What will we and the world be like when this is over?

Gustavo Carvajal is the #IDEAcatalyst, an open-hearted and open-minded thinker with a passion for dreaming ideas and sharing them with a world that he wants to improve and make more flexible. Today he tells us what we will be like when this is over.

Gustavo Carvajal Red Shoe Leader Award

Gustavo Carvajal- Winner of 2019 Red Shoe Leader Award

Gustavo Carvajal, one of the winners of the Red Shoe Leader Award 2019, and the creative mind behind some of our most successful communication campaigns, is a coolhunter and anti-marketer born in Bogotá who has resided in New York for many years. From the Big Apple, he shares his unique, fresh, and multicultural perspective through #IdeaTherapy consulting sessions.

Briefly: this is his story. The #IDEAcatalyst shares his passion for ideas through #IdeaTherapy: creative consulting sessions for marketing and communication. Gustavo has contributed his qualitative experience in advertising agencies, thus promoting his Coolhunting platform. He specializes in marketing and communications for lifestyle and social causes.

Before settling in New York, he worked in the film and television industries. He was part of the international marketing teams at Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) and Disney. Gustavo is the International Cultural Ambassador of the Patronage Ruta de la Amistad – World Monuments Watch 2012.

Lover of dynamic ideas, Gustavo believes in the importance of being empathetic in the ways in which we communicate with each other, especially in a world that feels vulnerable as a result of the new normal. We are, the IDEACatalyst says, in an era where emotional intelligence needs the effective use of our “EQ” (emotional quotient) for necessary societal changes to take place.

We spoke with Gustavo about the way the world is changing, the repercussion of these changes on each one of us and how things will be when this is over.

We have to work together to create a better future. An inspirational quote by Gustavo Carvajal #IDEAcatalyst

We have to work together to create a better future. An inspirational quote by Gustavo Carvajal #IDEAcatalyst

Anti-Marketing: An Important Tool for When This Is Over

Aline Cerdán – Please tell us about anti-marketing? What is it and how does it work?

Gustavo Carvajal –Innovating, frequently means to step out of our ‘comfort zone’, which affects costs, production processes and interaction dynamics. It also requires an open-minded leadership and causes an increased risk for the operation.

Today, forced confinement has promoted introspection as a vehicle to search for trails leading to the light at the end of the tunnel. This healthy exercise is not frequently applied within work teams, even less so at the level of companies and their ecosystems.

The starting point of anti-marketing must be at least a certain ignorance about the new product or service. This way, the team can discover it as a consumer as well as define the type of communication matrix that is most appropriate for launch or sustainability campaigns.

Part of the creativity must be applied to the renewal of marketing strategies, so that communication about products and services is not just aesthetic ‘noise’. Anti-marketing can definitely stimulate a jump-start and the visualization of how we are going to position ourselves within the ‘new normal’ world that is already happening.

AC – How do you think life will be transformed as a result of the restrictions brought by the global pandemic? How will things be when this is over?

GC–We will live at a distance. With events that will be impossible to attend physically, but that we will be attend virtually. There probably won’t be a shortage of virtual therapy sessions when someone discovers that they’ve been left out of a Zoom party. People won’t be able to claim that the invitation was lost in the mail and an entire digital etiquette manual will be built on the fly, just as new pathologies will be added to the catalog. Instead of “spiritual” retreats, more and more digital detoxes will have to be made available.

At the other end of the equation, there will be classes to rescue the art of interacting in real-time with family, friends, colleagues, and strangers. We’ll all have to learn to ‘digest’ losses, where the feelings of mourning will be even more intimate, since the absence of social rituals will not allow us to face them as a group. There is a risk of becoming colder in difficult situations, but hopefully not indolent.

Creativity will rescue us when this is over- Photo Credit- Sharon Mccutcheon-Unsplash

Creativity will rescue us when this is over- Photo Credit- Sharon Mccutcheon-Unsplash

When This is Over: No More Business as Usual

AC– What is “GloCal” and what part will it play in our lives when this is over? How do you think we’re already being redefined by this concept?

GC – The social distancing that’s bound to continue and the more widespread adoption of home office setting will lead to the impracticality of the use of mass transit services. This will determine the existence of demographic groups that won’t be able to leave their communities, in addition to the highly vulnerable groups and the most cautious sectors that will not be able to travel.

