Tania Katan on Creative Trespassing: How To Sneak More Imagination Into Your Work & Get More Done

After years of smuggling creativity into the corporate sector without getting busted, Tania has learned that we don’t need to be in a job that is distinctly creative in order to be distinctly creative in our job. In fact, no matter how tedious the task, or how buttoned-up the office environment, we can all learn to conjure imagination anywhere, anytime.

How? By choosing to stand out rather than fit in.

From BoS USA 2018 and full of hilarious stories, wacky, battle-tested exercises for flexing your creative muscles and PowerPoint slides like “Fire Hierarchy,” and “Transform the Norm,” you’ll learn tools and strategies for taking more creative risks, leading with more imagination, facing fears and embracing obstacles as an opportunity to accelerate growth, and the ability to find inspiration where others see only limitations.

Find Tania’s talk video, slides, transcript, and more from Tania below.

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Tania Katan: Hello! So I’m thinking it feels fitting that, um, a talk about testing the limits needs to start at the end. Okay. So will everyone please stand up? Thank you. Okay. And on the count of three, you are going to applaud wildly. Um, you get extra points for cheering and hooting and hollering. Are you, are you ready? Okay. Woo! Okay. Okay. Stay standing emotionally, but you can sit down physically. Great. That was awesome. It felt pretty awesome to test the limits in this room full of people. Yeah. Like awesome, you know, to be supported and people cheering you on. It’s probably different than our regular lives. As entrepreneurs, as innovators, as human beings. When we’re out in the field and we’re pitching our wares and we seem to be confronted by all of these barriers and limits, and I don’t like your idea and I don’t even understand it, and I’m not going to fund it. Who are you? And nobody’s applauding for you. You know, it’s just you and you don’t even want to applaud yourself. You know, you’re just like high five times. Yeah, no, just like that. Ah, and um, the reality of it is though is that all of those barriers and boundaries and limits are coming from us. That’s the hardest thing to accept is that we are chock full of self limiting belief. It’s we kind of sling these things right in front of ourselves. These barriers, these no trespassing signs, you can’t do that. It’s not best practices. We never do it like that. Um, we put all of this in front of ourselves as a barrier and, um, and because of this, because of these self limiting beliefs, we stop ourselves from doing the things we really want to be doing. And so I’m going to be talking about, um, about self limiting beliefs. And this idea that I’ve been working on for about 10 years now. I was kind of studying and testing the limits of what is possible, what is profitable, what is probable when we bring our creativity with us into the workspace and when we bring our creativity with us into our everyday lives to, to take on challenges.

And I call this way of working Creative Trespassing. And, um, I actually, people actually hire me. I don’t know why, but they do. Uh, and I work with people and companies to show them that there are more creative ways for doing our less like technically creative work. And so now what I’d like to do is I’d like to start at the very beginning. Okay. Um, the, the like really the beginning. I want to go with my parents. Okay, great. Um, does anybody here have a dad? Okay. Um, anybody’s dad ever take them to picnics, company picnics. Anyone? Yeah, my dad too. It’s okay. Um, the only problem with my, uh, my dad is that he never worked for the company. Okay. So he would crash company picnics. Um, this is where I learned my first act of creative trespassing. He would see a sign, you know, that the, in the park that said Motorola and instead of seeing it as a barrier to entry, he would see it as an opportunity to get his kids hotdogs and free soda. So this is my, this is my background. This is my mom. She’s really cute. She’s French. Um, she has always it tested this notion of ownership, you know, she’s like a pacifist and she’s like, who are we like to own anything? Is this, is this mine or yours or ours? And so in this photo, we just left the doctor’s office when we’re going out to Thai food and, um, she has swiped a magazine from the doctor’s office and she calls this subscription on the go. And so definitely like pushing on, on the limits of what’s possible profitable and um, and probable. So, uh, these are various stories about, um, about my creative trespassing journey.

