Quadrillion President Dr. Debbie Phillips on Cultivating Your Creativity

Dr. Debbie Phillips is an internationally recognized real estate professional with over 32 years of experience with diverse property types. As an entrepreneur, Debbie has a multi-faceted career, including creating world-class leadership development programs and talent management strategies.

Here is what Debbie had to say when we asked her about cultivating your creativity:

From your experience working with people across a diverse set of industries, what qualities do creative people possess? 

Creativity is the new currency. It’s a mindset. I’m fortunate because, as an entrepreneur, I am able to use creativity every day. However, in my opinion, every one of us needs to embrace our creativity and flex that muscle because creative team members are generally more agile. They are the ones who aren’t siloed in one way of thinking. They don’t stay in one corner of the room and they aren’t afraid to explore more than one area of interest. When individuals are creative, they prepare for success and plan for setback, so they are constantly pushing the envelope and ready to come up with a Plan B if needed. Creative people are the ones who stand out because they aren’t trying to be like everyone else.      

What are three steps people can take to cultivate their creativity? 

First, visualize what you want. In doing so, think of a blank canvas—the possibilities are limitless. Couple this with an understanding of what success looks like to you. Second, build a group of trusted advisors around you. These are the people who you can go to for feedback and support when you pursue a new opportunity. Third, be willing to change. Many people want to embrace their creative energy, but they are too set in their ways to actually do so. Change can be scary, but remember you never fail; you only learn a lesson. Too many people give up on their dreams and ideas because of fear and external influences—don’t let that be you. 

Your philosophy is “You can dream, build, and create the most beautiful place in the world, but it takes PEOPLE to make it a reality.” How can we use the talents of others to cultivate our creativity? 

Interacting with people is probably one of the most valuable things you can do in this world. Connecting with others in a meaningful way allows you to expand your network and accomplish your goals. When it comes to connecting with people, I want you to remember FOR—Family, Occupation, Recreation—or, the channels you can use to meet people and develop relationships with them. Ask your family members to introduce you to their friends and colleagues if they’re familiar with areas that interest you. Take your team members or co-workers out to coffee, so you can get to know more about their passions. Join organizations where you can meet people who have similar interests. You’ve got to put yourself out there, whether you connect with people in-person or virtually. While it is crucial to interact with others to help cultivate your creativity, it is important that you never make your relationships one-sided. Don’t just take from others; be sure to give as well. Be a “go-giver” as well as a “go-getter.” You might just help someone spark their own creativity!  

You have led and managed thousands of people over the course of your career. How can you demonstrate your creativity when you are a new member of a team? 

Mentally prepare to win. Additionally, let others talk first, genuinely listen to them, and judge their body language. This will enable you to determine where value is needed and allow you to add it when it is appropriate. You’ll not only show your creativity, but also your maturity. 

As an educator, you encourage people to find their “genius zone.” What does that mean and how can people apply this practice to their own lives? 

Everyone has a special and unique gift. Lean into it. You can get tangled up like a string of Christmas lights listening to everyone else tell you what you’re supposed to do or who you’re supposed to be. Get away from comparing yourself to others. You are the CEO of Y, O, U. Know what you like and don’t like. Own your zone, focus on self-improvement—it’s all about bettering YOUR best. 

Dr. Debbie Phillips is an internationally recognized real estate professional with over 32 years of experience with diverse property types. As an entrepreneur, Debbie has a multi-faceted career, including creating world-class leadership development programs and talent management strategies. She was recognized in 2019 as a Woman of Influence in Real Estate by Globe Street and was awarded the first Real Estate Award of Excellence as a Certified Property Manager (CPM) in 2015 by the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM). In addition to her private consulting, Debbie serves as President of the Real Estate Career Academy, a non-profit that focuses on career awareness for those exploring careers in real estate. Debbie completed her Ph.D. from Georgia Tech, where she developed an Employee Engagement Model for the multifamily housing industry. In addition to teaching and consulting, Debbie is an author and nationally acclaimed speaker.

To learn more about how Debbie cultivates her creativity, follow @drdebbiephillips.

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