I have always known that the more ‘local’ you are, the more ‘global’ you can resonate. This applies to both rural and urban settings. This concept is a tool that we could use with our friends and neighbors to be more aware of the resources at hand.

Today, great talent inserted in the community can find possibilities of expression in existing organizations or new groups so that unsuspected collaborations can blossom at a global level. This will be new support networks that create community and at the same time interact with the networks that each member currently has.

When this is over- Photo Credit- Annie Spratt-Unsplash

When this is over- Photo Credit- Annie Spratt-Unsplash

Entertainment and Our “New Essentials”

AC – How will new essentials be defined? How will consumption change when this is over?

GC – Lifestyles are evolving rapidly. In the recent past, the fascination with a brand was based on the wide variety it offered. The “New Normal”, as the prevailing reality, can mark the return to a more generic product, both due to the production capacity, price, availability of supplies and the desire to buy local to rebuild communities.

During their quarantine, a revealing number of consumers have discovered a series of expenditures that were inserted into their daily agenda in a mechanical way, like a routine. This circumstance opens the opportunity to discover ourselves beyond being “Objects for Consumption” and to review how we invest our time and resources. Our real choices.

With more people telecommuting, it will be vital to find more pioneers and promoters who are focused on promoting stores and small business. Individuals integrated into the neighborhood for consumers to explore in more intimate and controlled spaces. This format would refute the ‘Destination Store’ that has been promoted so aggressively and which we have repeatedly turned to. This moment is an opportunity to adjust our “essentials”.

AC – How do you feel areas like entertainment and tourism will be transformed when this is over?   

GC – Currently multiple platforms have been delivering content for free. But behind each piece of content there are creators. When it comes to culture, it’s important to stop to think that the talent behind the creations has also been impacted by this. The operating models of companies and organizations must include this factor even more when planning for various future scenarios.

The availability of tons of content promoted to “kill time” does not help the solution. This is all the more paradoxical when audiences, now truly captive, discover that many of the content forms are not designed to be consumed in‘ loop ’24/7.

Media overstimulation requires periods of silence. It is imperative that we all learn to spend more time with ourselves. As a personal opportunity for reflection and human recharge.

Likewise, there are examples of active citizens who provide well-being to communities that come together around particular interests. This is the case of a young Iberian poet who just in March was scheduled to launch her book in South America. For obvious reasons, this was postponed. However, in conversations with friends, they came up with a very poetic solution … #PoesiaEnTuSofa (#PoetryFromYourCouch) via Instagram.

In the end, we have all been affected in one way or another by this global circumstance. Perhaps the way to face vulnerability is through the force of hope and the multiple manifestations it has…in my case, in the form of poetry that emerges in the spring.

Ideas for when this is over

Ideas for when this is over

Imagination to the Rescue!

AC – You believe creativity will be the basis of productivity, can you elaborate a little?

GC – The average marketing professional has had a “One-Size-Fits-All” approach when it comes to providing answers to consumers. Over time, we have found that this approach is too limiting.

In a way, we have to understand that we are all creative and that we can make creativity intrinsic to everyday moments. It would be beneficial if we understood the creative process as an integral part of productivity and not exclusively as a playful exercise.

We can only build a “new future” if we have an “out-of-the-past” attitude to be part of the solution, we all have to put our hearts, minds and hands to work. Feel, think and DO.

AC – How can we go from reactive to proactive?

GC – Although such an unexpected circumstance initially implies a natural attitude of reaction, we as a community must have an aptitude for action. It is a call to use the sense of ingenuity for community well-being and thus build ties, lasting bonds that design and forge the future.

It is time to take advantage of flexible, future-oriented thinking – with the ability to adjust the sails to the wind, to challenges – and exercising a leadership which includes empathy. It is a time to experiment solutions and get “modest big” common achievements.

In the end, all of us have simultaneously learned during these weeks to live without some things that we previously considered absolutely essential. It is time to focus on the “On/Off” interaction with our surrounding environment. And above all, it’s time for a much-needed personal, family, community, and business introspection. So, as a group, we can make life a little bit better.

Follow Gustavo Carvajal’s #IDEAcatalyst #IdeaTherapy

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Lateral Thinking: Find More Innovative Solutions Faster!