At one point in my life, uh, I was hired to work at a contemporary art museum and, I was hired because they wanted to create new programs, new revenue streams and new audiences. The museum needed just like an influx of, of newness. And so they wanted somebody who was like a little rule breaker-y, you know, tested the limits of what’s possible. And so the director hired me and on the first day at work, uh, I remember kind of like paraded me around the offices of the fancy curators. And he was like, this is Tania. She has a degree in theater and we need some drama around here. This is Tania. She’s a disruptor. And we like that. This is Tania. She thinks way outside the box and that’s what we need in this museum. And then he showed me to my office and it was a cubicle. And I’m not kidding. It was literally like two feet by three feet. Has anybody ever worked or currently works in a cubicle? You can’t even hold up your hands. You’re like, Oh, I’m not supposed to do that. Um, it was a cubicle. And uh, I did in that moment what any good theater practitioner would have done when the slings and Arrows of outrageous fortune, we’re hitting her in the pie hole. I launched into a soliloquy. Um, Joe knows, but for those of you who don’t know what a Soliloquy is, it’s when some, uh, someone loses their mind in front of a live audience. So I was in my little cubicle and I was like, how can I create awesome racy disruptive programs in this teeny tiny space? And it’s weird, like I’m in a cube inside of a larger cube. That’s so weird. And um, doesn’t the director look like the master from doctor who that’s why you stuck you in here to control your mind. So once I got done with my soliloquy to an audience of no one, I looked up and I discovered that cubicles don’t have ceilings. That was a cool discovery because when there are no ceilings, there are no limits. And I got to work and the first thing I did was created an online program, a series called “Out Of The Cubicle”. I hired a videographer, we ran around the museum compound and made these funny videos. I’ll, I’ll set up the first one and then I’ll show you what the outcome was of those videos. Uh, so the first one is a, there’s a, an architect named Will Brooder. Does anybody, anybody heard of him? Nope. That’s okay. You look them up. It’ll be fun. Uh, and Will Brooder has designed museums all around the country and internationally. And so I called him up and said, hey, well would you kindly help me redesign my cubicle? And he said, yes. Okay.

[Video Plays]

Um, okay. So I’m going to set up the second one. So, uh, you know, uh, again, I was charged with the creating new programs, uh, getting new audiences in and breathing new life into a museum. And so I was just doing my job. The second one, I was challenging the, the social morays of work culture. So does anybody ever, have you ever heard of employee of the month? Anybody left? Um, so I remember it was my first experience with an employee of the month situation. I’m like, employee of the month. How does one win that? And HR is like, you have to earn it. And I’m like, I will earn your vote. I’m going to run for employee of the month.

[Video Plays]

I can hear murmurings of “she’s crazy”. She’s nuts. Uh, so the, the reviews were mixed. As you can see, she’s not working, she’s just running around having fun as if the two are mutually exclusive. Right? I mean, I never understood that. Working and fun do not need to be mutually exclusive. And I’ll show you why. Bam, what did I do? My job, boom. So it’s true. I mean, I, I ticked all the boxes and this is why when I talk about this idea of creative trespassing, of challenging our limiting beliefs and really believing that when something confronts us that’s an obstacle or limit or a, a confinement that we use our creative minds to figure out a unique way to, to walk or work around it or to tunnel underneath it or leap over it. And then I did my job. There you go. Okay.

Okay. So I was giving a talk at a tech startup conference and I was very energetic. And these two engineers from Amex came up to me after the talk and they were really energetic and they’re like, oh my gosh, we totally want to start an innovation lab in our office, but we don’t have any money, buy in, or a space. What should we do? I’m like, oh, no problem. Uh, and I said, you should look up an artist named Meg Dogood. So I’m gonna tell you about Meg Dogood. And I’m not kidding. And I wasn’t kidding then. And I’m not kidding now. Uh, Meg has lived in Chicago for her whole life and she’s an artist and a curator. And at one point in her life she’s like, I want to own a gallery. I just want four walls and to have some art and invite artists to rethink the space. Right. And um, but you know, she was an artist making a living, didn’t have money, didn’t have space, didn’t have resources to do it. So did she let that stop her? Yes. Yes. I’m so sorry. Yes, good day. I wasn’t going to end there, but it seems right right now. Okay. No, she didn’t do it. She grabbed limits by the clutch. Bright. Okay. It’s, you know what? It’s actually genius in real life. What you have to do is you have to, she carries the clutch with her all the time. And so you have to schedule an appointment to meet with her and see that exhibition. And then she shows up. She puts the clutch down, she opens it up, you see the exhibition, she shows like really famous artists and they’ve had to reimagine like the teeny, tiniest confinement of all. That’s amazing. And when I told the guys that they’re just like, oh, can we just get some money? No, you can’t. You’ve got to think creatively. Gosh. Uh, and that’s a closeup. That was one of the exhibitions. Yeah.

