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A big creative talent coupled with a comparable big vision leads to extreme creativity. Performers who can conceive an audacious, outlandish creative vision that jolts the status quo and can successfully realize it are incredible. I’ve been blessed to work with a couple of people gifted with the ability to envision and realize extreme creativity. Even in a business setting where you can only get so extreme, it’s amazing how exciting it is to be around them. In entertainment, however, the boundaries for how extreme a big creative vision can be are exponentially bigger. And that my friends brings us to “Lady Gaga Presents the Monster Ball Tour: Madison Square Garden” on HBO. The Saturday debut of the HBO special from the five-night run Lady Gaga had at Madison Square Garden not only confirmed her big creative talent, but demonstrated a performer who marries it with the strategic focus of a big creative vision as well.

From the opening night showing, here are 4 extreme creativity lessons for those of us with much humbler creative talents and visions than Lady Gaga possesses:

1. Make it clear to your audience you have real talent to realize your vision.

I’ve not been a huge Lady Gaga fan. But I have been tremendously impressed when she sits alone at the piano and sings. In these moments, it’s quite clear Lady Gaga isn’t a “produced” talent (think TAYLOR SWIFT), but truly possesses great musical chops. She sprinkled such unaccompanied moments throughout The Monster Ball, making it clear to her audience they were getting her, sans lip-syncing. This acapella version of “Born this Way” which ran during the shows credits is great evidence for her talents. At our house, there was complete silence during the credits because of this chilling performance. With Gaga’s big talent, she has the platform to bring her big vision to life.  

Creative Lesson: For those of us with lesser talents, make sure we surround ourselves with an array of talented people to carry out a bigger vision.

2. It’s fine for a big vision to be derivative, so derive it from the biggies.

I’ve been carrying around this Entertainment Weekly quote from Lady Gaga for more than two years waiting for the right place to run it: “Nothing I say is really that new. I mean, it’s Andy Warhol. I’m not claiming to be the newest innovative thinker. But I do think the execution is very different.” Gaga speaks the truth. She grabs symbols and creative elements from ubiquitous sources (the Catholic Church, The Wizard of Oz, Madonna, comic books), but she definitely executes it with a flair that can obscure her original sources.

Creative Lesson: For all of us feeling like we have to come up with everything on our own, start getting on with deriving from your influences – the more well-known, the better.

3. Giving credit to your strategic influences doesn’t diminish you. You’ll get the credit back.

Lady Gaga was comfortable in sharing her influences, calling out concert-goers Liza Minnelli and Marisa Tomei among the attendees. Both women were touch points for Lady Gaga when she was still Stefani Germanotta at the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. Gaga said she typically wouldn’t have called attention to who was there, but made an exception given how important both performers were for her. It would be easy to think that was a line of BS, and that she pointed to the big stars at the concert to feed her own ego. Those thoughts were blown away later when the camera cut to an unannounced Paul McCartney dancing at his seat.

Creative Lesson: Celebrating your influences empowers you when you do it with a spirit of respect, gratitude, and humility. When you do it to blow smoke up somebody’s you-know-where, you just come off as pathetic.

4. Your vision may form your own world, but everybody can know you there – if you let them in on all the wonder and secrets of it.

Even with the ego’s big talents have, it still has to be unsettling to create your own world. Lady Gaga hinted at some of those insecurities during her spoken segments of the concert. But part of creating your own world is inviting others to join you there. Lady Gaga truly embraces this concept, casting her “little monsters” as characters in her world. And part of being a character is being given direction so that you can perform your parts well. In that regard, Lady Gaga is more than happy to provide direction: scream, dance, put your paws up, etc.

Creative Lesson: Don’t leave your creative team in the dark. Give them the direction they need to perform.

Wrap-up – I have to let you know that there are a whole bunch of things about the Lady Gaga concert I don’t support, including her language and some of her points of view. But the depth of her talent (and especially the video clip) prompted me to share these thoughts about her concert performance despite those issues. Lady Gaga’s performance was truly riveting!Mike Brown

To tap into your own extreme creativity, download the free Brainzooming ebook, “Taking the NO Out of InNOvation” to enhance your creative perspective! For an organizational creativity boost, contact The Brainzooming Group to help your team be more successful by rapidly expanding strategic options and creating innovative plans to efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can deliver these benefits for you.

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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14 Responses to “4 Extreme Creativity Lessons from “Lady Gaga Presents the Monster Ball Tour””

  1. What a great commentary. I completely agree with your points here. I too was not a fan of Lady Gaga and had not even taken notice… until I saw her in a NYC morning news show, sit at the piano and sing – outdoors in the rain with thousands of people piled around! What I saw? Unrelenting raw talent that’s now been highly attuned. That was just last year, and with that, I hunted up all sorts of info on her – learning that indeed, she came SO fast, SO far… from Stefani at NYU.

    What I love in your post, is that you are spot ON in summizing powerful creative lessons to be learned from this very creative talent. In fact, as I write this I realize, just the other day I thought about the enormous power – and challenge – there can be in leading a creative team such as her’s. Seeing her backstage gear-up (the video) – especially her team’s deep ownership of every detail – was especially very rich for me.

