Creativity not just for creative types, KU business students learn

Chris Marshall, vice president and account management for Callahan Creek, left, and Cindy Maude, CEO, have guided their ad agency to several regional and national awards.

Cindy Maude believes creativity is the most important trait of an entrepreneur.

People often associate the term with art or design. But creativity is really problem-solving, she said, and that’s the key to success in today’s ever-changing and increasingly competitive business market.

“To develop great, innovative products or services, you have to be creative,” Maude said.

Maude, CEO of Lawrence-based marketing agency Callahan Creek, gave the keynote address at the Kansas University School of Business celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week on Friday at the Lied Center. The theme of this year’s event was Creativity and the Entrepreneurial Mindset.

KU business students filled the Lied Center Pavilion for Maude’s talk and asked questions afterward. Other planned events for the day included a panel discussion, a networking lunch and an interactive creativity fair.

“This is an ideal interdisciplinary theme because creativity plays a pivotal role in entrepreneurial thinking and has value for all professions and fields of study,” Charlotte Tritch, associate director of entrepreneurship programs, said in a news release.

Maude, a KU journalism school graduate, bought Callahan Creek after working there eight years.

She said she made the decision when her youngest child was heading to college and Maude was prepared for the hard work and long hours ahead. She’s now in the process of selling the business and joked that she feels like a slacker working “only” full time.

Having passion for your work makes it rewarding and keeps creativity alive, Maude said.

And you don’t have to own your own business to put the same entrepreneurial spirit to work, she told business students.

It’s a boon to any company.

“The entrepreneurial spirit is about leadership and initiative and creativity and service to others,” Maude said. “… And being bold and taking risks.”