Are We Losing Our Creative Edge?

creativity article - kasey steinbrinck

Is there a creativity crisis in America?

According to an online article from Newsweek, research shows that while we are becoming more intelligent with each generation, it seems that Americans are becoming less creative.

That’s not a good sign.

Creativity and intelligence may be correlated, but they are actually two very different traits. Long-term studies on creativity conducted by E. Paul Torrance show that a person’s level of creativity has a direct effect on their success in life – specifically as an entrepreneur or innovator.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners need to be creative. So if we are losing our creative edge – what does that say about the future of small businesses in this country?

Creativity is one of our passions here at The Folder Store. We love creating folders for businesses like yours, and we love hearing about the creative ways you use the custom folders even more!

Because creativity is such an important part of what we do – we wanted to take a close look at the issue and what can be done about it.

What Studies Show

Research conducted at the College of William & Mary just a few months ago found some surprising results concerning creativity. As part of the current research, 300,000 children and adults took test developed by Torrance in the late ’50s to measure creativity.

Results showed that creativity scores – like IQ scores – had been on the rise until around the year 1990. That’s when CQ scores started a downward trend and lead researchers call the decrease “very significant.”

Keeping your creative edge is vital to your career. An IBM poll of CEOs identified creativity as the top leadership quality of the future. So if we know creativity is crucial – why are we letting things slide?

Possible Problems

It’s unclear what’s really causing a lack of creativity in America. But other countries around the world are gaining ground while the U.S. is falling behind. The way we teach our children may be one of the causes.

Even in China – many schools are now veering away from a strict curriculum and leaning toward a style that lets students learn through their own experimentation.

Here in America – we seem to be going in the opposite direction. Many public schoolteachers have become frustrated with hard-core curriculum and standardized testing. They spend most of their time making sure students pass those tests so the school the work for can keep getting funding from the government.

As a result, children only memorize answers and aren’t really learning. They aren’t developing creative skills.

Other culprits often blamed for the lack of creativity are TV, video games and other forms of entertainment.

Media can often encourage creativity. But it’s like food. If you eat too much of anything you’re going to get fat. Perhaps our culture spends so much time consuming all the different forms of media – that many of us have no time left to create!

What is Creativity?

The accepted definition of creativity is the “ability to produce something new through imaginative skill.”

Creativity doesn’t necessarily mean you’re an artist, musician or actor. Having creativity means you can think outside the box to solve problems and come up with new ideas.

The Newsweek article explained that creativity requires both the right and left side of the brain. It involves divergent and convergent thinking. Divergent thinking means coming up with a variety of new ideas and possible solutions. Convergent thinking is the process of working through those ideas, combining them, and coming up with the best way to solve the problem.

If you feel like an uncreative person – don’t worry. While some people may be born with creativity in their genes, it is also a skill that can be learned and developed. Think of your creativity like a muscle. The more you work it, the stronger it gets.

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Beatlemania is back with BritBeat at Waverly Beach

beatles tribute blog post - kasey steinbrinck

Written for The Post-Crescent/Fox Cities Hub January 18, 2010

2010 marks 40 years since The Beatles announced their break-up to the world.

The milestone comes along with last year’s resurgence of Beatlemania. Thanks to The Beatles: RockBand video game and the release of digitally remastered albums, new generations are discovering the Fab Four while longtime fans can hear the band in a whole new way.

You can relive Beatlemania through a tribute show featuring Chicago-based band BritBeat this Saturday (Jan. 23) at Waverly Beach in Menasha.

The four members of BritBeat are definitely a dedicated tribute band. The show consists of three acts, each focusing on a different era of Beatles history. It begins with “The Ed Sullivan Show” era complete with mop-tops and black suits, moves to the psychedelic Sgt. Pepper era, and wraps up with the Abbey Road recording sessions. This will be the band’s third visit to Waverly Beach.

“We’re really excited to be at Waverly Beach again, the crowds there have been wonderful,” says 28 year-old Chris Getsla who started the band and portrays Paul McCartney in the show.

