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How to be More Creative | Stories With Traction Podcast


SUMMARY: In this episode, Barbara Zerfoss and Matt Zaun discuss creativity and how someone can position themselves to have a surge of ideas.

BARBARA ZERFOSS BIO: Barbara was a former Marketing Vice President for a multi-billion dollar global corporation. Today, she is a Vistage Chair and leads CEO, Business Owner, and Key Executive peer advisory boards.  She is also a published author, a ghostwriter, and a novelist.  Her latest work is a suspense novel titled As Time Unfolds.

For more info, check out Barbara HERE.

MATT ZAUN BIO: Matt is an award-winning speaker and storyteller who empowers organizations to attract more clients through the art of strategic storytelling. Matt’s past engagements have catalyzed radical sales increases for over 300 organizations that range from financial institutions to the health and wellness industry.

Matt shares his expertise in persuasion with executives, sales professionals, and entrepreneurs, who he coaches on the art of influence and how to leverage this for profits and impact.

For more info, check out Matt Zaun HERE


*Below is an AI-generated transcript, which may contain errors. 


Matt Zaun (mattzaun.com)

Today, we're going to talk about creativity and the disconnect when it comes to business and creativity.

lot of business leaders love to talk about innovation. How do we innovate for our clients? that's awesome. I'm not taking away.

from that. But it's very rare. We talk about creativity. And that's what we're going to we're going to dive into today.

Because today I'm joined by Barbara Zurfos. She was a former marketing vice president for a multi-billion dollar corporation. Today she is a VISTAGE chair and leads CEO, business owner, and key executive peer advisory boards.

In addition, she is a published author, a ghost writer, and a novelist. In fact, her latest work is a suspense novel titled As Time Unfolds.

Welcome to the show, Barbara.


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)

Thanks, Matt. Glad to be with you today.


Matt Zaun 

Thanks for your time. I very much appreciate it. And I love the topic creativity because I know what it's meant in my life.

And I know that when business leaders truly embrace creativity, they're able to utilize that for better products, better services, and to deliver even more.

more value to their clients. So I want to talk about creativity. want to talk first about the disconnect. So one of the things that I've seen and one of the abilities that I have going all over the country, different industries, working with different leaders, is there seems to be this notion of stiff arm and creativity.

So what I mean by that is, again, people love talking about innovation. love looking at data and they like understanding, okay, how do we do a machine over here to crank out more of what we need and to be very innovative.

But when it comes to creativity and putting our minds in a spot that we can be creative and sometimes it might look a little silly to get certain ideas out to find the one that works.

It's it is not as well embraced. So can you talk about what creativity means to you? When I say the word creativity, what's the first thing that comes to your mind?


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)

Believe it or not, the word business came to mind. Really? I believe Creativity is so critical to business success.

Creativity from the leaders, from their teammates and everyone involved.


Matt Zaun 

Okay, so that's interesting. So when I think creativity, I think more. More music, more arts, more plays, more. And I think of writing.

So you being an author, you know, when you write a book. One, could be very daunting. I guess depending on how long I guess it doesn't matter how you do it.

going to be daunting regardless. we need to tap into really creative state. So I like to hear that you, you view business as creative 100%.

So speaking of that, that creativity, what separates someone that is in a leadership role. So they're dealing with all kinds of aspects of management and maybe production.

And they have so many million balls in the air when it comes to sales. marketing, but how are they able to latch onto that creativity?

What have you seen that separate someone in the business world that is willing to be creative or someone that is not willing to be creative?


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)

I've worked with everyone from and still do from entrepreneurs to rocket scientists to heads of a multi-billion dollar global corporations and I've seen them all show creativity to succeed.

If you're leading a company, you've got to be a MacGyver. You've got to be ready for anything that's thrown at you, be creative, you're going to have struggles, problems, It's a story in essence that just keeps on giving and keeps on going and you never know where the plot's going to take you next.


Matt Zaun 

So when you say you have to be willing for anything and that's 100% right, Anyone in business knows that there's so many unexpected things that come up.

There's so many different things that they're doing One of the things though and correct me if I'm wrong to really tap into creativity We need to put ourselves almost in a relaxed state Right and there's a lot of people that will journal or they'll go for a walk or they'll listen to music or They'll pull themselves out of their natural state in order to tap into creativity and what you just described sometimes can be People are frazzled right there.

They could be really stressed So how do you take someone that is balancing so many things and get them in a state where they can be relaxed?


