Ideas On A Deadline | Phil Cooke

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In the Church environment you are no stranger to the deadline. On this episode we chat with Phil Cooke about his new book Ideas on a Deadline

Podcast Transcription


Bart Blair: [00:00:05] Phil Cooke, we are so excited to have you back on the show today. Thanks for joining us.

Phil Cooke: [00:00:09] I am thrilled to be back. We had a great time last time, so I’m looking forward to this.

Bart Blair: [00:00:14] Hey, this came up pretty quickly, you’ve got a new book out that we’re going to be having a conversation about here in just a few minutes, and kind of dive into some of the content of this new book. But before we go down that direction, for our folks that are listening or watching this, who don’t have any idea who you are, maybe they don’t know Phil Cooke, why don’t you give us a little bit of your background, your story, how you ended up doing what you’re doing today?

Phil Cooke: [00:00:39] Well, I’m a preacher’s kid from North Carolina, and I went to college thinking I would maybe be a music major, had no clue what to do with my life. But in high school, I had a bunch of friends that made little Super 8 movies with my dad’s movie camera back in the day, and we made space movies and mafia movies and all kinds of stupid stuff. And I took them to college thinking maybe I’ll find some buddies that want to make movies in college. It never crossed my mind that I’d do it for a living. And literally the day I was checking into the dorm, I opened my suitcase, a couple of the films rolled out and a guy across the hall, Rod Carlson, I’ll never forget, said, hey, I’m taking a film class, I can show you how to edit those. I didn’t even know you could edit film, which made for interesting fight scenes, let me tell you. And so we went down to the film department that night working on it. And as you know, it gets late in the evening, I realize that the head of the film department, the professor was there working on a project of his. And he left he walked by a little console and just introduced himself and said, hey, I’ve got kids taking film class for the last two years that don’t do this. Well, he said, can I show your movie in my class? So I said, sure, if I can sit in the back row. And so the next day he showed the movie in the class and I sat in the back row. And here’s the interesting thing, guys, when he showed the movie, at the end of it, and trust me, it was nothing to scream about, it was no great movie, but at the end, people in the class talked about it, they discussed it. And this thought occurred to me, I mean I’ve never had a crystal clear moment of revelation like this before or since that if I can do something with a camera that makes people talk like this, that’s what I’m supposed to do with my life. And I literally changed my major that day to film and television, enrolled, and I’ve never looked back.

Phil Cooke: [00:02:19] And although we’ve done movies, television programs, all kinds of stuff, our team at Cooke Media Group here in Los Angeles, we kind of focus on the church world, we want to help churches, ministry organizations, and nonprofits. We work with big nonprofits like the Salvation Army, or the Museum of the Bible, or others, and help them just tell their story better. You know, I’m essentially a filmmaker, I’m a producer and a writer, and we want to go in there, and whether it’s videos or whatever, we want to help them tell their story better. So I just really have a passion, I think, not to rant here, but I think one of the big reasons Christianity is disappearing from the culture is because we just don’t tell our story well in this digital age we live in. Which you guys know more than anybody, in this digital age we live in, most churches and ministry organizations just don’t know how to tell our story in that world. And so I feel a real, real passion to go help them really get their story out there because our story could change the world.

Jason Hamrock: [00:03:14] Wow. Yeah. I can’t wait to talk about this book that you just have released. But you brought me back to days when I was on staff at my church and my pastor says, we have to make sure we avoid these three things because most people when they think about church, they think it’s boring, irrelevant, and predictable. And a lot of times they’re right, just admit it, but the gospel is anything but. But we have to, in terms of sharing or telling a story and making it creative, and God gave us this ability to do that, so we’re always challenging churches to think this way. So it sounds like that was your calling in life, and you’ve been on this on this path ever since when it comes to creativity. Talk a little bit about that.

