Get Unblocked - 33rd Degree Conference
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Get Unblocked - 33rd Degree Conference



As a developer and a creative, you need ways to work better so that you can create more, but what do you do when you hit a seemingly insurmountable mental wall? You need to get unblocked: to bust ...

As a developer and a creative, you need ways to work better so that you can create more, but what do you do when you hit a seemingly insurmountable mental wall? You need to get unblocked: to bust through that barrier to allow creativity to flow. Beware: this presentation challenges the standard norms around concentration, focus, productivity, and may change how you work…for the better.



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Get Unblocked - 33rd Degree Conference Get Unblocked - 33rd Degree Conference Presentation Transcript

  • @denisejacobs @33rdDegreeConf #33rdDegree #getunblocked
  • Blocked?
  • “The entire industry is broken.” - Ted Neward, Managers are from Mars, Developers are from Venus
  • Managers
  • Office-bound
  • Time pressures
  • Demanding clients
  • Bureaucracy
  • Oppressed
  • Instead of this
  • You run into road blocks
  • And you run completely
  • When in the creative flow
  • We are alchemists
  • It feels like
  • “Creativity is magical, but it is not magic.” - Dr. Charles Limb, Your Brain on Improvisation TED talk
  • We’re powerful creators
  • “Developers are like the Jedi: we’re all tapped into The Force.” - Ted Neward, Managers are from Mars, Developers are from Venus
  • Instead of using it fully
  • We give our power away
  • Instead of power, we feel…
  • Building Blocks
  • & It starts early
  • Three stories
  • Age 6
  • Father Photo: Deloria Jacobs
  • Photos: Deloria Jacobs Mother & Sister
  • Me? More of a graphic artist Photo: Deloria Jacobs
  • Compared myself
  • ( I have to be like them to be creative. )
  • Age 10
  • Photo: Deloria Jacobs Oldest friend in the world
  • ( “Who do you think you are?” )
  • “I should tone it down”
  • Age 24
  • I graduated! Yay! Photo: Deloria Jacobs
  • Maybe be a writer?
  • “Do you know how hard it is to get published?” - My father
  • My father was bad-ass Photo: Deloria Jacobs
  • “I have to be superlative”
  • I binge-created for years
  • But never felt deserving
  • Always a bit in the closet
  • After writing this…
  • I had an epiphany
  • We ALL hold the power
  • For Empowered
  • Internalized critical voices
  • Paralyze and imprison us
  • We give so much away
  • = Blocks
  • Lies that we tell ourselves
  • Adds up; Shuts us down
  • Instead of creativity
  • Destructivity
  • How do we…
  • Get Unblocked?
  • “You can’t force yourself to get into (creative) flow, but you can set the conditions for it.” - Ted Neward, “Managers are from Mars, Developers are from Venus”
  • The Process
  • Recognize & Banish
  • Physical evidence of fear
  • Internalized criticisms + fears
  • Evil voices in your head
  • “If your demons are such that they fill the room the instant you contemplate creating, your studio will be too dangerous a place to enter.” - Eric Maisel, author of Fearless Creating
  • You can’t outrun them
  • Face and ID your Inner Critic
  • Impostor Syndrome
  • Impostor Syndrome Paradox
  • Comparisons
  • Perfectionism
  • “Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order.” ― Anne Wilson Schaef
  • Focus on the finished product…
  • Instead of the process
  • The real problem
  • “The Best” vs “The most”
  • Procrastination
  • Feed each other
  • Fear of failure
  • F.E.A.R. =
  • Or, the alternative
  • “Fear is not real. It is a product of the thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice.” - character of Cypher Raige (played by Will Smith), After Earth
  • Become a Fear Alchemist
  • “The goal is to manage anxiety so that our energies are used for the productive and satisfying art of creating…
  • …rather than the destructive and debilitating art of self-torture.” - Clare Warmke, Idea Revolution
  • Banish the Inner Critic
  • Comparisons aren’t real
  • “You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.” ― Dr. Maya Angelou
  • Reframe failure
  • And mistakes
  • “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” - Henry Ford
  • Be bad/make it ugly
  • “If you want a creative life, do what you can’t and experience the beauty of the mistakes that you make.” - Marcel Wanders, Designer and “Professional Amateur” (
  • Take it a step further Photo: Denise Jacobs
  • Change your body, change your mind
  • “Our bodies change our minds, our minds change our behavior, and our behavior changes our outcomes.” - Amy Cuddy, Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are TED talk
  • Cop a Power Pose
  • Adjust & Replace
  • “It’s all preparation. The magic happens at the stove.” - Daniel Steinberg, Crazy and Focused
  • Laying the foundation Photo: Denise Jacobs
  • Train Your Brain
  • Left v. Right brain?
  • Left hemisphere
  • Right hemisphere
  • A balanced brain
  • Our brains produce…?
  • Know your Brainwaves
  • Get your Alpha on
  • 5 Easy ways access to Alpha
  • (1) Breathe to refocus
  • (2) Lay down; be prone
  • (3) Daydream/Space out
  • (4) Takes a shower
  • (5) Get physical
  • “When your brain is supposedly doing nothing, it’s really doing a tremendous amount.” – Marcus Raichle, Neurologist
  • Manage time
  • To DON’T
  • Say NO to Distractions
  • Instill the Headphones Rule
  • Added bonus
  • Tools Browser Extensions Firefox: LeechBlock Idderall Google Chrome: Strict Workflow StayFocusd Aids for digital blocking
  • Single-task
  • Pomodoro Technique
  • Airplane mode
  • Connect & Play
  • Do It With Others
  • Mo’ people, mo’ ideas
  • Avoid sameness
  • Diverse environments
  • Share ideas
  • Don’t keep them to yourself
  • Share mistakes
  • Amplify the ideas of others
  • Improv
  • Plus it
  • The structure
  • Make your partner look good
  • Expands, does not contract
  • Power-Push Writing Photo: Anna B. Scott
  • Free & Clear
  • Before
  • After
  • The stage is set for Flow
  • Find
  • •  Clarity about & confidence in you want to achieve •  Level of mastery •  Cleared space; materials on hand •  Time carved out; distractions eliminated •  Practice in place The previous steps lead you here:
  • (Re)Gain Creative Confidence
  • “…the confidence that, when given a difficult problem, we have a methodology that enables us to come up with a solution that nobody has before.” - David Kelley, Founder of Ideo
  • Ideas are on and poppin’!
  • A transformation happens
  • Reclaim our power
  • By realizing
  • Nudge your comfort zone
  • “Creative minds have always been known to survive any kind of bad training.” - Anna Freud
  • Value yourself and process
  • Moving forward
  • “Creativity makes day to day experiences more vivid, more enjoyable, more rewarding. When we live creatively, boredom is banished and every moment holds the promise of a fresh discovery.” - Mihali Csikszentmihalyi, Creativity
  • It’s how & why I do what I do Photo: Derek Kearney
  • “The new scarcity: the time, energy, and brainpower of bright, creative people.” -Mary Poppendieck, “Think For Yourself”
  • You’re a precious resource
  • In order for you to create
  • Need to Get Unblocked
  • You are my starfish
  • Make better things AND
  • I hope that you
  • The End…?
  • Thank you
  • Four Secrets to Enhancing Creative Productivity Banishing Your Inner Critic Reigniting Your Creative Spark Breaking the Perfectionism-Procrastination Infinite Loop My articles for further reading
  •  Sign up on my mailing list here! Connect with me! Photo used with permission: