The Intuition Network, A Thinking Allowed Television Underwriter, presents the following transcript from the series Thinking Allowed, Conversations On the Leading Edge of Knowledge and Discovery, with Dr. Jeffrey Mishlove.


JEFFREY MISHLOVE, Ph.D.: Hello and welcome. Our topic today is "Creativity in Business," and my guest, Professor Michael Ray of the Graduate School of Business Administration at Stanford University, is an expert in this subject. He is the author of a new book called Creativity in Business. He is also the author of several other books, including Advertising and Communication Management, and Communicating with Consumers. He is on the editorial board of the Journal of Communications Science, the Journal of Marketing Research, and the Journal of Advertising Research. He is a director of the California Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, and the Institute of Marketing Science in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Welcome, Michael.

MICHAEL RAY, Ph.D.: Thank you.

MISHLOVE: It's a pleasure to have you here.

RAY: It's good to be here.

MISHLOVE: I am absolutely fascinated reading your book Creativity in Business. It could read like a spiritual text. One might almost think that you were Shirley MacLaine, or somebody writing from that perspective. How did you manage to get away with that, in the business milieu in which you work?

RAY: Well, I think because it's just very practical. I think people in business are looking for things all the time, in terms of wanting to be more efficient, make better decisions, be more appropriate, get better ideas, be more creative, communicate with other people.

MISHLOVE: Sure, but you're suggesting they meditate.

RAY: Well, for some people that's a good thing to do. One of the things we do in our course, and of course in our book, is we use kind of a massing principle. We probably have a dozen different kinds of meditation, and we have art work, and doing mandalas, and if they want to do I Ching they can do that, or use Tarot cards, or whatever. Our strategy is that probably for any one of these things, ninety percent of the people will find them not useful or even abhor it, but for that other ten percent there might be a breakthrough; something might really happen. They might get an experience of their own creativity, and that's what's really important to us. We feel you can't teach creativity; you have to give people an experience of it. Some of the things we do are very mundane. We ask people -- now we do it kind of in a meditative sense, but we start out the course, and start out the first chapter of our book, asking people to think of a time when they had a great idea. It doesn't have to be a media event, or changing an industry, it doesn't even have to be a business idea, but something that worked for them. And so right from the start people are acknowledging to themselves that they are creative, that they do have enormous creative resources within them, and that's the way we work with them.

MISHLOVE: I get the feeling that in your book what you're suggesting is that all creativity comes from what the spiritual traditions call the higher self -- the essence, the spiritual essence.

RAY: That's right. We use the word essence, in fact, in our book, and we talk about it as having five qualities. We know it has more than five qualities, but these are five qualities from one of the Sufi traditions. Those qualities are intuition, will, joy, strength, and compassion. In fact compassion, something that you normally don't think of as being associated with business, is really the most important to those, and that's because that's the part that has loving-kindness for ourselves and for others. It acknowledges that you yourself have creativity, and it acknowledges that everybody else has that creativity. Without that compassion you can't bring out your intuition, and without will you don't have a vision or a sense or foundation of what you're doing; and without the joy you don't have the absorption or the continuing motivation for it; without the strength you can't overcome the fear that allows you to do it.

MISHLOVE: I gather that these ideas are derived from the many very well known entrepreneurs and captains of industry who come and speak to your creativity classes.

RAY: Partially. It's a merging, really. It's a merging of Rochelle Meyers, my co-author, and I, of our work in spiritual traditions, our work on ourselves in developing our own creativity. Part of it comes from our students. We've had hundreds of students who've taken the course and lived with this material and told us their experiences. They're all business people. And then we've had over seventy speakers that are represented in the book, and a lot of them are very well known people, and as we taught the course over the last eight years we began to develop these -- you might call them principles; I don't like to use the word principles in connection with creativity, but these approaches --

MISHLOVE: Strategies.

RAY: Strategies, really, to bringing out creativity. So these very well-known people are people who are really doing this, and a lot of them come into our class and say, "Well, you know, I don't really think I've been creative." They're kind of like the Frenchman who wanted to know what prose was, and found that he had been speaking it all his life.

MISHLOVE: For them it's just natural, it's second nature.

RAY: That's right, and that's kind of what we're trying to develop in this book.

MISHLOVE: A naturalness.

RAY: That's right.

