Denise Jacobs: The Creativity (R)Evolution

Published 10 Nov 2013

The creativity evangelist Denise Jacobs coaches people in the tech field through creativity. In her keynote, she talked about creativity, betterness and habits. She’s a pro-speaker, meaning that her presentation is more or less what you could expect from an “American motivational speaker”. Professional, but so streamlined. Interesting, but leaving you with a feeling of “what did she say…really?”.

One thing I had a really hard time digesting, was her (as well as last morning’s keynote speaker’s) habit of having the crowd obey on command. I mean, what’s the thing? Denise had people doing the wave, then scream “I’m awesome” several times, then turn around and talk to each other. To each other?? Come on, you should know that we Swedes are introvert and cold and really not into talking to each other.

No, really. If you are all about talking about how awesome we are, and how we are in charge of our own lives and situation etc…I really do not see the point with you expecting us to follow your every order. Yikes!

You are awesome. I am awesome. We are awesome. Let’s go out and change the world (Denise was actually presented as a woman who wants to change the world). My GOD, this is getting so worn out. TED and all you professional speakers really need a new thing.

Denise had a nice take on self-terrorism, though, and how focusing on preventing bad things from happening can instead prevent good things from happening as well, or anything from happening at all. An interesting take on a topic I think has been talked about and dissected to the brink of tiredness, especially in this context where I felt that it was chosen mostly for the sake of sensation, rather than to fit the theme. It may work better in the US.

My biggest takeaway from this session was a nice passage about how you should ban the word “no” and replace it with “yes, and…”. For instance, you say “Let’s go paint the Eiffel Tower green to celebrate, S:t Patrick’s Day”. Instead of killing your mojo with a “no”, I should reply “Yes, and if we manage to get that activity green lighted by the city of Paris, lets add lights and stuff to it when Christmas comes, turning into a Christmas tree”. Well, you get the point. “No -> yes, and” was a good example of some of the more concrete topics I liked about the keynote.

All in all, I found this to be a fair keynote presented by a professional speaker, though still not that much more than yet another inspirational talk, stuffed with things you by now have heard a hundred times before, once more verbalized by yet another rhetorically skilled American who wants to change the world. It’s too easy.

A Swede, for instance, would never ever present a keynote like this. We would be too embarrased, and people would think that we were too. But we accept this when it comes from the people of big talk country.

And that is what I think bothers me most. I would like to see more Swedes take up this space. Denise, in my opinion, does not fit into this context. Her talk is one among hundreds of similar talks. I think Øredev should be more than an American miniature conference. Instead of this, watch Alexander Bard’s keynote from 2012. He may be too much at times, but at least he has context.

Then, after watching it, we can go out and change the world together, because you are awesome, I am awesome and that’s apparently all that is needed, and then let’s watch another inspiring video, watch it a second time, then stand up, spin around, talk on command, because you are the masters of the future and you can change the world and will change the world, so go out there and be awesome.

Change the wooooooooorld!