So, uh, you know, w we can read through this a bit. Been Really, uh, look, we all know the report is due. The budget’s always smaller than the scope of work, right? We don’t have buy in and space and time and dadadada. Um, but we always have our creative thinking and we can always activate a space. Uh, so this is a, there I wrote a book called Creative Trespassing in it. There are some exercises, they’re called productive disruptions because I think you get more stuff done when you’re stuck by disrupting the patterns and habits that keep you stuck going for a walk, drawing, doing a creative writing exercise. So these are some to help you when you’re stuck. Um, yeah. So identify a space and we’re going to come back to this one actually. Um, so I’m just gonna move along there. Ha Ha. CIO… shit. We just let that hang there for a little while. Any CIOs here? Thank God. Okay. So anyway, uh, I was invited to speak at a CIO summit about creativity and I was already freaked out a little bit about it, but then when I arrived, I started freaking out a lot because there were like 400 CEO’s from like Disney to NASA and they were all wearing suits, uh, in varying degrees of leg, dark blue to black. I’m not kidding. I don’t make this up. I live it. I’m an experiment. Um, so I show up looking like me and I’m in the back of the room watching the speaker before me and I’m starting to panic because he’s talking very intelligibly about AI and IA and VR and I’m like, Whoa, what am I going to do up? They’re like, oh, unless they want to rant about like TMI or UTIs or like, BMWs like, I am in no way. Um, I started all my self limiting thoughts were like racing in like, you don’t belong here, you’re not a CIO. And then, and then the speaker is killing it. I mean, he is killing it. All the CIO’s are just like [stands very still and shows no emotion] so I know he’s killing it. CIO jokes. I could go all day. I can’t. Ah, anyway, uh, so I, I literally am panicking. I can’t even breathe. I’m pacing back and forth in, in the back hoping this ends quickly. And then the MC takes the microphone and he says, we’d like to welcome to the stage Tania Katan. She is a CIO Oh hell no. Ah, I mean I wasn’t going to like tell him my quick fix for technology or like romantic relationships, like, you know, just like turn it off, count to 10, turn it back on again. Okay. That’s how I fixed it. Um, I wasn’t gonna get up there and then I really started to panic and then fortunately the MC took the mic and he said, she’s the Chief Inspiration Officer and I’m like, ah, thank God. Oh my God. Tough crowd.

I’m going to leave this up for a second. So after, after that moment, what I realized is, you know, so many conferences or work events, the first thing that we ask each other is like, what do, what do you do? What do you do? And I thought that that meant, what is your job title? What’s on Your Business Card? What’s on the tiniest confinement? Um, but what I realized after that moment is that actually our, our job titles are what we do, can be based on, on purpose, our purpose for being in the world. And in that space. I had a purpose for being there. Um, so this is an exercise I’ve done with teams and I’ve done on my own. Um, does anybody, has anybody made up a job title based on yeah. What do you do it again? Connection Catalyst. See her. That’s awesome. That’s a good one. Anybody else? Yes. Head Puncher. Um, don’t see her. Okay. So anyway, I’m kidding. I’m kidding. I’m really, I’m kidding. I’m totally, that’s awesome. Uh, once I had a, when I was at the museum, I came up with Curator of Shenanigans because that seemed like my job. I made business cards. I didn’t tell my boss ,I used them. Bam. Okay.

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So I had the privilege of meeting this woman named Stacey Kirk. She’s a founder of a company called Quality Works. I’m going to move to her quote. Uh, my value in the world is great. Okay. So we were, uh, we were on a, on a panel together and, uh, and we were talking about core values and she’s there, they’re an agile company. They create frameworks for like launching software faster, accelerating the speed. Uh, and she, you know, somebody like, well, what do you know, what, what’s your value? And she’s like, you know, my value in the world is greater than my fear. And I, I pretty sure that was the best thing I’d ever heard of human say. And I, and I turned to her and I’m like, “Who are you?!…”. And so after the panel, I had a feeling that she was also a Creative Trespasser. And I asked her if she had any, um, any like sneaky ways in which she, uh, she brought creativity and to engage her team. And she said, I do. Uh, she had, she has two teams. One was a recent one, uh, added in, in the US she had her regular team in Jamaica and they had their regular standup meetings based on all the talks here. I know that standup meetings don’t always go according to plan and neither did hers. Uh, and I think it was, it was actually the disconnect, the distance between the two and this mediated form of doing a standup. Nobody was motivated to do it. They hated it. It took forever. And so she went back to the core values of the company. We’re agile, we’re nimble, we’re, we’re playful. And she came up with a really creative solution to the, the, these taking too long. Um, so what happened was the Jamaican team was ready with a solution. So when the u s team called in on the video conference call, here’s what they saw. They weren’t plank position. Oh yeah. Implement immediately. Anybody ever do a plank? Yeah. You could barely hold up your hand like it just did. Seven, I’m exhausted. Uh, what better way to sweat out information quickly and strengthen your core than to do a plank. Okay. Uh, so that’s how they solve this problem. It, it inspired a productive disruption. So I identify a disconnect in the communication touch base with your core values. This is something we overlook all the time. A lot of times we’ve already created the map for creativity. It’s called like our, our content, our marketing, the language that we use to describe our company. And we just forget that somehow when it applies to us, right? Like, yeah, we’re agile, but I don’t have to like do stuff. Uh, mine your own company’s language for opportunities to push the limits.

