This interview is very near and dear to me, personally, because Maryann’s mission syncs so well with mind.  She’s the co-conspirator behind The Kindergarten Mind, a site that shows everyone how to thrive creatively, both in their life and in their business.  In her own words, Maryann is a, ‘personal awesome-illuminator and perspective-shifter who creates the ideal conditions for discovery, and safe spaces for growing your creative genius.’  Today she’s sharing her beliefs and why we all need to get in touch with our creative side.

In case people don’t know about you and your amazing business, would you mind sharing what you do?

In a nutshell, I create a space for people to discover and practice the creativity that lives inside them, for remembering what it’s like to be curious, and for investigating what blocks them from doing the things they love.

How do I do this? Well, we have Play Dates in an imaginary secret lair (live teleclasses).

We get together for two weeks of gently intense exploration of our projects, otherwise known as ‘Why Not Now?’

We sit down to virtual coffee for one-on-one sessions on topics like fear of success.

We hang out on the blog, where I invite people to try seemingly wacky techniques that are actually very effective in getting through the stuff that blocks us from living out our visions, including growing our businesses.

You deal with creatives and artists all day long. 

That’s true, but only because I believe in my heart that every single human has a well of creativity inside. And when we create, we are artists.

The truth is that many of my people don’t identify as artists or ‘creatives.’ What they do for a living runs the gamut — they are healers, full-time parents, corporate managers, and marketing consultants, as well as artists, writers, and crafters.

Why do you think it’s so important for us to add play time into our work and life schedules?

Because play takes us out of ourselves, and lightens our mood, but most of all, because play allows creativity to BLOOM.

When you give yourself the time and space to play with materials and ideas and the tools of your trade — whatever your field — that’s when the mind opens up. That’s when the brilliance starts to flow. And who doesn’t want that?

The buckling-down, get-it-done part of you is important, too — that’s how your ideas become reality. But there are no ideas without play.

And there are no businesses that don’t need ideas, whether you’re a jewelry designer or a virtual assistant.

How did you come up with the idea of secret play dates?

Like most ideas that really catch on, Secret Play Date came about in a roundabout, serendipitous way.

After a ten-year hiatus from the studio, I felt the urge to make things again, but wondered how to start.

At the same time, I’d been mulling over the fact that many artists would rather do anything but deal with traditional business stuff like marketing the extraordinary work that they do.

Maybe there was a way for creatives to, for instance, dream up a visibility plan using the tools and materials they loved, rather than word processors and spreadsheets.

And wouldn’t this idea work for non-artists, too? Because who doesn’t, in their heart of hearts, love painting and scribbling with crayons and molding Play Doh (and mmm, that delicious Play Doh smell)?

I started test-driving Secret Play Date myself, on my blog, and invited people to join in. The response was so enthusiastic that I created the Society of the Secret Play Date, for people to experiment with their projects, inspire each other, and give a big ‘yay!’ for all the progress that inevitably happened when people started to play.

And that last point is the most important: people who Secret-Play-Dated were having these huge light-bulb moments and breakthroughs that might have taken months or years to work through otherwise.

You have a background in marketing. What advice would you give someone who’s trying to find customers or clients?

Work with the internal stuff that holds you back — your fears, your anxieties — *even more* than you work on your marketing tactics.

Yes, absolutely, experiment with email marketing, social media, advertising — everything you learn at Create Hype. You need to do this.

But even the most effective techniques are not going to work for you in the long run if you’re terrified of being seen and judged. Or worried that success will change you. Or convinced that a thriving business means that your well-being will suffer.

You have an amazing, totally unique thing to offer and the world needs that! So find a compassionate way to explore those fears (as opposed to the just-get-over-it! method) and move forward.

You and Eleanor Graham, your co-conspirator, have created such an amazing site for everyone (artists, creatives, designers, writers, and all those people who just love to play). What has been the biggest benefit for the two of you?

I really believe that you teach what you need to learn. Kindergarten Mind emerged out of a renewed belief in my own creativity, my own need for time and space to play, and the recognition that the internal stuff that holds us back is so much more powerful than the practical stuff.

So I continue to learn and grow and open up to possibilities through Kindergarten Mind, especially through working with the people who hang out with us in classes and on the blog. I am constantly in awe of their inventiveness and insight.

Eleanor chiming in here! Without a doubt, the biggest benefit for me is the community. I’m endlessly inspired by interacting with Maryann and all the participants in our programs — I don’t know how many times I’ve had a bad day saved simply by thinking of something that one of our people has written or said. There is camaraderie and encouragement that follows me out into my day, and leaves me bursting with fresh ideas and feeling like the world is full of possibility.

Check out Kindergarten Mind and get in on a Secret Play Date!