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Creative Disruption with Erik Wahl

“Creativity is the new corporate capital”, Erik Wahl delivered an awesome Keynote at AME Conference in Jacksonville.  He started by speed painting The Boss (Bruce Springsteen) while playing his hit song “born to run”.  It was exciting and fun.  As Eric danced around the painting as he literally created a work of art in front of our eyes before the song ended!

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“Accessing emotion opens the door for breakthrough innovation. Standardization and conformity creates fear of being wrong.” Erik Wahl

Asked the audience how many of you can draw, and very few hands went up.  He stated that if he asked the same question to a packed grade-school everyone would raise their hand.  Then he made us reflect on why…  “As we age, we become more and more risk averse.”  Erik Wahl

My biggest take away was Eric’s very first lesson was how fear paralyzes all of us.  By creating the conditions that made us truly believe one unlucky audience member would be selected to participate in a “fear factor” type moment on stage in front of nearly 2,000 people, he basically paralyzed us.  Then he offered the first person selected to participate the option to delegate the opportunity to come up on stage.  Once the replacement person was selected Eric brought that person up on stage and instead of making him eat something disgusting, Eric gave his painting of a Bruce Springsteen away for free!

“Sometimes it pays to take a risk” Erik Wahl

Then he offered that person $100 to buy it back.  The person politely declined and Eric then asked the lucky new painting owner to give the hundred dollars a way to “our friend” (the very first person who was offered the chance).  What this did was it showed love! Leaders have to care about the people they are entrusted with.  Deming told us to drive out fear in organizations, but until now I hadn’t realized how important that was.  And here was a fine example about how a senior leader could go about facilitating the conditions for driving that point home with everyone.

“Fear: False Evidence Appearing Real” Erik Wahl


“Un-think! It’s the Art of emotional connections drives future employee creativity leading to competitive edge.”  Erik Wahl

Here you can get a feel of what it was like to be there: