Creative Leaders: A Look at Christy Turlington Burns, #CreativityChat

In #CreativityChat, I asked students to evaluate a person identified for their creativity. Janice Pearce (@janopoly) chose Christy Turlington Burns. Her post is shared here. As you read, ask yourself – what can you learn from Christy’s creative genius?

What do they do that is creative?

As I was scrolling through the list of all the creatives and reading all of the fancy titles I was a little overwhelmed.  I wasn’t sure which creative to pick.  After reading several of the stories on some of the top ten I decided to skip to the end and see who some of the less titled creatives were.  A title at number 89, ‘Founder, Every Mother Counts,’ caught my eye.  As a mother, that company name stood out. The blurb for creative, Christy Turlington Burns was much shorter than the ones at the top of the list but meant a whole lot more to me.  I was inspired by her mission and impressed by her creative social marketing campaign. 

Officially, Every Mother Counts became a not profit organization in 2012 (Every Mother Counts, 2013), but they have been working since the release of an amazing documentary which started the whole project in 2010 called No Woman, No Cry (see url below).

Christy founded the organization and was the visionary behind the film.  After watching the video you will learn that she actually had the idea for the film after having her own baby and almost dying from complications.  She wondered what happened to women around the world who don’t have access to healthcare and found the results startling.  She thought of a creative way to make a difference and now she’s doing it.

Every Mother Counts uses the power of social media and video to increase awareness of the need for eliminating barriers to healthcare for expectant mothers and ultimately decreasing the mortality rate for those mothers and their babies.  Since the initial video release in 2010, over 2.5 million people have seen their film related products (Every Mother Counts, 2013). I personally could barely get my post written for watching all of their film clips. In addition to the videos, other creative efforts of the organization include a training program for midwives, the delivery of specialized mama kits, a cell phone donation program, and a marathon program. I encourage you to visit the site and check them all out. Christy has really done an exceptionally creative job of getting the message out in a way that inspires and educates. 

How do you think they nurture their creativity and the full creative process (not just illumination)?

If you go to the Every Mother Counts Website and read the story Christy tells about how she started her organization I think you gain a lot of insight into how she moves beyond illumination into action on her creativity.  Christy utilizes her resources and she wasn’t afraid. 

First of all, she’s found something that she is passionate about.  It certainly makes it easier to act on our illumination when we’ve got passionate energy fueling the tank.  She wants to make a difference and sometimes social marketing can be more rewarding than the financial effects of typical marketing campaigns.  Who doesn’t want to save the lives of mothers and babies? 

Secondly, her husband is a filmmaker.  I think this teaches us a valuable lesson about using the people around us that we have in our network as tools to help us accomplish our creative visions.  I feel certain that when she had this idea she talked about it with her husband and he was able to help her mold it into something powerful.  In essence, her husband was in her creative circle.  If we don’t have the players we need around us, we may have to adjust our plans a little. 

Also, Christy leveraged herself.  I think we easily forget to use our strengths to take our creative illuminations to the next level.  We’ve talked a little bit about fear, but what about confidence and plain old talent. I think it is ok to admit and take advantage of the fact that we are really good at some things.  Christy is a beautiful model with an established reputation in the industry.  She used her position and name to market her cause, and why not?  This was a tool available to push her idea beyond the illumination stage and it worked. 

How is their creative output related to marketing?


Above are the blog and twitter pages for Every Mother Counts.  I cannot think of a better way to be related to marketing.  This social marketing campaign is affecting political policy, world health, and people are donating money to this cause.  If only we were back in our social media marketing class!!  This campaign is doing such an excellent job of engaging its audience with regular posts that create buzz and encourage sharing and participation. 

By delivering the message in the form of real human stories by film, Christy has made this a real problem.  She has connected to the audience in an emotionally engaging way. Then, Christy is asking her audience to act on this knowledge and emotion.  Be aware, tell others, and help us solve this problem by giving to the cause. 

What can you apply from their lives to your own?

I think the thing that struck me the most about this is that when we are creative it should not be for our boss or to get a job done. When we are creative, it should be for ourselves.  We should be creative because we have found something that we are so overwhelmed with that it just comes bursting out.  Yes, I know, sometime we are forced to be creative on the job but IF we do it for ourselves instead of for our bosses and with passion the results will be outrageously more powerful! 

No Woman, No Cry


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