A Master Class in Positive Turbulence With David Culton

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In this episode, we’re exploring how you keep turbulence positive. David Culton is an Innovation Consultant, Photographer, Artist and Magician. He is a master at the balancing act between being disruptive and generating positive turbulence. Here you get a behind-the-scenes view of what it takes to help organizations develop innovative ideas by generating positive turbulence.


    A Master Class in Positive Turbulence

    Rob Brodnick: Welcome to the Positive Turbulence Podcast, Stories from the Periphery. Here we journey to the edge to talk to Turbulators about their experiences creating positive change.

    Karyn Zuidinga: In this episode, we connect with David Coulton, Innovation Consultant, Photographer, Artist, and Magician. He’s a Turbulator by nature and has created a life of positive turbulence.

    Here you get a behind the scenes view on what it takes to help organizations develop innovative ideas by generating positive turbulence. I’m Karen Zadinga.

    Rob Brodnick: Hi, I’m Rob Brodnick. Big question we’re exploring today is how do you keep turbulence positive? There’s a balancing act between being disruptive and generating positive turbulence that David is a master at creating.

    Speaking of balancing act, do you struggle with knowing your organization needs to change? But you’re not sure which levers to pull first. Sierra Learning Solutions can help you with our powerful new tool for assessing your organization’s capacity for transformation. Check out SierraLearningSolutions.com. We would like to thank Mack Avenue Music Group as contributing sponsor. To hear our theme and other great music, visit MackAvenue.com.

    Karyn Zuidinga: Your story is a little bit different, David, than as a, as a consultant, you drop into things and do things and then, and then go away. Whereas everybody else we’ve talked to, they’re in their thing.

    David Culton: Right. Right? Well, it’s interesting that you, you say that about the being a consultant and sort of dropping in. I hadn’t really thought about it that way, but you know, in some ways as a consultant, if I’m doing my job right, I am a positive person. Turbulator, just in doing my work without even bringing any other folks into things.

    Oftentimes, just for my clients, having someone else to bounce things off of, or talk to, or even express what they think the challenge is, or the opportunity is, in a way, uh, to someone who’s not necessarily in their industry. Forces them to think about their challenge in a slightly different way. So I hadn’t really thought about it that way, but that’s a good example.

    Rob Brodnick: The embodiment of positive turbulence in a sense. I mean, literally when you walk into an organization and you know, I’ve had similar experiences as well. In fact, I, I have the Turbulator t shirt, which I sometimes wear. I

    David Culton: am the Turbulator.

    Karyn Zuidinga: But it is an interesting, it is high value stuff. It’s super high value stuff.

    Even that process of formulating the problem to explain to somebody else gets you to think about it a whole different way. And that in itself is a piece of positive turbulence, but the, the flip side, at least from a consulting perspective is showing the value of that and getting somebody. To trust you enough to go through that whole, that whole journey.

    You know, that’s, that’s the other

    David Culton: difference. And it’s, um, perhaps the hardest thing in the consulting business is to start working with someone. Most of the clients that I’ve worked with are repeat clients and they have gone from organization to organization. So getting new companies that That I work with are, it often is because someone was at another company and they can just say to the new company, you got to try this out and it’ll get us to some new places and new value.

    It’s hard to go in cold and say, Hey, we’re going to help you think differently about stuff and have people actually believe you, even if you can point to successes. So I think that that visceral experience is important. I struggle

    Rob Brodnick: with that off and you know my longer term assignments are still episodic because i typically come into an organization for a six month year eighteen month period of time every five to seven years when they’re going through some sort of major reformulation of strategy or change so i’m often selling these ideas to new people in my.

    Core industry education is a conservative one. And they, they like, you know, tried and true, plain vanilla kind of stuff. And the ideas of turbulence and, and some of these other concepts, design thinking, even innovation, which, you know, is three decades old now in terms of its practice process and awareness is still new in

    David Culton: some places.

    I think

    Karyn Zuidinga: it’s fairly common, Rob. Like I think that that conservativism exists even inside. Startups, once they’ve got the idea, they don’t want it, but that’s it. They’ve done the innovation and now they just want to execute. And the thing that we, you know, you, you see it constantly is that there’s no movement after that first

    David Culton: thing gets out there.

