Developing Creativity

Episode 957: Developing Creativity, with B. Jeffrey Madoff

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Developing creativity is a specialty of B. Jeffrey Madoff. Listen and learn from the expert himself on how you can start developing creativity.

Jeffrey Madoff is the founder of Madoff Productions, based in New York City. Madoff is good at developing creativity, and is considered a storyteller and incisive interviewer. He has used those talents to help position major brands such as Ralph Lauren, Victoria’s Secret, Radio City Music Hall, Harvard School for Public Health, Weill Cornell Medical College and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts to name a few.

Madoff began his career as a fashion designer. He was chosen one of the top 10 designers in the U.S. then switched careers to film and video production. He has since expanded his reach to include teaching, book and playwriting, and theatrical producing.

He is an adjunct professor at Parsons School for Design, teaching a course he developed called Creativity: Making a Living with Your Ideas. Every week Madoff has a conversation with a guest from a wide variety of fields, from artists and entrepreneurs to venture capitalists and business leaders. A book about his class, entitled Creative Careers: Making a Living with Your Ideas, is being released June 16, 2020 by the Hachette Book Group.

Madoff has been a featured speaker at Wharton School, NYU Steinhardt, North Carolina State, SXSW Brazil, Vision Summit, Rise: Barclay’s Bank Accelerator, XRB Labs, Mastermind Group, Google Next and many others.

His nonstop journey in developing creativity allowed him to write and produce a play based on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legend, Lloyd Price. Its world premiere will be at People’s Light Theater in May of 2021.

Madoff graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin with degrees in philosophy & psychology. Madoff was also on the wrestling team, which combined with his academic studies prepared him for a life in the film and theater business.


What you will learn from this episode about developing creativity:

  • How Jeff got involved in the design and manufacturing of clothing, and how his career journey and consistency in developing creativity taught him key lessons he was able to apply to other businesses as well
  • How Jeff’s New York experience began with a buying position for the company he worked for
  • How Jeff overcame the fear of moving to New York and starting out with no job or housing, and why he chose to take a chance on himself in spite of the risk
  • Why not being paralyzed and instead having the courage to pivot and go after what you truly want, especially in light of the global pandemic, is critical
  • Why Jeff felt compelled to write his book, Creative Careers, and why he chose to name his book after the college course he was teaching
  • Why Jeff believes “creativity” deserves a much broader definition than it gets, and why he defines it as “the compelling need to affect change”
  • What key concepts Jeff wrote about in his book, including learning how to overcome obstacles, developing creativity and enhancing your perseverance
  • Why Jeff views his parents as his most important mentors, teaching him how to value people and treat them well
  • How a great early work experience taught Jeff important lessons about business and leadership


Additional Resources:



Developing Creativity: Full Episode Transcript


Get ready to find your recipe for success on developing creativity from America’s top business owners here at Onward Nation with your host, Stephen Woessner.


Good morning. I’m Stephen Woessner, CEO of Predictive ROI and your host for Onward Nation, where I interview today’s top business owners so we can learn their recipe for success, how they built and how they scaled their business. In fact, my team at Predictive ROI well, Onward Nation, we’ve been rebuilding and scaling and building out further our free resources section on


So if you haven’t been there for a while, you can now download free practical and tactical guides for everything from how to build out your own authority sales machine, everything from how to create your ideal client avatar, how to create a value ladder, how to build a sales funnel, how to make sure your content strategy aligns with the ten truths to what makes someone an authority within their niche.


So just go to and as always, everything you request, we’ll send it of course free. And we’ll send it right to your inbox. But before we welcome today’s very special guest, Jeff Madoff, and special thanks, Mike, if you’re listening, Michael Roderick, thanks very much for the introduction. So that Jeff and I could get together and have this conversation Onward Nation, let me share some additional context about why I was so excited when Jeff said yes.


First is always fun when a UW Madison alum, you know, comes into your midst and you get to have this great conversation. And Jeff is an alum of the UW system, specifically UW Madison. And so when we were having our kind of green room conversation, we were able to share some cool Madison stories. I used to teach at UW Madison.


