ONE OF MY LEAST FAVORITE questions to be asked is, “What's your favorite movie?” Mostly because I love movies and find that I'll get stressinduced wrinkles if I'm forced to pick just one.
So my answer is usually, “Impossible to say. It depends on my mood.” A few years ago, my sister told me that this is an unacceptable answer, pushing me with the question, “What's the movie that you NEVER, EVER change the channel on?
No matter your mood, or what else is playing on TV—if this movie is on, you'll watch it. Period."
These days, my answer to that specific question is AmÃ©lie. And not just because I love Paris and Audrey Tautou and the French language. It's mostly because that film speaks to the creative side of my soul more than any other. It's full of vibrant colors, whimsy and brilliance, fast-paced editing, quirky characters, and, ultimately, a sweet story about the importance of keeping our childlike sense of wonder.
Finding things that resonate with us on a creative level seems to be a key component of the human experience. The other day, I was chatting with a vice president at a Southwestarea multifamily owner/ operator/developer. She was telling me about her passion for painting. She showed me some of her artwork on her phone, images of colorful, charming villages and large, bright abstracts. This is a woman who is exceptionally good at her day job of empowering leasing agents, training new-hires, measuring apartment marketing initiatives, and generally keeping motivation levels high.
Yet she has this incredible thirst for creative expression that is on full display with her side project, which has brought her plenty of local accolades.
The exchange reminded me of a debate I once judged in a sociology class in college: Are all humans inherently creative?
On the dissenting side were folks who argued that handymen who install drywall or accountants who crunch numbers every day are, by nature of their personalities and skill sets, not creative—and what's more, they don't need creativity to contribute to society. The affirmative team claimed that our innermost drive as humans is to create—that the spreadsheet the accountant develops or the walls a handyman helps build are just another form of creation.
I'm of the mentality that all human beings crave creativity and that the ability of humans to innovate is boundless. And I don't just see that creativity expressed in the traditional sense. It's on display in corporate conference rooms and government offices, on construction sites and the back of a plumber's truck. I've seen that creativity firsthand in how apartment executives structure deals and find the necessary financing to close a deal. How property managers conduct contests that motivate employees and residents alike.
And I'm always surprised by the next-generation designs and plans that multifamily architects and developers put forth.
In the next few weeks, we at Apartment Finance Today will be conducting our annual CFO strategies survey. (To participate, send a request to senior editor Jerry Ascierto at email@example.com.) The role of chief financial officer, perhaps more than any other, is considered the most boring, noncreative role in the C suite. But what we've found year over year is that CFOs must employ smart, creative solutions and make strategic decisions that go beyond the balance sheet in order to help their companies thrive.
I happen to be lucky in that I work in publishing, a field where creativity is a vital ingredient. But no matter what your industry or job or role, you, too, can benefit from getting your creative mojo flowing.
You might want to get yourself in the mood by watching your favorite movie.