhere. Challenge yourself to write the worst column possible. Or start with the third sentence, not the first. Just start doing it.

Explain it to your best friend, as if you were writing an email to them. Find the joy, the challenge, keep producing. Doesn’t need to be good. Write what you think – but in topic, not about the process or yourself, this will make you complain, self reflective and analytical again. If you have the first paragraph, write it again; your thought is starting to shape. Once you have written it three or four times, it will be really good.

Don’t stop to correct typos, you can do that in the end. Once you have a good paragraph, delete the trials.

I learned that, writing a scene, overthinking and planning don‘t work. You have to see it in your mind, look at the details and see how these details come to life, they mean something, the do something.

Let them act, let them develop freely and just write down what is happening. Let the protagonists just behave and react to what is going on. The scenes I wrote like this just fell into my lap, needed almost no finishing and are consistently the best and most vivid ones I write.

Also, when I get a grip of a scene like that, I just write them down in a couple of minutes. Getting deep enough into a scene so that it becomes interesting and inspiring makes up for hours and hours of pointless self torturing.

6. How do I learn body language so I can relate with my customers, investors and employees better?

We are all natural body language experts. We all rely on it, but often, we don’t trust our instincts.

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When you are truthful, you know every single person’s opinion and attitude towards you. You know what you feel they think about you. Whether they trust you, whether or how much you trust them.

Influencing your own body language consciously usually leads to disaster. People instantaneously notice that your behavior is inconsistent and that you are trying to manipulate them. This is by far the quickest and most efficient way of losing people’s trust.

But what you can do is change – or focus on – your attitude. In German, attitude and posture are the same word, Haltung. What you really think, what you care about, your values, they are all manifest and visible in your posture. So if you are honestly interested in a person, if you honestly want to help them, if you honestly respect them and you evoke these emotions in yourself vividly, they will become visible.

Also, my most important lesson on body language is this: body language doesn’t only send signals to the world, but also back to yourself. You feel intrigued, energetic, weak, enthusiastic, powerful, depressed, curious, needy, angry, soft and a million other things, because your body tells you who you are every second of the day.

Let your values become emotions and images, let your body be affected by it and hold on to these emotions – the rest will take car of itself. Be authentic, be real, be truthful, and people will notice. No strategies, NLP, gestures or power poses needed.

7. Do you think it wise, building an ideology around your business?

Mario Muller

I am surprised about the word ideology. I think you should be building a business on values. As I said before, money is empty and not a puropse. Profit is a means for growth, but it has no inherent value.

Making people rich is pointless if they themselves find no purpose for the money other than buying stuff to entertain themselves with.

Values are always in the shape of positivity. A value is something you want to create, cultivate, groom. An ideology usually has the purpose of gathering people who share an attribute by excluding people without that attribute.

Excluding people always comes at a cost. Not only for a society, because invisible walls reduce interaction,  transaction, trust and safety. But also for a business, because you will have to decline brilliant people and talents if they don’t fit into your ideology.

I think the key values of every modern society and every modern corporation must be tolerance and responsibility. Only tolerant systems are sustainable and compatible. Being against a group of people with certain attributes is a waste of energy and won‘t get businesses or mankind anywhere.

Corporations that are not responsible are structural parasites and will sooner or later be replaced by something better.

8. Do you think a startup should have people with only similar ideologies and attitude on the team?

I’m not sure if I understand the question as intended. Having different perspectives on the world in your team is valuable for many reasons, but ideology is a way harder word than perspective.

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As long as there is a foundation of mutual respect and curiosity, as long as people can exchange arguments
and opinions without judging the people carrying a different worldview, diversity is very important and good for many things. If opinions are getting between the people, that is a problem.

As long as people act based on values, you can argue about which value is most important, but you will always find a common ground. Ideologies usually are articulated as absolutes and either you are in, or out. Ideally, you make values count in your business, and your team should share those values.

9. How can someone combine work and family

I don’t feel qualified to answer that question, since I don’t have a family competing with my job for time and attention.

All I can say is that I recommend openness and being truthful to yourself. Usually, we know what the right thing to do is but we chose not to listen to our inner voice out of fear, comfort or because we want something really badly.

10. How can someone avoid breaking down due on stress even while working on several things?

Switching between tasks aka multitasking, is easy for some, and hard for others. Studies have shown that people who say they are really good at multitasking usually are exceptionally bad at it – because they really try and do several thing simultaneously, not noticing they are ruining them all.

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Good multi-taskers do one thing at the time, but can switch quickly between them.

 

Every switch between tasks takes time. The brain has to activate the patterns, associations and needed memories for the process at hand and has to deactivate/inhibit the patterns of the skipped process. Studies say switching between tasks at work takes around five minutes. Five full minutes until you are again fully in the workflow of a process.

You read and answer an email for three minutes and it takes you another five minutes until you are fully back. After two minutes, you get a one minute phone call. After the call: Another five minutes. That way, people can spend a day in the office without getting anything done, because for several hours they are busy switching between tasks.

So, if you can, stick to one task as long as you can. I am creative, so I work excitement-based; based on inspiration. I am working on several projects so I can work on the one I am inspired by the most at the moment. I get bored or distracted easily, like most creative people, so I need different projects with different requirements in order to „be somebody else“ and not the same all day long. That way, working on different things actually helps me and is not stressing me out.

Dealing with experiences you find stressful is a huge topic, I can’t go into the depths of it here, but one of the keys to handling stress is to notice you are being stressed right now. Only that way you can deal with it consciously and prevent it from building up to burnout. Keep breathing. Allow yourself to be overwhelmed.

Re frame “stress” as excitement (since most people prefer being excited vastly over being bored).

Don’t judge yourself for your emotions, accept them. Take your time – if you work in a hurry, you will do it twice anyway.

Look at what you have achieved already. Meditate for 10 minutes in the morning. Notice, which images, thoughts and emotions are coming up, but don’t let them drag you away. Return to the here and now every time you notice you got carried away again.

Don’t take yourself and your life too serious. Of the 120 billion people who ever lived, you happen to live in a world most of them would not have been able to imagine,; the knowledge of mankind in your hands, being able to talk to every human on the planet, cures for diseases and a standard of living no king had only 200 years ago. That is something. You are very privileged. And yes, there are always people who are more privileged than you. But of those 120 billion people, you are at least in the top one if you can read this.

Take a breath. Enjoy. You are alive. At the end of your days, you will find that you stressed yourself over too many pointless things. Focus on what is important to you. Have fun.

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