    You know, when you were, I looked at the stuff that you sent yesterday, Rob, and just read a couple of notes down and what I was writing on. positive turbulence in general is that so much of our behavior, both individually and as organizations are habitual. I don’t know if you remember, Rob, way back in La Jolla at AMI, I was doing, I did a little talk on the book, The Power of Habit, which is…

    Oh, I remember it well. And you talked about flossing. I talked about flossing, yes. Yeah, text to floss, that’s a great, a great innovation. You know, about 85 percent of the choices that we make during the day are habitual choices. They’re not based on what we actually think or feel right now. We just default to them.

    And I think organizations are that way for sure. And startups are that way because they want to hold really tightly to the core of what it is that’s, that they see. is a value. So positive turbulence is a really a safe way to break out of habit without throwing someone over a cliff and saying, now you have to fly.


    Karyn Zuidinga: you give us an example of that? Because I think that’s a such a powerful statement, right? It’s a safe way to break out of that habitual thinking. Beautiful thought. Can you give us an example where you saw that? In action,

    David Culton: well, I really think it’s almost any time that you bring a new or different process or way of thinking to a client.

    So I’m working with a hotel group now and their vision is around really providing a really comprehensive. Hospitality experience, both internally to the community as well as to their guests. And they are not in the habit of doing a lot of self reflection on that. So for me, going in and working with them, it’s, it’s about breaking the way that they Talk with each other even though from their founding over a couple of decades ago that’s been foundational to them so even when treating each other really well and with respect is part of their foundation without having testing that and exploring that they’re they’re not able to break out of their natural habits of not doing that.

    It seems to

    Rob Brodnick: me that the whole concept of management is about repeatable results and managers get rewarded for being able to produce. Predictable results and so it reinforces habit, but what it does is it does the opposite to novelty, creativity, innovation, and I think turbulence is a way to kind of shake things

    David Culton: up a little bit, you know, absolutely.

    And one of the phrases or mantras that I’ve had in this business is that you can build. Feasibility into newness, but you can’t build newness into feasibility and that if you go from that, that standpoint of doing something that’s closer in and then you try to make it more novel, that’s really hard. But if you go for the novelty, then you can build in something that can actually work and get you to a new place and positive turbulence is is one way to get there.

    And one of the metaphors that I love about creative problem solving and positive turbulence is that, you know, if you think about. Your brain as as being a the space of a large room and we only focus on a tiny little post it note of attention in that space creativity comes from moving that to a different part of your brain consciously pushing that to a different part of your brain and a lot of there are a lot of techniques to do that for me positive turbulence is those types of experiences that help you to push to a new part of your Your consciousness and get to these novel solutions

    Rob Brodnick: in terms of energy required either by the leader, the facilitator, the consultant, or some external body, whoever it is, you know, the amount of energy it takes to try to bring novelty to a lockdown situation is tremendous.

    Whereas in your example, you know, if you start with novelty, you know, the rest almost sort of flows from there and the amount of energy it requires. It’s kind of the concept of the catalyst where very tiny, minute particle of something introduced into the right kind of situation or solution, you know, can

    David Culton: transform things.

    Indeed, and that brought to mind this, uh, another interesting metaphor that a colleague of mine has that innovation or change is sort of like, if you think about an ice cube, it happens at the edges and where, where it melts, right? So, so the core of that ice cube in the, the built last metaphors is, uh, preserving the core and stimulating progress.

    And the core is the core of that ice cube, but the change happens at the edges and you can. You know, refreeze it or reconfigure it. But you have to work on the edges and don’t worry too much about the core part. That’s

    Karyn Zuidinga: fascinating. That’s got me stopped,

    Rob Brodnick: Dan. Yeah, but you know, if you it covers everything.

    David Culton: Oh yeah, I just got to think about these things, you asked for specific examples, and it’s sort of not the way my brain works. My brain thinks in metaphors, so. Which in some ways is, is really relevant to the conversation though, too, because positive turbulence is, is about thinking in some ways for me, about thinking metaphorically.

    So I’m, I’m glad that that ice cube one resonated and I think it’s, it’s an interesting one to explore. So I’m,

    Karyn Zuidinga: I’m trying to think about people who are listening to this, right? And how they could apply. that kind of metaphor to their own experience. And a lot of times, you know, you’re in an organization, you just can’t, you know, it needs to change, but you’re not sure how

    David Culton: to affect change.

    For me, part of it is around pushing into that metaphorical space consciously. So what I’ll do when I’m working with a client, we’re exploring the edges of their challenge. is to have them think about this challenge or this opportunity is like something. So in one example with an oral care company, and they were thinking about teeth and whiteness and brightness.

