Film Producer, CEO, and Creativity Expert, Nir Bashan

Film Producer, CEO, and Creativity Expert, Nir Bashan


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My guest for Episode #88 of the My Favorite Mistake podcast is Nir Bashan, CEO & Founder of The Creator Mindset, LLC.

Nir is a world-renowned creativity expert. He has taught thousands of leaders and individuals across the globe how to harness the power of creativity to improve profitability, increase sales and ultimately create more meaning in their work. Nir has worked on numerous albums, movies, and advertisements with famous actors and musicians ranging from Rod Stewart to Woody Harrelson.  His work on creativity has won a Clio Award and was nominated for an Emmy.  

As founder and CEO of The Creator Mindset Consulting, his company produces workshops, consulting, coaching and keynote speaking engagements at conferences and corporate events. His clients include AT&T, Microsoft, Ace Hardware, NFL Network, EA Sports, and JetBlue.

His book The Creator Mindset: 92 Tools to Unlock the Secrets to Innovation, Growth, and Sustainability, which has been translated into two languages, was released worldwide by McGraw/Hill business in August of 2020.

In today's episode, Nir shares his “favorite mistake,” which involved his film production company that released a documentary film (“The Kitchen“) that did well… but then went out of business. Why was it a problem to rest on their initial success? Why did it “work for a while” before “tanking”?

Other topics and questions:

  • Applying those lessons from your experience to your current business?
  • Takeaway – “I don’t sell anything anymore”
  • Why he does more listening now
  • Can you have a process for being creative?
  • It’s a tool to use, not a gift?
  • Prof. Amy Edmondson, in her blurb for your book, makes reference to “using mistakes to learn fast” — tell us more about that…
  • Look at the mistake in a positive way

Scroll down to find:

  • Video of the episode (partial)
  • How to subscribe
  • Full transcript

Watch the Episode:

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Automated Transcript (Likely Contains Mistakes)

Mark Graban (0s):

Episode 88, Nir Bashan, CEO, creativity, expert, and author of The Creator Mindset.

Nir Bashan (9s):

So you want to just crawl into the hole somewhere and die after you make these types of mistakes.

Mark Graban (18s):

I'm Mark Graban. This is My Favorite Mistake. In this podcast, you'll hear business leaders and other really interesting people talking about their favorite mistakes because we all make mistakes, but what matters is learning from our mistakes instead of repeating them over and over again. So this is the place for honest reflection and conversation, personal growth and professional success. Visit our website at For links, show notes, and more, go to Please follow rate and review, and as always, thanks for listening. Now here's our conversation with Nir…

Mark Graban (58s):

Our guest today is Nir Bashan. He's coming to us from Orlando. He is the CEO and founder of The Creator Mindset, LLC. So Nir is a world around world renown here, let me go back. No, I don't edit up my mistakes. Sorry. I don't do that intentionally.

Nir Bashan (1m 19s):

What kind of mistakes show? Right? It's got a

Mark Graban (1m 23s):

Hi guys. So Nir is a world renowned creativity expert. He's taught thousands of leaders and individuals around the world, how to harness the power of creativity. And we're going to be able to talk about that. And his company, the creator mindset produces workshops, consulting, coaching, and speaking engagements. His clients include AT&T, Microsoft, Ace Hardware, NFL Network, EA Sports and jet blue. So there's a very well known names and Nir's book is titled, it was released in August, 2020. So it's available now The Creator Mindset: 92 tools to unlock the secrets to innovation, growth and sustainability.

Mark Graban (2m 6s):

There you go. It's been translated into two languages. So Nir thank you for being here. What two languages?

Nir Bashan (2m 15s):

I Spanish and French, I believe, but I have to take a look.

Mark Graban (2m 20s):

Very cool. That's a great sign that the, the book is going to have a worldwide impact. Yeah. Yeah. Well, thank you. Thanks for joining us here today. How? Yeah, so my stumbles aside, it's not my favorite mistakes, just my most recent public mistakes Nir. What would you say is your favorite mistake?