Lateral thinking has two functions: to generate creative ideas and to solve problems. The more we exercise it, the more and better solutions we find to all sorts of challenges. Don’t miss this mind bending post!

What is lateral thinking?

“There are six eggs in one basket. There are six people. Each one takes an egg. How is it possible that in the end there is still an egg in the basket? ”

(Answer: The last person was left with the basket with an egg.)

This is a typical challenge that requires the use of lateral thinking. Why? Because more than data or logical reasoning, this problem demands mental processes related to insight, creativity and ingenuity.

Family, education and culture stimulate memory and vertical thinking, based on logic, which is a necessary but insufficient skill. We have two cerebral hemispheres, each specialized in one type of processing: the left is rational and the right is creative. We need to develop both sides and integrate them to be more effective in solving problems.

To incorporate lateral thinking into your life you simply practice specific creative techniques that allow you to use it at will. It’s like going to the gym, but in this case, to keep your mind in shape.

Lateral thinking allows digging wells in different places instead of deepening the same well (solution, idea.)

Lateral thinking allows digging wells in different places instead of deepening the same well (solution, idea.)

Two styles of thinking: vertical and lateral

The term lateral thinking was coined by Edward de Bono in the 1960s to differentiate it from conventional or vertical thinking, the type of thinking based on experiences, assumptions, and deductions. Using memory and vertical thinking means applying a higher dose of the same solution to a problem. In other words, they lead us to dig deeper into the same well.

Instead, with lateral thinking we dig a well in another place. And if it doesn’t work, we try another, or instead of a well we dig a tunnel, or rethink the basic approach. Because in addition to a type of mental processing, lateral thinking is a method for using information that considers that there are always several possibilities to approach a situation. Different from vertical thinking which assumes there’s only one correct way.

The aim of lateral thinking is not to come up with correct ideas, but to generate a great number of them. Then, at a later stage, you can apply vertical thinking to analyze the ideas you came up with, improve them, discard the invalid ones, choose the best ones and test them.

In a first stage the focus should be on producing lots of new ideas. In a second, you analyze which can be put into practice. You have to know when to use lateral and vertical thinking.

In a first stage the focus should be on producing lots of new ideas. In a second, you analyze which can be put into practice. You have to know when to use lateral and vertical thinking

Want to develop this type of skills? Join our Step Up Plus program!

The 3 types of problems

You could define a problem as the difference between what you have and what you want to have.

By breaking down established models, lateral thinking liberates the information these models contain challenging assumptions and prejudices. This facilitates the creation of new models and mental structures, connections and processing styles. Not in a fixed way, but rather so that they can be decomposed as often as necessary.

According to Edward De Bono there are three types of problems:

1 Those that require more information. They are solved by vertical thinking, such as mathematical problems and police puzzles, which involve a logical sequence that increases with new data. Its a linear approach to a single possible solution.

2Those that do not require more information, but a reorganization or restructure of the available information. They are resolved through the use we make of data, new associations or connections, imagination and even questioning our vertical thinking. These problems are usually are based on a new perspective, a new mental process, a discovery or a series of partial ideas that bring us closer to the best solution.

This is the case of the classic lateral thinking conundrum: a gardener is instructed to plant 4 trees so that they are all equidistant. How can you plant them?

I won’t post the answer here to help you force your methods of rearranging the data I gave you. If you want to know the answer you can send me a note:

3Those that are not recognized as a problem. They have to do with perception and can’t be resolved until they are detected. They may also require a change of perspective, as in the previous case. Here we don’t even realize that we have a problem to solve. In this case, you need an increase of focus and sensitivity to the unexpected in order to perceive what you don’t know.


Prejudices are persistent and difficult to disintegrate. For that you can use lateral thinking.

Prejudices are persistent and difficult to disintegrate. For that you can use lateral thinking.

Impossible cube

Most people see a cube in this image of Escher. But it is a virtual figure: the front and back edges intersect. It is an example of a problem that goes unnoticed.



A perfect example of a problem that goes unnoticed.

A perfect example of a problem that goes unnoticed.

5 techniques to develop creativity

Lateral thinking can be trained by practicing specific techniques to develop your creativity.