    What is this challenge like if we’re trying to make sure the teeth are looking white and who else does that? And we thought about a gemologist who rates diamonds and the clarity and brightness of diamonds. So they have a system for doing that and they know that the physics of light and how it impinges on the object in question.

    And we also thought about a photographer who has to think about tones and brightness, not, not only in terms of taking the picture, but in terms of presenting the picture and the medium that it’s on. So light and how you think about the brightness of your teeth, it’s not only. It’s not only how actually white your teeth are, it’s how light reflects off of it and the particular light that you’re in.

    So getting into these metaphorical spaces can help to think about your challenge differently. So we brought in a gemologist and we brought in a photographer to to talk about what what it means to them in their worlds and to stretch the thinking. So having that exercise of saying this challenge or our business or whatever is like.

    Something else from a different world and literally putting down some of those boxes and then thinking if we could have Six people and it’s an arbitrary number six people to come in and really stretch our thinking Who might who might they be so from the

    Karyn Zuidinga: from the the client side, obviously, you’ve got some trust You’re bringing somebody, you know that they’re okay with you bringing these people in they agree that that would be a good thing How did that change their thinking like what kind of things?


    David Culton: from that What happens is in the creative problem solving process that i use we would coach those folks to think about their world and the challenge that is related to the client and to create a thought provoking. Stretching very short presentation like 10 to 15 minutes maximum and it would come in and present that and sometimes they would say to us i have no idea why i’m here you know why why am i here and we would say to them as well you know trust us it’ll work and it invariably does and you know that said sometimes some folks hit more than others with the old adage of if everything i try works i’m not sure Stretching far enough what I what we find is when you they do that kind of presentation where we invite them to be thought provoking invite them to stretch the thinking of the people of the clients but while understanding a little bit about what the challenges are then we use that to stimulate new thinking getting that post it note to a different.

    Place in the room, a different section of your brain, and then when you have the gemologist listening to the photographer and also ideating, you get another layer of how that all works together. So we don’t invite him in and, okay, photographer guy, you’re done now you leave. He stays for the whole time.

    And there’s this cross fertilization of these different areas of expertise where, where someone from a completely different realm would connect with another expert. Offer something that is of new value to the client and the client’s offering as well. So it really is, is an interesting dynamic.

    Karyn Zuidinga: Change is not easy from an organizational perspective.

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    David Culton: Well, I guess for me, it’s about having a portfolio of stretchiness. That’s great. Yes, all these technical terms. So when we would think about who to bring in to help stretch our thinking, sometimes what we’ll do is we’ll say, maybe we have four to six seats that we want to fill. And we’ll think, you know, depending upon the client, if they’ve worked with us before, they may really want to go pretty stretchy.

    But if they haven’t worked with us, we’d say, let’s fill two of those seats with experts in your industry, so they can feel comfortable about that. And then we’ll have sort of. Almost think about it in a very curated way of, you know, mid range stretch. Some people are not in your industry, but yeah, I see that connection.

    And then one or two really out there, literally, I’m not sure why this person is here kind of stretchiness, which relies on a lot more trust with, with the client. And sometimes that, that would only happen with someone who has, uh, we have more experience with. I totally get the. the use of metaphor

    Rob Brodnick: and the ability, you know, the freedom that it gives an organization to work in this metaphorical space and the stretch and the value of turbulating in the metaphorical space.

    But talk a little bit about how you bring it back. And so it’s, you know, it’s that, that implementation of these ideas or the translation of the world of possibility created turbulence back to the practical situation that the organization deals with. I

    David Culton: have a story here. It’s an ancient story, so I think I probably can tell it.

    It’s, it actually predates me, but it’s, it’s a really great example. So, positive turbulence can happen in lots of different forms, and we can talk some more about that too. Not only in the form of people or experts, but in terms of environments that you’re working in or ideating in, in terms of all of the senses, you know, using all of the senses to, to stretch your thinking.

    And one time, uh, long ago working with a food service company, the company that I work with did an exercise. They were trying to work on non dairy whipped toppings for food service. So in the past. in food services, you get a big, if you were making whipped cream, you get a big can, giant can, and someone would have to open it, and the edges of the can were really sharp, and someone would have to mix it up, and then you’d put it into a pastry bag, and put it on whatever you’re putting it on, then throw it away, it’s messy.