Phil Cooke: [00:04:04] Well, we produce programming in about 70 countries around the world, and we have done a lot of stuff internationally. And got an opportunity to work with some great leaders and great organizations, and that’s just a real honor to be able to do that. I think that you mentioned a great thing about relevance, and I’ve always thought the Bible’s already relevant, we don’t have to make it relevant, there’s nothing we need to do, we just need to tell that story well. And I think a lot of it is about, you know, it’s not about compromising your theology, it’s not about watering down what you believe, it’s just understanding how this culture communicates. You know, in the era of Paul, people communicated differently, he used the technology of his day, which was letters to really build the foundation of the church. And then along comes 1500, and an obscure monk named Martin Luther sees the printing press, he saw the vision of the printing press and used that to become the most popular author in the world. And so I think technology can be a powerful tool to share the story if we understand how to do it and we’re not afraid to do it. So I think today, in this digital world we live in, it’s really changing the rules about how we communicate, and so we need to just understand that and step out there and get the story out there.

Jason Hamrock: [00:05:13] Oh, I love that. So it’s all about taking the message, we’ve been tasked to do that as believers and followers. Being creative is just one of those things that you want to do. You wrote a book, Ideas On A Deadline, talk a little bit about like, why this book? I mean, I can not…

Bart Blair: [00:05:34] Okay, I’m going to stop you…

Phil Cooke: [00:05:36] Shameless self-promotion.

Bart Blair: [00:05:38] Yeah. So our listeners, our listeners will not get this, but those that are watching on YouTube will. Hold the book up one more time. So I downloaded the book on Kindle as soon as I found that it was out, and I know that there’s a lot of work and research that goes into book covers. I saw the book cover, there is a clock, and there is a panic red, and my heart literally started racing as soon as I saw the cover of the book. Because I have had to produce ideas on a deadline, and all of a sudden I’m like, oh my gosh, whoever picked this red color, like I guess it’s not a clock, it’s like a throttle or a…

Phil Cooke: [00:06:18] It’s like a stopwatch, honestly. A stopwatch.

Bart Blair: [00:06:22] Yeah. So I’m like, okay, I’m feeling the anxiety before I even started reading the book. So sorry, Jason, I didn’t mean to disrupt you there, but I was taken aback when I saw that.

Phil Cooke: [00:06:34] Creativity is a big part of this whole mix when it comes to telling our story out there in this culture today. I’ve always thought it interesting that, you know, God, I got a Ph.D. in theology years ago, I’ll never be a teacher or anything, I don’t believe. But I just love that world, and I love studying it, and one of the things I realized early on was God has a lot of attributes. You know, there are a lot of ways to describe God and a lot of features about God. However, it’s interesting to me that in the very first verse of the Bible, he chose to introduce himself as a creator. And so we’re made in his image, and I just think the bar is up there and we need to compete, we need to step up and raise that bar when it comes to creativity. Because particularly, I think if we’re going to reach this world we live in today, this incredibly confused, distracted culture, we’re going to need to really raise the bar.

Phil Cooke: [00:07:21] Now, here’s the reason I wrote it, there are a lot of great creativity books out there, I’ve got a library full of them. I love reading about creativity and how people use it, but the one thing I couldn’t find, that I thought was really interesting, was a book on how to deliver breakthrough ideas when the clock is ticking, when you need ideas the most. I mean, you guys are like me, we’ve always worked in an environment where we had to deliver on a schedule. We don’t have the luxury of sitting on the back porch and doing a watercolor, or writing in my diary and, you know, with no expectation of publishing or anybody seeing it, we actually have to deliver ideas, you know, on schedule. And so in that world, we have to learn how to harness certain techniques that will create those breakthrough ideas when we need them most. And most creative people don’t know this, they’re waiting for this aha moment when the idea gods drop something from heaven on us and we think that’s what it’s all about. But the truth is, there are some really interesting techniques that I’ve used throughout my career, I’ve seen other creative people use them, and I’ve done some research for the book to figure out how these things work. And I just really firmly believe, I mean, I was partners in a commercial company years ago and we produced a couple of Super Bowl commercials, and I learned early on that the Super Bowl is not going to delay their event because I can’t come up with a good idea for a commercial. So I’ve spent my whole career on the clock, how do we deliver those ideas on schedule? And that’s what I wanted to pour into this book to help creative people really understand, that you don’t have to lower the level of creativity, and you don’t have to deliver worse ideas. You can deliver amazing things, but still, do it on that deadline, and that’s really the most important thing you can possibly learn when it comes to creativity.