MISHLOVE: In fact one of your strategies is to do nothing except what comes absolutely effortlessly.

RAY: That's right, yes. I think probably one of the most distinctive things about our book is that we give what we call heuristics, or rules of thumb or general guidelines for living. In our course we call them live-withs.

MISHLOVE: Live-withs.

RAY: That's right. So each week in our course, and each chapter in our book, the last chapters in our book, are one of these sort of rules of thumb. Everybody can do it in their own way. There are things such as the one you alluded to, which is, "Do only what is easy, effortless, and enjoyable;" or, "Ask dumb questions;" or, "Destroy judgment curiosity;" or, "If at first you don't succeed, surrender." Everybody has their own way of doing these, and they can bring out their creativity in their own way. You're right that there have been similarities, and we've learned things from these speakers, a tremendous amount, but there are also differences, and we assume that everybody has their own key, their own way of doing this. So if you take a live-with such as "Pay attention," which is one of our chapters -- and precise observation is very important --

MISHLOVE: Very Zen-like.

RAY: That's right, and a lot of these are. Some people who use "Pay attention" will set their digital watches so they go off on the hour and say, "Oh, I'm supposed to be paying attention, so what am I going to pay attention to?" Other people go to the ocean and watch the surf come in for three or four hours. Other people write things down and say, "These are the things I should pay attention to." Other people will meditate and go inside and see what they

should be paying attention to, listening to the voices that are going on inside. So everybody has their own way of doing this, and I think that's one of the key things we've learned from our speakers.

MISHLOVE: And your students at Stanford University are the people who will be the leaders of industry and business in the future.

RAY: That's true. In fact one of the gratifying things about our course is that in our book alone, six of our speakers are people who have taken the course and have distinguished themselves so much in business, and in the way they do business, that we've asked them to come back and be speakers in the course. So that's really true; when I look at the list of people who have taken our course since the '79-'80 academic year, there are many, many vice presidents and owners of businesses and chairmen of businesses and so on.

MISHLOVE: Well, would it be fair to generalize to the extent of saying that perhaps there's a trend that this represents -- of more of an appreciation of the spiritual dimensions of life within the business community?

RAY: I think that's true. I think that it may not be said that way. People may not talk about it in that way.

MISHLOVE: But you're willing to.

RAY: I'm willing to talk about it that way. In one sense I'm not too sure that I want to emphasize that aspect too much, because I think people get confused with the word spiritual and so on, but we tend to talk about it in terms of being artful. We say it's making your life a work of art. It's the kind of thing that people experience when they feel they have a tremendous amount of potential that they're not really putting out in the world -- that they're not really making the contribution that they could make. I think business people are looking for ways that they can be more efficient, more practical, more appropriate, more productive, make better decisions, and all those things. One of the things that's happening, I think, is that many of

the people who are in leadership positions now, including our students starting in the '79-'80 school year when we started teaching this course, are people who have done things on their own, in their own personal growth and personal development -- who are meditators, who do all sorts of things, who have had out-of-body experiences -- who find that these things are very effective. They may have done these things outside of our course in the late Sixties, early Seventies and so on, personally, found them very effective, but never really thought about applying them to their business life. But now, when they're faced with the challenges they're faced with, and when they see books like our book, they begin to see that it's all right to do this.

MISHLOVE: There are many books coming out about intuition.

RAY: I think so. Intuition is something that's become a very acceptable word, where it wasn't when we started teaching this course.

MISHLOVE: But in general, one gets the sense, particularly for Americans in business, that we're facing a very competitive phase now, with so much manufacturing being done abroad, competing with inexpensive labor abroad and very creative people abroad, that in order for us to compete we have to find new inner resources -- that that has to be our biggest strength in business now.

RAY: Exactly. In this country we've always been creative in the sense of getting ideas. We've been very innovative; we've been very individualistic, and that sort of thing. But other countries have been creative in other ways, sort of the way we're talking about -- this idea of making your life a work of art, of going the long distance. You know, we're very good sprinters, but we're not very good in the long distance. One of the things that happens is that we are always the ones who create new industries and so on, and then suddenly somebody else gets much more efficient at carrying that out. Somehow they're able to do it at a lower cost, and then they build innovations on top of our innovations. We've made some progress in the business area in this decade, in terms of changing our organizational procedures. Even Detroit and the automobile industry is getting better in terms of building cars and manufacturing procedures, and so on. And we've had books about the excellent companies, corporate cultures, and all that. But now I think that what's happening is people are beginning to realize that it's not enough just to set up an organization that's a good organization in which to work, but you have to be able to pull and draw on your own inner resources in order to get over the challenges. It's not so simple as to just find a job in a corporation that's one of the excellent corporations, and assume that that's going to carry you along.

