Spark Interview with Soprano and Head of Creative Innovations, Tania de Jong
Tania de Jong is a leading Australian soprano and social entrepreneur at the forefront of creativity and innovation. She is the Founder and CEO of Creativity Australia, Creative Universe, the Creative Innovation Global conference, and numerous other creative initiatives and outreach programs across Australia.
Tania has presented her leadership programs to organisations such as BHP, Telstra, ANZ, Royal Children’s Hospital and various universities to help them improve engagement, innovation and performance, and today she gives Spark readers an exclusive insight into what you can do to grow your business.
Monique: What is the driving force behind your success?
Tania: Wanting to make a difference! My grandmother invented the first foldable umbrella and was forced to sell her patent to the Nazis. She and my grandfather arrived in Australia with nothing and rebuilt their lives and made a huge difference. I feel enormous gratitude to be alive and it’s a privilege to help people realise their potential. My mission is to inspire people to find their voice – in work and in life.
Monique: As the founder of 6 successful organizations with a number of new projects on the go, how do you find the time to make so much happen?
Tania: I don’t sleep much. I work in a very productive manner. I don’t procrastinate. I try not to delay anything, and if I say I’m going to do something, I do it straight away. And I follow up in a very diligent way. My advice is: don’t analyze or sit there too long making plans. Act now, plan later.
Monique: Why is creativity so important in business?
Tania: Creativity has been named the most important leadership trait for CEOs, according to the IBM Global CEO study. Creativity drives profits because it helps people to go beyond accepting the status quo and imagine what could be, to imagine a bigger income… and ask “What if I did B instead of A, could I create X instead of Y?”
Creativity is about going that extra step in your business to be an innovator, not just looking at what your competitors do. It is also important to foster creativity in everyday situations where the goal is improvement, rather than just using it to problem-solve in reaction to a situation when things have gone wrong.
Monique: What was your inspiration for launching the Creative Innovation Global Conference?
Tania: I wanted to create an international thought leadership forum here in Australia. I was told by detractors that no, I couldn’t set up a conference but I didn’t accept that and I did it anyway.
We wanted to create a conference that went beyond the typical powerpoint presentation. We wanted to stimulate the right-hand side of the brain as well. Get people into a different headspace with performers and artists. People now feel they can go back to work and be a change-maker, they feel the conference was a catalyst to change.
Monique: How do you create a culture of innovation in business?
Tania: One of the challenges to overcome is that people limit themselves. The key to all the work I do is to help people lose their self-limiting beliefs about not being creative or an innovator.
You need to strive to unlock other people’s potential. As a business owner, think to yourself: “What if I DIDN’T limit them… what might be possible? Listen to people; acknowledge ideas before thinking you always have the right answer. Give people a real chance to be a part of your business and empower team members to take ownership to help drive change in the business.
Resist your natural inclinations to stay in control and avoid risk. To grow, you must risk and you must trust. If you pick the right people, your business will grow.
By Monique Parker