Jason Hamrock: [00:09:04] So when I think about this, my mind goes, because I’m this way, I’m pretty creative when I have to be, when it’s like, okay, I got a deadline. Here’s the thing I think a lot of church people, I’m speaking on behalf of the church right now because every weekend we have a deadline, Sundays coming, and then you have all these things in between? What’s the difference between finding that sweet spot, and explain this a little bit, finding that sweet spot where I could be the most creative versus procrastinating to get to that point, and then my creative juices kick in. Because I don’t know if that’s very healthy.

Phil Cooke: [00:09:37] No, you’re right, yeah. Well, you’re right, it’s interesting that you’re right, Sundays come with relentless regularity, it’s just amazing, they just keep showing up. And whether you’re a media person or a pastor or a music person, you’ve got to deliver. And the other interesting thing about deadlines to me is, one of the books I highlighted in there had the quote, “The most important thing you could do is set a deadline and set it early. And I do believe in that, I’m going to give you a dirty little secret among a lot of creative people and that is, we love deadlines. Because really deadlines give us boundaries. they give us a map. they let us chart the course. So suddenly when I have a deadline, I can see, okay, here’s when I have to do my research, here’s what I have to really pour the effort into this, here’s what I have to deliver. And even with that, I’m going to say you’ll identify with this, Jason, even with that, I don’t even start a project till I see the deadline looming in the distance. I mean, I don’t, something about it, maybe I’m just supremely lazy, but I don’t even get going until I see, I start getting serious. In the book I talk about talking to airline pilots who told me, you know when they start seeing the end of that runway coming up on a takeoff, that gets their blood pumping, it gets their adrenaline going, they get really focused and serious. And I’m there, I’m the same way creatively. When I see that deadline looming out there, I get really, really serious. So I think the key thing is to learn to use deadlines in your favor. Don’t be afraid of them, don’t fear them because I think there are a lot of people that deadlines just cripple, just the idea that I have a deadline, they freeze up. We need to learn to make a deadline your friend, so then you could use it to really jack up your creativity to a whole nother level.

Jason Hamrock: [00:11:21] Yeah, I relate to that because if I’m if I know I’m going to try to get this done, but I really have another week, I might use half my brain. But to your point, if this thing has got to go out now, I’m fully engaged.

Phil Cooke: [00:11:36] One of the I don’t mean to interrupt, I’m sorry, you get me excited here. One of the things I talk about in the book is a chapter called Hold Back the Flood. And the technique there is I wait as long, when it comes to writing, for instance, I wait as long as I possibly can before I actually start writing. Say I have a television script or a commercial script or something, even though I’m thinking, okay, today I’ve got an open day, let me work on that. I’ll hold it, I’ll let the thoughts banging around in my head, I’ll do more research, I’ll read a little about it, I’ll think about it, reflect on it, and I finally get to a point where I can’t hold it in any longer, and I sit down at the laptop and it just pours out of me. I honestly believe people that have writer’s block, in most cases have it because they just start the project too soon, they don’t have anything to put down yet. And so I really believe that holding off, that’s another part of the deadline, even though it can get scary, I try to hold off as long as I can, and then when I sit down, I just find I don’t really call myself a writer, I call myself a rewriter. I just get it all, let it all flow out, get it down on the page, then I’ll go back and reshape it and edit it and change it. Bery often I’ll write two books instead of one and just have to throw out half of it, but that really does help to hold back as long as you can.

Jason Hamrock: [00:12:56] What do you think this is going to…This book, so we always encourage everybody to bring on the podcast, especially this kind of a book, get the book and read the book. Just give us a couple of points on like how is this going to help the communication director who literally has tons of deadlines throughout, or pastors for that matter, how is this going to help them? How is it going to equip them?

Phil Cooke: [00:13:19] I think it’ll reduce the terror. I think it’ll reduce the chaos. One of the things I’m encouraging people to do is get a copy of the book for all of your team. If you’re a communications director or a creative director or a media director at your church, get a copy of it for your team, and treat it like a small group. let’s just sit down and do little classes in it because these are techniques that will help everybody do better. I mean, in every church, everybody is in a little different place creatively. And first of all, when I speak like this at these conferences and events, I’ll always get a group of people that come up to me later and say, well, you know, Phil, that’s great, but I was never born creative, I’m just not a creative person. Let me tell you something. And for everybody listening to this, you need to hear this, there is no research at all that says some people are born creative and some people aren’t. Everybody is born creative, I mean, put a bunch of toddlers together in a room and they’re all wildly creative. But it’s like a muscle, if we don’t use it, we start to lose it, and so we all have the capacity to be more creative. So everybody on your team, at your church ministry, nonprofit, whatever has the capacity to be more creative, they just need some tools in their hand to bring it out when they need it the most. And that’s what the book is about, it’s really very practical, it’s how to get in the right mindset, how to get organized. And then there are very practical steps you can take that will unlock some things, you know, the ideas so they’ll come when you need them the most when that pressure is on.