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)

So they could start to have those creative ideas. So here's where I use both sides of my brain is I take them with story Using story I take them into the future and I asked them to play along with me and I Sometimes I've used a scenario where I'm a newspaper reporter

and I've come to visit them. This is a business case I'm sharing. I've come to visit them in their company because they've just achieved outstanding results.

And we're going to feature them in a major business article. Then I asked them, what tell me all you've achieved?

And then I get them to start sharing. They're in the future. So they're looking back. They've already, got all that effort is over with.

They've won the prize. And now they're just sharing. So they let down the guards and the mind just opens because they're in creative play now because I asked them to play along with me.

And then I asked them, help me write my headline. And Matt, it's amazing. Even in business groups I've worked with.

manufacturers, you name it, but it's amazing. The groups that I feel sometimes would be the least creative have astounded me the most with this exercise and have come up with just amazing breakthrough thoughts and creativity.


Matt Zaun

Wow. Okay, so let's clarify that. right, so you're tapping to both sides of the brain by transporting yourself into the future.

So you're envisioning every great thing that's happened.


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)

So how far in the future is this is this five years, 10 years, 20. I say this the end of the next year.


Matt Zaun 

Okay. Oh, wow. Okay. So the end of the next year.


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)

tight. It depends. I've done it both ways. I'll do it just one year. Sometimes I'll do three years. I don't go out farther than that.

I feel like you lose people in that.


Matt Zaun 

Oh, okay. Okay.


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)

Yeah, you're three years.


Matt Zaun 

Okay, perfect. And then after they do that, Your next part of that process is you ask them to write their headline regarding that, right?


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)

Good story.


Matt Zaun 

So what does that do? So the writing a headline, is it to create a mantra of where they should be focused?


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)

Is it to, what would be the reason behind the title? It enapsilizes what they've achieved in just a short, know, few words that they can all say, wow, yeah, that's it.

And it is also, it's the creative side. It just gets people, they should creatively, know, chunking it down. That they, they all engage.

There's not a person in the room, I can tell you, I've done it so many times, that does not fully engage, no matter how quiet a person they are, they're not used to sharing.

They get engaged with this because, as I said, I've told them they've already won, they've already achieved. I don't tell them what?

I'm letting their mind imagine. What could be so incredible that a major newspaper, major magazine or major TV station is coming to feature them for incredible achievements for innovation, creativity, breakthroughs, whatever, whatever they want me to help them work on.


Matt Zaun 

All right, so here's what I love about this, but you don't just say things you actually do them. And I know that you do them Barbara because you've taken me through this exercise.

So it was a year ago. I had the opportunity to meet some of your executives. It was in a golf, a golf club, I believe I'm drawing a blank on the exact location, but you actually took the audience through this exercise.

So here's what I want the audience to know how powerful this is. I don't remember all the different questions you asked, but I remember you had us thinking of the future regardless of obstacles.


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)



Matt Zaun 

And there was a high money, everything aside. Exactly. And there's been so much talk about the R word, recession, recession, And my mind went to how I dealt with the great recession.

And it told me how I can deal with any other obstacles that come up regarding the economy. Okay. So here's how beautiful this exercise was.

And it prompted an incredible story in me based on this exercise in a matter of moments. Okay. So a lot of times people will be staring at a blank sheet of paper and they'll think to themselves, I want to, I want to create a masterful story.

And they're just staring at the blank sheet and they try to write it from start to finish. So here's where my mind went.

When the great recession happened, I'll never forget this. I was actually in my gym. I was working out and I was running on the treadmill.

And a lot of gyms, you know, imagine like the 2030 TVs, you know, around the treadmills and they were announcing on the television what this meant economically speaking.

This is one President Bush, George W. Bush was getting on TV and saying how terrible this was going to be and how painful it was going to be for the American public.

I'll never forget this right. I was running on the treadmill. I remember when I was in, so I wrestled for 10 years.

I started very young. I wrestled through all of high school, some college, and my father, who was an incredible encourager, incredible motivator, and part coach when it came to wrestling for me would always tell me to just keep running.

So keep running, keep running. Basically his point was if you create the endurance, when you get to the wrestling mat, you're going to be okay.

So I'm on the stretch. I'm to get to regardless of how challenging things are going to be. I'm going to keep running.


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)



Matt Zaun

And I took that mentality with me. And it was tough, but I had so much self growth during that time.

It was it was such an incredible time for me when it came to business. So here's why I'm saying all that that exercise prompted that in that whole story.

