Bears? On Overcoming Obstacles & the Pricelessness of Danger

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Deep in the lush green of the back-country, Greg is living his best life replete with a simple backpack, a water-bottle, and his map. He thinks to himself that this is where he truly belongs: on this hike, out in this wonderful wild, far away from cell-phone signal and the endless list of emails.

As he approaches a new trail up ahead, he hesitates a moment and starts to slow down.  Startled, he stops suddenly. Greg senses something ahead of him.

“What is that?” he whispers to himself, cautiously.  It was as if he could sense and hear something before he could actually see it.

Squinting into the sunlight, he strains to see what is up ahead.  His heart beat pounding now in his ears, his eyes make out the outlines of a fairly huge bear feasting on a carcass. It was maybe forty or fifty feet in the distance.

All in an instant, Greg’s moment of hiking-zen is interrupted by mental images of the horrific bear scene in The Revenant.

“Snap out of it, bro,” he whispers to himself.  “That’s a huge bear, but it doesn’t look like a grizzly.”

Slowly, he backs away quietly, keeping his eyes glued on the bear, grateful that he wasn’t noticed by the beast in the midst of its carcass-feasting.  He waits until the bear is completely out of view and then starts jogging back to his tent.

“New plan,” he breathes aloud, grateful for the wild encounter.

“I’ve learnt it’s not really an adventure until something goes wrong.” – Bear Grylls, Adventurer

Overcoming unexpected obstacles is a key part of the creative process. At Radar, we’ve learned that sometimes encountering “the bear” is a gift: it means turning around and retreating on a route that we originally thought was ideal. Sometimes it even means going back to the Roost to rest and re-group, much like Greg had to return to his campsite.

While hindsight is always 20/20, in the midst of a stressful project that encounters obstacles, we try to remind ourselves that having to pivot on a dime forces us to think in new, creative ways.

Sometimes the encounter with the bear is exactly the “dangerous moment” we needed. Pivoting on our plan forces to think strategically and creatively on new levels.

It reminds us that this is the adventure that we signed up for.


The Camping Creative is the eighth of a multi-part blog series, tying together the tent-pegs of camping and creativity.  Read the first post here.

[Camping image from Creative Commons by Jakob Walter]

Dreaming of Everest: the Collaborative Climb

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While Greg is out on the trail alone, he starts dreaming of higher peaks to climb.  As his mind wanders, he thinks back to a TEDX talk he watched recently on Mountaineering. In it, Dawa Steven talked about what it is like to be a sherpa, leading people up Mount Everest.

“How rad it would be to climb Everest one day, ” he thought to himself.

As he let his thoughts imagine the climb of that exceptionally dangerous mountain, he was thinking of the intricate work of a sherpa — and how important they are when climbing a mountain like Everest.

“A sherpa is great metaphor for collaboration,” Greg thinks to himself, musing on how mountaineering relates to his work.

“It’s interesting to think about how a sherpa is one person who holds the responsibility to ‘get us there.'”

We think Greg is onto something with this metaphor for mountaineering. The collaborative “climb” is so fundamental to Radar’s creative process with our clients.  Yes, we act as a sherpa who holds the pack, knows the way, and is protective of the vision to get to the project’s end goal.

But our clients still move with us — they aren’t just chilling back at Basecamp with a cup of hot coffee while the sherpa makes the trek up the mountain. We actually rely on our clients having the momentum to follow us in this collaborative process, and to participate actively. This is a dynamic trek, and we do it together.

The reality is that there are times when we need the client to move ahead of us on the trail, to give feedback, to clarify vision or goals. It is definitely an adventure, and no creative relationship is the same.

Here’s the TEDx talk that Greg was musing on:


The Camping Creative is the seventh of a multi-part blog series, tying together the tent-pegs of camping and creativity.  Read the first post here.

[Everest image from Creative Commons by Gunther Hagleitner]

Throwing Away the Map

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Waking up to the cool, crisp morning air, Greg is ready to go for a hike.  Even before making breakfast, before the sacred morning coffee, Greg is ready for an adventure.

