Wahl Offers Advice And Artistry At Keynote

Keynote Message: Unlock Creativity

Erik WahlWith U2’s “Beautiful Day” filling up the ASI Long Beach ballroom, artist and entrepreneur Erik Wahl bounded onto the stage this morning. His keynote message? Unlock creativity if you really want to succeed today. His inspirational method? Painting.

While U2’s song blared on the speakers and its video played for all to watch, Wahl painted a perfect picture of Bono, the group’s lead singer. In less than four minutes. That’s right, in the time it took for the group’s song to finish, Wahl banged out a painting of Bono, which one lucky show attendee got to take home.

“You can’t be successful today without being creative,” Wahl told the Long Beach audience when he finished the painting. “You have to find ways to differentiate yourself from the competition, and creativity can do that. The companies that are successful right now are the ones that create unique experiences for their customers.”

To do that, Wahl recommends that ad specialty distributors begin to analyze their business in different ways than they may have done in the past. He told attendees to look at their operations and customer relationships and find where there are spaces of opportunity. To Wahl, that opportunity often exists in the places where company managers are most fearful. “Take a step back and look at the spots in your business that are risky or that you’re fearful of,” Wahl said. “Turn those around and begin to view them as opportunities.”

Wahl believes that truly creative people embrace risk and fear, while most people in business today too often shy away from those risks. “You can’t let fear get in the way of creativity, performance and growth,” Wahl said. “Expand your own definition of risk from minimizing liability to actually capitalizing on the opportunity that risk provides.”

Counselor Editor Andy Cohen caught up with Wahl to find out more of his strategies for how companies can become more creative and innovative. Click here to watch the video interview.