I took that story. I've shared it verbally in certain talks. I've shared it on social media. I've created blog posts regarding this.

I've shared that story now numerous times. And there's been a residual benefit based on it. I position my father as the hero.

He's the individual telling me to keep running. The point was regardless of how challenging things can can be. If we focus on growing ourself, we can we can grow our business.

We can grow help our team members. So and that happened in moments based on what you did that exercise that prompting.

So I really appreciate that because a lot of times creativity can be agonizing. for people and it doesn't need to be that way.

So do you do similar exercises when it comes to your books? How do you write a book when it comes to the creative aspect?


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)

It usually starts with just writing down on a blank sheet of paper, some random thought. What seems random at the time or random?

Really, when I say story, mean like one page of something or two pages. Just a character saying or doing or a predicament.

And before I know it, it's turning into something and I'll be walking through a room. And with this last book, I started hearing characters talking in my head.

And they never stopped for months actually. It was quite the journey. But it starts with the blank sheet of paper.

Like I said, sometimes a random idea. You just don't know where it leads. So what I try to do

do all the time is always have paper with me or my phone to jot down whatever I'm hearing in my head or something I see that just sparks a thought.

And I don't necessarily think oh this could be a book or I could write a story about this. It's just something that intrigues me or literally like I said something I see or hear in my head.


Matt Zaun

So this next question might be tough to quantify so just maybe ballpark right it doesn't need to be the exact percentage but based on everything that you write how much of that you think does not get published so if you were to say you know if you're if you're writing let's say.

Two hundred pages did you have to write five hundred to get the two or how much of it gets gets thrown away and doesn't become the precision that we see.


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)

Okay with actually writing like my novel as time unfolds this last time I would say stuff that I I threw out 15% I threw out 15% not not a high not a high number.

mean, there were scenes that I threw out as I was going through the editing process. Yeah, maybe 15% pretty much I'm zeroed in.

By the time I sit down to write and focus, I know I plotted it. In my case, I plot I'm an outliner.

I plotted out first usually with index cards across my window here in my home. So I can see it.

I've got to see it like a flowchart. The story is flowing all from beginning to end.


Matt Zaun 

So how it works or not? Yeah, so that that absolutely makes sense. So really goes into the preparation you have you have a

For like, I a better words, almost an absurd amount of preparation knowing if you prepare, you're sharpening that tool, so to speak, it's going to be easier when you're using that tool to get the result that you want.

So a lot of preparation and then only 15% is what gets thrown in the trash, which is astounding, by the way.

That is a very low percentage. But for someone just getting started topping into their creativity, let's say that they need to write a talk that they're going to be delivering to their team, or let's say that they have a larger company event where they really need to be vibrant and inspiring.

And so for someone like that, it's not going to come as easy as it is for you, because you've already gone through that process.

You've already learned the proper amount of prep work. You've already learned how to organize your index cards and the flow.


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)

So can you give hope to someone that's just starting out when it comes to the content piece that there could be substantial

potentially more that they're going to have to throw away. I would take a page from your book, Matt, and I tell him, think of a story to share, and then write their speech or presentation with legs coming off that story and points they want to get across based on that story.

Because if you're not accustomed to speaking, I think it's much easier to fall back on story. We share them every day with each other without even thinking about it.

It's just conversation sometimes. We don't realize its story and it's having great, it can have great effect on people.

So like I said, you're the master storyteller here. I know I'm preaching to the choir, but I would tell them to do what you do, Matt, as you do, you start with story and then make some points off of that and emphasize things to share.

That's something basic I could suggest.


Matt Zaun 

Yeah. And I think that goes back to you mentioning preparation and and and and positioning yourself not to have too much waste when it comes to what you're putting out based on what you said about the story and then legs coming off that story with the different points.

That's a great way to not be wasting a tremendous amount of time. So I really appreciate you mentioning that.

Now, one of the things I will say just encouragement wise and this this correlates with business to a point of when it comes to creativity.

don't want people to miss it is that when we when we see incredible artists. So when we see someone that just seems like they have it all together when it comes to word usage.

So the person that comes to my mind is Bob Dylan. I'm a huge Bob Dylan fan. I think he's an incredible lyricist.

He had to write a lot more than what we see. what we hear. So he was willing to go through songs that he might have considered mediocre or okay, nicks them to get to the ones that we hear today and are played on the radio and are pretty much etched in musical history.

So I don't want people to feel ashamed or embarrassed when they have to scrap something or when it's just the first draft or maybe the second draft to get to what they need.