Phil Cooke: [00:14:46] And like you say, it’s relentless Sunday after Sunday after Sunday, and then you have other things. You’re doing social media all week, you’re doing special events, the Christmas show, the Easter show, whatever. And so I just believe that anything you can do that will help you get control of creativity, and of course, you can’t ever truly control creativity, but you need to master creativity so it doesn’t master you. If you can do that, then I think the whole atmosphere, the culture changes, in fact, I have a chapter in the book on how to create a creative culture. I’m just a really big believer that we can do that and it can change the attitude of everybody on the team.

Jason Hamrock: [00:15:22] So I got to ask, well, one more, then Bart will pester you. How long did it take you to write the book?

Phil Cooke: [00:15:30] Oddly enough, not long, because I’ve lived this my whole life. These are things that I’ve known, and I’ve blogged about some of it, you know, and so what I started doing is pulling the blogs together and some teachings that I’ve done, and I started to get a shape for the book and see what it was about. But what probably took the longest is I wanted to do some research, for instance, dreaming, probably the longest chapter in the book is on creativity and dreaming, you know, do we really get good ideas when we’re dreaming? You know, throughout the Bible, through other ancient books, there are a lot of references to people getting amazing ideas or messages in their dreams. It doesn’t work that way for me, but I do make connections in my dreams that start to open up ideas that I’d never thought about in my conscious mind. So I talk a little bit about the research that supports that and some ideas for how to make that happen more often. And so I wanted to do a lot of research because there’s some interesting, interesting stuff. In fact, guys like Thomas Edison, and artist Salvador Dali, they actually studied the power of napping. Because really the most interesting time to have dreams is in that little murky area, right as you’re falling asleep or right as you’re waking up. And they would actually sit in a chair with a couple of ball bearings in their hand over a metal plate, and they would sit there and nod off in a nap. And the minute they relax so much, they let the balls fall down, they would hit that plate and it would jolt them back awake and they would make notes about what were they dreaming during that little just fraction of a moment’s time. And so there are some interesting stories out there of what people have done to try to unlock the power of dreams, and I just think that was probably the most fascinating part of the book.

Bart Blair: [00:17:07] That’s interesting. Well, I’m going to kind of revert back to something that you were talking about before Jason asked his last question. You were talking about creating a culture of creativity. And I’ll tell you that one of the things that I noted from the book, although the title of the book is Ideas on a Deadline, it could have simply been something like Ideas. Like really the book as a whole, if I were to sum it up to someone, is to say it’s a book with a whole lot of practical tips and tools that you can use to basically discipline your life in a way that you are creative when you need to be creative. You know, I was the Creative Arts Director for a church in the Toronto area for about ten years, and I can still remember my senior pastor saying to me one time on your mark, get set, write something funny. You know, like no pressure there, right? But as I read through really more, probably the second half of the book, you really start getting into things like developing habits and patterns and foundational things in your life so that when you are in a situation where you need to pull from the creative pool of your mind and your life experience, you’re prepared for that. And I thought that was really, really fascinating, I was thinking about it in terms of, my wife and I, we are building a home. And on the home that we’re building, we’ve extended the patio pretty significantly. Right now, the home is about 60% done, we have this great big giant concrete slab in the backyard. We really have no idea what we’re going to put on it, what the furniture is going to look like, what the pergola will look like, maybe you build a little outdoor kitchen. We really don’t know because we haven’t gotten to the place where we can exercise that creativity, but we’ve got the foundation there. The foundation is there, and since the foundation is there, we can actually do something on it once we get to that place. And so much of what you share in the book is really just building these routines and these rhythms and these disciplines in your life to capitalize on the fact that you are a creative person so that when it’s time to pull from the bag of tricks, you’re ready to do that. So I do have a question coming out of that statement, you said that a lot of what you were writing down, were things that you were just kind of looking at your own personal patterns and the way that you have found yourself to exercise creativity over the years as you’ve been being a creative person. Were there any things that you discovered as you were writing that you were not really conscious of in terms of, oh I’ve been doing this all along, and I didn’t even realize I was doing this until I actually started writing the book, and I realized there are some disciplines and some things that I’ve developed that help me in my creativity, and I didn’t even realize it?