So that was really fun to be able to exchange. That is just, you know, a nice little kind of exchanging of roots and sort of commonality and rapport, which was fun. But you’re going to hear some really cool stories here on our nation about how Jeff started a company from scratch in, of all places, New York City, and what it takes to be able to scale a business and and start a clothing company in a very competitive industry, in a very competitive city, especially within that industry.


But how he was able to build it and how he was able to scale it, and obviously that doesn’t happen overnight. But how he was able to build and scale and turn that company into something that he could be really, really proud of. You’re going to hear about the mindset about creativity and just not taking no for an answer, and how that turned into something that he could really be proud of in the self-awareness around all of that.


Well, and then he also helped position major brands such as Ralph Lauren and Victoria’s Secret and Radio City Music Hall and Harvard School for Public Health in the American Academy for Dramatic Arts. You also hear Jeff share stories about the fact that he’s an adjunct professor. So you’re going to hear this love of teaching and sharing and how that morphed into a brand new book entitled Creative Careers Making a Living With Your Ideas, which was just released a few weeks ago.


So you’re going to hear some big nuggets you can take and apply into your business about creative and being able to follow your dreams, and having that right mindset to see it through and working really, really hard to build and scale. This is going to be one of those conversations where you can take lots of notes, take the nuggets and put them into your business right away and be better for it.


So without further ado, welcome to Onward Nation, Jeff. 


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Developing Creativity: Jeff Madoff’s Introduction


Well, hello Onward Nation and thanks for inviting me. Oh my gosh, it is just a pleasure and an honor to have you here. So again, Michael, if you’re listening, thank you very much, my friend. So before we dive in, Jeff, with the questions and before, you know, we walk through some of the biggest nuggets and biggest takeaways for business owners out of your book, actually take us behind the curtain and give us some additional context to you, your path, your journey.


And then we’ll dive in. Well, I went, I’m originally from Akron, Ohio. Akron was the rubber capital of the world. So I like to think maybe that had something to do with my resilience. My parents had, retail store, men’s, women’s and children’s clothing. So I grew up with some knowledge of the clothing business. When I went to Madison, which I loved, Madison was just a fabulous place to me.


And I had graduated, and I was working in a small boutique there. And a dear friend of mine, Kenny Mirman, who I’ve known, actually, I don’t remember not knowing him. his mother and my mother grew up together, and his mother, by the way, is 101. Wow. Yeah. and, you know, that was something we actually, my wife and I went to her 100th birthday, and I had never been to 100th birthday before.


I know this is a digression, but how many people have ever gone to a 100th birthday? So what’s yours really? If your podcast likes to talk about unique experiences? That was a unique experience. so I started my first business in Madison, and that was a clothing company. And, my friend Kenny called me up and said, could you think of a gig that would earn more than bank interest?


And I told him, I see what sells in this store, and I could always draw. So I said, I’ll start a clothing company. And he said, okay. And he sent me a check for $1,500, which at that time was the most money I ever had at one time. And I started teaching myself how to design and manufacture clothing because I knew nothing about that business.


And that was quite a trip. But I was fortunate to meet some really good people, people who were willing to share their knowledge with me and teach me. And of course, I met a lot of people who were willing to screw me in any way they could. And, you know, eventually you sort of learn how to detect those people early enough that they can’t hurt you when you avoid them.


But it was an amazing, amazing experience that paved the way for me to do other businesses because of what I had learned in that business. And I think the main nugget of that is all businesses are the same. The protocols of all businesses are the same, and there are these false barriers between different kinds of businesses, which if we’re able to look beyond that and look at the protocol.


And what do I mean by protocol is how you do business. And we’ll be going deeper into this during the podcast, but you realize that it’s the same kind of talent and everything that you do and everything that I’ve done informs everything else that I do. And we’ll talk about that evolution as we go on. Wow. This is impressive.