As he peeks over the green horizon, he remembers the trail map that the National Park guide gave him when he entered the park.  Rummaging through his backpack, he finds the map, and then suddenly tears it in two.

“I don’t want anyone else’s directions this morning,” he thinks to himself.

Without a moment’s hesitation, he ties on his trail shoes and takes off on a slow jog up the trail.  His only guide is the road.  His only intention is to discover something.

As he feels the air in his lungs, and looks across the vastness of the scene, it seems the blueness of the sky cools his very mind.  What he will find — only the trail knows.

The creative process can’t be reduced to a road map.  There are no short-cuts, or easy ways to get there.

Much like Greg’s decision to “just go,” a great deal of the creative tangles and problems that we face for our clients requires us to take risks, and learn as we go. We believe this is both a science and an art.

This part of the creative process *does* require immediacy, though. Oftentimes, clients come to us with a problem that needs solving…yesterday. Lead time is a luxury that we aren’t always given. And that’s ok with us. (Here’s just one example of many…from back in our event producing days!)

Fortunately, at Radar we know better than anyone how to meet a deadline and how to finish well (and under budget!) – by just grabbing our trail shoes and GOING. The creative discoveries we make along the way are part of the collaborative process that we enjoy with our clients.

We’ll talk more about that collaboration in our next post.


The Camping Creative is the sixth of a multi-part blog series, tying together the tent-pegs of camping and creativity.  Read the first post here.

[Creative commons image by Douglas Scortegagna]

Essential Items: Packing Your Flashlight

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It’s the middle of the night. The stars are a silent canopy above. The quiet is lulling and Greg is starting to fall asleep.

Suddenly, he hears a rustling outside his tent. An animal? A person? Without thinking, he grabs his flashlight and jumps out of the tent. There’s no time to waste.

The creative process can sometimes feel like being awoken in the middle of the night. Cultivating alertness and readiness doesn’t come by accident. What you’ve put by “your bedside” or “in your tent” will be what you’re able to take with you, when the moment beckons.

Here at Radar, we believe that learning how to make space for creative insight is much like having a flashlight ready in the dark. Turn on the light in a moment’s notice: shine the beams on something you might have missed, otherwise.

Yes, “chance favors the prepared mind” (Louis Pasteur) so perhaps being prepared for bursts of ideation means cultivating an ability to stay present. But how do we do that, exactly?

Getting outdoors, breathing in fresh air, going on a run, taking a long walk, (and to bring it back full-circle) perhaps even camping itself can teach us how to stay present and remain in the moment. Sometimes we just need a reset.

Do you need a reset? What can you do this week to make sure you’re “packing your flashlight”?

For us at Radar, sometimes just having a moleskine in our back pocket reminds us stay present. Never under estimate the ability to take notes on mundane things. The creative process demands that we have the tools ready to shine a light on new ideas.

Remembering to “pack your flashlight” won’t happen overnight. It takes practice. Here’s to practicing the habits that truly matter.


The Camping Creative is the fifth of a multi-part blog series, tying together the tent-pegs of camping and creativity.  Read the first post here.

[image of flashlight from Creative commons by Cezary Borysiuk]

Momentum & Movement: Keeping the Fire Going

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Greg stares up at the sky as the fire crackles. He exhales. Glancing back at the dancing light, he realizes he’ll need to find three or four more logs to keep the heat going. The job of building the fire is never completely done.

As he gets up to chop a few more thick branches for kindle, Greg smiles to himself. The hardest work is done, now he gets to just add to it. With each swing of the ax, the stress of the previous week oozes out of his back. Not only that, but on the walk back to the campfire, Greg even starts to get new ideas for the project he’s designing.

Taking the long road plays out in the adventure of building a fire: it forces us to move our bodies, which super-charges our creative minds.

Current research in experimental psychology suggests that physical movement directly influences the brain’s ability to process information and problem solve. It turns out, we’re not just brains on stilt-legs walking about, we are embodied. All of our processes are interconnected. Never is that more clear than in the creative process.

That is why one of our core values at Radar is to favor walking meetings over sitting meetings. Harnessing kinetic energy leads to “a-ha!” moments in the creative process.