Phil Cooke: [00:19:54] Well, yeah, one of the chapters is on the power of a good walk. One of the things that I’ve done for years is love to walk, I was a runner in high school, and we live a block from the mountains here in Los Angeles. And we just, my wife Kathleen and I, very often we’ll just take the dog up and we’ll go walking up through the trails and the mountains up behind our house. And I just love that, and what’s interesting was, I just did it without thinking, I didn’t realize it was a great deal, but I started studying it and I discovered from theologians like Soren Kierkegaard to Beethoven to all kinds of people throughout history, Rousseau, all these people loved to walk, they just loved to walk. Kierkegaard is a great example, he would get up in the morning and write like crazy and then spend the afternoon walking and reflecting on what he’d been writing. Charles Dickens, I was in London a few years ago and I picked up a little book called Night Walks that Charles Dickens had written, and he apparently went through a period of insomnia, quite a long period of insomnia, when he was writing. And of course, Dickens is one of the most prolific authors in history, the volume of books he wrote was remarkable. But he had this period of insomnia, and he would get up in the middle of the night and go walking around the streets of downtown London. And looking back, a lot of literary critics and historians will say that many of his most amazing characters that he created are people he probably saw out on the streets in the middle of the night, drunk people, you know, people coming home late, workers, all kinds of people in the middle of the night that he saw.

Phil Cooke: [00:21:24] So I’ve always been a big-time walker, and I just had not realized until I wrote the book how many other people benefit from walking. And here’s an interesting thing, one of the things I discovered, research indicates, that the great thing about walking is when you do it in the country, you’re looking at what’s called a soft view, you’re seeing trees and shrubs and grass, and you’re not focusing on anything, and you’re not concentrating on anything it allows your mind to really wander, and that’s when the creative spark starts to happen. By contrast, if you’re in the city, my daughter Bailey lives in Brooklyn, New York, she’s a musician, and I’ll go visit Bailey and we’ll go walking all over New York. But it’s a different environment for me, it’s buildings, it’s cops in the street, it’s tourists, it’s all kinds of stuff, shop windows that I want to look in. And I’m focusing too much there, and I don’t have those creative ideas in that environment. So you need to get to a place where, and maybe if Bailey would do it because she lives there, maybe she doesn’t focus on all that stuff and she could let her mind wander there too. So the point is, find a place where you can walk, where you can really let your mind wander and not concentrate, don’t be thinking about the project that failed, don’t be consciously thinking about this or that or that, you know, that boyfriend that jilted you, whatever, just let your mind wander and reflect, that’s when the sparks start happening when you’re out there taking a walk. I’ll tell you if you study walking throughout history, writers like Rebecca Solnit and others have written a lot of books about walking, it’s one of the most powerful tools creative people have ever used.

Jason Hamrock: [00:22:58] So I love that I think we should just, let’s do it, after this call let’s go on a walk

Bart Blair: [00:23:03] Let’s just press pause and go take a walk.

Phil Cooke: [00:23:05] We’ll go for a walk, I’ll see you in an hour.

Bart Blair: [00:23:09] If we do that right now, maybe the end of the podcast will be better than the first half of the podcast.

Phil Cooke: [00:23:12] Who knows? Maybe we’ll break.

Jason Hamrock: [00:23:14] So I have a question for you, though, how can digital tools support somebody when it comes to the creative process? What have you found? Anything that, I mean, stepping aside, taking a nap, going on a walk that’s really good for your body, for your mind, and for your soul, and for creative juices. How does technology play a part in this?