Okay. Does everybody know this quote? When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. Max Planck, I thought we continue with the plank. Thank you. Thank you very much. Okay, so I’ll tell the people, there’s a lot of people here who know that I helped create something. This, yeah. The bath, the bathroom symbol. So, um, yes, everybody should holding up their computers. Um, so you know, this is the, the bathroom. Yeah. Yeah. Oh, look at this. I got one. No, I don’t, I just wanted to show you my bum. Thank you. Um, so, so this, you know, um, uh, a reimagining of the bathroom symbol. Um, and then it became this, uh, it was never a dress. Um, but what you might not know, I’m going to tell you since this is like business of software and it feels like people are like disclosing things, they don’t tell other conferences. Uh, so there’s two things you should probably know that you won’t know about this. First of all, when I was hired by, uh, this software company Axosoft, I did not know anything. Anything, anything about software. Nothing. Okay. For Real. Trust me, I thought Linux was like a Peanuts gang character. I mean, and then people were always like walking around talking about like open source, open source. And I’m like, don’t kiss that person. Thank you. My open source jam. Uh, and then, and then, and then of course, AI, right. It was like, it was like if I went to like a pub with Mark, you know, and he was like, hi, I’d like to know the pie. No. Um, I didn’t know what AI met. Oh my God, this is just, uh, I didn’t, I really did not have any idea about software for real. And the second thing that you need to know is that the person who hired me, the CEO didn’t come from software either, didn’t have a background in technology. Uh, actually is a pilot actually, uh, you know, is a physical therapist. And the reason why I tell you this is because within a lot of the companies that I worked for always feel like when they’re looking for talent, they’re looking for a perfect match. You know, sort of like a Tinder style of like, Oh, you’ve got an MBA, all, we’re looking for an MBA. It’s awesome. Um, and, and that I want to, I want to encourage you to consider mismatches. That makes sense. Where there’s some threads of connection. Um, this is a really, this is productive to disruption. So, and, and as a result of, of working at Axosoft, you know, we created something that wasn’t expected. It wasn’t, um, on the Q4 goals, you know, and, and, um, we didn’t have the money for, we didn’t use money. We didn’t like spend extra, extra money too to create it. Uh, we just did something because we wanted the challenge, uh, of, of solving or at least presenting an option for how to see women in the workspace or in the world. And, and that was it. And so we did that. Um, these are, who here has speakers series, lunch and learns at their company. That’s awesome. Awesome. Awesome, awesome. Uh, I’ve had the great privileges at speaking at a lot of these events. And what I’ve also found is that, you know, once you invite these people in, you can have conversations that last beyond that moment and help generate ideas that come from outside. Um, so in, in addition to this, I would encourage you to invite outsiders inside your company, especially when you’re feeling stuck with solving a problem, even if that problem is, is technical.

Okay. So, um, I’d like to do a little something, something with you. Who here has a pen and paper? Oh my gosh. People, somebody just threw his head back laughing like she has lost it. Uh, okay. So if you don’t, if you have a pen and paper, please use that if you don’t use your computer. But I’m saying use a pen and paper because it’s a way to disrupt our, our typical habits. When we work on a computer, we’re solving problems, we’re doing work, but when we write with pen and paper, we’re testing our muscle memory. We’re functioning in a different way. It’s going to be awesome. Oh my gosh. So good. So good. Good. This morning. Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, whoa. You already gave your don’t, don’t do far to my stage. That’s French for don’t fart on my stage. I’m going to get the head, the head. Knocker. Yeah. Okay. Okay. Just look up a optimistically when you’re, when you, who needs pens and paper? Good we’re so we’re going back to productive disruption. I’m going to read it. You can look at it and then we’re going to do it. Oh, oh, oh, forget it. Okay. Because I, okay, hold on, hold the line. I, I forgot to introduce one important part. Um, as it, does anybody write in a journal Journal? Write anyone? Great. Awesome. So for those of you didn’t lift your paw up, the most important thing is to not think or overthink this. It’s to trust your instincts and write until I say time. Okay? Thinking, F’s, everything up. You can quote me on that. Okay. So that’s all I’m now, here we go. So productive disruption. I’m going to read it aloud. Uh, think about a limiting space or belief. We’re going to write for five minutes without stopping or editing all the ways in which this limiting space or belief has unlimited possibilities. Okay? Don’t worry about three or four. How about that? Are you ready? I’ve got a timer here. Go. There’s more paper. You can let us know. Okay.