    I appreciate that (and I’m right with you) in looking beyond craziness, to recognize truly amazing creative talent and mastery that this very young woman has produced, and continues to unfold. A force to be reckoned I say… and one to watch and learn from for sure!

    Thanks as always Mike ~ You do a great job of bringing valuable perspective to what others might right off as just some “wild entertainment” … I would have to say, she is the real thing, in action!

    ~ Sharon

    • Anonymous says:

      Sharon – What a rich comment! Consider yourself off the hook for a guest post…this is guest post worthy and more! Thanks so much for sharing your perspective and reactions to Lady Gaga and her creative talents.

      Mike

      • How funny! I am, at this very moment *listening* to you Mike, being interviewed by Todd Schnick of Intrepid Radio. And I am so intrigued… All this time, I had no idea how you see creativity. We are very simliar in our thinking! Your dialogue with Todd about creativity vs innovation got me saying “hm, I ereally must go back on his blog to look around, because I REALLY want to write something for him!” … Isn’t that funny! Ironic. SO… I would love to write for you still… only now, I think it will be much more creative than I had imagined! … Must get on Twitter early in the morning more often! I look forward to sharing more.
        ~ Sharon

        • Anonymous says:

          I just have this picture of you writing the same way you talk Sharon! I think that’s why such excitement comes across in your comments, and I’m sure in your blog posts as well!

  2. Having watched the Los Angeles leg of the Monster Ball tour live, I would have to say this pretty much summarizes the Gaga experience.  It’s not a review per se but an application.  Watching her concert live is still up in the ranks of the most eye-opening, most disturbing (in a good way) events I’ve been to.  One thing about Gaga’s creativity is that she is not afraid to make people feel uncomfortable.  I think that’s another thing to creativity.  To have to take risks and challenge the norm and make people feel uncomfortable (again, in a good way).

    • Anonymous says:

      Great point about Lady Gaga’s ability and utter willingness to make people uncomfortable. She definitely occupies a space at the far end of the comfort continuum. As I pointed out, there were things she said in her monologues which take points of view (particularly regarding faith) and twist them beyond recognition. I wrestled with publishing this post because of discomfort with that.

      • The thing about discomfort is that if we don’t feel it, we’re not really doing anything new. Taking little tiny steps here and there doesn’t get you very far. If you want to make people think about things differently, you’ve got to challenge the status quo. Shake them up beyond that comfort because where people eventually settle is some watered-down version. Think about fashion shows – extreme hair, makeup, and clothing. It’s not what you see on the streets, but it’s what sparks the imagination for something that can be translated for the streets. Without the extremes, the middle becomes more and more bland.

        I commend you for posting it even with your discomfort. Many great lessons to be learned!

    • Anonymous says:

      Great point about Lady Gaga’s ability and utter willingness to make people uncomfortable. She definitely occupies a space at the far end of the comfort continuum. As I pointed out, there were things she said in her monologues which take points of view (particularly regarding faith) and twist them beyond recognition. I wrestled with publishing this post because of discomfort with that.

    • Anonymous says:

      Great point about Lady Gaga’s ability and utter willingness to make people uncomfortable. She definitely occupies a space at the far end of the comfort continuum. As I pointed out, there were things she said in her monologues which take points of view (particularly regarding faith) and twist them beyond recognition. I wrestled with publishing this post because of discomfort with that.

    • Anonymous says:

      Great point about Lady Gaga’s ability and utter willingness to make people uncomfortable. She definitely occupies a space at the far end of the comfort continuum. As I pointed out, there were things she said in her monologues which take points of view (particularly regarding faith) and twist them beyond recognition. I wrestled with publishing this post because of discomfort with that.

    • Anonymous says:

      Great point about Lady Gaga’s ability and utter willingness to make people uncomfortable. She definitely occupies a space at the far end of the comfort continuum. As I pointed out, there were things she said in her monologues which take points of view (particularly regarding faith) and twist them beyond recognition. I wrestled with publishing this post because of discomfort with that.

  3. Anonymous says:

    WendyKeneipp sent me a link to a great post she wrote on Michael Jackson and his approach with his dancers (his “staff”) in selecting and helping them to perform:

    http://www.benefitsgrowthnetwork.com/bgnmem/bgn-blog/item/154-talent-management-lessons-from-the-king-of-pop

    Wendy’s post is definitely worth checking out!

    • Hey, thanks Mike! I appreciate the shout out.

      When I watched the MJ movie I was completely awe-struck by what he was able to accomplish with his team. I sat down to watch a few minutes and was completely drawn in to the whole thing. I got that same feeling from your description here watching Lady Gaga.

      People like that are huge stars because of that conviction they have to their vision; it makes other people excited and *want* to be a part of it. “A” talent wants to work with “A” companies/entertainers. People/companies who have an amazing vision and believe in it wholeheartedly can pick and choose from the best-of-the-best to help them get there. It’s got to just be euphoric to be a part of something like that. Watching the MJ dance auditions certainly reinforced that thought!

      Great post! I watched one video, now I’m feeling the pull to watch more!

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