Phil Cooke: [00:23:34] Technology is an important part. You know, early in the book, when I talk about the mindset, we really do have to get organized. One of the great challenges creative people face is we’re busy, we do a lot of stuff, and we have to get…You know, I’m not big on the cult of productivity. I love being productive, I’ve got four or five, you know, to-do list apps, and task managers on my computer. I even invented, I created a print notebook called The Ultimate Creative Planner a number of years ago because I couldn’t find the right print notebook I wanted, and I just created it, and so I’m big on that. However, there are people that get way, way, way too much into the whole productivity thing. Early in my career, I worked with a guy who literally spent the first 2 hours of every day just putting his to-do list together. He never actually accomplished anything, but he had an amazing to-do list. And I’ve learned that some people can be so productive it doesn’t leave room for creativity. So the way I use apps, I use an app called Things, for instance, by a company called Cultured Code. And you can use other things, Microsoft to-do, there are all kinds of to-do apps out there. I use mine as more of an idea vault, when I get an idea about something, I’ll throw it in there. Because as you know, a lot of experts have said, the key thing with productivity is you’ve got to get it out of your head and get it on paper. You want to free up your brain to think about what’s important, not that list of things you’re supposed to be doing tomorrow. So we start by getting organized, and if we can get organized, it starts to create margin, it gives us a little freedom, a little time out there, that helps us start devoting to creative work. I just think many people aren’t creative because they haven’t scheduled time to be creative, and you have to schedule that just like you do something else, so digital tools are powerful for that.

Phil Cooke: [00:25:20] I also think writing things, different tools for writing. I use Scrivener in my blogging and my book writing, it’s a powerful writing tool that it’s just so much easier than doing it in Word, or doing it in Pages, it just really helps me reshape and form things and jot them down fast. There are so many tools like that that if we can learn to master those, they really do make a difference, but most of it makes the difference in time-saving, which leaves me more time to reflect. And by the way, on that subject, most of the best ideas I’ve ever had have come in moments when I was bored out of my mind. And I think that if we can learn to harness those moments, you know, we have this thing that we carry around called a phone. And when we’re in line at the grocery store, when we’re waiting at the doctor’s office, what do we do? We pull this thing out. You know, waiting for church to start, we pull this thing out and start flipping through Instagram or looking at our email. The truth is, in those moments, if we could just stop and reflect, think, look around, put down the phone, you’d be amazed at the ideas that will suddenly start percolating. I just think that waiting for church services to start, waiting for a movie to start, and waiting in the doctor’s office, those were places where I had amazing ideas, so I always carry a notepad and paper with me. I jot it down like crazy because you never know when those things will happen.

Jason Hamrock: [00:26:40] Yeah, for me, it’s probably taking a shower. I told Bart that I could probably write a book…

Bart Blair: [00:26:45] He wrote about that. He wrote about taking a shower.

Phil Cooke: [00:26:47] I’m a shower guy, totally.

Jason Hamrock: [00:26:50] I’ve been on vacations, I’ve written books, I’ve won debates.

Bart Blair: [00:26:53] Well, let me comment there, Jason, you asked about technology. And Phil, you were just talking about taking a walk. And I’ve been reading Phil’s book, I’m almost done, didn’t quite get to the end before we had this podcast. But one of the things that you wrote in the book, that I read a few days ago, was “Ideas are the most fragile things in the world. If you don’t write them down, they’ll completely disappear.” And I read that section of the book a few days ago, and then I went out for a walk because I was taking a walk that morning. And one of my ministry colleagues, the guy that I’ve been doing ministry with for a long time, we’ve been talking about co-writing a book together. And we set a goal in 2022 to get the first draft of that book done, and of course, we’re in June at the time we’re recording this podcast and we have done zip, zero, zilch. And so I read that and I’ve got that processing in my head, ideas are fragile, they’ll disappear if we don’t write them down. I’m taking the walk, I pull out my phone, I pull up my Evernote app, and I literally dictated the first chapter of the book. I’ve known for a while kind of the direction that we were going to go in terms of the opening, and how we were going to present the opening of the content, and so I came home from my walk that day and I have the first draft of the first chapter of the book done. And so I used both walking and technology at the same time and was inspired by Ideas On A Deadline. I don’t have a deadline, I guess I sort of do, kind of, it’s a soft deadline, but there’s my example of walking, creativity, and digital tools altogether.

