Take a Drag of Crayola and Relax

October 6, 2016

ALTA ONE | Scottsdale, AZ

Kicking off the first-ever ALTA ONE on Oct. 5, internationally recognized graffiti artist and best-selling author Erik Wahl encouraged attendees to unlock their inner creativity to reawaken their imaginations as they look for opportunities to improve their business.

During the opening Omni Session, Wahl started working on a painting of Abraham Lincoln. Highlighting the political strife in today’s world, he reminded attendees that it’s during the most divisive times when leaders such as Lincoln emerge. “Our greatest growth comes during chaos,” he said.

After putting the final touches on his first painting, Wahl turned to the crowd and asked if they knew the age when creativity starts to dry up.

“Every child is an artist,” Wahl said. “The challenge is how to remain an artist when you grow up.”

In the business world, the challenge is the continue finding ways to uniquely differentiate from the competition. Wahl asked the audience if they remembered the iconic box of 64 Crayola crayons. He shared a study at Yale that showed Crayola is among the top 20 most recognizable smells. Research has shown that the smell of Crayola crayons can reduce blood pressure in adults downwards 10 points, he said.

“Feeling anxious? Have any personal frustration with the regulatory environment? Pull out your Crayola crayons, take a drag and relax,” Wahl said.

The point of his message? Creativity is in all of us, no matter our age. To transcend commoditization, you need to go on the creative offensive.

During the next part of his presentation, Wahl selected Nicole Plath, CEO of Fortune Title Agency in New Jersey, to participate in a game. Given an envelope labeled “Fear Factor, Wahl tells Plath she must decide to keep the envelope and participate or give it away without knowing the instructions.

Plath takes the challenge, opens the envelope and learns she gets to keep the Abraham Lincoln painting.

“Sometimes it pays to take ownership and take a risk,” Wahl said, adding that people become paralyzed by fear of the unknown. “Sometimes it does pay to take a risk and take action. Fear represents nothing more than false evidence.”

After paining a silhouette of a soldier while the song “I’m Coming Home” played, Wahl explained that humans have problem-solving minds, but that they also have creative, emotional, risk-taking ability. However, most adults resist going into unchartered areas and miss opportunities.

“We were taught to narrow our thinking down to come up with one proper solution,” he said. “On top of that, we were taught to be risk-averse. We’ve put a lot of reliance on analytics. This is still necessary, but I would also suggest it’s no longer sufficient to engage in this complicated changing global environment. You need new ideas that your competitors didn’t think possible and that your consumers didn’t think they needed.”

Wahl then completed his third portrait of the presentation, this time of Albert Einstein who once said “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” The point being that to find success, pull out a set of crayons, open up to authenticity and get inspired.

“The question for this year’s first ALTA ONE experience going forward isn’t if you can paint. It’s how,” Wahl said. “How will you awaken and reignite your own curiosity and fascination to figure out changing consumer behavior and new ways to shape your brand.”

Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or communications@alta.org.