I can always tell how satisfying that exercise was by how people put their pens down. I’m looking at Mikey, it was like, okay. It’s good. It’s good. Uh, okay. So how, how was it, anybody want to share how that was confronting a limiting belief for space and then actually doing some creative thinking to explore what’s possible in that space? Anybody? It was fun. Yeah. Why was it fun?

Audience Member: Cause I don’t think I’d be tempted to do that. Like an extra step gets eliminated. Bleed. Got It. Yeah.

Tania Katan: That’s great. Do, do you want to share any, any of it or,

Audience Member: Yeah. So, uh, for awhile I’ve been trying to deal with perfectionism and fighting that because it is pretty limited. It’s extremely limited and it’s not possible. So I was playing with that and I always, Eh, it occurred to me that a perfect is the enemy of the good. Right? So why not make that literal? Why not have like a battle, a war, an advertising campaign where good is actually fighting perfect, you know, in, in ridiculous, crazy ways and, and perfect. Best of all could just fuck up every like all the time. Perfect. Thanks. That’s perfect. But it’s just, just as Shitty as anything else. Right. And that would be, I think.

Tania Katan: That’s awesome. I want to see that campaign. That’s fantastic. Thank you. Anybody else want to share how it went and what their limiting belief was and how they tackled it? Anyone. You don’t have to. Yeah. Great.

Audience Member: One of the things I found interesting was that I, I first started putting down the stuff that just like was like, oh yeah, I do this, I do this, I do this. And then I’m like, hm, I’ve run out of those easy ideas. What else could I do? I was like, Oh, I had known about that. I could do that. Yeah. Um, and so I can read what I wrote. Yeah. I said I can’t fly a helicopter. Uh, so I started off like, well, I can start to learn about how the blades work and how the controls operate and put the pedals do and things like that. And I’m like, man, okay. Those are the easy answers. I’ve run out. What else can I do? And I thought, hey, I can go on by a model helicopter with my son and we can go field and try to fly it and we could film it and we put that on YouTube, raise money and get more helicopters and more videos and then I go take lessons. And so it just kind of continued on and on from there. But like that’s just like one thing leading to another. All I could do this, I can do this, I can do this.

Tania Katan: That’s awesome. That’s fantastic. And did it make you feel like horrible doing that or did it make give you a sense of joy and

Audience Member: yeah, it really did cause it was like, it just, I think as a, it just gets caught up in the first answer while you just go do this. But then it’s like forces me to go on to something else, try something different.

Tania Katan: That’s great. Thank you for sharing it. Yeah, I mean talk about, you know, taking something to the nth power. Um, this is a tool. Anybody who was sort of come up more formally in the arts, visual performing, dance, um, there’s something that we’re taught, which is what if questions, it’s to ask what if, and really the question is there to ask what are the possibilities beyond what we see and, and yours, you know, inspire me. Like what if or what if I had good in a battle with perfection? And what if perfection was just totally kicking goods? And what if and and you take it to the nth power and somewhere in that space you will find a solution or an idea that’s infinitely better than what you started. This sort of simple like a limit. I’ll take it on done. You’ll find something you didn’t expect, especially when, when staying with, at one of the reasons I tell people not to stop or edit yourself or, or overthink is because it’s in those spaces where we feel like, oh, I can’t go any further. If you stay with it and you push through, you’ll find the solutions. The idea is that you’re looking for, that is a true story. News at 10. Yeah, Uh, anybody else have an experience they want to share with, uh, with this exercise? No, that’s okay. Okay, we’re going to move along.