You can’t make a fire without movement – this kinetic energy creates space for your mind to kick into high gear. At Radar, we love when this moment happens — when the body and mind coalesce toward a breakthrough idea for our clients.


The Camping Creative is the fourth of a multi-part blog series, tying together the tent-pegs of camping and creativity.  Read the first post here.

[ Thanks to Tony Webster for the Creative Commons image, and Google for the definition ]

Waiting for the Drop; or, the Beauty of the Dreaded Cell-Service Drop

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Greg is pleased with the campfire he just created. As he sits, staring into the embers, he daydreams that the fire itself was somehow his invention. The restfulness is palpable.

Then, like an ambulance siren breaking in around the corner, Greg’s thoughts careen back toward work deadlines. He reaches for his phone, and walks away from the fire.


In the midst of his downloading an extensive and “important” email, cell-phone service drops out. Dropping an eft-bomb simultaneously with the cellular drop, Greg walks around like a rabid animal trying to find satellite reconnection.

The whole act is infuriatingly futile. At no point in the campsite can he seem to reconnect. It’s almost like the universe is enforcing some boundary line of quieting.

Greg pours some bourbon into a blue camping mug as consolation, and sulks by the fire for a moment. With a conciliatory sigh, he reaches for the tent pegs to put together his tent.

Stretching the flat tent out over the ground, Greg imagines the boundary lines of the tent as if seeing the earth from space. He imagines how the tent almost looks like the outline of Australia.

As he pushes each tent peg into the ground with his bare hands, Greg quickly transcends the cell phone debacle. Touching the bare earth does something to him. He makes a promise to himself.

For the rest of my time at this campground, I won’t let my mind wander at all around work deadlines. This space is mine.


Greg’s cell phone service circus is a familiar one. For all of us, creatives especially, finding space to literally “un-plug” is often crucial to make space for creative ideation.

The decision to say “no” to good things for a time is an act of the will, to protect for something better. Getting outside of our normal environment is an excellent way to create those boundary lines, but sometimes that isn’t enough.

The creative process demands that we learn how to disengage from our daily habits that might interfere with making our best work.

Here at Radar, we have a few different corporate practices that help us spread out the tent pegs to create space for great ideas. One of those practices is to take walking meetings, whenever possible. In our next post, we’ll talk about what current research has to say about the kinetic connection between creativity and movement.


The Camping Creative is the third of a multi-part blog series, tying together the tent-pegs of camping and creativity.  Read the first post here.

Have you put into practice any sort of disciplines that help you draw boundary lines around your creative work? What are they? We’d love to start a conversation around this.

[iPhone image by Jacob Munk-Stander; Camping image by Rob Malouf]

Burn, Baby, Burn: How to Build a Campfire

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The day before arriving at the campsite, in the midst of all of the wonderful chaos of family and work responsibilities, Greg starts daydreaming. His mind wanders to the apex of the camping experience: the campfire.

He can practically smell the familiar scent of the smoky brilliance as he sees the light dancing in his mind’s eye.

Then his practical side swiftly kicks in, snapping him out of the moment. He asks himself:

Ahh, the campfire, yes.
How will I build that sucker?


Let’s talk about short-cuts.

When you’re out in the wilderness, you really have two options to build a fire. The route you take depends a great deal on the plans you’ve made ahead of time. The creative process is no different.

Option 1 – You pre-purchase a bundle of wood from Home Depot.

Home Depot Wood

Yes, it is faster and easier to just buy a bundle of wood on the way to the campsite. Yes, it will allow you to “skip to the end” and start enjoying the campfire, pronto. But a fire built with pre-fab bundles from the store will be sufficiently less memorable than a campfire that you build with your own hands.

The creative process is no different. There are no shortcuts to memorable work. There are no shortcuts to a creative product that endures.

We’re going with option #2, and so is Greg. (It’s amazing how Greg follows our lead so well!)

Option 2 – You find the wood on your own, because you are owning this fire.

