Roger von Oech

Creative Think

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Liz Strauss

I so believe that people need to hear your mantra more. . . . I also believe that we always need to leave the "other guy" a place to stand, because

In the end it's always about the people; if you understand the people -- who they are and what they need the answer is there.

just a guy from jersey

in the sweet simple words of jerry garcia "it's even worse then it appears but, it's alright" that says it all

Michael Wagner

Love the fact that your mantra always allows you to find a "second right mantra"!

The "second right answer" is helpful not only for individuals but also for more than a few organizations I have worked with.

Highly regulated industries like financial services or health care struggle with making space for creative thinking.

They suffer from "hardening of the categories".

“Look for the
Second Right Answer.” ...might just be the cure for that condition.

Looking forward to seeing what others come up with for their creative mantra!

Ann Handley

My mANNtra is borrowed straight from Faulkner, "Kill your darlings." As soon as I start falling a little too much in love with an idea, a process, a sweet little bit of writing, even...I immmediately aim to choke it. The "darlings" are usually born of a flash of what I think is brilliance, but that doesn't hold up in the light of day. In my mind, the best ideas/processes/writings evolve out of longer-term development and thought; the instant little "darlings" quickly lose their lustre.

Truth be told, sometimes those ideas resurrect...but they are little less darling at the point that they do, and a little more real.

Roger von Oech

These are juicy!

Thanks Liz: Indeed! It is always about the people. Good reminder.

Jersey Guy: A thread on mantras has to have some Grateful Dead in it. But, of course! Thanks for remembering.

Mike: Thanks for the inspiration on this one!

Ms. mANNtra: Good words to live by. I have a somewhat similar one: "Don't fall in love with ideas." And it has a somewhat similar philosophy. BTW: what time of the day are you best able to execute your darlings: morning or evening?


"eclectic curiosity"


Lovin this post...great timing as my current piece over at "The Fix" centers on my biz's not so much a creative mantra as it is regarding pulling great work to me (which I then get to be creative with in my solutions).

It's based on this principle: "May all my leads be inbound".See, if I call a prospect we're focused on the "who" as in...who the heck are you? But when a client calls me they've already determined the "who" and we're therefore focused on "what" I can do for them.

Think of my mantra like this: When all rivers flow to you, you're producing a constant stream of opportunities. But with selling you're swimming upstream (and at a disadvantage). Instead of focusing on prospects or how many customers you can find...focus on programs that encourage people to find you, or your product.

On that note, may all rivers flow to you...and me.

P.S.: the creative marketing you're doing is no doubt creating a stream of biz opps (and creative fame) to you. Well deserved, bravo.

David Armano

I borrowed mine from the design school I attended (Pratt):

"Be true to your work, and your work will be true to you"

Hopefully once I get to the point in my career where I am doing this nearly all the time—I'll give it back.


Mark McGuinness

I think I left my mantra in a comment on one of your other posts - "Question everything, but don't forget to listen to the answers".

It's a sentence that slipped out of me a few years ago, when I was teaching hypnotherapy - it was the first morning of the course, and the other 2 trainers had stood up and given some wise advice to the students, then it was my turn and it seemed like the obvious thing to say.

To learn hypnosis (or anything else, properly) you have to be willing to (a) question your own and others' preconceptions about just about anything, and (b) be VERY responsive to the feedback you get from others/the world at large.

I think I was always pretty good at (a), but it took me quite a few mistakes before I started to realise the importance of (b).


I've always found; FAIL, FAIL AGAIN, FAIL BETTER works for me. As I believe that the best thing a manager of people can do is create an atmosphere where failure is embraced and encouraged, not the failure brought on by laziness and non-caring, but the failure brought on by a genuine desire to try something new and push beyond the norm.

I also use, SOME PEOPLE DON'T LIKE CHANGE, CHANGE DOESN'T MUCH CARE, as a reminder that change is the only constant in our life, so we'd better accept and embrace it, because it's going nowhere, so stop crazing security and routine



To be honest with you... I was on the very same track as the one you describe on your introduction. Not many people talk about "Mantra" around here. But I also saw it around and began to think about it as well.


