Musings on creative genius + uniqueness + Albert Einstein.

Have you ever loved something so much, that you rave about it to everyone you know?
You indulge in it frequently?
Give it as gifts?
And it would probably make your all-time Top 10 list?
But then, out of nowhere, you have a super sour experience that leaves you wondering. . . WTF?!

Well, I had this kind of experience at a mega-popular L.A. eatery not too long ago.
I was told by management as I waited for my to-go-order, that I wasn’t allowed to take photographs of anything in the store.

Now, in the days of Instagram + Twitter + iPhones + Samsung Galaxy’s, I don’t really get this kind of policy.
Not sure about you, but I’ve never been told that before. Ever.
And I’ve been to A LOT of places in my life.
In fact, restaurant and shop owners are typically thrilled to have someone spreading their gospel for them. For FREE.

I was peeved, but I obliged.
I walked out and was left feeling reprimanded over something I didn’t believe was wrong.
Has this ever happened to you?

Before I left, I asked the management where this policy came from, they replied “the owner believes if everyone gets to take photos, competitors will steal her ideas“.
Oh wow.

I felt my biz consulting hat begging to be put on and my coaching muscles wanting to be flexed.
Instead of trying to change their policies, which clearly wasn’t going to happen in the moment, I ran to my car to jot down my thoughts on what I perceive to be a really bad policy.

What I desperately wanted to ask the restaurant owner herself, in that moment is . . .what are you so afraid of?

It’s not like your idea is THE original idea.
It isn’t as if NOBODY else has ever created an eatery + retail store like yours.
In fact, the design inspiration stems quite clearly from other spots I’ve visited in NYC and Napa Valley.
Just sayin.
The not-so-nice-Stephanie had a few other choice remarks, but the thoughtful-and-curious-Stephanie was wondering what lessons were here for me to learn.

I’m continually curious about the mindsets that keep us tripped up. Keep us prisoner of our ego’s.
That prevent us from truly reaching our fullest potential and expression of ourselves.
I’m curious about this in individuals and equally (if not more) curious about these principles in business.

What became glaringly obvious in this experience, was the owner was, what I like to call, “hoarding her genius”.

In other words, she’s stuck in the mentality of “there’s not enough to go around”.
It’s the antithesis of what I believe and know to be effective in life and in business.

My perspective on this mindset feels brutal, even for me to hear, but it’s quite true for most of us.

What you’re creating has likely been created before.
Or thought of before.
By someone. Somewhere.
At some point in time.

Aside from the (quite literal) bursts of genius from guys like Albert Einstein or Benjamin Franklin, there’s not much in our world that is original.
Ideas are a dime a dozen.
And when it comes to lifestyle brands, you’re most likely not reinventing the wheel.

~Albert Esinstein | image via Valentina Lori on Pinterest

This doesn’t mean everything you do is unoriginal.
What IS unique, is your particular spin on it.
Your brand of je ne sais quoi.

What you bring to your ideas, your art, your business, your creative pursuits, your relationships, your life.
That is what makes your offering unique.
And nobody can take that away from you.
How could you express this uniqueness in a world where just about everything’s already been done?

There are hundreds of thousands of more examples of unique businesses, unique artists, unique individuals who are infusing themselves into their work.
This kind of alchemy is precisely what makes them originals. Standouts. And successful by all accounts.

If we’re always coming from a place of lack, we can never truly feel abundance or gratitude.
(click to tweet this!)

And we can never reach our full potential as human beings.

The most original and creative people I know recognize that everything in life is fleeting.
Especially success and fame.
They admit that they’ve been inspired by the great masters and those who came before them.
There’s no shame in this. In fact, there’s great strength in paying homage to your sources of inspiration.

The common trait I see amongst these people is humility, which encompasses self-understanding, awareness, openness and seeing other perspectives.
Humility is part of the secret sauce if you ask me!

So, what are your thoughts on this?
Are you a hoarder (of your creative genius)?
Stuck in the lack mentality?
How can you let go and move towards more abundance?

I hope this post sparks something in you! Let me know by leaving me a comment below.
And if you liked it, please share + spread the love.

Until next time . . .




P.S. You didn’t think I forgot did you?
I’m thrilled to announce the winner of these gorgeous earrings by Kate Ellen Metals
(featured in last week’s GET TO KNOW post) is . . .

Kerry Connor
Congratulations Kerry! You’ll be receiving an email from me very soon with more info.

  • LIKE WHAT YOU SEE? Get more goodies for FREE!


  1. Wow, I LOVED this post! I have never visited here before and you have a really unique perspective and distinctive voice. I love how once you got over your resistance, you got curious about what it meant…I also felt your outrage and wondered, where did this restaurant owner get the ideas she is hoarding so closely? Like you said, everything is derivative. I wonder what would happen if she got yelped for it…if she knew her hoarding was costing her. Anyway, great story and example, thanks for this post!

