by Julian Ryder, Founder + Chief Creative Officer
I am no longer the President of Ryder Communications Group. I no longer have to make payroll every 14 days. I no longer cut my prices to bring in work. I no longer wait 120 days to get paid. I no longer give my expertise away for free. I no longer work with clients I’ve kept for far too long. I no longer get my six-figure salary or my fancy car paid for, or any of the other perks that come with being the owner of a successful design firm.
I let it all go. After more years than I'd care to count, the fire in my belly to keep it going faded. And as hard as I tried to stoke the fire, it became clearer each day that something else was calling my name. Am I surprised? Not really, given I had just spent 40 years in the business and was now a senior citizen. I thought maybe it was my age and maybe I should think about retiring. That thought got rejected immediately. I had no intention of retiring. I needed to work. I was just done with the day-to-day running of the business and couldn't put my finger on what was next.
In 2015, I started working with a career coach looking for a path to something else. We focused on designing the next 20 years of my life. The process was about inquiry and not rushing for an answer. The one thing I did know was that I was passionate about creativity. Although my educational background and 40-plus year career was all in the creative arena, there was something I felt I had not been able to tap into through my business.
Meanwhile, the more excited I got about creating something new, the less interest I had in Ryder Communications. My heart wasn’t in it any more and I was becoming an anchor. So, in February of 2016, I turned it over to my partner. I loved the new freedom this gave me but, at the same time, felt I had gone out on a limb with no guarantee I could succeed in a new venture. Besides, who starts a new business at age 70?
I worked for six months with my coach while at the same time reading every book I could find on the topic of creativity. All of this research and inquiry led me into the field of neuroscience where I began to get a glimpse of the real scientific aspects and roots of creativity in the human brain. This really turned me on and I started to see what was missing for me. The science, the art and the language of creativity were all coming together and I knew there was something in this that could make a difference in peoples’ lives.
I was sitting in a restaurant having lunch with a friend when he triggered something that brought it all together. I realized the next phase of my life would be centered on educating and training people to be creative. Not as artists or designers but as humans. I envisioned a shift where work environments enabled people to be activated, engaged, and in the flow of maximized creativity. I also saw that this was unique, no one was doing anything remotely like it.
In May of 2016 I launched The Right Brain Project, a creativity education and training firm that helps leaders build creative cultures within their organizations. Our programs are designed and delivered by Ph.D. Neuroscientists and Creative Professionals. Together we explore and unpack a broad spectrum of human creativity and potential.
Our work is project driven. Every participant brings something to work on—a project or idea that has been “stuck in park.” The work is layered with experiences, conversations, and activities that enable individuals to tap into their creative potential.
As our community of participants grows, we are seeing incredible new projects come to life, sustained energy for working through challenges, and an appreciation for the need to walk away, rest, and incubate before jumping back into the work.
Looking back on my choice to reinvent my career and discover a more meaningful calling, I now see this journey was a model for the process of creating a new and purpose-filled future. This is the journey that every person and organization embarks on with The Right Brain Project.
We’ve still got lots of work to do, and I'm sure there are more challenges ahead, and I know I’ve found my place for the next twenty years.