Welcome to another special interest episode of 10 Words or Less, in which I ask brief questions of interesting people and ask them to respond with brief answers of their own. Today’s contestant is a professional speaker and the author of at least four books. He’s deeply invested in creativity and one of his outlets and speaking topics is how to make presentation slides that don’t suck. My usual admonishment to those playing at home: 10 words is a goal, not a limit, so please, no counting! It’s not easy to do.
Note: This is an edited transcript of a video interview published Sept. 23. Mike approved all edits.
Name Mike Robertson
Born when, where? “Feb. 23, 1954, in a tiny town in the brush country of Texas called Cotulla. I don’t think I have been back since."
Where do you live now? “I live in Austin, Texas. The capital city. The weirdest city in Texas."
What you do for work? “I’m a full-time speaker and designer of slides for myself and other people."
What did you create the first time you remember being creative? “I was probably sitting on the swing set in my backyard making up a song."
Something important about being creative “You have to exercise it. It’s not a good idea to be creative and then stop for a while because that muscle will begin to lose its strength. … Last year I decided I would do something different creatively each month. The first month of the year I wrote a song completely with all the tracks and recorded it. The second month I decided I would like to paint a large size painting, which I had never done. The third month I published a new book. That’s when my resolution came to a stop."
A misunderstood part of creativity “People tend to think they need a different gift to achieve something really cool and so we become envious of other people’s gifts. We say, well if I could sing like that guy, or, if I had her acting ability, I could do something really great with my life. But we each have tools already. The trick is just finding a new way to use those tools."