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Developing Creativity: Akron and Canton, Ohio


So then, it was, if I remember correctly. Actually, before I get to that question, I don’t know how I missed this, but you just said Akron, Ohio. And honest to goodness. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up. I was born and raised in Kent, Ohio. Really? Yeah. And I still go back to the Akron Can area.


Well, not now because of Covid and travel restrictions and that kind of stuff. But I typically go back to visit my family, you know, almost on a monthly basis. So I’m in Akron, in Canton all the time. So totally blows me away that I don’t I don’t again, I don’t know how I miss it. So, yeah, Onward Nation, for context, Akron and Canton are literally right next to one another.


As soon as you leave, can’t you basically drive right into Akron? That’s nuts that you are from Akron. Yeah. That’s funny that you’re from Canton. What high school did you go to? I went to North Canton. Hoover. I knew North Canton. Hoover. Hoover high, as it was called. Yeah. And then of course, the chant then was Hoover sucks.


Thank you for that. For your viewers. Well, for your viewers that don’t know, that was the Hoover Vacuum Cleaner Company, which I don’t even know if they’re still around. No, that was one of the major employers in Cannes at that time. Yeah. And it was all through my childhood and growing up and graduating high school. And yes, and unfortunately, through a few acquisitions that didn’t go very well, the beloved Hoover Company, which still sits in, you know, Main Street in the downtown square of North Canton, Ohio, has now been repurposed and revitalized.


And now it is, economic engine again for the city. But, yes, it is no longer Hoover, though, even though it’s still there. Crazy crazy small world. Yeah, it is an absolutely small world. Wow. UW connection and northeast Ohio connection. That’s nuts. 


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Developing Creativity: Open to Buying


Anyway, it was your clothing company. In starting that, that’s what took you to New York City, if I remember correctly.


Right. Yes. I had done some buying for the little shop that I worked for. So those were my initial trips to New York. I had actually talked a store into letting me do there, buying, saying I’m young, I’m in touch with the younger market. I should be doing your buying because I know what people like me want.


And that was the most compelling argument I could make for doing the buying. But it worked. So, I started to go to New York for the clothing shows and because my parents were retailers, I had some idea of what an open to buy was and sort of how to budget for that kind of thing. So I had learned some business through osmosis, just listening to my mom and dad, and that positioned me to do buying, and that was my first few trips to New York, but it was a whole different thing when I went there with my own company.


Yeah. That’s awesome. So, you know, when you and I were talking, in the green room and kind of getting acquainted and exchanging notes and so forth. One of the things that really stuck out to me was your mindset around failure. It’s like, oh my gosh, I’m going to go to New York City and I’m going to build this company.


And it’s like, well, what if I fail? In fact, you had some people ask you that and so I thought your reply to that, although kind of, you know, a little comedic but also it spoke some self-awareness to me and, and also the fact like if it doesn’t work. But it was just really interesting your point of view around the failure piece.


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Developing Creativity: Don’t Be Afraid To Take Risks


Could we go there? Because I think that would be a valuable lesson for Onward Nation too regarding developing creativity. Sure. What Stephen’s referring to is when he asked me about how I got to New York, and I first gave him the wise ass answer on a plane. I said no, I know, but what about actually getting there? Why did you go, when I decided that I wanted to move to New York.


Because that’s where the center of the business, the fashion business was. And that’s the business I was in. people, friends said to me, well, do you have a job lined up there? I said, no, do you have friends there? No. Do you have a place to live lined up? I said, no, and they said, aren’t you afraid of what’s going to happen when you move there?


I said, no, I’m afraid of what would happen if I didn’t move there. And I guess the takeaway from that is assessing risk and taking chances, because you certainly can’t be an entrepreneur without taking risks. That’s the very nature of entrepreneurship, which a lot of people, by the way, don’t really realize. They’re just seduced by the idea of starting their own business without realizing the work it takes to do so.


But I also did not want my fear to stop me. I wanted it to propel me forward. And so I turned that fear into curiosity. And that curiosity was, what will my life be like if I move there? I think it’s going to be pretty cool, and I’m certainly willing to try it. And so that’s what compelled me to move to New York.