MISHLOVE: You don't know if it'll be around in five years.

RAY: That's true, it's that aspect, and I think it's almost a self-fulfilling prophecy, or almost like contagion, or something like that. You get a company, somebody with a new idea; there's this beginning group that works together very well, and they bring in a few more people, and they have this very strong vision. Vision is a very important word, and it's a very important part of creativity, as we talk about it. So they all know what they're doing; they're all together, and so on. Then they do very well; they have a stock offering at high prices and everything, and then people start buying their stock, and then they start going up to many millions of dollars in sales, and new people come in and they say, "This is the company; they have their own par course, their own swimming pool, they have Friday afternoon beer busts, and we're all going to come in to this thing." More and more people come in who are the type of people who are not drawing on their own inner personal resources, and what they're doing is they're coming to this company because they want the company to take responsibility for being creative. In fact, you would think to some extent that our course called "Creativity in Business" is going to be a snap course, or some fun sort of thing -- which it is; it's a fun course. But it's also hard work. We have this inner endowment, of what you called higher spirituality, or creativity, but we have to take responsibility for it.

MISHLOVE: What I hear you saying is in effect that this notion of being creative, of doing things from your inner essence, can't be reserved just for the elite entrepreneurs -- that businesses will become rigid in that way. The creativity has to go all the way throughout the entire organization -- that this desire for self-fulfillment, for being in touch with one's essence at the workplace, belongs throughout every aspect of a business structure, and that's what's needed to compete these days.

RAY: I think that's right. People have to be personally fulfilled -- I mean, the very successful people who come to our class have great feelings of personal self-fulfillment and self-worth, and they're absorbed in what they're doing. It's beyond making money; it's just something that becomes a real commitment, a real contribution, for them. And just as we're not talking about just intition, but also will and joy and strength and compassion, we're talking not just about getting ideas or solving problems, but we've asked people to talk about a problem that is important to them, and we've classified these into five challenges. Those challenges are finding purpose, career in life; time and stress; balancing personal and professional life; the issue of money versus self-worth; and bringing your own personal creativity into the organization. So what we're really saying is that it's not enough to just come up with one idea once in your life; it's not enough to depend on a company to kind of pull you through; but it has to be a sustaining, continuous part of your everyday life, if that's going to work for you, and also if it's going to help your company, the nation, yourself.

MISHLOVE: I can't help but think that if all the levels of all of the organizations in this country that are struggling in this competitive business jungle were to take seriously what you're saying right now, it would completely transform our milieu, our environment, our culture.

RAY: It's possible. I think that the people who have behaved this way in their lives have transformed their culture -- just the few people who have done it; I mean, relatively few. There are hundreds and thousands of them, and all of us have done things like this, and there have been changes like this. One of the things that's gratifying to me is that I hear about our book being picked up by somebody in a company and passed around, and people telling other people about it, and carrying the book with them, and reading it, and going back to specific chapters to deal with particular aspects of their lives. So I think that it's having that kind of effect. People are really seeing that it's something that really touches them; it's something that they really want.

MISHLOVE: In your book you quote the captains of industry -- Stephen Jobs of Apple Computer, on and on and on, Nolan Bushnell of Atari --

RAY: Charles Schwab.

MISHLOVE: Charles Schwab, the discount brokerage. And then next to it you'll have a quote from a Sufi master, from a Siddha yogi, from a Zen Buddhist. Is this reflecting the kind of thinking that's going on in business now?

RAY: I think so. I was surprised when we first started teaching this course. About three or four years after we started there was a Sunday business section feature on our course in the New York Times, and it was called "Zen and the Stanford Business Student," and I was surprised they picked up the Zen flavor. And then people started asking me to talk to alumni organizations about our course, and they always titled the talk something about Zen and business, Zen in American business. So I tried to illustrate what that was about by giving a little Zen story, and the one I usually used was where the Zen student comes to the master and says, "Master, what is Zen?" And the master says, "Zen is eating when you eat, working when you work, and relaxing when you relax." The student says, "That's so simple." And the master says, "Yes, but almost no one does it." It's kind of an illustration of what we're talking about in terms of creativity. It's doing what's in front of you to do.