Phil Cooke: [00:28:28] That’s really good, I love that. In fact, you know, it’s funny in the book, you know, you mentioned a minute ago, what part of the book have I been doing without realizing it for years? And writing it down is probably another big one because I’ve got literally boxes of notebooks, I’ve got boxes of notes that I’ve kept since college. Because early on in my career, I didn’t have the money, I didn’t have the team to do great stuff on film or television. But as I got older, I started getting the budget and the team and the access and the resources. And so I go back to those notebooks regularly, seeing about what I thought of 20 years ago, and maybe there’s something in there that could work.

Phil Cooke: [00:29:08] And I learned this principle years ago, I talked in the book, I was at a Christmas party and I met a very successful businessman from South Africa, and a group of us were talking to him. And, you know, I have the spiritual gift of asking what everybody else is thinking, so I just said, hey, how did you get your money? And he said, well, it’s interesting you ask, and he told a story about going shopping with his wife and he got bored after a couple of hours and he sat on a bench in a mall while she went into one last women’s store to look at dresses. And he said, I started watching teenagers on their phones, and he said, this was back in the flip phone days. And he said this idea hit me out of the blue, what if they could download their favorite songs and use those as ringtones on their phone? He said, I thought that was a good idea, so I pulled a pen out of my pocket, I scrounged around and I found a brochure on the bench, wrote the idea down, put it in my coat pocket, and as I was doing it, my wife called me into the store to look at a dress. He said, so I put it in my pocket and promptly forgot all about it. He said six months went by, I went to the closet, pulled out that jacket, reached in the pocket, and behold found that note. And he said, I remembered that night at the mall and I realized this is a good idea, I need to do something about this. So he said, I got the rights to five songs, I built the little computer server, made a deal with the local cell phone company, and he said literally within two years I sold that company for $70 million. And he looked at me at the party and he said, but Phil, you need to understand, had I not written that idea down, I would have completely forgot about it. So that was one $70 Million idea that only happened because he wrote it down. So I’ll tell you, since that party, you’ll never catch me without notepads in my pocket, I got a couple of note-taking apps on my iPhone, I’ve got a notebook I carry in my briefcase, you just never know where that idea, where God could drop that idea that could change the world on you, you need to be able to write it down.

Jason Hamrock: [00:31:01] Wow.

Bart Blair: [00:31:02] That’s phenomenal. That’s phenomenal. Hey, Phil, before we wrap things up, I’m going to detour a little bit in our conversation based on something that you just said. You know, you talked about just the trajectory of your own personal career. You’ve gone from simply being a creator who creates to actually now being an organizational leader, where you have staff and you have people and you have budgets and you have not just personal deadlines, but you have organizational deadlines.

Phil Cooke: [00:31:29] Sure.

Bart Blair: [00:31:29] You know, a lot of the people that listen to our podcast are leading teams, or they’re leading churches and they’re dealing with a lot of the same complexity that you are probably having to deal with, but they’re also creative, artistic people. And so I think sometimes there’s a challenge there for creative, artistic people to also be able to manage and lead others, and manage organizational stuff. How do you manage your own personal time in your own disciplines as you lead an organization and you lead your staff and you lead your team, versus the amount of time that you’re able to give to sort of your creative processes and some of the things that have really made you successful in your career?

