It is no secret. Clients want lawyers who are as innovative and creative as they are.

Are you an innovative and creative lawyer? According to a Harvard Business Review report  The Innovators DNA, the skill that separates innovators from noncreative professionals is “associating”—the ability to successfully connect seemingly unrelated questions, problems, or ideas from different fields.

Steve Jobs said it very well:

Creativity is just connecting things.

If you are are a regular reader you know I have written about the importance of seeing problems, opportunities and changes that impact clients before other lawyers see them. I have even shared how I connected things when I practiced law. Would you like an idea that will enable you to become a more creative lawyer?

I learned about the Harvard study in The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success by Carmine Gallo. It includes many secrets to becoming an innovative lawyer. Last fall Gallo wrote an article for Business Week: To Unlock Creativity, Learn from Steve Jobs. It is a good place to start learning. Gallo said:

The key to “thinking differently” is to perceive things differently through the lenses of a trailblazer. And to see things through these lenses, you must force your brain to make connections it otherwise would have missed…

Some of Jobs’s most creative insights are the direct result of novel experiences either in physical locations or among the people with whom he chose to associate.

If you hang out with the same people in the same places, it is unlikely you will see things differently. One of the best ways to perceive things differently is to expose yourself to different people and places. I recently had that experience. As Gallo says:

To perceive things differently, you must be exposed to divergent ideas, places and people. This forces your brain to make connections it otherwise might miss.

Nancy and I spent Easter weekend in Sayulita, Nayarit in Mexico. To get there our driver took us on single lane dirt and rock roads. We stayed at Villa Amor, a place with no television or telephone in the room and no swimming pool. (If you want to learn to surf or your children want to learn, this is the place for you).  I enjoyed staying in Sayulita as much as any place we have visited. The beach was beautiful, I essentially did nothing other than read and write. Most importantly I got the chance to meet two new entrepreneurial friends who are pursuing their passion.

We ate breakfast each morning at Rollie’s and got to know Rollie and his wife, Jeanne. Our breakfast each morning was unique and special. A Little Rollie’s History is on the back of his menu. If you read it, you will know why Rollie decided to open a restaurant in Sayulita after he retired. The food is great, the experience even better. Rollie and Jeanne close the restaurant from May 1-November 1.

Rollie Mexico.jpgWe ate dinner each night at Capitan Cook’s and got to know co-owner Uwe Fellier. Capitan Cook’s is literally on the beach. We sat at a table with our feet in the sand. Each night a band played on the beach near us and couples were dancing. I have eaten some wonderful seafood in my day, but nothing as memorable as the Red Snapper at Capitan Cook’s. I convinced Uwe to get on Twitter.

Captain Cook Mexico.pngAfter three days, we moved to the beautiful Marriott Casa Magna in Puerto Vallarta. It was a beautiful resort and the staff was excellent, but staying there was like staying at many other other beautiful resorts. It was not a novel experience.

My experience staying in a small surfing town of 4000, at a place with no television or telephone and getting to know two restaurant owners and their stories has my creative juices flowing. I can’t tell you when a breakthrough will come from my experience, but I am confident I will have one. After all, I have had them before.

P.S. I hope to return to Sayulita at least once a year to think, read, write and have more novel experiences.