Getsla discovered the Beatles in junior high school when his parents suggested he use the tune “A Hard Day’s Night” for a school project. The song struck a chord with the young teenager, and he quickly became a die-hard Beatles fan.

In high school, Getsla teamed up with his friend Danny Leavitt, who plays George Harrison, to perform as The Beatles in a school variety show. The performance was a hit, and that was the start of BritBeat.

“We actually rode the bus together to school,” says Getsla of his partner and pal Leavitt. “That was the same way that the real Paul and George met.” Other current members of BritBeat include James Lynch as John Lennon, and Dave Robinson as Ringo Starr.

In 2002, the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau chose BritBeat to play in a concert welcoming Paul McCartney to the city during McCartney’s Driving USA tour.

In 2005, BritBeat had the opportunity to play with original Beatle’s drummer Pete Best to mark the 40th anniversary of the band’s 1965 concert at Comiskey Park.

Getsla says all the recent attention to his favorite band comes as no surprise.

“In fact from year to year it’s been an increase in interest in The Beatles,” he says. “It doesn’t seem to be waning, it seems to be increasing.”

Getsla claims BritBeat’s show is one of the most authentic tributes you’ll find. If you’ve seen them perform in the past, he says new songs and new lighting effects have been added.

There is a $10 cover charge for this Saturday’s show at Waverly Beach. Tickets may also be purchased in advance. The concert starts at 8 p.m.

Check out the YouTube video of BritBeat below: You can also visit for more on the band including information about an upcoming Mexican cruise.

Governor Jim Doyle won’t seek third term, but still has goals to accomplish

governor jim doyle - kasey steinbrinck news article

Written for August 17, 2009 – View Original Article Online

Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle confirmed reports he would not seek a third term. He announced at his Monday morning news conference in Madison he thinks limiting his service to two terms is a “national norm” that “serves a good purpose.”

“But I am not going to go Brett Favre on you. I am announcing my decision now to allow other candidates to step forward and get going.” Doyle’s reference to Green Bay’s indecisive quarterback got a laugh from those in attendance.

The two-term Democrat kept his thanks to family, staff and supporters somewhat brief. He said today’s announcement was not for emotional goodbyes. Doyle made it clear he intends to complete his current term, and seemed to rebuke the idea that he would become a ‘lame duck.’

Doyle expressed the belief that by not running in 2010 he would be able to focus on governing rather than a reelection campaign. The Governor said he feels a lot can be accomplished in his final year-and-a-half in office. This could become a reality considering both the State Senate and Assembly have a Democratic majority. The party could decide to push through legislation for Doyle’s approval, seeing that it’s possible a Republican candidate could win the gubernatorial election in 2010.

Doyle touted some of what he called his major accomplishments in recent months. They included the state’s smoking ban, renewable energy plans, and partnership rights for same sex couples. Some have pointed to Doyle’s falling approval rating as a reason why he may be unwilling to run in 2010. This morning, Doyle told reporters it was too early to tell if that would have been a factor, and added he thought he would have run a good campaign.

As for his future, Governor Doyle said he still hasn’t made up his mind. However, he told reporters he informed the Obama administration he wants to stay in Wisconsin. There had been speculation Doyle could receive some sort of position with President Obama’s cabinet. Doyle also said he would have liked to delay today’s announcement until January, but realized that could negatively affect Democratic candidates and their campaigns.

Names on the short list for the Democratic gubernatorial ticket in 2010 include Lt. Governor Barbara Lawton of Green Bay, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind of La Crosse, and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. Barrett is recovering in a Milwaukee hospital after getting injured when stepping into a fight to help a woman at the state fair this weekend. Meantime, Milwaukee police say the man accused of hitting Barrett with a pipe has been arrested. No Democratic candidates have officially announced their candidacy. However, Lt. Governor Lawton told the Associated Press in March of 2008 she would consider running in 2010 if Doyle decided not to seek a third term.

Two prominent Republicans have already entered the race; Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker and former Congressman Mark Neumann of Nashotah. Both spoke out about Doyle’s decision before the announcement this morning. The Republicans talked over the phone with WTAQ’s Jerry Bader on his morning radio program in Green Bay.

LU honors filmmaker for documentary on Liberia’s unsung heroes

Pray the Devil Back to Hell poster

Written for The Post-Crescent March 15, 2010

The documentary film “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” illustrates how ordinary people can cause incredible change when they band together. Abigail Disney, the producer behind the award-winning film, will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from Lawrence University on Thursday.

“Pray the Devil Back to Hell” tells the story of how a group of Liberian women helped end a bloody civil war through prayer, peaceful protest and pure determination.

During the war between the forces of president Charles Taylor and the rebel group that opposed him, both sides committed horrific acts against the people of Liberia. Thousands were displaced and fled their homes to refugee camps because of the violence. Many others were raped or had limbs amputated. Young boys were used as soldiers and fed addictive drugs to coerce them into service. It’s estimated 300,000 people died during the two civil wars from 1989 to 2003.

Disney and director Gini Reticker made it their mission to make a film showing how the war came to an end. The story is told through the voices of the women who pressured the warring factions to finally hold peace talks.

Abigail Disney interviewed by writer Kasey Steinbrinck for Post-Crescent
Producer Abigail Disney

“It just amazed me that I had never heard of it before,” said Disney of what the women accomplished. “Right in front of my eyes, I could see it being forgotten.”

She learned about the bravery of the women while visiting Liberia in support of the nation’s current and first female president, Ellen Sirleaf. Sirleaf’s election was also aided by the actions of the Liberian women.

Disney is the grandniece of Walt Disney and has dedicated much of her life to philanthropic work. That includes work with the Roy Disney Family Foundation and the Global Fund for Women, and she is president of the Daphne Foundation in New York City.

“She came to our attention principally because of the film, which had received a lot of critical acclaim,” Lawrence professor of government Claudena Skran said.

“Pray the Devil Back to Hell” has won numerous awards, including best documentary at Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Film Festival in 2008. It was also featured on the PBS program, “The Bill Moyers Journal,” last year.

LU held several screenings of the film throughout January. The final showing will take place in the Warch Campus Center cinema at 1 p.m. Thursday. It will be followed by a Q&A session with Disney. Before the screening, Disney will receive her honorary degree and deliver a convocation titled “Peace is Loud” at 11:10 a.m. in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel.

“I’ve heard very positive reactions from students,” Skran said. “I think the students were very interested in learning about that region and about the role of this group in ending the war.”

The leader of that group of women was social worker Leymah Gbowee. Disney describes Gbowee as a middle class woman who’s life went downhill during Liberia’s civil war.

In the film, Gbowee says she had a dream in which she was commissioned to gather the women of her church together to work for peace. She started a movement involving hundreds of women who lined the street the former president traveled every morning.

Wearing white T-shirts and holding signs with peace slogans, the women would stand and sing by the road day after day. Eventually, Gbowee took a delegation of women to peace talks in Ghana. The women used their numbers to barricade leaders inside.

“It stunned me how courageous these women had been,” Disney said. She also saw courage in the women when it came to dealing with religion in Liberia. While the movement began in a Christian church, Muslim women also were a part of the protests from the beginning. Muslims and Christians stood side-by-side in prayer, focusing on their shared goal for peace and forgiveness.

Both Disney and LU’s Skran hope “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” will inspire those who see it.

“On one level I think it shows that individual groups can make a difference in politics,” said Skran, who has spent time in both Liberia and neighboring Sierra Leone. “Secondly … people in the United States have a lot to learn from the courageous political activities taking place in other countries.”

“People have really felt charged up and ready to try something,” Disney said. “Whether it’s picking up litter on the sidewalk or helping an old lady cross the street or something more heroic like protesting a war.”