First a precision about the word "get". This Mantra is not about actually "getting" anything besides the joy something positive has been achieved. Important to mention that.

This said, I experienced it on a personal level. Keep sending (honestly) positive actions/thoughts to people who were really negative with me. Actually this can change everything. Helps reconsider what a relationship is based on. Believe me it works!

Then on a professional level, it's also fully operational. Try to do things as well as you can, and most of all: respect people.

I do have another one, though (hey... who said only one should be considered!). This one helps keeping contact with the magic of childhood. Wouldn't want to let that go. I like to "believe" the impossible can (still) be reached. Put some energy in your dreams and maybe you'll make them happen.


Thank you Roger for making us think about it.
: )

Joey from Taiwan

"Free your mind~"

Hah im just kidding,
Well frankly i like "WHAT IF, WHAT ELSE, WHY NOT" that Wagner gave me, but copying other's "Mahayana cantillate"(which means mantra actually) don't really shows creative isn't it? So here I guess MY man..try..tra is - Do in Rome as myself do, since i need determine to fight myself as a warrior, maybe this will be what i really should obey heeh.

Timothy Johnson

My mantra hangs up in my "sanctuary" so I see it the first thing when I walk into the room: DREAM CREATE IMAGINE

Along with that comes the personal challenge I ask myself constantly (this I keep in my personal journal as opposed to the mantra that I hang out publicly): WHAT'S THE CONNECTION? Life is all about making connections, from Phil Gerbyshak's connecting people, to your charge to connect ideas and concepts. I connect individuals and organizations with their destined accomplishments. Connections are all around us; it's up to us to discover and deliver.


First Roger, thanks for doing this! Your stuff cannot help but to expand our thinking.

For most of my life I've been stressed about getting "there." And at the half century mark I have no idea where "there" is, and although it still doesn't flow from my lips like a cool mountain stream, I hope I never find it.

For me the getting "there," my mantra, is: Oz is The Yellow Brick Road.

Scott Souchock

Interesting piece. Thought provoking. I suppose that I have a few mantras but the one that seems to resonate most strongly is simply "why?" As a designer I tend to think of myself as a change agent (which of course sets myself up for all sorts of challenges) so I am always questioning, always asking why. I might expand on it to be "why, why not, have fun".


Hey Ron, just found your blog. Been enjoying it so far!

I'd have to say there are three things that I have put into sentence form that pretty much encapsulate how I live my life:

"Dreams are something you wish you could accomplish, goals are something you know you can accomplish. Which do you have?"


"Perspective isn't merely the way we see things. It's the way we live the things we see."

In that, changing your perspective on something can instill much more of a change in us than we might actually be aware of.

and lastly

"Aspire not to be the best, but the most passionate."

Because while people look up to the best, they flock to the passionate. And it's to say not so much to do it because people flock to the passionate, but because passion is that much greater.

Rebecca Aguilar

This is a quote attributed to Isaac Asimov:
"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!', but 'That's funny...'"

"That's funny..." always comes with discomfort. Once your thinking connects the unconnected, after the unorganized parts become a comprehensible whole, when you learn--the initial discomfort turns into true bliss and satisfaction.

Geniuses are in constant search of "That's funny..."

Rebecca Aguilar

"That's funny" as in "That's weird" or "That's unusual".

Not as in "That's hilarious".

Wendy von Oech

My main mantra is the Golden Rule which is found in most spiritual and moral traditions to guide people to live together:

Do to others as I would like others to do to me.

Other mantras include:

Love God and do what you want.

Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.

I also have two written on my phone:

Is that so?

All is necessary. Nothing is wasted.

I have various forms of guidance.

Do they help me be more creative? Yes: More alive. Happier. Freer. More compassionate. And yes. More creative.

Ramesh Panchal

My Mantra is breath in feel the feelings of my self in my body breath out feel my infiniteness as sky.

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