Larry Mullins

October 9, 2010

Creativity: The Ultimate Secret revealed

For many years I have made a living as an illustrator, graphic artist and by creative writing. I have taught many classes on creativity. I have told a few people the ultimate secret of creativity, but never published it until now.

When people would ask me, “How do you draw a picture?” I always responded with a question. “What is your telephone number?” A bit puzzled, people always responded with their number. I then would always say the same thing: “What was it that looked for that number, and where did it find it?” Of course, they can’t answer. The truth is, no scientist, philosopher or theologian can answer that question. We have no idea how the mind works. We do not know where the drive to create comes from, nor how it successfully manifests.

We do know that there are two stages to creativity: the inspiration, the gift, or the idea, is the first stage. Everyone gets inspirations. Lots of them. It is my belief that the most lofty of these ideas come from God, or more precisely, the Universe Mother Spirit. There is no problem with finding noble inspirations, normal human minds are invaded by them constantly. It is the second stage of creativity where most of us stumble. As T. S. Elliott put it, “Between the idea and the reality … falls the shadow.”

The ultimate secret, the difference between a creative artist and the average person is very simple. The creative artist shows up. Every single day. At the easel, the writing desk, the kitchen, the nursery, or the classroom. They show up, and they struggle to actualize worthy ideas into realities. I have no idea how the creative process works. I only know that if I show up, most days a miracle will occur. My role in this process is solely to cooperate with the mysterious flow and strive to follow guidance I am given. Some days I fail utterly. But some days are glorious, and even though I am only a small bit player in the whole process, I love it. because I know that, for some reason, the great Creator has endowed us with the power to allow the creative process to work, or to stop it cold by simply not showing up. Showing up is an important victory for me.

I can offer one other “secret” that works for me. It is based upon the advice Jesus once gave to a messenger who was to carry an important message. Jesus told him to carry his message fearlessly, joyfully. Because “… this night an unseen messenger will run by your side.” So, I greet each day thankful for a special angel who, along with other unseen friends, I imagine is at my side assisting me in my efforts.

To some, I realize these notions may seem especially over the top, perhaps even crazy. I remind them of the admonition of Zorba the Greek: “A man [or a woman, of course] needs a little madness, or else he never dares cut the rope and be free.”

Dare to cut the rope.

Larry Mullins

September 5, 2010

Stephen Hawking’s Valiant Flub

The Wall Street Journal recently printed an excerpt from Stephen Hawking’s book “The Grand Design” (Why God Did Not Create the Universe). Hawking is a great scientist, but his excerpt proves only that he is no philosopher. Just as science has its rules, so does philosophy.

Hawking states: “As recent advances in cosmology suggest, the laws of gravity and quantum theory allow universes to appear spontaneously from nothing.” The mystery of matter apparently emerging from “nothing” on the quantum level cannot be answered by science, and yet it should not be ignored. It is a question for the philosopher (who has yet to answer it).

There are three disciplines that broadly lay claim to truth: science, religion and philosophy. It is generally conceded that philosophy occupies a place between science and religion, and should seek to mediate between the two. Philosophy then could establish a synthesis by means of an integration of scientific fact and spiritual insight.

Unfortunately, such a tri-part solution as this is denied the expert-specialist because Aristotle confined all disciplines into logic-tight compartments. They do not communicate.

However, uncommon sense permits lay persons to avoid being defenseless against the a priori assumptions of compartmentalized science, philosophy and religion. In this light, the theologian might suggest that matter seems to “disappear” and “reappear” from nothing on the quantum level for a reason. Perhaps the laws of time, space and matter seem invalid on the sub-atomic level because we are looking into the impenetrable mind of God, from whence all matter emerges.

Students of the Urantia Papers recognize this as yet undetectable source as the Unqualified Absolute, the unimaginably immense reservoir of the material cosmos.

Larry Mullins

February 6, 2010

Is Christopher Hitchens Right? Does Religion Really Poison Everything?

With many preconceptions and reservations, I recently sat down to read Christopher Hitchens’s book: god is not Great … How Religion Poisons Everything. (He deliberately did not capitalize God.) What a provocative, nasty title, I thought. Obviously this was yet another mean-spirited rant by an atheist.