Nir Bashan (2m 43s):

There's a lot, there are probably too many to choose. I think, I think in business today, we we're so all about our successes, right? We want to project this image. You look on social and everything looks so good. Like, oh wow, you, I made all this money in real estate and look at me and we, we failed to do exactly what the show is set up for. And I think it is incredibly important to start talking about the things that don't go well for me personally, I had a production company in Hollywood for many years and we released the movie and it did pretty well. It was very popular and I ended up doing nothing afterwards, just absolutely nothing, no follow up, no, you know, a similar product or service and just nothing.

Nir Bashan (3m 36s):

And I literally rested on the first, you know, semblance of success on that first little bit of good news or, or revenue or whatever you want to call it. I just kind of, I was like, eh, Hey, this is great. Everything will continue like this forever. And what I learned was that, you know, if you're not continually innovating, continually creating and changing and adapting and introducing new things and testing, and then seeing if things work or not and adjusting, then you're, you're forever relegated into the dustbin of history.

Nir Bashan (4m 21s):

And that's exactly what happened with the company. The production company went out of business. I had to let go of staff and I regret it. I mean, it sucks. And anybody who says that these things are, you know, amazing moments or what, they're not, they're horrible, they're terrible. And you know, you want to just crawl into a hole somewhere and die after you make these types of mistakes. Especially because staff was like, Hey, we should do this. We should do that. And I was like, no, no, I know more than anybody, you know? So I think it's several like mistakes that came together mark to like make one big mistake.

Mark Graban (4m 59s):

Wow. But I think the thing Nir that makes it a favorite mistake is that learning that comes from it as opposed to being, you know, a gloomy story, then, you know, the show is not called my biggest mistake. It sounds like, like a favorite mistake and biggest mistake are not always the same thing. It sounds like here, there is some overlap there. Like it's not how much time has passed

Nir Bashan (5m 24s):

Since then. It's been several years. So more than 10 years. And I think it's one of my favorite mistakes because I learned that you need to continually grow innovate, change, and you know, part of what I do now. And I help companies overcome that same exact mistake that I made, whether they're, you know, airlines or hardware stores, it's really all about understanding that, you know, everything changes, nothing will stay the same for any long or sustained duration of time and the different between a great business and an average business is how adaptable and receptive you are to change.

Mark Graban (6m 9s):

And so we'll talk about that more, you know, as it relates to your business and the, the companies that you're working with. I'm just curious a little bit about, you know, I, I know nothing about what goes involved into being a production company of how that gets started or what, like the, what would the follow-up have been that you had hoped for would like, you know, would writers come to you with scripts and say, I want, you know, directors and people would come to you and say, Hey, Nir, I want you to take on and produce this project. Or what did you think was going to?

Nir Bashan (6m 40s):

So it was a, a documentary about cooking that we sold to universal. And we had a bunch of really, I didn't have good ideas. I did nothing, right. That was my mistake. But the staff and everybody had really good idea. They were like, let's do pop-up cooking. And let's take, you know, five minutes of a celebrity chef and, you know, talking about a recipe, all this wonderful, amazing, great stuff. And I literally thought that, you know, why, why would you spend money on anything? Let's maximize the revenue coming in from the sale and from all the auxiliary channel and, you know, try to crank up the profits and it worked for a while, but like everything, it, you know, it worked for a while and then it kind of tanked.

Nir Bashan (7m 27s):

You need to constantly innovate and constantly stay with it. You got to constantly be open to change. And, and, you know, it's, it's nice because it's, this is one mistake of several that, you know, maybe I could call my favorite, but I think, you know, being a serial entrepreneur and having lots of businesses, I think it's good to have the things come up because that's how you learn. A lot of us, I think, are hoping that, you know, we just kind of are born with an ability to know what we, what to do or how to run a business.

Nir Bashan (8m 7s):

And I'm sorry, but experience is one of the most important realms of learning, how to understand I'm reading David Hume right now. And, you know, you set it in the 1730s, right? You talking about philosophy and how people learn and, and how we perceive what we perceive. And a lot of it, he sort of chucked up to experience and unless we experienced something in the left, we'd sort of go through it. It's really hard to say that we know what it is. Another one of your guests in the Atmos in one of my favorite talks a lot about psychological safety and empathy. And I think it's the same thing, right?