And I also want people to feel empowered that when it comes to vibrant business leaders, so think of someone like Steve Jobs that's on a stage and delivering content in front of millions of people, that speech that we're hearing is not the first draft, right?

There were different things that went into that to become the final product. So I think it's important to just realize that, right?

we can all aspire to get to the level that you're at Barbara where it's only 15% Let me clarify.


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)

When you asked that question, I was thinking in bigger, broader terms like ideas and plot points and characters and that.

Now, am I revising my wording over and over again? Absolutely. Absolutely. So when you were saying throwing out, I was thinking of whole swaths of ideas.

Okay. Not the iterations and revising and editing upon editing and just reading over my words at all. That's too many to count how much I've changed.

refine, refine, refine, try to make the point simpler and more precise, concise, and grab someone's emotionally. No. Oh boy.

Hours and hours and thousands upon thousands of words in and out, in and out, changing, rearranging, start taking the end of a sentence, making the beginning of the next, you know, constantly.


Matt Zaun 

So it really speaks to your ability to fall in love with the process, right? Because if you weren't, if you didn't appreciate the process, it'd be very difficult to do that and to put yourself through that.

And the same is true when it comes to business. we're willing to block off time where it's on our calendar, it's blocked off, it's time that we're going to tap into the ability to be creative.

That is really, really important, right? So no one can really see this when it comes to audio, but I have an hourglass timer right here.

And one of the ways that I use this is when I feel almost like a sense of writer block, so to speak, where nothing's coming out and I really want to get those ideas out.

I will flip this over and as the sand is going down to the bottom, I'm telling myself, in this time, I'm going to just rattle off ideas.

many ideas that come to my mind. I'm just going to keep going. And I actually have a whiteboard over here, and I have a large desk where I could put out a ton of different papers.

And I'm just almost going crazy, so to speak. Because this is almost like the silly stage. mentioned, Barbara, earlier, that creative play.

So we're just playing with ideas, idea, idea, Because in my mind, it's much better to have a problem of a surplus of ideas versus deficit.

Because if you have 50 ideas, and three of them are amazing, isn't it great to have those three amazing ideas?

Like I was willing to go through the 50 ideas to get the three. So what are some other exercises when it comes to creativity?

So I love what you talked about thinking in the future. Are there some other prompts, or some other exercises, or maybe creative play ideas people can employ to get more ideas out?


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)

I encourage. One thing I do for myself and I encourage other people is to get outside. Nature is an incredible place for new ideas to just pop into your head.

And wherever is someone's normal place of working, they need to get often, know, ideas to spring for. They need to go somewhere else.

It might be one block down the street. It might be just out their front door, standing on their front steps.

It might be if you work in the office, go take a walk in the warehouse. And along the way, someone's going to stop you and talk to you and you're going to see something, but it's just stopping, taking a break and changing your atmosphere.

Just a little bit, walking from room to room can even make something new pop in your head. I'm not so good just sitting and forcing myself.

God bless you, Matt, because if I put a timer on me and that I- had to, you know, in my days of corporate world, I had sometimes moment to jot something down that a president was going to get up and share because I had some speech writing times, not politics like you, but in the corporate world.

So you got to be quick. And I am quick and fast. I love, love, love the process. I really get into the writing process.

However, I am a woman of results. And unlike many writers, or would be writers who are fixing to write and fixing to write the book and fixing to this, as we say down south, they never finish.

I'm a finisher. I'm results oriented. So I do love the process so much, but I don't start what I don't intend to finish.


Matt Zaun 

So I break it up.


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)

For me, it's just breaking up. that's advice I would give to someone else. Great that you can sit there.

I guess I'm too fidgety. And I need to to get up and just change. And for me, I have to break concentration sometimes in order to get it, if that makes any sense, to get focused on an idea.

I do, though, have an incredible ability to focus. When I'm writing, my husband says, when I'm in the zone, a bomb could drop next to me.

It will not break my focus concentration. And I hate to share this. But when my kids were little, I would be so focused in some project, if not writing, of a summer project and working after hours.

And they would have, I finally hear them saying, earth to mother, earth to mother. I'm embarrassed to share that.

But it's the truth. I can really, really focus. for me, breaking focus sometimes, when an idea is not coming, get outside, walk, walk through the room, go talk to somebody, let your subconscious.

just go to sleep, wake up in it on the night. I do that a lot with an idea. And I have to get up and write it down immediately or it's gone.


Matt Zaun 

So you bring up a lot of different, a lot of elements to unpack with what you said.