I did not find what I expected. In fact, after reading his introduction to the book, I actually acquired some affection for Hitchens. Unfortunately, he did fail to define religion. (My dictionary offers six different definitions.) He thus was able to lump numerous straw men (formal religious dogma that few people really believe) together with a few serious questions that are asked and investigated by religionists. This shotgun approach permitted him to lament a host of religious evils and excesses that no sane mortal supports, while attempting a mass annihilation of every aspect of human belief in a higher power.
The bottom line seems to be that Hitchens does not believe that religion is a legitimate discipline. Much as did Ayn Rand, he seems to hold that the questions asked by theologians and philosophers can be more effectively answered by science.
Were it not for one endearing passage in the introduction to his book, these logic-tight barriers would render hopeless the rational joining of an issue about higher universe realities with Hitchens. When all seemed beyond redemption, he embraced MetaValues. He did so in a profound and moving way. Hitchens told the story of the funeral of his father. It took place in a historic chapel in England, overlooking Portsmouth. Hitchens spoke from the pulpit and gave a reading from the Bible. Quoting Paul, he said:
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report: if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Then Hitchens explained why he selected this passage:
“I chose this because of its haunting and elusive character, which will be with me at the last hour, for its essentially secular injunction, and because it shone out from the wasteland of rant and complaint and nonsense and bullying which surrounds it.”
For precisely the same reasons, I chose this passage from Hitchens’s own wasteland of rant, etc. Yet perhaps the most important questions to answer are these: Why does this passage shine out for both an atheist and a believer? How is it that people of radically different persuasions and cultures share the same MetaValues of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness? Wrapped up in the answer to these questions is perhaps the twentieth century’s most important scientific discovery about the nature of human beings.
Abraham Maslow believed that values should not be the exclusive domain of religionists. He advocated a science of values. Yet he also grasped that MetaValues transcend the disciplines of science, theology, and philosophy. Unlike Rand or Hitchens, Maslow understood that science does not have all the answers. Science can tell us much about material reality, or what is. Science can even suggest possibilities, what could be. But the poet or the religionist offers a vision for us of what ought to be. And science without values builds bigger bombs and more efficient gas chambers. Dr. Maslow fought hard to break down the barriers between science and religion:
“I [have] pointed out that both orthodox science and orthodox religion have been institutionalized and frozen into a mutually excluding dichotomy. This separation into Aristotelian a and not-a has been almost perfect … Every question, every answer, every method, every jurisdiction, every task has been assigned to either one or the other, with practically no overlaps. One consequence is that they are both pathologized, split into sickness, ripped apart into a crippled half-science and a crippled half-religion.”
Unfortunately, Maslow was never able to distill his ideas for mainstream readers; he wrote almost exclusively for his peers. The world is the poorer for this, because Maslow uncovered truths about the human condition that are tremendously uplifting and inspiring—and are easily within the understanding of nearly every person on the planet. With the publication of The MetaValues Breakthrough, nearly four decades after Maslow’s death, individuals at last have a program that shows them how to put these truths to work in their lives.
The MetaValues Breakthrough provides tested and proven techniques for capturing inspiring visions of things that ought to be and actualizing them into realities. True stories illustrate how ordinary people connected with Truth, Beauty, and Goodness and transformed their unfinished lives from meaningless—or even tragic—to magnificent and unforgettable. Regardless of your age or circumstances, you too can use MetaValues to elevate your life and the lives of those around you to another level.
Larry Mullins

November 28, 2009

The MetaValues® that will Change the World

TRUTH, BEAUTY and GOODNESS

The MetaValues® that will Change the World

 “The world is in a crisis of values.

And we are all called to leadership, all of us, to meet this challenge.

For the first time in the history of civilization, large numbers of us can choose to answer this call. To do this successfully, we must understand the power of the primary MetaValues that govern the universe: Truth, Beauty and Goodness.

Along with this limitless power comes boundless opportunities.

And also, the modulating inspiration and energy that will

ensure we use this power wisely.

 Because when our successes allures us towards arrogance,

Truth reminds us of our limitations.

 When our self-interest compresses our perception of reality,

Beauty reminds us of the richness and diversity of the world we live in.

 And when unbridled power corrupts and does injury,

Goodness cleanses and heals.

 For it is the MetaValues of Truth, Beauty and Goodness

that will energize us to lead with confidence and Love,

and will best serve as the touchstones

for our philosophies, our choices, and our actions.”

 

LARRY MULLINS

August 3, 2009

Book Publishing will Never Be the Same

How David Hancock is Helping Authors Get Published
While Re-Inventing the Book Publishing Industry

When a group of street performers observed the declining customer appeal of the circus, they re-invented it. In less than twenty years Cirque du Soleil achieved a level of revenue that Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey took more than a hundred years to achieve.