Nir Bashan (8m 47s):

It's, it's understanding and knowing, and feeling and just putting the shoe on the other foot. So I think it's very, very important today, especially now with COVID and everything going on to understand that you need to continually sort of adapt and change and be receptive to how the market is set up, because they're just not, it's just not the market of the fifties anymore, right? Where seller a or buyer a go to seller B and they transact, nothing happens like that anymore. You know, a seller, a find buyer B buyer B doesn't buy, they talk to their friend, Jay, you know, that goes all the way to, Y it goes back to C and, you know, somehow they connect for word of mouth or whatever, and it makes the sale.

Nir Bashan (9m 33s):

I mean, that's the market today. And so really understanding that mistakes are gonna happen. And, and the most important thing is what you learned from them along the way is incredibly important.

Mark Graban (9m 46s):

So thinking about your business now Nir, I mean, how, how, how do you apply those lessons from your experiment of continually innovating testing, adjusting, listening to others? How do you apply that

Nir Bashan (10m 1s):

Now? So for me, one of the things that I do, and I think that's like a takeaway that your listeners can do today is I don't really sell anything anymore. I used to be like, yeah, you know, get the sale, do the followup, blah, blah, blah. And now I, I maybe I'm lucky enough to, to work with people that I want to work with, but you know, my holes, it's like I have a newsletter. It goes out to, I don't know, 35, 3600 people. And, and I, I follow other newsletters and more people send, you know, Hey, sign up for this 12 step course or whatever other authors that I really like. And I don't do any of that ever.

Nir Bashan (10m 43s):

Right. I'm, I'm kind of like, you know, if, if you liked the message and you liked this stuff, come and find me, I'm not that hard to find there's three, three Nir Bashans in the entire world. So it's not like it's not that hard to find me. Right. And so I sort of shifted into building relationships. I've shifted into making it fun. And I've shifted into just doing a lot of listening. Now, when I used to do a crap load of talking and it had been really successful, and I think that's something your listeners can do today. If they're sort of wrestling with, you know, what I want to be successful, or I want to increase my sales or whatever, sometimes doing the opposite of what your outcome is, is an incredibly valuable tool.

Mark Graban (11m 32s):

So I talk about tools, you know, I want to shift talking to some of the things you share in your book. Again, our guest is Nir Bashan and the, the book is called the creator mindset. And the subtitle talks about 92 tools from what I've read of the book. You know, one key takeaway from me is the question that comes up is, you know, can you have a process for being creative? Like if somebody says I'm not a creative person, how, how do tools help somebody develop that or use it, you know, use these tools to be creative, immediate.

Nir Bashan (12m 7s):

Definitely. So I get that a lot, a lot people are like Nir, this is great. You're a creative, that's fantastic. You used to work in Hollywood and with music and you, you must know creativeness. So go ahead and do it and just teach us how, you know, teach us what we need to do to hire somebody and get it done. Right. That's generally the approach, but I believe that everyone is born creative and somewhere in our lifetime, whether it's through schooling or culture, we just kind of like become less creative. We trade that creativity for analytics, but anybody can be creative. You can learn how to do it.

Nir Bashan (12m 47s):

Really it's relearning how to do it. And relearning that wonder, and that thought process that you had at the kid. I write in the book of a real recipe, right? It's a recipe on how to become more creative at the content idea and the execution. You write, the three things down, you get a piece of paper. I talk a lot about writing stuff down because writing stuff down is an incredibly important part of the creative process. And it turns out mark that anybody can be creative. It just, it's a process that you need to follow. It's really not that hard. I do it several times a day when I need to come up with an idea on a article that I'm writing or a keynote that I'm supposed to deliver or workshop or whatever it is.

Nir Bashan (13m 30s):

I, you know, I have a process to come up with this stuff. And that process is not, not that hard. It's, it's a process that anybody can do, and it allows you to manufacture creativity whenever you want.

Mark Graban (13m 45s):

So quick detour you, you mentioned musicians, and I think it's interesting from your bio. It talks about working with rod Stewart, of course, musical realm, Woody Harrelson, and you know, some of the success of, of winning a Clio award for advertising being nominated for an Emmy. What, what, w can you talk a little bit more about the work you were doing beyond the film production?