And the part that you didn’t know, Stephen, that we didn’t have time to go into was I was very fortunate. I met, terrific person in Madison. He was a lawyer and he was a fifth generation Wisconsinite and owned, I think, five banks at that time. And he became my financial backer. And when I wanted to move to New York, he said, Jeff, one of the reasons I backed you and you know, this is because you employed people in Wisconsin, had pretty quickly grown into having two factories and employed about 100 and 1020 people.


What, he said, if you move to New York, I’m not going to continue to back you. And I thought about scale. So what’s the real gain for me? in moving on, you know, did I want to at age, I think I was like 23, 24. Did I want to stay in one place, build that business where I was no longer feeling satisfied?


Or did I want to take that risk and start anew in New York City? And, my basic feeling is money comes and goes. Time only goes. And I always like the comparison, the word comparisons, you say with spending time, spending money, wasting time, wasting money. There’s so much equate, you know, time is money. But what I want to do is not waste the time.


And to get what I consider makes me very wealthy is I have a wealth of stories, and that’s the wealth I gained by moving to New York. So I knew money would come and go, but I did not want to miss that opportunity and short circuit. What could be and what has been amazing experiences by taking that chance, even though it was a scary chance at first.


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Developing Creativity: Risk Assessment and Pivoting


Super valuable story. And here’s why I think so. Like as you were sharing that with Onward Nation and with me, of course, I’m taking that in through my own lens, recognizing that everybody else’s lens is a bit different. But as I’m hearing you say that and share that, I’m thinking, okay, Covid 19 was the gut check that we all never wanted to have.


I mean, nobody would have wished that sort of scenario upon the world’s economy or your particular business, Onward Nation. No, nobody. Obviously. And it was a great gut check from the perspective of that. We do have a finite amount of time. And so, you know, intellectually, we all know that, obviously. But the story that Jeff just shared with us really illustrates the fact that, okay, we just got a gut check.


We just got the opportunity to assess risk, to maybe double down and take additional chances and maybe to think about, is this business serving you as the owner in the way that it should be? And if it isn’t, now is the time to change it. Now is the time to either pivot and go in a completely different direction, or maybe have a completely different business whatever. 


But we were just shown how precious time is, right Jeff? Oh, absolutely. I completely agree with you. I think that this is a time to really assess what you want to be doing. We have no idea yet what the tectonic shifts that have happened as a result of Covid, as a result of the world economy being brought to its knees.


But also the upsides of many people finding they can work very efficiently and effectively from home. Right. and there’s a lot of things to process and think about. And a lot of people who have been put on furlough or laid off. So what the next steps are, as opposed to being paralyzed. And by the way, being paralyzed is okay as long as you don’t stay paralyzed.


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Developing Creativity: Be Resilient and Move Forward


You know, we all have to process however we process going through difficult times. But I think it’s really important not to be myopic and not to think about, oh, wow, this is horrible. And it’s going to be horrible from now on. Things change and that’s normal if you’re developing creativity. You know, when I was in and I’ve lived in New York now for about 40 years and when the World Trade Center was bombed, you know, September 11th, a lot of people moved out of New York.


A lot of people thought, oh, it’s over. Well, then New York went on to its period of greatest prosperity and activity ever. And that was a run of probably 8 or 9 years till the financial crash in 2009. And then that was another time it was over for New York, and then it bounced back even higher after that.


I think that we as people are remarkably resilient and adaptive, but it’s just when you’re in the moment, it seems like this is how it’s going to be forever. And I think it’s important to remind ourselves it’s not how it’s going to be forever. And how do you then move forward, and how can you use whatever is going on to some advantage to both keep yourself anchored and safe, but also to move forward in your business?


Or as you were saying, changing businesses? Maybe there’s opportunities that you never perceived before, and this is the impetus that you need to take those steps. So I completely agree with you, Stephen. Amen to that. In a way that’s why your story is so valuable and why I’m trying to shine as bright of a light on the lessons you shared.


