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Too many times creatives, especially busy entrepreneurs, say that they don't have time to read. I used to say the same thing, but now I think that it's just an excuse.

When I was a kid, I loved being left at the library. That was my Wonderland, and the librarians were my surrogate parents.

Losing That Light for Reading

Over the years, school slowly ground out that love of reading ‘til I was only plowing through emails and work-related material.

But slowly I've re-discovered my passion for books. Occasionally, I'd even pick up a paperback that an ex-girlfriend introduced to me, but it was still slow-going. There was always something else taking priority, and that favorite excuse “I just didn’t have time for reading.”

Always Darkest Before There's Light

Lately, all that changed. I started walking again and taking libraries’ worth with me on my iPad. One day I’d listen to the inspiring story of Amanda Palmer; the next day I’d be spellbound by Stephen King.

Generally speaking, now I juggle a couple of novels on audiobook with non-fiction stuff on creative entrepreneurship or inspiring stories.

Since I started doing this, I’ve actually finished more books in the past 12 months than probably the past 12 years before!

Short Rundown of Recent Books I’ve “Read” Over the Last Year

Wild by Cheryl Strayed - http://amzn.to/2eVaTn8
Creativity, Inc by Ed Catmull - http://amzn.to/2foECUI
10x Rule by Grant Cardone - http://amzn.to/2gzmDNb
Unselling by Scott Stratten / Alison Kramer - http://amzn.to/2elT8vv
Freakonomics by Steven Levin / Stephen Dubner - http://amzn.to/2cS20Yn
Think Like a Freak by Steven Levin / Stephen Dubner - http://amzn.to/2cS2aPB
Grit by Angela Duckworth - http://amzn.to/2d0hdHW
Essentialism by Greg McKeown - http://amzn.to/1Tp4tWg
The Bassoon King by Rainn Wilson - http://amzn.to/2a56hqt
Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling - http://amzn.to/2eVdJIP
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me by Mindy Kaling - http://amzn.to/2fi8vFw
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg - http://amzn.to/1NCmhQM
Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg - http://amzn.to/2fi5bKE
Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh - http://amzn.to/2gbEgPP
Cell by Stephen King - http://amzn.to/2f8AmsD
Fluke by Christopher Moore - http://amzn.to/2cvzXA3
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams - http://amzn.to/2apkwHK
Let’s Pretend That Never Happened by Jenny Lawson - http://amzn.to/2feoBgd
Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson - http://amzn.to/2g868md
How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran - http://amzn.to/2gcgAu6
Somewhere in Time by Richard Matheson - http://amzn.to/2eVc8mi
I, Zombie by Hugh Howey - http://amzn.to/2gttF5d
The Walking Dead Road to Woodbury by Robert Kirkman - http://amzn.to/2fhZBIe
Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Greene - http://amzn.to/2fi9jKz
The Martian by Andrew Weir - http://amzn.to/2eVaIrZ
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - http://amzn.to/2fi92HJ

Insane, right? Believe me, it's not as though I'm a reading maniac. But you'd be surprised at how much time you have walking around, waiting in line or driving in your car.

So, check out Audible. (I'm an affiliate not only because they're a great service but, well, you can see the results!) They have apps for your smartphone, iPad or tablet as well as your PC. So, get more reading done!

rising-tide-ships

“What is that?” asked the passerby.

“It’s tango - Argentine tango,” I replied. A couple of other gals were doing their mock version of the typical Fernando pose complete with invisible rose in their teeth that people associate with the dance.

“Really?” she marveled.

“On Wednesday night we have a dance near the Mission,” I explained, handing her a postcard flyer. “There’s a free dance lesson at 8 and dancing ‘til midnight. Come on by.”

“Cool - I’ll check it out!” she said.

“Sorry about that,” I said turning back to my partner.

“That’s okay,” Deanna said. “Part of the job right?”

She was right, of course, but I’m not sure how it happened.

 


(photo courtesy of Norm Davey)

Somehow what started off as a joke - a merry band of misfits calling ourselves “The Secret Tango Society” - became a movement.

Long before flash mobs became popular we occasionally held these “hit and run” guerrilla milongas that were coordinated via email like some covert ops cells.

These were just the start. Next came weekly tango events at a funky studio performance space (ironically called Cellspace). That’s when things really took off. I quickly realized the need to organize and filed for 501(c)(3) non-profit status as an arts organization.

What started out as a hobby became my mission to promote this art form.

But how did this happen?

 

On long drives to job sites as a project manager for a IT consulting firm, I would rehearse moves from class in my mind.

Tango music itself was definitely an acquired taste. At first I found it hard to relate to. The complex antiquated music with its many layers was often too subtle for my untrained ear - and sometimes hardly bearable due to the scratchiness of old recordings.

Occasionally, I would switch to more contemporary hits, and that’s when it hit me - what if we danced tango to modern music?

So I pinged a few dancer friends, and we conspired to meet on the weekend. Brainstorming on locations, we decided on spots that were public enough to attract attention but not so much that it would cause a “disturbance.”

We settled on the Palace of Fine Arts. While lovely in its elegance the space was wrapped in typical blustery San Francisco weather, and the gravel floors were less than ideal for pivoting. Strike one.

Next we decided to give Union Square a try. There were plenty of shoppers and tourist rushing to their destinations, but occasionally a few took notice. Although we experimented with a few other venues, this became the fallback spot for meeting.

Once we started having weekly dances, that’s when the “Old Guard” took notice. These folks believed that the purity of the dance was preserved by playing nothing newer than Golden Era tango songs from the 1940’s. To dance tango to covers of Metallica “Nothing Else Matters” or bluesy Norah Jones was considered sacrilege of the highest order.

But we were no longer just some upstart rag tag outlier. Slowly but surely our ranks swelled. Suddenly, we were a force to be reckoned with.

‘You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.' - Jim Rohn

Besides just having fun, our dancing improved as we became comfortable enough to both try out different sequences and share techniques. Soon we were the ones teaching beginners and helping them get started on their tango journey.

In Switch the Heath brothers talk about how cultivating a sense of identity leads to change. We were the misfits of the traditional tango world, but we were also the future of tango evolution.

Traditionally artists have influenced each other’s creativity. Movements like the Impressionists or modern artists like Dali and Picasso were born from mutual respect and admiration for each other while their contemporaries often regarded them with, well, contempt.

“Good artists copy, great artists steal." - Pablo Picasso

The Heath brothers also talk about rallying the herd and how behavior is contagious. I knew that our little movement had come of age when one of the largest events in the country added a “alternative tango” event. (a term we coined for what we did) For more on mastering the dance of creativity..

Now in my work as a content marketer I am constantly finding ways that we influence each other. While we often think of more artistic fields as requiring creativity,  have you ever tried to come up with 1001 ways to sell bath and body products? Never mind struggling with writer’s block - it’s like finding a way to make sausage-making interesting!

Recently, Mark and Philomena Timberlake shared how to repurpose content in a Google community of online educators I follow. They said that they had been inspired by Scott Scowcroft. Meanwhile, I shared this on another forum for content marketers.

Here’s a video of what I shared -

So, you see, there’s almost a neverending ripple effect of influencing each other. I definitely love connecting with positive, motivated creative entrepreneurs. Not only do I enjoy the connection but we’re constantly learning from each other.

Who’s in your inner circle of inspiration? How do they inspire your creativity?