Nir Bashan (14m 9s):

Yeah, so I worked in, in music for a very long time. I started when I was 13, I had a band one of 13, and we were playing clubs and stuff in Los Angeles by 15 years old, just, you know, where, where you couldn't even get in. Right. Because it was 21 over, but like, they were like, eh, the band, whatever, if they're showing up. So that was really fun in that turned into, going to USC fight on a where I studied music. And then I switched over to audio engineering and I worked on a bunch of albums as an engineer, as a producer, as a, you know, assistant. I, you know, I would coil cable if it, if it paid something and just to be around creative people.

Nir Bashan (14m 55s):

And I kind of learned really fast, even from when I was with a kid that, you know, creativity is one of the things that if like, you know, these famous musicians are not that different than you are I market, it's amazing. It, they just have discipline. And that discipline is a process of creativity. A lot. I've worked on a lot of hip hop albums. I don't know how that happened, but I just got into that, into that field and, you know, famous, famous people, you know, choke with a notebook, very professional nine to five hours, they needed to, you know, stop and get milk or diapers on the way home, just like you and me.

Nir Bashan (15m 38s):

Right. It just that they had a process. They had a repeatable spring of creativity that they could dip into whenever they wanted. And I was like, I want that, you know, like, that's what I want. And I asked people, I said, you know, how do you guys do it? Cause I, you know, it's, it's awesome. And I want, I want this bag. And a lot of people weren't talking, people were like write stuff down and I'm like, okay, but that there's gotta be more. And, you know, so I worked with would be really great in famous and wonderful people who were creative at a drop of a hat. And I'll tell you, I've worked on some hip hop album with, with a very, very famous musician.

Nir Bashan (16m 19s):

And he would go and do his, his, his lines on the, on the mic or the, for the part. And, you know, we'd, oh, you know, Hey, that didn't work. Can you adjust this? No problem. Put the page. And then boom, like amazing. And it's like, oh, let's try something there for no problem. Flip the page. Boom. It wasn't like, oh man, you know, I need to meditate and then align my Shakur hoods and then, you know, have a party till 6:00 AM. And you know, like the music videos that is not reality, that's an image. Right. And a lot of people don't understand that. And so it just, it's a lot of hard work. Like anything else, like a, a landscaper goes to a job with their tools and their process and their, you know, awareness of the soil and the growing condition and stuff like that.

Nir Bashan (17m 9s):

Same with a musician, same with an actor. Same with anybody you show up, you got your tool, you got your process, you've got your understanding. And that set up a lifetime of wanting to, to sort of figure out what the secret sauce was. Right. And then I saw in business, I started working around a advertising agency. I owned a refinishing company that refinished the furniture and, and the people in the business that did well were always super creative mark. And the people who didn't do well, weren't creative. And I was like, I want that. So I would ask people in, in general business, financial sector, different, you know, manufacturing, how did you guys get so creative?

Nir Bashan (17m 51s):

What did you do? Because you had a coupon that you put out and everyone said, oh, you're going to lose money. But you ended up like doubling your customer base right. By, by this simple move, apt brilliant. And so nobody was talking, everybody was kind of like, yeah, you know, that's my secret side. I'm not, you know, and so over the years I started to write stuff down and my book took six long years to six long years to put together. I'm sure, you know, you've, you've published two. And so it is literally a recipe of what I put together that I've learned from different departments, different industries, different jobs, different companies that I've run on how to become creative.

Nir Bashan (18m 35s):

It's that important.

Mark Graban (18m 36s):

One other quick detour before I've got one of the questions about the book. What was your instrument Nir?

Nir Bashan (18m 41s):

In the band? I played double bass forever, and then I switched over to electric. Okay,

Mark Graban (18m 46s):

Cool. I, I, I played drums. I still have a pair of drum sticks. You can probably hear them clanking around. Nah, these, you know, snare drumming sticks. They're they're, they're, they're 5B. They're not, they're not that big, but yeah. Double a double bass electric bass. That's my second favorite instrument when it comes to jazz or rock. So I love it someday. So with the book and you, and I love what you are talking about, Amy Edmondson, you know, wrote a blurb for your book and you know, I've interviewed her, it's a different podcast series. Maybe I can get her to join us. I'm here to talk about a favorite mistake, but she makes reference to the idea really resonates with me of using mistakes to learn fast.

