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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, February 3, 2003

Recapturing childlike creativity can revitalize your work

By Siobhan McAndrew
The Reno Gazette-Journal

Can crayons, Play-Doh and Slinkees make you a better, more competent professional? Will Nerf balls make you happy?

"No, no, a thousand times no," I whined to myself — until I listened to Judith Rich, best known as the creative genius behind the Morris, the 9-Lives Cat advertising campaign. Rich led a "Find Your Inner Child" workshop, held recently for local marketing and advertising executives from public relations firms, healthcare companies, banks and casinos.

"I don't have time to have fun at work TODAY, TOMORROW or NEXT WEEK," I thought as I frantically drove myself to the workshop at John Ascuaga's Nugget casino. My invitation said I would spend several hours playing with Nerf balls and Slinkees as I tried to recapture that "zest for innovation" and apply it to my job.

Zest, innovation, joy of discovery? What planet do these people work on? If they want to see me act like a child they should see me on deadline at 10 p.m. Friday night.

But then I saw power company representatives make an original creature from blue and white Play-Doh. The four executives seemed unfazed by the coming winter weather or rising residential rates as they plugged in and hampered down on several exercises.

They swished and mushed the soft, pliable clay until they created the unique sculpture. They looked very proud of themselves indeed.

They even bravely named their group the "Power Rangers" as they came up with some 30 uses for the Bobby Pin, once a mainstay of the bouffant hairdos of days gone by.

"If you think your job is dull, look in the mirror," Rich advised.

So for the afternoon I played with Play-Doh, teased my brain with tongue twisters and even laughed when my group's sculpture — "Birds of Paradise," looked more like a dragon on a airplane than the tropical flower it was intended to be.

When it was over, I decided to bring the crayons, Play-Doh and a Nerf ball back to the office. I rolled the green dough around on my desk and tried to make a pencil holder. The dough reminded me of childhood — a time when I thought I could make or do anything.

The smell of the crayons made me think back to simpler times, something Rich said we should all strive to do.

"Children laugh 400 times a day, compared to adults who laugh on average 15 times a day," she said.

"The best thing someone can say to you is you're child-like."

Now if I could just convince my office of that at the next morning meeting. I better bring my crayons.