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You know the feeling. It’s the middle of the day. You’ve been on back-to-back virtual meetings for four hours straight. And now you need to pivot and get into the right frame of mind to prepare a deck to pitch a new idea or business case to your company’s leadership. Man, it ain’t easy – this innovation thing!

One innovation leader recently told me “I just don’t have the energy to follow through on some of the big ideas that I come up with. There’s just not enough time in the day!”

Over the years, I’ve experimented with ways to manage and shift my energy when I need to get my mind into a creative state. The first experiment I tried was amping up my caffeine intake. While it helped me wake up, it did not necessarily put me into a state where I could crank out new ideas. After experimenting with different approaches, I now rely on two or three things that consistently help me boost creativity.

The first thing is to take a 10 to 15 minute walk, preferably outside in nature. Even a quick walk around the block where I can enjoy the view of some grass and trees is helpful. The second is to take a quick meditation break to reset and center myself before moving on to the next task. And the last, my favorite, is to listen to a specially curated playlist designed to get me loose and into the right mindset for thinking creatively.

Depending on the task in front of me, I have playlists for different moods or mindsets. One playlist I have is more low key and “low-fi”, for when I need to go deep and spend time writing on a topic. (That’s what I’m listening to in the background as I write this blog.) This “low-fi” playlist is great for playing in the background so I can think clearly when I need to write, work on a slide deck for a strategy session or client workshop. deck, or just be creative in a quieter way.

I use a different playlist to boost my energy before going on stage to deliver a keynote speech or before stepping into a big idea pitch or presentation. I had this playlist on heavy rotation this past fall and summer. It became my constant background music to keep my energy at a good level. Here are a few of my favorite tracks from the playlist. Warning: some of the lyrics and music videos are PG-13 and up.

  • Straightenin by The Migos. I love the lyric “I keep a MAC in the back of the Tesla”. A MAC is a type of gun. I’m not promoting violence – but from a mindset perspective, the idea is that even with tech and innovation, it’s important to always show up as your most authentic self. “Straightenin” gets me into the mindset of “I need to get it done. I need to show up with the courage to fail.”
  • Shoot My Shot by IDK and Offset. This song always reminds me of the Wayne Gretzky quote, “You miss a hundred percent of the shots you don’t take.” It reminds me to stop overthinking when it comes to executing new ideas. It reminds me to shoot my shot, take my chance, and see what happens. When I’m working out, this is always in my ear.
  • Durag Activity by Baby Keem and Travis Scott. This is just a fun song, a summertime hit I kept on constant repeat. It’s a reminder that when you’re innovating, it’s okay for things to get messy or not turn out as you expected. That’s what innovation can be sometimes, so be okay with that.
  • Anthurie by Boris Brejcha. I have this electronic track on replay whenever I need to sketch out a prototype or create quick mockups. It gets me into the zone where I’m not focused on me, the innovator, I’m focused on innovating. As an innovation leader, that’s what’s most important: to get out of your head and focus on execution.

If you want to check out my full playlist, you can listen to it on Spotify.

I encourage you to create your own playlist. Think about what genres get you pumped up or help you get into a good flow or rhythm. I’m always interested in adding new songs to my playlist. Let me know what are you listening to that gives you inspiration!

Happy innovating!