In a similar way, Walt Disney had a bad experience when he took his daughters to a carnival, and he created Disneyland. Disney revenues and stock began to soar. Walt Disney did not improve the carnival, he revolutionized it. David Hancock had negative experiences becoming a published author a few years ago. This triggered much the same creative process, resulting in a new publishing company that is quietly and dramatically transforming the publishing industry.
While major publishers are foundering, closing divisions and canceling titles, David Hancock’s fledgling company, Morgan James Publishing, enjoyed a 52% increase in sales last year. Morgan James is still one of the fastest growing publishing companies in America.

How did David Hancock do it?
David had studied the cutting edge techniques of the top marketing experts and applied them to a successful mortgage banking career. He then wrote two excellent marketing books. “Publishing a book helped me double my bottom line in less than eight months, and I enjoyed the positive reinforcement that came from my book helping other people. But the traditional publishing process was a terrible experience.” David then self-published and distributed a third book. This experience was not encouraging. The self-published book lacked the prestige of a recognized imprint.
Hancock became convinced that the world needed a new kind of publishing company. He decided to create it himself. His vision was as daring and revolutionary as that of Walt Disney and Cirque du Soleil. With a slight twist. David added what may seem to some a Quixotic vision, one of service. He wanted a publishing company that put the author first. When David Hancock founded Morgan James Publishing in 2003 the odds against success appeared formidable. The industry was not robust, and David’s experience as a publisher was limited to a single book.
Unconventional from the beginning, David and his wife, Susan, named his new company after their two children, Morgan Renee and Ethan James. Much in the manner of Disney and the Cirque du Soleil team, David began developing a business plan by identifying the industry’s costly sacred cows and then chasing them off the reservation. First, the traditional publishing model of the expensive long-run printing of titles was discarded in favor of a blend of printing technologies with short runs to cover demand with print on demand as a back up strategy. Market demand would dictate quantities of each title. Morgan James became the first high-volume title publisher with Ingram Publisher Services and Lightning Source, a finely tuned print and distribution combination owned by the Ingram Book Group. In one stroke, Hancock addressed production problems and achieved distribution venues. Eventually, his sensitive management of book store relationships would result in returns of less than 25%, compared to the industry average of 50%.
This was clearly an innovative approach to the economics of publishing. But David Hancock had insight into something more—something that the publishing industry, and many other industries, have too often neglected. Like Disney and the Cirque du Soleil team, he realized that successful business models have dimensions beyond pure economics. Disneyland and Cirque du Soleil passionately focus upon serving customers with extraordinary creative products of value-enhanced significance. David appreciated that publishers’ most important assets are the creators of their books—their authors.
Hancock’s new model would cultivate talented authors, both known and unheralded, with uncommon consideration and respect. Morgan James would become the world’s first Entrepreneurial Publisher™. The old school patron-clerk relationship between publisher and author was discarded. In its place, a collaborative entrepreneurial team would be formed to develop each publishing project. The author would be consulted and in the loop during the entire publishing process, including the design of the cover and interior of the publication. This was virtually unheard of.
And there is yet another dimension to the Morgan James’ Entrepreneurial Publisher® model. David understood that it is self-evident that a publishing business model would not work unless it could sell an appropriate number of books. David was aware that all successful marketing and advertising theories turn on this principle: Nothing happens until a sale is made. Mainstream publishers today are unwilling to risk large budgets to market books. Unless authors happen to be celebrities, they will find it necessary to market their own books. A few years ago this involved considerable time, expense and arduous grunt-work. That obsolete model was pre-internet.
Today a savvy author has access to Amazon and a host of other internet options to interface with prospective readers and sell books. But few authors have the sophisticated knowledge necessary to make the internet work with maximum efficiency in their behalf. As internet guru Mark Joyner (a Morgan James author) might express it, authors had the will and the internet gave them the means, but they lacked the knowledge. Hancock decided upon another breakthrough solution. He would put the tools of the internet at his authors’ disposal and teach them how to use them.
Here David had distinct advantages. He could draw upon his extensive study of the proven principles of marketing, especially those state-of-the-art techniques that involve the internet. He could use his precious connections with the best internet teachers and make their products available to his authors. Suddenly it became possible for talented unknowns as well as top authors to interface with untold numbers of readers in cyberspace for little or virtually no cost.
The result was electric. Authors have generally proven to be better than publishers at marketing their books. And the publishing world will never be the same.
How to Win Friends and Help Authors Sell Books
I had the good fortune to see David’s philosophy operate in real time recently in Phoenix. I attended a three day seminar featuring internet guru Armand Morin. Several Morgan James authors were in attendance, courtesy of the Morgan James Author 101 University marketing program. David attended the seminar, and I found him to be remarkably accessible and gracious. So much so that my fascination about self-actualizing personalities kicked in. I wanted to know what drove David’s passion to help authors. Fortunately, I learned more during several brief encounters with David over the three-day period.
In one particular instance, David and I sat down together for an informal chat in the hospitality center of the hotel. We were soon joined by several authors. In this circle of eager writers, David patiently listened as one after another discussed his or her book and unfolded their goals and visions. During a lull I asked David to reveal his secret for working successfully with authors, he replied: “I try to catch their dream.” Indeed, one must watch David in action to appreciate the significance and depth of this, his own passion.
I came to realize that perhaps what I was observing was an example of servant leadership. I know some will sniff at this remark and even regard it as corny. But those who are not embarrassed by this concept will find the next few paragraphs of particular interest.

