Where does inspiration come from? I have been in marketing and advertising for a very long time now, and I always find myself asking this question.
When I started in business, I was a “media guy,” but I always tried to find a more creative way to approach things.
One of my corporate mantras has been that when things are working smoothly and you are achieving your goals, that’s the best time to deconstruct it all and begin again. Rip it down metaphorically and start over -- because nothing lasts forever in this business, and whether you’re building a brand or driving demand, your best tactics will wear out and you have to find new ways to reach and resonate with your audience.
In a world of constant change, where do you find your inspiration for new ideas?
That’s where the “Wizard of Aahhhhs” comes in. It is a mindset you can adopt in which you keep your eyes and ears open for new experiences and observations, take a momentary delight in the experience, then spend a few minutes analyzing how that moment came to be. Then you can try to hypothesize how that moment can be applied to other situations. And then look for something else that inspires you.
Become a Wizard of Aahhhs is not easy. It requires you to focus. There are times when I can employ this practice simply walking around a city, observing what people are doing and what the signs around me are saying. More often, I am able to employ the idea in a more solitary environment, focused on one type of experience.
Much of the time I am able to become a Wizard of Aahhhs when listening to music. If I sit with a focused attention on a song, and listen to the lyrics, I find myself able to hear more of what the musicians are saying. This can bring me into a separate mindset, diving into their catalogue, how they write and the stories behind their songs.
I did this recently with Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, a rock band from Alabama. Isbell's songs are beautifully written and his words are like strokes of a paintbrush, laying out the scene for the listener both literally and emotionally. When I came up for air, I was more inspired to write some words of my own, employing more emotional language than I had been using to date.
Wizard of Aahhhs is a mindset that opens your mind to inspiration, actively seeking it out and trying to understand what motivated you, then using it for your own benefit to find a creative spark inside yourself. Like the Wizard of Oz before it, it’s about pulling back the curtain and finding the source behind your inspiration so that you may learn from it. The difference is, you get to harness that power of inspiration for yourself.
Media is full of inspiration. You can watch a movie and marvel at the spark behind the story that resulted in the tapestry woven before you. You can get outside into nature, away from media, and look around. Find a quiet place to simply listen, or go to a bustling city center and watch people for inspiration. You can find it in what someone is wearing, or the sound of a train rolling down the tracks.
You can find inspiration almost anywhere, but the trick to being your very own Wizard of Aahhhs is taking those minutes to not only be aware of it, but to analyze it and turn it into something for your own benefit as well.
Now get up and go try it. Go be your own Wizard of Aahhhs.