Mark Graban (19m 33s):

And earlier you talked about this idea of, you know, evaluating, not just having a great idea, but, but trying it out, seeing what works. So I was wondering if you could kind of share some other lessons related to that idea. It's not just mistakes are great, but learning and improving and leading to success.

Nir Bashan (19m 51s):

Yeah. The, the thing is the really cool thing is, is that, you know, you, you, you have full ability to do what it is that you want with what happened. We are so blessed to live in a country like the US in a time that we are in now that allows not only the potential for these mistakes to happen, but the potential for you to do something with them. And sadly, mark, most people, you view the things with negativity, right? They're like, oh, this happened, it's terrible. It's really negative. And that's kind of my takeaway. And so what it is, is an opportunity to decide how you want to look at this particular mistake.

Nir Bashan (20m 38s):

And I've found an actionable tool is just a shift in your mindset to positivity when things happen that allowed you to make the most of that mistake. So I am number one guilty of this because I usually get upset or pissed off or sad or hurt or whatever, when a mistake tends to happen. And that is my first gut instinct. And I talk in the book, I researched why that happens and it's perfectly normal. But after that happened, you have the ability to decide what you're going to do. Most people stay in that mode. They're like, ah, this sucks. And what happened when you say something sucks, it doesn't give you the ability to solve it.

Nir Bashan (21m 19s):

It just doesn't. And when you say, okay, this happened for this reason and you know, potentially I can, I can do this, that, or the other thing. Then you open up the potential of possibility. And when you open up the potential possibility, you're able to solve problems creatively. And that is something that you can never do when you look at something negatively. So for your listeners, or like, okay, I understand mistakes are great, but then what do I do with them? If you just look at that mistake and it could be anything from a project management slip up on a schedule all the way to, you know, a, a broad sort of look at your company.

Nir Bashan (22m 1s):

If you make a mistake and you look at the mistake in a positive way, it will open up. I promise you avenues of solutions that were never there before. If you looked at it negatively. So looking at something positively, just shifting your mindset for a second and looking at it as it can be not as it is, we'll help you dramatic.

Mark Graban (22m 26s):

So I'm going to reframe the, the stumble that I made and trying to introduce you at the beginning Nir cool as not, not a mistake, but maybe someone will get a chuckle at my expense, laugh at the mistake guy making mistakes. But I think my follow-up, if the w if, you know, we're joined here by the world renown Nir Bashan, maybe I'll just tweak the bio and say internationally recognized for some reason. That's easier for me to say, I think so. So it's one thing to have a bio in print, and it's another thing to write for speaking out loud. So we've been joined today by the internationally recognized and very interesting Nir Bashan his book.

Mark Graban (23m 10s):

Again, it's titled The Creator Mindset: 92 tools to unlock the secrets to innovation, growth and sustainability. It's available through McGraw Hill business on the website is where you can learn more about him. And for listeners, we're wondering about the documentary. I I'll save you the trouble I went to the Nir Bashan IMDB page, which is pretty sweet. And that documentary was called The Kitchen. If you want to take a look at that. So I hope people will go the, is the film available through, through streaming? Now?

Nir Bashan (23m 46s):

I have no idea. We sold the rights. I mean, now 10 years ago. And it was for a long time. I don't know. Now it's kind of, it's a little bit dated now. It's yeah, it's been, it's been awhile. Yeah,

Mark Graban (24m 0s):

Well, but Nir has moved on to other things and it keeps innovating. And so thank you for sharing that example. And thank you for what I think is, you know, setting a good example of being willing to share your favorite mistake. Thank you so much. Thanks again to Nir for being our guest today for links and information about his book has company speaking and more, you can go to As always. I want to thank you for listening. I hope this podcast inspires you to reflect on your own mistakes, how you can learn from them or turn them into a positive I've had listeners tell me that they started being more open and honest about mistakes in their work.

Mark Graban (24m 41s):

And they're trying to create a workplace culture where it's safe to speak up about problems because that leads to more improvement and better business results. If you have feedback or a story to share, you can email me And again, our website is

Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus. He is also a Senior Advisor and Director of Strategic Marketing with the healthcare advisory firm, Value Capture.