Phil Cooke: [00:32:14] That’s a great question. And you’re right, it’s different from being a creative person to being a creative leader. Certainly, I’ve learned from both, but there’s a great book out there called The E-Myth, it’s been out for quite some time. And the whole premise of that book is, you may be the best electrician in your city, and so you figure, why am I working for these idiots? I’ll start my own company. And then you go out and start the company, but you don’t know anything about sales, you don’t know anything about marketing, you don’t know anything about stocking the supply room, you don’t know anything about customer service. So it is a whole different world from the time you become a creative person to become a creative leader. And the truth is, there’s not much leadership stuff out there, particularly when it comes to leading creative teams. And I think that I’ve wrestled with that for a long time, and I’ve studied it, and I’ve read, and I go to people like John Maxwell for advice. And I have the privilege of being in Hollywood here, where I get to meet a lot of people who are the heads of studios, heads of production companies. And I was at the Producers Guild of America Conference, I’m a member of that group just this past weekend and got to hear from some of the best producers in the country about how they lead their teams. And so, you know, I just encourage people listening to be in the game, always be learning. You know, one of the things I discovered in my research for the book is that we don’t lose creativity as you get older, there’s research that indicates we look at creativity from a different perspective and we do it in a different way. But there’s no research out there at all that we get less creative as we get older, you know? And it bugs me in churches, because I’ll go to leadership team meetings at churches and everybody around the table is 20 or 30 years old, and I’m glad, I’m thrilled that young people are getting involved, but I wonder how many older people got pushed out to make that happen. So if you’re a pastor, if you’re a leader, I just encourage you, older people have, they may be taking a little different perspective, but if they’re staying in the game, if they’re reading, if they’re studying, if they’re engaging and growing, there’s absolutely no reason why they can’t be an incredibly productive and creative part of your team. And I say to creative people who are getting older, don’t step back automatically, don’t just assume and defer to those younger people in the room because you do have experience. As long as you stay active, you know, that’s the problem with older people, sometimes they just start slowing down and giving up, they just start stepping back of their own accord. But as long as they’re willing to stay engaged and grow, there’s no reason older people can’t be just as creative as anybody else. In the book, I talk about a number of artists who are active in their seventies, eighties, and even nineties, so there’s no reason to do that. So I think that being a creative leader, if there’s anything I’d like to probably focus the rest of my career on is helping people lead creative people because I do think it’s so incredibly important.

Bart Blair: [00:35:00] It is, and that’s absolutely right. Thanks for indulging me with that question. We probably need to wrap things up here, Jason, I wanted to throw things back over to you one more time if you had any questions or any final thoughts that you wanted to share as we wrap up the show today.

Jason Hamrock: [00:35:15] Well, no, I want to go back to what Phil said earlier. I think as a team, so this is to the churches, this book is for all your team members. It’s one thing for you to read it, but now you’re on an island of yourself, so get everybody on your team to read this book and now you guys can all move down the same path together. Because it is a struggle with churches, I’m consulting with the church right now and we’re trying to get their pastors to share stories of changed lives, they all have them.

Phil Cooke: [00:35:43] Yes.

Jason Hamrock: [00:35:44] To get them to give us the names of those changed is so hard. So we’re like, we’ve got to create a deadline because you are not staying in there. So, I’m a huge fan, Phil, you are gifted.

Phil Cooke: [00:35:57] Thank you, you’re very kind.

Jason Hamrock: [00:35:58] Thanks for sharing your time with us today, I can’t wait to see what this book is going to do for the church.

Phil Cooke: [00:36:05] Well, thanks for giving me this platform.

Bart Blair: [00:36:06] I want to add one thing to what Jason said, not only will it be good for you as a creative person to read this book with your team, but chances are after you read this book as a creative person, you’re probably going to develop some new patterns and some new habits which other people might think are weird. And if you all read the book together, then everyone will understand why you’re so weird, so it’ll make sense.

Phil Cooke: [00:36:28] I never thought of it that way, but that makes sense.

Bart Blair: [00:36:31] Yeah. Hey, Phil, thank you again for joining us on the show today. Where can people get the book? Tell us where they can get the book.

Phil Cooke: [00:36:39] The book is available everywhere, you can get it, certainly at Amazon, Barnes Noble, and wherever. But we have a site that we created called, and we have a little nonprofit we built a number of years ago called the Influence Lab. You can go to, and we created it because I don’t know about you guys, but we get so many requests from Christians internationally to come and teach them about media, the hunger is just amazing. And so we’ve been funding these projects for years by ourselves and we thought, let’s launch a little nonprofit to encourage people to give and support that effort. Because if we can get the church internationally using digital media more effectively it can be amazing. And we’ve done sessions in the Middle East, and Russia, and South America, and Africa, and India, it’s just been really remarkable. So you can go to or And if you want to make a little donation there to get the book, we’ll also send you some bonus resources, some teaching resources in addition to the book that I think will really help you. But you can get it anywhere you feel comfortable, and order it right away, and I’d be grateful.

Bart Blair: [00:37:42] Phil Cooke, the book is called Ideas on a Deadline. Thanks again for being on the Missional Marketing Podcast.

Phil Cooke: [00:37:48] Thank you, guys.

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