The way you view something gives it meaning. It doesn’t really matter what an author’s or artist’s intent is – you the viewer, the reader, give the work meaning. (No one sees the world as it is, we merely see it as we see it.)

So, if you’re still with me on this, what if you used this notion to intentionally find new meaning in things that could help you grow your business. What if you could unearth a treasure chest of creativity by simply looking at things differently. Fact is, most of the world’s greatest inventions came about when someone took a proven winner and gave it a new use or a new meaning.

It’s an interesting concept, for sure, but how do you get your arms around this and put it to work in your business?

I read a ton, I always have, four or five books a week. About five years ago I unconsciously started doing what I’m going to call “Point of View Reading.” POV Reading is simply a technique that allows me to pick up any book, almost regardless of the topic, and read it with a single point of view or filter. In other words, if I want to create new ideas around the topic of say, customer service, I will read a book that is about how the brain works and in this frame of customer service almost always find new concepts and ideas that I can creatively apply in my own thinking and writing on the subject, even though the book wasn’t about this subject at all. Borrowing concepts, language, metaphors and even dialogue from one subject and finding ways to make it work in another can be a tremendous source of creative inspiration.

If you ever find yourself stuck on a topic, try this out. Sometimes the more off topic the book seems the better. Once you get used to it you can even start to find answers in tables of contents. Then you can start to go back and reread books you’ve enjoyed with a new point of view and find hidden treasures.

    Here’s are two books I would recommend. Don’t worry about the marketing topic you want to use as filter, just try it.

  • Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely
  • The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance by Josh Waitzkin
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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • I find that “creative thinking” is lacking in many areas of business – don’t you find that it takes right brain thinking to spark those leaps of intuition, sparks of “out of the box” thinking? I’ve done some creativity workshops for business people in the past – wearing my artist hat – and have people who normally spend all day with their analytical left brain at work [the side that does all the management to make sure things stay as they are] and give them some right brain exercise [the side where leadership is, where vision is birthed and new ideas hatch]. I like your idea of “point of view” reading…I’m going to adopt it.

  • Brilliant John – except the fact that you show me up! I just told my wife that I am making a resolution to read at least 2 books each month. For me, that’s a leap! You’ve got me beat! But I appreciate the challenge.

    If I compiled what I read in blogs, it might turn out that I do read at least a book a week. My BLOGLINES feeds numbered near 246 after just a couple of days off for July 4th! That takes some time to go through!

  • Mike

    There was an old TV show called Connections on PBS – it documented the development of technologies through just the kind of application leaps you are describing. It was a truly good show – too bad it is no longer shown.
    The point of Connections was that virtually every innovation can be traced to the notion of someone noticing how an idea from one field and can be applied to solve a problem in the observers field – hence the name Connections. While in-depth expertise is critically important, many if not most breakthroughs come from experts who are curious about what is happening in other fields.

  • John – I’m on the same page with you. I’m an active blogger and blog reader, but I’ve yet to find a magic stroke of insight from the blogosphere (I find it much better for joining in on a great conversation). I think that partly has to do with the herd mentality of most blogs/books in ANY vertical, but with marketing especially (your book/blog is one of the true exceptions because of your practical advice).

    I have, however, found plenty of inspiration about marketing in books outside of the field. Books in psychology and philosophy have been particularly helpful. Speaking of brain books, “The Brain that Changes Itself” was particularly illuminating.

    Keep up the great work!

  • I like this idea John of borrowing and adapting and I know that it is something that Jay Abraham endorses strongly. At conferences he would force people to read magazines outside of their interest areas so that they opened their minds to other sources and concepts.

    This is similar although instead of being open-minded about everything you are looking for new perspectives to your current issues.

  • Great idea! A very sharp business woman told me a few years ago that she got some of her best ideas by going to a museum looking at art while thinking about one thing that she wanted to improve with her company or herself. I’ve tried it and it works! While you are considering what the artist wanted to convey your mind seems to open to new possibilities.

  • Joe

    I like your approach to reading. Wish I could pump through 5 books per week. As to POV reading, perhaps you are describing synthesis which is the mother of all invention. You grab a book on whatever topic and attempt to marry it’s thesis with your pre-ordained topic.

    “Get the habit of analysis- analysis will in time enable synthesis to become your habit of mind.” Frank Lloyd Wright.

    I think you have developed the habit of synthesis. Well done.

  • I call this my ‘shopping bag style’. I read for my benefit, not stopping to argue with any point that doesn’t perfectly fit my philosophy, but looking for points that I can usefully apply. It means I can read some pretty crazy things, looking for that one gem that I need.

  • Excellent! Last night I read “The Back of the Napkin” by Dan Roam (in one sitting), and it definitely helped by giving me a different perspective of bringing creativity into every aspect of business(or everyday problems, for that matter). This book wasn’t off-topic, but I can see how it directly relates with your approach. Taking a different approach to something “routine” always seems to spark something in me.

  • 5 books a week? Sheesh! I thought I read a lot, and I can only get through 2-3 each month. I don’t intentionally draw parallels, but my subconcious seems to apply what I’m reading to any challenge I’m facing (even if the topics are light years apart). Joining a book club is a fantastic way to stretch yourself and read topics you normally wouldn’t pick up. Right now our book club is reading Ken Folliet’s “The Pillars of the Earth” and while the central theme is cathedral building, my mind is on fairness, human character, and what makes great writing GREAT. In fact I just posted on this topic:

  • Good item – getting a different perspective when you are deep in the woods should show you a better way and clear your mind.

  • Connections was a great show! It helped me LIKE history!
    I think this is a cool idea – I’m an one-woman show and I think this could help me get my creativity flowing when I’m feeling alone and stuck.
    Thanks again for a useful post; I have found a lot of tips that have benefitted myself and my clients!