    So they were trying to invent new new ways of doing that. So the, an exercise in the creative problem solving process was to think of a favorite movie scene. So not that has anything to do with a food service. Actually this example did, but it was any favorite movie scene, pick a favorite movie scene.

    Someone picked the scene from animal house when John Belushi is walking down the cafeteria line and he puts this big thing of mashed potatoes on his plate and he sits down with all the preppy folks. And he shoves his mouthful of the mashed potatoes and spits it out, pushes out his cheeks, spits it out.

    And he says, look at me now. What am I now? And I’m a zit. Get it? Is what he said. So someone based on this exercise wished for a bag of whipped cream that looks like a zit. That was their wish. And it was one of 500 ideas that went up on the wall. Yeah. Just to, to pause. Your question was about how do you bring it back, right.

    How do you bring it back? All right, so, so now we’re out. So here we go. Bringing it back. Are, are we out there? Can, we’re there. Just agree that we’re out there. Okay. We’re out there. A bag of whipped cream that looks like, is that, so again, with creative problem solving processes, there are lots of ways to turn that corner.

    We use a lot of voting techniques and when we ask people to vote on ideas, we ask them to vote on ideas. that make a lot of sense, that they think are really strong. And then we ask them to vote on ideas that are what we call new and intriguing. So I don’t know if that would work. I don’t even know if the laws of physics allow it, but if we could do something like that, that would be awesome.

    So we separate those votes so that you’re going to get some closer in ideas that are very strong, and then you’re going to get some that are on that periphery where you’re starting to turn the corner. If you think about that bag of whipped cream that looks like a zit, nobody’s going to vote for that.

    So we ask the clients then to look at all the votes and decide what to work on, what they want to work on and flesh out more. And when we ask them to do that, we say, look at the votes, but also trust your gut. So one way to turn that corner and in this business environment that we’re in today, a lot of it is about, you know, you have to have the numbers to back it up.

    You have to know the ROI right when you’re ideating around it. Literally, I’ve had clients say that. Okay. I like that idea. What’s the ROI? You just can’t say when you’re talking about something that new, there’s no frame of reference. So you have to, you have to go with your gut in some way. So we work with clients to really force that.

    That’s not where they’re going to go. Habitually as, as business leaders, that’s probably not where they’re going to go. Some people would, many don’t. So this person chose the bag of whipped zit idea and everybody was aghast. Why, you know, why did you choose that? Among many, he chose many, Maybe 20 or so things that he chose.

    And that was one of them. And, and so we asked him and he was asked, why did you choose that one? And he said, I don’t know, there’s something about the shape of a zit. It’s like nature’s perfect dispenser. So it’s got stuff in it, right?

    And, and it dispenses, it gets stuff out of it and then it vanishes. And one of our problems is we’ve got this can with the sharp edges and we’ve got these bags that we have to wash and they’re hard to use and you got to train people to. Put stuff in it and, and so now what, what came out of that of saying, okay, well, that’s why I like it.

    Hmm. That’s interesting. At least there’s something I can work with there. Obviously we’ll get rid of the gross parts, but there’s something I can work with. And what came out is something that’s now. Very ubiquitous. It’s called on top and it’s a pre mixed non dairy whip topping that comes in a plastic bag and there’s a nozzle in it and you snip off the end.

    So you don’t have to train anybody really to mix it. You snip off the end, the nozzle drops down and you dispense it. And then you throw it, throw the little bag away. And it not only was that, it became a platform where they would put a membrane down and you could do swirls, you could do savory things like pâtés.

    So it became a platform. And the last we checked, it was something like 400 million a year that came out of a bag of whipped cream that looks like a zit. So to loop back to your question about so how do you turn the corner part of it is about consciously choosing a portfolio of ideas when you’re ideating some that are closer in that you know you can play with you know what they mean and some that are farther out and and again using that.

    that filling the boxes or filling the seats example, we’ll put a grid up and say, we have time to work on X number of ideas, 16, 20 different ideas, and making sure that it goes from close in to far out and that you’re filling all of those boxes. So making those decisions, filling the boxes in a portfolio kind of way, looking for the principles and taking ideas apart, not thinking of them as one thing.