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)

So let's talk about it.


Matt Zaun 

Sorry, Matt. No, no, no, no, I appreciate that. I very much appreciate that. So let's let's dive into a few of them.

So one thing I think is really important that you indirectly said is everyone can have their own process that works for them.

Right. So for me, you know, I have my timer and it's I'm setting aside 30 minutes. I'm just going to write a lot of every topic under the sun.

So for you, it's changing your environment. It's, you know, you'd mentioned breaking focus going outside and allowing that to empower you to top into creativity.

So it's not a one size fits all. It's not a cookie cutter situation. We can all top into creativity different.

I think it's a really good point. But also you mentioning the outdoors brought up something that I refer to as environmental priming.

Okay, so I think a lot of, there are people in the acting world that would refer to that as well.

environmental priming is when the brain learns to associate certain locations with certain behaviors and kinds of thinking. Okay, so the most powerful example of this from an acting perspective or from a directing script writing perspective was in 1983 James Cameron, the director, was asked to write three scripts at the exact same time.

Aliens, Rambo, and Terminator. Okay, so I want people to think of this. Imagine writing these screenplays simultaneously, and what he did was genius.

It goes back to that environmental priming piece. He set up different desks, so different workstations, and at each workstation, that is what he was focused on.

So he had one for aliens, he had one for Rambo, had one for Terminator, so he would go own a different offices, different desks.

And he almost was like, he was transporting himself into that specific work. And like, in this room, I'm focused on this movie.

In this room, I'm focused on this movie. So when you had said, you know, getting outside, going for a walk, it's almost like an environmental priming piece where if you have trained your brain, this is what I'm going to be creative.

This is how ideas are going to come to me. Going to that spot is very, very helpful. So I appreciate you mentioning that.

I think people can really take that and run with it.


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)

You asked about a creative process or a way of getting people creative a while ago. And I thought of one that actually I did when I was a young girl, my sisters would have their friends come over, and I'm not sure which one of their friends started this story.

But we'd sit around the kitchen table, and it was it was playing a game. And now I realize that it's

what improv people do, but you know, I was eight, 10, 12 and there. And with my teenage sisters and their friends, and they would just start, one person would start the story.

And it would be, you know, a man walked down the street and you're sitting next to him and you say, he was wearing a black hat, but no shoes.

And then you point to the next person, they continue and you keep on going. So I was surrounded by, you know, creativity with probably without realizing it.


Matt Zaun

I love how you so I love the stories. Again, going back to that, that story piece where you're, you're throwing a suggestion out and people take it and make something creative of it.

So it brought me back to Mark Twain's house.


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)

And so I recently was able to tour Mark Twain's house.


Matt Zaun

So anyone that is in the Hartford, Connecticut area, highly recommend. and going and touring. And one of the things that stood out the most to me was he had a fireplace and above the mantle were different objects.

So very obscure random objects. And he had three daughters and every night their bedtime story had to include every single one of those objects.

And every story had to be different and every story had to have very specific parameters. And doing this day after day after day it really I hate to use the word force but it really positioned him to be more creative.

And it's amazing it speaks to the reps. know you'd saying about you know when you were younger and you're going through story after story after story and you think about all the reps that you've had through the course of your life when it comes to the creative process and writing and ideas.

And for anyone listening that might be busy we still need to figure out a time to set the side to have those reps.

So can you speak to just the sheer volume of reps that you've had different? Because it's almost like a muscle, right?

In order to train that muscle and have it grow, we need those reps.


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)

So can you speak to the sheer amount of reps when it comes to writing? To writing? Well, when you were sharing about the Mark Twain house, and I actually saw your post online about that, and now I want to go, it brought a story back to my mind, not just a story.

Something that really, truly happened. I was writing on the bus to school, and I used to write for my high school newspaper, and I don't even remember who the person was who asked me, but it was some guy on the bus, fellow high school, not really a friend of mine.

He had not done his homework, and he had to write a story about something. I don't remember the details, but I do remember saying, what have you got in your pocket?

And he pulled out like a quarter dime nickel and a dollar. And Matt... immediately I wrote a story about what he had in his pocket.

Now, she'd have been helping the guy because it was my work. Now, we're being honest here, but you know, we help people at times.

He probably rewrote it, I hope. But at least I gave him an idea to get started so he could save his grade.

And you know, this is all while I'm writing on the school bus. So even though, like I said, I love the process and it can take some some amount of time.