MISHLOVE: Be here now.

RAY: Be here now would be one way of doing it; your meant-to-be. Picasso once said that your work in life is the ultimate seduction. So if you could find what's really right for you, then you would be endlessly creative.

MISHLOVE: It's like being true to yourself.

RAY: That's right, it's like "Be yourself." In fact, each time we teach the course we have a different theme -- one of these five challenges, perhaps, that I talked about. The one we have this time is, "How can I be my Self in business and life?" We don't say myself, one word; it's my, and then capital S, Self -- we're talking about something bigger; how can I really be my Self? And we actually have a chapter and a live-with which relates to that -- well, two; one is, "Do only what is easy, effortless, and enjoyable," and the other one is, "Be ordinary." The idea of that is that if you could truly be ordinary instead of being alienated or inflated, but just truly be yourself, you could eventually become extraordinary, and that's what it's all about.

MISHLOVE: Well, let's talk about the extraordinary aspects. As you know, I have a background in parapsychology, and certainly the spiritual traditions are pointing in this direction, of the higher capacities of the mind. Do you see that there are openings in business for looking at such things as extrasensory perception, or psychokinesis, or the higher aspects of intuition?

RAY: I think so -- and it's gone through a cycle. I was talking to a reporter about this the other day, and he was saying, "Well, aren't there charlatans in this?" and I said, "Well, there always are, but I think that there are fewer now than there were, say, five or ten years ago." I talked about how when computer models came into advertising media decision making, BBD&O, one of the world's largest advertising agencies, ran an ad that said, "We'll get a dollar twenty-five for every dollar you spend in advertising." That was charlatanism, but it was kind of an exploratory stage of bringing that into business. I think we've gone beyond that stage in bringing these things into business, so that now I think the issue is really integration; now we're to the point where we're integrating these things.

MISHLOVE: People can take it more naturally, in other words.

RAY: That's right, they can combine the analytic with the non-analytic, the science with the art, and so on. Early on I remember a reporter calling me once and saying, "What do you think of the Psychic Consulting Group?" I said, "The Psychic Consulting Group -- what's that?" They said, "A group of psychics who've gotten together, and they're offering their services to business, and when business people have a problem, or want to know how they should go on a decision, they'll ask this group, and they'll get together, and they'll give them the answer, what they should do." I said, "That's terrible; it's really awful." The reason I was upset by it was that in its logical extent it would say the business people aren't going to be making their own decisions, and I want them to use their own psychic abilities. I think now it's beyond that point, so that people are using their own psychic abilities.

MISHLOVE: That's what you mean by integrating it.

RAY: That's right, using their own psychic abilities. I don't think there's anything wrong with working with psychics, as long as you recognize that that's one bit of information, and then you have your own information.

MISHLOVE: The danger is giving away your power.

RAY: In a sense that's it, or giving up the responsibility that you have. I think we are to the stage where we're realizing that there is a tremendous amount of power that we have, and we have to find out our own way to go about bringing that out.

MISHLOVE: When you call it the Psychic Consulting Group, it brings up this whole controversy, the public debates: "Are they frauds? Are they real? What do the magicians say about it all? Who's being hoodwinked?" But if you're doing it yourself, then that's no longer an issue.

RAY: That's right, because you have control, and I think that's what's happening.

MISHLOVE: Very interesting. Of course one might say that in the business community there are times when you do call in experts.

RAY: That's right, and so it could be a psychic.

MISHLOVE: And perhaps they could be viewed as any other expert that might come in; you wouldn't want to give you power away.

RAY: That's why I mention the issue of these computer media models that came in twenty-five years ago, because it was the same kind of thing. Some people gave over all their power to these models and didn't use all their expertise and information. It's just like it wouldn't be right, with all your experience and so on, to give over all that to some outside expert. But to bring them in as a consultant would make some sense.

MISHLOVE: Let's talk about creativity again. A lot of creativity to me seems psychic -- like when Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote his essays, he went into a trance.

RAY: That's right.

MISHLOVE: Automatic writing. Then he'd say afterwards, "You know, I read these things with great interest."

