Conversations at the Inc: Jon Umstead, Entrepreneur and Author

24 May 2018 By Zach Waddle main 0 Comments

Jon Umstead is a business consultant and Wright State University graduate who recently spoke at the New Media Incubator on Conversations at the Inc. He is the author of Business Is Art: And Science, Gut Instinct, Hard Work, and a Certain Amount of Luck and is the creator of Plan Canvas, a software geared towards assisting people in finding success. Jon opened with a quote: “It doesn’t matter how you define success—it’s critical that you do.” He added that we’ll be seeing a different take on that statement later.


Conversations at the Inc: Jon Umstead from The New Media Incubator on Vimeo.


Our guest speaker began by revisiting his early creative years. My attention shifted momentarily back to his attirethe Batman t-shirt peeking out from beneath his smart blazer struck me as an indicator of an easygoing personality. Directing our attention to an image of himself as a child wearing a Batman mask, he soon explained that he was sporting the shirt to pay homage to his background. Batman was always a childhood hero of Jon's, and he often wore the mask while embracing his imagination as a child. He warmly offered that creativity and his imagination had always been very important to him; given the emphasis on “Using Creativity at Work” later in his presentation, it is obvious that it would continue to be so long after the days of a Batman mask-induced nose infection.


High creative times brought Jon a great sense of fulfillment; playing in a band while working as a programmer, amongst other things, was a great time for him. Utilizing his creativity in the workplace and at home allowed him to feed his creative side. However, when the time eventually came for him to make some difficult career decisions for the sake of his family, things did not go as he had hoped they would.


Low creative times were very hard on him. I fell into a couple of roles […] where I didn’t apply a lot of creativity," he explained. "I was just doing the task. You know, whatever I was supposed to do, that’s what I did, and I wasn’t very creative about it. I’d also simultaneously hung up being creative at home and so it just really wasn’t very personally fulfilling during those years.”


Luckily for Jon, he found a brief period during those harder times in which he ran a company. This allowed him to utilize his abilities for creative planning and problem solving, and brought him the creative satisfaction that he’d been lacking. Such an opportunity had a profound effect on him: “It’s probably the best education I could have ever had in my entire life.”


He referred back to the quotation from earlier and finally offered his response to it: It really doesn’t matter what you create; that you create is critical. He advised not to worry about how well your creation will do at the outset, because ideas lead to other ideas. Write it down. Talk about it. Think about it. Use whatever options and outlets you can to explore your creativity!


If I could sum up his speech in one word it would undoubtedly be: CREATE. It may not be easy not to worry about how it will be received, but Jon's advice is absolutely correct. When I initially heard this bit of wisdom some time ago, I felt a sudden relief wash over me. Just trying to force myself through such anxieties to produce something can be a miserable process sometimes. Sure, it is more important how YOU feel as the creator, but let’s be seriousthere is a nice, warm feeling when someone else enjoys your work as much as you do. However, ultimately it's about creating. I think that if you’re willing to entertain your creative side, you’ll likely be able to make your creativity something worth entertaining.


Jon engaged his audience and even offered a free copy of his book for their participation. In retrospect, I wish I had spoken up or attempted to respond moreit cannot be understated how valuable such knowledge is. He truly understands the importance of such knowledge, which is exactly why he offered to speak to us. He spoke of subjects such as marketing strategies, planning goals, and using your creativity, whether at work or in your personal life.


Interested in trying out Plan Canvas yourself? Jon offers a free version for individuals! You’ll need to answer a few questions to begin working together to establish a plan. A plan for what? Anything really. You can work on a plan for your career or regarding your current job, or you can make personal and family plans. He also offers spiritual planning! Do yourself a favor and give him a try. Sure, he’s an easygoing creative thinker, but he’s also a very insightful and focused individual who understands the value of embracing one’s own creativity.

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