    Thinking of them as many faceted and with any idea, there’s something that is valuable about it. You just have to find what that is. You can throw away the rest, but you stay with that core and trust your gut. The thing that I keep

    Karyn Zuidinga: thinking about here is, is the amount of courage in a way that it takes to hold that.

    space, right? To stay, to stay with the thing that we’re going to keep, we’re going to allow ourselves to get very wide and we’re going to allow ourselves to look as far as we’re going to look. We’re going to accept the crazy ideas, the thing that works like a zit. Like, you know, we’re going to, and we’re going to get over our, you know, our disgust around the zit part of it.

    And we’re going to think, you know, cause I’ve been in, I’ve been in workshops that didn’t have that kind of courage where, and there’s pressure, like there’s, there’s crazy hell out of pressure to acquiesce to whatever the client wants, right? And to not make the client uncomfortable. We like they’re paying money and the powers that be are, are not that friendly to the idea of letting the client feel uncomfortable for even a moment.

    And they come into those rooms. oftentimes with the, well, I’m paying for this and I expect good snacks.

    David Culton: You know what I mean? That brings to mind a couple of things. One is that, you know, sometimes the decision maker is the client in the room and we will coach them and say, this is what’s going to happen.

    You are going to feel very uncomfortable while we’re ideating. We will come up with some very close in ideas, but if we don’t stretch, we won’t come up with as many close in ideas. Or the stretchy ideas either. So we coach them as to what to expect and that it’s going to feel a little uncomfortable and that they can call a break if they’re feeling particularly uncomfortable and we can talk about it and make some adjustments.

    But sometimes the decision maker is not in the room. It’s the person coming in saying, I’m paying for this and and you’ve got this drawing of a zit on the wall. That’s weird. What’s that? What’s that about? So wherever possible. It’s really important to connect with the decision maker. So, uh, the client in the room is the person that you work with thoroughly throughout the project, but the person who’s the decision maker, who’s, who’s paying for it, wherever possible, you want to engage them.

    Before and after and before to say, Hey, we’re going to stretch and here’s why and after to say, here are the ideas. And as you react to them, just like with the zit idea, what do you like about it? Well, I like that it vanishes at the end and, and separating out the components of it, coaching that Uber client to react to the ideas in that way.

    In an open minded way and reminding them if they’re not that they’re not right and so that’s that’s a really important thing as well Yeah, yeah And sometimes like you said if that if that uber client comes into the session and is ideating Depending upon the person it can really be a negative, have a negative effect on the, the workshop because everyone wants to please that person.

    Whether that person’s there or not, or whether it’s just the client in the room who’s there, we also coach them to, to model what they’re looking for. Yeah. So we literally say, I want you in the first hour to offer up an idea that is absurd, and that helps the room to feel that permission. Whether the, the client in the room would be open to anybody else’s absurd ideas or not, it just opens up everyone to feel that they can offer and be okay.

    Yeah. Yeah. I think

    Rob Brodnick: there’s some really amazing insight here,

    David Culton: Date. Right. You just start

    Rob Brodnick: doing crazy things. But that doesn’t necessarily create positive turbulence and, and, you know, I think there’s some real wisdom in how do you keep turbulence positive? And part of it is. kind of prepping the

    David Culton: system, prepping the

    Rob Brodnick: organization to, to understand you’re going to experience things that are not like you normally experience.

    And that doesn’t mean it’s bad. It just means it’s different.

    David Culton: And the wisdom is take what’s

    Rob Brodnick: good about those differences you experienced then and build on them in some kind of way that it creates a positive outcome. I, I really appreciate the story and any other tips or tricks. that you have up your sleeve, uh, in, in regard to keeping the turbulence positive, because I know you’re good at erupting, but you’re also good at getting

    David Culton: good outputs.

    I draw upon the great philosophers 38 special and their, their song, hold on loosely, but don’t let go. And I think there is something there though. I mean, it’s about, it’s you use this term, Rob, that I love about holding the space. And there’s something about. A getting to a spot where everyone understands.

    And this is, this is actually an interesting point that everyone is, is serving the task or the challenge at hand. And everyone’s coming from their own perspective on it. But if you can get the client to the point, if it’s something that’s really important to them of saying, we are all serving this task, that is a way to, to, to be able to step back and have that holding the space around what is going to serve us in delivering on this task the best.

    So that’s a perspective that we sometimes explicitly say, and sometimes just implicitly bring into the conversation. So there’s freedom without chaos. Yes, I mean, complete loss. But there’s, there’s the freedom to run and to take ideas and

    Rob Brodnick: to, uh, play with turbulence in a sense and, and explore, is this positive or negative?