Oh look, a quote from me, I was self conscious about quoting myself, but I think it’s pretty good. Not going to lie. I just talking is exhausting. No. Okay. Um, so I actually, I, I, you know, it’s funny. I’m going to finish a little early. I’m going to tell you about something and then we’ll have a, a sort of a conversation Q and a situation. Um, I’m, I’m flashing this here A because my dog’s cute. Who doesn’t like a French bulldog see me after. He’s adorable. B, I wrote a book called Creative Trespassing. It’s not out in physical form yet. You can preorder and all that stuff, but that’s not the important part. The important part. Is Anybody here ever written a book? Yeah, this is the smartest girl ever. Okay. So you know that in the book writing process, there’s something called the Galleys, which is the book that looks kind of like a book, but it’s not. And you’re not to give it out to any human being other than press ahead of time because they’re fancy and they could write about it. So I brought four Galleys with me to give to you. Don’t tell anyone. Okay. Um, the only you’ll see me, uh, after, um, after the talk, the first four people I’ll pop down right here, um, who tell me that they will do a productive disruption from the book or one that they saw today. And I can go over a few because they’re not in the book. Um, if you’ll do it and post whatever the outcome is on social media, you can have a book, bam. Um, so let me go back. I’ll show you some of the, I’m going to show you quickly some of the disruptions so that you have them. If you want. Okay. There’s this one. moving along. I’m come back. Who said that in the back? Who’s starting the Q and a without a microphone. I love you. I love you so much. Creative Trespasser. Okay, hold that, hold that thought. We’ll get you Mike, we’ll get you all miked up. Okay. I think those are, and then this is the last one. This is actually a really fun team building exercise if you, if you’re inclined. Um, all of them have been tried and tested and um, to, to mixed results and that’s actually, you know what, um, here’s the, here’s a little tip for you is that when, you know, I like all of these shenanigans that I’ve been engaged with that I, I work on projects with people and we do kind of like boundary pushing things. They’re always mixed reviews. Right? That’s how I know that I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing. It’s like when the reviews are all bad or all good, you’re like nothing to work towards when they’re mixed. You’re lucky. Yeah, no challenge. Yeah. So mixed reviews are a good sign that you’re on the right path. That’s all I’m saying about that. Um, it seems like the Q and a is really want to happen. I feel like pause like, Ooh, like popcorn. Oh, okay. Let’s, should we start the Q and a and we can engage in a conversation. Thank you.

Audience Member: Can we see a photo of your cubicle?

Tania Katan: Oh, a photo of the cubicle after. I don’t, whoa. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You guys. Hello? Uh, so I don’t have a photo of the cubicle with me. Uh, but what happened was the architect will brooder really did redesign my cubicle. We bashed down all the walls. It was a teeny tiny corner space and he, we use pallets because they were very inexpensive. And um, he, he made walls with the pallets and when he did smartly, he wanted to ensure job security for me. So he made through, made sure the slit in, you know, there’s like slats in the middle that they were just my eye height so I could see out. And then when I, when I moved on in, in my professional life, unfortunately the, um, the, the cubicle was taken down and I know it should have been memorialized. I agree with you. Yes. Okay. Any more questions?

Audience Member: Thank you so much for a fantastic talk. A lot of the examples you’ve given so far when you’re talking about, um, the creative disruption of the examples you’ve given have been inside the office, the cubicle, bringing in speakers, but you’re really cool. Starting stories were about getting out, crashing a company party. And I think a lot of us have a little bit of trouble, uh, with the lid, the lid, the office door right behind the office door, or more willing to be disruptive or act like a hippo or whatever. Uh, but outside, that’s where things get scary. Could you speak to some of your experiences, examples, advice on creative trespassing outside the office?

Tania Katan: What a great question. Yeah, a really good question. Well, uh, so the first thing that, there are two things that come to mind, actually. One, just when you were talking about getting outside of the office, um, there’s, there’s something I write about in the book. There’s a study from Stanford. It’s a study I’m walking and creativity and you know, those iconic, you know, I’m Steve Jobs meetings where he’d walk and you know, blah, blah, blah. Um, and, and there’s actually a connection between creativity and the brain and, and being in motion by walking. Um, so one way to start Creative Trespassing is to have a practice that generates creativity. And so I would recommend that you literally walk, move your body in, in some ways. Um, and another, uh, another tip, um, that, uh, I was thinking about in terms of, of being in the world is, um, and what, what were you talking about specifically? I had like seven different answers and there’s, it seems like there is, is there something in particular when you think about, um, being outside, you’re like, it’s kind of scary outside of the, of that space? Talking to customers? Yeah. Oh, great. Okay. That’s great. Okay. Um, so yeah, so, so creative trust, dressing, um, talking and connecting to customers. So one thing that I learned, again coming from, from theater is this idea of, of dialogue. So, uh, I showed you what a Soliloquy is, right? That’s where you talk to yourself aloud. Okay. That’s different from a monologue, which is half of a dialogue. Okay. Um, which is different from a dialogue. Okay. So I’m, I’m telling you this because we sometimes as people who are in sales or marketing or just trying to connect with human beings, um, we tend to Soliloquy, we are talking to ourselves, we have our script memorize and they’re just there. And so I would encourage you to think about that as a dialogue. Okay. And it’s just your half of the conversation. So even if the person on the other end doesn’t say anything, you’re an audience. You’re not, you know, I’m saying a lot of stuff. You’re not saying anything, but I’m considering that you’re in front of me. I’m, I’m seeing you, I’m connecting with you. So anytime you engage with a human being that you consider it a dialogue, and when you’re speaking, it’s your half and when you’re not, it’s their half and you’re listening. But then it’s, it’s working in chorus together. So I hope that that’s helpful. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re welcome.