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Developing Creativity: Choosing The Title for A Book


Because we have a finite amount of time. It takes guts and courage. But also at the same point, it’s like there’s a recognition of, well, what’s the worst that could happen and ensure we need to assess risk and take chances, but now’s the opportunity to do so. And so that’s great. So thank you for that and take us inside your book.


But start with the title and so Onward Nation, again, Jeff’s book is entitled Creative Careers Making a Living with Your Ideas. So writing a book is hard. It takes a whole lot of time. So why did you feel so committed to writing this book? But why did you decide to title it this? So I teach a course at Parsons School for design, which is one of the top design schools in the world.


And that course is called Creative Careers Making a Living With Your Ideas. And when I was approached to do a book, it was funny. Then my agent said, you know, maybe we could think of a better name. And I said, you know, it’s interesting you say that, but I was teaching this course at that time. It had been for 12 years.


And every time I tell people what I teach and I say the name of the course, they say, oh, I wish I had a course like that when I was in college, even though they had no idea what the course was just by the title. So I said in my very unscientific, informal research, I think we have a title that really works, but brainstorm over at the agency, and if you come up with a better name that I like better, I’m certainly willing to do it.


Well, they came up with ten names, one worse than the other. And, we stuck with the title and my agent said, you know, I think you’re right. I think this is the best title. And I think the reason that it’s a compelling title is who doesn’t want to make a living with their ideas, and who doesn’t want to use their creativity?


But an awful lot of people don’t think they’re creative, and they don’t even really have a definition for what creativity is or if they know anything about developing creativity. So part of the value of the book is it helps you ask yourself questions, which is what I get to do every week in my class with the terrific people that come in that I interview, not unlike yourself, Stephen, where you learn from the people that you interview and, you know, you and I both.


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Developing Creativity: Finding The Right Publisher


Another thing we have in common is we both teach and I think you will agree, I’m loading the front end to this but teaching is a fantastic way to keep learning. And I think that when you lose curiosity, you’re finished. And I know that there’s nobody that I want to be around. Less than somebody who thinks they know everything and have no curiosity.


And that’s one of the great things about teaching. So I had been asked a number of times, have you ever thought about writing a book about the class? Yeah, I thought about it, but honestly, I didn’t know how to even go about it. And you know, finding an agent, getting it sold because I did not want to self-publish.


I wanted this to be a book that would be taken seriously. That was what I was paid to do by a reputable publishing house. And I was very fortunate that I met with Hachette and they immediately got the value of it. And it was interesting because the first two publishers, one of them that is a very renowned business book publisher, and the other, which is a very renowned, self-help and creativity publisher.


The business publisher said, why would any business people want to know about creativity? Wow. And the creative publisher said, why would artists and creatives want to know anything about business? And I’m thinking, man, you just don’t get it. You don’t get it. You know, it’s very creative to just start a business. Talk about starting with a blank canvas.


If you’re an entrepreneur or and you’re starting a business, you’ve got a blank canvas, you’re creating something. So creativity, the definition needs to be understood in a much broader way than it is and how siloed it is. And I think that I named the book that because I thought that was the most succinct message that I had, which is using your creativity to make a living so you can do what you love doing.


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Developing Creativity: Overcoming Obstacles


So how would you? So I guess there’s a number of different layers and folds to this definition. But Jeff, how would you define creativity? How do you start developing creativity? Creativity is the compelling need to express something in a different way than you’ve seen it expressed before? So creativity is the compelling need to effect change. And that change can be artistic.


That change could be technical. It could be political. you know, the creative way that you express and try to bring about change in whatever it is you do. That’s creativity to me. Yeah, I love that. I just created that, by the way. I just made that up. You would expect nothing less. Take this inside the book and looking at it through the lens of owners, who is our audience?


Here at Onward Nation. So what are a couple of the biggest takeaways that you would like Onward Nation business owners? to think, to be able to learn from this conversation as it relates to your book. So there’s a few things that I’ll highlight. One is overcoming obstacles. That’s not only a part of life, it’s a part of every business.