    I’m not really sure yet. Uh, let’s set the things that seem the most negative side right now. And there’s some glimmer of hope in some of these ideas, even though I can’t quite believe it yet. I

    David Culton: trust the process a little bit. Well, you know, also remember that hall of fame. baseball players miss seven times out of 10, right?

    So that’s part of the mindset that you have to have is that if you’re hitting everyone, you’re not stretching far enough. You’re not getting to the newness and trying to make that understood that you’re, you’re working together. You’re always trying to tumble forward in whatever you’re working on. So David, I consider you an expert

    Rob Brodnick: in Turbulator.

    And again, whether, whether you’ve cultivated and curated your life to get to that point, or it happened accidentally, I don’t know. But I’d like you to think about that for a second. So, you know, take yourself back 10, 20 years.

    David Culton: And were there experiences

    Rob Brodnick: that sort of led you to this pathway to be able to have turbulence at your command?

    And if so, did you arrive there through some sort of intentionality? Or was this just all randomness of the

    David Culton: universe? Well, that’s a big question, and I don’t know if I… Take it in small parts! I don’t know if I quite live up to that characteristic, but… No, I think from early on, I started practicing magic when I was eight years old and started performing when I was 12 and my high school job, uh, actually the only job I ever was fired from was a job at Burger King.

    The quote was, uh, David, I don’t think you’re cut out for fast food. That’s what they told me. I had to agree with them. So basically almost every other job that I’ve had in my entire life has been an unusual job. So I blame it all on Burger King, right? But so in high school, then after that I was, I was working as a magician in restaurants and doing shows and things like that.

    So I always had this little. Kind of, let’s try to do things a little bit differently, perspective on things. And then when I graduated from college, I was in a job that was not that. I was in a cubicle in New York, making 19, 000 a year in public relations. And it really wasn’t floating my boat. So I did take a leap to leave the States and move to Japan.

    And I didn’t have a job. I didn’t speak the language. I knew a couple of people who were there, but they weren’t really close friends or anything. So I think the biggest engine of thinking differently was that leap to go to Japan. And that really helped me. It was fascinating. I mean, I planned to go for one year and stayed for eight.

    Before that time, I never had really spoken another language. I’d taken French in high school, but never really spoke it. But I found that. Being in Japan and learning the language, but living in Kyoto and not having to speak the language, you could speak English and get by, but being immersed in a new language was like a constant state of turbulence and almost, you know, if you’re in conversations and someone, your level is, is here.

    and someone speaking to you at a higher level of understanding, you have to make guesses, and you have to make leaps to try and understand what the heck is going on in your world. For me, part of that was becoming, that experience was becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable. And Japan is a great metaphor for, for that turbulence that is positive, because it’s such a positive culture.

    It’s a very safe culture, and people Support each other there and it’s about the whole so in some ways it really led to that experience for me I think the reason I asked the question

    Rob Brodnick: is for our our newbie Turbulators that are listening to the podcast and interested in trying out some of these ideas and curious about you know How they can take their own steps and personal development And so I heard you say things about tolerance of being uncomfortable, willingness to put yourself in situations that are not used to what you’re accustomed to, but yet still being in a relatively safe environment.

    So we’re not running out in the highway and dodging cars to see how it feels, right? I mean, that’s a, that’s, there’s something that has to be relatively safe about it that gives you the opportunity to stretch and play a little bit. Any other, any other thoughts from your experiences that might be, uh, useful?

    David Culton: I do think that that sense, uh, as I was thinking about some of the questions that you were, you were posing that, that sense of not being under tremendous pressure, which is really a paradox these days, I think, because there’s so much pressure all around us. But even as I was in Japan and doing magic shows in Japan and traveling all over doing magic shows and eventually in Japanese.

    There were a lot of performers, but I was able to explore in a low pressure environment. Like there were so many, there was such demand for people with brown hair and blue eyes who could do anything. I didn’t have to be good. And, you know, at, at first, cause it was a different kind of. performance at first, I wasn’t very good, but I had the opportunity to get better.

    And I think persistence is another, another quality of just continuing going after something, even in the face of immediate failures, if it’s something that you’re, you’re passionate about, again, with that idea of hall of fame, baseball players missing 10. So I think that’s, that’s important. And I think in that experience in Japan, there was a kind of trust in the goodness of humanity.

    People lit up when you showed passion for anything and I’ve found that generally in life But it really helped me in Japan to find my tribe there, but I think that expressing your passion draws Like minded people to you and opens opportunities. So I’m constantly in in my work again We’ve talked we talked earlier about how it’s a hard sell.