You are a real man, (or a fearlessly bad-ass woman), so you grab an ax and head toward the nearest tree, feeling unstoppable. You use your strength to chop the low-hanging tree branches into a pile of substantial fuel, where you will carry it over to the circle you’ve envisioned for your fire. Maybe you’ve even outlined that area with stones.

This entire process takes hours. You are tired at the end. You are also a shade covered in sweat. But it was also incredibly interesting how much your mind was cleared with each swing of the ax.

At Radar, we believe that the path of least resistance is not always the best option, particularly in our space: creating vibrant media for our clients.

Staying prepared means knowing the outcomes of what might be a more difficult set of creative decisions, versus the outcomes of the “quick and easy” route. In our world of short attention spans, chance discoveries favors the prepared mind.


Known as the “father of microbiology,” Louis Pasteur’s (1822-1895) landmark discoveries led to modern vaccinations that have saved innumerable lives. His experiments in germ theory were wildly creative, and we believe his maxim rings true for the creative process.

In our next post, we’ll talk more about how taking the long road plays out in the adventure of building a fire: it forces us to move our bodies, which super-charges our creative minds.


The Camping Creative is the second of a multi-part blog series, tying together the tent-pegs of camping and creativity.  Read the first post here.

Do you have anything to add about how taking shortcuts has led to less-than-memorable creative moments? Together we can find new connections between the creative process and your own unique experiences. 

[Images via GIPHY & Legalv1]

The Camping Creative


Gazing upward, Greg realizes that the Sequoia overgrowth is thinning out. Usually the perfect campsite is easy to find, but this evening it seems as though the forest has plans of its own. He can’t truly rely on technology either; cell service dropped out about a half-mile back. Greg passes another large family of trees, a thicket or two, and there it is: The clearing he has been looking for.

Quickly he sets his pack down. Holding a hand up he measures how much sun is left— about 1.5 hands away. He has an hour and a half to setup before dusk arrives. No problem. Determined, he starts on assembling his tent. The tent pops up quickly as Greg feels a very familiar feeling. He is home. He is where he belongs at this very moment. As long as he has his tent, he is comfortable mentally. The outside forest becomes the backdrop. Inside he is free.

Being a seasoned veteran of camping, as well as having his share of small manageable disasters, Greg knows what comes next. FIRE. And lots of it. He builds a robust fire, gathers additional wood that should sustain him for the next 12 hours and hunkers down for the night. Surrounding him is the fruit of his labor. In this alien land he has managed to setup the essentials and these in turn have become pillars for him: shelter, warmth, fuel, protection, freedom. Untethered from the outside world, Greg focuses on what matters most to him. In a small way, a different man will make the return trek. He is hoping for clarity and change.


Camping has always intrigued me. As a young boy I didn’t get to do much of it. My parents actually “glamp’d” quite a bit before the world created a meme out of it. We would drive around the Southwest with the family RV, occasionally setting up a small tent outside. True camping found me later in my young adult life. I have a lot to learn, but I feel I have found a zone of this planet that speaks to me. I cannot help but look inward. I can only compare it to one other factor in my life— the creative process.

Camping and Creativity are brothers. The simple setting-change of being in the wilderness, outside of our normal duties, can reignite the creative fire inside of us. One of Camping and Creativity’s primary adversaries is the cold. That complacent, chilly, stagnant feeling you get when you realize your current work, brand or campaign needs a complete revamp. It has lost its fire.

The cold seeks to steal our comfort, security and momentum. We need to clearly define what we are attempting to create in order to be in the right place at the right time for those unforeseen thoughts and ideas (sparks) to enter into play. If not, we will miss them. That process is our firewood (more to come on this soon). The ideas are the crackles and sparks…Then hopefully, if we get a fire hot enough, we can actually cook something.

We look forward to this creative exploration and are excited for you to join us. Here at The Roost [RADAR Creative], we are always looking for new and creative ways to tell your story using rich and vibrant media. Highlighting and exposing the modern creative process is paramount if we are to successfully collaborate with our partners and clients. We’d love to hear your story.



Do you have amazing memories sitting around the campfire or maybe an epic outdoor excursion? Together we can find new connections between the creative process and your own unique experiences.