The Remarkable Power of Organizational Values
I believe it is the company’s core values that make Morgan James a different kind of organization. I am not referring to a list of principles in some formal document, unread and gathering dust in an executive’s credenza. They are values that are more lived than formally stated. They begin with David Hancock and they permeate the entire Morgan James organization … operations and production, sales; and relationships with associates, vendors, authors, and the general public.
First is the pragmatic core value of excellence. From a material perspective, the operational essentials of profitability and well-crafted products are basic. The company focuses on four book categories: Business, Self Help, Inspirational, and Health. Morgan James is very selective about the quality of what it publishes. The prevailing principle is that the company will not publish anything that David would not feel comfortable showing his children. Appropriate content, character, and family values are weighed to determine whether an author’s work makes it. And making the team is not a lark. Over four thousand five hundred manuscript proposals are submitted annually, and an average of 163 survive the cut.
Once accepted, however, an author experiences a second essential core value: integrity. Trust is cultivated and fostered. What David Hancock promises, he delivers. What the organization says it will do, it does. Author relations are funneled through a single individual, and responses to inquiries are swift and reasonable. An entrepreneurial and marketing training program kicks in. Authors retain rights to their intellectual property, and books stay in print. Royalties are generally larger than those common in the publishing industry. There are a host of other benefits, such as group health insurance, that are too numerous to list here. The bottom line is that authors are made to feel valued as important assets, as part of a family.

There is a third core value that should not be overlooked: caring and mutually beneficial relationships. On the practical side, strong relationships with authors and vendors have resulted in authentic strategic advantages. Yet Morgan James goes beyond the pragmatic and embraces community responsibility. A percentage of the revenue of each book goes to Habitat for Humanity. The company places the Habitat for Humanity logo on the back and inside of its books. David appreciates the Habitat for Humanity’s life-changing work of helping low income families build homes they can afford to buy. Many Habitat for Humanity home dedications are visited by a large van with Habitat and Morgan James logos, featuring imprints and authors. New homeowners are gifted with a small library of books. David explains that these activities help his authors and raise public awareness of Habitat for Humanity’s work for the less advantaged.

The core values of integrity, excellence and caring—vibrant and in pragmatic balance—seem to form the essential foundation of Morgan James Publishing.
In the first five years, the Morgan James business model moved from start-up to a 15 million dollar company. Many well-known writers have joined its author base, including Jay Conrad Levinson, Robyn Spizman, Rick Frishman, Mark Victor Hansen, Dr. Robert Anthony, and Tony Alessandra. Morgan James was ranked 44 on Fast Company’s “Fast 50” in 2006. David Hancock was a finalist in the Best Chairman category in the 2006 American Business Awards, hailed as “the business world’s own Oscars” by the New York Post.
Hancock has proven that the publishing industry was ready for his entrepreneurial author concept. The pubic is obviously hungry for his products. Of the future, he says: “Of course, we are watching, planning and positioning ourselves for this new economy, but we are optimistic in our continued growth and reach in the marketplace today and in years to come.”
One thing seems certain to me after meeting David Hancock. He is loving every moment of working with his authors and actualizing his mission to “catch their dream.”