    It’s it’s hard to get someone to buy Innovation services or innovation consulting. So I’m constantly planting seeds in any way I can and expressing what I think is new or interesting or what I’m passionate about or something that has been successful and just planting them out there anywhere I can.

    And you just never know when they will come back. And that’s about patience and persistence as well. I’d like to stick with this concept of the journey a little

    Rob Brodnick: bit and ask, Japan was what, 20, 20 plus years ago, perhaps, and it’s maybe how you started to develop as a innovator and tribulator. What do you do now in terms of developing yourself for the next 20 years?

    David Culton: of your career

    Rob Brodnick: or your ability to take this even further? What are some of the things that that you’re engaged in or planning for the next, next year or two that might add to, you know, how you develop now that you’ve reached a certain level of expertise

    David Culton: to take that even further? Sure. That’s a great question.

    I think for me, There are a couple of things that come to mind. One is that, uh, I’ve worked a lot in, in corporate environments and sometimes it’s, I think I have a lot of skills in the innovation space that can be used to make the world a better place. So I’m trying to work with clients that share that goal whenever possible.

    So for me, part of my evolution is, is to try to. Help to resolve some of the problems or challenges that we have as a world and focus there. I also think that whenever I’m working with someone, I sort of have my antenna out as to what is their particular skill and how does it resonate with me. So part of my journey, I think, is shifting a little bit more to the people part of innovation.

    Because it really stops and starts there. You know, one of my biggest frustrations over the years is is doing good work and having it even be acknowledged as good work, but nothing happening with it. And that’s not because it’s not good ideas. It’s not because they can’t be executed, but often it’s because of corporate will organizational challenges.

    And so to me, that’s part of the new frontier for me is working on the people part of innovation.

    Karyn Zuidinga: Do you have a particular cause or focus or thought around that? Like, for instance, I was just reading the other day how Patagonia Donate their 10 million tax break to environmental organizations, right? And they’ve changed their mission to fight climate change like now, right?

    That’s that’s their thing right now. Do you have a lots

    David Culton: of things? Climate change is is one that that is really important to me. I’ve not really done work in that space. Although sustainability has been part of a lot of projects that I’ve been involved with. I, I think that’s an area where I could certainly be digging deeper and would be very excited about.

    I’ve found myself doing a fair amount of work in the, in the food insecurity space. And I love doing that work because there’s so much that needs to be done. And, you know, one of the most exciting bits is working with and feeding America. If you think about the scale of and how much fresh produce they have, and what if the produce that they have that they’re not going to sell, but it’s still good could be put into the hands of people that need it.

    How powerful could that be? Right. So that’s, what’s really exciting for me is that kind of stuff. Cool.

    Karyn Zuidinga: Yeah. That’s beautiful. Thank you so much for your time today, David. Thank you. It’s been absolutely lovely. Sharing this conversation and, and learning more about how you like to work, you know, it, it’s so, it’s so interesting that the commonalities and then the differences and then the, just the joy

    David Culton: of it.

    For sure. I mean, you know, one of the, the beauties, uh, uh, of any endeavor that I learned about in Japan is the idea of different paths up the same mountain. And so as we, as you talk with all these different turbulators, each one is taking a different path up the same mountain. And, and so some, there will be some of those similarities and there’ll be some, some differences and some things that are, are wildly different, but everyone’s looking at that.

    And one of the beauties of doing a podcast like this is you get to see the whole mountain.

    Karyn Zuidinga: Thank you to AMI, who have nurtured us in developing this podcast, is the source of so many of our guests, and of course the founder, Stan Griskevich. is also the author of the original book, and dare I say, The Yoda of positive Turbulence.


    Rob Brodnick: M I is a pioneering nonprofit organization comprised of committed individuals who foster and leverage creativity and innovation in organizations and society. A m I identifies leading edge innovation, shares, experiences, sponsors research, and recognizes innovation and creative processes. Find out more@aminnovation.org.

    And a big thank you to Mac Avenue Music Group, our contributing sponsor for providing our podcast soundtrack. Late Night Sunrise.

    David Culton: If

    Karyn Zuidinga: you want to find out more about your hosts, Positive Turbulence, our guests, or check out our very cool and very diverse reading list, head over to PositiveTurbulence. com.

    Until next time, keep the turbulence positive.