Some of them are:

1Search for alternatives

An example: how can a square be divided into four equal parts? (Take a few seconds before viewing the following pictures.)

Solution: alternatives, from the easiest to the less usual:

Solution 1 to divide a square into four equal parts

Solution 1 to divide a square into four equal parts

Solution 2 to divide a square into four equal parts

Solution 2 to divide a square into four equal parts

Solution 3 to divide a square into four equal parts

Solution 3 to divide a square into four equal parts

2Assumptions review: lateral thinking does not accept or reject the validity of assumptions about a topic, its objective is to question and restructure them as often as necessary.

An example: two players, O and X, mark the spaces of a 3 × 3 board alternately. A player wins if he manages to have a line of three of his symbols: the line can be horizontal, vertical or diagonal. (Take a few seconds before you see the next image.)


Reviewing assumptions

Reviewing assumptions

Surely, the first thing you thought about was that I cheated. I would have done it if I had explained that it was the Tic Tac Toe game. That is your assumption: at no time did I clarify that it was the traditional game and that therefore the limits of the board should not be exceeded.

3Redefining the dominant idea: a dominant idea is the theme or principle around which a situation or problem revolves. If it is not grasped, it will influence the thinking that will limit possible solutions. It is easier to escape the influence of something that is known than that which is ignored.

An example: a man lives on the 10th floor of a building. Every day he takes the elevator to the seventh floor and then climbs up the stairs the remaining three floors to his apartment on the tenth. Why does he do this? (Take a few seconds before reading the solution.)

Solution: he was little person.

The dominant idea of ​​this riddle, as in most, is that it is a person of a standard height. And it is that idea what limits the possibility of resolution.

4Dividing technique: if a situation is divided into parts that constitute it, it is possible to restructure the situation by reordering the parts. It is important not try to find preexisting elements, but to create parts, breaking up the situation in an artificial way. This also facilitates the generation of new models, applicable to future (not necessarily similar) situations.

An example: if we are trying to solve the problem of “transportation by bus”, we could divide the situation as follows:

  • Selection of itineraries
  • Frequency of services
  • Comfort of the service
  • Total probable number of travelers
  • Probable number of travelers at different times of day
  • Bus capacity
  • Other means of transportation
  • Cost and income
  • Number of travelers who depend mainly on the bus service and number of them who can easily use other forms of transportation

5Inversion method: this technique is more lateral in nature than the previous one. The problem is considered in its real structure and is inverted in one direction or another, from top to bottom, from outside to inside, causing a forced rearrangement of information.

Example: In the famous fable of Aesop, the water in the vessel was too deep for the bird to drink. The bird began to imagine means of extracting the water from the jar, without reaching any satisfactory solution. Then she reversed the focus of the problem and instead of thinking about the means of drawing water, she thought she could introduce elements into the vessel to bring the water up. In fact, she began to throw stones until she was able to drink.

Want to play and practice your lateral thinking?

Here are 3 classic riddles of lateral thinking. With this exercise you can start your training. Go ahead!

1Two chess players. Two excellent chess players played five games in one day, and each of them won three. How is that possible?

2Coal, carrot and cap. Five pieces of charcoal, a whole carrot and an elegant cap are thrown in the garden. Nobody has lost them and they’ve been in the grass for the same amount of time. How did they get there?

3You are driving your car on a terrible storm night. You pass by a bus stop where three people are waiting:

  • An old woman who seems about to die.
  • An old friend who saved your life once.
  • The perfect man or the woman of your dreams.

Who would you take in the car, since you only have room for one passenger?


Answer 1: They did not play with each other, but against other opponents.

Answer 2: They are the remains of a melted snowman.

Answer 3: Unlike the previous ones, this is an ethical-moral dilemma that was once used in a job interview. You could take the old lady, because she’s going to die and therefore you should save her first. Or you could take your friend, since he saved your life and you are indebted to him. But if you take these options you may never meet the lover of your dreams again.

The candidate who was hired from 200 applicants did not hesitate. What did he answer? Very simply: “I would give my car keys to my friend, and I would ask him to take the old woman to the hospital, while I would wait for the bus with the woman of my dreams.”

We can always overcome the apparent limitations of each problem by learning to think creatively.

How do you plan to deal with problems after training in these creative techniques?