Echo Conference Notes for Todd Henry

You can find a downloadable set of notes here.

Todd Henry is the founder and CEO of Accidental Creative, a company that helps creative people and teams be prolific, brilliant, and healthy. He’s also the author ofThe Accidental Creative: How To Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice, which offers strategies for how to thrive in the creative marketplace and has been called “high-octane fuel for creative productivity” by Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art.

Echo Conference | Keynote 2 | Todd Henry (@toddhenry)

Student practitioner of creativity in the marketplace

“The Accidental Creative”

Is it possible to be prolific, brilliant and healthy at the same time?


Healthy+brilliant-prolific=fired (we’re not going to keep our jobs this way)

80% of people regularly report feeling disengaged in the workplace “Malicious cooperatives” ß secretly hoping the organization will tank

No matter how many times we “snap the yardstick”, we always ask “can I do it again?”

Create-on-demand world – we’re accountable for a process we don’t understand to keep our jobs

Your problem (sits at the center of your world)

Random bits of stimuli (data)

Sometimes we begin to see the connection between the random bits of stimuli

We short-circuit our creativity when we force this out

5 Steps

Define problem

Explore options

Choose best option


Rinse and Repeat

CoD Process

Panic about problem

Explore option


We struggle with the fact that our ideas are TOO appropriate

Possibilities vs. pragmatics | All creative professionals deal with this tension

Time vs. value – you’re paid for the value you contribute to the company (church)

We know that our job is to contribute value (why we check our email repetitively)

Predictable vs. Rhythmic – You can’t predict creativity, but you try anyway

Product vs. Process – 99% of what we do is process, but we’re judged for the 1% (product)

Rhythm (5 elements) supports the creative process

Focus – What are we REALLY trying to do? If the problem isn’t defined, we can’t do our job

Ping – Pinprick in my gut that tells me to check email, twitter, etc.

(Most of us check our email 24,000 times per year)

Define: Challenges

If we want to be more effective, we need to be more microscopic of our process

Refine:Big 3 (Big challenges in your life right now)


Head to Head (Most effective way to learn is to teach)

Seek leadership – we need someone (outside of organization) to affirm/critique

Energy – We need to channel our energy into places that will be effective

Practice pruning (If you don’t prune, whole tree will succumb to systemic mediocrity)

We can’t be effective at everything, make a list of what’s going on in your world

Think Whole Life (Making commitments without looking at how it takes our energy)

We only have a limited capacity of energy, you MUST

Stimuli – You create what you take in

We’re taking in creative junk food, if you do, you’ll create junk food

Have a study plan (are you aware of the deeper questions you have in life?)

Take better notes, pay attention to the meta-conversation in your head

If you ignore it long enough, it starts ignoring you

Could be your mind prompting you to go somewhere creatively

Stimulus Dive (do things that REQUIRE you to use your senses in a different way)

Hours – Where we put our time determines our effectiveness

We’d rather feel productive than actually BE productive

When was the last time you made something that someone wasn’t paying you for?

Unnecessary Creating –have something outside of your job to express yourself

Idea Time (It doesn’t feel very effective to THINK about our projects)

We need a sacred space in our life to pursue possibility in the face of pragmatics

It’s not what you know; it’s how you do what you do that matters

Why do this? Why would anyone care if you disappeared into a big sinkhole in the earth?

We believe in what we do, but we don’t have the capacity to ask the tough questions

Cover bands don’t change the world.

We cannot afford to lose your contribution. If you give up your contribution, it’s a crime against humanity.

What do you think the most valuable land in the world is? The graveyard, where the most potential is

The death rate is hovering right about the 100% mark (haha.)

Die empty. I want to know if I leave this world today, I want to know that I’ve poured myself fully into what I’ve done.

Approach your life with more purpose.