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Audience Member: Hello? Hello. I think we have a pretty creative bunch at work. That’s kind of cool. But how do you encourage this creativity across the enterprise? I’m just thinking of the job titles. That’s a cool idea. Um, I mean we’re from Canada in two weeks marijuana will be legal everywhere, so we might get more creative. But apart from that, uh, how do you encourage that enterprise-wide creativity at every level?

Tania Katan: Yeah, I think so. They’re there again, the, the, you know, I wrote a book filled with all of these things. There’s one, there’s one exercise that I really love so much. So, um, there was somebody I worked with who whenever things would be getting like a little, not creative, he would take it upon himself to, to run around the offices and scream movement session and everybody would just drop what they were doing, follow him into the lobby. And we do exercises. We just moved, it was a movement session and that inspired me when I was working with some teams, um, to do a creative session. So five minute, five minutes, it didn’t hurt anybody. We didn’t lose any customers. It didn’t slow us down. We took five minutes and somebody is sort of the, the leader of that creative disruption and we say, right about how you got your name, five minutes go, Bam. And they write. So again, it’s going back to the exercise that we all just engaged with, sir, disrupting our typical patterns of this, of like talking it out and touch that and just doing something totally different. But writing prompts are really good way to get you out of that, that vein and get you into a more creative space for sure.

Audience Member: Yeah, I have dramatic soul. Um, I was always doing drama, but as you could tell from the accent, I am from England, not known for… I mean we are creative in all ways, but, um, I think, uh, it’s fair to say that if you said to a lot of teams, let’s do something a little bit wacky, it might not go down well. So could you talk to us about, um, creative risk taking in more traditional environments?

Tania Katan: Uh, so yeah, I think that there’s definitely lots of situations where we sort of like traded our soul for a key fob and I’m 401k and rigidity. And in those situations I recommend doing Creative Trespassing, acoustic style. So, uh, I was working with this, a woman who does QA, uh, for big company and she, and she, what she does, and I was like, that is genius ish. At the end of a long important email, she gives a little quiz and the questions have nothing to do with the email. So this encourages, follow through. They’re always like really fun and creative questions. Um, and it encourages, you know, they get the Easter egg if they follow up on it. Does it hurt anybody? Does anybody feel challenged for their position in the world? Um, and um, and also I’ll give you another, um, another exercise to do that’s been really awesome is, um, you know, a lot of times we get stuck in the fact that we’re either like a leader or a manager or like, you know, there’s some hierarchy. Uh, and I have this exercise called give an unofficial official award. You know, I mean, when we think about employee of the month and other awards, um, that has to go through like HR and all the channels and, uh, and then it gets, it’s all over. So at any given time, you can acknowledge an unofficial leader in your company. You don’t have to make a big to do about, it doesn’t have to happen at an all hands meeting. You could just like, I don’t know, take some, uh, like envelopes from the office and, and scratch out. You are awesome because you embrace diversity, you know, and give it to them. So take it upon yourself to do, they can be subtle gestures. You include a little quiz at the end and they can be, uh, an unofficial official award where you give somebody an award saying, I just think you make meetings fun. Um, as opposed to going through corporate or rigid channels. So those are a few, there are more to be had. Yeah. Thanks for asking. Good question. Yes.

Audience Member: I’m just curious. I’m sure when you go into some different environments, you have some, some skeptics, some people who see what you’re trying to do when maybe an issue like, you know what? I’m good. That’s not for me. Can you tell a story maybe how you’ve converted one of these nonbelievers?