But I also like to be quick and sometimes those ideas just just come. things like that, what else? Writing speeches at work, writing brochure, copy my backgrounds in marketing.

I had the opportunity years ago my company was advertising with Paul Harvey, the famous radio program. And I was able to write radio spots that Paul Harvey gave on air and one time his assistant called and these were radio spots like this is the product, this is the price these are.

the features yada yada I was just following what people before me had done and Paul Harvey's assistant called me up and said you know these are great you know your company's spending all this money but Paul asked me to call you and I asked do you have any stories he could share and I fell back in my chair and I went stories wow I'm the story girl you mean I can supply story to Paul Harvey so anyway I started calling sales people in our cuss in our customers out in the field and got some stories to send in that he was able to put the Paul Harvey spin on him and share about our company and products it was awesome that's over the way that's what you mean by reps you know sure yeah no I appreciate that so here here's what's amazing all right so so I want everyone to hear this so you're you're on the bus you ask you ask him to put his hand in his pocket pull out what's in his pocket and use that as a prompt so I know


Matt Zaun 

So someone's listening, thinking, but Barbara, don't, a lot of people don't keep things in their pockets, right? So what do I do?

So watch this, watch this.


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)

I mean, I just put my hand in my pocket and here's what I'm going to pull out. Your phone, right?


Matt Zaun 

My phone. So check this out. So here's what you just gave us, Barbara. So here's what I'm thinking of.

go on my phone and now I'm going through pictures right now. So think of everyone that has a phone, all the pictures you have on your phone.

And start scrolling through the pictures and think of all the prompts. So I'm looking at pictures of my children, different places that I've been, different things my wife has sent me, all those can serve as idea prompts to get the ball rolling.


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)

Incredible and great social media, whatever, post, ideas.


Matt Zaun 

Period. sure. For sure. So I appreciate that.


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)

really appreciate you sharing that. Thank you for bringing me into this century.


Matt Zaun 

Pull out the phone. I'm very deaf.


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)

I love it. I love it. In fact, you know, just a few weeks ago, I was looking on my phone and I did do that.

I was on, I went to Ireland and Scotland on a trip. I was thinking about writing a new book.

Nothing came to me over there. I thought, I'm going to get away and I'm going to get all these ideas for a new book.

I come home, go, oh my gosh, nothing happened, nothing popped. I'm looking through my phone and I see a picture of me in a hat that I bought in Ireland, holding a lamp, as a matter of fact, overlooking the ocean.

But I looked at that Irish handmade hat and ideas popped and that hat will be a piece in my next book.


Matt Zaun 



Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)

That's how it happens, Matt.


Matt Zaun 

So I appreciate that you said...


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)

That's a secret.


Matt Zaun 

Yeah, nothing was coming, nothing happened. I really wanted something creative, nothing, nothing, and then a prompt. then you had an idea.


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)

That I really like. Brilliantly fits with the story of the book. No idea at the time. I had no idea.

That's also scrolling through the photographs, not looking for ideas, just looking to experience that trip again.


Matt Zaun

Well, I look forward to reading that book as well. So you all think you posted on when it comes out.

So and thank you for this conversation. Thank you for everything that you shared. very much appreciate it. So there's three specific things that I'm going to have as takeaways from this conversation.

So the very first thing that you said that really stood out to me was taking yourself into the future.

So think of a year into the future. Think of what it could be and then write your headline. I think that's a powerful exercise to bring out creativity.

So I appreciate that. That's the first point I'm going to take away. The second is the sheer amount of preparation.

you put in to your work. You mentioned having index cards and you mentioned having to flow the story. And for someone that might not be an author or an aspiring author that's trying to write a book, they still might have staff meetings that they need to present at.

And you said another exercise people could do is start with a story and then work certain legs off that story.

There's a different points off that story. I thought the preparation aspect was a really good point. And then the third and final piece that I really appreciate you mentioning really speaks to what I had said the environmental priming where you said just get up out of your office, go for a walk, get into nature and really start allowing certain environments to prompt creativity.

So those are my three big takeaways. So I very much appreciate this conversation. If anyone wants to get more information on you, what you do, they want to inquire about your services, what's the best place they can go to get that information?


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)

They can go to my website, the ZERFOS, the Zebra E. R. is in Frank. O. Group dot com.


Matt Zaun

Perfect. I will include that in the show notes. People just click and go right there. Thanks again, Barbara. I very much appreciate your time.


Barbara Zerfoss (vistagechair.com)

My pleasure. Thank you.



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