And if you’re an entrepreneur, you’re going to confront things all the time that you have to figure out how to work your way over, under, around, or through them. Obstacles happen. And you know, what’s important is not the obstacle, but how are you going to deal with it? How are you going to overcome it? How are you going to not be defeated by that block that was put in front of you, understanding that everything that you do informs everything else that you do?


So in my own life, from working in a clothing store to changing to a being coming a filmmaker, to writing this book, to the play that I’m doing, the protocols of all those things, having to come up with an idea, be able to express that idea succinctly and clearly to other people, watch it. Those ideas, figure out how I can deliver those ideas.


It’s the same no matter what you’re doing. So businesses are the same when they’re developing creativity. So people should not be intimidated by the jargon that many businesses use. So obstacles are really important in terms of learning how to overcome them. And part of that overcoming them is another probably the most recurring thread throughout my book. And that is perseverance. How do you persevere?


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Developing Creativity: It’s About Perseverance


Things get really tough. We’re in probably one of the most challenging times. I think probably we’re in the most challenging time ever, Haiti. And you know, if you’re an entrepreneur or if you’re just working and trying to provide for yourself and your family, perseverance is huge and it’s tough. And it’s tough when you’re in totally new circumstances like we’re in now.


So perseverance is a huge part of owning your own business and frankly, life. How do you just not give up and be defeated? So perseverance is really, really important. And the third really important thing that I would add to that, and it may be the most important currency there is in life is relationships. Knowing how to foster, sustain and build relationships because the people that you meet, the people that can give you emotional support, the people that can help you in business, who you can go to with a problem and they can respond to you or will respond to you, or possibly give you some kind of advice, or at least a different point of view. 


And building and sharing relationships is huge. Witness this as it’s all part of developing creativity. The reason you and I are together is because a good mutual friend of ours introduced us and thought that this would be a good fit for your podcast. So I think that relationships are oftentimes an overlooked currency. And to me, it’s the most important because I get the greatest comfort from my family and friends.


But I also get the greatest support from my friends and family. So I think that relationships, perseverance, and learning how to overcome obstacles and not be defeated by them are probably the three most important takeaways, and you’ll hear some great stories from the guests that I’ve had, be they artists, be they journalists, writers, architects, whatever. You’ll hear how they overcame the obstacles, how they persevered, and how they built relationships that help sustain them through really difficult times.


I think it’s such an insightful word. How you described relationships as currency. I couldn’t agree more. It is absolutely that. 


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Developing Creativity: An Influential Lesson from Mentor/s


So let me take that word. Relationships. Let me take it back to the beginning of this conversation. You were talking about being able to meet some really good people who are willing to teach and willing to really kind of open up and take you behind the curtain and show you the inner workings of business and how things worked and so forth, which for me equates to mentorship.


And you’ve been a great mentor during this conversation. So let me take that and sort of turn the tables here and ask you, Jeff, to share with us the most influential lesson that you have learned from one of your mentors, and how that lesson is still paying dividends today, how that relationship is still currency today and has helped make you the business owner, the thought leader, the expert that you are today.


My parents were my mentors. My mom and dad both worked and they taught me through example, how to value people and treat them well and the people that work for them and, who also bought from them, they built relationships with my sister who has her own business. She’s in retail in Charleston, South Carolina, and she learned the same lessons.


Her store has been open for 40 years, and she still has people who started the business with her. Wow. My executive producers who have been with me for 20 years. So I think the most important lesson, not only in business but in life, is to know how to value people and treat them well. And I think that’s incredibly important.


While the other kind of business tidbits keep marketing and make sure that your cash flow is always ongoing and you know, all this kind of stuff, that’s kind of basic business stuff. But I think what’s really important is the human stuff about building and sustaining those relationships. And I learned through example from my parents, and that was probably the most valuable, not probably that was the most valuable thing that I not only learned that I embody and continue to this day, and I have them to thank for that because they didn’t lecture me on it.