Tania Katan: Oh yeah. Um, how about a whole group of them? So I worked in this company that was, uh, the work culture was like, we have to do everything together, whether you like it or not. It was very like, we eat lunch together, we hang out together, we go to the bathroom to get, like, we’re very busy together. And so, uh, and also people didn’t leave the office for lunch because there was kind of this, um, this feeling that if we left, we weren’t, you know, we would be seen as not doing our job. And so I decided to do the subtle disruptive act of leaving for lunch. You know, I would go for walks, I would go for a coffee, wasn’t taking more time than necessary, but what I wanted to do was find ideas and images and things from the outside and bring them back into the office. And, um, so at first people, literally the, my boss at the time rolled his eyes and like, what’s she doing? And I’m like, I’m enjoying my life. Okay. That’s what I’m doing, that 30 minutes go. Uh, and so I would do this every day and it wasn’t, I mean, in all seriousness, it wasn’t an act of defiance. It was an act of, of trying to do my job better by going outside, coming back in fresh and new. And then what would happen is slowly, like one person would sidle up next to me and go, where do you go? I’m not kidding. And then, and then two people would be like, can I go with you? And I’m like, yeah, you know, I just walk like I have a coffee and you know, we walk and okay. So pretty soon, like two people were coming and then pretty soon, like lots of people were leaving for lunch. And then pretty soon I’m like, well, let’s just go have lunch together outside. Um, and so it was like, you know, the boss after a while. But yeah, like he wasn’t any happier. However, um, we, we were, we were having all’s well that ends well. Ah, yeah. But that was a way. So, so to answer your question, I don’t ever, when I go into spaces like either as a consultant or as somebody who’s embedded in an organization, I don’t ever say like, do this, this is fun. Disrupt La, la. I show people that there are different ways for being and doing our work in the world. And then, and then we see that there are options and that’s it. There’s no dictums. It’s just an option for being in that space. Yeah. Thanks for the question. And we have one more. Two more, more, two more one here. And then when, just the one. Oh, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Daddy. Warbucks oh my gosh.

Audience Member: Okay. Yes. Hey Tania. Hey, I really liked your talk about, uh, your value being greater than your fears. Can you talk about imposter syndrome as a limiting belief.

Tania Katan: Oh my gosh, I have this imposter syndrome is preposterous. I, it’s so hard. Aw. Here’s what it can talk about is that statistically people who suffer from imposter syndrome or probably in this room because they’re all people who function at a really high level, are really smart and are overachievers, makes no sense. Right? Right. Uh, and, uh, and I’ve worked with, I’ve coached people who literally you would know in the world where like famous, see, like confident does it, and they’re like, I don’t believe I belong here and I suffer from it too sometimes. Um, and so here’s the, this is what I wrote. Oh my gosh. I just want to give all of you the book right now. So this is one of the exercises from the book you have to promise since I’m giving it to you by the book when it comes out. Great. Okay. Um, it’s called I, do you know the Rockford files? Did you remember that show? Yeah. Oh my God, this is the coolest group. Yeah. Ah, okay. So Jim Rockford lived in like, he was committed, he was in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, and then he was in prison for like years and years. He is, and then he got out and then you lived in a ram shackled trailer and his life was hard. And so I’m like well if his life is hard. My life can’t be that hard. And, um, and so what I did is I created a file, a physical file folder called Iraq file. Okay. You can create a physical one, you can create one on, uh, on your computer. Uh, and what I put in there are all the sort of like thank you cards, the acknowledgements from customers. Uh, the nice notes that people say about me that aren’t from me. I do, I try to, I try to do positive self-talk. But anyway, so crazy mark made me say it. Uh, yeah. So this way when you’re having a moment, because typically assuming you’re doing your homework, you’re showing up in your giving your best, you’re always going to rock. But sometimes we can’t see that when we’re in that, that frame of mind. And so going to these files and opening them up and saying, oh my gosh, remember when that customer was like, you know what, I really appreciated you taking the extra time with me. Look at it from somebody else’s perspective. So that’s, that’s my best tip for imposter syndrome. And I’m sorry. We all experienced it. It just means we’re smart and overachievers. Yeah. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

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Tania Katan.

Tania Katan
Tania Katan

Tania has made a vocation out of defying convention in order to create a platform for everyone to shine.

Currently, Tania travels the world consulting, empowering people and companies to find inspiration where others see only limitations. Some of these people/companies include: Expedia, Humana, Etsy, Carbon3D, Moz, S.H.E. Summit, Wonder Women Tech, CiscoLive!, GoDaddy, TEDx, Comedy Central Stage, and more. Her creative sneakery has been featured in the New York Times, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, Huffington Post, TIME, ReadWrite, BuzzFeed, Mashable, USA Today, CNN, and more. Formerly the Curator of Performing Arts at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, then the Brand Evangelist for software company, Axosoft, Tania learned the alchemy in merging art with Agile. Katan’s forthcoming book, Creative Trespassing, will be published by Penguin Random House in February, 2019.

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