how to develop creativity and follow your passion

“All human beings are entrepreneurs.” – Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner and microfinance pioneer

Entrepreneurs are nobody but creators. They create goods that add value to society and usher progress. Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Reed Hastings, Bill Gates – they all created products that brought the world closer and moved it forward.

But creativity is not limited to entrepreneurs. Every human being is a creator. Our brains are wired to create something meaningful – for ourselves and the world. And according to Roshan Abbas, there’s no better time in history than now to be a creator.

Roshan Abbas wears multiple hats. He’s the co-founder of Kommune India, a platform that brings together artists to deliver unforgettable live performances. He’s a public speaking coach and author and the Managing Director of the media agency Geometry Compass.

Prior to this, he spent 25 years in Radio, TV, Events, and Activation. Few people are more qualified than him to shed light on creativity, and how it shapes the world.

Roshan recently shared his insights on building a creator’s mind in a masterclass for the University of Maryland – Robert H. School of Business. You can check out the entire video here:

Here are four powerful takeaways from it.

1. Now is the best time to be a creator.

Do you know who is the biggest earner on YouTube for three years in a row? It’s nine-year-old Ryan Kaji, who made $29.5 million in 2019 from his videos.

What does he post? Nothing fancy or over the top. Just videos of unboxing and reviewing toys and explainer videos for children.

Like YouTube, there is a myriad of platforms that enable you to monetize your creative work. Substack, for instance, enables you to publish articles and get paid by your readers for them. The highest earner on the platform got paid $500,000 last year by writing an article each week on a subject of his choice.

Patreon is similar, where the audience can pay creators each month to consume their content. If as a creator, you can get 1,000 true fans paying you $5 each month, you can make $5,000 a month, which is more than enough for a comfortable life.

But what does it take to become such a creator whom people flock to? Read on.


2. Creativity is driven by communication, discipline, and bravery.

When Roshan was four, he stepped on stage for the first time as part of a three-child group to perform a play. He played the role of a Nawab who resolved the dispute between two other people.

Those boys stepped on the stage first. Then, they got cold feet. They forgot their dialogues. Showing great awareness, Roshan stepped on the stage and cleverly prodded the boys to deliver their lines. Eventually, the boys’ stage fright subsided, the play went smoothly, and they got thunderous applause.

When they got off stage, the teacher thanked Roshan for saving their lives. But in hindsight, Roshan believes the stage saved his life because it taught him the value of discipline, bravery, and communication. He believes he exhibited all of these during the play: discipline by learning his lines, bravery by going on stage for his performance, and communication by guiding the other boys to remember their lines.

Many people assume that creativity is about drinking mugs of coffee, sitting on bean bags, and bouncing around unrelated thoughts. But that’s a myth.

Creating something of value takes patience and discipline. You have to do the right things over and over again, even when the results are not visible. You have to think long term, and that takes discipline. You have to be brave enough to stand by your convictions, and articulate enough to communicate your visions to others and charge them up.

These aspects help you build resilience and fuel your creativity, according to research. Thus, creativity is not about random thoughts or a spark of genius. It’s a combination of discipline, guts, and communication.


3. Learn the art of following through.

Vir Sanghvi wrote an article about the New India, in which he quoted a line from Snigdha Poonam’s book “Dreamers”. Roshan was so inspired by the line that he bought the book and even offered the author an option to convert three stories from it into screenplays. Snigdha responded that someone else had already bought the rights for the book.

But Roshan didn’t get deterred. He kept in touch with Snigdha and reached out to her again when he had to work on a podcast about young India. This time, she agreed, and the result was a work of art.

Most people give up after reaching out to someone once. This means a large number of remarkable possibilities don’t see the light of day when they give up. In reality, though, it takes up to seven attempts to break the ice with someone you want to engage with.

That’s why visionaries and driven people don’t give up after the first time. They keep in touch with people whom they admire, follow through on their requests, and eventually build their dreams.

Many people try to network with the intent of monetizing them early. But that reeks of selfishness. Instead, build virtuous networks with people you admire. Rather than asking, “What’s in it for me?”, ask yourself, “How can I create value for them?”

When you give without expectations, your actions compound in the long term to yield astronomical returns.


4. This is the age of the passion economy.

2010 to 2020 was the decade of the gig economy – we hired individuals or companies to sort our short-term needs. If you wanted to go from Point A to Point B, you hired an Uber. If you wanted a place to stay for a few days, you rented an Airbnb. If you wanted a makeshift place to work, you visited a WeWork co-working space.

But the next decade will be the age of the passion economy, where people can pursue their passions, monetize them, and choose to work rather than be forced to work. People can collaborate asynchronously to brainstorm and execute ideas. They can work from anywhere and build a global customer base.

The internet has not just democratized information; it has also democratized opportunities. There are no barriers to entry for podcasting, video-editing, writing, making art, web- or graphics-designing, building tools, or anything else. All you need is a mobile, a laptop, and an internet connection.

The gig economy focused on fulfilling an immediate need. The passion-to-profession economy will focus on personalization and will take us beyond what we thought was possible. Personalize your art to create immense value for a niche market rather than creating incremental value for a large one.


Summing Up

The future belongs to the inspired, to the people who, until the previous decade, were seen as misfits. The misfits will create immense value for those who embrace change, and headaches for those who resist it.

To sum up, here are some key takeaways from Roshan Abbas’ insightful session:

  1. Now is the best time to become a creator. Leverage the right tools that empower you to deliver value.
  2. Discipline, bravery, and the ability to communicate your thoughts are essential to hone your creativity.
  3. Learn the art of following through. Creativity alone cannot pay the bills. You have to convince people to pay you for it. And that means asking even after hearing a “no” multiple times.
  4. Build virtuous networks where you give without expectations. In the long term, this will circle back and offer tremendous rewards.
  5. Personalize your creativity. Instead of trying to please the entire world, delight a portion of it with your expertise.

The entire video can be viewed here.

What were your biggest takeaways? I would love to hear your thoughts.

By Manish Bansal

Manish is the Managing Director of SME Value Advisors, a platform that connects businesses with curated professionals who can deliver solutions. You can connect with him on manish@smevalueadvisors.com.

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