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Meet Christina... Brain Shifter, design thinker + disrupter!

Meet Christina... Brain Shifter, design thinker + disrupter!
By Bikini Mum 2 years ago No comments

One of Newcastle’s most beautifully innovative minds and authority on Brain Shifting, design thinking and disrupting the status quo, Christina Gerakiteys, Creative Director, CEO + inspiration extraordinaire at Ideation At Work has inspired me for years in many facets of life. We sat with her for an interview that we know will inspire you too...

Inspiration comes in many forms and sometimes simply from someone who provokes thought. Christina is one of those souls that listen and understand people, all types of people, regardless of social status or life experience.

She has been a mentor and trainer for corporations and government agencies as well as being heavily involved in charities and community groups. All whilst having a family and enjoying the simple beauty of life. We love that she so generously shares inspiration + business tips.

Here is her story....

Christina tell us a little about you and what you love about life?

I love so many things - my family, my friends…my dog! I love challenges and exploring the new - I love learning and sharing. I love walking and dancing and being inspired and motivating others. I love coming up with new ideas. I love my business - I love a sunrise and a sunset and the moon…and shells and feathers…I love books and travelling and a good coffee. I love the tranquillity of a remote Greek island, the colour of Barcelona and the vibrancy of NYC. And I love chocolate and ice-cream...

What is ‘Ideation at Work’ and who are the people and businesses that you are there to help?

Ideation At Work has a vision - To excite the creativity and innovation in every person on the planet, so businesses and individuals find success in whatever they do. We run workshops - helping people identify what they want to do, deciding what their destination is and identifying how they want to get there - Vision, Mission and Values. We use the principles of Design Thinking and other research based tools to help identify client wants and gaps in the market place. We help put the ’thinking’ back in businesses and organisations. It’s truly the only way to ensure sustainability and growth in an ever changing, disruptive world. We also champion failure as the only way to reach success - calculated of course and strategic. We champion creativity and innovation!

You have been very involved with mentoring many (including myself) whether it be in corporate business, naturopathy, music or your associations with charities like “Centre for Hope”. Why is helping and mentoring others important to you?

That is such a lovely thing to say and ask! I don’t know - it is so rewarding seeing others reach their goals - sharing thoughts and ideas. It’s amazingly rewarding watching people grow into who they truly are. I think when we are helping others we are at our most content. I believe we are here to serve each other and help each other be the best that we can be - and for me that means sharing. I don’t like people being upset or sad - and I really want to see people reach their potential and be happy. Centre For Hope is the dream of a friend of mine - it is amazing watching the effect that this program she started is having on so many young people and their entire families. It is allocating a wonderful effect on the volunteers and mentors and all who are associated with the program. Honestly - they have done the tests - we are at our happiest when we are giving and helping.

You work to inspire people. What inspires you?

People - especially those who want to learn - who take risks - who chase their dreams and set their goals. And they don’t have to have earth shattering dreams or goals - I have a friend who is a great musician who told me once he was happy to be a big fish in a small pond rather than chase ‘stardom’. That made a lot of sense to me. We effect change one step, one drop, at a time. One of my favourite analogies that I use with students or clients is that we all equate to one drop in the ocean. Individually a drop doesn’t seem like much - but think about the power of the ocean…Seth Godin said “The sum of us is greater than one of us”.

What is it about sharing and presenting your message that you love? What isyoursecret to effective presentations?

Getting participants focused and engaged and then appreciating the power of collaboration and the brains trust. Together we build on ideas. One of the principals of Design Thinking is that the more diverse your group of ‘thinkers’ is - the more varied their backgrounds and experiences - the better the solutions to the problems you try to solve will be.

How do you empower people to bring their ideas forward?

You let them know it’s OK to fail - that they won’t be ridiculed for a ridiculous answer. You make them feel valued - because everyone is valued. You ask that people treat each other with respect and that they show gratitude for the lessons that they learn from each other. Its simple common kindness and decency.

How do you go about making innovative ideas a reality?

You dream big then you write an action plan to get you there. Once upon a time space travel was thought to be impossible.

What are the essential questions to ask yourself when wanting to start a new brand or innovative product?

What problem am I solving? Who needs the solution to this problem? Am I passionate about this? Am I prepared to take the failures along with the successes? Am I resilient? Am I prepared to take a calculated risk? Am I surrounding myself with the right people/team members? And those are just for starters...

What are some of the major and memorable ways you have helped businesses?

I think connecting people with others that can help them and also strategising their marketing campaigns. I recently facilitated Jacinta McDonell, co-founder of Anytime Fitness to mentor a client. Anytime anyone is inspired to move forward for me is memorable and that can happen in a variety of ways.

What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

Life, love, family, work - it’s not like that every day - but there are so many things to be grateful for. Walking in the morning is always a reminder of how blessed I am to live where I do, be a part of a remarkable community and have such wonderful family friends.

How do you encourage creative thinking?

By letting people play. By giving people permission to have fun. By bringing out the research when I need to. With music. We are finally realising that are actually educating creativity out of people - through school and university. In a recent study that measured creative output, before children went to school they had a creative rating at 98%. By the time they entered the workforce it was 2%. So in the workshops I run, I give people permission to feel safe to be silly, to fail, to ask questions they think might be ‘dumb’ - to try - and we give people many examples of failures that led to successes. I am currently writing a book - Celebrating Success, One Failure At A Time that should be out early next year.

Can you tell us some of the amazing things that inspired you or that you learnt on your recent trip overseas?

I don’t think there is enough room here…Listening to Seth Godin is always inspiring and speaking with Tom Kelly from IDEA about Design Thinking was awesome. Hearing about food technology, learning about Singularity University and meeting Miki Agrawal - all mind blowing. The push to marry our humanity with technological advancement was inspiring - technology on its own can be quite frightening. Being entirely customer-centric is one of the things we advocate and to hear how much further we can go with that was amazing. We encourage our clients to ‘shadow’ their customers - but after listening to and speaking with Tom Kelly - this took on a whole new dimension which I have been excited to share with clients. Also the increase in Social Entrepreneurship is fantastic. That is something that I have been able to bring back in my role as Chair at Centre For Hope, where our charter is to help youth at risk.

What I really appreciated was coming away with the knowledge that everything we are doing at Ideation At Work is on track. I came away with wonderful case studies to use in the workshops and facilitation we do.

What are three habits that you think are essential to staying mentally and physically healthy?

Being grateful, stripping away ego, surrounding yourself with like-minded people, continuously learning, exercising, drinking lots of water, eating, lots of fresh foods - these things I say I would do 95% of the time. My weaknesses are dark chocolate, ice-cream and any sweets my father makes! I know that’s more than three - maths is not my strong point!

Recommended business or lifestyle books?

You don’t have enough room for that either! Biographies - Branson, Jobs, Anita Roddick, anything by Seth Godin, anything on Design Thinking, The Collective Magazine, Brene Brown, Jim Collins - I have so many books on my bookshelf I am running out of room! I am also a Harry Potter fan (I cried when I finished the last book), love the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo books and am a Jodi Picoult fan.

Do you have any set plans for the future? Where will ‘Ideation At Work be in years to come?

Inspiring creativity and innovation in all businesses and individuals to be the best they can is my plan. To make each and every work place a happy place. I love speaking and facilitating workshops - and I love facilitating business developments sessions and conferences. I love getting results for my clients - so we are very careful to set outcomes so we can celebrate achievements.

To read more about Christina and to follow her journey of inspiration, contact Ideation At Work.