They just live that way. And that’s what they did. And that’s what I saw growing up. So that was what I would say is that it is the most important thing. 


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Developing Creativity: Treat People the Way You Want to Be Treated


There’s a secondary thing, and that is I was, if you remember, Summit Mall, by any chance, I do. Right. Okay. So I have a great P.F. Chang’s, by the way.


I’ve actually been there, because I still go back to Akron. I have many friends from. I guess this is relevant. I have many friends that I grew up with that are still in Akron, and we’re still in regular contact with each other. So I guess long term relationships again. But when I was applying for a job, I was 16 years old.


The shoe store opened in Summit Mall, which was a new mall at that time. And they had an ad for they want an experienced shoe person with at least two years of sales experience. Married at least 21 years old. I went and applied for the job. I was 16, unmarried, and never sold a shoe. I met the manager of the store, and we talked, and he was a great guy.


And we laughed and we joked around and he said, Jeff, I can’t hire you, I like you. You’re a bright kid. I can’t hire you. And I said, why? And he said, because the policy of the store and this is a chain of stores is that, you know, you have to be 21, you’re 16, you have to be married, you’re single, you have to have at least two years of shoe selling experience.


You have none. You know, I just can’t do it. And I said, well, Bob, I sold you on me. That’s got to be a lot harder than selling a pair of shoes. And he goes, I can’t do it. Thank you. And as I was walking out of the store, he came after me and he stopped me and said, you got the job.


Wow. Look at him. And he said, you’re absolutely right. If you could sell me on you. Selling a pair of shoes is easy, because if they walk into a shoe store, they’re looking for shoes, you know? So you sold me. You got the job. And one of the reasons that I considered him a mentor is he was willing to be open minded, to extend or make the rules elastic to fit somebody.


And that he thought was of value. And so he valued people. And that was really great. And I was often the top performing salesman for them, because the other thing I had going for me as I was a kid, and that was very novel to the mothers that would come in with their children that I was selling shoes.


And Bob did other things which we don’t really have time to go into. But that taught me what a good manager is. But it’s always allowing the people that work with you to be heard. And, you know, it comes down to treating other people like you want to be treated yourself. And he taught me that in ongoing practice when I work for him.


Get to know more about Jeff and start developing creativity with his help


Developing Creativity: Taking Action When Necessary


I love this lesson. This is a great insight here too, because it is so easy. It is so easy. Excuse me for becoming dogmatic about policy or to become dogmatic about standard operating procedure or, you know, whatever, that it becomes a cage that it’s not a framework to guide decisions. It literally becomes a cage. And so this is a great example, and I love how you phrased it, that rules were elastic in that somebody was open minded and that he was able to recognize talent.


And yeah. 16 and you brought a lot to the table at 16 and really smart, for him to recognize that and a great contribution to the store and, and being helpful to customers. So that is a great, great story. Thanks for sharing that, Jeff. Well, you’re very welcome. do you have, do we have time for a quick footnote to that I think you’d find entertaining?


And Sure. So it was a family shoe store. And in the back of the store, in a cage was a monkey. So it’s getting pretty surreal these days. That couldn’t happen. That monkey had a rough life. And, you know, the mothers would try on the shoes and they’d say, go look at the monkey. So anyhow, when I started working as the assistant manager and he was in his 40s, he said, go clean the monkey cage.


And there were, you know, seven other salespeople aside from myself, but I was by far the youngest. And I said, do you clean the monkey cage? And he said, no, you’re cleaning the monkey cage. I said, well, I’ll do it if everybody else takes their turn, but I’m not going to do it if they don’t. What do you mean you’re not going to do it?


I’m not going to do it. I wasn’t hired to be a zookeeper. I was hired to sell shoes. We’re all going to take it and have that task. Then I’ll take my turn. Bob, the manager, the one who hired me, walked over and the assistant manager said, Jeff says he’s not going to clean the monkey cage. And I said to Bob, the reason why I want you to take my turn, but I’m not hired as a zookeeper.