    1. So glad you stopped by Mindy, thanks so much for your comments! Yes, I agree in the day when customer reviews are so accessible (and prolific), you have to be inclusive not exclusive. 🙂

  2. Super smart Stephanie. I have been saying the same thing–the jewelry industry has two types of people… old schoolers who grew their businesses before the internet and the total free exchange of ideas and information and then are accustomed to hoarding their techniques, connections, and knowledge; and those that came after the internet and embrace sharing, exchanging, helping, mentoring, and nurturing creativity. There is literally SO MUCH jewelry on this planet (hello, one of human-kind’s oldest art forms!) and so everything that is done has pretty much been done before. But it’s the unique touch of the jeweler who is working from her own creative well that we find interesting. And compelling.

    I am a true believer in telling folks how to do it. Living a creative life has opened up my heart, mind and spirit in ways that I cannot even describe, so why on earth would I rob the next person of the potential to have the same experience? Share like your mama taught you!

    L O V E + M E T A L,
    Kate Ellen

    1. Rock on girl! I love your thoughts on this – especially in the arts there is a strange tendency to withhold and I love what you said – it’s the designers unique touch that’s compelling. Too true. And why I simply adore your work! 🙂
      Thanks for being here, for your insight and your love! xo

  3. I loved this line “I felt my biz consulting hat begging to be put on and my coaching muscles wanting to be flexed.” That is how I feel talking to inexperienced entrepreneurs all the time! Very accurate description. I don’t have the ability to hoard ideas, my mouth often doesn’t come with a filter so I let it all slip out. But I also think that by sharing ideas, I’m inspired to create new things.
    Great post!

    1. Haha! My mouth often doesn’t have a filter too – and my thoughts certainly don’t. I find the same thing – that by sharing my ideas, I have even more of them. It’s a win-win I tell ya. 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by!

  4. I’ve had that happen to me in San Francisco, too. And had the same reaction you did. Usually when you’re taking a photo, you want to share something wonderful so why it isn’t appreciated seems strange.

    I created an online portrait and storytelling project several years ago called I Live Here: SF ( and it got really popular. People started creating their own sites based on mine, and some wrote to me for permission first. I was flattered that people were so enthusiastic about my idea that they wanted to try it on their own in their own city. I even came up with a response email to give people the wisdom I’d gained so that they’d have more info going into such a project.

    If you are truly talented and creative, no one can take that away from you. So why not share what you’ve got!

    1. I love the way you channeled your excitement for your city into I Live Here – so awesome (and for the record, SF is incredible)! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I love hearing what other folks are doing to share their creativity with the world. xo

  5. Whoa, I really agree with you on that policy, it’s so clearly rooted in fear. But I guess we all hoard at some points in our lives, I think it’s built into our psyche as a protective mechanism, so I guess it won’t help to be hard on the shop owner, I’d like to send her/him some virtual love instead.

    Personally, I hoard more physical things like magazines and handbags (who doesn’t? 😉 but I’ve also found myself hoarding when I had to divide up my home when my (now ex-)boyfriend left me.

    I think the way to overcome hoarding is to realize it’s just things. It’s just ideas. And it’s not really about any of that. It’s about fear. And love. And life.

    1. I love what you said about sending some virtual love. Because, don’t we all have similar fears? Of being copied. Of feeling irrelevant? It’s so true Marthe, thank you for shifting the perspective!
      And p.s. I’m not gonna lie – I’m a total magazine hoarder (but you already probably knew that). 😉
      Thanks for commenting lovely!

  6. Absolutely spot on Stephanie! I also think that is a strange policy in a world where social proof and photo sharing is part of word of mouth marketing. I am a big believer in sharing anything I feel is valuable, what’s the point in hoarding it when it would benefit people in some way? I agree that the service or heart behind a product can completely transform the initial idea into something much more amazing. Wonderful post! x

  7. I love the idea of embracing your unique while knowing everyone else is unique too BUT you dont really have original thoughts…. clever and thought-provoking. I also tweeted you quote (and Ive got 54,000 followers so WOOOHoooo). xo Diana

  8. Really cool post. I have to say, I was kind of surprised as based on your title, I was expecting an article on organization. I love that you found a whole new spin.
    I can totally relate to this hoarding mentality. Sometimes being generous with my ideas and knowledge is difficult – in fact, I have found this coming up in my thoughts about what to give away to my list for free. I constantly find myself questioning – if I give this away for free now, does that exclude the possibility of me getting people to pay for it in a program later? I’ve also founding myself hoarding business ideas about new products and programs for fear that someone will get my idea and do it first. Ultimately, I know that neither of these mindsets is helpful for my success and it drives me crazy when I see other business owners do this. What you give is ultimately what you get. If you’re worried about someone stealing your ideas and hold them too tightly, they probably will …

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful reply Natalie! I’m with you, I definitely hoard ideas at times and I think most of us, our of fear, probably hold onto a lot of things that would be better being released out into the world.
      So glad you could relate – thanks again for being here!

  9. This post is great, Stephanie. I especially loved this part- “I’m continually curious about the mindsets that keep us tripped up. Keep us prisoner of our ego’s.
    That prevent us from truly reaching our fullest potential and expression of ourselves.” because the policy of that business owner clearly stems from an insecurity and defies logic. I truly believe that taking an open, community-building approach to business is necessary for positive growth (in the business, for the community, and personally).

    1. I’m glad that resonated with you Sandy – and you’re SO right. Being open in business and life in general is all about community building. If only we could all remember that. 🙂 Thanks for being here!

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