RAY: That's right, yes. And a lot of composers -- Mozart for instance -- had experiences like that. One of the interesting things that happens very often in those settings -- I know you know about this -- is that these great composers and classically creative people will get these ideas, and then they might spend the rest of their lives working these flashes of insight out, to bring them into their house.

MISHLOVE: Einstein's relativity theory came to him like that. It took him ten years to work out the implications of about a five-second flash of insight.

RAY: That's right, and that's why we're saying that creativity isn't just this one breakthrough idea. Especially in business, it's innovating, bringing it through to implementation. One of our speakers, Wayne Van Dyck, who started Wind Farms Limited, said that business is the highest art form. I wondered what he meant by that at first. What he meant on the surface was that most of the

people we think of as classically creative, all their materials are fixed, or they can control them; like the artist, for instance -- the palette, all these things are fixed. Whereas in business it's money and people and markets and ideas and so on, and they're so dynamic that to put these things together is really a high creative art.

MISHLOVE: It's like your paint and your canvas are all moving things. It is an art form, if you look at it in that sense.

RAY: That's right, and you get a tremendous amount of energy from it. Our classes are so exciting when these speakers come; they're so exciting when we're talking about these great ideas, because it's a very high energy source. Ted Nierenberg, the founder of Dansk Designs International, talked about his approach as being gardening. He liked to garden, and he said every once in a while he'd push down that shovel and he'd get this idea, and it was a problem that he had been trying to solve for maybe years, and he wondered why he didn't get that earlier. He said the rush that he experienced was even better than sexual climax, because with sexual climax he felt spent after that, but with this he just had more and more energy, and he felt he could solve twenty other problems. Maybe he couldn't, but it would just get him moving.

MISHLOVE: An altered state of consciousness.

RAY: Exactly.

MISHLOVE: You have to take that into account when you're dealing with creativity.

RAY: That's right. Jim Benham of Behnam Capital Management has his own jazz band called Full Faith and Credit. He plays trumpet, and about five times a week he goes into a room -- he has a special room for this -- and he just improvises on the trumpet. He says if you know anything about meditation -- he speaks like a jazz man -- it's very much a breathing scene. So he says in playing the trumpet you have to get all this air through this tiny hole, and he says he gets just tremendous numbers of ideas if he just improvises for an hour or so, and this happens. So everybody has their way of doing it, but they're doing it.

MISHLOVE: Well, it's really marvelous, and very exciting to me, to think that something this dynamic is happening in the business community. Ten, twenty years ago, when I was exploring these things myself, it seemed as if the business community was a backwater of conservatism. I think at one time it had been criticized for lack of creativity.

RAY: That's true. People initially said, when we started teaching our course, that creativity in business was an oxymoron, like military intelligence, or airline food -- two diametrically opposed aspects. But now, with intuition particularly, people who come to our classes feel, "I'm a head of a corporation; intuition is what I do. It may not be very hard, but that's the thing that I do." So it's really part and parcel of business.

MISHLOVE: And what a wonderful thing to think that it could be natural, it could be easy, it's a question of being yourself. It's sort of doing away with this notion that it's got to be hard, you've got to sweat, you've got to suffer, you've got to struggle. You're suggesting that the greatest successes come from relaxing.

RAY: That's true. One of the things, though, is that people do work hard. One of our live-withs, "If at first you don't succeed, surrender --"

MISHLOVE: It's easy for them to work hard.

RAY: It's easy. One of the quotes that we have in our book is, "The test of a vocation is the love of the drudgery it involves." I think when you're doing something that's really right for you, you can do things that other people would think of as drudgery, but you just plow through them because you know what you're doing.

MISHLOVE: You point out in your book that the word enthusiasm means -- how did you put it?

RAY: It comes from theos, the Greek word for god. It basically means to be possessed by a god. So when you're enthused about something, you really are possessed by God, and so that's part of what this is all about. Very often it really means just getting down to work, and everybody has their own way, again, of doing it. I keep saying that, but some people like to go to the beach and play. One of our speakers, Regis McKenna, a public relations man in Silicon Valley, said, "When I go to the beach I want to play; I want to work when I'm in a meeting."

MISHLOVE: Michael Ray, it's been a real pleasure. Thank you very much for being with me. We're out of time now.


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