And he said, without missing a beat, he looked at Jimmy, who was a bit of a bully, and he said, Jimmy, why don’t you show Jeff, I actually want you to show all of us how to clean the cage. You do it, and then we’ll all take turns from now on, including me. That sense of fairness, that sense of not wanting to discriminate against somebody because they were young and not allow them to be bullied by others, also stuck with me.


And that was something else in terms of managing. So when I manage people, if I have a client that’s abusive, I always step in. I think if you don’t take action when somebody is being bullied, this goes life outside of business too. Then you’re complicit with the bullying you need to step in. And I learned that from Bob.


Get to know more about Jeff and start developing creativity with his help


Developing Creativity: Leading By Example


I love that so much. It resonates so much with me. I’ve never shared this before. During an Onward Nation episode, and I’m only doing it now because it’s relevant. One of our values here, Predictive ROI syncs up with that perfectly. So this is value number three for us. There’s no task that’s not mine or too small.


And so all of us at Predictive believe that whether it’s cleaning a monkey cage or whatever the task might be, we all lead each other by example, and there’s nothing that is too small or not ours. And so what a wonderful push back that you gave. And it wasn’t that you didn’t want to do it or that you were unwilling to do it, but it ought to be fair.


And what a great lesson around how to get the job done. But to do it in an equal and fair way. That was awesome, Jeff. Thank you. But that’s that, you know, those you know, I’m going back a long time and those stories really stuck with me and were really beacons for me. And when I started having groups of people working for me, how to treat those people love it.


This has been a great conversation. I knew that it would be exactly that. And thank you for delivering. Thank you for being the teacher, the mentor that I knew you would be. This was just awesome. Before we go, before we close out and say goodbye, please tell Onward Nation the best way to connect with you. Jeff. So I’ll give you a few options.


Get to know more about Jeff and start developing creativity with his help


Developing Creativity: How to Connect with Jeff


My book is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and so on. And it’s called Creative Careers Making a Living with Your Ideas. And if you find it interesting, they give a pretty generous sampling of it online. Please post a review because that would be helpful to me. This is my first time out, and since I finished that book, by the way, I’ve interviewed another phenomenal group of people because I do 15 different guests a season.


You know that well, what am I? Episode 954 for you? Yes, you are unbelievable. Congratulations on that longevity. That’s astounding. Thank you. and you can follow me on LinkedIn, B. Jeffrey Madoff, and that’s Madoff. And I just started a group this week, and it’s called, Creative Careers. And we’re it’s we’re sharing ideas about creativity and business, creativity and life.


And we’re going to be posting clips from my class. And I think that it’s going to be a very cool group. So please join that. There’s two websites,, Madoff Productions with Nasscom, where you can see my work and And finally there is, Instagram site that is for a creative career and that also has short clips from my class from a wide range of people.


And sorry, we don’t have more time because this is really fun. And there’s, you know, the people that you’ll see on these sites, everything from Pulitzer Prize winning journalists to comedians to neuroscientists. And it’s a pretty neat group. and it sounds like your group, the onward Nation group, just sounds like a great group. So I feel very privileged.


And thank you for wanting to include me in meeting with them. It’s really great. So I appreciate that, Stephen. Thank you. And thank you, Michael Roderick, for writing. Amen to that. It’s been an honor to have you here, Jeff, for teaching us how to start developing creativity. And Onward Nation, no matter how many notes you took or how often you go back and relisten to Jeff’s words of wisdom, which I sure hope that you do.


The key is you have to take all of this knowledge that he shared with you this blueprint, the great nuggets and golden takeaways out of his book. You have to take all of that and apply it and be better for it. And Jeff, we all have the same 86,400 seconds in a day and I am grateful again, my friend, that you said yes, you came on to the show to be our mentor and guide to help us move our businesses onward to that next level.


Thank you so much, Jeff. My pleasure and Onward Nation. This episode is complete, so head over to for show notes and more food to fuel your ambition. Continue to find your recipe for success here at Onward Nation.


Get to know more about Jeff and start developing creativity with his help

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