Entrepreneurs Tour of America


In the summer of 1997 Richard Tavener launched a radio and Internet web-cast program called “Living The American Dream.” Tavener conducted interviews with successful entrepreneurs from around the country. The show sought to uncover what motivates people to start their own business, what was the inspiration, and where did their ideas come from?


Richard interviewed thousands of people over the years-from Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo! to Francis Ford Coppola, the famous filmmaker; from the pizza shop owner on the corner to the auto parts supplier across town. Tavener talked with, and learned from, hundreds people who all had one thing in common: they had an idea for a business AND they took the risk to start it. But, for every one of them who acted on their imagination and ideas, there were far more who did not. Tavener asked, “Why did people who had good ideas not act upon them?


By 1999 Tavener decided to take his show to the streets. His idea was a 100-day tour of the country to record a snapshot of “imagination in action” in America as one century came to a close and another was about to begin. The “Tour of America” traveled over 150,000 miles, visited nearly every State, recorded interviews with over 2,500 people, creating a "thought leader" media library with over 4,000 hours of content. What Tavener uncovered is that there is a massive amount of creative potential in America, but, at the same time, there is a hesitation for “being creative.” It seems people are afraid to be creative, much less act upon their creativity. He wanted to know why?


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"Imagination and Entrepreneurship" at Miami University by ImagineIt CEO, Dr. Joseph Kayne


In 2003, I took over a class called "Imagination and Entrepreneurship" at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Under previous instructors, the curriculum focused solely on opportunity recognition.  That first semester I experienced exactly what Dr. George Land had discovered in his landmark study into how creativity is UNLEARNED.  To test my observation, I placed several bags of LEGO™ Duplo blocks and cans of Play-Doh™ in the front of the room.  During the two and a half hour class, I never made reference to these objects.  At the end of the class, students finally asked, "Why did you bring the LEGOs and Play-Doh?"  My response, "I brought them for you to play with."  You probably know what they said next.  Right! "We were waiting for YOU to tell us what to do with them."


I taught this class 37 times before retiring as a member of the Miami University faculty.  And sadly (some might say tragically), my students were zero for 37.  On some occasions, a student would come up to me after class and say, "I thought about asking you why you brought the LEGOs and Play-Doh, but was afraid to."


Another teaching moment came when one student asked me if I would bring them back the following week.  My reply, "No, this was a missed opportunity that is gone now."


How many times on any given day as a student, teacher, employer or employee, parent, spouse or friend do we miss opportunities to draw on our creative potential?  And how often do those opportunities disappear if we do not act on them?


This simple experiment is what convinced me of the need for ImagineIt  What would it take to help individuals rediscover their inner child who would not hesitate to ask whether they could play with a bag of LEGOs?  The curriculum for the Imagination class was a good start.  But only in concert with the knowledge we gained from the ImagineIt thought leaders and interaction with audiences of all ages over the past two years have we been able to move far beyond that starting point


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ImagineIt Project™


By 2007 Richard Tavener had been working with Stanford University on a creativity challenge. The question we asked, "What if you gave thousands of students a common household object and challenged them to be creative?"


We invited hundreds of universities and thousands of students from around the world to participate in the global creativity challenge. The challenge? Add value to a pack of Post-it just six days!


Richard Tavener teamed up with filmmaker Rudy Poe to film the challenge and to create “imagine it! Post it Notes.” The students surprised everyone by what the created. Their imaginations ran wild. What the film “ImagineIt Post it Notes” revealed is that people are waiting for permission to be creative. Once they are given permission to be creative there is no limit to their potential.


As a follow-up to “Post it Notes,” Tavener and Poe made a second film, this time to learn from experts about imagination and creativity. The result was “ImagineIt 2 The Power of Imagination.” In this film, interviews with dozens of “thought leaders” on the subject of imagination and creativity confirmed the power of imagination and the importance of creative thinking. However, America’s educational system does not encourage imagination or creative thinking. In fact, the system was designed to do just the opposite.


Through synchronicity, Tavener met Dr. George Land during a screening of “The Power of Imagination” film. Years ago Dr. Land conducted a landmark study on the subject of creativity. The question Dr. Land asked, “Is creativity inherited or learned? What Land discovered is that creativity is neither inherited nor learned. Land’s conclusion: Creativity is unlearned. People are indeed creative but over time their creativity is closeted.


In 2009, Dr. Jay Kayne, teaching "Imagination and Entrepreneurship" at Miami University (Oxford, OH), connects with Tavener and Poe and The ImagineIt Project™ is born.


To help others understand the phenomenon we observed, we coined the term adultification™:


ADULTIFICATION (un-dulh-ti-fi-ka-shuhn) noun, the process of benumbing or parallyzing one’s ability to imagine, to create, to invent.


For young people ADULTIFICATION is preventable…it doesn't have to happen to you.


For adults ADULTIFICATION  can be cured thorugh a rehabilitative process in which you are given the opportunity to rediscover your inner child!


The re-launch of ImagineIt on May 1, 2012 is the second phase of our journey.  The first leg focused on sharing what we had learned through media.  It inspired many individuals and organizations to re-think how they perceived their own creative potential.  Once inspired, these audiences wanted more.  To use a medical analogy, phase one involved observing the symptom and better understanding the disease.  Phase two is about treatment encompassed in our personal and professional development offering for education and corporate audiences.


We hope you share our excitement and commitment to helping everyone unleash and exploit their creative potential and will become part of the ImagineIt movement.


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2015 (c) The ImagineIt Project™